Sakamoto Desu Ga

November 27, 2016

Envy is bad. See that guy over there? He is way much cooler and attracting the chicks better than you. Don’t like it? Why don’t you do something to show his place? Oh my. It backfired. Badly. Ah well, I guess that is what you get for being blinded with jealousy. You know what they saw about karma being a b*tch. Yup. Just trying to get back at someone just to embarrass them for the sake of your pathetic low ego and then having to suffer the backlash of not failing miserably but making that someone even looking cooler is the basic premise of Sakamoto Desu Ga. Love him or hate him. If you are more of the latter, be warned that none of your pranks will ever work. Because all it does is make him look even way cooler than before. Still not convinced? Then why not watch this series to see if it will really change your mind. Who knows? You might become his admirer! Kakoi desu!!!

Episode 1A
A few delinquents led by Atsushi Maeda hates Sakamoto and do a few pranks on him. But it only backfires. Dropping the duster on his head? He caught it. Splashing water in his toilet cubicle? He had an umbrella ready. Throwing his desk out of the window? He’ll just sit by the window! So cool! They decide to beat him up for real. They trick him to come to the science prep room alone where they pin him down and are going to take naked photos of him and send to the girls. The cigarette they accidentally threw started a fire. They panic but can’t get out since the door is accidentally locked from outside. Atsushi tries to call for help but his handphone battery died! Why do this always happen? Cool Sakamoto now takes action. He takes off his jacket and starts some wild side stepping dance. The delinquents think his speed wind will put out the fire so they join in. But it is actually to make noise as below is the teacher’s faculty and to alert them. A teacher checks on it and puts out the fire. Sakamoto is super cool when he covers the delinquents and makes it as though it was his own fault in starting the fire! Those guys are going to have a new respect for him. And Atsushi thinks of putting a picture of Sakamoto as his handphone wallpaper!

Episode 1B
Yuuya Sera tries to show off as an amateur model to the girls. But you know how Sakamoto always steals the girls’ heart, right? Jealous Sera tries to get back at him. Dodgeball? Evading like the wind! Spoiled water fountain? The sprinkles make him look cool! When a bee enters the class, the girls panic and run out, shutting out the guys. The old fart teacher tells them to take off their clothes as the bee is attracted to dark stuffs. Sera sees Sakamoto so calm in this moment. How can this be(e)? (Pun intended). He tries to get attention by smacking the bee on Sakamoto but the later evades and then enters into a melee combat with the bee with his stationery! He then grabs the bee like with chopsticks and sets it free outside. Sakamoto the saviour! Hooray! Everyone laughs at Sera’s bee underwear. He thinks he is getting the deserved attention and tries to make a (lame) joke out of it. Nobody’s laughing… Later Sera talks to Sakamoto that he wants to become a comedian and hopes he would pair up with him. Refused!

Episode 2A
Sakamoto sees Yoshinobu Kubota being extorted for protection money. Initially he isn’t going to help (because he is being protected, right?) but when Kubota pleads he has run out of reasons to ‘cheat’ his mom of money, he has an idea. So working at the fast food joint? Well, the manager is smitten with him and makes him man the register which is bringing in lots of girls! Even Atsushi?! Take away with a smile please! Kubota thought this job was stupid and wants to quit at the end of the day but after experiencing how fulfilling this job is and being motivated by the manager, he stays on. One day his bullies come by and they spot him. They tell him to the park after work or else. As usual they extort him but this time Kubota won’t give it to them and takes a beating protecting his hard earned money. That is when Sakamoto arrives to do his secret techniques of blowing air via straw into their eye and shoot gum syrups in their eyes?! Kubota finishes off with his burger bump and dirt salt fries! All in a day’s work. Kubota is grateful but Sakamoto isn’t going to stick around to hear his gratitude since he is still on shift.

Episode 2B
Aina Kuronuma thought Sakamoto is looking deep into her eyes. To her disappointment, he was looking through her at the blackboard! As the class’ most popular idol, she isn’t going to let this slip and is the only guy she wants. She tries to do several of her seducing techniques like sitting near his weaker hand. But he is ambidextrous! Try calling his first name? What was his first name again? She asks directly but was censored out! Imitating him? Too fast to follow! Making him jealous by ignoring him? The dog outside is more important… Desperate, she tries to play Kokkuri-san with him. But that is when Tanaka and Yagi usurp and want to join in as Sakamoto will just watch them. Their aim seems to be Aina’s book with seducing techniques. They ask questions but Aina is strong enough to put forth answers in her favour while keeping up a cutie smile. When the question of who Tanaka likes is asked, the girls tussle for the answer but the coin slips away. It is believed they will be cursed if you let go before an answer. Well, Sakamoto is possessed! He asks to build a 6 feet arch or else he will take Sakamoto back to the wild. Tanaka and Yagi start building by stacking tables but Aina just stood there not helping. A table falls and Aina was quick enough to push it away. The arch is completed and Sakamoto returns to normal. Tanaka and Yagi become friends with Aina. Could it be all a ploy from Sakamoto as he notes his observations on them? Accomplishing a shared goal under tense circumstances causes distance between people to naturally close. But is Sakamoto really a different being because he is still acting like he is possessed?! Or is he always like this?!

Episode 3A
Maruyama chews out Atsushi as a junior discipline. Shou Hayabusa warns him about being too strict on the juniors and needs to nurture them properly. Speaking of which, he already has a good one: Sakamoto! Man, this guy is like his personal ninja, efficiently answering all his calls and fancies! Even if this might look like him being an errand boy, Sakamoto believes it is for the future, building endurance and insight. From buying food, making him new clothes, pedicure, shoe polishing, back massage and even sitting for him in class. It is obvious that Maruyama gets bored of it so he tells Sakamoto to think for himself when serving him, keeping in mind to make his life as comfortable as possible. Of course it gets weirder when Sakamoto has the liberty in doing things. It starts to get creepy when he heats up his shoes. That’s when Maruyama fears for his life! Then hiding in the gym storeroom, he becomes paranoid thinking Sakamoto is stalking him but it turns out he was making a good bed for him to rest. Apparently Maruyama is not impressed and can’t take this anymore! So it becomes shocking that Maruyama is seen doing his own errands. Sakamoto? He got dismissed and he thinks it was because he was bad a singing!

Episode 3B
Kubota has Sakamoto coach him in his room. When his mom, Shigemi is heard coming, he quickly tells Sakamoto to hide. Apparently Shigemi has a crush on Sakamoto. It all started 2 weeks ago when Kubota realizes his poor test scores and cannot afford to be held back another year. With Sakamoto getting perfect in all tests, he sought his help. Upon meeting Shigemi for the first time, he was so polite that Shigemi instantly fell in love and starts bugging him about everything! She even went to great lengths to put make up and look prettier (she’s still as ugly, though. Sorry). Kubota remembers he left his textbook in class and goes to get it. After he leaves, Shigemi knows that Sakamoto is hiding around since she spotted an extra shoe. The search is on… We see Sakamoto being the great Spiderman as he climbs walls and hides in all spots, sneaking away like the shadow! A call from Kubota gave him away. But Sakamoto was cool enough to even do a prank and make it look like he has escaped the house. Heartbroken Shigemi goes to watch her Winter Sonata knockoff in which the main actor closely looks like Sakamoto. Hearing Shigemi’s lament makes Sakamoto think of doing something. At the end of the show, he appears before her. Instantly tries to hug him. But see how smooth this guy avoids her and then put the CD into the player. Then he makes it seem as though he is jumping into the TV. When the CD plays, it is as though Sakamoto is speaking to her from the TV that he is from this other side of the world and cannot be with her. Shigemi cries as she is forced to face reality of her unrequited love. Sob! Sob! Subsequently Kubota has Sakamoto coach him at the library as he notes his Shigemi’s sweet tragic love story. So sad that when he passes her in the streets, she doesn’t even know it’s him.

Episode 4A
Kakuta thinks Sakamoto is coming into school late again. This time is he going to pole vault in? Kakuta tried to block but Sakamoto plants the bamboo and enters normally! He then tries to find fault in him just to scold him. Think he is going smoking? He is just teaching Atsushi to blow bubbles. Fooling around with the brooms? He is cleaning the ceiling and avoiding the falling dusts! During sex ed class, he sees Sakamoto trying to eat rice and is waiting for the moment he does so. Kakuta’s twisted thinking thinks Sakamoto is trying to mock him in some ways with this act. And when Sakamoto comments how the rice needs spice, Kakuta takes this as the last straw and has him stand outside class. He couldn’t be happier with this ‘victory’. But when he peeks outside, he sees Sakamoto feeding an injured bird! So he purposely became the villain and made him angry for this? Kakuta is so touched! He can’t stop crying in class! Next time when Kakuta is going to close to school gate and going to wait for rushing Sakamoto to come in, Sakamoto slides through his legs.

Episode 4B
During cooking class, the girls freak out when they spot a slug in the cabbage. Sakamoto pours seasoning on it and then washes it. Did he just save his pet? During art class when the teacher gives the green light to find a partner to sketch each other’s face, all the girls race for Sakamoto! But Aina beats them all! She enjoys his company and can’t wait to see how her sketch turns out (by the way, Kubota is sketching with a mirror…). Aina is shocked that her mug is an orang-utan! But if you turn the picture upside down, it is a cute angel! During fire drill after all the students gather at the field, Atsushi is noticeably missing. Sakamoto rushes back in. Atsushi just finished his toilet business and panics when he sees the crowd outside. With Sakamoto crawling in and his ambiguous words to go with, it serves to panic Atsushi more. Atsushi is levered down in a huge cloth and he is still scared that he doesn’t know what is going on. Everyone sees Sakamoto like he is going to jump out the window. Kids, don’t try this at home because he coolly lands with his makeshift parachute! Kakuta was scared sick about this stunt but Sakamoto says such tension is needed in such drills.

Episode 4C
Atsushi and co make a hole in park as prank. Unfortunately Sakamoto falls into it! More surprising, Sakamoto disappeared! Talking to Kubota about this, that fatty is not bothered and thinks they’ve been played since Sakamoto has not been seen for 3 days. The delinquents are going to find him and teach him a lesson so they try asking around since Sakamoto stands out as he is the only guy who would wear his school uniform in this hot summer. Although the common people did spot him doing great stuffs, that was like many days ago. So they come to terms that he might have left town. When they see a boy playing in the hole and that there is another hole inside it, they think Sakamoto must have dug his way to Brazil. Atsushi wants to follow him down there not because he admires him or catch up with him, but so his fist can reach his face. Atsushi jumps down the hole. It seems Sakamoto is at the cleaners getting his uniform cleaned after various stints that made it dirty. He notes he has one more job left. Atsushi’s pals tell him to get out since the second hole wasn’t that deep either. Sakamoto pops up claiming he was trying to dig for a hotspring (thinking that was what the delinquents were doing in the first place). Atsushi is in tears seeing his face. Good to be back?

Episode 5A
Kubota accidentally got hit by Sakamoto’s fast ball. He is bleeding so Sakamoto rips off his shirt to treat him. A win-win situation because the girls get to squeal in delight seeing his abs!

Episode 5B
As Sakamoto is still a hit with the girls, Maruyama is still having trauma just looking at that guy. This makes Hayabusa if something has happened. Despite his advice not to get involved, Hayabusa confronts him in class and wants to ‘borrow his face’. I guess Sakamoto took that too literally and slams his face into the mould! Suddenly all the girls think that it has his face and wants to make a mask out of it. They viciously attack Hayabusa as he thinks this might be some sort of attack signal. Quickly, he destroys the mould (heartbroken girls…) and tells Sakamoto to meet after school. Obviously he can’t since he has cleaning duties so his pals try to steal his stuffs and leave him a message. But Sakamoto improvises! Stole his shoe? Just slide around in his socks! Stole his ruler? Use Kakuta’s hard crew cut as measurement! They crossed the line when they shaved Kubota’s head to leave a message. Obviously fatty is sad. After Sakamoto creates a wig for him, he goes to ‘get his identity back’. At the riverbed, Sakamoto takes off his glasses… He looks menacing! Hayabusa instantly wants to punch him but a policeman is around. As he lectures them about fighting, Sakamoto mentions they are playing some pushing game. Thinking it is some kid’s sumo, he watches them! Hayabusa goes along as both guys slug it out trying to push each other but none can land a hit. His pals try to sabotage seeing Hayabusa is at his limits but Hayabusa tells them not to interfere in his fight. When Sakamoto wants to end the match, it might seem he summoned the lightning but it was actually the taxi so he could have Hayabusa ride home. His pals come clean that they were the ones who stole Sakamoto’s stuffs. To atone for this, the guys agree to help Sakamoto do some errands. Then they go apologize to Kubota at his home and present him with wakame goods. So much wakame that they can use it for decoration as well as a hearty wakame party. Eat up.

Episode 5C
What’s this?! Sakamoto is having fever?! How can Mr Perfect be so?! Anyway he is still trying to keep his coolness and carry on doing his stuffs without faltering. Good thing he nurses himself because I think the school nurse has intentions to rape him if he agrees to sleep in the infirmary’s bed. He wows the girls as he wears green onion around his neck to help improve his illness.

Episode 6A
A group of kids think they are cool running while kicking a stone. But Sakamoto does it better. At high speed! Even making sure not to make it fall into the drain and running on its side! Next day, the kids try to walk within the white line. Ahead of them is Sakamoto doing the same thing. They follow him throughout the day walking on the line. A guy in their path? Call out his shoes are untied (it is) and leapfrog over. Their journey ends when the white line is no more. Although there is another white line ahead, Sakamoto obviously can jump to reach it but the boys can’t. Sakamoto gives a roll of toilet paper as parting gift. Thinking this is some insult, they swat it away. The toilet paper unrolls into a white line as they continue their journey. Feeling like celebrities? At the end of their destination, they tear a paper and want his autograph.

Episode 6B
Megumi Fujita has a fetish of taking pictures of Sakamoto. Then she realizes each photo has a ghost haunting him! Spooky! Fearing the ghost might be trying to harm him, she needs to tell him. However this means revealing her unholy hobby. When a trolley seemingly moves on its own towards Sakamoto, Fujita warns him. He jumps and rides it like a pro! What about that eerie hair in the basin? He gives it to Kubota for his new wig! Fujita clearly believes he is unaware of it all. So she talks to Kubota about this. He thinks it is all pretty normal to Sakamoto. He even has Fujita asking herself the reason why her camera can see those things. They both have something in common. Fujita refuses to believe it that she is the same level as a ghost. She watches Sakamoto play butt sumo and couldn’t resist snapping pictures of him. That is when she realizes she is no different than the ghost, hiding in the shadows admiring him. Then she notices something about the ghost in the photos. Because she was so afraid of being hated to show those photos, now she runs to the shop to print them out. Then she shows it to Sakamoto. Flipping the photos like a flip book, it seems the ghost is trying to say she loves him. Fujita realizes this makes it look like a creepy confession. She thinks it is over and that he hates her when Sakamoto ignores her. Then she sees him making copies of his own face. He replies via the same method by thanking the ghost. Ever since, the ghost stopped appearing in the photos and Fujita can happily take photos of Sakamoto without hiding.

Episode 6C
When Sakamoto learns the cafeteria lady is going to stop selling napolitan because nobody is ordering it, he is going to work his magic… From class lessons to gym to even watering the plants, in a split second we see Sakamoto making scribbled lines (to resemble napolitan) before resuming his activity. This subliminal message works as napolitan now becomes the top ordering item.

Episode 7A
Atsushi and co are trying to sneak into the porn video section to rental. But Sakamoto is here as well. So they ‘threaten’ to rent the only video available he wants in exchange he helps them get their porn video. Of course they have the money and will guide him all the way. He just has to go in without being seen to get it. So we see Sakamoto walking so fast that he changes air current to get in without being seen! On his way out, the guys give him the route to avoid all the girls in his class at various sections. However he couldn’t take the final designated route as Shigemi is there. This makes him come into contact with those girls. But his robot act fools them as they change topic. The hardest part is to deceive the cashier that he is an adult. This experienced guy is suspicious so he throws lots of verification questions at Sakamoto. But Sakamoto answers them coolly without flinching. Cashier is getting confused. The clincher is when Sakamoto reveals a watch he scribbled on his wrist. To the cashier it looked like a real luxurious high end watch! In the end, he just lets Sakamoto makes his purchase. Atsushi and co are happy with their success and invite him to watch with them. But Sakamoto looks at his watch and needs to go. This spooks Atsushi that Sakamoto perhaps haven’t even experience this. Feeling this might be too heavy for them, they return the videos and will level up via health class first.

Episode 7B
Sera tells the guys in his class for the sports festival they need to make a revolution if they want to impress those chicks. But they know they can’t beat Sakamoto at all the sports. That is why it is going to be a team effort to rig it. So for the bread eating competition, they tie his bread so tight it cannot come off. Sakamoto might be hanging like an idiot when he suddenly does a crocodile death roll! The guys are building a human tower with Sakamoto on top. They try to wobble and make him fall down. He is still standing. The girls swoon even more as he looks like the Tower of Pisa! A human heritage! Even the mothers and old granny audiences are rooting for Sakamoto! During the co-ed relay, when Sakamoto begins to run, Sera already tied his shoe laces. However he runs like the cheetah! Passing everyone from last to first, he passes the baton to Yagi. However because he was carrying the baton in his mouth, it slips. Now dead in last place, all the girls are cursing and taunting Yagi for being a big fail. Sera has resigned the revolution is over when Sakamoto whispers this is will be Yagi’s sports meet memory. Seeing Yagi in tears, Sera knows what to do. Taking the baton from her, he continues running till the end while laughing. At the end, he becomes the talk and laughing stock because of how he stripped naked and ran towards the line! Disgusting? Well, that sure took the spotlight away from Yagi. What is even better than a quote from Sakamoto that even the overweight can be heroes? Personally from Yagi’s mouth that he is cooler than she thought. Well, a small revolution is better than no revolution.

Episode 8
Hayabusa and his delinquents are making cotton candy for the school festival. Atsushi wonders if they can invite Sakamoto. Though Maruyama still opposes it, Hayabusa agrees to it. That is when Fukase comes in. You know he is the biggest and baddest of them all when he roughs up Hayabusa just to get details of who Sakamoto is. Sakamoto’s class is making a pathetic display with colour balloons. I mean, what the heck is that? But Sakamoto improvises. Using a curtain to cover it, the balloon display looks like a yeti! All those balloons stuck on the ceiling? They look like crop circles! What about using the light as UFO? Think it’s funny? Sakamoto rubs his hair to get static and then stands under it to make it seem he is being abducted! So real that the girls don’t want him to go! Take me with you! A couple of class bullies are being told off for doing nothing and just complaining. While they whine elsewhere, that is when they bump into Fukase who has a devilish plan. After the break, the class is horrified to see all their balloons popped! Even weirder, a weird reward and wanted poster of Sakamoto for popping balloons! This dude even got the cheek to say this guy looks familiar. He is on the run as other students try to catch him. Does he really think he could hide as a stage prop? As the students surround him, Hayabusa and his delinquents crash the play. They escape during the helter-skelter. Later Hayabusa warns Sakamoto about Fukase. There are rumours he is an adult who kept failing his grade and even divorced twice! Thing is, he is always absent and when he comes back it is to play a game to erase certain people from school. It seems he has a bone to pick with popular people. He is a heartless dude and will use other people to achieve his means without dirtying his own hands. Why is he doing this? Just to kill time.

The class bullies felt bad about the busted balloons and return after buying more balloons and a pump. The class is revved up to redo this again. When Sakamoto returns, the rest are worried if he was the culprit. The bullies believe in his innocence and invite him to join them to redo the display. However Sakamoto turns away! Shortly, a mysterious girl confesses outside the door that she was the one who popped the balloons. The bullies do not believe her and think she is making this up. However this gave the bullies away that they know that the display was finished despite they weren’t around that time. The mysterious girl turns out to be Sakamoto using helium gas to speak! The bullies then take yeti as hostage! One move and pop goes the weasel. Why is Aina freaking out? But guess what? Sakamoto makes a balloon gun! Will that work? Hey. A balloon just popped! And another. And another! And another!!! Not fluke! The trick turns out to be the sunlight reflecting off Kubota’s hand mirror at that angle. Right time, right place? The bullies come clean with their sulking. They felt jealous they were left out. But Sakamoto knows they did their best too after seeing those ‘balloons’ on their palms. (The sores from using the pump). There aren’t many balloons left and not much time. So how? Sakamoto has a plan. With Hayabusa’s cotton candy, Sakamoto and the bullies are covered with them acting as yetis. It is a special activity for people to catch them.

Episode 9A
Fujita remembers how she first met Sakamoto. She was nervous taking the entrance exam of this school. Her eraser accidentally falls off as Sakamoto quickly grabs it. She thought he was the worst when he started rubbing it like mad. When he tossed it back to her, it was so warm that her frozen hands were unfrozen! She breezed the exam and the eraser is now her charm. How romantic! Even Mii-chan has her memories of meeting him the first time. It was a stormy day and the wind is being a dick, turning umbrellas inside out. She saw Sakamoto in the same predicament and laughed when his umbrella is filled with water. But he was acting like some wine expert and it made her day. Ever since she doesn’t hate rainy days much. How romantic. Kana too has her first memories. On the first day of school where students were supposed to pick up their textbooks, she forgot her bag and had to stack on her arms. Naturally she slipped. Not only Sakamoto saved her books, but carried them all like he was carrying a princess. So romantic! Despite the girls praising each other’s romantic story, they think theirs is most romantic. Till they heard Kubota’s. He was having this odd wart on his finger and tried to cover it with some plaster. Naturally it slipped off so Sakamoto picked it up and put it back on his finger. Like putting a wedding ring?! Sakamoto doesn’t remember it and Kubota doesn’t think it was a big deal either. The girls think this is the most romantic of all…

Episode 9B
Kubota is staring at Sakamoto like as though he is his lover! Even the teacher teased him about it when Kubota doesn’t respond. If Kubota sounds different it is because it is Shigemi in disguise! It all began during a parent-teacher conference when the teacher commended Kubota’s improving grades thanks to his best friend Sakamoto. That is when Shigemi realized that wasn’t a dream. Sakamoto is real! When Kubota falls ill, Shigemi hatched this devilish plan to substitute him. So Shigemi tries to be close to Sakamoto without revealing herself as well as controlling her lust. During cooking class, she thought she could have an indirect kiss when Sakamoto tastes the soup. But Aina stole it and all the girls are fighting over this indirect kiss. During PE, Shigemi controls herself not to look at Sakamoto’s amazing six pack (or was it 12 pack?!) as she goes elsewhere to change. While running she could amazingly keep up with Sakamoto’s pace but eventually falls flat on her face, breaking her seashell necklace. Even with Sakamoto’s kindness to help her out, she feels defeated and pathetic as she melancholy refuses his help. Some guys who were enjoying watching bouncing boobs of girls probably turn gay because they want to fondle man boobs! They are tired of Sera’s so they target ‘Kubota’ (yeah, they think he has gotten this fat). Dejected Shigemi allows herself to be violated when Sakamoto suddenly ties the curtains and the wind blows it up like the biggest pair of melons anyone has ever seen! All the boys hug it and this scene brings familiarity to Shigemi. She remembers the time taking care of her son as a baby. She realizes she is a mother. As she leaves, Sakamoto hands her back the seashell necklace all nicely glued back! Touched, she hopes she can still remain his friend. Of course. Kubota gets better and he loves his mom’s cooking. Why not? She is his mother after all.

Episode 10A
Ryou and Kouhei are mad their friend abandoned them and now they are a man short for a mixer. So they simply pulled in Sakamoto who is doing some volunteer traffic counting job in the area. Sakamoto is unsure what a mixer is so they ‘explain’ it is some kind of social study. At the karaoke joint, the ladies at first aren’t impressed with Sakamoto thinking he is a nerd. As they start talking, Sakamoto makes an impression of his dream to work in NASA to find life on other planets! The guys then play a penalty game using a hippo toy. Sakamoto gets penalized but he treats the hippo nicely! Ryou thought he could steal the ladies’ heart with his singing when Kouhei sabotages. Guess what? Sakamoto is playing a saxophone. With his arm! OMG! Sounds like the real deal! This is when the guys realize he is the real threat. So they order drinks for everyone including Sakamoto. His is a cola and has to gulp it down in one sitting. Then they make him sing. My, Sakamoto starts singing in his Pavarotti tenor voice!!! A German opera piece!!! The guys are waiting for the moment when he burps to embarrassed himself. When he does, because of the foreign language he is singing in, it makes it sound so natural! The ladies are in love with him! If that isn’t enough, the ladies from other rooms barge inside! Please take me!!! Sakamoto realizes the traffic count has exceeded its regulations and will have to leave. Thanks for the social studies. And all the ladies left with him. Two more lonely people in the world tonight…

Episode 10B
Hayabusa is helping with the house chores since his mom’s demise. He has got active younger siblings to take care off. Father thinks it has been tough on him. He has someone he wants to introduce that will potentially become their mother. He would like Hayabusa to act as an heir to some French noble. Knowing nuts about France, Hayabusa begs Sakamoto to teach him. He has an even better idea. So while Hayabusa puts up his noble French face, Sakamoto is hiding behind him and acting as his hands. This means Hayabusa looks like the hunchback of Notre Dame. Sakamoto’s hands are smooth operator. But can Hayabusa manage and eat escargot? Snails! He has to eventually. When the French chef shows his face, the potential mom asks how to say delicious in French. Hayabusa is at a lost. No, it’s not bonjour. Beaujolais nouveau? Sakamoto writes ‘Excellent’ and all is well. At the end, she wants to personally talk to Hayabusa’s dad so Hayabusa leaves them alone and heads home. But he got a little lost along the way and he stumbles upon his dad being mugged by several guys. Sakamoto warns coming out now means exposing his identity. Since Sakamoto says he can’t fight, Hayabusa has an idea to switch places. With Sakamoto as the face and Hayabusa hiding behind as the hands, he beats up those blokes. They’re scared of this monster’s fighting ability because it’s like his head and body move differently! You don’t say… Surprisingly dad cowers behind them. This woman is an extortionist and wants him to hand over mother thinking Hayabusa is really a French heir. After dad explains the truth, Sakamoto adds about his friend’s experience about putting up a show by trying out French cuisine. But he had no experience in eating such high class food and since his body had no antibodies to counter it, his body transformed. Like Aliens, Hayabusa’s hand ‘burst out’, scaring away those muggers. Even dad fainted. Hayabusa realizes just like how they pulled this act off, the family will just have to make up and cover what the other lacks. He carries his father home.

Episode 11A
Atsushi wants to teach Sakamoto a few stuffs about the snow seeing this is his first time experiencing it. Leave your body outline? Sakamoto overlaps his to make it look like that metabolism symbol by that Leonardo guy. No, not that Dicaprio dude! Making a snowman? Sakamoto does it better! Atsushi feels defeated. He thought he could be on equal footing and finally face him but was far from it. That is when Fukase pops up to suggest if he wants Sakamoto to acknowledge him, fight him one on one. And so Atsushi challenges Sakamoto to a snowball fight. The first to get hit loses. But you know, Sakamoto evades like the win and can throw snowballs like as though he is some gatling gun! The longer this fight draws out, the colder Atsushi becomes. When Sakamoto rolls something over, he thought it is some bomb powder due to the steam. Desperate, he initiates an instant attack but it is hit. It is revealed that the ‘bomb powder’ is just heat pads. Sakamoto had lots of them under his vest and thought of sharing some. Yeah, isn’t it no wonder he wasn’t freezing all the while? Atsushi leaves dejected and defeated. He is sad there was no fight in the first place. Again Fukase pops up giving his opinion that Atsushi wouldn’t be like this if Sakamoto wasn’t around.

Episode 11B
Fujita shows the class photos she took over the year. Many are looking for pictures of Sakamoto in it. A memorable one was when the students irresponsibly stack their umbrellas. Sakamoto then arrange it like flower arrangement. So beautiful that people started stacking their umbrellas nicely after that! There is also a beach trip but unfortunately no Sakamoto pics in his swimming trunks. It’s because he is always underwater! Should have brought a waterproof camera… But they spot one whereby Sakamoto was in his Venus pose using the perspective as the camera trick. Everyone wants this copy! Enlarge it too! Meanwhile Hayabusa and his delinquents are having a serious meeting. They will be seniors next year and this mean the same level as Fukase who is confirmed to be repeating his year again as he has missed too many classes. Rumours surfaced that he has a very high IQ but the irony is that if he is so smart, why doesn’t he graduate? There is something he still lacks. Hayabusa advises them to stick with that one thing they have and not give up. Otherwise Fukase will pull the rug under their feet one day. Noticing Atsushi is not around, that guy is alone wallowing in his depression. Oh look, here is Fukase. Atsushi is still confused. Would he be better off even without Sakamoto around? Fukase explains he is lost. Describing Sakamoto as a moon in the sky, everyone is like sea sparkles who flock to him in search of moonlight. But no matter how long they fly, they will never reach the moon. Fukase offers to teach him to stay true to himself while eliminating that moon. During the graduation ceremony when Sakamoto is on stage giving his speech, Atsushi with a baseball bat in hand suddenly goes up to make him disappear.

Episode 12
I’m sure the teachers giving the graduation ceremony speech is so boring till Sakamoto comes up to give his. He gets everyone’s attention by throwing a ball up into a ceiling to dislodge a volleyball that was stuck there earlier in the year during a tournament so that the seniors will have no regrets! Amazing! As everyone is all ears to hear his speech, that is when Atsushi walks up on stage. Kakuta tried to stop him but his warning swing ‘traumatized’ him. Other teachers try to stop Atsushi but Fukase stands in their way. Sakamoto continues his speech so Atsushi thinks he is being ignored and goes on a rampage to hit him. As expected, Sakamoto dodges every hit with grace. Everyone then starts thinking if this was just an act. When they are both on a high place and Atsushi misses and falls, Sakamoto grabs his hand. Atsushi repeatedly keeps hitting his hand while crying out Sakamoto has always been looking down on him and never cared. But Sakamoto’s grip is still firm despite his hand is now sore like hell! Erm, I don’t think this is an act, really. At this point Atsushi is confused. He doesn’t know who to believe in anymore. Then the ultimate advice from Sakamoto: If he can’t believe in himself, believe in his friends! Sakamoto loses grip but then loosens his pants to extend his grip and safely land Atsushi. Tough luck, can’t see his underwear…

In the aftermath, Atsushi is very sorry over what he did although Hayabusa doesn’t blame him and knows Fukase was behind this. The other delinquents start to fear they will be next. As Sakamoto treats himself in the infirmary, that is where he meets Fukase. They ‘talk’. Fukase ‘threatens’ but Sakamoto remains optimistic. Later Hayabusa is going to sacrifice himself to end it all but Sakamoto has a better idea. At the end of the ceremony where all the seniors have exited. Fukase continues to remain. That is when the delinquents line up before him as Hayabusa tells him that they are helping him to graduate. Fukase won’t play along so Sakamoto knocks and bends over Fukase’s knee and he comes tumbling. The human waves carry embarrassed Fukase out. It is narrated that Fukase stopped showing up after that and rumours say he was spotted surfing at the beach. Atsushi was not punished as it was deemed as part of Sakamoto’s act. Then the shocking news came. Sakamoto is going to America to take up an offer project by NASA with the goal to help mankind migrate to Mars! Gasp! So it’s true?! But his classmates all want to smack the pie in his face as a farewell gift. Ranging from reasons to make a mould out of his face or snowball revenge. But of course everybody pied each other’s face as cool Sakamoto evades them all. I think there is another reason for this pie event: To hide their tears. As he leaves, it seems Hayabusa hints he knows his migration to America is a lie. Sakamoto doesn’t confirm o deny. When his classmates call him out one last time, Sakamoto was almost brought to tears! So I guess that is why Kakuta couldn’t recognize Sakamoto with pie on his face.

Episode 13 (OVA)
They’re trolling us with a preview of Sakamoto The Movie! Yeah, montage of clips from the episodes. When will it come out? Well, Kubota thought they should all make a movie to honour Sakamoto. So you bet that everyone is going to pitch in and give in their own ideas of what the preview should look like. But they all named it after themselves? Like Aina’s love story with Sakamoto. Sera has his own love story too. Fujita’s a horror movie and the class bullies, Morita and Yasuda just keep introducing themselves. The episode proper starts off with everyone now in their second year. Life is a bit boring without Sakamoto. But they see him in the newspaper and are glad he made it in America. So we see him enrolling in NASA (MASA Desu Ga?!) and it is like déjà vu because jealous NASA guys (strangely resembling Atsushi and co) are trying to pull very familiar pranks on Sakamoto but it ends up making him look cool and all the girls loving him even more. You just substitute American words and landmarks. During the zero gravity training, the bullies plan to kick his ass for real by making Sakamoto ride the contraption first. Little does everyone know, they have rigged the machine. As it spins, it won’t stop. Then it gets detached and is in risk of trampling everyone. However Sakamoto stops it by using his own body to spin it down. He is like God! Everyone respect! Turns out this is just a delusion from Fujita. They further think what he is doing now. Could he be on Mars? Getting bullied by the familiar pranks by jealous Martians? Ending up making himself cooler before Martian babes? This delusion from Atsushi is shot down since everyone knows there are no Martians on Mars. So what is Sakamoto really doing? He is in a space shuttle ready for take-off. However a tank fuel is detected leaking after launch. Sakamoto instead of abandoning it, switches controls to manual as he pilots it safely into orbit. He even wrote his name in the sky! Reach for the stars!

Karma Chameleon
Sakamoto is cool! Sakamoto is awesome! Sakamoto is God! Well, yeah. That wraps it up of how amazing this series or rather this particular main character is. All good things must come to an end. You might want to call this anime series some sort of narcissist because the entire thing revolves mainly around Sakamoto. I have no problem with that. But he does it with swag, style, suave, elegance and class that you don’t care how arrogant it all looks. As long as Sakamoto steals your heart and make you swoon, it is good enough. And I’m sure many viewers out there would agree with me. Well, at least for those who like Sakamoto. Just as one of the online comment reviews I read, Sakamoto is the kind of person whom every guy wants to be and every girl wants to name their vibrator as! Holy sh*t! This is just so true! There is no doubt about it. This guy is a babe magnet and there is no female (at least in this anime where it is concerned) who hates him! The sight of this guy would just send girls swooning and falling head over heels. Every time. He is like the Midas’ touch of orgasm! Oh yeah, Sakamoto rules!

So it is no doubt that you are going to hear me rant about him for this few paragraphs because like I have said, this series is all about him. What? Haven’t you heard? It’s Sakamoto! Who else?! So as the main protagonist who could do almost everything and anything, it makes you wonder if he is God or some sort of sentient higher intelligent being. Because when you think about it, how much do you actually know about him? Do you know where he lives? His family. His hobbies. His like and dislikes. Heck, you don’t even know his first name! Does he even have one?! Thus this mystery only sets to enhance the godliness of Sakamoto. He is just so freaking cool that he doesn’t even make you think of who this dude is. It is like you are basking in the orgasmic light of his coolness. Yeah, Sakamoto can be the new God and religion ever since… Uhm… Haruhi?

The other thing that makes Sakamoto so godly, so cool and so mysterious is the fact that he could do almost everything and anything with ease and without breaking into a sweat. He makes the impossible look so easy. That is why it is hard to call if Sakamoto is really human in the first place. You see him climb and stick to walls like Spiderman and that is even without the bite of a radioactive spider power! You see him float and slide along like as though he defies gravity. You see him dodge and evade everything thrown at him like as though he is a rubber man even more flexible than Luffy! He has everything figured out and prepared like as though he is reading from the script of this series or even possessed the omniscient powers of God! What did I just say that he might be God himself? He is like an all-rounder, a chameleon that adapts and is adept in doing everything and just about anything. Sometimes we are introduced to some of his secret set of special skills that might look plain silly. But can you pull it off as cool as him? Note, do not try to imitate his actions anywhere and anytime. Remember, you are not Sakamoto! There can only be one!

This guy is considerate enough to take action and even meddle without making it look so obvious. The way he covers up with his over the top and flashy style just wows everyone. For instance, if he sees someone being ganged up, he isn’t going straight in there to throw punches. Instead he would use some sort of distraction to break it up without making it look like he is looking to pick a fight. You know this guy is interrupting you but you can’t accuse him directly of that because he makes it look like coincidences or flukes. That is Sakamoto for you!

Basically, this guy is everywhere. At the right time and the right place. He is always there to do something that needs to be done. So if you think about it, it might be a little creepy to think that he is like maybe a ghost that could just pop up behind you, in front of you out of thin air without you knowing or when you least expected it. It is like there are clones of Sakamoto everywhere! But it can’t be because there can only be the one and only Sakamoto! I bet everybody in this city has met Sakamoto one way or another and that their meeting wasn’t just ordinary but in a weirdly extraordinary circumstances. Whether or not this is just their mind enhancing Sakamoto’s coolness and thus the exaggeration of it (because as noticed in Sakamoto’s first meeting with Kubota, he doesn’t remember it – or just playing dumb) it is no doubt that Sakamoto has touched everyone’s lives. Is he some sort of guardian angel watching over everybody?

Speaking of that, sometimes you might want to say that even the female gods is by his side 24/7. Like as though lady luck has fallen under his charms and helps him pull off all those miraculous cool stunts. From a normal person’s point of view it may look like he is the luckiest man in the world as he manages to escape from one practical joke/prank/trick/mischief after another. And like how karma mysteriously works, not only it makes Sakamoto avoid all that, it makes him look even way past cooler than before. It’s like he is better off than before and for the perpetrators, worse off than before. It is no surprise to see that many ‘antagonists’ here will mostly try their underhanded tactics once and after they get a taste of Sakamoto’s coolness, just like in typical shonen series, they become somewhat friends. Well, if you can’t beat him, join him!

So the other characters are just secondary to Sakamoto. But where would Sakamoto be if not for them to help enhance his coolness? Many of the episode structures feel like fillers and standalones, which work well for the nature of this series. So who needs a plot when all you need to know and see is how cool Sakamoto is? Therefore that is why in the first half of the series, you might notice that each half episode seems like to be dedicating to a supporting character for his/her limelight with Sakamoto. I want to say it helps build and develop the supporting characters a little but heck, Sakamoto always outshines them eventually, right? Even you might have noticed the recyclable format of how each episode works out. Some sort of issue. Here comes Sakamoto. Killer looks. Killer moves. Killer charisma. The day is saved. Everyone fawns. Rinse and repeat. But who cares with this repeat cycle of comedy that isn’t very much different from another as long as Sakamoto is there to make you feel good.

Hence for the female characters, I don’t think that there are any problems or that of such that stands out because you have your generic popular and pretty class idol, the class rep who loves taking photos and some of their lesser friends. All the girls love him. No doubt about it. I believe there is some sort of unspoken truth among the classmates not to fight over Sakamoto. Merely because he isn’t just a beautiful flower on the highest cliff but perhaps a cliff on another planet! They know they can’t reach him and I am pretty sure that the reason you never see any girl directly asking him to be her boyfriend is because we all know how it will turn out. Instead, settle for the next best thing by admiring him from afar. It is already a bonus that they get to be in the same class with him. But for those who aren’t in the same class like him like Shigemi, looks like she has to learn the hard (and heart breaking) way that Sakamoto doesn’t belong to anybody but himself.

For the male characters, mostly they are seen as jealous delinquents who can’t stand to see Sakamoto flourish because of their own shortcomings. Like the most obvious being Atsushi. He seems to have a bad case of insecurity and inferiority complex. Despite wanting to stand on the same equal footing as Sakamoto, it only serves to make him feel more miserable and substandard to the said man. His moment of weakness made him did the unthinkable. It took him that to realize that despite their vast difference in abilities, he has always been walking by his side all the while. I mean, when Sakamoto considers you as his friend, that is already saying a lot, right? Even after all that beating, he still refuses to say anything bad about Atsushi. It shows the level of maturity, rationality and calm headedness of Sakamoto! Yeah, eventually it always goes back to the man.

Then there are guys who messed with him end up being fearful (Maruyama) or just an ‘ally’ who respect him like Hayabusa and Sera. Or weaklings like Kubota ending up as his ‘best friend’. You could say that their lives (and everyone else too) change dramatically (for better or worse) after meeting Sakamoto. But the oddest thing that I find about Sera is that ever since his debut and settling his differences with Sakamoto, he is mostly seen walking around school only in his bee design underwear! Wait a second. Let that sink in for a while. Aren’t the girls freaked out to see a semi-naked guy walking around in school? Aren’t the teachers shocked to see this fatty moving around the school corridors in his underwear? It is as though it is the norm. Heck, he was in this form too during the graduation ceremony. Maybe because Sakamoto is just so freaking awesome that everyone just overlooked this. Yeah, that really says a lot about this difference. Besides, who is going to take a comedian seriously? As for Kubota, I feel that he might constantly be living under Sakamoto’s attention and getting his help directly or indirectly. But I feel that eventually Sakamoto’s intervention was just a push and in most cases it is Kubota himself who makes the initiative and effort to take a step forward in improving himself. At least you learn something after sticking around this guy for so long. Ah, the envy of girls who would want to be with Sakamoto as much as they can.

Lastly, Fukase. This guy is the real antagonist of the series. Wait a minute. A comedy show like this has a badass antagonist? Because of how mysterious and dangerous he is, sometimes I feel that he is the polar opposite of Sakamoto. The evil version of Sakamoto. If Sakamoto is an angel, Fukase is the devil. For every cool memories of Sakamoto, there is a dark nasty rumour of Fukase that would just send chills down your spine. Sakamoto assists, Fukase manipulates. It is best to stay clear from this guy. If you can. I have always wondered if Fukase keeps staying back in school, shouldn’t the teachers have expelled him a long time ago? Then I thought the teachers were so scared of him to do anything. Till Sakamoto came along. I am not sure if Fukase has graduated for good because it is not entirely certain either. Otherwise I can smell an epic battle of light and darkness when these two clash, assuming Sakamoto is still around. It would be such a classic, larger than life fight that would herald a hope of a new era or the end of the world as we know it!

Despite the art and drawing looking pretty normal and nothing that would amazingly stand out, Sakamoto is so cool and awesome that you don’t even mind how average the artwork looks! Yes, people. It is like as though Sakamoto has hypnotized us with his subliminal special skill to be in awe with the regular anime art standards. I mean, sure, Sakamoto looks like your typical bishonen with glasses. But if you think about it, this is quite the generic look and there are countless of other hot looking guys in glasses in many anime series out there. So I guess this series proves that if you do something so amazing, it could make viewers overlook the ordinary standards as long as it is not crappy and sh*t bad. I want to add that Sera is an odd looking character because despite his good looks, he has an obese body that just disrupts the balance of our stereotypes. I mean, he has got a handsome face but an unsightly body of man boobs and protruding stomach! Yikes! Well, it is the inside that counts, right?

Surprisingly there are many veteran and recognizable seiyuus lending their voices to this series. Like Yui Horie as Aina, Tomokazu Seki as Atsushi, Koji Yusa as Hayabusa, Showtarou Morikubo as Sera, Mai Nakahara as Fujita (almost Juvia material), Kana Ueda as Mii-chan, Yukari Tamura as Kana and Kujira as Shigemi. Then there is Akira Ishida as Kubota whom I thought sounded like a wimp and a little gay… Jouji Nakata also sounded a little different but still recognizable as Kakuta since the character is such an angst old guy, which is a lot different than many of the cool character roles that require his low voice. The rest I do not recognize are also popular and veteran seiyuus like Hikaru Midorikawa as Sakamoto (Lancer in Fate series), Hitomi Nabatame as Yagi (Margery Daw in Shakugan No Shana), Saki Fujita as Tanaka (Ayano in YuruYuri), Tetsu Inada as Maruyama (Gorobei in Samurai 7) and Mitsuo Iwata as Fukase (Kintarou in Golden Boy). Heck, there are more of such seiyuus helming lesser roles like Jun Fukuyama as that Korean doppelganger of Sakamoto, Nobuyuki Hiyama as one of Atsushi’s underlings and Mikako Takahashi as one of the classmates (that manly looking towering girl in class… He-Man???!!!). Thus it was a delight to spot many of the recognizable seiyuus as they perfectly revel in their respective roles.

When you have the main character this cool, it is no surprise and a requirement that the opening theme song also has to be cool. Yup, that is what it is named after even. The hyped up rock beat of Coolest by Customi Z sets the tone and pace of what this anime is about. Yeah! Yeah! So who is the coolest again? Then there is this jazzy and spy thriller-esque tune of the song just enhances the coolness of Sakamoto and everything else. And doubling its sexiness too! It is no doubt that this awesome solo line is often used as the BGM in many parts of the series especially when Sakamoto is about to do his awesome thing. Not forgetting the ending theme which is a slow rock. After all that coolness and awesomeness, there is no better tonic than to wind it all down with Nakushita Hibi Ni Sayonara by Suneohair. If this band sounds familiar, you might have heard the ending themes of Honey And Clover and Arakawa Under The Bridge as they sung those songs in their similar trademark fashion.

Forgive me if I still can’t help talk about Sakamoto in the end. Because after all that I have seen him pulled off, it makes me think what if there is such a ‘hero’ in real life. Assuming that what Sakamoto does can be done in reality, this guy would be the ultimate means for world peace! You don’t need an army to fight in the conflicted zone. Just send Sakamoto in and I’m sure peace will finally set in! A brooding war about to begin? Let Sakamoto handle everything and everybody will be shaking hands again! Corrupt and useless government? You know who to look for. Heck, Sakamoto is so effective and efficient that it is as good that he can run the government, corporates and organizations by himself! At the same time! This guy is the true saviour that the world needs right now. And I’m pretty confident he can put a stop to stupid comments and trends that are rife online these days…

That is why in a way I am saddened that he had to leave his class for the second year for actual reasons unknown. It gives the impression that he has done his job and with all the ‘catastrophes’ that has passed, it is time to move on to another location that direly needs his help. It is as though he went as fast as he came after touching everyone’s lives. Boo hoo! The remaining years without Sakamoto? Unimaginable! But as seen how his classmates have grown stronger accepting his departure and seeing him off with a smile albeit with lots of tears streaming down. At least it also shows Sakamoto is human as we get to peek at his non-existent emotions for a second. Or is he? So people, be prepared just in case somebody this cool appears in your town. Sakamoto, coming soon to a town near you! We hope!

Overall, this is absolutely and awesome and amazing series and I recommend everyone to watch this! Don’t care if there is no awesome plot or awesome characters or awesome visuals or soundtracks, all you just need is awesome Sakamoto! Comedy brilliance. Sakamoto brilliance. All hail Sakamoto! 100% pure entertainment and enlightenment all in one! Those who don’t think highly of him, I have a feeling you are one of those people who have an issue with him. Be warned about karma coming back at you. So if you are having a rough and bad day, you can bad that Sakamoto can not only turn it into a brighter or cheerful one, but he does it with style and class! But be warned, this guy is so good that it might be a double edged sword. While you might feel thrilled and entertained by his awesomeness, it might also make you feel small and useless. But don’t fret. Sakamoto will figure something out. That name again?! Sick of it? Get used to it because he is here to stay. I mean, haven’t you heard already? It’s Sakamoto!

Apparently there have been ongoing OVA episodes for this series ever since its first OVA back in 2012. In fact, that was the only episode I watched. Because nobody subbed the rest of the episodes (it even had a second season of OVAs) and since I wasn’t really such a fan of elementary level boys and girls falling in love, it fell off my radar as quick as I finished that only episode. Hence it was a big surprise when I found out that it was going to be adapted into a TV series, 12-Sai Chicchana Mune No Tokimeki. I know I said I wasn’t a fan of such demographic for romance but there is this small hidden part in me who wants to go back and see to where such love was pure and innocent. Before hentai and online porn corrupted me forever… Seriously…

Episode 1
This is exactly like the first episode of the OVAs. Only extended with additional scenes. Boys will always be boys. Under Hiyama’s ‘guidance’ the other guys flip up girls’ skirt. Yui Aoi tells him off so he claims he doesn’t want to see hers since she is wearing pants. When the other guys decide to do so the next time she does, Kazuma Hiyama snares at them. A signal like saying, “Stay away from my girl!”? In class, the boys continue their naughty ways by saying out loud the girls’ popularity. Kokoa Hamana is tops. When they are going to read the least popular, Hanabi Ayase tries to stop them. Cool Yuuto Takao takes the paper away. The teacher cannot understand why her class is the only one where boys and girls don’t get along. In her bid to have them so, she will have a recorder test next week. As the sitting is paired with a boy and a girl, this means they are forced to practice with their partner. Kokoa wants to be paired with Takao (he is paired with Hanabi) but the teacher tells her not to be picky. Kokoa then threatens Hanabi not to make a move on Takao. Hanabi promises she won’t since she has no interest in guys. Yui is starting to experience her first period. Hanabi helps her to but tampons at the drugstore. While Hanabi and Takao are practising at the rooftop, they see their teacher kissing another fellow teacher! This shocking scene has Takao follow suit and kiss Hanabi too! This makes her wonder if this kiss is a big deal because to Takao it doesn’t look so.

