Juuni Taisen

February 25, 2018

I knew one day this would come. You see for some odd reason that I couldn’t remember nor understand, when I was younger I had this dream of watching a series whereby the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac would be facing off each other in a battle royale style war. True that in my younger days I had a certain fascination with the Chinese zodiac and perhaps that wish was inspired by a very old retro Chinese movie that used the 12 Chinese zodiac animals. But that one was where a master looked and gathered all 12 of the animals in her journey to fight the evil dark monster king. Oh yeah. I still remember that one. But now this anime, Juuni Taisen where you have those ‘animals’ fighting against each other in a tournament in which the last one standing gets his/her single wish granted. Man, this is going to be interesting. What are the odds the rooster will win? Nah, I don’t even want to bet on it.

Episode 1
The entire city of half a million is cleared out. This is the power of the organization who has made preparations for the 12th Juuni Taisen, a deadly tournament held every 12 years. Haughty Inounoshishi (boar) makes her way up the building as she remembers the harsh training her father gave her. When she showed mercy ones instead of killing when she had the chance, she was beaten up mercilessly by him. His discipline reaching the line of abuse. After all, he is the reigning Juuni Taisen champion. Once Inounoshishi enters the room, she sees a few familiar and new faces. Oh, there is already one dead. Tatsumi (snake) got killed by crazy Usagi (rabbit). Yeah, Usagi says it wasn’t him who killed him. Really? Blood on his sword… However Tatsumi has got another twin brother (dragon) and will be taking his place. Duodecuple makes himself known. He will be the referee for this game. First he has everyone eat a black jewel. Once done, he tells them it is poison that will slowly kill them. The warrior who collects all 12 jewels will be the winner and be given the antidote as well as a special wish. I’m sure you can be creative in your own ways on how you want to retrieve those jewels. More flashbacks from Inounoshishi as she was distraught and angry when father chose her younger sister, Kiyoko to represent their house at the next Juuni Taisen. Inounoshishi hatched a plan to train her to kill mercilessly to break her mental state down. So much so it gotten to a point where she killed all her classmates and house servants. When in isolation, she started experiencing withdrawal symptoms as Inounoshishi put forth her final plan. Ultimately Kiyoko killed herself and guess who is there to represent the house? After Duodecuple signals the start of the game, Sharyuu (monkey) seems to have a plan that would allow none of them to die. Inounoshishi is sceptical but surprisingly many agree to side Sharyuu on this. Before she could start, the ground collapses. Everyone goes into hiding. The game has begun. Inounoshishi is confronted with Usagi. They begin to fight. Inounoshishi is confident as long as she can keep him at a distance with her machine guns, her tactic to kill him is guaranteed. But suddenly somebody holds her from the back as Usagi stabs her throat! The dead Tatsumi? It seems Usagi is a necromancer and can control those he killed. And soon Inounoshishi will be one of his ‘buddies’…

Episode 2
After the building collapsed and the warriors fled their own ways, Nezumi (rat) fled alongside Sharyuu. As they hide in the sewers, Nezumi knows it was Sharyuu who destroyed the floor. Though she did that, it was because she sensed something trying to make a first kill. Somebody who was against her idea and wanted to strike first. Hence she destroyed the floor to protect them all in a way. Dotsuku (dog) hides in the car park. As he is the master of poison (his bite has venom), he knows about the jewel and made an antidote for himself. His plan is to wait it out till only a few warriors are left before moving in to kill. He is alerted when Niwatori (chicken) comes to see him. This timid greenhorn wants to make an alliance with him. Dotsuku is sceptical at first but since it would be bad if he gets injured now, he plans to go along with her, use her and then betray her. She then tells him about Usagi being a necromancer. Niwatori has this ability to view through the eyes of all the birds. She saw Inounoshishi being killed. That’s how she found Dotsuku. They discuss about some of the warriors they know. Like Ushii (ox) who is most powerful of them and is favourites to win this game. Then there’s the dragon and snake twin team combo but they’re not so terrifying now that one of them is dead. Lastly Sharyuu is a pacifist and has been going around the world to stop wars. It won’t be surprising she is here to put a stop to this mad game once and for all. But the one that stood out the most is Nezumi. He doesn’t seem like a warrior and they have this feeling they met him somewhere before. Niwatori gets word that Usagi’s team has split up. They see Inounoshishi wandering about by herself. Could it be a decoy? Dotsuku thinks of beating Usagi at his own game by using Niwatori as a decoy too. First he bites her. This poison will temporarily boost her powers as she goes out to deal with the boar to lure out the rabbit and snake. After that he will finish off the chicken. Nice plan. Only, Niwatori gets too strong and crushes Dotsuku’s head! Uuma (horse) has the misfortune to stumble unto Ushii. The raging bull charges.

Episode 3
After taking Dotsuku’s jewel, Niwatori summons all the birds to peck Inounoshishi to, erm, death? Lots of dead birds when zombie boar tries to shoot back but eventually her bones were picked clean. Niwatori feels confident she can win this given that she has now powered up. Flashback reveals Niwatori was a child abuse victim. She ultimately killed her parents. As she has control of the avian species, the Niwa family took her in as an adopted daughter. Her amnesia makes her an easy tool to be sent to the battlefields to fight as a soldier. Because she killed so many, she cannot tell who is good or bad. This means she even double crosses and kills her own allies. While she is looking for food, she stumbles into Nezumi. He won’t fight her and instead brings her back to Sharyuu in the sewers. Niwatori knows this place is disadvantage to her because no birds can fly under here but plans to play along and then betray. Niwatori cannot believe Sharyuu really wanted a ceasefire. But after updating her how many have died so far, when Sharyuu has her back turned, Niwatori seems hesitant to kill her. Eventually she couldn’t. Niwatori apologizes she cannot go along with her proposal and leaves. Sharyuu hopes that if she changes her mind, she’ll be waiting here as always. Later Niwatori regrets her decision. It would have been easier to play along and kill them when their guard is down. She blames Dotsuku’s poison for heightening her mental state. To her dismay, she bumps into Ushii. It would be foolish to fight the Genius of Slaughter. Noticing he has blood all over him, when he asks if she has allies so she quickly changes the subject that he was one of those who agreed to Sharyuu’s proposal. He was for the idea to form a team but when the floor gave way, the proposal also fell through. Sharp Ushii notes that Sharyuu must be nearby since she brought this up. He then advises her not to fight for ideals of others but her own. Of course Niwatori knows this better than anyone. No choice, they begin to fight. But Ushii is so fast that she didn’t see his sword slicing through her forehead. Ushii takes her jewel (and Dotsuku’s) and leaves. Niwatori allows all the birds to eat her corpse.

Episode 4
Sharyuu was trained and watched over by monkey sages. No, this is not a joke. After she graduated, they let her go as she vowed to dedicate her life to eliminate the folly of killing from this world. Nezumi has a hunch that Niwatori is dead. If this is true, it will be Sharyuu’s fault. That’s because while she was talking to her, Niwatori became ‘weaker’ hearing her optimistic words. For a trickster like her, those words could be ‘poison’. Sharyuu says she has more than 1 plan to win. Sharyuu is perplexed by Nezumi’s philosophy that even if he is for peace, he hates peace. He noticed in his normal peaceful life there are lots of trashy people. Sharyuu might have saved many but this could also mean she saved many garbage people. This has Sharyuu remember one of her missions as a negotiators in a long standing war between 2 countries over a disputed area. Conveniently when both sides have soldiers deserting the frontlines and joining forces to renounce the war and call for another independent nation, it was all part of Sharyuu’s doing. While politicians obsessed over unproductive talks, they were ignorant of those facing life and death in the war zone. Although peace did come, it wasn’t the way Sharyuu had wanted. Another force subjugated the rebels and more deaths occurred before the fighting eventually stopped. Sharyuu was sad but the most she could do is respond with openness based on the things she have seen and experienced.

Nezumi argues if she had used her power to end the fighting in an instant instead of negotiating for peace, it could have saved more lives. Those participating in Juuni Taisen have their reasons and only they find meaning in this war. Others do not know about it and even if they do, they wouldn’t care. Saying that all life is precious and no one is truly evil is just naïve. Sharyuu counters that with the fact she might have saved a lot of lives but have also failed to save many. She has witnessed the crimes of humanity again and again. She decided to stop it all using the power of words and despite going through terrible things herself, she still wants everyone to get along. Another flashback her lover was worried she was going off to the battlefield again because he really wanted their current peaceful lifestyle to go on. To him, she is not a warrior but the one he loves. She felt the same way too but ultimately this too is a form of battlefield and left. As Sharyuu ponders the current situation, she felt something strange. A dead bird is watching her? Woah. Lots of dead birds now. Looks like the necromancer has found them. They have to run and make their way to the surface to avoid being pecked and infected by tetanus. Arriving out, Sharyuu almost get sliced by the snake. Mad rabbit is here too. She wants Nezumi to take care of snaky boy as she fights Usagi while trying to peacefully talk it out, which is much harder than just killing them right away. She might be a pacifist but that doesn’t mean she won’t resist.

Episode 5
Duodecuple hosts a group of VIPs watching this game. Juuni Taisen is supposed to be a proxy war that will also decide the territorial struggles of the countries. Once the participants are down to half, the official betting will begin. Everyone starts discussing about who is the strongest and it seems it all boils down to the ox, rabbit or monkey. Some find this option boring and point out Hitsujii (sheep) as he was the winner of the 9th edition. Too bad some view him as old and weak but if he is joining this one, he must have some sort of a plan. Indeed as we see Hitsujii analysing each of the warriors as he ranks them by their overall strength. He finds the toughest are the ox, rabbit and monkey and it would be wise if he avoids them. However if he could turn them on each other, it would be a different story. Meanwhile Sharyuu must not only fend off Usagi’s attacks but chop lots of zombie birds. Her negotiations are falling on deaf ears. Nezumi is on the run from the snake and despite being headless, can he see or hear? Well, looks like he feel ground movements. Uuma barely escaped with his life. He wanted to form an alliance with Ushii but he wasn’t interested. If not for his ironclad defence, he could have been dead by now. A flashback on Hitsujii’s past. In his younger days, he was not only an arms dealer but a mercenary in the battlefield.

He married into the Tsujiie family who was one of his clients and participated in a Juuni Taisen and won. He had a wish granted and that was a happy life with his grandson. But as his grandson grew up, this prompted him to think. Hence he decided to enter this edition to avoid his grandson from participating. He won’t let those who brought happiness to him bear this burden and will bear this to hell while bringing along some of the other warriors. Hitsujii has a trick no one knows. He didn’t swallow the jewel and hid it in his beard. He wants to use this to deceive one of the warriors. Preferably those in the middle rank. He will lie about his ability to pass through solid objects and hence took out this jewel. Of course they will not let him go through their body and take it out as it would be much safer carrying it inside. They will also think this old goat won’t last long and hence will jump to his offer to form an alliance as Hitsujii’s role is to convince them he will take out the jewels from other participants. It is revealed Hitsujii is the one who planted bombs all over the floor at the start and could have finished everyone had he not been interrupted. Hitsujii almost got smoked out by Ushii but manages to get away with a small explosive diversion. He goes on a hunt to find a suitable participant for his plan. He then sees Tora (tiger). Noting she is the weakest of the lot because she is drinking and getting drunk instead of hunting others down. However she calls him out from his hiding.

Episode 6
Hitsujii goes out to face her and he just can’t seem to take her seriously because she is all drunk. He thinks of ending this quickly since Ushii will soon realize the fake trail he set. However Hitsujii couldn’t see Tora and in a flash he got his stomach ripped out! Oh well, didn’t you hear? Tora’s fighting style is drunken fist. As Sharyuu deduces Usagi’s inefficient fighting style (after all, a necromancer doesn’t need to practice swords or kung fu), she thinks of rendering him powerless from the back and then restart negotiations. But suddenly she gets stabbed! It seems the head of snake boy was watching and keeping Usagi’s back covered. With the field halved, the bets are starting to flow in. In descending order from strongest to weakest: Ox, rabbit, tiger, horse, snake and rat. While most bets are on the ox, some cannot help comment on the horse who is in the middle ground. Because speaking of him, he has lost his will to fight and holing himself inside some vault. Flashback shows Uuma as a soldier taking out his enemies swiftly. But when faced with a stronger enemy, a split second of wrong decision almost killed him. He survived and underwent all sorts of training and experiment to make his muscles strong as iron. Now he is thinking even if he doesn’t die, perhaps his evolution cells might just negate the jewel’s poison. In a way, he could win it still. He is shocked when Nezumi is seen hanging out next to him. A rat can sneak into all sorts of places, right? Uuma thought he was in alliance with the monkey but Nezumi says she got killed and hence her peace proposal is useless. Heck nobody knows its plan either. Sure you can be a pacifist but that won’t do you any good if you’re dead. Nezumi believes the real peace talks are the real heroes. Because in a world where everything stands still, it is as good as dead. Like you, Uuma. Even the snake’s corpse seems livelier. Nezumi then leaves and warns him that the snake might try to come after him here so it’s best for him to also leave. But Uuma is still reeling from fear and thinks he is better off holing up. But wait. What’s that smell? He can’t breathe. Oh sh*t! The place is on fire! The snake is burning down the entire building! Well, Uuma might have the strength but without oxygen to breathe… Who is up for some horse meat?

Episode 7
Flashback shows Tatsumi Aniki (dragon) and Tatsumi Otoutou (snake) had some sort of weird ‘friendly competition’ to see who could steal and escape better than the other. From jewel heist to contraband smuggling ambush, I’m not sure what the score is but they always help each other out. Because of that, the Tatsu house of both dragon and snake decided to choose them both as Juuni Taisen representatives for their exceptional teamwork. Too bad that only one of them can win. Even if this sucks, they’re like don’t really care about it. So before the game started, the twins thought they were the first to arrive at the tower but Usagi was already there (dressed in proper waiter suit). He is interested in their flame and ice tanks. The twins keep on their guard but are distracted when they heard something beneath the floor (Sharyuu checking the building’s integrity?). At that point, Usagi decapitated Otoutou. He could have gone on to kill Aniki too but Ushii arrived. Sharyuu is now part of Usagi’s merry zombies as she barges into the vault to take Uuma’s jewel. Zombies don’t need to breathe, right? Tora is confronted by Otoutou who starts shooting her with his flame thrower. She thinks his tank contains alcohol and cuts off his arm to take it. Wow, indeed it has alcohol? I thought it was gasoline since she’s enjoying it. After leaving, Ushii arrives and cuts off Otoutou’s other arm. At this point, Tora senses Ushii’s presence and returns. She is ready to fight him like though she has a grudge. In a surprise move, Otoutou’s arms have a life of their own as they grab and strangle Ushii and Tora each. In a dire need to get out of this, Ushii pleads for Tora’s help and will challenge her to a one on one fight in any way she wants. Sounds like a good deal. Now, Tora doesn’t have to do anything but keep foaming in her mouth like she does. Ushii throws his sword in which sparks become flames and starts burning her entirety.

Episode 8
Aniki is in a courtroom hearing. Since Otoutou skipped out, Aniki gets permission to be his proxy. The twins are accused of siding with different factions and killing all on both sides. Aniki was hired by a pharmaceutical company that behind the scenes tests drugs with side effects. On the other hand, Otoutou is hired by an organization that on the front looks like a children shelter but runs a human and organ trafficking ring. It seems the company wants to sever ties with the organization but the latter will not allow it since you know, hush money. The twins plan is to steal the money in the hospital’s safe but it is secured via biometric security. When both sides meet for the final exchange and disagree on the terms, that is when both the twins show up and each side is shocked to know this. They start freezing and burning everything. I don’t know why the director is so dumb to run back to his safe because he literally opened it for the twins. Scared, he wants to bribe them. No thanks. They kill him and take everything. But there are records the twins are righteous thieves. The money they steal are distributed to the poor. But what is unrecorded is that later those poor people fought among themselves of it, the higher up absconded with it all or everyone just got killed. The twins are then paid to destroy all evidence of this testing and burnt down the entire hospital! A young patient survived as he pays a visit to his dead brother on site. The twins show up to mock about his prayers as well as tell him the truth about the harsh reality. Even more insulting, they pay him as ‘apology’ for killing his brother. After all, the good deeds he believed in from those righteous thieves are not even worth a single cent. With the prosecution accusing Aniki all this, he counters and silences it all by saying he is from one of the zodiac houses. The jobs they take on implicate them in wars and criminal acts. So are they going to judge him by their standard of goodness because what world do they apply in. Back to the game, the fire burns off the arm as Tora throws away her jacket. Ushii takes it and burns off the menace too. This confirms his theory that fire permanently kills the mind controlled part because otherwise, why doesn’t Uuma become Usagi’s zombie? Ushii and Tora will have to put aside their fight for now to take down Otoutou’s remaining corpse and burning it will not be easy.

Episode 9
Sharyuu spots Aniki in the air and throws Otoutou’s head at him. This makes him get distracted as Usagi cuts him in half! Oh well. So much about joining in the fight. This makes it harder for Ushii and Tora as now they have to fight against Otoutou’s head, Otoutou’s limbless body, Aniki’s upper half and Aniki’s lower half. That’s 4 enemies to face for you. But we take a detour to look into Tora’s past. She inherited her family’s dojo through preservation and was greatly respected. Then she got a taste of killing in the battlefield. Like any amateur, she was scared and questioned why humans kill each other. She survives her battles and finds solace in alcohol. It is then she realizes fighting in a drunken state enhances her speed and killing techniques. She likes it. She soon starts spiralling down this path. Although the military praises her, her dojo didn’t like how she has degenerated and expelled her. So more drinking and killing, I guess. Gradually Tora starts regressing to a state where she cannot remember the basics or tell the difference. She continues killing as long as nothing could stop her. Ushii and Tora fight off the corpses of the twins as Ushii hints about Aniki’s liquid nitrogen tank. It took a while for Tora to understand as she grabs and smashes it over the corpses and let them break apart. Then coming out of the hiding is Usagi. For once, he is outnumbered but jumps in to attack. Ushii and Tora do the same and in a single strike, Usagi is cut to pieces. Hey. That’s it?! Too easy?! Ushii and Tora’s alliance ends as they prepare to face off each other.

Episode 10
More flashback on Tora’s past. Walking in her usual drunken state in the midst of the battlefield, soldiers were preparing to ambush her. Suddenly Ushii appears and kills all of them. It seems he has mistaken her for a civilian and the bad people may have purposely intoxicated her with alcohol. Tora then asks how to do the right thing. Ushii obliges to reply her. Long story short, one must have the intent and then do it. In that order. Because if you are still in the former but thinking about the latter, it is the height of foolishness. It made Tora wonder if she has been suffering all this time and alcohol did not take away her pain. Ushii leaves her at the refugee camp. Tora starts thinking how different they are even though they are warriors. However it did not frustrate her. Her meeting with Ushii made her realize she had a goal in life. So she tries to find herself again by retraining and having more discipline. As the world is vast out there and with so many wars going on, she hopes to meet him again in the battlefield if she keeps fighting. Sadly, she did not and when she was about to give up, she heard from her old dojo friend about Juuni Taisen. Believing Ushii would be there, she apologized and begged her master to take her back. He did. When Tora arrived at the tower, she was happy to see Ushii. However he ignored her. So the reason Tora is mad the whole time at him is because he couldn’t remember her?! As they are about to fight, Tora sees Usagi’s arms lunging straight from behind Ushii. Promptly she shoves it away and gets stabbed! Well, time to ponder if she did the right thing. Ushii cuts other Usagi parts to bits (even his intestines are attacking!) but to no avail. Ushii takes Tora and run. He believes Usagi must have killed himself like biting off his own tongue so he could gain control of himself as a zombie. Otherwise, why would he just simply pop up before them without a plan? As Tora’s bleeding gets worse, she has him put her down (after a safe distance). Even she gets the required medical attention, that will take time and she will not be able to fight like before. Hence she is calling off their duel and wants him to do a last favour: Kill her. Bleeding to death means being killed by Usagi and she doesn’t want to be his zombie. Ushii agrees but she will die as a warrior. Ushii still can’t remember her but she isn’t mad anymore and says this is the first time they’re meeting.

Episode 11
Ushii remembers a girl he met on the battlefield but fails to connect her as Tora. He pays his last respects. Ushii then thinks about death as a warrior’s last salvation. Usagi is a necromancer so he cannot understand how he thinks as he goes so far as to kill himself just to win. After all, what good is a wish if you are dead. He thinks of finding some flammable items but looks like Usagi is here. He is a big mash up of other parts. Man, he is now a monster! As they fight and Ushii slashing his body to pieces, suddenly Sharyuu bursts out from inside to pin him down. Ushii laments he didn’t know she had died and had not taken account her. He knows Sharyuu could have killed him but is only holding him down because Usagi has to kill him to make him his zombie army. The only thing left to do is to kill himself but Sharyuu won’t even allow him to do that. Thinking of how many participants left, speaking of Nezumi, now he pops up. It seems he has been searching for Hitsujii’s body to find his bomb. As Usagi’s body needs to regenerate and can’t do anything else, this is the only perfect time. Nezumi credits Tora for killing Hitsujii and thus was able to find his bomb and thus it is not for Ushii’s to claim credit. Ushii agrees to die in the explosion together with Usagi as it would be better than leaving Usagi walking around freely. The explosion goes off after Nezumi goes back into his hiding.

Back in the office, Duodecuple congratulates Nezumi for winning Juuni Taisen. He would like to hold a brief interview but Nezumi refuses and leaves. He is then killed when the elevator drops! But wait. He is still alive back in the office. A premonition? Could he reverse time? It seems Nezumi has died so many times, during the course of the battle and as well as refusing the interview. Out 100 routes, there is only 1 route that allows him to live this far and he has to take the interview. So he tells Duodecuple about his simultaneous 100 strategies and he was lucky that 1 of them allowed him to survive. Doing that ability is exhausting, that’s why he is always tired. This route in which he won was thanks to Sharyuu’s strategy in fact. Before her untimely death, she requested him to kill her if Usagi controlled her. He refused so she told him to get Hitsujii’s bomb as it would be effective against corpses. In the end, he never knew what her ultimate peace plan was. Or it could be just a bluff. This route allows Nezumi to know about the countries betting behind the scenes. As for the other 99 routes he had not won, he wouldn’t know the winner since he died halfway but deduces Usagi would have won most of them. With the interview over, Nezumi is allowed to leave. Once he has thought of his wish, feel free to contact Duodecuple. Nezumi will come up with 100 wishes and then ask him to grant just one.

Episode 12
We see Nezumi leading his boring high school life as he tries to think of that single wish. From as simple as killing all his classmates (don’t worry, they’ll die in 100 years’ time) and flipping up girls’ skirt, he even asks a classmate for advice. She wants everyone to happy with their wish granted. However this means people whom Nezumi hates will also be revived. That would be hell. He thinks back on Sharyuu’s words. Should he revive righteous people? What if they don’t want to come back alive? Is it okay for self-satisfaction since it is his wish? He remembers asking the Juuni Taisen participants of their wish and unlike him, all of them naturally and almost instantly have their answer. Like Hitsujii’s youth and immortality, Niwatori’s self-confidence, Uuma’s talent and Inounoshishi’s harem. Nezumi wonders if he would increase his 100 routes ability to 1000. However this would mean he would experience pain and death 999 times. Each of those felt so real and he wouldn’t want to go through them. Of course others don’t remember of it and only do so in the sense of déjà vu. That’s why sometimes they feel he is so familiar. Nezumi further notes that there are things that cannot be done no matter what. An example he cited a girl he liked at school. No matter what he did to ask her out, she never returned the favour. It stemmed from the fact she liked another guy. Hence it is hellish to go through 1000 options and have all of them fail.

Nezumi further remembers talking to other participants in which they seem different up close than you think they are. Like Dotsuku despite being an assassin works in a preschool. He has an adopted daughter whom he saved from some pervert. He earns money for her and life may not be the best but it’s less crappy than before. Even the twins wanted money but away from each other they believe the other said so only because it’s a game. Heck, even there was a route Nezumi became friends with Usagi whose wish is to have friends all over the world! Then there is Tora whose wish to be reunited with Ushii. She is the only one who got her wish granted. Finally, he remembers asking Ushii for his wish but was asked back about his own wish and purpose of fighting in this competition. Now Nezumi is stressed out thinking the remainders of his 100 wishes. No matter what, it will lead to some ruin. Even Duodecuple suggests a 100 wishes but as you know, no number of wishes will ever satisfy a man. Nezumi has finally decided on a wish. He wants to forget. He doesn’t have any wish he wants granted. Seeing his desperate plea from the bottom of his heart, Duodecuple grants it. Next day as Nezumi goes to school, everyone notices how he doesn’t have a care in the world as usual. But they also notice his satisfied looks like as though he doesn’t need anything. Just his sleep.

Zodiac Killer
Wow. So that is how it ends? Everybody clap your hands! Well, if there are anybody left in the end. Despite the lukewarm ending, I must say that I am still very impressed of the overall series. I was thinking there would be some sort of twist at the end. You know, Duodecuple being the traitor and killing Nezumi! Oh well, if Nezumi is able to see into the future, I am sure he would avoid that path. Heh. A route he might not even see it coming. So a happy ending considered? I suppose. Now, everybody clap your hands again!

Strangely enough, if you know your zodiac order well enough, this show is actually very ‘predictable’. After a while you will notice a pattern. From then on, you can guess whose story will be in focus. Heck, they even die in that same order! Okay, so the snake was the combo breaker but still, everyone perishes according to that order. Some might argue about Usagi but he has already turned into a corpse before his bout with Ushii and Tora. If you count that as alive, then I suppose Sharyuu is also considered ‘alive’ as a zombie, right? Therefore I still consider Usagi as dead in that particular zodiac order. Some episodes might troll you on this in the sense that there are no deaths. But a few episodes later, multiple deaths! In that order too.

What I find more fascinating than the fights is the background stories of the characters. The way they weave each of the participants’ stories into the story makes it an engrossing and interesting watch. Though those expecting an all-out violent affair from start to finish or some sort of super exaggerated drag-out fight like in the Dragonball universe would be sorely disappointed. Thinking about it, had the series been made that way, I don’t think it would have been as interesting as this story driven style. Therefore with the story played out in this fashion, we get to see insights and the past and history of the characters involved. Why they are participating in this edition of the tournament and how that came to be.

But not all of the characters get this sort of treatment. Because certainly we didn’t have any background story on Usagi. I was wondering why they showed Tora’s back story an episode early when it was supposed to be meant for Usagi. It would have been really interesting to see what sort of twisted history Usagi and his family house has. How the heck did someone like him get to participate in this edition of Juuni Taisen. Did he kill off everyone in his house? As creepy as it may sound, it would also have been interesting to have seen a bit of this rabbit’s past. Ushii also felt like he didn’t get this sort of in depth character treatment as his past is mainly tied to Tora’s. It would have also been interesting to note the kind of wars he has fought, the battlefields he has been through in order to earn the Genius of Slaughter nickname.

As for Nezumi, now that he has won the tournament and his wish is to forget, I keep wondering which house he was representing. Because it is said those shadowy figures use this game as a betting system to see who controls the world next. So do peace reign now that Nezumi has won, assuming he doesn’t come from any house? I’m sure this isn’t the only proxy war to decide on everything because you know men, they’ll have other sneakier ways to go about. The weirdest part was Nezumi having no wish at all. So how did he get to participate and represent the house of rat (whoever they are) in this edition? It makes you wonder what he was actually fighting for. Why did he get involved in Juuni Taisen in the first place if he has none. With so many wishes and the thoughts of having endless dream is wonderful and yet frightening. Sometimes the wish that we want most is just the simplest and right before our eyes, under our very nose. So sleep on, Nezumi. At least he can sleep easy nights from now on. He is after all the winner of the tournament and gets to live.

I need to mention about the ‘disappointment’ of some of the fights. Although as I have said that they are not the main focus of this series, this little bit also helps in making the series more interesting. After all, this is partly why we are watching this show, right? Even though I do not expect the fights to drag out very long, I can’t help feel that some of them were just too short. The case of Usagi’s fight with Ushii and Tora. I believe that is the most anticipated fight of the series. The best killers among the participants going all out against each other. And that didn’t even last a second! I was really shocked when it ended so fast. Of course I didn’t expect it to last for half an episode. Maybe like 20 seconds the least. You know, how Sharyuu fought with Usagi. About that length. Well, in place of that, it did give Tora more story time.

Other disappointing ones including Uuma. We only get to see snippets of his clash with Ushii. By the time it is his turn to take centre stage, he had already turned into a coward and died without fighting! Also, Aniki didn’t even get to join in the fight as I anticipated because he got instantly killed the moment he thinks of descending into battle! Many of the others too felt this short (Niwatori crushing Dotsuku, Ushii slicing Niwatori, Tora slashing Hitsujii) but it didn’t feel as disappointing as the anticipated ones. Maybe it is just me. Also, sometimes I feel that with Otoutou already dead in the beginning, I sometimes felt that we have been ‘short-changed’. I mean, there is one less warrior on the battlefield already before the start. Of course it is part of the story but I guess personally the charm of a battle royale is that the more participants there are, the more potentials there are for killings. With a limited participation field of 12 warriors and narrowed down by 1 before the tournament’s commencement, this should be an indication that this series is going to be more story driven than action to account for its 24 minutes running time per episode. Heck, even if they triple the amount of participants and guarantee a few deaths per episode, I think it would have just diluted the worthiness of the series. Just take a look at Ousama Game The Animation… Despite the lacklustre fights, I just cannot bring myself to feel let down for the overall series.

