August 27, 2017

Tired of animes trying to tell a story using popular characters in history? Reimagining and redesigning them to fit a new story narrative? Well, looks like here we go again. But this time it isn’t going to be popular individuals from Japanese history. I know, we’re sick of that Nobunaga reincarnations. Thank goodness none of that here. So somebody got this bright idea to use classical composers from the Baroque era instead. Yup. People, how would you like to see your favourite composers like Beethoven and Mozart being brought to life in modern era? ClassicaLoid has that answer. Sort of. Wouldn’t it be fun to see musicians of the olden days go about in today’s modern times? Well, if you know who they are. But these composers aren’t really just those boring western blokes from the past. You see, they have some sort of magical power when they use their music to make life more interesting. Or more chaotic is how I see it. So old western composers with magic and music? You’ve done it again anime.

Episode 1
Kanae Otowa has more than just freeloaders of musician wannabe Sousuke Kagura, the playful Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and gyoza maniac Ludwig Van Beethoven staying in her late grandma’s mansion, Otowakan. She has received a notice of eviction as the place will be torn down. Heck, Beethoven is so deep in trying to make the perfect gyoza, it goes awry as usual. More nostalgic memories of grandma flow through her mind so she has had enough of those idiots fooling around and kicks them out. There is this mechanical organ which grandma loved that used to play all kinds of music when the dial is turned. It has stopped working a long time ago. As grandma loved to hold a ball, she promised Kanae she would hold one for her when she grew up. Of course we know that wasn’t meant to be. Next morning, the teardown team is here. Looks like everybody got lazy and didn’t finish packing their stuffs. And Beethoven is still making his gyoza… Kanae suddenly has a change of mind. This place has so much memories. She tries to stop the demolition team as they hold her back. At the same time, the wrecking ball has started its run. Kanae’s tear and yet another failure from Beethoven somehow resonate together. Beethoven powers up and unleashes his Musik! He starts conducting music throughout the compound. His Pastorale symphony resonates throughout Otowakan as his magical notes start making everyone dance! People from the drawing come to live dancing like a ball. Kanae is happy to dance with grandma who viewed this as a happy place with lots of smiles. Then it gets weirder. The wrecking ball machine and organ transform into giant mechas and slug it out. It ends on a high note with the demolition team happy but confused so they leave. In the end, Kanae decides not to move out and continue staying. Too bad this means the guys too continue to freeload and she’s not happy about it.

Episode 2
Kanae’s friends visit Otowakan. But when she sees the freeloaders in their usual antics, time for an earful to remind them about the misconception of her living with other guys. However Mozart thinks Kanae’s blushing means she has fallen in love with him. He tries to play his charming card but gets ignored. Meanwhile Sousuke is trying to get inspiration from yesterday’s magical incident but nothing inspirational comes up yet. He thought of learning from Beethoven but that guy is still obsessed in making gyoza. What a waste. And still no good! This stresses out Kanae as the guys learn her birthday is tomorrow. Sousuke suggests organizing a party in pretence of trying to evoke Musik. So what do they do? Make more gyoza! Trying to recreate yesterday’s events, huh? This means Sousuke becomes the wrecking ball to be slammed into Otowakan! That didn’t work since Kanae is going to blow her top. For some reason, Sousuke then has Mozart undergo various training. To increase his charm? When everything fails, Mozart tells off Sousuke what is most important: Kanae’s birthday over Musik. So they burn the midnight oil for the preparations and come next day, the freeloaders as well as Kanae’s friends throw her a surprise party. Kanae is pretty happy till Mozart presents to her his birthday cake that resembles tits. Kanae is flat… She beats him up and that is when Mozart feels the inspiration and turns on his Musik. Everyone experiences a wonderful fantasy ride. It was the best birthday gift. Because Kanae’s friends are now Mozart’s fans, he had the cheek to say she might not have a chance with him anymore with him being so popular. Time to kick everyone out again?

Episode 3
Kanae is really up to here with the freeloaders. She really wants them to get out so she can rent the place and earn some income. You don’t say because here comes this beautiful chick, Franz Liszt (Liszt is a woman?!) looking for a place to stay. However there is a delivery for a room that Kanae thought is unoccupied. It is addressed to Frederic Chopin. It seems Chopin has been holing up inside this room. He is a hikikomori?! Thus Liszt wants Kanae’s help to draw him out. Worse, Beethoven thinks he is some gyoza fairy (because he has been feeding this guy his yucky food) and Mozart thinks he is some sound ghost (because of the bouncy noise made upstairs). Liszt’s mission isn’t only to bring Chopin back to the agency but Beethoven and Mozart as well who are missing ClassicaLoids. Strangely this entire incident is now moderated by Sousuke who has been regularly conversing with Chopin in an online forum. They manage to open the closet he is hiding in but his face is still covered with a box. Kanae is quick to want them to sign a tenancy agreement for already making a mess of this place. Chopin is about to do it thinking he can stay here forever. This is when he unleashes his Musik. During this towering fantasy, Liszt remembers the warmth and love as she too releases her Musik. Her symphony is making everybody fall in love with each other with huge doe-like eyes! Big group hug! We love you! When it ends, Chopin returns to his shy self and runs away. Kanae is surprised that Liszt has signed the agreement as she will be staying here. Kanae is moved to tears. See how money can move people? But Liszt wants to adopt a pet. A pet? Apparently Chopin has put himself up for adoption outside Otowakan as a pet. Looks like Kanae needs to adjust her rent.

Episode 4
Franz Schubert is lost. And I mean not just the place. Lost as in he views this era is weird. Seems he looks up to Beethoven and is looking for him. Because of that, he thinks a piece he wrote must have displeased the demon king. The people here are all under his underling or trapped under his control. Unknown to him, wherever he goes, he always leaves behind people crying like babies. Schubert seems to hate Mozart because his superiors blame him for copying his songs. There is a festival going on in the city and you bet Beethoven and co are going to attend it since it has a gyoza stamp collecting event. Mozart wants some reward while Beethoven of course seeks to find his secret taste. Schubert is also here. He eats without paying and is forced to pay back via labour. So when he uses music tempo to make gyoza, this attracts a long line. Naturally for Beethoven too. Too bad he got distracted thinking somewhere else had a legendary gyoza and left the line. So close yet so far… Schubert is shocked to see Mozart but that guy doesn’t recognize him. After Schubert is done, he continues his search. His weird observations and behaviour has the people calling the police so they’re on his tail too. At the crowded field of kites, again Schubert and Beethoven miss each other by a hair. Schubert stumbles into Sousuke. They become friends. Sousuke lets him hear his music and it sounds like total crap! So bad that he cried but Sousuke thinks it is damn good! Schubert tries to run when he bumps into Mozart again. But he chases this time. The commotion has the police catch them. Panic, Schubert thinks the demon lord has send his underlings to get him. Desperate, he calls out for Beethoven’s name. What do you know? There he is. But he is mad the last gyoza stall on his list has sold out. Seeing Beethoven makes him happy as he unleashes his Musik. Everybody starts acting like a baby. When finished, he wanted to head over to Beethoven but the kites’ strings entangle and keep him away. Although nobody has any recollection of what happened, soon on the news Africans are crying like babies and they don’t know why a Japanese kite crash landed there.

Episode 5
Beethoven fails in making his perfect gyoza again. This makes Kanae wonder why he still bothers with it. Sousuke thinks how Kanae’s dad is similar to him. But Kanae only remembers him holing up in his room and racking up debts for mom. Not very nice memories. Kanae soon gets a call from a guy who knows her father. He will send a guy named King to get it back. Kanae is already fretting over money problems and here Beethoven is presenting yet another gyoza creation. Much horrible this time. As he is vexing over it, Liszt notices the black filling in his gyoza. It shocks him to hear maybe those stuffs are to be black to begin with. King is outside Otowakan when he sees Sousuke and Mozart heading out (to buy black ingredients). He tails them has a mouse steal one of it. Mozart chases after it and is cornered by King. He captures Mozart to bring him back but the cat scares him off. Mozart takes his turn to torment him. All the black ingredients still do not come close to the perfect gyoza. So Kanae asks why he is so preoccupied with it. It seems her dad was the one who made it. It turned pain into pleasure. Shocking Chopin has made his own gyoza. This certainly tastes like it! Thanks internet! Though the black stuff is bean paste, however it still lacks something. Something spicy. Kanae remembers the snack she gave to Sousuke this morning and has him go look for it. When Mozart returns, King is also here. Kanae apologizes she has no money but he is here to get the ClassicaLoids. As they don’t want to come with him, King summons Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky for help. Wait. Tchaikovsky is a young girl?! Tchaikovsky uses her Musik to summon rat henchmen to assist King. Beethoven tastes Sousuke’s snack. He realizes this is the missing puzzle. So awed that he unleashes his Musik. Emperor penguins thumping the rat pack! Tchaikovsky realizes she has lost and notes she cannot underestimate their abilities. Beethoven has finally completed his perfect gyoza. It is his light during his darkness. Kanae’s dad was just happy to see his happy face. Kanae also remembered something like this. He made that gyoza to the other kids who thought it tasted funny. But he asked Kanae if she enjoyed it and she said yes. Kanae finds out that these freeloaders (except Sousuke) are ClassicaLoids. She hears her father’s voice, Kyougo from the recorder claiming he is the one who made them.

Episode 6
Kyougo explains he is being captured by an evil organization to make superhumans for world domination. Though he did create ClassicaLoids, they are not robots but human. He just put them together. Huh? ClassicaLoids have this Musik talent which is supposed to help clear his debts. So that’s why… Because of that, Beethoven thinks of turning the place into a gyoza specialty restaurant. Yeah, he is really going to remodel the place so Kanae blows her top and kicks everyone out. Next morning she really wants to tell them off for good but they are not around. Flashback reveals Kyougo talked to Beethoven and Mozart to head to his daughter’s place to be friends with her. Shortly after that, Kyougo disappeared. Meanwhile Kyougo’s assistant, Akira Mitsuru presents to the executives Johann Sebastian Bach in the flesh. Though they are not too thrilled at first, after listening to his brilliance, they acknowledge him. Kanae faces more problems because the demolition team is back to demolish the house (orders from Mitsuru). Kanae tries to resist but they barge in and start wrecking the place. Before they can use the wrecking ball, Beethoven heard Kanae’s scream. He unleashes his Musik. Déjà vu because organ mecha versus wrecking ball mecha again? At this point Schubert has somehow made his way back. He is happy to see Beethoven in his magic so he too releases his Musik. One by one the other ClassicaLoids also start playing their Musik. It’s one big messy fantasy. They realize they cannot control their own bodies anymore. That is when Bach plays his Musik to neutralize everything back to normal. The demolition crew runs away thinking this place is haunted. Kanae cries her heart out when she sees the ClassicaLoids return. Miss them? Although she allows them to stay but they have to follow her strict rules. Also this means Beethoven and Mozart need to cough up their due rental payments. Otherwise they’ll get no respect from her. They think it is some sort of special relationship and return to their typical behaviour. Looks like earning her respect is going to take a while.

Episode 7
Schubert will now live at Otowakan. Too bad he can’t pay the rent so he changes the subject to go find Beethoven. On the news, in the nearby mountains it is believed a UMA nicknamed Hamagon has been spotted. Sousuke believes this is Mozart and bugs Kanae to find him. She doesn’t care about this till she realizes if he gets captured, she will get all the unwanted attention and protest for being associated with this ‘creature’. So she bugs Beethoven to go find Mozart but he is deeply in focus and meditation in his room to even budge. When Mozart AKA Hamagon attacks Schubert to steal his snack and run rampage around town before disappearing back to the mountains, the people now develop a craze to hunt it down. But inside the mountain they are laced with traps. Kanae and Sousuke find Mozart and because he keeps screaming “Maman!”, Sousuke thinks he is calling for his mother and calls out the same in a retarded way. Mozart just tells them to get out. When a lightning strikes nearby, Mozart becomes concerned and runs back. A fawn he has been taking care of has died. Flashback reveals he was walking through the forest and saw the fawn next to its dead mother. Feeling sad, Mozart plays its substitute mom and Bambi got close to him. Now this sad scene also reminded Mozart of his own mother. So sad that he activates his Musik but his sad requiem has some death skeleton throwing blue flames from the sky! Sousuke gets burnt alive but it seems it doesn’t hurt. Although no pain, those who get hit are overcome with grief and regret. Before Mozart goes out of control, Beethoven punches him. Even though he is hit, why is he not affected? He has no regrets! In the aftermath, Bambi comes back alive. Perhaps it fainted due to the shock. Mozart thought he could have an emotional reunion but the fawn dissed him and left. Rebellious phase? Soon on the news, a new UMA has been spotted. Hamassie is spotted riding a dolphin. “Maman!”. Oh… Kanae pretends not to give a damn. She’ll need all the happiness she can get.

Episode 8
Liszt treats Kanae out to a girl’s day out. At this place, there is an idol group, Claskey Klasky performing. They are made up of Tchaikovsky and Tekla Badarzewska AKA Bada. It seems that Liszt planned their day out for the duo to join them after their concert. Sousuke as a fan of Claskey Klasky is also here but seeing the quartet together makes him go to spy on them by hiding in awkward places. Liszt can tell the girls aren’t having fun although they will not say it. So during the karaoke session (is it me or does Claskey Klasky sound off singing this Russian folk song?), that is when they sing out all their frustrations that they hate their job. Kanae could relate and also joins in. And soon all the girls start singing about the frustrations they face in life. They really let it all out. Then they are having a nice dinner till Tchaikovsky realizes he is being treated like a girl just because he looks like one instead of an old bearded man. They start arguing until a call from Bach rings in. Liszt tells Tchaikovsky to say her true feelings. Bach is still incomprehensible. But it made the duo cry and apologize. This makes Sousuke mad so he comes out of his hiding to give his piece of mind how his creepy behaviour is freaking them out. Have you seen Sousuke this mad? However he realizes too late this guy is Bach and instead of some lowly manager. Because he is a big fan of Bach. Oops. Lost for words now, is he? These feelings of honesty has Liszt totally loving it as she unleashes her Musik that has everyone continue to convey their true and deepest feelings. All they want to say, they say it loud and clear. It ends after Tchaikovsky confesses to Bach. To go out with her. A bit of regret of saying too much once it ends but Tchaikovsky and Bada are glad to have meet today, though they don’t know the next time if they will be friends or foes. Sousuke gets his much wanted handshake from Claskey Klasky. Liszt packs some food for the guys back home. She realizes a girl’s day out isn’t about whether you’re a boy or girl. You do and say whatever you want as long as you’re comfortable with it.

Episode 9
Beethoven has locked himself inside his room for 2 weeks. Schubert thought he could lure him out with gyoza but a guitar was thrown in his face. Seems he is trying to create the perfect guitar. After watching someone play guitar on TV, he just wants to do so. Because something inside him is stirring and he intends to find what that is. Heck, he doesn’t even know what gyoza is anymore! Sousuke is happy thinking he will finally get to learn his Musik and lends his guitar. Too bad Beethoven can’t even play it. Sousuke offers to teach but Beethoven still doesn’t find it right. Still, he continues to borrow Sousuke’s guitar. In his bid to find the perfect sound, he modifies the guitar into a flamethrower! Is it me or do I think Beethoven is a pyromaniac? Naturally it causes the circuits to trip. This reminds of his trauma of being in the darkness and not being able to hear anything. Before Beethoven can go crazier, Kanae stops him dead in his crazy antics as she puts a ban on playing instruments in Otowakan. Sousuke sees a guitar competition in which first prize is a high premium guitar. Beethoven is interested to enter. Unknown to them, it is organized by Bach’s company. Even remodifying Sousuke’s guitar, Beethoven still can’t find his pace. He finds it odd listening to street music. Despite not sounding great, he is somewhat attracted. During the competition, it is Beethoven’s turn. But immediately Bach cuts the power. Beethoven’s trauma comes back but he overcomes it and plays his Musik, turning everyone into Renaissance period clothing as he jams with his electric guitar! He wins in the end but decides to give the guitar away to the street musician for showing him the light. Well, Sousuke got back his overly weird guitar. The best advice from Beethoven to him: It isn’t instruments or technique that you need for music. It’s talent. At this time Schubert has returned from Cuba with the best wood for him to make his guitar. Sorry. Performance is over. So sad…

Episode 10
Chopin narrates the weird people in Otowakan. In short, he hates people. Even those trolls online. He stumbles upon a virtual simulator, Arkhedol to create his own companion avatar in which he names Jolly. Due to his shady activities with Jolly, Liszt thinks he is in a forbidden love with an evil spirit! As much as Chopin loves Jolly, he realizes this can’t go on because she only responds with the input he puts in. He uses his Musik and turns Jolly into a much beautiful ‘3D’ avatar with her own AI! Since she likes his music, she wants to help spread it. Because of that, Jolly fast becomes the new top idol, dethroning Claskey Klasky. Mitsuru gets an idea to research on this because if she can make a virtual ClassicaLoid, there is no reason to bring the rest back. Besides, she can surpass Kyougo then. Jolly then starts acting like a b*tch and diva when Chopin couldn’t write anymore songs. All he wants is to be with her but I guess that isn’t enough for a top idol. When the rest decides to barge in and exorcise the spirit, Jolly has left Chopin and they learn everything. Chopin isn’t willing to give up on her even if it means living with her in the virtual world forever. He uses his Musik but it seems he messed up and transported the rest instead. Also in this virtual world is Sousuke’s pad, Pad-kun in his handsome butler form. He brings Jolly here and Chopin pleads to start over. She claims she doesn’t belong to anyone and starts singing. This allows Mitsuru to seize her and absorb her data. Pad-kun says she is being infected with a virus and will die. But even if they remove it, she will lose her current personality. Chopin is in a dilemma on what to do as he doesn’t want to lose her. Jolly confesses all she wants is to make other people understand his music. At least she wants to end by his hands. Chopin makes his resolve and uses his Musik to purge the virus. Goodbye Jolly. Mitsuru reports to Bach about Jolly vanishing in the middle of the analysis. She wants to find more samples but Bach pulls the plug on this test. Evidently Chopin can’t give up on Jolly and creates a version 2 of her. She is more hideous and simpler… My 5 year old can draw better…

Episode 11
Kanae has to leave the house for a while to visit one of her sick uncles. So she wants the freeloaders to take care of the place and do chores while she is gone. Guess what? They’re trying to give excuses to weasel their way out of doing anything! Even when they don’t agree with the chore list, they seem to be stalling by using methods on who does what. From rock-scissors-paper to lottery to even dice throws, there is just somebody accusing somebody of cheating, eh? Eventually Kanae puts her foot down with a final list. It is actually revealed Kanae is going on a vacation with her friends. Since one of them are visiting her relatives, technically she isn’t lying, right? She is worried about leaving the house but seeing how Beethoven can’t even properly follow instructions to do laundry (Musik isn’t a solution), Chopin slowly inching to feed Hasshie their shoebill pet and Liszt walking around to find a suitable pose to be Otowakan’s symbol, yeah she’s going to be worried a lot. Schubert thought Mozart is fooling around will earn Kanae’s wrath. Too bad he finished faster and got praises. To add insult to injury, Kanae tells Schubert to learn from Mozart. Then when cleaning the roof, Mozart’s shenanigans has Schubert ruining Beethoven’s laundry work of art. Oops? Schubert is ‘dead’ when Beethoven wonders if he is trying to imitate Mozart. It gets worse when Mozart decides to paint the roof pink to hide the dirt. They have to clean it up before Kanae sees this. So they have Beethoven stall her right before she goes out shopping. Seeing his serious eyes, she thinks he is serious about confessing and rejects him! He plays along and everything could have been fine had she not seen the pink dripping paint. Beethoven fakes his vomit for being rejected. But when the rest soon falls off from the roof and feign their vomit, Kanae wants them to clean up when she gets back or else… Get to it! When she returns, the roof is clean. But inside is like a hell hole! Everyone fails in their cleaning! And so Kanae has decided! She brings everyone along to holiday with her friends. At least Otowakan is safe and she has her peace of mind.

Episode 12
Schubert is trying to get a job but the interviewer isn’t so convinced about his shady background. Meanwhile Sousuke brings Beethoven and Mozart for another audition by Arkhe Corp, the company who organized the previous competition. Because their talent caught the eyes of some bigshots, they are given another chance to see if they can make their debut. Tchaikovsky and Bada spot them and report to Mitsuru but it seems she invited them as part of Bach’s plan to bring all ClassicaLoids to a complete state. Meanwhile a strange man visits Otowakan. Kanae entertains him since he intended to see Kyougo but is of course not around. He talks about the real music he hopes to create one day, the passion and freedom music is supposed to be and other mumbo-jumbo that Kanae can’t seem to understand. Kanae is embarrassed by her tenant’s messy state and tries to clean up so he thinks perhaps this environment is comfortable for them. As he leaves, a helicopter picks him up and he thinks it must be an emergency. By now you should have guessed this guy is Bach. Beethoven isn’t enthusiastic in his guitar audition. When the judges call him an imitator and the policies needed to follow to succeed, he blows his top and is going to show them true music. He unleashes his Musik. Attack of the penguins! At the same time Mozart is taken in to be an idol since he is thinking of getting the girls. But he didn’t like the dance lessons and cannot swear. He wants to quit but the guys won’t let him. Not after they have paid for his lessons. This has Mozart remember his traumatic past about being in debt and forced to do his employer’s bidding. He can’t take it anymore and unleashes his Musik. Attack of the death skulls! Soon the entire studio is taken hostage. Sousuke can still find time to get Bada’s email? Bach drops in to quell the menace. When Beethoven and Mozart face off with him, Back shows his superiority. He rubbishes their passion and freedom as selfishness and irresponsibility. They are no different than animals. So awesome Back is that his Musik brings them to their knees. He believes they are not ready for the Eight Sounds he seeks to create. The duo are released and allowed to return home, though they will be sulking for quite a while over their defeat.

Episode 13
Schubert is happily taking a bath, relishing how down Mozart is after that Bach incident. So much so he hums his Musik and turns into a fish! While he is trying to make sense of what is going on and turn back, here comes Mozart. Mmm… Tasty… Luckily Schubert is swift enough to avoid becoming his next meal. Mozart seeks Kanae’s help to catch it and at first she didn’t believe it till Schubert somehow pops out from the washing machine. With Chopin, they Google on what kind of delicious dish they can cook with it. Schubert decides to run away. Luckily it was raining heavily last night so when he jumps out the window, there are puddles everywhere enough for him to get to the garden fountain. Now he has to avoid being picked by Hasshie. When Sousuke comes by, Schubert uses his intelligence by using broken sticks to spell, “I want freedom”. Sousuke understands and lets him free at the ocean. Nearby, Beethoven is fishing and is upset everybody else has a great haul. Maybe he needs to change his gyoza bait… But wait! Schubert takes the bait! I’m sure he is in a bliss to be captured by him. So happy that he unleashes his Musik. Now Beethoven is also a fish! So back in their garden fountain, this time Liszt finds them. Time to Google more tasty fish dish. Don’t they find strange that fish are popping up in Otowakan? Whatever. It seems Schubert has this mentality of being eaten but Beethoven will fight it. Using his Musik, they now operate a giant robot crab! Since the humans are only going to allow the fish to go into their stomach, an ‘epic’ battle ensues. Schubert is in so much awe of Beethoven’s coolness that he release s another Musik. Before you know it, everybody is turned into some kind of fish. Except for Sousuke. He’s a snail. Don’t ask. Only after a week they finally manage to revert back to normal. In the aftermath, Schubert happily takes his bath, relishing seeing Mozart down because his fish got away. He hums his Musik and then again…

Episode 14
There are stories circulating that Claskey Klasky is disbanding! It’ the end of the world for Sousuke! More shockingly, Tchaikovsky is personally at Otowakan to tell everybody that! Seems she is upset about their upcoming new single. Bach decided to cut out Tchaikovsky’s parts till she had none. When she learns Kanae met Bach and talked like normal, she starts abusing her! Kanae is now burdened with another freeloader. She thinks of getting Bach’s help since he left his name card. However Bada is the one who meets her and it seems she wants her to be Claskey Klasky’s replacement. When Kanae messages back to Sousuke about this, it seems everyone is supportive of her to become an idol! Tchaikovsky is too sick to even rebut. At first Kanae is hesitant but the thought of being rich has her agreeing. She might regret it since here comes those hellish lessons. There are clips of Kanae practising but her trying face is so hideous! The Otowakan freeloaders are coming up with more plans to make Kanae famous! Nobody cares about you anymore, Tchaikovsky. On the day of the concert, Kanae is still nervous. Bada advises her to pretend everyone is focusing on Bada. However the entire crowd is supporting Kanae! They are Kanae fans! Kanae feels scared and wants to return being a normal girl. Bada is shocked that they are different. She then decides to go solo and show the world what she’s got. Naturally everyone is disappointed that only Bada is up there. Tchaikovsky comes out of her hiding to tell Bada about their special music they make together. However Bada will not accept her back as she unleashes her Musik. Everyone starts to feel how awesome she is. Bada argues with her former partner about her abandoning Bach and his music. Just when you thought they are going to reconcile, Bada accuses her of using her cleansing foam. That’s it. Their partnership-cum-friendship is over. Bada’s Musik makes everyone worship her like the sun. Tchaikovsky is left to rue the sh*t she is in.

Episode 15
Because Sousuke promised his classmates he is going to perform at the school’s cultural festival, now he is begging for the ClassicaLoids to be in his band. Yeah, they ignore him while continue to play their board game. I guess it took him screaming all day till they got annoyed. They’re not interested until Mozart learns he could be popular… Oh no. The taboo word… And so here they are, causing their own ‘mayhem’ at school and Kanae must be busy to pick them out and lecture them to go home. But wait. The teachers somehow love their presence because it seems they are helping to improve the mood. What? And so that is how they stay. As they become popular, Sousuke announces them as his bandmates and with his classmates excited, he gets motivated to write his song. Well, that motivation sure didn’t last long… Soon, he has the ClassicaLoids listen to his song. IT SUCKS!!! ALMOST DESTROYED THE SCHOOL!!! Sousuke thinks it is damn good since they have no heart to tell him how bad he is. Till Mozart says it right in his face how bad it is. Like as though he is trying to copy off somebody. Sousuke is obviously devastated. Pity to see him like this. When his classmates are eager to see his pre-performance, the ClassicaLoids help cover him with their simple performance. This only makes them more popular as Sousuke becomes jealous. But after Pad-kun has a pep talk with him, he isn’t going to lose out yet. He fires them from his team as he is going to get all the chicks himself. So on the day of the festival, ragged Sousuke goes up onstage to tell of his breakup. Then he plays his song. Starts off decent at first. Till he starts singing. It’s about his useless and plain self. Yup. That killed it. Everybody starts ‘dying’!!! OMFG! Even the ClassicaLoids are affected thinking this is his Musik! Even Pad-kun is ‘dead’! Ultimately, Sousuke also ‘dies’! So bad that ambulances are called in to take in those badly affected! But the irony is that Sousuke is now popular with his classmates. Wait. They love his song? Don’t tell me they’re brainwashed. Oh, it’s a funny song. I see… Come on everybody. Let’s laugh our hearts out. See Sousuke, all you need to do is just do your best and the rest will follow. I think.

Episode 16
Kanae is putting her foot down. She wants Beethoven and Mozart to pay up their due rent. My, that’s lots of zeroes. How will they weasel their way out? While she is ranting about upgrading the bathroom with this merleopon statue, they ran away. But wait. They are actually serious in finding a job. Not to pay the rent. But to get a merleopon! Need to make lots of money with lots of zeroes in it. They try Arkhe first but they get insulted thinking they need to take lessons. Geniuses like them taking lessons? Then at a convenience store, they fool around, get scolded by a girl fiercer than Kanae before finally quitting because the pay isn’t daily and it’s not worth much. After various jobs, they nearly lost their objective why they need to work in the first place. Meanwhile Chopin is doing a walking trip and uploading it. He looks like a different person with his sunshiny personality. A bit of badmouthing Otowakan… Maybe recluses do need to come out for sunshine and fresh air once in a while. Schubert is experiencing withdrawal symptoms without his senpai around. Sousuke tells Kanae he met Beethoven and Mozart during one of their jobs. She didn’t realize they took her merleopon joke seriously. Liszt finds it amazing and will carve one herself! Actually it looks quite good. But she doesn’t like it and restarts again from scratch! Chopin’s wandering leads him to some tea plantation. He is shocked to meet Beethoven and Mozart working there. They’ve been there for so long that they almost forgot themselves! So much so they decide to stay here forever in this paradise. Otowakan is hell, right? So when Chopin returns and reports to Kanae, she doesn’t really care. It’s not like she is asking them to live here, right? What about Chopin? Is he going to pay the rent? Back to his normal self. Playing the dumb recluse again… Schubert rushes out to find his senpai. Does he know where to look first? Beethoven and Mozart hear the elders speak of this year’s poor harvest so they use their Musik for a miracle. But soon they are given their final pay and sent home since harvesting season is over. So back at Otowakan, they are their usual dumb selves again. The past they threw away? Nothing wrong to pick it back up, right? Liszt has finally finished her merleopon. Is there some sexual connotations to it since it is all in mosaic?! Yeah, it shoots water from the top… Is this a sexual subtext too when they want to move it to the toilet but Kanae says it is too big to fit???!!! Meanwhile Schubert is lost and crying for his senpai…

Episode 17
Sousuke heard Kanae is dying! Actually she is down with a flu. It is the ClassicaLoids who are ‘dying’ because nobody is around to do chores! To make her better, Sousuke and Mozart heard fried mikan has healthy properties so they pluck some from the backyard. Well, it tastes good! Did they just make Kanae a guinea pig to taste it first? But soon Beethoven and Schubert start falling ill. Chopin believes this is a curse from Hasshie because they ate his precious mikan that he was trying to grow. Well, can’t say he is talking crap that he communicated with a bird but their heads are slowly turning into mikan! Then Liszt also falls ill. This is starting to be a horror episode when their mikan head falls off and replaced by flower heads?! Zombie flower heads?! So the trio terrorize the rest and poor Sousuke became their ‘sacrifice’. Chopin is irked that Mozart is not interested in taking responsibility as he is mostly fooling around. When he does have an idea, Chopin becomes bait to lure them in so Mozart can blast them with a flamethrower! Does he really want to fry them?! Well, it exploded. Suddenly their zombie ways remind Mozart of a Turkish march. That is when he unleashes his Musik to that tune. Are they trying to dance something like Thriller too? But nothing is solved. Mozart just wanna have fun. Next morning, the trio return to normal. They have no recollection of what happened last night although they feel refreshed. It is revealed the fried mikan skin enabled some detoxification and metabolic change for ClassicaLoids. Mozart and Chopin didn’t get affected since the former ate it before being fried and the latter peeled away the skin. Kanae is well but her temperature might rise again when she sees the mess in the hall. If you think all is well, then think again. Everyone is shock to see Mozart’s head resembling a pineapple! Hasshie’s curse runs deep…

Episode 18
Mitsuru reports the near completion of Octovano for Bach’s Eight Sounds. She remembers she was hired by Arkhe because of her brains. Her first day on the job was weird as she saw Kyougo in some experiment. To boil the perfect ramen. However she is amazed and shocked by Kyougo’s theory that could turn the science world upside down. It was creating humans called ClassicaLoids for music. He didn’t bother to submit it because it’s too much trouble. Thus Mitsuru claims she will be the one who will bring Bach’s plans to fruition with her MitsuruLoid. Too bad her dumb agents brought back Sousuke because he sounded like a he was a music genius (yeah, he was talking he was like one). She isn’t happy with this ‘noise maker’ but still decides to test him out. She has him play his crap in which infuses some life to her MitsuruLoid which takes after Sousuke. She sends it back to Otowakan in which the dumb people can’t tell this is the fake Sousuke. They are surprised when he easily does what he is told. Bu when he screws up once, they scold him and that is when he goes berserk. He causes a rampage throughout town screaming to be praised. Meanwhile Kyougo suddenly pops back in the room Sousuke is waiting. He leaves with him but it seems Kyougo has returned to take something: His hidden money in his lab. Yeah, ran out of those cash for tonight’s dinner. When Mitsuru bumps into him, she is not happy this traitor who abandoned Bach returned. Flashback shows Bach was first awakened and his Musik controlled people. Kyougo asked if he would control him for his Eight Sounds and he will do anything to achieve it. However Bach wants Kyougo to help as a supporter, not a pawn. Kyougo needed some time to think but he used it to free Beethoven and Mozart and fled. Mitsuru receives word the MitsuruLoid is rampaging in town. Meanwhile Bach is out incognito (without his wig, that is) listening to different sounds and music. As he accidentally sat on wet paint, his clothes got shredded when he got up. So he ‘stole’ some monster mascot, got ‘harassed’ by kids and then Mozart (the zipper is stuck). So when MitsuruLoid is running rampage, Beethoven and Mozart unleash their Musik which is more composed and coordinated this time. When Bach finally breaks out, his Musik calms everything down. The real Sousuke pops up and those dumb ClassicaLoids can’t tell it’s the real him. Kanae is shocked Sousuke didn’t stop Kyougo when they parted ways. Mitsuru retrieves her MitsuruLoid to improve on it further.

Episode 19
Claskey Klasky back? They’re live on a TV interview. When a fan mail asks if they are really back together, Tchaikovsky snaps and rants he didn’t trust them in the first place. Then she goes on saying they’re still not on talking terms! That must’ve ended badly. Because of that, they are dropped off at Otowakan and naturally Bach tells them they’re fired! So sad Tchaikovsky is that her Musik has everyone gather in the hall. Then a large demon bird known as Rothbart (Hasshie?) claims if they become a couple, they will fall into a certain doom. Since Kanae’s friends really like Mozart, several coloured shoebills snag them away! So they must either stay here forever or fall prey to those talons. Tchaikovsky doesn’t know how to undo her Musik. Somehow Kanae tries to serve curry lunch in a cosplay outfit. This tempted the ClassicaLoid guys although they’re in for the curry. Liszt won’t lose out and when it seems she and Sousuke are hitting off, the shoebills of death came! Chopin thinks he can go get his stuffs. Tchaikovsky sends Bada to retrieve him. She finds herself in cliché high school romcom situations. She is resisting trying to fall for him. Suddenly Schubert as a delinquent comes into the picture. In a twist, the guys become gays and meet their doom! While Bada is relieved, Tchaikovsky doesn’t seemed pleased… Those who got picked are actually alive outside Otowakan. Pad-kun narrates about the tragic story of Swan Lake and since there is a happy ending version, they think the song isn’t about death but rebirth. Sousuke goes back in hopes to save Bada. At this point the Claskey Klasky duo are fighting and blaming each other. Any shoebills trying to get close get owned! Even Sousuke. But when he tells about this rebirth thingy, it makes Bada realize maybe Tchaikovsky just wanted to reboot Claskey Klasky. They reconcile and now as an unstoppable dynamic duo, beat up Rothbart and fly away in their swan boat. Don’t ask. Sorry Sousuke. You’re not meant to be with Bada. Kanae thought she is doomed but here is Beethoven to her rescue. They try to resist each other but realize too late Otowakan is back to normal and everyone is watching. Looks like Tchaikovsky has left and so the effect of her Musik too. The duo can’t be so embarrassed. In the aftermath, Claskey Klasky are back with a bang as they hold a concert. However Bada is being bossy over Tchaikovsky so she blows her top and calls it quits! In front of the stage! But nobody is shocked. They are laughing at the popular comedians!!! People, I think they’re fighting for real. And Bach is the one most in shock seeing he didn’t really expect this to turn out like this.

Episode 20
Everyone has had it with Mozart’s stupid pranks. Because Mozart is the only one enjoying it and laughing so hard that he farts! I suppose Schubert’s plan of putting him in a cage and get mauled by a real tiger won’t hold up. Can they afford that? Kanae bans Mozart from doing pranks forever and threatens no dinner if he ever does it again. At first he might look all zen restraining himself. But then he starts going crazy like as though he is experiencing withdrawal symptoms. A terrible dilemma to prank Schubert ends up with Mozart giving in to his devil side, pushing him into the bathtub. This is when Mozart sinks into depression. Everyone gets worried (no love lost for Schubert as the victim?). Mozart has gone out for so long that everyone is really getting worried especially Kanae who wonders if he will ever come back. I thought she wanted the ClassicaLoids out so bad? Oh well… But Schubert thinks he is resorting to some crime. So everyone tails him in hopes of finding out what he does and Schubert to catch him in the act. Everything seems normal until bad luck befalls on them. Did Mozart planned this ahead? Pad-kun explains about Mozart Panic. When Mozart withdraws from pranking, his aura is so great that it causes bad luck around him. So good luck trying to stay close to him. Eventually Kanae is the only one left following him. At the end of the day she confronts and talks to him. She wants to know what is wrong but he feels refreshed and goes off to see his 17 year old lover. Everyone is shocked but supports his notion. Turns out that lover of his is a famous piece he composed when he was 17 years old.

Episode 21
Schubert just realizes this: He doesn’t have his own room at Otowakan! Yeah, nobody realizes this too. Not even Kanae! Worse, they’re laughing about it! Because Schubert does most of the chores, he proposes room size based on contribution. Not so keen are they? (Apparently chores rank lower than rent payments and Musik). How about a Musik battle then? There is a storeroom they can clear up for an extra room. While the ClassicaLoids use their Musik to clean, no actual cleaning is done. So Schubert decides to show off but he couldn’t unleash his Musik. This makes the rest mock he can’t use it when he wants to. Sad Schubert leaves for a journey. To his dismay, the crowd doesn’t even know he is physically there! He thought Arkhe would accept him but apparently he is also invisible in their eyes. It might seem he is going to kill himself but a kite takes him away to some American slums. He accidentally bumps into a gangster and gets beaten up. Well, at least someone took notice of him. As he laments he will die without being noticed, Kyougo picks him up. Of course Schubert instantly asks him why he even created him if he is going to be ignored. Is he even unneeded by his created? Kyougo didn’t answer directly but says a man should do what he wants. Then Kyougo leaves him with the bill. Oh no. Pay up or those Yankee gangsters will beat your ass! But saved by the kite again. A freak storm hits Otowakan as everyone tries to repair the roof. Schubert returns and they quickly want him to help. However this only angers him as nobody cared he was gone in the first place. So mad that he unleashes his Musik. However! He is rapping! OMG! Schubert rapping like a badass!!! Parappa parody!!! He is rapping about his complaints on everyone. In the end, a clear blue sky. In the aftermath, the ClassicaLoids are forced to do more work since Schubert isn’t around. In fact, he is taking his freedom so seriously, he doesn’t want to be tied down, goes anywhere he wants and sleeps anywhere he wants. This means he doesn’t need a room. And Kanae just prepared one for him. Out with the attitude! They throw him out. Too late to say sorry and revert back to ol’ Schubert now.

Episode 22
Beethoven is imposing on us that coffee is the best drink! No doubts about that! So he has found the best process on how to make coffee and that the ideal beans to make them is 60. So he really counts his beans thoroughly. Till drunk Liszt interrupts him followed by busybody Mozart and Schubert (still a rapper?). Restarting the count. Even when he barricades away, the rest arguing about the ideal number has him lost count. So he locks himself up in his room to restart his count. Again. He becomes protective the moment he hears any suspicious sound. So when he gets his ideal count, he needs to make it past those idiots to the kitchen where he can blend his coffee. He finally does and enjoys his cuppa. Till Mozart points out he drops a bean. Then he goes ballistic! But isn’t it good coffee? Apparently no! He just doesn’t want to drink good coffee but coffee with 60 beans. Huh? So as he ponders about people easily giving in to compromise, he realizes that he needs an ideal location to drink. His search has him decide the best place is on a panda ride at a playground. Because he hogs it, the other kids start complaining. He won’t budge. Despite Kanae coming down to reprimand him, he still isn’t moving. The kids decide to play dodgeball over the ride. It seems all of Otowakan are against Beethoven. Including Schubert. Beethoven loses but he wants to play again. Always the same. He loses. He demands another match. It is obvious he is utterly defeated but still won’t give up. Even the kids give up and go home. Perseverance wins! So the next morning, he decides to unleash his Musik for yesterday’s fine victory. Opera version of Fur Elise? In the end, looks like he got hooked on dodgeball. Now he imposes on us it is the best game ever. He wants those kids to play him but they won’t. WTF?! He chases after them?! Has he gone nuts?! I hope this isn’t the effects of coffee.

Episode 23
The Octovas is complete and Bach wants all the ClassicaLoids gathered to power it up in 2 hours. Hence men in black try to capture them but they fail miserably because they unleashed their Musik. But Mitsuru assures not to worry. For she has the MitsuruLoids 2.0. ClassicaLoids are unpredictable unlike MitsuruLoids 2.0 who are obedient. From the data she has collected, their Musik is as good as the originals. Tchaikovsky and Bada are shocked to see their robo selves. Once again, they are fired. Where to go? Otowakan of course. They explain what happened and guess what the ClassicaLoids think? Since they are not needed, they can do whatever they want! The first phase of Octovas is initiated. Suddenly the world loses its sound! Nobody can talk! Not a single sound at all! Except for the ClassicaLoids. They can still talk like normal but it took them a while to think this is some irregularity. They think a world of silence is what Bach wants. But then phase two starts. Although sound returns, everyone who is weak of mind starts wearing Bach’s weak and speak like him! However this is not Bach had wanted. It seems Mitsuru took this initiative on her own. She doesn’t see the need of other ClassicaLoids and only views Bach’s music in creating Eight Sounds. This means 8 Bachs? Mitsuru fawns over the thought of turning Bach into a legendary god with her MitsuruLoids 2.0. Kyougo looks like he has some plan to stop it but is cut short when the electricity is cut off. Didn’t pay his bills, did he? Bach zombies invade Otowakan. You can use you Musik, beat them and slap them to their senses but as long as they are weak minded, they’ll still become Bach. They think the 7 ClassicaLoids here can defeat this horde. Till they realize they are missing one and can’t put their finger on who. Hey, isn’t that Schubert in the crowd? He has become a Bach!

Episode 24
Mad Beethoven punches Schubert to senses and tells him off to come to their side! Yes senpai. As everyone uses their Musik to fight off the hordes, Kanae gets a call from Kyougo. He tells her to go stop the amplifier on Arkhe’s facility atop a nearby mountain. She would love to give him her piece of mind but too bad his tablet’s battery ran out. She needs help so the ClassicaLoids all volunteer to go. They’re sick of grinding zombies. Who is going to guard Otowakan? Sousuke?! Since she only needs 2, they face off in rock-scissors-paper. Lucky Beethoven and Mozart get to go with Kanae. Mitsuru is about to become a Bach herself when she detects intruders. She orders her MitsuruLoids to intercept as she goes to fix the damaged Octovas. However Bach has freed himself and reprimands her. She doesn’t understand why he doesn’t see himself as the greatest composer. He tells her that music cannot be one colour. It is a mix with other sounds. That is why he waited for the other ClassicaLoids to wake up. Beethoven and Mozart face off with their clones. They can use Musik and match whatever they put up. But Beethoven defeats his clone by giving him drink coffee. It short-circuited. Mozart and his clone dance but it trips and breaks. The other clones pop out. The duo don’t feel like fighting it so they argue over rock-scissors-paper. They don’t have to do anything since Bach’s Musik took them out. They go to face off with Bach as he explains about the current state of music. It is disrespected and treated poorly. “Musicians” are created instead of music. Don’t they want to change the world? Bach’s goal is to create a world in which everything is rooted in music. Everyone speaks the universal language of music and can understand each other. Even aliens?! Beethoven and Mozart disagree. They tell him their experience of gyoza and flirting with girls. It made them forget about music. Kanae too has something to say. Her old records that grandma introduced to her bring back memories. It made her smile and remember her. As music doesn’t exist everywhere, it is special. Thus all kinds of music comes with special memories. That reminded Bach of something and causes him to waver and allowed Beethoven-Mozart penguin-dragon combo to defeat him. Music notes rain down from the sky and everyone is freed from the zombie control. And you thought everyone is joking about in this feel good ending when suddenly aliens hover across the sky! I kid you not! I guess Bach was serious when he said that.

Episode 25
The aliens are abducting people from all over the world! Looks like Kyougo is one of them. He contacts Kanae to tell that there is a huge microphone inside the ship. Could it be they want a karaoke? Bach’s suspicions were right. He felt someone somewhere in the universe was listening to his music and thought they would one day come to Earth to listen to it. Thus the Octovas as a device to communicate with aliens. Don’t worry. A few quick repairs and it is back up to normal. Now dropped in Kanae’s yard. Thus Bach wants the ClassicaLoids to play their music to them, the reason they are created. Tchaikovsky and Bada are upset they never told them this. Would they have believed him? They point out it is he who doesn’t trust others. Apparently the ClassicaLoids aren’t interested in saving the Earth. But Sousuke is! He purposely gets abducted thinking his song will save the world! OMG! World destruction in 3, 2, 1… The aliens hate it and kicks him out! Once Kanae gets assurance from Bach that humans and aliens can be friends via Octovas, she has the ClassicaLoids assemble to help save the world. They decide to do her request since she asked. Maybe that tear helped too. The ClassicaLoids begin their Musik and aliens all over the world rejoice. But then Octovas malfunctions from it all and the aliens are mad they want an encore. Better give it to them as they’re starting to shoot down buildings with their rainbow lasers!

Sousuke’s solution is simple. Just give it to them. Imagine these aliens as fans from a faraway country attending a concert. They came all the way to see them and can’t go home like that. Since it is his idea, Mozart transforms him into a cool ClassicaLoid outfit with Pad-kun as his cool music jet. What? Sousuke given a chance to save the world? He isn’t doing it alone, though. Beethoven transforms Kanae into Sousuke’s equal as she rides a badass Hasshie (amplifier bird?). After all, it is human’s job, not ClassicaLoids to deliver their music to them. Then they guide the duo straight up into the alien ship. Oddly, I don’t see them do anything because it’s like the ClassicaLoids are the ones doing their Musik over again while explaining about the love and friendship of humans. Anyway this satisfies the aliens. They want an autograph and Sousuke signs his big name there. After dropping them down, the aliens leave Earth, leaving behind golden droplets of happiness. A few weeks later, Kanae continues to take care of Otowakan. Kyougo still contacts her although he continues to travel freely around the world. He theorizes that the aliens knew about their music when they stumbled onto Voyager that was launched attached with humanity’s culture decades ago. Bach resumes his producing work while Claskey Klasky is back on stage with Mitsuru as their manager. The other ClassicaLoids left on a journey so Otowakan is a bit lonely now. Sousuke is trying his hands at street music but is too chicken for his first performance. He can perform confidently only at Otowakan. Then all the ClassicaLoids return from their journey with their messy souvenirs. Since they start to make a mess out of the place again, Kanae threatens to kick them all out. So you want company or not?

Classical Music Rock Save The Earth
So… Where are the rest of the classical composers? We only got 8 so far for this season? Where is Brahms? Where is Handel? Where is Haydn? Where is Debussy? Where is Vivaldi? Where is Mendelssohn? Where is Wagner? Wow… It sounds like I seem like a classical music enthusiast and expert. Just kidding. I’m not. I just happen to know their names but if you play to me one of their pieces I can’t even tell them apart or from who. But that is not the end of it all yet. Because there is going to be a second season! Hooray! Can I say that is music to my ears? Oh, Bach hasn’t got his wish this season? Don’t worry. *In Arnold’s voice*. “I’ll be Bach!”. Maybe those aliens dude who love our classical music so much would recommend and bring back more alien pals in the future. Who’d knew Earth was such a great intergalactic hit? Now you can’t laugh and look down on people who love classical music. Because it is a sign of peace and friendship! Aliens don’t come to our planet to hear pop culture songs! No Beyoncé. No Taylor Swift. No Katy Perry. No Kanye West. Not even The Beatles! They’re here for our Beethoven, Mozart, Bach, Chopin and the likes! Viva classical music?!

One of the most things that made me feel conflicted is the portrayal of the ClassicaLoids themselves. Despite being told that they are not the real composers themselves and are just taken after them, I still can’t help feel ‘disappointed’ that such would be like ‘deceiving’ us. Because the ClassicaLoids themselves are a very interesting and quirky bunch and it is because of that I find the series quite fun and interesting to watch. It feels like they are just their famous counterparts in name but everything else differs. I thought their quirky behaviour is somewhat a homage to their real life in history so I did a bit of (lazy) search on Google but couldn’t find anything that tells me that Liszt is a cross-dresser or Chopin is a shut-in or Schubert a big fan boy of Beethoven. Of course I can definitely tell it is all BS that Beethoven is obsessed with gyoza. That should have given me an early hint. Heck, not to say I know well about them either. But a few like Bada being a one hit wonder is somewhat true despite being the joking point of her in the series. Still, to have them as weirdoes sometimes feel like they’re committing sacrilege to the real ones. But then again, this is anime where even Nobunaga has not been spared from sex change.

Therefore it was really weird to see the ClassicaLoids with their own unique behaviour. But like I have said, that is what makes them and the series fun. They have so much free time to do nothing and goof around. Even free loading at Kanae’s place like as though they own the mansion. But think about it. What should ClassicaLoids do anyway besides whatever fate Bach proclaims of them? Imagine if they are portrayed as those strict crazy old men in white wigs in this anime. That would be super boring, wouldn’t it? That wouldn’t be anime, wouldn’t it? Hence it is somewhat ‘okay’ to see Beethoven turned into a gyoza maniac (somewhat toned down after he discovered his ideal taste because it would’ve been annoying to hell if they continued to spam this running joke) and on occasion a pyromaniac, Mozart a carefree dude who loves to prank others and flirt with chicks, Liszt obsessed with love and Chopin turning into a typical otaku. While Schubert feels like a character created to be everyone’s punching bag (to be ignored, that is – even ‘lower’ than Chopin since this shut-in has his own sniggering sarcasm), it is refreshing to see him change his style to a free rapper. Again it is with mixed feelings to see Schubert turn into something different. I thought it was for a single episode but it seems it became permanent ever since he found his true calling. I still prefer the old Schubert looks when he looks more elegant.

If I had to pick a favourite ClassicaLoid, it would be Tchaikovsky. This petite blond girl is quite spunky and when she gets loud mouth and starts complaining, she is really funny. Yeah, if Tchaikovsky wasn’t a bald Russian dude in real life, she could have been my idol… Bada feels pretty ordinary and normal till you start teasing her about her one hit wonder… That somewhat becomes somewhat of her running joke. I mean, what else can you say about her besides Sousuke trying to hit on her but fails as bad as his music? Bach on the other hand at first looks intimidating and sometimes feels like a ‘retard’ because of his tendencies to only speak in one line musical terms in which could be anybody’s guess what the heck it means. Could this be what he meant that he want to speak in the universal language of music? Noble intentions but I think he got the wrong idea of what music should be. It’s like imposing his ideals upon everyone else.

In view of these characters, it is no doubt that a very big majority of the plot and stories these season feel like standalone fillers. It seems like they are doing silly random things that have no part whatsoever in the bigger plot of what the actual series is supposed to be about. At points they show you flashbacks to hint about them but they serve more as teasers and reminders only rather than something to drive the plot. And thanks to the quirky ClassicaLoids, I don’t mind watching them doing mindless and pointless stuffs because it feels so much fun. There is also the mystery of Kyougo but that is always quickly brushed aside to continue the random hilarity of the episode. So when sh*t gets real in the final few episodes of the season, I mean it really gets out of this world with Bach’s putting forth his plan (sometimes I thought Mitsuru’s plan feels like Resident Evil version Bach) and even culminating with aliens! Did you even see that coming?! So they trolled us with random episodes to let our guard down so that when it comes to the final battle we will not anticipate this plot twist. Clever or just weird? But it is thanks to this format that we get to love and learn more about the ClassicaLoids so it isn’t such a bad thing after all.

Speaking of the non-ClassicaLoid characters, the biggest mystery is Kyougo himself. At times we are made to think who this guy is and what this guy’s goal is. I know all scientists are crazy but this one feels more like laidback and carefree. Like as though he knows things will turn out alright somehow. Or maybe he just doesn’t know. Kanae doesn’t really stand out as much as the ClassicaLoids but even if she does it is because she isn’t one. It feels as though her character exists the ClassicaLoids need a place to stay and a place to call home after a day filled with randomness. I can sympathize with her being the landlord whom nobody (except for Liszt) wants to pay their rent but she can’t kick them out because she has grown attached to their antics. If she really wanted money, she would have seriously kicked them all out a long time ago. It’s the warmth and company that makes Otowakan lively again. But seriously, thanks to Liszt she can still breathe easy on some expenses. Yeah, money still important to a certain extent.

And Sousuke is supposedly the other joker (and gopher) of the series because of his big dream of becoming a musician himself but he seems to want to leech off the ClassicaLoids rather than putting in his own effort. But even when he does that, she how that turned out… He should have picked another career. I kept wondering if Hasshie is supposed to hold some secret since this shoebill is always standing and looking intimidating (a couple of curse and grudge episodes, for all we know Hasshie could be some sort of demon!) but I guess he is this series’ mascot. I guess better than having the standard cute cat, dog, rabbit or hamster. Or maybe not. Lastly, I feel that Mitsuru is just a big fan girl of Bach rather than wanting to usurp Kyougo. At least that is what she seems to have become. This kind of fandom of liking one person and others are trash is dangerous. For example, you’re a fan of Justin Bieber and everyone else is no good and nowhere near. Not even Michael Jackson or Tupac. See what I mean?

The drawing and art has everything bright and colourful. Again, some of the character designs of the ClassicaLoids made me feel mixed. While some like Beethoven and Schubert do resemble closely to their actual counterparts and thus very recognizable at first go, others like Mozart and those transgendered are looking very different. Because say for Mozart, they design him to be a guy wearing his casual pyjamas and cape with a big hat that looks like he came from the Mushroom Kingdom. Yeah, he really looks like an anime character. I mean, everyone looks like an anime character but like for Mozart’s case he doesn’t have a shred of hint to the original. And of course, Liszt, Tchaikovsky and Bada certainly do not look like their originals. Schubert has the most different transformation and redesign when he became a rapper boy. Personally I still prefer his original version. But then again I have to remember what I said about ClassicaLoids not being those originals and if we show them as boring old men, this series would lose its charm.

Another unique part of the animation is that some of the scenes used cell shading. Either you like it or loathe it. There are also some flashy effects especially when the ClassicaLoids unleash their Musik. It is fun to see they have a variety of them as they are somewhat metaphors of their pieces like Beethoven with his penguins and mechas, Mozart and his death skeletons, Liszt with her plants and cupid arrows, Chopin with his, erm, tall growing things and electronic devices, Schubert getting his new Parappa style in addition to his carps and Tchaikovsky with her rats and bird snatching love drama thingy. Whatever. Bada is so boring with her only sunshine worshipping Musik…

I really love Mamiko Noto playing as Liszt. She really kills it here as her character because she really sounds like having so much fun in her role. It really rekindles my love for her and made me forget that the recent shows I watched with her usually has her character being killed off or strange women to fit that husky and raspy trademark voice. Yeah, thanks to the power of love! I need more love for her! Ahem. Other recognizable seiyuus include Tomokazu Sugita as Beethoven, Yuuki Kaji as Mozart, Akira Ishida as Pad-kun and Mikako Komatsu as Kanae. The other casts are Nobunaga Shimazaki as Sousuke (Mugi in Kuzu No Honkai), Kousuke Toriumi as Chopin (Kiba in Naruto), Tomoaki Maeno as Schubert (Junichi in Amagami SS), Aya Endo as Tchaikovsky (Miyuki in Lucky Star), Mao as Bada (Kazumi in Gokukoku no Brynhildr) and Taiten Kusunoki as Bach (Rock Bison in Tiger & Bunny). Strangely, I cannot find who is behind Mitsuru’s voice. Thanks to my inept to read Japanese even at this point, I can’t look it up myself from the credits. Oddly nowhere over the internet has listed her character whatsoever.