Yui’s period hurts during PE. The boys start taunting her. Hanabi shoves Eikou for being the biggest jerk, telling him off for being a dick. Okay, she didn’t say that but I’m pretty sure it is along that line. As Yui rests in the infirmary, the boys come in to apologize for being insensitive. Later, Takao tells Hanabi that it was his first kiss too and apologizes it might not be her ideal one. Hanabi realizes he was as nervous as her. Kokoa then ropes in Hanabi and the other girls. They are going to sabotage and mess up the recorder test. It should be easy for her since Hanabi did say she was uninterested in him. The teacher is appalled that the test sounded horrible. Like as though no one practised. Hanabi is in a dilemma to sabotage or not. If she doesn’t, she will be ostracized. But seeing Takao’s cool face, screw Kokoa! Theirs is the best by far and in harmony. It is no surprise that Kokoa confronts her about it. The boys find out about the sabotage and that is when Kokoa throws the blame back to Hanabi saying that she is the mastermind behind it. With crocodile tears, it is easy to see why the boys are almost convinced. But Takao dismisses it all. He knows Hanabi will not do such a thing. With Hanabi hiding behind his back, the boys egg on them to kiss. Here is another shocker for all of you. Takao claims they have already done it! Outside, they know they’ll be teased but Hanabi continues to hug him and confesses she loves him. His feelings are mutual too.

Episode 2
Yui’s bath is broken so when she visits the public bath, she finds out Hiyama’s family runs it. While changing, Hiyama tries to stop his naughty little brother from running about and accidentally stumbles upon her naked body. Hanabi notices that many of the girls are starting to wear bra. Kokoa teases her that Takao will dump her for her childish undershirt. So Hanabi and her friends later go out to buy fitting ones. Yui is surprised that a boy from next class, Mori confesses to her. But he gives her time to think. Her friends couldn’t help eavesdrop on it. Since Hanabi has some ‘experience’, they ask her what it feels like to fall in love. The boys are at it again as they touch the girls’ arm. Yui tells off Hiyama thinking he is behind this again. That guy admits nothing except he asserts he doesn’t like her. This makes Yui reveal that someone confessed to her. Curious now? Whenever Yui visits the public bath, she avoids talking to him at the register. Then she realizes her key is missing and becomes distraught. Hiyama goes out his way to help her find it. She is so relieved when he finally finds it stuck in the drain. Hiyama is radiating with coolness and it makes Yui believe she has fallen in love with him.

Yui goes to see Mori and rejects his confession and adds she has someone else she likes. Strangely, he touches her arm and then leaves quickly. Is that some sort of defeated gesture? Too bad her friends are eavesdropping again as they bug her to reveal her love. The pressure has her spill the beans it is Hiyama. Yui feels awkward passing Mori. But how can Hiyama shield her if he is smaller than her? Better than nothing. The girls are making crepes and supposedly give it to the person they like. Hiyama will not accept from Yui. Wow. They aren’t official and they are already quarrelling like the real deal. Then Hiyama gets into a fight with Mori. After the teacher reprimands them, rumours have it that Hiyama was taking out his frustrating after getting scolded by Yui. Yui believes he isn’t the kind to pick and fight and tries to find out what happened by asking the girls in Mori’s class. They reveal the recent trend of touching girls’ arms is believed to be because the softness is the same as a girl’s breast. Mori has been bragging about Yui’s ‘breast’ ever since and when Hiyama heard about it, he quickly gave him one in the face. Hiyama might not want to tell the truth either to prevent this incident of Yui’s ‘breast’ spreading around. Later Yui sees Hiyama at the bath house to thank him. She hands him a crepe she made for him. Then she confesses she likes him. Before she runs straight home, it is his turn to confess he too likes her. Am I seeing a pattern here?

Episode 3
With Yui and Hiyama acting weird, her friends could guess they must be dating. The awkwardness has them spill the beans and it soon spreads like wildfire that the class has another official couple. Yui would soon learn how popular Hiyama is as there are a few other girls wondering who his girlfriend is. Better not cross paths with those b*tches. It is suggested that they go on a double date since the nervousness would be lesson if they had a friend around. The girls are the ones initiating to ask the guys to go on a date and they agree. So before the duo can jump right in to start dating, Marin Ogura teaches them the finer points. She’s such a pro thanks to her sister. Both sides meet up and have a swell time at the mall. They follow Marin’s to-do list but eventually the only thing they can’t do is kiss. Still too early for that. Hanabi easily holds Takao’s hand. As Yui summons her courage, they realize Eikou and his pals have snapped pictures of them. Knowing they’ll be in for a teasing, they split up and easily lose them because Eikou and co are such dumb asses that they took each other out by bumping into each other. After they reunite, Hanabi realizes she has lost her Panda Rabbit toy that Takao won for her at the crane game. Wow. She’s acting like it’s the end of the world. Don’t panic. Retrace your steps and find it. Eventually they did and Hanabi is such a happy girl again. At the end of the day, why does Hiyama looks like he isn’t happy with the whole thing? Then he quickly ends this double date and takes Yui’s hand to go somewhere. Ah, I suppose he wants to spend time alone with her. And Yui finally gets to hold his hands. Albeit for a short while because you know how embarrassing it feels for young kids to be seen doing so. But it’s better than nothing.

Episode 4
Ayumu Tsutsumi is the new transfer student from Tokyo. Hanabi knows him since kindergarten and has a penchant of acting like an emperor! It is no surprise he bosses her around but with Takao to the rescue, he even warns him of not laying his hands on his girlfriend. Don’t worry. He won’t steal his short flat chest girlfriend. Despite Tsutsumi being popular, he doesn’t intend to be friends with everyone and acts like a lone wolf. Yui feels sorry for him and thinking the need to get to know him better, she gives him a profile to fill out but he ignores it as usual. Because Hanabi doesn’t a profile of Takao, Kokoa takes this chance to become a b*tch and brag she has got his since the first day of class. She shows off photos of him and would exchange it for something she has. Since Hanabi won’t give in to her demands, Kokoa shoves her. Takao catches her. He explains Kokoa’s misconception that he only gave his profile to her because she was special. In fact, he never gave Hanabi one because his likes and dislikes change. He would prefer to tell it to Hanabi in person by his side. Just ask and thou shall know. So cool! A dance test is coming up. Tsutsumi mocks Eikou’s lame moves. They almost fight when Hanabi tries to stop them but accidentally sprains her ankle. Then she goes to talk to Tsutsumi how she just wanted him to make friends since he looked so lonely. When the teacher realizes the CD is missing, Eikou accuses Hanabi of stealing it. Of course it’s not her. When it was the previous teacher who had forgotten the CD, Eikou brushes this incident off but Tsutsumi forces him to apologize to Hanabi. Tsutsumi’s dance moves are so cool! Everyone loves him but oddly he can only think of Hanabi. And that strange feeling in his heart? We know what it is. When Hanabi accidentally trips, Tsutsumi thought he could catch her. I don’t know where Takao came from but he was fast enough to catch her. Am I seeing some sort of pattern? But Tsutsumi does not seem happy at this sight.

Episode 5
When Hanabi enters class, everyone starts interrogating her for answers for being a two-timer. Eikou picked up Tsutsumi’s profile in which it states Hanabi is the person he loves. Takao pretends to be mad so Hanabi had to assure he is the only guy in the world she loves. With Tsutsumi claiming somebody else wrote it on his profile as prank, the commotion quickly dies down. Hanabi seeks Tsutsumi’s advice to get a present for Takao. Thing is, Takao’s birthday has passed! That’s why she thought of making it up with a date this Sunday and giving him a belated present. I’m sure Marin the pro has lots of tips but Tsutsumi brushes them off because they’re expensive. He offers to accompany her to pick a present. I suppose it is part of Tsutsumi’s plan to sabotage the present. Despite Hanabi reminding him to remind her of the time so she could meet Takao (she doesn’t have a watch), Tsutsumi doesn’t tell her when the time comes and instead hangs out with her at the fast food joint. This is why Takao is stumped when Hanabi didn’t show up. And then he spots Hanabi with Tsutsumi. Panic time. At least for Takao’s level. Frantic search. Seeing Hanabi smile so happily makes Tsutsumi regret and ponder if he had only been nicer and held her hand earlier, she would have been his. When Hanabi wants to leave, he grabs her arm. When they see Takao spotting them, Tsutsumi takes her hand and run! He tries to confess but Takao has caught up. Confused Hanabi still believes in Tsutsumi that he didn’t do anything wrong despite he claims he knew she was late and wanted to make her miss her appointment. Takao takes her away and she thinks he is mad at her. Well, he is for secretly being with Tsutsumi. But he forgives her knowing that she has been thinking about him the entire time and forgot her own birthday. So it’s today? He gives her a necklace present and a magic hug that whooshes away all the fears and doubts. It’s nice to be young and in love.

Episode 6
Eikou and co must be having a field day teasing Hanabi. She laments she didn’t get to buy Takao a present. Tsutsumi is still sulking and tells everyone just to shut up. One of the female classmates plan on confessing to her crush. Here comes Marin the pro. When she suggests creating an event to confess and that the upcoming marathon would be perfect (she can use the excuse of serving him drinks after the race), I don’t know how the responsibility ends up having Hanabi to set it up. She confides in Takao about it and Tsutsumi looks even more agitated. Then Takao confronts him and just warns him if he likes her, don’t hurt her. During the race, Tsutsumi didn’t come back and it can be assumed he got lost (since he was newly transferred). So Hanabi goes out her way to find him. Seeing her radiant smile again, that’s when he confesses he likes her. He wants her to dump Takao and give him a chance. It is natural when Hanabi returns, she is acting strange and her friends can tell. It is no surprise when Yui talks to her privately, she can tell Tsutsumi has confessed his feelings to her. Well, everyone seems to know Tsutsumi has a crush on Hanabi. Except Hanabi. Realizing it took him a lot of courage to confess, Hanabi needs to reply him. But what should she say? Before she could think up an answer, things are heating up between Takao and Tsutsumi. They are challenging each other in the next marathon for Hanabi. Takao explains he accepts Tsutsumi’s challenge otherwise he will not give up. Don’t worry. We trust that he will win, right? So I guess the other girls are also rooting for Hanabi since their confession failed (because the guy friend zoned her). This has Marin to suggest giving Takao a kiss as reward if he wins.

You can bet Kokoa is taking advantage of this as she goes to conspire with sulking Tsutsumi to help him out. Otherwise would he like to see Hanabi giving his rival a kiss? During the race, Takao leads and is predicted to win. Halfway, he stumbles upon Kokoa who claims she cannot move because her stomach is really painful. He stops to help her while Tsutsumi thinks he is not taking this match seriously and continues running. Hence it is a shock when the girls see Tsutsumi reaching first. Seeing Hanabi is worried about Takao and wants to go look for him, Tsutsumi takes her to where he is. Hanabi misinterprets Kokoa’s pain as her period so this made b*tch girl refute all that and she was just faking it. She then accuses Tsutsumi of wasting this chance to steal Hanabi when he reveals he hasn’t crossed the line yet. That is when Hanabi slaps her! It’s a big deal for this show! As Tsutsumi has already told his feelings, she won’t allow her to insult her friend. Kokoa thought Takao’s help meant he dumped Hanabi but he replies that this was what Hanabi would have wanted. He will definitely help those in need no matter who that person is. Since the rest isn’t over, the guys resume and Takao crosses the finish line first. Then Hanabi thanks Tsutsumi for confessing. Although she likes him but it is on a completely different context to Takao. She hopes he understands. From what I understand, he isn’t giving up on a long shot yet. When Takao teases Hanabi about his reward, she flusters but is ready to give him a kiss. He starts laughing at how cute she was doing that. Though a kiss isn’t the reward he is seeking for, he’ll have it another time.

Episode 7
Yui is surprised but happy that Hiyama asks her to walk home with him from school. So Marin thought Yui was going to give Hiyama a kiss after that but of course that’s still a step far away. This has Hanabi wondering if she should ask Takao the same but Kokoa is here to pour cold water on her hopes. After mocking her childish taste, Kokoa even wonders what is it that Takao likes in Hanabi. This causes Hanabi to scratch her head on what Takao likes about her. Hiyama remembers it has been a year ago when he caught Yui crying after seeing a picture of her own drawing of her mom. Eikou and co as usual were doing a class poll about the most popular girl (Kokoa of course) and mentioned Sakura as he least popular one. This really made her cry! Seeing this, Hiyama talked to Marin for advice. She revealed that Yui’s mom passed away. Hiyama continued to observe his classmates. Takao accidentally read Hanabi’s notebook that she liked macho men (though she clarifies it was from some spy movie). Eikou plays baseball in class during cleaning and accidentally hits Yui. She didn’t cry and after reprimanding them, she laughed happily with her friends. So why is Hiyama unhappy? He screwed things up by telling her he doesn’t want her to smile like that. Huh?! At the playground he apologizes to her but still somehow ends up arguing with her. Not until he almost tripped on his shoelace and they laughed it off. Though he told her to laugh at happy things, subsequently they continued to argue a lot. Hanabi manages to ask Takao what he likes about her. He says she looks like a puppy! Does this mean her status is just a pet? But which boyfriend would give his pet a necklace as present? Ah yes, the answer that dispels all doubts. After reassuring their love, they spot Hiyama coming by and hide. Seems Yui had been waiting for him and fell asleep. He waits by her side till she wakes up in which she thinks he has drawn some funny stuffs on her face. He wouldn’t do such a thing. Because her face is already funny enough! Was that an insult? But Yui is happy to know Hiyama is trying his best. Despite running his mouth at times, he is actually a kind person.

Episode 8
Yui ponders over Hiyama’s mom calling him by his first name. Well, duh! She would love to call each other by their first names. So we’re going to have Marin sensei guide our clueless girls in love and give them tips how to call their loved ones so. Like Hanabi she thought of calling herself via third person but Takao continues to call her by her surname. Yui’s is simpler. She doesn’t have the courage. When all the girls bug Hiyama for his handphone number, he tells them off he will never give it out. Yui thought she was included in the pack but later on Hiyama personally gives it to her and only her. Because she is special. Aww… So the first time she texts him it felt nervous but it was great. Hanabi ponders over using an imaginary boy to make Takao jealous but he overheard it and she fears this might lead to some weird love triangle. But even after all is clarified, he still calls her by her surname. So she challenges him to a duel who can read and write more book comments, the winner will have the loser do something. Of course Hanabi lost but could have won had she read lighter books. His wish is to grant her what she wants. She realizes making him call her first name is impossible and settles for just walking home with her. She gets happy when he whispers her name in her ear. Turns out to be the fireworks (hanabi) festival he is talking about. Darn. Too good to be true. Yui sends a personal text to Hiyama but she never got a reply the entire night. Yeah, she was literally sleepless… Next day when she confronts Hiyama about it, he tells her his parents came back and need to give the handphone back. You know what? She blows her top saying he should have told her that sooner! Like a true fine woman she’ll grow up to be, she hates him and ignores talking to him! Fine woman indeed… Then she comes to her senses this can’t go on and apologizes to him. At this time he has gotten the handphone back and she is embarrassed he has just read her feelings. She thought he was looking down on her feelings but he says he isn’t used to using mails to express his love. It will be better if they just call and talk to each other. He manages to call her first name. But one time offer only? He can’t say it again despite her pestering. But it made her love her name even more.

Episode 9
Yui excels in maths and piano that it sometimes makes Hanabi feeling a little jealous… But it is a good thing her honest nature has her point this out to Takao and it is already a good step forward knowing such feelings. Unfortunately she accidentally slips and surprisingly Takao who was so damn close to her didn’t catch her this time! Ultimately she sprains her ankles. But Eikou thinks she is covering up her period. The incessant taunting has Yui put her foot down that is not true. Because Hanabi hasn’t had her first period yet! Whoops! Everybody heard that… So of course Yui tries to apologize but Hanabi still feels hurt since she said it in front of Takao too. A little argument and then the inevitable. Their relationship strains. The duo avoid each other so obvious that their boyfriends even notice. But they are wise not to get involved between a fight with their girlfriends. Let them settle it themselves. However, remember what Takao said about the need to help others? Yeah, so I guess he can’t leave this saga alone. With Hiyama talking to Yui, Takao also talks to Hanabi about how close the duo are. They were always together, smiling and doing things together. This gives Hanabi the resolve to reconcile as she remembers how Yui became her first friend in school when nobody did. Yui even protected her from dumb boys who teased and even dared to hit a girl! Hanabi sees Yui being confronted by bullies at the riverbed. They are from the same piano class as her. They claim she stopped piano classes because she fell out with them contrary to what she told others that she wanted to concentrate on her studies. Yui then reveals she quit not because of that but more of because she ran away. The bullies continue to mock her. It is Hanabi’s turn to stand up and tell them off. When Takao comes by, his handsomeness has those bullies retreating! What the heck is the deal of such girls backing off after seeing hot guys?! The duo reconcile, own up their shortcomings and continue being best friends forever. Please, no yuri thoughts when they start hugging and say I love you to each other.

Episode 10
Today is Tanabata. In a bid to make the boys and girls get along, the teacher has Takao and Hiyama in charge of tonight’s star observation since Takao is a hit with ladies and all the boys trust Hiyama. Hanabi and Yui feel embarrassed if they are to write their love wish and hang it up. So Marin tells the girls of a useful Tanabata ‘spell’. They need to take a picture of themselves with the guy they like. If the guy finds out, the spell is worthless. This means the guy will be relegated as a background thingy. Kokoa hears this and hatches her plan. After using her charm to borrow Eikou’s camera, she proclaims herself as in charge of this plan. Due to the limited number of films, she selects girls to be taken photos with. Of course this is part of her plan to single out Hanabi as she cries crocodile tears Hanabi has already had enough and just this once she would like to be happy. Gullible Yui agrees although we can tell she doesn’t like this one bit. The plan goes smoothly for the other girls. When it is Kokoa’s turn, Hanabi on pretence lures Takao to talk to him. As she leaves, Kokoa comes out to hug his hand and hurries for her photo to be taken. That is when Hanabi won’t take this sh*t anymore and blocks the shot! Wow. She really covered the entire of Kokoa’s portion. So Takao seeks an explanation. But he didn’t get mad although he hints that they’ll be together for the rest of the day and night so isn’t that more than enough? Kokoa confronts Hanabi later. With 1 more film left, it becomes a tussle between Kokoa, Yui (didn’t have her shot yet) and Eikou (wants his camera back). But they trip and the last shot is taken under Yui’s skirt! Hiyama is so fast to snatch the photo and gives it to Yui. And nobody saw the picture! At night at the rooftop, we see various wishes from decent ones (Hiyama wishing for his grandma’s health, Yui wishing to become a better pianist), simple ones (Hanabi wants fried chicken), ‘amazing’ ones (world conquest!) and desperate ones (a certain somebody wants a certain guy to wake up and be her wife!). Well, we all know Kokoa is being disappointed since things didn’t go her way. While watching the stars, Hanabi thought she spotted a UFO but it’s actually a satellite. I thought it was a shooting star?! Hiyama steals previous secret pictures that contain Yui and Hanabi and gives it to them. I guess the ‘spell’ is still valid then? While Hanabi forgot her dream, Yui had an embarrassing dream of Hiyama and can’t tell others.

Episode 11
Earth to Hanabi. You can stop dreaming about your beach romance with Takao. An unromantic scene for Yui too when she is staring at Hiyama’s awesome football skills only to have the ball hit right on her head. So to make things up, he invites her to the pool in which his cheeky mom gave so he could enjoy with his girlfriend. Since there are 4 tickets, I guess they have to invite Hanabi and Takao too. So the first order of the day is to get appropriate swimsuits and this is where Marin sensei comes in. She’ll have the perfect swimsuits to suit your insecure needs. It isn’t anything risqué but Hiyama isn’t as cool as Takao commenting on Yui’s swimsuit. So much so he wraps his towel around her like a mummy! The double pool date could have been wonderful had not Eikou and pals are here to ruin the fun. Because of Yui and co being conscious, this sets up accidental close proximity for the naughty trio to watch and tease. At this rate they won’t enjoy the outing. Thus when Eikou suggests Hiyama a volleyball challenge, he accepts with a condition that if he wins, they will have to leave. It seems hardly fair with Hiyama against 2 of them. Even more puzzling is how the rest wonder why Hiyama is playing with them in the first place. Eventually Hiyama wins and the shocked trio must keep their word. Takao then confronts Hiyama about his doing and lectures him about leaving his girl alone on a date. This should be perfect lesson because a couple of creeps are trying to hit on Yui! Can’t they tell she is underage?! Then here comes Hiyama protecting her and proclaiming to be her boyfriend (at first the creeps thought he was her brother) and that was enough for them to go away. Once Hiyama’s intention is made clear, they restart their pool date and have fun for the rest of the day. Hiyama apologizes for leaving Yui alone but she is happy he protected her. Back in school, Hanabi is distraught that she forgot to put sunscreen and now she is tanned. Don’t fret. Takao invites her to the fireworks festival.

Episode 12
Although Takao and Hanabi are set for the fireworks festival, it won’t be a double date this time. On that day itself, Hiyama will be helping his family clean the bath house. Eikou and co are trying to rile up Hanabi so they can know when and where the couple will be dating. This means each time Hanabi wants to get close to Takao, the 3 Stooges will always be there waiting to hear the juicy details. Hanabi gets an idea after watching her friends. Using a recorder, she relays a private message to Takao so they can make meeting arrangements at the festivals. While the duo meet up, Yui goes to the bath house to help out Hiyama. She meets his mom first and the latter is so ecstatic to meet her that she hugs her. It’s like she is already her daughter-in-law, eh? Takao and Hanabi’s outing stumbles into an obstacle. Kokoa is there and she is trying to get close with Takao. When she wants to watch the fireworks with them, Takao declines. B*tch girl tries to force Hanabi to let them but since she won’t, Kokoa resorts to calling the rest of her classmates (including the 3 Stooges) to gather. Now they can all watch the fireworks together! B*tch. We can see Kokoa bragging her yukata while Hanabi’s is almost in shambles. Buy you think Takao cares? When it is time for the fireworks, Takao makes a smart move that he is going to go get something he forgot. Because he hints that Kokoa has been following him ever since, she is forced to stay put with the rest in order to avoid having the rest get a wrong idea about them. Wait. I thought it was what she wanted? With Hanabi following him, they leave the rest of their classmates and head to a secluded spot to watch the fireworks all by themselves. Takao returns the recorder and she accidentally plays it in which Takao records he wants to watch the fireworks again with her next year. She is so happy to hear it that she keeps replaying it. Meanwhile Hiyama and Yui also watch the fireworks from the bath house. It’s small but being together makes it all meaningful. When she leaves, we notice another boy staring at her.

Never Too Young For Love
A seemingly ‘cliff-hanger’ at the end?! Don’t fret. There is more to come when the next season arrives (which is in the midst of airing right now). Uh huh. It feels like the love escapades of these 12 year olds are in abundance so much so that they need another season for it. If Hanabi and Takao can have their own love triangle, why the heck not for Yui and Hiyama? That would be fair, right? Something tells me that this is to satiate Hiyama x Yui fans. But I suppose we have to wait for the next season to find out more.

Plot wise, it is pretty much what you would expect to see when 12 year olds date. Though, I am not sure in Japan if that age is legally safe for young kids to be out by themselves dating. It seems pretty normal seeing them building their relationship. Normal date in the mall, normal date at the pool and normal date at the fireworks festival. Nothing scandalous. And it felt like the biggest ‘threat’ was the love triangle that ended as fast as it came. What proceeds in the remaining episodes felt like normal generic relationship building scenes as mentioned. Oh yeah, not forgetting Hanabi’s slap on Kokoa’s face. I know people don’t pay much attention to kids’ fighting but it feels like a big deal to have a b*tch slap in this series itself.

I’m sure the series also tries to tackle the subtle issues like bullying and girls during this tender age facing their first period and the discrimination and stigma that comes along with it but nothing that is too serious because eventually despite all the taunting and mocking, even the naughtiest boys will be made to apologize and repent on their actions. Somewhat a bit unrealistic because in real life we all know how things don’t usually go over so smoothly. Especially when bullying can last very long and a very painful scarring effect on the rest of the victim’s life. It’s like those factors were completely taken out as the kids here go about living their normal everyday life without such long lasting percussions. I’m not saying I know these stuffs or am an expert but I can tell that real life is not as straightforward and rosy as painted here.

The characters aren’t as unique as one would hope for. After all, they are all only 12 year olds so how bad do you really want them to be? I mean, wouldn’t it sound terrible if the kids here were given tragic backgrounds? Wouldn’t you like to see brooding 12 year old boys with a dark past? In that case, wrong anime. Therefore if you are looking for unique characters that would really stand out, look elsewhere. They feel as generic as they are in real life. I mean, in every class for kids their age, you would find one or more of such generic tropes (or all of them). Be it the popular kid, the b*tch, the naughty ones, the cheeky ones, the big bully, the loner and perhaps the nerd and least popular kid. But sometimes I can’t help feel that all this feels a little unrealistic. Like an elementary version of teen romance. Despite an adult writing this romance story and I am very sure all adults have gone through their phase as a kid, hence the ‘experience’ of falling in love in that age (assuming the writer did so), one would wonder if this is correctly portrayed as human interaction and relationships are difficult and not as stereotypical as mostly portrayed in here even for 12 year olds. Again, I’m not saying I am a pro in human relationships nor do I have a degree in psychology but it isn’t as simple as seen throughout the series.

So we have our main protagonist boys, Takao and Hiyama. Both cool and popular among the girls. But that is it for them. Nothing else extraordinary. While Takao is a cool cat in handling his relationship with Hanabi, Hiyama is a little nervous and shy as his love counterpart. That is pretty normal even in real life standards, right? I’m sure we have even forgotten how Hanabi told us outright that she was not the slight interested in boys. That was even in the first episode. One ‘special’ incident to turn it upside down. The power of love? Plot convenience maybe. So while our quartet may still be struggling to find their footing in love, hey at least they have got a head start from the rest so by the time they reach their teens, they would have become ‘experts’. We hope their love would last a lifetime. Till death do them part. But let’s not get too far and too grim with this series. Besides, this series kinda feels similar to Kimi Ni Todoke, Sukitte Iinayo, Bokura Ga Ita and Kaichou Wa Maid-sama whereby popular boys fall for unpopular or normal girls. Only difference is that this series doesn’t seem to have another girl who is more popular than Hanabi and Yui. Not just yet. Kokoa, you say? As far as I can see her subjective popularity is only limited to her class and based on Eikou’s personal list.

Finally there is Tsutsumi. He is the closest guy in this series to look like he has some sort of ‘real life problem’ thanks to his moody and lone wolf outlook. His role as far as this season is concerned is to provide some sort of love rivalry and triangle to the main pair but as mentioned, that was quickly resolved. Then he becomes somewhat irrelevant for the rest of the season. That’s the thing about love triangles. Somebody has to lose. And it is Tsutsumi in this case. Can I blame Hanabi for being naïve enough not to notice his developing feelings? Or was she too deep in love to Takao that the thought of other guys would never like her ever crossed her mind? I suppose after all the bossing around from Tsutsumi (hence her projected mentality of his state of behaviour) as well as the numerous teasing from Eikou and co about her stature and chest, she wouldn’t think herself as Miss Universe material in the eyes of other guys. Tsutsumi looked like he isn’t doing anything now. Maybe wounded lions need time to recuperate before striking back. Laying low for now…

Kokoa as expected the typical b*tch for the series. It feels like when she grows up she can become part of the Mean Girls sorority. Annoying as hell she is, it feels like she is portrayed so, so that we could hate her and make Hanabi and Yui more likeable. Does it? Although it seems that Kokoa does like Takao, I have come to believe that this isn’t the case. It feels like the main reason she is trying to snatch Takao away from Hanabi is because she doesn’t like Hanabi. It is just to spite her. I have come to noticed that if Kokoa does really like Takao, she would have taken more ‘extreme’ action but what I see here feels half-hearted. Because when she loses out like when her plan backfires, she doesn’t seem to be really in dire regret. It’s like, “Okay, plan failed. No big deal. Try again next time”. That kind of vibe. Even though Hanabi and Takao are officially a couple, that still didn’t stop Kokoa from trying to snatch Takao. If she was desperate in wanting Takao to look her way, she would have continuously exhaust all options like what Wile E. Coyote would have done in his bid to get the Road Runner. But her attempts are sparse and little.

In fact, I don’t even think Kokoa wants to be Takao’s girlfriend. During her cohorts with Tsutsumi throughout the marathon, she didn’t really say their collaboration was for her to take away Takao. You know, I scratch your back and you scratch mine. It was just for Tsutsumi to steal Hanabi. Maybe her part was implied and she didn’t want to make it sound obvious like a dorobo neko. For the Tanabata festival where she borrowed the camera from Eikou, she doesn’t necessarily need to go through all the trouble of taking photos with other girls. She could have just borrowed the camera and used it all for herself and Takao. And there were a few other times where Takao coolly dismisses her but she doesn’t take it too personally to heart. If she was really in love with him, she would have been quite devastated (even for her age). But we see her brush it off easily like it didn’t matter. So do you not agree with me that Kokoa’s intention isn’t actually to become Takao’s girlfriend but rather to pick on Hanabi?

And the rest of the other characters… Well, I don’t think there are much of them because we have Marin who seemingly plays the pro in dating advices. It is like as though she is a dating expert-cum-consultant-cum-counsellor-cum-guru-cum-mentor-cum-advisor and knows what needs to be done courtesy of what she learnt from her elder sister. I take it that she prefers seeing her friends date. Because if she knows so much of such stuffs (whether they are workable or not), why hasn’t she got a boyfriend of her own? I mean she is pretty cute herself, no? Maybe it’s her obvious hair bun that sits perfectly right at the top of her head. Sticking out like some sort of permanent oversized bump or anthill antenna. Yeah… Sometimes it might seem a little weird like as though there might be some little alien inhabiting it and controlling her body. No kidding!

As for Eikou and his pals, they are like the baka trio of the series. I know boys like them are the naughty kind for their age but it is their role in this anime to be the comic relief as well as remind our lovebirds of their place because you can bet they will never stop taunting whenever they get close together. Their idiocy goes a step further as they always feel compelled to write down ‘awesome cool quotes’ they believe flow out from Takao’s mouth. Yeah like, WTF? I believe one of them has no dialogue at all (that specky kid who is supposedly the real class rep but nobody cares or remembers about) and he ‘communicates’ via writing on boards or notepads like Gintama’s Elizabeth and Special A’s Megumi. Besides, I feel like as though the trio look like they came out from the Chibi Maruko Chan series. You know, their weird hairstyle and simplistic silly mug.

On a trivial note, in some episodes I noticed there seemed to be this odd looking lady who is a salesperson in just about any shop that our protagonists patron. Not to say that there are doubles of her but as long as they are visiting a certain shop, you can bet this lady is sometimes there to serve them. What makes her creepy is the fact that her face looks like a pale classic Japanese horror ghost mask! Sometimes it just gives you the creeps even though she is perpetually smiling and no other facial expressions. No, seriously. Is that really her face or is she stuck looking like that? Oh, and she sounds creepy too.

The art and drawing remain the same as it was. At least for the first OVA that I have watched. It feels like it is pretty much targeted for younger audiences since the characters are looking extremely cute with wide doe-like eyes. Eyes so big that it might take up almost a quarter of their face. Yeah… And we find such Japanese anime art to be extremely cute, right? Interestingly, this series is animated by OLM, the same studio that brought to you the world famous Pokemon (and all its other spin-offs, movies specials and OVAs – yeah, a whole bunch of them). And you thought Pokemon was just for kids, huh? Remember the Pokemon GO game phenomenon a few months ago? Not so for kiddies, right? OLM too produced other animes ‘for kids’ like Inazuma Eleven, Youkai Watch, Wedding Peach, Doubutsu No Mori and that Agatha Christie adaption as well as not so suitable animes ‘for kids’ such as Steel Angel Kurumi, To Heart, Gift: Eternal Rainbow and Gunsmith Cats. But we’re not interested in all that, right? Maybe except for Youkai Watch. But that series itself isn’t as big as Pokemon for now. Just saying…

The opening theme is the same as from the OVA, Sweet Sensation by Rie Murakawa. Cotona Mode by AOP is the ending theme feels like another generic anime pop. One thing I noticed is that this series has a wide variety of the strangest and weirdest BGMs. What do I mean? For a genre that revolves around the romance of 12 year olds it is just odd to hear BGMs ranging from one that sounds like it was meant for Christmas to a bizarre men voice choir to slow classic rock and to one that has this uncanny resemblance to Michael Jackson’s Smooth Criminal! WTF Smooth Criminal?! Well, not exactly a spoof or anywhere near but just when I heard the low notes plucking of the electric guitar, it instantly reminded me of that song. I don’t know. Somehow hearing these BGMs just makes it feel out of place but yet so amusing.

Overall, this isn’t the kind of series that you should be referring to if you own child is going through his/her phase of relationship problems at a tender young age. This series can come off as cute, funny and innocent but sometimes silly and unrealistic. Well, aren’t all movies and TV series are? You can’t have best of both worlds and being flawlessly perfect at the same time. So I guess these lovebirds had it better than us otakus for experiencing the good nature of romance and love at their age. The only thing similar is that we are both still virgins by the end of the season. Holy sh*t!!! Sooner or later we will all learn the ‘finer and advanced aspects’ of love one way or another. Better to have love and lost than never to have loved at all.

Non Non Biyori Repeat OVA

November 25, 2016

It’s that time again. To take a break from all that violence, sex, nonsense, fart jokes, slapstick humour, ecchi, blood, killing, insensitive jokes, moe overdose and whatever stuffs you can think of that are inappropriate but allow it because of our guilty pleasure thinking it is just confined to the TV screen. Whoops. If it feels my opening sentence was a cut and paste, it’s probably I’m trying to make some sort of a joke out of repeat. Okay, it wasn’t a good one. And so despite a year ago back in 2015 we had the sequel, time to take another break although it is just a single OVA episode, Non Non Biyori Repeat OVA. You know the drill for this series.

Hotaru Had Fun
Winter is here. Hotaru takes her dog out as she makes a snowman, a slide and a little igloo before heading home. Later when Komari goes out to Hotaru’s place, she decides to take a shortcut. That is when she sees the snowman and gets shocked when it almost falls on her. This causes her to slide down and crash into the igloo. What a bad day. By the time she reaches Hotaru’s house, she is panicking about playing outside because it is dangerous! Spring is here. Hotaru visits Kaede’s shop. She panics into thinking how to start a conversation. Eventually she asks for cookies but Kaede doesn’t have any. It seems Hotaru had plans to bake some with her mom today. So Kaede takes a break to help make cookies with her. It’s a wonderful experience for Hotaru. Summer is here. But their summer break is almost over and the girls are doing homework. Komari isn’t getting much improvement and decides to take a nap. The rest then gets bored and wants to invite Komari to play a game with them. However she is still asleep and are in a dilemma to wake her up or let her sleep. Thinking she is having a bad dream, they decide to wake her up with a good dream. Using their influence to change her dream? This doesn’t sound good… From chocolate to lighting to fanning her, it seems they’re making things worse. When they think she is like flying away, they try to flap around to help her fly further. Success when they see her smile. But when she wakes up, she is puzzled what the heck they are holding those items. Autumn is here. The girls go out to the forest to collect berries to eat. Komari seems to have the bad luck of being ‘attacked’ by a flying squirrel. She thinks it is the enemy. When they have collected a bunch, the flying squirrel again ‘attacks’ Komari. This time it steals her berries. Panic mode. After alerting the others, they follow the flying squirrel to its nest and they see it feeding its offspring. Aww, how cute. Instantly they are no longer the enemies. They eat nearby as they watch the family eat from the offerings they leave behind.

Fun Throughout The Seasons
By now you would have realized that the charm of this series is its simplicity. Because of that and how we have built up this perception, we would never come to think of it is boring and ordinary. This OVA doesn’t break away from the usual formula of seeing our usual bunch of girls doing fun things in the simplest way. Fans of the series would continue to love how adorable everyone is (especially Komari who is the staple panicky member of the group and Renge the innocent cutie) while others not familiar with this series won’t be even sure what they are watching. This series is a reminder that despite the lack of technological advances, kids can still have fun in the most simplest of ways. So are we ready to ditch the internet for this simple life? I don’t think so… Anonymously trolling others on the internet can be so super fun sometimes ;p.

Senjou No Valkyria

November 20, 2016

Military and war genres aren’t really my kind of taste when it comes to picking animes to watch. Not to say that I really dislike the genre but it is rather very low on my priority list as compared to high school romance comedy and yeah, fanservice genres. So perhaps the only reason why I decided to watch Senjou No Valkyria was perhaps the many rave reviews it got. No, not the anime but rather the critical and positive reviews from the tactical role playing game that it was adapted from. Now, many of such Japanese games are rich in story, plot and characters so probably that is one reason why at that point in time I decided to give the anime a chance. Furthermore, the game was created and developed by Sega, a childhood console favourite of mine (because of certain blue hedgehog). However sometimes adaptations from games to the silver screen doesn’t necessarily transit well like in the case of Hollywood. In the case of Sega there have been some hits and misses. I can’t really point out good ones because there are many of their series that I have never watched like the Evangelion movies and Persona 4. Those that I have seen are rather okay and passable like World Destruction, Sakura Taisen and Shining Hearts. Some are just mediocre and fail like Shining Tear and the more recently dreadful Phantasy Star Online 2 The Animation. Remembering the funny and nostalgic Hi-sCoool! SeHa Girls, maybe there is still hope for Sega still although this anime was released way back in 2009.

Episode 1
Alicia Melchiott is part of the Bruhl Patrol and is evacuating the townspeople because the evil Imperial will soon launch its attack. Her fellow colleague, Susie Evans report of a possible spy at the bridge. Alicia rendezvous with Jean and Miguro to watch the spy noting down in his notebook. When they confront him, he claims he is just sketching trout. Indeed he is but they think it is some code and take him away. When she learns his name is Welkin Gunther, she becomes more suspicious because that family name is supposed to be a well respected one in the Patrol. The emergency siren goes off and Alicia has to go for a meeting with her superiors about the possible delay of reinforcements that will put a damper to their plans. Then she returns to tie him up in a shed although he pleads to be released and promises to be back because he needs to go get someone. Not buying it. Jean and Miguro wonder if the Imperial is really going to attack this place so Alicia reminds them about the history about the war between Eastern Europa Empire Alliance and Atlantic Federation to control the important resource called Ragnite. Therefore Gallia must fight to protect itself. She returns to the meeting and after it ends, she sees Welkin escaping before her eyes. She goes after him but she hasn’t the guts to shoot. Once she catches up in the forest, he has her keep quiet because they spot the Imperial scouts from a distance. Welkin mentions the person he is supposed to get is his younger sister, Isara. The scouts spot them and they run. Thank goodness they are all bad shots. When they take refuge inside a manor, Alicia couldn’t understand why he is familiar with the place. Then it hit her. Could he be the son of the famous general that saved Gallia in the first war? Yup. Alicia almost got beheaded by Isara in the kitchen thinking she was an intruder. Alicia thinks the siblings are liars since Isara has the Darcsen looks. She has them raise their hands in the air but a rocket propeller rocks the place. Alicia drops her gun. Isara picks it up and shoots the enemy scout at the window. Now you trust her? Isara guides them to the back where more weapons are stored. When the scout reinforcements are here, Alicia throws the old fashion grenade to silence them. Isara then unveils the biggest weapon they can use: A tank!

Episode 2
This tank, Edelweiss was created by Isara’s biological Darcsen father (this means Isara is adopted into Welkin’s family) and it is loaded up and has enough fuel for the ride. They surprise the enemy by barging through them. They return and reunite with the other patrol members who aren’t too thrilled Isara is a Darcsen. When Alicia reports of the advancing Imperial army, the patrol deputy is upset that her act will lead them straight to this town. She believes the enemy is in disarray after seeing an unknown tank and will definitely come after them. They will just need to hold out till the town people evacuate. Welkin couldn’t be more embarrassing in his timing to ask the question when they can retreat. You can’t blame him as he has never been in the front lines and need to take care of himself. There are a couple of tanks the patrol has but they are in unworthy condition. While they try to start it up, the rest go fend off the Imperial army. If you’re wondering why the enemy could stand in the open without getting shot unlike the Bruhl Patrol, hiding behind sand bags and yet they die, it’s because… Better weapons… With so many dead, the deputy returns for the tank. Unheeding Isara’s advice, he sets out in it. Sure, he destroyed a tank but he soon runs out of fuel. Sitting duck. Enemy is here. Bang! Game over. The injury and death toll is taking a toll and it is only a matter of time they succumb. With the patrol chief returning to confirm the completion of evacuees and the Gallian army will be here soon, Alicia, Welkin and Isara will ride Edelweiss to stall the enemy so the patrol can escape. Edelweiss is fast, flexible and powerful. It even deflects bullets! Eat this! With the Gallian army coming, the Imperial side retreats. In the sad aftermath fate of Bruhl, the Gallian army decides to abandon it. Alicia is sad the war has ravaged her home and to just think she was just working in a bakery here a few years ago. Because of this, she decides to join the militia to end the war so that the death of her comrades will not be in vain. When Alicia is summoned to give the commander the report on Bruhl’s retreat, guess who she bumps into? Welkin! Did he join the army too?

Episode 3
Eleanor Varrot makes Welkin the commander of Squad 7. Despite having no actual combat experience, his heroics at Bruhl is enough to be considered so. He gets permission to bring Edelweiss under his care this means Isara is also assigned to his squad. But it is bad news for Alicia because she is assigned to be Welkin’s assistant. They meet Welkin’s university friend, Faldio Landzaat who is the commander of Squad 1. Faldio wonders why he joined the militia seeing he hates fighting and there were many ways for him to avoid being drafted. After experiencing Bruhl, he thought he must end the war fast and return to that place. Welkin addresses his squad but some like Largo Potter and Brigitte “Rosie” Stark already dislike him for being a greenhorn ranking higher above them. Welkin talks about the most important in battle is not experience but their lives. He promises to do his best to protect them. Varrot has the squad commanders in briefing in a next mission to take over Vasel Town as its bridge is a crucial location that connects to the capital city of Randgriz. The squads are to sortie their team there. Things aren’t looking good for the Gallian side and Welkin has another set of problems on his hand. Largo and Rosie spite Isara as a Darcsen. Welkin then decides to make a bet because he knows this is clearly a question whether or not he is fit to be their commander. Give him 2 days and they will take the other side of the bridge. If successful, they will follow his orders. Otherwise he will resign as the squad leader. That night, the area is shrouded in fog. Welkin knew about this because he spotted the swallows flying low and could be a sign of low air pressure. So he summons his squad to cross over. Not via bridge but by river. The non-believers cannot believe a tank can cross water. That is why Edelweiss will do it. The siblings ride the tank underwater and they have to go faster as water is sipping in. The rest follow behind via boat. When it resurfaces, Edelweiss continuously attacks the enemy to confuse them about the numbers. With Squad 7 flanking the enemies at the bank, the confused enemies give up thinking they are outnumbered. By day, Gallian has taken control of the bridge. With Welkin winning the bet, they agree to follow his orders but this doesn’t mean they will accept Isara. The hate is strong…

Episode 4
The Imperial generals are discussing about Vasel’s defeat. Imperial Prince Maximilian will not be cowed by this setback and must stem them before they grow bigger. His tactic is to push the Gallians back by increasing their forces where the resistance is strong. Therefore it is necessary to reinforce the supply route through Kloden. He sends Berthold Gregor there to take command and Radi Jaeger to support him. Selvaria Bles will accompany him to Barious Desert. Welkin and Alicia are summoned by General Georg von Damon. His Regular troops plan to cut off the supply lines at Kloden. Thus he wants Squad 7 to stay out of this thinking they will be a burden unless they would like to be their shield. That Vasel victory was just luck he thinks. Welkin agrees not to participate. Of course his squad isn’t too happy that Welkin did not retaliate after Damon looked down upon their squad like that but Welkin’s order to stay out is clear. So what will they do? Cleaning and laundry… Gregor arrives at Kloden. So do Damon and his troops. When the Gallian side attacks, Gregor orders a decoy troop to the front lines as bait although this will cause casualties. He doesn’t care as he will counter the Gallian force with a bigger attack then. Damon’s troops suffer heavy damage. Like the coward he is, he runs. Only he survived the onslaught and everybody else died. Thus Varrot explains how lucky Squad 7 is by staying out of it. However orders from central HQ will have Squad 7 assault Kloden. Welkin tells his team about this and they are revved up to show those Regulars what they are made of. But it is not only Squad 7 who will be going in alone. Squad 1 will be supporting them too. Because Faldio won’t let Welkin steal all the glory.

Episode 5
Squad 7 and Squad 1 are at the outskirts of Kloden. Alicia thought there is a spy in the bushes. Rosie intercepts it but it turns out to be a pig? With wings? Alicia wants to keep it to avoid it being on the dinner plate of somebody?! It then hit Welkin what their plan will be. As there is an animal trail in the forest, this will lead to the base. Edelweiss and the main attacking team will be the decoy to attack the base from the front while another team will travel via the animal trail and flank them. Edelweiss begins the attack. Alicia and Faldio are part of the flanking team. They reach the base and Alicia is feeling nervous that she couldn’t think. Faldio plays a prank on her and though it startles her, he tells her being nervous makes her weaker than any soldier and it will also make others nervous. And yes, believe in Welkin. As told many times, he is a man who does things when he needs to. The flanking catches the enemy by surprise. Although Alicia get shot in the leg, don’t worry, she is such a strong girl and won’t let this little wound slow her down. Gregor is furious that his numbers cannot best a small army. Jaeger tells Gregor to retreat. It might be painful to lose this base but they must cut their losses. As much as Gregor doesn’t like this idea, he orders his troops to load up the Ragnite and retreat. As the Imperial army escapes, Alicia wants to chase after them but Welkin stops her. Faldio suggests using this momentum to their advantage. However Welkin explains their orders were to occupy this base. This might be detrimental for their side in the future but if an enemy general made the wise call to retreat his troops when the situation changed, it is dangerous to depend on the momentum when facing a commander who gave such a decisive order. Jaeger also notices the Gallian side has a wise commander because he chose not to chase them. The success of this mission gives Alicia the more reason to keep the pig. She names it Hans.

Episode 6
Irene Ellet, a reporter from GBS Radio gets permission to interview Welkin. Despite his good looks, Alicia knows how different this guy is and if the public finds out who he really is, this will not only bring down the militia and Squad 7 but ultimately herself whom she is an assistant to. She needs to stop this interview. Sorry girl. While you were being paranoid, Welkin already accepted it. Making it odder, Alicia answers all questions on his behalf and makes Welkin agree to them! Of course Ellet feels something suspicious and will get to know Welkin via his other members. As Alicia is about to go stop her, she is confronted by Varrot. My, what a long lecture on the do’s and don’ts of the interview… But Ellet isn’t faring well either. Just how weird is Squad 7? Largo talking about his vegetables, Rosie trying to sing, there is this one guy who is gay and Susie and the other girls are taking time dolling up themselves till they realize this is a radio interview. No pictures… And why the heck did Ellet interview Hans too?! Wherever Ellet tries to interview Welkin, there Alicia is intercepting. So will Alicia follow wherever Welkin goes? Except the men’s toilet… But there is where Ellet is waiting. She tries to seduce him in hopes he would open up because she believes Alicia’s strange acting means there is something to hide. Alicia wondering why he is taking so long, barges in and misinterprets they are having a scandal. Nothing happening. Because Ellet promised she would do anything, Welkin has her throw his squad a BBQ party. All the glorious meat! Since they cannot finish it, Squad 1 is called to join in. Before long, some petty jealousy has both sides in a big brawl. Things are thrown, punches are made. But at the end of it all, they make up, drink up and become friends. Yeah, confusing, right? In that chaos, Ellet takes the opportunity to talk to Welkin. Once she learns why he isn’t like typical commanders who are strict and stiff, she understands what Alicia was trying to hide. The real interview starts. Alicia is depressed thinking the militia’s reputation is doomed. But when Ellet’s broadcast is played live, she praises all about Squad 7. But in the end, she surprises everyone that she doesn’t really understand Welkin and will one day interview him again. Oh dear. Does she really need to come back again?