Let me comment on the character designs. Based on my stereotypes of the animals, some of them come as a surprise. Like Inounoshishi whom I was expecting to be a fat ugly male. Well, a brutally cold hearted woman isn’t all too bad either. I also thought Tora would be some ferocious male but looks like we need some sort of fanservice in the form of tiger girl. I was hoping the dragon would be looking like something majestic and one of the powerful favourites. Instead, Aniki looks like some wuss pussy just like his younger twin. Oddly for Uuma, his muscular body size would have been very much suitable for the ox because if you compare him with Ushii who is quite slender, you would think in a physical match of raw and brute strength, Uuma would have easily won. The most WTF look is Niwatori. Her outfit is just outrageous. She looks like a lost samba party queen. And what the heck is with her holding a pitchfork as a weapon?! Was she part of some angry mob somewhere?

The rest are quite fitting to what they are like Ushii’s matador style outfit and Hitsujii being an old goat is being beardy and all. The creepiest goes to Usagi who looks like your worst sweet dream nightmare that you wake up from. I think he is inspired by Playboy. His outfit is ‘sexy’ enough for some girls to sexually fantasize over and would want to call to their birthday parties as a male stripper. If you can live with staring at his creepy eyes and risk not becoming part of his zombie party in the end.

If you think about it, many of the characters’ personalities and traits do take after the animal they represent. For example if you keep thinking how strange it is for a rabbit to be a necromancer and resurrect the dead, it is actually more to the fact that rabbits multiply in numbers easily. Hence with Usagi racking up his undead army is somewhat a reference to this. Nezumi’s ability to simultaneously see himself in every possible futures, hence he is here, there and everywhere could very well mean the ubiquity of rats to be everywhere. You kill one, there are still more of them somewhere. And is a monkey supposed to be wise? Well, I am thinking more on the lines of foolishness. Sharyuu believes her universal peace plan would work out but in the end, look what good it did to her. Even her ‘proven’ track record of solving conflicts had some sort of foolishness in it or in the aftermath.

If you are confused why chickens are psychotically scary and not cowards, those who have never tried to catch a chicken before will not know how scary it is!!! True, I have not tried catching a chicken myself but watching some videos online and hearing old people from backwater villages, chickens are one of those animals to be feared! Speaking of cowards, are horses cowards? Well, it isn’t the fact that Uuma as a horse is a scaredy-cat (scaredy-horse?), but taking literally a horse’s ability to ‘run’. Oh… See how ‘fast’ Uuma has ‘run’ from the tournament. Do dogs have poisonous bites? If they are infected by rabies. Do snakes and dragons breathe fire and ice respectively? Maybe a snake’s venom feels like you are burning on fire. And maybe this is an ice dragon… Pigs are known symbolically as greed. Inounoshishi perfectly represents that in her character.

Before every warrior faces off with each other, they will state their way of killing as their warrior code and etiquette. For instance’s, Niwatori’s killing by pecking, Dotsuku’s killing by biting and the twins’ killing for money. Some of them are really just WTF. Especially Sharyuu’s killing peacefully. WTF?! How the hell can you kill peacefully???!!! Some monkey’s logic. Another one is Uuma’s killing silently. Huh?! Is he supposed to be some sort of stealthy ninja? Not that I can see from his body size. Usagi’s killing psychotically and Hitsujii’s killing deceptively are very much staying true to their characters’ personality. Ushii’s killing systematically may sound ridiculous too but if you think about it, bulls and oxen plough the fields systematically so in this sense it sounds less silly but still bizarre in a general sense (though, literally speaking Ushii’s tagline only means ‘just killing’). Nezumi’s killing all is fitting if you consider rats are responsible for that bubonic plague AKA The Black Death.

A few recognizable seiyuus lending their voice here include Saori Hayami as Sharyuu, Cho as Hitsujii, Youko Hikasa as Inounoshishi, Ayane Sakura as Niwatori, Hiroki Yasumoto as Duodecuple and Nobuhiko Okamoto as Usagi which almost reminds me as that psychotic Accelerator in To Aru Majutsu No Index. The other casts are Shun Horie as Nezumi (Koshiyama in Nana Maru San Batsu), Yuichiro Umehara as Ushii (En in Binan Koukou Chikyuu Bouei-bu Love), Hiromi Igarashi as Tora (Symonne in Tales Of Zestiria The X), Takuya Eguchi as Aniki (Kon in Ixion Saga DT), Kousuke Toriumi as Otoutou (Chopin in ClassicaLoid), Hikaru Midorikawa as Uuma (Rukawa in Slam Dunk) and Tomohiro Nishimura as Dotsuku (Amano Jaku in Urotsukidouji series). Rapture by Panorama Panama Town is a fitting opening theme to the series with its slow rock style while Keshin No Kemono by Do As Infinity has a faster rock beat serves as the ending theme.

Overall, this is one of the better and interesting series of the season. Despite the short and uninspiring fights as well as its ‘predictability’, it makes up for it with its interesting character backgrounds and stories. It is well delivered that it overrides the action scenes and you would rather give thought to the stories instead of the fights. I’m never a person to read on horoscopes and this series didn’t even make me want to find out about my yearly luck. I do read, but just for fun and forgotten as soon as I finished. Maybe that’s why my life is generally a streak of bad luck… Now that we already have a death match for eastern zodiacs, when are the western zodiacs going to have their turn at each other? If that really happens, then I’ll prepare to clap my hands.

Net-juu No Susume

February 24, 2018

The internet these days have sure come a long way. It is both a blessing and curse since we are allowed to do so many wonderful and yet heinous things. With net neutrality and anonymity, it gives rise to even more social issues like online net addiction. Unfortunately Net-juu No Susume doesn’t actually examine that problem. It is just that the protagonist of this series recently got unemployed and decided to spend the rest of her idle time playing online game where she meets a nice character not knowing that character is closer and someone she knows in real life.

Episode 1
Moriko Morioka looks like she just quit her corporate job. Now that she is so free, what is she to do? Why, return to her online games! Too bad the one on her desktop has its service terminated as she hasn’t been touching it for half a year. So she goes online to search the next game. Well, first on the list, try it out. After downloading, installing and creating her male avatar character (whom she somewhat named Hayashi), she goes fight some monsters but gets owned. Every time. Till she meets this cute and kind healer, Lily who offers to help her out. A friendship blossoms between the duo as Hayashi levels up under her guidance and manages to defeat that monster whom he could not have defeated before. Hayashi joins the guild that Lily is in, @Home Party. He fits in very nicely. But one day, Lily talks her troubles to fellow guild member, Himeralda who in turn tells Kanbe the guild’s master about Hayashi avoiding Lily lately and it is making her depressed. So Kanbe talks to him to remind him their guild’s policy that prohibits romance. Just be like normal friends like he has always been with her. After all, Lily just like many plays online games to escape reality of work. Hayashi feels the need to thank Lily by giving her a token that no in-game currency can be and is a rare drop item, hence he was trying to get it by himself. Hayashi manages to talk to Lily to ask if she is free on Christmas Eve. Meanwhile in reality, Morioka’s fridge is empty. Time to hit the convenience store. All those lovely couples on Christmas Eve must be pissing her off. Can she be mad on a hungry stomach? Well, it wouldn’t be so embarrassing had it not growl the entire way while queuing. More embarrassing when she ordered the same food at the exact same moment as the guy in the next line, Yuuta Sakurai. After she makes her purchase, she dashes home. Back to her game, Hayashi meets up with Lily and they exchange gifts. Hayashi wanted to give her a Crystal Rose but a mini rose brooch is all he can muster up for now. But it made Lily very happy and appreciative.

Episode 2
Hayashi adventures with Lilac. She is suspicious that Hayashi is always online and especially at this time of the day. Could it be Hayashi is the same age as her, 21 years old and looking for a job? Morioka is actually in her thirties and can’t reveal it so she lies by agreeing to her. Later he gets depressed to learn that the guild members were actually betting among themselves to guess Hayashi’s age! Talking to Lily about this, accidentally Hayashi asks her age and fears the point of no return. Probably spamming the crying emoticon somewhat ‘saves’ Hayashi (and Morioka) in this case after Lily ‘warns’ her about certain things in life are better off not knowing. Though, Lily admits that she is curious to know more about Hayashi and they can talk and divulge more about each other once they are closer. She also lets him know how @Home Party almost got dissolved as the previous guild master got a new job assignment overseas. But Kanbe forced the transfer of the leadership to him. Because it would be a waste for a guild with max stats to be disbanded. The talk has Morioka realize it is 5 in the morning. She might not be working but what about Lily? Fearing she couldn’t get up, Hayashi would accompany her to stay online till it is time to go to work. Because of that, Morioka now gets a bit of a flu. Time to head to the pharmacy. Unfortunately along the way, Sakurai is rushing to work and bumps into her. More accurately, elbows her face! She has this strange dream of, uhm, robotic corporate suicide?! She wakes up in the hospital. On IV drops. Sakurai feels guilty of what happened. He takes care of her medical bills and leaves his contact in case she needs to contact him whatsoever. Back in her game, since she is worried about not replying Sakurai, her guild members give some encouragement for her to do so. But Morioka will soon regret it because she didn’t expect Sakurai to quickly reply. He is asking to meet and go out to eat sometimes, something she doesn’t want. While she views Sakurai as a handsome hunk, she views herself as an ugly b*tch. Too bad, no filters in real life. Then she just stops thinking and returns to her game. I guess the pressure got to her. Hayashi talks to Lily since she is also having a rough day. They find they have something in common and it’s like their very own secret. This gives Morioka the motivation to properly reply Sakurai. When she did, she realizes it is 2 in the morning. Well luckily he is already asleep.

Episode 3
Sakurai gets a shock when he reads the message when he wakes up. Is this considered a wakeup call? Sakurai talks to his friend, Homare Koiwai to ask more about Morioka because it seems she worked at a company he was at previously. He did liaise with her before in place of her superior whom he was supposed to be contacting. He considers her good at her job though it sounded like she was trying too hard and she cried?! He has a picture of her and she looks quite decent in a business attire. Sakurai later ponders about Morioka’s reply in which she rejected his invitation. Morioka is feeling pretty good about her reply to Sakurai. So much so her appearance in public tells a lot. No more that zombie look. This really boosts her confidence to play her online game. When Hayashi receives a gift from Lily, he talks to fellow guild member, Pokotarou. This vest seems expensive and it makes him feel the need to give something in return big time. Pokotarou also relates something similar that happened to him. Long ago, another guild member, Nico gave to him an amazing weapon and fretted about it. Since she told him it was prior investment, he ended up accepting it. It all boils down to Nico just wanting to cheer for him and he believes it is the same for Lily. But the mere mention of Lily’s ulterior motives makes Morioka worried. Now she can’t stop thinking about it. So Hayashi talks to Lily and again accidentally he asks her straight. Lily tells a bit of herself. When she first started playing, she used to get requests from all sorts of people and slowly this turned her into a famous healer whom everybody wants in their party. One day she was suspected of having a relationship with the guild’s leader and it broke her heart. It would have been easy to quit it all but she wanted to continue playing. Also, she met someone precious to her in a game she used to play. Morioka could also relate something really similar too. But still, being popular has made her cautious with others. Till she met Hayashi. It made her enjoy the game even more. Then she asks him if he would like to be her partner as she enjoys going on quests with him. Do you think he would decline? Of course not. This also excites Morioka as she’s acting like a teenager in love. The other spying guild members are happy with this development. Lastly as seen, we should have guessed by now that it is no surprise that Lily is Sakurai.

Episode 4
Morioka isn’t really into loot boxes but since things are looking up (in the game at least), she thought of splurging a little. So as she heads to her usual convenience store to make her purchase, the cashier, Kazuomi Fujimoto tells her it is currently down for maintenance but she can wait a little while more before it goes back up. As she does, Fujimoto shockingly strikes up a conversation with her. It seems he too plays the same online game and apparently they are the only ones who buy the electronic money in this store. Their vibe is getting good till a rude customer cuts her off so Morioka quietly takes her goods and leave. In the game, Lilac shows off her super cute and expensive prizes. It must really cost a lot. Because Hayashi also notes he wants top prizes like that, the rest throw caution to him about once that happens, the greed sensor sets in. It’s time to buy those loot boxes and sadly, Hayashi only got ordinary potions. A few more tries, he finally lands a few top prizes. It might be the world for Hayashi to get those but people like Lily who spend money until she gets what she wants won’t understand that feeling. In fact, she’s got her entire full collection of her top gear. Lilac gets disappointed when Kanbe didn’t like how her new outfit makes her barely unrecognizable. So she throws a fit and returns to wearing her old gear whenever they go on quests. Kanbe’s logic is that he is used to that old outfit and is what makes Lilac who she is. Koiwai can tell Sakurai has fallen for Morioka since he is acting particularly like a stalker. I mean, going to the convenience store at different times in hopes of trying to catch her? One night when Koiwai is at the convenience store, he so happens to bump into Morioka. Not that he recognizes her at first. But her boobs somehow made the connection. Morioka is freaked out when he tries to talk to her. After learning she quit her job and is currently unemployed, he wants to treat her. Morioka is disheartened there is no way for her to worm her way out of this one since all ‘exits’ have been blocked. Next day, Koiwai brags to Sakurai about Morioka’s contacts in his handphone. At first he thought he stole it from his but that turn into shock when Koiwai tells him he is going on a ‘date’ with Morioka. When Hayashi rants about all the recent real life events to Lily, Sakurai fears he has a hunch the player behind Hayashi.

Episode 5
Despite the hints pointing Hayashi is Morioka, Sakurai in the end believes it is just coincidence. Koiwai continues to tease Sakurai of his ‘date’ with Morioka and since she accepted him but rejected Sakurai, you know what this means, right? But with Sakurai visibly depressed, he brushes it off as a joke and says he is the reason why he set up all this to begin with. Meanwhile Morioka shops at the convenience store for some makeup. Looks like she has got a lot of levelling up to do. At the counter, Fujimoto continues their talk since the last time they were interrupted. When he finds out they play on the same server, Morioka is shocked to realize Fujimoto’s avatar. Lilac talks to depressed Hayashi about people often using a different gender online than their real life. Kanbe joins in the conversation and from the way his condescending tone towards Hayashi, it’s safe to say that Kanbe is Fujimoto. They talk about this issue and promise to keep this a secret among themselves. Kanbe also warns not to ask too much real life advice from Lily. Later when Hayashi asks Lily for advice on how to dress when one goes to drink, Kanbe also joins in on this. Ironically despite his earlier warning, Kanbe asks Lily directly for that advice. It seems that Kanbe and Lily know each other’s real identity too. Because of that, the duo enter into an argument of how a girl should look best. Long hair or short hair? Now Morioka as at the salon thinking if she should cut her hair. She should probably take some online lessons for applying makeup too. Sakurai discovers that the outing Koiwai is supposed to have with Morioka today isn’t actually today as he is scheduled for a business trip. So when Sakurai logs online and notices Hayashi not online, he still thinks it is coincidence. Meanwhile Morioka is all dressed up and waiting at the appointed location. As Koiwai didn’t turn up, she wonders if he had stood her up. On the other hand, Lily is too distressed thinking about the coincidence so she quickly logs off just when the party is about to start their crucial mission. Sakurai goes to look for Morioka and finds a stunning her in semi-long hair waiting. But she is just leaving alone when he calls out to her.

Episode 6
Morioka at this point gets a call from Koiwai. She is shocked to learn he is on a business trip and their meet-up was supposed to be tomorrow. Who on earth did she mess this up? Koiwai knows Sakurai is around and requests to speak to him. It’s just to tease him how cute Morioka looks. With Morioka embarrassed and being pessimistic about herself, Sakurai tells her to have more confidence in herself because he does find her cute. With nothing else for the night, so as not to waste it, the duo go out drinking. She wonders how he knew she would turn up today. Although he knows it was from a hint during the online game, he says he heard Koiwai telling him about it and coincidentally saw her when he got off work and decided to talk to her if she got it mixed up. She gets a bit tipsy from the drinking so he helps walk her home. She notes that if only her workplace had more employees like them, she would have enjoyed her job more. Next night, Morioka goes out with Koiwai. He is as lively and a teaser as ever. They talk about their age, the online game she is playing as well as Sakurai. She mentions about her new hairstyle was because of an argument between her online teammates so she went for something in between. Koiwai becomes the usual teaser again because he snaps a picture of Morioka sleeping (after having a little too much of a drink) and sending it to Sakurai. Because of that, he had to instantly log off his game and ran all the way to Koiwai’s house (he said he might bring her back to his place). I wonder if for that moment Sakurai became Japan’s fastest sprinter… Of course she isn’t here and has gone back home. Koiwai takes this chance to chide Sakurai because he lied about knowing how Morioka messed up the meeting date. Sakurai couldn’t answer but Koiwai lets bygones be bygones. Morioka feels great to be back home especially that feeling she used up her entire life’s luck on going out with men. It couldn’t be better for her to log back on to her game. Hayashi meets up with Lily and tells of the great outing she had. Lily couldn’t be happier since Sakurai now knows Hayashi is definitely Morioka.

Episode 7
Sakurai looks back at the coincidences of meeting Morioka as well as the fun times playing with Hayashi. The more he plays, the more he can’t help feel conscious that Morioka is Hayashi. Had he not find that out, he could have continued playing the game as they always have. The next time Lily logs in, she allows her party members to see the items in her inventory she has accumulated. Many of which are dresses. Later Hayashi talks to Lily about the coincidences in real life but Lily knows she has to realize this great coincidence before him. This makes Sakurai happy even though he feels bad Morioka doesn’t know about it. During the weekend, Koiwai calls Morioka to ask for guidance to download and setup this online game! Morioka creates another avatar, a female named Molly. She goes to meet the character that Koiwai is playing as: A large female with muscles named Harumi! Being a noob in the online gaming world, Harumi almost gave away Molly’s real identity since he is on public chat and Kanbe and Nico are watching them. Harumi becomes friends with them as Molly notes how friendly Kanbe has become. When she first met him, he was like a very cold and unfriendly person, treating newbies like strangers. They agree to go on a small adventure together. Koiwai then messages Sakurai that he has download and is playing an online game with Morioka. Sakurai gets worried as Koiwai sends him a picture of Molly. Sakurai finds it familiar like as though he has seen her somewhere before. He thinks back of the previous game he played whom he had a very close friend who looked like this. She wanted to quit her job since the company keeps getting new employees and she found it hard to put it in words to tell the HR manager. Harumi then announces his friend will also be joining them. Immediately Morioka wonders if that will be Sakurai.

Episode 8
Sakurai narrates the previous online game he played. Playing as a character named Harth, he met this girl Yuki. They quickly become friends and enjoy the limited time they have adventuring since Yuki was often busy with her job and can only play on weekends. She told him about her job and her intention to quit. She often sounded positive. But the last time he saw her (in the game) was after she quit her job. Now Sakurai creates a new character also under the name of Harth. Meeting up with the rest, it seems he gets disappointed when Molly didn’t show the reaction he wanted. Did he really think Molly was Yuki? Actually, Molly’s reaction was because she doesn’t know how to pronounce his name. So after finding out, we see that shock reaction on Morioka’s face. We see the story from her side and indeed Morioka is Yuki. This brings back old memories of that game. Later when she calls him, she confirms as he admits he is Harth from that old game. They talk about the good memories they shared then. Morioka starts to feel bad for deceiving him because she was so different in the game than in real life. This prompts Sakurai to say he is the one being dishonest. He reveals he is Lily. No reply. Is the shock too much for her to handle? Turns out his handphone battery is dead. It always ends up like this… Later she texts him to meet up and from the way she said things, she definitely didn’t hear that confession. Morioka talks about the 2 kind people to her: Sakurai and Lily. She thinks Sakurai reminds her a lot about the latter because when she talks to him, Lily comes to mind. She hopes the next time they log in, she can introduce him to her. He declines and she thinks it is because he is busy and this is way too sudden. She didn’t see this coming as he admits he is Lily.

Episode 9
Morioka’s first reaction to that is of course disbelief before exploding into confusion. Then she asks how long he has known her as Hayashi. He wasn’t sure at first but the more he talked to her online, the more certain he was. Sakurai says he will quit playing the game from now on as it will only further damage their relationship. Quickly Morioka apologizes too. He has helped her a lot and it was also her fault for hiding her gender online. Thankfully they didn’t take all night to apologize to each other… After he sends her home, she hopes they can still be good online friends. However this causes Morioka to not be able to focus in her game. Her party almost lost and it is obvious that Hayashi has been dragging the party down. Kanbe hints he can talk to him about anything and even if Hayashi declines, he can probably tell the problem has something to do with Lily. Sakurai too is depressed. Koiwai teases him like hell until Sakurai mentions he got rejected. Hence Koiwai has Sakurai meet up with him at the park at the certain time. To his shock he sees Morioka there! You know Koiwai has set them up together and the amateurs took the bait. It gets awkward as they just sit there. Like déjà vu and even more awkward because the ice breaker again is Morioka’s growling stomach. So they head to the convenience store to buy some food. Morioka is glad Fujimoto isn’t here yet. However the old lady store manager, Yashiro recognizes them as frequent patrons. When she wonders if they are dating, they quickly bolt out in embarrassment. Fujimoto shortly comes in for his shift as Yashiro tries to cheekily hint that Sakurai is with Morioka. It confuses him since in that case it couldn’t be Hayashi behaving strangely because of Lily. But we all know it is… Morioka feels ‘ugly’. She regrets she should have dressed up more. Oh dear. Now the tears are coming. Cue cliché for it to rain. Without thinking, Sakurai brings her to his apartment so she could take a shower. Too late to realize what the heck they’re doing.

Episode 10
I dub this the awkward-cum-apologizing episode. We start off with Sakurai wondering what to do but thinking can only get him so far. Morioka then requests to use the dryer herself because she doesn’t want him to see what kind of underwear she is wearing. Though she borrows his clothes to wear, it is a bit loose and hence Sakurai can’t help feel awkward staring at her and give his thanks for that loose size. Yeah… More awkwardness as she ponders if she should sit on the floor before noticing his PC. He has her take a look at it and for the first time she gets to see from Lily’s perspective. Of course more awkwardness because he has to be this close to her as he guides her around with his character. The awkwardness continues as they make dinner, eat it and cleaning up. When Sakurai is grateful how the online game allows them to meet, she starts crying. I am sure those are tears of joy. Just when the mood is good (after taking soooooo long) and we are expecting them to confess, the stupid dryer beeps! Too cliché! She goes home and he changes her mind he wants to walk her home. At least they both manage to eke out that they want to know each other more in real life. Here’s a beautiful rainbow as distraction. As they continue to play online, Hayashi and Lily have this very good vibe between them. Kanbe/Fujimoto is confused. They then get to see the great view of the moon. Online and in reality. Eventually one evening, Sakurai and Morioka meet up to date. Somehow Koiwai knows about it and teases them (though they obviously won’t admit their outing is looking very much like a date). Morioka hopes she would try to do stuffs that would not embarrass herself or him. She almost slipped on her high heels but luckily he catches her hand. It got super awkward and embarrassing at first but after getting used to it, see, they’re like a real couple now.

Episode 11 (Special)
Morioka’s motherboard crashed so she calls Sakurai to go shop for a new PC for her. Without skipping a beat he agrees and sets a time to meet. This makes her realize her place is in a mess. Time to go into overdrive and clean up. Will you stop overthinking about the bathroom and bed?! Once everything is done and they’ve done their shopping, Sakurai helps bring the PC to her place. While he is setting up, somehow she is spacing out and overspills the tea. This causes Sakurai to somehow trip over her. Something steamy going to happen but… Saved by the bell? Because weird ‘aliens’ at the door. After setting up the necessary, she logs in online to test. Sakurai has brought his laptop so he too could play the online game with her. It’s odd that they are still conversing online because they are so used to it despite being just inches away from each other. Because in the game they are in a hotspring, Sakurai accidentally invites her for one. This causes a lot of awkwardness and flustering. The day is ‘saved’ when he suggests that he will bring Koiwai along so it will not be so awkward. Oh, you don’t know how much worse and awkward it will be under this guy…

Morioka suddenly finds herself inside the online game. She receives a quest to save Princess Sakura (obviously Sakurai in drag – Princess Peach?!) from the evil demon king who is no other than Koiwai. Better save him quick because Koiwai has no qualms doing gay stuffs to him! Morioka is not levelled up and could have been defeated by a low level monster had not Hayashi and Lily come to her aid. They agree to join her quest but need to get some gear first. At a store owned by Kanbe, Fujimoto is oddly his staff. They have to play some lottery to win the gear in which the first prize is a bikini armour said to be able to defeat the demon king! Thankfully Morioka just won some ordinary armour. After defeating a few of the demon king’s lacklustre army, they face the demon king himself. Koiwai is disappointed Morioka isn’t in the bikini armour. He purposely rigged it so she could wear it and defeat him! Well, Fujimoto brought it just in case. Sakurai will not allow this so he breaks out from his chains and wears the bikini armour! Koiwai should have been more specific on who can wear it. With Koiwai defeated, there is now a new problem: Sakurai cannot take off the bikini armour! Then he wakes up from this nightmare. Phew. Lesson: It isn’t healthy to spend too much time playing online games!

Second Life, Second Chance
Even though it is all predictable and boring, you have got to agree with me that if you are looking for an anime series about love online and offline, this series is still way much better than Sword Art Online! Very true! At least this one in a way is more ‘believable’ with down to earth and modern day technology. Sword Art Online was just about the adventure and they try to boost the main characters by having some romance in between them (not even counting Kirito’s waiting harem, mind you) and that nearly virtual sex scene was the cringiest. I don’t think we could ever recover from that. Yeah, the chance of recovering as an MMO junkie seems more probable. Haha!

Honestly, the overall plot and pace of the story feels boring. This series is just one romance (waiting to happen) genre but using online games as its connection and theme. Right from the start when Morioka quit her job and decided to dedicate the rest of her idle life playing the online game, you would have this feeling that the friends she meets online would be someone we will be very familiar with. After all, it wouldn’t make sense if she had an online life that doesn’t connect to her real world life. At least not in the context of this anime’s story. True enough, the person she is close to playing with online is as close in the real world. Then it becomes the question of when they will know each other’s identity. Perhaps this was the only ‘exciting’ moment of the series because you will get to see their reactions and all. Otherwise, the story is pretty much bland.

If you have been following my blog for many years, you would probably guess what I am going to say because it is only a matter of time. And that time is now. Because despite this series being just normal and boring, the one and only factor that made me happy and look forward to watching it every week is, wait for it, THE ONE AND ONLY MAMIKO NOTO!!!!!!!!! YAHOO!!!!!! VIVA NOTO-SAMA!!!! How long has it been since I heard her in a leading role? Even the recent fourth season of Jigoku Shoujo as the titular character is pretty much taciturn. So with this series having Mamiko Noto in the lead and more lines than supporting roles in other anime series, it was like my ears were having orgasms listening to her voice. Don’t let the lines stop! It is fun to hear her in different moods and feelings of Morioka. From the monotonous internet junkie to when her character is flabbergasted and shocked (in a funny way). Though I won’t go so far as to say she is having a lot of fun in her character role (because that still goes to her character Liszt in ClassicaLoid), but nevertheless it is still very much fun to hear her breathing in some life to a ‘dead’ character.

As for the other voice casting members, I only recognize Takahiro Sakurai as Sakurai as well as Yuuichi Nakamura as Kanbe. For some reason, I thought it was Ami Koshimizu behind Lily’s voice but it turned out to be Reina Ueda instead (Mira in Dimension W). The other casts are Ryouta Suzuki as Hayashi (Teruaki in Ousama Game The Animation), Tomoaki Maeno as Homare (Junichi in Amagami SS), Takuma Terashima as Fujimoto (Stone River in Tantei Opera Milky Holmes), Yuka Aisaka as Lilac (Muse in Amagi Brilliant Park), Kazuhiro Sunseki is Pokotarou, Takanori Yagi as Himeralda and Taya Fujimori as Nico.

As for the characters, they aren’t anything impressive. They are just young adults playing online games. It might be a growing trend because teenagers of the last decade playing games would have grown up into adults and still playing them assuming they have not left the gaming scene. The one thing that bugs me about Morioka’s lifestyle is how she could continue playing the online game like normal like as though she does not run into any financial obstacles. Although she quit her job and in her 30’s, it is not like she was working in a job where you’ll be a millionaire by then. Does she have tons of savings? Does she inherit some wealth from her parents? Not too sure. But looking at how she lives her NEET life comfortably is pretty much mind boggling. Not sure about the internet subscription in Japan if it would really kill the wallets of those who spend a lot of time online especially playing games. Heck, Morioka even has the extra cash to buy online transactions. Maybe she doesn’t use much electricity other than her PC and she eats mostly cheap junk from the convenience store. So I can see why she isn’t facing so much financial trouble because she would have been trying to look for another job or maybe settle down as someone’s wife… Just saying…

The romance between Sakurai and Morioka was just waiting to happen and explode. But we all know it will happen anyway. Because why not? The online game could be a blessing in disguise for them since it allowed them to meet and of course fall in love with each other. Of course they like each other ever since the first time they bump into each other. Their sluggish depressed behaviour whenever not behind the keyboard while thinking about the other person is so obvious. It could have been more straightforward had not this online anonymity thingy come between them. Or maybe not. It allowed them to slowly build up their relationship albeit mostly online and through their characters. So in a way, it does make things less awkward when they meet in real life. But then again, it is still awkward for them nevertheless. Not too sure that if they will be spending more them in real life or online. Won’t be too surprised if it is the latter since that is where their relationship started and was built upon. Like they say, the couple that plays together, stays together. Hopefully their relationship will bloom and not break down later just because they spend too much time online together (ironically) and back to square one.