Because classical music is the theme of the series, it is only right that such similar feel of the classical music be used. Such as the opening theme, ClassicaLoid No Theme which is entirely an instrumental piece. But it is mixed with modern style rock. I don’t think this is blasphemy or even if it is to purists, this series isn’t the first to do it as over my life I have heard countless renditions and versions of classical music. No one is going to sue over copyright, right? But what makes me feel weird are the ending songs or the Musik that the ClassicaLoids play. They take a famous piece of that composer and added in some Japanese lyrics. Yes, they’re singing a classical song! As I have said that there are so many reincarnations of classical pieces, this one really feels weird. Not really used to hearing classical songs with words even if I don’t hear them frequently. So for example hearing Mozart’s Turkish March with lyrics in it just doesn’t feel right with me. It feels like the song has been mashed and pounded to bits with this ‘rebirth’. This means there are different ending themes for every episode depending on what mashed up classical piece they played during the episode. Not sure if it is lazy or creative. But it’s definitely weird. Of course the weirdest of the lot is Sousuke’s song. Thankfully I didn’t die. Oh wait. I nearly laughed my ass to death! You want to kill a nation? Play this ‘hit’ song! Yeah, it really hits you…

Overall, this series isn’t meant to change one’s music taste or to have you appreciate classical music. If you do convert, then it’s a plus point. We should hear all sorts of music genres to broaden our music views anyway. Despite the standalone fillers and the lack of a plot and a big part of the season, each episode is funny and entertaining in its own right and it makes you fall in love with the bizarre characters. Just a warning that you might be get the wrong impression the real characters act like this and you may be disappointed if you find out they aren’t. So what is music? To each their own as long as you enjoy them. But I noticed that lately the music innovation has been stifling recently. Have we reached the pinnacle of music creativity? If those classical composers are alive today, they might turn in their grave if they see today’s state of music. They would be decomposing then. Haha! Just joking… Come to think of it, do you not realize that those times and now are the only times throughout mankind’s history where “#” is used ever so often? Mind blown!

Gintama S5

August 26, 2017

OMG! More Gintama! I wasn’t so sure it would have another season the last time the previous season ended but I guess this is what clinging on to hope feels like no matter how miniscule it is. So yeah, I couldn’t be happier for another season of Gintama but this comes with some ‘trade off’. Unlike the nonsensical slapstick comedy Gintama that parodies everything I have known, it continues the big storyline that got things running from the previous season. Yup, it is going to be another grim season. In fact this entire season can be dubbed the Rakuyo Arc. More revelations, more surprises, more things coming to a closure and hopefully a tiny bit of crazy nonsense to remind us that Gintama will always be Gintama. Oh heck, they have always been like that since the start.

Episode 317
A flashback of Gintoki in a bout with Shouyou but as usual lost. He tells Gintoki to stop growing stronger by trying to imitate him. He wants him to grow stronger by wielding his own sword. The sword of a human. Currently Yorozuya is hiding under the refuge of Katsura and his Joi rebels. Nobume seeks them out for a request. However they are cut off when angry Matako views Nobume as a traitor for selling out the Mimawarigumi to join forces with Gintoki. Nobume explains Mimawarigumi was just a pawn being used. Now they are gone along with Sasaki. Henpeita confirms the rumours are true. Nobunobu and the elders betrayed Kiheitai and cut them out of Harusame. Kamui led his division to attack one of the syndicate’s bases but it was a trap. They barely escaped after realizing they hired someone with a familiar killing style. That person is no other than Umibouzu, the world’s strongest hunter and the father to Kamui and Kagura. When the Kiheitai was under attack, Bansai took it upon himself to let the others escape while he went to rescue Takasugi still in coma. They want to find his whereabouts. Nobume further explains about the Tendoshu. They are all beings born from Altana, a new energy resource Amanto discovered. In some worlds, they are referred to as ley lines. Thus the terminals you see built by Amanto around Japan are powered by it. Thanks to this energy, rapid development across the universe like interstellar travelling became easy.

This led to many parties trying to gain control over it and after many wars, a non-aggression pact is signed to render Altana reserves off limits and an agency is formed to monitor Altana gates or holes. The Altana Preservation Agency was later known as Tendoshu. Thus the group formed to monitor the holes became obsessed with it for their own use. That’s why they are interested in Earth which has a massive reserve of Altana. An unexplained effect influences the principles of life and on this planet it took the form of a man: Utsuro. It is the founder’s name passed down through generations of Tenshoin Naraku and each head is said to inherit that name. During the Tokugawa’s reign when Naraku served Tendoshu, the Utsuro then mysteriously went missing. It is believed he concealed his identity as Shouyou. His students later caused a failed rising in which he was executed. However when they burnt his body, he came back to life. Over its 500 year history, Naraku has had 13 heads. All of the same man. A man incapable of dying due to Altana. Nobody knows how long he has been living but he is now the most dangerous man in the universe. Meanwhile Utsuro is meeting with the elders. He eliminates all of them so that he could have full control of Harusame and of course to shut them up forever.

Episode 318
Gintoki and Katsura discuss about Shouyou. Gintoki believes Utsuro is not Shouyou because that is something else not even Shouyou could defeat. Shouyou is dead. Umibouzu meets with Utsuro. He makes it clear that his intention is to kill his own son. Get in the way and he will kill them all too. Oh, Oboro is still alive. Although he has died, he has been resurrected simply he has to immortal blood of Utsuro. However the numerous times of reviving has taken a toll on his body and he vows to continue using it till his body rots away. Shinpachi relays the bad news that Kagura has left Yorozuya. She joins Matako and Henpeita’s troops on a journey. So everyone also leaves a leave letter to leave Yorozuya with a promise to come back. Bansai wakes up in the company of Sakamoto and his Kaientai fleet. They are waiting for Katsura and his Joi rebels to join them for departure. But looks like they have another guests coming on board: The Yorozuya boys. Bansai is sceptical of the trio because he believed they cut ties with Takasugi a very long time ago. Their departure is hindered when Nobunobu and his fleet surround them. He is going to destroy the traitors however the Kaientai’s ship they were communicating was just a decoy. The real one rammed Nobunobu’s ship from the back. They jump in and easily take down Nobunobu’s men. Bansai is shocked in seeing how they could easily turn the tides in their favour so fast. With Nobunobu as their prisoner, the new shogun thinks he still has the upper hand because he reminds his men to die for him or kill themselves. This makes Bansai punch the hell out of him. He tells everyone to not give their lives to a leader. This country no longer has a deserving leader. Nobunobu is now alone at the summit as slowly everyone by his side leaves. Bansai agrees to take the gang to a secret hideout the Kiheitai converge in case of such emergencies. Kamui and his troops are taking refuge on a planet named Rakuyo. A planet ravaged by wars and the birthplace of Kamui and Kagura. Umibouzu is also here.

Episode 319
Nobunobu still acts tough till Sakamoto reminds him that he may no longer be of use to anybody. Because of his blunder due to his personal grudge, he has been too sullied to be used even by Tendoshu as a puppet. At this rate they’ll just get rid of him with the rest. Might as well join with them and fight through. Abuto warns his men not to fight Umibouzu because they can never defeat him. His side is keeping comatose Takasugi. Gintoki’s group have already arrived on Rakuyo. Each time Bansai points out their hideout, it explodes! Apparently Harusame is already here and they’re waiting to take them all out. The skirmish begins as the samurais run faster than bullets to take out the lowly Harusame soldiers. Watching them in action, Bansai now understands why Takasugi stayed alive all this time. Sakamoto suggests the group to split up because he realizes the enemy is trying to take them out one at a time. They might be outnumbered that way but it is better than being easy targets in a huge group that can be taken out at one go. 6 of the 12 Harusame divisions have been mobilized for this mission and half that number just to hunt for a single man. Among the leaders of the divisions, the most dangerous and strongest trio known as the Three Mad Stars are on this mission. Uranus Hankai who is the only division without any troops below him faces off with Sakamoto and his Kaientai. Pluto Bato who can read people’s mind with his third eye are up against Gintoki and Bansai’s side. Finally Katsura and his Joi rebels stumble into the syndicate’s strongest assassin, the monkey dude Neptune Shokaku.

Episode 320
It is an animal fight between Katsura and Shokaku, throwing all sorts of trickery and brute force at each other. Therefore it is no surprise we have flashbacks on Katsura on how he got the nickname of being a coward. It stems from his grandma telling him a general should be the most cowardly person in the battlefield. Because if he dies, who else is going to lead? With that philosophy is how Katsura fought all his battles. In the end, it is his hard head butting tactic (which is also his other nickname) that earns him victory. Shokaku’s army would have wanted to take out Katsura but monkey dude admits his defeat. Katsura presses for answers regarding Utsuro’s goal but nobody knows anything. All he knows is that they’re being toyed with till they break. Meanwhile Sakamoto and his Kaientai cause damage as diversion and run so as to take the battle away from the main field. However they are soon attacked by their own allies. Actually it is Hankai who has hacked the computer systems of his ships. He gives Sakamoto a choice to either gun them down or be gunned down by them. Either way he loses. Hankai not only hacks the computer but the minds of his crews. His real army are the millions of tiny nanomachines invading and taking control of one’s nervous control system. Sakamoto and Mutsu leave the steering of the main ship to the rest while they go handle their zombie crewmates.

Episode 321
Before Nobunobu is about to be zombie fodder, Sakamoto and Mutsu save him. They believe Hankai’s goal is to steal the ship’s greatest firewall and is at the control centre, thus the zombies to stall them. Nobunobu is left to ponder why they spared him as well as observe the fool or great man Sakamoto is as he doesn’t abandon his men nor kill them. When they finally arrive in the control centre, Mutsu saves Sakamoto from Hankai’s attack. Actually Hankai has possessed Nobunobu earlier on and used this trick to get to Sakamoto. Sakamoto does a shocking move by trying to destroy the firewall. He doesn’t mind going down with the ship because you aren’t qualified to do so, you don’t have the right to fly with it. It is also part of his ploy to force Hankai out of Nobunobu’s body. Nobunobu can’t believe he still isn’t abandoning him in such dire straits. Unfortunately Hankai can read Nobunobu’s mind and repels Sakamoto’s attack. This makes Nobunobu think he wasn’t empty when he was at the top, he was empty to begin with and that he could only define his existence by using others. He tries to fight Hankai’s mind control. Eventually Mutsu who was under Hankai’s possession fought it off to give Sakamoto enough time to shoot and destroy Hankai. Once that happens, everyone is free from their brainwash. Their other ally ships support them just enough time for them to fix what is necessary and keep them afloat. Gintoki clashes with Bato who claims he has been searching for him for the last 10 years. Did he get the wrong person? Because I certainly don’t remember Gintoki be this fat. And who the heck is Pakuyasa?!

Episode 322
Hankai thought he is playing dumb as his third eye sees everything. After all that refuting and Gintoki thinks back harder, yeah, maybe there is a fatty named Pakuyasa. Turns out he tried to be Gintoki’s disciple. He tried to prove himself doing errands but eventually wasn’t cut out for the sword and eventually went on doing shady things nobody cares about. Although Hankai could read every move Gintoki makes, eventually Gintoki too can read his every move and defeats him. Simply because he is empty. For the first time, Hankai could see things when his eyes are closed. Bansai is willing to sacrifice his life to let Shinpachi get away from Oboro and his Tendoshu. Guess who came back to save his ass? Takasugi! Whit this guy’s revival, you can see his Kiheitai motivated back up to kick some serious ass. Then Gintoki and Takasugi just wiped out the entire field of Tendoshu in their way so they could just beat the heck out of each other. It’s their way of greeting the other bastard. Some things don’t change. Katsura and Sakamoto join them and for the first time in ages, the quartet are fighting together again.

Episode 323
The quartet begin their full assault against the entire army of Tendoshu and Harusame. Nobody can beat these guys when they’re together, right? Apparently Sakamoto, Katsura and Takasugi decide that Gintoki should be the one to press ahead and save his new friends while they stay back to handle these pests. Meanwhile Umibouzu is about to face off with the big boss of Harusame. However that lion face is instantly cut in half by Kamui! What a way to make your debut and death scene. Kamui is like a raging beast as he goes all out to kill his father. Something about him wanting dad to acknowledge how strong he has become to kill him. Family issues. The super power fight is interrupted when Kagura stops Kamui. Unfortunately he cannot be stopped so he beats her up thinking he would awaken Umibouzu’s beast mode if he kills her. Fortunately for Kagura, she has changed. She has become much stronger as she fights back while telling off her brother he is the only one who has not changed all these years. That’s why the family left him behind. Umibouzu tries to stop his children from fighting but complicating matters is Utsuro who jumps in to kill Kamui. Umibouzu sacrifices an arm to push his children out of harm’s way.

Episode 324
As the epic battle between Umibouzu and Utsuro gets underway, we have Umibouzu narrate his flashback. More like him telling his story of his younger days when he was still taking care of Mutsu. The Yato originally came from a planet named Kouan. It was ravaged with war till it became inhabitable. The Yato survivors fled to other places and Kouan became infested with dangerous mutated monsters. It is believed Umibouzu tamed its monster. He disagreed. Something along the lines he lost a bet and had to go back home and hit on a woman. That is where he met the last remaining Yato survivor who has stayed on Kouan, Kouka. A dangerous but strong and beautiful woman. She is fighting the monsters and it is no surprise Umibouzu is also fighting his own ‘monster’. So amidst all that fighting, he tried to flirt with her. Ignored at first, they finally open up to each other. Umibouzu would often tell stories of his travels as she listened to him with that same boring expression. Umibouzu had to always leave for business and then return to her. Because he always felt lonely without her and she too expressed she would like to visit another planet, the time came when he finally took her away to live on another planet. Despite being the strongest in the universe, he is the weakest in the household! Nobody can stand the wrath of an angry housewife! But after giving birth to Kamui and Kagura, she started coughing blood. Death was creeping up. It was then he understood why she once said she couldn’t live elsewhere. This is why Kamui always blame him for killing their mother.

Episode 325
Kamui explains Kouka was ‘born’ on Kouan as a result of Altana. She would have lived forever had she not left the planet. That’s why he blames father for her death. When Kamui was young, Kouka was already sick and he often got bullied. However he had to often hold back as father didn’t allow him to use his Yato strength on those weaker than him. So he tried to learn getting strong the hard way like picking a fight with the Harusame that docked here. He was desperate to get mom back to the planet but she wouldn’t want to. She would rather die together here than living alone forever. However it fell on deaf ears. Kamui had decided to cast away the idea of being family even if it means keeping mom alive. Even if it means beating the crap out of dad. All came in a bad time when Umibouzu just found a rare Altana crystal (which is why he spends most of his time away) as cure. But the damage was done. Kamui chopped off an arm of his and Kouka died soon after. With no family and no one to protect, his only goal was to become stronger. Kamui defeats Kagura and hopes she would release him as he is seeing shades of mom in her. Umibouzu’s epic battle with Utsuro continues. The former claiming this high level battle, his own life is a hindrance. So he sacrifices himself to plant some Altana crystal into his heart, believing that it would work along the lines of pouring diesel into a petroleum car. It didn’t. Utsuro revives and finishes him off. But he has to leave as his Altana is getting low. Though he is sad Umibouzu can’t kill him, at least this is the closest he gets to experience death. Apparently Kamui is not happy father is down. He still wants a go at it but Gintoki now comes in between. Since Kamui is stubborn to be the strongest, Gintoki ‘defeats’ Umibouzu to take on his title to be the strongest. Then Gintoki beats up Kamui to show how weak he is. It is no wonder why he could never beat his old man.

Episode 236
Enter one of the bloodiest and hard hitting fights you’d ever see. Gintoki is trying to pummel into him about protecting those you love as well as emptiness (talking from experience). But that isn’t enough as now Kamui turns into a mindless violent beast. Now Abuto has to jump in and beat some sense back into this guy so the Kamui he knows would come back. So talking about moving forward and not stopping him then, eh? Well, if Abuto wasn’t enough, now comes Kagura and Shinpachi into the fray. So what they’re talking now? He doesn’t have to lose anything. Nobody will be taken away from him anymore. Nobody has to die. And when Kamui finally got a little bit of himself back, the siblings aim one final punch at each other. They couldn’t hit. After a thousand punches from everybody, all it takes was a sister’s tear to knock him out and cry himself to sleep like as though he is sleeping on his mother’s lap.

Episode 237
So everybody patches up and goes home. Kamui wants to be stronger but for a better cause. The end. Oh wait. Not just yet. Umibouzu might have lost both arms but he’s got a better replacement for them: Bazooka arms! What a super upgrade. But it’s time to go back in time a little. When Takasugi and his Kiheitai got separated from Katsura, they bumped into Oboro. They clash as we get to peek at Oboro’s past. He was the only survivor when his clan or monastery got massacred. In fact he could have also died had not Utsuro resurrected him with his plan. His intention was despite he cannot die, he wanted Oboro to live long and hate him forever. But Oboro decided to dedicate his life to him and serve him till his blood dries up. He wanted to learn assassin techniques but Utsuro declined. Instead, Utsuro wanted to be a student and learn alongside him. Oboro then made a deal with him he won’t learn assassin techniques so please establish a school and he will be his first student. Then one day Utsuro went missing and Oboro set out to find him. When he did so, it was a ploy for Utsuro to make Oboro leave Naraku for the outside. He wouldn’t do it himself so the only way was for Utsuro to defect himself. With Naraku hunting them down, Oboro decides to sacrifice himself to let him escape. He thought Utsuro thought he had died but of course Oboro is immortal as long as his blood flows through him. Oboro returned to Naraku to keep Utsuro out of it all as he turned into a cold hearted killer. One day Oboro saw Shouyou with his new students. Some sort of jealousy must have hit him. He was the one who captured Shouyou and made Gintoki execute him, believing he would come back. Before his execution, Shouyou thanked Oboro for he would never have become so had he not met him. He is proud of his first student. Takasugi defeats Oboro and the latter believes the blood has dried up and is time to go. This pain is nothing to Utsuro’s eternal suffering. But he will first tell him what Utsuro and Shouyou are.

Episode 328
Utsuro lived so long that he doesn’t even know his name. All he know was he was always abused and killed throughout time. But each time he resurrected and this only made the people fear more and show more animosity. So as time passes, Utsuro then started to return the favour by killing people. After all, he only learnt from humans how to kill, right? So when his killing spree seemed unstoppable, the only Utsuro to stop Utsuro was Shouyou. When the Tendoshu got hold of Utsuro, he made a deal that in exchange for his blood to gain immortality, he wants the power to destroy himself. But they feared him and did not give the power and authority, the key forever engraved on their palm that would allow him to control Altana on the planets. When a planet with Altana is destroyed, they think a traitor is among them. Till they realize it could be Utsuro’s plot to destroy the planet. But how could he get the key? Did he steal them? Their ‘dropped’ arms. He just picked them up. Apparently the Tendoshu may have received his immortal blood but their body isn’t immortal. It will fall apart but they cannot die. Thus it will always be there until it rots away. Since he has so many arms, I guess there are so many traitors among them and more planets exploding soon. So cutting a long story short, Utsuro’s goal is to wrest the control of Altana from Tendoshu and start a universal war that will end on Earth, the planet he was born and the Altana of which he cannot die as long as he consumes it. His suffering, their suffering will go on as long as Earth exists. It is a monster Earth itself has created. So while Shouyou failed to stop Utsuro, his death gave birth to his students in which his spirit lives on. Oboro laments he can’t fight for Utsuro, his teacher or himself. If he had a chance to do it again, he would have love to be in the same class with them. Oboro dies as Takasugi picks up his body to bury it in an appropriate place. Henpeita tells this same story to Gintoki, Katsura and Sakamoto. They believe they were the ones who created Utsuro. Maybe Shouyou created his school as hope to fight against this. He may have gave birth to his students and now their battles have given birth to other comrades. There is more hope now. Umibouzu and Kagura visit Kouka’s grave. Umibouzu wants Kagura to relay a message to Gintoki. Utsuro is not immortal. There is a way to kill him. But he needs to hang in there long enough till he finds out what it is. They realize Kamui has left a flower here too. Everyone returns to Earth where the final battle is about to begin.

Family Ties That Bind
Well… It sure is another splendid Gintama season. Despite the predominantly dark tone, it still shines through. But I’m sure I don’t have to worry if there would be any future sequels because I am very sure there will be. Having come this far and that the manga has reached its final arc, there would be no justice and closure for the anime if this series does not get another season. Besides, the Rakuyo Arc has been the longest arc in the manga and despite only a dozen episodes for the anime, this arc itself has become the longest arc for the anime. And ironically this is the shortest number of episodes for a season Gintama has. So we are just a step away from ending it all… Although Gintama still continues to ‘continue’ for now, they are just rerun of past episodes with new opening and ending themes. NOOOO!!!! GINTAMA ENDING FOR GOOD AFTER THAT???!!! I CAN’T BELIEVE IT!!! I HOPE THEY’RE JUST TROLLING ABOUT THIS LIKE HOW THEY TROLLED US IN THE PAST!!!

Anyway, this season seems to bear the same sentiments like the previous’ season’s Shogun Assassination Arc and Farewell Shinsengumi Arc. There are very heavy drama and emotional moments and thus it doesn’t feel like the usual nonsensical slapstick parody that all of us has been growing up with. Sure, there are very spontaneous and light hearted moments that will make us burst into laughter. But that is far and few in between. Like a short distraction to appease viewers so they won’t be in gloomsville for the entire time. But this time we are well prepared for it seeing we have those previous arcs as ‘preparation’ and learning that this Rakuyo Arc would be the centre stage of this season has made us know what to expect.

The plot gets a lot heavy on the family drama side of Kagura. Finding a closure of why Kamui has been such a train wreck when we first know him. Therefore sometimes I feel this Rakuyo Arc can be summed up as Kagura’s family arc as it was mainly about them. But even if that takes the main focus, you can’t discount about Utsuro and Oboro as well as the Tendoshu. It also gives more insights about what really happened and what they really wanted. It builds up to the final fight that our main characters will have to battle. Well, I can’t say I am too surprised of what Utsuro’s main goal is although I didn’t really guess it accurately. I’d figured out it would be something on that universal scale. I mean, it would be a big shocker if the real goal was just to find his lost pony, right? Holy crap! I don’t know if that would be the ultimate comedy or insult for this series.

Hence it goes without saying that Kagura, Kamui and Umibouzu take the limelight while the other characters like Shouyou’s students take a little backseat despite being reunited for the first time in ages. At the way the plot is going, many missing characters were felt too like the Shinsengumi and all others back on Earth like Shinpachi’s sister, her gender confused friend and that old hag who runs a snack house beneath Yorozuya. Gintama that prides itself with many quirky and eccentric wacky characters, this arc in this sense has ‘limited’ itself with the absence of this characters. I know it is no fun and games here and that real sh*t is going to hit the fan but like I said, we have grown up watching these characters that it just feels a little empty without them. Besides, our beloved characters are now away from home fighting. It’s like playing an away game in your opponent’s home ground but your supporters have no money to come watch you play and nobody has money to sponsor them. But since the final round will be on home ground, I have a feeling that every character big and small will have a part in deciding fate and the future.

This season’s opening theme Kagerou by Real is another rock based that befits the overall theme of the series well. I know this series is as gloomy and melodrama but there are some brutal action parts with blood spilling and limbs being cut off so I suppose this kind of beat isn’t that bad. Though, I feel that tune feels kinda familiar. Can’t put my finger on it at this point. The ending theme is really in hard metal punk rock fashion, Silver by Rize. With the funky bass lines, the singer is screaming at times like as though it is the only way to sing this song. Oh wait. It is.

Overall, this season can only be appreciated by Gintama fans and those who have followed it from the start. New viewers might be confused what the hell is going on and might not appreciate the long heavy drama that permeates the entire arc. It is a season that is made for fans and stays true to it. At this point even though I have said that I would love Gintama to run forever, I guess when reality hits you, even immortals like Utsuro do not want to live forever. This is a sign to us viewers and fans to prepare for the inevitable. Because when that time eventually comes, we will be ready to see off this great series that has ran for over a decade with respect and leave with a smile. Gintama, you have always been part of our family and will forever will be. It is the only part that will never truly die. Like the eternal spirit of the samurai.

Saishuu Heiki Kanojo

August 25, 2017

Imagine if your girlfriend is no ordinary girl. I mean, every guy considers their girlfriend as extraordinary but what if she is really not ordinary. As in, she is a weapon. A weapon of mass destruction. A weapon that could destroy the world. Would you still date this ‘monster’? For the leading guy here in Saishuu Heiki Kanojo (Saikano), he would. Because the story in focus here is not how many enemies she kills or what ultimate forms of weaponry she could transform into and have. It is the tragic and human factor as the couple try to love each other as a human and staying as human beings while the inevitable war rages on. Will their love blossom and save the day or will she lose her humanity and become a mindless tool for destruction?

Episode 1
Shuuji is at a cold decimated place where he first met his girlfriend, Chise. He spots their exchange diary and thinks back of those good ol’ days. He narrates Chise isn’t particularly an outstanding student. Clumsy, weak, bad grades except history and have this penchant to apologize. Despite walking up the steep slopes is a daunting task for her, she still wants to as she wants to get to know him better. It has only been 5 days since she asked him to go out with her and they have already started exchanging diaries. Of course he finds it embarrassing to put his thoughts into words. Chise is relieved when he handed it back to her but to her disappointment it says he can’t do it and wants to meet up with her after school. Nervous, thinking it would be a real confession, Shuuji drops the bomb that he wants to quit this dating thing. It’s not her fault. He isn’t good at this. Chise is of course heartbroken but then she too spills that she doesn’t want to do this. What? Now she’s blaming it is his fault? Well, she always wanted to know what it is like to be in love. She asked her friend Akemi and even read manga but nothing came close. Since she admired Shuuji for a long time, Akemi thought she would just try to ask him out. Nobody knew Shuuji would accept it. I mean, would a guy normally turn down a cute girl? Noticing how awkward everything this is, they start laughing instead. Shuuji suggests giving this a chance since they have already started dating. So what’s next? A kiss. Seriously? Serious. They kiss for the first time and they could hear each other’s nervous heartbeat. They continue to hang out with each other. One day a school outing at Sapporo, Shuuji and his friends are shopping for stuffs. Suddenly they feel the earth vibrate. Earthquake? Actually in the distance, jet fighters. They’re not from Japan. Before they know it, it starts bombing! The chaos gets worse when local fighters enter the scene and other than buildings falling apart, fighter jets are also crashing down. Shuuji sees a flash that takes down the enemy fighters in no time. His heart resonates with it as he tries to chase it down but gets knocked out by an explosion. When he wakes up amidst the rubble, he is shocked to see Chise with weapons protruding from parts of her body. She apologizes this is what she has become. In shock, he hugs her but couldn’t hear her heartbeat.

Episode 2
A week after the air raid, Shuuji and Chise dating like normal? Like as though nothing of that sort happened? Well, Chise has told Shuuji about the weapon implants in her body. Nothing they can do about it, right? Chise also has to keep a pager in case of emergency calls from the military. Like now. Despite tens of thousands dead and much more missing, Shuuji and his friends make a vow not to speak about it because one of their friends was killed. Shuuji is reading the exchange diary and reads about Chise being apologetic about the events that have happened. Because she needs to keep this secret weapon from everyone else, it was a reason why she was embarrassed to be seen by anyone, especially him. She lists down his kindness and forced smile that sometimes make her sad. He rushes out to get her but catches her in her weapon form. Upon realizing he is watching, her embarrassment causes her to revert back to normal. After noticing the scars on her back, he scolds her for coming home like that. He regrets trying to ignore reality which only makes Chise suffer. Although she can’t tell anyone else, Shuuji says as lovers, it will be their secret. One day Akemi tells Shuuji to look after Chise better because it seems like she is going on a diet. When he finds her, she seems to be eating like a glutton in secret. She apologizes she can’t take it anymore. She thought if she fast, she would become weaker but it didn’t. She is afraid of what her body is turning into. Shuuji hugs her. Perhaps a kiss too but Chise won’t allow it. They’re watching her. Not sure whether it is Japan or some other nation but she can tell. Shuuji suggests running away. How far can his bicycle take her? The enemy detects her on the move and she can detect them coming for her. She tells Shuuji not to look behind but ahead. That’s because her body is starting to turn into a weapon. It then fires missiles to destroy the enemies. As they take a breather, the military now is looking for her via helicopter. Chise has this thought of shooting them down but Shuuji stops her. Chise kisses him and apologizes there is no weapon that doesn’t kill. Maybe it would have been better if she dies. I’m not sure what Shuuji is thinking but is sex the proper thing right now?! But then this huge hideous scar over her body might just be the biggest turn off.

Episode 3
Chise is crying how she cannot hear her own heartbeat anymore. She regrets being like this and wants to disappear. Even so, she is in love. She wants to live. Shuuji to gets emotional explaining he wants to live with her and all. He suggests running away. So they go home and pack their bags and leave just like that. Wow. Their parents are sure too busy to even care. However Chise gets a notice from the army to sortie to Osaka now. She doesn’t want to go but they warn her she is the only one who can save lives and if she refuses, this place would be targeted next. Shuuji waits at the station but she never turned up till morning. Her clothes are torn and there are bruises everywhere. All he does is hug her. So I guess plans to run away is put on hold. They head to school the next morning and act as though all of last night never happened. Along the way, Shuuji seems to notice his senior, Fuyumi heading in the opposite direction. Akemi talks to Shuuji because Chise seems to know him acting strange lately. He tells her about Fuyumi so Akemi wants him to talk about this to Chise instead. Flashback shows Shuuji somewhat made out with Fuyumi. When hanging out with Chise, she gets another sortie. This time she really wants to go but Shuuji can’t allow her to change in the middle of the street. She enters an abandon house to do so and blasts off in the sky. However the blast impact made a nearby lady on her bicycle fall off. Shuuji goes to help her and realizes too late she is Fuyumi. She is so happy to see him. He brings her back to her place to treat her minor wounds. It is obvious she is trying to flirt with him so he reminds her he already has a girlfriend. And what’s this? Fuyumi is married?! Well, she is blaming her husband, Tetsu for this. He hasn’t come back in 2 months. She’s lonely. As Chise goes on a rampage, she remembers the night Shuuji wanted to run away with her, something inside her broke. The mechanic told her she will never be the same again. Shuuji thinks himself as a cruel man to be cheating on Chise. When he was with Fuyumi, he forgot about Chise. That made him felt easier with her forgotten.

Episode 4
Shuuji and Chise go on a date. It must be a cheap date at the coastal area since they lost their wallet. It seems Chise didn’t bring her pager as she didn’t want it to interrupt their date. Everything goes fine until the evening when they walk home. Shuuji notices how cold her hand is and wonders how human is she left. Then before them is a roadblock. The army has found her. Time to go. Shuuji wanted to give his piece of mind but Chise holds him back. It’s okay. She goes with them and the last thing Shuuji saw was her smile. Mad Shuuji can only run. What does he do next? He goes to sleep with Fuyumi! As she was starting to make out, he suddenly starts crying. He is saying how much he loves Chise and wants to protect her. Uhm, is it wise to mention another girl’s name when you’re with another girl? Chise returns to the base after another successful mission. Some of the soldiers are awed to see her in the flesh. They are reprimanded by Tetsu who is the squad leader for being disrespectful to their superior officer. As they rest, Chise talks about Shuuji and how his scolding somewhat makes her feel alive. It makes her believe she is still human. Her comrades try to cheer her up that because of her fighting, they are still alive. Chise suddenly detects the enemy stealth weapons targeting her. Thanks to that, her comrades have enough time to take cover as the place explodes. Chise transforms and we see how much it hurts her. As she takes down the enemy, she realizes the need to save and protect people. Maybe then she would get praised by Shuuji. Maybe then things would go back to normal. When the mission is over, Tetsu praises her for another job well done. However she wants him to kill her. She can’t stand this anymore. She was a fool to think she could protect anything. Tetsu prepares to shoot her.

Episode 5
Chise breaks down and changes her mind. She wants to live despite killing so many. Tetsu also changes his stance. He tells her not to worry because nobody can stop her so she can’t die. He tries to cheer her up by telling about his wife. Despite he might die soon, he still wants to go home and hold her because he loves her. So Chise decides to live since she has someone she loves. But in class, she starts acting strange and everyone laughs at her when she says there is going to be an earthquake soon. This forces Shuuji to quickly run out and smash the fire alarm, prompting everyone to assemble outside. He then tries to find out what is happening to Chise but she tells him to run and not watch her transform. At first he takes up her advice. But after the building is blown up, he returns to her side only to be freaked out to see how she transforms. Not really sure if it failed since Chise reverts to herself albeit she is acting callous as though she is sick of everything. All he can do is hug her. She then reverts to the usual Chise. As she tries to explain, he shuts her off about apologizing. It seems the army is here to get her. He doesn’t want her to go but she must. She is now dependent on maintenance and medicine. He wants her to meet him tonight at the observation hill as he has lots to say to her. After that he returns to his friends and tells them Chise is taken to a hospital. Akemi is still mad and slaps him. He slaps her! Obviously a blood curling cry. And then his friend Atsushi punches him. The guys talk it out as Atsushi plans to quit school and get drafted as there is a girl he loves he wants to protect. That night, Chise breaks her pager as it is ringing emergency just to go meet Shuuji. Because of that, Tetsu’s position got attacked and one of his men is left dying. Tetsu is forced to hear his regrets and his wish of being killed by Chise then he doesn’t have to suffer like this. Tetsu shoots him to put him out of his misery. Chise is now confronted by the army who begs her to come. She wants to keep her promise to Shuuji although they say reconnaissance did not find Shuuji there. She still wants to go and when they turn their guns on her, she warns them if they are willing to blow up this town. They try to convince her more people will die if she doesn’t come but to her it is no different. Be it enemies or the people she loves, more will die and she will still feel pain. So she goes off to look for Shuuji but cannot find him. She sees clips that he is at Fuyumi’s place! Why that bastard! She doesn’t want to see it and continues waiting. When she wakes up by dawn, Shuuji is cuddling her but she knows he lied.

Episode 6
We see a short flashback of Shuuji’s unfaithfulness with Fuyumi. More like she seduced him but it’s no excuse, right? So when Chise finds Shuuji by her side, she tried to kiss him but he pushed her away. She started crying and just wished of going back to being just classmates. So as they lie around, Shuuji starts saying how he would like to have sex with Chise but each time he sees that face and scar on her body, he fears it would be painful. Chise doesn’t want to hear any more of this but he continues. He had sex with Fuyumi before and just did. Because he reminded her of her boyfriend, she started crying each time she looked at his face. So he thought he can’t ignore her if she needed his help? WTF. Now it is Chise’s turn to have her say. She is his girlfriend, damnit. She too has lots of things to say but is holding back. Too bad she has this face she is born with and the scar proves she is human. If he wanted sex, why didn’t he just say so. She too would like to have sex with him even more than Fuyumi. After being late for school, they break up. Later Shuuji talks to Atsushi and he too got rejected by Akemi as she loved another guy. But he still wants to quit school and be drafted to protect her. Chise continues to go to school and fight wars as if it was a normal routine. Akemi hopes Chise would reconcile quick with Shuuji but don’t want to hear her lover’s quarrel problems. Because Atsushi continues to talk with Shuuji about fighting the enemy and dying, he tells him off to die. He is going to grow old and die anyway. The question is, you don’t go to the battlefield to die. You go there to kill. Can he kill for Akemi? Shuuji is actually mad about himself for being weak and only thinking of his own helplessness while pretending to be Chise’s boyfriend. When they walk back, they hear the familiar sounds of air raid close by. Atsushi runs to find Akemi. Shuuji can tell it is Chise helping out before things got worse. When he sees her wandering in the streets, he immediately hugs her. She tries to push him away as they are no longer dating but she succumbs to his kiss.

Episode 7
As they try to seek comfort in each other, when Chise looks at the burning patch over the mountains of the enemies she downed, she assures Shuuji that the enemies died instantly and didn’t feel pain. This causes him to give her that worried look. She becomes sad and goes away. Next day in school, Akemi talks to Shuuji about breaking up with Chise but he says that they just went back to being classmates. She remembers Chise telling her about it and that she doesn’t want to fall in love again. However her feelings for Shuuji won’t disappear and she still loves him. Shuuji wants some advice to understand Chise but Akemi tells him off can a man really understand a woman. Later Shuuji meets up with Chise. They talk about Akemi and the war. Chise wonders if he will still love her despite being a killing machine. He does. He suggests skipping school tomorrow to go to the aquarium. But the next day, he finds a letter from Chise that she had to break their promise. On call again. Although she is glad to have fallen in love with him, she wants them to go back being classmates. She hopes he won’t be afraid of her the next time. Atsushi is now drafted. He sees for himself the situation is far worse than he thought he is. The negativity and fear of the new recruits. However he keeps hearing some of them talking about this ultimate weapon called Chise. He asks around but they can’t describe well. Of course Chise is scheduled to give a speech to these new recruits after another mission. Too bad Atsushi got lost and won’t be seeing her speech in person. Chise seems to be eager to go on the next mission. But when a personnel tells her they are now ordered to be on standby, she begs to go fight. She doesn’t want to rest. She wants to get stronger. Meanwhile Atsushi continues his asking about Chise and this leads him to Tetsu who is the lone survivor of Chise’s squad. But demoralized Tetsu isn’t interested in knowing him since he is going to die anyway. He doesn’t want to know more dead people. Meanwhile Shuuji makes his way to the aquarium. This is proof that Chise isn’t useless and has protected them. See those sea lions and dolphins? They’re still alive! So don’t say you’re useless and can’t protect anything. He believes there is something they can still do and protect.

Episode 8
Shuuji continues to ponder his existence as he notices his classmates are slowly thinning out. Atsushi seems to have adjusted to his army life. Till he hears one of the new recruits in his batch just died in a skirmish. Reality hits him hard. That night, Tetsu thought he heard somebody nearby. It could be the enemy. He goes to check it out but only finds crying Chise. He lets her sleep in his hideout and the next day hangs out with her. How does it feel to use their military authority to ‘steal’ a military bike just to go on a date? Shuuji didn’t like the way his friends easily talk about life and death when it could be Atsushi out there dying. Later Akemi talks to Shuuji about her worries that Atsushi got drafted just for her sake. She feels uneasy about it and is bothered by it to the point it scares her. Then Shuuji slaps her! Don’t talk about Atsushi like that! What Akemi meant was she hates herself for feeling like this. How could she live knowing that Atsushi killed somebody for her. Shuuji replies or wrong, Atsushi fought to protect her. While Tetsu waits for Chise in the dressing room, an enemy plane flies close by. This causes Chise to be in pain as she tries to suppress her transformation. Tetsu tries to calm her down and hug her. She only does so when he kisses her lips. On the way back, Tetsu wants her to go home but she refuses to make any more promises. She can tell peace will not last more than 3 days in this town. Negotiations have failed and the enemy will advance here. More people are going to die and their army’s strength is significantly down. That night Chise sleeps at Tetsu’s place. She allows him to kiss her because he is going to die after all. Shocking? Also, an earthquake hit the town deep in the middle of the night.

Episode 9
I guess Tetsu is going to make out with her. I mean, he is going to die, right? Chise kept asking him if this is love but he won’t answer. This prompts her to say Shuuji is the same. He lied to her about loving her despite being terrified. That’s why they go back being classmates so they wouldn’t hurt each other. She thought by being in love she would have a reason to live and makes her human. Tetsu lectures her about men and women and right now he is the only guy in the world who sees her as a girl. He lets her go and when she returns to base, she collapses since it has been 2 days she skipped maintenance and medicine. Her signs don’t look good. Another earthquake rocks the town and the next morning after Shuuji carries his mom to the relief centre, he passes by Akemi’s place. He sees her little sister outside who pleads to him to go see Akemi now. Insider her room, Akemi is very injured and bleeding everywhere. She wants him to come close so she could tell a message from Chise. However it is a prank as she kisses his lips. She confesses she loves him. The guy she likes is him. Atsushi knew about this because she told him when he confessed. Now that she is dying, she sees no reason to hold back. She continues talking about Atsushi. Because of all that, she gave her body to him when she wanted her first time to be with Shuuji. She doesn’t have a body of a woman now. Shuuji wants to take a look. He forces his way. Pervert! Then he lies through his teeth saying how beautiful it is. Is it me or does this guy like scarred bodies? Akemi then tells of her dreams to do things together like going to university and getting a car licence. She fears dying now but after coughing up all that blood, she finally finds her peace. Later Shuuji carries mom back and apologizes for not doing anything. She rubbishes his nonsense and that there is nothing greater for him to be alive and being born. Meanwhile Atsushi’s platoon is attacked. He is the only one who survived. He goes crazy because there is a hole in his Akemi picture? Can’t blame him. When the fighting gets real, Atsushi becomes a coward in hiding. He realizes he wants to live and see Akemi now. Another soldier takes him to run. Tetsu is injured. He decides to go back to Fuyumi’s place to die. To his horror, enemy soldiers camping there! The enemies escape but before them is Chise the weapon. Time to unleash that great light of death.

Episode 10
When Chise enters, she sees Tetsu dying. He is in pain and thinks Chise is Fuyumi. He kept calling out to Fuyumi to kill him to end his misery. She can’t. You don’t think allowing him to touch your boobs will make things better, would it? Okay. Maybe. So after all that screaming and drama, Tetsu finally dies after confessing his love for his wife. Chise’s only regret is that he never called her name. I mean, could you blame him? She is grateful he treated her as a girl all this time. She promises to deliver his letter to her. Then she returns to being a killing machine and obliterates another town. Not sure if Atsushi got caught in that blast. Meanwhile, Shuuji’s school is hosting a little party, supplies from Akemi’s dad. Hey, better than gloom and doom, right? Dad talks to Shuuji and gives him a wine he bought, saving it for the day Akemi would be old enough to talk about her love, future, etc. But she reached the finish line before him. He thanks Shuuji for being by her side during her last moments. Apparently some soldiers want to stop the party. In Shuuji’s head, he really wanted to tell them off they didn’t do anything to help them and that many of their friends also died. Instead, he prostrates himself and begs them to allow it. Chise leaves Tetsu’s letter and ID at wherever Fuyumi is staying. She breaks down upon knowing he is dead. Meanwhile Shuuji is being confronted by Kawahara, a guy from the military who gives him what is left of Chise’s medicine. He laments it is only a matter of time before she succumbs to her fate. Now that Tetsu is dead, Fuyumi finds Shuuji and wants him to make out with her. She’s not giving him a choice. She forces himself on him! Man, this would be great if times were good. But visions of Akemi staring at him freaked him out. So he gets rough with Fuyumi? Might as well. But Fuyumi doesn’t like it?! I thought she asked for it? Now he rants about being unable to protect her, blah, blah, blah. Then she slaps him and laments how she preferred the old simple minded him. That’s it. Sex’s over. Bye. Now Shuuji rues his old school boy fantasies of her. That was the last time he saw Fuyumi. Next morning, Shuuji sees Chise back and waiting for him at the school gates. They act like they’ve been a happy couple for ages and hang out with each other like as though no f*cks were given to the world.

Episode 11
Shuuji and Chise elope for good. It has been 5 days since they left town. Not sure where they are but they are living the ‘happy’ couple life with Shuuji working in a fish market and Chise drawing a long queue at a ramen store. Must be the clumsy girl factor… It seemed like forever their happy days. And of course the awkward sex moment. Shuuji even seemed to skip work just to make out with her! Oh yeah! Might as well since you can’t tell when you’re dead next. Luckily the good part ended before a small war exploded nearby their area in which temporarily awakened Chise. So the next time Shuuji sees her nose bleed, she claims she’s still being horny to cover up. Oh well… One day when Shuuji’s colleagues realize Chise didn’t show up for work, he immediately runs home to see her collapsed on the floor. He sees her medicine has run out and uses his stash from Kawahara. When Kawahara visits the ramen store, Chise uses some telepathy to communicate with him that what he is doing is meaningless as she is trying to spend as much time with Chise. So Kawahara goes to talk to Shuuji next and hopes he can convince Chise. You see, he believes the only way to save her is via war. He is surprised when Shuuji shows him the stash of medicine he gave not used up yet. That won’t last long and Chise will turn into something far more dangerous. Shuuji says Chise is his wife and if there comes a time, he will kill her himself. So Shuuji tries to fix up a bike so he can get away from this place and go picnic with Chise. He has his colleagues help him out. He later gives his medicine stash to Chise. The people find it odd that the same music is playing over the radio like as though someone is broadcasting something. But Chise starts to feel nostalgic with this song. She remembers it is a song Shuuji hums when he is in good mood. Chise then loses control over her senses and unsure if she is still human anymore. The picnic will never materialize since bombs are now dropping over town! Damn the bike got destroyed. Shuuji rushes back to Chise and sees her in the midst of transforming. As she is breaking down and panicking, he tries to hug her but gets zapped. He wonders if this is the kind of pain she faces daily. With Chise spouting regrets, Shuuji reluctantly says he is going to kill her. That calmed her down…

Episode 12
Of course Shuuji can’t kill her. Thankfully Chise returns to being docile. Shuuji takes on the role of nursing Chise. Lots of I love you stuffs here. Although she has lost her voice, he can still understand what she is trying to tell him. After her medicine has finally run out, she collapses. Shuuji carries her out as he calls out to Kawahara. He knows he is around. Yeah. There he is. And the army too. It’s like they’re waiting for this moment to bring back Chise. All Shuuji is concerned is if she will live. Oh, she will survive but he doesn’t know in what form. At this rate she will become an immortal killing machine. He doesn’t blame anybody and it is nobody fault. After that, Kawahara shoots himself. Shuuji returns to the room and reads Chise’s diary. An entry tells him to return to his family. So he returns to his town and at the observation hill, he reads more of Chise’s diaries. The ones she wrote when they started dating. I don’t know how long he took but suddenly Chise returns! However she doesn’t remember him. Oddly she starts crying and feels emotions in her heart. Shuuji explains he is her boyfriend, etc. Because of that, she wants to have his baby?! That escalated quickly. And she wonders if reproduction is a scary thing. And she’s scared of it now that Shuuji really wants to get it going?! OMG! Her arm just came off! She’s not even doing a handjob! Chise wants him to stop since she has this sensation of wanting to kill. So he scolds her that he wants to live. As they cuddle close, she could hear his heartbeat, proof that he loves her. Amidst all the sadness and tears, they continue making out. Yeah, what else is there left to do?

Episode 13
Shuuji once hesitated if he should leave his mom. Dad told him to do what he needs to do as he is a man now. Don’t worry about mom. He’ll take care of her. Mom is sad that all of Shuuji’s friends in his picture are dead. But dad is proud that he has grown up to be a fine man. Speaking of which, Shuuji continues to make out with Chise! Maybe no wonder dad is so proud of him. Just kidding. When all that is done, Chise recites wars of the past that prophesizes the end of the world as well as her desire to stay with him forever. However she reveals the end of the world is really coming. It is already for the other half of the world and soon it will reach here. At first she thought of killing Shuuji and all those she loves to prevent them from suffering but she decides to protect them to the end. Then she flies off to continue the war. Shuuji really starts getting scared when the end of the world is before him. Calling mommy and daddy won’t help. Heck, Akemi is already gone! Shuuji is engulfed by the tsunami. However shortly he finds himself alive in an empty white space. He realizes Chise did all she could to save him. As he hugs whatever is left of this giant part of Chise, he hears Chise’s voice (apparently apologizing for everything). Well, she isn’t in a physical form but inside his heart. This way they can stay together, love each other forever. Suddenly the world is back to normal and Chise back to her human form?! Well, it might all be in Shuuji’s mind and this could be for the best. Because what better way than to live out the rest of your in your own fantasy than some empty gloomy world. Because Chise confirmed that he is the only one left alive in this devastated world! The end of the world he heard was Chise’s heartbeat. So with the duo happily reliving their good times, Shuuji is glad that they will continue to love each other and live on.

Another Love Song

Taking place in the early days when Chise is still an incomplete weapon and starting to date Shuuji, it tells of the story behind those scenes as not seen in the TV series.

Lt Colonel Mizuki is another ultimate weapon created by the military. After another successful mission, she returns for repairs. At that time Chise was a new weapon prototype and she could hear Chise’s inner thoughts. Because she sees how clumsy and goofy she is, plus she keeps thinking about Shuuji, Mizuki doesn’t acknowledge her as a proper soldier. She is shocked to see Chise transform and instantly flies off to battle when an enemy attack is detected. Mizuki wanted to volunteer to fight in her stead but they won’t allow her as she is injured. Plus, this is a chance to see if Chise has what it takes to protect the city. Otherwise they will not win this war. Mizuki remembers she was the only survivor as her entire battalion was wiped out. Because she is willing to fight and die to avenge her comrades, she is introduced to Director Minamoto and Dr Wada who then turn her into a human weapon. One day Mizuki confronts Chise and chides her to know her place that she is no longer human since Chise was trying to leave to see Shuuji. However Kawahara allowed her since she has done her job and the superiors have approved it. So when another attack occurs, Mizuki wants to go instead. She saves Tetsu (whom she knows from their days in the battlefield) from death and destroys the enemy although she has taken heavy damage. As Dr Wada puts it, Mizuki has reached her limit and her growth as a weapon has stopped. She will die if she takes the same damage again. Minamoto isn’t fazed. Mizuki is just an experiment and stepping stone as Chise to become an ultimate weapon. On another mission, the enemies (English speaking hippies?) are confused seeing goofy Chise coming down on the battlefield. However when they realize she is a monster, they start firing. Against Chise’s will, she activates into a weapon and kills them all! H-bomb?!

Mizuki confronts the higher ups about using Chise as an ultimate weapon as that girl has no will to fight as a soldier. Minamoto tells her Chise has the power that she does not. Mizuki wants to be stronger then is told she has reached her limit unlike Chise whose potential is unlimited although she still cannot control her will. Mizuki is not pleased that her only use is her intelligence. Will that end the war? Kawahara explains Chise’s body was the only one at that time to adapt to this human weapon technology. One day when Chise is detected to have run away with Shuuji, a search team is called to bring her back as the enemy is attacking soon. Mizuki wants the search to be called off since she is a weapon and will go to find Chise herself. That night when Chise plans to run away with Shuuji for good, she is confronted by Mizuki who wants her to fight for them as there are countless soldiers and civilians dying. Chise tells her off if she wants to save them so badly then do it herself but is told back she wouldn’t have to ask her if she had the power. Chise dares her to kill her and take her power. Mizuki wouldn’t have hesitated for a second if that power transfer was possible. The clincher was how Mizuki paints the war will reach here and her loved ones will die if she doesn’t fight. She is not ordering her but pleading to her. And so Chise has to break her promise to Shuuji and go fight.

Tetsu’s men ask him he is a decorated soldier and should’ve gone home instead of fighting. He remembers someone asking him the same thing (Mizuki). She was somewhat thankful to have met him and he never knew a superior who cared so much about her soldiers. Too bad she died fighting after he shortly left her squad. Apparently she reassigned him so he could be with his wife. He gave his lighter to her. As Chise continues to fight, Mizuki could hear here sad thoughts calling herself a monster for killing so many. She wants it all to stop. When she tells this to the higher ups, Dr Wada says she has been overdeveloped. The weapon cells are taking over Chise and she will be unable to control it and will attack anyone who attacks her including their allies. But with Chise taking further damage, Minamoto orders Mizuki to take care of her. She could hear more of Chise’s cries. As Mizuki tries to stop her from fighting, Chise goes out of control and destroys him, injuring Mizuki in the process. Even in coma, Mizuki could hear her thoughts, especially Chise crying that she just confessed her love and wants to live. When Mizuki wakes up, she has a heart to heart talk with Chise. She says whether she fights or not, the outcome of this war may not change. So if she is sick of fighting, it is okay to run away. Please be with the one she loves in the end and don’t have regrets. Chise also encourages Mizuki to confess to the one she loves. If Chise can, Mizuki could too.

Mizuki complains to Minamoto about Chise killing and destroying countless of people. Thus Minamoto tells Mizuki to take her place in which she doesn’t hesitate to go to war. Tetsu’s side is trying to hold back the enemy. He gets blown away although it is not fatal. Mizuki enters the scene, gives back his lighter and drops a tear on his face? Can’t bring herself to kiss him? Had they met a long time before, she would have agreed to marry him. Mizuki fights the enemy and although Chise can sense and wants to go help, Mizuki warns her not to. She tells her she is not a weapon but in love. This means she is human. She wants her to live for her love as human. Goodbye. Mizuki blows herself up along with the enemy. After Chise broke up with Shuuji, she became a workaholic and started going into battles without resting. Then one night she just storms into Minamoto’s control room, blames everyone for their nasty tricks that caused many innocent children to die. As she has made a promise to Mizuki, she is going to be with the one she loves in the end. She blows up the place before flying off back home.

A Weapon’s Love Song
Well… It was really a tragic and sad ending no matter how you look at it. Shuuji being the only one left in the world is as good as being dead in the first place. His delusions of living the peaceful lovely life with Chise might seem like a relief but remember, all that is just fantasy and in his head. I know it softens the impact of the harsh reality (does it even exist?) but to me that is as good as dead. From the way everything was going, it was no surprise that I had predicted the end of the world instead of a happy ending. Right from the start I knew that there was never going to be a happy ending. It was like Romeo and Juliet except with the world ending. From the rate they are starting to kill off everyone is also why I had expected this to happen. Yeah, it saves the trouble of me asking what happened to so and so. Now the world can finally find peace. Yup. Rest in peace and pieces! Haha! Oops…

The inevitably tragic and depressing drama between Chise and Shuuji is played out wonderfully although I have to admit that at times I caught myself feeling bored by all the drama. I mean, if you were expecting to see Chise killing enemies and adding to the body count as the main focus, you have to look elsewhere. So if you are not prepared for the unusual high school love romance drama between a guy and his weaponized girlfriend, you’d be bored to death. Uh huh. The irony of dying from boredom even before Chise destroys the world…

Thankfully I have some humanity inside of me. Because watching Chise trying to keep her humanity was just sad and painful. I do feel for her that she is trying so hard to maintain her human side and trying to resist of becoming a mindless killing machine. As much as she tried, it is just sad to know that the inevitable will come. It is just the question of how long. Therefore they’re hammering into us the power of love that keeps us from totally turning into the dark side. The power of love that is the only light that we cling on and gives us hope that Chise desperately clings on as her final salvation to retain her humanity. But I believe that she really fell in love with Shuuji not as a stepping stone to keep her humanity. She genuinely loves Shuuji and her love gives her the strength to carry on. Had she not took this initiative to become his girlfriend, the world would have ended much sooner. Even as a weapon, Chise can be said to be more human than all those fighting this war as she is trying hard to maintain it instead of going all out to kill.

Shuuji may look like he doesn’t do much but if you put yourself in his shoes, what can he do? As a powerless high school kid, he is confused and conflicted by all the current events affecting him. He might look like a sex maniac seeing that at times he just wants to have sex with her but perhaps if sex is the only thing he can do to help reduce her stress, so be it. And sometimes he seem desperate to have sex so as to calm her down (and making that whole scene look like rape), but you’ll never know when you’re going to die so might as well have sex now. To human is sex. Sort of.

Other supporting characters add to the complication and drama between Shuuji and Chise and sometimes feel like a side distraction. Because too much Shuuji-Chise may become boring. So what better than to add in some spice of love triangles. For instance, let’s make Shuuji feel torn with love/sex-attention crazy Fuyumi. And when she’s gone, now let’s throw in Akemi having a secret crush on him before she dies. Her painful death was just sad. Just seeing the desperation of a human trying hard to cling on to her last ounce of life and all the regrets at that final moment. You might call me a sadist at this point because I was expecting Fuyumi to commit suicide from all the depression and emptiness. But end of the world took care of that for me. I guess seeing every character die would just be too depressing.