Episode 7
Damon is back to his arrogant ways like as though that humiliation never happened. As he plans his next mission at Fouzen, Varrot makes a suggestion but he scoffs her off and instead gives her an investigation mission to Barious Desert. Squad 7 must be a jovial squad. The guys gambling, Alicia is baking good bread and Welkin sketching his wildlife. Only that uptight kid from Squad 1, Ramal Valt seems to disagree with all that. Wet blanket. Even more so he doesn’t believe they have a Darcsen fighting on their side. This is a perfect chance for them all to discuss about the Darcsen Calamity that happened 2000 years ago right at this spot, Barious Ruins. Of course there are many theories and inconsistencies. Also the Darcsen records themselves do not tell of such conflict. So our related parties head to the ruins to further their investigation. I think Isara is giving an excuse not to go and would just stay back to fix the vehicle. And I think Ramal has a thing for Isara because he changed his mind to stay back to watch over her in case somebody attacks. Welkin, Alicia and Faldio read the old scriptures of the ruins about the calamity, the war that devastated the continent between the Darcsen and Valkyrur races that result the latter being wiped out despite being the more powerful one. Also in the ruins are Maximilian and Selvaria to find the legendary lance. Selvaria initiates and opens some chambers. Faldio thought lucky girl Alicia did something because a chamber nearby them also opens and it reveals more scriptures that would decipher the real truth of this calamity. Welkin has his reservations to venture further since they don’t know what lies ahead but Faldio is insistent as he doesn’t want to let Damon hog all the credit. Who wouldn’t be happy if you are the first to discover something this big? While examining the scriptures, that is when both sides meet.

Episode 8
Alicia tells the Imperials to get out of her land. However Maximilian replies this isn’t theirs either. It belongs to Valkyrur. Thought they were extinct? Selvaria is their descendent. Alicia panics and accidentally fires a shot but Selvaria deflects it with her sword. Once Maximilian gets what he is looking for, he returns to his giant monster tank and has it destroy the entire ruins. Apparently it is cue for our Gallian soldiers to get out but Faldio wants to confirm what Maximilian said first. Is he that desperate? Welkin pushes Alicia towards Faldio from a falling slab before the entire ceiling caves in and separates them. Isara and Ramal head to the ruins and only see Welkin. He promises to save the others. What else for Faldio and Alicia to do but talk about how awesome and mysterious Welkin is. This includes during their university days where there was this hot chick whom all the guys bet who will be the first to approach her. Guess who? But you know what Welkin first said to her when he usurped the rest? He was interested in her cheekbones and wanted to sketch it! Definitely worth a slap. Ironically they became close although he didn’t see her as a woman. When Welkin’s voice echoes through the rubble, they communicate. Then there are uninvited guests: Lizards! Don’t worry, they’re harmless. And cute. Welkin knows that because they are seeking shelter from the desert’s cold, there must be spaces big enough for them to crawl in and thus the duo need to find that space to crawl out. Welkin knows where the exit will be because the scriptures were inscribed on Ragnite and thus its light is being reflected. They reunite and Alicia hugs Welkin the first thing. But what is the first thing Welkin asked her? About the lizards! This guy… We continue Welkin’s ‘university love story’, Faldio talking to him about saying empty words to that chick. Welkin isn’t worried because he knows she has made the right choice and will be alright (although Welkin rejected her). They were at her wedding ceremony. Lastly, the battle at Fouzen, Gallia totally lost. Still, Gregor isn’t satisfied because his ‘favourite tank’ didn’t show up.

Episode 9
Maximilian is summoned back to the capital since Central is not happy with his war record. He orders Selvaria to stay behind. Central has also sent a few aides for the generals and one of them being Karl Oswald who is to be Selvaria’s aide. However Selvaria always keeps her distance and never giving him a proper response, confusing this kid a lot. Meanwhile at the capital, the crown prince and his cronies can’t wait to take over the throne once the emperor kicks the bucket. However he feels the need to eliminate an obstacle. His cronies already assured it is already being carried out. Selvaria is about to go to Maximilian and would have if not for Karl reminding her she would be betraying Maximilian’s orders. Flashback reveals that Karl is under orders to keep Selvaria away from Maximilian. When he returns to his quarters, an assassin congratulates his job well done and will kill him since he has outlived his usefulness. After all, an elite soldier from Central committing suicide from demotion is not uncommon. Luckily Selvaria slices him up. Once Karl tells what he knows, Jaeger believes he is caught up in a conspiracy from the higher ups. Karl becomes distraught that he has nowhere to return after this. This reminds Selvaria of something similar. But Maximilian offered his hand. She does the same to him. Noting that Maximilian’s life is in danger (speaking of which, assassins have already infiltrated his place of stay and trying to kill him), they ride all the way there. Be prepared for bumpy short cuts. They made it in time as Selvaria shows why she is known as the Blue Witch as she cuts all assassins (and bullets!) into half! To their relief, Maximilian is fine because he too can fight and sliced up a couple of assassins himself. Next day, Maximilian sees the emperor who berates him of his recent failures and will continue to be observed and his troops subject to reduction. The crown prince isn’t pleased Maximilian is still alive. When they cross path, he warns Maximilian to watch over his shoulders. Right back at him too. Karl has found his new place under Selvaria and he is quite happy about it.

Episode 10
Alicia has Welkin to thank for when they take shelter in a cabin as he predicted a blizzard would be coming. So… You’d be expecting some sort of romance, right? She wants him to talk about Squad 7 or even himself but all that guy got is animal stories. She didn’t sign up for Animal Planet… He credits his father for making him have an interest in nature since he was an avid insect collector. Alicia notes it is nice to have a family since she is an orphan. Welkin adds his complicated family that despite his dad being proclaimed as a war hero, he couldn’t save his wife who died in the war. Just when you think the mood is right, the warm fire, cuddling up close together, Alicia looking like she is making her first move… Then Welkin chickens out and says to get some rest. Some romance we’re expecting, huh? Deep in the night, they are awakened when footsteps are heard. As they prepare themselves, a mad soldier from the Imperial barges in and threatens to let go a bomb in his hand. The standoff continues… Meanwhile Squad 7 members are anxiously waiting. They believe something has happened to them. As Largo is in charge, he will wait for 2 more hours and then decide since the longer they wait, the more dangerous it will get as they are in enemy’s territory. When Alicia notices the soldier’s injuries, she becomes daring and dares him to shoot at her because she wants to treat his wounds. Before they are soldiers, they are human beings. Despite doing her best, the soldier knows he has not long to live so he tells his story as his last will. He was a farmer in the empire and like many believed the better life if you rise up through the military. Over the years, the many wars fought, the many enemies killed, the many friends who have died, he started questioning what is it that he wanted from this war. That is when he ran away. The wounds he got are from his fellow soldiers shooting at him for trying to dessert the army. Once he learns their names, he summons all his strength to put back the safety pin in the bomb. His final wish is that they remember him and his name, Michael Weber. Sadly, he dies. Next morning when the weather is clear, the Imperial army find Michael’s grave outside the cabin. The commander doesn’t want his men to give chase since he knows the enemy respected a fallen comrade by burying him. Welkin and Alicia get a surprise as they see Squad 7 still waiting for them. They never stopped believing, right?

Episode 11
Cordelia gi Randgriz, the princess of Gallia like any girls her age would rather be outside playing with nature instead of listening to an old fart teaching her political stuffs that won’t do her any good. She is also hosting a banquet and Welkin and co are also invited. On the surface this banquet might look like to celebrate the victories at Vasel and Kloden but its true purpose is to raise the Randgriz family’s influence. Ellet is also here to get any big scoop but with all the stuck ups, it is hard to get anything out of them although her reporter guts tell her something interesting is going to happen. Selvaria and Jaeger are also here masquerading as a noble couple for an infiltration mission. So when Selvaria and Alicia see each other, things are going to get more interesting. Cordelia gives her speech but it sounds so boring, robotic, monotonous and her face is all written over that says I-wish-I-wasn’t-here. The rest of the ceremony is handled by Maurits von Borg, Gallia’s Prime Minister and Cordelia’s close aide. Welkin and Faldio receive their medals for their bravery. As Alicia takes some fresh air, she is surprised Jaeger approaches her. Since she is still suspicious, he lets her know a warning and to tell it to her friends too. Faldio knows Welkin doesn’t want the medal and is here on behalf of Varrot to show face. Faldio wants to know about his relationship progress with Alicia especially that one night with her in the cabin. Sorry to disappoint but nothing happened. You should have known better that his head is only filled with lizards and dung beetles… When Alicia tells what happens to the guys, Welkin goes to find Isara. Since Alicia is still uneasy the way Jaeger kissed her hand, Faldio gives her a piece of the inscription he collected from Barious to calm her nerves. Shortly after Cordelia retires to her room (must be a tiring day, huh?), she gets kidnapped. Alicia got lost trying to find Welkin and sees Cordelia being hauled away. Too bad she too gets knocked out and taken away. It is no surprise that Borg is the ringmaster behind this.

Episode 12
Karl reports Cordelia being kidnapped as expected. However he also saw another unidentified hostage. When Faldio and Welkin reunite, they know something is wrong when Alicia is not with either. They go search around and they mistake Jaeger and Selvaria may have a hand in this since Selvaria picked up Alicia’s dropped inscription. Making a big assumption that Alicia is also kidnapped, they dismiss the Imperial will not gain from doing this and deduced somebody must be hungry for power to even sell out Gallia. Indeed because Borg’ plan is to make known Cordelia’s defection to the Federation. This will make Gallia under the Federation’s control and Borg will be put in charge of the new territory. Welkin suggests both sides to cooperate. It will benefit them. By saving the ladies, the Empire can stop Gallia from becoming part of the Federation. Alicia and Cordelia wake up on the back of the truck. Alicia plans for their escape but Cordelia is not interested. She has resigned to her fate and doesn’t care what happens to herself. When Faldio and Welkin catch up to the truck, the kidnapper is dumb and useless enough to let them hijack. Alicia wants Cordelia to jump onto Edelweiss and Welkin will catch her. Too bad she continues being pessimistic. She doesn’t want to be rescued since nothing will change. Alicia then scolds her for the spoilt brat she is. Change of heart? But the kidnapper takes Alicia hostage (how the f*ck did he climb back up at such a high speed chase on a narrow cliff road?!). Any funny moves, he’ll shoot Alicia in the head. But Welkin pulls out his gun. What is he thinking? Even the kidnapper panics. Luckily Welkin shoots and wounds him. Alicia gives the signal for Cordelia to jump into Welkin’s arms. Faldio finally wrests control from the driver and steps on the brakes in time before it goes off the cliff. Phew. Meanwhile Jaeger and Cordelia successful defeat the accomplices the kidnappers are supposed to hand over Cordelia to. Cordelia is returned to the palace before sunrise. She decides not to let the public know about this issue as she doesn’t want her people to panic. But Alicia and Welkin’s words have given her new hope to try and do something to change her country. Later Faldio asks Welkin how he can aim the gun while Alicia is a hostage. Saving Cordelia was the priority. If he missed? He never thought so. He thought there is this trust between them and everything will be okay. With Welkin continuing to be his happy-go-lucky self, Faldio gets serious and makes him sweat. What will he do if Faldio tells him he loves Alicia? He’s not joking. You looking very stunned, Welkin.

Episode 13
Despite Gallia is doing well recently, Daman is not pleased. Because the militia is usurping the Regulars especially Welkin’s reputation is rising among the military. He decides to send the militia to a death mission at Fouzen. While many other squads suffer casualties as a result from the missiles from the armed locomotive commanded by Gregor, Esel, Squad 1 and Squad 7 are silently infiltrating Fouzen. This town is rich in Ragnite and whoever controls it may turn the tide of the war. They meet up with resistance leader, Zaka. He is a Darcsen and Rosie doesn’t restrain herself in letting him know how much she hates that race. Not that he cares anyway but he warns that this is their town and they cannot do anything without them. Zaka explains when this town fell into the Imperial’s hands, a concentration camp of Darcsen all over the continent was brought here to mine Ragnite. Thus the resistance has been fighting to release their kind. The midnight mission at Fouzen is a 3 pronged attack. The teams are split into 3 divisions. One team is to destroy Esel which is the greatest obstacle to capture Fouzen, another team will assault the mining base that is serving as the command centre and the final team will liberate the concentration camp. Rosie gets permission to go out but under condition she is accompanied by Zaka. When Imperial soldiers pass them, Zaka has to cover her by faking a rape scene. She isn’t too pleased, though. She warns him she is a militia first before a woman. But he replies that she is more human than anyone else. All teams are on standby as they get ready to carry out their mission.

Episode 14
The assault begins and proceeds smoothly. The Darcsen prisoners are freed. Many run but a handful stay back to help with the riot as a diversion. Although the resistance and Gallian sides use the darkness to their advantage, it isn’t long before the Imperial side brightens everything up with flares. Isara and Ramal steal an enemy tank to increase their advantage. Alicia almost got shot by a sniper but Faldio rescues her. Add that to the list of seemingly romantic moments for the duo and another worry for Welkin. Zaka and Rosie plant a bomb on the tracks so when Esel passes, they will blow it up. Gregor knows the Gallian side is behind the attack since the resistance cannot have such organized force. He senses something amiss when the Imperial is still losing despite their strength. When he gets to know Squad 7 is part of this operation, he sets Esel into motion. The bomb goes off but only half of it detonated. Despite derailed, it still can fire its cannon. Gregor broadcasts to his enemies to retreat now or he will fire at the escaping Darcsen. This is of course to buy them time. When they come out of their hiding, they will be shot. Welkin is hesitating as he cannot come up with a good plan. He knows they will be killed if they come out of their hiding. Since it is taking too long, Faldio takes over command and orders to attack. Gregor expected this and fires the cannon, killing all the escaping Darcsen. Apparently Rosie is the maddest. What can she do when she charges at Esel? Zaka saves her before the guns make her into Swiss cheese. Isara’s tank then shoots the other half of the bombs to fully blow up Esel. Gregor admits his defeat and resigns to his death fate but warns that the Gallian’s actions have caused deaths of innocent Darcsen. Everyone mourns over the bodies of the Darcsen people. None as emotional as Rosie. And you thought she hated them.

Episode 15
After what happened, it is reasonable that nobody is in the mood. With no missions at hand, Varrot has the militia rest and relax with a simple banquet. With a suggestion that every squad puts up a performance, Squad 7 is eager to hear Rosie sing. However she does not agree with it and gives an excuse she will not sing before a Darcsen. Welkin goes to convince her but the only way he is going to get her to sing is if he orders her. She will not disobey it. Since he won’t do that, tough luck. Isara feels guilty for being that cause and ironically gets the unlikeliest advice from Ramal to push forward (he was probably just to see her face). So Isara confronts Rosie and knows she felt sad for what happened at Fouzen. Despite her hate for Darcsen, Isara wants her to treat her as Isara and not a Darcsen. She mustn’t run away although her past his shackling her down. This is when Rosie discloses her past. During a time when the hunt for to purge Darcsen was at its peak by the Imperial, Rosie’s family lived in a town where there were many Darcsen. Her family was forced to hide some and they threatened to kill them if they rat them out. When an Imperial patrol comes over to check, a misunderstanding has them panic so the Darcsen shoot everybody, killing Rosie’s parents. Only Rosie survived. Isara feels sad but she still wants her to sing for everyone. In exchange she will not participate. Isara tells this to Welkin who is of course against it. He doesn’t want her to be singled out or sacrificed. But since she put it in a way to respect her wishes, he has no choice. Eventually Faldio learns about it from Alicia’s complaints (because she is mad Welkin won’t do anything about it) so he weaves his magic to take Isara along. With everything that has happened so far, Rosie makes tonight an exception, delighting Isara. Everybody has a good time and in awe hearing Rosie’s magical voice. The morale of the militia is back to normal at the end. That is when Faldio takes this chance to confess to Alicia he loves her.

Episode 16
With the fall of Fouzen to Gallia and the loss of Gregor, the war has not been advantageous to the Imperial. But Maximilian has his own plans. More flashbacks on how Selvaria and Maximilian met. She was hiding in his blue rose garden. Because he gave her a chance to exist, today she is able to walk under the sun and beside him. Alicia has been spacing out and almost burnt her bread. After Faldio confessed, she just ran away. Even Welkin couldn’t pay attention during the squad briefing. Largo noticing him as such, takes him to a makeshift tent bath to talk. He knows what is going on because he too experienced something similar. Largo had a best friend too during his heydays in the militia. Nice handsome guy as a friend. Largo was introduced to newbie Varrot then on the same squad. He was smitten with her and tried to communicate. But he never confessed after he realized his best friend also liked her. It was one of those thoughts of whether to value friendship or being true to your feelings. But before any sort of complicated decisions could be made, his best friend sacrificed himself. He too chose friendship as there were too many problems arising at that point. Largo accidentally reveals Varrot’s name so he warns surprised Welkin not to tell others or else. Love must be in the air too because as Isara leaves the base for town, Ramal is ‘coincidentally’ there to give her a lift. See how happy he is when she calls him by his name? He must be imagining… Alicia can’t stand moping around so she confronts Welkin. She knows things have been awkward between them lately and hopes they can go back to how it used to be. Welkin is glad because he thought she hated him. Reconciliation seems to be on the tracks till Welkin made this mistake of mentioning Faldio’s name. Oh boy. Alicia reveals Faldio’s confession and wants to know what she should do. I know it is not Welkin’s place to decide but my guts tell me Alicia is mad. Even if Welkin paints Faldio as a good guy, you can tell she’s mad. If that is how he feels and thinks, then there is nothing else to be said. Yup, she’s mad. Welkin returns to his room and sees Isara preparing a splendid meal for him. At least tonight is not getting any worse.

Episode 17
Varrot tells Welkin Squad 7’s next operation. They are going to take the Imperial’s strong fort at Mulberry Beach and the only way to access it via sea. The enemy has heavily fortified the cliffs and coming by sea means no cover. Well, since it is a plan from Damon to test waters, I guess you know what this means, right? Ellet then shows Welkin photos of Damon and Borg together. They have been meeting a lot lately and she feels something big is coming up although she hopes to be wrong. After Welkin informs his squad of the next mission which is during the Festival of Spirits, Alicia chides Welkin for always apologizing and blaming himself. It is not what a commander should do. Rosie believes he got arrogant after getting the medal and now the squad is being targeted by jealous people. Fortunately the rest of the squad throw their support behind Welkin and rev themselves up to fight the enemy. Alicia’s mind is so preoccupied that she burnt her hands while trying to save her baking bread. Faldio assists in cooling them down, though Alicia takes her leave shortly. So the Festival of Spirits is like giving gifts to your loved ones? Faldio comes to check on Alicia’s wound and it is perfectly healed within the short span of days. He then gives her the inscription. Welkin sees this and he looks worried. As Welkin surveys the beach and notices the wind conditions, Isara shows him smoke bombs which she has diligently made. She is not sure if they will work under the wind conditions but an idea just cropped up in Welkin’s head. He briefs his squad to attack during periods when there is no wind. Isara gives Rosie a doll for the festival. It is a Darcsen charm. The battle at Mulberry goes in favour for the Gallians as the smoke bombs cover the enemy’s visibility. The charm proves to be a life saver because had not Rosie bend down to pick it up, her head would have been blown off. She just got a flesh wound on her arm and everybody is so worried? Yeah, how many Imperial enemies did they kill? With Gallian reinforcements arriving, the enemy is forced to retreat. Yet another victory for Gallia. Rosie thanks Isara for the charm. A lone Imperial soldier wants to get his last revenge and aims at them. Isara gets shot in the chest! Isara… NOOO!!!!!!!!!

Episode 18
Our worst fears have come true. ISARA IS DEAD!!!!!!!!! NOOOOO!!!!!!!! A gloomy day as Squad 7 and Squad 1 attend her funeral. Ramal is emotionally most affected and blames Welkin for not taking his sister along. She blames him as Isara’s killer. Faldio tells him to calm down and not see off Isara with angry feelings. Everyone is shocked when Welkin tells them to forget about this fast as they have many more battles to fight. This is what Isara would have wanted. Some members thought of cheering Welkin up by bringing him some beetle they found. Instead, he wants them to rest if they have energy to worry about him. Rosie as the only one who didn’t attend the funeral is recuperating in hospital. She still has recurring nightmares of watching Isara die. She remembers she furiously gunned down the perpetrator and desperately trying save Isara, Isara wanted her to sing a song. Too late for her to sing any song because Isara died with a smile. Rosie as expected blames herself that she should have been more alert. Damon is not happy despite Gallia’s victory and Mulberry. He is interested in the smoke bombs and orders Squad 7 to gather. When he learns the creator is dead and nobody else knows how to make it, he orders them to find the blueprints. He sees a Darcsen mark on Edelweiss and becomes furious. He disrespects it and Rosie beats him up. Fatty general cannot even fight… Welkin apologizes and will bear all responsibility. Damon orders him to find the blueprints or he will consider this as military offence. Although it isn’t Welkin’s fault, he will still take responsibility (and all of it) otherwise Rosie will be punished.

Alicia finds some of the squad members trying to dig a pit as trap for that fatty general. They won’t listen to her to stop and even dare her to report to Damon. Alicia talks to Welkin about this but he too isn’t interested in stopping them. If they won’t listen to her, what are the chances they will to him? Alicia doesn’t want him to bear the sorrow alone and at this rate he will be distancing himself from everybody. He wants to be left alone but Alicia won’t. Because she loves him. Oops. Okay, now she leaves him alone. On her way out, she bumps into Faldio. She accidentally drops the inscription in which it was temporarily glowing. Faldio finds out what is wrong and talks to the squad members. He isn’t going to stop them but finds their method inefficient. Because the military is filled with people like Damon, even though they get rid of him, another one will replace him. So the best way is to fight and win. Win and get peace back for Gallia. This is the only way to honour Isara’s death. Time to cover back the hole. Rosie visits Isara’s grave and sings for her. Faldio goes to talk to Welkin who as usual blames himself unfit to be a commander for failing to protect Isara. Faldio chides him 3 of his squad members have been discharged and he never once said he failed to protect them. So what is he? God? Just a fool wallowing in self pity. Welkin agrees to that but this upsets Faldio that he punches him. Feeling better?

Episode 19
With operation orders expected to come in, all personnel are ordered to rest and wait for the next orders. Welkin and Alicia put aside their difference to continue working but the rest know they are the most painfully affected. Varrot summons Welkin and tells him their next mission is to take over Bruhl. Rosie is surprised that Zaka is here. He learns about Isara’s death but this is nothing new to him since he has watched countless of his comrades die. It is how you react and move on. Zaka is here because he has joined Squad 7 to be Edelweiss’ replacement driver. Meanwhile Welkin has to pack up Isara’s belongings. He never realized she had so little stuffs. It was the same when his father brought her home. Because she moved frequently, she only packed necessary things. Welkin said it won’t be necessary anymore since they will always be together. Faldio researches more on Valkyrur and he deduces Alicia is its descendent. Squad 7 moves out ready to recapture Bruhl, the birthplace of some Squad 7 members including Welkin. They fight the enemy but I believe they aren’t that aggressive because even so, the enemy just surrenders. Even the command centre at Bruhl gives up without a fight! Welkin goes to visit his old home. He sees visions of Isara. He feels bitter. He feels sorrow. He feels mad he should have done something else to save Isara then. Alicia knows how he feels. Because she was with him the entire time. Welkin then asks after all the pain and suffering, why can he not cry. Alicia just hugs him. Then all the tears come out lie the dam walls crumble. Better for him to cry all his heart out. He is going to need it. Once done, he joins Alicia outside watching the Edelweiss flowers growing nicely while they hold hands.

Episode 20
Maximilian relays bad news to his generals. Due to their recent failures and the lost of Gregor, the emperor will be relieving him of his commander post in a month. They are not willing to use resources for a single country when they should be concentrating on fighting the Federation. Of course Maximilian isn’t going to follow orders so he takes his entire army for a decisive battle at Naggiar Plains. No doubt their size will draw out the Gallian forces. This is part of their plan to wipe them all out at one go. Varrot relays the Imperial’s impeding attack to the squad leaders. But Welkin believes Gallia has the advantage because the enemy must be pushed to a corner to resort to this tactic. With Gallia’s recent victories, the Imperial wants to win this one to turn the tide and get some results. As the battle rages on, Squad 7 continues to serve as the rear because jealous Damon doesn’t want them to gain more fame than they already have. Cordelia has also gone down to the battleground to give the Gallian troops a big morale booster. Faldio leads his Squad 1 in taking down the enemy tanks. Their confidence bolster when they manage to stop the big ones. Just when it seems Gallia is winning, Maximilian unleashes Selvaria. We almost forgot they’ve got a Valkyrur on their side too. OMG! Her lance fires devastating beams! And her tiny shield protects her entire body?! Too freaking awesome?! Selvaria then finishes off everybody with her super beam. Ramal saves Faldio by pushing him into the ditch before getting vaporized. It seems Faldio is the only survivor. He trudges back to base camp and he is clearly in shock. Not even Alicia can calm his soul. Maybe he needs more time alone. But the thought that Alicia is also a Valkyrur makes Faldio even more scared. He pulls out a gun and shoots her! OMFG! What have you done?!

Episode 21
Faldio carries Alicia to the infirmary. Squad 7 receives word that Alicia is gravely injured. At first Welkin wanted to go see her but realizes that his team needs to sortie. He decides to carry out his mission and at the same time protect Alicia. Damon must be sweating in his pants since Selvaria continues her slaughter over the Gallian troops. Man, is she on cheat code? So much so, Damon desperately pleads to Cordelia to go fight in the frontlines since she has the symbolic lance and shield! Then Faldio comes in wanting to borrow the lance and shield because he also believes they have another Valkyrur. They don’t believe him so he takes Cordelia hostage to do the necessary. Going back to the infirmary, it seems Alicia’s wounds are almost healed. Faldio explains Alicia’s Valkyrur powers will awaken when she returns from the brink of death. As proof, she starts glowing. Now Faldio is desperately trying to wake her up but to no avail. Selvaria has broken through the third line of defence. Squad 7 fires from all directions to keep her occupy (she can’t defend and attack at the same time). She was almost caught off guard by Largo and in her rage, he almost got killed by her. Welkin has no choice but to order his squad to retreat to the final defence line. Faldio continues to call Alicia. Then they hear Squad 7 retreating. She reacts when Welkin’s name is said. Faldio I suppose know what is going on so he uses Welkin’s name to his advantage. Alicia then wakes up like in a trance and goes to war. Not only the Gallians are surprised but the Imperials too. They never knew they had a Valkyrur. Now it is time for them to get a taste of their own medicine because Alicia also unleashes terrible beam blasts to obliterate the enemy! For the first time, Maximilian is agitated and losing his composure and orders his men to shoot Alicia. You think normal bullets can harm her? Then it is a showdown between the Valkyrur ladies. But it seems Alicia is superior. When Alicia targets Maximilian’s tank, Jaeger orders a retreat. Maximilian still lives and leaves with his troops. Gallian celebrate their miracle victory although Squad 7 is in shock about Alicia. Once she loses her Valkyria power, she collapses in Welkin’s arms.

Episode 22
Alicia was once part of a group of experimented children. A girl looking a lot like Selvaria helped her out. Alicia thought that obliteration was just a dream. Nope, it wasn’t. Welkin wants to go see Alicia but top brass has prevented anyone from seeing her. Damon and his generals discuss about using Alicia as their weapon against the Imperial. Against Varrot’s wishes, he will not consult her opinion and will immediately transfer Alicia to the Regulars. Welkin sees Faldio and is shocked to learn he is the one who shot Alicia. Faldio explains he noticed some of the signs Alicia had as a Valkyrur. The lance and shield amplified her power. Welkin is upset that he put Alicia through all that although Faldio is equally correct that had he not done all that, they would have been wiped out. He couldn’t stand seeing his squad annihilated while he is the only survivor. He knows Alicia will go through a lot now and hopes Welkin will support her. Welkin is still mad but seeing his confused face, he can’t stay mad forever. Meanwhile Jaeger is worried their loss will have serious implications since Central isn’t going to turn a blind eye to this. Maximilian doesn’t care since he has a trump card. Speaking of which, the engineering division has completed it. Damon goes to see Alicia, praising her for everything and then relaying the good news of her transfer and promotion. But Alicia doesn’t want this so the rest explains after displaying such power, nobody is going to see her the same. This means she doesn’t belong there anymore. Unfortunately Damon lies that Welkin agrees to her transfer but Alicia knows better than his BS. She runs out while believing that Welkin would never send her away. Meanwhile Squad 7 discusses about Alicia. Some are confused and feel they can’t interact with Alicia like before. Well, what do you know? Alicia heard all that so she thought they had said what they wanted. She’s just here to say goodbye now that she has been transferred. Welkin goes after Alicia. He explains they have always been fighting together. She took care of him when he was in sorrow after losing Isara so now it is his turn. But she tells him he doesn’t understand. She is no longer the Alicia everyone knows. She is a monster. I guess this is goodbye.

Episode 23
With Alicia in the frontlines, she just bulldozes through the enemy! Flawless victories! Meanwhile Jaeger is worried of Maximilian’s next move. He is not too happy that Maximilian plans to disobey Central. He claims he is no longer part of the empire and thus a ruler of his own nation. Jaeger is upset that this means he have followed him for naught but he has only himself to blame as it was his choice. He goes to see Selvaria who has distanced herself from Maximilian since. A little talk here and there, we find Jaeger’s hometown was destroyed by the Empire and the reason he follows Maximilian is that he hopes one day it will be rebuild. Squad 7 is worried about Alicia and wants to go see her. Of course the officials will not allow them. Things get heated up when they hear superiors badmouthing Alicia and even claiming credit for themselves over the recent victories. Then it descends into a big brawl. Welkin tries to stop them and even admonishes his own troops. But when the superior calls Alicia a monster, he punches him! Cordelia goes to talk and free Faldio. The officers then throw Welkin in and Cordelia demands them to show more respect to this decorated officer. Thanks to this, Welkin and Squad 7 are let off the hook. Damon is addressing his generals for the upcoming decisive final battle. He even lets Alicia have a few words. She hopes there will minimal casualties on both sides and will do whatever it takes to end the war quickly. The men applause like as though she meant leaving everything to her. I suppose they don’t even want to question why she looks so forlorn giving her speech. Only Cordelia shares her pain… Later Cordelia personally sees Alicia and wants to grant her a wish. Any wish. Alicia wants Squad 7 and Faldio to be kept safe and once the war is over, please let them return to their hometowns safely. Before the Gallian troops move out, Welkin is not pleased that Varrot relays orders that Squad 7 is to guard Cordelia. This is a personal request from her. However Welkin knows Alicia has a hand in this and goes to look for her. They did cross paths but Damon won’t allow her to see him since the troops are already moving out. All Welkin can do is scream her name. Selvaria returns to Maximilian and vows him victory. The rematch of the Valkyrur ladies is at hand.

Episode 24
Squad 7 safely escorts Cordelia back to her palace. Meanwhile the Valkyrur ladies are duking it out in an epic battle but Alicia is losing because she keeps wondering what she is fighting for as she has lost everything and no place to return. Alicia recognizes Selvaria from the orphanage and asks her why she can still fight like that. This has Selvaria remembering Alicia from the orphanage too and ‘advises’ her not to put unnecessary feelings into the battle. More flashbacks reveal that Selvaria was tested positive for her Valkyrur powers and named A1. Other orphans were released. She was subjected to abuse and testing so naturally she always tried to run away. One day she successfully escaped and hid in Maximilian’s garden. He found her, named her, called her to serve him and the rest is history as we know it. And thus this is the reason why Selvaria can still fight. Cordelia is shocked to hear that Maximilian himself is coming to negotiate for a ceasefire. At first she is suspicious but agrees to hear his conditions to end the war. He wants to marry her! Cordelia believes he just wants the throne to control Gallia but he claims by doing so all the in-fighting in the empire will stop as he will wield ultimate power and shape the world according to his ideals. However Cordelia says that is impossible. She says she is not of Valkyrur descent and takes off her wig. Well, what do you know? She is a Darcsen! Shocking, right? Meanwhile Alicia continues to lose till she starts remembering Squad 7. This is what gave her more strength to fight back and eventually win the rematch. Selvaria wants her to finish her off but Alicia won’t, believing that she too has someone precious. Selvaria thinks she doesn’t understand because the moment she lost, she has lost her worth. Alicia believes she still has a chance if she is still alive. Too bad if you’re as stubborn as Selvaria. She commits suicide by turning herself into a bomb? Is this a Valkyrur power? OMG! Atomic bomb?! It’s sad that she blew herself up this way but I hope Damon and those general blokes get caught and die in this blast too. Cordelia threatens to reveal her Darcsen lineage to her people and thus preventing Maximilian from obtaining the throne. Time to end the fake history. Viewing her as no longer of use, he orders Jaeger to initiate the operation. You mean steamrolling this giant dreadnought into the palace to pick him up? When Karl reports of Selvaria’s death, Maximilian is unfazed. This makes Karl mad that she died for his sake only to be shot by Maximilian. Know your place, small fry. And don’t get in my way. Scary.

Episode 25
There is fierce fighting going on at the palace. Emile gets shot. Another casualty for Squad 7? Welkin gets his groove back to command his squad and give them motivation to carry on fighting or else they can’t face Alicia. Once a giant Valkyrur spear relic hidden in the palace is fitted on the dreadnought, Maximilian orders a test fire at the mountains! Oh sh*t! Flattened only at 20% output?! Maximilian explains this spear’s power was what Valkyrur used to defeat Darcsen and oppress them. This land belonged to Darcsen and Valkyrur were the invaders. As victors of the war, they rewrote history and made themselves as legends and saviours. Maximilian then orders all Gallian forces to surrender. Welkin knows better this is the Imperial’s tactic to weaken their morale because they will not believe Alicia is dead. They must fight on. Now Maximilian turns the spear to fire at the palace. Jaeger wonders why Maximilian thirsts for so much power and feels he has an ulterior motive seeing they have technically conquered Gallia. But Maximilian asks him about hesitating now because he knows Jaeger used him as a stepping stone to get where he is now. Jaeger isn’t hesitating. He betted on his power that he could regain his country as long as he had military strength. But after invading Gallia, he is at a loss. Maximilian sacrificed his own comrades just for power and the Gallian who love their country cared for their companions.

All Maximilian needs is power. As long as you have that, attacking is the same as protecting. Jaeger wonders if this is for revenge. Partly. Flashback shows his mother died in some train ambush. In order to bury that hateful past with his father and brother, he will surpass the emperor and become ruler of Valkyria. As long as the spear is in his hands, that goal is within his reach. Jaeger warns of repeating the Darcsen Calamity but Maximilian will bear that fate as his destiny. When they fire, it seems Alicia stands between their way and her tiny spear could neutralize the big one! WOW! Squad 7 is happy to see Alicia and rush to provide her support. The Imperials keep firing at her and Maximilian could tell from his observations on Selvaria that Alicia cannot control her power effectively after a heavily fought battle. The spear recharges and they aim at her. Alicia uses her will to block the attack and deflect it back to damage part of the dreadnought. She then collapses from exhaustion. Maximilian orders Alicia’s capture. Jaeger once again disagrees of his motives to obtain her. Getting more power will only be more dangerous. This is the last straw as Jaeger will find another path to reach his goal. Maximilian points his gun at him. A gunshot is heard. After the Imperial soldiers retrieve Alicia, Welkin wants to go alone to rescue her. You think his squad is going to let him hog all the glory? They’re coming along. Faldio backs them up while Squad 7 races towards the dreadnought. Thank goodness the Imperial soldiers are bad shots and Faldio’s is so accurate.

Episode 26
Squad 7 infiltrates the dreadnought. The rest become the decoy so Welkin and Faldio can go look for Alicia. When Faldio gets shot, he tells Welkin to go ahead first. Welkin won’t abandon his friend but Faldio reminds him about why his comrades became the decoy. Don’t worry. He’ll catch up. It might be one of those times Faldio lies. Because he can’t keep his conscious and goes all out assaulting the enemy. Alicia is taken before Maximilian. He claims he has saved her and as long as she obeys, she can have anything. Alicia is disgusted with the way he categorize people into those who obey and those who don’t. She laments Selvaria died for his sake but Maximilian denies. It was Alicia who defeated her and then drove her to suicide. Alicia claims she is just a normal person but Maximilian replies that normal people are everywhere and have no value. She earns his wrath (and a big slap) when she tells him he must be talking about himself because he is afraid of his own lacking values. That is why he treats everyone like trash. By the time Welkin gets to Alicia, Maximilian is geared up in his artificial Valkyria spear and shield. Some technology of his using Ragnite that allows this weapon to replicate the original without having to rely on the empire or Valkyrur anymore. He wants Alicia and Welkin to fight so that he can show off his new powers. As they try to find his power source, they realize his weapon starts malfunctioning. Could it be because it cannot handle the power? Their plan is to overload the weapon.

When Welkin gets injured, Alicia becomes mad. Her Valkyrur power awakens as she holds down Maximilian. This causes her Valkyrur power to be infused into him and the weapon. The weapon malfunctions while his veins… Ugh. They’re bursting! Maximilian knows he is defeated but refused to be capture. So he kills himself but will also destroy this dreadnought and take everything with him. Alicia realizes her swelling power is the same like Selvaria. She is going to turn into an A-bomb. She tells Welkin to get away and protect everyone or they will be engulfed. You think Welkin cares? Instead he hugs her despite the power burning him. He returns her scarf and reminds her he will always be with her. It doesn’t matter if she is a Valkyrur or a baker. It is that part of Alicia that he loves. Then the much awaited kiss. I am guessing this kiss dissipates her overflowing Valkyrur power? As the dreadnought is collapsing, Squad 7 waits with anxiety for their captain. Then over the horizon, Welkin and Alicia are seen together. In the aftermath, the empire calls for a truce with Gallia. With the war over, many return to their hometown and families. If you look closely, Jaeger can be seen in the background. Susie from a noble family? Oh sh*t! I wouldn’t have guessed. Zaka and Rosie seems like they’re hitting off together. Cordelia reveals her true Darcsen origin to her people and they welcome her. Alicia and Welkin return to Bruhl.

Theatre

3 minute specials from the DVD.

Special 1
Beach episode! Of course for the Squad 7 girls only. We see them compliment each other’s swimsuit (nothing too risqué), play beach volleyball, play water, surf the wave, bare in the sun… Ah, yes such a fun outing. At the end of the day when they leave, Selvaria arrives. Waiting for her majesty who will never ever show up…

Special 2
Now it is time for the festivals. This means our main characters in their lovely yukata. Nothing really much happening except when the fireworks start, it startles Alicia as she hugs Welkin. When the fireworks take a break, they realize their embarrassing position before resuming watching the fireworks again. And poor Selvaria. She too is watching the display alone and laments her highness’ no-show.

Special 3
The young boys are tired after hard training. Ellet has a way to freshen them up as she shows pictures of the girls. We all know why Ramal can’t help stare into pictures with Isara but his pride won’t admit it. So you don’t want it? What are better than pictures of girls? Pictures of the faces of the girls sleeping! Again, Ramal why are you so infatuated with a sleeping photo of Isara? But what could beat such pictures? Ellet is about to reveal a racy picture of Alicia but Alicia caught her red handed and confiscates them all. And she has the guts to ask if there are pictures of Welkin. Oh, the racy picture is just Alicia sleeping in a crude position.

Special 4
Selvaria is unsure what civilians wear so she has Karl do some research. I believe why he is so eager beaver is because he gets to dress up Selvaria in various outfits from a plain commoner even to the Gallian militia’s uniform! Where the heck did he get all those uniforms? The final outfit has Selvaria very reserved but Karl argues it is necessary if she is to fully understand his will. And so she puts on Maximilian’s garb and starts acting like him. Unknown to her, Maximilian spots this and just lets her be. Could he be considerate not to embarrass her? Or he just doesn’t care?

Special 5
Maximilian and his generals are playing Old Maid. Jaeger and Gregor have reached their goal and all that is left are Maximilian and Selvaria. She is in a dilemma to let him win and decides to let him so but each time he is going to draw her joker, she quickly withdraws. This arouses his suspicions and he wonders if she is mocking him. So when he finally picks the joker, he wins the game. There are 2 joker cards?! Because this game is called Old Man?! Game for another round? Oh God it’s already morning…

Special 6
Bath fanservice time. Hans is one lucky pig to be swimming with our Squad 7 girls. As usual, girls must target somebody to molest and the victim is Alicia. Then Varrot comes in and all the shenanigans stop. The girls ask about Varrot and Largo so she explains how they met and all. Varrot must be dense never noticing Largo’s feelings because she always thought he loves his flower farm so much that he always gave her different flowers. Yeah… Eventually Varrot goes on and on and on, lasting longer than a Duracell battery. All the girls have passed out from the heat. I wonder if Hans has turned into bacon…

Special 7
You know this is going to be Hans’ episode when everybody suddenly wears pig ears and can only oink. Buuhi! Yes, Hans is now the new commander of Squad 7 and the only one who can speak in proper human tongue! From stopping the English populace from eating pork to saving the Randgriz palace from Imperials, man this pig is going places! And if you think all this is too good to be true, it is because it is just a nice dream from little piggy. Hey, even pigs can dream, right?

Special 8
Cordelia feels the need to give a surprise gift for Welkin on his next visit. I’m not sure why all she has are animal headgears. Even more baffling is how she tries them on and tries to act like it. From a frog to a newt to a bunny, what was her intention again? None seems right as she tires herself out till early morning. That is when she realizes she is late for her English test. She makes haste but forgot she is wearing a chick headgear. But imagine her surprise when she sees Borg. He is not donning his wig… But Cordelia’s official headgear! My, is everyone here so absentminded?

Special 9
This feels more like an extension and epilogue of the TV series. Alicia writes a letter to her squad members that she will be marrying Welkin. But due to their busy schedules (Welkin returning to university and Alicia getting her baker’s licence), they are unable to hold a ceremony for the time being. Of course everyone can’t sit around and agree to it as they arrive at Bruhl to give them a surprise and hold their own ceremony. It ends with a lovely wedding kiss. Last picture: The duo are blessed with a beautiful child.

Unrecorded Chronicles: Ta Ga Tame no Juusou

OVA 1
Taking place during the war between Imperial and Gallian sides where everybody you love or hate in the TV series are still alive, the Gallian army is fighting in a decimated town at night. The enemy is taking them by surprise and the darkness is shrouding their presence. Then they realize they are fighting Nameless, a group of renegade military members led by Kurt Irving. They are forced to flee with their tails between their legs. Maximilian plans his next assault on the capital and plans to capture the town of Dillsburg as their stepping stone. He assigns Darcsen Dahau to defend this town that is being stationed by Munchhausen. Similarly, Nameless is also going to take part in the fight at Dillsburg believing the enemy will not anticipate them. As they make their way there, one night while they are camping, a little girl strays into their camp and collapses. They find out that the Imperial army suddenly invaded her town and took everyone hostage. Nameless is in a dilemma to go save her village because of their depleted ammo. There is this thought that Gallia will send reinforcements to save the village but they know better from their position that Gallia doesn’t care about this little village and it is most likely abandoned. With Kurt reminding everyone that even insignificant and innocent people still bear names, where the regular army cannot protect the people, Nameless can, I guess it is decided that they’re going to save this village with what they’ve got. The plan starts at midnight as some members take out the guards stealthily. When their tank is in position, they go into full force attacking the enemy till they capture the commander. The Imperial army surrenders as Nameless disarms them. As thanks, the village throws them a feast. When they leave, Kurt decides not to take the enemy weapons and leave it with the villagers so they can defend themselves. I believe Nameless get their much needed supplies after Lt. Col. Ramsey Crowe pulled some strings and left a whole truck load of necessities in the jungle. The Imperial army gets a rude awakening when Squad 7 attacks them during the foggy morning. Dahau isn’t taking any hard action and just drinking his tea because he notes their mission is just to protect these large ‘toys’. When Nameless arrives, they hear gunfire in the vicinity. They save Isara from being chased and shot by Imperial soldiers. Kurt knows about Isara and wonders why she is here. She is pleading for help because the Gallian army is being routed.

OVA 2
Isara explains the Imperial started relentlessly firing their twin cannons, causing the Gallian side to retreat. Edelweiss was hit and its engine damaged. Despite Welkin’s objection, Isara volunteered to go look for reinforcements. Kurt plans to approach the enemy base by climbing this steep and narrow mountain. It is very risky and dangerous but they can creep up on the enemy. But first, they need to fill their stomach is food. Sure, time is ticking but certainly you can’t fight on an empty stomach, right? Better than an empty arsenal. Isara mentions about different uniformed soldiers at the base and Kurt knows they are Calamity Raven, an autonomous military unit comprised of entirely Darcsen led by Dahau. Once Nameless traverses the tricky mountain, Kurt’s sharpness spots several landmines at the mouth. Looks like Dahau anticipated a platoon will show up here and sent Gusurg to wait and assault. Kurt and his team are forced to retreat and take cover. It gets worse when the retreated Gallians come out of their hiding and charge back at the base. This is part of the Imperial’s plan to lure them out by stop firing the cannons to make them think it is safe to come back out. Now they are sitting ducks in the open. Munchhausen orders to fire the cannons at them. Kurt then tells Isara not to tell what she is about to see to anybody, not even her brother. Riela Marcellis uses the Valkyrur spear and shield to power up as she fires a beam to take out one of the two cannons. Gusurg could have cornered and wiped out Kurt’s team had not he received orders to return to base, much to his dismay. As part of Kurt’s plan, his other team served as a decoy in the forests. They make it sound that the Gallians have come back with reinforcements and surrounded the base. Thus Dahau has ordered his Calamity Raven to pull back and retreat. He reminds his generals that their battles aren’t waged for the sake of the empire but to build an independent Darcsen nation. So if it gets dangerous here, they don’t have any obligation to comply.

Kurt splits his team further as they try to infiltrate the base to take out the other cannon. With the heavy attack from the south, Munchhausen starts panicking that is where the main force is attacking from and deploys all his force to concentrate there. This gives the Gallian side a much needed reprieve. Isara returns to Squad 7 and wants to introduce some of the Nameless reinforcements but none followed her. The other cannon is about to fire but Edelweiss is able to take it out thanks to Nameless’ Alfons Auclair giving coordinates of the cannon from the mountains via Morse code. This drives Munchhausen crazy as his ‘children’ are destroyed. He gets desperate to kill the enemy as he is going to use his other secret cannon albeit it is not ready for battle. The coordinates of this cannon is too far for Edelweiss to take it out. This is where Imca comes in, barging her way through enemy fire like Rambo (seriously, what the f*ck are the enemies doing?) and even has time to fire several rocket grenades into the cannon! And then run back out! WTF?! Super cool!!! The cannon is destroyed, taking along Munchhausen. With the enemy fallen, the Gallian army now fully charge forward to take over the base. Yeah, it is like they’re taking credit for everything, huh? But Welkin knows that Nameless did most of the work behind the scenes and knowing that itself is good. Dahau and his Calamity Raven have safely escaped. They receive word the base has fallen. Despite some taunting Munchhausen’s incompetence, Dahau believes he was a good commander because ‘he gave them time to escape’. Nameless continue their journey to find others in need of their help. For their battle still carries on.