Their romance mainly happens thanks to busybody and interfering people like Koiwai. A big chance that it would never have happened had not this guy made the push. He is the kind of friend who is the annoying type and loves teasing you just because he is more hyperactive than you. Everything he does might seem irritating but he does it for the greater good of his friend-cum-colleague. After all, it isn’t that Koiwai can read minds or an expert in relationship, it just that Sakurai is such an easy person to read and from his body reactions to his words. A person like Koiwai can literally tell what is going just at one glance. Koiwai should be his best man at his wedding. If they ever go that far. I’m assuming they would.

I swore I guessed Fujimoto as Kanbe correctly because again in the context of this show, why bother introducing a character or at least make him have this ‘important’ impression when he isn’t going to be in the story in the first place? Unless it is for red herring but this series isn’t of that kind. Even though the internet is such a wide place, the irony is that many of the people you play with are closer to you than you think. And I’m not talking about inviting your friends to play as a group. When you randomly join a group and hook up with certain members, sometimes it is surprising that person could turn out to be someone you know and close to home. Therefore the irony of the endless internet but still a small world after all. But then again, the online game they are playing is on a local server. I thought they would reveal the real personas other characters in their party too like Lilac, Nico and Pokotarou but I guess they aren’t that important. Even if they do, it serves no purpose and a distraction to the main characters.

Animation and artwork looks decent. The characters look a bit simple but not surprising the avatar characters look better than their real life persona because to show their online adventure is much more colourful and exciting than their usual mundane life. Contrary to all the memes and the touch up of Photoshop pictures online of gamers, Morioka doesn’t typically look like one of those sexy female gamers you see all over the internet. Her appearance isn’t too shabby but anybody would have looked like her state if they did not intend to go out and meet others and spend the rest of their lives facing the internet. Proof that the power of makeup can actually do some good in making one more presentable and decent.

The pop rock opening theme is Saturday Night Question by Megumi Nakajima while the rock ending theme is Hikari, Hikari by Yuka Aisaka. Interestingly, the ending credits animation is mostly watching Morioka stare through her monitor. In other words, through the ‘eyes’ of the monitor. It is like telling us this is how we look like when we engage the PC. In the sense that we stare in wonder, amazement, surprise, astonishment, shock and everything else that probably our monitors might be one of those view objects who have ‘seen’ us making a variety of faces. Including the zombie face. Yeah, I can imagine it as I am typing this blog myself! Oh, why am I now so conscious about my monitor looking at me?! Sadly, it’s the only thing that you will often face if you’re an otaku loner. :’(.

Overall, I find this series slow and boring and my only reprieve is the one and only Mamiko Noto. Even though she too cannot save this series from its dull pace, at least I still enjoyed listening to her voice. Yeah, that heavenly angelic voice… The slow and budding romance feels pretty normal and only relevant to a few who have found love in this manner. I mean, it is better than going on Tinder only to find perverts and sexual predators, right? At least while playing online, the act of falling in love with each other in reality feels like an added bonus and reward. Hmm… Is this series saying that the recovery for an MMO junkie and the recommendation of the wonderful virtual life is to fall in love in real life? I guess kicking the online addiction and getting on with the real life would be the greatest achievement and victory ever. Level: Real, unlocked! Welcome back to the real world.

Action Heroine Cheer Fruits

February 23, 2018

Are we tired of idols permeating in our ever day lives and on every social media platform? No. Okay. But if you do need some variety, may be it is time to check out some heroines. Heroines what? You know, those action live stage sentai series that kids love to go see. Yeah, those kind of heroines. Move aside Love Live! Sunshine!! and Wake Up, Girls. It is time for Action Heroine Cheer Fruits to shine. Hence if you are bored with all the glitzy glamour of idols and their moe choreographed moves on stage, it is time to see some heroines and their moe kick ass choreographed moves on stage. Just imagine Power Rangers with all the moe and cuteness.

Episode 1
Kamidaio continues to be the most popular heroine throughout Japan. Of course it comes with its blatant energy drink advertising. One such fan is An Akagi as she hurriedly leaps through the window from building to building to see a Kamidaio show held in her area. Oh, she’s a gymnast so it’s alright to see her pull off those acrobatic moves. Mikan Kise might not be a big fan but her little sister, Yuzuka is one so she brings her there. Meanwhile Misaki Shirogane is presenting awards for a local singing contest. Not many people. Even so, mainly old people. A staff quipped they should have got Kamidaio to perform here but she shoots him down a weird heroine she is. When Mikan and Yuzuka arrive at the hall, there is a sign that says the show is cancelled. Mikan tries to explain what it means but it only makes Yuzuka sadder. Because of that, Mikan digs her own grave and promises she will let her watch it somehow. Yeah, she didn’t think further than that. And seeing Yuzuka so happy expecting that show in a week’s time, Mikan knows she is in deep sh*t. So Mikan goes to bug An for help (she noticed An doing Kamidaio’s pose so she must be a big fan, right?). An shows off her secret Kamidaio room filled with tons of memorabilia. An is such a fanatic that she stayed up all night researching past episodes of Kamidaio. This is to cut out voices and music for their Kamidaio show. Yes, they’re going to play the heroine themselves. They get wheelchair ridden computer expert, Genki Aoyama to put it all together. As Mikan is also an acrobat, she can pull off some cool moves as the duo practice as well as prepare the costumes and props. When it is show time and all the kids arrive, the little ones start laughing at how poor quality the costumes! Yuzuka must be embarrassed. But the laughter turn into awe when they start doing their acrobatic moves. Mikan is having trouble since she has a few injuries during practice. Just when she is about to give up, Yuzuka cheers for her at the top of her voice. It gives her the power to continue the show to the end. It is a resounding success. Except that the old watchtower from the feudal era that the stage is located at starts collapsing! Soon it spreads throughout the internet how the heroines toppled the tower. Yeah, an internet meme. They are so screwed. They thought they are done for when they are called by Misaki who is also the student council president at school. Surprisingly she thanks them for it because had it not collapsed, tourists might have climbed it and there could have been serious injuries. She will overlook all of this if they participate in this Hinano City Action Heroine Project that is aimed to help revive the stagnation of the local town.

Episode 2
The plan is in fact for them to continue putting up Kamidaio performances. Misaki’s friend, Roko Kuroki talks to her about putting such plan into action. She was being told that their town is the only one in Japan without a heroine and hence its stagnation. Her late grandpa built a hall that has yet to fill its full capacity. Many were against it. Therefore she is given 6 months to fill it up or else it will be demolished. With recruitment for the posters going out, Misaki is delighted to have Genki and Mana Midorikawa interested in joining their ranks by working behind the scenes like computer effects and costumes respectively. Roko is somewhat sad that Misaki didn’t ask her for help. Flashback shows Roko and Misaki used to be in the tennis club with the latter being the captain. They reached the finals of a tournament but due to a wardrobe malfunction, Misaki lost her match. She acted like nothing and passed on the captaincy to Roko. Then there is the time when they attend Misaki’s grandpa’s funeral. Roko wanted to help her but they hear negative rumours of the attendees about him. I find it weird that Roko is talking to a bunch of train toys for advice. Is this a figment of her imagination? Mana manages to get the help of her brother who works in a monastery to lend their hall to practice and hold their shows. Of course, they have to make a little donation too. Roko continues to ponder and be lost till she learns how railroad workers work hard not only during the night but at other times of the day to fix and maintain the tracks. This makes Roko go spy on the gang rehearsing. Does she need to hide? Misaki has noticed her all along and promptly invites her to help. Because Mikan still has bruises all over, she needs someone who can play the villain’s part. Nothing like a few sweet words to sway her in. The show is amazing and this time the costumes and props are high quality. It is an amazing show. They even sell merchandises. After a few shows, they have already sold a million yen worth of goods! But then bad news start to hit them. They are told they cannot use the hall anymore as the parishioners are complaining such an important area is being used for kids to play in.

Episode 3
The perpetrator turns out to be rich girl Kanon Shimura. She is An’s gymnastic rival and will continue to do so unless An seriously challenges her in a gymnast competition and lose! Yup, you heard that right. But since the rest cannot judge fairly a gymnastics competition, Kanon decides to settle this with a 100m race. Flashback shows Kanon has always been number 2 to An. She worked and trained hard to beat her one day and when that supposed day come, An suddenly quit! It had something to do with her love for the heroine show. However with Kanon admonishing her not to quit, An got back on her feet to at least participate in her last tournament. And won! Apparently what Kanon said was coincidentally the same line of a heroine. That pissed her off so much more. As the race starts, Kanon makes a great start and is about to win when she accidentally and unwittingly spouts another heroine line. This boosts An’s morale as she becomes Sonic and catches up to win the race by an inch! Kanon is so mad that she lost again that she runs away seething in anger, promising to continue pressuring the parishioners. Sore loser. If they cannot use the hall, they decide to use an unused platform at the train station for it. On the day of the show, despite the seats are filled up, the weather is starting to get bad. The slippery stage means An slips and slightly injures herself. Roko improvises her lines to seamlessly end the play for today. However Kanon who was watching from her limo is not impressed. She jumps onto the stage and won’t allow An to lose in this pathetic fashion. And so they both take on each other acrobatically on stage. In the end, the crowd is thrilled with the amazing show. An thanks Kanon for making it so much fun. Because for her to come help like that, doesn’t it mean she has a lot of free time?! Kanon must be regretting her actions now. Suddenly an agent walks up to them. He hands Misaki a warrant to stop whatever they are doing because they are selling goods that are infringing the copyrights of Kamidaio.

Episode 4
Kanon is so bent on defeating An that she transfers to this school! But since she is sorry for what she did to the rest, she joins their group and will play the villain role. It’s her twisted thinking that she can defeat An this way. As they have a warning from the infringement notice, Misaki suggests that they come up with their own heroine show. That’s right. Starting everything from scratch. First they do a research on what Hinano is best for. Misaki eventually comes up with a cliché alien invasion plot. The rest too didn’t live up to expectations till Mikan suggests using fruits as their theme since Hinano produces quite a number of them. It’s sad the local government isn’t interested in promoting them. With this great idea accepted, now they need to name their team. Mikan again suggests Cheer Fruits because they are rooting and supporting for fruits. Plus, the name sounds like cheerful. When they leave, they hear the teacher want to talk to Genki about her sister, Yuuki. Everyone knows her from a famous idol group but recently she quit and came home. Too bad despite the paperwork for her transfer is done, she still won’t come to school. Mikan also takes up the challenge to write the scenario. Everyone loves it. Their first play is here. Mana has already produced merchandises for it. Yeah, she’s calculating the costs and profits… Their first show is great and they also take feedback from audiences. Because of that, they need to include a song and a lead singer is needed. How? Everyone goes for karaoke! While Genki is tops getting almost perfect score, if you think Kanon sucks, wait till you hear An! She sucks even more!!! Kanon’s first victory over An? As Genki works behind the scenes, she refuses this role and won’t do lip synching. Based on the roles of others as well as their singing prowess, they too can’t take this lead singing part. But Genki knows someone who could. She brings them to see Yuuki and they catch her in the act of belting out a beautiful solo.

Episode 5
Misaki wants Yuuki to join them but she gets scared and hides herself. Knowing this is part of her paranoia, Genki punches her with a toy glove to send her back to reality. However she still won’t join. As she walks around town, her paranoia gets out of control because she starts hallucinating the people will mock her for her failed idol career and runs away. So Genki goes to talk to her to find the root of it. She has a hunch that her manager wanted her to use Genki’s handicap as a story to score some sympathy points with the views and ramp up the drama during an interview. Of course Yuuki didn’t want to go that far and was ‘released’. When Yuuki feels better, she goes to spy on Cheer Fruits practising. Spotted in no time, with a little nudging, she joins them and her first task is to help in the choreography. She also mentions about catchy choreography uploaded online could catch the attention of others. However they need a song and vocals to it. Making an original song right before their next show is crazy. However it seems Genki has once wrote a song and Yuuki completed it with lyrics. Although they can use this, but the different song means a whole new different choreography altogether. Don’t worry. Yuuki will think of something to fit into this song. On their next show, Yuuki as a new heroine character makes her debut. It is fun and exciting as before. The girls are thrilled to discover their local heroine ranking has shot up. 185th to be exact. Sounds lowly but hey, they’re making big strides. There are many positive comments about them as well as for Yuuki. Hope that blasts away her paranoia for good.

Episode 6
Researching on more hero shows, they realize that pink characters are often popular. Their group also lack special effects. But it seems Misaki knows a person who fits this criteria. Though, she isn’t so keen about it. Folks, meet Hatsuri Momoi. Daughter and future president of a construction company. She and Misaki are childhood friends as you can see Hatsuri is always looking up to her. While Hatsuri looks like the perfect person for the job, she always overdoes things with explosives. And here comes her thick letter of recommendation for that role. Look how eager she is to audition for the part. At her quarry site, she has her team set up the stage. As she is also in the drama club, she is a very good actress as she turns into another person while in it. You can say the audition is very good. Except for one minor problem: Explosions everywhere! Okay, big problem. Because of that, Hatsuri is now crying thinking Misaki hates her as she didn’t get the role. She wants to kill herself by blowing herself up?! Please, no future suicide bombers! Oh wait, suicide bombers have no future. Haha! Oops, sorry… Of course she isn’t going to give up yet and tries again but this time being an apprentice by helping the girls out in the background. However every time Misaki appears, she screws up. Yeah, she almost killed Roko… No joke. Ashamed with herself and thinking it is all over, she gets a much needed boost by the girls sending her positive messages. It might look like Hatsuri is doing all this because she is only into Misaki but as she has watched all their shows, she has grown to love Cheer Fruits as much. Hatsuri requests another audition in which it resembles very much a touching plea to fight alongside them. This time the explosions are in the right amount. At the end of it, the stage collapses but she is alright. Turns out she did it all on her own and didn’t seek any help from her construction team. Surprisingly but not, Misaki passes her because they have seen how hard and earnest she wants to help them. And so Hatsuri becomes part of Cheer Fruits and her pink character becomes popular in no time.

Episode 7
Mikan seems to have a writer’s block. Rather, the scenarios she writes, Misaki hopes she would reconsider it (something about rewriting and removing her own character). Because of that, she calls everyone for an important announcement: To go to the beach. Uhm… Okay… Maybe a change in pace would be good. During the train trip, a bad thunderstorm occurs. Kanon is scared of it that she hugs An. The storm is prolonging and a tree caught fire blocking the tracks. And since there are many young children on board who are inconsolable, Mikan comes up with an impromptu play to calm them down. The play distracts them from the bad weather. When it is over, Mikan realizes how some of her act was embarrassing. Too bad it is being uploaded… The girls finally reach their destination but Misaki has them do some training and practice before hitting the fun parts. Mikan is still troubled so she talks to Genki who advises about doing the best they can. More beach fun before Mikan now has a clear idea on what to write in her script. Everyone reads her revised script and comments on it. In short, it is great. Before their next play starts, Mikan gets nervous as usual. Misaki tells her to imagine that bad weather day. With that, her anxiety is blown away and she is able to start off entertaining the crowd with her tongue twisters.

Episode 8
WTF?! Part of their new act is popping out from giant PokeBalls?! This is what they do first as they surprise Misaki with a happy birthday wish. When they watch the next heroine show, they are shocked that they have a lot of similar moves that is pretty much copyright infringement. Genki suggests using wire act stunts and to do it at night to hide the wires. They can also do a fireworks show for bonus. Too bad a poster of a fireworks show nearby overlaps with their play. But Genki also suggests using fireworks and doing a special night time performance at the mountains as part of their special moves. With that, Misaki makes her the director. And a strict one she becomes. Like how she throws ashtrays at An so that she would come up with new acrobatic moves that doesn’t mirror Kamidaio. Then she has Mikan and Hatsuri do butt sumo to improve their hip power, Mana to do some waterfall mediation and Yuuki do Mexican stuffs so she could get into the Mexican feel and background of her character. What’s this about Roko needing to seduce Misaki to show her seductive level? It is funny and this makes her embarrassed but Genki likes this shy part that will suit well with her villain character. Kanon is excited about hers but there is none Genki would want her to change. Just continue as you are. Disappointed? Everyone practises hard and it looks like everyone got the same idea to wish for good weather on that day as they all make several teruterubouzus.

Episode 9
Apparently Roko still has some issues about Misaki and the tennis club thingy. She accuses Misaki of still running away but Misaki yells back she doesn’t understand a thing. With their friendship a little on the rocks, the other girls also start to notice. However they manage to keep their professionalism and private matters separate. We see their full play in progress and everything is going well as predicted. Until it starts drizzling. Although the play could still go on, the fireworks had to be delayed by 10 minutes. Misaki signals to the girls on stage to adlib and stretch it out. But of course if it is mostly the same thingy, people will hardly get excited and suspect something is amiss. To make things worse, Roko slips from the slipperiness and many of them are starting to break their character. Misaki feels the need to do something so she improvises by going on stage as a new character! More adlibbing twist when Hatsuri claims she is her long lost sister! Killing 2 birds with 1 stone since Hatsuri gets to hug her beloved all she wants. Then it is time for the fireworks. Genki signals to them as the rest finish the fight. In exact timing once the play ends, the fireworks light up the sky, much to everyone’s delight. Backstage, an emotional Roko hugs Misaki and apologizes for accusing her of running away.

Episode 10
Shocking news! Cheer Fruits has broken through the nation’s top 10 heroine shows! You know what this means for Mana? Selling Cheer Fruits merchandise! They’re selling like hot cakes! Fortunately her unauthorized sale is put to a stop by Misaki. Then another shocking news. Mako Kamisu from Gingers will be visiting them. She is the one who plays Kamidaio. Everyone fears copyright infringement problems but apparently this is part of the protocol for new heroines who break into the top 10. The girls are nervous with Kamisu around. Especially An who is just exploding into a variety of emotions. Kamisu is a big fan of Cheer Fruits that she could remember many of their trademark lines. At the end of the day, An wants her signature but Kamisu declines. It would have been okay if she was a fan but as heroine rivals, she shouldn’t be doing that. The girls have a lot of soul searching to do since she too did comment on their work and all. During their next play, some of them are still conscious about Kamisu’s words that they blunder. Mostly An who actually broke a stage prop! Kanon berates them for this slipup because it is not Kamisu they are engaging but their fans. She gets even mad when An sounds so defeated and she will not accept it. Even Misaki is suffering in silence. She remembers in the past she is like a bad luck magnet. She fears the same might happen to Cheer Fruits. With the blunder, Cheer Fruits now drop to 25th place. And there are stinging criticisms too. Oh well, people only love you at the top. With the group very tense, Mana takes the initiative to tell them off that it doesn’t matter what rank they are because a heroine who gives up halfway is useless. She then brings them to town to see the place decorated with Cheer Fruits props. The townspeople are showing their support and will continue to do so. Can they run away from this much support? After all, the heroine of Hinano is not Kamidaio but Cheer Fruits! With that, Mana hands new uniforms for all of them. It improves their mood and they’re back to where they should be. Then Misaki discovers Mana’s sly ploy in all this. Looks like she has already made tons of merchandises in this new outfit to be sold.

Episode 11
Things are looking up for Cheer Fruits. They are now back in the top 10 and in fourth place. More good news as Misaki says the Hinano joint council has approved of them using the hall. Time for Mana to sell t-shirts… Mikan has also come up with a new script that introduces Misaki’s character. It is well written. Leave it to Mana to turn on her business instincts to use that opportunity to sell more of those goods. But the ‘hard’ part now comes. Misaki has to record her lines under the strict guidance of Genki. Get ready those ashtrays… The good news just keep coming as the tickets for the hall has been sold out. There is also going to be real time broadcast on the internet and TV! Wow. So good. When things are going so smoothly, there is bound to be that one bad news… Misaki gets a call from her aunt one night. The next day, she texts Roko that she will be away for a while and to make a version of the play without her. Attempts to contact her failed as she didn’t pick up. The girls continue to believe in her but with performance day coming up, she is still not back. When a storeowner notes their play will be the last in the hall, this sends shockwaves to them. Apparently Misaki didn’t tell them the hall will be torn down. They go to talk to Misaki’s aunt who reveals that night when she told Misaki about it. Something about the local authority decided to use up the remaining budget. Worse, it was decided on her birthday. Misaki’s birthday don’t hold fond memories as it was the day her grandpa collapsed. Ever since, she started to think her own presence is harmful to others. She inherited grandpa’s will to promote Hinano and thought she had changed after meeting her friends. But it is not a time to whine because they have to get on with the play and prove it is a success. It isn’t the fact Misaki is blessed with good friends but it is because of her they all become friends. Day of the performance is here. Still no Misaki in sight. Keep believing…

Episode 12
No Misaki in sight. The girls are forced to do the performance without her. Can’t keep the audience waiting. The show proceeds as per script until they start improvising. Because they know Misaki is watching, it is like this improvised part is ‘forcing’ Misaki to come and appear. Misaki is of course pessimistic because she is ‘far’ away. Mikan then surprises everyone by adlibbing and improvising further. Everyone is so good that they play along smoothly. In this new improvise move, they are stating how Misaki’s character cannot come but with the ‘flashback’ of the good times together (was there some sort of sealed memories in the story too?), this touched Misaki so she rushes her way back. Then she had to crash her bike. On the verge of thinking this bad luck thing is trying to tell her to stay away, she picks herself up and run. Then she trips. Well, nothing gonna break her stride… Nothing gonna slow her down… Gotta keep on moving… I don’t know how far and how long everything is but Misaki manages to make it back in time much to the delight of her friends. The time is right to usher Misaki’s character back on stage. The story is near its end when the villains revert back to their original good personality after Misaki’s character gets injured. Then it ends with a bang because they defeat the final evil ultimate boss (a castle?) with the help of the audience’s cries. The show is even worth more your buck when all of them (including Genki) go out on stage to sing. In the aftermath, Cheer Fruits rises up to second place, Hinano experiences brisk revitalization and it seems there are plans for season 2! Oh wait. There is! Mikan, better start working on your script. This time they incorporate Genki into the play. Yeah, she’s the best as the villainess.

Cheers! You Wanna Be Where Everybody Knows Your Name
Technically, if the hall does become their final performance venue, I guess they can be called Last Action Heroine. Haha! Sorry, bad pun. So I guess it doesn’t matter if the hall will actually get torn down for real because the most important things are Cheer Fruits did a very good job in entertaining the little ones, the kids love them, Cheer Fruits are now on a new stage of fame and Hinano is revived. With the town getting this popular, there is no way those politicians are going to demolish it because the hall could have become Cheer Fruits’ home ground and symbol. That will be suicidal. Even in the worst case scenario if the hall is demolished, it is just a minor setback compared to all the other good stuffs Cheer Fruits has brought. You could say that Cheer Fruits’ efforts finally bore fruits! Pun intended.

Although generally in the broadest sense this series is still boring in my books, however it is surprisingly obviously much better than some of the other ‘kickass’ all-girl units series like Schoolgirl Strikers – Animation Channel and Battle Girl High School. Maybe this show doesn’t have some seemingly ridiculous sci-fi plot and invaders trying to destroy the peace. Hence no outrageous sci-fi elements like outfits and battles masked behind all that moe. Cheer Fruits on the other hand are just an ordinary bunch of girls trying to perform and make everyone happy. It is more down to earth and plausible even though it is still a lot of crap if you try to pull off such success in the real world. Their acrobatic and gymnastic movements make it more believable than all that sci-fi crap. Therefore despite the ordinary plot of the girls just trying to make the best of their performance and in a way to save the town’s hall, it is still a much better series to enjoy compared to that horrendous sci-fi duo.

The characters are a hit and miss for me. With only a dozen of episodes, it feels that there isn’t much of screen time to flesh out all 9 of the heroines of Cheer Fruits. While it does enough to just let us know the basics, if you are hoping to go even deeper than that, I guess that ‘deepest’ we will ever get is Misaki and her horrible low self-confidence thinking she is a jinx to everybody. Otherwise the characters are just enough for us to know about their personality for this season. Like the carefree and lively An, her tsundere self-proclaimed obnoxious rival Kanon, they shy Mikan, the business-minded money making and entrepreneurship of Mana, Hatsuri as Misaki’s lapdog, Roko as Misaki’s best friend, Yuuki the idol master and her sister Genki who is the only one who doesn’t take the stage (at least in the first season of production) but is a special effects master and a horribly strict instructor. Each have their own unique personality that makes them lovable and you can’t bring yourself to hate some of them despite how annoying some are like Hatsuri always sucking up to her Gozen-sama and Kanon being immaturely childish with her rivalry with An.

Personally, I feel that the cohesiveness of Cheer Fruits isn’t that close of a bond. Even the final episode felt like it was trying hard to play it up for some drama. In the anime they might be but I just don’t feel it. Whenever a heroine is in focus and has her issues, we don’t see the rest really getting involved to help. So like Mana and Hatsuri, it feels like they are just there until their relevant ‘expertise’ is needed. I wonder if they will need more team members to join seeing that all of them now are going to be heroines on stage. Don’t tell me they can multi-task and do special effects and the likes. Truly a super heroine in that sense. Something to ponder on: If the series is successful and they keep adding characters to their roster (assuming the trend of your enemy becomes your ally), will their numbers blow up big enough to be like AKB48? I mean, they also do singing, right? Ah, looks like this is where diversification comes in handy. Can’t make it as a heroine show? An idol show will do. Man, these girls are going to be leading one very hectic lives.

Speaking of Misaki and her self-jinx belief, do you not agree with me that this precise behaviour of hers is the one that is causing the bad luck? I mean, think about it especially the climax and drama needed as the series reaches its end. She heard the hall is going to be torn down. So what did she do? She ran away and holed up somewhere! Man, I thought she was going to see her local governor and protest and even if this seems like so impossible, but at least it is better than crying alone far away and hoping things turn out for the best. Because don’t you see, by taking herself out of Cheer Fruits only adds more burden to the production. Things have been written and done with her inside the play. Now that she has decided to run away, everyone is left hanging. No doubt that even if it is true that her jinx brought the premature decision of the hall to be torn down, does she have the right to affect Cheer Fruits from her actions after that? It’s like she aggravated this bad luck problem and pushed it on to her teammates. Goes to show that running away doesn’t solve problems because we all know very well that the problem doesn’t solve itself. Not at least in this case. Misaki almost fell into this cliché trap that her character was going to be a bad luck magnet in the final episode. It felt annoying-cum-funny that like as though they were trying to remind us why Misaki has been acting this way. But all is well, ends well. Thankfully.

Sometimes I can’t help compare Cheer Fruits with their Love Live counterparts, be it Muse or Aqours. Both sides have 9 members to a unit and some of the members have been given specific tasks or responsibilities that they are in charge of. For the idol side, somebody has to be the main songwriter, somebody has to write the lyrics and somebody has to design the outfits. For our action heroines, somebody has to come up with the script, somebody has to manage the recordings, somebody has to come up with the outfit designs. Both also have this goal to help save something. In the case of the idols, their school but for our action heroines, their town. Hmm… Doesn’t it sound like Sakura Quest but only sticking to heroine shows. In the end, Cheer Fruits seem to have the better edge over Muse and Aqours because they are able to do stunts on stage and awe us with those acrobatic and gymnastic moves although they aren’t as close as Jackie Chan’s. How often do you see idols splitting their legs and doing somersaults? Plus, Cheer Fruits is as cute as their idol counterparts. Too bad their target audiences are very different. While the idols are mostly teens and above, the action heroines mostly appeal to young children.

But as in show business everywhere, it is still a dog eat dog world. Cheer Fruits really make this heroine show they pull off look easy and fun. Of course for the sake of the story, it has to. This isn’t intended to have a dark theme in the first place. With that kind of name in the title, it would be just shocking. Just like idols, they vie with other heroines in other cities to be the top. My pet peeve is how cruel some audiences are. When the going is good and everything is all fine and dandy, they are loved. But one minor slipup and that is the end of you. In Cheer Fruit’s case, they get brickbats and criticisms that in real life might drive you to suicide! Okay, it’s not that bad and I exaggerated but negative comments in reality are just so toxic that if you aren’t prepared to handle them, you never will. Thankfully for Cheer Fruits (and the sake of the story), they manage to pull back up their socks and revive themselves. Now everybody loves them again. Truly, fickle fans. But that is showbiz for you. At least Cheer Fruits have the Hinano town to support them. If they don’t get this base covered, do you not think they would even have the support from fans from other cities or nationwide?

We don’t see the other heroine shows of other cities but I am assuming that some of them are super better than Cheer Fruits because otherwise they would have been top and dethroned Kamidaio. But for a small group from the unknowns to produce performances filled with great special effects, it is just really an amazing effort. Sure, some of the girls are endowed like Hatsuri who will inherit her construction company, thus they have the liberty to use a lot of resources at their fingertips to make a great show. Technically that isn’t cheating, right? Their play looks so perfect with all the flashy effects and pre-recorded dialogues is because they put in hours and hours of practice so I am giving them the benefit of the doubt that their performance goes smoothly usually without hitches is because of that.

Art and animation of this series despite is your typical conventional Japanese anime style, is quite colourful and vibrant in line with the theme of Cheer Fruits. The characters have this cute and moe looks and sometimes it feels unrealistic because for those who practice all those acrobatic and gymnastic moves, there are bound to be injuries but they don’t look like they suffer them long term. I guess that is good news because nobody wants to see a very scarred heroine. It’s all a show so better put on your best looks and performance.