Remember one of Shuuji’s friends who died in the Sapporo raid? Over the few episodes, they sometimes show his girlfriend going rogue hanging out with another older guy. Then they kill her off when she decided to go on a communist hunt and kill an enemy with her own hands but they killed each other. Just sad. I don’t even know why they need to show us this part because she is really irrelevant to the whole story. It’s not like Shuuji ever talked to her because he just kinda observed and saw her around (she quit school ever since) and got him thinking about stuffs. Lastly I want to note that this Kawahara guy he is always seen worrying and wiping his sweat with his handkerchief. Like as though he has done the biggest crime and feeling the guilt of it. Yeah well, everyone is guilty directly or indirectly in this war.

The thing that kept bugging me throughout the series is the kind of enemy that they are fighting. Throughout the entire series I was wondering who the enemy were. I know this is not important in the series as because as said, it is to focus on the relationship and drama between Shuuji and Chise, the humanity and love song between them. Therefore whoever the enemy was, it wasn’t really that important. But I can’t help still speculate about them. At first it was unclear if they were fighting aliens because when you need to create a super human weapon, aliens invading must be it, right? Then slowly it turns out they are fighting their own fellow men. Not too sure if Japan is facing a civil war or foreigners but it is most likely the latter because of that horrendous accented English heard in the OVA. So why are they fighting in the first place? I guess we will never know. It is just a setting so that we could have this tragic love story. In the end, men must be so dumb to fight until what it looked like their own manmade Apocalypse and destroyed everything. Good riddance, right? I also wonder how many enemies there are because no matter how much Chise kills, they seem to be keep coming and coming. It’s like the entire world versus Japan? The last bastion of safe space?

The other thing is how much weapons that the military has stored inside Chise because it feels like her body has some sort of black hole or alternate dimension thingy as she is able to store tons of missiles! It feels like sci-fi crap but I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt. You know how much mystery is shrouded around military technology especially weapons, right? I also wonder if Chise has her innards all taken out because all I can see are wire/tentacles that look like they have a mind of its own and are going to kill anybody who messes with her. So assuming if she has no more innards to fit all that, does she still have a brain and heart? Screw logic. As long as it kills… I know it is bad of me think of a pun for Chise but I can’t help it to ‘distract’ me from the gloominess. Because I was thinking each time if Shuuji asks Chise if she is alright (heiki), Chise should answer yes she is a weapon (also pronounced as heiki!). See the pun there? Haha! Whoops. Jokes over. Back to more crying.

One thing that really irks me is the very horrible and horrendous drawing and art. In know this came out way back in 2002 and the art style resembles closely to other anime series at that time, namely Chobits. I know they want to put some quality into the storytelling and the drama but visually speaking it looks horrible that it makes me wonder if they really put in effort at all. Everything from the characters to the background looks so plain, simple and dull. I know it is to paint a gloomy picture about the war but if you take a closer look at just the characters, they don’t really feel and look like human. I mean, sure they are human (perhaps with Chise as an exception) but for example, take a look at Shuuji. When I first looked at this guy, I thought he was some sort of cat human! He’s got that strange and odd look on his face that makes it look so weird. Usually I would forgive retro animes for their old school art but this one came out at the turn of the millennium and it was below average. It just sucks. Good thing Chise did us a favour and helped ended the world. Because a dark empty and blank space is what this series truly deserves in this category. This means the horrendous scar on Chise’s body doesn’t look that all scary… Also, there are many scenes especially in the latter half where the war gets more brutal and grimmer, the scenes are too dark to see anything. It could be my hardware or my eyesight but I’m pretty sure it isn’t.

Voice acting sounds pretty okay but nothing that spectacular. Chise and Shuuji sound a bit like a robot at times but I think it is because they are nervous and confused. But it is really pitiful to hear her in sad mode. It’s like the series’ ploy to pull some heartstrings. Or maybe Chise is just too convincing as an inevitably tragic girl. I only recognized Shinichiro Miki as Tetsu here. The casts are Fumiko Orikasa as Chise (Rukia in Bleach), Shirou Ishimoda as Shuuji (Shiyuu Kusanagi in Tsubasa Chronicle), Yuu Sugimoto as Akemi (Catherine in Gintama), Miki Itou as Fuyumi (Fujimura in Fate series), Tetsu Shiratori as Atsushi (Zancrow in Fairy Tail) and Ai Orikasa as Mizuki (K.K. in Kekkai Sensen). Both the TV opening and ending themes are sung by Yuria Yato. Koisuru Kimochi as the opener sounds okay as a generic pop but the breathy slow ending theme, Sayonara has this sad pitch to it despite it sounds lovely in its own right. Even its title feels like some sort of spoiler to the entire series. For the OVA, Mayonaka No Niji by Akira Asakura as the ending theme also follows this pattern. However this has more a lovely romantic feel to its slow beat than sadness.

Even if you are not into this kind of anime, this old classic is still powerful and has a handful of lessons we could learn from. For some, get ready a few box of tissues. This isn’t about the atrocities of war and how dumb humans can get in killing each other. It isn’t about creating the most sophisticated and ultimate human weapon. It is seeing who can keep their humanity during these dark times and at such times it is a test to see how human we are. That is why we have the power of love inside of us to use at such times but the choice is always in our hands to make. Remember, somebody once said that in war, it is not who is right, but who is left. I guess this anime really answered that question… And also, somebody once said the goal of war is not to die for your country but to make the other bastard die for his. Looks like this anime has answered that too for everyone. What a fine mess, no? Looks like the love song became a dirge.

Urusei Yatsura

August 20, 2017

Time to really go back in time for a really old and retro anime. An anime so old that it debuted in 1981, the year that I was born! That’s right. I finally found myself the ‘motivation’ and ‘time’ to pick up Urusei Yatsura. After all, it was created by Rumiko Takahashi, the same author who made Ranma 1/2. In fact, this is her first work and creation that will eventually have her illustrative career spanning over the decades. Up until today, her works are still being adapted with the latest being Kyoukai No Rinne. So can I say that with this series, I have seen almost all of Rumiko Takahashi’s adapted works? Maybe just that Mermaid Forest left and a few one off OVAs…

Anyway, I had always wanted to watch this series from a long time ago but was put off with the ‘enormous’ amount of episodes. Yup. 195 episodes and that is just the TV series itself that ran for 5 years. This in fact is by far the series with the most number of episodes, edging out Inu Yasha which had 193 episodes if you combine both the original seasons and the final adapted chapter. Ranma 1/2 only managed 161 TV episodes and Maison Ikkoku had only 96. So you bet having to watch almost 200 episodes of Urusei Yatsura would be taxing and taking a long time. Oh heck. What was I thinking? Shouldn’t I be watching it slowly and enjoying it? Well, here I am now.

The series’ title is translated as Those Obnoxious Aliens as Urusei can literally mean shut up. But upon closer examination of the kanji, it is a clever play on words that could mean outer space/planet. The plot and story are typically of the old. If you are familiar with the works of Maison Ikkoku and Ranma 1/2, you can tell that it follows more or less along that lines. Romance, nonsensical plots, love polygon, etc. After all, it is the 80s. Looking back right now, you can say it is a period where things look pretty silly. Yeah, we’re so advanced now.

The story tells of a perverted young high school boy in a small humble but crazy town called Tomobiki. His lecherous is known throughout town. Yet, he is being selected to save the world from being enslaved by this Oni race. Of all people… Get this. The fate of the world rests on a tag game they’re going to play. If he catches the Oni, he wins and Earth is free. Initially he didn’t really want to do this but his girlfriend (yes, even the town and possibly world’s most perverted kid surprisingly has a girlfriend) promised to marry him. Guess what? By a stroke of luck, his perversion is the reason why he wins! So our Oni girl is left to cover her modesty as he screams marriage and. But Oni girl takes it the wrong way and thinks he is proposing to her. And so begins his troubled ‘married life’ with her and all the other shenanigans that come along with the other characters.

The Main Casts
The series of course has a lot of characters. Some only make a cameo in few episodes and some usually in the background. Here are the main and supporting ones:

Ataru Moroboshi – The main perverted character. Super big idiot whose favourite past time is to bug girls and ask their telephone number and address no matter how much they feel disgusted about this pest. Apparently he doesn’t learn because his body is made of steel and rubber as he doesn’t get damaged, each time bouncing back as pervy as before. So notorious throughout town that even his parents, especially his mom sometimes regretted giving birth to him. Yes, she actually said that!

Lum – The space invader Oni girl whom Ataru is supposed to ‘marry’. It’s like her main role is to police Ataru’s lecherous ways. Each time he goes flirting, she gets made and zaps him with her lighting. He never learns so the process repeats itself. The ironic part is that Ataru loves to flirt with any pretty girl so is Lum not pretty and sexy enough for him? Heck, she is the only girl who would give him her full love and yet he doesn’t want to? Oh right. It’s more fun having a harem. It’s more fun for us to see Lum zap Ataru. All. The. Time.

Ten – Lum’s baby cousin. In short, a brat. Make that a bratty brat. Thinks he is a good kid but he might be just as bad as Ataru, if not just slightly better. But still a troublemaker nevertheless. Always picking a fight with Ataru and usually loses because of his smaller physique. Though, he breathes very powerful fire.

Shinobu Miyake – Ataru’s supposed girlfriend. She has the strength of the Hulk as she is able to lift and throw furniture with ease. It was nice at first to see the rivalry between Shinobu and Lum over Ataru. But slowly and without warning, she dumps this guy and that took away all the fun. Now she is fawning over a new guy who turns out to be…

Shuutarou Mendou – Actually the same idiot level as Ataru. Only difference is that he is rich and handsome (slightly). The son and heir of his Mendou Conglomerate so you can expect crazy rich stuffs or things that only rich people can afford like his own personal army and an entire resort of his own. He likes Lum and despite devoting his love to her, he doesn’t waste no chance in flirting with other girls. At least he does it in style. Also, scared of dark and tight places.

Sakuranbou AKA Cherry – The petite monk whom I believe is the most ‘hated’ character in the series. The most unwanted character as he can pop up from anywhere and surprise the hell out of the characters. Not really a holy goodness as he seems to love eating and exchanges his services for food.

Sakura – The school’s nurse who is also Cherry’s niece. An exorcist herself and luckily a tough lady as she is able to fend off Ataru’s unwanted affection. Also shares the same big eating appetite as Cherry. Has a fiancé named Tsubame who is always overseas performing his western exorcism.

Rei – Lum’s supposed handsome fiancé. However this guy is nothing but a glutton. Also, his true form is a cow. Or is it a pig? Or a tiger? Whatever he is, he has only got food and Lum on his mind. No wonder Lum dumped him.

Ran – Lum’s childhood friend. Ran is always getting it from her mom whenever Lum stays over as mom thinks whatever mischief that Lum had done is her daughter’s. Even worse, Ran loves Rei and thinks each time Rei is with Lum, she is trying to steal him, which clearly isn’t. Therefore she grows up spiteful of her and her mission is to bring misery to her. Thus she is the girliest girl trying to seduce Ataru away from her to get her revenge.

Benten – Lum’s other childhood friend. Biker girl with chain.

Oyuki – Lum’s other childhood friend. Snow woman with a calm and cold demeanour as her ice powers.

Ryuunosuke Fujinami – A girl who has been raised as a boy by her twisted father who is also one of the biggest jerks in the series. Therefore it is no surprise to see sea loving father and violent tomboy daughter always fighting each other every day. Has to keep reminding people she is a girl whenever people confuse her for being a guy. Dreams of wearing a dress but ironically she has so many chances to do so. So what’s stopping her?

Lum’s Stormtroopers – A group of Ataru’s classmates and ‘friends’ all aptly named after their characteristics: Megane, Perm, Chibi and Kakugari. They are the unofficial fan boy club of Lum and love her and will do anything to protect her. But I don’t see them do much of that except being the usual joker group.

Onsen Mark – The English homeroom teacher of these kids whom they never give a damn to his lessons. Yeah, there is always something to interrupt his lessons.

Ryouko – Mendou’s younger sister who loves to play prank on her brother and bring him misery.

Kurama – Princess of another world trying to find a mate for an heir. Legend dictates whoever kissed her awake will be her partner. Too bad dumb Ataru was the one. Trying to live her life correcting that mistake?

Kotatsu Neko – Possibly the most sensible and smartest character in the series. Doesn’t have any lines and is always seen hogging the kotatsu. He might not look much but sometimes lends a hand. Always seen hanging out with the school principal or Cherry.

The Episodes
A big chunk of the episodes in the TV series are standalones and hardly last more than an episode except for 2 or 3 occasions. Each of them feel like fillers and I prefer those that involve love rivalry and polygon between the characters. Since I can’t list down all those I have seen, some of the memorable ones are as follows. Not in any particular order since I personally messed up. Don’t ask…

* Love-Love Catchballs allow you to see your future married spouse. So imagine the chaos it brings when our protagonists see through it and find their most undesirable partners. Like Shinobu gets Tsubame, Ran gets Ataru, Lum gets Rei, Ataru and Mendou get Sakura and Cherry gets some babe cat. Don’t ask… You bet there are going to be lots of anger and anarchy ensuing, some trying to accuse the other of cheating. Do violence solve anything? It’s already bad enough Sakura gets the idiotic duo but why does Shinobu suddenly cuddling up to Tsubame? Can’t fight fate? What happened to her ‘strong’ love for Mendou? And by the time the entire place is destroyed by angry people and idiots, it is revealed that the Catchballs are just showing your incompatible partner. If you marry this person, misery will ensue. Well, they already proved it.

* There is one time when Ataru decides to give up his special position and let Megane become his successor. And thus everybody jumps to conclusion that he is giving up his love for Lum. While Megane paints the town red with his uncontrolled happiness (at night!), Shinobu is worried about the imbalance this will throw the class into. Especially this means Mendou will be a step closer to Lum. So she hires gangster babes from other schools to stop Ataru? Then it turns out Ataru was just giving up his special position as class rep. Yeah, I bet everybody forgot how Ataru won that silly duel with Mendou to become one. Yup. Everybody did. So do we.

* Lum thought getting a love cupid would make Ataru fall for her. But he is swift in dodging his arrows. Or maybe the cupid is such a lousy shot. Ataru is smart enough to let the cupid target a few ugly old men to harass Lum while he gets away. Now that he is in control of the cupid, he tries to target Ryuunosuke but too bad got his dad. Totally gay moment when Ryuunosuke’s dad tries to hug Ataru. Even him holding down Ataru won’t do because Ataru can still pull off all his tricks to kick away the arrows. Just when everyone has had enough of it and holds him down that he can’t move an inch, the cupid dies. WTF. A week later it reborn but nobody is interested and sceptical. Definitely stupid cupid…

* If the real deal won’t do, then a sand clone can be a good substitute! Ten makes a sand clone of Sakura for himself, Ataru and Mendou. It moves and speaks like the real deal. Only more compliant. So you can imagine the chaos when Tsubame sees Sakura hanging out with several men and thinks it is a sign of breaking up. Even more chaotic when the real Sakura gets involved. How do you tell your man not to touch other woman when that woman is your own clone?!

* Two can play that game. Because if Ataru can continue to flirt with girls, why not Lum? So at the beach Lum turns a loser dolphin into a tanned handsome hunk that has other girls turning their heads too. Lum’s plan to make Ataru jealous works since that guy is mad to see another man flirting with his woman. Hah! So you admit Lum is yours?! He goes all out to sabotage him and when it seems Ataru is going to get physical, that guy turns into a woman (because he thinks being a guy is taking all the abuse while being a woman gets special treatment) and now Ataru is head over heels, back to his normal idiocy.

* There are a handful of times when Ataru does somewhat show he still has a heart for Lum. For example when his friends throw Lum a party, Ataru becomes a wet blanket. This prompts Lum to ask if he would be better off without her. Your typical unhesitating yes. And once Lum is gone, in the shortest period you can see Ataru becoming worried that this isn’t a prank and that she is gone for real! Yeah, the town is in panic trying to look for Lum. It’s like a big deal she is missing. Lum is actually back on her planet trying to renew her passport (they need passport to visit Earth?!) and her secret microphone captures Ataru’s sincerest regret that he really wants her back. And you can see the big relief in his face when she returns. But he continues to act like a tsundere about it. Note: This must be a super popular episode and the closest that showed Ataru really cared for Lum. That’s why the entire episode was shown as a repeat as the penultimate episode when the TV series ended its run! Nothing makes your heart fonder like absence…

* I can consider this another example. When Lum once again zaps Ataru for his unfaithfulness, the usual couple quarrel ensues, she goes to sleep in her UFO only for it to crash in Mendou’s estate. He picks her up and realizes she has lost her memories and keeps her in his mansion. Despite the irony of Ataru ‘not liking’ Lum (tsundere?), he doesn’t want others to have her (selfish?) so he and the Stormtroopers barge into Mendou’s estate and fight against waves of his army and traps. Only when Lum sees Ataru bravely steering through the bombs and explosions (everyone must be lousy aimers) did she get her memory back and rescue him. Then it’s back to familiar ground of the usual antics again as though that ‘war’ never happened. That’s life…

* What about the time a cow bit Lum’s hand and when she started growing cow-like horns, she fears turning into one. She didn’t want Ataru to find out in fear he might not love her anymore. But when he does, suddenly he genuinely feels sympathy for her. He promises to care for her and even if it is just like taking care of a cow, he is really serious in treating her well. Even promising to stop eating beef related foods! Of course Lum turning into a cow was embarrassingly dismissed when the growth of horns are just her species’ way of fighting off sickness. This guy is so lecherous that as long as you’re a beautiful woman, he instantly tries to get you. Take for instance when Mendou for some reason turns into a woman! Ataru now chases after his ass. WTF?!

* Then there was this winter fairy who was trying to seduce him and Ataru would boldly skip class and whatever to just go on a date with her. Lum can’t do anything since they day before they had a fight as a result from a misinterpreted time to meet so she thinks this is him trying to spite her. Turns out when the fairy is trying to take his memories so she can become a spring fairy, Ataru realizes he is going to lose all his memories with the girls he flirted (including all the painful beat ups as well). He returns to Lum and appreciates her better.

* When Ataru accidentally throws a rice cooker at Lum, she loses her ability to speak Japanese (though she can still speak her original Oni language). Because she doesn’t understand the language, Ataru thought he could go on a flirting spree. You do know she can still zap you for your unfaithfulness, right? So when Lum seemingly holes herself up in her UFO, Ataru takes this chance to go hit on more girls and party till he turns into a zombie! Is this what he will turn into without Lum restraining him?! So much so he is near death and when he sees Lum again, he apologizes, pleads and begs for her to speak again! I’m not sure if it would be easier for her to relearn the language again instead of putting a hideous translating mask on his face. Well, if it teaches him a lesson…

* Remember the princess and the frog story? An old childhood friend of Lum was cursed into a frog for losing a game. She cured him back via kiss. Now that he got cursed again, he desperately needs a kiss to revert. This of course makes Ataru jealous. Lum thought of using this chance to make him be more honest but it seems Ataru has this twisted thinking that if Lum can kiss a frog, he has the right to kiss other girls! And so he tries (and fails) to kiss others. Ataru has to eat his words when he thought of kissing a female frog but bailed. Lum is left to wonder if this plan of hers was right. A kiss is still a kiss no matter who it is. When the frog tries to force kiss, Ataru is the one who beats it up. It made Lum happy that he still treasures her. Feeling sorry for the frog, she kisses it and it turns into some midget. Ataru continues his kissing spree as revenge but to no avail.

* Ten got a magic bottle that accidentally turned Lum into small size. She tries to use this to her advantage to get sympathy from Ataru but he finds her annoying. Till he finds her missing he starts to get worried. When he overheard her teaming up with Kotatsu Neko about her plot, he puts her in a cage and continues not to care. Then he has to care again when he heard from Ten. Ataru has to beg to Lum to listen to him so that they could go to get the final bottle from the salesman who is smashing them all due to due back business. Right in the nick of time. You can see the relief on his face when Lum returns to normal.

* Something similar too when a jungle boy kidnaps Lum and wants to marry her. Oh, did I mention he is immune to her electricity too? Ataru thought he could be freed from Lum’s zapping and constant nagging but it seems the thought of Lum willingly going with him (although she was faking it) makes Ataru and the rest go on a rescue mission. Lum’s dream of seeing Ataru trying to rescue her comes true as they enter jungle boy’s domain of a jungle filled with power outlets and cables. What an electrifying experience? Eventually when jungle boy falls for Shinobu, Lum tries to apologize to Ataru for all the troubles. Since he won’t forgive her (probably faking it too), she zaps him like always.

* Other times he can be a dick like when his birthday is coming up and Lum didn’t quite remember it. So when she tries to make up to him and ask what he would like for his present, this guy throws a f*cking tantrum! WTF???!!! It’s hard to feel pity for this fool when he is in this lonely state and he must realize how stupid he is and returning back to Lum’s arms when she finally got him one.

* Can you believe a girl who actually likes Ataru for real? And I mean seriously like him and wants to date him. Too bad she is a ghost. She developed a crush for him while watching him rush to school from her hospital window. Thankfully she is cute enough for Ataru to go out with her so she can pass on. Don’t worry. As a ghost he can’t really touch her. So everything goes on fine and dandy till she finally manages to hold his hand and pass on. How touching and kind of Ataru to let her dreams come true.

* Suddenly without any warning, Ten is in love with Sakura?! Really, that little kid is really in love with a grown mature woman. She obliges because she views him as a kid. There isn’t any back story to this as we are suddenly given this random standalone story. Because it sure does fill like a filler. Then shortly later, Ten also falls for a local florist but then that episode was more about Ataru trying to sabotage him growing the plant which in turn grows into a monster plant. It’s like this kid almost will fall in love with any beautiful girl because there was one short stint with Kurama, a cursed cat lady and even a love letter in a bottle message whose sender is not even known! So hard up for love that he must have jumped to conclusion that she is female, eh? Well, thankfully she is. But a fairy? So desperate he is that there was one episode he fell for a ghost girl and doesn’t want her to pass on so that they can continue to play together. It isn’t always Ten who falls for a girl. Why, there is a kindergarten girl, Mako who falls for him. Obviously Ten is into mature girls and doesn’t like her. I can see why too because Mako is pretty possessive of Ten. It is his doom if they really ever get married. Making it worse, Ten would prefer to flirt with Mako’s mom and this WTF moment has mom and daughter become love rivals?!

* Then there is Ryuunosuke seemingly falling in love with Ran because of her perfect feministic ways. Ran accepts a ‘date’ with her to spite Lum as she thinks Lum is jealous despite she was trying to warn her about Ryuunosuke’s true gender. Of course Ryuunosuke accepted the ‘date’ in hopes to learn more about to become a woman and he didn’t know it was this hard to be this refined.

* Even Kotatsu Neko falls in love with Ran?! Actually Ran was trying to create a special magic oden that would make Rei fall in love at first sight. Kotatsu Neko accidentally ate it and starts hounding all over poor Ran who had to keep running. So when she decides to fight back with her bazooka, her paranoia and jittery has her shoot everything and anything that startles her. Even throwing bombs and grenades at Kotatsu Neko does not do any damage! This cat is indestructible! Just when Ran decides to just ignore this and create another oden for Rei, here comes Kotatsu Neko to eat it all up and leaves satisfied. So could it be that he was in love with her oden? Even more frustrating that this oden would never have worked on Rei to begin with.

* Mendou’s father arranges an omiai for his son. At first he was against it since he will be seeing the daughter of a rival clan. Furthermore, she is always clad behind an armour. Who would want a girl like that? When her true form is revealed, a cute and pretty girl named Asuka, I guess he has a change of heart. Too bad she has fear of men and keeps Mendou and meddling Ataru with her punches, kicks and whatever she can throw at them. Despite her androphobia, she starts falling in love with her own brother as he tries to protect her. This is due to her miseducation that men are divided into 2 categories: Brothers and the rest. Meanwhile Ryouko launches her private army to attack the omiai. After the fierce fighting, the entire place is destroyed. Asuka still fears men but seeing Mendou is brother to Ryouko, she thinks he is the big brother type. Safe to say the engagement is off.

* To get over her fear of men, Asuka’s mom sends her to deliver a letter to Mendou at Tomobiki. Imagine the chaos she would bring with all the men chasing her around thinking she is some suspicious person in armour. Girls can’t believe she is Mendou’s fiancée and Shinobu tries to intercept that and finds out she isn’t any particularly any threat since she sees Mendou as her brother. It could be all in her mind because Asuka bumps into Ryuunosuke and tries so hard to run away from him and Ryuunosuke chasing her down so hard to try to convince her she is a woman. Every time Ryuunosuke wants to show her boobs as proof, those damn guys just gather around. She can’t show and Asuka gets freaked out more. Eventually Asuka’s mom brainwashes her to just jump into the bosoms of a man. She did that to Ryuunosuke and they fly through several buildings thanks to her immense strength. In the end, nothing changes.

* Asuka’s mom still won’t give up and has Asuka date Mendou. Too bad with Ataru interrupting and Mendou’s agents getting in the way, all hell breaks loose again. Asuka’s mom decides to take drastic actions and has Asuka date Ataru who is believed to be the source of activating her phobia. She threatens to kill Tobimaru if she doesn’t. Asuka still can’t bring herself to do it and runs away while mother gives chase, destroying just about everything in their path. So when mother and daughter face off, they use Ataru and Tobimaru as weapons against each other. Man, it really must hurt a lot. And as expected, nothing changes in the end.

* Kurama steals Rei from Ran believing that this handsome guy is finally her match. With Ran forcing Lum to help her get Rei back, everyone either tries to expose or hide Rei’s real form because once she sees it, her dream comes crushing down again.

* Not Ataru loses all the time. There was one time Mendou panicked when he found an alien baby in his school’s locker. Turns out that this alien crash landed and needs fuel in the form of coin cash to fly back. Lots of them. A small price to pay for a rich boy to get this bugger off his back. And then what do you know? There are more similar aliens bugging him for the same thing. At this rate he is going to go broke! You give one, you have to give ‘em all.

* Then there was one time Ataru was the luckiest man for the day. Something very unusual. And indeed it is because with him being the ‘hero’, Mendou is like the ‘villain’. Turns out that Ataru was unconsciously summoning a demon via his morning jogging route. The demon has been giving him all the good luck all day and wants his soul at the end of the day. Ataru fights his ass off with the demon. Wow. Not even demons can beat this guy.

* One of the best and funniest episodes include when Ataru’s mom dreads going to PTA meeting at school. You know her son’s embarrassments, right? Too bad stupid Ataru had to say hi and bug her mom. Also here are Mendou’s elegant mom and Lum’s alien speaking mom. Because Lum’s mom made beefbowls out of Mendou’s mom’s raging bull, they start a civil war! Alien space crafts versus the private army! OMG! The human side is on par with the aliens?! Worse, Ataru’s mom decides to mediate between them via roulette. Don’t ask. They both lose their bets and Ataru’s mom rake in all the money. The cheated duo want their money back but obviously Ataru’s mom is an idiot too, oddly celebrating all that cash back in her home with her husband. Guess what? Mendou’s mom and Lum’s mom decide to call their forces to shoot and bomb the hell out of Ataru’s house! OMFG! That kind of explosion everybody should have died but amazingly they’re still alive. As expected.

* A WTF moment when Ran calls Lum as courtesy just to tell her she is going to steal Ataru again! WTF???!!! Because of that, Lum gets an idea to use her gun to clone Ataru and let the clone go to Ran. Unfortunately the clones think alike and since Ataru has a simultaneous date with Shinobu, you bet Shinobu is going to be damn confused to see twins of her boyfriends. Meanwhile Lum and Ran try to outdo each other and clone more Ataru to stave of the other, filling the streets with the idiots. Total chaos ensues when the clones want to go on a date and start bugging all the girls in the street. Pure pandemonium!

* Then there is this Count Dracula who targets cute girls to suck blood. He had the bad luck of targeting Ran and the tables are turned on him when she is the one who sucks his youth out of him. Only thing is, this old bat guy doesn’t have any youth left. He is forced to go find more blood and ironically ends up in some blood donation drive. He is then reduced to a pathetic coward because he got his blood taken away from him. By humans! And he is screaming to God for help! Hilarious.

* A mind boggling episode that has Ataru split into 2. One is the usual perverted lazy idiot and the other seems decently good and responsible. Now, everything would have been greatly solved with 2 of them because the idiot would prefer to go with Lum and live on her planet and the good one is Shinobu’s ideal since Ataru’s parents can’t afford to take care of 2 let alone one. But you know what? The mind boggling thing is how mom doesn’t really like the good Ataru because she still loves her idiot son! WTF???!!! Weren’t you the one complaining and accusing him of most of the shame brought to the family?! Weren’t you the one who always wished he was never born?! I guess this proves even as a mother, her son is still her lovable son even though he is an idiot. And yeah, they try to put both Atarus back again by crashing them into each other? Not working? Let them take it all out via fist fight!

* My point that this series doesn’t suffer from any repercussions or effects from one actions is further proven when Lum goes back 10 years in time in hopes of ‘retraining’ Ataru to be less of a pervert (failed of course). Guess what? Nobody then is freaked out seeing a strange flying alien girl and even more so those kindergarten kids! They’re just running along and living their normal life. Nobody cares! Worse, Ataru who was accidentally thrown back into this past cannot even recognize his own young self at first! And if all this actually happened in the past, you would think Ataru would have remembered something along this line that happened in his younger years. But no. He didn’t and it feels like this young Ataru is like a totally different person but with the same pervy nature.

* Lum’s interception of the phone call between Ataru and Shinobu causes the opening of a black hole with effects like the Bermuda Triangle!

* Cherry gives Ataru magical yellow ribbons which negates Lum’s powers. Poor Lum… Feeling so down when she can’t zap Ataru?

* An eating contest at a hotel. Sakura trumps even Cherry and Ataru and bankrupts the establishment! Still got more room for dessert?!

* Battle with some poetry wizard.

* Ataru trying to act out the ‘good parts’ from his diary when Lum time travelled and borrowed it from tomorrow. Let’s say it isn’t his day. And tomorrow is far worse…

* Lum’s dad tricking Lum into attending matchmaking party. Ironically, Ataru disguises himself to crash the party to bring her back.

* Body swapping with earmuffs.

* Raising and protecting a caterpillar from those jerks which actually turns out to be a fairy.

* Trying to put the library back in order so the characters from the books will return and end the chaos.

* Lum and Ten getting drunk and terrorizing the school. There’s another drunk incident when the gang drinks Lum’s alien drink and end up doing consecutive stupid acts. In public.

* Ten’s infectious cavity has Ataru and the boys trying to bite each other to spread the disease all for their own selfish sake to be cured. Another infectious disease when Lum gets sick but all the dumb boys paid Ataru to get a hold of her mask. Then they all got infected with her disease that makes their skin colour look funny.

* Lum’s friends organizing a secret reunion party.

* The teachers go in an all-out war against the students, trying to nab them for eating outside the school premises.

* A skiing race in which the winner gets to kiss the Snow Queen beauty. Ataru wins this helter-skelter but he didn’t realize the queen is Lum. Also another event that has the winner kiss Ryouko but this time Ataru thought it was a dance competition but actually a fighting competition. Guess he didn’t win this one either. Ryouko again offers the winner a kiss but this time they have to climb a giant Christmas tree. Because she thinks nobody is trying to reach her, she just fires the tree into space and turn it into a big fireworks.

* Ataru temporarily turning into a girl.

* Ataru directing a lame pathetic movie. Another episode has Megane directing and everyone realized too late the entire film was focused on Lum instead of them.

* Going back in time to cure Mendou’s phobia of cramped dark spaces. Unfortunately they meet his young bratty side. Yeah, it is unthinkable both sides take turns beating each other up and who’d knew our gang was the one responsible that led to his phobia.

* Ataru and Mendou trapped in a large vault as they try to out-survive each other rather than cooperate to get out.

* Cherry bringing some poisonous mushrooms and everyone eats it under the assumption it is some high grade mushrooms. The side effect has them do ‘talent’ shows. But no repeats. So what do you do when you run out of people? Bring more people in to eat it!

* Lum’s accidental switch of her very slippery soap with Sakura means she cannot hold or touch Tsubame during their date. And that guy thinks he doesn’t love him anymore…

* Attack of the killer potatoes! Yes, seriously! Killer potatoes! With aliens, spirits, deities, monsters and mythical creatures, this shouldn’t come as a surprise. Ataru and co have to escape the killer potatoes while staying at Mendou’s mountain lodge. While they take the detour to reach the nearest village, they come back to square one because the entire mountain is now springing up with potatoes. Is it me or does some of the potatoes look like sh*t?

* Ataru losing to Ten for once and gravely injured?! That idiot could stand electric shocks, slaps, things being thrown at him and he never gets hurt. So why is his hand bandaged so badly? Apparently Ten has been biting on it and refuses to let go.

* Ataru’s parents are away for a trip, leaving him and Lum alone together. This means the other loser guys are hell bent on sabotaging them to be together for the night. Not that Ataru would want to be with Lum either. But when he realizes he will be screwed either way, whether he is officially engaged to Lum or not he will still be electrocuted if he flirts, he screws all that and tries to sleep with her. Too bad Lum made him wear a thick and stiff insulation suit to prevent her from electrocuting him while sleeping.

* Ryuunosuke is forced to pretend to be Shinobu’s boyfriend so he could get a free bra from a rival gang whose boss wants to date Shinobu. Yes, let that sink in for a while. Because those underlings didn’t like their boss to date Shinobu, thus the date as prove she is unavailable. You bet it gets chaotic when Ataru gets involved. And yeah, Ryuunosuke didn’t get any bra in the end…

* Ran cloning Lum to get back at her but the clones always revert to the original Lum instead of subservient ones. So the more Ran clones, the more Lums and all hell breaks loose when all Lums break out to live their daily lives. You’re not seeing double or triple or quadruple or…

* The guys trying to do all they can (lame tricks included) to peep at the other side of the girls’ bath (despite how noisy they are). Unfortunately for the guys all the girls were wearing swimsuits. This no good for you?

* Cherry’s weird pill has Sakura materialize her lonely young self who only wants to play. But everyone thinks this little cutie is Sakura’s illegitimate child!

* Ran is over the moon thinking Rei has kissed her when it is just licking paste off her face.

* Lum creates a magic lipstick in her attempts to kiss Ataru. Whoever wears the lipstick, their lips will be drawn to each other. Expect ultimate mayhem with lips flying around! Lots of gay kisses and some lesbian kisses! Eventually Lum gets her kiss with Ataru. Though, a glass was between them. I guess that is not bad itself.

* The gang tries to find Mendou’s lost family treasure but led on a wild goose chase of obstacles and dangers only to find that ‘treasure’ is a silly mask that Mendou’s grandpa had been wearing all the time. Looked in the mirror recently?

* When Ataru seemingly gets kidnapped by a ghost every night, the gang goes in search only to find it is Ryouko and her classmate girls hypnotizing Ataru to become a dog to play with them. Unfortunately she never really had hypnotizing powers to begin with as Ataru was just willingly playing the dog to play around with the girls. That’s why he’s so tired when he comes home every morning. Yeah, he got everyone fooled.

* Ryouko creating a voodoo doll of Mendou. But she gives it to Ataru to keep. So whatever accidents befall on him, Mendou gets it too. It doesn’t take long for Mendou to realize what is happening. So he reluctantly becomes Ataru’s bodyguard to keep him out of trouble but gets hurt himself. Isn’t it the same? In the end, Mendou creates a voodoo doll of Ataru and they can snap each other’s neck forever for all they care.

* A newly café setup in town with the Tomobiki students patron it because he has a beautiful daughter. But with teachers against them skipping class, fights often break out. Things get destroyed and they leave without paying. In the end, the café closes down but the owner gets his revenge by ordering every food delivery in town to school to rake up their tab.

* Ran bought some supernova star to win Rei’s heart. She loses it and blames Lum for stealing. Soon they go looking and it quickly descends into everybody getting the wrong idea that there is a bomb, a meteor crashing to Earth, whatever. Yeah, blame it on Ataru too. Then everybody starts chasing and running around till they got tired when the star has always been with Kotatsu Neko all along.

* Ran is sick so Lum pays a visit and thought of helping her do her chores but ends up making it worse so much so it is Ran who has to put things back in order.

* Ryuunosuke tries to remember how her mom looks like. When there is a photo of her, turns out there are many photos of other women. So his dad asked random women to be his mom then?

* Lum in hopes of instilling hope to a junior without resorting to using her own powers while fighting an ‘indestructible’ delinquent has her use strength enhancing drugs that gets less effective the more she takes them.

* Imagine the least feminine characters, Ryuunosuke and Benten fighting over who is more… Feminine?! It is a decided a play for them to act out who is most feminine but it ends up with chaotic violence with Ataru’s lecherousness, Lum’s zapping, men in dog suits, evil black aliens and the rest of the girls beating the crap out of everything. In the end, nobody wins. The school is destroyed and our least feminine duo are still punching each other.

* When Kaede decides to ditch her ninja life and find a new job, she has to run away from her matriarch. She bumps into Mendou whom they know each other from a field trip. He hires her to be his bodyguard but Ryouko will not easily accept and has her undergo a test with lots of traps. With needless interference from Ataru, needless to say she is better off finding a new job.

* Ryouko feels left out from Mendou’s New Year party so she sends a letter to Tobimaru asking him to marry her. He takes this as a challenge letter from Mendou and so does that idiotic rich brother. All hell breaks loose as usual when Ataru who isn’t part of the equation gets involved.

* A monk enlists Ataru and co to help ring the bell a thousand times. They do it thinking they will get monetary reward for every ring. Turns out they got the short end of the stick because they are paid in bells. Because ‘kane’ both means money and bell.

* Ataru and Lum take their fortune readings during New Year but each time all they end up is bad luck.

* Onsen tries to straighten up his students by doing home visits. Particularly Ryuunosuke, Mendou, Shinobu and Ataru. However with his misfortune and bad luck befalling on him, it seems his trips look more like a nightmare. Till he pays a visit to Lum’s parents did he finally have some faith in humanity (the irony) because they treat him like a human (another irony). Then they get drunk and now Lum’s dad won’t let him leave and wants to drink more together. Going to miss class…

* A Centaur alien tries to conquer Earth. But he had the bad luck to impersonate as Ataru and doesn’t his brainwashing technique look like kissing? You bet all the girls are going to beat him up given Ataru’s reputation and when he thinks he has got Lum to lock lips with him, she knows he is an imposter because the real Ataru will never kiss her. Yeah, beaten up badly that he would never want to come back to conquer Earth again.

* A rare episode whereby Shinobu gets entangled with an heir of a rich family. The father just died and the inheritance divided into his children. One of them is adopted so you bet the others are going to not let him have any. He and Shinobu have to dodge kidnappers and assassins till the will is read out. Then turns out that guy orchestrated all those to get back at his other siblings but Shinobu was smart enough to deduce him as the perpetrator and let the detectives arrest him. So nobody gets the inheritance? I thought Shinobu would get it then…

* Even Ataru’s mom gets her own episode. Albeit hers feels more like entering the Twilight Zone. After narrating about the typical cliché housewife’s life and task, she gets knocked out after tussling with other housewives during a sales bargain. When she wakes up and returns home, she finds her husband is already long dead and herself an old granny! Thank goodness that was just a dream. This time she goes home only to find her own doppelganger as Ataru’s mother! Phew. What a dream. Now she couldn’t care less because knowing this is still a dream, she continues to live out her wildest desires and superpowers. Till she wakes up. Is this still a dream? She is warned by the doctor she may be in someone’s dream or it could be partial reality. On her way home, the place is turned into a battlefield against aliens. When she wakes up again, she finds herself fighting alongside the resistance against those aliens and Cherry minions as the alien spy.

* Another Twilight Zone-like episode when Ataru mistakenly drinks Lum’s eyedrops. People start experiencing weird dreams that become real. But in a blink of an eye they wake up from it although there are remnants of that dream left behind. It gets worse when multiple Atarus appear. With different dimensions, worlds, fantasy and reality clashing, folks, Inception was here 30 years ago before that Hollywood movie! In the end, normal everyday life continues but now everybody has several clones everywhere. Still chaotic, though.

* A very rare episode that tosses away the usual silly comedy style. The usual gang is left stranded on a deserted island when they are picked off one by one in this horror survival mystery. It seems their deaths follow the English nursery rhyme of Who Killed Cock Robin but mixed with Agatha Christie style murders. Ataru is very shaken as he stumbles body after body of his friends and he starts going crazy when he discovers Lum’s lifeless body. As the sole survivor, he confronts the perpetrator who is no other than himself?! When Ataru is found, he has already gone crazy. Then it is revealed that this is an elaborated setup by the rest in hopes this ‘shock therapy’ would help cure his flirting ways. Everyone regrets this prank has gone too far and just when they thought Ataru is going to kill himself, actually he is back to his normal healthy self, trying to flirt with the sexy nurse. Nothing can cure this idiot so to speak. This is one of the more interesting episodes.

* Another interesting episode has Tomobiki organising a beauty contest. We see factions quickly rising as well as the underhanded tactics, cooperation, sabotaging and all the conspiracies from them as they try to get their preferred candidate ahead during campaigning. For some reason Ataru who ironically doesn’t give a damn about this is made the chief judge. Is it because he is the flirtiest guy in town? This campaigning isn’t just restricted to Tomobiki. Other local high school number one girls also decide to join in to preserve the ‘balance’. And because each also has their own preferred candidate, they make deals with Ataru that includes dating certain girls or having girls of their entire school to be his friend! Ataru being the sleazy guy he is accepts all of them! All the gifts, presents and whatever bribes, he takes them all! But the disappointing thing is that when the results are supposed to come out, Ataru has taken all his bribes and ran away. Thus leaving the contest without a winner and cancelled. WTF?! Yeah, Ataru is going to enjoy his time with Osaka babes… This is the twist? Yeah, I was so let down by this ‘ending’.

* Lum went into a parallel world where Ataru didn’t win his tag game against her. As a result, the world is ruled over by her kind and Ataru has deep hatred for her. As she tries to get back to her own world, she stumbles into other parallel worlds that include Mendou being married to her, the Stormtroopers are girls and get this, Ryuunosuke is a boy being forced to cross-dress as a girl! There is even a world where Ataru is such a great gentleman who is genuinely in love with her! Guess what? Lum doesn’t like this Ataru and prefers the flirty idiot! So why the f*ck is she always getting upset then when he goes astray?! This is her choice! You made it, you live with it! Oh well, it goes to show that despite Ataru being an idiot, he is her lovable idiot. I know. Where would the fun be if Ataru doesn’t get zapped anymore, right?

* Ataru’s dad is having a bad day at work, broke, got hit by a truck and his family arguing. Then some Tanabata Star comes to the family in to grant 3 wishes. Nobody believed him till they accidentally used one of the wish to fix the house. Got to make the other 2 wishes count, right? Too bad dumb Cherry wished for a yakisoba and now they are only left with 1 wish. Gotta think carefully. So while they ‘discuss’, we see their true colours and selfishness why their wish. They have to decide fast before dawn, the time limit of the wish. In the end everyone decides to draw lots. Dad wins but they cannot believe his wish is to go back and fix the mistakes in his life. Mom thinks he regrets marrying him and Ataru thinks he regrets having him as a son. So when they finally selfishly decide to go make whatever the last wish, the star is out drunk. Dawn is approaching. Quick wake him up! Cherry uses the last wish to wake him up. And with that, all wishes are granted. Back to your miserable lives…

* Final episode antics. I don’t know what is going here in this costume party except that everything is so chaotic as though this last episode is an excuse for every damn character (major and minor) to appear for one last time. The only highlight is that for the first time Ataru willingly kissed Lum! They’re in a dark place where nobody is looking as Lum prepares herself and Ataru a little hesitant at first. But when the coast is clear, they smooch. So this guy really likes her after all? Then what do you know? The darkness ‘disappears’ and everybody is around them. Back to those chaotic moments…

Those Cartoonish Days…
Phew! Well, I think I already had enough. Because there are 6 movies and 12 additional OVAs to boot in addition to the TV series! Don’t even talk about the video games! Yes, there are 3 of them! Man, I don’t think I can stomach any more of Lum’s zapping and Ataru’s lecherous ways. That’s enough Urusei Yatsura for me for one sitting and session. Besides, those movies and OVAs are hard to find online. Oh wait. They aren’t. Nah… I’m too lazy at this point and need a break. Maybe in the future I’ll consider watching them but for now, my stint with the TV series has ended.

Back in the very early days of anime when everything wasn’t as complicated or convoluted till your brain hurts, the story and plot for the series is simple. So simple that looking back at this point in time that everything just looks plain silly. As I have mentioned that each episode serves more like standalones and fillers instead of a long continuous storyline. It is good in a way in the sense that you don’t have to watch every episode meticulously to follow the plot and doom will be upon you if you do miss out on one. Because of the comedic genre of the series, the one thing that always ‘bothered’ me about the ‘plot’ for each episode is that many of them end in some sort of cliff-hanger. What do I mean is that whatever happened during or at the end of that episode, the results do not seem to effect the next episode. It’s like resetting and starting all over again with the consequences ignored. For example when the end of an episode brings dinosaurs and people from the old feudal era to the modern day world and as a result wreaking havoc in modern times, that episode ends as that. That is all. Therefore the plots of each episode play out to have a more cartoonish feel. With no actual storyline and the characters maintaining status quo, it feels like the need to come up with all sorts of silly shenanigans just to fill up the huge number of episodes even if it doesn’t outright make any sense. And believe me, a lot of it don’t. Thus sometimes when I was hoping to get some sort of ‘proper explanation’, the downside of how it suddenly ends like that could be just unsatisfying.

It is a double edged sword for this one. This series certainly has a lot of main, supporting and side characters. Once you watched a few episodes on them, you can certainly tell that they will stay the same way for the rest the series. This is both good and bad since we can expect the kind of shenanigans that the character will play out but on the other hand it plays the same routine all over and over again. Like how Ataru keeps harassing other girls and Lum tries to stop his unfaithfulness and zaps him. Or how Ryuunosuke annoyingly keeps reminding others that she is a girl when others think she is a man. Or how Asuka continues to scream and freak out when a man other than her brother comes close to her. Or how Ryouko often acts like she is the poor victim but has an ulterior motive to play some devilish prank on her bother. Like as though this defines her existence. Yeah, it is. They become predictable that it takes away the fun to the point it is just annoying. Thus the characters can be as silly as they can be considering for the sake of the silly comedic plot, their alliance is as fragile and unstable like shifting sand. One minute they can say something like this and the next second they will u-turn their decision, betray whoever they agree with, blame them. It’s like nobody has any backbone in this sort of situation or that they are just selfish in covering their own ass.

Though sometimes some characters get their spotlight, it doesn’t deviate much or develop them owing to the standalone style story and plot aforementioned. And that is the thing too with too many characters because some don’t get too many decent appearances like Lum’s parents (they were in the beginning but slowly relegated to just cameos) and Ten’s mom (just a couple of them). Some like Ataru’s parents appeared decently in the initial episodes but as more characters are introduced, we seem to see less of them and that they have dropped out from even their trademark shenanigans of mommy regretting giving birth to Ataru and the family blatantly just ignoring and closing an eye on whatever troubles Ataru brings. So it’s like as though after the usual Ataru-Lum-Mendou-Shinobu-Sakura tomfooleries, they let some other character take the lead for an episode before going back to the usual.

Ataru feels so cartoonish (as well as all other characters) because of his tendency never to get injured from all those dangerous stuffs that would have killed a normal person outright. It is like in exchange for being a lecherous idiot, he gains this immortal body in which no harm would stay (or not last long) on his body. Damage doesn’t stay long and in no time he bounces back. Thus I feel that this is the main reason why he doesn’t learn and continues his lecherous ways. I mean, who is going to stop him, right? Not even Lum’s zapping. Speaking of her, she is as guilty as Ataru. Not just her annoying tendency to make him not stray (thus a cover and reason for her to get all sadistic with him), but look at her younger days especially with Ran. She practically ruined and traumatized that poor girl’s childhood! There is literally no one good memory of Ran she had with her! Can you blame Ran for always wanting to get revenge but her plan backfires? Yeah, somehow I feel this same principle applied to Lum although she seems a bit better now but that still doesn’t dismiss the fact that she was a total ass back then even if it seemed she was unintentional. Or maybe Ran is just a bad luck magnet.

It just proves that having money and all the high-tech facilities or a huge personal army doesn’t guarantee Mendou success or what he wants. Like I said he is on the same level of idiocy as Ataru except that he just looks better and have more money. He might be even more hypocritical than Ataru because despite declaring his love to Lum, he doesn’t hesitate to flirt with other girls. At least in the sense that girls do flock to him but he really does oblige them so as to look cool in their eyes. But he doesn’t mind being their lover if they ever allow him. So does this guy really want a harem with Lum as his number one? Shinobu doesn’t really make an impact unless you need some psycho strong girl to throw stuffs. That is why sometimes it feels that for her to ‘stand out’, there are a few episodes that involves a pure innocent fox child coming all the way from the forest to impress her with his innocent love and an ugly delinquent with huge ugly lips trying to smooch her like a raging bull. Funny, he is one character whom she can never beat up till he flies away. As stubborn as Ataru, eh?

One thing I noticed is that the other unimportant classmates as background extras in Ataru’s class. I know we won’t notice them but sometimes I notice they change. Sometimes they look like plain students but other times they look like delinquent students imported from a delinquent school. Then there is this high pitched alien piranha in a spacesuit that keeps popping up randomly in some scenes. I believe it is more of some joke but I don’t really understand it. During the very early episodes when the series just started, Tomobiki is filled with citizens who know about the infamous Moroboshi family especially their son. Yeah, there was a woman who seem to love to spread gossip about them. The family is so famous that practically everyone knows what is going on and sometimes would just gather whenever there is an ‘incident’. Slowly as more of other staple characters pop up, the townspeople seems to have gotten accustomed to all the shenanigans and don’t make a big fuss about it while carrying on their daily lives. It’s like they don’t give a f*ck anymore. Strangely, all the random girls that Ataru tries to hit on in the streets, shouldn’t they be wary if he is that infamous? I’m not trying to restrict their freedom just to stay away from this creep but you can definitely spot him from miles away with his annoyance and start taking evasive action. Some handle it well, some don’t even need to react (because Lum will reach him first) but mostly many would just outright reject him. Yeah, looks like they’re not scared of him.

I started realizing along the way that this series was meant to be more of a slapstick comedy than a true romance genre or even a romantic comedy. This means Ranma 1/2 better fills this category than Urusei Yatsura so to speak. If you have watched and known Ranma 1/2, then you would have seen the various ‘complicated’ love polygons for the many characters. But here it is more straightforward and the romance level that you would hope and want to see. Because for our obvious example in Ataru and Lum, it is just mind boggling to see Ataru hitting every pretty babe except Lum but still won’t let her go. On the other hand, Lum is so busy zapping him to keep him in line that she practically does nothing else when it comes to stop his foolishness. Heck, at a certain point we might believe Lum is a sadist who gets her kicks zapping him because a different but good Ataru is not the same as this dumb Ataru! And she doesn’t want that?! Oh well, Ataru might be an idiot but she is HIS idiot! You know what they say about a man changing and a woman staying the same but the opposite is often true. So is this bad romance between them?

The really annoying thing is how Ataru doesn’t treat Lum nicely, ignores her and goes around flirting. But at the same time when Lum plays his game or looks like she might gun for another guy, Ataru becomes a tsundere jerk trying to get her back. I mean, if he really hates her, why not just let her go? I know this proves that he likes her deep down inside and it must be that manly pride crap that he doesn’t want to show it but this is just annoying. It’s the same for Lum like as though she is really hoping that Ataru would change after zapping the hell out of him but always fall for the same trick of his unfaithfulness. There are so many other better fish out there and she had to really pick him. Yeah, love is weird. Or they’re just being dumb. It’s as though they’re trying to make a joke out of Ataru’s electrifying love.

I would have love Shinobu to get involved in the love triangle but that quietly fizzled out as she became fixated on Mendou. But she might just be all superficial over him because I clearly remember she told him right in the face that she only loves him for his handsome face! He is nothing without that! Is this true love? So we have Shinobu (and other unimportant girls) chasing after Mendou, Mendou and the Stormtroopers chasing after (protecting, they say) Lum, and Ataru chasing about anybody in a skirt. Ryuunosuke providing some yuri potential (oddly Shinobu knows herself as straight despite saying she’d fall for her but when the real deal comes she backs out) and even some funny gay moments between the guys (more of comedic instead of being serious romantic), ah yes, a period where being straight is this simple compared today.

Pop Culture References
Seeing that this is a very old series, what kind of pop culture can it make references to, you might ask? Well, even older series! From local references like Ultraman and Masked Rider series to Lupin and Fist of the North Star, but the one thing I notice they keep using is the Star Wars as its pop cultural references. For example that episode that has Ataru and the Stormtroopers barging into Mendou’s estate to save Lum has full of them. Even that “It’s a trap!” line! But over the other episodes, there are subtle Star Wars references and there is even a BGM sounding very close to its trademark soundtrack. Well, seeing how the original Star Wars trilogy was just released a few years back during that era, I suppose the hype and craze must have hit Japan too. Yes indeed. The force is strong in this one then too.

Old retro anime style, what else can I say? Character designs from that era having that one kind look that it really defines that era. This means hot looking guys like Mendou and Rei have this one kind look and the same can be said by hot looking girls like Sakura. Is it me or does that era’s characters love to have sideburns? All the characters I see seem to have them. If that isn’t the strangest, wait till you see the early opening and ending credits animation. The characters look like they just came out from Charlie Brown AKA Peanuts comic strip! With the kind of nonsensical shenanigans going on, the artwork can get a bit cartoonish and well, explosive. That or pulling a mallet out of nowhere and hammering it in. I suppose it is a cue for the punchline. So unbelievably dumb that they had to put in explosions to ‘blow your mind away’. Get it? Okay sorry, bad joke. Sometimes I noticed that quality dips in certain episodes and that the animation was just odd but you can’t blame the animation technology back then. And also it goes without saying that some of the character designs you see here become inspiration and groundwork for Rumiko Takahashi’s future works like Shinobu in Akane and Kurama in Kodachi from Ranma 1/2 and Sakura in Kyoko from Maison Ikkoku and Ten in Shippo from Inu Yasha.

Opening/Ending Themes
With such a long running series, there is bound to be a lot of opening and ending themes (6 and 9 respectively). The one I like best is the second ending theme, Kokorobosai Na by Helen Sasano. It has this tropical and salsa feel to it that makes it quite catchy. I also like the insert song, Margarita also sung by Helen Sasano. It has this dreamy bossa nova feel to it. The fourth opening theme, Chance On Love by Cindy is not too bad too as it has some cute lyrics in English. The first opening theme, the love cheeky Lum No Love Song by Yuuko Matsutani feels like the series’ theme since it lasts the longest (the first 77 episodes). I thought it was going to be forever this song till they decide to change its opening theme after every 20 episodes or so. Some of the songs in the middle of the series feel like it has western music influence in it. It is so because some dude named Ralph McCarthy wrote some of the songs. Some are good like the seventh ending theme’s Open Invitation by Cindy and the eighth ending theme, Every Day by Steffanie but some just feels meh like the fifth opening theme Rock The Planet by Steffanie. Others feel weird like Uchuu Wa Taihen Da by Yuuko Matsutani (first ending), Dancing Star by Izumi Kobayashi (second opening), Hoshizora Cycling by Virgin VS (third ending) I, I You and Ai by Izumi Kobayashi (fourth ending), Yume Wa Love Me More by Izumi Kobayashi (fifth ending) while others feel pretty normal such as Pajama Jama Da by Kanako Narikiyo (third opening), Tonogata Gomen Asobase by Shoko Minami (sixth opening) and Good Luck by Shoko Minami (ninth ending). Note: In most of the credits animation, Lum is doing some weird dance. Sorry, not infectious enough for me to follow.