War… Never Changes
Wow. I never imagined that I would find this series interesting from start till end. And there I was ready to write it off as early as the first episode this was going to be a long drawn out genre not to my liking but I was proven to be very wrong. I should be ashamed of myself for having such thoughts at the very beginning and that I shouldn’t even have picked this series up if I had thought so. But I am glad that I watched this series and as it easily blew away all the negative perception that I was once so eager to label this series as. So it goes to show that you must always give things a chance. Just like Squad 7 itself. The more chances it gets, the more credibility they get for their deeds. Thanks Welkin and co for giving me that chance to change my mind. Though, it was as early as at the end of the first episode that my views totally changed. Hah.

I never thought that the first few episodes would be so interesting and drew me in intensely. Although the plot gradually gears towards to be somewhat predictable at the end but it isn’t all that bad overall. Welkin is the sole reason for retaining my attention and made me eagerly want to watch the next episode so badly. Because he is not your typical military man, his tactics and strategies are thinking out of the box and this makes it very refreshing. I’m not saying that I have watched lots of war movies or series but in such genres you’d normally expect the usual of both sides showering each other with hot lead and RPGs. So when Welkin who has no military background at all and uses his keen observations and his love for nature to turn the tides against stronger opponents, this sealed the deal. I was then quite interested to see him and his team fight in more skirmishes just to see what kind of brilliant strategy he would come up with. Each victory didn’t feel like a fluke and each time I would just be amazed and give him the respect that they earned it.

I thought the ending and the final episode of the TV series felt a bit rushed. For 2 things that I say this. After eluding and teasing us with the romance between Welkin and Alicia, it is like he suddenly wins the game when the duo kissed at the end. Uh huh. It just feels so unrealistic if not rushed. I know it is irritating throughout the series that Alicia and Welkin aren’t being honest with their own feelings but I suppose that kind of ‘tension’ and build up in its own way is good. We were hoping for them to get together somehow in the end (and sometimes even not) but in this way? And then with the finale, the main antagonist is dead, Faldio is dead like as though he is the main stopper that prevent the realization of their romance and once he is gone, the duo are free to love each other till the end. It just feels odd. Yeah, romance feels like a jinx here because the potential pair of Isara and Ramal died, Selvaria died and her one-sided crush never materialized while Largo will forever stay in friend zone with Varrot. Yeah, truly cursed this romance thingy.

The other second reason is the sudden end of the war. You know, it got me thinking that this prolonged war between the empire and Gallia just feels like it is just one big elaborate plan to get rid of Maximilian and his subjects. Do you not notice that the moment he is gone, both sides sought truce and peace reigned! OMG! I didn’t know it was that easy! Because you do also notice how Central has been annoying patient with Maximilian’s less than stellar progress. At the same time it is like they know he isn’t one who is going to play by their rules so they just let him do whatever he wants. Not like they can personally take him out easily seeing we had an episode that sees how the most skilled assassins fell to his swords. So I guess what better way than to rid of this thorn in their side via battle. A befitting way for a commander to go down in the battlefield. And so when we have the epic battle between our main hero and main antagonist and it ended in a good ol’ good triumphs over evil route, it just feels freaking suspicious to think what the heck this war was about in the first place.

I believe (although I am not entirely sure) that the game itself has lots of characters with equally rich backgrounds and personalities. I am not saying that the anime version sucks but it is predominantly about Welkin, Alicia and Faldio. The rest like Rosie and Isara have their moments too but they are way too limited. What I am trying to say is that the other members of Squad 7 feel like they are just extra characters. Because the main focus is usually on Welkin, Alicia and on occasions Rosie and Isara, the rest just feels they are just there. Heck, I don’t think I even remembered their names. Despite the closeness of Squad 7 in the story, but the way they lack decent screen time where it matters makes me feel like I don’t really want to care about them. Look, if one of them died, I wouldn’t even shed a tear or care about him or her. Like those in Squad 1 whom I believe many are even just nameless. These characters didn’t even reach the minimum level like Isara to shock us when she actually did die. At least we cared about her. But for the rest, I don’t think so. Therefore the most mind boggling character ever in Squad 7 is Hans. I don’t even know what this pig is for despite being a cute mascot. It ended up in one of the girl’s ownership but I didn’t really care since it did nothing that really mattered throughout the series. The series could have been done without it but seeing Squad 7 as mentioned has cute boys and pretty girls, why not the heck just throw in a cute animal to go with it all.

On a trivial note, I can’t help notice how Squad 7 is comprised mainly of people who aren’t the kind to fit working in a military. I’m not saying that other squads do not have their own weirdoes (because they don’t even get decent appearances) but doesn’t Squad 7 look like a squad for little boys and pretty girls? I mean take a look at this squad. At first look you might think they are some sort of orphanage or something. Only Largo seems to fit the stereotype of a military man thanks to his big burly body size but when you have a group that has this gay guy and a bar singer apart from little boys and girls, you wonder if the recruitment screwed up somewhere. Especially Susie whose running joke seems to be fainting at the slightest hardship or bad news. It makes you wonder how the daughter of a noble family even ended up joining the militia. You thought being in the Bruhl Patrol was already bad enough and that after the end of it, that will be the last time she’ll join a war. But then surprisingly here she is in Squad 7. Did she follow Alicia because they’re like BFF? It is amazing that she actually survived till the end of the war. So don’t you think Squad 7 in this sense feels like they have odd members? Take a look at Squad 1 which as far as I can see consists of only macho men. There are some young lads too like Ramal but Squad 1 is basically the manliest of the manliest squad ever. It makes Faldio like the pretty poster boy of the squad. Am I right?!

If you want to talk about colourful characters of a squad, the big irony is that Nameless seems more interesting in this aspect. Because in addition to have a hot hunk leader, the group consists of a wide variety of characters from a fatty to a grandma, lots of beautiful babes and brooding hot men. And the biggest irony is that their appearance is only limited to those double OVAs. Two episodes were enough for them to attract my attention. If they had more appearances I am sure they would have been a whole interesting lot with their own interesting back stories to tell seeing that Nameless are comprised of deserted soldiers and military offenders. Compared to Squad 7 who had an entire 26 episodes to fairly give out their individual stories but fail to get any sympathy from me. Of course you can play the game which is fully fleshed out but that would be missing the point for those who just want to watch a good story instead of engaging in game play.

Talking about the main characters, throughout the course of the war, we see how Welkin gradually changes when war starts to take a toll on him especially the turning point when his adopted sister is killed (I still can’t believe they killed her off) and when the love triangle starts to rear its ugly head. It sure would be confusing about your feelings in the middle of a war. You will notice that from a man who doesn’t follow regular military regulations and does things his own way and pace gradually becomes rigid and closing himself off to the rest of the squad. I am sure he wants to keep a brave front and not show any weakness that might send the wrong signals but this isn’t really Welkin as we know and it made everyone worry. Then there’s Alicia who doesn’t think too highly of Welkin at first and always an excuse that she is needed to clean up after him. Probably after sticking with him for so long, it is only natural she sees him in a better light. Finally is Faldio the third wheel? Actually because of his charisma, he bridges the gap between the duo and many of the other squad members. He is cool, observant and mature so without his guidance and advice, there are many times that worse things could have happened. It is unfortunate he had to perish in the end.

Maximilian and his generals might be painted as the series’ main antagonist but once you get to know his background, they aren’t all that bad. It is like they are just fighting on the wrong side. Whether his way is right or wrong depends on your discretion, your stand and perception of things. He is after all fighting another war of his own. The war with Gallia is just a stepping stone to achieve that. Since he would do about anything to achieve that, sometimes it makes you wonder if he is just as bad as the Imperial side. Because despite showing kindness by saving Selvaria, he doesn’t hesitate to use her and doesn’t even bother when she died and is happy she served her role. But a baddie is still a baddie so he still has to die, right? Assuming he is really dead. Or he could be touring the countryside in secret just like Jaeger? Just like in any other wars, the true devils and big baddies are those at the top, letting others fight for them while they remain behind the lines. Whether you are from the Imperial or the Federation, power, money and politics rule. So I’m glad that people like Damon got killed in the battlefield (at least in its own way there is justice in death rather than letting Isara and Squad 1 people die) but still rue that people like Borg and the Imperial’s emperor are still alive. Well, life isn’t all that fair either despite the saying all is fair in war.

Coming as part of the package in wars is of course discrimination of certain people and as seen here the Darcsen. Not only they are persecuted and discriminated for this war but throughout the history. The odd thing I find is that the Darcsen are almost everywhere at least where this anime is concerned. You noticed how every main squad you see here has at least a Darcsen member. From Squad 7 to Nameless to Calamity Raven. So you lose a Darcsen in your squad, just replace with another Darcsen! And what do you know? The princess of Gallia is actually of Darcsen origin! As much as we want skin colour and race not to play a pivotal factor but that itself is the source for many conflicts. Like how we see the people rally behind Cordelia after her revelation but somehow we can’t feel sceptic that such won’t last. And what about Rosie’s initial hatred for Darcsen at first? Spend a bit longer times with a Darcsen and her entire life of misguided hatred for the clan becomes friendship. It’s almost as you could say her best friend is Welkin’s late sister.

Aside from all that drama, the war and action scenes are also sufficient and satisfying to complement it. As said, Welkin’s unconventional methods to seize victory without losing any of his members are an incredible and amazing feat. Then it gets a bit weird when both sides start to throw their Valkyrur trump cards into the battlefield because then it suddenly becomes an overpowered fantasy battle with both sides shooting beams that could even destroy the moon! It looks fake, it looks exaggerated, it doesn’t make sense but hell yeah, it was fun. I just wanted to tell Maximilian to use Selvaria’s Valkyrur powers from the start and blow Gallia and his own Imperial side away instead of waiting for last minute for the decisive battle.

Art and drawing are beautiful in its own right. I believe they follow closely to the game. One thing that makes the art style stand out is how they look like they are done with colour pencils. Now, you may say that using colour pencils in today’s anime standards is like child’s play or that it may look cartoonish but I assure you that instead of looking low quality, the characters and the background sceneries are looking gorgeous instead. In a way, it is quite refreshing and unique itself. With nice character designs (at least for many of the main characters because you have lots of your bishonen and bishoujo looks) and military uniform designs, it makes this series quite the eye candy in this department. The only odd character design was Cordelia’s princess ‘suit’. Those horns or flaps or whatever those are makes her look like she is some sort of alien. Really.

However I cannot say the same for the OVA. It seems they have done away with this colour pencil technique and decided to go with the standard anime art style. Although not obvious but it is noticeable. One big reason I didn’t like this style is not only the fact that I have gotten used to the TV version’s style (since the OVA only had a couple of episodes), but the characters look somewhat different! Take for example, Isara. In the OVA she looks a little different. I mean, I could tell it is her but at the same time it didn’t really look like her. Like as though she had ‘less quality’ put into her. Yeah, you could say the Isara of the OVA version is less cute. Even the rest of Squad 7 in the OVAs were looking a bit different than usual. It had thinking if that was Alicia or her twin.

Voice acting is quite good with the seiyuus portraying their characters very well. There are some recognizable ones such as Marina Inoue as Alicia, Takahiro Sakurai as Faldio, Jun Fukuyama as Maximilian, Sayaka Ohara as Selvaria (again another villainess character), Kazuya Nakai as Zaka and most important of all, Mamiko Noto as Cordelia. Phew. I’m glad she didn’t die in this one. With Isara and Selvaria dead, man I thought she would be next. Phew. Thank goodness. Hehehe… At first I thought Miyuki Sawashiro was behind Ellet but it turned out to be Naomi Shindou (Shizuru in Mai-HiME). For the rest of the casts, they are Susumu Chiba as Welkin (Kondou in Gintama), Houko Kuwashima as Isara (Sango in Inu Yasha), Junko Minagawa as Rosie (Ryouma in Prince Of Tennis), Kenji Nomura as Largo (Kugayama in Genshiken), Atsuko Tanaka as Varrot (Caster in Fate/Stay Night series), Makoto Naruse as Ramal (Kei in Pretear), Akio Ootsuka as Jaeger (titular character in Black Jack), Chikao Ootsuka as Gregor (Gold Roger in One Piece), Hiroshi Okamoto as Karl (Tanbabashi in Inari Kon Kon), Hidekatsu Shibata as Borg (King Bradley in Fullmetal Alchemist series) and Hans even having his own seiyuu and probably the easiest of the lot, by Chigusa Ikeda (Mizuno in Yakitate! Japan).

Both the opening themes of the series are pretty decent. The anime rock of Ashita E No Kizuna (first opening theme) by Himeka and Kanashimi Rensa (second opening theme) by Maria are not bad but they won’t end up staying in my head for days. The first ending theme is weird. Not only Ano Kaze Ni Notte by Pe’zmoku sounds like the singer is having synthesizer effects in his voice but the carnival and casual feel of this song makes it weird for the genre this anime is supposed to be in. I suppose with all that fighting, we need to take a little break once in a while, no? And doesn’t the animation style and execution of it feel uncannily similar to the one in the first season of Kuroshitsuji’s first ending animation as well? Hmm… Suspicious… The second ending theme is Hitotsu No Negai by Hikari Inoue and is a very slow and lovely ballad that sometimes feels like you are going to have tears well up in your eyes. Another slow and lovely slow piece for the final episode of the TV series, Brightest Morning also by Hikari Inoue, a befitting song to fit the end of the show. For the OVA, the opening theme also has that anime rock feel. Entitled Tomoshibi by Faylan. Its ending is the acoustic ballad, Itsuka Saku Hikari No Hana by Minami Kuribayashi.

Overall, this anime is one of those few adaptations done in the right step. Few games have very much or even little success when they translate to the silver screen or even your normal TV. There could have been better potentials and developments that could be slightly improved (if you are very nitpicking) but as far for an average viewer who hasn’t heard of the series or played the games before, it did a pretty good job and maintained its quality. We shouldn’t be too greedy sometimes… Sometimes it is a curse and blessing that humans have all these wars and conflicts. Otherwise where would we be able to get such great stories that bring out the best and worst in us? Maybe for every 1 in 10 war themed stories, there will be good ones like this. It’s like saying we’re keeping on fighting so we have great legendary tales to tell our future generations.

Sword Art Online II

November 19, 2016

Although this came out a couple of years ago, I purposely delayed watching Sword Online II because I read a few less than impressive reviews about it. And since there were more interesting animes to watch at that time, I put this on my back burner and hopes I would one day return to watch this sequel. Well, thankfully I did instead of procrastinating till kingdom come. Because the more I delay, not only the more I will forget (not to say that I remember many things by the time I started watching this) but I will be bogged down with so much negativity thanks to all those comments I have read and when I lose interest, I fear that I might even dropped something that I never watched and based off the opinions of people whom I will never know. And so it was that time again to clear my busy anime schedule to make time for this sequel. Whether for good or for worse, only I myself can determine that. Do I sound cool? Okay, never mind…

Episode 1
A famous Gun Gale Online (GGO) player, XeXeed is boasting what he knows best to be the top player in the game. His interview is being aired live all over the GGO in-game screens. This mysterious mask and cape character, Death Gun perhaps didn’t like how he was being so arrogant so he is going to judge him by real power. Other players laugh when he fires his gun at the screen. Can he kill him that way? But when XeXeed soon starts choking before instantly logging out, everybody starts wondering if this mere coincidence. It has been a year since the events of the last season so we see Kirito and Asuna still going strong in their relationship (jealousy rage!). He tells her what happened 4 hours earlier. He was reluctant to meet this government bureau guy of the virtual division, Seijurou Kikuoka. Also the first person who visited him when Kirito woke up from his virtual trap. Probably he was treating to him to anything he wants was part of the motivation. Kikuoka explains about the popular gun game with pro players only in Japan, GGO. A player was found dead in his apartment after the landlord smelled some foul stench. He was probably dead for a few days. Autopsy revealed he died of heart failure. Coincidentally, this guy who is XeXeed also ‘died’ during the same time in-game interview. There are other players recounting the events of XeXeed’s death with this Death Gun’s actions. Kirito brushes it off as coincidence. However there is another similar case. Another player named Lightly Salted Tarako was also found dead in very similar circumstances. Kikuoka is asking Kirito’s opinion if it is possible to die in the game and in reality this way. Based on their technical arguments, of course not. The bottom line of this meeting is that Kikuoka hopes Kirito can log into GGO and make contact Death Gun in person. Well, Kirito already brushed aside the possibility of such deaths and yet he feels scared and thinks Kikuoka is asking him to go get shot? Aside money and compensation as the motivation, Kikuoka believes Death Gun has a certain criteria in choosing his victims like being a pro. So don’t worry, Kirito won’t get killed off. But wouldn’t it be faster to contact the game administrators? Unfortunately Zaskar guarantees player anonymity and will not release information so easily. Plus, their servers are in America and with their emails and contacts all confidential, yeah, sending Kirito in seems a much easier option. Going back to Kirito and Asuna, they reminisce about things during Aincrad in SAO and the possibilities it gave birth to. Not that I can remember.

Episode 2
Sinon is a top sniper in GGO. She teams up with a group to do an ambush. When the targets are in sight, they analyze whom they want to take out. Sinon is suspicious of the large cloaked guy in the back but the leader brushes it off as him being a transporter carrying goods. The team takes their position and the ambush proceeds well as planned. Till the cloaked guy, Behemoth reveals he is carrying a huge devastating minigun! Despite its name, it really packs a punch and sends Sinon’s team into hiding after a few of their men is taken out almost instantly. They realize he is a hired bodyguard. Sinon warns about continuing to hide because this way they will all be wiped out. The leader is scared sh*t of attacking all at once and get owned by his minigun. He rather log out than handing him a victory. Sinon blows her top about being a coward and not even be brave enough to die by the gun. Better to go out this way, right? They follow her command and wait for the right timing to ambush. The coordinated effort, some sacrifices and Sinon’s daring move eventually gets the best of Behemoth as she nails him at point blank range. After that she logs out and Sinon’s real life alter ego is a high school girl, Shino Asada. Meanwhile in ALO, we see Kirito’s harem girls, Leafa, Liz and Silica working together to cut down a monster plant. Even more insulting, Kirito and Asuna are just sitting around doing nothing! Oh yeah. Like a lion and his pride. What better way than to spend a lovely day online with your girlfriend and let the rest of your harem do the work. Jealousy rage! I think after all that thinking, Kirito has finally decided to tell Asuna something important.

Episode 3
A group of bullies demand Asada lend her money. She won’t this time. When the leader makes her hand like a gun and threatens to shoot her (because her brother has got new firearms), this sends Asada reeling in some sort of trauma. Thankfully her friend, Kyouji Shinkawa rescued here by faking he called the police. At a café, they talk about Behemoth and some other GGO stuffs. Although he introduced her to GGO, he felt she improved a lot and he was left behind. Asada goes home. She picks up a gun model in her drawer. Her trauma starts. It all began when her father died in a car accident when she was small. She moved away with her mom to live with her parents. One day at a post office, there was a lone robber but he was mad and bold. He shot a teller when he pressed the emergency button. He threatened to shoot Asada’s mom next. That is when she got up and bit his hand. They struggle for the gun. She fired 3 shots into him to kill him off! Asada realized too late what she had done despite it was self defence. Blood all over her. Even her mother was shocked. You think she would at least be grateful for saving her ass… And that has been her trauma ever since. Asada’s trauma is so great that she became sick and vomited. She pleads for somebody to help her. Kirito tells Asuna he will be temporarily leaving ALO for a while to help Kikuoka in an investigation in GGO. He goes to see Natsuki Aki, the nurse who helped rehabilitate him after SAO. She will also watch over him when he dives into GGO. Why do anime nurses have to be flirty (or otherwise grumpy)? Because she loves touching his muscles and wants him to get naked! So she can hook up electrodes for the diving, that is. Don’t worry. She has seen everything during his rehab. Yeah… Maybe that is why she ‘likes’ him… I wonder what Asuna thinks. Asada also dives into GGO as she further explains her traumatic condition never improves. Every time she touches a gun, she goes into trauma mode. Shinkawa introduced GGO to her as some sort of immersion therapy. To her surprise, holding a gun in virtual reality doesn’t trigger her trauma. If her avatar grows stronger, she hopes her physical self would too. She hopes to win the next Bullets of Bullets (BoB) contest. Meanwhile on the internet, rumours of the deaths link to Death Gun are rife. Some even joked about getting shot by him. The real Death Gun seems to be having Sinon as his next target.

Episode 4
Kirito is now in GGO. OMG! He looks like a girl?! Who the hell f*cked up his avatar?! He is sure getting all the wrong attention with the guys howling at him. Naturally he gets lost so he asks from help from Sinon who is passing by. She too thinks he is a girl. Kirito’s goal is to join BoB (so he could attract Death Gun’s attention). She goes out her way to introduce some guns for him to buy but with his limited credit, there is not much money. She can lend him but he would rather work his share. Is there a faster way to earn money? Well, there is this gambling game. One needs to run 10 metres and dodge the NPC cowboys’ bullets. Do that and you get the entire pool of funds from failed players. It is virtually impossible since the closer you get, the more the cowboy ‘cheats’. So they watch a player going great guns at first but fails when he gets closer. Apparently genius Kirito has observed everything and knows what to do and enters. Despite everyone has no faith in him, we see Kirito easily dodging the bullets and even at point blank range, he manages to dodge them all and tag the cowboy to win it! How does he do it? Simple. The point of this game is to anticipate the prediction lines of the bullets. Say what?! With tons of credits, he can get better weapons but it seems he is interested in this photon sword (light saber?). Naturally. Sinon mentions nobody uses this because damage is dealt only in close range and in a world of guns by the time you get close, you’ll be blown away. Good enough for Kirito as he buys it. As you need a gun to enter BoB, Sinon recommends some pistol for him. He practises with it and of course being the beginner, he didn’t handle it well. They had so much fun that they realize the closing time for BoB registration is in 10 minutes! GGO has no teleportation. That only happens when you die and respawn. Good luck getting there. Kirito sees a buggy and rents it. If you are wondering how he knows how to drive this bike, it is because he played a lot of racing games too. Good for him. Now step the pedal to the metal!

Episode 5
Of course they make it in time to register. Guess what? Despite being in the same block, they’ll only get to meet in the finals. As expected… When it is time to change clothes, Sinon undresses before him. Surely he is surprised and reveals his true identity. Yup. Kirito is male. Her disgusted face… I wonder how many life points you lose with a slap. Because of this, she gives him the cold shoulder. But since they’ve been together for ‘a while’, I guess she is ‘kind’ enough to dispense some very basic rules of BoB. Lucky her friend Spiegel is here to make the situation less awkward. He isn’t participating but he is as shocked to learn Kirito is a guy. I knew this girly avatar would cause such problems. I don’t know what her problem is. Kirito has tried his best to be polite as always when she became a b*tch. Now that it is time to do gun battle and he becomes a little confident, she becomes b*tchier, unbelievable of his attitude?! WTF?! Not even a handshake. While waiting in transition for his match to begin, Kirito can’t help wonder if Sinon is Death Gun because he heard her say she will kill all the strong ones. He wonders which side of Sinon is the real one. Kirito is left running for cover since his opponent is raining down bullets on him. Then he thinks about using that prediction lines and his sword to deflect the bullets. Yeah well, I’m sure he can because he is the main character! So after deflecting a few bullets and surprising the enemy, he thrusts his sword into his rival. Man, that looks painful. Kirito wins. He returns to the lobby trying to find if Sinon is still in the game. That is when Death Gun pops up next to him and asks if he is the real thing. It is when Kirito realizes they must have met before somewhere. Because Death Gun wants to know if his name and sword skills are of that person, Kirito is convinced he is an SAO survivor like him. Which one? Damn it, I don’t want to remember all those unimportant extra characters! But here’s a big hint. Kirito sees a familiar mark on his hand. Does Laughing Coffin ring any bell?

Episode 6
Whether or not if Kirito is an alias or real name, Death Gun will kill him another day. This leaves Kirito very traumatized. He remembers in SAO, he was with Knights of Blood fighting against Laughing Coffin. Knights of Blood were in a pinch because it was as though their formation was leaked by an insider. The brutal and bloody battle ended in many deaths. Some Laughing Coffin members committed suicide rather than surrender and Kirito killed a couple with his sword. He starts going crazy if he could be a surviving member or even the deceased. He is snapped out by Sinon. It’s hard to be a b*tch when his trauma seems so real. Over the next few matches, Kirito becomes a crazy reckless guy in defeating his opponents! So crazy I think we even skipped some matches. The expected final is of course Kirito and Sinon. Thoughts of his traumatic face cause her to hesitate. Even more so when she sees him walking confidently towards her, like as though he has a death wish. Because of that, she missed her shot. Then she comes out of her hiding just to confront him about his attitude. Does he not care about their promise to fight their best? Seeing her tears makes Kirito realizes he is wrong. So he suggests a duel between her gun and his sword. When Sinon fires her bullet, Kirito is able to cut it. This takes her by surprise as she tries to regain her footing but then he is already holding his sword at her neck. Though Kirito claims this is just skill, upset Sinon thinks it is more than just skill for him to dodge her bullet like that. She has been trying to learn that kind of strength. So he tells her if this bullet can kill in real life and if she doesn’t shoot them, she or someone she loved would be killed, will she still be able to pull the trigger? Sinon feels he had a similar past to her. Kirito laments he never knew the names of those he killed back then. All he did was deny them and ran away, trying to forget it all. Since it is Kirito’s win and not his policy to kill girls, he requests she surrender. Realizing his hand around her waist, I guess b*tch mode is back. Yeah, yeah. She’ll beat him the next time.

Episode 7
Suguha shows a BoB article in which Kirito’s name appears on. He brushes it off as coincidence. He isn’t a good liar… Suguha knows he has been playing GGO lately as he has dropped off her friend list in ALO. She knows?! Plus, she also asked Asuna about it. Although she sounded confident, she also sounded worried. Apparently Asuna did offer her help but Kirito didn’t want her involved in this problem of his. All Suguha can tell him is not to do anything dangerous. Meanwhile Asada is complaining to Shinkawa about the sexual harasser Kirito is. Nonstop… I guess it makes this guy worry. She has always been calm and collected but now she lets this guy rile her up. Shinkawa sounds desperate in wanting to help her. What do you know? He hugs her! She pushes him away and whatever reasons she gave, all I understand that he is being friend zoned. But she gives him hope that she’ll think about it once everything settles. Kirito has some sort of counselling therapy with Natsuki. He is disturbed he has forgotten those he killed. Cue for her to hug him and apologize she can’t carry his burden as she has never played SAO and doesn’t know what it is like to kill. She knows he at least has the right to save himself. Before Kirito’s trauma can blow up emotionally, more big hugging from her to calm him down and have him remember that he did it to protect someone. We take a detour watching Kirito’s harem girls fighting a lizard monster in ALO. Is Klein temporarily in charge of them while he is gone? Because Asuna is so worried and spacing out not paying attention, Klein almost lost all his HP. The main BoB round is here. Apparently losing finalists qualify too so you bet Sinon is going to pay back the favour twice. Before it begins, Spiegel (Shinkawa) talks to her to give his support. I suppose he is still desperate because he starts confessing he loves her. At this crucial time?! Okay, okay. She’ll think about it after the battle. Don’t want her distracted, right? Lover boy believes in her and agrees to wait.

Episode 8
I guess we still have time before the start so Kirito continues to bug Sinon about the battle royale rules. Can’t blame her this time if she really feels pissed off. Yeah, does he ever read the rules? He then asks from the final list of 30 players, which names she has not heard before. There are 3 of them. She wants an explanation so Kirito explains about his life and death battle in SAO. The main BoB tournament begins. We are distracted with weaker ones being taken out. Sinon positions herself to snipe an enemy but Kirito stops her because he wants to watch this battle. He promises not to kill her. You can trust Kirito… They watch this Pale Rider move like an acrobat to dodge all bullets and easily defeat his enemy. Kirito is certain he is Death Gun but surprise! He is shortly taken out! They observe his character is paralyzed by a stun bullet and sniped from very far. Kirito is shocked when Death Gun appears. Sinon is even surprised he has a very high profile sniper rifle with silencer. Such a gun is only rumoured to exist in GGO. Death Gun takes out a handgun and prays as he is about to finish his opponent. That is when Kirito gets desperate and calls Sinon to shoot him now before he fires.

Episode 9
Kirito’s harem are watching BoB. They see how Pale Rider was taken out. When Sinon fires, Death Gun dodges. When Death Gun shoots Pale Rider, he didn’t die. His paralysis is over but soon Pale Rider starts going into convulsions before disconnecting suddenly. When Death Gun makes his speech about bringing true death, it brings back fearful memories for Kirito’s harem. Klein especially remembers him and knows he is a former member of Laughing Coffin. Asuna decides to log out and talk to Kirito’s employer about this. Kirito and Sinon try to trace Death Gun but he is undetectable by radar. Most probably he went underwater. Although it leaves him vulnerable because the rules has one unequipped when doing so, Kirito still it is dangerous for Sinon to follow him alone because he knows he can really kill. They agree to a truce to take him out. Sinon believes as a sniper, he would be hiding at the abandoned city to his advantage. They try to deduce who he really is. Out of the 3 names Sinon mentioned, since it wasn’t Pale Rider, he could either be Gunner X or Sterben. They believe Gunner X since it echoes with his Death Gun name. They plan their strategy to take him out and true enough they locate Gunner X’s signal in the area and going after another player in the vicinity. Kirito goes ahead and will signal to Sinon to as his backup to fire. As she waits, suddenly she is hit with a stun bullet. Her worst fears come true when Death Gun emerges from his invincible cloak. He then mentions about killing Sinon to see whether if this Kirito is real. Because if she dies and he goes berserk with his sword like the last time, it is the real Kirito. He wants to see Kirito’s rage again. As Death Gun takes out his handgun, Sinon recognizes it. It belongs to the robber she shot and killed. How could this be? Time for the trauma to resurface again.

Episode 10
Before Death Gun could shoot, Kirito fires back and sends him into defence. Kirito then throws a smoke bomb and takes Sinon to escape. They ride a buggy and Sinon realizes she cannot even pull the trigger. Get this. Death Gun is chasing them via horse. Can a horse run faster than a buggy? I know it is a mechanical horse but… With Death Gun breathing down their neck, Sinon is reduced into a cowering hopeless. She tries to aim again but she still can’t. She wants to give up. Kirito shows how freaking cool by doing the impossible. One hand he guides her rifle and the other he is on the accelerator! OMFG! How can they even keep their balance at that speed!!! Although Sinon manages to fire, she misses. Luckily it hit a nearby truck and it explodes. Death Gun seems to get caught in it. But don’t count on being him dead because Kirito saw him leap off although he will still sustain damage. Hiding in a cave, Kirito explains how he came to her rescue. When he went to face Gunner X, he knew that wasn’t Death Gun because she was female. Kirito defeated her and that is when he saw Sinon down. He borrowed Gunner X’s arsenal to rescue her. Kirito doesn’t want to drag her into this fight anymore but she insists because it sounds like she wants to die. I mean, the person she considers her rival is now consoling her broken and pathetic self. Kirito disagrees about her dying alone since she is now part of his life. See what you done? You turn her into an emotional wreck. Yeah, we know how much you hate him but that doesn’t change a thing. Cue to explain how she killed that robber 5 years ago although the media reported it his gun misfired. But she still had to live with the trauma of people accusing her as a murderer. Also about her phobia on guns but she thought GGO would make her stronger. However facing Death Gun regressed her back to her real self. She is scared to die but living in fear is much worse. Cue for Kirito to talk about his killing experience in SAO. Yeah, yeah. We know. That’s why you have to settle things here, right?

Episode 11
Sinon wants to know how he overcame his memories. He didn’t. He still gets those nightmares and needed to accept it to know what killing them meant. They discuss how Death Gun can kill players in real life when it is impossible to do so from the game. He senses something amiss because when Kirito came to rescue Sinon, Death Gun didn’t use his handgun to shoot him. Is there a reason why he couldn’t use it? On the question why Death Gun knows who you are, when one registers into BoB’s terminal, you enter your real name and address. But even so, how can he kill? Then it hit Kirito. Perhaps there are 2 Death Guns. The one in the real world will kill the player after being given the signal by injecting some kind of drug that stops the heart. Because XeXeed and Tarako lived alone in old apartments with low security, their deaths are only found out much later, after the body has rotted and thus doctors couldn’t trace the drug. Besides, it is not uncommon for MMORPG players to die from playing a game straight without rest. As for how the deaths in the game and reality coincide, perhaps Death Gun’s cross gesture is some kind of signal. Kirito then asks Sinon if she lives alone. She does. Despite having some security, she remembers the door chain is not locked. Kirito thinks there is a possibility the perpetrator is now in her room waiting for the signal since Death Gun has been targeting her. Sinon’s heart rate starts to increase as she panics. Kirito calms her down that she cannot log out now as it would make it more dangerous for her to face the killer. Meanwhile Kikuoka logs into ALO as Chrysheight to speak to Kirito’s girls. He explains but nothing that would amount to any revelation. It is basically what we already know. The girls would love to help had Kirito only told them but they know his character of not wanting them to be put in danger. Asuna learns where Kirito is diving from and will go to him. Kirito and Sinon devise their strategy to defeat Death Gun. In short, Kirito will be the bait (like always). When Death Gun fires, Sinon will use his shot to find his location and then snipe at him. By elimination, Death Gun should go by the name Sterben and Kirito plans to ask him the meaning of this chosen name if he gets close.

Episode 12
Kirito senses something amiss because with the counter that shows how many players left, it looks like there is one missing. Sure you didn’t forget to count yourself? One of the other survivors is Dark Wind and Sinon knows how fast and deadly this dude is. He came in second place last time. They discuss about using Dark Wind as decoy to lure Death Gun and talk about the possibility that there might be more accomplices Death Gun has. The plan now is for Kirito to be the bait. He will relay the enemies’ position and Sinon will take them out. Kirito stands in open sight. He barely dodges a bullet that could bring down a structure! Sinon then takes out Dark Wind. As Death Gun has already sniped, this allows Kirito to know his position as he rushes there. Sinon also detects Death Gun’s position and fires. Death Gun also spots Sinon and does the same. Their bullets destroy each other’s rifle. When Kirito is about to slash Death Gun, he got slashed by him instead. Don’t worry. It’s just a little wound. Asuna has entered Kirito’s room and is shocked to see his heart rate climbing. Conveniently with Yui’s help, they put on the monitor to see how Kirito is doing. Asuna recognizes the estoc weapon Death Gun is having. He is part of Laughing Coffin but can’t remember his name. She wonders if Sterben is a misspelling of Steven but Natsuki explains it is a German medical word for death at the hospital. Death Gun mocks Kirito for being a coward because he kills to survive. Kirito then reveals his dirty trick of how he is able to kill players in reality. But Death Gun says he isn’t quite there yet because he doesn’t know his real name. Flashback reveals he wanted to after that bloody battle with Knights of Blood. However Kirito refused to listen, believing they will never meet again. Death Gun begins his relentless assault on Kirito.

Episode 13
How can Asuna stop Kirito’s dehydrating body? Hold his hand and pray real hard! Yeah, it should work… Kirito remembers hard that he might have seen Death Gun before. In a briefing with Knights of Blood, there is a Laughing Coffin member with red eyes… Kirito calls out his name, Xaxa. Death Gun is stunned for a while. Death Gun senses Sinon aiming at him and as he tries to avoid he loses balance. That is when Kirito goes in for the kill and cuts his body in half! Death Gun’s last words are that it isn’t over yet till it is found out… Kirito and Sinon meet up. With the threat gone, he believes she can safely log out and take precautions. She reveals her real name and address, which is pretty close to where Kirito is diving from. And it seems they will finish their battle in another time. Can BoB have 2 winners? Sinon lets Kirito hold her grenade. And then she hugs him while smiling before they both go boom! And there you have it. Double winners Kirito and Sinon! As Kirito awaits logging out, he sees the names of Pale Rider and Garrett as victims and this confirms Death Gun had more than 2 partners. Asada wakes up and confirms her room. Nothing suspicious. Everything is safe. Shinkawa then comes by to congratulate her of her victory. Then he becomes that desperate idiot to remind her and all of us about her answer. He promises to protect her from now on. It gets creepier when he hugs her but when she fights back, he sticks a syringe at her body. Asada’s fears come true when Shinkawa admits he is Death Gun’s accomplice. Guess what? They’re brothers! At the last tournament, Shinkawa was playing as Sterben in GGO so this time he wanted to switch places. Shinkawa goes on to complain about how he tossed away everything in the real world and GGO is all that he has till XeXeed started boasting about those lies and that is why he killed him. Crazy Shinkawa continues to suggest abandoning reality and living in some fantasy world and start their own family. So crazy this guy that he acknowledges her as the only girl in Japan to kill a real bad guy with a gun. That is why he chose that gun as Death Gun’s weapon to leave behind a legend. Shinkawa’s rape face is getting scarier and Asada has resigned to her fate in giving in. Till her Sinon counterpart tells her to fight for a certain someone. She breaks out of Shinkawa’s hold and escapes but he catches up. Rape is inevitable till Kirito barges in to beat him up.

Episode 14
Shinkawa fights back like a mad man and stabs Kirito with the syringe! Asada knocks him out with a radio over his head. Asada is frantic that Kirito will die but Kirito is one damn lucky guy. Of all the places Shinkawa could have stabbed, he stabbed near the heart and Kirito’s electrode from a heart monitor saved him. Phew. Could have died from a heart attack too. Shinkawa confronts those b*tch bullies who want to borrow money. Since she won’t, one of them pulls out a gun. Asada holds in her trauma. The b*tch actually wanted to pull the trigger but because it was on safety mode, Asada coolly unlocks it and shows her sharp shooting skill. Better think twice about messing with her again. Kirito picks up Asada to meet Kikuoka. He explains about Shinkawa and his older brother, Shouichi’s conspiracy in the Death Gun’s case. They have been arrested although the third accomplice, Atsushi Kanamoto escaped but in no time he will be caught. Kikuoka details how Death Gun started when Shinkawa was jealous about XeXeed and told Shouichi about it. They planned how to take him and though it started out as a joke, they realize they can seriously pull this off and used a master key to steal dangerous drugs from their father’s hospital. They carefully research their victims’ background and carry out the murders in synchronized timing. However GGO players treated their deaths as a joke so the mad brothers decided to get serious by making a triple kill at BoB. That is when Kanamoto was roped in as he was Shouichi’s friend. They were in Laughing Coffin in SAO. As Shouichi was one of the prisoners during the SAO incident, when he came back and told his brother, he was so fascinated and believed every word he said. That is why he believed this was also a game. Asada notes the brothers don’t have a reality because Shinkawa threw away this world to level up in GGO. GGO was his reality. Like any other players, he wanted to become the strongest and stress got to him and that is where he got both worlds mixed up. Asada would like to visit Shinkawa and tell him her thoughts. Before they depart, Kikuoka reads to Kirito a message left by Shouichi for him. It states that everything isn’t over yet.

Kirito brings Asada to meet Asuna and Liz. Better not get too friendly because you know what is going to happen when a new girl enters the harem. On a serious note, the girls get to know each other first before they reveal why they bring her here in the first place. First, Kirito apologizes to Asada because he told his girls about her problem and they went back to her hometown to do some research. Asada is not very happy about this but Kirito asserts he needed to do this as she has not met the people she is supposed to meet and hear the words she needed to hear. The girls usher in Sachie Oosawa and her 4 year old daughter, Mizue. She was a clerk at that post office. She regrets not stepping out to help her and never got around to apologize or thank her. Sachie was pregnant with Mizue during the robbery. Because of Asada’s bravery, she saved both their lives. She is very grateful. Kirito adds Asada tried to always punish and blame herself but she has the right to think about the lives she saved. Mizue hands Asada a (hideous) drawing as thanks. Please don’t ruin the (hideous) drawing with your tears.

Episode 14.5
Flashback episode of Sinon and Asada and everything that has happened so far about her life. No new scenes. Just recycled footage with Asada’s narration and point of view. From that traumatic robbery event at the post office to meeting Shinkawa to playing GGO to meeting Kirito, fighting at the BoB qualifiers, taking on Death Gun in the finals, fending off crazy-in-love Shinkawa and finally overcoming it all after meeting Sachie and Mizue. She finally realizes the need to move forward and that this real world isn’t so bad after all. It is kind and warm.

Episode 15
Kirito learns that somebody discovered the legendary sword Excalibur in ALO. Though, nobody has claimed it yet. A few months ago when Kirito and Leafa ventured into the underground world of Jotunheimr, they witnessed and helped this elephant jellyfish whom they named Tokii defeat a Tyrant giant. To show its gratitude, it brought them up high enough to a floating labyrinth just hanging beneath Yggdrasil and that is where they saw Excalibur at its base. So looks like Kirito needs to organize his party to go claim it. They need 7 members. Let’s see… Kirito, Leafa, Asuna, Klein, Silica and Liz. One more room… Aha! Sinon. In this world she is a cat girl? So they descend to the icy world of Jotunheimr and ride on Tonkii. Along the way, they see a party being assisted by Tyrants. Did they tame it because they believe it is impossible. Popping up before them is Uror, Queen of the Lake. She wants them to save this land from the frost giants. Once Jotunheimr was like Alfhiem, filled with greeneries and peace but Nilfheim, the frosty land below it invaded and Thrym the king threw Excalibur into the lake, cutting off Jotunheimr from Yggdrasil’s bounties. Thrym and his army attacked Jotunheimr en masse and built many fortresses and castles, enslaving her servants and animals. Now they rule the land via the main castle, Thrymheim. Though Uror and her 2 sisters escaped, they lack the power they once had. The frost giants were unsatisfied and decided to kill the servants and animals. Doing so, their powers will completely vanish and Thrymheim will be elevated to Alfheim’s surface as it is Thrym’s wish to cover the land in snow. And there is some golden apple at the top of Yggdrasil he desires too. Because of their inability to slay the servants, Thrym has resorted to recruiting fairies (the players) in helping them in exchange for Excalibur. However it is just a ploy as Thrym will never hand over Excalibur. That you see is just an exact duplicate, Caliburn. But Thrym made one mistake. By sending his army below to assist fairies, Thrymheim is left unguarded and its defence weak. So you know what you’re supposed to do here, right? Infiltrate Thrymheim and draw Excalibur out from the keystone dial. She gives them an amulet that indicates all her servants will be dead when it turns dark. I guess this quest is too big a deal to turn down.

Episode 16
Yui explains how ALO is different from other worlds. Something about the system than can make independent quests and since it is based on Norse mythology, there will be that ultimate battle that involves Ragnarok and flame giants from even lower grounds destroying the world. After all, remember what happened at Aincrad? Even if the system had backup, only player data will be saved and not field data. No time to waste as we see Kirito and his team using all they’ve got to take down bull giants and other monsters. They reach a room whereby Freyja is imprisoned. Klein’s love meter must be tingling and wants to save her although the rest knows better it could be a trap since she has HP and deduce they have to fight her. But you know Klein, his code of honour won’t let him leave her alone even if it destroys this world. So he thought with his wrong head? After freeing her, Freyja can’t leave this place. Not until she retrieves her family’s treasure from Thrym. Against the rest’s better judgment, they allow Freyja to join their party. They are now faced with the final boss who is no other than Thrym. He offers them to take as much gold as they want but of course they are not here for that. He thinks Freyja has escaped her cage means that she is here to marry him. Of course she refuses him and will retrieve her family treasure after these warriors defeat him. (Apparently she was locked because she was caught sneaking around in his treasure room). Since talking isn’t going to get anyone anywhere, time for the final boss fight.

Episode 17
Thrym is no pushover. The team takes heavy damage if not for Asuna’s healing power. Kirito tries to find the golden hammer and when he does, he tosses it to Freyja. When she touches it, she powers up and becomes… OMG! Isn’t that a giant bearded man, Thor?! Oh, Klein you must be so disappointed. So if Freyja was a guy and Thrym was going to marry her, was he about to marry a guy?! I CAN’T IMAGINE THIS GAY SCENE!!!!!!!!!!! With Thor’s might, he crushes Thrym in no time with the rest helping out to add to the damage. Hit him with all you’ve got! With Thrym destroyed, as a reward, at least Klein gets to keep Thor’s hammer. Yeah, I bet he wanted the girl… The quest is not over yet as they have to pull out Excalibur. Kirito tries his might while the rest give vocal support. When he does so, the Thrymheim falls apart. Tonkii rescues them. Kirito feels Excalibur is too heavy for him and throws it away. But Sinon uses her whip to get it back to give it to him. Her only condition is that whenever he draws the sword, please think of her. Those suspicious eyes from his harem… WTF. You mean this mind boggling scene is for this cheesy moment?! Jotunheimr reverts back to its original beautiful state. They get a personal thanks from Uror and her personal sisters, Verdandi and Skuld. They officially let Kirito keep Excalibur. Wait a minute. Klein now wants to hit on Skuld and get her contacts? Did he get rejected?! He handles it well and Liz respects him for that. Back in reality, everyone celebrates their victory and since Liz hints about somebody being paid handsomely on his last job, Kirito has no choice but to announce he is treating all of them. Cheers, everybody.

Episode 18
Agil talks to Kirito and Asuna how he met his wife. They were both playing SAO. They were also in competition to get the NerveGear. Agil was glad he won because it could have been her who would be trapped during that SAO incident. His will to return to his family made him persevere. He thinks everyone in SAO had that same sentiment but Asuna begs to differ. She didn’t quite like her family that much and sometimes forgot the reason she fought. She loved their cabin at level 22 and feared if SAO was cleared, it would disappear. Yeah, all I remember was the virtual sex they tried… Agil relays the good news that New Aincrad will have another updated that includes this level. They don’t know if the place is still the same but they’re keeping the faith. We see the parties hacking and slashing an uninspiring rock boss monster to clear the level. And here it is. Level 22 like it was before. Even their cabin is still there. A simple click of the button is all they need to do to buy it. There. Let the good times like before roll. And so Kirito and the girls are having a fun time in their new summer cabin. So while Asuna spaces out over her real marriage arrangements (potential candidates with faces that look like they want to rape her?), the other girls talk to her about this new player, Zekken who stands by at some lone tree awaiting challenges. Nobody has been able to defeat Zekken because of some original sword skill and 11 hit combo! Leafa also challenged Zekken but lost out to default skills. Kirito also fought Zekken. They talked about something before Kirito lost. When asked what it was, he refused to tell them. Looks like Asuna will have to ask Zekken herself. This means she is going to fight him. Wondering if Zekken was a former SAO player, Liz denies it because Kirito told her if it was so, the two-sword skill would have gone to Zekken.

Episode 19
It’s such a gloomy reality for Asuna. You know sh*t is going to happen when her mom warns her about spending too much time playing that game. Although Asuna has shown proof that she has done well academically, mother is not impressed because results from that kind of school mean nothing. Mother has arranged for Asuna to be privately tutored and using the credit system she can enrol in a real high school and graduate to college. Is she trying to speed up her life? Mother claims that makeshift school for children trapped during the SAO incident is just for the government to keep a close watch on them. She continues reminding Asuna about her future and possible careers and all they want is for her to be happy instead of regretting it. Why do always parents who sound like this act like as though as they know everything about their child’s future? And since when marrying is part of her career? Asuna argues she will pick her own partner. Mother agrees if that person is worthy but as long as he is not a child of that facility. I guess she investigated about Kirito. That’s the last straw for Asuna. She leaves and tells mom this: Mom might be angry and holding a grudge towards late grandpa and grandma because she wasn’t born into a rich and important family. Nailed it. Asuna can only cry in her bedroom as she laments how powerless she is in reality unlike in those games. Asuna talks to Kirito about Zekken before she leaves for her fight. She asks what they talked about. He asked if Zekken totally lives in this world (like as though a product of this world). Zekken never answered by only smiled back. When Asuna goes to face Zekken, she is shocked that Zekken is a girl! Oops. Liz might have forgotten to tell her that. And this might be the reason why Kirito lost… The intense fight begins with Asuna inches from defeat. She can’t go out like that and when she remembers her harsh reality, she fiercely fights back, making Zekken fight even more serious. Asuna thought she is defeated by her 11 hit combo but Zekken stops. She is satisfied with the fight and was just looking for someone who is right. Now that she has picked Asuna, she takes her high above into the clouds where nobody could hear or follow. Zekken pleads for Asuna’s help.