I suppose this is what sets the visual difference between idols and action heroines. Idols usually have to dress all the same although in every performance they dress different outfits. Action heroines on the other hand are easily identified with the colour coded outfits they dress although the outfit stays the same in every show. You get to identify them better especially those sitting far away from the stage. Hey, if you have an idol group with so many members, it is hard to tell apart everyone unless they have very distinctive features or you are really sitting right next to the stage. Animated by Diomedea who did series like Aho Girl, Shinryaku! Ika Musume, Seiken Tsukai No World Break, Akuma No Riddle, Kantai Collection, Girlish Number, Fuuka and Mayoiga.

Too bad didn’t recognize any of the seiyuus here. They are Mao Ichimichi as Misaki (Bada in ClassicaLoid), Miku Itou as An (Nanako in Locodol), Erii Yamazaki as Mikan (Kokona in Nurse Witch Komugi R), Rie Murakawa as Roko (Hotaru in Non Non Biyori), Haruka Shiraishi as Kanon (Kirie in Himouto! Umaru-chan), Yuuki Hirose as Mana (Yamada in Alice To Zoroku), Moe Toyota as Hatsuri (Midori in Hibike! Euphonium) and Haruka Ishida doing double roles as Genki and Yuuki (Kanata in AKB0048). Both the opening and ending themes, Jounetsu Fruits and Hi No Ataru Basho respectively are performed by Tokimeki Kanshasai, basically the entire cast behind Cheer Fruits. Typical lively genki anime pop that sounds very much like a song that idols would sing.

Overall, not a bad series and a refreshing genre to look at if you have too much idols in your life recently. Although it won’t be up there with the many other interesting titles (because there are no blood shed or people dying in this anime) and some might pass it off as boring (after all, the performances Cheer Fruits put on are intended for young kids), it is still much better than that whole lot of all-girl sci-fi group defending the world act that I mentioned before. This series doesn’t make me interested in such genres. Heck, I was never interested in Power Rangers although in my younger years I did had my short stint loving those Masked Rider variation series. If there is a sequel in the future, I will still put it on my watch list. With Cheer Fruits’ growing popularity, I am sure there are going to be lots of copycats and knockoffs. And even a porn version! Whoops! Just hope I don’t download the wrong version. I should know when the heroines start busting a nut and the excessive misuse of the banana… Not of the fruity kind!

Re: Creators

February 18, 2018

What a great idea. Let’s take a bunch of characters from different stories and then mash them up in the same world and have them fight each other. Only, that has been done before many times in the past like the Marvel and DC comics and the Super Smash Bros series video game. In Re: Creators, a normal modern world of ours is suddenly invaded by fictional characters. A normal high school boy gets caught up in it as they try to find the reason of their existence as well as a nefarious fate awaiting both the real and fictitious worlds if they don’t do something about it. Can we just write another story then? Only, if writing a story was that easy.

Episode 1
Souta Mizushino is an ordinary high school student. He goes home to work on his own manga but I guess he got lazy and decides to take a break and watch the anime, Elemental Symphony of Vogelchevalier on his iPad. Suddenly something happens. Everyone’s nightmare: BSOD!!! Strange things happen as he gets sucked into this anime’s world. He is now caught in a fight between Selesia Upitria and Gunpuku No Himegimi. He notices what is happening before his eyes is also repeating in his iPad. Selesia saves Souta from Gunpuku’s attack, causing them to return to Souta’s room. Selesia is of course stunned in this alien world as she threatens Souta for an answer. She is further shocked when he explains she came from an anime that is adapted from this manga. Gunpuku visits them. It seems she is not from Selesia’s world neither is she from this reality. She wants her to come with her but Selesia refuses. It begins a wild night chase as Selesia hijacks a car while trying to outrun Gunpuku. Funny, she can drive a car which is a much simpler mechanism than her mecha? When Selesia and Gunpuku finally clash swords, the latter tells of this world which is the land of gods and where dubious creators throng. Selesia gets assistance from Meteora Osterreich from Avalken of Reminisce (RPG game). Gunpuku retreats for now. Selesia thinks Meteora is also in the same circumstances with her. They need to talk about what is happening. Where? In Souta’s room of course. This means Souta has to stretch his allowance and buy snacks for them. Meteora is such a big eater…

Episode 2
Meteora describes a bit of herself and the world she comes from. They then discuss about this world. If they are created by creators of this world, they need to go find them and exert their influence over them so they could return to their world. There’s also that complicated reasoning how they as characters in their respective stories get materializes here, but I’m going to skip all that confusing theory bits. They also talk about Gunpuku who seems to be trying to make the story worlds collide with the land of the gods. They are unsure of what world she comes. Because if Souta can’t identify her from which anime, manga or game, is she some original creation? First they try to contact the creator of Selesia’s story, Takashi Matsubara. This ossan gets a strange email to meet Selesia. He doesn’t jump the chance to meet this perfect cosplayer of his character. You’re looking at the real deal, buddy. Their meeting is interrupted by this magical girl, Mamika Kirameki from the anime Magical Slayer Mamika. She also got word from Gunpuku about this world that has power to help people of their worlds. She will not forgive that kind of creator but since Selesia isn’t on the same viewpoint with her, Mamika gets upset and transforms. Then they start fighting. Only, the damage done is real! There’s going to be a lot of damaged buildings the way Mamika is shooting magical beams at her. Mamika realizes too late the damage she caused since Selesia is injured. Because nobody gets injured in her world! Selesia lectures her about their different worlds. Selesia gets back up, panicking Mamika. Before she could unleash her next magical blast, it is stopped by Yuuya Mirokuji, the main antagonist of Heisaku Underground.

Episode 3
Mamika is taken away by a knight and her horse both in shining armour, Alicetaria February of Alicetaria of the Scarlet. The rest talk to Mirokuji to learn how much he knows. He seems to know a lot as he too was being told and brought here by Gunpuku. But unlike the rest, he is not interested in finding his own creator because he believes he isn’t some god and just an ordinary person. Of course if he does see his creator, he would like to ask some questions but that isn’t his priority. Staying true to his character, he goes off by himself to start fights to entertain himself. Matsubara brings them to his home and calls Marine, the illustrator for Vogelchevalier. Meteora wants to test how much is needed for the creators to affect the created. Matsubara tries to write up a new spell for Selesia but nothing happens. Maybe it needs more info and context. So Marine has to sketch a visual of it. Selesia is shocked to hear spoilers of her own story. Since she came out from the anime, the story has not caught up to the manga. Once Marine is done, Selesia tries to activate it. Nothing happens. Failed. Matsubara and Selesia end up arguing so Meteora notes that if Selesia is able to dispute with her creator, it means Matsubara has created a highly detailed world of Selesia. Even if this experiment failed, Meteora at least knows there is another factor that affects them. In addition to lack of information or seriousness, discovery can be considered progress. Souta thinks as Mirokuji said, he appeared because he made a lasting impression on others. So could it be the revised story or setting needs to be accepted or identified by the mass before any change could occur? Marine suggests she could pull some strings for them to tour the publishing company, Titan Digitalsoft. They published Avalken and she was doing character designs for them before. Marine offers Selesia and Meteora to stay at her place. Yeah, Souta’s room is too small. Gunpuku talks to herself about meeting Souta again and never thought he would be involved. She notes he is a part of the world that banished Setsuna and will always be her ally.

Episode 4
When Marine brings Meteora to the company, they are shocked to learn her creator had recently died in a motor accident. She takes time but returns in no time to explain to the rest of what she thinks is happening. This world has forces trying to make sense of things. Because they are characters popping out from stories that defy the laws of this world, there is only so much it can take. That elasticity will soon give way and the world will be destroyed. Meteora took time off to play Avalken. She cleared it in a night. It is a fun game and she noticed her creator has put in a lot of effort to create such a beautiful world. The game is also about saving the world from destruction. Despite how her creator created her, it doesn’t change it is a fun game and others enjoyed it. Hence she wants to prevent the world from colliding and return everything to where it was. They then discuss about Gunpuku’s goals of bringing them here. Could she be the kind of character who loves to watch the world burn? They have to act fast as the more characters appear, the more the cracks there will be and accelerate the destruction of the world. It is hard for them to track all other characters but they know they are all somehow connected to Gunpuku. It is believed she too has her own creator somewhere in this world. Meanwhile Alicetaria is displeased at Gunpuku that she has did as she was told to force her creator to revise everything but she is still here instead of back in her world where she needs to stop some sort of war. She blames him for creating such a hellish world for entertainment. Gunpuku assures she did not lie to her. This world is sturdier than it seems. Procedures are needed. Cracks will definitely come and wants her to continue disturbing this world’s common sense. Gunpuku relates her own creators who abandoned her and didn’t want to take responsibilities. Her roles it to provide a path and lead the way for people who don’t know this world exists and have no choice but to fight. We see an odd moment with Mamika sharing her meal with Alicetaria as thanks for saving her. Matsubara gets a call from a fellow friend, Masaaki Nakanogane. Since he is nervous, Matsubara can tell he too has a character popped up in this world. However it isn’t just the main character from his latest Monomagia work but his mecha too! While the machine is hiding at the field, Rui Kanoya its rider is eating lunch right now in his place.

Episode 5
Nakanogane experienced what Souta went through when the anime character came through the screen. Only this time a giant mecha came out from the TV! As they sit around to discuss things, suddenly the military surround them. Kanoya is ready to get into his mecha action but Meteora pleads that they will cooperate and go with them. They are taken to a special council headed by Aki Kikuchihara. First she apologizes for the violent manner they handled this situation but there’s a reason for it. When strange radio interferences were detected, they started noticing strange characters with strange powers popping up. There is a CCTV footage of Mirokuji fighting a guy with a gun (Blitz Talker) at the park and the damage is extensive. After confirming Mirokuji’s creator, Kikuchihara has her men find and arrange to take him into custody. Why? There is this author named Gai Takarada who went to the police to seek protection as he felt his life is under threat. However Alicetaria barged into the place and kidnapped him. He is Alicetaria’s creator. His whereabouts are unknown. So that’s why when a large mecha popped up, they are forced to take extreme measures in fear of this. Also there are footages of Meteora stealing tax payer funded military equipment when she first popped up in this world to fight Gunpuku. Whoops. As nobody knows about Gunpuku, Meteora tells them about their theory of world destruction. Her suggestions are to reduce damage and the impact of this world and to find her creator. In order for the ‘fictional’ characters to move about freely, they will be granted necessary documents. The creators and their creations will all be under special protection. That includes Souta. As everyone return home, Souta kept thinking about Gunpuku. There is something familiar about her that he can’t put his finger on. Then he remembers a memo from someone he knew. Setsuna Shimazaki. She posted it would be her last new story before her goodbye. As he searches around the internet, he finally shockingly stumbles upon something related to Gunpuku.

Episode 6
Selesia drops in to report they haven’t made any progress in finding Gunpuku’s creator. Souta can’t find the courage to tell her what he’s found. Alicetaria and Mamika are tasked to find a new ally believed to have appeared in the area. They talk what kind of person that new character would be. Speaking of which, Magane Chikujouin takes a book without paying and claims it belongs to her. The shopkeeper stops her of course but after a series of lies, it allows her to summon a monster that kills him. Kikuchihara and Meteora are investigating this bloody site. Based on the description of eyewitnesses, they conclude she is a creation and of the villain type. Magane bumps into Alicetaria and Mamika on her way back. Although Mamika tries to get her on their side, Alicetaria can sense she is not a good person Mamika hoped to be. They descend into an argument about killing others. Because Magane points out that despite all the justice Alicetaria spouts, she is no different and could be worse. Whether one kills for fun or justice, killing is still killing. Alicetaria has had enough of her insults and charges at her despite Mamika’s objection. Luckily Selesia and Meteora come between them. Meteora argues fighting among themselves is what Gunpuku wants. She also corrects Alicetaria’s flawed logic that this world is the gods and miracles do happen (at least compared to her hellish world). With the conversation breaking down, Alicetaria attacks. Time for another epic power battle decimating the land. While Selesia has her hands full with Alicetaria, Blitz joins in and shoots down Meteora. Unconscious, he could have finished her had not Mamika intervened. She continues to block all his shots and feels the need to stop this madness. Otherwise she will be too ashamed to face her friends when she returns to her world.

Episode 7
Mamika is going to attack Alicetaria if she continues to resort to violence. More complications as Mirokuji drops in to continue his fight with Blitz. Mamika also tries to stop this but gets her ass handed by Mirokuji. By the time Kanoya drops down in his mecha, Alicetaria takes Mamika to escape. Mirokuji hangs out with Selesia and co as he believes doing so will allow him to face Blitz again. Selesia has done some research on Magane. Created by Tenkyu Kurakuma and from the novel, Yasoukiroku, her power stems from words via deception and lies. They fear a person like her walking around killing others. Mirokuji makes an interesting hypothesis that the characters who came here have changed like as though they’re finding a new purpose. Speaking of Magane, she is at her author’s home and has killed him. On Souta’s side, he has discovered Blitz’s creator and other info pertaining to him. So far no other characters have appeared but they are worried about Gunpuku as they still know nothing about her. Still not saying anything, Souta? They theorize maybe she is not from manga but anime or game but still none of the Googled descriptions closely match her. Soon news spread that Kurakuma is dead. Next morning, Nakanogane has stumbled upon something important and calls everyone to meet. Except Souta. Because he stumbled upon Mamika and she wants to talk to him. Something about believing and doing stupid things (because in her world, believing is enough to give you magic). She is greatly hinting if he knows anything about Gunpuku, please say. Nakanogane has found a site where doujin and amateurs post their works. Some go on to make it big. There is one that fits Gunpuku perfectly. Her name is Altair. Mamika believes she isn’t gathering them to change the world and is planning something very bad. Souta reveals that she is one who hates this world a lot.

Episode 8
More revelations about Altair that she is based off another character of another game. However their looks and personality all differ. Because Altair had better defined stories and traits, it diverged into another separate entity despite originating from the same base. However trying to find Altair’s creator yielded no results. Kikuchihara has brought other creators to help them, Shunma Suruga (Blitz’s creator) and Ryo Yatoji (Mirokuji’s creator). Yatoji doesn’t believe all this crap so nothing a bit of Mirokuji’s display of real power to shake things up. Meteora meets up with Souta to explain what they have discovered so far. She can tell Souta is troubled. The more Souta tries to hide it, to more obvious his burden is. So he tries to explain it in a third person perspective about jealousy and envy. Meteora says those feelings shouldn’t be denied and should work on them. Pretend they do not exist and they will slowly build up into filth. That made him feel better. Another weird moment between Mamika and Alicetaria that could be turning into mild yuri. They have differing opinions about the gods of their world. While Alicetaria isn’t grateful for her hellish world, Mamika is because she is able to meet so many different people. They hope to believe in each other no matter what. Later Magane pulls aside Souta and mocks his ‘date’ with Mamika and then Meteora over what she eavesdropped. Then she hints about the very thing that he wants to hide. A certain someone who probably doesn’t exist anymore. This is enough to cause extreme asphyxiation for Souta. That bad, huh? Magane doesn’t intend to spread it but in exchange he has to ‘date’ her. Mamika confronts Altair about lying to them. She feels her intention to destroy this world via revenge is wrong. Despite all that, she still considers her as her friend wants to save her. Altair admits she hates everything in this world. The characters, the stories. Because this world rejected her ally. All she wanted was a place to belong but they humiliated her. That is why she will destroy everything. Mamika believes everything can change like herself when she came here. Altair still will not forgive them. Mamika will show her that she can accept her sadness. She will save her soul and Setsuna’s. The mere mention of her name sends Altair into raging madness. She summons her swords to stab Mamika. But Mamika isn’t going to stand there and get killed. Magical explosion!

Episode 9
Mamika seems to have survived that blast. But not for long. Man, she’s bleeding like hell! Of all places she had to collapse, it’s where Magane is nearby. She’s eking out Altair’s plan to destroy the world when Alicetaria drops in and is about to clobber Magane. Luckily Mamika has enough strength to pinpoint Magane isn’t the culprit and leaves it up to liar girl to tell the rest. So what happens to characters like her when they die? They just disappear. For real? Mamika is dead?! Forcing Mamika’s dying wish out from Mamika, technically she isn’t lying but ambiguously rearranging her words. So she made it sound like Meteora was the one who killed Mamika and Alicetaria believes her and goes off to find her. Now Magane calls out Souta to meet. After all that teasing and harassing about the person he ‘killed’ to make him feel even more guilty, she gets to the real deal. She wants him to tell Selesia that Meteora is working for the enemy to deceive them. Souta won’t believe a liar so Magane shows proof of a bloodied Mamika’s cloth. Don’t believe Meteora killed her? Ask Alicetaria who is out for her blood. He is in shock over Mamika’s death but still refuses to believe her. So Magane hints a few more stuffs and Souta finally realizes it is Altair who killed her. This sends him into despair, which is what Magane wants. Then she makes it sound like he is responsible and the source for Mamika’s death in which he really believes so. Before she could cloud his mind further, Mirokuji shows up to fight her. Meteora picks him up but he goes hysterical revealing he was responsible for Setsuna’s death. And now Mamika is dead too because of him. Meteora offers some words to help him get back on his feet. Mirokuji’s attack falls under Magane’s spell. She is able to negate it and that rewritten law forever sticks until she dies. His attack is now useless against her. Magane offers to team up to stop Altair but they’re not buying. Realizing they don’t want to deal with her anymore, Magane warns Meteora that somebody else has a bone to pick with her. Speak of the devil, here comes furious Alicetaria. She’s been looking all over for you.

Episode 10
With Mirokuji covering for Meteora. Magane offers to help Alicetaria in which she declines. But they agree Magane takes care off Mirokuji while Alicetaria settles her score with Meteora. Magane tries to rile up Mirokuji by talking about his female spirit, Hangaku. Since he calls it a curse, she proposes to give it to her if she finds a way to free him. As Meteora gets owned, Souta calls for backup and feels useless he can’t do anything. He sums up his courage to stop Alicetaria who in turn believes he is the kind of people who views her world as entertainment. He denies all that as watching her people getting killed pains him. That is why seeing her fight brings hope to others and they look up to her virtue. Alicetaria views herself differently. Still considering herself a failure for failing to save Mamika. When Meteora wants to settle this via talking, Alicetaria isn’t open to any conversation and attacks. Meteora pushes Souta away and bears the heavy brunt of her lance. Selesia drops in. Kikuchihara and the other special forces too. But I doubt they can do anything despite surrounding the place. Mad Selesia fights Alicetaria but her sword suddenly turns into petals and she gets stabbed. This is Altair’s doing to further her plan. She wants Alicetaria to behead her but since she is in shock (you mean she wasn’t expecting to kill her?), she has Blitz do finish the job but has to settle things with Mirokuji first. Kanoya who is on standby in the sky can’t stand this anymore and drops in to fight, only for Altair to unleash a clone mecha to keep him company. With Meteora telling the humans to save themselves, Matsubara blows his top for saying such cheap lines. He will never allow his character to die like this. So he whips out his laptop and uploads a new story and Marine’s new illustrations of her. In no time it accumulates followers, likes and is trending! It’s really viral. Selesia then transforms into a powerful version that you would think twice in taking her on. With Altair’s powers weakening, she feels the stars aren’t aligned yet and tells her comrades to withdraw. Once over, Selesia reverts to her injured circumstances and needs immediate medical attention. Magane is now in possession of Hangaku.

Episode 11
Selesia and Meteora are hospitalized but recovering well. Mirokuji is sore in both aspects since he lost to Magane. Matsubara has a little private moment with Selesia. Even if her story he wrote is entertainment to others, it isn’t for him because it is proof he lived. Meanwhile Souta continues to sulk about not saying it all sooner so Kanoya takes him on a flight on his mecha. A bit of positivism to help cheer Souta up. Kanoya was once like him. Even if the fate in characters in stories have been decided, in a way it makes things easier. People aren’t forced to do things they don’t want to do. However heroes like them might be able to save the world but they do not have the freedom to save anything else. In this world, people can write stories for themselves. In a way, it is somewhat symbiotic relationship because if people who save the world exist, it is be there are worlds that must be saved and who else are there to create it? A call from Kikuchihara comes in. Meteora has woke up and is calling everyone to meet. It is about Altair’s creator who is essential to the development of their strategy. This is when Souta reveals that Setsuna is his friend and is already dead. He knew it all along but did nothing. He blames himself for killing her. Flashback time. Souta was a loner who didn’t have many friends. He used to post his drawings online and Setsuna is the only one who likes his ‘amazing’ art. She also posts her own art so they started communicating and complimenting each other’s works. Then one day there is an event in town and they decide to meet up. For the first time they see each other and their friendship took flight. As Setsuna kept posting new drawings, soon she became even more famous and collaborated with a famous producer to make a music video. But soon a scandal hit and she was accused of plagiarism. The internet being the internet, many quickly accuse her without proof. Souta cannot stand all the toxic comments and insults. He wanted to do something but feared it would make things worse. So he didn’t do nothing. In spite of all this, deep down inside his heart, he felt a sense of relief. In some ways he enjoyed watching Setsuna getting put down like that because it made him feel less lonely of being left behind.

Episode 12
Souta continues that Setsuna left a last message on his handphone that she is confused and not sure what to do anymore as she is unsure if drawing is good or bad. Souta replied (in a rude way) he doesn’t know but Setsuna never replied after that. After that he stopped contacting her until he got a final message in his email about her ‘goodbye’ and the final story she left. One morning he was awakened by a call from her. Actually it is Setsuna’s mom. Setsuna killed herself by jumping onto the tracks. It only dawned to him what happened. He erased any records of her. He didn’t want to remember. He ran away. Believing what he did to Setsuna was horrible, Altair was probably created out of her despair to make her wish come true. Souta regrets what he did but is willing to take responsibility and stop Altair at all cost. Takarada is still confined in his cell when Alicetaria releases him. She asks him several questions like if he loves the world he creates and the hero role that he created for her. He gives his honest answer he can’t do anything about it. This is something only she can solve. As for why he created her world so, I suppose it is worth it he wrote it that way. Otherwise how else would he have written it? Meteora and co discuss a plan to defeat Altair. They notice her various powers so Nakanogane shows a few videos of Altair. The varied videos show her displaying different powers. Thing is, they are all created by other people after Setsuna’s death. This means as long Altair has a steady stream of stories, her powers are continuously updated. But Meteora knows she cannot use her powers freely or she’ll be thrown out of this world. They will need to use this weakness to defeat her. Long story short, what I understand is that they are going to create a story that mashes all their characters together to fight Altair. A huge death match if I should say. If this crossover story is accepted by fans, it will be a cage that could confine her. Of course there is this problem of copyrights, etc. So they’ll need to make a big event in which they can make a killing with the viewers’ approval. But time if of essence and depending on factors like new characters showing up, their time limit will change. Meteora gives 6 months for the creators to create a stronger plot and story progression in the form of spinoffs. This is the cage that will linked their unrelated stories together and when the final battle begins, everything from there on will be adlib. Blitz reports to Altair about Alicetaria releasing Takarada. But it seems Altair has gotten a new ally who shares the same goal as her. She notes that with the impeding destruction, only 2 or 3 more characters will appear. That is when they will begin their attack.

Episode 13
Damn recap episode. Or highlights. Or records. Whatever they want to call it. But it’s not just cut and paste because there are a few new scenes like Meteora’s first battle with Altair that ended with the former achieving victory but decided to redo it and lose or else the series would be over and like it got cancelled. Say what?! Oh yeah, Meteora narrates the entire recap and sometimes make deadpan sarcastic jokes. I guess this recap isn’t so boring. But a big portion of this recap is the more detailed background and story the other characters in the play. Finally she breaks the fourth wall telling us that this recap is planned from the start otherwise the staffs making this series would go crazy due to the large number of frames and characters. So be grateful they’re responding to our high expectations!

Episode 14
Kikuchihara has gathered many authors as she explains this huge government sponsored project. There will be a schedule of events featuring characters from participating stories and the first off the list is a 90 minute special anime called Border World Coliseum. Later a special promotion video will decide its outcome. Creators will create spinoffs of their stories before the TV broadcasts. Many are sceptical because they think they cannot finish it on time. Kikuchihara will hear no excuses from them. There are questions of making Altair weak or Meteora and co strong. For the former, she exists independently without an author so they cannot tweak her stats. For the latter, suddenly increasing a power of a character might not go down well with fans and hence not accepted. Everyone also has to be careful of the stories they write so its setting of the characters do not oppose world views. She officially sounds the start of this project called Elimination Chamber Festival. The announcement is made to the public and everyone is hyped up. The first spinoff story will go to Elemental Symphony of Vogelchevalier followed by an anime by Monomagia. As the authors crack their brains together, some tensions naturally arise. Especially Yatoji who don’t share the same views as Matsubara and Nakanogane. Then there is Marine getting a bit down as she compares her own drawing to Suruga. When all heads cool down, eventually they find some good in each other’s ideas and start working on that. Souta seeks Matsubara’s permission that he too wants to participate in this. He is refused at first but after hearing out his crazy idea, there is no harm in trying. Meanwhile Meteora and the rest are trying to find the source of some magnetic field fluctuation. Don’t look now because there is a new character before them and she looks lost.

Episode 15
Folks, Meet Hikayu Hoshikawa. She is from Hoshizora Milky Way, a dating sim game. With adult contents… She is crying because everyone knows everything about her. Oh, she’s crying even louder when Nakanogane mentions her ‘fighting ability’ is to flash her panties and seduce men… Poor girl… A report came in that Takarada is now in their custody. Meanwhile, Blitz meets the acquaintance of Sho Hakua. He is also from Heisaku Underground and was once Mirokuji’s ally. He now views Mirokuji as a traitor and needs to settle things. Magane is hiding out is some luxurious apartment when Alicetaria approaches her for help. As she will only participate in things that are fun, Alicetaria knows a girl who has the same abilities as Magane but without constraints. You know what to do to make it more interesting, right? Magane doesn’t like to do bidding of others but since Alicetaria is so much interesting today, she’ll abide by that. Takarada joins the creators for this Festival. He believes Alicetaria is planning to start a revolt but as a chivalrous character, can she stab Altair from the back? Given the circumstances now, she can. The writer for Hoshizora Milky Way, Nisho Oonishi who is also Nakanogane’s old friend drops by to see Hikayu. He is like one of those typical perverted otakus who wants to marry his idol/creation. And with the other babes here, he wants to marry this heavenly harem too! After Kikuchihara puts her foot down, they carry on discussing on how to increase Hikayu’s powers. But as a normal high school girl, can she have abnormal powers? Oonishi says she can. It’s easy. Fan disk. Altair knows Blitz already knows what she is planning so why is he still following her? He views her as weak but in a way strong. She couldn’t save anyone and doesn’t want to like as though she created something to be destroyed. This only makes him want to protect her more. She tells him this is why he shouldn’t participate in the final battle. Her powers are infinite and growing every day. Now she has this clairvoyance power and knows what the enemy is doing. But she is still going to let them go through with their plan so they can see how foolish their strategy is. However if the enemy succeeds, they will lose the chance to interfere in this world. This isn’t in Blitz’s storyline and he should do it for himself and not for the plot. As he has answered to her call, she knows about his secret wish and is obliged to answer to his. Blitz wonders if he can see her again after all this. If everything goes according to plan, they won’t.

Episode 16
Wait a minute. Selesia bought a car and she can drive? Oh, she has a valid driver’s licence. Everyone attends a hotspring party as a send-off party for the Festival. Kikuchihara accidentally gets drunk and she is much scarier than before. Basically none of the men can go against her in this mode. And the rest of the party is Meteora giving her thank you speech for participating in this as well as some sort of a reminder-cum-summary of why they’re doing this and its effects if they fail. Yeah, there’s even a team hand stack. Is this the finals of some game? The Festival final is here and the stadium is full to the brim. While a concert is performed to entertain the fans, Meteora and the rest make their preparations. Soldiers and police forces are stationed at certain points around the area as Meteora prepares to lay the bait. This includes summoning Selesia’s mecha. Mirokuji has powered a lot and everyone is feeling pretty good about doing this. As Altair prepares to move, she is not surprised or anything and expects Meteora’s plans to play out as it is.

Episode 17
Altair and Alicetaria are spotted. Everyone watches in excitement as both sides clash. Souta too but looks like Magane pays him a visit. Selesia takes on Altair while Alicetaria messes around with Kanoya. Giant robot trying to swap a fly? Alicetaria hints for him to wait for the right time. Mirokuji and Sho reunite for the first time in this world and duke it out. When the timer reaches zero, Meteora chants and completes the cage. But is shocked when Altair reveals she knows what she is doing. There are also military tanks and jets firing at Altair and although she destroys them, they are just unmanned replicas created by her. Selesia then uses her new power to open gates and trap Altair in other many worlds. It didn’t work. Because where there is a gate, there is an exit. If she is able to pinpoint that in infinite spaces, why has she not escaped this cage yet? She does not have the power. Yet. Meteora can easily kill her or even get her to surrender but that would need acceptance and it would not be fun to cut short this battle. So let’s continue fighting. Meanwhile Blitz confronts Suruga. He threatens to kill her but she isn’t panicking because if he shoots her, she will take all the answers to her grave. So he asks about why she killed his daughter in the manga. Simple. To make the story interesting. Blitz shoots and wounds her. Suruga is unrepentant and stands her ground she will do anything to make her stories more interesting to her readers even if it means killing people and turning the world upside down. Even though Altair is similar to her in the sense she wants to destroy the world, he views her creator is someone worth standing up for unlike Suruga who is already famous. Suruga disagrees because nobody starts out famous and the many nights she spent slogging and crying over her work. She is here today because she faced all that. Blitz tells his plans to kill her and then all her friends. Then he will cause a big trouble and help his friends fighting elsewhere. She calls that a boring plot and would have written it for him to kill Altair instead. The military arrives late to surround Blitz. Making a surprise entrance is Blitz’s daughter, Erina. Suruga has the last laugh and reminds him he is her god.