Well, I happen to notice that a lot of them have this resemblance to Ranma 1/2. Or is it because the latter took some inspiration from this one? You’ve got the suspenseful rock beat to the peaceful everyday life tune, the joker tune, the mischievous chase/pursuit song, the cheeky hijinks/prank song, the sad and sorrowful piece, the space song and even a disco and waltz type. The variety might not be much at that time as compared to today’s standards but still some of them are quite fun to listen to as it is simple and catchy. Also to note, I noticed that a few instances where they use some songs from The Beatles. I have heard a few BGMs that plays to the tune of Magical Mystery Tour, The Fool On The Hill and yes, Your Mother Should Know. Seriously.

Voice Acting
I don’t really want to go into this and list down every one of them because there are really tons of them over the long running series. I’ll say that it is just okay for an old anime during that time. Many of the seiyuus are already dead or long retired (may they rest in peace) and a few still active in the industry. Such is the case for Shigeru Chiba as Megane. I thought he sounded familiar but it took me a long time to do so. This is the guy who voiced Buggy in One Piece, one of the many characters in a long illustrious voice acting career. I’m not sure if it is annoying but Lum tends to end most of her sentences with “~cha” unless it is “Darling”. It makes her unique but sometimes it feels like a speech impediment? The other thing I want to note is Ran’s seiyuu. I noticed that halfway through her seiyuu changed because the new Ran doesn’t sound as aggressive and feminine as the original one. I prefer the old one since that left an impression on me as the new one feels like she is trying to emulate that Ran but just couldn’t live up to it.

This series still gives me some nostalgic charm although I watched it over 35 years late because of its retro and simplistic (sometimes nonsensical) plots and characters. Still, personally I prefer Ranma 1/2. That is my anime origin after all. It is no doubt that Urusei Yatsura as one of the earliest animes would lay the groundwork and inspire other future animes to come so it is still very much an influential anime throughout time. The huge number of episodes might be a turn off if you plan to binge watch but it is one of those classic anime series that you need to watch if you want to appreciate the early versions of anime. I know I am guilty of not watching classics everybody considers classic (such as the Hayao Miyazaki movies) but I guess everyone has their own opinions on what constitutes to be great and classics (excuses!). It may not be legendary like animes that seem to go on forever (looking at you certain ninja and pirate series) but I’m sure this retro would be an electrifying experience. Sorry, trying to make a pun. What? You don’t think this series is worth it? How shocking!

It’s time to remind us to be grateful of the existence of Akihabara or Akiba as it is known for short. Because without this otaku town that started out as an electronics paradise, we especially weeabos and foreigners would never have got to enjoy the endless entertainment of anime, manga and gaming culture of our beloved Japan. What would Japan be without the otaku culture?! Yeah, I know Japan is more than that but we otakus only care about this, right? And so what a way to pay tribute with a series called Akiba’s Trip The Animation. Actually, this anime is adapted from a game and this anime was to celebrate Gonzo’s 25th anniversary. But nevertheless it is still fun to see all the otaku culture in a series although this isn’t the first series about it (refer to Genshiken, Lucky Star, Comic Party and even Denpa Kyoushi if you want to know what I mean). As for the plot of this series, it is about a small group of vigilante protecting the holy sacredness of Akiba from invaders by, wait for it, stripping their clothes! Oh my! Only in anime you can come up with this crap! This I got to see!

Episode 1
Tamotsu Denkigai makes his way to Akiba as he staves off an annoying sales solicitor by acting like a chuunibyou. He meets up with his sister, Niwaka and despite his promise to hang out with her, he doesn’t want to go to places she wants to visit. A fight happens nearby. Matome “Mayo” Mayonaka is fighting her opponents and defeating them by… Taking off their clothes?! The crowd is dispersed by the local vigilante group once it is over. Niwaka wonders if this is related to the Bugged Ones rumours of people turning berserk with superhuman powers. Tamotsu rubbishes all that. Tamotsu then goes off himself to get some innards rangers (?!) figurines. He picks the last rare model at the same time with busty Arisa Ahokainen. Since they share the same passion, they become friends. However Arisa is forced to run when Mayo crashes in to fight her, accusing her of being a Bugged One. When Tamotsu hears of a commotion at a café, he worries about Niwaka since she is supposed to be there. He barges in only to be attacked by zombies? Luckily Mayo protects him and fights off the hordes to let Mayo rescue his unconscious sister. He leaves Niwaka in Arisa’s hands to go back and help struggling Mayo. Speaking of which, she is captured by the Bugged Ones who proclaim her as a traitor. Death to traitors! How? By stripping her?! Tamotsu intervenes but in a bad timing. Before the leader stabs Mayo, Tamotsu uses his body to protect her. In order to save him, Mayo kisses him to transfer her powers. Now he is able to fight like her and has an uncanny skill of… Undressing people?! Seems this is the only way to defeat Bugged Ones. What the hell is this crap that their skin is sensitive to air? Shouldn’t they be wearing a hazmat suit then? Do you know how exposed that sexy maid outfit is?! Oh screw it. I just want to see maids getting strip! Oh yeah, strip them, Tamotsu! Once the menace are all gone, Mayo is impressed with his skills but warns him that with such powers, he can no longer return to his normal life.

Episode 2
Mayo explains about the Bugged Ones. The ones he fought are mainly low class types called Kurobugs. They just possess humans. The more powerful ones are called Hazoku and they can created Bugged Ones. Some Hazoku like herself is seeking to coexist with humans. That’s why she is trying to fight and protect this land. And she has been defending Akiba for 300 years! Tamotsu might not believe all that crap but it is real when he cannot leave Akiba for real! Now that he has inherited her powers, there is some sort of invisible barrier that prevents him to leave the area. Yes, he is a Bugged One like her now. So she takes him to her place where he could live temporarily. They meet Professor Tejasvi Latu (real name is freaking long so don’t bother) who explains more. Niwaka might not understand it all but she understands about Tamotsu being a Bugged One. Because dad always used to say he was a failure as a human! Tamotsu wants to bath but Mayo won’t let him. Not even take off his clothes? There’s a special shower that enables him to bath without getting wet or taking his clothes off. Mayo considers him her underling and must obey her to do patrols. Tamotsu takes the liberty to name the team Electric Mayonnaise. It’s a pun between their names. Although paid some allowance, Tamotsu doesn’t feel it is enough and needs to take up some part time jobs. Mayo introduces him to Mashiro Kuga’s agency. Any job you need in Akiba is here. Just that they don’t take responsibility for any information on it. Tamotsu is about to apply for a job at a military otaku store but the place is taken over by Bugged Ones. As the military guys start firing, Mayo calls for retreat as they can’t lose any more of their clothes. They stumble into the vigilante group and convince them (Arisa’s boobs smothering did the trick) to help them out to keep the peace. Their charge into the store work and Tamotsu is able to strip the big boss. However he is shocked to see him disappear into smoke. Mayo explains the sad truth. Those possessed by Kurobugs are able to return to humans when stripped. But for the Hazoku types, they will evaporate. That is why they cannot have their clothes taken off. You thought Tamotsu might be saddened by this but he decides life is short and he needs to buy all the things he need and make tons of cash. Well, at least he is positive.

Episode 3
Tamotsu notices Io Shiota’s concert on TV. She sounds so dead… So instead of going on a patrol with Mayo, he goes to her concert. Then he comes home to review her broadcast but finds something missing. Thus a guy introduces him to earphones. This leads him to a store where he buys those recommended accessories. To further improve his hobby as an audio enthusiasts, he buys more audio crap (including some non-scientific mysterious stone. Scammed!) till he realizes the best idol songs are heard live! WTF???!!! Then the bill comes. Oh no. Need a high paying easy job to pay up. So while Tamotsu takes up various odd jobs around Akiba, Mayo, Arisa and Niwaka are being scouted by a famous producer Chibusa Benikage to become models. They are named Mania (abbreviation from their names) and undergo training. You wonder if it is idol related since it has indoor mountain climbing. Build stamina… But you can figure something shady is going on as the photographer, Naisu Muramura is taking compromising pictures of them. Then there is this swimsuit shoot in which Arisa gladly flaunts her assets. Niwaka is too innocent to understand those group of old guys in their underwear known as the ‘shower squad’ is… Anyway, Arisa poses and has no qualms about it till Naisu tells her to strip naked. She would have obligingly done so had not the rest stopped her. Mayo realizes this is a scam and were baited to do porn. As you would have guessed It, Chibusa and Naisu are Bugged Ones. Luckily Tamotsu is working here as a janitor so he goes to save the girls. He manages to strip them and Naisu who is the boss gets disintegrated. Chibusa doesn’t remember what happened. As token of apology, she would like to work for them as their producer as she does saw potential in the trio. So Mania has their first live concert albeit to a very small crowd. I have more fingers on my hands… But it’s a good start since they didn’t have time for publicity and Tamotsu is supporting them like a fanatic idol fan.

Episode 4
Tamotsu is fixing his own amateur radio antenna. With Arisa and Niwaka, they use walkie-talkie to try to get the best deals. Since it worked out poorly, he decides to take the girls to go shopping for better communication equipment. Mayo wonders why don’t they just use their Smartphones. Apparently there is some difference using radio waves, corporate greed and communicating as humans. Whatever. Suddenly electrical devices around start to explode. Turns out there is a tower in Akiba manned by a Bugged One. They can’t get close to the tower since the microwaves will burn them! When they tell Professor about this, she might know who is behind this. While she was doing her research, her teacher Professor Yagyuda who specializes in the paranormal told her to head to Akiba to study the Bugged Ones in their natural habitat. Thus they decided to build a big tower. No matter how much they tired, they failed. She would love to contact Yagyuda for help but he is now in Brazil doing some job to cover his losses. All forms of communication are out. Except the radio. You can’t hack radio waves, can you? So we’ve got some technical explanation how the radio wave bounces using the atmosphere, blah, blah, blah. They hope to reach Yagyuda by Morse code but after many days, nothing. They order some pizza and chicken wings to stay awake. Till the delivery girl messes with the Morse code till they get a response. So Yagyuda’s message reads: ALMHK. They try to decipher what it means but it soon hit Professor. Order more chicken wings! So when the gang return to the tower, they are dressed in thick aluminium foil that blocks out the waves. ALMHK = aluminium haku. Invincible, they barge up the tower in no time to strip the Bugged One. Professor talks to her as she explains it was 3 days ago that she came here. She wanted to kill herself after failing to create the tower. A mysterious hat lady stopped her and vowed to make her dreams come true. When she reached out her hand to her, that is when she got possessed. She regrets what she has done but Professor assures to clear her name. She is now happily working with Yagyuda in Brazil while Tamotsu hosts his own FM radio.

Episode 5
Nostalgia time! Tamotsu plays Street Fighter II at the arcade. He receives a new challenger from a kid named Matsuko. Too bad he got his ass handed to him. He then joins Niwaka at the crane game. However she gets kidnapped right before his eyes. Because of a glass blocking him, he is afraid to break it in fear of being banned from this joint. Because Matsuko remarks about his improved gaming, he believes she is behind Niwaka’s kidnapping and a Bugged One. Soon a ransom note is delivered. Tamotsu must play a Street Fighter V tournament if she wants to save his sister. They realize Matsuko is currently the best fighting gamer this generation. And so Professor comes up with Tamotsu’s training that resembles more like torture that would have killed any ordinary person. Being burnt at the stake? You wonder how it contributes to his training. I don’t know but now he can press a button 16 consecutive times per second! So on tournament day, Tamotsu is passionate to win and begin his legend. Only the winner gets to play Matsuko. Too bad he lost in perfect straight sets on the first round! However Tamotsu manages to get to the final in a different bracket for losers. He defeats Matsuko in the first round. However this is only because she is learning her opponent’s abilities. So in the second round, a perfect victory for her. When the third round comes, Matsuko strips to improve her latent abilities. What? Tamotsu also follows even though he is on the verge of dying. I don’t think nobody wants to see his semi-naked body except gays. Tamotsu then does some Fubuki parody move to come back and defeat Matsuko. So this is what those useless trainings were for? When Tamotsu demands Niwaka back, she doesn’t know what it’s about. She becomes embarrassed when Mayo takes off her cap to reveal a funny standing hair. Definitely not a Bugged One. The real one is actually one of the commentators. As he brags, Tamotsu punches the hell out of him. Niwaka is safe in a room playing video games. Tamotsu joins her. Happy ending…

Episode 6
Every PC owner’s worst nightmare! BSOD! Well, time for Tamotsu to get a new PC. He meets Kage who suggests to build his own PC. They scour around for parts and Tamotsu is satisfied with the deals he can get. But when he assembles them, it doesn’t work because he forgot to buy an OS. So Professor helps install one that includes voice recognition. Everyone, meet Pyuko. As Tamotsu gets more attached with her, the rest tease Mayo she is jealous. So she forces Tamotsu who hates to leave Pyuko’s side for patrol. When he returns, Professor has made some modifications and now Pyuko is a bulky machine but is able to move and do things. Thus Tamotsu brings Pyuko around Akiba and they have a swell time. It might look odd to us but hey, in Akiba this is pretty normal, right? She learns a lot and even gets better at things humans do. Then on the news, PCs around start evolving into machines. Believing a certain PC brand is behind this, they head to its store but it is closed. Pyuko picks the lock and they find the owner, a Bugged One trying to control Akiba using robots disguised as cheap PCs. Although they defeat her, she leaves a ‘curse’ before dying. All the robots know converged into one machine that pounds the hell out of Mayo and Arisa. You thought the cliché trick of unplugging it to disconnect electric supply would work but it seems it enters into self-destruction mode to delete all its porn! So how? Countdown from 100. Full charged Pyuko lifts it up to space where she explodes with it. Pyuko! No!!! Tamotsu is sad as Professor speaks to him. She believes Pyuko did that to protect the various history of Akiba. This includes Tamotsu, a person who loves Akiba very much, a data that is most important. So long you remember her, Pyuko will live inside your memory. So take good care of that data. Sad ending…

Episode 7
Tamotsu is taking photograph of a figurine and accidentally breaks it. It belongs to Niwaka and she is not happy since it is a rare item which you can’t get anymore. She is further mad that he is paying attention to his photograph and brushes this small matter off. He thought he could get a replacement on the auction but some Arab dude outbid him. Time to search for a part time job that pays well. Mashiro recommends him to a butler and maid café. The manager accepts him and creeps him out about working that is more than just pay. At first Tamotsu is freaked out by the other weird butlers and maids like screaming out lines to say to their master. But he gets used to it and learns quickly. He impresses customers and gets promoted fast, boosting his morale. So when it is time to get his pay, it seems they are just thank you notes?! What the heck?! But then he is brainwashed that working for their master’s thanks is all they’re living for. Thus he continues to work hard and is starting to look like a zombie. He makes his first mistake and loses motivation. So the other staffs continue to brainwash him and give him a reason to continue working. He has been working so hard that he hardly comes back. For a week now and even when Niwaka visits to apologize for being too harsh, he isn’t home. Arisa shows them the bad news that Tamotsu’s face appears in a magazine’s interview. He looks like a zombie! They rush down to the café to see him now in a maid dress! They try to make him quit but he rants about his dream to work in this place. This is when Niwaka slaps him and then a baseball bat swat to open his eyes about his dream. Something about turning his novel into a flop movie and then into an anime series and live on unearned income. Huh? He returns to normal and the manager reveals his true self as a Bugged One. However the butlers and maids are just brainwashed and not real Bugged Ones so stripping them didn’t do anything. The manager takes Niwaka hostage. Tamotsu hears her plea for help. He strips both of them though he quickly clothes her. In the aftermath, Tamotsu apologizes to Niwaka and gives a replacement figurine he bought. But when she thanks him, he is now afraid of that thank you word and runs away.

Episode 8
As Tamotsu and the girls head to the store to buy rice cooker, Arisa is shocked to see her master. The rest are then shocked to learn Arisa is a university graduate who is travelling the world to learn things. That is how she met Master and learnt martial arts. She is now in Japan to learn about otaku. It seems all the rice cookers are snapped out by Master. Attempts to talk to him fail. This this sexy lady, Diva Risa McWhite pops up. She claims she is Master’s master and her aim is to conquer Akiba by buying up all rice cookers and selling them at retail price. They realize she is a Bugged One and Master is just her tool for that. They start fighting but the shop staff warns them about doing it here or else. Thus it is decided they will be squaring off at Akiba’s greatest tournament. If you’re wondering why it resembles like American wrestling, the entire thing is a parody of WWE. So we’ve got Master and Risa as typical baddies entering the ring with the typical flashy effects, music and arrogant speech. Then we’ve got the good guy Arisa (R. Mika?) whom the crowd adores. Of course the usual cliché like how the dumb referee is knocked out early so the baddies could do illegal and underhanded tactics to Arisa. Arisa realizes Master is trying to fight Risa’s control but he is forced to give in when she threatens his family. Worse, Mayo and Niwaka also become hostages. As Arisa takes a beating, Tamotsu stops being useless as he rides a buggy in to save Mayo and Niwaka. Arisa suddenly revives and turns the tables on Master by slamming him over layers of tables. Although both are down, the last straw came when Risa hands Master a sword to finish her off. This is when Master slaps Risa. His martial arts aren’t used for these deeds. He finishes her and continues his bout with Arisa. Arisa wins thanks to a low blow in the crotch. Even with Arisa’s victory, Risa continues to play dirty and beats up Arisa. Tamotsu then comes in declaring Akiba belongs to everyone and will protect it. Arisa and Tamotsu did a double combo on Risa and his stripping ended her reign. Master and Arisa reconcile and he decides to restart his training over again for being manipulated like that. Everyone cheers the winners. A good advertising opportunity for Electric Mayonnaise.

Episode 9
They’re trolling us, right? Because it is stated that everything is decided by card battle games. Including the recent US presidential elections! Everything boils down to this ultimate card game called Battle Creatures! Arisa does a live stream of unboxing card packs of Battle Creatures. Too bad all of them are pretty common and dull cards. Tamotsu returns and learns what she is doing. He notices an unopened pack and opens it. Voila! An ultra rare card! Arisa notes he has the talent to be a card player. As Tamotsu talks to Kage about this at a cafe, they notice the other tables of vigilante groups breaking up because of a cute girl being recruited into their ranks. Later it is discovered that a company called Princess Company has been sending out such girls to really break up those groups. Tamotsu and his girls go confront the CEO of the company, Iketeru Masada. Aside his weird hair, Arisa totally digs this guy because he is so rich he is bathing in money! But when he admits that plan of his, it is no surprised that he is a Bugged One. Mayo tries to defeat him but his skills are better. He could have finished her off easily but that would be no fun. He suggests a card game and this is where Tamotsu steps up to take the challenge. And so we see a dramatic spoof battle of Yugioh. Yugi vs Kaiba? So all those flashy exaggerated effects are just in your mind. Because clueless ones like Mayo are just seeing a boring lifeless game. It’s all in your mind… As cliché as it gets, Tamotsu is on the verge of losing after taking the brunt of the attacks until he pulls out that ultra rare card. Yeah, it’s like a free pass to give him all the unfair advantage to turn the tables and defeat Masada. Somehow he got stripped despite losing just his card game. Yeah, Mayo doesn’t even understand a single bit. In the aftermath, all the vigilante groups reconcile and are back as a whole again. Moral of the story: Cute girls always bring ruin to a circle of close knit friends! So true!

Episode 10
When Tamotsu met up with his friend and learns he already has a girlfriend, he lost his mind! So he’s got a problem with this ‘betrayal’?! So now he wishes a girlfriend to drop down from the sky for him. Really? Niwaka has a cheeky plan. Playing psychology with Mayo, she manages to make the tsundere go out on a practice date with Tamotsu till he gets a real girlfriend. Of course they’re not going to let them be alone on this date as they spy on them. Since both are noobs in dating, Mayo gets advice from Niwaka to do what she likes. So… Eating? Yup, they patron a lot of stores to eat! Man, she’s got a black hole stomach! Well, Tamotsu can see how happy she enjoys her food. As she can still eat, they now head to the ramen store but it is being hogged by a food warrior named Kurota. He seems to be gobbling down everything. So when Tamotsu tells him off not to monopolize food in Akiba, he challenges him to a food contest. Mayo will be his challenger. This contest blows out of proportion as it becomes publicised. In an hour, they have to eat as many ramen bowls and the loser will pay all its cost. So we see them on the same footing and see them coming up with tricks to cool and eat the ramen faster. Though, Kurota seems to be desecrating the food so he could eat faster. After all, food ends up all the same in your stomach, right? But of course it ends with Mayo winning by a bite! Mayo is kind enough not to let him pay but wants him not to eat like that and enjoy its taste. However Kurota will not accept defeat. He will conquer Akiba by eating up all its food. That’s when they realize he is a Bugged One. As he tries to suck everything (cue for panties showing fanservice), Tamotsu gets this idea to throw ice at him to freeze his sucking before Mayo strips him and turns him into a whole load of ramen. In the aftermath can you believe Mayo’s stomach still growls after that?! Must have worked up an appetite from all that eating? What did I just say???!!! So she has room for desserts, eh? Tamotsu knows the right place and takes her by the hand there. Ah, looks like he’s a natural in getting the girl.

Episode 11
Mania practises for the upcoming Akiba Festival. But during this period, somebody has been playing evil pranks on Akiba and leaving name cards in the name of Electric Mayonnaise. It is no surprise that Tamotsu, Mayo and Arisa are arrested by the vigilante group and tried in their kangaroo court. Although they show picture proof, uhm, don’t those guys look a bit fat and ugly? But they can’t tell for Mayo since her back is facing. Tamotsu vehemently stands up and vouches for Mayo’s innocence. He tells them off that everything will be alright if they find proof. Tamotsu has an idea where the imposters will strike next. They are waiting right at the Akiba Festival concert and catch them in the act. It’s going to be tough fighting those big fat ugly imposters but once they find their rhythm, those Bugged Ones are easy. Mayo is having it tough against her clone. She looks exactly the same except for that devil mask she is wearing. Luckily the rest come to help her so she flees. Lady luck shines on them since Professor has taken picture proof as evidence. So when they show it to the vigilante group, they regret and apologize for accusing them. Tamotsu forgives them. Before Mania could start singing, the electric power is cut off. Then live on TV, Minister Shigusa Kiyoi announces a total ban on Akiba Festival as it supports unhealthy activities. She believes such culture which has turned into some porn industry must be completely eradicated. There’s more. Tomorrow the Diet has pass a law that will come into effect tomorrow that bans everything in Akiba called Akiba Ban. Later Tamotsu receives a distress call from Mayo having a hard time from her imposter. As he rushes to her side, it is a trap as the imposter steals his kiss to absorb his power. The real Mayo who is also being given a wild goose hunt, sees unconscious Tamotsu being dumped into the river.

Episode 12
It seems Kiyoi is being bribed by the Hazoku organization, Metrotica to do their bidding. The old witch boss, Fukame doesn’t care about Kiyoi’s hatred for the otaku world as long as they do what they are told. The girls are glad Tamotsu is alright. Mayo is first to hug him. However they notice his strip of hair is back to normal. This means he is back to being a normal human. Tamotsu insists he still wants to help and there won’t be any problem if Mayo does the same thing to give back his powers, right? Well, I think that isn’t the problem… Suddenly agents barge in and beg for Arisa to come back to Shangrila Trophy, the largest US conglomerate. Arisa during her journey stumbled into its CEO and ended up being his son’s tutor but somehow climbed the ranks to be his executive secretary. It seems the CEO is very ill and without a replacement, the company and the world will be in danger! Please save us all! As Arisa owes him a huge debt, she has no choice but to return. Akiba is now a ghost town with the ban in effect. Because Tamotsu still wants to help and Mayo still doesn’t want him to risk his life like before, this causes tensions between them. Tamotsu is roped in by the vigilante group to form a committee in Akiba to protest against the ban. But Tamotsu is too depressed to join in and opts out.

The protest debate goes on but nothing came about. It gets worse when all merchandises in Akiba get confiscated or burnt. What’s this?! All maids are arrested???!!! WTF???!! I’M F*CKING AGAINST THIS!!! STOP!!!!! The protest committee try to think of their next move but the government men barge in to arrest them all. The committee lets Kage who is the head of the group escape. Tamotsu is depressed in his room as Niwaka threatens that she’ll go do it herself. Then he sees Mayo facing off in the TV’s background. Time to get your ass moving. It seems Mayo’s imposter is her younger sister, Urame. She is furious over her betrayal over grandma (Fukame). Some flashback showing how Metrotica is just a façade for these creatures to enslave humans and rule Akiba for centuries. Thus the ‘peace and order’. Mayo wanted Akiba to be shared by everyone but it is this concept that grandma didn’t like. Before Mayo gets owned, Tamotsu returns to save her. Because Mayo still rants about how dangerous everything is, he shuts her up by kissing her! With his powers back, Tamotsu beats up Urame and strips her. Funny, she didn’t die. She just lost her memories. Sorry to ruin Tamotsu and Mayo’s long hug but it’s double knockout for Urame when Arisa returns as she lands on her after skydiving from that height. Arisa explains it wasn’t that CEO who was sick but his giant panda. So the uproar was about who to succeed as his pet. Now that Arisa has administered a cure, both CEO and panda are happily on vacation. With her back, Electric Mayonnaise is whole once again. Fukame is displeased that Urame has fallen and blames that man as the root of the problem. She will not hand over Akiba to anybody.

Episode 13
While Arisa, Niwaka and Professor save the arrested committee, Tamotsu and Mayo beat up some cameraman who is closely associated with Metrotica to find Hazoku’s hideout. He also exposes Fukame’s plan to conquer Akiba so that they could rebel the government to establish an independent nation for Bugged Ones. Along the way, Mayo tells of her past how grandma used to tell her the corruption from humans are slowly tainting Akiba and will eventually kill them. But when Mayo surfaced 50 years ago (yes, Mayo is 78 years old!!!) she found nothing of that sort and instead people had a different kind of passion. She quickly fell in love with it but Fukame was against it. Despite her attempts to talk to her, she remained a stubborn goat till she got exiled. She then moved their hideout. Ever since, Mayo has been trying to protect Akiba from her onslaught. The duo traverse rooms filled with traps (don’t touch anything, Tamotsu!) and face off with a pair of cute sisters in flimsy outfit because they don’t think Tamotsu could strip them. Damn wrong, girls… This leads them to Fukame where grandma and granddaughter face each other for the first time in 20 years. Fukame is still bent on purifying Akiba. It was once filled with ki but the corruption, war and now strange sexual desires has turned Akiba into some filth. She considers humans to be the pests. Tamotsu punches her and chides her for judging Akiba based on her own biased judgment. She will hear no more and will start cleansing Akiba. She summons a giant pink monster (Kirby?) for destruction. Mayo is absorbed into it as Tamotsu tries to climb in to rescue her.

Meanwhile Professor seems to have found some power source but it looks like they need Mania to pull it off. They’re short of a member it seems. Professor, you’re not wanted. Oh, Urame who still has amnesia thinks she is Mayo (as seen from a replay concert on TV). Mania technically a whole again. So as they sing parodies of classical music, with the power of everyone, their support summons a giant naked Ultraman to fight the fake Kirby. It seems the power of the glow sticks is responsible for that. Never underestimate the power of glow sticks… Tamotsu saves Mayo as they both combine to pilot fake Ultraman to defeat Fukame for good. In the aftermath, Fukame repents but it is too late. She realizes the people’s love for this city is stronger and more beautiful. She wished she had only spent time with the people. She leaves it to Tamotsu and Mayo to protect Akiba. Mayo is sad grandma dies but it seems her vapour is sucked into a vacuum by Professor. She won’t let her die easily and has lots to ask. Kiyoi tries to escape with her money but is stopped by a giant maid. She is actually an undercover police and arrests her for bribery and fraudulent accounting. Not even a million dollars can bribe her way out. She is replaced by Kage who becomes the minister of Akiba. His first order is to resume Akiba Festival. Somehow Tamotsu and Mayo still can’t leave the barrier. Oh well, they can still do fun things together. Together. The moment we have all been waiting for. Their kiss is interrupted by Niwaka and Arisa. WHY?! OH WHY???!!! It seems they are from 10 years in the future. Future Akiba is in trouble and they’re blaming the duo. Don’t tell me they become the new tyrants. So back to the future to save the future?

Akiba Strip & Rip!
Oh wait! I think I have a conspiracy theory why Tamotsu and Mayo are blamed for the whatever chaos future Akiba is in now. If the present duo are gone in the future to fix it, then who the hell are left behind to protect Akiba in present time?! Sure, you might say those vigilante groups but those are small fries and nobody does them better than our dynamic duo. And because Tamotsu and Mayo are missing, thus allowing other villains to surface and possible remnants of Bugged Ones to revive! OMG! Just like when Batman is away, Gotham City became besieged with crimes and corruption. So Akiba’s future in peril is not entirely their fault! It’s your fault, Niwaka and Arisa!!! Your fault for taking them away and making them ‘missing’ in present time!

Aside that, I suppose the series is a fun ride and it is a good thing that Akiba is once again safe from the vile scums who want to see such filthy and embarrassing culture completely erased. Yes people. Let’s thank the unsung heroes of Akiba who keep the place safe and allow us to continue our passion. Viva otaku culture! Viva Akiba! Viva maids! Ahem… Even if you aren’t an otaku or a fan of anything Akiba, I’m sure the silly plot and slapstick comedy moments will still eke out a little laughter. Unless… Part of the silliness comes from the fast paced comedy which sometimes make it look like it is pretty dumb. But hey, you’re not supposed to take everything here seriously. In Akiba, anything can happen!

Fanservice isn’t the main draw of the series but it feels like it is part of the complement. Without it, the show would have been just another run of the mill. Yeah, the plot is just plain and ridiculous if you look at it. I mean, how exciting can you get if the plot is just about a group of vigilantes protecting Akiba? Boring. But what about protecting Akiba from invaders? Nothing original. But what about stripping them to save the day? Uhm, okay. Hope it attracts a certain demographic target. Nothing makes a horny otaku’s day with some little show of skin. So if you want to classify this series as an ecchi one, it is by most about 20%-30%.

I feel that Mayo is the ‘main offender’ of this fanservice hijinks and not those small fry Bugged Ones as their stripping is just only a couple of seconds. Because in every Bugged One battle that she fights in, you can guarantee to expect that her clothes will be ripped off to expose her delicious white lingerie. For some reason as long as she has a small patch of ordinary clothes left, she won’t be killed. Yeah, f*ck logic. Fanservice comes first. Then there is also Arisa whose big busts are also for fanservice points because who else but foreigners in anime world could have such naturally big boobs. Arisa sometimes also gets her clothes torn but not as much as Mayo. And yes, Arisa is also fanservice material in the sense that in some episodes she dresses up and cosplays in different outfits for no apparent reason. From policewoman to bunny girl, she’s got it all. Well, almost.

I know it sounds ridiculous that to defeat Bugged Ones that you have to strip them because of some ‘unfounded scientific theory’ about their skin being exposed to air and sunlight that makes them vulnerable. Heh. Total crap. It’s just like that Hollywood movie about an alien whose weakness is water and they had to choose a planet that is 70% filled with that weakness to conquer. Dumb, right? So it is the same thing I feel here. Akiba just like any other part of the world is almost covered with air and sunlight reaches to its many parts. And yet the simple task of undressing is all it takes to defeat them. From a practical point of view it looks hard to undress people as seen here but what the heck, right? Even if this is true in this anime’s setting, don’t you think that the Bugged Ones should wear thicker and hard to take off clothes? Sure, it makes them stand out but at least makes them harder to near impossible to be defeated. Yeah, they never learn. Whatever. As long as we get to see our weekly stripping.

That is why sometimes I am confused to see Mayo who is sometimes close to death with the last piece of decent clothes (not lingerie) hanging on her skin to cheat death. It is like they have conveniently forgotten this rule so that we could enjoy our fanservice. Yeah, I think that sounds sensible. Fanservice… Remember, Mayo is the same race as Hazoku so she shouldn’t be exempted from the rule. Therefore with this, should she be able to put on a bikini and take a bath instead of whatever special bath she said earlier on? Or at least wear a rag? Couldn’t Tamotsu do the same too? Hey, as long as there are some clothes on, right? Screw this logic. My head hurts thinking about this. Can be easily cured if my eyes see more pantsu…

Another mind boggling thing is why the Bugged Ones are only confined to Akiba. Maybe there was some explanation that I wasn’t paying attention to. Because of this, it only makes sense why they never tried to take over the world. Yeah, this invisible wall thingy like how it is so annoying in video games, prevents them from venturing further outside. And to think that for centuries they have enslaved humanity and that is only a mere fraction and confined in Akiba. Problem solved if all humans move out of Akiba. And besides, this gaping hole brings me to the point of how big Akiba is. Because unless it is like the size of Russia, I am very sure Mayo shouldn’t have a hard time finding grandma’s base. Sure there are dark nooks and corners in Akiba or anywhere in the world but I know that Akiba isn’t that super big city even though I have not visited the place myself. Even if you include its surrounding wards, it still won’t be that huge. You can argue that Mayo is a one (wo)man show in trying to keep the peace but over 20 years and still not finding it? Has she been looking hard enough? Or too busy staving off waves of Bugged Ones?

It is a visual and trivia feast for those who are really deep into the otaku culture. I am very sure that this series pays homage to the otaku culture as all if not many of the references you see here are real stuffs. Not knockoffs or spoofs like misspelling of famous brands to avoid lawsuits. So when you see actual clips of the latest Street Fighter V being featured (blatant promotion?) and even that American fast food joint, Carl’s Jr being featured (logo and trademark being featured prominently and accurately in an episode), they’re really serious in featuring Akiba as a true melting pot of the otaku culture. Because I am not a hardcore otaku, there are definitely lots of trivia that I have missed. Poor me. Although I believe there are lots more otaku culture in Akiba, but I think this series has decently featured and covered some of the otaku tropes ones such as video games, card games, maid cafes, electronic appliances stores and even the lesser known military one. Well, you can’t talk about the otaku culture without covering at least one of them. So they’ve done a good job in showcasing and creating some awareness even though much of it is for satire and shouldn’t be taken seriously. Viva otaku culture!

As far as the characters go, they try to be interesting but they aren’t really. Because we are so overwhelmed by the otaku trivia, I think we close an eye on this. Because Tamotsu feels like a typical anime main character. Because he got killed and then revived with super powers with a kiss. Then they go about defeating Bugged Ones in each episode that feels like just random standalones. It distracts us from the bad logic of stripping as well as the cheesy interaction between Tamotsu and Mayo. We can see that there is some sort of romance brewing between them from miles away although we can also see that Mayo being a tsundere not being honest to herself. There are signs and those body languages that you can’t ignore… And then finally they blend it in and make them hit it off seamlessly and naturally like as though they’ve gotten along fine for a long time. Well, good for them. So the couple that patrols and strips Bugged Ones together, stays together? I’m just jealous that Tamotsu has this wonderful skills of stripping others and he did it to several maids. DAMN IT WHERE CAN I LEARN SUCH SKILLS???!!! Ahem…

Then the rest of the Electric Mayonnaise group are just being part of the cliché like Arisa that busty blonde foreigner who is also the most cheerful and lively among the pack. Am I thinking too much that her surname feels weird in a goofy sense, like as though it is fake and on purpose? Throw in Niwaka as the cute little sister for you imouto fetish creeps and there you have a little group of vigilantes. Professor is there as the ‘brains’ since she sometimes has the device for the solutions and has this running joke of popping up from out of nowhere. To make her stand out more, I guess that is why the make her a glasses character, twintail, tanned, extra-long sleeves and, uhm, always riding a Segway? Whatever.

Kage might look like a funny cartoonish character and he sounds like he has an ulterior motive but sorry, no big twist whatsoever. He’s just a good guy. Other minor characters who make their cameo in single episodes feel like they are typical clichés of the otaku world. They appear in the climax of the series so as to remind us that they’re still around. Because that is what you do after being ‘saved’, right? Yeah, better than killing them off… Nobody really dies in this anime. Even Pyuko somehow comes back alive to save Tamotsu in the final episode. I don’t think that’s a clone either. The only dead ones are those Hazoku… But as shown by Professor how she can save what is left of Hazoku given she does it in time, maybe she did the same for the rest? Just that we didn’t see it. There might be more than meet the eye to her than thought… Somehow I can’t help think that Fukame is a representation of people who has hated something many others love for such a long time that they are blinded by their own biasness only to be debunked and seen the truth at the long end of the tunnel. By then it is too late and regrets of how they would have done things differently then. But hey, at least better late than never.

Voice acting wise, the main casts are rather newbies as the ones I recognized are relegated to cameo roles like Daisuke Ono as Masada, Aoi Yuuki as Matsuko, Yui Ogura as Pyuko and Jouji Nakata as Kage. The main casts are Haruki Ishiya as Tamotsu (Shuuichi in Hibike! Euphonium), Rie Takahashi doing a double take as Mayo and Urame (Megumin in KonoSuba, Futaba in Sore Ga Seiyuu), Yuki Nagaku as Arisa (Ichigo in Sore Ga Seiyuu), Marika Kouno as Niwaka (Rin in Sore Ga Seiyuu), Misaki Kuno as Professor (Hawk in Nanatsu No Taizai), Chinami Hashimoto as Mashiro (Chiyo in Prison School) and Masumi Asano as Fukame (Hakufu in Ikkitousen series).

To further showcase the powerhouse of idols in Akiba, each episode has a different ending theme featuring different pop idol groups. So if you really like idol type songs, you’re going to love some of the groups featuring here like Petit Milady, Milky Holmes (yes, those bungling loli detectives) and even Earphones. Earphones who? If you watched Sore Ga Seiyuu, the idol unit created in that anime looks like they have taken off as a real idol unit. Guess what? Here is another interesting trivia. That Earphone idol unit is exactly the same group as Mania! The same seiyuus who voiced the main trio here are also the same main trio in Sore Ga Seiyuu! Should have seen it coming and noticed this in my previous paragraph… Now are we confused on which name we should call them? Because out of all the ending songs, my favourite is the catchy Sanki Tousen by Earphones. Or is it Mania? Despite the different ending themes, there is only 1 opening theme, Ikken Rakuchaku Go Youjin by Earphones. Or is it Mania? Hmm… Since officially it is listed as Earphones but isn’t ironic using a different unit name for this anime? God, I’m so confused!

The art and drawing feel like low quality. At least for the characters who feel like as though they are of low quality due to the very simplistic and plain design in many of them. It’s like as though they didn’t want to put in a lot of details but still want to make them look like cute and kawaii anime characters so they scrap together what they’ve got. Because do you not agree with me that if you look closely at our Electric Mayonnaise, don’t they look just a tad weird in that sense? Thus in that sense, it makes it look of a lesser quality than other Gonzo’s works in which characters have this cute and kawaii design like Seto No Hanayome, Saki and even Sore Ga Seiyuu. Even when the characters take a beating and to show their injury bump, it is usually exaggerated in a cartoonish way. However the streets and backgrounds are given more detail and closely depicts the real streets of Akiba. So if you can’t stomach the plain characters and animation, just look and admire at the backgrounds. Good enough to make me wonder if they are really hand drawn or real pictures but being given some special facelift. Well, at least everything is bright, vibrant and colourful.

Overall, if you are an otaku fan, you should be able to enjoy this series with its otaku references and trivia despite all its goofy and silly plot, flawed logic and plain but cliché characters. Brainless but energetic. To others who aren’t so fond of this culture, it is a red warning sign to stay away. A trip that you might want to come back again or never return. It either gives you a shock treatment that scars your pure ideal concept of Akiba (really?) or you look forward for more of its greatness. It makes you want to learn more about the unique culture or gives you very unrealistic expectations from what you can get and see in this town. Akiba might be a place for everyone and yet still isn’t for everyone. Be warned that once you check into this otaku culture, you can never leave. Forever.

Starship Operators

August 18, 2017

When your nation surrenders to another larger kingdom without a fight but a small group of you do not want to accept that. You want to fight back and take back your independence. However you have no money for war. No war funds to buy weapons and supplies to fight back. So how do you find funding in such situation? You sell broadcasting rights to a broadcasting network for a reality TV! No kidding. This is the premise of Starship Operators. And this was way back in 2005. At that time I guess reality TV really means what it means. Because as far as this series is concerned, the real price to pay is that death is real. Yup. People are going to die in this war game that is seen across the galaxy as reality TV. A matter of life and death to a few, entertainment and showbiz to the rest.

Episode 1
Shinon Kouzuki is a space cadet on the Starfleet Amaterasu. She is part of the space combat cadets from Defence University on a training voyage to Planet Kibi. Suddenly they hear on the news that the kingdom of Henrietta has attacked Kibi. All the cadets are placed in one room as they try to discuss what is happening but information to them is pretty scarce. They believe Kibi’s government surrendered immediately and cadets who dream of enlisting will have to look for jobs elsewhere. But Cisca Kanzaki has an idea. They can steal this ship and fight against the kingdom. Shinon is against this but she is surprised when everyone else agrees to this. However they are short on supplies and ammo. As Henrietta is repealing all trade treaties with governments that have lost their armed forces, Amaterasu is considered up for sale. That means anybody with money can buy this ship. They assume Cisca will sponsor but unfortunately he didn’t bring that much cash. However he knows who to get for sponsor. There are some nations who are against Henrietta but will they risk it to form an alliance with them? Cisca is going to do negotiations with the Galaxy Network first. The deal is done and Amaterasu is now owned by the cadets. They even sell their broadcasting rights to Hollywood! Reality TV? Thus we have reporter Dita Mirkov on board broadcasting everything live on Amaterasu back to Galaxy Network.

On their first episode, they are already to engage the enemy. Cisca takes command when the enemy already starts firing from afar, outside Amaterasu’s firing range. Can’t blame the newbie for panicking so with suggestions from the crew, it is assumed the enemy is firing a rail gun. But Shinon disagrees since it is strange for the enemy to waste ammo firing at such a long range (its effectiveness will decrease the longer the distance). Intelligence officer, Yuuki Shimei adds that the enemy has no intention to evade attacks and plans to end the fight before they enter Amaterasu’s firing range. The enemy is discovered to be a gun battery attached to a factory and can replenish ammo by itself. Shinon realizes the reason why the enemy chose this as their battlefield is because up ahead are asteroids. She has a plan to take cover behind an asteroid shadow. They will use it as shield to get up close. Then they will move out of their safe zone to observe the enemy so they can formulate an attack plan. Although Amaterasu takes a direct hit, its heat resistance armour which is the selling point of this ship, regenerates. Amaterasu is able to get within firing range and destroy the gun battery. A successful mission but Galaxy Network’s producer, Peter Spikes isn’t quite impressed yet. Later Shinon talks to her best friend, Miyuri Akisato that the producers want and has made Cisca as captain, Takai Kiryuu and Shinto Mikami as commanders while all the operators will be girls. Also, former Prime Minister Mamiya who is also the uncle of Rio Mamiya will also be boarding Amaterasu. All Miyuri can say is to do their best in battle for this ship is the world’s biggest interplanetary observatory. It will be too much of a waste to let it get destroyed.

Episode 2
As soon as Mamiya gets on board, 2 ships from Henrietta appear. Since Amaterasu doesn’t have the resource to take on both ships, it is suggested that they run to the nearest neutral planet, Phoenicia. Their advantage is that they have no planet or citizens to defend. With Mamiya on board, they are like a government in exile. Dita continues to take footage of the crew during their break. Cisca and Rio talk about Sei Ogino being a workaholic and has negotiated well for Amaterasu. Because press conference requires fees and they have received many participation requests. Press conferences will also be their best bet to relay what is happening. Furthermore, Rio is the best debater in university. Although everyone thinks the duo are the ones who came up with this plan, it is actually the show producers. They wonder if Shinon also knows about this plan since she was mostly against it all but ironically didn’t disembark when she had the chance to. A ship from Henrietta, Trafalgar appears. Its commander hails them and lets them know his intention to engage them. The alert is sounded as all crew rush to their battle stations. I suppose fighting one on one is okay. As Trafalgar is accelerating, it is believed it has a short firing range. Yeah, but it has a very powerful plasma cannon.

When Trafalgar fires its plasma cannon, Amaterasu also fires theirs. However both beams negate each other. It is then they realize maybe this is what the plasma cannon is for and that Trafalgar intends to attack them via laser cannons. As they plan their next move, they get a call from Peter. He wonders why they are not doing anything after the first blast. He doesn’t care as long as they fire missiles or lasers or whatever. Just shoot back. Well, he is the sponsor. Got to go with it. Amaterasu employs 2 anti-laser weapons, Kasumi. As it takes time to set up, the enemy starts firing its laser cannons. Their radar did not pick up any flashes since it is shot at the speed of light. Although it scrapes Amaterasu, damage is minimal. Once they have finished preparing Revolver and getting into firing range, Amaterasu shoots but using auto-aim instead of manual adjustments that would have had higher percentage of hitting. Yuuki has analysed Trafalgar’s evasive manoeuvre programme and it is much simpler than thought to be. Trafalgar takes a direct hit and blows up. Amaterasu is forced to hear the eerie amplified sounds of the ship disintegrating in space. Amaterasu might have won this battle but soon Sei reports casualties. When Amaterasu got hit by the laser cannon, 3 of the maintenance crew outside were in its path. A space burial is held for the fallen. It is too late to realize this isn’t TV drama or training exercise. This is real reality TV.

Episode 3
Shinon falls depressed believing the deaths of those men are her fault. Arei Hisaka and Takai are doing maintenance of the panels outside Amaterasu. Arei’s adopted father was a commander on board a ship that was destroyed by Henrietta. Thus she is here to seek revenge. Takai has a different stance. He views all those who died as part of the war. If they start thinking who is killed or have killed, wars would never end. It’s not like he hates Henrietta but he does think they are wrong and is here to live up to his beliefs. An abnormal sun flare is detected. It will reach Amaterasu in about 8 minutes so all crew outside are to hurry back in. Takai takes this opportunity to hug Arei while he brings her to safety. Don’t want regrets? However he doesn’t bring her to the usual hangar but to some hatch. After he throws her in, he runs out of fuel and is left floating in space. Luckily Shinto in his mini ship picks him up shortly. Apparently this is a stunt for the ratings but Peter views it too nice to be aired. Cisca is facing some problems because some of the crew wants to call it quits. Then a civilian ship from Kibi hails them. Gendou Wakana who is the father of Sanri hopes his daughter would stop this and come home. Sanri explains the contract they have with Galaxy Network and the amount needed to be bought out. Father is willing to sell his company for it because what good would it do if Sanri is dead. Nothing else would bring her back. Plus, if Amaterasu surrenders now, all crew will be pardoned except the 5 whom Henrietta considers as leaders: Cisca, Rio, Takai, Shinto and Shinon. The communication is instantly cut off so as to make them think carefully what is needed to be done. When the 5 leaders converge, Shinon is convinced this is just a psychological attack Henrietta orchestrated. It is the perfect time to shake them since they have experienced casualties. Takai believes whoever wants to leave, let them leave because Amaterasu doesn’t need so many people to operate. In fact, Yuuki can actually operate the entire ship by himself.

Yuuki detects some malfunction somewhere in the ship. To avoid unrest from the crew, he sends Arei and Sanri to take a look. Arei talks to Sanri and knows she loves Takai. It is the reason she stayed on board. Sanri asks if Arei loves Takai too but it is more of because he saved her life during external maintenance. Arei suggests she confess to Takai. Although she might be afraid of the answer because she doesn’t know his feelings, it is only because he doesn’t know hers. Arei continues about her own experience. There was a man she loved but he has gone far away. She loved her adopted father not as a father but also as a man. Some of the crew are getting restless to leave as they don’t want to be dragged further into this. Sanri’s friends hope Takai could persuade Sanri to stay but he believes she has to make that decision for herself. Soon Sanri puts up a reply broadcast. The first thing she does is confess her love for Takai. To her this feeling is very important. Important enough to risk her life. That is why she is staying on Amaterasu and won’t forget the kindness and care her parents raised her. Father is devastated to hear this so the Henrietta guys putting him up to this break off whatever deals they had. Thanks to Sanri’s determination, the crew members now find new resolve to stay on. Can you say that love saved the day?

Episode 4
Admiral Dul Elroy receives word from Admiral Fares of Aboukir that he is going to make his move. As Henrietta’s greatest commander, he will end this charade and bring victory to the kingdom. Everyone is bugging Takai to respond to Sanri’s feelings. This guy promises to only do so if he lives through the war. Can’t think about love when he doesn’t know if he is going to die? Isn’t all the more reason to? Amaterasu picks up Aboukir’s presence. Fares wants the space pirates to surrender or die. Now, Aboukir is a stealth ship as Shinon lists down its accomplishments. Henrietta is so proud of its stealth ship that it even publicizes images of them. Shinon’s answer to take down a stealth ship is simple: Just find it. However with their detection systems down, all they need is to pool their efforts and find it first. Besides, they a person who is very keen on observation. So Miyuri who has a keen interest in observing the stars, takes on the job to find the stealth ship but it is hard to find it. Otherwise it wouldn’t be a stealth ship, right? I’ll leave the mumbo-jumbo out on why it’s hard to do so but they have around 5 to 10 days to find it if they are to be victorious. Shinon then suggests a very unusual method to find it via shock. Something about stealth capabilities that obstruct light from planets and other emissions thus there will be black stains appearing on the light curtain.

The operators begin their meticulous search area by area for Aboukir but it is still like a needle in a haystack. When Takai comes to check on them, Shinon gets another idea. She hopes he could do them a favour in firing all the missiles. This is not to fire at the enemy but the flashes of the explosion would provide shadows and thus make it easier to pinpoint. Cisca has his reservations if it fires too far behind or in front of Aboukir but with Miyuri’s keen eyes, she would be able to pick it up. And don’t worry about the costs of the torpedoes. Peter will deal with the budget. Just make it flashy. So once Yuuki has calculated the whereabouts of Aboukir, they fire their missiles before finishing it off. Elroy fears the worst when he knows the flashes of light and explosions do not originate from Amaterasu. With no communication coming from Aboukir, everyone is in shock that the stealth ship is defeated. Takai hopes Sanri can give more time to think about her confession. He wants to really think seriously about it. Okay. She’ll wait. Henrietta has released a statement confirming the destruction of Aboukir and the death of Fares and strongly condemns the pirate ship. Amaterasu is requested to leave Phoenicia in 24 hours so Cisca and Rio seek Mamiya’s advice on where to go next. He suggests a place where they are away from Henrietta’s surveillance. A red dwarf and planetary nation of Shuu who is fighting against the kingdom might be the nearest option.

Episode 5
Shuu agrees to welcome Amaterasu but there is a condition: Some of them need to attend a televised reception of their welcoming. Shinon doesn’t like this because they are treating them like celebrities. Aren’t they on some reality TV? Besides, does she not know of an advertisement blatantly using CGI of their faces? After all, this reality TV has the highest rating on Shuu so you can bet the public is really eager about. While the event is underway, Henrietta makes a sneaky move to declare war on Shuu and move in to attack. Takai as the acting captain knows this emergency move is to pin them down because they can’t run away and leave their captain who is still down on the planet. Plus, there are other crew members, Akiho Maya and Renna Satomi in town getting supplies. They notice one of the guards accompanying them acting suspicious. Like as though they know about the war declaration. This means there is a traitor in Shuu and a coup d’etat is going to occur. They have to get back to Amaterasu before that happens. Renna takes out the rogue guard and then explains to the other guards about the ongoing coup. She wants them to stay here as there is higher chance of fighting if they stay with them. They will find a way to return to Amaterasu on their own. To easily hide themselves, Renna suggests changing outfits. If Akiho thinks all this is happening like in a spy movie, be glad to know that Renna is trained as an actual spy! Dita gets a call from Peter that the people staging a protest against the war is actually staged. He wants her to cover this on their way back because it is ‘safer’ than covering a story in a war. Shinon also gets the idea to change clothes and hairstyle to make their escape to a suburban area. Meanwhile Renna and Akiho try to escape via spaceport and go a couple of guards to help them out.

Episode 6
Shinon’s group is taking a detour so that Dita can take footage for the war scenes. Mamiya talks to the president of Shuu and thinks he might sell them out to Henrietta so that he could avoid losing his president post. Whatever laws or illegality in the treaties, he wants him to make an alliance with them and declare war on the kingdom to save the civilians. Renna and Akiho are forced to fight some armed guards. Renna gets shot in the guts but needs to be strong enough to make it to space. Cisca and Rio talk about the possibility if Shuu hands them over to Henrietta, they might be executed. However Henrietta might want to proceed with caution because if they do so, Earth Federation will act and this will turn out badly for them. Rio starts crying on the thought she doesn’t mind dying for that because she will be politically undefeated. All Cisca can do is hug and kiss her. Is this a time to make out? Oh well. What else can they be doing? Shinon’s group are at the military base. This is where they are requesting Shinto to come pick them up despite the landing are is small and there are forces fighting nearby. So the plan is to cut off the main power and during the few minutes before the auxiliary power takes over, they will use this short moment to depart. Everything feels so convenient and perfect that it makes the military look so dumb and useless. Because they can actually snipe and destroy the power generator from outside, create a line of fire for Shinto to land, avoid enemy fire and blast off into space. Meanwhile Renna and Akiho manage to float back into Amaterasu. However Renna is wheeled into ICU. Attempts to revive her end in vain. She’s dead. Takai is mad that Peter wants to make a televised funeral of it. Sure, it’s taking advantage of her death but remember what you sign up for. Shinon hears about Renna’s death and once more the guilt starts flowing through. She quickly reads Renna’s last message sent to her admitting she is a spy from the intelligence department. She apologizes for keeping everyone in the dark and wanted to fight alongside everyone.

Episode 7
A televised funeral of Renna is held. Meanwhile the chairman of the supreme council of Henrietta has appointed Hans George Hermann as commander to destroy Amaterasu. Elroy and the other elite commanders discuss their strategy to take it down. Elroy warns the rest not to underestimate them because they already took out 3 of the kingdom’s top ships. Unfortunately for them, they find it hard to think a bunch of cadet brats are better than them. Elroy believes that minimum of 3 ships are needed to engage Amaterasu. He suggests using their elite ships while his own, Conquistador will engage one on one with Shenron (Shuu’s ship). While this strategy is ‘sure win’, the rest wonder if too many ships from the kingdom would have Amaterasu to bail out and run. In that case they will be seen as cowards over the TV network. A victory for Henrietta nevertheless. But Louis Belmont disagrees in letting those pirates go scot free. He believes they have to stick to the kingdom’s traditional tactic of one ship engaging directly and the other supporting from behind. Thus this strategy will be used to engage both Amaterasu and Shenron. Meanwhile Cisca is helping Shinon run a simulation of Henrietta’s ships against them. They always lose. But after Shinon tweaks a few parameters, she sees hope for victory. Shinon briefs the Shuu counterparts led by Captain Wong. She describes the enemy ships like Conquistador and Hammerhead are the heavy cruisers while Dragonfly and Hedgehog are the light ones only equipped with pulse lasers. They wonder how the smaller ones can win since they will be destroyed before entering effective firing range. Something about short warp, these ships can separate their bow and act as a separate attack system. Thus the best way to take it out swiftly is with their laser cannon. Shenron has better manoeuvrability although its lasers cannot pierce the thick armour. Hence it is best not to tackle Conquistador which has seen successive victories in its battles. Shinon shows the projected simulation. This is the only way to win. Okay. They’ll go with it. Everyone gets busy to make the necessary preparations.