Episode 20
Yuuki Konno (Zekken’s real name) brings Asuna to her guild, Sleeping Knights. They request her help to defeat a level boss. The catch is they only want to do it themselves. Normally such boss battles are done with many groups. However if done so and the floor is cleared, only the names of each guild’s leader is etched in the memorial. To have each member’s name, a single party has to defeat the boss. That is why Yuuki was scouting for a strong member. Asuna agrees to join. She asks weren’t there stronger players before her like Kirito. Because he found out her secret, it wasn’t any good. After the meeting is done, Asuna is suddenly disconnected. Seems her mom is not too happy she is late for dinner and as per agreed the last time, she will yank the cord. The next time this happens, she’ll confiscate her machine. Asuna journeys with Sleeping Knights to the boss’ lair. Asuna spots several suspicious players waiting outside the door although they claim they are waiting for their friends. Asuna and co go in to fight the boss. And lost. Quickly after they regenerate back in town, Asuna lets her comrades know about those suspicious players. They are actually scouts for their guild to find the boss’ attack patterns and weaknesses. Although they were fighting in a closed room, Asuna noticed a spy familiar watching. This means all of Sleeping Knights’ hard work will be undone and this guild takes the credit. However Asuna isn’t giving up yet. They can beat them by going back to fight the boss now since gathering other party members at this point takes time. But when they go back, a large group of people are already waiting. They won’t move or let them fight the boss. Yuuki makes a surprise suggestion to fight them. Her words clear Asuna’s hesitation as she calls for backup. As more members of thieving guild arrive, here comes Asuna’s reinforcement. Only Kirito? He is going to stand in their way. I thought she would bring the entire army or at least the other girls. Ah heck, this guy is enough to whoop an entire platoon’s ass.

Episode 21
You are dead wrong if you think you can beat Kirito with numbers. Remember, quality over quantity. Don’t worry. Kirito has a little backup from Klein, though I doubt he won’t be doing much at the back there. Sleeping Knights easily defeat the thieving guild and enter the boss room. Before the fight starts, Yuuki has time to feel guilty Asuna friends are helping them without getting any reward. Asuna says to win this boss fight as their reward. She also hopes she could hear more about Yuuki’s adventures. The intense boss battle begins with them doing the usual attacks and strategy as planned. But when Asuna notices a weak point (really? It was so obvious that they didn’t realize it just because it was high up there?) she lets Yuuki know as she slices and dices her way to do maximum damage till the boss is destroyed. When it is over, Asuna invites them to her cabin to celebrate. Asuna notes that her contract to help them has ended. But she still wants to talk with them and become friends and would like to join Sleeping Guild. Uhm, wasn’t she in one with Kirito and the other girls? Not that I remember. Unfortunately Sleeping Guild is going to be disbanded shortly as many of them cannot be regularly playing this game. Even so, Asuna would like to join until then. Then everyone heads to the memorial where each of their names has been etched. They take a group photo with it. Hmm… Shouldn’t it be a screenshot in this sense? When Asuna notes that Yuuki has been calling her nee-san a few times, Yuuki starts crying and logs out immediately. Did she say something wrong? Touched the wrong nerve?

Episode 22
Yuuki cannot be contacted anyhow. Does she really not want to see Asuna anymore? So what is Asuna to do but to rely on Kirito for information on where she is. All he tells her is a hospital that is using clinical trials for Medicuboid. At the hospital, Yuuki’s doctor is surprised to see her as he begins explaining from the beginning. So what is Medicuboid? To put it simply, it is a full dive system for the medical world just like AmuSphere or NerveGear. One of its pros is that it can act as anaesthesia and reduce pain. However it still cannot treat the underlying disease. Yuuki was born via Caesarean and given blood transplant. However it was contaminated. Asuna sees Yuuki’s true physical form and is devastated. You know how a person with AIDS’ syndrome kicking in looks like, right? With drugs, she was able to delay AIDS but had to put up with the stigma of society as well as the drugs’ side effects. There was one point she wanted to kill herself but decided to fight on. 3 years ago, her immunity system suddenly collapsed and ever since she was placed here. At that point Medicuboid prototype was just completed but with the scandal surrounding NerveGear, nobody was willing to take the risk. Yuuki jumped on that chance in exchange for a clean room that would reduce her risk but what sealed the deal was her longing for the virtual world. She has been living in the virtual world since and logging in 24 hours a day. Although she is safe in there, she is still terminal. Asking if she has a sister, a twin in fact. Aiko was very similar to Asuna. Unfortunately she passed away a year ago and her parents 2 years ago. Time for Asuna to let her tears flow. Yuuki communicates with her but it would be better if they just dive and talk in the virtual world. Asuna finds her and gives her the most emotional hug. Time for some emotional talk too. Yuuki reveals that Sleeping Knights had more members but they died. Thus it is decided when another member is going to bite the dust, they will disband. Thus the real reason the guild disbands is not because nobody has time to play anymore but rather they have been diagnosed to have a few months left to live. They wanted their last mission to have their names on the memorial and thus they searched for a person to help them do so. Asuna asks if there is something she would like to do. How about going to school? Oh, so Asuna is going to arrange that?

Episode 23
With a little help from Kirito’s tweaking, Yuuki gets to experience school. At least she is a surveillance camera on Asuna’s shoulder. She gets to participate in class and is quite popular with the classmates. Or is it because Yuuki’s form is such a novelty? After school, Yuuki requests to visit her family’s house in the area that they only stayed for a short while. As she talks about her family, Yuuki also gives encouragement to Asuna to go talk to her mom like how they usually do. Yuuki did just that but she wants to talk to mom not in the real world but in the virtual world. At first mom disagrees since if she can’t say it right now it isn’t worth listening. But after pleading how much she wants her to see with her own eyes about her world, she relents with a condition that she will still fill up the paper work for her school transfer. In the virtual world of Asuna’s cabin, she takes her mom to look out the window. The snowy woods. So? This scenery reminds Asuna very much of her grandparents’ home in Miyagi she loves so much. When mom was busy making headlines and corporate decisions, appearing all over the media, grandpa once told Asuna that mom might get tired of it all one day. When that happens, grandpa and grandma will always protect and preserve this place so that she will have a home to come back to. Now Asuna has understand some words that were said to her she never did in the beginning. Life isn’t about doing things for yourself. She wants to make others happy and continue doing the things she loves. Mom is so touched that she cries. Wait. They have a programme in this virtual world that you can’t hold back your tears?! Back in reality, Asuna is all smiles that mom isn’t forcing her to transfer but she ups the ante that her grades must be exceptionally well and have to go to university. It’s going to be a very fine day.

Episode 24
Yuuki and Asuna spend the rest of the days having fun online and even in the real world. Asuna is also doing great in her studies. One day Asuna gets a message that Yuuki’s condition has deteriorated. She rushes to the hospital. The doctor says her heart stopped once before but they revived her. The next time won’t be so lucky. She has been fighting the harsh reality for 15 years so it is best to let her rest now. So I suppose the best place to say goodbye is to hook up in the virtual world since we can hear them talk properly. Yuuki transfers her original sword skill to her. Not only the rest of her Sleeping Knights and Kirito’s group come to pay their respects but all the fairy guilds of ALO! Amazing?! They have to respect the strongest swords(wo)man in ALO, right? Yuuki is glad to have lived and experienced as much as she can. Time to let those tears flow freely. Asuna is at Yuuki’s memorial service. She meets one of Sleeping Knights members in the flesh as she talks about her own terminal disease as well as how Yuuki inspired hope in them all. Kirito and the doctor have been exchanging information about the communication probe. Thanks to all the data from Yuuki, Medicuboid is ready for official use around the country. When it is mentioned its external helper was Professor Rinko Koujirou, Kirito recognizes that name as Heathcliff’s body caretaker when he was diving. This means the real person who invented the basic design was Kayaba himself. Kirito and co enjoy a picnic. They talk about how they thought when the gap between the real and virtual world got closer, the world would be a better place but instead it deceived many. But they can take heart it also saved many. They vow to be with each other till the end of the world and forever. As in virtually and reality as well?

Sword Art Offline II

Special 1
With Asuna as your host, Kirito the commentator and special guests from Silica and Liz, they talk about the headline of Sinon taking out Behemoth, reviewing and commenting on selected scenes in the episode (I’m sure the girls want to grill him about Natsuki’s ‘flirting’ but to show how much Asuka loves her man, she doesn’t get mad) and the problem solving corner in which Silica tries to anonymously seek help to defeat a skirt flipping monster. Wait, was she playing the right game? Unfortunately the problem wasn’t solved and Kirito got beaten up. Why oh why.

Special 2
The headline is about Kirito looking like a girl in GGO. Asuna even has her fun laughing so hard at girly Kirito. With Sinon as the special guest, apparently she is still very unforgiving about Kirito’s true gender. She replays several clips that only serve to hammer his cross-dressing fetish and perversion. Kirito can’t even defend himself. Worse, Asuna’s faith in him is wavering… As for the problem solving corner, some GGO guy is having problems getting a certain girly boy out of his mind. More ammo for Sinon to just tell him to date this guy, become gay or send a cute photo of his girl self to him. I wonder how much HP embarrassment can inflict.

Special 3
Because Kirito’s avatar looks like a girl, online rumours surfaced about Kirito and Sinon being a popular girl team. So apparently this special too, Sinon continues her unforgiving nature through the playbacks and even wanting to shoot him a few times to take out her rage. Even Asuna agrees! Because sometimes she feels like stabbing Kirito! Again, the problem solving corner has another GGO guy having problems trying to court a girl he likes. Apparently Sinon knows this guy since he is persistent about her. Another reason for her to complain about Kirito and falsely accuse him of his girly fetish. Not too sure if this special has less abuse or Kirito has gotten the hang of it…

Special 4
This time they are discussing about the final battle between Kirito and Death Gun. Then there are also scenes of Sinon’s weak moments like Kirito saving her and she confiding in him in the cave. It makes her feel humiliating just to think about it. When they discuss about Death Gun’s cloaking ability, Kirito had to open a can of worms that he might use it to peek at girls changing. Much better than being a guy acting like a girl, right? You dug your own grave there. Once again the problem solving corners have those GGO guys who are fans of Kirito and Sinon wondering what their relationship are (remember, they still think he is a girl) because their manly testosterones have never heard of yuri before. Kirito wants to come clean with his identity but Asuna rejects because she doesn’t want him to ruin the dreams of his fans! Sinon is okay with their girl on girl relationship as it will stop pesky advances from other guys. Another loss for Kirito…

Special 5
They talk about Kirito’s win over Death Gun as well as discussing if Death Gun or Asuna is better. Kirito of course vouches for Asuna knowing she has a faster and better skill. Flattered Asuna is quite embarrassed by that so much so she accidentally unleashes that skill on him. And then again but this time due to her anger when Kirito explains a crazy nickname she got during ALO. And that bike scene Kirito was supposed to pick up Asada from school? Asuna envies and would love to experience that. For the problem solving corner, for once it isn’t some love problem. Instead, certain girls from Kirito’s harem complaining about their lack of screen time. This leads to the discussion why Sinon, Kirito and Asuna would prefer not to stand out more be it their sniper position, special skills that make them a target or just plain real life stalkers. Since this is Sinon’s last appearance, she wants a commemoration by shooting at Kirito one more time. Hasn’t this guy taken enough damage already?

The Art Of Living
Initially, I thought they should just call the second season Gun Gale Online seeing more than half of this season is about this. However it is also attached with a couple of other minor ‘non-important’ adventures at the end so I figure it wasn’t appropriate either. Then again, if you remember well that the original SAO world was destroyed at the end of the first arc in the first season. You don’t get to revisit here again except via flashbacks. So why didn’t they just call it ALO or something? Maybe SAO sounds better and less sissy than ALO. You remember the hardships and terror in SAO but ALO was just like child’s play fairy version, right? And probably the same reason why it wasn’t named GGO either. Because it might mislead fans to think this is some sort of new spin-off but it isn’t. But having it as SAO II doesn’t that too feels misleading? Argh! I’m so confused!

Just as I feared, the second season wasn’t really that great either. But now I can be sure of saying it from my own mouth and heart. While the GGO arc is still by far the most interesting arc compared to the mediocre Calibur arc and the emotion filled Mother’s Rosario arc, it still pales in comparison to the first SAO arc. Despite the action and drama in GGO, the only thing that retained my interest was trying to figure out Death Gun’s identity. Yup. That was the only thing that kept me from snoring and falling asleep in front of my monitor. I’m not saying the action is boring or the drama between Kirito and Sinon is uninteresting, but they aren’t just enough to make me feel like I want to immerse myself in this world. Sure, GGO is much different than ALO and SAO but with the arc about trying to catch Death Gun before he commits another crime, the beauty of this dystopian is not really in focus.

Because I had a hunch who was Death Gun and when the true culprit was revealed, the only thing left interested was how he did it. Honestly, I wasn’t quite satisfied with that answer although it seems most plausible. Because I was expecting something SAO-like but that may be part of my fault to expect something like that and thus the disappointment when the arc ends. Even I was thinking there would be some sort of conspiracy involving Natsuki. Nope. How can flirty nurses be baddies? Besides, regarding Death Gun’s identity as an ex-member of Laughing Coffin, I thought it would be an identity from someone we would know. Instead we will be asking, who the f*ck is this guy anyway?! As good as they could have put it as any damn person from any damn guild or just a random guy who hates Kirito for no reason. Maybe this guy did make his cameo in SAO but it was too insignificant for us to remember. With such sentiments now, I don’t really want to go back and rewatch SAO just so that I can point him out and then approve of this that they didn’t pull the rug from under our feet.

The other mind boggling thing was to have double winners for BoB. I mean, is that even allowed in such reputable tournaments? Sure, the circumstances leading up to that may seem that it has no other choice but does this mean there were no other avenues to select a single winner? Isn’t that what being a champion is about? To be the one and only one at the top? And everyone accepted that result? Isn’t it an insult to all those who fought hard and were knocked out of the tournament only to see at the end there were 2 winners? So let me guess if such a ‘broken’ system was really in place, I think everyone can be winners. Everybody just toss a hand grenade and then give each other one big group hug. Oh yeah! Boom! Everybody wins. Everybody’s name turns up on the champion’s list. No need for all those useless gunfights. Get what I mean? And I thought this would be a good timing for Kirito and Sinon to truly settle it GGO style but I guess if she is to become part of his friendly harem, this sort of route has to be taken.

The remaining arcs didn’t fare well either and like I have said they pale in comparison. Because I felt the Calibur arc was just to give Kirito’s girls and Klein some screen time and to remind us that they are a close knit party. Yeah, to show off they can work together and save an entire world. When you have mystic and powerful beings falling from power to another that threatens the very existence of the world, only a bunch of kid players can change things for the better and save the day. Yeah, it was a bit of BS with Kirito even tossing away the Excalibur he wanted to get so much at the start. So can you not believe this arc is probably the shortest in all of SAO series lasting only 3 paltry episodes? Yeah. Maybe it was a good thing it ended quickly. There. Liz, Silica and Leafa. Are you happy now that you got more screen time in this short arc?

At this point, I am sure we are tired of seeing Kirito as the main hero, right? That is why for the sake of feminism, it is Asuna’s turn to hog the limelight in the final Mother’s Rosario arc. Kirito is tossed aside so that Asuna can be in focus because after playing the damsel in distress in last season’s ALO arc and being just secondary in GGO and Calibur arc, it is time to remind us why she is the main heroine of the series in addition to being just Kirito’s pretty girlfriend. Really. And thus Mother’s Rosario is just a long drawn out emotional drama about Asuna and a dying player whom she befriended very closely. It is like to show us that after playing countless hours of online games, people like them still have emotions and that no matter how deep you are in the virtual world, you’re still tied to reality. Because eventually you’ll still die in real life. Sad but true.

So while we don’t get to see any harem battles over Kirito, the new characters in focus based on the arcs are Sinon and Yuuki. Both have their set of issues and troubles dealing with their past or troubled life. It is pretty decent since they have enough episodes to flesh out their character. But I just can’t help that Sinon after her GGO arc is over, she becomes somewhat irrelevant. It is like her character can be done without subsequently. Although she did join Kirito’s group in ALO, it was as if to tell us where she is instead of just scrapping her character for good. You know, if she was totally discarded, you’d be wondering where the heck Sinon is. So with her part of Kirito’s party, you’ll go, “Ah, so there she is”.

All of last season’s casts are retained. New ones added to list include Miyuki Sawashiro as Sinon, Aoi Yuuki as Yuuki/Zekken, Ayako Kawasumi as Natsuki and Hiroshi Kamiya as XeXeed all of whom I recognized instantly. I thought Asuna’s mom sounded familiar but only later I found out it was Megumi Hayashibara behind it. For the rest of those I don’t recognize, I’m too lazy to list them down. For this season, the opening and ending themes didn’t quite appeal to me. I’m not saying they are bad but they don’t come close or as attractive as last season’s Yume Sekai. The first opener is Ignite by Eir Aoi. I don’t know, it feels like the singer is trying to sing at the top of her voice. The second opening theme is Courage by Haruka Tomatsu. Generic pop beat. The first ending theme is Startear by Luna Haruna, a slow rock ballad. The second ending theme is No More Time Machine by Lisa. Another slow rock outfit, the third ending theme, Shirushi also by Lisa.

I have to be fair and give them credit where it is due since the art and animation department are still great. The visual effects from the battle (gun and sword) as well as the magic effects are still a sight to behold. While the character designs in GGO are still looking great because of the brutal dystopian setting, it is mind boggling that Kirito had his avatar then like a female. He stands out so much like a sore thumb that it is so distracting. Like as though he is in the wrong game. Like as though the producers listened to some of the fans who wanted to see a gender bender of Kirito and granted it for that arc.

I’m not sure if I would want to watch a third season if it ever comes out because this series seems to be going strong with its legion of fans. Unfortunately I’m not one of them. There was this special movie lasting almost 2 hours, Sword Art Online: Extra Edition that came out at the end of 2013 that I didn’t see (most probably turned off by the length even though I read in the synopsis there would be some pool fanservice…) and there is another movie coming out in 2017. Don’t even get me started on the numerous video games… While this season isn’t exactly a flop, it all boils down to taste and whether you are a big fan of the series. The plot feels a bit silly, the characters lack in major development but the visuals are good. Like as if you buy a video game for its graphics instead of its game play… Sometimes it makes me want to run away from reality and live a virtual life for the rest of my pitiful existence. Oh wait. There’s already Minecraft…

JK Meshi

November 18, 2016

You can make an anime series out of anything and nothing. Really. Just to prove a point. JK Meshi is about a group of high school girls making dishes mixed with their own special blend of creativity. So this is like a cooking show then, right? Not quite. It’s just about a group of high school girls making dishes mixed with their own special blend of creativity. There, I said it again. Really nothing much about it, right?

Episode 1
Ruriko Igarashi, Reina Saeki and Ryouka Asahina are studying about world history, the French revolution in particular. It is quickly established that Ruriko is the dumb one and Ryouka the smarter one as she debunks and corrects her misconception. Since all this studying is making them hungry, Reina whips up a nutritious miso soup for everyone. Too bad, I thought they were going to put in some French soup or something…

Episode 2
Now they’re talking about molecule compounds and human evolution. Then there is this BS when Ruriko mentions she did meet a Neanderthal in Germany. Whatever this crap about time travelling and Neanderthals are still alive, Reina makes mackerel rice. Because it makes much more sense to fill your stomach with nice food than dumb theories. Replenish your brain cells…

Episode 3
The girls are studying geography for their midterms. Ruriko thought she could show off how smart she is by naming a few county capitals. The rest remind her at their level, they will be asked more difficult questions like mixed farming in Europe. Ruriko makes the dishes this time. Potato salad, which is a product of mixed farming.

Episode 4
The results for the history exam has come back. While it is amazing Reina scores 88% and Ryouka 92%, guess how did Ruriko fare? 97%!!! Unbelievable. Was it a fluke? And you thought she was the dumb blonde of the series… So you can’t blame Ryouka for wondering if some alien is possessing her or some worm is controlling her mind. Ruriko fell for this silly trick and wants the monsters out so the girls reveal they were just joking and make snacks for her as atonement. Shrimp gratin it is.

Episode 5
Ryouka is talking about spy movies when Ruriko enters the room via window. And she thinks it is normal. Since a class was cancelled, Ruriko left through the window and went straight home. This boggles Ryouka she left with indoor shoes and their class is on the third floor. Is she a ninja? They take a break from solving this mystery by making mini pizza.

Episode 6
The girls talk about the typical and illogical tropes in movies like hordes of bad guys cannot kill a single good guy despite firing all they’ve got but the hero makes every bullet counts. Then they discuss horror movies. Ryouka can’t stay calm watching them not because she is afraid but rather the ridiculousness of ghosts coming back to bring vengeance. If she was dragged to hell by them, she would definitely want to find the idiot who caused her to die an accursed death. Since action and horror movies are out, Reina suggests anime or romance film. They make instant udon noodles with takoyaki for their movie snack.

Episode 7
The girls talk about the recent movie they just watch. Horaemon? I know which spoof this is… This leads to them talking about their recent exam scores in which Ryouka still can’t believe Ruriko scored higher and turns into Nobunaga trying to re-enact that historically famous betrayal scene. All this talking makes them hungry so Reina serves them fried dumplings with chocolate fillings.

Episode 8
Yet another movie the girls watch. However Ryouka believes they were supposed to watch a romance theme but this one was more of a period drama samurai revenge story. Reina sides with Ruriko as they put up points how it is a love story and some complicated account of the main character’s deeds that was something like the French Revolution. Whatever. Talking in-depth about movies always make you hungry so they head home to eat cup ramen with egg custard.

Episode 9
Christmas is around the corner so Ruriko trolls everyone about typical Christmas dinner with reindeer meat and turkey. Wait. What?! She also trolls everyone by putting up a fake Christmas tree and then hang ornaments like Tanabata. And what is the deal about her being a matchstick seller girl dying outside in the cold winter? All this trolling has them hungry so Ruriko makes them rice with candy. It tastes horrible of course. Another trolling?

Episode 10
The girls study late into the night and since it is time to catch a certain favourite anime, they talk about it. Well, it is a big parody of this show. Really. They even take pot shots at how cheap its production quality is. Be warned. If you take too long in the toilet, you might miss half or the entire show! Just like how the show ends, they also get hungry and make porridge with potato chips.

Episode 11
The girls want to go for an overseas trip for winter. After suggesting several places, guess where is Islets of Langerhans? In your pancreas! Yes, seriously. They want to visit Hawaii but have not enough money. I think going local is not bad too but the places they say they want to visit, it’s going to be expensive. Reina then makes okonomiyaki rice with bonito flakes. They say it looks like hula dance but I thought they were worms!!!

Episode 12
Since Reina and Ruriko claim they are football fans, Ryouka quizzes them a couple of football terms and they fail badly. This proves they are not. So they talk about other outdoor sports and it is odd for Ruriko to even name France’s pentaque when she doesn’t even know a thing about it. Then they suggest doing outdoor stuffs they can do like bike riding. At the park they have furikake French fries.

Episode 13
The girls check each other’s bag. Ruriko has lots of books, a microphone and 5 toothbrushes! WTF?! When Reina suggests sharing textbooks to lighten the load, Ruriko cuts out the pages! That’s not what she meant! After all that shenanigans, Reina presents camembert in a curry flavoured cheese fondue to be dipped by pretzels. I think this is by far most the most delicious dish I have seen.

Episode 14
The girls talk about Japanese classics and trying to relate it to love, seasons and kimono dry cleaning? I don’t get it. Yeah, screw all that as Reina teaches us by mixing dried fruits with rice and butter as well as chicken Hamburg, you get chicken Hamburg doria with dry fruits.

Episode 15
Ryouka can’t believe Ruriko beat her in exams again. Wanting to know the secret of her studies, they spy on her and see her doing her homework fast. Can she memorize all that in such speed? Then it turns out she was drawing a flip cartoon on the pages. I guess becoming mad has worked up an appetite so they have pancakes with pickled plums and sweet vinegar sauce.

Episode 16
The girls talk about a famous poet who tragically died young. A snowy poem leads them to talk about El Nino and La Nina over the world as well as the Earth’s age of 4.6 billion years. Whatever. Carbonara toast is on the menu. Delicious enough for Ruriko to get enough confidence that she can handle the universe, Earth and mankind’s history.

Episode 17
Reina is down because she is late for school. Ruriko then explains how she made it to school in time. There is this short cut whereby she climbs up the pipe and directly into her classroom. She has several alarm clocks in which she sets them a minute apart. After turning them all off, she goes back to sleep! What was the purpose of alarm clocks again? Reina is also bumped out because the history teacher asked her a question she doesn’t know since her name is alphabetically at the front. Ruriko has the answer. Use a blowpipe to make him sleepy and then change your name in the register to the last. Oh my, Ruriko is serious in doing this as they spot a blowpipe in her bag! Enough of this ninja nonsense because the perfect food for a cold day is double corn soup. That’s popcorn and maize for you.

Episode 18
The girls go see an opera show but Ruriko was sleeping the entire time. But to ‘prove’ she saw the entire show, she explains it all. However she got everything wrong with the plots mixed up and from other stories. Heck, it’s like as though she wrote the script. Or maybe she saw all that in her dream. Since Ruriko brought zucchini, Reina is going to make a Japanese dish out of it: Okonomiyaki. By using a rice cooker, follow Reina’s instructions if you want to make your own millefeuille okonomiyaki with zucchini and tomatoes this way.

Episode 19
It’s time for Valentine’s Day again. Ryouka doesn’t like it because of last year’s experience where she got 1,885 chocolates. All from girls! Imagine the trouble to reciprocate them all. So Ruriko the genius is going to help solve her problem via math. I don’t know how she got the figures but she’s supposed to predict next year’s percentage in increase. Nobody knows… For a dish befitting this, Reina makes chocolate in a mug. In addition to being sweet, it is also hot and spicy thanks to cayenne pepper in the mix. Hmm… Not one chocolate mix I would want to be trying.

Episode 20
Reina is lamenting the many reports they must submit but Ruriko is running around looking for something and even nearly ‘kills’ Reina with her blowpipe! Apparently she is trying to catch spring’s first south wind in which she thinks it is some fairy and other fairies trying to take that coveted first position. Erm, isn’t it just the weather instead of all that complication? But the blowpipe? She thinks they are so cute that the fairies might come after them so it’s better to strike first! WTF?! Screw all that nonsense because Reina makes a healthy tofu with fruits topping complete with honey dessert.

Episode 21
Ryouka is reading a play script that has magic lines going sine, cosine and tangent! You might have guessed it. It is a script written by Ruriko for a play to send their seniors off. Included in this nonsensical adventure are Greek philosophers that could spell the end of the world, a demon king who uses some banana weapon, magic spells that sound like train station lines and English buzzwords used by businessmen. You know what? Screw all this crap and let Reina make a banana pie using the said banana. Just add sliced bread, mayonnaise, walnuts and then fry it to make it crispy and add ice cream. Yeah, this is much better than the silly story.

Episode 22
Ruriko mentions about the game tournament she is going to participate the whole day, Dr PreButt. It’s like Tetris but you erase muscular butts… WTF. This makes Ryouka mad because they were supposed to go picnic together on this holiday. So to appease her, Reina and Ruriko secretly made a bento for Ryouka, cod roe with avocado, egg and sausages. So of course when tomorrow comes, they didn’t go to the game but meet up with Ryouka at the park. They give her their specially made bento in which she downs it quickly. Must be that delicious. Since Ruriko forgot, Reina reminds her that they made a promise to spend this day together every year and take pictures.

Episode 23
Ryouka is reading an article on Junior NISA, an educational investment system for minors that is tax free. She explains to her friends. If Reina and I don’t understand, what are the chances Ruriko will. Wait. What?! You mean Ruriko understands perfectly?! She’s not trolling at all? She chides Reina for not knowing her stuff and this is scaring the hell out of her. Ryouka tries to read Reina’s fortune for good luck. Doo 100 push ups? Well, Ruriko seems to be passionate in doing that. Reina decides to make a meal based on the lucky colour and food, red and turnip to turn it into a temari lucky fortune sushi.

Episode 24
Everyone celebrates the end of the exams! Yahoo! Ruriko is making a big celebration fuss over Reina’s good show. She must have done something wrong, right? Yup. She is called to the teacher’s room. Not because she failed. It seems during the exams Ruriko fell asleep and murmured answers for the questions! I’m sure the other students won’t mind about the answers but she is saying them in such creepy or annoying way that they complained to the teacher! To celebrate their success, Reina makes special cocktails that involves mixing coconut and pineapple juice with jelly gummies for a cute and non-alcoholic drink. But Ruriko still got drunk…

Episode 25
The girls are going on a trip together to watch a basketball match in which it is Ryouka’s favourite team. Also tagging along is Ryouka’s little sister, Yuka. Ruriko tries to impress her with her basketball skills but she lost control of her dribbling. But she shocks everyone by nailing a 3 pointer. When they’ve got their luggage ready, Ruriko seems disappointed that Ryouka didn’t bring food to feed the basketball players. Can they? Because Ruriko claims she is their manager and will allow it! Is she kidding?! This gives Reina an idea to make chocolate bar snacks. But it will be special because it will be mixed with marshmallows, marmalade and crispy ramen snack too.

Episode 26
As the girls are talking in Reina’s room, Ruriko feels somebody peeping at them behind the door. She pokes his eyes! Reina reveals he is her older brother. He is so shy that he doesn’t even show himself in front of his own family. I wonder if they remember how he looks like. They think of luring him out by making something he likes. Noting he likes to look at the sky with his telescope, Reina decides to make jelly in that image by using cola, gelatine and star shaped hard candies. Ruriko doesn’t think that will be enough and is going to use candies instead. Luckily Reina stops her in time and the candies are added to the jelly to sparkle like the universe. Needless to say, they describe the out-of-this-world taste. This attracts big brother as we get to see his handsome face for the first time. So what’s the verdict? Good of course.

Jerking Mess!
What atrocity! What boringness! Although I started watching this show with low expectations, I never knew I would end it with an ever bigger disappointment. Okay, maybe it is my fault that my preferences wasn’t featured in the series. What preferences? Uhm… Fanservice? Hah. Not too sure if this series would be interesting if they forced this cheap fanservice move too. But as far as this series is concerned, it didn’t really whet my appetite at all although there are a handful of delicious looking snacks. However it isn’t enough to fill my stomach. And sentiments. Because that’s all there is. They just look good at the most.

So one of the things that I mainly didn’t expect was the first half of this short is always having the girls do some sort of random stuffs. I don’t even know why I am being bugged and complaining about this because there isn’t a plot to begin with. The girls doing funny and random stuff feel like to fill up the otherwise already short series and to give some sort of reason and excuse for the latter half for them to cook something based on what they have done. I mean, if they start right off with the cooking and preparation of the snacks, it wouldn’t make any more sense since you’d be asking why the heck they are cooking in the first place. Then might as well turn it into a real cooking show.

I supposed the dishes made by them are supposed to be the ‘stars’ but that could just be me having a wishful thinking. The instructions they give to make them are very basic and minimal. They just tell us what ingredients are used and then the basic procedure on what to do to have that dish end up looking like the one they have. I am sure that anyone who wants to try and make them could do it but if you are expecting something like a decent cooking show, you’d be better off watching a real cooking show with a famous host and a famous guest of the week. This one serves more like fun and many of the dishes prepared here are light snacks. Light snacks for a light anime? Even if the trio eating the food and saying how damn delicious it is, it feels like some sort of promo advertisement like as though they want to make you get up and try and do it. I think I’ll pass. Not interested. Better for me to fork out money for McDonald’s delivery.

The characters don’t feel interesting despite they are supposed to be funny but I noticed myself instead of laughing or just chuckling, I would have my mouth agape and going, “What the heck is this all about?”. After a few episodes you can basically guess what kind of personality these characters are. Most obvious is Ruriko as the idiot as well as the super mysterious talent. Her random thinking would have you think she is such a silly girl but then she throws you off by doing something incredible and seeming impossible at least for an idiot’s standard. So who is she? Is she human? Is she alien? Only Ruriko knows… Therefore sometimes I feel that Ruriko is out of place like as though she is in the wrong anime as she could have done much more with her ‘skills’ if she appeared elsewhere. Genius or complete idiot? Ryouka on the other hand is the more serious one and usually plays the retort to Ruriko’s idiocy. Finally there is nice girl Reina who is the one who mostly makes the food. And there you have it. The entire main cast. Rinse and repeat each episode with something random based on their character. What? You think I should have included Yuka? Boy, do they have the nerve to introduce a new character in the penultimate episode. And even Reina’s shy brother in the last one. Like they even mattered.

If you think all the above ‘criticisms’ are bad, it isn’t as bad as this biggest offender: The art and drawing. Yes, this is the worst of it all. I believe they use flash animation to animate this but it makes it feel like they are amateurs in using the CGI software. Firstly the animation is already jerky at times and worst of all the characters really look one kind. I mean take a look at Ryouka. She’s… She’s… Hideous? She has the biggest bust among the girls but I wonder if this is intentional because whether or not it makes her ugly. Not kidding. And with the bad art already, Ruriko looks even more like an idiot. In fact it enhances her idiocy. Whether this is on purpose or not, Ruriko sure lives up to her role. This series is animated by Kyotama. They only did a few animated shorts in which as I can see they are mostly flash animated. The only series I saw under their belt was Bishoujo Yuugi Unit Crane Game Girls. At least that series has better flash graphics and animation compared than this one.

Voice acting I can’t say it is decent mainly because Ryouka feels like she sounds a bit rough and crude. Like as though an amateur voiced her. I don’t want to accuse Nao Fujita of doing a bad job but maybe this is how the character is supposed to sound? After all, she doesn’t have much voice acting roles and if so are usually confined to very minor characters. I only heard her notably as Dark Gorilla in Bishoujo Yuugi Unit Crane Game Girls. But you know what? The biggest irony that all the seiyuus here also landed in roles for Bishoujo Yuugi Unit Crane Game girls with Ruriko’s Sora Tokui as Ayaka and Reina’s Natsuko Hara as Mirai.

Overall, despite being a fairly simple anime, it still manages to be boring and disappoint. If this show was a restaurant or café in real life, I’ll never come back here again. So this series not getting another season (hopefully not!) is like the eatery has been shut down? Yeah well, if the eatery has food that is just normal and plain, its decoration and presentation are horrible, do you think customers would want to come back even if the service is just okay? Didn’t think so. Better for me to take out my wallet and pay for that pizza delivery. And add some extra cheese toppings and bacon on it too. Yum. That is what I call a real snack that’s worth the money.

Dimension W

November 13, 2016

With the booming population and advancement in technology, the demand and hunger for energy would increase to monstrous levels. The current traditional energy sources we have are surely insufficient to meet those needs. So where to get infinite energy? If you think dealing with 3 dimensional of X, Y and Z are already bad enough, now you have the fourth dimension. Behold! Dimension W. This is where you tap your endless energy. And as we all know by now, nothing ever comes free. And I’m not talking about in monetary terms. Mankind’s meddling into the unknown dimension has brought about lots of trouble. Well, I would love to explain it a bit more here but seeing this is some sci-fi sh*t that I’m going into, I’m sorry I can’t. Why the heck did I ever pick up a sci-fi genre if I know I’m not going to understand it? Oh, look at the synopsis. Somewhere within those lines I saw, “…mysterious, beautiful woman…”. F*ck! That was enough to cloud my judgment.

Episode 1
Kyouma Mabuchi is fixing his car at his home. He shoos away those pesky kids playing in his car dump next door. He gets a call from his employer Mary to meet for a job. As a Recovery Agent, his targets are to retrieve illegal coils from the Won brothers. He has no choice but to take the job because as a coil hater himself, Mary is the only one who can pay in gasoline. Meanwhile Mira sneaks out to town to get her sickly father, Shidou Yurizaki. She accidentally stumbles into the hideout of the Won brothers playing with their new toys equipped with illegal coils. She is taken inside as Kyouma is already waiting and goes into action. Although he easily dispatches the minions, Mira is revealed to be a robot and her super strength has her toss the enemy around. Even Kyouma is not spared as her hard slap knocks him out. Before he passes out, he saw tears in her eyes. When he wakes up, he finds Albert Schumann from New Tesla’s Dimensional Administration Bureau (DAB) and his team searching the place. He has recently been promoted to chief investigator. As an old friend, Albert lets him go although he will be taking the illegal coils. Kyouma reports to Mary about DAB’s interference and she is not too pleased. Kyouma thinks back deeper and realizes a coil is missing. She thinks Mira might have stolen one and goes back to look for her. He confronts her and tells her to give him to coil. She apologizes for slapping him but can’t hand it over. Kyouma will not be fooled by her tears this time. She tries to run but he is hot on her heels. Meanwhile Albert and his team have found Yurizaki who is supposed to be the founder of New Tesla but went missing a few years ago. Their aim is to take him and his research in without harming him. However Yurizaki is still mad at everything because they killed his wife and daughter. Although Albert mentions that the parties responsible have been dealt with, Yurizaki is not convinced as he has had it with everything. As the person responsible for creating the World System, he is going to end it. Using the coil, a large energy surges from within his room. Mira can sense what her father is doing and becomes paralyzed. Kyouma will not be tricked by her performance and pins her down. A bright energy beam can be seen breaking through the sky. In the aftermath, Kyouma picks up Mira who is lifeless as a robot. Bringing her back to Mary, she lets her crazy computer engineer, Koorogi have a look at her. Mira’s design is so complicated and advanced that it seems the only person who can ever make her is Yurizaki. They start her up to ask for answers but she begs them to let her work for them as a Recovery Agent.

Episode 2
Apparently Kyouma has to keep her since he found her. Flashback reveals Mira was told by Yurizaki to become a Recovery Agent and follow the trail of the illegal coils upon his death. She also wants to find out what he wanted her to do. Mira goes on to play a video that was proof that Yurizaki’s wife, Seira was murdered (the day that Mira was also ‘born’) but Mary stops her because there are some things that must not be shown to the world. From the video, they knew the New Tesla guys are behind this but the biggest question is why Yurizaki didn’t go public with it and went into hiding. On the news, the phantom thief named Loser has announced he will steal a piece of art at the museum. There is a large crowd of supporters supporting him. As explained, he is just a thief who always fails to steal any art, hence his name. Some think it is just an elaborate publicity stunt. Kyouma and Mira are also here to retrieve illegal coils. As expected, Loser pops up in flashy extravagance like as though it is all a big show. Infiltrating the museum filled with traps, Loser and Kyouma unlikely cooperate with each other to take the obstacles down. Loser knows Kyouma was part and a survivor of a radical group called Grendel during the last war. Members trained their bodies and minds, fighting with superhuman abilities against coiled powered weapons. At the end of the war, the group went into hiding but Loser knows the reason why they were disbanded as it was to cover up the atrocious accidents caused by coils. Loser unveils his mask to show his faceless face. He lost many of his body parts during it. He will never forgive them for killing his wife and set the truth free if it is the last thing he does. This only makes Kyouma wonder how stealing a piece of art will further his goals and even more baffling, has he really never succeeded in stealing anything?

Meanwhile Mira tries to find the source of a signal that is giving Loser details. She finds a young boy communicating with Loser but he soon can’t because Mira has collected all his decoy pigeons. Loser teaches the art room and the owner is desperate and scared of becoming Loser’s first victim. He sends his pair of hot robot chick assassins to deal with him. They are also Kyouma’s target since they are using illegal coils. They are easily taken care of. Kyouma observes Loser retrieving a coil known as Numbers from the artwork. The owner panics as he tries to take off the illegal coils as he fears the authorities will discover it. Unheeding Kyouma’s warning not to touch it, well, too late. The coils go berserk as it opens some space dimension and warping everything it consumes. Loser and Kyouma save their own ass and let the owner succumb to his fate. Ugh. What an ugly piece of fused artwork worthy of a horror movie. Of course Albert and his DAB team are here to clean up the mess. As New Tesla promised mankind a world with eternal light, this kind of ugly darkness is what they must hide from the public eyes and in the shadows forever. Loser returns to his partner. He observes Mira and notes Kyouma is blessed with a good partner. Mira wants to ask about illegal coils, how and by whom are they made. However he only tells her such information is taboo because he will have his revenge.

Episode 3
Mira’s eyes light up when she sees Mary paying her a stack of cash for a job well done. So much money… Mary reminds her not to get it to her head because if New Tesla finds out who she is, everyone is done for. Mira describes the things she would like to get with her pay and even paying Kyouma rent. So he lets her live in a dilapidated trailer next to his house. Time to go on a buying spree and spring cleaning. When Kyouma goes out on a job, Mira cleans the trailer and notices those pesky kids spying on her. One of them, Shiora comes to talk to her but I think she has a short attention span seeing she isn’t interested in listening to Mira explaining about her relationship with Kyouma as business partners. The other kids are playing about in the car dump. The metal fatigue sets in and the kids are about to be crushed. Mira quickly flies in to save them. Kyouma not only gets his equipment fixed but he asks his informant about Numbers. Before the construction of towers, various test coils were sent around the world to researchers. They were called beta coils or microgates but now as Numbers because of simply how they look. Numbers are different than ordinary coils because they tap deeper into the dimension and at unknown depths of energy. It is rumoured big incidents that New Tesla covered up are caused by Numbers. It should not be what anyone should be using. When Kyouma returns, he finds the police cordoned off his place. The kids claimed somebody save them and is pinned under the wreckage but they could find no body. The police take Kyouma to record his statement because of his negligence in supervising his property. However he is soon let off. He returns to see Mira sitting alone in her trailer. Her head is disconnected but she can still talk. For the first time, she saw the fear in the kids’ eyes when they saw her. It is a good thing they didn’t say anything about her to the police. Kyouma calls Mary to have Mira fixed up. He thought Mary helped bail him out but she didn’t but the COO of New Tesla, Claire Skyheart. He goes to see her as instructed. The reason she did so is because Shiora is her granddaughter and negotiated with the police for his release. Shiora whispers to Kyouma that she kept Mira’s secret so don’t worry about it. Later Albert reports to Claire about Yurizaki’s body and everything around him disappeared completely like as though it was eaten by a black hole. She also tells him she has met Kyouma and he looks fine despite being told it would take a long time for him to recover. She leaves it to his discretion about Kyouma. The kids see Mira and she gets her chance to thank them.

Episode 4
Kyouma wanted to leave when Albert is here but Mary insists he takes the job. Shijuurou Sakaki, a famous horror novelist was found dead at the hotel mansion of Lake Yasogami. He was found drowned. His room was locked and only a robot servant was with him. Incomplete video footage didn’t reveal much. And it is unsure if the robot drowned him. There were no illegal coils too so it must mean somebody must be hacking into New Tesla system. That is where Albert wants Kyouma to recover whatever this hacker is using. So Kyouma and Mira are on their way to Yasogami. But can robots see ghost? Hmm… Not in her recording… Yikes! Can robot be afraid of ghosts but not Kyouma?! Oh yeah, he went through hell as Grendel… Yasogami is also a lake dam but it was a forced construction that led to many casualties. Yeah, so it’s haunted. At the hotel, they meet several characters, Marisa (hotel owner and Shijuurou’s sister), Makita (hotel manager), Kiyomi Kato (maid), Hageyama (grumpy journalist), Elizabeth “Ellie” Greenhough Smith (batty gothic girl) and a bunch of shady people. Kyouma is not pleased that Albert is also here. He is on vacation but instead of heading south, he decided to come here. When he mentions about Kyouma snooping around for Numbers, Kyouma starts beating him up and kicks him out of his room. Don’t worry if he falls 3 floors down. That guy was also part of Grendel. So as Kyouma goes around the place to look for clues, Mira reads Shijuurou’s novels. Can robots be frightened at what they read? Apparently she is reeling from all the graphic novels she read. Too real?! But she finds a striking similarity of the story setting and Yasogami. She projects an image of this place 21 years ago. But when her functions start to malfunction, she returns to reality only to find she is in a different room and a woman trying to kill her! Mira continues to run from the mad killer and realizes she is bound by this world’s rules. It is like she is transported into one of the horror novels. This means she has to witness grotesque horror killings and mad people that are about to kill her.

Kyouma meets Albert again to talk about his findings. Apparently only a construction worker died and the rest were students. It is believed that Numbers had something to do with their deaths and they had an active one when the accident occurred. Professor Kenjirou Kuroda had a student, Haruna Enamori who activated Numbers and went missing. Search party found them drowned but by ghosts? Numbers were never found. DAB had given up in searching it till Shijuurou’s death somewhat signalled it. He too was at Yasogami 10 years ago. Koorogi has recovered the missing video footage. It shows several ghosts killing Shijuurou. The blackout was caused by overwriting of the video logs as they’re being recorded but even after so, a portion remained in the robot’s memory. Koorogi runs a check on the facials of the ghosts. All of them are students who died except for the guy killing him, Shirou Kamiki. Before Koorogi could get to the interesting part, Makita calls them. Elizabeth has found Hageyama’s body drowned inside a van. Kyouma realizes Elizabeth is a Recovery Agent. Kyouma returns to the hotel when he hears a scream. Those shady people don’t want Marisa to wake up yet because her dreams connect to the other world. Their goal is to get Numbers. They kidnap her as Kyouma fails to save her since this Breaking Bad dude starts firing his awesome photon cannon that easily puts big holes in walls. Mira is confronted by Kamiki who is actually Shijuurou.

Episode 5
Kamiki explains this place is a nightmare that connects reality and the past. He will protect this world no matter what even if it means killing Mira. As she is being pulled apart, Mira has deep thoughts about dying in the world. Then she breaks free because apparently her logic overrides this world. Huh? Meanwhile everyone else is being attacked by… Water ghosts? But they aren’t just ordinary water but water from the lake. So the only way to douse them is splash them with ordinary water? Like fighting fire with fire? When Mira returns to reality, she now knows where the Numbers and Marisa are. It seems that Numbers is in Enamori’s grasp as she is being encased in a cube. Ellie is working under Loser (who is impersonating as Makita) and is about to follow Mira and Kyouma. However Loser orders to retreat because the other Grendel (Arthur) is targeting them. They can’t handle 2 legendary beasts at the same time. Mira explains this Kamiki is from an alternate reality where he saved his friends. Flashback reveals Kamiki and his crew just connected the coil and this would ease their energy problems at the dam. A reporter was supposed to interview them on the coils but instead he is here to rape Enamori. She killed him and felt guilty about it although Kamiki told her it is self defence. Kamiki heard the dam operators are planning to drain the dam and force everyone to leave. He wants her to warn everyone at the village while he cleans up this mess. Unfortunately, rainy stormy night and slippery pathway means she slipped off somewhere… After Kamiki kills the dam operator and releases the floodgates (just to hide the murder evidence?), he returns only to find his friends still stuck. Enamori is not among them so he fears the worse. She is dead holding the coil. It is then he is torn between saving his friends or himself. He thought he saved his friends but it turns out to be a fake world.

Kyouma fights Kamiki as the latter explains about Enamori’s memories and will that is keeping them alive forever. Mira disagrees with that and breaks the cube. Only the coil is there but no Enamori. She explains this alternate reality in which she saved everyone and mourned Enamori’s death. Enamori was alive at that moment. Enamori is Marisa. He cannot understand properly because his existence is based around Enamori’s death. The real Marisa died in an accident 14 years ago. Shijuurou continues explaining the truth. He abandoned his friends and saved only Enamori. Although she recovered, she lost her memories. He left Yasogami and took on a new name to live peacefully somewhere else. Because Enamori suffered from nightmares by seeing a lot of him attacking people in her dreams, Kamiki talked to Kuroda and found out the coil at the bottom of the lake and her dreams may be connecting the 2 worlds. Shijuurou removed the coil and Kamiki wasn’t too happy about it because he just needed to turn it off. That’s why he killed him. Because Kamiki chose a path Shijuurou cannot take. He wanted to protect his friends and the world they lived in. Kamiki is now able to see the real Kamiki. She has been watching him suffer all the while but couldn’t do anything. After they reconcile, there is this Mira’s explanation about the worlds untangling and existing as another copy. F*ck this sh*t! I don’t understand a single thing! With their mission to retrieve the coil over, Kyouma lets the police take over. They question Kiyomi who explains she heard voices from her father to replace the water in the inn with the lake water. He was one of the workers of the dam and she could still see him standing outside the window. Creepy?