Episode 18
Blitz cannot believe Erina is still alive because he killed her before his eyes. Sure he did. Suruga explains because of the crossover, Erina was taken to Meteora’s world whereby her magic resurrected her. The fans accepted it and that’s why she is now here. Father and daughter emotionally reunite. Magane is trying to rile Souta about the things they are doing. Whatever they are doing is a lie and even though it is real, it is all made up. Of course there is no need for approval from the audience. They can lie from the start as long as they make it look real. This makes Souta mad about looking down on others and how something superficial would move the hearts of others. However this allows Magane to release some spell that puts Souta’s side in favour. Souta is shocked that she is helping them. She reminds him that she is doing things that entertain and interest her. She doesn’t care the outcome as long as she can see Altair’s face when she realizes their plan is succeeding. She is also done with Hangaku and decides to give it back. While Mirokuji is having a tough time with Sho, Hikayu comes to the rescue. She is now a super sexy Chinese martial artist?! Fans love it, so what does it matter? Sho thought Blitz is here to help him but he turns against him. He decided to jump ship. The trio take on him. Sho lies defeated and vows to drag Mirokuji to hell with him for killing his sister and best friend. That is when Mirokuji reveals he did not kill them and instead some fortune teller he contacted with is the true mastermind as he also painted Mirokuji in a bad light. This shocking spoiler shocks everyone! Yatoji can’t write the next volume now. But it soon gains acceptance because fans think it would be so cool to have Mirokuji and Sho teaming up. Once Kanoya and Alicetaria got some booster, they start teaming up to help Selesia. After Selesia traps Altair in a barrier, the duo are supposed to finish her off. However a dark mecha knocks him off and Selesia is in disbelief to see Charon.

Episode 19
Selesia is torn to fight him. Altair teases the viewers of the friends fighting each other. She reminds him she has the power to change the world and whether or not he obtains the key is up to him. Selesia tries to persuade Charon but he isn’t listening. He is siding with Altair even if it is a miniscule chance of saving their world. After all the fighting, he has gotten tired of it. Kanoya fights in Selesia’s place while Alicetaria moves in to kill Altair. Although she stabs her, Altair chants a spell that reverses all the injuries back to her. Alicetaria dies in vain as Altair mocks she is not the main character of this story and only a supporting one. Hikayu talks to Selesia about life choices based on her own experience. Is she going to abandon everyone who believed in her up till now? This gives Selesia confidence and the determination to face Charon. Everybody else combines their effort to fight Altair but she is still many steps ahead of them. Charon gets a pep talk from Kanoya about what it means to be a hero. The way he was deceived by Altair’s words makes him less of a hero and that Selesia is one who is more. If he is a hero, fulfil his responsibilities to the end. Kanoya’s mecha takes heavy damage. Just in time for Selesia to move in. When characters start talking about the good ol’ days and even confesses they like someone, it usually means a death flag. Selesia grips Charon as hard and close to her and plans to sacrifice herself. All she needs is Kanoya to fire all he’s got at them. This is what she has decided. She knows she cannot defeat Altair herself and neither could Kanoya if he lets this chance slip. They need to destroy Altair’s final shield. More feels when she thanks Meteora and Matsubara before the big explosion.

Episode 20
When Hikayu attacks Altair, the former uses her power to return her to her original powerless state. Killing her isn’t part of her plan so she plans to make Hikayu a helpless audience who can only watch the world get destroyed. She isn’t going to do the same to the rest because all of them are characters in a story that Altair created. She is using this system against them and the cage to boost her acceptance. The creators decide to resort to this trump card that they have been working on. After Meteora casts a spell, a new character appears, Sirius. Altair is shock and mad at this character because she is supposed to be a perfect mirror image of her. She is more powerful than Altair herself. In the end, Sirius tries to absorb Altair to become her and succeeds. With the battle over, Sirius turns into some wandering doll since she has no personality and a character just to defeat Altair. But when Sirius picks up and wears Altair’s hat, Altair returns! Catching Mirokuji off guard, her swords stab him. The creators realize that Sirius did not have enough personality compared to Altair despite covering every detail they could and this backfired on them. Altair took advantage of a loophole and took over Sirius. Since Altair doesn’t have a fixed background, that’s why it worked. Sho tries to fight her but gets taken down. With Kanoya’s mecha out of commission, looks like Blitz is the last one left standing to fight her. Altair claims the finale is near. This isn’t about her showing off how strong she is but the audience wants to see the heroes struggle and lose. That is what makes a story. Souta rushes back to the main base to suggest using that final trump card. Even if it would disrupt the flow or cannot get acceptance as fast from the audience, at least the creators accepted it and they will not know if they do not try. I mean, the worst that would come is the end of the world. They just failed. Meteora uses her activation spell but just when it looks like it isn’t working, Souta uses Magane’s power to turn the lie into truth. The scene then changes into a train station. Altair is shocked to see Setsuna before her.

Episode 21
This is not the real Setsuna. It is a story that Souta created based on and around her from his memories. Call it dirty or cheating all you want, Altair. But this is allowed inside stories. So we’ve got a long sappy emotional drama as Setsuna and Altair try to reconcile with each other. Something about hope, wishes, strength, weaknesses, hatred, curse and everything else that supposedly tried to define the existence of the duo. Even if Altair is the villain, she is the champion of the weak. This is not about good or evil, right or wrong. Everyone accepted her for who she is as a story and sympathized with her. Setsuna might be the original creator but her infinite power was created by everyone. Time for the miracle to end so Setsuna jumps off the platform. Altair tries to save her but each time she destroys the train, it regenerates. Setsuna believes her death is necessary otherwise she will bend the most crucial rule of this world. Well, since Altair has infinite powers, this means she can create worlds too. So now they are in another peaceful world spending quality time together, vowing to write and create more worlds for each other. Altair returns her glasses but it isn’t hers. Setsuna notes they belong to an important person who wore them. That is why she drew her. Time for Souta’s turn to have his emotional say. Some regrets over what he did and could have done, so many things he wanted to tell her. He should have moved forward instead of standing still because he really wanted to see the same world as her. That’s why he drew and created her. He wonders if he has caught up to her. With that, this marks the end of the Festival.

Episode 22
As many credit Souta for his idea, Matsubara is now reeling from sadness of Selesia’s fate. They give him hope that Selesia and others who perish can still exist. As long as this world remains and they continue to create stories. The crossover Festival was a big hit and had many criticisms and speculation about the future but they don’t mind since the world was saved. Meteora reminds them they have not much time left before they have to go back to their own world. So the creations spend some time with their creators. Souta and Meteora visit Setsuna’s grave. She credits him for successfully creating a version of Setsuna that Altair accepted. That is why the world was able to reach the end of the story as everyone accepted it. Otherwise their entire plan would have failed. Meteora opens up a portal to send everyone back. However it seems from whatever logic, she cannot send herself back. Looks like she will be staying here. Kikuchihara has made the necessary arrangements and after that will resign from her job. Resign from a stable government job? To do what? She is now into the otaku industry! Got some useful connections during all that, eh? Some good news for Takarada as he won a young adult’s award. All the creations that have appeared here will get a sequel or some sort of extended story or spin-off. The important thing is all of them won’t stop creating. Meteora is trying as a novelist and regularly keeps in touch with Souta who is still giving his shot with his artwork. He just uploaded his latest work that includes all the characters. Hey, isn’t Altair missing? Mamika and Erina are there but not Altair?

Creations Don’t Die, They Just Get Forgotten
Hmm… Something feels off. Something feels missing. The world has returned to its rightful order and a big positive happy ending for everyone in general. So what could be it… Aha! What the hell happened to Magane?! She was totally missing in the final episode and only reduced to a mere mention in her name. Did I miss anything because I certainly didn’t see her going back into the portal. Heck, she didn’t even turn up to participate in the Festival at all. So I am assuming that she is staying in this world just like Meteora but I am wondering if this has been an oversight from the producers since they did not even show a second of a clip from her living her new comfortable life. After all, if she goes back to her own world, she is an antagonist and would have been hunted down by the hero. Why go back to all that crap when you can have the life here? I guess that little missing piece is what is bugging me till the end even if it is just something very miniscule and unimportant.

The basic premise of this story started out quite interestingly. Taking a few fictitious characters and putting them in the same world and then fight against each other and then together against the final boss. However that soon quickly turned lacklustre. Because the first half is mainly about introducing the characters as they figure whose side they belong to. Once they’ve figured out who is who as well as Altair and her goal, the second half revolves around preparing their final battle against her. Personally it got a little messy for me as I was trying to piece together what was happening. After all, different characters from different stories have different goals. But I will point out one thing that makes this series a little unique than most ‘other worldly’ genres. Instead of a protagonist or a group of them being transported to another dimension or universe, this one has those characters from other worlds coming to ours. So technically they are the protagonists of their own worlds but are now in ours.

The characters play a very important role in driving the story. It is both a double edged sword for me. For Souta, he might look like the protagonist but I feel that he is very hardly involved in the show. You know, like Hollywood’s Mad Max: Fury Road in which the titular character was hardly in the movie itself and the limelight belonged to some other strong character. In Souta’s case, he was like hardly doing any significant contribution and felt like some sort of excess baggage. He exists because so as not to make this series feel like as though this is another world. I mean, when you focus too much on those fictitious characters, it might look like this world is another despite all the current modern day familiarities. So with this kid tagging along most of the time (was getting involved with Selesia the first time gave him enough right to be part of this?) and mostly reduced to a spectator, it doesn’t feel out of place in that sense. Of course Souta has a role to play in the final part of somewhat subjugating Altair. Like as though he is the final dormant secret weapon they pulled out against her when they have exhausted all avenues. At least he finally did something good for Setsuna. So stop being an emo blaming yourself already.

As for the other fictitious characters, there is this dilemma that they could have been more interesting had their personal stories being fleshed out more. However with the limited episodes as well as not to stray from the main overall plot, all we get are just the tip of the surface of their stories. There are like as many as 8 different stories in here so if you really want to know them all, maybe the producers will ‘exploit’ that via OVA. But let’s not talk about that. In a way not knowing their history is also good because you won’t get too attached to them. Because during the course of this series, these characters did notice they have somewhat changed themselves. Not very drastic but noticeably. Like Mirokuji who was supposed to be the antagonist of his series but he acts more like the anti-hero. Of course that revelation twist that was somewhat of a spoiler and shocker to everyone but hey, maybe that’s part of the story? Alicetaria is supposed to be a chivalrous knight but she is mostly acting like some hard-headed prideful snob. These characters have to change if they are to adapt to this world and hope to get back to their own. Because no point spouting your world’s ideals and logic if it doesn’t work here.

Having this much of different characters in a series is already daunting but sometimes the greedy part deep inside of me felt that wasn’t sufficient. It needs more! More characters! If you are going to do some massive crossover, might as well have more characters into the fray. After all, we’ve already almost got every character and genre inside here. From mechas to knights to magical girls, bad boys, dating simulation girls and military character, yeah, I think they’re short of having a maid… But then again, you might argue it dilutes the value of the characters as well as the overall plot because like the say, too many cook spoil the broth. Therefore having these few characters I suppose is sufficient for the sake of keeping the flow and pacing interesting. After all, it will be really daunting to come up and create 100 more ‘original’ characters for this series. Imagine the quality of what may come of that. I would fear any sort of rejected characters that are not up to par would be featured anyway.

So of all the millions of stories in this world, so how come this tiny bunch only materialized? Not really sure but maybe Meteora has explained but I wasn’t listening. Because you see, I find her the strangest of the bunch. She talks in a cryptic manner that makes it hard for me to understand. Maybe that is her character but can you blame her after her own creator is dead? It’s like she decided to play this game differently after that. Sometimes she breaks the fourth wall and tries to make deadpan jokes but they felt lame. Not sure if it is intentional and part of her character but it makes her really weird.

Back to my initial question, perhaps these characters materialized is because they are currently the popular ones? Not necessarily a hero can be popular as antagonists and side characters too as seen here popped up. If popularity isn’t the answer, could it be that they are all somewhat related to Altair? Because we did see her at the beginning having a hand in bringing all of them to this world. Even so, I fail to see why they are connected in some manner. My last ‘disappointment’ with the multitude of characters is that even though I expected them to introduce a handful of new characters in the second half, I didn’t expect them to be from the same series. Two of them. In a way I felt ‘cheated’. Sho and Charon came from Mirokuji and Selesia’s world respectively and we’ve got a seemingly out of place Hikayu who just really doesn’t fit anywhere except we need some cute girl turned into some hot kung fu chick. I guess at this point it is pointless to take characters from new series because they wouldn’t have that back story like we know of the other characters and that would really be a waste. Poor Charon. Got only 1 episode of proper appearance before he bows out despite he did appear earlier before but that was like for 1 second and for foreshadowing purposes.

Even if these fictitious characters are not real but turned real into this world, many of the dramatization and the bonding of the characters between their creators is necessary despite how cheesy it may look. It is to show that as creators, they have put great time and effort into creating their characters. It might sound like some sort of ploy to get us viewers to like them as well because if the creators don’t even care about their own creations, who else is going to care, am I right? While we don’t see an unhealthy obsession of Matsubara with Selesia, as his creation he sees her more than just a work of art or figments of his story. She is just Selesia.

Altair is one of those overpowered characters but her story was done nicely so it is hard to despise her character. For example of other anime characters like this, we all love One Punch Man’s Saitama but absolutely detest Touya of Isekai Wa Smartphone No Tomo Ni. Her powers were not instantly a given but ‘developed’ over time by various people. Therefore we have come to accept that her character was not created with the intention of being overpowered in the first place and given her tragic story behind her creator, I guess the sympathetic side inside us sometimes want to cheer for her even if it means destroying our own world. Yeah, we can be that irrational sometimes. Yes, truth is stranger than fiction.

If I had to point out the most interesting character, it would be Magane because she is on neither side and she has this very dangerous feel to it. You don’t know what she is thinking and it keeps you on your toes because like as though if you say or do the wrong thing, a snap of her finger would mean the end of you. Too bad she isn’t highly directly involved in the final battle against Altair because it would have been amazing to see one with the power to bend reality via lie paradox against one who has infinite abilities. It would have been epic. Oh well, guess I have to reimagine that scene and story in my head. It is just too bad her whereabouts were ‘missing’ in the final episode. Like as though her entire role throughout the series was for that one little bit to give Souta that power and then that’s it. Magane-chan is out of here.

One of the oddest things I find is the government’s response to all this. I don’t know how high ranking Kikuchihara is but it looks like she could make some calls and immobilize the entire army to her beck and call. She might have been given this authority but for the Japanese government to really find this a threat and put it their top most priority? They sure fooled the fans and kept it a secret. Because imagine the mass panic when word gets out the world is going to be destroyed! No time for manga, anime and games. Oh wait. Better indulge in more of them because the world is going to end! Now that she has decided to venture into this industry, will we see her bringing some government style protocols around? Only time will tell. I bet it will be hell to whoever she becomes the editor for. Yeah… I don’t know if the government has some sort of high-tech facility because we see Meteora using it to cast her spells over the city. Not sure if that facility belongs to her but I find it weird that she has to stand inside it to use it. Couldn’t she just cast the power herself? Maybe it helps magnify the power. Not really clear on it. And from the looks of it, they have really good cameras everywhere to cover all angles because otherwise how those fans in the stadium are going to enjoy those final action bits?

Other weird moments I find include that short lesbian friendship between Alicetaria and Mamika because it sounds like a death flag for one of them, as well as how Erina could be easily brought to this world. Sure, creators are like gods but how could she have been easily materialized and brought back to life if a condition is the need for the public’s acceptance? Oh right. Plot twist and advancement. Need a reason to get Blitz on their side. Magane’s temporal possession of Hangaku was also pointless. She didn’t really do anything with it and gave it back to Mirokuji. Like, WTF in the first place?

The fight scenes are rather okay. There is a decent balance so that they do not overwhelm and overshadow the characters and plot. Of course the ‘sad’ part is that they mostly do not finish it or end in a draw because it would just be sad if a character just untimely dies. RIP Mamika… So the battles give some much needed variety to the drama and explanation. After all, it would be a waste not to test and pit each character against each other seeing each have their own unique (but limited) abilities. That is what we are here for, right? It is interesting to see their different abilities hold up to each other but sometimes thinking about it, sometimes it could be unfair because one character looks so overpowered than the other and if their attacks that worked in their world could have worked on another character from an entirely different world. Well, it’s not impossible seeing this is anime. The impossible is always possible.

Art and animation are pretty okay and decent. The designs of the fictitious characters are in line of how we expect anime characters to look. They are well detailed and are designed uniquely that makes them stand out from the other from a visual point of view (I wonder if Mamika is taken after Madoka because she sure hell reminds me of her). Too bad their creators look like typical bland otaku guys. They have this nerdy and ‘loser’ look. Why does Oonishi have this typical pervert look? I thought he was related to that guy from the retro Leisure Suit Larry video games. For some reason, Suruga reminded me of Kouda from an old anime, Girls’ High. No wonder their created characters look so much better. Yeah, real life sucks. Now you know why some of us love 2D so much more than 3D. Animation feels fine. Didn’t notice any drop in quality and even the use of CGI on the mechas, they look nicely blended into the 2D art rather than sticking out like a poorly used CGI effect.

Voice acting also feels okay with me recognizing Mikako Komatsu as Selesia, Kenichi Suzumura as Mirokuji and Youko Hikasa as Alicetaria. I thought Yui Horie was behind Marine’s voice but it turned out to be Hisako Kanemoto (Ika in Shinrayku! Ika Musume). It was also hard to notice Aki Toyosaki as Altair because of her low brooding voice and it took a while for me to notice it was her. Plus, haven’t been hearing her as often as before. The rest of the other casts are Daiki Yamashita as Souta (Yuzu in Fukumenkei Noise), Inori Minase as Meteora (Noel in Sora No Method), Maaya Sakamoto as Magane (Ciel in Kuroshitsuji), Sora Amamiya as Kanoya (Aqua in KonoSuba), Atsushi Ono as Blitz (Giriko in Bleach), Shiina Natsukawa as Hikayu (Yuki in Demi-chan Wa Kataritai), Nobuhiko Okamoto as Sho (Accelerator in To Aru Majutsu No Index), Rie Murakawa as Mamika (Ageha in Kyoukai No Rinne), Ayumi Tsunematsu as Kikuchihara (Mori in GJ-Bu), Ayaka Ohashi as Setsuna (Momoka in Sabagebu), Katsuyuki Konishi as Matsubara (Oga in Beelzebub), Ryou Sugisaki as Nakanogane (Hoshikage in Gyakuten Saiban), Daiki Hamano as Yatoji (Hirokuni Kasuga in All Out), Junichi Yanigata as Takarada (Yoshino in Rewrite), Jun Fukushima as Oonishi (Kazuma in KonoSuba) and Minako Kotobuki as Suruga (Tsumugi in K-ON!).

I like the first opening theme, GravityWall by SawanoHiroyuki[nZk]: Tielle & Gemie. It has this very dark edgy techno feel to it hence making the piece a suitable opener for this series. The same singer also sings the second opening theme, Shout. Though still have that techno feel to it but somehow this one feels less dark and edgy and hence not as attractive as the first one. A total different feel for the ending themes as the first one, New Look by Mashiro Ayano is like a spunky rock beat while the second ending theme, Rubicon by Sangatsu No Phantasia is a boring generic anime pop. A special ending theme, World Etude is sung by Aki Toyosaki (you mean that’s her singing?) and its dark rock feels like a suitable piece for Altair’s character.

Overall, this series had some potential but ultimately my expectations of it brought some disappointment instead. It’s just average to me. Not to say this series is totally that bad as I did enjoy some of the moments (like the fights) and despite the cliché of crossover characters story, this take is still interesting itself because in a way you get to see from different viewpoints of others instead of your own. Good stories, bad stories, long stories, short stories, exciting stories, boring stories, no matter what kind of stories they are, they are still stories nevertheless. Everything has its own story to tell if somebody cares to listen. It is always easy to criticize stories and works of others until you try doing it yourself. I’m sure most of us as a kid we have created some half-baked stories and characters and then mostly grew out of it. I’m glad they can’t come true in this universe because I’ll be dead of embarrassment above anything else! Some creations are not meant to be seen by the rest of the world… As of why I don’t create new characters and stories today, sorry, having a writer’s block for years now…

Senki Zesshou Symphogear AXZ

February 17, 2018

Wow. There’s still more? So much more because not only Senki Zesshou Symphogear AXZ is the series’ fourth season, they also announced the fifth season at the same time! What a way to really douse speculations if there would be more seasons. But I’ll cross the bridge once I get there. For now, this fourth season… Ah shucks. I can’t remember much of the storyline anymore. I was mainly confused in past editions so I now I’m going to be even more. I know I mustn’t give up like Hibiki. Maybe at the end of it all there will be hope for me to understand everything. Or not.

Episode 1
Hibiki still slacks in doing her homework. But is this considered saved by the bell because she is being whisked away for a mission? She heads over to a South American nation to join Tsubasa and Chris to take out a dictator’s military arsenal. No matter what you’re shooting at the girls, you’ll never best their singing and firepower. Not even this giant ship he is piloting in the sky. Nothing like a load of extreme firepower to take it down and not incur a single casualty! Although this mission is a success, another one awaits them. After noticing the UN quickly treating to wounded locals of a nearby village, they join up with Maria, Kirika and Shirabe to destroy the weapon’s factory of the dictator, Val Verde. Hibiki remembers being told about the Pavarian Illuminati. Apparently all the events that have happened since the first season, this group is the one who has been pulling the strings behind the shadows. From FIS to Frontier, they have a hand in all of them. Now they have at least some evidence to prove their existence and that is why they are in Latin America as signs of Alca-Noise have popped up. But this place doesn’t hold too many fond memories for Chris. It looks like her parents died here and Sonya prevented her from following suit. Time for more action with the Symphogear ladies engaging the military as well as the Alca-Noise they can produce. Of course things go berserk as the Alca-Noise also starts killing some of the soldiers. Hey, at least they aren’t discriminating. Hibiki befriends a local boy, Stefan who helps guide them around. He tells them the military has been forcing the locals to work in the factory. Eventually the factory is taken down and Val Verde and his top aides are about to flee. But 3 cuties from Pavarian Illuminati pop up and will put him to good use. I don’t know what happened to them but I believe they’re dead and their life force contributed to whatever Saint-Germain is planning. Along with Cagliostro and Prelati, they head to the basement to recover some doll. The guys from SONG are spying on them when the damn laptop of Sakuya Fujitaka had to beep (finished scanning some data? Could he have put it on silent mode?). Run! Saint-Germain decides to experiment and unleashes some giant dragon spirit, Yohualtepoztli. Lots of men died while trying to protect the data extracted. Before it is Fujitaka and Aoi Tomosato’s turn, here comes Maria’s team! Just in time.

Episode 2
It seems Yohualtepoztli can regenerate no matter how much damage it takes. Saint-Germain views this experiment as a success because it is a step closer to attaining divine power. With that, she stops this experiment and return to base. So they’re letting them go? Saint-Germain says their priority is to retrieve the doll, Tiki. Meanwhile Stefan leads Hibiki’s team to where his villagers are being held hostage by the factor’s director. As they fight the Alca-Noise, Stefan is in danger of being killed by one. But Chris had to do what she had to do. She shot off Stefan’s leg before the infection could spread. Because of that Sonya is blaming her? Hey, he still got his life. Naturally it strained their relationship and this isn’t the kind of reunion they were hoping for after all these years. Flashback 400 years ago when the Pavarian Illuminati was founded on alchemy by gathering pieces of technology left behind by Phine, this led them to clash with Phine herself who sought to monopolize such technology. Adam Weishaupt who was the founder wanted to attain divine power and give it form. But Tiki was lost and their plans put on hold and the organization banished into the shadows. Now that Phine is no more, their revival is imminent. All they have to do is bring back Tiki. Cagliostro and Prelati decide to take lure out the Symphogear girls by attacking the airport. Maria and co respond to the call to fight the duo, dispose of the Alca-Noise and give the airplane the necessary lift off. However they ran out of power and can no longer fight effectively. Think of summoning Yohualtepoztli to finish them? Think again because here comes Hibiki punching right through it! You defy logic by punching through everything! So much about that immortality thingy.

Episode 3
Saint-Germain pops up to bring her comrades away. Back at the base, Saint-Germain revives Tiki who is supposed to be an Autoscorer created to precisely record the movements of the planets on a star map. Tiki is such an energetic bubbly girl? She is more concerned about Adam who she cannot function without. Conveniently speaking, he comes a calling. Too bad business comes first. Saint-Germain wants to investigate how Hibiki tore through the mechanisms of Yohualtepoztli but Adam tells her all that is unimportant. Just destroy the Symphogear girls. Say no more because Cagliostro and Prelati have already launched a pre-emptive strike on Maria and Tsubasa’s plane. Not only they survive, the all-important data is intact too. Returning to SONG’s base, Genjurou explains more about Tiki. During the war, Germany wanted to seek an alternate energy for fossil fuel and Japan as their ally helped in the research and hence some of the Relics like Gungnir ended up in Japan. Everyone can tell Chris has been down ever since Stefan’s incident although she brushes it off. Before they could do anything to cheer her up, it’s those damn Alca-Noise again. Saint-Germain tests another prototype and sends the Symphogear girls to another alternate space. Are they fighting on some alien planet? Actually it is a subspace pocket of Alca-Noise and all their attacks have no effect. The girls have no choice but to up the ante by using Dainsleif but I figure at this point they are a pro at using it. More extreme action to see how they break through everything and return to normal space. Saint-Germain is satisfied of the data they got from this experiment despite the failure. However Tiki has other ideas. She thinks this is the best spot to pick a fight with God.

Episode 4
There is a flashback of Saint-Germain who was being treated as a child slave and led a tragic life. Genjurou explains to the Symphogear girls about this base, Matsushiro where the military HQ was relocated after WW2. It also houses the secret Kazanari Institute. Currently the data is being deciphered but it will take time. The girls wonder why trouble the locals for evacuating them for this mission as ordered by the top boss, Kamakura. Genjurou replies the harsh reality that their mission is to protect the country and not the people. Can there be a country without its people? Maria’s team go down on the ground to find others who have not evacuated. Yup, an old lady plucking tomatoes. Look who decided to show up? Cagliostro is disappointed to see Maria’s side but nevertheless unleashes her Alca-Noise to deal with them. Luckily Chris was nearby to handle her to allow them to escape with granny. When Hibiki and Tsubasa arrive, Cagliostro has orders to retreat. Granny gives Maria a tomato as reward. And something about people’s life and tomatoes’ are similar during hardship? The decryption isn’t going well so Genjurou gets a direct call from Kamakura about his recent failures as he allowed him to use the facilities to make UN be indebted to them. More Alca-Noise are detected. Hibiki’s team take them on with their Dainsleif. Looks like the Pavarian Illuminati trio decide to show up too. This time they have something similar to Dainsleif, Faust Robes. It repels and nullifies their Dainsleif. It’s overpowered too that our Symphogear girls are left defeated. Saint-Germain explains the creation of Faust Robes by uniting the philosopher’s stone with the human body for the ultimate alchemy. It’s all thanks to the data they got from Chateau de Tiffauges. Their goal is to free mankind from oppression. Before they could finish them, here comes Adam. He uses his alchemy to trigger nuclear fusion and turns his fireball into some destructive power worth 10 megatons! Better escape if you know what’s good for you. There’s a giant simmering crater in the aftermath. But the most eyebrow raising thing is that, does he have to do all that naked?!

Episode 5
Don’t worry, all our favourite characters are still alive. As they regroup, Genjurou admits it was their total lost. The base is destroyed as well as all its secret documents. They discuss the fearsome alchemy the enemy possesses that it was able to force out their Dainsleif. Kirika and Shirabe despite injured, continue to train but their injury gets the better of them. They believe doing so can increase their sync rates and they won’t need Linker anymore. Until Elfnein mentions she is close to decipher the last piece of the puzzle from Ver’s recipe. Long story short, she needs to find some part of the brain that is connected to the Symphogear to minimize the stress. There is this VR system Ver left behind. In short, Elfnein can use it to peek into one’s mind but the risk is high since both their minds can merge and can turn into vegetable state. With no time to lose, Maria offers to be the test subject. As the rest waits, they see on the news that Stefan is in Japan to receive to undergo surgery for a prosthetic leg so he could continue his dream to play football. Meanwhile Genjurou is being called by Kamakura for his failure. There is no use chewing him out. He has a job to do. Do it. Elfnein enters Maria’s mind and relives her life. Whatever pain Maria feels, Elfnein could also feel. Too bad most of the memories are painful ones during her time at the facility under Nastassja. Then we have this episode’s obligatory Alca-Noise action so we have Maria who is self-conscious fighting waves of it and emerges victorious. After all, she can dream all she wants in her mind, right? But then they enter the subconscious area and this is where things get unstable and putting their physical bodies in danger. But look who decides to pop up now? The Pavarian Illuminati trio once again unleash a Hydra-like Alca-Noise. While the other Symphogear girls head into action, look who pops up in Maria’s subconscious? Ver! Even dead bad guys like him continue to haunt her in her mind. Yeah, the nightmare is about to begin.