Episode 8
The battle begins but Amaterasu realizes Shenron is accelerating ahead. At this rate they will engage Conquistador and Dragonfly before their scheduled time. Shinon realizes why they are doing this. If Shuu loses, they are forced to surrender to Henrietta. This means Amaterasu can no longer stay in Shuu. So Shenron is going to sacrifice themselves to let Amaterasu get away. Amaterasu tries to hail Shenron but they aren’t answering. Cisca orders the operation to go ahead. Hedgehog realizes too late of Amaterasu’s plasma cannons and faster acceleration. They have wasted time destroying its mines that were just distractions. As Amaterasu has zoomed pass them, even if they made a u-turn to chase Amaterasu, they still won’t be able to catch up. They are forced to abandon their mission and pray that Hammerhead can take on Amaterasu itself. Hammerhead engages Amaterasu who fires first. First a few shotgun particles followed by a heavy main cannon. Hammerhead gets hit although they fire back, Amaterasu’s damage is minimal thanks to their shield. Hammerhead is destroyed once they get hit by their main laser again. Hammerhead’s defeat is shocking so Elroy commands Dragonfly to change its course to engage Amaterasu as well as Hedgehog to continue pursuing it. Conquistador then finishes off Shenron. Yeah, they’re like just sitting there to get vaporized. In the aftermath of Shenron’s defeat, the president of Shuu surrenders to Henrietta. Cisca orders a retreat but Peter disallows them. They’re not going to run away and leave Shenron unavenged. Besides, the enemy ships are now flanking them so is there a way out of this? Shinon instantly heads down to Yuuki to seek an answer about doing a forced warp. She heard from Rio that it was his idea to buy Amaterasu and start a war against Henrietta, a battle they have no chance of winning. Yuuki believes there is a chance. As long Earth Federation would deploy its fleets but looks like there is no movement from them. They have no choice but to force warp. They might not know where they would end up so Yuuki will try to be as accurate as possible. Amaterasu successfully warps but also somewhat took the enemy’s mini assault module with it.

Episode 9
Elroy receives an urgent message from Isabel Fellini to return to the kingdom. Amaterasu appears safely and after a few calculations, they realize they are in a neutral area and will take this chance to resupply. Everybody is taking turns to be on shift as they notice Shinon seemingly down. Later she tries to go talk to Cisca in his room to discuss their next course of action but catches him making out with Rio! Oops! Peter calls Dita for updates. Despite the calm period now, he doesn’t want Amaterasu to lose as it will be bad for business as well as losing the only reporter willing to go to the frontlines for her story. He tells her that the supreme chairman of Henrietta has just passed away. They predict there will be more chaos. Isabel sees Hermann and Elroy. Hermann is not happy that she is now the acting chairman. She claims it is only right as she is handling the chairman’s national funeral. Later she talks to Elroy about teaming up to destroy Amaterasu. This is to regain public confidence and maintain the power balance with Earth Federation. As proof of her trust, she will reassign his old crews back to him. Shinon complains to Mamiya about their battles up till now were just to mobilize Earth Federation. Shouldn’t they tell the crew about this from the beginning? Mamiya explains she misunderstood. That is one of the possibilities. Also, this mission wasn’t a legitimate one to begin with nor was it ordered by anyone. After the resupply, he wants to go down to Earth to let the federation know what Amaterasu has been doing and perhaps find a way to live if they get them to recognize them as a government in exile. Shinon leaves dissatisfied with his answer. So who else can she confide with? Kouki Sakakibara, the chief engineer. You could guess he has a crush on Shinon. I mean, which guy would really let a girl lie on his back. Okay, any guy would for any cute girl. So after she feels better, I guess it made him feel better too. Because he confesses he likes her. It gets a bit awkward because they’re teasing us if they’re going to kiss or if Shinon is just going to pull back. They kissed anyway.

Episode 10
Mamiya arrives at Narita Spaceport. He is greeted by a fellow politician who tells him about the upcoming UN assembly. Depending on their decision, it might affect Amaterasu’s fate. Looks like everyone knows about Shinon and Kouki’s relationship. Some of the crew are invited to AGI Corp’s party (the conglomerate that built Amaterasu and intermediary for military hardware sales) while the rest remain behind to do maintenance. Hermann is not pleased that Isabel has now assumed command of military operations and that she has Conquistador out on a mission. He is also displeased she removed him as candidate to be the next supreme chairman. She then has him arrested to question for his recent battle failures. A small group of soldiers sneakily attack Amaterasu’s perimeter. This shocks the crew as they scramble for safety. Those at the party are stuck since there is a power outage but they get to see live footage from Dita’s reporting. Although some Amaterasu crew fight back in this gunfire skirmish, they cannot tell if the soldiers are from Henrietta. Even more puzzling if their goal is to seize Amaterasu, this scale is too small to achieve it. After a while, the soldiers retreat. Kouki thought he could chase them down. He fires when they don’t stop. They respond by shooting an RPG at him! He is blown to pieces and everyone saw it live! Oh dear. Shinon is going to be so sad. Later Dita calls Peter and knows he knew about this. He doesn’t give her a direct answer but also lectures her about taking sides. He then wants her to get off Amaterasu because the next time it will be destroyed as Henrietta has sent 5 ships for the job. She won’t get off and wonders if this is the kind of story he wants. It was its fate to begin with. There’s nothing they can do. Once the crew are back on Amaterasu, they are further shocked to hear AGI’s spokesperson forced to sever ties and supplies with them. Henrietta has issued a statement they will attack anybody associated or helping Amaterasu. So whatever contract they have is nullified. He wants them to get off the ship and that AGI can buy it back. However Rio notes that it is too late. They are at a point of no return. Shinon continues to cry alone.

Episode 11
Cisca makes an announcement to his crew. They will soon be leaving their docking and engage against Henrietta’s fleets. Their resupply is incomplete and any crew members who wish to get off Amaterasu now should take this chance. He will not hold or blame anybody if they choose this. The only one who took this opportunity is Sei. But she has a reason for doing this. Now she will try to be the middle man to negotiate between AGI and Amaterasu for supplies. Shinon puts away her blues to join the rest in hatching a strategy that revolves around centrifugal and gravitational force on Amaterasu. Not that I understand the mumbo-jumbo anyway. Peter gives his blessings to Dita to conduct the live broadcast the way she wants it. This means everyone including the enemy can see live what is happening inside the cockpit of Amaterasu. As the battle begins, Elroy orders Dragonfly and Hedgehog to flank and attack Amaterasu at full speed. It seems Amaterasu has chosen to target Hedgehog. However everyone is in for a shock when Amaterasu is actually targeting Dragonfly. The live broadcast is a trap and Dita is reporting opposite of their strategy. Too late for Dragonfly for evasive or counterattacking manoeuvres as they get zapped. Amaterasu then use those forces they discussed earlier to turn at unimaginable speed to target Dragonfly and also zap it to pieces. They are on a roll (literally) since the enemy is still in shock trying to recover from this false reporting trap. Amaterasu zaps a third and fourth Henrietta ship! Conquistador is all that’s left but is out of its firing range. However they still fire their plasma cannon in a big gamble. Luckily Elroy has foresight and already took evasive measures so their damage is minimal. Once it is over, Elroy commands his men to search and find Amaterasu as they have no more capacity to fight. Indeed. Amaterasu is bogged down with heavy damage from that tactic. All they have left is to fight with all they’ve got.

Episode 12
Amaterasu is like sitting ducks as most of their systems are down. Elroy commands to fire the laser cannon at Amaterasu despite they cannot accurately pinpoint their position and will not destroy them outright. He does not want to make them rest. Conquistador fires several shots that grazed Amaterasu. But each shot is getting more accurate. Shinon deduces Conquistador has not located them and thus the lesser armament attack to do so. Miyuri will try to pinpoint Conquistador’s position from their attacks as Shinon suggests getting up close to them at maximum battle speed and fire their Revolver. While the fighting rages on, Mamiya makes his speech at UN to condemn Henrietta’s violent actions. It is Isabel’s turn to speak. She shows images of Amaterasu’s trail of destruction and thus their actions to subdue their insurgent activities under Henrietta’s areas. When Amaterasu gets into firing range, it fires 3 Revolver shots. Either missed or did minimal damage. Now they are out of ammo. Elroy gets ready his main cannon to vaporize them for good when he receives a call from Isabel who just finished her speech. He updates her on the situation but she wants him to capture them instead and hand them over to Earth Federation. Elroy is shocked by this decision so she explains how little they would gain from destroying them as the public sympathy is with Amaterasu. It is better to stabilize the situation and plan to restructure the internal workings of the kingdom. Elroy is forced to comply when he detects 10 Earth Federation vessels on the way.

Cisca is screaming for options but none. All they face now is imminent death. He then receives contact from Elroy who gives them an hour to surrender otherwise they will be destroyed. Mamiya explains this farce especially his speech was just for show. Before the conference began, Earth Federation already sent its fleet to Henrietta. No doubt Earth Federation won’t do something bold as to attack independent nations under Henrietta. If Amaterasu was a domestic problem, they won’t get involved. But if it is a government in exile, they can strike a blow to it in the name of saving it. They’re just responding to Amaterasu’s request and the public will be sympathetic to it. Now the planets don’t see any difference being ruled by Henrietta or Earth Federation. Those who have sided with Henrietta will now likely find themselves overthrown. Cisca discusses with his crew and the only option is to surrender. However Takai is very much against it otherwise all they have done and those who have died for the cause will be for naught. As the bridge is very much divided, when Shinto notices how odd it is for Conquistador to ask them to surrender now, this prompts Shinon to realize that their original plan was to sink them and not give them any chance to speak. Otherwise they would have done so when they were flanked. Something must have changed the situation.

Episode 13
As everyone waits what Earth Federation will do, suddenly Conquistador picks up signals of being targeted by them. Before they could prepare themselves, the Earth Federation fleet fires all they’ve got at them. Galaxy Network is suddenly taken off the air. The station is stormed by armed men as they beat up Peter and take him hostage. Isabel is shocked to be arrested under orders of Hermann. She realizes he has sold Henrietta out to Earth Federation and warns him that he is only being used. He doesn’t care. After Isabel gets executed, the Earth Federation guys shoot Hermann! Conquistador is on the verge of destruction. Elroy contacts Amaterasu to tell what is happening. It seems they have been backstabbed. He regrets they could settle this under circumstances. A final salute before Conquistador is blown to smithereens. Shortly, Amaterasu is contacted by Earth Federation fleet’s captain, Joseph Truman who gives them an hour to surrender. Peter manages to break free from his capture and contact Dita that the station is being taken over by Earth Federation. And then when broadcast resumes, it is a totally fake broadcast saying how Conquistador defied orders to surrender and was promptly destroyed and thus they are going to attack Henrietta. What does this mean? Shinon deduces Earth Federation has been using Amaterasu as pretext to wage war against Henrietta and rule the galaxy. There is a possibility Amaterasu’s crew will be executed for knowing too much, hence the station takeover to not show their execution.

Shinon has a plan. She wants Dita to get hold of Peter first. They need to show a real live broadcast of Earth Federation using violence against them. They will put Amaterasu on autopilot towards the fleet before exploding at the right moment. Once Cisca authorizes the self-destruct sequence, everyone escapes via shuttle. However they notice Yuuki is not around. Cisca and Rio try to go convince him but he is stubborn to remain and operate some of Amaterasu’s systems that can’t be done automatically. He takes this as his responsibility for dragging everyone into this mess and claims he has higher authority then Cisca as he relieves everyone from their duties. Cisca and Rio has no choice but to leave him. Peter manages to slip back into the broadcast room and hack the broadcast to Dita who reports live the fleet attacking Amaterasu (Truman thinks Amaterasu is trying to defy and attack them) although they are not being provoked. This truth is soon broadcasted all over other networks across the galaxy as they witness Earth Federation’s aggression. With Peter’s job done, the armed men finally break down the door and shoot him. Well, at least he did something good for one last time. No wonder Dita was telling Shinon how she once dated him. Amaterasu’s self-destruct goes off and its shockwave destroys the ships. The surviving Amaterasu crew are sad over the development of events but they have some good news as Sei picks them up in AGI’s cargo ship. Shinon narrates war is over for now as she would like to believe peace was created by their hands. For now, Amaterasu’s battle is over.

Outlaw Star: The Reality Of Politics
Well, that was sure a bittersweet and sad ending if I should say. With the interestingly shocking twists and sudden turn of events, it might felt a bit rushed in that sense but I guess it is a fitting ending for everything that has been dragged out for too long. At least in the context of this anime and not the series itself. Imagine if it ended with the war continuing and that Amaterasu would soldier on to continue fighting, I think it would leave an even more unsatisfying and bad aftertaste in our mouth. Thus, the ending of Amaterasu meeting its fitting end of being destroyed in the battlefield is somewhat suitable for the battleship it was made for. But what about the crew? Well, they survived. That’s good enough considering the political storm they had to go through.

For me, the interesting parts are the battle sequences. Although this series doesn’t bombard us with many flashy laser lights or epic space battles, many of the so called battles are seen taking place in the bridge and command centre whereby the commanders of both sides give their orders on their next course of action. There are a few of those laser firing and spaceship views but they are much lesser compared to this battle of the brains at the bridge. Ironically there are a few terminologies albeit I feel that they aren’t that heavy, I didn’t really understand them completely but yet I find it interesting to watch. Like for example when the crew reports the damage status and their power capacity, I might not comprehend the entire thing but somehow I had the gist of what was going on. Strange, right?

Hence this proves that even without the flashy physical action, watching both sides giving commands from their seat is still as interesting. At least for this series. Perhaps it was my spell with a couple of military themed anime in the past like Senjou No Valkyria, Gate, Nejimaki Seirei Senki: Tenkyou No Alderamin and even Heavy Object. It is always nice to see the underdog team defeat a bunch of powerful favourites, right? Yeah, they make it look so unrealistic that Amaterasu, a bunch of amateurs that are just about to join the enlisting but their dreams dashed because of circumstances, to be able to effectively destroy not one, not two, not three but a handful of Henrietta’s finest ships! Man, did they use some cheat code here or is God really siding with them? Or maybe those old captain guys in Henrietta were really underestimating those kids. Doesn’t make sense since they should have war experience and shouldn’t be holding back to even kids who are part of the rebellion. Oh right. I forgot I’m watching anime.

Thus in view of this action part, the little ‘disappointing’ part is that there aren’t enough deaths on Amaterasu! Holy sh*t! Am I a bloodthirsty sadist?! I can only blame myself for having created such a high expectation and assumption after reading the synopsis. When I read that death was going to be real, I was expecting like at least a death of a crew per episode when the sh*t really starts to hit the fan. Okay, some ‘minor’ characters died. Can’t really complain, can I? Happy now? But come to think of it, if Amaterasu really does take a lot of casualties, it would render the ship less efficient to operate because with lesser crew members, either they have to take in replacements and recruits (which in their position isn’t possible) or they have to overwork and do double, triple jobs. Not practical. Oh wait, Yuuki did say he could handle many parts of the ship on his own… And ironically Amaterasu’s final death count culminated in his ‘sacrifice’. So while Amaterasu’s deaths are minimal, nobody talks about Henrietta’s ships who were destroyed by them and all the crew members that died along with them. Yeah, nobody cares about the ‘bad guys’, right? So I thought the final episode they decided to make me ‘happy’ when they kill off a few characters from Henrietta. Yeah well, at least it saves me the trouble to think what will happen to them. One bad deed deserves another, they say. Karma is a b*tch too. They got what they deserved after all that political backstabbing.

If I personally look into the characters of the series, I think they are the weakest link. Although Amaterasu has a lot of crew members, the handful that at least have decent screen time do not feel that deep. You don’t feel connected to the cause they are fighting for on a personal level. For example, Arei’s reason to fight Henrietta was to avenge her father. Her back story sounds decent but there is all there is to it. This means the other main characters like Shinon, Cisca, Takai, Rio, Shinto and even Yuuki, their backgrounds are shrouded in mystery. Sure, Rio is the granddaughter of a politician. But that’s about it. Blame the short duration of the series that didn’t do justice to flesh out at least these characters. Therefore we can’t personally connect to them why they as a small little government in exile are fighting against a huge kingdom with experienced military equipment and personnel. We only vouch for them because they are fighting as a group. But on an individual level, we know nothing much about them. Well, even if we do, how does it really affect the course of the plot?

Shinon showcases herself as a genius tactician with her coming up most of the brilliant tactics that ensured Amaterasu’s victory. Sometimes too perfect and at first go that it doesn’t feel a bit realistic. I’m sure she is one of the top students of the military academy but without experience and she is making and calling all those superb deductions like as though she is reading from a script. Sometimes I feel that Cisca barely makes it as a captain. He doesn’t screw up or show any obvious weakness but with him giving out orders as the captain, it feels like as though he is a robot shelling them out since as I said most of the strategies are from Shinon. Hey, at least this isn’t anywhere that Irresponsible Captain Tylor anime. Yeah, I wanted to draw some similarities but I think the differences are too vast. Because Takai is in charge of the cannons, sometimes I feel he is trigger happy (which he is not) because the crew often seeks his ‘permission’ whenever they want to fire. Something bugs me about Yuuki. He is never seen leaving his station like as though he is hooked up to the terminals there. Sometimes I question if he even exists at all and could be just some artificial intelligence. Well, some crew members have entered his room and talked to him before but that made me think he was made of hologram… Why the heck am I so paranoid?

Therefore I thought having a bit of romance element inside here feels a bit cheesy and a distraction. We start it off with Sanri and Takai, thus some sort of cheap reason why she would want to continue to stay on. Well, might as well die for the one she loves, right? Then we have the secretive tryst between Cisca and Rio. All that pressure on the bridge maybe made them had a fling? Yeah, it was unexpected but I should have seen it coming since the duo spend quite a lot of time together not only on the bridge but when they go on the ground too. Finally there’s the short-lived Shinon and Kouki which is of course the most tragic. Their romance came so fast and it ended as fast as well. I know it is a good thing Shinon put that tragedy behind her but I can’t help feel that as it never happened. As though the plot was to pull some heart strings because you know, the lover of the main girl is dead. Oh, a timely reminder to increase the casualty count on Amaterasu. And what the heck was Dita’s revelation with Peter for? To show why such a strong and independent stuck by some crazy TV producer all these years? Yeah, love makes you do crazy things.

I didn’t expect to find Mamiko Noto here. It wasn’t the reason why I picked to watch this show but I guess I would still watch it even if I knew. Although helming a lesser role as Sanri, at least hearing her voice is better than not hearing her voice at all. Fan boy speaking… There are other recognizable seiyuus too like Ayako Kawasumi as Rio, Shizuka Itou as Shinon and Sayaka Ohara as Isabel. Because there are quite a number of casts, I later discovered that there are other seiyuus such as Satomi Arai, Daisuke Ono and Yu Kobayashi that I know but didn’t manage to catch them due to their very limited appearances.

The rest of the selected casts are Yukimasa Obi as Cisca (Zero Enna in Pilot Candidate), Masayuki Katou as Takai (Kiyomasa in Deadman Wonderland), Tomohiro Tsuboi as Shinto (Shinpachi Nagakura in Hakuouki series), Miyu Irino as Yuuki (Syaoran in Tsubasa Chronicle), Hiroshi Matsumoto as Elroy (Henry Marker in Karin), Hitomi Nabatame as Dita (Margery Daw in Shakugan No Shana), Akeno Watanabe as Arei (Rito in To Love-Ru), Masumi Asano as Miyuri (Risa in Hayate No Gotoku), Kaori Shimizu as Sei (Hazuki in Nogizaka Haruka No Himitsu), Yuu Asakawa as Renna (Jura in Vandread), Atsuko Enomoto as Akiho (Misaki in Angelic Layer), Shinji Kawada as Kouki (Shino in Naruto) and Tomoyuki Shimura as Peter (Nakai in Bakuman).

Hearing the opening theme, Radiance brings back those nostalgic memories of my anime stint in the mid-2000s. Sung by Mami Kawada who was a member of the I’ve Sound group, the style of this music is very much similar to all the other animes that I have watched during that period such as Onegai Teacher, Onegai Twins, the first season of Hayate No Gotoku and the first season of Shakugan No Shana. The ending theme is Chi Ni Kaeru ~On The Earth~ by Kotoko who was also a member of I’ve Sound. But this slow ballad didn’t make me feel nostalgic despite having a hand in singing in those aforementioned animes.

Animated by the veteran anime studio of J.C. Staff, I guess the art and drawing are pretty decent for that time period. CGI is also used but that is mostly reserved for the ships. They try their best to have different designs but I thought that despite they look very different from each other, they still look bland and plain. Is it because that the ships or not colourful? I mean, they’re all white or grey. Boring, right? Oh well, why the heck would a military ship be painted so colourful as if they’re signalling to enemies, “Hey, look! I’m over here! So colourful right over here!”. Yeah… But the weirdest CGI used is for the automated walkways inside the ship’s corridors. I don’t know. It just feels odd seeing them. As though they don’t really fit in especially when those 2D humans are animated together in it. Feels like something might glitch soon…

Overall, if you are interested in military themed shows with some political manoeuvring, the draw of the series would be the tactics devised in the bridge rather than the reality TV plot and the characters. And definitely not the cheesy abysmal romance. I believe reality TV would be more controversial as it would be exciting if real death like this series is part of the script. You have been warned, right? Then we will see how many people would love to become famous quick as reality TV stars. Me? I wouldn’t even want to sign up for a reality TV that risks having death just so that some people can have their entertainment for the day and to others like power hungry politicians as a tool to further their ambitions. Not even a trillion dollars. Where are you going to enjoy all that money when you’re dead? Maybe a gold plated and diamond encrusted coffin buried inside a huge air-conditioned mansion on a huge picturesque landscape with maids tending to its upkeep perhaps? I can imagine the political uproar and politicking that comes after that.

3-gatsu No Lion

August 13, 2017

Time to adapt another popular Japanese sport and put in all the human drama that comes with it. Because the focus of such is always the human factor and not really the sport. That just feels like a stepping stone. So after we have got karuta in Chihayafuru, we now have shogi. Okay, so this isn’t really the first shogi themed anime as there was Shion No Ou ages ago. I suppose it happened so long ago now is the time to remind us new generation about the sport. Plus, I didn’t see that anime. And thus we have 3-gatsu No Lion. I’m sure you can pretty much tell about the formula. Young kid who is a genius in the sport. Has his own personal issues. Trying to overcome obstacles on and off the game board. Lots of drama included. Yeah, we know the drill.

Episode 1
Rei Kiriyama makes his way to the shogi hall on a hot summer day. Rei has this looks like as though he has some sort of trauma while his opponent, a gentle and kind elderly man is being considerate about his past. Something to do with a children’s shogi championship a few years ago. Rei won but he didn’t look really happy. Rei eventually wins and then bums around town till he gets a message from Hinata Kawamoto inviting to dinner. The other Kawamoto sisters, eldest Akari and youngest Momo are happy to see him. I can’t help this house feels like a house of women because they have an altar for their dearly departed mother and grandma and both pet cats are females. Sure, there’s grandpa Someji around but he is usually at his sweets shop. It makes Rei like the guy of the house? Anyway on TV reports a son hammered his father to death. It has something to do with Rei’s trauma because he vaguely tells us he hit somebody and can still feel it today. After dinner, he just falls asleep right where he sleeps. The girls leave him be and when Hinata covers a blanket over him, she takes off his glasses to see tears in his eyes. Rei attends school the next day like normal. Because he has no friends, his teacher, Takashi Hayashida takes pity and eats with him. But when he realizes Rei’s earnings from shogi wins are more than his, he doesn’t want to be his friend anymore! WTF?! After school, Rei goes to help the sisters at the sweets store. When he goes home, the shogi match notification he is expecting for hasn’t arrived in his post. But it seems it did but was ‘hijacked’ by chubby Harunobu Nikaidou.

Episode 2
I know it is morally wrong but is it legal to open somebody else’s letter and read it? Harunobu did that and he is quite happy because eternal rival Rei is his opponent in the same block. Too bad Rei can’t stop this fatty from bragging. He even comes into his room to have some pizza party and asking the kind of strategies he’ll be using. WTF?! This guy even eat the cakes the sisters wrapped especially for Rei without asking. WTF. Rei goes to the shrine to pray for his next match. The NHK cup will be broadcast live and his supposed next opponent, Issa Matsumoto is already praying for Rei’s defeat. He didn’t want to meet him but Issa is already all over him like a leech. Rei easily beats him in shogi. Issa goes into ‘depression’ so his other friend, Tatsuyuki “Smith” Misumi cheers him up by saying Rei will treat them. Did he? Most probably why Issa is looking forward to it is because he has a crush on the hostess who is no other than Akari. Because Issa doesn’t want to lose face, eventually he twisted his own words that has him ended up treating them all instead. Rei remembers he never liked such outing because his friends made him drink till he passed out. Akari found him and brought him home where he met the sisters for the first time. Rei goes shopping for food when he bumps into the sisters. The sly sisters tease he loves cup noodles more than their cooking. I guess this means he has to join them for dinner. He also helps them prepare for the Obon festival. When done, Akari put leftovers in containers for his future meals. He heard her mumble something about having company over would be a good distraction.

Episode 3
Rei narrates his past rivalry with Harunobu. Talented shogi kids before joining the federation usually play at events. They were regulars. There was one time at a shopping centre roof, it was hot like hell and Rei could tell Harunobu was suffering from the heat. However he persevered and making it hotter was that Rei was much better than him. Each move was a desperate move to fend Rei off. At the end of the long battle, Rei won. Now in the shogi hall, Harunobu is quite delighted to face Rei. As the match progresses, Rei can feel this match is like the reminiscent of that time on the roof because the hall’s air-cond is broken. Harunobu might be uncomfortable but at least it wasn’t as bad as that time. Rei is taken by surprise when Harunobu makes a move he never expected. But Rei keeps calm and carries on playing till he wins. That losing face that Harunobu makes is still the same as always. His butler, Hanaoka brings him back. I believe Harunobu is really reeling in pain not because of the loss but from some illness. Or was it stress? As promised, Rei visits the sisters for the Obon festival after his match. A sombre event as they pray for their departed. Hinata wants to go to the convenience store so Rei is asked to follow her. He realizes she isn’t going in the right direction but keeps following. Then at the port, he shockingly sees her crying her heart out calling out to her mom. He stood there and couldn’t do anything. He had to approach her when a couple of guys approached her. Then he just stands next to her and let her continue crying to her heart’s content as he contemplates about his own family lost.

Episode 4
Rei is peeling chestnuts and has to witness the ‘drama’ between Akari and Hinata. There is a boy, Yuusuke Takahashi whom Hinata has a crush on since young. He is playing in a baseball match and wants to make a handmade lunch for him. So when Hinata hands in a list of things to buy, well, is she trying to feed an army?! No wonder Akari is freaked out! Even odder, Hinata is perplexed she is willing to spend money on food expenses for other kids (that’s you, Rei) instead. Anyway on that fateful day, it is Hell’s Kitchen for Hinata. You can see how chaotic and busy she is. It’s like time really flies. Worse, she spends more time trying to figure out what to wear! Rei watches Takahashi in action. He is good looking. A good player. He is every girl’s dream. See that awed face of Hinata? Yeah, makes you feel like a loser, Rei? Oh, there’s this trauma of his regarding ‘love’ too. At the end of the game, Hinata is unable to give it to him because all the girls and boys crowd around him. She is about to throw it away but Rei stops her. Don’t waste. Hinata is afraid Akari would scold her for going through all that trouble for nothing. But big sister is understanding. Hinata isn’t the only one who had her first homemade lunch rejected. She lets her cry as much as she wants. Harunobu is blabbing about some legendary move. Rei would have wanted to give him a piece of his mind had not his stomach growled loudly. As they go out to eat, Rei spots Momo alone. Lost? Momo is happy to see Harunobu and hugs him. This fatty is cute because he looks like Bodoro. You know that knockoff of that famous Totoro, right? When Akari sees him, she too likes him?! So she likes round and cute stuffs… She invites him for dinner and Harunobu couldn’t be happier. It’s going to be the start of an odd relationship… Akari is in a dilemma to make the right meal with the right nutrition for him. Hanaoka is here to pick him up and Rei can tell Harunobu is clearly being tracked 24/7 when he mentions something about the GPS…

Episode 5
Rei remembers he used to play shogi with his father’s friend and shogi rival, Masachika Kouda. He even beat him. Then Rei didn’t like shogi but played it as it was a time to spend with father. Because Rei is often bullied in school, he always looked up to Kouda who talked to him like an adult. Akari calls Rei to pick up Momo. Along the way home, she got chased by the dog and all the ‘excitement’ died out when she tripped and hurt herself. Rei brings her home and as he treats the wounds, this reminds him of his trauma. It is revealed when he was younger, after returning from a school trip, his parents and little sister were dead. Killed in an accident. The sister of Rei’s dad wasn’t shedding tears since she was more interested for grandpa to let her husband inherit his hospital business rather than her brother whom grandpa had wanted. This means she wasn’t interested in taking in Rei either and would send him to the orphanage. But that is when Kouda came up to Rei and asks if he liked shogi. Rei lied and said yes. That is how he became a child of a shogi family. Kouda had a daughter, Kyouko who 4 years older than Rei and a son, Ayumu who is the same as Rei. When Rei beat her at shogi, she beat him up! Kouda administered harsh punishment but this girl was so tough that she even continued beating up Rei while being reprimanded! As the family centres around shogi, they had to become stronger for Kouda’s sake. The first to break was Ayumu. After Rei surpassed him, he became depressed, locked himself in his room playing video games. He quitted shogi. Kouda didn’t do a thing as he believes one has to be strong enough to progress on his own. Next was Kyouko. Kouda had her quit the federation as it was pointless if she cannot best Rei. And thus Rei became Kouda’s prodigy. The media had a field day reporting how he upstaged his own kids to raise his rival’s kid. After Rei watches a documentary on how a cuckoo bird lives, he realizes he is one. That is when he decides to quite school and focus on shogi so that he could win tournaments, make money, become independent before he devours that family.

Episode 6
When asked where Rei would like to go to, he couldn’t answer. There isn’t a place where he wants to go. Rei manages to escape going to a study camp since he has a ranking tournament to play and Hayashida can pick up his relieved face. Rei narrates shogi players are like sportsmen too. So what do they do on their day offs? They train and hone their skills just like any other athlete. Rei’s depression seems to stem from 2 consecutive losses this year for the first time. This mean he lost his chance to advance to the next rank. So he got this mentality that as long as he stops thinking and accepts stagnation, he could reach his goal. Souya Touji is a shogi master whom the nation calls as a child of God. Hayashida is excited as he shows Rei his shogi problem being posted in the magazine. However Rei easily solves it. Then they talk about Souya who is on the front cover of the magazine. Despite being a successful champion with many titles, Rei has never faced him. He also hasn’t met him in person though he has seen him around. This has Rei remember how people pinned expectations on him to become the next master. Then Rei loses his next match. Although he has no reason to win, he still feels pain when he loses. He bumps into Hinata in the streets. He treats her to milkshake since she can’t take her eyes off the advertisement. When she invites him to come over for dinner, Rei realizes that Hinata is having it tough too. From taking care of her family and helping out with their work and house chores. And here he is concerned of his own problems. Suddenly Hinata’s face starts contorting like a cartoon. Takahashi is here. Rei wanted to leave but Hinata somehow wouldn’t let him and she ended up running away instead. It leaves Rei in an awkward company with this big guy. Those serious stares are killing him…

Episode 7
Takahashi is inspired by Rei who is already a pro shogi player at his age. In fact he wants to ask Rei for advice. Because Takahashi is not sure which high school to go to become a professional baseball player, Rei’s name was referred to by his dad as source of inspiration. Rei gives his sincere answer that he is only a pro in shogi but not socially. He liked studying but didn’t fit in school and didn’t regret the decision he made. Rei realizes his words are embarrassing but Takahashi understands them and this makes Rei happy. Rei and Hinata leave having a great impression on Takahashi. At home, Hinata’s face is as red as a red light. Because Takahashi is here for dinner! Akari had to work so she had Rei come over instead to accompany. Takahashi then brings out a tape to show a recent shogi game Rei was in. Hinata and Momo are in shock that he is on TV. Apparently Rei has been keeping this a secret. Oops. This was the match he lost and Harunobu is one of the commentators. He furiously mocks Rei’s bad moves so much so he ‘attacks’ the camera and admonishes him to play better than this. In turn Rei blows his top and becomes angry. However everyone especially Hinata is all smiles because it is the first time they see him get mad. Yeah, he sounds funny, right? Hinata expresses she wants to learn shogi from him. So here Rei is at the shop gathering materials to teach her. Then here comes Harunobu. He wants to help… Oh no… Hinata and Momo are glad Harunobu is here. He makes a disclaimer if they don’t understand, blame the teacher! Over to you, Rei. Too bad his explanations are stiff and so textbook. Hard to digest, Hinata? Rei is relegated to one side as Harunobu takes over. His explanation of shogi for beginners using a children’s picture book makes it so much easier and exciting to learn.

Episode 8
Harunobu continues his colourful explanation of the pieces’ movements. Jealous Rei finds the book easy to learn and wonders who the publisher is. Harunobu himself?! Yes, that guy can actually draw and he wanted to contribute something to the game he loves so he made a book about it. He even had the printing company print it out like a real book. Just short of selling it on shelves. You girls falling in love with chubby now? Rei walks home and he wonders why Harunobu is following him. Then he sees those mover guys at his place. No, Harunobu isn’t moving in. The bed and other furniture are his house warming gift. At least he can sleep decently. When Rei hangs out with Issa and Smith, they can’t stop teasing him when they saw that video of Harunobu’s passionate commenting. They hope his message reaches his heart. Rei narrates how consecutive losses gets you demoted. And if you get demoted twice, you drop a class. Trying to overcome a loss is more exhausting than to battle to move forward. Rei thinks about his father’s pose when he played shogi and noting his habits. It made him realize he is already standing in the shogi stage that dad longed for. When Rei returns home, Kyouko is waiting outside his door. She hints of wanting to come in but he won’t let her. It gets to a stand offish point till she had to spell it out she needs to use the toilet. Then she bums around and touches his things like as though it’s hers. He tells her to go home since it is late but she asks if he would like to return to that house. Father would be most happy. She seems to caress his face but it is to find scars. None. Something about how her boyfriend, Masamune Gotou beat him up. Thankfully he never touched Kyouko because she would kill him in his sleep. Because that is how she loves him. Yandere?! She stays at his place and next morning, she reminds him of his next opponent. An old guy, Shouichi Matsunaga who has been a pro shogi player for 40 years. However he has always been mediocre like as though he is holding on for dear life. She heard he will retire if he gets demoted. She mocks that is why they let Rei play him. Nobody wants to do it. Maybe Rei is such a nice guy to throw away his match.

Episode 9
Rei thinks about how Matsunaga would be. Then he sees this feeble old guy praying for his luck at the shrine and fumbles! Oh sh*t! Better get out now. Then he turns up late at the shogi hall and when they begin to play, Rei cannot understand his strategy. Is he defending or attacking. Seeing his panicking face during certain moves, could it be this guy has no plan at all? In the end Rei wins and Matsunaga behaves poorly as a loser. So Rei thought of avoiding him by leaving later and taking the stairs. Apparently he had the same idea! Matsunaga tries to ‘escape’ but slips. Don’t worry. Just light injuries. While the old man berates him to go away, his stomach grumbles and now he wants Rei to treat him. Make up your mind! And so Rei has to experience what it is like to be with a drunk. Uh huh. Matsunaga is telling tales about how scary women are, his wife, wine, history (feudal history, that is) and then back to his grandson. After they leave, Matsunaga explains he knew he would lose today and thought how to bow out respectably. Rei was like the grim reaper. He felt jealous facing Rei because he had accolades while he himself had none to boot for 40 years. He felt disgusted feeling like that. But when he saw Rei sitting nicely in the hall, he felt glad to be taken out by a beautiful grim reaper. As he played, he realizes he didn’t want to lose and struggled with that feeling. Rei asks if he likes shogi. He doesn’t know. Kyouko calls to check up on Rei and he tells her Matsunaga is not retiring. Rei is willing to go with him to convince his wife and daughter he will still play shogi. It seems Matsunaga’s reason for doing it is because he doesn’t want to do chores! All the while he gave excuses to focus on his shogi and if he resigns, they’ll dump the chores on him! He’ll never do that! Will never lift a finger! NEVER!!!

Episode 10
Rei gets a call from Kyouko to meet. He isn’t appreciative claiming he has lots of matches coming up. However she notes he has only a match on Christmas Eve with Manabu Yasui. She goes on ranting about Yasui’s wife finally getting a divorce thanks to his violent sore loser behaviour, his gambling habits and how his poor lonely daughter would be affected. Rei doesn’t like this talk because her words are always like poison. Rei also hates this time of the year because Kouda gave him a pretty shogi set for Christmas and his own children normal presents. That speaks volumes. Rei plays his match with Yasui and eventually wins. He narrates how he noticed Yasui giving up halfway after he realized making a mistake. He could see him losing motivation and prayed so hard for him not to give up so easily. After Yasui leaves, Rei notices he forgot his Christmas present. He chases him down to hand it but he is very unappreciative. He snatches it from his hand with that scornful look. Could it be he left it there intentional? Rei is left in shock so he runs to some park and starts screaming his heart out in tears all he wanted to have said to that guy. Is everything his own fault? It’s your fault for being weak. He only has shogi and puts everything on the line. If he can’t even practice then just quit. He has no use for weak players. So dramatic his contempt that he collapses flat on his face? Rei only knows inside himself is a beast that would devour anything in its way to survive.

Episode 11
Thanks to that, Rei has been sick till the end of the year. He has been falling in and out of sleep in his bed, dreaming about riding an endless escalator. He wakes up when somebody is constantly ringing his doorbell. Turns out to be the sisters. They know he is sick and ‘kidnap’ him back to their place where they take good care of him. Rei thought he has been doing a decent job taking care of himself but Akari disagrees. His handphone has been dead and after charging it, he finds many missed calls from Kouda. Rei calls him and hears the relief in his voice. It makes Rei realize he has been selfish. As Rei starts to get better, he feels indebted for Akari to take care of him even though he isn’t family. However Akari is the one who wants him here as she is grateful he saved her. Otherwise it would be another lonely New Year where she would be cleaning up and crying herself. Strangely this makes Rei cry. The sisters get lots of New Year cards. Hinata is excited to go to Rei’s place to get his. When she returns, she is devastated there are only 2. Rei is happy as he expected none! One of them is from Harunobu and the other from Takanori Jinguuji who is the chairman of Japan’s shogi association. Aunt Misaki comes by to visit. She gives everyone New Year’s money. Including Rei. Including the departed. Someji is still against Misaki having Akari work at her bar and thinks it is a dangerous place. Misaki argues Akari sometimes need to go out as she is beautiful. Is grandpa going to keep her at home doing chores? Before you know it, she’ll be past marriageable age. Don’t worry. Misaki will not let guys touch her and is just using her to milk money out of guys! After they have traditional New Year food, Misaki leaves. It is time for the girls to take their baths so Akari has Rei go upstairs. Because the bath is right next to the living room. Originally the place had not bath so their parents re-renovate it and used part of the yard. It has no changing room so you can see why. Rei goes upstairs to sleep and finds it funny this place is peaceful. Then he remembers he had spent time here with everybody else had that warm embrace. He has never had such a peaceful deep sleep for a long time.

Episode 12
After New Year, Rei feels much better. However something more than the cold breeze is making him irritated. Something to do with shogi. His next shogi tournament is the Lion King Tournament. It is the biggest tournament sponsored by the biggest media in Japan. This means bigger prize money and bigger media coverage. Smith is also participating in this one. Rei faces off with Takeshi Tsujii who has a penchant of making lame puns. No wonder it’s so cold! You better not lose to him! Eventually Rei wins but he still continues to make lame puns. Oh well, Rei lost this one. However before the semi-final match begins, Rei’s blood boils because he comes face to face with Gotou. He is Smith’s next opponent. Gotou is arrogant and badmouths Kyouko as a stalker. Rei loses it and wants to punch him but is restrained by Smith. It took him a while to calm down. Maybe all that dispersed when Jinguuji waltzes in to give Rei a huge catch of his fish. His many thanks for Akari. So Rei has to carry bags load of fish so much so it stinks all around and people literally smelling something fishy. But Akari couldn’t be happier because this means more dishes to cook and saving up on food expenses. Rei would love to join and stay overnight at the sisters’ place but he can’t. Because the semi-final match is tomorrow. I am guessing who will be facing off in the final. Or not.

Episode 13
We see Smith’s daily morning life as a sexy jazz piece is played in the background! So when it gets serious, Smith thinks Rei is ignoring him since he is concentrating on records of his opponent and Gotou. As though he would lose to him. Smith plays his match with Gotou. This is his second time playing him. The first time ended in a crushing defeat. He thought he has learnt from his heavy defence and single strike move but before he knows it, he fell into the same tactic again and lost. Gotou even advises Smith at the end to not hesitate. Rei knows Gotou was trying to provoke him when he badmouthed Kyouko. However he has to concentrate on his opponent, Kai Shimada. He can’t find any distinctive playing styles on him. So as he begins his match, Rei was supposed to go on an all-out attack but he soon realizes he has been playing defence. Did he make any mistakes? Did he go wrong somewhere? It took a move from Shimada to break him out of his despair thinking. It seems Shimada and Harunobu know each other and the latter calling him as big brother. Harunobu earlier had a favour of him and wants him to split Rei’s head in half. He means in shogi, right?

Episode 14
By the time Rei is back to reality, he realizes he is in deep sh*t. He laments about his personal grudge on Gotou while treating his opponent like a side character. So while we hear his monologue to recover from his disadvantageous position, I’m not sure if this is really allowed in tournaments because Shimada suggests replaying a bit from certain positions. But whatever moves Rei makes, he is cornered. There is no way out. In the end, Rei loses. So what does a kid like him do? He runs all the way home! Poor kid. The loss must be devastating. All because he misjudged his opponents level and now like as though he’s lost everything. Now he is like in depression. Bumming in his room. Heck, he is even vomiting like as though he has morning sickness! Is he pregnant?! Loss in shogi = pregnant symptoms… Rei also tries to ponder about his future. Looking through the classifieds? Well, there is a chance he might not be playing shogi forever. He thought of having a change in pace but playing basketball? Clearly he is not the physical type. Owned. So depressing that Hayashida is even at a loss to make rebukes. So he tries to comfort and advice Rei of joining a workshop that Shimada organizes for younger players. Rei doesn’t think so but Hayashida thinks it would be good to give a try since Harunobu is a member. Rei is so negative that he gets scolded for making excuses.

Episode 15
Rei tells us Kyouko is like a glass with cracks. No matter how much water is poured, she is never filled up. Flashback to a time she wanted to pack her bags and leave home for Gotou. Rei told her not to because that guy is married. Kyouko doesn’t care since his wife is always in hospital. But dad won’t forgive her. Too hell with him. She won’t forgive him. Rei suggests he will move out because nobody would care. Kyouko is different even if she thinks otherwise. In the finals of Lion King Tournament, it is best out of 3. Hayashida even gives him permission to go there and watch despite he has been absent too much and risk repeating a year. The first match ended with Gotou winning. The next day, the second match continues and you can just feel the tension between them. Rei can’t go watch because Hayashida miscalculated his absentee days… He can’t even get sick! Plus, he needs to do well in his exams otherwise it is see you again next year. The second match went on for 8 hours?! To a point where they even move their kings to the battlefield! After another 3 hours, Shimada wins. Hard fought victory. Was it worth it? Shimada asks Harunobu about his obsession with Rei. He was the one who broke his head in half and pulled him from the mud. As he was sick all the time, he envied other children playing outside. When he got better at shogi, the weaker ones become cowards who didn’t bother to make the effort. It was frustrating. Till he met Rei. Somebody who is stronger than him. Someone who works harder than him. It made him realize he wasn’t alone. Shimada sees Kyouko chasing after Gotou. He doesn’t give a damn and leaves her stranded. Shimada is shocked at the sight of this younger woman. He can’t help have a sense of defeat. Meanwhile Rei continues to be piled up with work while Hayashida could only lament his miscalculation…

Episode 16
Hayashida is frantically trying to get him to do some lab experiments as required by the curriculum. Desperate, he seeks the help from a bunch of crazy weirdoes of the burner’s club. Seeing Rei’s fine interaction with them, he suggests he should join the club. Hayashida gives him an advice that opens up his eyes. He should rely on others when needed. Otherwise no one will rely on him. This truth hits him and the first thing Rei could think of is the sisters. He relied on their kindness but they never once relied on him. Rei then makes haste to the shogi hall for the final match. By the time he reaches, it is over. At first you might think Gotou had won since he is being interviewed with a confident smile while Shimada is slumped at the board. Rei has seen such scenes before and knows Shimada had won. The defeated would often think about his final words and sort out his feelings during the match while the winner is exhausted from the strain. He manages to be interviewed although he looks more like a zombie. Once over, Rei asks Shimada if he could join his workshop. And so this is first time Rei attends his shogi workshop in his house. Along with Harunobu, there is also Morio Shigeta. Why does he look angry like as though he wants to fight? The quartet play shogi for an hour and after that they will analyse and discuss their play. Harunobu and Morio are already at each other’s throat thinking their own tactic is manlier. And when Rei gives his own opinion, they snarl at him. Yeah, it is so intense between the trio that Shimada can’t even cut any slack between them. Yeah, an all-out war almost broke out over shogi tactics. Even after the workshop, Rei and Harunobu continue to argue what moves are appropriate. They are distracted when they see a duck dive into the river but never resurface. They become worried the fish might have eaten it (?!) so they run to a nearby bookstore to find out more about the duck and return to try and save it. I think by that time they took the duck would already be dead.

Episode 17
As the winner of the Lion King’s Tournament, Shimada earns the right to face off with the reigning shogi champion, Souya. Harunobu invites Rei to the hotel where they are having a fan meet event before the match. They are there to support Shimada who will be overwhelmed with the interviews so a familiar face would calm him down. Rei also meets Kouda there who notes he still deposits money into his account as thanks for taking care of him. He agrees to hold on to the money till he comes of age. While Rei ponders about it, he is shocked to see Souya standing next to him. He never noticed since his presence is ‘soundless’. When Souya is found by a guy to be taken to main event, Rei sees how everyone becomes silent and paves a path for him. Rei narrates his achievements since young and the records he has broken ever since his reign. Yet his appearance never changed. He would have been compared to God but as they said, a devil’s face never changes. Later Rei is confronted by Kyouko who thinks he ratted on her since father has stopped her credit card and bombarding her with questions. Rei asserts he didn’t say anything and if anything happened it was because she brought it upon herself. The quarrel could have escalated had not the Kawamoto sisters pass by. Momo is scared of this ‘witch’! Akari takes her sisters to go home but Hinata won’t end it like this. She hands over the bento they make for him and a short starring showdown with Kyouko. Kyouko bums in Rei’s place. She has the guts to eat the bento and then complain. Yeah, she ate it all! Then she changes into his clothes and sleeps. Yeah, treating it like her own home. That night she calls her father just out of courtesy and you know it won’t go well. Anyway it is too late for her to go back now so she sleeps over. Kyouko asks Rei about which of the sister he likes despite she doesn’t care. What bothers her is Momo calling her a witch because if she was one, she wouldn’t be in this deep sh*t. She remembers her dad told her if she has a boyfriend, bring him home so he can meet him. How can she bring a married man who was once his disciple to see him? She doesn’t even know why she picked him. She is scared and asks Rei on what to do. Like hell he knows.

Episode 18
Shimada’s workshop continues. Harunobu and Morio are still at each other’s throat over their different strategy so much so we have to see some cat version of Star Wars spoof to visualize the intense rivalry they have! They are shut up when Rei presents his winning strategy. As Rei previously studied alone, he is trying his best to articulate his thoughts about his strategy. Shimada requests Rei to come back tomorrow for additional lessons. He talks about his matches with Souya. He already lost both matches straight. This third one would be the decisive one. As all matches are played in different towns, he needs to win matches so that a match can be played in his hometown. As they start playing, Rei felt overwhelmed by his play. For the first time he was subjected to a Rank A player’s thoughts for several hours that it is exhausting. By the time he wanted to ask more questions, he has already left for his next match. Rei passed his exams. Barely. Now he is able to move up a grade. Though, Rei feels he didn’t do anything. However Hayashida chastises him for such thinking. Don’t say he didn’t do anything. He is trying his best to come to school while working and paying off rents, etc. At his age, Hayashida was just dreaming big and didn’t have to worry about paying rent or housework. So don’t ever say you didn’t do anything. Rei is brought to tears. Later he is surprised Hinata and Momo visit to take back the empty bento boxes. Of course they eventually have to ask about Kyouko. Because they see him arguing and are worried if he is alright. You could have guessed from their nervous and twitchy behaviour from the start. Rei explains Kyouko is his sister so sibling arguing is quite normal. So the duo return happy and relieved about this but not Akari. She thought it is worse off. Because when the sisters saw them together, they didn’t look like siblings. She starts to understand this is why Rei left home. By evening, Rei receives word that Shimada has conceded defeat.

Episode 19
Shimada narrates how he got into shogi. From a snowy side of the country, a bunch of old men taught him how to play till he became real good. They continued supporting him and when he joined a Tokyo association, Shimada started working jobs to fund his transport to the capital. Therefore he always has this problem of stomach pains from the burden he is shouldering and the long bus ride. Now he is sick with that as Rei visits and helps him do some chores. Of course they also practice shogi while Rei ponders if he should get more rest before the next match at Kyoto. Shimada notices how similar Rei is to Souya because they said the same words. They might be the all-rounder type who can switch between offense and defence. As Shimada is still weak, Rei accompanies and helps him around in Kyoto. Heh, even Shimada can ‘joke’ that he sounds like his mother. But he is more thankful for his help than anything. The best ‘joke’ comes from tactless Jinguuji who thinks Shimada should get a stomach transplant or else he can’t win titles! Then there is the ceremony for the pre-match the night before. Rei’s heart aches each time he sees the camera flashes, knowing Shimada is in pain inside. Souya was kind enough to let all the cameras focus on him so as to let Shimada quietly leave and turn in for the night early. And Jinguuji had to quip Shimada didn’t really stand out much to begin with since the press is really here for Souya. Right in the heart… And his guts too. Rei has to bunk with Smith as he is here as a substitute observer. But Rei has to hear him on the phone distraught over his cheating partner. It’s his cat… Morning comes as the 4th match begins. Rei is still in a dilemma whether he should have refused practice and let him rest.

Episode 20
Shimada dreams he is back in his hometown doing farming and married his girlfriend who left him. This is what he might be doing had he not get past a certain rank in the league. The old guys also told him to find happiness wherever he is and shogi wasn’t just everything. Shimada wakes up still having those stomach pains. He knows if he loses this fourth match, he will not be able to play in the next match which is his hometown. Because a judge came down with a flu (he hid it because he wanted to be on TV!), Jinguuji forcefully removed him and promotes Smith to take his place. He then also has Rei go up on stage for the board commentary with an experienced shogi player, Fujimoto. Since Rei is quite meek, Fujimoto then explodes in his tirade on his manliness of how he became a master. Either you are awed or respect him like veterans or in shock or fear for first timers. Which means Rei is totally scared of this dude! The match begins and Shimada’s stomach pain is still bugging him. But he fights on knowing it is good to be alive. Fujimoto can tell Shimada will lose and that the gap between them is too great. Rei tries to voice otherwise but is quickly told to shut up or else he would ruin Shimada’s reputation as his disciple. With everyone in the hall thinking Shimada is already lost, Rei continues to hang on to that thin belief that Shimada’s pieces are still alive despite in a pinch. By the time he wants to say something, Shimada has already conceded defeat. That night Shimada and Rei leave Kyoto for home.

Episode 21
Rei accompanies Shimada back to his hometown. Shimada feels ashamed thinking what to say to his people. He knows they are too kind to scold him but wishes they would. Well, he got his wish because they’re blaming him for the rain! You see, the town is having a human shogi festival. Although it is held indoors, I guess the heavy rain spoils the mood. Harunobu is one of the players. He beats his opponent when the latter made a mistake. Then there is another shogi programme in which a few shogi masters like Shimada will play with many other people simultaneously. Jinguuji is also one of the masters but he tries to weasel his way out of not participating. He is afraid of those old folks who are just as dangerous in shogi. Rei talks to a reporter who is doing an article on Shimada and learns more about him and his hometown. Rei could see Shimada smiling and happy. Next day, the old guys give Shimada some gifts before he leaves. They tell him not to rush and this makes Shimada realize he was lost while rushing. He is confident now to start over again and work hard. We take a detour as Akari and Hinata help Someji think of a new filling for his Japanese sweet. To draw inspiration, they visit a sweets shop. However they end up order a mix of everything. Then they are filled with regret of getting fat and spending more than they should! Time to look to Momo for answers… What will it be? Gum?! Back to the drawing board. They think harder and harder but the girls find that with all the delicious choices, they can’t narrow it down. Hinata then gets an idea to do some daruma pattern mix with a few flavours. Hinata gets this idea to call Rei over for dinner. Guess what? He is just right outside their doorstep! He accepts her invitation. Happy Hinata wishes she could make Japanese sweets forever.

Episode 22
A new school term. A new class. This means Hayashida is no longer Rei’s homeroom teacher and with a new set of classmates, Rei is going to find himself the same loner again. However Hayashida is kind enough to still eat lunch with him. Poor guys, right? Hayashida has an idea. He wants Rei to form a shogi club and he’ll be the advisor. Easier said than done. If Rei had the guts to ask others it would have been done. Plus, you need 5 members to form a club. Rei realizes that he blended easily with the shogi members so maybe. Just maybe. Hayashida is happy Rei agrees to his idea. Because now he can get free shogi lessons and beat this jerk he dislikes! But still, nobody wants to join the club! Back to square one? Another idea strikes Hayashida. Those burner’s club guys! Because many of their seniors have graduated leaving 4 of them left, what a brilliant idea for them to combine and be a club. And so it becomes known as the shogi science club. Time for Rei’s flashback. His sad and lonely past during a school field trip has him narrate how nobody wants to sit next to him. He eats alone and ponders about his shogi puzzle. On the way back, he starts thinking if nobody ever wants to sit next to him. Thus he holds this magic ticket (the ticket to the shogi world) as an important one he will never let go. It means he belongs somewhere. Despite nobody might want to sit next to him, as long as he is fighting, there are people who will sit across him and he is glad to have met different kinds of people. Rei returns to his shogi gang and realizes that there are others too on the same train heading towards that same shining light. And today, someone seems to be sitting across him. Is it his dream that it is Souya? Oh, cue for all other shogi masters to make their mug cameo too.

Toothless Lion
Oh… Guess what? Another season… I suppose with ‘unfinished business’ and more room to grow for everyone, I believe this series needs to have another season. And maybe because not enough people are taking interests in shogi. Not even simple online shogi games… Yeah, there are better entertainments out there. Anyway, personally I felt that this entire series is just one draggy drama about a kid having some problems in real life and only having shogi as his guide to navigate through. I know I shouldn’t be complaining about this since I already anticipated about this way before I started watching and when I was reading the synopsis of the show when it first came out and deciding if I should watch it. But I just need to point out that it fell within that expectation. So if you aren’t into this kind of genre, you’re not likely going to enjoy the series and find all the monologues and thought provoking figure of speeches to be entertaining.

Something makes me feel that this anime was somewhat related or it could even be a spiritual successor to Shigatsu Wa Kimi No Uso. First, the titles are curiously almost similar and both the main protagonist is a young prodigy who has a tragic past and struggling to cope with their current depression. Heck, don’t they even look similar? But as I ‘extensively’ try to find out, it could be just very much coincidence. Both are written by different authors and both series have nothing to do with each other. I guess it is one of those things in life about coincidences.