Episode 6
Prince Salba Ene Tibesti, the president of Islero and the Wind of Africa arrives in Japan. Despite his gentlemanly outlook, he scorns all those screaming fan girls for being ‘ugly’. His assistant, Lashiti informs him that his brother, Ruwai has gone missing. Salba wants him retrieved before midnight. Ruwai has gone out by himself, eager to see Japan. To his disappointment it is not what he thinks it should be! Then he bumps into Kyouma (just fresh from visiting his late wife Miyabi’s grave) and thinks he is a samurai. Salba’s guards think Kyouma is kidnapping Ruwai and attack but Kyouma is clearly superior. Ruwai insists in hanging out with him despite Kyouma not being too pleased he has to care for a kid. Because he accidentally wrecked a festival stall with his immense strength, Kyouma brings him to a clothes store run by his sister-in-law, Tsubaki. Her assistants, Hirose and Ayukawa give Ruwai a change of clothes and probably Kyouma is here for his as well since Ruwai accidentally tore it. Lashiti drops by to collect Ruwai and he obediently goes with her. Kyouma gives him a fan. Once Ruwai returns to Salba, he initiates his plan. Ruwai is seen breaking into Mary’s place and tearing apart her strongest android, Four. Meanwhile Loser continues his Numbers hunt and rues this one isn’t it. He just needs one more… Mary is not too happy Four is broken. She gives Kyouma a letter left behind. It is a challenge letter from Islero to all Recovery Agents. In the mean time, Salba sees Claire to discuss Yurizaki’s legacy. Claire cautions this might start another war but this is what Salba intends and specializes in. Actually to start a war to prevent another. Huh? Thus he is here to warn her in advance. This war is just a long event anyone can participate and will be held at the sealed place, Easter Island. The challenge letter instructs challengers to head to Easter Island in 7 days.

Episode 7
A throwback to Kyouma’s past. When he was looking much like a delinquent, he first Miyabi when she was stuck between his van and a brick wall as she was trying to take pictures of a cat. And what do you know? They become quite the couple. But when Miyabi is diagnosed with an incurable degenerative muscle disease, Kyouma went all out to find the best artificial limb replacement. This means barging through to Seira and demanding her to save his girlfriend! Who the f*ck he think he is?! Kyouma is then taken in by Seira’s bodyguard, Colin Keys who is looking to form his own army, Grendel. Kyouma’s muscular physique and sharp reflexes make him an ideal candidate to join Grendel. The task will not be easy but if he is willing, there is a small chance he can save Miyabi. On the day Kyouma proposed to her would be the last time he saw her. On the same day of her surgery, Kyouma and Grendel charged into Easter Island to fight. Kyouma couldn’t remember what else happened after his team stormed in. When he woke up, he was already in hospital. Albert is by his side claiming they have won the war although only both of them survived. His nightmare comes true when Miyabi died. Making it worse, her head was decapitated and stored separately and it became unrecoverable because a coil malfunctioned. Ever since, he started hating everything that has to do with coils.

Salba is before the committee explaining his actions on Easter Island. Is it me or does the committee head look like Steve Jobs? Salba shows them an image of something humanoid. I don’t understand his explanation that has something to do with a coil but he is going there to ascertain some possibility. Although the committee has their own specialized force, Qi, Salba is doing it his way to show transparency. We are introduced to the several Recovery Agents taking part in this challenge. The gluttonous siblings Harry and Debby (fatsos – Ice Climbers?), Yuriy Antonov (stereotype Russian assassin), Jason Chrysler (stereotype American hero with sexy babes flanking – All Might?), K.K. (stereotype token black guy – Will Smith?!), Cassidy (Mexican furry) and Sanchez (Mexican pig). Salba explains how all coils are rendered useless in Easter Island but there is one there that is working and is the first that is activating in a void. The first to retrieve it gets $50 million. No second place prizes. Also joining this party is Ellie and Loser. If you’re wondering why Kyouma isn’t here, he took Albert’s flight directly there. It is slower but at least his plane carries his car. Better go in his plane than Salba’s ship, Grodia commanded by this Amazonian, Cedric Morgan, right? As Grodia enters Easter Island’s vicinity, the numerous tornados are causing turbulence. They are attacked by some ephemeral ball with its own will as it sends Grodia crashing into the island.

Episode 8
Flashback reveals Salba was adopted as a prince by the king. The king thought Salba about not relying too much on power or else it will lead to destruction but Salba did not agree to that. Shortly when Ruwai is born, the king chose Ruwai to be the next king and entrusts Salba with the job of supporting him. Thus Salba has a dream to create a perfect world so that Ruwai could rule. Grodia has crashed and the Recovery Agents are still alive. The only casualties are Salba, Lashiti and Sanchez. They are still alive but the sphere went through them and took their conscious. Ruwai assumes command of the operation and the mission will continue. Things start to get weird when there are ‘zombies’ (people returned from the void and void with personality) and robots start attacking them. The Recover Agents go into action. The sphere appears again. Cassidy thought she is done for but Lashiti mentions it is only seeking men. Apparently her conscious wasn’t taken unlike the rest but was knocked out by a physical attack. Yuriy is taken out by K.K. who is going to do some operation on him. The fatty siblings are fighting those robots. With shovels? Kyouma and Mira come to their rescue. Time for Kyouma to show how much he kicks ass as he uses his wires to wrap around the giants and bring them down. The siblings cooperate with them to dig a tunnel so Kyouma can continue to drive his car underground. When they enter the void, their bodies start to feel numb like as though they are on the verge of death. Luckily they manage to get to the end of it. Before them are broken robots lying around. It is proof that Grendel was here. Kyouma can’t remember much but only the place up ahead was called Adrastea by Colin. Kyouma somewhat still feel nervous as he sums up his courage in hopes to push forward and see Miyabi. But standing before his way now is Loser.

Episode 9
Loser is not happy that Kyouma doesn’t remember a thing and he dare come back. Kyouma wants to know everything but Loser views that as an insult because of all the people here, Kyouma is the one who is closest to the truth. The sphere then appears and steals Kyouma’s conscious. It seems he is reliving part of his memories likes his training with Grendel. Similarly Salba too when his African kingdom fell into chaos after a coup. He knows the people staging the protests are foreigners pretending to be his people. After getting permission from the king to do it his way, Salba captures the ringleader. When Salba is parading through the crowd, a sniper is about to shoot him. Lashiti uses her body to protect him. Salba uses his android to fire the sniper’s way but he didn’t see Ruwai coming from that direction and he was shot too. Meanwhile Grendel secured a tower from a terrorist attack led by Haruka Seameyer. He was Yurizaki’s former student and has declared war on New Tesla. Soon Seameyer has gathered many scientists especially from Adrastea to fight for his cause to rectify the injustice done to Yurizaki. He believed despite Yurizaki invented the coils, he was stripped of his freedom to conduct his research. A handful of scientists opposing Seameyer including Julian were captured by Seameyer and forced to join him. Loser and Ellie are at the door of Adrastea. He once worked here and many of the coil based tools used today were invented here. This is also the birthplace of the void. When they step in, there is nothing. Really nothing. He thinks Sophia has sabotaged the teleportation device and believes more Numbers are needed. Colin addresses his team before the assault on Easter Island. Before that he tells Kyouma about Miyabi’s deteriorating condition and has 6 hours to go see her. He manages to do that but suddenly ends up fighting with his own inner demon. He knows everything is just an illusion in the void. After saying goodbye to Miyabi, he starts falling through space and sees all the memories of the universe! The sphere is actually Seameyer as he explains memories are the key to unlocking this world with Dimension W. Seameyer is about to absorb him but Miyabi is seen giving Kyouma great motivation. She believes in him. When Mira spots a picture of Miyabi, she remembers Mary telling how she died in some coil induced accident. Taking a closer look at her profile, it seems Mira’s body size is exactly identical to Miyabi. Mira was designed to accommodate her mind and all of the artificial bodies made by Yurizaki are the same to save her life. Although the incident at Easter Island and Miyabi’s accident occurred at the same time, reports say they were unrelated but Kyouma refused to believe it.

Episode 10
Kyouma returns to his consciousness to save Mira before she becomes robot scrap. Noticing his ear is bleeding, Kyouma shows a little drone that was embedded deep inside it. Since it has no coil, it must have gotten there via teleportation. He has most of his memories back. He remembers Adrastea is a space exploration agency that was set up by a group of secret scientists to research into Dimension W via teleportation. That sphere is actually a gate appearing when an object is being teleported. Ruwai drops in. He is injured and his body is entirely mechanical. He was on the run from K.K. and modified Yuriy. Meanwhile Chrysler faces off with Loser. The former knows the latter needs Numbers to open Adrastea. There is a coil more powerful than Numbers and is believed to be able to reverse the void. It was sealed here by Yurizaki as precaution. However Seameyer successfully recreated it via sacrifice. Kyouma’s group comes face to face with K.K. who sends Yuriy and a former Grendel comrade to fight Kyouma. They are controlled by his coils. K.K. is kind enough to reveal that he is working for somebody that must be unnamed to kill anyone who enters this area. He also mentions these dead people have no more soul and are just mere marionettes dancing to his electrical stimuli. K.K. adds he has been on an investigation team here too and New Tesla was kind enough to cover it up from him. His team concludes that once you’re dead, your soul leaves the body and can never return. Kyouma doesn’t believe it all. So he thought he could save his ex-comrade by destroying the coil but it only serves to kill him. He was dead in the first place. K.K. has read Kyouma’s medical files and that he was never caught in the void. He is missing his memories because it was as if someone erased them. Kyouma tries to recall hard that Seameyer may have attempted this. Something about the teleportation device that was incomplete. Something about Colin telling him to steal Genesis. Ruwai attempts to kill K.K. but misses. His body is now totally messed up. Before K.K. could kill him, Ruwai kills himself. This makes Kyouma mad as he turns into a demon to beat down K.K.! Even black dude is afraid! Kyouma has no qualms in killing him but Mira stops him. Even if he is a bad guy, he can’t take a life. Is that what she is trying to say? Before it gets any complicated, another Ruwai pops up. He forgot to say he has multiple bodies. Okay, this is already confusing.

Episode 11
Chrysler uses up too much energy and loses. Loser takes his Numbers and makes his way to Adrastea. Ruwai explains Salba created some doppelganger system to control his mechanical body. His real body is back in Africa. Because the connection was getting harder, Ruwai was forced to commit suicide. When Mira tells about the drone in the ear thingy, Salba and Sanchez wake up once it is extracted. Salba and Kyouma form an alliance to finish this mission. Salba wants this coil, Genesis that Yurizaki made. It is a coil that can create anything out of nothing and he needs it to keep Ruwai alive. Cassidy and Sanchez try to get a head start but robots attack them. Ruwai and the twins fend off more robots to let the rest enter Adrastea. Before them are Loser and Ellie. From what he says, Salba deduces he is Julian. Above them is a giant dimensional rupture. The gate created by the teleportation device is open. It teleported Adrastea and its surrounding areas into the void and created an area void of energy from Dimension W. Loser lets them peek into his memories to see what happened. Julian and his wife, Sophia were researching on this. They also knew Yurizaki who then introduced Seameyer as his most promising student. There is this discussion about the teleportation in which living things will be killed instantly but not dead or inanimate objects. There’s a whole lot of mumbo-jumbo about possibilities and the likes but I don’t f*cking understand them.

They do everything they can to research on this and Seameyer devoted himself to this research. But one day his lab and everything was confiscated because Genesis was deemed dangerous. Yurizaki agreed to it too and Seameyer concluded he must have completed its theory. That was when Seameyer turned insane. He tricked the other scientists to become his live bait for his teleportation experiment. He too had completed his theory long ago but the question was how many lives it will take to complete his Genesis. He forced Sophia to help him out in exchange Julian will die last. After many scientists died, Genesis is completed. That was when Grendel stormed in. Seameyer now communicates with them via projection. He can’t come out from his hiding because he is now stuck in a larger part of Adrastea. The smaller part and his right hand went somewhere else. When Sophia tried to destroy the experiment, she successfully teleported Julian away. It proved Genesis was complete. However it causes the machine to go out of control. When Grendel stormed in, Kyouma stole Genesis from Seameyer. Before everything went out of control, Kyouma activated Genesis and teleported somewhere else. Seameyer desperately tries to get it back but his right hand got caught in that warp. Because Kyouma was recovered and reported he had no Genesis with him, this means he is the only one who knows where Genesis is. Memories starting to come back now? Well, if Kyouma isn’t falling into a guilt trip he abandoned his comrades. Loser wants to know what happened to Sophia. Seameyer will gladly reunite them. Here she is. A giant tentacle monster?!

Episode 12
Seameyer gives Loser 2 choices: Work with him to find Genesis or die. Loser makes his third choice: He will kill him and find Genesis himself. Because of Numbers, Loser is able to open a teleportation hole. He tries to pull Seameyer over but got distracted by a decoy face of Sophia and got taken out. Wait. Kyouma is depressed? He starts blaming himself for all the things that have happened and has no longer any reason to fight. Mira tells him off this is not the Kyouma she knows. And then something about existence and possibility. And connecting Miyabi’s will to the future? My mind is already so heavy… Mira believes his amnesia was caused by Genesis. All he needs to do is fix it by retracing his steps. She will use a drone to enter his mind and help with the recovery. Since he needs to be unconscious, she slaps him out. Looks familiar? So this is what I understand. After Kyouma got his hand on Genesis, he is within reaching distance from another dimension to Miyabi’s surgery. Despite the surgery went well, the coil had abnormal readings and it is causing her to die. Kyouma thought he could send Genesis over and change everything but Miyabi stopped him. She doesn’t want it this way. In the end, she thanks him and the rest is history. Kyouma now remembers everything and wakes up but Mira is no longer around. He reunites with the rest who are going to end this charade and take down Seameyer for good by giving him what he wants.

Mira’s coil is on the verge of going out of control. She is getting as far away so as not to let anyone get caught up in Dimension W. But Seameyer catches her and thinks he can use her body. Mira thinks she can make the ultimate sacrifice by blowing up herself. It’s like Kyouma can read her mind because he disagrees (well, she was in his mind a while ago). He dares Seameyer to look into his mind and provokes him that he is scared of knowing how is in possession of Genesis. He takes the bait and is disheartened to see Genesis broken. As agreed with Miyabi, Kyouma destroyed it and then was teleported back. Seameyer goes crazy that everything is a waste so he is going to destroy everything and that includes this planet by sucking it into the void. Perfect chance for Ruwai to tie up the monster and push it back into the sphere to crush Seameyer on the other side. Since when Kyouma has become so talkative and has last words for Seameyer? Not that I understand anyway about existence and having no regrets. Kyouma nails Seameyer’s coffin with his needle fused with a Numbers. Seameyer sees Yurizaki and it’s like the latter relieves him of his pain. With the clashing of the dimensions, the void will disappear. Feeling at ease that Sophia’s soul is now released, Loser can rest in peace. Literally. He will be joining her soon. Kyouma is about to get sucked in but Mira pulls him back out. She also sees Yurizaki who replaces her coil with another coil that is supposed to function as a human heart. I think. With the void gone, Easter Island returns to normal. Except with all the mess and rubbles left behind. Everyone is happy the war is over except for Ellie since her papa is dead. In the aftermath, Salba gives his statement to the council, the African delegates return to their homeland and Kyouma and Mira continue as Recovery Agent partners. Kyouma is grateful for Miyabi for he could have ended living a life of crime. That’s why he will move forward in a reality he can select possibilities.

OVA
Bathroom fanservice. Because Kyouma still continues to call Mira a piece of junk, she tries this trick to get him to call her by her name. What is this reflective thing you call in English? Not working. He’s not falling for it. As they go take a bath, they realize the water has been cut because Kyouma hasn’t been paying his bills for months. But do robots need to shower? Mira sweats. So is the sea enough? Don’t want salt to stick on her body. Then the river should be fine. She tags along with him to the public bathhouse. Kyouma is not pleased to see Albert there. Over on the women’s side, Mira sees Ellie. She tells her problem with Kyouma and if there is a way to get him to do so. Ellie pours cold water on her idea because she was born without a name in the first place. In a way, she is better off than most robots. Mira wonders if Kyouma is indifferent to her since she is a robot. Well, she is a robot. Ellie adds she is just a piece of junk if she can’t tell between truth and lie. Isn’t enough that Kyouma keeps her by his side? Tsubaki and her assistants come in. They are thrilled to meet a blonde. Tsubaki learns why Mira is here. She is going to teach that man some responsibilities. Mira also asks Tsubaki for advice. She thinks being called a nickname is evidence of being close. If Mira still insists, it just means she hasn’t reach a place where he will call her by her name. Mira wonders if she can get there. Who knows? But don’t worry. Tsubaki will ‘train’ him. Apparently the girls’ talk can be heard from the men’s side so Kyouma leaves. Mira also leaves. This makes the rest wonder if she could see through the men’s side. Of course. She’s a robot. Why are they freaking out? Kyouma chides Mira for her useless talk. She thinks it is important but he says piece of junk is good enough for her. Looks like that place is still far out of reach.

Dimension What?!
Oh God. Why do I have a sense of relief like everyone else that the war is over? My war in trying my utmost best to understand the series is finally put to rest after a dozen episodes. The feeling of watching the final episode was like trying to cram in everything I had tried to understand so far in the series. Then they add a lot more because of that revelation stuffs and existence and possibilities… Oh God… I don’t even know what I’m saying at this point. So uhm, Kyouma makes peace with himself and everything goes back to normal but the world hardly changes because there are still unscrupulous people using coils illegally for their own nefarious end? Well, it seems like that from my point of view.

So let me get my most detested annoyance out of my system first. As you might have guessed or following my blogs over the years, having deep sci-fi terms is something that I do not really like in my anime. Having to deal with all the sci-fi mumbo-jumbo and terms has become an automatic bane that my body and brain just refuse to understand. So with the series dealing about infinite energy and teleportation, I have a feeling that the theories and hypothesis aren’t that deep that you could write pages after pages of your own presumptions to support or debunk the ideas shown here. It doesn’t explain itself too deeply perhaps to unravel some of the important revelations in a proper pacing. But from a casual user’s point of view, it was still confusing nevertheless. Especially when you even put in dreams and memories, something that science can hardly explain. Thus at the end of every episode, I would be just screaming what, what and what. And don’t get me started about that possibilities thingy.

Therefore with the essential sci-fi terms weaved into the plot and storyline, it is only natural that it will be even harder for me to understand where the story is going and most important, to enjoy this series as a whole. While the mini arcs by its own at the start make it feel like fillers and standalones, they are in the end connected to a bigger picture for the final arc. Of course I myself can’t connect the dots so I am just mainly accepting it as I go along. That is, if I do understand what is happening. All I can see that this is one big elaborated revenge story. You know, Kyouma trying to avenge his comrade and Miyabi’s death, Loser trying to avenge for Sophia, Seameyer trying to avenge for his research and Mira, uhm, avenging for Yurizaki? So what is that brand new coil he had to finally give her? I don’t really understand the condition he imposed and I certainly didn’t understand the condition Mira was to get that except it was the last episode so something needed to be done to remind us that something of this sort was made at the beginning.

So alternate reality or just figment of your own imagination, this void thingy is still one big mystery and headache to understand. Because I’m not sure about those people who have gone there are living another life, having another alternate life or just being like a dead spirit stuck in limbo. And what is this about people becoming zombies and losing their personality if they get thrown back into reality. That’s why I’m not sure if Miyabi is really dead or still alive in another dimension. Well, it’s better than putting in the plot twist that Mira is Miyabi seeing they share the same body size everything and that the revelation Mira was built for her. I might be tearing out my hair if that actually came to pass. Dead or alive, Miyabi is always alive in Kyouma’s heart. Right? Aww…

Character development is pretty decent with Kyouma and Loser’s past and connections unravelling at a steady pace so it doesn’t feel all that rushed and slow. While there is an interesting dynamism between Kyouma and Mira, they make good partners but personally I just don’t feel that their relationship has grown deeper throughout the series. They’re still close in the end (because Kyouma didn’t dump her obviously) but not the kind they can become drinking buddies. Hah. Maybe others can pick out but for me, it seemed to remain almost the same as if they were from the start. Because with Kyouma hating everything that is coils, he isn’t really pleased to have a robot girl as his sidekick like as though he is doing her a favour. Furthermore, he doesn’t really call her real name and resorts to refer her via lots of other nicknames. Well, if this is his kind of bonding with her then I don’t mind. Kyouma strikes off as different from many main characters not only for his brooding attitude but the fact that he isn’t here to make friends. He doesn’t seek help from others. Of course you see him being friendly with many characters but that is because there is no intention to make enemies out of them. In that sense, he is cooler than most typical main protagonists.

Kyouma has this moody face that it makes you think he is born with it. I can’t blame him seeing what happened to his beloved wife. It takes all the smiles out of you. So if you see Kyouma smile, it is indeed a rare scene and as well as a bit scary. I mean, you always see this guy looking and acting like he is in a bad mood all the time so you don’t expect to see him put up a cheery face. It is not impossible but having him do so just makes his character feel weird. Hey, at least better than Loser having no face at all, right?!

Mira at first comes to me as a bit of a useless character since her only useful ability seems to be detecting coils. But having saved Kyouma at certain times and being a robot means she has immense strength, she is no pushover. Not to mention that she is imbued with emotions and she is as close as a human being. Uh huh. Do robots really cry? And to think that she was that ‘mysterious, beautiful woman’ that drew me in to watch the series… What the heck was I thinking?! Of course I have to give Mira her dues since it was roles reversal in the final episode whereby Mira gets to shine and do lots of decently useful stuffs to propel Kyouma back to his usual coolness.

There are tons of other supporting characters but forgive me that since I was already struggling with the terms and plot, many of them felt like they were just there for the sake of being there. They serve one or two little moments for the plot but that is about it. Like Salba feels like an odd reason for leading a crew of ragtag Recovery Agents for the final battle. Ruwai just to see him pilot his mecha. Lashiti just being Salba’s secretary standing by him. That’s about it. Ellie is just being, uhm, the cute little helper. And I thought Albert would help play a crucial role in the final arc but he was largely missing that he was overall forgettable. It is a good thing that Albert is Kyouma’s ally but I can’t help shake off that feeling this guy might be gay for Kyouma. After all, the only survivors of Grendel somewhat understand each other, right? So mostly many of such characters I believe have their own back story to tell in which was just touching the surface as seen here. Well, if they delved deeper, we might have to extend the season. No thank you.

Seameyer may come up as a creepy typical insane antagonist but I have a feeling it is done in a way so that viewers would have somebody to hate. Kyouma is cool, you can’t hate him, right? Mira is cool, you can’t hate her too, right? Loser is a sad tragic case and that makes the same for his daughter so you can’t hate them too, right? So who else to put all that hate into a character who looks like he has had a bad makeup day? Really. I remember there was this little boy with Loser when he first made his appearance. Whatever happened to him? What was his relationship with Loser? Don’t tell me that was Ellie in disguise! I am certain that wasn’t her. Very sure.

At least I have the visuals to praise about for this series. The designs of this futuristic sci-fi setting are nicely designed as what you would expect a futuristic sci-fi world to look like. But not too much that it would feel like as though it is an alien world. So looking at Kyouma feels a bit out of place because he is the only one walking around wearing traditional Japanese clothes even as his fighting uniform. There is the use of CGI effects too but they are not jarring that it would make you feel weird out. This series is animated by Studio 3Hz, a relatively new studio who seems to be dabbling into sci-fi themed animes such as Sora No Method (I’m sure if an anime has a mysterious UFO hovering over a little town, it can be considered as sci-fi too, right?) and Flip Flappers.

Action and fighting scenes are also adequate to keep you entertained and a welcoming relief for people like me who do not understand the sci-fi aspects of the show. I guess explosions, special effects from the beams or whatever energy and tearing down robots are a universal language that almost everyone can appreciate in the reel world, huh? I particularly like Kyouma’s unique fighting ability that uses wires tied to his needles. Sometimes it makes me feel like yelling Scorpion’s trademark line, “Get over here!” each time he throws them.

Veteran Daisuke Ono plays Kyouma. Though his tone suits the character well, somehow I don’t feel the bitterness in his voice that would have made Kyouma sound more convincing. He sounds more annoyed (in an angry sense) if you ask me. I’m not saying Daisuke Ono wasn’t suitable for the role but after being used to his Kuroshitsuji’s Sebastian and those similar to this character, it is kinda hard to shake off that stereotype view. Other recognizable seiyuus are Yuuichi Nakamura as Loser/Julian, Akira Ishida as Albert, Yuuki Kaji as Seameyer (warning: incoming crazy screaming mode), Yoshitsugu Matsuoka as Koorogi, Sayaka Ohara as Tsubaki and Mamiko Noto as Lashiti. It took me a while to identify Mamiko Noto since she didn’t have many lines at first. Because the series has many characters thanks to its mini arc nature, I’m just going to name some of the main ones. They are Reina Ueda as Mira (Mikan in Jitsu Wa Watashi Wa), Kousuke Toriumi as Salba (Cecil in Uta No Prince-sama series), Daiki Yamashita as Ruwai (Touya in Log Horizon), Eri Suzuki as Ellie (Sanae in Rokujouma No Shinryakusha), Kimiko Saito as Mary (Chieko in Kuragehime) and Rika Fukami as Claire (Sailor Venus in Sailormoon series).

The opening theme is Genesis by Stereo Dive Foundation. It is filled with lots of electric techno hype but the one thing that caught my attention was the opening credits animation whereby Kyouma is doing some sort of dance! Knowing this guy with a sour puss face to get down and do that kind of hip dancing is definitely going to raise a few eyebrows. It is as though an indication that if he wasn’t a Recovery Agent, he’d be winning competitions with those slick and cool moves! For the OVA, it is Mira who does those slick moves. Proof that even a ‘piece of junk’ can look cool dancing. The ending theme is heavy rock based, Contrast by Fo’xTails. Its ending credits animation feels like it is dedicated all for Mira. Not having enough purposeful screen time in the episode proper? How about this to make up for it? Nah…

Overall, this series is not a bad anime and from what I read from majority of the comments over the internet, they praised it for being a unique series in its own right and perhaps an underrated anime for the season. And here I was trying to find a reviewer to have the same views as me, that it isn’t that good an anime. Sighs. I guess I am just in a different (and lower) league than many of such intelligent viewers out there. Because there are quite a few interesting technological and sci-fi concepts to ponder about. It has a decent pace of characterization and action included all packed into a dozen episodes. So I guess this series isn’t such a bad one in the long run. It is just my personal dislike for such sci-fi terms that prevented me from enjoying and understanding and giving it better marks. I wonder if the cure for stupidity is hidden and could be tapped in another dimension. Say, Dimension V? Hey, it’s a possibility, right?

Space Patrol Luluco

November 12, 2016

For the umpteenth time, whenever a teenager yearns for a normal life no matter how rough and tough he or she has got it now, this seems to be jinxed a lot. Because you know, they usually become the hero and catalyst to save the world and the entire human race with their whatever hidden latent power. Or that destiny crap whatsoever. This is the case for our titular character in Space Patrol Luluco. Life is already hard enough for our middle school girl but at least she isn’t suffering. Her hopes for a normal life (despite living in a world where abnormal is the norm. Geddit?) takes a turn for the worse when she is drafted to become part of the Space Patrol and endure all the shenanigans as part of her mission. Did I mention that involves falling in love with her fellow colleague too? Oh yeah. Life is pretty normal in anime standards.

Episode 1
Luluco lives with her dad, Keiji who works at the Space Patrol. Their poor apartment life is because of mom’s messy divorce and she took all the furniture. Keiji accidentally bites a freezing pill. To Luluco’s horror, it is one of those things he confiscated from work. In her panic, she accidentally breaks him. Feeling the need to make him punch in at work, she brings him all the way to the Ogikubo branch and meets its chief, Over Justice! As Luluco tries to explain, Justice has the habit of arresting her first and then releasing once she makes her story clear. Luluco knows how much this place sucks but she is forced to work for this branch seeing Keiji cannot take anymore advance pay. There is some crime rampant in her middle school and Justice wants her to help out since adults cannot interfere. Luluco goes school like normal. During the exam, her alert rings and thus activating her patrol suit automatically. To her embarrassment, her classmates think she is some sort of exhibitionist, flaunting her curves. When the exam cheater is caught and is trying to make a run, Luluco transforms into a lame looking gun! Even more laughing from the rest! Totally embarrassing! But I think she’ll have the last laugh because the blast is so powerful that it made a hole in the wall. Okay, nobody’s laughing.

Episode 2
The cheater is willing to confess when a large meteorite crashes into class. The teacher forgot there is a new transfer student, Alpha Omega Nova. It seems he is also summoned by Justice to work at the Space Patrol. Since Luluco needs to bring the cheater him, he also has her guide her around town. He notes how this place is a melting pot of aliens and humans. Luluco doesn’t notice it since she lived here all her life. Though, it is mentioned that Japan sold off Ogikubo for a dirt cheap price because they were too broke. After that, aliens moved in and there was chaos at first. After meeting Justice, he tells Nova to interrogate the cheater. Nova transforms into his gun mode. At least his looks cool. The cheater reveals the school is being controlled by a terrifying alien called Save the World who is distributing quasi-legal Black Hole app to students. Justice orders the duo to eliminate this evil. So Nova blasts the cheater with his gun! Because he looks so cool doing it, is Luluco falling for him! Because she’s like falling through the universe! This causes her to transform into her gun mode and also blasts the cheater! Plus a hole in the wall. Man, how is the cheater still alive?

Episode 3
Nova suggests they split up looking for the culprit in her school. It’ll be much faster that way. When Luluco bumps into her friend, Midori, she thinks Luluco wants to buy a Black Hole app and is willing to sell her. Luluco is in a dilemma whether to get it or not but since Midori allows her to check it out, she somewhat agrees. It seems Midori is Save the World. Her members are worried since one of them has ratted on them and Space Patrol will raid them in no time. Midori remains confident that it won’t happen yet when suddenly Luluco and Nova bust in to arrest them. Surprised her friend is from Space Patrol? Nova wants to use gunfire to solve things but obviously Luluco disagrees as it might hit her friend. Midori uses the app to kidnap Nova since she is into handsome guys. After Luluco transforms into a gun and fires away all the lackeys, Midori uses Nova to fire back. Luluco is afraid she will hit Nova but he tells her not to worry. If she can’t resolve this without firing, then all she needs to do is fire! Although Luluco fires a shot, it ricochets till it his Midori. After Midori is arrested, Luluco apologizes for that dangerous move. He tells her shooting enemies with her gun is perfectly normal. She is still unsure what to do about her future so he says to remain as she is. You mean stay normal? No, stay wonderful. Midori is handed over to Justice and learning that how awesome it is to be part of Space Patrol, Midori also wants to join. At first Justice rejects her for being a criminal but when she threatens him, he agrees because nobody has ever volunteered before! Unprecedented justice? Looks like Luluco’s days will be getting far from normal.

Episode 4
Luluco hopes Nova will have eyes for her one day. She might be getting her wish soon as he starts getting poetic with her. And then the stupid alert had to sound. Seems a meteorite will crash into Ogikubo and to prevent that from happening, Space Patrol will be going up there and plant a bomb to explode it to pieces. The agents will be blasted there in 3 stages using their gun form. Midori thought she got the raw end of the deal when she becomes the base to launch the duo. Luluco thought she could be alone with Nova but he too uses his gun to propel her further. Now she has to do this mission alone! Her only solace is that she has to come back alive if she wants to see Nova again. After planting the bomb on the meteorite, she finds herself stuck. Justice says to use her gun form to blast her way back but Luluco feels embarrassed about it. That is when Nova interprets she doesn’t want to see him again. It’s not nice to lie. Luluco bites the bullet and blasts her way out before the meteorite blows up. She is breaking apart as she re-enters the atmosphere but is picked up by her mom! She was riding that meteorite and is not too happy she has joined Space Patrol.

Episode 5
They crash into Ogikubo’s Space Patrol base. Better than the meteorite crashing down, right? Luluco doesn’t understand why her mom, Space Pirate Lalaco Godspeed is doing this. Flashback mom and dad were always fighting till she left. Luluco was always caught in between. Lalaco is not impressed her daughter is trying to be normal. She reveals it was part of her plan to freeze Keiji or else her job would be tough. Justice for once stands up to fight back. His gun had no effect on Lalaco although Lalaco’s gun turned him into broken bones! Useless chief. Lalaco’s minions have got Keiji. Luluco pleads not to take Keiji away but when Lalaco is about to beat her up, Nova comes in between. It is not nice to hit a girl. Even by a girl? After Lalaco and crew return to their ship, they initiate the next phase of their plan. They lift the entire Ogikubo from the ground. Midori then spots an online auction of Ogikubo by Lalaco. I don’t know how many zeros are there… Justice is going to call HQ for backup but it seems they’re closed for today. They’re screwed.

Episode 6
As Luluco is holding Keiji’s brain, Justice gets an idea to microwave, defrost and electrocute it to start up. Don’t ask. It worked. Keiji leads them back to his apartment whereby there is a secret spaceship behind the closet! Didn’t even know about this, did you Luluco? They blast up to Lalaco’s ship while the adults banter something about their twisted version of justice. Keiji demands Lalaco return Ogikubo but do you think this bad woman will do what her ex-husband says? Somebody has hit the required bidding price so Lalaco is going to package Ogikubo and warp it away. Thankfully Midori still has those Black Hole apps as she uses them all to combine into one giant warp hand to grab Lalaco’s ship. Luluco attempts to persuade her mom to stop doing bad things but Lalaco reminds her if she sees someone else destroying something, she can’t rest easy till she destroys it with her own hands! The double warp causes some sort of space distortion as both ships are sent away to some unknown parts of the universe.

Episode 7
Team Luluco is now before a giant planet made out of yarn. According to the website, it consists of many Ogikubo and is the universe’s biggest tourism hub. Checking out the planet, Luluco finds some familiar local shops. Suddenly this Nova clone claims he has everyone tied to his red string of destiny. This of course intended to feed the space life fibres and provide them energy. While Luluco is in a dilemma which Nova she should fall in love, her alert sounds. This means Nova clone must be doing some kind of space fraud. However she cannot transform into her gun mode as the strings everywhere are entangling her. Nova clone is dumb enough to tell how to cut the strings loose. He forgot his end is also connected to the strings so Justice’s burning flames burn the strings and set everyone free. Our Space Patrol agents can now transform into their gun form to arrest him. However Nova clone would rather burn himself this way. And burn himself he did as the entire planet is now on fire! Everyone escapes as Nova mentions about their feelings creating this Ogikubo world so it is not the real Ogikubo. Perhaps that dude was just lonely after spending all that time in space by himself. Not that Luluco understands anyway.

Episode 8
Before another planet, Justice sends Nova and Luluco to go investigate. Luluco panics as she is now alone with him and doesn’t know what to talk. Fearing he might think she is as boring as sh*t, she strikes up weird conversations. No response. Sh*t! They hide when Nova spots a witch flying. This causes Luluco to worry the boy-starved witches might kidnap Nova. She wants them to go back but Nova hears something from the tower and wants to investigate. Luluco immediately transforms into her gun mode to investigate it herself. Then this witch, Sucy Manbavaran starts stuffing mushrooms in her hole! I wonder which hole… She thinks Luluco wants to steal the Sorcerer’s Stone which is giving off the same power as Ogikubo. When it is learnt that the mushrooms are poisonous and she has about 6 minutes to live and no magic can save her, Luluco resigns to her fate and wants to die a normal death. But then she realizes she has so much to do and can’t go out like that. She requests to kiss Nova. She is wondering if her first kiss is her last but Nova doesn’t care. So as the dying seconds count down, Luluco manages to get the most epic kiss from him. Bye Luluco. But she’s not dead? Sucy realizes the poison only takes effect in 60 years. Phew, right? She thinks she is now closer with Nova but sees him wipe his mouth. Heart break… And he doesn’t mind she has 60 years left…

Episode 9
Luluco is on some yellow planet seeking a shark detective’s advice not to find Ogikubo but relationship advice with Nova! But the agency is attacked by crocodile ruffians who accuse him for some loans or sleeping with other people’s women. They escape while the entire town turns into one big chaotic messy chase and fight! When sharky’s doll secretary is sliced up, he becomes the Hulk to smash everyone and everything to bits. That is when Luluco gets some advice from the doll about men being shy creatures. They treat you like crap but actually care about you. Before Luluco is owned, she is saved by Nova who believes she is precious to him. Love metre rising! Nova then explains they have discovered so many Ogikubo but those in space are fakes. After refining his online search, they find the real Ogikubo is gathered at the centre of the galaxy. This means it is no other than the Space Patrol HQ itself. They are welcomed by the commander who in turn promotes and rewards them with prizes and gifts. The best gift for Luluco is that she gets the real Ogikubo back. All nicely packed and wrapped up. What a happy ending.

Episode 10
While Luluco is feeling so happy, Nova suddenly steals back Ogikubo and her heart and hands it over to the commander. He is revealed to be a Blackholeian who has taken over the HQ. Blackholeians exist to shoplift anything with value but how does that make Ogikubo valuable? Once it has reached a certain technological level and cultural hotspot. But what about Luluco’s heart then, the so called Aflutter Jewel? It has no value at all. Especially if you’re talking about Luluco’s sh*tty first love is all the value it has. Blackholeians have been stealing valuable things for so long that they find those without value to be valuable. So the sh*ttiest thing in the universe with no value still holds some value? Confused? He continues explaining that Nova is a Nothingling, shallow beings hailing from a planet with nothing. Isn’t it no wonder their conversations felt so hollow? Heartbroken Luluco feels betrayed. She really loved him so much. Was it all a lie? Well, he never minded it anyway! In a twisted move, Blackholeian then smashes and destroys Aflutter Jewel. As the rest are thrown into prison, they try to revive Luluco but since she’s dead, might as well hold a funeral for her. Yeah, so sad for Luluco that she doesn’t even want to continue the next episode. RIP Luluco.

Episode 11
Sorry Luluco. You still have to continue this crap! As she wanders in hell and feeling regretful and hurtful over Nova’s betrayal, she meets a guy who looks like Justice but isn’t. He is someone who just knows Justice. Luluco talks about her betrayal so he gives her some hope that he was killed many times but cannot die. Because justice never dies! Even what is normal or not, you yourself dictate what it is. But Luluco is still worried on how to face Nova. When asked how she was lied to, Luluco realizes Nova never lied to her once. He was just being himself. She only assumed it all because she thought he was on the same side. Luluco is resolved to confess her feelings and ask him about his. Her feelings won’t go away just because they were stolen. After all that, she will arrest him. After all, he shoplifted her most prized possession. Sorry to break it to you mourners because Luluco is back with a bang. She bursts out from her funeral! Literally.

Episode 12
With the power of love, Luluco blasts away the underlings! She gets help from Lalaco too as she sarcastically quips she was here to attend her funeral. Luluco pleads to her for a favour. She doesn’t want Ogikubo, her dad or a normal life. She wants to confess to a boy. Seeing the determination in her eyes, Lalaco lends her ship to her. Keiji doesn’t approve but he has no say! Then the rest set off an explosive fight to let Luluco find her love. When Luluco finds Nova, she tells him he can steal her heart as many times he wants. However, take it without permission and that is a crime. So she arrests him by hugging him and confesses she loves him? Blackholeian laughs at this farce for he knows it won’t affect Nova. He has him steal her Aflutter Jewel and then break it. However Luluco is able to create a new one. Break again, create new one. Just how many can she make? She blasts Nova with her multiple Aflutter Jewels and has him remember all the feelings and times they went through. Nova starts to feel something as Luluco pleads for him to go back together. As Blackholeian attacks, Nova protects her with his body. He now understands feelings and just fell in love with Luluco. Blackholeian transforms into a hideous monster. Nova and Luluco hold hands tightly and believe they can go through this together. You’re under arrest for shoplifting! Although nervous, Luluco believes this makes her feel she can do anything.

Episode 13
Combining both their jewels to become a Lovey-dovey Diamond, the power of their requited love is going to beat the sh*t out of Blackholeian. Justice is love! However Blackholeian has foreseen this and previously installed some micro black hole in Nova’s head. It will consume him entirely. But all the power starts flowing into Luluco. I’m not sure about the explanation here but it seems Luluco has been the spark plug to power the universe. The chosen one who has the power to patrol across dimensions. The epic power battle begins with Luluco trying to bend the dimensions and lecture Blackholeian about his evil ways. His shoplifting makes him no worse than a middle schooler. Of course this upsets the bugger. Luluco is out of ammo when Nova suggests she uses him. You know what happens when black hole and black hole with each other. No, seriously I don’t. Luluco is sad that this means they can’t be together. This was all part of fate. If that is so, why are they fated to meet? So they can meet again. In another dimension. Luluco uses Nova as a bullet as the black holes engulf each other and return normalcy back to the universe. Luluco feels sad so reluctant Keiji gives her hope to chase him to the ends of the universe to arrest him. She has to introduce her boyfriend to her dad someday, right? In the aftermath, Justice is promoted to the HQ Commander with Midori taking over as Ogikubo branch chief. Keiji is now under Space Patrol’s piracy task force since Lalaco is still going strong with her piracy. I guess it’s a reason to chase her down. Finally, Luluco is a super dimensional special officer codenamed Miss Trigger. She’s got a cool gun-bike to go with too.

Justice Is Served!
I can contribute the short duration of each episode which is roughly about 7.5 minutes that makes this series highly enjoyable. And with its no punches pulled nonsense, it makes this quite a high octane comedy where it is concerned. I’m not sure if it would work had this been a full length anime series because at the end of it, I was wishing more from it but when I think about it, perhaps everything in this short condensed form is better. Everything moves along at its lightning pace so there is no time a-wasting. Everything that is needed much to be told is already told in this season. Though, I find it odd that they consider ‘a season’ after every 3 episodes. I know. It’s a big joke even when the final episode is actually a single final episode and single season by itself. Crazy, right? That actually sums up what this series is supposed to be. Heck, even dividing episodes into seasons feels like trolling since they are closely link to each other in a way that it shouldn’t be called another season. Season cliff-hanger?

As this series is produced by Trigger, you will notice that this series is one big parody of all the other series under their belt. So if you have seen some of their past works, I am sure that you can spot many trivia and cameos like Kill La Kill, Inferno Cop and Little Witch Academia among the episodes. There is even a line reference, a very famous ‘quote’ from Ninja Slayer The Animation. Yeeart! Since Trigger studio was founded by former employees of Gainax, there are also very few references to Gainax’s animes like Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann especially Justice’s pointy shades that resembles closely to Kamina’s. Thus these parodies are highly appreciable and the fun doubled for those who know these series. I guess they have an absurd reputation to keep up.

Despite the lack of character development, I’m sure we couldn’t care about that since we’re laughing so hard at all the nonsense. Thanks to that, we find almost everyone lovable. Like Luluco as your average tween experiencing her first love. That’s pretty normal, right? It’s just sad that her first love is also her first heart break but I feel that could be a blessing in disguise as it made her reflect on her actions and grew stronger to confront it all. And true to the age old adage, the power of love conquers it all. When Nova first appeared, he looked like that cool guy who doesn’t say much. But then you start figuring that something might be wrong with him because he has this habit of saying that he doesn’t mind. Everything. Of course when a girl in love like Luluco, naturally she’ll start misinterpreting what she wants to interpret and thus her heartbreak has only herself to blame. It’s just sad that Luluco couldn’t end up with Nova for a happy ending. However if it did, it would have been so normal and seeing this show is about everything abnormal, it works out. You don’t feel sad that Luluco and Nova are away because they imbued in our minds that they will meet someday. Someday.

For the rest of the supporting characters, I can’t say much because like Midori, I figure she is the dumb comic relief sometimes spewing one or two punch lines but that’s about it. Then there is the cool flaming Justice who is always spewing stuffs about justice and the likes. And then there is his silent secretary who doesn’t have a single dialogue in this series and sometimes you think she might be there just to add up for the numbers. But she is no pushover either as she can hold her own and does what is expected as a secretary would do. Keiji is the passionate loudmouth guy of the series but thankfully he spends a short time conscious otherwise our ears will be ringing with his constant barrage of high volume shouting. Finally, Lalaco. Ah, the pirate mom wannabe who wants to be anything but normal. She’s not as bad as you think she is. As mean as she might look, Luluco is still her daughter and if a mother doesn’t support her own child’s first love, I don’t know what is. With parents like these, do you think Luluco has a shot at being normal?

So it is really true that what constitutes being normal or not is basically down to your beliefs and stereotypes. What is normal? Only you can decide that for yourself as Luluco learns to be herself and even if it looks abnormal in the eyes of others, but who cares what others say as long as you feel pretty normal and comfortable about it. Remember, better to have people around you who would prefer you to be as you are instead of forcing you to fit into what is normal. Heck, none of these folks here are normal but seeing wacky they are, it’s pretty normal for them in that case.

Art and drawing are of course funny and cute. But I can’t help notice how the characters resemble those from Panty And Stocking With Garterbelt, another series under Gainax. At least the outline and overall design. Thus it has that overall cartoonish feel. Some of the backgrounds like the buildings and shops of Ogikubo feel like they are cut outs from real blocks. Being true to their style over substance flare, there are lots of special effects and special especially in the epic final episode fight for the heck of it. When I first look at the Aflutter Jewel, I thought it resembles a lot like the heart shaped jewels from Pretty Cure. Because this series wasn’t animated by Trigger or Gainax but Toei Animation. I know it could be just coincidence but it looks too close to call.

The only seiyuu I recognized was Nobuyuki Hiyama as Blackholeian. This guy seems to be the alumni of Trigger and Gainax animes as his voice is featured in many of their productions. From Gurren Lagann to Kill La Kill, it is like he is omnipresent in most of their animes. Of course he is also a veteran and has voiced many roles in other animes as well. Some of the other casts who also played in other Trigger animes are Mayumi Shintani as Midori (Jakuzure in Kill La Kill), Tetsu Inada as Justice (Gamagoori in Kill La Kill) and Mitsuo Iwata as Keiji (Fukuroda in Kill La Kill). The rest of the casts are Mao as Luluco (Renge in Sekai Seifuku: Bouryaku No Zvezda), Junya Enoki as Nova (Shoutarou in Sakurako-san No Ashimoto Ni Wa Shitai Ga Umatteiru) and Youko Honna as Lalaco (Nagisa in Pretty Cure series).

The opening theme, Cry Max Doheijitsu by Fujirokku Kari is a crazy rock n roll song despite lasting only for 30 seconds. It gets you into the crazy pace of what to expect from this series. I don’t think the singer is even singing. He’s just talking fast. If you have heard that ending theme from Naruto, Hajimete Kimi To Shabetta, you will have an idea how this song will sound like. But the oddest song is the ending theme. Pipo Password by Teddyloid featuring Bonjour Suzuki feels like a creepy space song. How should I put it… Because it feels like the singer is whispering as she sings, thus the creepy cosmos-like feel of the song. It somewhat reminds me of the ending theme in Yuri Seijin Naoko-san…

Overall, this series feels like it has everything packed under one roof. It has action, explosions, it has adventure (in space), it has romance, it has drama and it has the funny stuffs to tickle your bone. It is so silly and ridiculous but at the same time so fun to watch. And it all blends it so seamlessly that it seems so perfect that you might not even notice. If I might say so, it could be one of those few series that mashes up a little of everything and turning out right. Thank goodness, right? For a short show filled with whirlwind space action adventure romantic comedy, it sure gives a great value and justice to many other animes out there with similar length. Oh wait. There aren’t that many of such same length. But I guarantee you will be blown away by the greatness of epic universal proportions of this little gem. Justice is indeed served.

Mujaki No Rakuen OVA 3

November 11, 2016

Wait a minute. There’s more? Again? I wouldn’t have guessed it again that they released a third OVA another year later. So am I seeing some sort of pattern? Around this very same time, Mujaki No Rakuen releases an episode to satisfy your horny loli porn and at the same time technically don’t make you feel guilty that you are watching child porn. If you want to make ‘child porn’ using the loopholes, watch this series to get an idea. Yeah… So in case you’ve forgotten why such loli porn existed, please remember that this loser grownup guy somehow went back to the past to redo his loser life by having ecchi encounters with the beautiful loli girls in his class. What kind of f*cking logic is that? You know what? Just f*ck all that. It’s (almost) porn logic anyway.