Episode 6
Don’t really get this part but from what I understand, this vision of Ver is trying to lead Maria to the part of her brain connected to Symphogear since he was very intimate with the research. Meanwhile the other Symphogear girls are fighting the Hydra. But when they cut its heads off, it revives and splits into independent creatures. It could be a ploy to split them up and fight them separately but they’ll take the challenge. Maria and Elfnein are in the subconscious part whereby Maria still reels from her fears and insecurities. Then they get absorbed as Maria discovers she is now back in time during her harsh training at the facility. Despite remembering Nastassja being harsh, she remembers closely that each time she did so, she would always have a sad look on her face. She always hid her pain when seeing them suffer. She remembers she also protected all the other children who have gone on to have a brighter future. Nastassja’s harshness was their strength. With that, Elfnein knows that brain part that connects to the Symphogear and wakes up. Time to get to work. The Symphogear girls are being tested on their endurance as the Hydra keeps replicating. To Hibiki’s fear, one of them is heading towards her school. She is about to hit the panic button when Kirika and Shirabe drop in to help take out the Alca-Noise. This time they show no strains on their body and is able to perform at tip top condition. And that Hydra heading towards the school? Easily taken out by Maria. So it seems the all important ingredient in the brain to connect to the Symphogear is… Love! You mean it was this simple and cliché?! With the Symphogear girls emerging victorious and cornering the Pavarian Illuminati trio, time to spit out their intentions. Despite claiming wanting to save mankind, they don’t intend to work together. Because they have the power of God to tear down the curse of Balal. This is sounding to get more ridiculous…

Episode 7
There’s a brief explanation of that but I’m totally lost. Basically, it justifies their reason to sacrifice others. But screw all that, it’s the fights we’re here to see. Kirika and Shirabe thought they could use Dainsleif but their power up is only short-lived. Cagliostro deflects Chris bullets and they almost hit Saint-Germain. Because of that she decides to call for a retreat. Adam isn’t so pleased the trio failed to take care of the Symphogear girls. But with Tiki drawing the horoscope clearer, it’s time to prepare the altar. The trio don’t like how cocky Adam is but Cagliostro and Prelati note their loyalty isn’t to him or the organization but to Saint-Germain. She was the one who gave them perfect bodies and goals when they were originally fakes. So as Saint-Germain prepare the altar, the duo will rid of the Symphogear girls. Elfnein works hard without any break that she might be breaking herself at this rate. It would be sad if she hasn’t found anything after putting in such effort and for plot convenience, here it is. She notices a waste of lump matter that was transmuted from Hibiki when she merged with Gungnir. Since it has the opposite effect of the philosopher’s stone, she proposes using this fool’s stone (that’s what they’re calling it) to be upgraded into the Symphogear. But since it is stored at the underwater Neptune Palace, good luck finding a needle in a haystack. During this time, Cagliostro and Prelati show up to destroy the Symphogear for good. Kirika, Shirabe and Chris are the only ones who can go into action since the rest are underwater looking for the fool’s stone. They can’t let the enemy know about this or they’ll try to stop them. So how can Kirika and Shirabe fight without their Dainsleif? Unison. All they have to do is work together and be in sync. And you see how it work wonders as they kick Prelati’s ass. Because of that, another retreat. Saint-Germain reports the altar is ready but it lacks enough life energy to power its central plinth. Adam suggests sacrificing one of the duo as their perfect body will provide all the life energy needed. Not so keen on sacrificing now, eh? Well, she’s got to choose. Her cause or her comrades.

Episode 8
For the sake of progression, the fool’s stone is found. Elfnein works hard to make a new Ignite module for them. Then Genjurou trains them and despite their firepower and numbers, they cannot beat him! And this is just warm up! WTF?! They should just send this guy to do their battles! Saint-Germain begins the ritual as Adam reminds her it is time to choose. With those pesky Symphogear girls still on the loose, Cagliostro offers to destroy them for good since Prelati is injured and out of action. Before Stefan and Sonya return to their country, they see Chris and Tsubasa. There is still some animosity between Chris and Sonya. As usual, Alca-Noise drop in to attack. Cagliostro is running wild with her powers. When other Symphogear girls arrive, Cagliostro sends Hibiki, Tsubasa, Kirika and Shirabe into separate subspace pocket. Chris and Maria are left to fight her. Chris discovers Stefan and Sonya still haven’t evacuate the building. Wheelchair got stuck. WTF?! Before Cagliostro could kill Chris, Stefan stands up and his football kick saves the day! WTF?! He can perfectly get up and walk so why was he even ‘stuck’?! Anyway Stefan argues how petty the ladies are still bitter about the past unlike him who is so the future. Yeah… It motivates Chris to fight back. This time they use the fool’s stone to negate Cagliostro’s attacks. Their unison and bond are also high enough that their combo forms a twin-seater jet to destroy Cagliostro once and for all! With Cagliostro now dead, Adam sarcastically points out to Saint-Germain this saves her the trouble of choosing. They will sacrifice Prelati who is not in tip top condition. You mad, girl? Oh right. Adam has no humanity, blah, blah, blah. We know. He knows. Big deal.

Episode 9
Tsubasa and Shirabe try out their unison but it’s not working well. It seems only Shirabe is the one who doesn’t register any sort of phonic gain increment with all the unison combo. Naturally, depression sets in. A message from Yatsuhiro comes in regarding the Divine Gate, a power that the Pavarian Illuminati is looking for. For a change of pace, Genjurou sends the Symphogear girls to a shrine to investigate. The priest shows a map that shows the markings of the 7 Hikawa shrines that is like a mirrored version of the Orion constellation. Traditionally known as the Drummer’s Gate to Heaven, it is a gate where gods were known to descend. And possibly what the Pavarian Illuminati is looking for. Since Shirabe is still ‘lost’, the priest talks to her about walls. Walls aren’t just for rejection. Meanwhile Tiki wants Adam to turn her into a real human girl after he gets the divine power so he can be his real wife. They are confronted by Prelati who wants to know his true goal. He reminds them that they should have known their lives are part of his plan for his divine power. However this is the first time Prelati hears this and attacks them. But she soon leaves to go warn Saint-Germain as it is Adam’s to sacrifice all of them all along. Adam won’t go after her and let the Symphogear girls do the job. Shirabe and Tsubasa with the highest mobility go into action first. Prelati desperately tries to shake them off and is not open to listening. Time to use that unison thing. Shirabe still not confident. And yeah, the theme is kindness so something about ii that allows them to power up and combine into some weird drag car? Anyway Prelati gets killed. Tiki calls Saint-Germain to taunt her that Prelati has become road kill and because of that, they cannot use her as a sacrifice. Adam orders her return before the Symphogear girls disrupts the ritual.

Episode 10
Genjurou and co discuss the use of the leylines for a greater ritual and thus started to evacuate the people. Although there are methods to counter it, Adam destroyed all that was stored in Kazanari Institute. That’s what happens when you keep all your eggs in 1 basket. Saint-Germain starts the ritual by sacrificing her life to open the Divine Gate via Earth’s leylines. But Genjurou’s side has done some preparations. The priests of the shrines simultaneously cut the seals to sever the power lines. This disrupts the ritual and cause Tiki to be lifeless. Cue for Saint-Germain to fight Hibiki and Kirika (the rest cannot go into action as their modules are being repaired by Elfnein). Not sure what combo the duo pull off but it doesn’t look like some weird vehicle. Saint-Germain is defeated but even if her will to overthrow oppression is great, she lacks energy. This is where Hibiki comes in and uses the power of persuasion for her to use it in a better way. Just when you thought Saint-Germain is going to cave in, here comes Adam to restart the ritual. Even better, he uses the leylines from the stars in the sky!!! After all, there is that Orion’s Belt in the constellations, right? Saint-Germain tries to ascertain if he is going to use this godly power to overthrow oppression. Nope. Yup, you’ve been duped. He uses Tiki to fire a super blast. Everything could have been vaporized had not Kirika use her swan song to protect it. Although she suppresses its recoil by overdosing on the Linker, it will still be harmful to her body. With Kirika out of action, looks like Saint-Germain is going to defeat the oppressor. Make that 2 of them because Hibiki joins forces with her.

Episode 11
Saint-Germain tells Hibiki to destroy Tiki as she is acting as a vessel and focal point for the power transfer and hence preventing the divine power’s manifestation. Adam gets in their way and as they both fight, Saint-Germain realizes something. Adam could have easily destroyed them with his nuclear power thingy but yet he didn’t. He is waiting for the power from the heavens so this is their chance to take him down. When he is slightly wounded, they are shocked to realize Adam is a puppet. That mere word makes Adam mad. In turn it makes Tiki mad as she transforms into some alien monster. This is supposedly the divine weapon? Too bad it regenerates whenever Saint-Germain damages it. Adam reveals he was created by them as the group’s representative. However he was even perfect as a prototype and tossed away. Because of that, Adam cannot accept the perfect losing to the imperfect. So to answer Saint-Germain’s question if he has humanity left in him, heck he isn’t human to begin with! Tiki unleashes a powerful blast. Though it missed the girls, it seems it hit some American military satellite. Shortly, Genjurou is contacted by Kamakura about this farce. This has already become an internationally known incident and outsiders will deploy their ‘peacekeeping forces’ under UN’s name to invade Japan. Kamakura feels he has to intervene in the battle eventually. An unknown source contacts Genjurou and reveals they have decrypted all of Val Verde documents. One of them included some spear believed to be the one that kill gods. However it doesn’t possess such attributes but contains the same powers as Gungnir. In short, Gungnir is the weapon that could destroy the divine power and it is cue for Hibiki get back up and finish the job. Saint-Germain connects the dots that Adam’s weapon was not intended to destroy the Symphogear but to destroy information that would thwart his plans. Tiki cannot regenerate after being punched by Hibiki. Before she destroys the monster completely, Adam has Tiki eject from it. Though still partially destroyed, he still needs something to harbour the divine power. A puppet. Yeah, his left arm that he just ripped out. Unfortunately all that power didn’t go to him but being absorbed into Hibiki who turns into an eerie cocoon.

Episode 12
It has been 48 hours since Hibiki is in that state. Adam will not give up on that power still so I guess he has gone back to the drawing board. Genjurou is in a pinch since the Americans via UN are threatening to engage armed intervention and Yatsuhiro is trying his best to delay it so his side must produce the results in a very limited time. Thanks to information from Saint-Germain, Elfnein has gotten lots of clues to create an Anti-Linker. Because Yohualtepoztli and the divine weapon need a vessel to manifest stably its immense power, this is also how the Symphogear works. They can assume that same power is engulfing Hibiki. Time is certainly running out as Kamakura has already mobilize the unlimited national defence to prevent this disaster. Of course you know, the girls protest this is called a disaster. This is their friend. Old impatient fart won’t stand for it. The army tanks fire but it only serves to break a giant angry monster out. Yeah, see how powerful her blasts are. The Symphogear girls go into action but their normal methods couldn’t stop her. Once the Anti-Linker pods hit the monster and the effects are taking place, this is where Miku comes in. She screams Hibiki’s name? Apparently using her voice as some electromagnetic signal to get through Hibiki inside. You know, how to voice of your friend tends to wake you up. At least for Hibiki. With that, she breaks out from the monster and into safe hands. Also, with this result, the UN agrees to step down. Happy ending, right? But no. The damn US president (I want to say he looks like Donald Trump but he doesn’t) while on his vacation doesn’t want to take any risk and initiates a missile targeted at Japan! F*ck you America! With the missile homing in, there is not enough time. Even if they manage to cut it, the shockwave will still contaminate the area. This is where Saint-Germain gets to play the tragic hero. She starts singing but is surprised when Cagliostro and Prelati sing by her side. Their ghost? Nope. The real deal. Apparently Cagliostro faked her death to hide from Adam and then saved Prelati before she died. They have been preparing a special transmutation since. Saint-Germain fires this bullet to contain its explosion but it is still not enough. So they use their lives to diffuse it once and for all. All over, right? Nope. Adam returns and he has absorbed all the divine power into his hand. Literally, the power is in his hand. He won’t let them interrupt again but love maniac Tiki grabs on to him. This is what happens if you don’t give your doll enough hugs. This allows Hibiki to smash the divine weapon.

Episode 13
Despite the victory, Hibiki is still sad she couldn’t save Saint-Germain. Save that for later. They’ve still got Adam to deal with. Some Alca-Noise to deal with so as not to ‘forget’ them. When Adam’s body cannot maintain his perfect form anymore, he reverts to his true monstrous form. The people who designed him must be messed up… Guess what? His true form is faster and more powerful! WTF?! So the price of perfection is less speed and power? That isn’t perfect! Eventually all the girls risk their lives by joining their powers to sing their swan song. Leave it to Elfnein and SONG to try and divert the strain to Dainsleif. More beating up until Hibiki’s gear gave out too soon. Luckily the other girls send some of their power before her doom. Hibiki evolves as she now can do all their special moves! Finally, she has the support of Saint-Germain and co as she transcends into a shiny gold armour to give Adam a heap of punches! So explosive that Adam explodes like a nuclear bomb?! More good news as the Pavarian Illuminati members worldwide are arrested. But with the organization gone, the remnants will be the hard ones to track. Yatsuhiro talks to Kamakura about the world condemning America for trying to use such measure. But Kamakura throws him a thought. They have seen a power that rivals God. What if Japan has that power. They wouldn’t need to worry about being attacked and invaded anymore. Tempting… On the lighter side, everyone celebrates Hibiki’s 17th birthday. Just in time. Man, it was one heck of a build up to her birthday. But I suppose the best birthday gift is their victory. As usual, Hibiki is still having worries over her fist-only solution. As usual, Miku is up to remind her no matter what, she will always hold her hand. There. Friendship level increased. Elfnein tells Genjurou her theory why Hibiki was able to serve as a vessel for the divine power. Hibiki was hit with Shenshou Jing and that purified her curse, hence cleansing of her sin. However Genjurou remembers there is another person who was hit by that: Miku.

Star Doors: The Illuminati Strikes Back! Even so, It’s All In The Punching
What else can I say about this season? Everything is left hanging because we already know from the start there will be another season. Things are not done yet. Things have to be done. Basically what I understand this season is that the big final boss of everything has finally shown up and with all the Illuminati conspiracy and memes going around, I suppose they’re going to make use of them here as the main antagonist. After all, Phine is already gone so who else left is there to pull the strings? Blame it all on the Illuminati! Illuminati confirmed! Who’d knew that this sci-fi action series would eventually tread down this path of using the Illuminati as their antagonist. Maybe we will get more of such memes in the future…

This season I am still lost with all the technical terms and jargons like Linkers because I think I could barely remember them. What the heck is that Balal curse again? Therefore when they start getting technical using such terminologies, my brain automatically gets shut off. Yeah. Uhm. Whatever they said. As for the recurring characters especially our Symphogear girls, there isn’t much drama to be played out on them since with have seen them being fleshed out in previous seasons especially last season about Hibiki and her dad. So this time round we have Chris and her connections with some South American acquaintance but that itself isn’t much. Then there is also Kirika and Shirabe and snippets of their past but that too isn’t enough. Tsubasa and Maria are like treading in the background like Hibiki. When Hibiki temporarily turned into a monster, I guess it feels like déjà vu because in the previous seasons I think I remember she too turned into some berserk monster form. Although Miku is sorely missing in action (because in a previous season she did turn into a fighting machine), looks like her eternal role is to always cheer Hibiki up whenever she feels down. Yeah, the cheapest tonic to cure her depression: Friendship! But in the final scenes it is hinted she is more than a bunch of smiles so by the next season she could play an even more significant role.

The new characters for this season are the antagonists. Adam feels like a two dimensional villain because as usual, a powerful head of an organization who wants to wield absolute power. And before you can claim that he is so cliché that he has no humanity in him because of how cruel he is, they think they can pull a quick one over us because of the revelation he isn’t human to begin with! Oh, the irony. A puppet trying to destroy humanity. Turns out he looks more like a demon than your typical puppet. Am I paranoid to think this is what would happen if AI gets more intelligent than mankind in the future? I fear so… The biggest irony that a puppet is the one thinking he has the right to decide on the fate of humanity when we humans don’t even give a sh*t about each other.

As for Saint-Germain, Cagliostro and Prelati, I already predicted that they would be misguided and then somewhat become allies with the Symphogear girls in the end although it is just for a short while. Though Saint-Germain will not consider them fighting alongside each other as an ally, but if you’re fighting the same enemy together, that is good enough for me to consider that temporary team up as allies. Too bad they didn’t live in the end and hence breaking the combo of when the next season comes by, the Symphogear girls would have a new face joining their ranks (maybe they could as ghosts). Because that is what Elfnein is literally. She is now like the mad scientist of the group, only with a lot of anxiety and guilt because of the need to make better Symphogear technology for the girls to fight better, blah, blah, blah. One of the biggest ironies is how Saint-Germain was so confident and did not bat an eyelid in taking lives of others for her misguided cause only to start sweating when Adam the jerk decided to use hers and her aides. It’s like saying she can do unto others but others cannot do unto her. Like having 2 different set of rules applied. In the end, I guess all that matters is that she is satisfied to finally put her life for good use. Hey, you can’t make great progress if you don’t put your own life on the line, can you?

I suppose if there is something that I need to ‘praise’ and something that I have ‘enjoyed’ this season is the ridiculous action. Yes, this season like the previous maintains its over the top exaggerated action. It has all the flashy and explosive effects that would make your jaw drop in disbelief. You could almost feel the power packed in all those explosions. Bang for your buck? It is nonsensical but it’s fun. I wouldn’t go as far as to put the action on the same level as Hollywood’s Mad Max: Fury Road. But I’ll say it is more along the lines of that kind of mindless action. After all, when you are fighting hordes of colourful and ‘cute’ Alca-Noise, you need to destroy them in bulk as it would definitely be inefficient to destroy them one by one. This season also introduces combo team ups from the Symphogear girls as they form some sort of weird getup to destroy the enemy. Nice gimmick. So I guess we can look forward to the other strange versions they will turn into via different combinations in the future.

But nothing beats Hibiki’s punching. It’s like saying there is nothing that cannot be defeated with a good punch. Her Gungnir is like the answer to almost everything. Ironically she wants to win battles without sacrifices but always ends up using her fists. I guess that shows her persuasion skills aren’t as good as her punches. Oh well. You know what they say about action speaks louder than words. Also, it would be just plain boring and unrealistic to see Hibiki just winning over the enemy with words. That’s not why we watch this series, right? And now that she has the ability to do special attacks of her comrades… How further more will she evolve? Sometimes it feels funny that the Pavarian Illuminati girls decide to go destroy the Symphogear girls, only to always get defeated, it feels like some sort of joke because it’s like rinse and repeat every time. They feel confident in taking them down and when they clash, they lose. Retreat. Rest for a while to get back that confidence. Have a go again. I suppose this is only how we’ll get our Symphogear action.

I also want to mention the character designs of the antagonists. When Adam first made his appearance, instantly I thought what the heck is Sinbad from Magi doing here?! Has that king of Sindria finally gone rogue?! Plus, with his white suit, at certain angles he reminds me of Michael Jackson! Aaow! Heehee! Smooth Criminal! Okay, his white suit doesn’t resemble like Michael Jackson’s iconic one in Smooth Criminal but I just can’t help remember that King of Pop when looking at him. His true form she got me thinking of what is deemed as perfect. At least in the visual and physical department. Because if Adam deems his own looks as perfect, is this what humans who created him model after? Then why the heck was his true form hideous? Don’t really get it. Then there is the battle suit of Prelati. She is the oddest of the lot as it makes her look like some mini monster. Worse, it could be one of those animal pyjamas that kids go to sleep with. Serious. Then there is those Alca-Noise do come in all colours, shapes and sizes. However I tend to notice a few that really looks ridiculous. I believe I saw a few as bananas… WTF?!

I don’t know if a few political punching bags were made because the first adventure of this series that has them head to South America, one of the dictators reminded me of Venezuela’s president, Nicolas Maduro! Maybe it was just me but then again, many dictators are stereotyped as fat bad moustachioed guys. And then there is the one of the US president. Doesn’t look like Donald Trump as I have said earlier but why do I get this feeling that it is supposed to be referring to him? And why does the pre-emptive missile strike feels like the one about North Korea?! Hopefully it is just me and crazy reality. Then there is that instant back down of the UN once SONG managed to diffuse the situation. It’s a good thing they are trying to tell us negotiations are the way instead of WMDs as proof that humans can get along. But from this reality which I came from… It sounded like BS crap. Honestly.

New casts joining this series’ line-up are Miki Shinichiro as Adam (Urahara in Bleach), Minako Kotobuki as Saint-Germain (Asuka in Hibike! Euphonium), Rina Hidaka as Prelati (Last Order in To Aru Majutsu No Index), Hina Kino as Tiki (Sylvia in Masou Gakuen HxH), Natsumi Fujiwara as Sonya (Chihiro in Shonen Maid) and Asuna Tomari as Stefan. The surprising one is Shouta Aoi as Cagliostro. Very rare that a man voices a female’s role. He certainly has a very feminine voice that would fool many into thinking that he is a woman. After all, many of his anime roles are effeminate guys like Ai in Uta No Prince-sama series, Licht in Oushitsu Koushi Haine and Renren in Hatsukoi Monster. The only other female role he voiced is Michael in Shingeki No Bahamut: Genesis. Like in previous seasons, Nana Mizuki takes on the opener, Testament while Ayahi Takagaki does the ending theme, Futurism. The techno rock style of these music isn’t my cup of tea and so are the many songs they sing during battle.

Overall, I believe only true Symphogear fans would enjoy and appreciate what is going on up till this point. If not for the mindless power action, I would have been even bored to death with all the confusing terms and plot (although it is as simple as girls in revealing sci-fi suits fighting the baddies who want to destroy or rule the world). So I am deducing that the next season would be the big finale that would end the series because after working so hard to come this far, all the battles they have fought, the lives they have saved and the friendships created, it would be a major insult to suddenly have a new hidden antagonist popping up and who is the actual big bad boss behind everything so far. Please don’t turn it into such cliché because we really want to see off the girls gracefully in their most beautiful swan song when the time comes. A song that would become an evergreen classic.

Teekyuu S9

February 16, 2018

OMG! It happened again! Teekyuu has one more surprised us with a ninth season and the main reason I am speculating why they randomly decided to do a single season is so that they could breach the 3 digit episode mark. Yup, just a few more episodes to reach a century. You’re almost there! You can do it! But still they can’t get to Wimbledon…

Season 9

Episode 97
Tomarin narrates her day in life while living with Marimo. Does she take a dump twice? Then she goes off to explore the world. She thought of destroying mankind but gets drawn into the pachinko parlour. Too bad she lost lots of minute in 30 minutes. Then she gets attracted to horse racing and like history repeating itself, she lost lots of money in the same time. Then she gets drawn into a host club and is forced to buy liquor while talking to a strange woman. More money lost. She is about to destroy mankind when a gangster invites her to play a game that doesn’t involve money. It is jenga but if you lose you will die! Tomarin loves this game… So fun…

Episode 98
Nasuno’s birthday is soon and they want to throw a surprise party. I don’t think digging a pit trap is going to cut it. Other silly ideas include cutting her up and putting her in a box, sneaking into her house and robbing her. Marimo and Kanae are bad actresses trying to convince Nasuno to make an appointment to come to her house. Yeah, it’s to look at her furniture. When they arrive at her place, Kanae accidentally drops the cake box. In hopes for it not to be squished, she surprises Nasuno by tossing it in her face! Once the birthday is no longer a surprise, they give her presents. Kanae has a box of creepy doll parts in which when you put it together will turn into… Fish cake? Surprise! Marimo mistakenly brings doteyaki instead of dorayaki but Nasuno likes it. Yuri and Youta give her a t-shirt that is so tight that it is squeezing her boobs. Oh, it has a picture of Carlos on the back.

Episode 99
Marimo warns Yuri not to make any quips about Kanae today. That’s because last year she did something like that and it turned her into a pervert. Wasn’t Marimo always a pervert? Kanae then comes up with a song on a shamisen. She jumps the gun thinking Yuri said something. Suspicious… Kanae then wants to go to Nasuno’s house to make idol clothes. Again she thinks Yuri said something even though Yuri was just being monologue in her head. They design a strange outfit that includes the horn of a narwhale. Yeah, the horn is sticking out from the butt. Nasuno has been making all sorts of silly quips and this didn’t even make Kanae suspicious. Till the rest quip it is probably those quips is the reason Nasuno’s spin-off got cancelled! Yuri can’t take it anymore and is going to quip at Kanae. See, nothing happened. Oh wait. Suddenly Yuri has a beard! Marimo and Nasuno have dreads while Kanae is a unicorn?

Episode 100
I bet they were waiting for this episode… In this ‘special’ episode, Kanae hosts the top popular characters of the series although no poll or votes were taken. 9th and 10th places are characters whom we don’t know. The bakery manager gets 8th spot. Then we have the whole Usakame characters taking their spots in the 20s range. Yuri is ranked 7th and man, she looks so disappointed. I mean, really disappointed. Hey at least better than Marimo who is 48th. Or Kanae who isn’t even in. If you care to read, from 5th to 100th are the names of weird people ranked. Yeah, really weird people that makes you go, “Who the f*ck are these?!”. Oh, Tomarin is 5th and Youta is 11th. And now for the top 4 spots. All occupied by Nasuno!!! Obviously somebody got bribed…

Episode 101
Yuri and Tomarin accompany Kondou to interview clubs. Too bad this school doesn’t have any decent clubs. From a very talkative baseball guy (who sorts balls based on gender), the tea ceremony club who makes funny faces and the light music club who plays death metal music (screaming all the way!). Then there are other weird clubs like the loan shark club and butt club. Seriously. Finally it is the tennis club in which we see our girls doing serious power shots. And Yuri wants them to make jokes? Yeah, Kondou has been sleeping in all the interviews…

Episode 102
Yuri is made to go cycling with her pals. Yeah well, Nasuno has got a penny farthing, Marimo is riding a Spanish donkey (that wooden horse torture device, that is) and Kanae riding a giant eel named Hideo! Riding their normal bicycles up the hill, they have to ignore all the people pleading for help. It’s a good thing because it sounded like those people were disappointed they didn’t fall for their trap. Then they go downhill and barely pass through several points of interests (read: dangerous points). They decide to race home but Nasuno plays cheat by riding an electric bike while Marimo starts running on foot. Yuri plays catch up and when she thinks she has surpassed those in front, they’re actually those unknown characters a couple of episodes before. Were they invited?

Episode 103
A couple of Nasuno’s dolls plan to curse her but it only rejuvenate her. Then Ayano comes in to inform one of their villas has been turned into a cursed house. The dolls decide to bring them there in a bid to curse Nasuno to death. Exploring the house, a bear scares Ayano but rest assured it is just a stuffed bear but with a lot of hate inside since it was killed by a shotgun. Then there is a flying curtain hook with a grudge since it always got stuck in the rails. Suddenly the dolls grow up into adult versions. Ayano too! Now she’s got all the curves. When the dolls want to curse Nasuno, she beats the hell out of them! Then she tears down the house. Now the dolls and those apparitions there live together with Nasuno. Things just got weirder…

Episode 104
Since mom isn’t home, Marimo and Tomarin go shopping. After all that brick Tomarin prepared tastes like rubber. When Marimo asks if there is anything she doesn’t eat, she doesn’t mean things like dynamite. And when Tomarin asks her the same thing and Marimo replies nothing in particular, it doesn’t mean you can buy rubber bands for dinner. When Tomarin tries some tomatoes she explodes into slime! Don’t worry, she can put herself back together again. Albeit some missing parts. Back home, Tomarin kneads the meat with her ‘golden balls’. So how does the steak taste? Like rubber. Suddenly Tomarin is going to explode but it is Marimo who is blown up instead.

Episode 105
Today’s episode is all about illusions. The girls visit the hall of illusions. For starters, this entrance is just a cardboard illusion. Kanae ordered tickets but they got noodles. With animals sticking out of the picture, they’re actually real! Marimo gets bitten by a tiger. Must be an illusion, eh? But the pain isn’t… Then they meet the owner and curator of this hall, Charles de Gollam. He demonstrates using his illusion powers of bending a frying pan and going through walls. All using physical force! The girls experience more endless illusions as they start thinking they are trapped in a picture, which is true. But Kanae points out they’re actually in an anime in which Nasuno rebuts animes that aren’t well animated might as well remain as manga… We know Teekyuu isn’t right?! :-).

Episode 106
The girls help out a granny at a shrine since she is going to hold a festival. Too bad grandpa is sleeping and can’t wake him up to help or else he will sue! The girls have to take out the little shrine from the closet and carry up the stairs. Kanae remembers her past life to do construction work with heavy machinery constructing a music stage. Is that Bon Jovi invited to sing?! To negotiate the vendors for the stalls, it seems they are all gangsters and ruffians. Luckily they are a kind bunch but strict with the money. There are also a bunch of old characters randomly returning to operate the stalls. Then grandpa died. His handphone dropped into the toilet bowl, that is. The festival starts well but it ends up being some idol signing event.

Episode 107
The girls visit the zoo. And no, Yuri is not an animal. Looking at the map, the zoo is divided into living animals and raw animals… But the ‘animals’ behind the cages are things like gloves, plastic bags and empty cans… And so they all stare at Yuri like as though she is some exhibit. It makes her feel uncomfortable… When they think they could see a major animal, it turns out to be an old man and the zoo’s supervisor. He is the only animal here. 3 years ago the zoo used to have lots of animals. But he misused the funds the buy luxurious cars and a trip to Dubai, spending on his mistress and living a luxurious life. It is no surprise it went all downhill and he had to sell the animals. Nasuno uses her family influence to rebuild the zoo. The bad the old guy didn’t learn his lesson and continue to spend it all.