I had also come to expect that this series isn’t meant to teach you about shogi. Thanks to Harunobu’s colourful and children friendly illustrations, the basics are mentioned. But that is very much about it. If you plan to learn about advanced strategies, you would be better off taking real shogi lessons instead of learning it from anime. Therefore I am guessing that unless you are decently well versed in shogi, there are some moves, tactics and strategies mentioned during the matches here will feel like they are very alien. You will not know what they are talking, what they mean or what the implication of this strategy is. Because I was like so blur and confused when they were talking about the piece movements itself. I was already lost by then. I don’t see who is winning or the advantage received from suggesting those moves. Just, “Oh. Well. Whatever”.

One thing I noticed is that the shogi players are mostly predominantly males. Are there no females taking up the sport? Because shogi like karuta is one of the few sports in which the classes and categories aren’t separated by gender. Well, as I found out, there is a separate association for women but the main one also takes in both genders. As I also discovered, maybe it is also because no females have attained such high rankings before. A separate league may be to attract more females to the sport but that’s a different story. Unless of course there are clear rules that really segregate the genders in tournaments. Having not noticing any females playing here, therefore it really made me wonder if shogi is only a male dominated sport and usually played by old men. Because all the great masters are so. Duh.

For a drama heavy show like this, it relies on the characters to drive the story as well as the development of the characters. However, although it is not that bad, I still find it a bit boring and draggy. Because what else could there be if it is not playing shogi? Sure, they do insert spontaneous jokes (some are smart and some are just plain silly) in between to break the ice but there is still this big cloud of depression hanging over the series. It could have been like Evangelion but without all the mechas and aliens.

When the series begins, Rei is seen and expected to be a kid with some sort of problem. Perhaps he had some sort of tragic life and a price to pay for being a young genius shogi prodigy. Of course it is tragic when his family is wiped out in an unfortunate accident and being the favourite child of a shogi family despite being an outsider might look like big traumatic and life changing/regretting events in a kid’s life. But as you can see that Rei isn’t the only one who has problems of his own. So when you get to learn the problems faced by other characters, Rei’s personal problem pales in comparison. A bit tame if I should say. Over the series, he is just one confused and lost kid trying to straighten out his empty life. Trying to find meaning of his existence via shogi. Yeah, you can hear a lot of his monologues and thoughts about it once he realized or opened his eyes. And yeah, Rei isn’t such a top shogi player seeing how many players are still better than him. Shogi might be a big part of his life and the only thing he is competent but that does not define his life in its entirety.

Like the Kawamoto sisters who look so out of place in this series. They do not have anything to do with shogi but can be said as Rei’s lifeline and saviour. Sometimes it feels that without them being a distraction, the entire series could have been one big bore. Because nothing but shogi would be just a drab. Rei and others alike would have been just another shogi piece in the board called life. Therefore with Akari’s helpfulness and resourcefulness as the big sister, Hinata’s cheerfulness and Momo’s cuteness, oh don’t forget about their cute cats too, it brings about the variety and colour that the series needs instead of the doom and gloom in Rei’s pathetic outlook in life. Despite the sisters’ cheerful outlook, they seem to be hiding and holding it well their whatever tragic past. A bit can be said about Hayashida because oddly this teacher seems to be Rei’s only ‘friend’ at school. Never seen a teacher being so dedicated and supportive of a student, right? I’m sure he is there not because of Rei’s status as a shogi prodigy. Imagine Hayashida’s reputation if a student under him fails… Ah… Hope this isn’t viewed as favouritism because he seems to go out of his way to look out for Rei.

Then there is Harunobu who is the self-proclaimed rival and best friend. At least when it comes to shogi. Chubby kid too has his own problems and something hints about his health condition. Although, it is not fleshed out very much in this season but at least he seems more amusing than Rei since he is able to channel his thoughts and feelings out honestly unlike Rei who keeps it all in. No doubt it makes Harunobu looking like a passionate fat kid but better than being all gloom and doom, right? As the final arc shifts its focus from Rei to Shimada, it is also a reason why Shimada seems more interesting, his life and climb in the shogi world compared to our protagonist. With Rei’s gloom and doom being dragged out the entire season, Shimada’s past seems to be a more refreshing take and diversion. Maybe Rei could learn something here?

Souya is presented as a very enigmatic character. Because of his character shrouded in mystery and his very odd looking exterior (creepy too if I should say), it is also a reason why he seems more interesting than Rei. Because as you know by now, he is just such a depressed kid. Despite Souya looking like the calm god of shogi, my guts tell me that he too hides a very sad and tragic past that only time (and hopefully the next season) would reveal. So if you’re saying shogi players are all a bunch of boring nerds, cast away that stereotype (at least in anime world) since you have Gotou who acts cocky like a bad guy, the manly Fujimoto, the aloofness of Smith and the expressive Issa. It goes without saying when you have a crazy person but sporting like Jinguuji at the top of the association, how not to have oddballs at the other levels below? Despite their eccentric behaviour, I can safely say that they all have one thing in common: Their love for shogi. No doubts about that.

Lastly I want to mention about Kyouko being the yin to the Kawamoto sisters’ yang. While the latter provides all the happiness and cheerfulness of a great warm family (despite not being perfect), we have the former who comes from a broken family. There are a lot of contrasting and clashing ironies between both sides and unfortunately Rei is caught in between like a tug of war. Kyouko seems like she is acting like a bad girl and delinquent to spite her father over his ‘choice’ and undergoing that rebellious phase of a teenager having raging hormones. Despite all that, she is just as confused and lost as Rei and all she ever wanted was just her father’s love and attention. And I mean that kind of love and attention a father should give. It’s hard to see any kind of romance brewing but I won’t be surprised if it does. But then again I would be since Rei and Kyouko are so different like night and day but you know what they say about opposites attract. And since they seem to hang out from time to time (and Kyouko looking like she is ‘relying’ on him), that crazy little thing called love may just spark the unreasonable. Because so far there aren’t any hot shogi girls Rei has come across yet… Can you imagine Rei x Akari? Nah! Rei x Hinata? She’s got Takahashi. Don’t even think about Rei x Momo! Ever!

One of the surprising things I discovered was that this anime was animated by SHAFT. Yes, the studio that has its trademark animations in all its animated series like that neck tilt and eye pupil zoom-ins. Because this series has very simple and sometimes sketchy art style, it never really occurred to me that SHAFT Was behind it because after seeing their works in the Monogatari series, Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei series, the ef series, Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica, Maria+Holic, Mekaku City Actors, Sasami-san@Ganbaranai (still remember this one?) and even Nisekoi, it never really crossed my mind it was them. There are a few SHAFT trademarks scattered but I never thought so until it happened a handful more times. Then it hit me and then I found out it was them. Because of all the drama, there are those special effects when the drawing gets really messy with all the explosion of lines and sketches like as though it is incomplete or just abstract. Is this an art show?

Although the characters look simple and plain, there is one thing that bugs me about their design. You see, the edges of their mouth have this little gap like as though it can’t really close properly. So it feels odd looking at them like that. Looks a bit unreal… I believe this series takes place in a real town and thus there is some importance given to the background and sceneries. Not to say they are breath taking or a masterpiece but at least they are decent to look at. Even more so in the next episode preview, a few live action clips of the sceneries of the local places featured in the anime. Not sure why it is blurry and has a bit mosaic effect. Also an added bonus, different illustrations from different people at the end of each episode.

A few recognizable seiyuus such as Shinichiro Miki as Shimada, Tomokazu Sugita as Smith, Marina Inoue as Kyouko, Yuichi Nakamura as Tsujii, Kenjiro Tsuda as Morio, Takahiro Sakurai as Hayashida and Kana Hanazawa as Hinata being the best because there is this sort of sparkle of liveliness and innocence as the young lass instead of being a retard character that I once stereotyped her as. Harunobu sounded familiar at first but it took me a while to realize it was Nobuhiko Okamoto behind it. I didn’t realize it was Akira Ishida behind Souya’s voice because of his limited dialogue and very soft spoken ways. The rest of the casts are Kengo Kwanishi as Rei (Akira in Monster Strike), Ai Kayano as Akari (Kanade in Chihayafuru), Misaki Kuno as Momo (Hawk in Nanatsu No Taizai), Hirouki Touchi as Gotou (Lily in Fairy Tail), Toru Ookawa as Kouda (Roy in Fullmetal Alchemist), Tesshou Genda as Jinguuji (Kaido in One Piece) and Subaru Kimura as Issa (Gian in Doraemon series).

The first opening theme is Answer by Bump Of Chicken and it feels quite similar to their music style as heard in other animes that they have been featured in such as the opening themes of Kekkai Sensen and Tales Of The Abyss. This means you can expect more or less the same for the first ending theme, Fighter as they too sing this one. For the second opening theme, Sayonara Bystander, I thought Nano Ripe sang it but she sounded somewhat a little different. It was sung by Yuki. Now that I remember, that’s the same person who sang the opening theme for Honey And Clover. A change of pace for the second ending theme because Orion by Kenshi Yonezu feels a bit like R&B funk style and groovy. The insert song Nyaa Shogi Ondo sung by the Kawamoto sisters is cute as well as entertaining and educative in introducing the basics of shogi.

Overall, this series is a make or break depending on your tastes on dramas dealing with depression and stress. Either you find the problems relatable (who doesn’t have problems) or this is just one big snooze fest. Even a more turn off if you are not into shogi and it might be unappealing if you are not used to the shogi pieces that might seem confusing for those who are not familiar with the game. I mean, you identify the pieces with the fancy writing on it instead of different shapes and there is no colour to differentiate between the opposing sides, just the direction you are facing. Therefore the board can be one big messy monotonous battlefield if you really want to enjoy the shogi aspects. Just like life itself, right? Thus this series isn’t being checkmated yet and even if it is looking like it is heading for a stalemate, perhaps a miracle move that could turn the board around for the better? Get it? Turn the board around? Literally. Okay, okay. Only shogi fans can understand that joke.

Tales Of Zestiria The X S2

August 12, 2017

Can’t wait to finish the epic second half of Tales Of Zestiria The X. I don’t know. Even taking a one season break seems like waiting for so long. Heck, I guess it is better than waiting for the second season of Shingeki No Kyojin, right? With all the epic and extravaganza building up from the first season, I hope the second season will be even more so. It better be since I’ve waited so long…

Episode 13
Rose is buying the entire herb stock of a group of travelling merchants. However they are not satisfied with the amount she gives them. Turns out they are bandits who are trying to sell stolen goods. It goes without saying Rose kicks their asses when they think they have the numbers to overwhelm her. Sorey does his training with Lailah and Mikleo to fight different types of malevolence but fails. The next day they arrive at Lastonbell, the largest commercial city in Rolance. At Rose’s storeroom which also works as her secret base, lots of people are glad that she is back. Looks like she has quite the reputation here. So popular that some business owners are arguing to do business with her. She introduces Sorey to Mayvin who is an explorer and storyteller. He might not look like it but he is more than 100 years old and has travelled the world to find stories to be told to future generations. But the guy whom Rose wants Sorey to meet, Guren is not here as he is a fanatic about the Shepherd legend. Also, she is using Sorey so she could get bigger discounts from him if he hears Sorey is a Shepherd. What a way to put a Shepherd to work. General Sergei Storelka of the Platinum Knights walks in to request for Sorey. He has witnessed his battle at Glaivend and cannot ignore he is a powerful and dangerous man. Rose defends Sorey as the one who ended the war without killing anybody. Mayvin breaks up the tension by having Rose treat everybody to fine wine. Not that she likes it either. Sorey asks Mayvin if there is a way to purify dragons. Too bad he has not met any during his journey and he doesn’t know if that is lucky or not. But he did met a Shepherd a long time ago who once said everybody has a tainted heart deep inside including himself. He posed a question of killing a few to save many and does accepting that necessary evil make people malevolent. As Sorey goes to train, he notices Rose heading off. Dezel tells him not to concern with her as he will protect her. Rose meets up with her fellow members of secret assassins, Scattered Bones. They are to assassinate a corrupted bishop. They let him answer 3 questions honestly first but when he starts to deny and cover up, Rose kills him.

Episode 14
Sorey joins Rose for breakfast when Sergei comes by to apologize to her for last night (he got drunk). But with a bouquet of flowers? Rose can’t stop teasing him he likes her. Sergei’s man comes in to report an explosion near the church that left a hole in the ground. The Seraphs believe it is work of malevolence so Sorey joins him to check it out further. Sergei’s man further tells him about the attack at the church’s sanctuary. The guards were attacked but no casualties. As for the rumours about the bishop dying of an illness, he is the only one found dead. Could it be an assassination? Meanwhile Rose visits Guren’s place but he is not in and is greeted by his wife. She relates how he delivered something to the church’s sanctuary. Though he left, he has been missing since. Sorey and Sergei continue to walk through the underground tunnel that leads to the sanctuary. Learning so, Sorey believes this is like Ladylake. When everything is concealed underground, things will start to rot. Sergei watches in awe, confusion and scepticism as Sorey purifies some of the malevolence in the water. They reach a dead end. However the Blue Storm Knights guarding it won’t let them pass as ordered. Sergei understands and turns back. He tells Sorey a bit about Rolance’s history. It was ruled by an absolute monarch. But with the church increasing its influence in the military, thus the Blue Storm Knights. The decreasing influence of the imperial in which the Platinum Knights are sworn to protect are even left out from briefings. Sorey and Mikleo find it weird that no dragon has appeared in Rolance. Is there some sort of calamity? The relentless rain might be it. When they surface, they are confronted by Gouldman who is the leader of the Blue Storm Knights. Aiguille, Rose’s aide can tell she is upset and succumbing to emotion as she leaves. He tells her that they all should know that Guren is dead, killed by the bishop. That is why they killed him. He reminds her about their oath to kill for the greater good. Dezel pops up to offer Rose his help to kill such people (note, she can hear him but not see him). He views what she is doing is just. A big storm is kicking up and it seems Dezel is behind it.

Episode 15
The Seraphs will try to stop Dezel before he succumbs to malevolence. Since he isn’t going to stop when politely told, Lailah’s huge fireball did the trick. With Rose telling him to stop, Dezel gives up. They seek an answer for his actions. Retribution for the bad people. Long ago he travelled with a guild called Windriders with a very likeable leader, Brad. He rescued a young Rose wandering in the battlefield and raised her like his own daughter. Brad is dead. But Rose has carried his will and gone over what he expected of her. That is why he will do anything for her. Sorey is confronted by Gouldman who tells him Sergei is arrested for having unauthorized interaction with the Shepherd. If Sorey’s powers are real, Gouldman wants him to help Rolance. Sorey won’t do that to start a war. As his next destination is Pendrago, he wants him to take him there. So please release Sergei? Later Sorey speaks with his Seraphs that he is slowly understanding about malevolence. However he can’t seem to stop humans fighting humans despite his wish to create a world without wars. When they return, Mayvin is about to leave for another journey. He asks Sorey about the question he told the previous Shepherd whom he never got an answer about the corruption of the heart. Mayvin is impressed he remembers word by word. In short, he has learnt to each his own. Everyone has their own principles. Be true to oneself. We now take a detour to Alisha’s side. Her army is waiting to ambush but instead got ambushed by the enemy. The casualties are high although Alisha and a few of her men escaped and are seeking refuge in an abandoned playground she used to visit. Reports come in that some of the soldiers in the rear including Maltran have been captured and accused of treason. This clearly shows that Bartlow is targeting Alisha. All Alisha can say is that she is responsible for her actions. This means her ideals are the cause of her men’s death when they should be alive. Wondering what Sorey would have done, she realizes she needs to move forward like how he needs to become stronger. She hopes her remaining troops will lend her strength to take back the official residence of Hyland.

Episode 16
Aiguille informs Rose that the whereabouts of Prince Konan is known. Time for revenge. Next day, Rose packs her bags and leaves. Sorey hoped she would come to Pendrago with him so he could keep watch on Dezel. No thanks. Because Sorey only knows Rose as a cheerful trader and merchant, there might be more that they don’t know especially when it is connected to Brad. Thus Sorey has Mikleo to follow her while Sorey will follow Gouldman to Pendrago. Edna also follows Mikleo to help keep an eye. During the journey, they see Rose coming into contact with a stranger. Since they do not understand, Dezel explains that Rose is an assassin and will be undergoing an assassination mission. Rose has learnt to kill under Brad’s tutelage in Windriders which is the predecessor of Scattered Bones. With Windriders gaining popularity and influence, Konan sought their help in the war with promise to end all fighting. Brad being the sucker for justice accepted and even sealed the deal by betrothing Rose to him. After Konan won big at the sacrifice of many, he betrayed them after they were no longer useful to him. Edna doesn’t believe anyone deserves to be killed no matter the reason. She wants to relay this to Sorey but Mikleo will do it and he wants her to stop them. Yeah, it’s a long horse ride back. And when shocked Sorey hears about it, it’s another long horse ride back again. Rose and her assassins spy on Konan inside a mini castle by the lake. They are going to sell fake highly addictive elixirs, something that a few in the church only knows how to make. Night falls and after Konan goes to sleep, Rose goes into action. It’s funny how she pops up before him like as though she’s indicating “I’m your worst nightmare. Die!”. By the time Sorey barges in, Rose has already killed him. Or did she miss? Konan is still moving. As the guards surround them, Rose is upset he can’t even remember them. Konan escapes while she takes care of the guards. Dezel stalls Sorey and his Seraphs to allow Rose to finish her assassination. Sorey’s voice to tell her not to kill seems futile as she catches up to Konan and slashes him.

Episode 17
Konan is pretty hard to kill, isn’t he? Well, if you’re considering that he’s turning into a Hellion! Eventually with the intense battle, the structure collapses. Sorey is pretty sure Konan is dead at the bottom of the lake. Sceptical Rose still wants to make sure but Dezel stops her. As they make their way to Pendrago, Sorey and Rose exchange their thoughts about killing. Rose believes there are people in this world who should be killed and somebody needs to do the job. Sorey used to think like that but there are things they cannot see. Hence malevolence can seep into the land, water, sky and living things. Malevolence dwells in everyone. Those negative feelings could become the source of malevolence. People deny it and carry on living. But Rose confronted and stopped it altogether as she believed it was for something good. The Seraphs ask Dezel what he wants out of Rose. Now that vengeance is done, he will carry on Brad’s wish to help the powerless. Rose is Brad’s successor and just a puppet. That’s why he is supporting her. A roadblock stops them. The Platinum Knights under Sergei’s orders are to take Sorey and co on a detour into the forest since this road is heavily monitored by the Blue Storm Knights in which there is another roadblock by them up ahead. Riding through the forest, Sorey notices the huge malevolence that has seeped through. The forest is rotting and at this rate Rolance will also die. Instead of trying to purify it, they quickly ride through. Rose is surprised with a world she cannot see and asks Sorey if what she has done all this time in the name of justice is for naught. All he can say is that killing people is wrong no matter how noble the reason. As for being powerless, Sorey doesn’t think so. She is strong but just that this world needs to be cleanse once and a different power is needed. This makes Rose feel useless as she remembers how Brad rescued her. Bandits were scavenging the remains of a battlefield. One found her and possibly would have raped her had not Brad and his Windriders popped up. He invited her to join and she gladly accepted. He taught her all he can and she clearly remembers the ideal he lives by the most: Forget unreachable ideals, get justice that is within sight.

Episode 18
Arriving at the residence of the emperor of Rolance, Doran greets Sorey in as he invited him. Sorey learns the imperial family may not be able to see malevolence but knows about it. How? The storyteller. Mayvin is something like that but real storytellers have long existed because they broke an oath by telling a secret of the world. It is believed that one man tried to steal all emotions from mankind. Because malevolence is borne out of human emotion and man cannot see it, it spreads. One day the world changed due to a ritual and as a result mankind’s emotions were taken away except for one person: Velvet Crowe. The hatred towards a certain person spawned this calamity. All Doran wants is peace. Sorey is shocked to hear Alisha has been imprisoned for treason. He is worried about her but needs to purify the malevolence in Rolance. He needs to head to Pendrago. Doran will accompany him since the church there is being sealed off and his authority will prove useful. Rose wants to further help the weak and asks Dezel for advice what needs to be done to see the malevolence. Thus she talks to Sorey about entering a squire’s pact with him. He might be the only Shepherd to save the world but he could use a bit of help. She wants to know the pros and cons of being a squire so Lailah explains the great help she can do. However if she fails, both the Shepherd and squire will die. Sorey is shocked to know this. What danger has he put Alisha under? Don’t worry. Alisha knew the risk when she made the pact. After making the pact, the squire will be able to share some of the burden and taking the malevolence blow from the Shepherd.

Upon entering Pendrago, Sorey starts to feel heavy. He doesn’t want Rose to feel this but she would rather confront the menace rather than staying ignorant. Now that Sorey knows the risk, he cannot ask Rose to be his squire but if she insists, it is a different story. Sorey and the Seraphs can feel the great malevolence coming from inside the church. Masedra, the head pope won’t let them enter. Doran makes this an order so Dezel blasts open the door for them to enter. Inside and following the source of the malevolence, they are shocked to see a dead dragon emitting great malevolence. Sorey wants to purify it as Lailah suggests Rose could be of great help. At first he is not too sure but since Rose really wants to help so Lailah begins the ritual to make Rose his squire. Her squire’s name is Wilkis Wilk. Sorey begins his purification but since it is too great, Rose helps to take some of the burden while the Seraphs fend off the attacking malevolence. In the end, the purification is successful and the relentless rain over Rolance immediately stops. Rose might be exhausted from her first job but she isn’t dead. Sorey receives a telepathic communication from Alisha. She is at the outskirts of Ladylike. Her imprisonment is a lie but she is being hunted by Bartlow. Ladylake is besieged by tornadoes and she needs Sorey’s help. Next stop, Ladylake.

Episode 19
As the tornadoes are getting stronger, Alisha’s priority is to rescue the people in nearby villages despite Bartlow may be setting up traps to catch her. While they are doing so, Hyland’s army has found them. They are about to attack when the place is flooded by some living mud? Alisha thinks a Hellion is behind this. She tries to fend it off to buy time for her troops to take the wounded away but she is devoured. Guess who saved her? Not Sorey. He isn’t here yet. Zavied! He is here after hearing there is a dragon but is appalled to see the malevolence in this place. Zavied hopes Alisha can give his regards to Sorey when she sees him. Alisha’s best strategy is to wait for Sorey to arrive but she doesn’t have that luxury because it is reported that Maltran is crucified at the fountain square. She will be so until Alisha surrenders. This is very well a trap by Bartlow. Her biggest dilemma now is to rescue Maltran but risk fighting Hyland’s army (that would be treason) or buy time and let her die (she can last only 3 days). While she continues to ponder about this, the Hellion pops up to mock her state as well as how cruel humans can be. Despite Alisha’s efforts to stop the war and saved many lives, the higher ups are still tormenting her as they believed she stopped a winnable war. Alisha admits humans are weak so he mocks the weak stay in the background, lurk in the shadows to empower and enrich themselves. Will she keep up her efforts despite knowing all that? Knowing yet doing nothing is more cowardly than being ignorant. The Hellion leaves disgruntled since he cannot unsettle her spirit. Hyland’s army thought they could ambush Alisha’s camp at night but it is just a decoy. Alisha has foresight seeing this coming. She knows as long as they don’t appear, Bartlow will increase his guard. They sneak into Ladylike in the dark of the night to rescue Maltran. They have until sunrise to finish their mission and escape. Oh, nobody dies too. That’s an order. Sorey is awakened rudely by Rose. She points out a giant tornado before them. That is the direction of Ladylike. They must make haste.

Episode 20
Guess what? The guards are already here. Better get moving. Bartlow decides to light up the fountain square once he knows Alisha is here. The Hellion also feels like spicing up as he whispers to Maltran that Alisha is coming for her. Identifying himself as Alisha’s supporter, he is disappointed Alisha is sacrificing others to get to her. She is no different than others. Maltran tells him that means he too fail as Alisha’s supporter. Because he should know where Alisha is heading right now. This makes him mad as Maltran continues to explain why Alisha is a princess as she is taught from young to not act out of personal feelings. When Bartlow notices Alisha is taking too long, he then realizes she is heading straight for the palace to see her ailing father. Sorey knows there is a dragon inside the tornado and wants to purify it. Despite legends saying a dragon cannot be purified, it is actually because nobody has done it before. It is a tough job and he might die but hey, at least he has them. Well, being positive is already half the battle won. Alisha reaches her father’s room and talks to him about the need to stop the war to end the despair. She is shocked to see malevolence seeping out from him. Bartlow draws his sword to kill Alisha despite she will not kill him. Before he could strike her, the king uses his body to protect her. How can a wheelchair ridden old man slower than a snail get into this situation? Ah, a father’s love… Both sides remain calm. Bartlow thinks he still has the upper hand when Alisha summons all the guards in. They have witnessed Bartlow killed the king and have lost faith in him. Bartlow can’t explain himself but notes he has won since Alisha won’t kill him. Then he jumps off the building to kill himself. By this time, the tornado has entered Ladylake. Even the Hellion is surprised at this big sh*t. Sorey communicates to Alisha to request her help as a squire and to come to where he is. Sorey combines with Mikleo to begin his purifying. He starts channelling to Rose. At first it might be too much for her but her pride as Scattered Bones’ boss won’t allow her to go down easily. Alisha arrives in time to share the burden. Finally the myth is busted after Sorey purifies the dragon. This means he can purify Edna’s brother. Before our heroes could celebrate about this positive outlook, here is Symmone to rain on their parade. Her master is about to envelope the world with malevolence. It’s now the beginning of the end of the world.

Episode 21
I believe everyone in Hyland has gathered at the square to pray for Alisha’s recovery. After the successful purification, Alisha and Rose collapsed from exhaustion. Not bad for first timers. While Sorey is alright by the 5th day, it took the ladies the 9th day to wake up. Despite in high spirits, Mikleo notes that they can’t do this very often due to the toll on their body. Meanwhile Dezel is fighting Symmone to get her to spill the beans. What she told them about the world ending was it all. She even shows them what the end of the world would be like. Right now at the north, the land is dead and malevolence creeping in. Sorey and the Seraphs are in pain that they couldn’t breathe. Imagine if this is reality, it’ll be much worse. The Seraphs know Sorey wants to journey to the north. They’ll follow him alright. Lailah acknowledges Sorey’s efforts up to this point. She gives him a Celestial Records written by a Shepherd named Michael. This is another copy of it. Alisha’s subordinates, Sirel and Ian seek Sorey’s permission to go with him to the north. Since Alisha is coming, they as her loyal subjects will come too. The reconstruction of Hyland is left in Maltran’s hands. More good news as people from around the land line up a long queue to enlist themselves for this expedition. Though it is sad that Alisha can’t bring a lot of them as they are no match for the big boss. She will take those who can assist Sorey and the rest to remain in the reconstruction. Along the long journey, several parties join them. They include Zavied, even if you have forgotten Atakk, here he is bringing his entire Normin tribe to assist, as well as the Rolance side of Sergei and Gouldman who want in on this mission because this is a problem that affects the entire world. Sorey could head to Rayflake on the way and save Edna’s brother but what good would that do if the world ends? Save the world first and then come back to save him. So just hold on for a little while. Dezel suggests the squires test their Armatization. It is when they combine with a Seraph and become a powerful weapon form. Lailah is against this since it would be risky. Since they’re up against the big bad, they would want to test all possibilities. Dezel will watch out for Rose. Lailah volunteers for Alisha but Dezel disagrees. If Lailah dies, Sorey will also die. Too risky. Say what again? Edna volunteers then. It fails instantly as it begins. All of them barely clinging on to their lives.

Episode 22
Why is Symmone travelling with them? Did her master abandon her or did she betray him? Rose and Dezel practice their Armatization but they still fail. As they rest for the night, Sorey reads the Celestial Records and learns there is a power in some wellspring that can create worlds up north. It might be the wellspring and Earthpulses are attracting the malevolence. This has everyone think of the Lord of Calamity wanted to spread malevolence, shouldn’t he do it at densely populated areas instead of the barren north? Symmone tries to contact her master but no reply. Dezel confronts her as she hints her master overlooked the Shepherd in the last war and learnt there are other ways he can be killed other than purification. Everyone has a rude awakening when malevolence starts flowing in. Time to move out and make haste over the mountains. To their utter shock, they see dragons all over! I don’t think the world has even enough resources to purify all of them. Dragons are believed to be tainted Seraphs so this means the Seraphim of this land has become corrupted. Sorey combines with Lailah and Mikleo to purify as many dragons to clear a path for the main troops. Armatization somehow works now for Rose and Alisha as they help out Sorey. Somehow that Hellion also wandered into this area. He doesn’t know what he is looking for and what he wants. I suppose he doesn’t like the world ending too and decides to do a little good by purifying some of the malevolence. Till he uses all his power in his final push. I hope it made a little difference… Symmone attacks the main troops to stop them dead in their tracks. Hey, it’s not like she was a part of them to begin with. Then she calls out to her master again in which this time he responds. She realizes she has been used by him to bring the Shepherd. So happy of so that she sacrifices her life to become his power. She turns into a dragon. Time for the final boss fight as the Lord of Calamity appears before Sorey and co.

Episode 23
Since the Lord of Calamity will be heading to the centre of the world now, back down the mountain they go to chase after him. As Rose is being healed by Sorey, Dezel requests to borrow Zavied’s gun. He wants to help destroy the malevolence to make a beautiful world that Rose has always dreamt of. Along the way, they spot the Hellion’s body. They pick his corpse up for a proper burial but note the smile on his face. The gang now stumble into an abandoned city of ice and snow, Meirchio. Beyond this is the town of Killaraus, a volcano with an Earthpulse point. They meet Grimoire, a Normin who has lived very long and she knows all about Sorey being the Shepherd. Sorey continues to read the Celestial Records and comes to believe had not hatred overcome Velvet, there might not have been calamities in this world. He believes Artorious who sacrificed her only brother made the wrong choice. There is more he needs to learn and understand to stop this cycle. Dezel intends to leave Rose behind if she cannot recover in time. She did not like that very much and proves she can still carry on. With the moon turning red, Sorey, Alisha, Rose and the Seraphs only trudge forward while the rest remain behind to support them. I guessed they are not levelled up enough to take on the final boss. Riding through the valley, they stumble into multiple dragons. Dezel believes Sorey needs to save his strength to purify the Lord of Calamity and will handle this. That is why he borrowed Zavied’s gun. However Sorey won’t let him kill any. With the rest feeling ready to back Sorey anytime, Dezel returns Zavied’s gun and tries another method. Because he hints to Sorey to take care of Rose. After doing Armatization with Rose, he too hints to her this is his last time before becoming the wind. They manage to purify all the dragons. Symmone is back to normal. Rose is back to normal. But where’s Dezel? Because he is dying, this is their last chance for them to talk, say thank you and apologize before he disappears. So all she gets to keep is his hat? Okay. Now you can cry your heart out.

Episode 24
Sorey, Too late to blame yourself for being stubborn. I want to spam “I told you so!” but it’s not the time. Rose slaps him for regretting this because if so, history shall repeat itself. Don’ let Dezel’s death be in vain. Time to move forward and finish this. Inside the cavern, Heldalf as the Lord of Calamity was once known as when he was human, is speaking to Maotelus, the leader of the Five Lords. No use lecturing him about malevolence when she herself succumbed to it. Sorey combines with Lailah to fight Heldalf but as he stabs his sword, he sees Heldalf’s memories. In the original village of Camlann, Heldalf was friends with Michael who was the previous Shepherd who just retired. Michael’s dream is for Camlann to be a place where humans and Seraphim can co-exist. Sound familiar? After showing Heldalf Maotelus, he hopes he can create a place of peace. However Heldalf soon betrayed him and the place is ravaged by war. Heldalf was the commander of Rolance’s army used his promise to protect Camlann as bait to lure Hyland to attack. Michael falls into despair and Maotelus has also been shrouded in malevolence. She makes an oath never to repeat this and in exchange the powers of purification to be given to the Lady of the Lake. Michael becomes enraged and uses his own life to curse Heldalf into a life of solitude for eternity. And that is how malevolence slowly seeped through him and into the world. Now that Sorey knows the truth, can he purify Heldalf? Not even the help from others put the slightest dent. So you think lecturing him about being human is going to help turn things back? Sorey thinks that the reason he came to this place with less people is that his conscience as a human made him want to lessen the damage inflicted on people. It could be the Earthpulse calling him but it sure isn’t the malevolence. Heldalf is just blaming it all on the curse. It sucks being lonely, right? Sorey realizes he cannot defeat Heldalf like that and needs to use all the elements of the Seraphs. Not a time to think of death if this Armatization plan on all of them should fail. Since everybody supports him, go for it! As he has no contract with Zavied, he makes one with him now. Wow. Heldalf must be kind enough to wait for them to finish. So once done, Sorey takes on a new Super Saiyan form ready to kick ass.

Episode 25
So awesome to be finished that it took another 1 month for the last episode to come out! Everyone feels the strain in this super Armatization. But with words of encouragement, it’s enough for them to start rolling the action. Oh, looks like Heldalf too transforms into a more ferocious beast form. Sorey combines his elemental powers and throws all he’s got at him. And… That’s it? So easily defeated? Purification completed? Then they see the malevolence from the ground trying to seep into Heldalf to create a new Lord of Calamity. The rest starts doubting if malevolence can really be purified and that this world needs to have it. But Sorey doesn’t want them the negative talk. The only way left is to go with him, calm his anger slowly and purify him by sealing him deeper than the Earthpulse. Any objections? Yes, Mikleo. Have something to say? Who will cleanse the world then? Don’t worry. The world will be fine and still go on without him. Yes, Alisha and Rose? You need them to channel the malevolence? He’ll do it himself. He wants them to spread their tale throughout the world since humans cannot normally see the Seraphs. So with one last Armatization, Sorey plunges Heldalf deep into the core. So deep that his Seraphs cannot follow and are ‘kicked out’. Although they are sad, the ladies feel Sorey is still alive since they are still standing. Maotelus is cleansed and thanks everyone for their efforts. In the aftermath, peace reigns. Alisha ascends the throne and becomes queen. She makes peace with Rolance and along with Doran, they help spread the Shepherd’s legend. The people back at Elysium pay tribute to Sorey’s altar. Lailah seems to have found a new Shepherd successor. Edna’s brother may still be a dragon but with the minimal malevolence, he is docile and has his senses regained. Rose is a trader and Alisha often hangs out with her. She holds a Celestial Record that keeps tabs on Sorey’s heroics. The children are inspired to become the Shepherd. Mikleo who now spots long flowing hair like a Chinese period drama, wishes to see Sorey and suddenly hears his voice. He follows it and to his happiness sees Sorey in the flesh. It seems the purification of Heldalf is done and that guy is trying to start anew in another town. They decide to go explore the nearby ruins and soar above the sky to see how beautiful the world is.

Tales Of Final Fantasy The X-2
Until the next big (accumulated) malevolence arrives, enjoy the peace while it lasts. Hey, isn’t that what the final words of “The Shepherd’s journey continues…” mean? Though, I have mixed feelings that the fight with the final big boss ended so fast and too easy. I know. Stretching the entire thing for another episode isn’t a no go and better to dedicate half of the final episode to tie things up (no wonder the ending credits start popping up halfway). So we don’t know how Sorey did it by purifying Heldalf back to a normal guy without even the need of killing the dude or even how long it took (it must be long enough for the end events to transpire). But who cares, right? Sorey is back instead of being dead. Want to make a happy ending might as well go all the way.

Although this season is still very much epic and lives up to my expectations, but if I were to say it is even more epic than the first season, it doesn’t feel so. Because this seasons feels like it has been going around on a wrapping up spree especially with the first half trying to establish and resolve Rose’s past. It felt a bit rushed but then again, how long do you want her revenge story to drag out? In a way everything that has happened in her success revenge story feels like too convenient like as though they are rushing the plot as the series heads for the finale. After her part is done, then the story quickly tackles the malevolence at Rolance as well as settling the inner uprising against Alisha’s kingdom before the final rematch with the Lord of Calamity. It would have lasted a bit longer had they decided to include saving Edna’s brother as a detour but good thing or not, they didn’t. And as seen in the finale, they didn’t even need to. Yeah, the world will be alright eventually. Despite all this, the second season is still epic nevertheless in its own right.

Some of the minor characters feel mind boggling and a miss. I was hoping they would play an important role or at least one that would justify the existence of their appearances. For example, the Hellion who has been teasing Alisha from last season. I don’t really understand why he did that in the very end except for the fact that I believe the producers can’t think of a way to properly tie up his part in the end so they decided to kill him off. It saves the need to explain everything else. Was he just a confused soul? I knew Alisha was going to face off with Bartlow but I didn’t think that dude when exhausted all his options would easily kill himself. I know he isn’t the final boss for the series but after all that underhanded and sneaky planning to brand Alisha a traitor, he just kills himself like that. Oh well. No need to tie up his story in regards to that.

Atakk appeared quite late and I thought the series had long forgotten him. Even when he did appear and brought along his Normin pals, I don’t see them do anything particularly useful. Just a reminder that even a series as epic as this needs to have a cute little mascot? And what is Symmone actually for anyway? I feel the story could have been slightly shorter had she not show herself. If you’re saying she’s a tool under the Lord of Calamity’s plan to bring the Shepherd to him, I think that is redundant because even without her, Sorey and his gang would still go to him seeing that they need to purify him in order to save the world. So what she turns into a dragon? Was it just for some melodrama effect for Dezel when he sacrificed himself? Like as if to show that he used his life to save something for better or worse? Or maybe Sorey can’t have 2 wind Seraphs… Yeah, no wonder there were 2 wind Seraphs in the first place… RIP Dezel…

I thought there would be more tension and strife between Sergei and Gouldman seeing they come from different factions serving different masters from the same kingdom. It looked like there was. Until Rolance has been cleansed of its impurity. And then it is like their animosity and hostility were all gone and now they join hands to help Sorey and co defeat the final boss and save the world. Although Velvet pops up very briefly in Sorey’s thoughts, hey, at least they didn’t hijack a couple of episodes like last season. Because I think that is worth another Tales series of its own.

Because of the significant focus on Rose and Dezel, the relationship between Sorey and his Seraphs somewhat take a backseat. Perhaps in the last season we saw them bond so was that enough? Because this season makes them feel as though they are just tagging around. Like Edna I thought she wasn’t really significant and was just there whenever needed to use her earth powers during the limited fights. Same case for Zavied too. He appeared late and just tagged along without showing us that he did something really important. Okay, so he saved Alisha as he appeared for the first time this season is something. But that feels a bit forced and cliché, don’t you think? There is one little disturbing thing in the end which I noticed: Am I starting to feel that Alisha and Rose are being lesbian with each other?! I know they like each other in terms of friends but the final episode sees them so close that thoughts of lesbianism cannot be avoided. Furthermore, with Aiguille commenting that Rose would never find a husband seems to be some sort of hint… Can it be true?! I guess all the men aren’t worthy to be Alisha’s partner either. Only Sorey can but looks like he is busy exploring ruins…

It can never be said enough because I need to repeat this until I beat a dead horse. The most awesome and attracting factor of the series are the beautiful visuals. The top notched consistency is still there and it is no doubt that this is what makes this world such a breath taking masterpiece to look at. From the smoke effects to the water effects and even the building structures provide great eye candy. It would be such a waste if you didn’t use your eyes to scan every nook and corner of the screen to appreciate those visuals. Kudos and a job very well done, Ufotable.

Adding to all the epic grandeur is the opening theme. Illuminate by Minami might be a slow rock but you can feel there is some extent of greatness to it and how it perfect reflects the grand epic of the series not just as a second season but as of whole. The same epic feel is also passed down to the ending theme, Innosense by Flow. You will know how epic this rock piece would be when the opening of this song starts off with great dramatic orchestral strings and, uhm, echo cries of Tarzan?

Overall, I still love how great this fantasy adventure is over both seasons. Despite its shortcomings in this season like how certain plots feel rushed and characters not being fully utilized, I believe it has done a good job in trying to compress tenths of hours of gameplay into 2 seasons of anime, a game that I never played. Heck, do I even play JRPG? Having learnt that everyone has negative feelings which bring about the potential of creating malevolence, I believe it is already happening in today’s world in the form of internet trolling and flaming. Butt hurt feelings accelerating the end of the world… Shepherds can purify dragons and malevolence but not internet trolls.

How do you get everyone interested in an obscure game that has been released some time ago? Well, one of the ways is to turn it into an anime series. At least that is what I think when Schoolgirl Strikers – Animation Channel was produced for. This mobile game was made by Square Enix, yes, that epic developer that brought you the never-ending Final Fantasy game series and the Kingdom Hearts series. I believe they might want to be known for more than just that. After all, there has got to be a saturation point when you have milked a series so dry, you need a backup plan to milk some other series. Yup. So I thought this unknown series was adapted to test out if this 2014 mobile game would be the next big thing they can milk more money from. I mean, it does have a bunch of cute girls. What else could you go wrong here? Oh…

Episode 1
Team Altair Torte is trying to take down this giant mole monster, O’bli. They failed. Well, not like one loss would bring everybody’s spirit down, right? Besides fighting monsters, they are also ordinary high school girls. Like Yuumi Saijima is being called by her teacher, Yukako Odagiri to her office. It seems she found a sword stuck in the backyard as Yuumi tries to give excuses of it being Excalibur. Not convincing. So she confiscates it. Yuumi joins her other friends, Satoka Sumihara, Mana Namori and Io Yaginuma in trying to find out more about the 7 mysteries of their Goryoukan Academy. So while looking for a ghost girl, they shouldn’t be surprised if they actually run into her so why are they freaking out? Oh, it’s not a ghost girl. Just Tsubame Miyama. Since she leaves late, perhaps that is how rumours of ghost sightings came about. As they go home, all of them got the message to meet up in a secret base under the school. Tierra (Yukako’s real name) and this little AI cutie, Mosyne (“moshu”) explain the rip in time space distortion crap, thus enemies known as O’bli are invading us. We are explained Goryoukan has a hidden goal of finding warriors to fight them. It is Tierra’s job to scout for potentials and let them join Fifth Force. Aside Altair Torte, there are also other teams as they take turn to patrol the area and keep out the increasing presence of O’bli. It is Altair Torte’s turn as they transform ala magical girl style into… Race queens outfit? Seems like it to me. Altair Torte goes into action but they aren’t up to mark with this more powerful O’bli. Luckily team Coconut Vega (team bikini?) show why they are veterans and easily dispose of the O’bli. Altair Torte are left impressed.

Episode 2
All is forgiven for Altair Torte’s slip ups since they are just a newly formed team. But I’m sure they still need to improve because they have yet to win against their first O’bli. This is especially bothering Tsubame as she is Altair Torte’s leader. She tries working harder but we can’t have doom and gloom to set the pace for the entire series so the rest of her comrades throw her a party with good food to cheer her up. Damn I want to eat those snacks… So it finally hit Tsubame why they suck. As a newly formed team, they lack experience. Yeah, duh? She suggests more training (duh?) but since they don’t know what kind of training, they go for trial and error. Then they feast like a king after all those workout. I hope they don’t gain the pounds… We also learn that Tsubame is an amnesiac girl. She doesn’t remember her past very much but usually has strange dreams which sometimes foretell the future. The next training regimen is this… Puppet show? WTF?! Apparently they need to foster their cooperation. But puppet show of them taking down O’bli? It is so cramped in there that the entire show just fails. Even Tierra sensei is finding it hard to watch. I guess fighting a real O’bli has no better substitute to improve their training. Speaking of which, the alert sounds. Altair Torte uses their individual abilities and cooperation to finally earn their first win. Yeah, and this formation move they call it Puppet Dance. Ironic? Despite everyone exhausted, they still continue training via swimming because they realize they lack stamina. Hey, at least they’re not complaining.

Episode 3
We go back in time to see how Altair Torte was formed. Tsubame was picked up by Tierra after she was drifting between dimensions. Yuumi is your typical high spirited girl who wants to be a hero of justice. See how she saved a cat from a driver who won’t even slow down. Yuumi and her friends could feel something strange after entering the school gates. During recess, they are called by Yukako and after following a heap of simple clues, it leads them to the underground base where Tierra explains what we should already know. Tierra knows they have potential to join Fifth Force because if they were able to sense something at the gates, this means they are useful in detecting O’bli. She shows them some of the other teams that include friends they know fighting the menace. Since Yuumi wants to be a heroine, she joins. And the rest find it interesting too so they too join. But there is only 4 of them. Don’t you need 5 members to be a team? This is when Tsubame is introduced as their leader. Now they have their own luxurious dorm house. No wonder girls take up this offer. Living the luxurious life while fighting aliens. Count me in! The girls take their first training simulator. At first they are doing well and it got to their head that they can win this. But the O’bli fights back and that is where everything went downhill. Luckily this is just simulation so they failed. But they’re not feeling down yet. I mean, it’s their first time, right? Except maybe Tsubame. She tells them about how she has no memories and those strange dreams. Her recent dream saw her comrades dead and it almost happened in the simulation, that’s why she can’t fight with them. Too bad the rest don’t give a damn about it. They remain positive and blurt out their own flaws. Tsubame feels better and the girls are a step closer in bonding.

Episode 4
Yuumi talks about the new physics teacher. She seems a bit airy so she thought maybe the school’s mysterious beautiful detective could help solve it. Little does everyone know, Satoka is that beautiful detective as she and her friend, Ako Takamine (also part of Coconut Vega) go around to uncover the mystery. They observe fellow Fifth Force, Biscuit Sirius (made up of Niho Hinomiya, Isarai Haishima, Kagari Haishima, Yukie Aoi and Kaede Yamabuki) doing their own investigations on the school grounds. Coming out from a ventilation duct? They confirm those weird moaning sounds were coming from outside through the duct. At this point, some of the girls are having this feeling that they are being watched. Satoka continues her investigation and mark places where those incidents occurred. She joins up with Niho and the Haishima twins to investigate. Just when Satoka knows who the culprit is, the O’bli alert is sounded. It is cue to show why Biscuit Sirius (team gothic Halloween angel wings?) are the best team in Fifth Force. Altair Torte doesn’t even need to lift a finger. Yeah, too efficient before they could do anything. Satoka explains the perpetrator whom is ‘stalking’ everyone. Turns out to be the dorm’s cat, Boss. Somehow he entered the border and was watching girls who took good care of him from there. Wow, living up to his name like a boss? As for how he got into the border, Satoka is unsure but they need to report this to Tierra. It ends with Biscuit Sirius having high hopes to work together with Altair Torte in the future and everyone enjoying Yuumi’s pancake. Yum.

Episode 5
Tierra will be holding a mock team battle among Fifth Force. It is round robin format and the team who eliminates all other members of the opposing team wins the match. Altair Torte goes up against Coconut Vega and lost. Tsubame thought it was a good idea to fight individually but it backfired. Next up is Biscuit Sirius. Yuumi thought it was a great idea to smoke them out. Unless the wind direction changes… It wasn’t nature who blew the smoke right back in their faces. Remember Biscuit Sirius has members with angel wings. Oh. Another loss. So before their final match, Io thought it would be a good idea to train everyone’s teamwork via volleyball that she specializes in. Yuumi has another great idea attached to it. So when they go up against Procyon Pudding (team maid!!!), they apply their volleyball spiking to confuse and defeat a couple of them. Yeah, the ball turned into a bomb! Uh, it’s legal and part of the rules apparently. Amane Kyoubashi seems to have some sort of rivalry with Io so she dares them to target her. Io spikes but Amane is able to cut it in half. She also knows how Io moves because she has been watching all her matches. This gave away the fact that Amane likes Io. Tsundere time? No time for that because the O’bli alert goes off. Not one but two of them! Altair Torte buys Procyon Pudding some time. They again use their volleyball tactic but soon run out of volleyballs. Luckily it was enough time for Procyon Pudding to regroup and defeat the enemy with their heavy weaponry. In the end, the match results were voided since the O’bli interfered. Disappointed you worked so hard only for this technicality to screw things up?

Episode 6
Tierra detected a signature that doesn’t match a normal O’bli. It could be some dimensional noise but she wants Altair Torte to check it out just in case. So at this picturesque lake mountain, the girls can’t help thinking of having fun and need to be constantly reminded by Tsubame that they are on duty. So when nothing is found, they get permission from Tierra to have fun. So we see Yuumi doing her French cuisine, Mana fishing and Satoka losing her favourite curry bread. What? That curry bread is then eaten up by a giant fish. Oh wait. Isn’t that an O’bli? Apparently this is a rare fish type O’bli. Worse, Mana’s hook has got stuck to it and she is too scared to release. Don’t worry. Here comes Coconut Vega to help out. Why is Altair Torte just standing there in awe watching Coconut Vega do all the job to slow down the fish and rescue Mana? In the end, it got away. So both sides decide to team up and brainstorm to catch it. Satoka decides to give up her curry bread as bait. So as Coconut Vega chases it out of its hiding, Altair Torte waits for the right moment to fish it up. That’s right. They fished it up. I don’t even know how they got the strength to pull it up.

Episode 7
Sachiko Tanaka pretends to lose some small card to gain Mana’s attention. Mana helps to find but when Sachiko touches and seemingly absorbs whatever she wanted, she calls it off. When Mana tells this to the rest, they think it is a Memoca, a device that collects information in the rift between dimensions. All technology produced are based using this information. Thus you can say it is an alien technology and the only method they have against O’bli. Altair Torte continues their training but stumbled upon this self-proclaimed Knight of the Black Swan, Odile. She wants them hand over their Stella Prism used to travel the dimensions. They don’t really know anything about it but whatever it is they won’t hand it over without a fight. Despite Odile’s joker appearance, she can really fight and is much better than Altair Torte. She could have finished them with her gun had not for dumb luck being on our heroines’ side as Odile has her leg crammed up. Altair Torte tells this to the other teams but it is hard to believe someone that acts like a joker. As the teams go on patrol, Procyon Pudding stumbles into a group of 3 girls. They think they are the Odile that Altair Torte was talking about. However they aren’t and are the ones who have been sending O’bli into this dimension. By the time Tierra calls for Altair Torte to sortie, Procyon Pudding have already been badly defeated. Mana recognizes the trio as the Origami sisters, Akara, Hina and Koori. They were from the same orphanage but one day disappeared without a reason. That was shortly before Mana met Io who saved her from bullies. Because Io dressed like a boy that time, to Mana she will always be her prince. Io promised to rescue her whenever she is in trouble. The Origami sisters are actually working for the physics teacher. She punishes them for fighting the wrong target. They were supposed to finish off Altair Torte. Sachiko is revealed to be Odile as she is still reeling from her crammed leg. She can’t give up now as her goal is to destroy all Memoca and Stella Prisms on her own.

Episode 8
Coconut Vega tells Altair Torte that they met Odile on their patrol. She bragged about them mispronouncing their name and wanted to demand their Memoca. However she hit her shin on the rock and thought it was their doing and retreated. Huh?! Altair Torte are called to sortie when a dimensional breach occurs. This time they face off with an O’bli lizard. Though they manage to defeat it, its tail could still cause problems even when cut off (it is a lizard after all). At the same time, the Origami sisters enter the scene. Mana tries to talk to them and though they remember her, they are here under orders from Morgana to eliminate them. When the other teams arrive, clearly they are outnumbered so they retreat. Subsequently Altair Torte finds Hina unconscious in the woods. They bring her back to their dorm and treat her to food. Maybe she’s just hungry. But this is a trap because now that she has locked in on their position, she summons her other sisters here. Mana again tries to have them remember about their time at the orphanage. Apparently if you’re in such a place, it isn’t any pleasant memories. Obviously they don’t want to remember it and had a tough time trying to escape. Morgana saved them and that’s why they’ll do anything for her. They decide to settle this via duel. However… Can’t start fighting on an empty stomach. The fight then begins. Mana didn’t like how they are fighting but the sisters hint they don’t want to do this either but Morgana is their saviour so there’s no 2 ways about it. Somehow Tsubame is triggered by this event. Some mind boggling dimension breaking event occurs (multiple Earths lining up?) before returning to normal. Morgana herself appears before them. She has found Tsubame who had fled. She blatantly admits she has no use for the sisters anymore and was just using them for this task of releasing O’bli to lure them out. She doesn’t care about them. They get mad and try to attack her but she can predict their moves. Funny, she can predict the future but can’t find a lousy single person for 10 years? And on Earth too? But here is another move she can’t predict. She gets punched by Odile! Morgana escapes with Odile hot on her tail to get her Stella Prisms. Now that the sisters are abandoned, are they going to join Altair Torte and live with them? Akara doesn’t think so. Goodbye. Poor Mana. She thought they had become friends? Maybe not just yet.

Episode 9
Did we see this coming? The Origami sisters transferring into Goryoukan with Akara in the same class as Mana. So she thought having her to hang out with them would be a good idea. Akara would always decline each time but since there is food involved, she can’t pass this up. Meanwhile Tsubame has this dream of fighting off Mana while her friends were defeated. She realizes it isn’t a dream but her memories. At the café where some of Procyon Pudding works, Amane is still having a grudge against their accidental loss to the sisters. Altair Torte walks in and Yuumi suggests Akara working here. Of course Akara doesn’t want to. Amane still wouldn’t let it go and wants Akara to hang out with them. She’ll pay her 10 bags of rice. That seals it. But how they are going to settle it? In the simulation room, the one who kills the most O’bli wins. Tsubame tries to stop them for unauthorized use of the room but they ignore her since here comes the O’bli horde. They are very much even and in the end it’s a tie. Not sure if the counter can’t even keep up with their score. Strangely but not surprisingly, the duo bond over this. Stranger, their teammates are touched and moved by this awesome friendship. Only Tsubame is confused over this drama. All that happiness soon turn into fear when Tierra catches them for illegal use of the room. Now they have to clean up the place. But they let Akara go since she has to return to her sisters. She is paid her dues but gives one back as discount since it was fun hanging out with them. I’m sure the sisters would be grateful for this lavish meal. Later Tsubame tells Tierra about her returned memories. She regrets remembering them. Tierra believes about Memoca borrowing powers from other selves in other parallel worlds. If Tsubame is from another world, where is the Tsubame of this world? If she was never here, this means she is an important key to fight against Morgana.

Episode 10
There is this weird play narrated by Odile about how her father went missing one day and left her a note to find Stella Prisms. In short, this is just a notice in advance to tell them she will raid their base in 3 days to take their Stella Prisms. Too bad the battery ran out. Everyone was so impressed by her lame play, they actually wanted to see the ending. WTF. But here is another blooper. Since the USB was left on Tierra’s desk 3 days ago and Tierra forgot to tell them, I guess the raid is tonight. As Coconut Vega have a hard time dispatching an O’bli, here comes Odile inadvertently defeating it to save them. Yeah, the O’bli was too noisy that it’s distracting her plans to sneak in tonight. Whoops. She escapes but later laments she doesn’t want to do this but it is too late to turn back. Soon everyone starts deducing that Odile is a student of this school who is just bad at interacting with others, hence the mask. How else was she able to leave the USB on Tierra’s desk? Skipping out the detective work, they believe Odile is Sachiko. She is Yuumi’s classmate but if you think talking to her straight would be fine, well, her presence is so low that they never notice her. Sachiko overheard that and continues to lament. However she is discovered by Hina. Actually she was put up by Ako to get close to her and be friends. As Altair Torte wait for Odile, she did turn up on time. They ask why send the notice. If not, it would be stealing. Well, it doesn’t make a difference if you think about it. Her flustering makes them believe she is totally Sachiko. They believe her real goal is to find her missing dad. They suggest teaming up to do so. However this is where Odile gets serious. She disagrees because it would be meaningless if she can’t do it with her own power. Odile becomes swift to take out Altair Torte and at the same time Hina tries to hold Tierra hostage. When Odile has her mask partially destroyed, she purposely feigns defeat and arrogantly claims she can take their Stella Prisms any time from those weaklings. Bye for now. So it’s over? With that, Hina also backs down. In class, Mana and co try to make friends with Sachiko although it is a bit awkward for her. Meanwhile Morgana notices the real world starting to distort due to the Stella Prisms as no one is able to control them ever since its creator went missing.