Ice Cream Sucks
All the girls including Shouta at the pool. Yay. Our first pool fanservice. Why is Shouta here if he is not welcomed by Rio? He got them the free tickets. What a way to show your gratitude, b*tch. And when you say karma is a b*tch, Rio gets her deserved karma when Shouta accidentally slips into the pool with her and undoes her bikini top. I just don’t know how it ended up on his head. When the girls first discussed of riding the high slide in this pool, Shouta knows about Nako’s fear of heights. But since she wants to become an air stewardess, this is a phobia she must overcome. If she can’t even manage a slide at the playground, what more this one. Even though she manages to ride it, that’s not the highlight of this segment. Cheeky Sayo wants to lick Shouta’s ice cream. WTF?! Why not just ask him to buy one? He won’t allow it and at the same time accidentally spilling Konomi’s hotdogs. This messed up her swimsuit so Rio goes to take her away to wash up. So why stick all the hotdogs in Shouta’s mouth and hands? Shouta looks back at Sayo and has a clear view of her ass. Erection time. Sayo then notices his ice cream dripping and proceeds to lick it. Thing is, Shouta was placing his ice cream near his dick to hide his erection. And that is where Sayo licked it!!!!!!!!!!!!! It gets even better when Manatsu joins in the competition to lick. SHOUTA YOU LUCKY BASTARD!!! Furthermore, if licking the dripping isn’t enough, they start licking the entire stick too!!! All that moving about has Shouta accidentally spread ice cream over Manatsu’s boobs. Sayo makes Shouta lick them (Manatsu allows it?!) while Sayo tries to pull the ice cream away, causing it to splatter all over her face. This epic hentai scene… That is what you call pain and pleasure at the same time. But now is pain and pain because Rio is not happy he messed up the hotdogs (stained with ice cream).

Showbiz Star, Shooting Star & Porn Star
Everyone is abuzz that Konomi has a picture of her appear in a magazine. It’s that feeling again for Shouta as he thinks Konomi is going further away from him. But to give her a send-off present, he takes her to watch a shooting star in some secret location of his. She is very happy of his consideration and tells him that the talent agency has approached her and offered a contract as a model and actress. Shouta is sad but keeps it together and gives her encouragement to go for it. When they head back, they take a shortcut through the barbwire fence. As he lets her go through first, a spider freaks her out and this causes her clothes to get caught and to be stuck. Shouta has got a clean view of her pantsu! Whatever Shouta tries to do to untangle, the more ecchi views he sees from her underboobs and even accidentally pulling down her pantsu. Wow. A clear view of the full moon! Shouta even knows himself he is defiling her purity even before she gets started in showbiz. Yeah, WTF, right? As he is close to untangling her, the spider pops up again. She freaks out and I don’t know how she lands on Shouta butt naked. Are her clothes that loose? In the aftermath, Shouta tells her to go ahead first while he will catch up later. Seems he is writing in pain since Konomi landed on his erected dick. Oh man. I feel for you…

Still Stuck In Paradise?
Until then. Same time same place next year. So basically this proves it. This series is definitely loli hentai but without any sort of penetration. I’m sure we horny guys would giggle at the so called innocent and funny-cum-‘harmless’ ecchi fanservice that this series is famous for. Because of that it makes us feel that it is fine to have this guilty pleasure once a year. Of course there are other more raunchy series out there but that’s another point…

So this third OVA hardly breaks the mould or anything as it follows the same format as it does in the second. At this point you won’t be bothering yourself if there would be any real sort of character development between Shouta and the girls because all we would be caring if Shouta can get laid by them. Will Shouta ever get all of them as his harem and changed his future? One day all his pent up erection will blow up like a ticking time bomb… Yeah, those are the important questions we are begging to know if they should add more OVAs to the series. We can expect more or less the same since this ecchi formula never really grows old. We might complain that we have seen them all but eventually we can never escape from its clutches and come back for more.

Therefore my sentiments and what I am eventually going to say for this series is very similar to what I have blogged in my previous posts. I’d be repeating myself again. So if a year feels like too far to wait assuming they come up with another episode next year, maybe you can satiate all that horniness with real porn. This series can have this effect to make you go look up for more porn if you want more, get what I mean? But be warned because by then you won’t want to come back to this ‘safe and soft porn’ ever again. That’s when we grow up from semi-innocent boys to real men. But we still stay as the same virgins :’(.

Mayoiga

November 6, 2016

Sick and tired of your life? Can’t seem to get it right? Societal norms and pressures of society aren’t doing anything good to you? Well, why not throw it all away and start life anew in a village far, far away that doesn’t exist on any map. That way, you can live your life the way you want without anybody telling you what to do. Live life the way you deem fit and to your liking. Wow. Sounds like a good deal. This seems to be the case for Mayoiga. A group of seemingly disgruntled young people with their own problems in life deciding to run away from it all by taking this once in a lifetime tour to redo their life from scratch. A society they can call their own cut off from the rest of the world. But will it be that simple and straightforward? You know how shady and small those small finer prints are especially if you’re staking it all from an unknown online source. Because it may look like paradise at first until something sinister seems to be lurking beneath it all. And you can’t call the police or your local ghostbusters to help you because nobody knows where you are. Heck, they don’t even know if you even exist anymore.

Episode 1
A group of 30 people believed to have discovered a secret website beneath all that coding are on a bus heading to Nanaki Village. Dahara is their tour guide and host as each of them introduce themselves and their goals. Basically, many of them are facing some sort of hardship and want a new start in life. This village is rumoured by online circles where people have gone vanished but in fact is believed to start a new life for themselves. After some discuss the few theories of its existence, they start singing a weird hippo song. Really. It’s weird. As the bus takes a break, Hayato talks to Mitsumune that he is sceptical of this tour because really, everyone else is a weirdo and that it is like some tour for overly self-conscious sickos to make friends. It is believed Mitsumune escaped from the cram school his parents sent him and wants to redo his life again. Mitsumune thought Masaki is having some sort of sickness. She talks about weird stuffs before her motion sickness catches up. He returns to the bus to get some pills. He notices Lion still at her seat and asks her why she joined this tour. She is not obliged to tell him but warns and hopes they don’t end up cannibalizing each other. The bus ride resumes. They play really weird bus games like how Mitsumune needs to read out his imaginary suicide note. That is when the bus driver tells them off young ones that they don’t know about life. Doing this is just irresponsible. Everyone has varying degrees of hardship but people his age tough it out. In his eyes, they’re like babies. Angry Valkana shuts him up to do his job because they pay him to drive and not lecture. After Mitsumune has some time bomb-cum-suicide nightmare, the driver loses his cool. He starts speeding in the rain and complains about his life. Economic downturn, no overtime pay, mother calls him for money, blah, blah, blah. So you guys want to start over? How about we start over and leave this world by dying happily together in an accident? Some of the guys beat up the driver but as Masaki tries to stop the fight, the driver steps on the brakes before they crash, causing her to vomit all over him. While cleaning up and resting, they hear a weird music coming out from a clock. Koharun explains it is Nanaki Village’s traditional nursery song and Dahara introduces her to everyone as the one who discovered the village’s location. Valkana shuts her up and tells her off that she is not in charge. The journey continues and soon they will be crossing a bridge directly into Nanaki Village.

Episode 2
The path becomes bumpy and dark. The bus slides off the slope. You mean they have to push it all the way back up?! This is when the group becomes divided into encouraging the driver to go ahead when he warned them it was dangerous. Mikage then tells everyone to give their money to him. Since they are going to start a new life, they are not going to use the currency anymore. He hopes the driver will be happy and not rat out on this village. Otherwise they will testify he stole their money and abandoned them. Nanaki Village is just walking distance away so everyone starts trekking. Mitsumune wants to help Masaki but Hayato warns about his habit of falling in love easily. Lion thinks the guys are dating since they are so close but Mitsumune clarifies that Hayato is his best friend and always saved him from being bullied. The group is scared when they see huge bear treks so they make haste till they arrive at the village. Everyone is happy to arrive but something feels odd. It feels like the entire place is abandoned and not a single soul around. They split up in groups to get more clues and ascertain this is the correct village. From the dust piling up and rusted things, it is probably abandoned for a year. They start theorizing if the villagers abandoned it or all died or being executed. Maimai seems to flirt with Mitsumune. But when he is relieved that he didn’t fall for her, she takes it as an insult. Too late to apologize. Everyone is shocked when the bus driver returns. He thinks he needs to watch the kids as an adult but they think he decides to abandon his lousy life and join them. Nanko and Mikage then question Koharun. If Nanaki Village is said to be a village that cannot be located, how did she find the place? Koharun claims she has been doing intensive research and even visited sites but all were duds. One day she got a mysterious email that detailed this location. Of course that email is in her laptop and she didn’t bring it since there is no signal and wouldn’t need it. Mikage finds that unbelievable. Suddenly Valkana and his group rush back. It seems Masaki and Yottsun have vanished.

Episode 3
Everyone goes to look for Yottsun but couldn’t find him. Puuko’s scream alerts everyone. There is a huge claw mark with blood on the tree. Time to freak out. They hear growling noises too. As they run, Mitsumune trips. That’s where he sees Masaki cowering in fear by a tree. She is interrogated as she recounts Yottsun wanted to bring her somewhere. Then he spotted something and left by himself. Since he didn’t return, she tried to look for him and slipped. She couldn’t remember the rest. Many do not believe her story but Mitsumune stands up for her. The group becomes divided if they should leave or stay but unless all of them want to get out of here, the driver won’t leave. Mad Valkana tells off everyone it is this moment they find out who their friends and traitors are. A few guys go help him continue look for Yottsun. Masaki isn’t grateful for Mitsumune sticking up to her. She tells him not to do so again or he will be cut off from the group. Hayato tells Mitsumune to stop sucking up to her. It’s that I-told-you-so talk again and all Mitsumune have to do is listen to what Hayato says to avoid getting bullied. After the rest assign sleeping quarters, they go get some food. There is a vegetation farm nearby and oddly it feels as though they’ve been tended to properly till yesterday. Hyouketsu blames Jack for his overlapping character and initiates a silly argument. This has Jack returning with a hoe and tries to kill him! Luckily he is restrained and tied up. It is then Maimai recognizes Jack as her old classmate. Rumour had it that he had an attitude problem and stabbed a classmate. He was sent away for juvenile detention. Some are calling him to be executed but Valkana shows them a secret underground prison cell which he found where they can put Jack for the time being. Koharun believes Valkana is taking this too responsibly although his reply is that he doesn’t want to be made a scapegoat. Valkana reveals he was a freelance engineer and was made a scapegoat by the company when his system failed. Koharun believes he doesn’t want to be alone. Otherwise he wouldn’t have joined this tour and ignore all interpersonal relationships. That night when Mitsumune can’t sleep and makes his way to Jack’s prison, he sees Maimai. Lovepon thinks they are going to execute Jack and she eagerly wants to help. She becomes crazy when they’re not as she talks about nipping the problem in the bud or tragedy will befall everyone. She then tries to kill Mitsumune by drowning him. He manages to escape but sees a corpse floating ahead.

Episode 4
Everyone returns to the river trying to find Yottsun’s body but could it be Mitsumune just imagined things? Because it is dark and the scary roar in the background, everyone returns to the village to discuss if there was a bear or a tiger or whatever lurking around. Mikage suggests leaving this place since it is too dangerous but Masaki disagrees that they are safer here than going back. She doesn’t know why but she feels so. In the end, Mikage and many decide to leave tomorrow. Only a handful remain. Hayato is not pleased Mitsumune wants to stay and the friends argue and part their ways. That night, Mikage talks to Valkana that Yottsun’s killer might be among them. Somebody trying to live out his/her dream of becoming a mass murderer. He suspects Koharun as she knew the place and wasn’t initially on the tour bus. She might be in cahoots with the previous villagers. He also feels Masaki knows something and won’t tell them. Mikage’s group try to push the bus out but it is still dark. They can’t go back to the village now as it will be dark and dangerous then. So they start trekking as far as they can before the sun sets. As they trek and map their progress, things seems to be going great for some time until they realize they are back to where they started. They followed the map accurately but something feels off. It gets scarier when the roar is louder and they get a jump scare when they see Jack in a distance (it was briefly shown his prison cell is empty). Hyouketsu fears he is here to kill him and runs but slips. Since the driver is acting suspicious, Valkana and Koharun tail him. They see him trying to call out to somebody but nab him. Mitsumune thought he could get closer to Masaki and tells his real name. It’s Mitsumune. Instead, she cried. Huh? Mikage’s group almost drop into the abyss but spots an old rail line. Following it leads to a tunnel. But then they see the scariest sh*t ever. What’s this about a large Mitsumune Maimai saw?! Koharun and Valkana interrogate the driver of who he was looking for. Misato. His daughter who died 10 years ago.

Episode 5
The driver adds he wants to take Misato home with him. Just then Mikage’s group makes it back to the village. After checking the cell and confirming Jack is gone, everyone starts discussing about Hyouketsu who fell off the cliff. They can’t even remember this dude’s name! Mikage starts making his accusations to everyone when everyone is being inconsistent with their stories of the roar. That is when Lion freaks out. She points out Mitsumune is a ghost! Wait. What?! She saw him vanished for a while! She says she has the ability to see dead people. The driver becomes desperate in wanting to confirm Misato. That is when Mikage and co get even more suspicious and want to know more about it. Lovepon insists on executing Mitsumune and Maimai as she accuses them of freeing Jack. But since everyone is tired, it is suggested everyone hits the sack. Mitsumune thanks Maimai for standing up for him but she insists she is doing it or else she will be suspected too. Mikage, Lovepon, Jigoku and Nyanta discuss the suspicious people and plan to capture one of them to interrogate. A few girls sweet talk Mitsumune into helping to guard their quarters while they sleep. Lovepon, Jigoku and Nyanta are waiting to take him down when Lion comes to talk to Mitsumune. He praises her supernatural power but she reveals it was a lie and took advantage of him. Because the situation was getting out of hand and people were being stupid arguing over stupid things. Mitsumune is impressed and allows her to use him in such cases but she is not impressed with his goody two shoes nature of accepting and playing along with everyone. What Lion didn’t say is that she can see people who are going to die. Once Mitsumune is alone, the trio nab him. In the cell, Lovepon can’t wait to torture him. But they smell fire and escape. Masaki returns to help cut Mitsumune loose. There is something she needs to talk to him about. Suddenly there is this giant monster appearing before Mitsumune whom he recognizes as Tokimune.

Episode 6
Lovepon runs off by herself. She sees a demon mask haunting her! Flashback reveals a depraved monk used to visit her mom. In return for money to clear her debts, she offered sex and alcohol (the brand is a demon mask). Lovepon didn’t like how she also abused her mom so one day she put the bottle on the stairs to make him trip and fall down. The monk then started beating her while she screams execution. When the rest look for Lovepon, now Nyanta sees her fears. Though the rest sees nothing, Nyanta runs away when a zombie hornet is on her tail! Her story tells she was bullied by her classmates. To get her little thrill of revenge, she bought an airsoft gun and sniped at them. It was all fun till she was caught. The bullies tie her up under a hornet’s nest and started shooting at it. Now it’s Jigoku’s turn. He is running away from a gel monster?! It was his dream to join the rangers and posted his solitary training online. Though, many panned how stupid he was. To make up for his required height, he put a breast gel on his head. He failed to get in. What about Mikage? He is telling all those laughter to stop. He was in charge of promoting some toy train. He was very confident about it although the executives were cautious and don’t want to end up embarrassed with a big failure. Mikage dared gamble it will be successful so they put their trust in him. On event day, the toy trains didn’t arrive because of a simple error he made in the delivery date. No doubt Mikage got chewed out and everyone laughed at him. So now a demon train is after his ass?! The rest heard gun sounds in the forest and go look for the missing ones. They manage to round up Lovepon, Nyanta and Jigoku but all give different accounts of their stories. It confuses everyone. Koharun starts singing the nursery song and analyzes how it is all related to this. She then shows them an article on Masaki. She went missing many years ago at Yanagase Village which is the village they passed before entering Nanaki Village. They fear she might be a ghost.

Episode 7
Mitsumune had another twin brother, Tokimune. Both are like day and night. Mitsumune was neat and nice while the other was messy and naughty. Tokimune was playing dangerously on a wall when he fell off. Mom was not able to accept his death and started going crazy. She sees Mitsumune as Tokimune and the entire family has no choice but to play along. This goes on long enough till he is in high school. She became very protective of him and before Mitsumune knows it, he became Tokimune. That is why he joined this tour to live as himself. So a reason Mitsumune liked Masaki was because she was the first person who really liked his real name. She brings him to the tunnel, a place that could leave Nanaki Village. However she warns him she must confront his inner enemy and she will be waiting at the other side. She notes his hand is the warmest among the rest. Mitsumune is paralyzed in fear as he sees the giant penguin toy he calls Tokimune. Masaki just ran right through it. Unfortunately Mitsumune is too chicken to face it. But he received a punch in the guy! So is the monster real?! He runs back to the village. Mikage chides everyone for not wanting to talk about the monsters because they always avoided the subject. Everyone concludes that Masaki is a ghost bringing monsters here to kill them. Many are afraid to deal with the monsters. Maimai explains she and her best friend fell in love with the same guy. He looked similar to Mitsumune (hence, that giant Mitsumune). When she started dating him, her best friend shunned her. Her other friends turned against her and eventually she was dumped. Therefore she is not going back to society. This gives everyone hope to kill the monsters so they can continue staying here. This means they must kill Masaki. When Mitsumune wanders back into the village, everyone plays nice with him to get more details. After he tells them what happened, he is quickly put to bed. The others are getting ready to exorcise the ghost. Stakes? Cross? Salt? You think these would work? As they wait for her at the tunnel, Masaki pops up. Lion and Nanko are the only ones against this witch hunt as they go warn Mitsumune. Masaki is tied at the stake and tortured. Lovepon is obsessed about killing her but this is where many draw the line. They can’t just stab her. Hayato then does the honours to stab her as he blames her for seducing and brainwashing Mitsumune. In his haste, he cuts her arm. It’s bleeding. Do ghosts bleed? Mitsumune is not happy to see this and punches Hayato. Hayato is still bent on killing her so Masaki can’t bear to see Mitsumune suffer anymore and will tell everything.

Episode 8
Masaki has been to this village before. She followed her cousin, Reiji to find this place. He was so happy to find it that he couldn’t stop taking pictures and couldn’t wait to report this to his friends. He could have continued snapping had not Masaki reminded him it is getting late. As they leave, Reiji saw some kind of monster and ran back. Masaki saw nothing. Masaki slipped and fell unconscious. The next thing she knew, she was lying on the road. Each time she tried to climb back up, there was no village. Therefore she came on this tour to save Reiji but couldn’t find him. Everyone is startled when she mentions that there might be other villages like this but she isn’t exactly sure. As for the tunnel, she tells everyone not to go there and has a bad feeling about it. Although she went through it, she turned back halfway. But everyone still don’t believe her because she is the only one who hasn’t seen any monsters and the inconsistency in her story that she never went back home but lived in a nearby village to work part time until she chanced upon this tour. They show her the article. Because if she lived there using her real name and the article came out nationwide, don’t you think it is inconsistent? While Mitsumune protects her again, the rest are back to lynching her. Suddenly the bus driver swoops by in his bus (how the heck did he manage to get it unstuck?) and kidnaps Masaki and Mitsumune. Hayato’s shirt gets stuck in its door. Everyone plans to stop the driver before he leaves the area. But Koharun and Nanko deduce something odd from Masaki’s story. She is different from the rest of them who has not seen monsters is it because she has no psychological scar? Is it why she could run away? The driver is desperate thinking Masaki is a ghost and wants her to call Misato. Of course she isn’t. Koharun observes Valkana joining in this witch hunt. Ever since Masaki become prime suspect, everyone forgot she was a suspect. He claims he doesn’t believe everyone and was fooled to thinking he could lead a new life here. But if he is going to live here forever, he needs to know this village better and Masaki knows this place the best. As they duo make their way, they are attacked by stone arrows. They know they’re not hallucinating as they both see the same thing. Guess who is attacking them? Hyouketsu?!

Episode 9
As Valkana pins him down, Hyouketsu is still terrified and claims he was rescued by that person and just doing as told. Valkana then chases after a shady figure in the distance. The driver thinks driving through the tunnel will let him see Misato again. Stepping on the accelerator, Mitsumune sees Tokimune chasing behind and Hayato sees a zombie hand on the window! When the driver sees Misato in the mirror, he steps on the brakes. The rest exit to bus for fresh air. By the time they return, the driver is gone. At the end of the tunnel, there seems to be another village but the entire place is covered in fog. There is also a stone written supposedly by Reiji leaving a message to Masaki if she wants to go any further, accept Nanaki. She doesn’t understand what it means but has a bad feeling if they stay. Hayato wants to continue looking around and says she can look for Reiji too. If anything turns for the worse, they can always go back. After Masaki excuses herself to go to the toilet, the guys try to get a bird’s eye view of the place but it is foggy. Hayato is not pleased Mitsumune again stands by Masaki’s side. He tells him off he is not the only one with problems. In fact, his overprotective mom is better than his. Hayato’s fear is his grandma in the attic. Since young, his parents tried to groom him into an ideal child since they were living in a posh area and wanted to keep a reputation among the community. The slightest mistake he made, he was beaten and worse, thrown into the attic where a creepy picture of grandma was. He believed she was a victim too, having thrown inside here before her passing to avoid rumours of a senile old granny wandering around to ruin their reputation. Hayato did try to fight back to no avail. He resigned to live his life as their puppet till he met Mitsumune. He got a taste of freedom. As long he is his puppet, everything will be alright. Mitsumune is shocked at this truth despite he is always grateful for listening to him. Hayato wants things to stay as it is but Mitsumune won’t be deceived anymore and leaves. As he looks for Masaki, he only finds her ribbon. Then he bumps into Valkana who also wandered here. They start seeing their monsters. Valkana’s a slime monster? Mitsumune slides down a slope. Now he hears his mother’s voice. Meanwhile Nanko and Lion want to use Maimai as guinea pig. To rid of the monsters, they must overcome their mental scars. So they try to take her into the tunnel to test this theory when they are attacked by Jack. Luckily somebody punches him out.

Episode 10
Mitsumune finds himself in hospital. His dad is also there and is glad he is alive. We can see dad went through a lot of stress ever since Tokimune’s death. He tried to erase Mitsumune’s name at one point but just couldn’t do it. He tells his son to live the way he wants. Meanwhile Mikage is furious that everyone has lost interest to find Masaki. They don’t even care about it anymore. Maybe they’re tired? Some are even having a change in character. They turn on Mikage since he is acting like their leader when he is not. Enraged, Mikage goes off by himself as the rest laugh at his destiny thingy. Lion, Nanko and Maimai are brought to Reiji’s place. He can’t go with them back to the village and when he sounds like he can’t reciprocate Masaki’s love, Maimai gets upset. As Reiji brings them along, Lion is surprised Nanko and Maimai believe her that she can see people who are about to die. It seems she is some sort of fortune teller or at least that was how it supposed to be. When an angry customer called her a fraud because she bought an expensive charm to save her husband but failed, Lion was confused but her mother didn’t really bother much with it because you know, it’s all part of business. A bird’s eye view of Nanaki Village, Reiji fears the place is changing shape again. Seems he can see someone else’s monster. Because of a past so complicated, it materializes in the form of a monster. He warns them to tell their friends to get out no matter what and when Nanaki attacks, you must endure its pain. They don’t think it will be easy since the rest are bent on staying.

Mitsumune goes up the hospital roof to find… Yottsun?! He recounts he saw Nanaki while he was going to have fun with Masaki. Before he knew it, he slipped from a cliff and plunged into the river. God saved him. God? This old professor named Kamiyama. Kami, get it? Yottsun is chirpy because Kamiyama told him everything and his eyes are opened. It seems Nanaki is a term used to describe the monster of your past. Kamiyama explains he has been to Nanaki Village before and has been doing research on it. Kamiyama specializes in psychology so when he discovered this village, he was excited. He did research and presented it but was soon ridiculed. His supporters eventually left him. Sad and upset, he went to Nanaki Village and at first was thrilled to be living all by himself. And then he stumbled upon the monster. It was he evidence he had always been looking. When he tried to take a picture, he suddenly returned back to civilization. Just that easy. Because he lost Nanaki. His Nanaki was the research ridiculed by everyone. So when he proved it right, it also disappeared, cutting him off from the monster. Mitsumune thinks it is a good ending for him but is made to look closer at a photo of Kamiyama’s younger self. That photo was only taken 3 years ago! As Nanaki contains the psychological scar of the past, it also contains your soul, emotions and ultimately yourself. Losing Nanaki means losing yourself and when Kamiyama lost his, his body started aging rapidly. The scariest part is when you cut yourself from those psychological wounds, you’ll eventually stop functioning as a proper human. Speaking of which, some of the group members are feeling lethargic. Jack and Hyouketsu return to base. The letter is scared for failing his mission. He pleads to boss not to abandon him. Their boss turns out to be Koharun.

Episode 11
The driver sees Misato and begs for forgiveness. Valkana returns to the village and is pissed everyone is lethargic. Even when Maimai’s group return and tell what Reiji told them, they’re still too lazy to move. Even more so, they don’t care when Jack and Hyouketsu start shooting fire arrows. The sane ones go to confront them but Maimai and Lion become their hostages. Hyouketsu’s blabbermouth has him revealing Koharun as the ringleader. It seems she is trying to make the monster stronger and these guys believe they could help her as she told them they were special. At first Koharun wanted to use Valkana she thinks he is just honest and a coward. Speaking of her, Koharun meets Hayato who is on the verge of going insane thinking Mitsumune has run away with Masaki. Koharun pours more fuel on the fire by mentioning Masaki’s name and how she torn their years of friendship apart. This makes him go crazy and a large hideous monster pops up. Koharun notes it is growing. Kamiyama drives Mitsumune and Yottsun back to the village but he tells there are certain conditions to be met to enter it. The reason Kamiyama stayed behind is to warn others not to enter but it seems when the tour bus came that night, he was asleep. Mitsumune wonders why Yottsun didn’t age like Kamiyama. Yottsun recalls when he was floating adrift and staring death in the face, all he could think was his musician parents. He didn’t want to become a pro in classical music like them but a rapper. And make it big too. But he realized he couldn’t. As he drowns, he hit an inspiration. The lyrics come to his mind. He realizes he always wanted to be a rapper even if he doesn’t make it big. In short, Yottsun accepted his Nanaki unlike Kamiyama left his behind. Although he doesn’t hate, sometimes he could feel regrets. Mitsumune cannot see Nanaki Village anymore and Kamiyama deduces he doesn’t have enough psychological scars.

The driver knows Misato is his Nanaki. He reconciles with her and despite feeling very hurt, he hugs her and believes she is the one who is most hurt as his carelessness was the source of her death. He will not deny he has lost her anymore. This is when Reiji pops up. He believes the driver has accepted his Nanaki and has a favour of him. Mitsumune laments he can’t get back into the village when the bus suddenly pops out from nowhere almost hitting them. They see Misato for real as the driver introduces her as his Nanaki. Misato claims she isn’t the only Nanaki that can talk (as others seen so far were monsters) but Reiji too. It is time to say goodbye so Misato is glad her dad came to terms with his daughter even if the one before him is fake. She might not be able to talk to him anymore but will always be in his heart. In a blink of an eye, Misato vanishes. When the driver says Reiji told him to help Mitsumune back into the village to save Masaki (Reiji even confirmed he is Masaki’s Nanaki), it makes Mitsumune sad to think how much Masaki cared for him and since she is so desperate to save him, she doesn’t realize he is her Nanaki. That Reiji doesn’t exist in reality. The driver will send him back as he drives straight into the darkness. When the bus reaches back into the village, he is missing so Mitsumune is forced to take the steering. Masaki is still finding Reiji and sad she hasn’t been successful. Suddenly Mikage and Lovepon catch her. They are going to kill her for real as they blame her for tearing them all apart. The bus appears out of nowhere, almost ramming into them. Mitsumune is back. But don’t look now, there is a huge monster ahead!

Episode 12
Since Hayato pops up, everyone could guess this grandma Nanaki is his. Even more shocking, Nanaki is under Hayato’s control. Hayato is brainwashed and mad as he continues blaming Masaki for taking away his only friend. Then Mitsumune’s fine speech makes Hayato even more confused. He wants to be his equal. He wants to be his friend who can be there when he is in pain. Unfortunately, the confusion rises because Koharun is trying to convince Hayato not to listen to them and insists he is being deceived. This time the Nanaki goes berserk and is going to kill them all. As Hayato injured his leg, Mitsumune carries him as they make a run. Koharun picks up the walkie-talkie Mitsumune dropped. Kamiyama is trying to contact Mitsumune. It is revealed Koharun is Kamiyama’s daughter and she is doing all this in hopes of reversing her dad’s aging by finding his Nanaki. He realizes she was the one who drugged him that night. Reiji overheard her and corrects her thinking that by provoking a Nanaki she could amplify a fading trauma and prevent a Nanaki from vanishing. She is wrong because Nanaki is inseparable from oneself. Kamiyama is fine with the way things are now but not Koharun. She has always looked up to him as a researcher. Inside the tunnel when Mitsumune can go no more further, Hayato now stands his ground. He always thought he was helping Mitsumune but realized he was the one being helped. As he faces his Nanaki, they both disappear. Reiji explains Hayato has accepted his Nanaki and has returned to the real world. Masaki is happy to see Reiji again but he tells her to take a good look at herself. Masaki was always lonely and wanted a friend. And so Reiji was created as her imaginary friend. He was always with her and gave her solace. Masaki cannot accept this and runs away. Reiji tells Mitsumune to go after her while he tells the truth to the rest. Long ago, Masaki always called Reiji’s name whenever she is in pain. But recently she has started to call a different name: Mitsumune.

When he finally catches up with her, they see a shy cute ribbon critter. WTF?! Is this Mitsumune’s new Nanaki? Masaki comes clean with him that because it would look weird in front of others to have an imaginary friend, she started pretending Reiji couldn’t be seen in front of others. Reiji was also in a way made to say things she wanted to hear. She thought by coming to Nanaki Village she could be with him together. Reiji is back at the village with the rest (Jack and Hyouketsu were easily defeated by Valkana and Nanko). Although he tells what is happening, some don’t really care. A Nanaki’s roar is heard in the background. Reiji reminds them that they should know by now that as long as they don’t leave the village, they’ll be safe. Because the Nanaki who is part of them feels scared of being left behind. Remember, all of them ran away to start a new life. This means rejecting their past selves. Thus Nanaki are being rejected by themselves and not by anyone else. Everyone start to realize that each has their own hardship and believed only themselves was having a hard time. They were all just the same and easier to believe everyone around is having a great time. When Masaki accepts Mitsumune, she feels Reiji back in her heart. This means Reiji suddenly vanished before everyone’s eyes. Masaki returns to the real world and Mitsumune promises he will soon follow suit. The group is still divided to stay or leave. While a big majority want to go back, some feel they want to remain here as there feel reality is no different. The small who group who chose to remain include Koharun, Valkana, Lion, Hyouketsu and Jack. Those who left find themselves back on the bus (including Hayato, Mitsumune and Masaki). The bus makes its way across the bridge.

Lost Souls, Lost Plot
Despite the less than stellar reviews and not so forgiving criticisms from many about this series, honestly I find this quite interesting and intriguing. At least for the initial episodes till I suspected what Nanaki actually was, it started to go a little downhill. And then with that kind of ‘ending’, I think the slope went a little steeper. I am not saying that this is actually a bad anime or do I agree with those who really want their drama mystery to be oh so perfect. But it could have been a little better. How? Don’t ask me, I’m not the script writer. Hah! Trying to pass the buck here. In a nutshell, this anime is pretty decent and slightly better than the average but as the series nears its end and once the mysterious Nanaki is known, things started to get a little lukewarm.

Now, with about 30 characters in the series, you can either say it is a hit or miss. It is both mixed feelings for me. But you have got to agree that while some get more prominent screen time and even a little peek at their tragic back story, the rest felt like as though they were there just to make up the numbers. Heck, I don’t even remember some of their names till the end. Sometimes I feel that these lesser characters can be done without and that it wouldn’t really add anything to the plot or advance the story. Like a certain fatty who only loves to eat – what was his name again? It’s just slipping my mind… Something along the lines of Doraemon… And there is a pair of love birds eloping together who would make single otakus into jealousy rage because of how lovey-dovey they are that it makes you have goosebumps… Oh, I remember there is a cutie idol trying to get away from a stalker and thus on this tour. No you don’t remember? Fine. Not that she mattered anyway.

So as I said they were there to make up for the numbers because you know, it gives you an impression that this would be some sort of horror survival series. I mean, logically that is how I would think. The only reason why there would be so many cast of characters in a small group and given the setting is a mysterious isolated village, you’d be inclined to start thinking that some sort of evil force is going to pick them off one by one. And here I was, trying to even make a guess on who is next to go missing and be presumed dead. And guess what? Nobody died!!! So when supposedly presumed dead characters come back to live, you would think that it is a cheap and lazy twist but then again if you go back, those characters weren’t confirmed dead in the first place. We just assumed. So at least when we have a reasonably large number of people, our odds of suspecting somebody would be less as the suspicion will be spread out. It would be easier to pinpoint a culprit in a group of 5 compared to 30 people, right?

As for the main characters like Mitsumune and Masaki, despite getting a lot of coverage and in fact more than the rest, somehow I couldn’t feel a little disappointed when the supposed big revelation about them especially Masaki is revealed. Although everyone is a worthy suspect, it is as though the producers were trying to make us think and pinpoint there is more than meets the eyes to Masaki. The way she acts is strange and she can’t really explain herself properly, which leads to her being suspected the most. There were a few mind boggling actions from her as well especially when she tells everyone not to go beyond the tunnel but refuses to say what it is. Does she know or does she not? So it makes her all more suspicious but in the end when her revelation came to light, you wonder what that all was for. Was she just trolling us just to find Reiji? I just don’t understand. Of course being the cutest girl in the group, she can’t be the baddie, can she? And Reiji felt like a convenient plot just to end the story. Why the heck didn’t he show up earlier and save them from this despair?

Then we have Mitsumune as one of those main characters who is of the weak type. I don’t know. Sometimes he just annoys me. Maybe it is the way he always protects and stands up for Masaki despite not knowing what is wrong. Sure, it is a good thing not to jump to conclusion or to have a herd mentality but it makes him seem like he has a crush on her and she must be right in some way and thus the need to save her from being turned on by the group. Well, it is a good thing that he was right in a way because had Masaki be the ‘antagonist’, it would truly be a big slap in the face and a moment of WTF. Really.

The rest of the so called main characters (my presumption they have more screen time and impact than the rest) are also a mixed baggage. Like this Valkana dude who is so full of angst like as though he could explode any minute and his fist will start flying faster than the words coming out from his mouth. Turns out he isn’t such a bad guy after all despite his angry outlook and loud outburst at times. Though he is most prominent in the initial episodes, he starts ‘fading’ when Mikage starts to become the unofficial leader in trying to lead the group to persecute Masaki. Again, this guy also has lots of anger but he doesn’t show it on the outside like Valkana. Lastly, Hayato or Speedstar as his alias is known by others in the group feels like the catalyst to end it all because of his insecurity that his best friend-cum-puppet won’t listen to him anymore. I wanted to insert some gay jokes between them but it just doesn’t seem to fit (that wasn’t a gay joke). And there you have it, with Hayato going crazy about Masaki and making Mitsumune into a straight guy, he sets off the final epic monster boss battle that has one defeating it by just accepting it all. That easy, huh? And Lovepon is a crazy yandere character whose favourite word seems to be screaming “Execution!”. I think this takes up half her dialogue lines.

I had my suspicions on Koharun too. Because she seems to be getting more screen time than Dahara as the tour guide and she was seen to be interacting more with Valkana as the series’ passes. Again, I don’t understand about her mission to create a Nanaki to save her father and thus she experimented with the group on it. Because of that, it helped contribute to my little disappointment as how the series ended and the supposed big revelation that was to be. Not too sure if in the future she will be bringing another set of unsuspecting people to the village since she isn’t giving up on her father yet. And it is like Hyouketsu and Jack’s existence in this series is to be her lackey. Jack could have been the most dangerous character seeing he is the silent type and nobody knows what is on his mind but look at how he turns out. Yeah, we just don’t care anymore.

Speaking of the revelation that was Nanaki, maybe this is one reason why many felt disappointed with the series. Even when it is confirmed what Nanaki may actually be, I too somewhat started to feel like that. I don’t know. Maybe I was hoping for some sort of legendary monster from another world? Who’d knew that Nanaki was the fear of your past that is coming to haunt you and preventing you from leaving the village. Just like Hotel California, you can check in anytime you like but you can’t check out or ever leave. I have already had a faint guess of what Nanaki was halfway through when the group started to give different accounts of what they saw and heard. Because logically if everyone sees and hears differently, it could only be that something personal that would only allow that particular person to experience. Thus when the truth of Nanaki was revealed, it wasn’t really shocking. I just felt a bit letdown.

The only other mind boggling thing was about Nanaki Village itself. What bugged me was, were there other similar people who lived here? For how long then? More importantly, what happened to them? Will they just disappear into thin air when they lose their personality? Because it is hinted that some places in the village had people living just like yesterday and up to a year, it just boggled me how are there people living there and then suddenly vanished without a trace. They couldn’t have left because their Nanaki would have kept them in. My only theory is that Nanaki Village is cut off from our current time flow. It exists in its own time and space. The last batch of people who were here may look like they visited the place years ago but Nanaki Village, it might have been just yesterday as far as the village is concerned. After all, who knows how many similar villages are there in the first place and could it also be that for all those who chose to remain live in the same area but just in a different time flow? What I mean is that the previous batch there might be those who stayed back and they are still around but we can’t see them because they are existing in a different dimension. Therefore I am intrigued about those who stayed back. What will happen to them? And for those who went back to reality, what will happen to them too after they experienced this? A short follow up would be welcoming but I highly doubt anybody would be interested since it won’t make a difference to the overall story whatsoever.

In the end, it isn’t whether it is right or wrong for those who stay or leave. They have made a decision to move on with their choice. I am assuming those who leave have accepted their Nanaki and thus the reason why they are able to get out. It means they are willing to face reality and society once more for better or worse. I am not sure for those who remained have vanquished their Nanaki because perhaps it doesn’t matter to them as long as they don’t get out, they won’t be in danger of facing their Nanaki. They too have decided a new life in this new direction as they believe they will not have any real chance whatsoever back in society anymore.

The interesting and subtle concept this series explored is the fact all of these youngsters wanted to restart their life again for the better. It just shows that today’s generation are so vulnerable that they could be hurt by mere words and offended by everything. Heh… But the point is that everyone has their own hardships. Nobody goes through life like a bed of roses. Well, maybe those super spoilt rich kids who get all their wealth from their dads. While some of the tragic back stories we see are truly heartbreaking, it makes you wonder if life was that hard to have them make this decision to abandon reality and society. At first we might call it stupid and silly but it is not funny when it happens to you. So in a subtle way, this series might be just telling us that with everyone having their own set of problems, the only person who can overcome and defeat it (and at most accept it) is only yourself. Because if you don’t, your past will always come back to haunt you. Forever. Only when you bury the past, you can only move forward.

The other interesting thing seen is the interaction of a group of people living together. This is like Survivor material where alliances are formed and as slippery as shifting sand. We quickly see who the leaders and who are the followers are, the sane ones and the crazy ones. There are all kinds of interesting and shady characters even for a small group like this. But sadly this series doesn’t delve more on this human behaviour and psychology aspect because it would be really interesting to see everyone’s clashing personalities and even a herd mentality and so called democratic majority just to save their own asses especially when they are dealing with the unknown and that is where all your stereotype beliefs make you think crazy things. Towards the end, it feels somewhat lazy as it feels like the producers got lazy and said, “Ah, f*ck all of it!” and then turn most of the characters into lethargic people who seem like they are high on drugs. Don’t fight and resist it. Come join us. It feels so good…

Art and drawing are pretty decent but I thought some of the older characters look like high school kids like Valkana and Mikage. Their past shows they are already working in the adult world and yet when I looked at them at first, I thought they were still in high school. Thus I thought the only real adult here is the driver since he is definitely the oldest of the lot. At first, the Nanaki scares me because of how creepy they look like. Especially those surreal eyes over them. But then when I get to know what Nanaki was and how each of them is tailored to the characters’ past, it wasn’t that creepy anymore. Other than that, the sceneries and backgrounds are rather okay but sometimes there are a few scenes where it gets too dark to see anything. Maybe it is for the jump scare effect but I don’t recall having being frightened out of it although I did maintain my alertness. Phew.

The opening theme is rock based, Gensou Drive by Ami Wajima while the ending theme is Ketsuro by Rina Katahira. After the suspense of the episode, I find it a bit odd that the ending theme is such a slow and lovely acoustic ballad. Maybe after all that mystery and drama, you need a relaxing song to calm your nerves down? I also find it a bit odd that the mugs of the characters grace the ending credits animation. I suppose everyone will have their fair share since 3 characters will be featured in one episode for this part. Yeah, guarantee that no 2 ending credits animation will be the same!

Overall, personally this is an interesting series as the mystery in the initial episodes keeps you glued and guessing what is behind it all. But with many weak characters and a weak ending to boot (everyone is divided to either stay or leave and nobody died!!!), maybe this will be your Nanaki of disappointment after what started out as something with promising only to end up in an unexciting manner. It would be just freaking scary to see anime characters haunting you whenever you feel like you have grown up and wanting to take more responsibilities, ditching the anime life only to have this sort of Nanaki trapping you back in and continuing your uneventful otaku life. Maybe that is why I have never managed to break out from my otaku lifestyle over more than a decade ago… I’m truly lost in a world of my own… Well, it’s not a bad thing so far :-).

Shounen Maid

November 5, 2016

FFFFUUUUUUUU!!!!! I knew it. I think they are on to me. It is like they knew my fetish for maids and my dislike for the yaoi genre so they had this idea to mash in both genres just to make me watch it! Because they know I can’t refuse anything with maids. Especially cute kawaii Japanese maids. Oh FFFFUUUUUUUU!!!!! Just as its title implies, Shounen Maid is about a young boy dressing up and working as a maid for his adult male employer-cum-guardian. Well, if that doesn’t send your yaoi or shounen ai alarms ringing at the highest level, you must either be a hardcore fan or one who is already used to such genre. And so here I am, trying to satiate my maid desires even if it means having a cross-dresser, even if it means having to become a shotacon for the moment, even if it means putting up with whatever yaoi tropes they’ll throw at me. Bring ‘em on! I’ll take it all, I tell ‘ya! Viva maids!!! Viva Japanese anime maids!!!

Episode 1
Chiyo, the beloved mom of Chihiro Komiya suddenly dies of a heart failure due to overworking. Where will Chihiro go now since he has no relatives? On his way home, he sees a man scared and cornered by a puppy. After saving him, Madoka Takatori recognizes Chihiro. He is his uncle. Arrangements are made for Chihiro to come live with him in his mansion along with his confidante, Keiichiro Shinozaki. Chihiro thinks Madoka got it all wrong since mom told him she had no relatives. Well, she cut herself off from the main family. Chihiro is upset the family never helped her although this is Chiyo’s wish. Even if it disgraced her father, she left home and had him. She was free to choose to leave her parents’ protection. Chihiro is still mad and in that case won’t accept his help. He runs away but how far can he run? So at the kitchen, he is already having it tough thinking about a future without his mom. Then the biggest scare of his life. The kitchen is in a mess! This big mansion and Madoka couldn’t hire a decent housekeeper? What is it about not being good with strangers? This clicks Chihiro’s OCD as he starts cleaning right away till it is sparkling clean. Apparently not only the kitchen but the entire mansion is dirty! So Madoka makes him a deal that in exchange for food and boarding, he can work here. Chihiro remembers his mom words that those who don’t work cannot eat. He accepts the job. But why in a maid outfit?! Hell yeah! Still weird, though… (It seems Madoka made the outfit himself and tricked him into wearing it). So Chihiro cleans the mansion without rest. He won’t stop until is clean and even threatens Madoka to not intervene! Dedication… The tiredness got to him as he accidentally breaks a vase. Although stubborn at first, the guys tell him to take it easy. After waking up from his rest, Chihiro finds the guys cleaning a room. They plan to make this room his. Well, at least it is bigger than his previous house. However Chihiro is not impressed with their cleaning and has them start from the top again! Later, Chihiro learns from Keiichiro that Madoka is a clothes designer. So he is not a rich NEET who stays at home all day? That night he peeks into his room, the only room he is not allowed to clean. He is amazed to see Madoka at work with all the dresses for a play. He looks so different. So adult. Chihiro prepares tea for him and advises him to rest too. Next morning, Chihiro is delighted he has finished his dress. Unfortunately it is cat pyjamas for him. His real work is still WIP. Time for Chihiro to blow his top.

Episode 2
Chihiro answers the door to find Miyako Ootori outside. He thought she is Madoka’s sister from the way she addresses him but is actually his fiancée. Apparently she ran away from home. Again. Another fight with father? After hearing Chihiro’s ‘amazing’ story, she vows to work hard to earn her father’s trust to become independent. Thus she dons a maid outfit (that’s more like it!) and becomes Chihiro’s disciple. Unfortunately she is clumsy and breaks almost everything. When she is tired and morally deflated, a few words from Keiichiro revive her. Miyako cooks proper dinner for Madoka but the kitchen is in a mess. Chihiro is not pleased that Madoka is the one who taught her baking and thus the mess. Later Chihiro talks to Miyako about her arranged marriage. But he knows she likes Keiichiro from her body language. He advises her not to give up because if she does, she won’t have a winning chance. When Miyako’s father is here to bring her back, he sees Madoka flanked by the maids. He is shock with his fetish and decides to call off the engagement as Madoka nonchalantly agrees. Well, all as planned, right? But couldn’t he do it in another way that is less bad taste? When Chihiro meets his school friends, he can’t tell them about his maid joke or they’ll laugh at him. His friends are curious to see how he is really doing and tails him back to the mansion. Shocking, right? Even shocking is how they see him in a maid outfit. Busted. Chihiro comes clean with what has happened and his friends accept it as long as he is fine. Miyako comes on Sundays for baking lessons with Chihiro. After learning Miyako and Keiichiro’s favourite food, it dawned to Chihiro he doesn’t know Madoka’s favourite food. Instead of asking, he cooks lots of dishes. Well, Madoka finishes them all! Even madder when Madoka says any dishes Chihiro cook will be his favourite. Later Chihiro remembers his mom used to make tamagoyaki. He makes this for Madoka and this brings back memories of Chiyo’s cooking. Only, it was very burnt back then. Not to say Chihiro’s is perfect but at least better. Madoka realizes Chiyo has improved over the years because of her frustration for her failures to be eaten as if they were delicious. Chihiro vows to perfect them but in exchange Madoka must be the taste tester. But before that, his friends become his guinea pigs to test taste his black and burnt failures. I hope they can stomach this.

Episode 3
Chihiro finds an abandoned puppy and couldn’t bear to let it be so he secretly brings it back to the mansion. Then he sees Keiichiro reprimanding Madoka because he brought back a cat despite being allergic to it. All the more reason for Chihiro to hide the dog from this cat lover. Because Chihiro has been acting suspicious, soon Keiichiro finds out about it. He will help find a proper owner for the dog but first Chihiro must apologize to Madoka. Chihiro fears he has hurt his feelings by keeping it a secret but shortly Madoka is back to his idiotic ways. Chihiro is delighted to see his friend, Yuuji Hino here. It seems his grandpa is the gardener who comes to tend the garden from time to time. Grandpa is a nice man and is willing to let Chihiro stay with his big family. However Chihiro declines seeing he already has a place to call home. That’s a big relief for Madoka, no? Eventually Miyako takes in the dog. Oh, he is called Antarou. Something to do with red bean pastes. After Madoka and Keiichiro leave for a bridal fair business trip, Chihiro is left home alone for the first time. The first thing to cross his mind? He can clean in peace! As Madoka gave him a handphone, Chihiro is unsure how to use it and seeks Hino’s help. Then we see lots of unreplied gay-like messages from Madoka. Starting to get the wrong idea? Chihiro cleans the house so much that he develops a small fever. He goes to bed but it is so quiet that he can’t relax. He calls Madoka on a whim but quickly hangs up and shuts off the handphone. He falls asleep and dreams of his mom’s kindness of making him porridge. When he wakes up in the middle of the night, he is shocked that Madoka is by his side. Well, he thought something is wrong after he hung up. Yeah, the taxi fare is going to kill him. Madoka stays with him all night and even makes him porridge which pretty much reminds Chihiro how similar Chiyo made hers – bad. Next morning Chihiro’s fever has gone down and Madoka gets to taste his delicious home cook food. Better than eating outside. Chihiro thinks he is skipping work since Keiichiro is now in a bind after discovering a note Madoka left behind. He is going to get a lot of scolding when the time comes.