Episode 108
The girls visit Nasuno’s botanical garden. Expect the unexpected as we see a huge living tree made out of concrete (which makes it not living in the first place), a huge banana with lots of mini bananas inside it, a herb garden that contains various herbs such as curry and petrol, a Japanese garden that contains a desert cactus and an aborigine who has lived here for a few days and is a wi-fi addict. Then they all have a nice tea garden and decorate each other with flowers. So lovely. So heavenly. But the big question that has Yuri pondering… Will we have a tenth season???!!!

Final Fantasy: Mad Rant Children
OH YEAH!!! Even after coming this far and with so many seasons behind, it still doesn’t get tiring because of all the random nonsense in very short 3 minutes. And so I am hoping that they will be doing another 10th season so as to take advantage of the perfect 10. Oh yes, it is time for Teekyuu to reach Ten-goku (the heavens). Haha! And then we can aim to reach 1000 episodes!!! Oh sh*t!! Will I still be alive when that happens???!!!

There is nothing more to b*tch about this season because what I want to say are the same and have been said in my past blogs of its previous seasons. The wacky characters, the random minor characters, the fast paced talking and the very random jokes that either you will get it in a split second or not, everything here feels at home at what Teekyuu should be.

The only difference that this season has than its predecessors doesn’t is that for the first time we have an ending theme! But because of this, doesn’t the episode proper feel a bit shorter? We’ve been short-changed! Kaiun Soufuku Etenka by Earth Star Dream has a bit of this carnival feel to it but the song is still overall wacky. Even wackier and crazier is the ending credits animation in which our Teekyuu girls have this manly face!!! Oh sh*t! Too real to handle! I don’t know if I can take them seriously if they have this serious face. But they do look like real contenders for Wimbledon… Nah! The opening theme is as usual another crazy hard rock based, Dream First Sensei-shon (that’s a pun for ‘sensation’, get it?) sung by the voice behind Yuri.

So yeah, I’m waiting for the day they will announce the 10th season because there is no reason not to. And no, I don’t want another season of Nasuno’s spin-off or that super boring Usakame counterpart. Nothing but Teekyuu will do. Carry on, girls. The kind of random and silly nonsense that you have always been putting up since the first season. It is the only kind of madness that I can accept and thanks to its 3 minutes limit, I won’t go crazy and instead it made my day. It’s good to know that in this (anime) world there are such heroes who don’t wear capes… Okay, maybe not entirely heroes. Just plain (funny) idiots.

Sakura Quest

February 11, 2018

What’s this? An anime about reviving an old dying rural town? Boring… But if my guts tell me anything, it is to never judge an anime by its synopsis. Okay, I’m guiltier because I judged it by its poster cover. Seeing how 5 cute girls are going to help revive a town with an aging and declining population, this is going to be fun, right? And hence in Sakura Quest, we are going to see them come up with all sorts of ideas and think out of the box in their bid to bring in more people to visit this rural town in the mountains while trying to maintain local traditions.

Episode 1
When Yoshino Koharu was young, her dream was to become a queen. But reality hits her hard because after 30 job applications, she has been rejected by all. Then she receives a call from Momonga Promotion Agency that there has been a job request from a client to be a spokesperson for a rural town. With nothing to lose, she packs her bags for a day’s trip to the mountainous rural area of Manoyama. Alighting from the train, there is a group of people holding a banner welcoming her. They are stumped to see Yoshino. Apparently there has been a mistake. The grumpy old boss, Ushimatsu Kadota has actually requested for Yoshino Tsubaki, a famous idol (whom Kadota is a great fan of). Too bad. She died 8 years ago! So the blame game starts. Whose fault is it? I guess somebody’s bad handwriting has some misinterpret Tsubaki that can also be read as Koharu. With all the costs taken into account, I guess they have no choice but to go with this plan. Yoshino gets to know a few other staffs working on the local tourism board like Shiori Shinomiya. Manoyama is supposed to be some Kingdom of Chupakabura but it is like a dead ghost town and many of its inhabitants have this sour puss looks. Not so friendly… At the castle where all the old people gather, Kadota starts the coronation ceremony to make Yoshino the queen. After a little party with the old folks, Shiori drives her to the cabin where she will be staying.

She finds Maki Midorikawa sleeping there. Because Yoshino doesn’t know what she is getting into, Maki shows her the truth. Uploaded online is the recent coronation ceremony that says Yoshino will be queen for 1 year! Instantly she calls her agency she didn’t sign up for this. Too bad if she had only read the finer prints of her contract… Still, she won’t take it and tries to go home. The only bus in town can’t take her to the train station. Yeah, there’s a weird wandering minstrel riding it… Better to walk. When Kadota learns she is trying to go home, he puts his plan into action. Dressed up as a chupakabura and pretending to attack Shiori in this lame act, naturally Yoshino runs away. Ignore that sword in the stone right in the middle of the road. Because their act is so pitiful, Yoshino just plays along and smacks the chupakabura with her bag. That really hurt for an old guy. No choice but to stay here, Yoshino learns how some of the people really love their town and want to invigorate it again. Locked out from the cabin, she decides to stay at the castle. She looks through the old photos on the board during its heydays. One of the group pictures here has young Yoshino as the queen. Then she remembers she has been to this place before and the reason why she wanted to be one. So she dresses up as a queen and sleeps on the throne. Next morning, Kadota sees this and believes she has made up her mind to become queen. Well then, looks like he has already going to make her work.

Episode 2
Yoshino is now tasked to sell manjuus. However another miscommunication error a thousand boxes! Blame game again… Kadota throws down the challenge for her to sell them all in a week. If she can, she is allowed to leave. Shiori meets Maki for the first time, she recognizes her as some extra in a popular detective movie. Her character seems to be popular here. Yoshino and Shiori walk around town to personally talk to people to buy them. From the bus driver Takamizawa, café-cum-fortune-teller Angelica, the grumpy waitress Erika Suzuki, the even grumpier old hag Chitose Oribe, the merchant board head who is always at odds with Kadota, nothing sold. They talk to Oribe’s granddaughter, Ririko since she is an occult maniac to find out more on chupakabura. Yoshino gets an idea to upload this onto the website by staffs Minou and Takashi Yamada points her to a web designer living in the outskirts. Meet Sanae Kouzuki. Her house is a dumpster and I hope she likes the company of bugs. Not. After telling her their issue, Sanae comes up with a plan to design a fancy website. After that they set up a tent to sell the manjuus in front of the castle. First day results: Not enough hits on the website. What does this mean? Nobody came to buy. So they try to tweak the headlines with symbols and somehow make it the queen’s fault. Second day results? Shiori’s family came to buy out of pity. Well, that’s a start. Maki suggests making a video. So we have this lame but excusable chupakabura slaying video that turns the monster into delicious manjuus. The results? Only the wandering minstrel came… A week has passed and with less than 5 boxes sold, I guess Yoshino failed. So are the girls going to eat all of it? Well, if it’s to fight depression… Mmm… They taste good.

Episode 3
So Yoshino’s failure and punishment is to ride around town? Nobody’s watching this parade… Yoshino sees Maki meeting her brother, Kousuke. She tells him she isn’t going back to Tokyo. As Yoshino has planned to stay here, she has her stuffs moved from Tokyo. As there is a regional mascot contest, Yoshino is nervous preparing for the interview although she has a script in hand. But when the interviewer asks questions not in the script, she starts to fumble. She feels down because it makes her realize she doesn’t know much about Manoyama. She tries to talk to the old people but you know how cranky some of them can be. Some of the young ones don’t really mind the slow pace of this town. Some just honestly hate it. Like Erika. So brutally honest. Yoshino learns that Manoyama’s old mascot based on the town’s specialty vegetable called Kabura Kid. However it died out very fast and during that time since UMAs were popular, that is why chupakabura became the thing. At the mascot competition, Kadota realizes his chupakabura mask is missing. Somebody accidentally threw it away. Blame game… The other girls try to find where the Kabura Kid costume is and I can’t believe they could do it and run all over the place in such a short time while the competition is still ongoing. When they finally find it, they drive as fast as they could to the competition grounds. At the same time, Minou and Takashi have found the chupakabura mask in the dump site but it stinks. So either wear the stinky mask or the torn Kabura Kid costume. At this point Yoshino puts her foot down. It doesn’t matter, she realizes by talking with the people, they don’t want the town changed. So she goes up on stage. A chupakabura wearing a kabura headgear? Then she starts her endearing speech about the town and how neither mascots were popular. So what it is that is important? Something that Manoyama holds important. What is it? She doesn’t know. But she wants to find that out with the people over the next year as their queen. In the end, the girls have a little party of their ‘success’. I guess third from last isn’t bad. Yoshino agrees to stay here for a year but with a condition that Shiori, Ririko, Sanae and Maki become her cabinet ministers. She feels she can do it if they are with her.

Episode 4
With the truck dead, the girls take it to this mechanical maniac, Busujima AKA Doku to fix. He is impressed when Yoshino manages to activate some robot jukebox. Must be her hands with some hyaluronic acid. What?! He also takes this chance to test out some exoskeleton that would help make lifting and carrying heavy things easier. After seeing the beautiful ranma woodwork, Yoshino wants to promote the wood carving district. They meet Tatsuo who runs a wood carving shop. He is eager to help but his pupil and senior, Kazushi isn’t impressed. After a few discussion, they get this idea to combine traditional art with cutting edge technology. So they test out the exoskeleton and fit it with ranma carvings. While it may look good, it isn’t practically as the wood could get in the way and break easily. Then they have another great idea. Transform a wooden Buddha statue into a vending machine! Wow. It’s really so cool! This might work. With all the hype of its potential, it is cut short when Kazushi scolds them to stop their shenanigans. Some of the old folks like Oribe are protesting of this blasphemy to mix their tradition with this futuristic sacrilege crap. The girls feel sorry because it’s like doing the same thing of making a sushi flavoured soda (something Doku did). Yoshino and Sanae got to apologize to Kazushi and sincerely wants to help promote Manoyama’s wood carving. They thought he would understand since all of them came from outside Manoyama. However Kazushi points out Sanae came here because she ran away from something difficult. He came here and knew what he was facing. He is different. When asked to name the wood he is using, they can’t. How can they promote something they don’t even know? Sanae feels depressed as she talks to Yoshino how true Kazushi’s words are. When she was in Tokyo, she worked nonstop to meet deadlines. Even when she isn’t performing, there will be someone else to replace her. Unlike Kazushi as he is the only one who can do what he does. That’s why she can’t argue back. Since she can’t put her heart into this, she wants to quit and can’t do this anymore.

Episode 5
Yoshino and the other girls take this chance to learn more about wood carving while Sanae bums around searching for a meaning. Running away again? Yoshino has this grand idea to turn the local wood carving into something likes Spain’s Sagrada Familia. They’ll call it Sakura Pond Familia. Plus, this big project once attracting the eyes of the world will attract more people and more jobs because people will come here eager to contribute to the sculpture. However this plan is rejected by Kadota. Just one big problem: They have no money! Tatsuo shows Sanae shoes made out of wood carving. He was inspired by Cinderella. Though this might make purists Kazushi mad, he doesn’t care. It seems the ranma Kazushi is working on, the owner who requested it just died and got cancelled but he continued to work on it. Stubborn. Sculpting is just a job and not getting paid is pointless. The girls are pondering who could be their ideal artist. Could it be that wandering minstrel? They look him up on the internet. Real name is Alexandre Cena Davis Celbidache. So sophisticated. Just call him Sandal. He is noted for some awesome street art. They think of asking him but sees him getting picked up by the police. Maybe not. Biggest joke of the day… After Yoshino shows her sketch of what her grand sculpture is to look like, they go source for funding. Yoshino sees the wooden shoes and after talking with Sanae about jobs and being praised, Sanae is motivated to help. She suggests using crowdfunding. But where to put this sculpture? As many people arrive at Manoyama at the train station, it is like the gateway to the world. They can make its interior like the Sistine Chapel. First they go to talk to Kazushi. It will take more than their knowledge about wood to impress him. Sanae knows a way to ensure Manoyama’s sculpture remains here without compromising his ideals. The ranma he is working on when finished, is placed at the train station’s entrance. The first step. Many more to come in the future. Yeah, they won’t be alive to see it completed. But guests arriving are certainly wowed by the magnificent carving.

Episode 6
A film crew will be here to film a shoot at Manoyama. Everyone is excited it will give the place a much needed PR but Maki isn’t pleased and opts out. Yoshino meets 3rd assistant director, Fujiwara. He hands her a list of things to do from securing permits, extras, food, etc… I guess showbiz isn’t that easy. So they go look around for locations to shoot. At Oribe’s confectionery, she didn’t like how Kadota told them they could shoot her so she chases them away. Till Ririko points out their manjuu was going to be in the film and if they aren’t, they’ll use the chupakabura ones instead. Come back! When the director, Sonoda finally arrives, it seems he ones this abandoned run down house as the final day of the shoot because he is going to burn it down! Is that in the script? Shiori protests since it is haunted but Sonoda likes it even more. Shiori will handle to seek permission from its owner. Surprisingly she is more than happy to get rid of it. So she lies she is unable to contact the owner. So Yoshino has other abandoned house they can try to use but Sonoda insists on that one. The town folks are here when the shooting begin. They have famous actors like Taiga Hayama and Moe Sawano. This zombie flick looks cheesy… More problems when an actress scheduled to arrive tomorrow has injured herself. Yoshino thought Maki could step in but she gets angry and rejects. Sanae isn’t pleased about this so she is going to lecture her. But she sees Moe talking to Maki who is her senior. Moe admires her acting but is surprised to learn she has quit the theatre and is unsure of her acting future. Sanae talks to Maki as the latter reveals Moe was able to make her big break because she did weird things on variety shows like eating a cicada. Maki couldn’t and realized that is the same of having an abusive employer. All Sanae has to say is that if she rejects the world she passionately pursues, it is disgraceful. Also, she needs to apologize to Yoshino.

Episode 7
Ririko seems to be very nervous as a stand-in. It is too late to switch or else production will stop so Maki goes to advise her. She nails it the next time. Yoshino receives word from Fujiwara that they need to reschedule some scenes. Because it is going to rain, they will be shooting tomorrow’s indoor scenes today. This means she has to round up all the elementary kids to play the mini zombies. Maki asks Kousuke for a favour and he manages to do it because mainly of their father who is the vice principal of the school. Maki isn’t impressed because she doesn’t want to see dad. Sanae thought she could stop those kids from fighting but instead one slaps her butt and all starts teasing her ass. See Ririko back away slowly… Maki finds Ririko in her old classroom. Ririko thanks her for the advice. Maki once went to this school and wanted to act in the Snow White play but ended up playing a tree. The abandoned house holds special memories for Shiori as an old lady who recently passed away used to stay here. Yoshino confronts Shiori about lying so Shiori tells her off that she is one to say for abandoning her own hometown. Eventually they both apologize and Shiori has to come to terms that the house is going either way. Later Kousuke has Maki watch an old play from her class. Dad was in charge of filming and only focused on Maki. He got scolded by the principal later. Sonoda is on a whim changing the script again. He wants the lover to dive into the burning house. Although many disagree, Moe wants to do it. Her agent reminds her this is dangerous and she has no replacement. She still wants to do it. Maki will be her double. She might be taller but if they film it from an angle, it can be done. The house is set on fire. The cameras are rolling. Maki rushes towards the burning house. It looked like she jumped in but there is a hole outside the door where she leapt into. The take is fabulous and with that, the filming ends. That’s a wrap. Fujiwara goes to thank Shiori for the house. Because Yoshino told him to put it in the special credits of its owner. The girls celebrate their hard work and the next day as Fujiwara promised, he has referred Manoyama to other directors. Yoshino eagerly picks up the call only to hear the eager beaver wanting to shoot a big time movie about car chases and blowing up temples. Looks like somebody oversold them…

Episode 8
The girls meet Shiori’s older sister, Sayuri who is a paediatrician. With the family making great food, Yoshino wants to make Shiori as the leader of the C-Rank Gourmet as they are working for an exclusive dish for Manoyama. Of course Shiori declines as she has no confidence. This prompts memories of some failed hamburger many years ago. So the girls come up with strange combo dishes… They won’t win any hearts in cooking anime shows… As Sayuri is leaving town due to her work, the family eats out at a fancy restaurant. This place is run by Kumano, Sayuri’s old classmate. He went to France to study to become a chef and recently returned to take over his ailing father’s ramen shop in which he turned into a French restaurant. The grandparents didn’t hesitate to ask Kumano to pick anyone of their 2 granddaughters when they learn he is still single. He modestly declines as he would be wasted on them but Sayuri didn’t think so. The girls with Kumano try to catch some fish. With their bare hands? The girls think Shiori and Kumano have good vibes together. They also try to incorporate some French ingredients from his list but more weird dishes came out. Shiori’s father talks to her about the future. He wants her to live the way she wants although Shiori prefer things stay the same. So Shiori talks to Sayuri about this. Thanks to their parents and grandparents providing for them, they have nothing to worry about. But things won’t last forever. Shiori learns Sayuri was interested in Kumano but because she thought he lived in a different world, she felt hard to approach him. Funny, because Shiori thought Kumano said the same thing about her. Oribe storms into the office to complain the C-Rank Gourmet is on the same day as the annual summer festival. Yoshino feels guilty since she didn’t consult the board of merchants beforehand. So they all go to apologize and as usual, Kadota isn’t really sincere. Oribe voices her opinion. Kadota always did things his way. When he changed Manoyama from the kingdom of kabura to chupakabura and tried to sell weird manjuus based on it, she tolerated it all because the ingredients were locally made. Now he is trying to revive that crap but using ingredients from the outside (despite the cost being cheaper). Kadota argues all that matters are bringing in the tourists or else nothing would happen. Yoshino thought of taking responsibility by cancelling C-Rank Gourmet but Shiori steps up to take responsibility as the leader of this project. She will think of something to put smiles on people’s face.

Episode 9
Shiori herself is surprised. She took action because she wanted to help Yoshino. While eating at Angelica who is serving soumen to everything, Shiori then hits upon an idea. She proposes to have a soumen expo as well as a contest for the best soumen in which the winning dish will be made the official dish of Manoyama. This would be in line with the summer festival’s theme. Oribe agrees to this. Yoshino goes around soliciting participants for their expo’s booths. At Kumano’s restaurant, they taste his great French toast. It was the dish that changed his life. He was making it in school and Sayuri tasted it to be good. That was when he decided to go to France and perfect it. The only problem was French toast was created by an American. And so he became a French chef. But the day he left for France, Sayuri didn’t turn up. Funny, because Shiori heard her sister said the same thing. So before Sayuri moves out, Kumano talks to her and it seems they were both waiting at the same station at the same time but how did they not meet each other since the place is small and you can’t possibly miss each other. Yoshino has some creative idea to make the expo more exciting. Looks like she is collaborating with Doku on something big. As Shiori is racking her brains, she freaks out realizing she got the date wrong. Then she realizes this calendar is last year’s. The expo is a hit. Before the winner of the contest is announced, Yoshino has a few words to say. Actually, she is in her swimsuit as she shows off this huge soumen machine. It’s like a video game whereby you try to catch soumen and eat them. It’s messy. Doku is operating behind. Shouldn’t he automated this part too? I think this will only resonate with kids. Many of the people love Shiori’s happy soumen and seek her permission to incorporate it in their own menu. Kumano is at the expo and is given a note to meet Sayuri and the calendar. When they meet, both are perplexed until Sayuri sees the calendar. Looks like she got the date wrong and she waited on the wrong day. They laugh it off as Kumano invites her to his restaurant to try out his perfected French toast.

Episode 10
There is going to be some romance tour of Manoyama. Basically a matchmaking programme. Sadly, only 3 ladies from the city sign up. Kadota wants Yoshino to help input some ideas and make those women settle down here. Looking through the programme, most are cheesy. Are they even trying? They suggests a tour of the sake brewery, fireflies and a stay at an old-style house. Feeling something is missing, it is also suggested they put on a traditional Manoyama dance. However Ririko decides to opt out since she isn’t good with traditional stuffs. Flashback shows she has always been a weird kid. Because of that she is always by herself. Yoshino and Maki welcome the 3 ladies. I’m sure if they’re here to find a lover, any hot guy would do. Like Takamizawa. Too bad he is married. The town is bustling because the next town’s singles club heard about it and came here. All men. Boy, this looks like an awkward den of predators. They have lunch at Angelica’s place to meet up with some of the guys from the local singles club who signed up for this. Erika can’t help take a sarcastic swipe at those old hags and Sandal starts playing a cheesy wedding song with his violin. Night fall, they have BBQ in the open as Yoshino and co put on the Manoyama dance. Kadota then narrates about its ‘origin and legend’. Long ago there was a dragon who lived here but hates revelry so the dance and song keep it away sealed in some shrine. Suddenly it rains so everyone starts running for cover. Some of them stumble into a small shelter that has a dragon statue. Could this be part of the legend? It looks dirty and nobody has been taking care of it. The lightning scares them and accidentally breaks the statue. Oops… Do we have a bad feeling about this?

Episode 11
Doku has fixed the shrine. But it seems strange things are happening. The throne room is messed up. Did the dragon come to visit? Also, Ririko is sick after catching a cold from the rain. At the rock climbing facility, one of the girls thought somebody is watching them. Could it be Sandal? But he reveals a surprising history to Yoshino. His great grandpa visited here for business and fell in love with a local woman. However he brought her back to his country where they got married. Hence Sandal is 1/8 Manoyama. Yoshino believes this is a great love story for this tour. While having a lunch break at a restaurant, the waiter brought an extra glass of water because he thought he saw an extra person with them. A guy with big eyes and beard. Could it be a dragon? When Yoshino goes to check on Ririko, she is chased away by Oribe who blames her for getting her involved. It is revealed that Oribe’s son married a woman who came from outside Manoyama. Because she couldn’t stand the place or want to take over Oribe’s shop, she left. Dad followed her. But after Ririko was born, they divorced and dad was shortly posted overseas. Therefore in Oribe’s eyes, her son was tricked by an outsider and that’s why she doesn’t like them. While visiting the wood carving shop, as they take photos, one of them pops up a weird character behind. A dragon?

Later Yoshino and Ririko meet outside. The latter has discovered an alternative but forgotten tale of the local dragon tale. The people wanted to learn more of the dragon and danced around the fire. However this scared the dragon. When the people realized they were wrong, the dragon had died of loneliness. They wrote a song to comfort it. The song is mostly forgotten. Hence Manoyama is a place that accepts outsider. Yoshino thinks this would be a great inclusion for tonight’s final tour but that is when Ririko snaps back that she is not like her. Yoshino is everything that Ririko cannot do. She feels nobody understands or accepts her. Surprisingly Sandal is singing that dragon song. He learnt it from mom who learnt it from grandma who learnt it from great grandma. She used to sing it to him when he cried. Yoshino manages to persuade Oribe to come see Ririko’s performance tonight. One of the girls realize somebody is watching and it is revealed a big beardy guy who is her ex. So they’re getting back together? He couldn’t let her go and tailed her. Last night’s lightning scared him as he fell into the pond and he took refuge at the throne room. Once everyone gathers, Yoshino tells a brief story of the alternate dragon story. With Sandal on his guitar, Ririko sings the song. It gets better with fireflies lighting up the place. The next day, everyone sees off the ladies at the train station. They would love to come back next time but isn’t so sure about marrying and settle down here. What about the couple who just got back together? Well, their parents are against them marrying. Ririko suggests eloping here and hence another great idea that Manoyama is a town for elopers is born. Really?

Episode 12
The 20th anniversary of the Kingdom of Chupakabura is coming up. Kadota introduces them a host of a famous TV show who in turn introduces his network’s director, Amamiya who is also a Manoyama native. He plans to do a show on how the girls are going to revive the town. It’s like a reality TV, right? So we see the cameras rolling on them in almost everything they do from meetings to the fieldwork. Is Shiori trying to look smart in glasses? However with everything feeling so normal, Amamiya can’t find elements that would make viewers get involved. Yoshino didn’t like how she is being called normal. Some of the girls learn Yoshino was here as a young kid and thought this would help spice things up but they decide it could be a pain and just to keep it a secret. With sponsorships not hitting the target, the girls are forced to contemplate on sizing down. Luckily Amamiya has managed to bring in some good news. He has managed to get Ptolemaios, a popular rock band to come perform here. Wouldn’t that be costly? Don’t worry. His network will cover those expenses. It’s not a bad deal since they are getting free advertising too. Because they are a little hesitant, Amamiya blows his top for giving excuses. This is a great chance for them so why hesitate? After filming a short promo of the town, Yoshino and co talk to Oribe and the other merchants. They are seeking additional help and funding. This does not sit well with many of them because they already have their hands full with the festival and it is pretty convenient for them to be asking this. Is this the much needed drama and tension needed for the cameras? But it is suggested that since people will be coming from far and out of their way here, why not make it worth their while and give discounts? With some agreeing to this, Oribe approves to help out with the funding since they have some reserve funds. If they don’t use it for this, when will they? Besides, if they’re going to do it, do it right. Deep in the night, Yoshino is woken up by Maki and Sanae. They see lots of early birds camping for tomorrow’s show. It’s going to be crazy.

Episode 13
Talking to the campers, it’s not like they want to camp out here. There are no proper lodgings. But beware of bears! Next day, the girls greet Ptolemaios. They look so dead. Must be the long journey. Soon the people come streaming in. Takamizawa must be shocked that there is a long queue for his bus and is full for the first time. The day events go well until it is time for Yoshino and co to do the quiz event. Due to delays from Ptolemaios, their concert started shortly after the quiz show is about to begin. This means the clash of events as the crowd starts streaming out to go watch their live concert. Well, the quiz show must go on despite the few people remaining. However, with Ptolemaios playing so loudly, probably the whole of Manoyama could hear them. Especially the quiz show next door in which people had a hard time hearing Yoshino asking the questions. After Ptolemaios is done with their show, the quiz show reaches its final round in which Sandal won?! He wins a trip for 2 to Guam. Who would he like to bring with? Kindaichi the policeman???!!! I know they are singles with no luck with women but do they have to be this gay?! At the end of the day, a small celebration party is held. It is considered a success when you consider they fulfil a year’s worth of tourist quota in a single day. But the true problems arise tomorrow. Garbage everywhere, the town is as dead as before (like as though the people just vanished) and the most heart breaking of them all is all the coupons handed out are thrown away. They thought the show would give them some reprieve but let’s just say the power of editing has the girls feel down as it doesn’t show what it is truly needed. Even if the programme is considered a success with many viewers, the girls ponder if this is what they wanted. I mean, how many people would come all the way out here again? Yoshino is hit hardest because they got all excited by Ptolemaios and the TV show and they should have learnt that reviving the town isn’t just about getting people to come. She questions herself about what she has done for the last 6 months. So is she going to quit again?

Episode 14
Yoshino takes a break and returns to her hometown. Same with Sanae and Maki but they’re bored and feeling more like outsiders. Yoshino meets up with her friend who is working in the government department of supporting new residents. She suggests how Manoyama an important strategy to revive a rural town is to have permanent residents instead of temporary ones. Then she meets up with her younger sister, Nagisa who is still schooling. She thinks she is having an easy and carefree life but gets ‘jealous’ when she finds how normal it is. How normal you ask? She has a boyfriend! Sanae meets up with her old colleagues who try to persuade her to come back to the city with the interesting projects they have but Sanae currently prefers where she is now. Likewise, Maki goes out drinking with Moe who proposes they both can hit it big with a director who is trying to find talent in his next project. Yoshino and Nagisa are at the local festival. Yoshino catches up with some of her old friends before her parents join in. She learns mom isn’t from this area and dad managed to show her the beautiful side of this town while they were dating. Meanwhile Shiori and Ririko are going around checking out abandoned houses as they have this proposal to turn them into B&B style. However they remember Kindaichi’s warning that there were suspicious people spotted loitering around them. Don’t look now but here they are! They’re speaking Spanish! True Spanish! Those guys try to be friendly to them but obviously they don’t understand a single word of Spanish and freak out!

Episode 15
Yoshino and the rest are back. But back at the castle, they are shocked to see Shiori and the rest partying with those Spanish people! Apparently they are from a group called Cryptid Twelve whereby they go around the world in search for unsolved supernatural mysteries. The Chupakabura has recently got their attention. See those local single guys trying to impress the Spanish chicks with their broken ‘Engrish’… Yoshino feels good to be back as she knows she has a place to return to. But this prompts the question of what she will do when her term ends. Speaking to Ririko about it, it never crossed her mind to leave Manoyama. If she did, grandma would be lonely. With the Cryptid members here, they are looking into the B&B issues. Because they are foreigners, there is this language barrier that prevents locals from cooperating smoothly. So how long are they staying? Until they find the Chupakabura. That’s like, never? At least until the drying event. It seems tomorrow they will drain the water from Sakura Pond to clear up some black bass problem by drying it out since it will cause some damage to the ecosystem. Plus, it hasn’t been done so for 70 years. While it will take some time and the people are excited about it, Kadota doesn’t look too happy. As this is the request of Cryptid, he is probably letting it happen (Cryptid believes Chupakabura is related to the kappa who lives in the water). This event has made several more Cryptid members wanting to come here. This means lodging problems. But Yoshino is unsure of this is what Manoyama wants for its rejuvenation as she wants to avoid making the same mistake during the festival. There is a house owner who is the only one who registered as B&B so Yoshino and co head over to clean up. That night, a camera picks up something moving in the middle of the pond. Cryptid makes a move. It turns out Kadota is drowning! Man, he can last that long? He is okay although is hospitalized. The girls wonder the rational of him jumping into the pond in the middle of the night and it could be some old ghost story. Doku calls Oribe about what Kadota did. Something about that thing from 50 years ago is back. Something Kadota desperately doesn’t want that existence to be known by everybody and hence the ‘drastic measures’.