Episode 11
Why is Altair Torte so shock when Tierra gives them a vacation to the snowy mountains for their hard work? Everyone especially Mana is excited since they can go yeti hunting. Say what? They’ve even equipped a camera and Yuumi as the ‘interviewer’ to make it look like their biggest discovery. Oh girls, do you not know cameras are the reason yetis shy away? While taking a break in the bath, it seems Biscuit Sirius are also here on a holiday and also on this yeti hunt. Yukie is an expert on UMAs and more importantly, Niho whose family runs a nearby inn has already started selling yeti merchandise. So there had better be a yeti! Altair Torte continue their exploration the next day. Just when they thought they saw 3 yetis, turns out to be the Origami sisters. Yup, they too tried to find the yeti but got lost and hungry. Initially they found big footprints. Definitely it isn’t a bear. It led them to a cave but they stumbled into a bear and ran. That’s how they got lost. Biscuit Sirius also joins in although Niho still doesn’t trust the sisters. As they enter the cave, they see a yeti. However Niho can tell it isn’t a yeti but an O’bli (why am I not surprised?). As they give chase, they are worried how an O’bli can come to the real world. When they enter an area filled with crystals, the O’bli disappears. They realize the crystals work like Stella Prisms and allow the O’bli to come here. They contact Tierra and want to engage the O’bli. However Biscuit Sirius’ equipment are being maintained and only Altair Torte is readily available. Altair Torte gets help from the Origami sisters to defeat it. The biggest disappointment is that Niho can’t sell the yeti goods anymore since publicizing O’bli is forbidden. So how? They dump all the goods to Altair Torte. Well, at least Mana wants them and she got them all for free. Then Mana shows her friends a shocking good news. One of the photos they took had a real yeti in the background! For real?! Are you sure that isn’t an O’bli. Not clear enough to see… Meanwhile the Origami sisters are kidnapped by Morgana. Looks like she was wrong about not having use for them anymore. Yup, she takes back her word and still has use for them.

Episode 12
Mana notices the Origami sisters missing from school for 3 days. They haven’t even returned to their apartment. There’s some flashback how Tierra approached them and took them in. Obviously the trio were sceptical. It’s good because why would some stranger offer kindness. Maybe she is trying to capture them. But I guess just for the plot of convenience, they give her the benefit of the doubt and chance. Later Tsubame talks to Tierra alone about her memories. She thinks she is from this world. They are interrupted when Tierra is contacted by the physics teacher who is no other than Morgana. Why look so shock? Isn’t it obvious? Same face, different clothes. She wants Tsubame or else the sisters die. Thus you might have guessed some flag is raised when Tsubame thanks her teammates for being her friends, blah, blah, blah. Since this is her problem, she’ll handle it by herself. She steps into the portal to teleport away. Unfortunately for the rest, they couldn’t keep track of where she is so they start trying to figure why Morgana had to resort to this. If she was so powerful, wouldn’t she just take Tsubame by force? They think of asking Odile for help. Speak of the devil, here she is! All coincidence. She is shocked when the girls plead her for help. The sisters teleport back and this signals Tsubame’s teleportation is successful. So Morgana explains the big revelation that because had she defeated Tsubame, humanity would have ended. This was if it went according to her plan. So what did Tsubame do? She went back to the past! Yup. Those memories are actually of those in the future. Yes, the world is destroyed. So it was at the moment she vanished from the world. Didn’t die, but vanished. And what does this all mean? Tsubame is Morgana!!!

Meanwhile back to the rest, everyone reconciles using the power of friendship. Best ice breaker of the series. Now that everybody is on talking terms, time for some revelations too. Tierra knows Sachiko is the daughter of Professor Isami, the inventor of Stellar Prisms. 20 years ago, a meteorite crashed and Isami discovered it. He discovered its particles allow travel between parallel worlds and started developing its technology. People who were exposed to the meteorite had its effect passed down to their unborn children too. These children had the special ability to detect dimensions. And a big number of those children came from the orphanage. Akara remembers hearing about guys in suits talking about experimentation. Curiosity killed the cat when they snuck into a room to see painful experiment tools. That is why they decided to run away. But they don’t remember being experimented on. Isami believed the children should manifest the powers on their own will. But there are others who opposed that method, especially from the military. Thus those tools. Shortly after he refused them, he went missing. Now Sachiko understands why father wanted her to gather and collect those prisms. After Isami went missing, Tierra and other researchers continue to develop the technology for peace. It was also the same time O’bli was first detected as threats. Thus Goryoukan was created to combat them. Oh, did I tell you the school is also the site where the meteorite crashed? Crazy, right? With Odile’s greater power, Tierra thinks she can sniff out Morgana’s location. Sniff out… You mean by smell? Yeah, it brings them to a huge fish painting. Meanwhile Tsubame refuses to believe she is the same as Morgana. However Morgana says she already tested out once at the snow mountains. She can replay everything exactly again. She opens a black hole and here comes the whole party of O’bli dropping in!

Episode 13
Time for the other teams to strut their stuffs by taking on the endless O’bli. Just the question of how long can they last. Morgana turns into a giant O’bli woman and absorbs Tsubame. Is tentacle rape part of the script? Meanwhile Odile’s sniffing leads them to another dimension. They see giant Morgana and engage her. They have to be careful not to be too rash or they’ll hurt Tsubame’s body. As Tsubame floats inside, she sees Morgana’s memories. Before she was Morgana, she was a fellow human scientist named Orie. She was Isami’s colleague. She was obsessed to see the depths of the unknown power known as Fifth Particle. Against Isami’s advice that it might go berserk, the temptation to wander space and time endlessly to seek answers was too good for her. She stepped into that energy and takes on the name of a character who wanders space and time. The other girls wonder why Morgana had to do such elaborate setup if she was all so powerful. Just to find Tsubame? The Origami sisters’ use for Morgana this time is to kill Altair Torte. They are already brainwashed. However, nothing like Odile’s drop kick on her face to snap everyone out. Morgana finds her interesting and captures her to make Odile her lab rat. When the Origami sisters go against her, she tries to make them feel guilty that they are biting the hand that feeds them. They dare do this to their saviour? They correct her. Their real saviours are these girls because they treat them like humans. And more of those cringe friendship and save their friend thingy. So they combine their powers to beat up Morgana and free Tsubame. Now that she is back with them, it’s time for them to unleash their ultimate volleyball combo move to defeat her. The good news is that all the O’bli disappear, saving the other teams the trouble. The bad news: A black hole opens and Tsubame gets sucked in. Well, it is only right since she isn’t from this timeline. But Tsubame is surprised that Boss is with her. Not sure what Boss did but with that glowing light and the next thing we know… Tsubame is now the new proper transfer student at Goryoukan! Everyone throws a welcoming party as she stutters her way making her speech about defeating O’bli but the threat of Morgana still looms. Tsubame doesn’t even remember how she returned to this timeline but she believes Boss has something to do with it because she remembers him back then too. What? Me no understand.

Strike Down & Strike Out!
So for the sake of a happy ending to allow Tsubame to continue to be with her friends, we get this weak reasoning that nobody even understands? It’s like nobody came up with what the answer was and they want us to use our imagination and thinking if we ever want to reconcile why the heck Tsubame gets to live in the present time. Because if so and it is true that she is from the future, where the f*ck is her present self?! Definitely not parallel worlds. Definitely not from another alien world. Definitely not a dream. Definitely from the future. So where is the Tsubame of now?! Geddit?! Damn it! The holes dropping O’bli might be gone but the holes in the plots are widening.

The story feels weak and boring. It started out as a group of girls with special powers gathered to fight mysterious menaces from another dimension. A few O’bli missions that feel like filler episodes and don’t amount to anything much. Then when the main villainess shows up for real, it becomes somewhat of a plot to destroy the world. But that is overshadowed by her obsessive goal to find Tsubame because apparently she is some sort of key that prevents that. Thus her amnesia on her past (or in her case, the future) is shrouded in mystery to make us run around on a wild goose chase guessing this and that before the somewhat predictable path reveals itself. Well, if you’re that smart, you could have guessed it coming from miles away. Morgana should have watched Hollywood movies and more anime if she wants to have at least an idea to really destroy the world. Just saying…

This is one of the biggest dilemmas for a series that has so many characters. None get enough proper screen time. Sure, Altair Torte gets more decent screen time compared to the rest of the other teams but even that I feel that they aren’t properly fleshed out. Even after that is said and done, I don’t even really know anything more about them! Maybe I was so bored that I wasn’t even paying attention. Thus it makes all the characters here as boring as they are. Yawn… Nothing about them that really stands out that you would want to root for them or even connect with them. Teams like Altair Torte are there purely to fight O’bli while Tierra and Mosyne are always just watching and supervising. Don’t they have any other helpful things to do?

Thus for Altair Torte themselves, you have boring and cliché characters like Tsubame as the typical cliché amnesiac character. Yuumi your typical comic relief and joker character with her liveliness. If you love girly cute girl with high pitched squeaky voice, Mana is your girl. Emotionless girl who also passes off as some sort of detective? Check, got it for Satoka. Add: Love for curry bread too. Oh, almost forgot the bustiest girl for fanservice, Io. Sure, she doesn’t flaunt her boobs in our face every minute but since she is in the volleyball club… Add a typical nice teacher-cum-instructor Tierra, mechanical pet mascot Mosyne and the other resident idiot but on a bigger scale Sachiko/Odile, you’ve got yourself a big boring group of cliché girls. Yawn… And then they throw in a bunch of ‘sceptical and hostile’ sisters who will slowly open up to them because, power of friendship. How can such cute girls be antagonists?! It would be atrocious! YAWN!!! And to think that Boss might be the forgotten furry mascot of the series and suddenly that cool cat might just be some inter-dimensional creature that bends space and time just to f*ck with our minds again. ARGH!

If this is what I have to say about the main characters, imagine what else do I have to say about the other teams. None! Yeah, it’s like as though these teams need to have their screen time or else fans who played the game are wondering where their favourite waifus are. Note, there are a couple of more Fifth Force teams that did not appear here in the anime. Great. More cute girls in themed outfits. Yeah, speaking of which, who the f*ck actually came out that a team needs to wear a specific dress code to fight? It’s not like I see any men in the higher echelons of the organization. Heck, is there even a structured organization of Fifth Force?! All I see is as though Tierra and Mosyne are the only ones handling everything from A to Z in this huge underground lab that nobody else seems to be find. So bikini outfits? Fanservice! Maid outfits? Fanservice! By the way, they’re not my kind of favourite type of design so most probably why I wasn’t attracted to cheer on them in the first place. And why is it that the names of the teams are a combination of some brightest star and snack? Who the f*ck got the bright idea of such combination is a good idea anyway?

Therefore to think that the power of friendship permeating the entire series is somewhat annoying. Everybody is so nice. Everybody is so kind. No b*tch rivalries and psycho sluts. Even if there are seemingly arrogant rich princesses, they’re all scaled down a lot to fit into this narrative. Because the power of friendship means everything. So girl with amnesia joins new team, feels alienated a bit. Don’t worry. Welcome, we’ll be your friends until you feel like home and one of us. So take in a bunch of sisters who just gave you all a hard time by sending O’bli, eh? Oh, controlled by some mean witch? Never mind then. Give a second chance. Because the power of friendship. Believe in the power of friendship. Yeah, I really want to believe it happening in my reality.

Morgana as the main antagonist fails to inspire or even feel threatening at all. Because of that eternal fake smile on her face, it is hard to take her seriously that she really wants to end the world. Since she had trouble tracking down just one girl (despite her limited powers, I am guessing that she is powerful enough to locate humans given that wandering space and time is her norm) and this subtle joke of being knocked down by surprise by Odile, you start to wonder if she is really capable of destroying the world. Yeah, somebody should make a joke how Google Maps, Foursquare and GPS would have a better chance of locating Tsubame faster and more accurate. We are left hanging about Isami’s whereabouts but my guess is that he might wandered and become one with another dimension. But who cares, right? At least not in this season. Because friendship among girls comes first than the problems of one girl looking for her father. I guess it makes sense to cherish the friends you have now rather than the unknown status of a missing old man.

Action wise, it also fails. There is nothing exciting than to see a bunch of cosplay girls going about taking down a rampaging O’bli. Besides, Altair Torte often loses and needs to have help from other teams if they are to pull through. Please practice more. It makes you look like a loser if this keeps up. I suppose each of the girls have their own unique weapons and attacks but I hardly see them doing a variety of moves since they are all over the place. Yeah, let’s use cooperation to cover that up. Even the final episode big boss battle feels boring since it is laced with that friendship crap thingy. Despite the epic angles, setting and even music, it fails to kick ass.

Well, if there is anything that is better than the poor plot, poor characters and unexciting action, it would be the art and animation. Hey, at least personally all the girls have this bishoujo look. Enough for them to become heroines of a dating simulation and its sequels. Really. Yeah, so they are the eye candy that ‘lessens’ my boredom while watching the series. After all, the series is animated by J.C. Staff who animated some nice looking anime series with cute girls like the recent Urara Meirochou, Shokugeki No Souma and DanMachi.

Other than that, I have already noted on their team outfit’s design to give each team their own unique look but they’re nothing fanciful. Because if you run out of ideas, just slap in bikinis to do the job and nobody would question. Maybe that is why the gothic Halloween theme has the widest variety of uniform design compared to the other teams who are just separated by the clothes’ colour. What are they? Power Rangers? And as for the O’bli, I thought they are some sort of giant expressionless mole… Worse, it looks like copied from that pervy Miton of Mahou Shoujo Nante Mou Ii Desu Kara. There is also some CGI used especially for the backgrounds in the other dimension but they are nothing outstanding either.

As for the voice acting, I could recognize a handful of them I know. Like Kana Hanazawa as Yuumi, it has been quite a while since I heard her voicing a retard role. Ah, back to those good ol’ days when I first get to know her, eh? Then there is Miyuki Sawashiro as Io, Yui Ogura as Mana, Rina Hidaka as Satoka, Chiwa Saito as Sachiko/Odile and Rie Kugimiya as Mosyne. Speaking of Rie Kugimiya, I discovered that she too voiced one of the girls in the other teams. I’m sure we won’t spot her due to very limited dialogue for that character unless you are 100% paying attention. Don’t quite remember if I did… But I did notice that others like Yu Kobayashi and Ai Nonaka are also one of those girls.

For the rest of the casts that I didn’t and fail to recognize, they are Kaori Ishihara as Tsubame (Aladdin in Magi series), Yuko Sanpei as Akara (Sasha in Seikon No Qwaser), Ayaka Asai as Hina (Hazuki in Hibike! Euphonium), Haruka Terui as Koori (titular character in Yuuki Yuuna Wa Yuusha De Aru), Yuu Asakawa as Tierra (Leone in Akame Ga Kill) and Kotono Mitsushi as Morgana (Excel in Excel Saga). The opening theme, Mirai-kei Strikers by the quintet of Altair Torte sounds like your typical idol pop group music. The synthesizer effects heavy and rock ending theme, Kitto Wonderfo by Rina Hidaka and Yui Ogura sounds overly cute like as though it is on the verge of exploding with cuteness. What do you expect when the singers themselves have the cutest and girliest voice in the series and the ending credits animation is a chibi form of the gang on some RPG quest.

Overall, a disappointing and boring series that would perhaps only satiate the fans of the original game. Not even people who are girl crazy would want to stay and watch a team of girls kick ass. You might be better off playing the game but I can’t say since I haven’t even seen or play it myself. This anime might even make its whatever obscure reputation worse but who am I to say? After all, I can still go stargazing (on my PC on the internet, that is) and eat my cake while at it. Betelgeuse Macaron anyone? Or Mars Milky Way would be better… Yum…


August 6, 2017

If you like dating multiple girls but do not really want to go as far as to have all of them at one go (that is what we call a harem), there was an anime or two that a few years back that featured the same protagonist dating different girls in different routes. So what if you are sick of all those girls? Well, you just design and create new ones! And so this were my thoughts when Amagami SS got a sequel spinoff in the name of Seiren. Despite the setting takes place in the Amagami SS world and many years down the road after the original, it involves a new main character and a whole new bunch of girls but with the same dating and relationship format. Yeah, we always know that the guy always get the girl(s) in the end.

Hikari Tsuneki’s Arc

Episode 1
Shouichi Kamita can’t be serious when he lists down being a horned beetle as his first career choice! Even his best friend, Ikuo Nanasaki knows he would write something this dumb. Shouichi is having trouble studying what more deciding what he wants to become. He returns to his class only to find Hikari Tsuneki sitting on his desk. Her friends, Yukie Takato and Youko Kikuchi tell her not to take her frustrations out on him since she lost in some Miss Santa contest to his sister, Tomoe. She claims she’s not and doing this because she likes to tease him. Shouichi keeps staring at his desk since it was where Hikari put her butt. He realizes she is giving him that stare. Next day, the cafeteria is crowded so Hikari and co usher him to come eat with them. He knows he is going to be in for lots of teasing and true enough they did just that. They heard what he wrote for his career choice and think he should become some porn manga artist. When he dismisses it, they think he is gay since he is always with Ikuo. You just can’t win… When the guys are studying at the library, Hikari comes to bug Ikuo to teach her and Shouichi sees it like as though she is flirting with him. Later Ikuo tells Shouichi that Hikari may be into older men because his sister spotted him going out with one. So? Rest be assured that she isn’t into kids like them. Shouichi studies hard that he did decently for the tests. Those girls tease he should teach them sometimes. This prompts Kyouko Touno to note how popular Shouichi is with girls. So she wants his help to study sometimes?

Ikuo invites him to his summer cram course in some resort. He declines but will keep that in mind. They then hang out with their senior, Tatsuya Araki. This guy is carefree unlike other seniors who are studying hard for the next level. Shouichi gets worried after he learns Hikari and co also somewhat admire Araki. And there’s something about going on a trip with him and other seniors as well. Shouichi on his way home sees Hikari working at a cafe. The older man she is supposedly dating must be the owner. He gets jealous thinking he too can get a girlfriend if he worked part time. But seriously, he sees her making progress in life and he can’t fall behind. So he calls Ikuo to take up on his invitation for the cram course. The entire place is booked for it. Ikuo tells Shouichi not to be so stiff as he points out to some of the nation’s top students here and they too are just like them trying to have some fun. Shouichi thought he spotted a woman in a kimono across the window but after he looks back she is gone. Please say it isn’t so. Ikuo better stop scaring him with that rumours about a third year who killed herself. Shouichi becomes disheartened because he bombed his pop quiz. Didn’t realize it was this tough, eh? What’s a sad guy got to do but to fantasize Hikari feeding him meat in a swimsuit. As he opens the window for fresh air, he gets the biggest scare of his life because a girl crawled in like a vengeful Japanese spirit!

Episode 2
She is actually Hikari and no, she isn’t a ghost. She relates her story that she was ‘abducted’ here to study (her parents found out and didn’t like her working part time) and since she didn’t like it, she tried running away. Yeah, bad luck of getting attack by deer. Since her entire clothes are wet, she borrows his jersey. I’m sure he is trying to peep at her sweet parts but try not to make it so obvious. When she leaves his room, he notices a few people giving him that look. Next day, Shouichi and Ikuo join Hikari and Mako Yoshida during lunch. Both girls are the only ones in a special class for problem kids. Despite Hikari getting punished for trying to escape class and being made to clean toilets, she still doesn’t learn her lesson. Hate studying so much, do you? At the laundry, she washes the jersey as Mako talks to her about rumours swirling around. Everyone views her as a b*tch for walking around in her boyfriend’s jersey. Hikari somehow likes the sound of it so she exaggerates (or rather lies) about Shouichi getting down and dirty with her. Meanwhile Shouichi hears a couple of elite girls, Miu Hiyama and Touka Maruishi badmouthing about Hikari. They too think she is a b*tch trying to show off her boyfriend and distract them from their studies. Remember Shouichi’s scream? They thought Shouichi was screaming about sticking it in all the way! Shouichi almost scares them when he pops out from his hiding between the vending machine to correct them. Heck, now they think he is doing something kinky with it. Worse, Hikari is here and presents his cleaned jersey. She acts like his girlfriend so those girls are not going to lose out too. Lose out to what? Hikari seems to love adding fuel to the rumours since it shows everyone is getting stressed up from the studies. But to show she is sorry for causing him troubles, she is going to make a midnight snack for him. With Ikuo and Mako invited, Hikari makes a Spanish omelette. It’s her first time cooking for someone right and thankfully she got it right with the utensils too. This has Mako quip that Shouichi has got a wife because he has a girl who washes and cooks for him. He almost chokes and even more when Hikari teases if he wants to marry her. No wonder she loves messing with him. Because Hikari still wants to try and escape, Shouichi allows her to continue wearing his jersey (avoid deer attack?). He would be too worried about her to study so he isn’t going to let her go. She lets him do the dishes instead but hints she’ll stay here a little longer since the weather is going to get worse.

Episode 3
Now that Hikari and Mako officially join Shouichi’s class, Hikari flirts with him and makes everyone jealous. She shuts them up by unzipping her top to reveal her sexy tank top. That night as he is studying in his room, he thought somebody was trying to break down his door. It’s Hikari and she is bored so she came. He gets conscious when she drinks from his ramen bowl because it’s like an indirect kiss. And in his jersey. So this guy is in love with himself? Just kidding! He knows she is here to distract him so he tells her off everyone is studying hard and she’ll fall behind everyone. She doesn’t care as she doesn’t believe in comparing with others. So she tries to study in his place. He notices her soles. So is this his fetish or what? As expected, Hikari cannot retain her attention. She is so bored as she complains she could have been on a beach hitting on handsome hunks. Then she teases him if he would like to see her bikini. I’m sure we do. She takes him to the men’s bath. The usual teasing when they soak in. When somebody is coming in, Hikari goes into hiding and wants him to be a man to think of something. He has until she runs out of breath! So here comes the teacher. Not impressed he is bathing so late. Then he notices his erection and with Shouichi claiming he wants to scrub his back, the teacher freaks out at this gay moment and runs away! Hikari is so impressed that she passes out?! He walks her back to her room. She cheekily invites him in but changes her mind after her lingerie is seen hanging to dry. So they take a walk as he asks about her lying about her family trip. This leads to him asking if he likes Araki. She dismisses and he thinks it is that cafe owner. Suddenly Hikari is mad. She thinks he is the one who ratted on her because somebody reported it to school and that’s how her parents found out. He denies it and she doesn’t hold it against him. She explains the owner is already married. Ever since, Shouichi has not talk much with her and thinks she suspects him. When the course is over and the students prepare to leave, Ikuo doesn’t see Mako leaving with the group. Shouichi sees her in the window. Could it be she is a ghost?! Actually she woke up late and is forced to repeat her classes. She even talks back to the teacher who is now squirming over his near gay assault encounter! Yukie calls Hikari and from the way she talks she can tell she has fallen from someone even if she denies it. Shouichi on his way to school sees Hikari ahead. But she doesn’t look happy. Further up is Yukie clinging on to Araki’s arms. Are they dating? Shouichi believes Hikari still suspects him.

Episode 4
Ikuo must be in good mood to ask Shouichi if there is anyone he likes. What a way to make his day. When Hikari returns Shouichi his jersey, she hopes he will not tell anyone they were together at the summer course. Of all people, she doesn’t want Yukie to find out as she is a sharp girl. This prompts him to ask if she fears losing Araki to her if people start gossiping about them. This leads to an argument whereby she takes back his jersey and he won’t accept it back till he hears a proper explanation. Huh? Makoto Kamizaki of the discipline committee tries to break them up thinking they are an arguing couple. Don’t worry. She’s quite meek. Apparently there have been lots couples taking their first step into adulthood in weird places around school. Like the rabbit shed. Noticing she mentioned something about a person ratting out a student who worked illegally, Hikari threatens a little to extract a bit more information about the mole. She knows who she is and confronts Yukie. Not sure what she is doing to Araki at the rabbit shed but she is dominating and he is scared! So much so that guy thanks Shouichi as a saviour and leaves him with both girls! Hikari asks straight about the reporting. Simple. Araki seemed to be into Hikari so she wanted her out of the way. All is fair in the game of love, right? But what’s mind blowing is how they solve this so diplomatically without being b*tches. Unbelievable! They even continue to be friends and don’t blame each other! Truly amazing?! After that Hikari cooks for Shouichi her omelette as a way to make up for suspecting him. Hikari had a hunch it was Yukie all along but she only confirmed it after that talk. She didn’t tell him everything at first as she tries not to get him involved. She would rather die than doubt Yukie after suspecting him. He calls her thoughtful and this makes her blush.

They continue hanging out at the beach and for some nostalgic reason, they play catch ball. Of course it goes into the sea, Shouichi tries to get it but ends up getting wet. She too tries to help but also ends up wet. In literal sense. Drenched clothes. Don’t look. You’re a pervert. And all that leads to her pushing him down and commenting how this is turning her on. Sand in his ears. Can’t hear. Let her take it out for you. How does it feel like to kiss underwater? I bet it must be salty… No point making out in the sea so they change to dry clothes. You guessed it, his jersey again. Shouichi tells himself it is now or never to confess. But before he could say a thing, she goes first. Thankful for her parents. First time she cooked and washed for others. Wants to study culinary arts to be more confident in herself. Oh, did I mention that place is overseas? Oh yeah. Shouichi must be real sad. So sad that he is almost this close to tears! Can’t blame her. She says it is him who motivated her to take this path. So while it’s heart wrenching to see his disappointed face, here is a kiss on the cheek to make things up. As narrated, Yukie soon broke up with Araki because something about that guy cares for animals more than her?! Furry lover?! Thanks to that, Yukie and Hikari are normal friends again. The events has made Shouichi know what he wants to do. 5 years later as he works part time at the cafe trying to be a step closer to become a registered dietician nutritionist (sounds so complicated), Hikari pays the place a visit and she just came back from training in Spain. I bet her omelettes are top notched now.

Tooru Miyamae’s Arc

Episode 5
Shouichi, Ikuo and Araki are at their secret spot playing a deer raising simulation game. Yes, really. Tooru Miyamae stumbles upon them and it seems she is also a fan of that game. She wants to trade an item with Shouichi. She would love to stay longer with them had not her friends, Tomoe and Shiori Nagasawa come to pick her up for club activities. Shouichi has thought a lot about letting Tooru join their group. Well, she is already waiting for them at their spot. But somehow they end up at a karaoke and Tooru shows her singing chops for a tokusatsu song including poses! The guys would love to join in had they know more than just anime and game songs. Then the trading begins. Araki notices the items she has a fit for PvP games. Does she like such games? So happen games she loves to play are PvP. They talk about a new PvP game releasing, MiliBun. They decide to go get it. First time bloopers include Araki focusing too much on Tooru’s character’s ass and they both fell from a bridge, Shouichi getting friendly fired by Ikuo who in turn got killed from the back. Tough luck. Shouichi gets preferential treatment from Tooru because she makes a handmade strap of the game’s character for him. When they hit the arcade to get limited edition of its merchandise via crane game, Shouichi and Tooru notice an old retro mecha game, GusGal. They play against a couple of young boys, Takeshi and Wataru but Tooru is ruthless in defeating them with headshots! Shouichi gives them the strap as compensation and tells them to play the crane game to show off to girls. Huh? Shouichi realizes too late he gave away the strap (she doesn’t mind) but also lectures her for being too strict on kids and at this rate nobody will play with her. Because GusGal gave her the thrills of old times, she hopes Shouichi could be her partner to become better.

Episode 6
Shouichi tries to introduce Tooru to a (boring) bus simulator since too much GusGal is eating up his money. Too bad GusGal is the only game to quench her thrill. When Shouichi passes by the cram school, he sees Ikuo acting like a stalker before meeting up with Tooru. Does he have a thing for her too? So he goes to ask Tomoe about what the girls think about him. Lots of good stuffs. I guess he doesn’t want to hear his. Tooru has become popular enough to warrant a crowd watching her play. That is when Takeshi comes back to challenge her but he brought his sister this time: Hikari. Oh my. Hikari is such a badass chick. Makoto who is there to keep watch on students, try to calm them down but was promptly told off by Hikari. She then runs away and bangs into the glass door?! Funny girl. Tooru-Shouichi in the end defeat Hikari-Takeshi. Meanwhile Makoto is relishing the photos she took from the booth. Too bad she stumbles upon her discipline committee president, Ruise Sanjou who is not pleased she is slacking. Araki and Ikuo are addicted to the bus game when they spot Makoto profusely apologizing to Ruise. They signal to Shouichi to buy time for him to get out. They make a run for it and continue their b*tch confrontation at the back alley. Nothing untoward happens as Hikari warns Shouichi if he continues to hang out with Tooru, infighting would be the least of his problems. Shouichi ignores that and hangs out with her to find out more about her relationship with Hikari. They were friends in middle school. Tooru returns to her deer simulator and it seems there is a special event for her deer to have an offspring if she mates it with another player. Guess who? Oh, Shouichi you make it sound so misconstrued. “I’m nervous with just the thought of producing a baby with you”. There’s more after that. “I didn’t know it took this long”. “It was my first time”. Shouichi notices she likes to eat his stuffs so he feeds her his cherry if she promises not to do it again. In school, Araki and Ikuo have been punished by the discipline committee to clean the rabbit shed. But Araki is more than happy to do it and made Ruise lost it. They advise Shouichi to stay away from the arcades at least till after the exams as the committee will be keeping a close eye on the place. Shouichi then asks about that cram school incident. Ikuo explains he thought an old classmate looked like a character from MiliBun and tried to make sure but stumbled upon Tooru. The guys can tell Shouichi likes Tooru from the day she traded items with him. Of course he denies anything like it.

Episode 7
Since Tooru hasn’t been coming to school for days, Shouichi asks Hikari about what she meant the other day. Hikari and Tooru were once part of a small group of gamer girls. Naturally some boys flocked to them but Tooru was the more popular one. As the guys started to impress her, they had their egos crushed when Tooru beat them flat. Soon they went away and the girls hated her. Hikari tried to warn her but she didn’t listen. That’s why Hikari tried to warn him then and was worried he would also have his ego crushed. When Shouichi finally calls Tooru, she invites him to play GusGal at her place since the arcade is off limits. He is welcomed in by her older brother, Souta who used to be a gamer himself. He felt guilty for turning Tooru into one as boys used to flock over to play games. That’s why she couldn’t make any normal girl friends till Tomoe came along. He shows him an old video of Tooru in a quiz show. She looked very boyish. Of course she shuts it off. In her room, she gives him one of the many handmade dolls. He notices her delicate craftsmanship and thinks she should become one. When she learns what happened to Araki and Ikuo, she can’t help feel guilty since they won’t be gaming together for a while. Later Tooru calls Hikari to settle their score but she won’t. Hikari has already given up on games a long time ago and hints that she already has a better ‘partner’ than her. Shouichi brings Tooru to a secluded arcade building. If playing this asteroid co-op game is too cramped, maybe this football game is better. Sorry Tooru, you can’t kill people in a football game. I guess she was too rough on the controller that she got a cut on a finger. He helps treat it as she starts lamenting how she only thinks of games and makes everyone worry. He hopes she can rely on him when needed. Shouichi waits at the usual spot, nervous if Tooru would show up. She did. She shows him a deer mascot she made that she will be selling at ComiMa. She asks if he would like to help. Of course. She gives him a ticket to the place. He thinks it looks like a date. Does he want to go out on a date with her? If he helps out. Shiori hates to cut in on their happiness as she confronts Tooru about this. She always turned her down but easily accepts when it is Shouichi? Both sides introduce each other and they hope to work together at ComiMa.

Episode 8
At ComiMa, Shouichi couldn’t recognize Tooru at first because she is in a cosplay of a MiliBun character. She’s a bit embarrassed by it. Yeah, a white fluffy patch on her vagina area (which is part of the character’s design), I can see why… Shouichi and Tooru are to man the deer mascot booth. Tooru is a bit stiff in promoting it and Shouichi trying to cover for her just made it worse so the customers left. When Tooru is swamped by photographers and her costume is having trouble, Tomoe distracts those snapping perverts as she cosplays as a very sexy skin revealing GusGal character. Shouichi takes Tooru to the toilet area as they try to figure out the zipper problem. Guess what? It goes all the way down to her ass! Oh my. A few hentai-like poses she makes so that she could let Shouichi get a clear view of where the zipper is?! Once he finds it, she can do it by herself. Once done, they head back out and Tooru regains her confidence. After a successful event, the gang coincidentally eat at the café Hikari works at. She isn’t so pleased, though. Hikari is impressed Tooru cosplay there so Tomoe invites her to do cosplay sometimes. I think she will have second thoughts after seeing that sexy GusGal outfit. Tooru gives Shouichi a handmade GusGal mascot as thanks. She reveals she got this deer mascot idea after Tooru gave away her strap and she saw Takeshi continue to display it on his bag. She wanted to make things that could make others happy.

As they leave, Hikari threatens Shouichi not to tell this up to anybody so he thought of calming her down by complimenting how good she looks in her apron. This makes Tooru want to go home alone. He walks home with her as she ‘complains’ he complimented Hikari but not her who was in cosplay all day. Get the hint? Shouichi reminds her of their promised date. That outing was the date?! With Tomoe and Shiori doesn’t count. Would you consider a date if her brother tagged along? He wants to go on a date now since she said she is preparing for exams tomorrow. Besides, he wants to tell his feelings. So much for the surprise. While at it, might as well confess he loves her. Unfortunately she rejects him. Seeing the disappointment on his face, she kisses his neck?! And then sucks his neck!? WTF?! So she noticed his growing Adam’s apple and wanted to attack his weak spot?! I thought every guy’s weakness is their balls… Yeah, it would be hentai if she attacked that. Haha! Anyway, she explains from the events that have happened, Shouichi always came after her. She hopes he will continue to come after her. Big hint. The moment is right for them to give a real kiss. Next day, Shouichi tells Araki and Ikuo that they are seeing each other although keeping it platonic so as to let her concentrate on her studies. They tease him if he has gotten this far with her. Then this happens… Tooru comes running to tell them their baby is born! The one where they mated at that back alley! Oh Shouichi, did you really do it?! Oh, it’s that deer simulator… Phew. 10 years later, we see Shouichi and Tooru already married having a little cute daughter. She is a kindergarten teacher and he is a school bus driver. Wait. What?!

Kyouko Touno’s Arc

Episode 9
Hikari and co notice Kyouko outside the classroom looking for Shouichi. Seems she wants to show him a new magical girl manga release for the first time in 2 years since it went into hiatus. Hikari thought he is pretty childish to still read such stuffs but Kyouko who is his childhood friend only has him to talk such things with. Later as the duo see how the style and content of the manga has become more fanservice and gorier, Shouichi is surprised that Tomoe is seen with this trek club guy (Captain Trek?). He threatens him to keep this meeting a secret. After school, the duo see Takashi playing some GusGal transformation with his friend, Rin. Since Rin isn’t good at it, Shouichi demonstrates some magical girl pose that is equally as cool. Back home, Shouichi asks Tomoe about today. Did she get confessed again? Don’t worry. Tomoe isn’t looking for romance. Actually Captain Trek was trying to ask her to introduce him to Kyouko. Seems he is asking for advice about the home economics club. Something about he got swindled after paying money to make him a man. As Tomoe is friends with the club president, he was wondering if he could get his money back. The home economics club sounds like they’re doing shady business because you can trade in old clothes for some spare change.

Kyouko reflects on Shouichi’s words about her being still stuck as a middle school girl. So she takes her entire magical girl collection to dump it by the park? Rin takes a look but gets scared after seeing its fanservice and gore level. Luckily Koharu Uno and Nao Tokioka appease the little one with their handicraft magic. Koharu talks to Kyouko about this dumping so she relates how her childhood friend has grown up and grown out of these things. If that’s the case, Koharu invites her to join the home economics club to enhance her feminine charms to in his heart. Kyouko is here and she has brought Shouichi too. Koharu and Nao didn’t really think this guy would be her childhood friend. They kick him out to wait since the club is only for girls. The first order of business? Stripping Kyouko? Turns out the girls put on a lovely kimono for moon viewing. They explain the club’s goal is more than just this and to find ways to enrich life. Kyouko remembers Shouichi’s cross-dressing. It’s really depressing remembering he was so cute that Ikuo who thought he was Kyouko’s friend, flipped his skirt, got shocked at what he saw and lost his memories! Worse, Kyouko’s mom spanked him after that. Shouichi’s notices Kyouko’s beauty when the moonlight is brighter. He then asks why the club buys used clothes as he doesn’t want Kyouko joining a shady club. Here comes Shiori, the club’s ex-president to explain that their club budget can’t cover for expenses so they take in used clothes, reuse its fabric to resell them. That was how they made Tomoe’s Santa’s outfit. As for Captain Trek, he handed to them to make a banner. They were only following exactly his lousy drawing so he started complaining about the design. Too bad. No refunds. Kyouko has decided to join this club.

Episode 10
Shouichi originally had plans to spend Christmas Eve with Ikuo. But the latter apologizes because now he has plans with a girl he fell in love during the summer course! Meanwhile Ruise is trying to force the home economics club to decorate the Christmas tree for the school’s festival. She makes a deal to pardon them of their ‘offenses’ starting from the previous year. Shouichi walks into the club only to see Kyouko sleeping in her cosplay outfit. She was modelling for them when they head out to look for materials for the tree. She lets him try the cake she makes but because she has made a lot of them, she is a bit cake fatigued by now. I guess there goes his plans to ask her out for cake. Thus Shouichi goes to ask Hikari for advice. She is surprised he got a girl date on Christmas Eve. So as she dispenses her ‘wisdom’, Shouichi looks up on adult themes for Christmas as recommended. Love hotel. Oops. He returns to the club as Ruise was just leaving angrily. Turns out she didn’t like the design on Koharu and Nao. What the heck is this horror occult tree?! Shouichi and Kyouko are kicked out when they suggest bringing their old underwear when they require more used fabric. Seriously… Back at his place, Kyouko tries his old pyjamas which seems to almost fit. As she is the only child, she feels envious about hand-me-downs. Shouichi tries his luck again as he walks with Kyouko, trying to ask her out. Accidentally he shows the love hotel search. Oops. Mood ruined? Anyway she has duties during that day so she can’t go with him. At least he asks how she views him. More than a friend but rather a nice next door girl. Huh??? Apparently this was watched by Koharu and Nao. This embarrasses the hell out of Kyouko. But she also asks if boys get horny on Christmas Day. WTF?! Then when they see Shouichi cornering Ikuo, they think the shock of the rejection was too much that he desperately turned gay! WTF?! Then they see Hikari for advice. Yeah, her ‘wisdom’ again lets them know boys are horny on Christmas. Then she continues to brag about a certain guy trying to ask her out but she turned him down so he started asking other girls. This somehow makes Kyouko frustrated as she leaves. Did she say the wrong thing? Koharu and Nao try to cheer Kyouko up. Maybe she doesn’t need men. A big dakimakura or cats! Actually Kyouko isn’t sad. She knows Shouichi is too much of a coward to ask Hikari out (at least not in this arc) even out of desperation. She doesn’t mind him dating others but she never wanted him getting mocked because of her and she won’t know what to do if that happens. Kyouko can’t sleep that night and to take her mind off it, she starts knitting.

Episode 11
Kyouko should have known better to cross the road when she is sleepy. Luckily Shouichi was here to pull her back. Kyouko asks him if he managed to ask anybody out for Christmas Eve after that. Nah. He went karaoke with Araki. He tried to hit on Hikari and her friends but they rejected him. After Kyouko is assured he will stay her good childhood friend forever, she hands him her handmade knitted pants. Weird… He agrees to accompany her shopping but he didn’t realize it is shopping for lingerie! Weirder… He tries to be ‘manly’ by teasing her he can’t tell if the pantsu looks good on her or not if she doesn’t put it on. And she takes up his offer! Don’t back down now. Well, she just put it over her skirt. Don’t stare too long… Ruise is pleased the home economics club finally decorated the tree. They won’t tell what materials they used. Trade secret. But I think I know… True enough! Used underwear! Never let her know… Kyouko thanks her resourcefulness ever since joining the club and it was worth it. Shouichi praises her and that he can’t keep treating her like a middle school girl. When Shouichi goes home, he sees Ikuo wearing some sentai mask and trying to act out but fails miserably! Apparently the girl he asked out turned him down. He is very sad as he wanted to be more than just friends. Shouichi feels his pain and understands. In fact he views Ikuo as manlier than himself. It’s that reason why a certain childhood friend writes him off as a girl next door. He wants to be a man like Ikuo. Kyouko messes up the cake she is making in her club. We know what is bothering her. They thought there is a spy from the disciplinary committee eavesdropping outside. But Miu is glad she has found the home economics club and wants to borrow some soy sauce. Shuouichi tries to do some muscle training in his room. But thoughts of Kyouko frustrates him. Tomoe comes in to see what the ruckus is all about and misinterprets seeing him holding the knitted underpants. She promises to forget all about it. Shouichi continues his manly training till dawn. He refuses to regret anything this Christmas Eve.

Episode 12
Hikari is sexy in a reindeer outfit. She is turning on the boys that they are confident she can win the Miss Santa contest. Because of that, nobody is helping Yukie at the stall. But here comes Shouichi (cowboy aura?) to help. Then he goes visit Kyouko helping to sell cakes at the home economics club’s stall. He wants to tell something to her and is willing to wait no matter how late her work finishes. Ooh… Meanwhile Tooru wins the contest with a maskless hero outfit. Hikari is so disappointed. Koharu and Nao realize they were made to do the decorations because Shiori’s name was on the bulletin list of people who got into college on recommendation. Does this mean they did all that for nothing? Also revealed is that Rin is Ruise’s little sister. When Kyouko finally meets Shouichi, he gets down to business that he wants to go out with her. So she wants to think about it while eating her oden hot? As the bench is cold, she is disappointed he is putting it as a seat cover instead of wearing it. He sits on it, she sits between his legs. Well, it’s getting closer… We hear Kyouko say silly things like announcing she is wearing pink panties (why tell him? Because would you prefer she tell some other guy, duh!) and she took him to the lingerie store because of Koharu’s advice that showing your pantsu is a way to cheer a boy up (definitely duped there). We also hear her ask silly questions like do boys want girls that bad on Christmas Eve. Enough with the nonsense because Shouichi says he wants her. He wants her to look at him more than a childhood friend. As a man. Then naturally here comes the confession, the hug and the kiss, all well timed to the fireworks display. Koharu and Nao are spying on this. They are ‘sad’ that they now cannot sell lewd dakimakura of Kyouko to his broken heart. The oddest part is Shouichi letting Kyouko wear the red underwear while carrying her. Because he already got her as the best Christmas present. 10 years down the road, they are married and look as young as they are 10 years ago. They also have a daughter who looks like a mini version of Kyouko.

No Sex Siren
If this entire season feels somewhat ‘short’ and ‘incomplete’ and because you noticed that in the opening credits animation and the early promotional poster, there seems to be 6 girls but you only get 3 of them here, it was stated that there are plans to have these ‘missing’ girls, namely Miu, Makoto and Ruise to have their own arcs in the future. Therefore my guess that this ‘short’ season of the new sequel spinoff is just to test market and to see how well and receptive the audiences are for this bunch of new characters before ‘wasting’ money, energy and time to do another season. It is a reason why they make short cameo appearances here and there that doesn’t have any bearing whatsoever on the story of that arc. While I look forward for Makoto’s adaptation because she seems like a funny klutz girl, I’m not too sure about Miu and Ruise. I mean, of all the other girls that have the equal potential to be the main heroine, they chose some seemingly arrogant elite girl from another school who is now a new transfer student as seen in Kyouko’s arc and a strict dominating gloomy I-can-see-those-bags-under-your-eyes girl (like as though she stayed up all night playing with herself. Holy sh*t!). I think I can envision how it is going to play out here.

But let me not get ahead too far of myself with all that speculation. As for this season itself, well, there isn’t anything new or fresh to the concept except for the characters and the method that it is laid out to achieve that same end goal of scoring with the girl. Therefore I can say that Seiren is just Amagami SS masked in a different wardrobe to see if it can retain old fans and rein in new one. I think. Of course to make it not look like it is completely without any relation to the original, not only it takes place in the same school but Ikuo is the younger brother of Ai from the original Amagami SS and if you remember Haruka’s arc whereby she and Junichi did something close to raunchy in the rabbit shed which led to strict moral rules being implemented, this was referred to in one of those episodes. So wait. This sequel spinoff takes place as a result of Haruka’s arc? Yeah, now we know who Junichi really ended up with.

How should I comment on the characters? It is a given that each of the main heroines are given their distinctive personality so that it won’t feel that Shouichi is dating the same kind of girl but with a different face and name. Like Hikari is the cheeky, mischievous and sporting strong independent woman who loves to tease Shouichi. Among all the girls, she feels like she is the ‘staple’ character in every arc because she pops up frequent enough. Then there is the gamer girl senior who seems to lack emotions but rather she isn’t good with communicating with others. Finally the cute and a bit child-like at times Kyouko. See the wide range of personalities there? Yeah, they even went as far as to have Shouichi date girls with varying seniority too. A senior, the same classmate and a junior childhood friend.

Shouichi feels like any other generic male protagonist of a romance comedy drama. Good guy, nice guy, shy guy, plain guy. Nothing that really breaks the mould. It just goes to show that sometimes you don’t need money, fame, good looks or any super special talents to land a girl. Oh heck. This isn’t the real world in the first place. Him landing the girl in the end sometimes makes us long time single otaku jealous or you can look at it in a positive way that it gives us hope that all is not lost. Oh heck. Who am I kidding? This is just anime. This is just entertainment. This isn’t real. :’(. At least this season, ‘the other guy’ Ikuo is more sensible compared to the ‘best friend’ Umehara. Araki has this potential to be a comic relief character because of his love for animals especially the rabbit shed. Girls can never beat his love for bunnies… Unless you’re a bunny girl, maybe?

I wonder if they’re going to make a one off episode featuring the lesser girls. For example in Amagami SS we had Junichi’s little sister and that stalker girl if you remember was the one primarily responsible for his fear of being lonely on Christmas Eve. Because now if I think about it, Shouichi doesn’t suffer from such problems like Junichi. His worries about his future and studies aren’t as ‘devastating’ compared to Junichi’s scarred heart. Yeah, remember that guy used to lock himself in his planetarium (read: closet) dreading that day. Oh Shouichi, you have it better than your predecessor.

As Seiren means honesty, purity and integrity in Japanese, let’s be honest that despite this series being listed in its synopsis as a campus romantic comedy of pure relationships, there are a few bits of fanservice and some that even go WTF. Like that strange dream of Hikari sniffing on his legs while he takes a dump, zoom-ins on her ass, Tooru’s cosplay wardrobe malfunction involving a zipper and Kyouko’s Superman-red-underwear-knitting and the blatant straight in the face is-my-pantsu-cute-enough-for-you statement. Seriously, which girl ever takes a guy out to shop for lingerie and even asks him with a straight face if he does the same with his sister and mom! WTF?! I’m starting to think Kyouko might sometimes see him as a girl as she does label him as the girl next door. Yeah…

The art and animation certainly do feel like it is the same as Amagami SS despite a different studio helming the animation. In fact, 2 studios collaborated to make this. This isn’t the first time Studio Gokumi and AXsiZ joined hands as they also did Koukaku No Pandora and Wagamama High Spec together. (Amagami SS was animated by AIC if you’re wondering). I suppose there are enough differentiation between the characters so as not to have us confused why some characters look so similar with the original. Oh wait a minute. Don’t Koharu and Nao look very much like the tea club duo in Amagami SS? Damn… And doesn’t Kyouko look like Tsukasa? Double damn… Tooru is like Ai with long hair… Triple damn! Which means Hikari and Haruka are… Oh forget it. Certain girls look alike their predecessors. Heck, even Kyouko and Tomoe look close enough that I get confused between them. Enough said. I think Captain Trek is the oddest looking one. He looks different enough from the rest and it feels like as though he was dropped in from another anime series and currently trapped in the wrong anime. Really. I guess this explains why he doesn’t get any girls…

A new line-up of casts for this series in which I only recognize Ayane Sakura as Hikari. Her bratty and cheeky voice sure fits her character perfectly. The rest of the casts are Atsushi Tamaru as Shouichi (Ayato in Gakuen Toshi Asterisk), Shino Shimoji as Tooru (Akari in Aikatsu), Juri Kimura as Kyouko (Eruna in Mikagura Gakuen Kumikyoku), Ryouta Asari as Ikuo (Alma Karma in D. Gray-man Hallow), Manami Numakura as Tomoe (Riko in Love Lab), Takuya Eguchi as Araki (Hikigaya in Yahari Ore No Seishun Love Come Wa Machigatteiru), Honoka Kuroki as Ruise (debut role), Shiori Mikami as Makoto (Krista in Shingeki No Kyojin), Shiori Izawa as Miu (Moka in Kuzu No Honkai), Kentarou Tone as Souta (Akira Hattori in Bakuman), Saki Fujita as Yukie (Inami in Working!!), Yukiyo Fujii as Youko (Latifa in Amagi Brilliant Park), Yuka Ootsubo as Koharu (Kyouko in YuruYuri) and Hitomi Harada as Nao (Nori in Hidamari Sketch series).

The opening is Kimi No Hana by Hanako Oku. Sounds rather okay and suits the pace of this series nicely. But I still very much prefer the first season’s opener of Amagami SS, I Love. Just like in the original, each ending theme is tailored and sung by the heroine of that arc. So we have the lively and energetic rock based Shunkan Happening for Hikari’s arc, the slow rock of Muteki Megami for Tooru’s arc and the cute anime pop of Koi No Theory for Kyouko’s arc. It seems that there are special ending themes for the arc’s final for the heroines too. They are mostly slow ballads such as Hikari’s Akaneiro Ni Kakushite and Tooru’s Kimi To Yozora To Fortune To.

Overall, if you want a reasonable romantic comedy of the season without having to resort to cheap NTR soft porn (looking at you Kuzu No Honkai) or cheap blatant fanservice (looking at you Okusama Ga Seitokaichou+) or cheap cheesy romance drama (looking at you Fuuka) or cheap first person 2D VR (looking at you One Room) or cheap supernatural harem (looking at you Rewrite) or even that cheap revenge dating (looking at you Masamune-kun No Revenge) and if you’re not really into reverse harem (looking at you Watashi Ga Motete Dosunda) or kindergarten kids dating (looking at you 12-sai Chicchana Mune No Tokimeki), Seiren still provides a decent and down to earth option and alternative. Some say that it is an inferior version to Amagami SS since it offers nothing new as the same tested formula is being used all over again. Well, it is true if you point out the fact that Amagami SS had more episodes and seasons, thus they have better character development. Or maybe those people couldn’t find any best girl to top their best girl in Amagami SS… Yeah, it will still always be Haruka for me. Too bad some can’t find the same love for this series like how Shouichi found his for his girls. At least somebody won the love lottery (thrice) so it can’t be that bad, right?

I never expected any sequel to come out. So when Ao No Exorcist: Kyoto Fujouou-hen came out as the series’ sequel, it was definitely a surprise. I mean, it has been 6 long years since the first season graced the airwaves and that is quite a long time in terms of anime seasons. Any chance of revival would be out of the question. After all, I would have also forgotten a lot about the first season and the basics are just as blurry and hazy like my childhood memories. But because I remember how awesome the first season was as well as the nostalgic effect kicking in, it was the reason why I looked forward in watching the sequel despite my initial surprise.

Episode 1
Rin is still having a hard time controlling his blue flames as part of Shura’s training. Shura gets a call to be on scene. With Yukio, they meet up with Saburota Toudou, a Second Class Upper Rank Exorcist and director of Deep Keep. His team was chasing down a thief who stole the Left Eye of the Impure King. When cornered, he took a boy hostage. He released the flask and the people in the surrounding area got affected by its miasma. There are not enough doctors to treat them. Now the perpetrator is holing up somewhere inside the building with the kid and they don’t do anything, it will turn into a disaster. Yukio and Toudou head into the building. Apparently Rin manages to slip away from Shura to join them. Once they find the cornered thief, Yukio warns him not to approach but he does not heed. Yukio fires a bullet and he immediately disappears. The flask breaks. Yukio picks up the Left Eye inside it but realizes it is fake. He is then beaten up by Toudou who is the real perpetrator. He has been corrupted and his true form is a demon. Toudou seems to be telling his failures of achieving nothing while in the Order compared to his more successful father and brother. He is somewhat trying to provoke Yukio because of his similar circumstances. Toudou has had enough fooling around and leaves. As the kid has been deeply blighted, Yukio needs to treat him now. At the risk of blighting himself, he has to carefully and calmly treat the sporangia without breaking them. However he is too nervous thinking about Toudou’s words. Luckily he screws all that because he is his own man and manages to do his operation successfully. After returning the boy to his mother, Mephisto and Shura come in to report this was just a diversion. The real Left Eye has been stolen. Shura’s familiar is trying to track it down now. Mephisto also notes there was a scuffle in Kyoto where the Right Eye is being held. With this dire situation, Mephisto wants to form a team to retrieve the Left Eye and wants Yukio on that team. Rin can’t help feel useless all the while and Yukio has that sense of maturity and adult in him.

Rin is looking forward taking a bullet train to Kyoto. Also on it are his teammates, Suguro, Konekomaru, Shima, Shiemi and Izumo. However they are all ignoring him and aren’t too happy he is with them. Rin understands that this is only natural that they have discovered he is the son of Satan. Shura briefs the team about their mission to Kyoto to provide medical support and extra security for the Right Eye while the culprit’s true objective is being investigated. In the old feudal days, the Impure King was believed to have ravaged the land and claimed lives with his plagues. A priest named Fukaku defeated him by gorging out both his eyes, believed to be his power source of miasma. Rin is still being ostracized by the rest but thinks Izumo is trying to cheer him up as she merely states the truth that the Order is just unsure what to do with him, the reason he is still alive. She turns tsundere but now Suguro gets mad. Flashback (from last season) shows Rin showing his true form before his friends to save them from Amaimon. Later when he tried to downplay it and laugh it off, he was told off by Shiemi it was no laughing matter. They get to know the rest of the details from Yukio. Suguro blames Rin’s blue flames that killed his family of temple guys that also killed other family members of their friends. Their heated argument is put to a stop by Shura who wants them to work together for the better.

Episode 2
Arriving at Kyoto, they are picked up by Kinzou, Shima’s elder brother whom he is ashamed to be associated with since he thinks it is funny to knock his head over the microphone as a gag! Suguro can’t believe the inn they’ll be staying is the one run by his mom. Family reunion! Nothing sweet though, because mom is beating her son up for dying his hair! Everyone gets down to treat the injured. Except for Rin. They want him to do something else. Like picking up garbage. Suguro, Shima and Konekomaru go to see Yaozou, Shima’s dad who is recovering from his wounds. But what Suguro really wants is to see his bone headed dad whom he has a bone to pick with. Rin is wondering around and stumbles upon a drunk priest, Tatsuma who wants him to help cut watermelons for the injured. Rin finds out this dude is Suguro’s dad! He talks about being friends with Suguro and wants to reconcile with him. Suguro stops a fight between Juuzou and Mamushi as they blame each other for the lax in security that had gotten them into this trouble. Although Mamushi badmouths Tatsuma as a laughing stock, he accepts it. He just doesn’t want them to fight among each other at a crucial time. Suguro’s flashback shows he used to listen to his dad reciting sutras and this calmed his mind. Suguro asks Shura for permission to head to the temple in the mountains to find Tatsuma but was shot down since they are on a mission. Shima is forced to be Rin’s company as Suguro and Konekomaru bail out for personal reasons. Missed his chance. Now he has to deal with a drunk Rin? Oops. Shura gave the wrong drink.