Episode 4
After seeing Bearded Baron (Chihiro’s term for cockroach) in Madoka’s room, he is definitely going to clean it and nobody is going to stop him. (A toy dog is enough to keep Madoka locked in). While cleaning up, he spots many empty present boxes and just throws them away thinking they are just trash. After the room is cleaned, Madoka is sad. It’s like somebody else’s room! But even sadder when he learns those ‘trash’ are thrown away. Then he starts acting awkward. Late Chihiro learns from Keiichiro that Madoka treasures those boxes. He is the kind who treasures the wrapper more than its content. Feeling bad, Chihiro scours the garbage to find all those wrappers as he remembers why his mom never threw away silly scribbles Chihiro made on the fridge. After Chihiro hands them back, he gives him a box to put all his important things there. Otherwise he will just throw it away. That’s a warning. Chihiro and Miyako make pudding and since it tastes good, Miyako will use this to steal Keiichiro’s heart. But could Keiichiro be dense because despite the guys dropping some obvious hints about the pudding, he remains ignorant. Yeah, Miyako wants to be a top pastry chef, right? Chihiro spots Keiichiro’s forgotten planner. Then come slipping out is a picture of a beautiful girl. OMG! WHO IS THAT BABE?! He hides it back before Keiichiro comes back to retrieve. So the thought Keiichiro has a girlfriend bugs Chihiro greatly as he confides in Madoka. Obviously that guy doesn’t know what discreet means so he asks Keiichiro directly about it! Keiichiro can smell what is going on as Chihiro apologizes for looking without permission. He then takes out many photos of that beautiful girl. One of those pictures is Chiyo. But who is that beautiful lady? Well… That is Madoka!!! OMFG!!! Chiyo used to tease him by making him dress up like a girl. He didn’t resist and she enjoyed it. Why is Keiichiro having it? To use it as dirt on Madoka. But since it has lost its surprise element, don’t worry there are others. Others?! There is also a toddler picture of Miyako in which Chihiro tells to her to inspire her that it is the first photo he took and always carries it with him. To Madoka’s horror, Keiichiro has reprint extra copies of the photos for Chihiro. Think of it as keeping evil at bay. Miyako also has one on Keiichiro enjoying his pudding.

Episode 5
Chihiro sprains his ankle while cleaning at school. This means he has to rest and no do his usual maid job. Who is going to clean and cook then? Don’t worry. Madoka is your maid! Time to worry… And dinner is all nothing but sweets… The next day, Madoka gets help from Miyako. They both did a decent job but falter when they try to cook Japanese food as requested by Chihiro. Seeing how down they are, Chihiro realizes he shouldn’t be sulking so he changes his preference to stew and sweets. There is a flashback when Chiyo saw Madoka off at the airport as he will be going to France to study. He was worried of leaving her alone but she assures she is strong and wants him to come back stronger as an adult. After Chihiro and his friends watch a horror movie, Chihiro is shaking in fear despite he is saying otherwise. So a cue for Madoka to sleep with him? But he gets a nightmare of a ghost chasing him and his fear is fuelled further by his friends’ ghost rumour talk. Of all nights, Madoka had to be away for a trip leaving him all alone. He thought he heard sounds outside and thinks it is a thief and will go intercept the intruder. However he gets freaked out by the smallest thing and he ultimately faints when this ghostly figure is at the door. Turns out to be Madoka forgetting his key. Making Chihiro mad is that he brought back a stray cat. Madoka argues that it is only natural to help one in need just like how Chihiro brought home that stray puppy. Chihiro asks why he helped him then, it is because of a promise Madoka made to Chiyo. She said when she is in trouble, come help her. That is why he kept waiting but of course she never did seek his help. But a promise is still a promise. What Chiyo gave everything up to protect, Madoka will properly protect in her place. Chihiro gets the same nightmare but this time he helps the ghost and everything turns into a sweet dream. Morning comes, Chihiro is alright. But Madoka is not because he gets scolded by Keiichiro for bringing home a cat.

Episode 6
Chihiro spots a suspicious guy on the streets and his is right to avoid him. However he forces him to help out. Turns out he is Ryuuji of the popular boy group Uchouten Boys that also includes Hayato and Ibuki and he looking for Madoka’s mansion. Madoka is contracted to make their uniforms but Ryuuji doesn’t like his boyish uniform since he is tired of his boyish role in the group. Unfortunately Madoka cannot change anything as he has already submitted his design. Ryuuji will not leave until he does so. While he complains, he learns the truth of Madoka’s taste in frilly clothes and accidentally badmouths Chihiro’s maid outfit. He feels bad later and wants to apologize but Chihiro is acting like it never happened. Ryuuji comes to terms after talking with Madoka that he has a duty to show what the fans want to see. It isn’t as embarrassing as he thought it would. Soon, Hayato comes to get Ryuuji to go home. He hopes to come again sometime. Since Uchouten Boys’ special programme is held on the same day as Madoka’s birthday, Miyako suggests coming over to plan his birthday party. He is still scratching his head on what to get as present while he helps Miyako in the kitchen. During his break, he spots an old lady scared and cornered by Antarou. He ‘saves’ her as he learns she isn’t the master of this mansion but a lady named Kayako. After getting to know who Chihiro is and what is bugging him, she hints if the present has to be a physical object. If he thinks hard and back on what Madoka likes, he should already know the answer. Chihiro and Miyako dress up with cat ears and tail for the party. This must be heaven for Madoka. But he isn’t too fond when Keiichiro puts them on. They watch Uchouten Boys’ show as they also dedicate a special birthday song for him as thanks for the outfits. Just this one time, Chihiro holds in his pride and wears the cat pyjamas for him without complaining. Only a few more hours before the day is over…

Episode 7
Keiichiro is worried that Chihiro doesn’t study at home because he would rather use that time to clean. But how can you argue when Chihiro scores perfect in most of his tests! Straight A’s student! As there will be a school open day next week, the students have to write an essay about what they want to be in the future. Hino knows Chihiro well that he won’t tell Madoka about the open day so he gives Madoka a head’s up. Dinner between them feels awkward. Later Chihiro laments he still can’t sum up the courage to tell Madoka but thinks it is fine if he doesn’t turn up. Then he remembers his mom lectured him when he did not tell her about it. So Chihiro tells Madoka and he is more than delighted to come. Chihiro’s worries were unfounded. But Madoka’s secret is busted because he knows what he essay is all about. As they discuss about this, when Chihiro was younger, his future goal was to become rich. Simple, right? It was so that he could always be with his mom. Madoka gives him the freedom to put down whatever he wants and also gives some suggestions. During open house day, Hino’s big family is here! Embarrassing? That’s not all of them, though… When Madoka and Keiichiro arrive, they look sharp and elegant, thus standing out like a sore thumb. They have got kids wondering who this hunk is to Chihiro. The day proceeds well as we learn Chihiro wants to become a hotel baron. When it is over, his homeroom teacher, Sakamoto would like to talk to them about Chihiro’s living conditions and if he is doing well. Chihiro and Madoka plead for Keiichiro to help out but clearly they are on their own. Take some responsibility. Madoka’s inability to lie has Chihiro stomping his feet each time he is about to reveal the dangerous truth. In the end, Sakamoto didn’t need to worry as she believes they are getting along just fine. Back home, Keiichiro dumps lots of management books to Chihiro so he can achieve his dream. Hey, you have to start somewhere, right? Madoka has also put an early investment in his room: A study desk.

Episode 8
Chihiro is so happy to get a vacuum cleaner for his Christmas present. Really. Since he will be doing a major spring cleaning, his friends volunteer to help. They didn’t count on Chihiro putting maid aprons on them! Hino saw this coming and brought his own apron to save the embarrassment. Miyako is also here to help and she thought she could show the boys how it is done. Unfortunately she still needs to take instructions from Chihiro and ends up being clumsy. Chihiro thought his hard work is undone when Madoka makes them treats. This means he messed up the kitchen, right? Surprise! It’s so sparkly clean. But Chihiro knows his trick because he threw all the dirty utensils outside! On New Year’s Eve, Madoka and co drive to their winter villa. Also tagging along are Hino and Miyako. Chihiro can’t help being a worrywart if he left the house locked. He thought he could clean the cabin but it has its own caretakers. Bummer. After ice skating, they eat nabe but Chihiro is appalled Hino and Miyako chuck everything inside the pot instead of letting the stock for the soup boil. To reduce Chihiro’s anxiety of homesickness, they let him make and serve drinks. Chihiro and Madoka stay out till the wee hours of dawn to watch the first sunrise of the year. Chihiro used to do this with his mom via watching from their apartment window. Miyako is lovely in a kimono. There is a food glut since Miyako has her chef made some, the boys brought some of theirs, Keiichiro ordered boxes of takeouts and the caretaker even cooked for them. Oh well, let’s fat together. But before that, they take a group photo. Maybe trying to compare before and after?

Episode 9
It’s déjà vu again as Chihiro saves that old lady from another dog. To repay him, she hopes to have tea with him when he is free. Back home, Chihiro receives a visitor, a small girl named Hana. She is Hino’s little sister and they had a fight. You mean she ran all the way here? Chihiro calls Hino to come pick her up and that was before Hana told him not to tell anyone she is here. So when big brother is here, she views Chihiro as a traitor in addition to hating her brother. Hino reveals he accidentally read her diary without permission. So young and she already knows about invasion of privacy. Eventually she falls asleep in Madoka’s work station. Hino lets her stay here for the night and returns home. As they babysit her, Madoka remembers Miyako used to run to him whenever she fights with her father. Chiyo would often side with Miyako’s dad to even the odds. So to Madoka it feels kinda funny seeing these siblings fight like this. Next morning, Madoka has created a magical girl dress for her. Isn’t that from Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica? Namesake I’m confused… Hino arrives to pick her up so the siblings reconcile. But Hino has to put up with her in the embarrassing dress as they walk home. But now Keiichiro is breathing down Madoka’s neck as he failed to work last night and must catch up. Ryuuji is also here to stay since he is so free. But since Chihiro has a date with that old lady, he has Hino babysit him till he comes back. Of course what is more thrilling than tailing to see who this chick Chihiro wants to see. She indirectly talks about her daughter who left and a grandson whom she wishes to see. Ryuuji and Hino’s spying is eventually exposed. After the kids left, it is greatly hinted that the old lady is Chiyo’s mom. She notes Chihiro is a good boy but Madoka has not changed. She thinks it would be better for him to come live with them. Chihiro punishes the busy bodies by having them sweep outside in a maid outfit.

Episode 10
Chihiro is suspicious of Madoka’s behaviour. Then he catches him in the act. He has been hiding cats in his room! How does he overcome his allergy? Wear a gas mask! Time for another good round of lecture as Keiichiro confiscates them. With all the cat hair lying around you’d think Chihiro be mad, right? Wrong! He is happy he can clean something! So with all the bed sheets and clothes out to dry, Madoka wears some makeshift cat prints tunic. To help him deal with his cat loving syndrome, Miyako leaves lots of cat dolls in his room. Which is fine but it crosses the line when Madoka puts some in Chihiro’s room as well. On another day, Chihiro spots the old lady trying to lure a cat with some tuna with chicken tenderloin canned food. Failed miserably. Chihiro leaves after a short chat but he is puzzled how she knows he is going to visit his mom’s grave. Chihiro and Madoka make their way to Chiyo’s grave as they clean and wash her tombstone before making their usual prayers. This spot also lies Chihiro’s father who died shortly after Chihiro was born. It is natural that Chihiro doesn’t think much of him and he doesn’t even know how he looks like seeing many photos that contain him, he tries to cover his face. Not much of a photogenic guy, is he? After they leave, Chihiro forgets to take the bucket and returns. He is surprised to see the old lady there. Madoka is not too happy she is here. Why can’t a mother visit her daughter’s grave? She then introduces herself as Kazusa, Chihiro’s blood related grandmother and apologizes for not telling him earlier on. Chihiro is left in shock. Madoka knew Keiichiro told Kazusa about Chiyo’s grave (since she asked) and thinks she is trying to get on Chihiro’s good side. But he isn’t one to say since he is the same as her, trying to be family with him. Chihiro continues to be confused. He thought he would be mad if he met a member from the main family but he didn’t.

Episode 11
Madoka wakes up from a dream when he got sick during a house party after being anxious meeting so many people. Chiyo wanted to stay by his side but Kazusa told her to return to the party and left Keiichiro to care for him. Chihiro is spacing out that he cannot concentrate in school and becomes clumsy. His friends are worried about him. Wait a minute. There is a girl who likes Chihiro?! Anyway Hino learns about it and plans to cheer him up. First he calls Ryuuji (because he has nothing better to do) to go play video games with Chihiro. He is busy cleaning. Not in the mood. What about Madoka? Not in the mood either. Plan failed. Next plan, he sends Miyako. Although she is treated with the usual hospitality, she still cannot break through their gloominess. She knows too well it is an internal family problem and cannot butt in. In another attempt to help cheer up Chihiro, Miyako suggests a hanami here and invite all his friends. So for the first round of hanami, we have the usual suspects plus Uchouten Boys. Making it better is Hino’s grandpa bringing a real sakura tree! Except for Madoka locking himself in his work station. During the party, Keiichiro apologizes to Chihiro for telling the location of his mom’s grave. Chihiro doesn’t mind. Keiichiro says that despite Kazusa’s cold appearance, there is more to her than that. After Uchouten Boys leave, the ladies now arrive for the second round. At this point Chihiro goes to get Madoka to join them. He is making everyone worried. I guess the tamagoyaki also did the trick. Chihiro talks to Madoka that he met Kazusa vey much earlier and felt like she was his real grandma. Then it turned out to be true. He always thought the main family are cold people and would give them his piece of mind when he sees them. But it turned out different and it was fun. Madoka dreams again that dream. But at the end of it when he woke up, Kazusa was by his side after the party ended. It made him think that a woman like her can also grow old. As the new school year starts, Hana is officially starting elementary. Madoka vows to work harder so mom in heaven doesn’t have to worry. He’s a big boy now.

Episode 12
Madoka is working around the clock to finish his dresses for a wedding project. Naturally he is tired and Chihiro does his best to look after him. One day his temperature is a little high so Chihiro heads to the store to buy some cool sheets. She spots Kazusa in yet another failed attempt to lure a cat. Chihiro tells about Madoka being sick and Kazusa remembers he is always so when the season changes. However Chihiro explains he isn’t in such a bad shape. Chihiro has a little scare when Madoka collapses but it is actually nothing to worry about. He is just tired after completing it all. One night he spots Madoka sitting by a wedding dress. This was the first dress he designed and was supposedly for Chiyo. Of course she never got to wear it as she never had a proper wedding. He jokes he might give it to Chihiro if he gets married. Chihiro puts him to bed since he is still feverish. He returns to the work station after remembering he left the cool sheets there. He is spooked when somebody or something gave it to him! He trips and the chair moves by itself to break his fall! What is that girlish laughter?! OH SH*t!!! Chihiro runs back to Madoka’s room. Hear something tapping at the window?! Oh, the window isn’t shut close. That night as he dozes off next to Madoka, he is visited by a ghost girl! FREAK OUT! But we all know this is the young version of Chiyo as she asks him what happened throughout that year. Basically, a summary of the things that happened throughout the season. After Chiyo hugs him, it is time to go be by her husband’s side. Only then Chihiro recognizes her as his mom. But too late. She’s gone and it’s morning. Was it a dream? Madoka thought Chihiro flicked his head during his sleep but he knows mom did that. Wait. So the ghost is real?! Please tell me he dreamt about getting flicked. Life returns to normal as Chihiro continues to reprimand and be strict on slacking Madoka. This guy just recovered. Cut him some slack, okay?

Clean Freak!
You know, this entire series can be said to be one boring affair and there is nothing that would highly indicate that there was going to be any gay moments. Subtly maybe but it won’t be in a way where casual viewers might pick up. Heck, the final episode was so boring that it is like they tried to put in some supernatural elements of a visiting ghost to spice things up! I know it is insane to have your mom in her young version to come and visit you after a year but it beats having a man raping a young boy, right? Oh sh*t! I thought there would be some sort of suspense. You know, Chihiro being forcefully taken to live in the main family’s house and then after experiencing all those high aristocracy lifestyle, he felt it wasn’t for him and came running back to Madoka. I would at least suspect something of this sort to end the series but nope. Kazusa’s ‘threat’ to take him back was just a pipe dream and a big troll. It never happened. Not even a thought of it after that. Instead we got this lukewarm final that could have been inserted randomly in between any episode.

So I have to largely blame myself for getting paranoid in thinking how much shounen ai and yaoi elements there would be in this series. It is so mild that it wouldn’t even occur to you at all. In fact, is there any? If there would it would be close to almost zero. Otherwise this show would not even make it in airing on national TV. Sure, the prospects of a handsome young wealthy man and his (formerly) poor young boy being forced upon (in which gradually becomes a voluntary habit) a maid outfit. From the outlook of it, there is this danger it is hovering just above the thin line between what is even considered as yaoi. Thank goodness nothing unholy came out of it.

I don’t know how I am supposed to feel seeing Chihiro in a maid outfit which is of course the ‘attraction’ of the series because personally I think his maid outfit isn’t that cute. It just borders along the lines of average. I’m not against LGBT or queer people but my preference has always been straight. So looking at Chihiro in a maid outfit but instead of wearing a skirt he dons his pants just makes this whole maid thing feel like, uh, semi-maid. Of course there is Miyako but she doesn’t make as much screen time. At first I thought she would be the ‘saviour’ as a real maid seeing I have this unfounded fear that my penis and testicles would overload and filled with gay particles from watching the show and then explode. Yeah, seriously. And thus the need for a female maid to reduce that side effect. Too bad she only makes cameos in many episodes but it is a good thing too that this show is mild if not close to zero yaoi elements.

If seeing Chihiro in a maid outfit makes you weird, imagine if Chihiro’s character was a girl. Yes, it would have been filled with fanservice to the brim and it wouldn’t be any different if this had a fair amount of yaoi elements. Oh, what is that you say? They already did something like this before? Oh, right. They did Kore Ga Watashi No Goshuujin Sama AKA He Is My Master. So it all boils down to your sexual preference. I mean, they could really make a hentai version of this series itself if they turn Chihiro into some sort of she-male added with the fact that he is a shota and there you have it child porn! Not so obvious and clear cut the laws about this in Japan…

Despite its relatively small number of characters, this series just does a decent job in developing the characters as its focus is mainly on Chihiro and Madoka. Although Chihiro has changed throughout the series, it is not a drastic one whereby you can compare before and after shots of him. Because even at the start of the series when he lost his mother, he didn’t seem all too distraught about it. He carries on with his life like normal like as though she never existed in the first place! I mean as a young kid whose only other close family member is his mother, you’d think he would become grief stricken for losing his only family that he has always spent most of his time with. Perhaps Chiyo did teach him about independence and I suppose that is a good thing for a boy his age. But seriously, most of the times as I can see him, he doesn’t really act like he misses his mom. Some occasional nostalgic flashbacks but even so that doesn’t ring any alarm bells and serve only to propel Chihiro to rethink his current decisions whatsoever. Maybe all that cleaning takes his mind off the depression.

Unlike boys his age who would prefer doing typical boys’ stuff (like playing video games?), Chihiro is all smiles when he gets to clean. In the eyes of others, it makes him look like a sissy, right? So real men don’t clean furniture, mop floors and cook? Yeah, nobody is going to take care of you… Chihiro’s clean freak OCD is so great that even the school’s cleanliness has to be up to his standards! At least for his class. No dust or dirt will get away from his attention! And you can certainly be in for an earful that is far worse than a drill sergeant when he finds out you are not thorough enough.

Then there is Madoka whose seemingly close relationship with Chihiro ever since he took him in probably stems from his own problems with the main family especially his mother. Although it is a promise to Chiyo that he is fulfilling to take care of her son, sometimes I feel that it is more like the fact that Chihiro looks very closely to Chiyo and since the duo were quite close together, it might be the case of him wanting to relive his times with his sister. Many of Chihiro’s characteristics are closely similar to Chiyo and this brings back certain nostalgia to Madoka. Because of that, it is like sometimes he knows a bit about Chihiro. The seed doesn’t fall far from the tree. Other than that, Madoka is a nice guy but sometimes tend to slack whether for work, penchant for taking in cute stray cats despite his non-life threatening allergy and has no talent whatsoever in keeping clean. Some people are like that. His casual attitude is the ammo needed for Chihiro to fire his salvo of lecture and the much needed comic relief and bonding between the duo. It goes to show that it isn’t just one way communication in all aspects and no typical master-servant relationship.

Other characters feel like hit and miss. There could be more potential but sadly it is not fleshed out in the anime. I am sure the ongoing manga has got it covered and it is not fair just to criticize the anime since only a handful of chapters of it are adapted. Even the main issue of why Chiyo left the family is not fully addressed or the problem that strained Kazusa’s relationship with her children is not properly shown. I suppose it isn’t that bad since they are still talking to each other. More like out of sight, out of mind. If I don’t read the manga, how do I know something like this along this line? Well, this is parodied in the final next episode preview. They’re breaking the fourth wall to tell us that it is already the final episode and they haven’t covered many more chapters from the manga. Yeah, I’m going to flat out believe that.

So like Keiichiro whom I always just sees him as his secretary standing around, noting his schedule, sometimes giving him stern reminders about his work deadline, drives him around and confiscates his illegal strays. It would be interesting to explore Miyako’s relationship with him but then again we don’t really know if Keiichiro is just dense or playing dumb. He has been serving the family for so long that it becomes his life mission to just serve. Miyako feels like the cutie girl who is just there to prevent this show from becoming filled with 100% pretty boy testosterones. Uhm, what? Her running joke is that she can never do chores right and always needs Chihiro’s directions but ends up clumsy. At least after the umpteenth try she can now cook decently. Now to train her for cleaning duties… Speaking about love and romance, it would also be interesting to see further developments about the girl who has a crush on Chihiro. After all, Chihiro is such an independent and useful boy so which girl wouldn’t like such a dependent guy as her partner? Stop screaming feminism. We’re not even going close to there… Kazusa’s appearance for the most part also feels like a running joke especially her failed attempts to lure a cat. Kinda reminds you of a certain girl in Anne Happy… Ah well, no matter how elegant one looks, they still have a comical side you don’t often see.

Then there is Hino the sharp and observant best friend for such main characters and keeps an eye out on him. Ryuuji feels a bit out of place. Imagine a member of a famous boy band comes hanging out with a bunch of commoners. Not too sure if the media knows about this because it is like as though he casually comes when he is free. It’s not like he put on any thorough disguise as well. He feels like a joker among all the characters but at least he has more screen time compared to his other members who simply feel unimportant. Last but not least is Chiyo who sadly becomes part of the statistics and trope of a good parent being taken away too soon and leaving her son all alone in the world just so we can have a story and setting to tell. She exists solely in flashbacks in which are where she truly ‘comes alive’. She is a good mother and has imparted lots of good lessons and love to her child. Speaking of lessons, each of the episode titles is named after an idiom with life lessons such as “Those who don’t work don’t eat”, “A man never goes back on his word”, “Learning doesn’t happen in a day”, “Charity brings its own reward” and “All’s well that ends well”. They aren’t just idioms for the sake of being one but they are subtly that episode’s lesson that Chihiro and us can learn.

Art and drawing feel decent and simple. But I can’t help notice that the characters have their eyes slightly bigger than usual. I know a typical trait of Japanese character designs is their big (sometimes sparkly) eyes and is prominent in almost every anime out there. I just thought that this one seems slightly bigger than usual (not that I have an accurate measurement or anything) like as though this anime was like you know, targeted for kids aged like between 10-12 years old. Because with the simplistic design of the characters, it makes them look a bit cartoonish in a way. Despite the plain simplicity of the characters, I noticed that some of the sceneries and backgrounds are quite nice to look at. I’m not saying it is a masterpiece but they didn’t cut corners on this area. The end card illustration at the end of every episode is illustrated by different people but somehow I can’t help that most of them look somewhat the same. This anime is produced by 8-bit who did the Grisaia trilogy, Infinite Stratos, Absolute Duo, Tokyo Ravens and Yama No Susume so you might see a little bit of similarity in some of these works.

The only seiyuu I recognized is Yukari Tamura as Chiyo. While it is great to hear her voice again after some time, somehow something inside me just feels that her voice didn’t quite fit Chiyo. Don’t get me wrong. She played her character nicely. It is just that I have this stereotype view that after hearing her typical trademark squeaky voice for years, playing a caring mother doesn’t seem like a voice that wouldn’t go with the character. At least on the outside. She has played a host of characters throughout her voice acting career from the usual squeaky lively Ranpha (Galaxy Angel series), loli types like Nanoha (Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha series), retards such as Misha (Pita Ten) and even emotionless types like Ichigo (Onegai Teacher and Onegai Twins). So when she took on this role, it sounded odd at first because I was expecting somewhat more of a mellow and mature female voice to helm this part.

Playing Madoka is Nobunaga Shimazaki (Shido in Date A Live). I can’t help feel he sounds quite gay. Do men who ply their trade in the fashion world or involved in stuffs that is for women to sound and/or act effeminate? Not to say it is a bad thing and considering the mild shounen ai theme, his character doesn’t feel wrong but there is this ‘fear’ that he might just explode into some full hard on gay time with that kind of gay voice. Yikes! What am I thinking?! The rest of the casts are Natsumi Fujiwara as Chihiro (debuting in her first main character role), Yui Makino as Miyako (Sakura in Tsubasa Chronicle), Tomoake Maeno as Keiichiro (Camus in Uta No Prince-sama series), Mitsuki Saiga as Hino (Phantom in MAR), Natsuki Hanae is Ryuuji (Takumi in Shokugeki No Souma) and Yoshiko Sakakbara as Kazusa (Kaoruko Kinoshita in You’re Under Arrest).

The opening theme is Innocent Promise by Trustrick. Sounds like a decent anime rock music and nothing that catches my attention. Since this anime has their own in-anime pop group idol, why not make use of them and sing the ending theme? And thus to make up for their lack of decent screen time in the episode proper, I figure Uchouten Boys did the ending gig with Zutto Only You. Heck, the entire ending credits animation is solely on them. Sounds like another typical boy band pop song with all that fanfare stuff. But the ‘scary’ thing about this song is at the end. Because after the music ends and when everything goes completely silent, suddenly you hear the guys whisper some words. Personally, this sounds quite eerie because as grown men trying to whisper softly but loud enough so you can hear what they say so it sometimes sounded mumbled and thus the creepy effect like as though a serial killer is sending you a cryptic warning message! Yikes!

Overall, this is just a decent series about a young boy coming to terms with his new family and what it means to have a family. There is nothing too shocking or dark that would make you seriously want to examine its concepts and what it probably means for the show and in real life. You can also learn a few things from this show like the meaning of family and friends, counting your blessings, looking forward in life with optimism and positivism, and being grateful for a maid to clean your house. Yeah, I think I still prefer my maids as females anytime, thank you. The sad thing is that in real life the only guys in maid outfits you’ll see will be those mainly in porn.

Sekkou Boys

November 4, 2016

Pop idols these days are getting more manufactured and artificial these days. Behind all that sparkly goodness and cuteness are all just fake glitter. Gosh. What am I saying? It is time for a new brand of pop idol groups. One that is not of the current era but from ancient times! Folks, meet Sekkou Boys. They aren’t your ordinary and typical young teenage boys. They are literally made from stone! Yes people. As ridiculous as it sounds, this is a group of new and upcoming idols made out of Greco-Roman busts! Wait. What? Singing rocks? Can stones even sing?! Whatever. Anything goes these days. One can only hope that their singing won’t be anything rocky.

Episode 1
Miki Ishimoto just graduated from college and is eager to start her first day at work at a talent agency, Holbein Entertainment Inc. She is puzzled that the chief manager, Hironori Yanagisawa is having back problems. He is only 38. He takes her to see the president, Hanzo Horibe. She is very eager to take her job seriously and Horibe hopes she will carry her enthusiasm all the way. No half heartedness, prepare yourself for working long hours. She is still keen so the boss asks her where she got all that stamina seeing she graduated from an art school. She narrates about her passion for arts. However no matter what courses she took, she always ended up doing sculptures and she is sick of it! So her hate for sculptures has given her all that strength and willpower? Horibe in convinced in what she sees as true art (the show business) so he agrees to let her meet the brand new idol group that she will be managing. Miki, I think you’re too fast in daydreaming the life of t he rich and famous. And all that fantasizing comes crashing down when she sees the idol group. Greco-Roman stone busts?! Not sculptures again?! Folks, meet St Giorgio, Hermes, Medici and Mars. They’re all yours. I guess this explains Yanagisawa’s sprained back… I hope Miki doesn’t go into some traumatic rage and smash the sculptures! As Miki reels from the shock, Horibe explains that they used to be an agency for human idols but these boys have their profiles set in stone! Literally?

Episode 2
You mean Miki has to pick up and carry all the sculptures from their apartment into her car?! How the f*ck do they move around in their apartment alone then? But the boys get the scare of their life since Miki is running late and she is stepping on it. Oh, did she mention she just got her licence? Scream, boys! They arrive at Holbein and pass by lots of production stars and actors. The boys thought they are big stars but unfortunately many see them as props. Miki is so overwhelmed by everything that she fumbles before the path of the famous enka singer, Jiro Mitajima. Although Miki apologizes, his entourage isn’t too pleased that the young ones these days lack respect for their elders. Sekkou Boys are also feeling lousy and losing motivation from it all. They can’t do it. That is when Kinue Yamashita, the manager of this cutie idol, Mira Hanayashiki introduces her to the boys. She is a big fan of them and believes in them. That was enough to give Sekkou Boys all the motivation they ever need to do their job. They vow to protect her and the likes and bug Miki to get her phone number. An excuse to give their thanks? During the interview, the boys are dazzling like bright lights while Miki can only role her eyes. They’re just stones, right?

Episode 3
Miki learns from Horibe that Sekkou Boys will be getting a big role in a very famous TV series. The catch is only Medici gets the part. They don’t want to miss this opportunity so they hope Miki can cheer up the rest. After Miki tells them, the boys discuss this upcoming role and Medici seems to be getting a little arrogant. Later as Miki sends Giorgio back, he tells her he envies Medici as he can’t act because he is a saint. Things could have been more awkward if they found out later so he thanks Miki for doing the right thing. Then he bugs her about Mira’s phone number. Still haven’t got it? Miki reads the script for Medici’s role. From the way she sounds, his role looks bad. What can be a role worse than an artist’s mistress who lives in fear of his violent wife? The other boys also read the script and they realize how bad the role is. They promise not to tease but cheer him up. When Medici returns, he can tell they’re trying to be nice to him. But Medici isn’t sad but happy indeed. We see a replay of the only scene Medici appears: He is the murder weapon of the artist who can’t stand his wife’s nagging anymore! Wow. The sculpture didn’t break? Medici thinks he might win an Oscar! Miki can’t be more excited than this. The other Sekkou Boys are just speechless…

Episode 4
Thanks to Mira’s recommendation blog, Sekkou Boys’ next even is a sell-out. Giorgio is like telling his mates what they shouldn’t do but isn’t he himself the one getting nervous? Before the event starts, Miki wonders why there are many guys waiting in the queue. Hermes believes they are Mira’s fans and are here to see if Sekkou Boys are worthy of Mira’s praise. So now you know what the event is a sell-out? As it begins, Sekkou Boys use their usual charm except for Giorgio whose nervousness starts sinking it. He makes bad puns… Because of that, the internet is rife with negative comments about him and Google even has bad memes created! In the next meeting, Giorgio seems mad although he angrily denies it. He goes out for a walk himself and unwittingly makes an old lady think he is a killer and the baby cry harder. When phone calls flood the agency, Miki thought Giorgio is getting flamed again but surprisingly they are his fan clubs. It seems Giorgio appeared in a pharmaceutical ad and everyone loves it! Especially his ‘troubled’ face. He is an instant hit! They even got a new buzzword going around: Giorgio-ing! Later he reveals this face of his is from his pose from staring down a dragon and not in pain, agony or holding it in kind of face.

Episode 5
The boys are in a talk show with Setsuko Furoyanagi. She spams Mars with lots of questions he can’t seem to answer right away. He is stammering. Can sculptures sweat like hell? Flashback reveals everyone was excited when they learn they are to appear in her show. However despite the offer came from Setsuko herself, Horibe warns that she has a reputation for ruining many comedians and newbies into oblivion due to her mega stupid lines and questions. So as the boys discuss who should talk to her, they believe Mars should do it because he is the god of war and the hunter of love. Thus he is invincible and will charm her heart. Well, Mars isn’t into older women but since the group’s reputation is riding on him, I guess he’ll have to do. So back to the talk show, man, this woman doesn’t stop talking! It is bad enough that she is questioning his many women he courted in the past, his pals abandon, backstab and shift everything back to him! I guess Mars was defeated on that day… There goes his invincibility legend… Making it worse, he gets a call from his sister, Athena berating him of how bad he sucks that he gave Olympus a bad name. Oh God…

Episode 6
Miki thinks Hermes is the most mature of the lot. Cementing that thought is how considerate Hermes is when he suggests she drop him off here instead of sending him directly to his apartment so she can quickly go home and get some rest after a hard day’s work. Miki hears from the other Sekkou Boys that they don’t know much about Hermes’ private life. Then she hears from Kinue that she saw Hermes with Mira the other day. Fearing there would be a scandal, Miki and Medici spy outside his apartment. Hmm… Various hot babes streaming in looking for Hermes… Then a few other guys too. Seems Hermes is hosting a house party. Even more shocking that he is in a full body sculpture and has a (sculpture) baby in his arms! Hermes introduces Trismegistus. It’s an ordinary screw, by the way. Hermes is describing its lucky charms and some of the people who used it tell of miraculous stories although from what I see it’s just pure coincidence. He plans to sell it at a high price and everyone would love to have it. Hermes sees a blinding light and it is from Miki turning into Super Saiyan in her rage! She is not amused by his multi-marketing nonsense. Making her even mad is that this baby, Dionysus actually became the god of wine because of Hermes’ influence. Miki continues to blow her top she is going to keep a close watch on him from now on. Man, she is scary!

Episode 7
Miki doesn’t know about the legendary idol group, Dandy 2 Men (Dan2) so she is surprised that they are invited to their dinner show. Even Sekkou Boys are their biggest fans. While taking a train there, Sekkou Boys ended up arguing due to differing opinions. At the hall, their hostility is set aside when Mira is here. As usual, they wax lyrical about her but then it starts to go downhill when Hermes taunts Mars’ helmet as some full nude helmet. Sekkou Boys start arguing among each other so loud that the other tables are probably wondering what the heck is going on. Nobody is scarier when Miki blows her top. Luckily Dan2 starts and we are introduced to the legendary idols who are also bust sculptures! Folks, meet Moliere and Brutus. Sekkou Boys suddenly put aside their differences, become hardcore supporting fans as Mira cheers them on. And Miki is so damn confused.

Episode 8
Sekkou Boys are going to appear on a live show and Miki is not too pleased that they are taking this very lightly. Sure, a few appearances here and there gave them some experiences, right? Even more so, they want to come themselves and not appear in her junk as there will be many fan girls. Stressing her out even more is that they are not only late for rehearsals, but they came in a limo? How did they even get that? Then at the backstage they think everything will be a piece of cake despite Miki’s constant warnings to prepare themselves. Yeah, they’re taking it easy. Think they can nail it? You bet. They think. As the show gets underway with lots of appearances from other guests, Mira is taking too long in her time slot. Going overboard with her time allocation? Once she is done, the next guest is this group, Sanjusangendo Hashiritai. Looks like hundreds of gold statue multi-arms deity! OMG! They look the same?! And are they going to be interviewed one by one! Sekkou Boys start sweating they won’t have enough time to appear as they discuss the need for somebody to cut them off. Then Giorgio did a Kanye to remind the hosts about the time constraints. The talk is cut but now the group will be doing solo performances! Yeah, it felt like an eternal song. Finally Sekkou Boys as the last guests not only have no time for their talk, they are quickly ushered onto stage to perform but even so they have no more screen time left!

Episode 9
Miki is working Sekkou Boys to the bone. She’s like their mother now, warning them no more scandals. But then Mars sneaks into Mira’s place via courier and they talk about bugs and rocks. Unfortunately a spy drone took pictures of them together and it blows up to become a scandal. You should see how furious Miki is! I hope the way she beats him up doesn’t break him. Of course Mira is stressing out over this as Mira’s agency wants to have talks with theirs to avoid this being leaked to the media. Hermes is glad Giorgio doesn’t know about this because he has a crush on Mira. Speaking of him, he is currently seeing some reporter. To deal with the situation, she suggests ‘bartering it with a less damaging story’. Meanwhile the other Sekkou Boys are having BBQ with Dan2 since all their jobs for the next few days got cancelled. BBQ party courtesy of Hermes. Thank you. On the other hand, Giorgio enters the reporter’s room. Sexy time? He must be regretting sleeping with her but it saved their agencies a lot of trouble as both sides backed down. So the scandalous thing Giorgio did is that she is digging his ear wax? WTF?!

Episode 10
When Miki gets lost in the rural area, she sees Sekkou Boys’ CD being used in agriculture and as Frisbee!!! They look at the music review sites and they’re mostly rotten reviews. Even those that are good reviews are just being sarcastic. That bad, huh? It is then they realized they haven’t been invited to music shows and just varieties. Miki vows to do anything she can to change their image. But first she needs to get a new music producer. She is so desperate that she barges in front of the world’s best producer just to give her card! Security takedown! Since she lacks connections, she sees Kinue for help. They learn Mira’s music producer is Masuda Moveman who is the forefront of EDM. Miki continues to look for a producer but to no avail. When Yanagisawa hints her, she gets an idea to call her old classmate from music school. She goes all out to bring DJ Surprise to Sekkou Boys but what does she see? Sekkou Boys partying with Mira and looks like Moveman is going to produce music for Sekkou Boys. You’re not wanted anymore, DJ Surprise. As Mira praises Kinue, Sekkou Boys also wish they had her as their manager. If that is not bad enough, they badmouth Miki! Too late to take back your words. Poor girl has had it with them all and leaves.

Episode 11
Miki returns to her family home at Fukuoka. She is really through with Sekkou Boys. Her parents couldn’t be more welcoming for her to come home. I suppose Medici couldn’t stop sending texts to her so she started blocking him. When Horibe asks Sekkou Boys about Miki, they lie that she is away at a marriage interview. But the problem now is bringing her back and nothing is going to stop them. Miki doesn’t remember her room was this messy with artwork. She remembers a frustrating art moment and the teacher told her to think about Agrippa. Speaking of which, she has a bust of this in her closet. Then she hears Sekkou Boys calling for her outside. They are brought here courtesy of Yanagisawa. They apologize and commend all her good points. She is the only manager for them. Miki vows not to run away anymore and will become their manager again. Sekkou Boys welcome her back by throwing and extravagant (booze) party fit for a queen! Next morning when Miki wakes up, she doesn’t find Medici anywhere.

Episode 12
There is a note lying around indicating Medici has been abducted. When a call comes through, everyone makes Miki take it! But it is not the kidnapper but Moveman who is organizing a party this weekend and is inviting Sekkou Boys to join. Though they accept the offer, Miki wonders if they are going to abandon Medici. Of course not. They’ll get him back before then. As they snoop around for clues, eventually Mira learns about it and has an idea who abducted him. A fanatic Mira fan-cum-stalker is arrested but he is not going to reveal the whereabouts that easy. The police aren’t helping either because Medici’s case is considered theft. So he is just mere plaster? But with Yanagisawa uses his hacking to pinpoint Medici’s location. It seems he is held in an abandoned warehouse. But the big problem is about to crop up. There are thousands of Medici clones! OMG! Which is the real one?! Don’t worry. Miki can tell via her bond and guts. So she’s going to test every single one? Thankfully Sekkou Boys manage to get back as a whole in time for Moveman’s party. Everyone is glad Miki picked the correct one. In actual fact Miki doesn’t have a goddamn clue! It was a scribble that Miki wrote on him somewhere when she was drunk! Miki is truly part of the agency when she now suffers from back pain. Welcome to the club.

They’ll Rock Your World
And so sculptures are humans too? Well in that case I am very sure that many otakus will also view their holy sacred figurines and their dakimakura waifus as equal humans too. I’m not sure why the stalker kidnapped Medici of all and perhaps it was how close Medici was to Mira and his devious goal to break up Sekkou Boys before they get too close to her and ruin his sick fantasy. But I am guessing that it is to serve up a final episode drama and to show how strong Miki’s bond is with her sculptures and that she is the only manager for them. You can’t say her bond is weak if she can’t pick out the right Medici without that ‘cheat’. Can you tell well made clones apart? I mean, can you tell an ant from another ant?

I’m not sure how to put the character development but it feels that I don’t know more about Sekkou Boys or how well they have grown from the start and at the end. Each of them is based off Roman or Greek mythical characters or a real nobleman. Due to my lack of interest in this area of history, I didn’t even bother to find out more about them. Though, I’m pretty sure one of them is a Roman God of war and it would be mind boggling for that dude to put down his weapons and start singing? Mind boggling indeed. But as far as this season is concerned, just like any bands in the world, they have their bond, their ups and downs, their funny moments together. So are they any good? Uhm, they’ve been so good in putting on those rock solid faces without altering into a single other emotion that I can’t really tell. Really.

So the only one I can talk about is Miki whose fate has her deal with sculptures her entire life. With her youth and first time on a real job, she is driven with passion and guts (and naivety) to get it right. She goes to great lengths to take care of them and make sure they don’t go out of line and ruin themselves. It’s a good thing they listen to her when she is mad. You don’t want to make her mad. Really. It is a good thing she doesn’t resort to smashing sculptures. I know there are many clones but hey, every Medici, every Mars, ever Giorgio and every Hermes have their own personality and as individualistic as they are can be. Thank goodness she has lots of stamina to chauffeur those rockies around. However she is still human and this means she has emotions. So it was literally rock bottom for her (pun intended) when after all she had done for them goes unappreciated. It was awkward when there is a strained relationship between the manager and his idols so they were literally between a rock and a hard place (pun intended again). And of course seeing that this is still a feel good anime, they patch up good and their relationship back to almost as solid as a rock (sorry for all the rock puns).

I can’t say much about Mira. She is nice and cute girl whose only reason she has some sort of appearance in this series is so that we can still have a cutie female idol instead of being spammed with manly sculptures. Not used in seeing that kind of idol yet. So they connect her to Sekkou Boys by being their fans but that is much about it. I believe Sekkou Boys are interested in her but due to that risk of scandals arising from dating, it feels like we won’t be expecting a real romance between a human and a bunch of rocks. I guess it wouldn’t work out anyway. As for Kinue, I can’t say much about her but she is more experienced than Miki. Maybe it is because she doesn’t have to handle rocks… Yanagisawa may be a minor character but he seems to be the running joke of suffering from back pains each time he gets his screen time. That final scene of him being a hacker? It felt like to distract us from this running joke.

One of the things that constantly bug me about Sekkou Boys is their mobility. I always wonder how they move around without someone to push them. After all, you don’t really see them move or being animated at all. For example after Miki sends them back to their respective apartments, how the heck do they move about?! Because assuming if they don’t and when Miki comes to pick them up the next day, wouldn’t they be exactly in the same place where Miki left them off? So I have this conspiracy theory that whenever the cameras are not on them, Sekkou Boys will have popped up miniature and cartoonish limbs that will make them move around with ease! Or maybe there are a few little men hidden inside them coming out to move them around when nobody is watching. Oh yes! That could possibly be the only explanation. Otherwise if you think about it, it wouldn’t be just plausible for Miki to carry all of them on and off the stage and chauffeur them everywhere. She would have to do it like four times and her back is still fine? Wow. Super woman indeed. But to show how human she is, eventually her back pains have caught up to her.

This leads to the mind boggling question if they are durable. Obviously they are heavy and I am sure if they are sculptures, they must be at least be made out of stone. I don’t expect them to be made out of porcelain but I am sure that Miki must have dropped them a few times initially. Shouldn’t they be chipped off little by little? Of course thank goodness if Miki doesn’t drop them at all then it is fine and good. Then if the sculptures break, will they die? Will they be easily replaced? Can their crack be easily repaired? Ah, so many mysteries about them so it is no wonder in a way we are interested at them not as an idol group but these issues?

The other conspiracy theory that I came up from the fact assuming Sekkou Boys do not and cannot move on their own is that maybe the conversations you hear them speak are all just a figment of our imagination? Holy sh*t! Big conspiracy theory! I mean, look at them. Look at when they talk, their mouths are not even animated! So how can they speak if they don’t move their mouths and I don’t see any speaker outlet or anything close to it anywhere on the busts? So this must be it too. Everybody is so idol crazy that they are just hearing things that they want to and thus Sekkou Boys are just inanimate sculptures whom everybody somehow believe to be real idols taking the world by storm. Erm, at least in a small part of Japan. You know what? Let’s just screw logic and go with the flow. Talking rocks? Rocks as idols? Hell yeah, we love them!

Art and drawing are pretty standard. But I have to wonder if it is also taking some shortcut because Sekkou Boys aren’t really animated and could even be real life cut-out pictures of them. In fact, their poses never change at all and it is like they could just slap their picture in there without putting much effort into animating them. Even if they are real cut-out images, it doesn’t feel jarring with the 2D animation at all. Most probably is because they are all shades of white so it might go easy on your eyes there. This series is animated by Liden Films who did animated shorts like Miss Monochrome series, Senyuu, Aiura as well as full length TV series such as Yamada-kun And The Seven Withces, Terra Formars, Schwarzesmarken and the new Arslan Senki.

Famous male seiyuus lend their voices to Sekkou Boys and even Dan2. Tomokazu Sugita as Giorgio, Jun Fukuyama as Hermes, Daisuke Ono as Mars, Takehito Koyasu as Moliere and Keiji Fujiwara as Brutus are quite recognizable. It is only Shinnosuke Tachibana as Medici (Tomoe in Kamisama Hajimemashita) that I didn’t recognize. Not too familiar with his voice yet. I also couldn’t identify Takahiro Sakurai as Yanagisawa since his lines are rare to come and he doesn’t speak much. The only female seiyuu I recognize was Yu Kobayashi as Setsuko. The rest of the casts are Shiho Kokido as Miki (Kotone Amamiya in Brave Beats), Yui Makino as Mira (Sakura in Tsubasa Chronicle), Rena Maeda as Kinue (Nike in Soredemo Sekai Wa Utsukushii) and Takaya Kuroda as Horibe (Renjou in Kurenai). The ending theme is obviously by Sekkou Boys. Despite Hoshizora Rendezvous feels like a generic boy band idol song, it also feels like a cheer song for themselves as they cheer and spell out their group’s name in euphoric fashion. S-E-K-K-O, B-O-YS, Sekkou!!! Definitely one of the more enjoyable aspects of this series.

Overall, a daring try in making us believe that sculptures too can stand aside our usual powerhouse idols although it is all just for the light hearted comedy. Yeah, seeing sculptures talk and trying to make it big as popular idols is indeed amusing. But don’t be surprise that even if such head busts may not become popular mainstream idols on TV, maybe they will become YouTube stars because that is where all the weird things happen and some even go on to become household names. So don’t count Sekkou Boys out just yet. They may just rock the boat and cause the idol industry to revolutionize and evolve to another level. But for now, I’d prefer my kawaii idols in sexy outfits doing sexy provoking moves singing sex provoking lyrics on stage. Ah, the desire of the flesh is still preferably prevalent and strong compared to stone cold plaster rocks.