Suguro remembers more of his past. When he was just a boy, he heard many members wanted to leave the sect because they fear of the Blue Night incident repeating and they won’t be able to support their families. Suguro told them to hang on as he promises to take over the sect when he grows up and defeat Satan. However they said they can’t follow the high priest anymore because he betrayed the sect by removing and hiding the temple’s object of worship. Juuzou assures him that many are still staying. One day it is announced that after much deliberation among the high priests, the sect will be assimilated into the True Cross Order. There may be structural changes but their traditional teachings and exorcism style will be the same. Suguro was excited that dad will become an Exorcist too but he dismissed it and will let Juuzou and Uwabami be in charge. Their followers will be happier that way. Suguro is snapped back to reality by Uwabami who needs his help for internal investigations as he believes there is a traitor among them behind all this. He agrees to help but wants Tatsuma to have his say too. More Suguro flashbacks. He told his dad he was going to become an Exorcist at True Cross Academy. However Tatsuma forbade it and wants him to do anything with his life except the life of an Exorcist. This made Suguro snap back at him for being a coward. He lets him know all the insults others have been calling him behind his back. He won’t live like that. He won’t run away. Meanwhile Yukio’s team may have caught up to the culprit. But open smashing the windows of the stalled car, they find everyone dead. Toudou is contacting his accomplice to act quickly before they find out or else there won’t be another chance like this. The whole idea is to bring together the Left Eye and Right Eye.

Episode 3
Konekomaru is shocked to see Shima being friendly with Rin. Later he confronts him about and Shima just brushes it off that everybody was just overthinking. Trying to avoid Rin was more effort than its worth. He knows Rin is a good guy. Konekomaru doesn’t look convinced. All the family heads are called for a meeting. But when Yaozou says Tatsuma will not be present due, Suguro becomes obviously frustrated. He was waiting for him the entire day. Due to the pressing matter, the meeting presses ahead. Juuzou explains what happened on that day in the Deep Keep where the Right Eye was kept. He noticed something wrong with the flames and called Tatsuma to look at it. Mamushi then got upset when she asked Tatsuma and he replied he wasn’t really interested in becoming part of the True Cross Order. She reminds him of the legend when Fukaku slew the Impure King. His Right Eye was staring at him with intense hatred before he died. That is why he established a sect and its generations to safeguard it. Thus she is implying Tatsuma is abandoning his duty. He doesn’t really answer her when the flames started going wild. After telling everyone to escape, in his attempts to control it, Mamushi thought of protecting the Right Eye. She was knocked off by Juuzou for being dangerous. In the end, Yaozou uses his body to shield its explosion before the flames were brought under control.

This meeting is to reveal the traitor. As Toudou is the accomplice for the Left Eye, he was once Mamushi and Juuzou’s instructor. Both start suspecting and accusations at each other. When calmed down, Mamushi remembers Tatsuma chanting an unfamiliar mantra like as though he was controlling the flames. Now all suspicions fall on Tatsuma and his absence only worsens it. The meeting is adjourned. Konekomaru thought he could cheer up Suguro but he just wants to be left alone. Time to take a detour from the guys having their drama to Shiemi. She is nervous and thus making lots of silly mistakes. Thoughts of herself being useless is clouding her mind. So much so Izumo had to tell her off to say whatever is bugging her. Well, she really did let it all out. Beating up herself for not being useful when it counts, the reason Rin and Yukio never told her anything. Oh no. Please don’t cry so loud that the neighbourhood can hear you. In this twisted sense, Izumo thought she is pretty stubborn like a weed to go on like this. She takes it as a positive sign to be strong like a weed. Well, whatever works. Rin continues his candle training but still flops. He sees Konekomaru praying at his family’s grave and talks to him. Scared, he tries to run away but Rin puts his foot down. He lets Rin know he has no family and their grave is the only thing he can go back to. So whoever threatens them is his enemy. Rin is glad to know that if he proves he is not a threat, they’ll reconcile. Rin continues training hard into the night. Shiemi sees Rin hardworking is also inspired to make some grounds. Mamushi and her sisters and Shima continue to suspect each other.

Episode 4
Rin is happy that he finally has a little control over his flames. But Shura warns him it is only the beginning. Flashback when Rin was brought before the Vatican council. Mephisto admitted that Fujimoto was harbouring the son of Satan as a weapon to fight against him. He even dared them wage if Rin will become their saviour or the next Satan. They will consider the wager only after Rin passes the Exorcist Authorization Exam in 6 months and the first sign of threat he is to be executed immediately. Suguro finds it odd that Juuzou is going into the field office at this hour. When he tails him, he sees lots of priests beaten up. He then sees Juuzou confronting Mamushi and accuses her as the traitor. However she says she will open everyone’s eyes that the true traitor is Tatsuma and Mephisto. 8 years ago when she first enrolled in the exorcism cram school and met Toudou, he was asking a lot about the Impure King’s eyes. She didn’t know much about it then. He long harboured suspicions on Mephisto’s behaviour. So for 8 years she worked under him to uncover the truth. Nothing surfaced until a week ago about Mephisto secretly had the son of Satan spared and raised by the Order. He even had the object of worship to help do it. This means Tatsuma is in cohorts with Mephisto. She believes Toudou will take both eyes to where it will be safe. Tatsuma, Yaozou and Uwabami heard all this from the monitor room. Uwabami is sad her daughter is the culprit and has no choice but to arrest her. As Mamushi and Juuzou fight, the grounds starts shaking. An intruder alert. Toudou shows his face as Juuzou tries to tell Mamushi she has been tricked but to no avail. Mamushi uses the Right Eye to escape along with Toudou.

Once everyone is on the scene, the first thing Suguro does is to stop his dad from wherever he is going. He blames him as the reason that they are all in this mess now. He wants to know what he has been doing all the time. Sorry. It’s a secret. This only makes Suguro mad. He threatens to sever ties with him as his son. This however has a profound impact on Rin. He remembers a similar quarrel with Fujimoto. Then it was too late to regret anything. He’s dead. Surprisingly it is Rin who stops Tatsuma from running away. Is he going to let it end like this? Then he punches Suguro and wants him to apologize to his dad and not abandon him so easily. I understand why he is doing this but it feels odd for an outsider to be meddling in their relationship, no? Suguro is only madder. He tells Rin to never come back. Well, yeah. Now Rin is madder too. And disappointed. He starts emitting blue flames, much to everyone’s shock. Then they fight as Rin tries to make Suguro apologize to his dad. Only Shura’s intervention to knock him out did things calm down. Looks like she will have to explain this to everyone.

Episode 5
Yaozou wants Juuzou to follow Tatsuma secretly. Shura gets a call from Yukio to meet up. After learning the Right Eye has been stolen, Yukio says the corpse he found was a decoy. Because it had a jamming signal that made it hard for him to report back, it was an elaborate ploy to buy time. Yukio learns that if both eyes are brought together, it will unleash terrible amounts of miasma and do more damage than a single eye. He begins to wonder that Toudou might have a sinister plan because now that he has both eyes, why does he not unleash it right away? Shura then reports of Rin’s carelessness. You can see Yukio’s disappointed face. His actions now make his life hanging by a thread and they are in uncharted territory. Shura ‘warns’ Yukio about honesty and emotions being important traits to be an Exorcist because demons can easily manipulate them. Therefore Rin isn’t the dangerous one but Yukio who is the type who can be corrupted with all those pent up feelings. So try cut some slack once in a while. First shots fired: He always hated her. Rin is solitary confinement as he remembers the hearing in Vatican. After Mephisto had finished, Rin broke out of his silence to angrily tell them he isn’t their tool or saviour. He is just Rin and will become the best Exorcist. Just you wait and see. Suguro returns to his other friends and he tells them what happened. They are especially worried what will happen to Rin.

It is a little awkward for Rin to see Yukio now. Shura hands over a letter from Tatsuma he handed to her for him before he left. Can’t read. Terrible handwriting! Well, Yukio may be able to since it is partly calligraphy. This letter has Tatsuma asking Rin an important favour. But he starts off with his past first. Back before his son was born, Tatsuma’s pregnant wife, Torako was severely ill from being exposed to miasma. Although very worried, his father who was then the current head priest continued to tell him to do his daily duties and rituals. Tatsuma was sceptical if it would save anybody because the situation has worsened since. Father told him that he will inherit his duties when he die. Then he will learn the secrets of this temple in which he must keep forever till he dies. If Torako dies, find another stronger wife. It is important they have a successor. Being naïve and afraid, Tatsuma continued to follow his father’s words. One day while doing a fire ritual outside. A giant monster came crashing down. It was slain by Fujimoto. It was the first time they met. It was then Fujimoto took the Kouma sword, sect’s object of worship that is now in Rin’s possession. Rin and Yukio are shocked to realize that the sword belonged to Suguro’s family this whole time.

Episode 6
Mamushi and Toudou arrive at Gouma Hall in the mountains where Toudou believes the eyes will be kept for safekeeping. Continuing Tatsuma’s story, Fujimoto collapses since he was seriously injured. Tatsuma took him in and treated him. Fujimoto explains he was sent here to retrieve the sword since he might use it to kill a child. Tatsuma didn’t like hearing that and ordered him to leave. He won’t until he finds it with or without his help. When Fujimoto sees an entire hall filled with sick people, he stops their futile prayers. He chides everyone for being cowards playing the saint. Fujimoto quickly prescribes ingredients and herbs to save everyone. Soon everyone gets better including Torako. As happy Tatsuma can be, Fujimoto still wants the sword. However the head priest and his men are out to arrest Fujimoto. They believe he has tainted their temple with his foul rituals despite he saved their lives. Besides, those who know the temple’s secret must die. Tatsuma is sad that his father is only protecting the rules. Hence he goes to help Fujimoto escape and even gives him the sword. That was the last time he saw him. A few months later, the Blue Night incident happened and after his father died, Tatsuma was told the horrible secrets of the temple.

As Mamushi is holding the Right Eye, she is at her limits. They find the secret passageway under Gouma Hall as Toudou feels bad for having her shoulder this burden and to let him have the eye as they are already close to their destination. But what shocks Mamushi once she enters the room is a large sealed body belonging to the Impure King. Toudou further explains that Fukaku couldn’t just defeat the Impure King so he forged the sword with a fire demon, Karura to subdue it. After plucking out its eyes, Karura left the sword. It is just an empty shell. That is the dark secret the temple have been keeping. So if both eyes are returned to the Impure King, he will revive. Toudou has no use for her anymore but before he can dispose her, Tatsuma protects her. Further flashback reveals after his father died, Karura appeared before him. It seems there is a secret pact between her and whoever the head priest is. In exchange to serve him and keep the Impure King sealed, Karura wants her existence to be in secrecy. The guilt of that secrecy is what feeds her existence. Otherwise the pact is nullified. Now Tatsuma calls upon Karura to fight Toudou. However Toudou turns the tables when he returns the eyes. Now the Impure King revives. Its mould form is spreading fast. Juuzou arrives just in time for Tatsuma to hand Mamushi back and call for reinforcements. He is counting on her to tell what has happened. Tatsuma stays back to try and seal the Impure King. Although Karura’s secret is now known and she will no longer serve the head priest, there is another separate pact with Tatsuma personally that should still stand. As he tries to use his flames to subdue the swelling Impure King, Toudou stabs him in the throat! He reveals his true intention was to lure Tatsuma out since he is rarely shows himself and what better way than to use the Impure King whom he believes Tatsuma was using Karura to seal. His true goal is in fact Karura. He eats the fire demon and forces it to inhabit his body. Toudou is happy he is a step closer to his ultimate goal. The letter ends with Tatsuma asking Rin to use the Kouma sword to defeat the Impure King.

Episode 7
Yukio is against Rin helping since there is no proof his blue flames would be effective. However Shura wants to hear it from Rin since the letter is addressed to him. He wants to help. Shura gives him back the sword but Yukio is still against it. Shura argues the Impure King is a bigger threat right now than Rin and it has been proven his flames have been effective against demons before. Suddenly Rin cannot unsheathe the sword. Shura realizes he is scared. He just mastered controlling his flames so there are thoughts he might hurt somebody if he draws the sword. Mephisto pops up and puts Rin in an impregnable prison, Das Starkste Gefangnis. He just got word from the Vatican. They voted for him to be executed. Although saying taking care of the Impure King is important now, Mephisto can’t join in the fight since he is showing allergies of it. However he leaves Shura with some camouflage robes. Mamushi returns and tells the whole story and begs to save Tatsuma. Everyone gets ready to their fight. Shura sees Suguro and co and told what has happened to Rin. He passes the sword and the letter to Suguro. She hints that they need to bust Rin out secretly and prove that he can save the day since the Vatican has a tight leash on her and she cannot move openly before their eyes. So I guess after reading the letter and having their eyes opened, everyone is somewhat geared up to save Rin as they don the camouflage robes. Don’t want to leave any regrets if they let Rin meet his fate, do they?

They manage to pass the guards but now they have to face off with Das. This goofy talking prison blatantly states how easy to open him from the outside. But nobody ever could. Why? Suddenly all but Shiemi freeze in their tracks. Das detects animosity and those who are a threat will be frozen. Because Shiemi is weak and useless, she isn’t a threat. Yup, that is what the prison said in her face. A relief or insult? Shiemi walks in to find Rin who is really depressed. He doesn’t want to go with her, fearing he would hurt her. When his blue flames burst, Shiemi felt its warmth. She realizes she had been preoccupied with her own problems instead of looking from Rin’s perspective. She hugs him as proof she didn’t get burn. A little sorry is all it takes for Rin to get back. After smashing out Das, the rest are free from the spell. Time for a little reconciliation and welcome back. Always trust in your friends, right? Of course the usual angry tension for Suguro with him. Because it seems he is mad at Rin for trying to shoulder this alone instead of telling others. How is he expecting others to trust him like that? So that’s the reason why he is mad? So once everyone makes their peace, it is time to go kick some mouldy Impure King ass.

Episode 8
Light miasma is starting to spread around the town nearby. Shura is roped in by the higher priests to summon Ucchusma, the most powerful fire demon. To combat the Impure King which belongs to the Kingdom of Rot, fire is its weakness. Once summoned, Ucchusma demands the blood of 10 high priests but since there are only 5, he only helps out via giving their staffs his flame. Rin and co stumble upon Tatsuma. Karura pops up from Tatsuma albeit smaller. It still exists because of Tatsuma’s other personal pact. As long as he has Eon Flames, Karura will continue to exist. After learning everyone has known the secret, Tatsuma tells a way to destroy the Impure King. It will grow into a giant sporangium which will then burst and release a cloud of toxic spores. In the middle of the sporangium is its heart. Fukaku who sealed it before wasn’t aware when he cut through the sporangium and its heart to seal it. Its heart is what everyone knows as its eyes. Tatsuma meant to use his Eon Flames to draw a barrier at the expense of his life but it didn’t work. It was meant as a last resort. And now that Rin cannot unsheathe his sword, Tatsuma still needs to do up a barrier for one last time. He will die after that. It will be the last thing he will do. Suguro realizes what dad had meant all these years about those secrets. Karura realizes Suguro is Tatsuma’s son and can pass on the Eon Flames pact to him. However Tatsuma is against this. He didn’t want his son to get involved with this as the pact ends with him. Suguro tells him off he is in no position to tell him this because he wants to shoulder it with him. Even Karura agrees Suguro is more rational. After Karura is passed to Suguro, Tatsuma teaches him the method to seal the Impure King.

Suguro has the girls tend to his father. He tells Konekomaru and Shima to head back to Shura and tell her what is happening. So is Suguro going to be a hero and stop the sporangium with his barrier? He’ll die! Don’t worry. This is where Rin comes in to protect him. But he can’t unsheathe his sword. Don’t worry. He’ll use his blue flames. Or something. Hey, you got to be positive at this point. Thus before our guys get to work, a little reconciliation between father and son that says you-better-not-die-or-I’m-gonna-kill-you. The herbs of Shiemi and Izumo can’t work so they decide to carry him down to hospital. They have to. Konekomaru and Shima’s path are blocked by the Impure King’s ever expanding mould. Yukio thought he saw Toudou writhing in pain in the middle of the forest. Curiosity kills the cat because Toudou senses his presence and traps him in with his flames. Yukio is shocked at his newfound power. Toudou would love to talk and answer his questions but first he wants play around with Yukio. Yukio finds it hard to keep up with his immense strength and speed. At the same time Toudou is trying to toy with his mind about his past and ‘forced life’ as an Exorcist. Since Fujimoto is dead, all he has now is Rin. What would he have then if Rin dies? So could he just be a tool raised to protect Rin? So for all the lengths Yukio went for Rin, could it be that the truth is he hates his brother?

Episode 9
Yukio’s shots are missing more and more. Could it be that Toudou has hit a nerve? Turns out it was just distraction so Yukio is able to make some insignia and summon water demons to trap him. Yukio tells him he doesn’t hate his brother. It is his weak self he hates. Unfortunately Toudou is too powerful to be confined in that water bubble. He bursts out and prepares to kill tired Yukio. Rin and Suguro ride Kuro close up to the sporangium. They know they’re both scared so they calm each other down by the way they know best. Mocking each other and pissing each other off. Conveniently there is a free spot in the middle of the mould. Suguro gets off to do his barrier. Karura is impressed with his devotion and unleashes a huge fire barrier to prevent the mould from spreading. Suguro has to maintain his position as Rin and Kuro keep the invading mould from getting closer to him. As the mould gets closer to Konekomaru and Shima, the latter thinks they should give up and run. Everyone will understand. But Konekomaru chides him about everyone, their friends and family fighting out there. This is when Shima loses it. He has had it with this responsibility, blood and all that crap. It’s not worth risking his life. He admits he isn’t that noble and abandons Konekomaru. As he thinks how crazy everyone is, he remembers Juuzou telling him how their eldest brother, Takezou died protecting Shima and Suguro. Shima didn’t really care. Even more so when Yaozou passed on to him the family staff so he could help protect Suguro and Konekomaru. He never asked for that responsibility. However he turns back to save Konekomaru before he gets overwhelmed by the mould. He realizes he can’t walk away from it all that easily. But he might be regretting it again because now his staff is lit with Ucchusma and Konekomaru thinks it is a good way to burn a path through. This means he is back in fighting in the front lines. Yeah, he had the chance of walking away but he blew it.

The girls aren’t going to carry the heavy priest down. Izumo summons her cute fox familiars to do the job. Deep in concentrating guiding her familiars, deep in thinking about why she decided to hop on this rescue train in the first place and annoyed by Shiemi’s, uhm, annoyance, Izumo didn’t realize the mould crept up on her and now she is almost submerged in it. Time for Shiemi to stop being useless and do something. She tries to summon her familiar out. Yeah, all you need to do is put in your earnest feelings and poof! Here it is. As easy as summoning ABC. So to fight the mould, she tells Nii-chan to get bigger and grow twice as many green plants. The sporangium reaches its limit and explodes. Luckily the fire barrier contains it from spreading further. Yukio is scared he will be killed when suddenly blue flames lit in his eyes. His vision is all in blue. He doesn’t understand what’s going on. For that moment there, Toudou too was afraid and his instincts to jump away kicked in. After Yukio calms down, his eyes return to normal. Now Juuzou and his side has come to Yukio’s aid.

Episode 10
The stench of the spores is unbearable. But now they have a bigger problem. And I mean a real big problem. This big blob is the Impure King’s true form? Hideous. Juuzou and his team fight Toudou. Uhm, but is it not effective? I know they’re trying to fight fire with fire but only Toudou is getting stronger absorbing their attacks. Can’t blame them. They now only realize he has Karura inside him. Yukio has an idea. So while the rest distract fighting him, Juuzou then pounces him with a super big fireball comet. Did they not learn anything, you ask? Toudou’s body starts breaking up and turning into ash. Yukio’s plan is that the host will take on the traits of the demon residing in its body. So if Toudou is possessing Karura, his body cannot contain the intense heat and will overheat and turn into ash. But Toudou regenerates thanks to Karura’s regeneration. Yukio has also accounted for that. Toudou’s body starts breaking up into lumps of hardened cement. As it is raining, the regeneration will not be so quickly since his body turned to ash and mixed with water. Now all they have to do is to contain his body in separate containers before he could revive. But then again, maybe they’re too slow to act because his hardened mould now attacks them and Yukio can still hear him taunting them. So is he now haunting them as a ghost? Once Shima and Konekomaru return and report to the main group, Shura praises them for a good job and will go back inside the fire barrier to help Rin.

The Impure King is going to dispose Suguro. In a desperate attempt, he summons Karura to protect him. He manages to push back the blob. However, now that he is putting up 2 spells, it puts a great strain on his body and will not last long. This means the entire barrier will collapse at the slightest loss of concentration. Rin is upset he still cannot draw his sword even after Kuro takes a hit. Suguro tells him to run. Evacuate as much people as possible before the barrier breaks. Oddly, Rin starts talking casually like how he wants Suguro to show him and the rest of their friends Kyoto Tower tomorrow. So please let’s win this and go home. In typical retort fashion, Suguro scolds him for wanting to go to Kyoto Tower of all places. That place is an embarrassment he has never set foot in his life! But it did give Suguro great motivation to hold up. When the mould starts to overwhelm Suguro, Rin gets mad as his ponder about Fujimoto’s reason to save him. It is only then he is able to draw the sword and covered in blue flames. Time to slice down this big mother.

Episode 11
Even though Shura is here to backup and protect Suguro, Rin has a hard time taking down the Impure King as it can generate and it is trying to kill Rin as well. However Suguro reaches his limits and passes out. The fire barrier slowly starts disappearing. Luckily thanks to the rain, the spread of the miasma will be lessened for now. Yukio continues to face off with Toudou as he is shocked by his regeneration rate. Toudou can still toy around with him in his incomplete ash body. He wants Yukio to show him those eyes again and likes that angry demon look on his face. Yukio almost forgot the basic Exorcist lesson of never being tempted by a demon. He is assisted by Juuzou to pin Toudou down. But Toudou won’t tell him anything yet as it is still too early. Yukio shoots him to pieces. He then tells the rest to forget about capturing him and regroup with the rest to stop the miasma’s spread. Since Rin continues to not make any headway, Ucchusma appears before him and mocks how pathetic he is. As the Impure King is his sworn enemy, he will teach Rin how to defeat it. Whatever works, right? Ucchusma joins with his sword and turns blue. Rin will use this Fireburst Samadhi to burn and cleanse everything. Wait. So everyone in the mountain radius will be caught in it? Sorry, Rin. You can’t be picky about it now. You can’t let a speck of spore escape otherwise everything would be for naught. Rin chants the mantra as Ucchusma says. A huge blue fireball emerges and smashes into the Impurity King. Ucchusma doesn’t feel the power and wants Rin to put in more power into his hit. Rin is afraid he might go berserk and he is already feeling the strain of losing control of his blue flames.

Meanwhile Shiemi continues to fail in plucking Izumo out. So she’s going to now pull her out by herself? Yeah, her stubbornness is what irritates Izumo. She’s trying to save you and you’re mad at her? And would you have guessed it? Shiemi actually pulled her out! Power of friendship? Everyone now sees a big burst of blue flames. It is that oh sh*t moment. They fear the worse when they get hit by it but not Shiemi. Everyone is shocked to feel how warm it is. In the aftermath, not a speck of the Impure King and its spread is left. Nobody died and only the Impure King was destroyed. Best of all, the miasma affecting them were also cleansed. Ucchusma is done and will now leave. He wonders if Rin is human or demon. He warns the day will come when he must choose. With everyone regrouping around Rin, now let the thanks flow. Let the tears flow. Rin is super happy because he can control his blue flames. Albeit not perfect but at least he can choose what to burn. The celebration is put to an abrupt halt when Yukio is not amused about what Rin had done. Remember, he still thinks Rin is in prison. With Rin happily laughing, Yukio punches him and tells him he doesn’t understand his position. Oh, Rin understands it well. He is the son of Satan. He has always been afraid to admit that but that was a mistake. It is part of who he is. He easily draws the sword and adds until he accepts his power, he’ll never get anywhere. Then he collapses from too much use of power. That’s Rin for you.

Episode 12
Time for the long awaited good news. Tatsuma survives and is brought back to the inn. Though, he gets scolded by Torako for doing such reckless stuffs. Mamushi breaks down upon hearing their success from Juuzou. Rin wakes up and is shocked to see Shiemi lying next to him. Suddenly she wants to confess something important. No matter what happens, she will always be his friend. That’s it? Man, you just got totally friend zoned. Definitely disappointing! No wonder Shima is laughing his ass off. Mephisto talks to Yaozou and praises him for a good job although the latter credits it all to Rin. Mephisto tells him if he ever gets summoned by the Vatican, appear and testify what has happened. After that, Shura seems to be trying to seduce Mephisto. But she is trying to find out about his grander plan. From Igor to Amaimon and now this Impure King, what does he have in store next? Even all the students in the cram school of Rin’s class were put together by him. All he says is that he doesn’t want to see a beautiful lady die before her time. Shura quickly backs out and leaves. Then she assures Yukio that Rin will no doubt be safe. Even if the Vatican wants to execute him, Mephisto will definitely find a way to protect him as he is somewhat part of his larger plan.

Suguro thought of finally giving his dad a pep talk to do his priest job properly. To his dismay he finds him now as a janitor of the inn as he has no reason to be a priest. They are interrupted by Konekomaru who tells them something ‘interesting’ has happened. It seems Juuzou has proposed to marry Mamushi! But she didn’t agree! Heck, their siblings are now arguing with each other. Don’t worry Mamushi. Marrying him is your punishment! Is that some sort of a married couple joke? Jokes aside, despite she will be kicked out of the Order and her right eye never to recover, Juuzou will still take her in as his wife. Uwabami could only give his blessing. So Tatsuma’s lesson to his son is that even if he tries to do everything by himself, others will carve their own lives without him. Just let it be. But why did Tatsuma try to shoulder it himself for years? Because his son is important to him. Now everyone makes good on Suguro’s promise to tour the place. Everyone becomes Rin’s ‘bullies’ and does whatever his says. Because you don’t want to get burnt by the son of Satan, right? Lastly, Rin talks to Yukio personally. Yukio still doesn’t agree to him being an Exorcist. He is just riding on the wave of defeating the Impure King. He regrets letting everyone force him into using Satan’s powers. His heart will not be at ease till he is sure he doesn’t put others in danger. He promised dad he would keep him safe. Rin is okay with that. He isn’t asking him to change how he sees things. But they should rely on each other as they’re brothers. Rin is envious Yukio got to fight alongside dad. He hopes to tell stories of that. Yukio will but only when Rin becomes an Exorcist.

If you’re interested in the long drawn out drama between Mamushi and Juuzou, well, this OVA is it. During a time before all that betrayal and sh*t hits the fan, Mamushi accidentally met Toudou during recess. Because she seemed troubled (about Tatsuma not joining the Order), he suggests helping him out with some errand and it might answer what she is looking for. She ends up picking bariyons (stone face monsters?) at the river bank and oh look, Juuzou is also commissioned by Toudou for the same job. And thus this is where our bickering drama between 2 teens who aren’t honest to their feelings start. Especially Mamushi trying to act tough while pondering about Tatsuma’s intentions. She got careless with a bariyon and it almost killed her but luckily Juuzou was quick enough to save the day. Even after he lectures her, she still tells him to shut up. All in a day’s work of being a tsundere. Since Mamushi is injured, he decides to carry her back instead of the bariyons. That can wait till tomorrow. At first she is stubborn but finally gives in. She tells him about her dilemma being Tatsuma neglecting his duties. All Juuzou can say he is putting his blind faith in him. Toudou is relieved that Mamushi’s injuries are light. He speaks to her privately about the need to be herself instead of becoming like someone else. There is a very emotional reaction from her as she leaves. This makes Toudou grin with glee as this confirms she is easily manipulated. In fact he was observing Mamushi and Juuzou during the errand (pictures of them too!) and decides to use Mamushi. The rest is history. The final few minutes of this OVA seems to be ‘cheating’. They replay the same tumultuous scene when Juuzou proposed his shocking proposal to Mamushi. Just insert a few scenes in between of Rin and co commenting on it, that’s all.

Exorcist Blues: Brotherhood
Well, well. I even surprised myself that I did not expect to enjoy this season a lot. What do you mean I was expecting not to like this series when I said in my opening paragraph that I found the series awesome? Well you see, after a few episodes in, I thought with all the personal issues and drama, I thought this series would sadly fall into that category of awesome first seasons and very disappointing sequels. But that is where I was wrong. Yes, there are personal issues and dramas permeating the entire season whenever it gets the chance to. Somehow they were not boring or dreary as I thought it would be. In fact, I’m surprised to say this myself but I find them rather interesting. For a guy like me who only takes interest in ecchi fanservice high school comedies, this is very rare thing to happen. So whatever formula or hypnosis they have done in this season, they really have done a good job because it was quite interesting and in the end, I am left ‘disappointed’ that this didn’t get extended for another cour like how the first season had over 2 dozen episodes.

Despite almost all the characters have their own issues to deal with, their insecurities and the uncertainties that go along with it, it is these factors that we can all somewhat connect to that makes the overall season an interesting success. For instance, Suguro’s long outstanding daddy issues with Tatsuma and ultimately the ‘wobbly’ and ‘unstable’ brotherly relationship between Rin and Yukio. Maybe it is me getting old but each time such dramatic instances pop up, I would start to tear up or feel my heart strings being tugged. That is one reason why I really found this season to be fascinating. It stirs up emotions inside me and made me feel that despite our protagonists are just young Exorcists in learning, they are just ordinary kids having to deal with supernatural issues that complicated their ordinary human lives. This strong emotional level is what bonds the characters together as well as the characters with the viewers. Perhaps some may call these dramas to be cheesy and cliché but hey, if it rouses some decent heart-warming emotions, I think I can call it a success.

The plot for this season itself is interesting although at the beginning I was a bit confused. It isn’t the fact that the series was just rolling and there was not information or revelation to the plot and story. It is rather the fact I remember that Rin’s friends were on good terms with him at the end of the season. So when they were ignoring him in the first episode like as though something bad in between happened, I was confused. It was then I found out that in the first season, after 2/3 of the series, the plot started to deviate from the manga. Thus this second season ignores what happened in that final third and continues off from where the anime left off.

Then there are a few absurd situations like Tatsuma dad surviving which is a catch-22 situation. Because he was clearly pierced through his throat! A normal person would have instantly died! And here he is, still able to talk, pass down the secrets and teachings to his son, hold out even longer and then made it back alive as though the whole thing was just nothing. It would have been devastating and totally sad and a shame had Tatsuma really died. So him surviving is like the package of good news delivered in the end. Because had Toudou struck him in a different non-vital part, we would have been wondering if he is such a bad aim at close range. Hey, at least not his brain or heart and maybe he missed thanks to the gaps in the throat? I’m no doctor but I’m figuring this could be it. Also, the part Shiemi was trying to save Izumo felt a bit silly. Everything didn’t work till she put in her feeble strength and effort. Like as though there wasn’t enough girl time and drama so they purposely had to cut this little piece out and give them some little more screen time. Yeah, it was the only way Shiemi could become ‘stronger’ in this season without Rin.

The character development is pretty decent this season with most of it focusing on Rin and Suguro. For Rin, it wasn’t the case of an ordinary kid in extraordinary circumstances. It was rather coming to terms with the real fact that he is the son of Satan. Therefore he isn’t an ordinary kid to begin with. However you can’t blame him for wanting to be one or trying to be one because teens his age are going through the phase where they are seeking acceptance and a place to belong. Once he accepts himself for who he is, only then his friends could. As for Suguro, we get to see a lot of why his character is such a teen angst and has lots of pent up frustrations. The estranged relationship with his dad has certainly put a huge strain on the father and son ties. Many of us feel like we can connect with them because of how similar their situation is to real life. So the general moral of the story here is to appreciate and makeup with your parent when they are still alive while you still can. Nothing can be more devastating and regretful when you lose that chance forever. In a way, Rin and Suguro’s weird confrontational friendship did what is best for both of them and made them grow into better characters.

The rest of the other characters in the group also have their decent fleshing out albeit on a smaller scale. Konekomaru has his insecurities about being friends with Rin since his entire family was wiped out and is now the head of his Miwa clan. Shima finally showed his true colours why he is such a lazy laidback dude since he never really wanted to be in this supernatural business in the first place. That’s why he is so carefree and doesn’t give a damn. So could you say that peer pressure is what kept him in line? Thankfully he isn’t a total dick (though he could really be one if he really wants to) since his long term bond and friendship is (a bit) stronger. Then there is Shiemi who is just reduced to being some whiny damsel in distress. Distress as in stressing out herself for being useless. Probably she felt guilty for giving Rin the unkind cut and reflecting for most of the time how she isn’t any different. Izumo isn’t much and sometimes I feel her actions speak tsundere.

I am making a guess that Yukio is also a demon like Rin. Yes, this is one of the mysterious foreshadowing questions thrown to us that would be answered in the future if there is ever a sequel. It might have already been in the manga but since I don’t read it, I’m not sure. My guts tell me that he is also a demon. Because it only makes sense that the brothers are twins so why is one a demon and the other a complete human, right? Just that Yukio didn’t really show traits of being an obvious demon, might have been hidden or sealed by something or somebody as we are not told of it yet (for future shock revelations, I guess) or certain conditions needs to be triggered in order for those traits to show itself. Yukio and Rin might be as different as night and die but remember, they come from the same flesh and blood. I fear that Yukio may succumb to his dark side since I feel that he is still bothered by Toudou’s words of being just a tool. He might seem over it and made peace with it but you know Yukio. He has got a good poker face.

There is more to meet the eye about Mephisto. Just like big incidents from last season, all he does is watch everything unfold on his floating chair and make comments-cum-explanations. There is definitely some sort of grander scheme that this demon has laid out for everything. For now, we could just speculate that he might be doing this out of boredom or training his handpicked Exorcists to fight a greater evil or just be pawns when his ultimate plan is unfurled. Whatever it is, it is best to thread with caution as you don’t know what is going on in this demon’s mind. It is hard to tell if he is friend or foe with his charismatic exterior. After all, he is a demon whom the Vatican ‘acknowledges’ into their ranks. Who knows? The Vatican may be used by him all the time or they might just be his underlings. You’ll never know… Truly and ironically a devil in disguise?

Same goes to Toudou although he is portrayed as the main antagonist this season, he could be just a pawn for a greater evil lurking in the background. For now there are too many questions that cannot be answered immediately and only made ‘worse’ thanks to his teasing. Now we have to wait for another season. Or read the manga. Shura, whose role is to be Rin’s guardian and train him, feels more like fanservice and eye candy. Who else shows greater skin exposure and has the bigger bust in the series? Finally the series’ mascot Kuro didn’t do much but nevertheless still important as Rin’s partner. Like as though somebody needs to give this cat some screen time. At least better than Nii-chan whose ‘comeback’ feels forced. It’s just to show that Shiemi has gotten over her whatever dilemmas and is now able to summon this green little thing back.

The new characters are also likeable like Tatsuma who is just a dad trying to be a dad like any other normal dads in the world. You won’t know the sacrifice and silent suffering a father has to make until you are in his shoes. He might look and act like a slow retard but I think being clam instead of being overwhelmed with emotions like his son makes him think and make judgments better. Juuzou and Mamushi from the moment they started bickering from the start, I had a feeling they would end up together. True enough, it came too quickly in the end suddenly they become an engaged couple. Oh well, at least they moved on faster than say fans of Rin x Shiemi? Don’t be too disheartened by this friend zone thingy. Things might change in the future. Maybe… Just maybe… I also want to mention about Kinzou being an oddball despite his limited appearance. He felt like some sort of comic relief but not to an extent like he is the idiotic joker (like Spongebob Squarepants…). His first appearance is already a head scratcher trying to ‘break the ice’ and when he is in the battlefield, he turns into some adrenaline junkie eager to kick some ass. And then he opposes Juuzou’s marriage to Mamushi just because he always wanted him to snag a blonde bombshell but got this ‘skinny snake’ instead as betrayal. Oh Kinzou…

The one thing that constantly bugged my mind throughout watching the series isn’t related to the story or the characters that are involved in it. Actually, more precisely if you remember that ventriloquist puppet kid, Takara. Yup, this kid’s absence is what bugged me the most. I remember spotting him on the train in the first episode (he was really that obvious). And then for the rest of the series, he disappears! Where the hell has he been too?! Because it somewhat feels like the producers forgot all about him as he is nowhere to be seen, not helping our friends anyhow in the battle against the Impure King. He is after all a mysterious character back in the first season. So just when I was about to write him off as a character whom they totally forgotten about, then boom! Suddenly he pops back up in the final episode. Albeit he didn’t do much either. Just following the gang like as though he has been there but nobody notices him! Yikes. Takara is even mentioned during Shura’s ‘interrogation’ with Mephisto as some sort of foreshadowing so definitely the producers didn’t forget about him and suffice to say that his great absence from this arc means that he had other plots and roles at the time we might have known or seen. Or maybe he just didn’t do anything in particular.

The action sequences are still worthwhile and entertaining even if they are nowhere near the level of Jackie Chan’s fight choreography. At least it is still decent and kicks some ass. Be it Yukio’s futile bout with Toudou or Rin a Suguro teaming up to take on the giant and mighty Impure King. It’s a nice balance to complement and supplement the drama for this season. Hey, all drama and no action make a series a dull one.

The same anime studio, A-1 Pictures was roped in to animate this sequel. It is good since we can all have our familiar characters looking the same instead of shocking us with a new look. Uhm… Except for one: Shiemi! When I first glimpsed her, I was thinking OMG, is this really Shiemi? Why does she look different? Not to say that she is totally different but there is somewhat obvious difference that will make you realize she just looks different from the first season. I am pretty sure it is not her slightly changed hairstyle is the one making her look different either. While trying to compare pictures of both seasons, the Shiemi of this season somehow looks a little more bland. I don’t know. Maybe she spends so much of her screen time having low self-esteem. Hence she wasn’t as cute and lively as she was then. If so, to a lesser extent. Maybe she is missing wearing that trademark kimono too. The other thing that raises my eyebrows (literally) is that do you not noticed that Izumo’s odd eyebrows and Tatsuma’s odd moustache are the same design and pattern? Woah. It’s like mind blown… And those fire demons like Karura and Ucchusma, I wonder if their design is inspired by Pokemon. No? Never mind.

The initial seiyuus from the first season are also maintained and reprising their roles. So no shocker too in the voice acting department. However the only change I noticed is that Fujimoto who was voiced by Keiji Fujiwara is replaced by Hiroaki Hirata (Sanji in One Piece). The new casts joining this season include Kazuhiro Yamaji as Toudou (Bang in One Punch Man), Jin Urayama as Tatsuma (Clark in Francesca), Katsuyuki Konishi as Juuzou (Oga in Beelzebub), Mao as Mamushi (Papika in Flip Flappers), Hideyuki Tanaka as Yaozou (Doflamingo in One Piece), Masaki Terasoma as Uwabami (Kanbei in Samurai 7), Kishou Taniyama as Kinzou (Jean in Shingeki No Kyojin) and Ayumu Murase as Karura (Kazuo in Hatsukoi Monster). The opening theme is Itteki No Eikyou by UVERworld and the ending theme is Kono Te De by Rin Akatsuki. Both are rock outfits that fit nicely the genre of this series.

Overall, a very good season that should warrant another season if it ever wants to justify its greatness. It is a very much welcomed comeback for fans of the series and viewers who watched the first season and thought they would never hear of it ever again. Well, you know what they say about rewards coming to those who wait, right? After all, with all the potentials and interesting developments, it would be a waste not to. Oh God. Don’t tell me we have to wait another 6 years for the next sequel to come out. Please, I’m not a demon whose average life spans for centuries. This series gives a whole new meaning to better the devil you know than the angel you don’t. I would certainly want to be part of Rin’s groupies if Satan and his demons decide to come end humanity. Watch out people. There will soon be a new Exorcist in town and he is the son of Satan. What a way to fight fire with fire.

It’s that time again where we need to make our viewers salivate and hungry with a food themed anime. However we don’t want it to be long and over dramatic like Shokugeki No Souma so a short one would be better. However we want to do away with typical Japanese and Chinese cuisines that might have been too common. Aha! Why not try Italian cuisine? And that is how Piace – Watashi No Italian became adapted from manga into anime lasting only 4 minutes per episode. I think. Anyway, what is new when a high school girl decides to go Italian and cook Italian dishes? Quirky characters and Italian dishes, what else? Funnily, all the staffs in this Italian restaurant are Japanese… Of course, they’re in Japan.

Episode 1
Morina Nanase wants to work during her summer vacation. She hasn’t really decided on what to do yet till she sees a recruitment sign for an Italian restaurant, Trattoria Festa. Cute, stylish and close to home. It’s decided. As she takes her first step in, she meets this little kid, Maro Kitahara who is the acting manager. After stating her intentions to work here, he makes her memorize their menu. All in Italian. Can’t read Italian. Don’t worry. There’s a Japanese version of it. But dish is still in Italian. Can’t make out what it is. This makes Maro mad. Why the heck would she want to work in an Italian place? Manager Ruri Fujiki takes over and since Morina can start right away, she hires her now. I mean, right now. Ruri warns Morina about Maro’s bad attitude. Despite being the son of the owner, he is passionate about cooking and a genius chef. Morina tastes Maro’s dish and praises highly, making him blush and tsundere. Despite ‘threatening’ to throw her out if she isn’t up to mark, Morina is glad to have found a place she is happy to work.

Episode 2
Maro teaches a lot to Morina. Ruri thinks he must have taken quite a liking for her. Morina also learns that the upstairs of this restaurant is where Maro lives as well as a couple of other ‘freeloaders’. Ruri explains the owner has not returned for 2 years. One night he ran away most probably to Italy and has never been back since. In the kitchen, Morina meets Kirihide Konno the head chef. He might look good but be careful. Morina accidentally spills a bit of sauce from his dish on the floor and he nearly kills her with his knife! Then he goes on ranting about the ingredients used to make it. Tomatoes… So to make it up to him, she’ll order more of such tomatoes for him. See his happy orgasmic face to receive boxes of tomato cans. A week later all those tomatoes are used up and he is ‘dying’. Morina needs to take responsibility for this so she suggests adding more menu items using tomatoes. Instantly he revives. Why is this going to be such a pain?

Episode 3
Morina sees a customer hitting on girls. Then she tries a tiramisu cake Maro makes. He explains the type of cheese used to make it. As Morina is taking out the trash, she sees a usual customer hanging out. She thought she could suggest trying their tiramisu but then he starts hitting on her with cheesy lines (no pun intended). Maro gets mad at Ei Oreki to get back to work. So he is a staff and not a customer? Morina is shocked to learn he is Festa’s dessert department. So this dude has been hitting on female customers the whole time? Later Maro tells Morina that Ei was a chef from Italy but his dad scouted him. Maro told Ei he would improve better if he worked in hotels but he rather have fun here and see him become his own man. Maro can’t help feel jealous that Ei has worked in places where all his dreams come true. Morina tells him he has the potential to become anything. Although Ei rarely works and usually hits on female customers, Maro wanted him fired but Ruri said he brings in the female customers so it’s not that bad. Later when Morina talks to Ei why he is wasting his time at a place like this, he tells her that Maro is lying. Oh sh*t. Which of them is lying?

Episode 4
Everyone is scared when that usual customer turns up, Niza Teiri. To your battle stations. Even Morina is forced to play her part of Trattori Rangers! He orders the usual and Morina serves him the fried spring roll caponata. It is so good that he wants to let his granddaughter, Sara try it out. She turns out to be Maro’s classmate. Sara also has a sharp sense of taste and smell. However she doesn’t believe at first this caponata is good. She thinks it is poisoned! So how? She stuffs it into Morina’s mouth! Since she is okay, Sara then bites it off from there like a very yuri scene. I think the guys are going crazy in one way or another. Sara then begins her analysis of this dish. Vulgar like a certain French dish but with a flavour fitting for commoners. She finds the fusion with Chinese dim sum like a Sino-Euro-Japanese mish-mash which truly fits in a trattoria. Although Japanese’s image of western cuisine is French or Italian, but compared to French, Italian has a vulgar image. Sara hates Italian cuisine. With that serious face she’s not joking, right?

Episode 5
Morina is enlightened by Kirihide’s knowledge on the difference between Japanese and Italian cuisine based on environmental and cultural factors. Flashback when Sara badmouthed Italian cuisine as vulgar, Kirihide tried to have a showdown with her wearing some mask while the rest distract grandpa with other food. Surprisingly Morina is the maddest one as she punches a hole in the wall! She lectures about people being serious about food. Chefs long ago laboured to find the right ingredient and created a culture that we treasure so much. We must not trample over what they have built up until now. Sara felt ashamed for her shallowness as Morina realizes too late she may have stepped over the line. But Sara hugs her and soon leaves with grandpa. The rest are just relieved that a crisis was averted. Morina is amazed Maro can tell how a dish tasted just looking by its recipe. Because a cuisine can’t be great if it just following blindly a recipe. Cuisine is science! Despite being a cry-baby and loner in class, he is a great chef.

Episode 6
Today is Morina’s last day. She’s quitting! After that hole she made in the wall, her pay won’t be enough to cover. She felt guilty and wanted to take responsibility. Maro is mad that the rest didn’t stop her. Well, it was her decision. When Maro states down all the bad and good qualities of Morina, the rest knew he really likes her. Obviously he goes to stop her. Luckily she is still standing in front of the shop like as though it’s hard to say goodbye. Maro assures they will do something about the wall (currently it is covered with a banner designed by Kirihide and the customers don’t quite like it). Maro understands Morina snapped back at Sara because she saw them work hard making Italian food. They couldn’t fight back because they were thinking of the restaurant’s reputation. That’s why he wants to thank her for standing up for their pride. So please don’t quit. If she really loves this trattoria, please stay and help take care of it. With Ruri agreeing to raise her pay so she can pay off the debt, emotional Morina agrees to come back and work. She vows to become an Italian chef. However the rest realize she can only use a peeler.

Episode 7
In class, Maro tries to impress Sara with his Italian cooking but all she has are criticisms. Plus, she doesn’t remember him. Poor guy runs back all the way crying and cooking is the way to soothe his heart. Sara visits Festa and personally wants Morina to cook an Italian dish for her. Realizing everyone else are ‘busy’ with their own circumstances, it soon dawns to her she can’t cook anything Italian yet. But she decides to give it a shot with some salad. Even if it doesn’t look good, it does taste good. Sara comments it is a taste befitting her. She likes it. Morina is so relieved that he hugs her. Morina later needs to improve her skills since she considers that dish a fluke. She tries to ask Kirihide but he is depressed about making enough profits to rare ingredients. Don’t worry. Ei is willing to help. Grateful Morina hugs him. Meanwhile Maro continues to be sad because nobody is looking his way.

Episode 8
Niza visits again but this time he brings Tony Riga, a famous food blogger. Since this is good advertising, they leave it to Morina to cook something although Maro is the one who seems pessimistic that Morina can do it. Despite nervous, Sara agrees to help her. Ramping up the nervousness is her classmate and friend, Rii Kagetsu. Sara suggests making a dolce dessert. It came out good and delicious. But Niza doesn’t look happy… Actually he was thinking of inviting Morina to become a temporary staff at his restaurant. Maro is the first to protest he will not let him take their Morina away. If he does, he’ll close down the shop and bum at his place every Sunday! Sara approves of grandpa’s move! Morina has been knocked out cold from the shock.

Episode 9
Morina arrives at Sairei, a Japanese restaurant owned by Niza. She is overwhelmed with everything as she spends time with Sara who has some praises about Festa. One day while sweeping outside, she could smell some Italian cooking. Maro and co are here trying to lure her back. He thinks she should be done at Sairei and should come back to Festa. There’s always a spot for her. You mean, a soft spot for her? ;p. So when she tells this to Niza and he disapproves of her going back to that place rather than continue working here, he gives her a challenge to show her resolve with her Italian cooking. Morina seeks Maro and co’s advice so Maro tells her to cook some Italian food that defines who she is. The next day, she serves some carpaccio, pasta and fritters. All is going well until the last dish which isn’t really good. He comments her skills are still underdeveloped and to return to Festa to improve it. I guess that’s the green light. They will even support her path to Italian cooking.

Episode 10
Festa is closed today since they are serving at the festivals. It seems Tony is here because there is a sweets contest. Maro didn’t think any one of his staff is participating till he realizes Ei is missing. Maro wants him to come back and help but Tony insists he should spice things up since Ei is gathering the crowd. Sara throws a challenge to Ei. She heard he thought Morina how to cook and is Festa’s poster boy. If he loses, Festa is nothing to write about and Morina wouldn’t be much of a challenge either. Ei gets serious since she dragged Morina into this and looked down on Festa. In the end, Ei wins. He nicely warns her to not badmouth them again or he won’t go easy next time. Sara apologizes to Morina for that unpleasant moment and hopes they can walk their path to become a chef earnestly. Morina and Maro are left in awe with a side they never see Ei before. Meanwhile Ruri and Kirihide are ‘dying’ since they are short of hands manning their stall.

Episode 11
Festa is closed today and the reason why Maro is so excited is because they will be going on a picnic with Morina. Yeah, he is bossing everyone to get going. It is so obvious watching Maro. He got disappointed when Ruri is the one knocking on the door but the moment he sees Morina, his face lights up. It seems Sara and her grandpa are also joining in. So they’re at the beach wondering what kind of food is best to cook. Maro tries to show off by cooking his meat medium rare so he can serve it fast. Too bad all that ego deflates when Sara didn’t have kind words for it. But then he revives instantly when Morina comments how everyone is enjoying themselves thanks to him.

Episode 12
They throw out all the comedy we’ve know this series for, for a serious melodrama? Ei narrates his senior told him before he came home from Italy. He wants him to look after his son and trattoria. When Ei took his first step into Festa and met the rest, they were lifeless and cold. He tried to be nice and strike up a conversation but that didn’t do much. Even when he tried to talk to Maro about his dad, he became mad and threw a tantrum never to mention his old man’s name again. One day when Sara came over to hand notes from class, Ei realized Maro had been skipping school. He forced Maro to have a talk with him but Maro doesn’t want to hear from a guy who cannot cook. This is where Ei drew the line. He is going to show why Maro himself cannot cook. Shockingly, Ei can cook a splendid eggplant dish. So did he lie about not being able to cook? Actually he has tendonitis in both wrists and cannot hold a pan anymore. He wanted to be better at cooking than everyone that he glued his hand to the pan but now paid the price. He doesn’t want Maro to make the same mistake of staying too focus of trying to be the best. Although Maro is still not appreciative, Ruri thought maybe if he finds a girl he likes, he would change. Ei hopes so. And it is like God heard their prayers as he sends cute Morina into their trattoria looking for work.

Mamma Mia! It’s Only A Decentemente Buono
Well, it wasn’t the best short or food themed anime, but hell, at least it is way much better than that atrocious JK Meshi. Ugh. Still having my hair stand on ends thinking about that piece of garbage even till today. The jokes are spontaneous only because they don’t have much time so many times you will notice that they are going fast with their rapid fire pacing which might seem like rushing. It is still funny but on a decent level rather than being casu marzu cheesy. Sorry, bad Italian cheese pun. I mean, you don’t expect mozzarella or parmesan quality here, do you?

If you are expecting the Italian food to be the stars of the show, you might be disappointed. This series is too short to showcase the good side of the Italian dishes. Maybe because I know nothing about Italian food except maybe pizza, spaghetti and pasta… Their very short appearances per episode depending on what the gang makes don’t do any justice to them. If it is to introduce Italian cuisine to us noobs, well, this isn’t the way. There are some food shots but they aren’t that appetizing if you ask me. Maybe because I’m not into Italian in the first place…

Although each of the characters have their own likeable charm, sadly due to the short duration of the series, there is hardly any development to be expected. Once you get to know a character, after an episode or two, you can probably guess their personality is more or less like this. Like Ruri I feel she is for fanservice purpose because who else has got the biggest bust around? To charm female viewers, that is why you have Ei around and Kirihide has been stereotyped into some strict chef who only wants ingredients from certain places and cooks in certain ways. Then there is Sara who is supposed to give some Japanese influence instead having everything so Italian (which isn’t) and it is unfortunate too that she doesn’t really do much thanks to her ‘polite’, refine and soft spoken exterior. If you like blondes in kimono, it feels that she is somewhat here to satiate that fetish. So what being Maro’s classmate. She just ignores him all the time. Heck, she doesn’t even know she exists.

As for Morina, we can see her getting along well and making Festa her second home. She is fast getting used to the place and becoming a valuable staff. But there is all to it because we don’t really see her levelling up her Italian chef skills and even if so, she is still at an amateur level. Well, at least it is practical since to be an expert culinary chef of another culture’s cuisine, it takes years of hard work and perseverance. Well, good luck on to her to achieve her dream. So for now she feels like the cute poster girl with her honest to goodness feelings for Festa and anything Italian.

Finally, Maro the scatterbrain of the pack is also the brattiest since it is becoming more and more obvious that this little kid has a crush on Morina. The only reason why he goes to great lengths to support her and possibly the best cure whenever he is down. Nothing beats gloom and doom more than the praises from the one you love, eh? So if you’re hoping to see some sort of romance development between them, don’t get your hopes up. Because first and foremost, Italians love their food first. Oh wait. They are Japs…

There could be something about Maro’s missing dad because as said he just got up one night and left. What a way to go to leave all your responsibilities and live life in a different country. It would have been interesting to see and hear the truth about this but I doubt at this rate we have already forgotten about this, right? The final episode might have reminded us about him but it was more about Ei and Maro. Had the entire series had this sort of character development level, I wonder if it would lose the cute comedic charm that viewers have accustomed to. I have to admit that the final episode was indeed interesting as it delved a bit into the past of the 2 characters. But that is only because we know what the characters are when the final episode came about. Therefore would the series had been more interesting or less if it followed this format instead?

The art and drawing has the characters looking cute and kawaii for the boys and girls whereas the guys more like bishonen hunks. With all the flowery and cute effects, it enhances the comedic effect intended for the scene. Because Maro is most of the time in angst mode, it makes him look like a cartoonish character. Sure, the art goes chibi sometimes but Maro in his normal form is already close to looking like in his chibi mode. This series is animated by a relatively new studio, Zero-G who did Battery and Tsugumomo.

Too bad I didn’t even recognize a single one of the seiyuus. Not even Youko Hikasa as Ruri. The casts are Sayaka Senbongi as Morina (Chitose in Girlish Number), Yuuki Yonai as Maro (Haruki in Cheer Boys), Hiromi Igarashi as Sara (Orion in Amnesia), Youhei Azakami as Kirihide (Kennosuke in Kuromukuro) and Taku Yashiro as Ei (Hayato in Mayoiga). The ending theme is amusing in its own right. Honjitsu No Tobikiri Buono is quite a catchy piece as it sings about mixing and putting together certain ingredients to ultimately come up with an Italian dish. Yeah, the real picture of that food looks quite tasty. Then the animation turns into something unrelated as we see the Festa staffs along with Sara jamming as a band in chibi form. Really, WTF. On a side note, because of the nature of the ending theme, there are a many variations depending on which one of the Festa staff is singing it. So if Sara is part of the group even as a customer, why isn’t her grandpa? No trattoria for old men?

Overall, this series is just average and if you like it a bit more, it means you’re a fan of Italian food. Average story and average characters mean this series isn’t one you should take seriously except to just enjoy something Italian in the short run before moving on to something heavier. So the best way to get to know Italian food (or any food from any other culture) is to try it out yourself. Unless you are so poor or on a limited budget that you can only scour the internet and drool over tasty looking Italian food. You cannoli view impasta foods for so long. Get out there tomato and try a pizza it. :-). Buon appetite!

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