Episode 16
The girls hear a loud crash. It’s Kadota unconscious at the wheel and he crashed into a pillar?! Did he escape from hospital? He has fever since he was running in the rain too. Back to the hospital. Next day as they investigate, it seems the car was tied to a rope trying to pull something out from the lake. Ririko then shows the rest an old photo. Kadota, Oribe and Doku were once in a band during their high school days. As they ask Doku for the story, he reveals they were indeed in a band named Garage Band. They had a pretty good song with good lyrics but singing in Manoyama won’t turn any heads. Because their parents will not allow such a thing, they decided to run away and make it big in Tokyo during the night of the festival but Kadota didn’t turn up. Instead, he went to cause trouble by singing on the float during a procession on Sakura Pond that caused everything to tumble into the water. Thanks to that, the festival was never held again. Not that it was popular to begin with. That’s why Kadota was allowed to stay here. In the end, only Doku went to Tokyo himself for college. The band broke up and Kadota and Oribe were at odds ever since. Further research about this old festival reveals it was to worship a dragon shrine. It was located where the pond is before it was then relocated after the pond was created. Hence the procession was held over the water.

More flashback reveals Oribe suggesting to Kadota to run away to make it big at Tokyo since Doku is going there to study. However Kadota had second thoughts. He kept wondering if Manoyama was no good for him before her realized he wasn’t going to run away anymore and thus that crazy act of wanting to wake up everybody to make this place interesting. Ririko talks to grandma that she wanted to leave Manoyama once. She heard from Doku and her amazing voice. Oribe couldn’t remember much of it as she advises it will be the same for her too. When you get old, you stop caring about all your dreams. That’s why before it happens, she should get out there and do whatever she wants. With the pond fully drained, they see whatever that lump of decaying stuff there is. The guitar and shrine float must have been ‘fused’ together. Can’t tell. So this is what Kadota might want to pull out to prevent everyone from remembering that embarrassing past. After Cryptid Twelve leaves, Yoshino talks to Kadota if he would like to revive the old festival because seeing how the people had fun gathering at the dried up lake. She proposes to Minou but he is sceptical as they are lacking the budget and manpower. For the first time, Shigaraki stands up and speaks. There are 3 sacred treasures needed if they want to revive the festival. It is essential for the festival to be held. However their whereabouts are unknown. Challenge accepted.

Episode 17
Reviving the Mizuchi Festival is going to be a challenge. The staff, hanging drum and golden dragon are missing and not even the old folks know anything about it. But they discover a lead that an old cultural anthropologist professor might know something about it. However he lives far deep in the mountains of Warabiya. Rennosuke Suzuhara is a bit eccentric and grumpy. He toys with them about wanting to revive the festival and hints one of them is residing in a store of a certain traditional house. Yeah, they he didn’t say it was his so the girls go on a wild goose hunt to ask other old residents of Warabiya. Nope, they don’t have it. They soon hear complaints from them and directing their frustration to Takamizawa since there are plans to cut the bus routes to Warabiya. It costs over 10 million to run a bus a year and they’re not getting the numbers. Yoshino and co go discuss with Suzuhara and the other old folks. They give their opinions but Suzuhara shoots it down with realistic facts. When Sanae suggests moving out to a denser place, Suzuhara comments about the people working hard to earn their right to live here. Breaking up a community is like breaking up a culture. He points out he is also from Tokyo and has no connection or special feelings to Manoyama. But unlike her he already has roots here. He suggests Sanae to use her expertise. Hence she comes up with the idea to teach everyone how to use iPad and technology! They might get a little carried away talking how technology will soon have driverless busses and this causes a kiddie fight between Takamizawa and Erika! A local live streaming channel is also created for the locals. But at this point all the problems also pop up because you know, the toxicity level is rising. Who says old people can’t be nasty too? Yoshino sees Suzuhara about this problem and since the time is right, he is going to take her hostage. Soon an online video of Suzuhara and the old folks of Warabiya is streamed live. They are putting up a rebellion to protest the removal of bus routes to their area. Are they annexing themselves from the Kingdom of Chupakabura? Yoshino has ‘joined’ their cause.

Episode 18
Yoshino calls the rest and says she is voluntarily becoming their hostage. She feels very needed. Sanae realizes they have been set up since as Suzuhara lists a bunch of demands. That night Maki goes to deliver some of the beer and snacks as part of the demands (because the old people are also going to record themselves having a party as nobody is going to listen to you if you only whine and complain). A little bit of booze and now she’s partying with them. Next day, a makeshift sign stands out at the entrance of Warabiya. They are calling it now the Republic of Warabiya. Ririko films the residents going about in their daily lives as per the demands while Sanae talks to Suzuhara. He knows he can’t do this forever and his plan is to make people in Manoyama aware of the problem. He also knows this village won’t be here forever and hence wants to record its culture before that happens. He will rescind the withdrawal when the time is right. With the old folks adept in using IT, Takamizawa hopes Sanae could teach him too. Yoshino continues to stay with the old people and they really want to pledge their loyalty to her if she ever replaces Kadota. They joke about this being a fairytale like Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. Sandal the prince? Right, he quips back the prince come riding on a bus! Next day, Takamizawa surprises everyone with an app and new business model, an on-demand bus. Let’s say this is very much like Uber. In this van, you use the app to pick what time you want to be picked up and to where. Long ago Takamizawa had this idea and proposed it to his company but back then it would cost a lot since an operator is needed and the idea was shelved. Now with technology, it is so much easier and cheaper. Though, this experiment is only confined to Manoyama for now. With that, Suzuhara makes a video to rescind the withdrawal. Suzuhara then leaves a cryptic message on the forum board on the whereabouts of one of the treasures. Sadly, that night he suddenly passes away! A funeral is held and he has left a will donating his property to the municipal government. Sanae sees a stack of books in a corner and learns he has been researching about this town every day without fail since he came 20 years ago. She realizes this is what he meant of putting down roots. The girls learn the name of the previous owner of this place (the same name on the forum board) and find the staff right next door. It’s too heavy for them to carry. Well, there’s the on-demand bus. So convenient.

Episode 19
The search for the drum leads the girls to an old school that has been closed down for a decade. Uh oh. Ririko and her ghost stories… Everyone freaks out even more when they see somebody. Well, it’s Maki’s dad. Let’s say they are on bad terms. Very bad. As the school’s ex-vice principal, he still keeps it running since it is not abandoned. After hearing what they are looking for, he shows where the drum is located. But it is badly damaged and it will eat up a lot of their budget just to repair it. Before they leave, Yoshino sees a beautiful mural but learns it will be torn down the year after the next. Yoshino creates a proposed committee to revive Mizuchi Festival. They are travelling the routes proposed for it. As the reason for this festival is lost, Yoshino needs a better motivation to bring people here. Kadota helps out as atonement as he still feels responsible for ‘destroying’ this festival 50 years ago. That’s why he tried like a madman to help Manoyama on his own. But looks like he has to start back from her. Thanks to her, he has no choice but to face it. Maki makes a rare visit home. It gets worse when dad comes home. Argument. Something about Maki dropping out of college to go into acting that didn’t turn out too well too. Mom had to stop them since today is her birthday. Maki also receives a letter from a famous director in Tokyo for an audition. If she is successful, she’ll get bigger movie roles. However she is not interested (the application was just to pacify Moe) and this upsets Kousuke as she is wasting this chance. Yoshino and Sanae discuss in turning the closed school into some lodging for the festival. Ririko is trying to upload her dragon song online for others to know but has doubts so she seeks Maki’s advice since she has experience as an actress. The other girls soon learn from Kousuke about Maki’s opportunity. They want her to take it. Yoshino drills it into her head she will regret it if she doesn’t. Yoshino might be doing her best as the queen but she doesn’t know what next year will bring. For Maki to know what she wants since young is amazing. So don’t waste it. Maki changes her mind and manages to catch the last train to Tokyo.

Episode 20
The audition results are in. Maki is happy when her name is called. Too bad those called can leave. Although she failed, she feels better about it somehow. Really? Why are you crying? I guess this means Maki is free to help Yoshino and co. Learning the school never had a proper closing ceremony, they plan to do one and contact those graduated and moved away to attend. Since it is snowing, lots of people are feeling depressed. Sandal can’t paint outside, no one rides Takamizawa’s bus and nobody patrons Angelica’s café. Yoshino has this idea of allowing Sandal to use a room of the school as his studio in which he totally loves it. They send in the closing ceremony proposal to Maki’s dead. He agrees to get approval from the education board. Also, there is going to be a play about a blood soaked Santa? It’s one of the school’s famous urban legends. Maki becomes the director of the play and they get a few of the locals as actors. The alumni of this school turn up for this closing ceremony. The taiko drum performance starts it off before this Santa comedy play. The wow factor that had the crowd giving them a standing ovation is the feature of the mural in the end. Yoshino then makes her closing speech. She surprises everyone that she has this proposal to use this school as a base to spread Manoyama’s culture. Instead of demolishing the place, they can revive the halls and open it to the public. And so the closing ceremony becomes an opening ceremony. Everyone applauses to the great idea. Maki is now inspired to do a play for that dragon song. They can incorporate it into the Mizuchi Festival. The drum is taken away for repairs. Funny, because nobody asked for it to be repaired. It seems a mysterious good Samaritan under the alias of Santa ordered for it and paid it in advance. Christmas comes early for Manoyama? But Maki has an idea who that Santa is. Thanks papa.

Episode 21
Shiori is surprised that there is a hitchhiker flagging her car down to go to Tokyo. In this snow? Turns out she is Erika and running away from home! She is brought back to the dorm as they ask why she wants to run away so badly. I guess she’s had it with this crappy place. She makes it sound so easy that she can survive in Tokyo. Yoshino convinces her to stay here for the time being and do more research first. When they go tell Angelica about it, she didn’t even realize her daughter is gone until she rushes back to see the runaway note. Oddly, Erika still has to attend school while in the midst of running away. As Maki sends her, she tells a story that ends with a cliff-hanger. She’ll continue the rest after school. Too bad Erika might feel she has gotten the raw deal because it is Shiori who picked her up. Shiori is a bit down ever since Erika’s rant of this crappy place. Shiori couldn’t understand why as she has lived her entire life here as well as all her family and friends are here. Therefore Shiori thought she might be the odd one out and only one who thinks this way. She tries to find out Erika’s reason for leaving this place. Simple. She can’t see herself growing old in this empty old town. It scares the hell out of her.

Yoshino is going around talking to individual shop owners about the festival’s revival. In fact, it isn’t just a revival but a brand new one. When she stumbles upon a closed café, Noge who runs a bookstore from across tells her it has closed down a year ago. Yoshino doesn’t mean to be rude but asks the businesses of the shopping district doesn’t look good. Noge tells her it is just to support themselves. Many move out because their children grew up and got jobs in the city. As for why they don’ rent it out, all shop owners live above their shop lot and won’t like strangers walking in just like that. After all, many don’t want their lives changed. Even if there are new stores opened here, will Yoshino shop here? And how often? Though she says she would but looks like for a big chunk of it is that she’ll visit the supermarket. Shopping districts aren’t relevant anymore. Ririko and Maki overheard Takamizawa and Kindaichi talk about some legendary treasure supposedly grant you a single wish they buried long ago as kids. It turns out to be the golden dragon. Together with Noge, they buried it because they couldn’t decide on a wish. And until they do, all of them have to come together and piece together a secret code to open it. Yoshino feels a bit uncomfortable as a foreigner she came to Manoyama to change and revive things. From Noge’s talk, she wonders if she is forcing others who only want things to remain as they are. Just like Warabiya’s case. Are they being pushy? Shiori becomes most vocal as she argues she was born and raised here. She will never stop loving this town. They agree to find a way to make the shopping district relevant again. Yoshino receives a message from Takamizawa that they are going to dig up the treasure. Too bad they need to decode the code that looks like a long incantation list.

Episode 22
Looks like they can’t remember how to crack the code. It’s going to take a while. Erika bugs Maki to complete the story. The moral of it is that wishing for something isn’t enough but one needs to be resolved too. This only serves to make Erika angrier. Later Shiori talks to her and thought a little about what she said. It is true she might not know about reality and it is good that Erika has a dream. But she should wait till she is grown up a little to achieve that. Erika doesn’t want to be dead in this town but Shiori assures her everyone here is living. Erika experiences pain in her teeth and it looks like her molar is going to drop out (baby teeth should drop out at a younger age but some drop out later). As there are no dentists open now and no pain killers suitable for kids, is internet the only hope? I suppose doing the pressure points on her foot is aggravating the issue. Ririko called her grandma who then called the pharmacist at the shopping district to open the store just for this. After this is settled, Yoshino feels a bit bad. She never shopped there and usually got her medications from the supermarket. I guess this is the special service only local shopping districts can provide. A call comes in from Angelica that her son, Anji is missing. In this snow, everyone goes to look for him but to no avail. They think he might want to find the treasure’s location as his wish is for Erika to return. Not here either. Kindaichi gets a call from Sandal asking how to brew tea. He found Anji at the park and brought him to the police box and he is asking for tea.

After returning Anji to Angelica, Erika returns home and he hopes she will not go away again. The adults advise her she can still make her dreams of opening a clothing shop here and can talk to one of those shuttered store owners to take over. Erika goes ‘berserk’ complaining nobody is going to wear nice and cute outfits here. I mean, are you going to wear them while tending the fields? Only the monkeys and cows are going to compliment you! If that’s the case, Anji promises to open one here for her. This has the adults think they need to get their act together and to make kids feel they want to live here. After Erika eats a cookie, her molar falls out. Erika resumes her waitress job. Still grumpy as ever. Shiori hopes they can go to Tokyo together. No thanks. She’ll go herself. Shiori has this idea to hang lanterns outside the shops at the shopping district so it will seem inviting even though they are closed. With Doku installing LEDs in them, there’s no fire risk. Takamizawa and co finally crack the code. They dig up the treasure… Just a toy dragon! Oh well… They return to see the beautiful lanterns illuminating the shopping district. Another lesson learnt: You can’t wait for someone else to grant your wishes. You have to do it yourself.

Episode 23
Yoshino sees the CEO of a famous pastry franchise, Belem. As he is a Manoyama native and attended that closing ceremony, he wants to help the town’s revival and open another branch there. While this is good news, they think it would be a problem convincing Oribe since you know, another rival confectionary. Surprisingly but not she agrees since it is for the greater good of the shopping district. The only thing they need now is one of the shop owners to rent it out. However it is no good as many live on the second floor are not willing to do so. There is only 1 person who doesn’t live above the shop and elsewhere: Akiyama. When Yoshino and co visit him, he declines them. Plus, Oribe visited earlier and he too declined her. The girls didn’t know they would hit this roadblock. Erika learns Belem is opening here and really wants to work at that place. She loves their pastries. Well, at least we know that will be her reason to stay. She gets aggressive suggesting those not operating their shop should just hand over! Oribe calls an emergency meeting with everyone to discuss the fate of the shopping district. As Noge is opening a café at the abandoned school, once that place is popular, she thinks of disbanding the board of merchants. Their way of doing business is outdated and they don’t want to force others who don’t want to stay open. Everyone then turns to Akiyama and pressures him to rent it out. Oribe stops everyone from pestering as Kadota makes Yoshino say something. It seems she too agrees of not forcing everyone. Sure she wants to revitalize Manoyama but not in a way where some loses. This is not revitalization but just development. They should come together and think what each of them can do for the shopping district.

It is then Akiyama says he doesn’t want to go through that again. Many years ago when he rented his shop to an outsider selling accessories, he was happy and helped out anyway he can. But 6 months down the road, he disappeared. Akiyama was the bank’s guarantor so you can imagine what he went through. He told nobody except Oribe because if he did, the board of merchants’ contempt for outsiders would grow stronger. All he wants now is to be left alone. One of the old guys then decides to rent out his shop because compared to Akiyama’s story to his own pathetic reason of not liking sweet smell is nothing. Yoshino thanks him as Akiyama asks her why is she doing so hard for Manoyama when she is an outsider. That’s because Manoyama took her in. Kadota finally says sorry to Oribe for that long outstanding grudge. She moves on and keeping up with this feel good momentum is that the board of merchants decides to officially join the Mizuchi Festival. Yoshino gets Noge’s permission to borrow his toy dragon for it. To get a real one costs a lot and this toy dragon is still a dragon. With everything looking so bright, there can’t be anything bad, right? Well… Here comes Kadota with bad news. Those guys in suits seen around Manoyama from time to time, looks like there are rumours that Manoyama will be absorbed into Tomikura.

Episode 24
Kadota reveals he was invited secretly on the absorption council. It is a dilemma for everyone because it will bring life to the place but weird things will happen like renaming of things. Although they will get better government services, Manoyama will also become a minority and their voices will be hard to hear. But for now the importance is to preserve Manoyama’s culture and hence the revival of Mizuchi Festival. Amamiya comes down to warn them that the TV host will be coming to propose changes to the dragon play. It seems he wants to replace the lead actors with idols and this means Ririko will not sing as intended. This also puts them in a dilemma because the exposure of this show will allow many others to know more about Manoyama. When the TV host is here, Kadota loudly protests against it. He will not accept his proposal because they are trying to revive a tradition and if they’re going to do it, they’ll do it their way. And that’s that. The Manoyama citizens put up their own videos to the countdown of the festival. Things are looking up with more and more people supporting and funding it. But Yoshino’s pals bring up the topic of her leaving at the end since they overheard her agency called her recently to discuss the end of her contract. Yoshino might consider returning to Tokyo and get normal jobs. After all, you get used to it and you can find inspiration anywhere. But she thanks them for helping her through the year and giving her lots of inspiration. As they are cleaning the shrine, clearing the moss on the stone reveals names of those who created the Sakura Pond. Among them are Sandal’s great grandparents. Despite the hectic schedule, everyone manages to surprise Yoshino with a birthday cake. The festival proceeds well and the old guys get to carry the shrine with ease thanks to Doku’s exoskeleton. When Kadota learns about the names on the rock, he gets an idea to make sister cities out of Manoyama and Sandal’s hometown and use it as leverage against the absorption. Well, what do you know? Sandal follows Mayor Naumann on social media and lucky him. Currently he is on a vacation in Japan and enjoying every moment of it. Kadota is going to get him here and drives his car all the way to Kanazawa! Oribe fears he might destroy the festival again but Yoshino puts her faith in him that he will return before the dragon play.

Episode 25
Kadota is at the place but he needs to put on something recognizable. Chupakabura mask? He is scaring others in search of Naumann. Naturally he gets arrested. Thankfully Naumann is looking for directions at the police box. As the festival runs its course, Yoshino is surprised her family is here to visit. When Kadota is taking too long to return, they get a call from him that his car run out of fuel. Shiori goes to get him and this is one of those occasions the on-demand bus is useful. They manage to get them in time but since most of the roads are blocked, they have to make the rest of the way via foot. During that time, Naumann gets lost but thankfully he wanders into the parade carrying the shrine and even takes part in it! The dragon play proceeds smoothly with Ririko singing a beautiful rendition of the song. In the aftermath, the staffs celebrate. Kadota and Naumann are like good buddies now. The girls talk about their future. Like Ririko she plans to go see the world after this but promises to come back. Yoshino has also decided as she expresses her love for Manoyama as her second hometown. Early next morning, Yoshino sees Kadota. A year has gone by in a flash as he quips it is better she leaves now or stay too long and she won’t be an outsider anymore. But what is he going to do for the next queen? Don’t worry. He too has decided. Yoshino’s final speech as the queen is recorded as she conveys the beautiful town of Manoyama and how it changed her. Then, Kadota makes his speech how Manoyama forgot its cultural roots and needed a queen to remind them. As it is every individual’s responsibility to pass on Manoyama’s culture and change-cum-adapt to the times, they do not need a queen nor the Kingdom of Chupakabura now. He hereby relieves the queen of her duties and disbands the kingdom. Later, Yoshino and her pals plant a tree symbolizing them. Shiori has a dream to keep planting sakura trees to turn Manoyama blooming with them. Everyone sees Yoshino off at the train station. Probably the entire town lined up along its path to wish her goodbye. The most touching one is Kadota who reduced Yoshino to tears as he tells her she will always be welcomed here. The Kingdom of Chupakabura now has been renamed as Sakura Pond. Although Yoshino has left Manoyama, she didn’t return to Tokyo or her hometown. She is now starting to help another town possibly located in the tropics.

Home Is Where The Heart Is
Despite the overall feel good and heart-warming overall, I have mixed feelings wondering if Yoshino should have stayed at Manoyama or not. Now that she has left to help revive other towns, it is like as though her mission is completed and hence there is no more reason for her to stay. Thankfully without her now, the people of Manoyama can go on living better lives. Had Yoshino stayed on, she would have become part of them and things would go on happily like they used to. But there is this sort of danger when one gets so used to it. Complacency sets in and history might repeat itself again. Who knows? It’s all good feelings now because it worked out but in the future, nobody could tell. So perhaps leaving Manoyama was the best option since she came to do what she needs to do and that’s that.

Surprisingly but not, the story is not boring as I was predicting it to be. It might not be the best story or series for the season or the year but this series is definitely entertaining and worth watching if you have too much fantasy adventures, violent blood spilling action, shameless fanservice comedies and the ubiquitous high school settings. Maybe it is an original anime and not based on any manga or game. Though the plot of reviving a dying town might not sound appeasing, the more interesting aspects are how the various characters of the town go about and do their best in a bid to make Manoyama a better place to live and visit. Yes, it isn’t just about bringing in outside people to stay temporarily or longer but also a plan to improve and enrich the lives of the locals.

So I’m glad that it is mostly a win-win situation for everybody. Manoyama might not have become as popular and attractive as Tokyo but it retains its charm of a traditional and easy going countryside town. I mean, let’s be realistic. You can’t have everything and be the best town ever. Manoyama is Manoyama and it doesn’t need to be another hectic and bustling Tokyo or Tokyo v2. Even if all the old people of Manoyama has kicked the bucket and do not live long enough to see how well Manoyama has grown, but the legacy and effort they put in would surely be remembered for a long time to come. Of course, proper recording and the young ones continue to uphold the traditions play an important role too.

Speaking of realism, I know I am being a little sceptical here but the way I say Yoshino and everyone going about doing their job promoting ideas feel like they are too easy. It’s like child’s play. Maybe there are lots of preparations going on behind the scenes that are not shown here and since I don’t come from such a sleepy town, I do not understand or feel such sentiments. Maybe in this small town, things get moving a bit faster because of the closer community that is fostered. The gap between rank and file isn’t large and everyone is like family here. Therefore seeing Yoshino and her cabinet ministers easily getting approval and getting things done with ease sure makes it look like it is just so easy in managing a small town. Of course there are some problems and challenges faced but in the end it always turns out for the better. I mean, doesn’t it sound like a fairytale. I know this is just anime and we all love a good ending but like I said, blame my scepticism and the harsh reality that made me think so.

Also, now that Yoshino has decided to go on a revival spree (assuming she does this for the rest of her lives), assuming that all the dying towns in Japan are revived again, Yoshino feels like some sort of angel, doesn’t she? A town gets touched by her ideas and efforts and gets the revitalization they pretty much needed. Theoretically that would sound awesome as this means no dead or dying towns in Japan ever. But just the realistic problem of the people visiting and making those towns lively again. Assuming the population of Japan is somewhat ‘fixed’ and if they are interested to check out certain towns, this means deserting another. Sure, we can assume this rotation thingy like visiting this town today and another town tomorrow. If people are so free to visit towns, does this means mega cities like Tokyo would soon be dying? Because you know, you just cannot create people out of thin air. They need to come from somewhere. So revitalizing a town in the sense of bringing more people could mean turning others into dead town. So by the time Yoshino finishes her entire revitalization across Japan, Manoyama might be dead again. This is of course I am assuming in extreme cases. Of course revitalizing doesn’t mean bringing in the crowd. It is also about culture preservation and documentation which I believe is what Yoshino is going to do.

Although the characters are lovable and they will grow on you that in the end you would love to support all of the Manoyama citizens in the end, I feel that they aren’t too deep. After all, the main priority is to revive Manoyama and if you get too many character development and drama in between, it might be very distracting. So I believe there is a right mix of how the characters are portrayed, played out as well as how they grow along with this town. Like the ex-city girls Yoshino and Sanae, they were mainly finding a place to belong. Even Maki could be said to be one because after failed attempts in the showbiz industry, this is where she ends up but it is all a blessing in disguise if I should say so.

So for Yoshino who became the queen of Manoyama, like anybody who has spent their time and devotion to something, they will naturally grow attach to it. I won’t say that Yoshino does a perfect job as the queen but she does try her best. It is that the reason why the people of Manoyama loves and respects her. She earned it. Thankfully I want to say that most of the stuffs she do turn out positive because if she fails, I am guessing her head would roll. But that’s another story. Yoshino puts dedication in her job better than most representatives of their districts because after all, what has she got to lose? She is in this for the long run but that will soon look like something short turn once you start having fun and loving it. As an outsider, probably it is one reason why many of her suggestion works and hence a perfect example of what thinking outside the box is. After all, Manoyama gave her a chance when so many in Tokyo did not so why not repay that opportunity? Now she has gotten the experience and has found her true calling in reviving other similar towns. Yoshino the Reviver. Hmm… How does that sound?

As for the rest of her cabinet ministers, there isn’t much I could say about them but they provide the support that Yoshino needs. It is a good thing Maki is around because she is like the handywoman of the group as her little experience here and there allows her to be knowledgeable and handy about almost everything. Sometimes I feel it is like a little running joke because it is like she knows everything but yet didn’t make it big. Then there is Ririko who looks like she is stuck with that deadpan emotionless face and an occult freak but many times she helps out her team when they are stuck with the folklores and researches she has done. Shiori is the liveliest of the group and a local girl who loves her town so much. Last and not least, Sanae might look out of place in the sense that in this backwater town, do you need an IT specialist? I mean, if you look at her specific job of handling the IT side, it might look like she is the most redundant. Heck, having Doku as the ‘science’ guy is pretty much sufficient for this town. And of course as we have seen Manoyama embracing some sort of technology so all is not lost.

If I have to point out the most interesting character of them all in the series, it has got to be Sandal. This guy is cool, enigmatic, positive and very calm in his very own way. Sometimes I feel like he is the angel that watches over Manoyama! No kidding. Because do you not feel that sometimes he is the saviour in certain times likes when Anji got lost and who was the one who found him? This wandering artist also has his own funny charm and wit and you can hear it mostly at the end of the next episode preview where he makes a short quip of things. At least it makes you break into a little smile. So why is this guy bumming around in a sleepy town like Manoyama? I believe it has got to be more than just his ancestral roots since he did come from a western country town. Only Sandal himself knows the answer to that.

However if I had to pick a favourite character, it had to be Erika. Yes, this grumpy but realistically honest girl is one of the fun characters to watch. Her comments really sting you but only because it is the truth. It is with mixed feelings that I find it sad she hates so much this town she spends all her life in (and doesn’t hesitate to badmouth it) and wants to get out but because of this, I find her really funny and lovable. I suppose Erika is at an age where she thinks she knows everything and can handle everything by herself. Hey, at least I’ll give her points for being confident even though her simple plan wouldn’t be so easy if she ever goes through with it. Sadly Erika doesn’t get as much appearance and even though there were a couple of episodes towards the end that puts her in the short limelight, I guess it is better than nothing. So I am guessing one of the biggest motivation for her staying is Kousuke. There are hints she likes that guy and since this guy is dead set on staying in Manoyama to become a taiko drummer, there’s her motivation to stay back as well.

For the other residents of Manoyama, I guess they’re pretty okay. Like Doku and his crazy inventions that are mostly more of aesthetic than practical and Takamizawa who doesn’t get bored being the only bus driver around town. At least he gets to wear his suits. I believe Kindaichi isn’t the only policeman in this town but I only see him around most of the time. Not forgetting Kadota and Oribe who are at odds for so long that seeing them on good terms is just a bit awkward. Who’d knew that the crazy backstory of them was the cause of this long standing tension (and the death of a certain festival). So I guess Kadota must have been regretting it all this time and turned into a grumpy old geezer trying to make amends by reviving Manoyama with his crazy antics, something that is always opposed by Oribe. I also want to mention about a staff in Kadota’s office, Shigaraki. This guy literally has no dialogue (until that one time he stood up and spoke which surprised us – and the last time we will hear of him speaking) and he has this big freaking frown on his face that says I-wish-I-was-not-here-doing-this-job. Yeah, how can a person on the tourism board be this unhappy looking? The kind of face that would scare kids and be good enough for children’s horror stories. He doesn’t even move much from his seat and at one point I was starting to think if he was just part of the office’s furniture.

The art and animation are pretty decent. Nothing much to shout about but it is still pretty much okay. Young people look pretty but the old folks really look, uhm, not so pretty. Just old. Sorry. I mean, it really shows age has really caught up to them. If the art style also feels so familiar it is because P.A. Works produced this and they maintained their trademark character designs as seen in many of their previous works such as Shirobako, Glasslip, Tari Tari, Hanasaku Iroha, Charlotte and True Tears. This is a reason why many of the characters look so familiar like as though they are that character from a different anime in an alternate world. For example, Yoshino has this close resemblance to Shirobako’s Aoi, Erika looks as close like True Tears’ Noe and Shiori having this close similarity to Glasslip’s Touko. Also to note, because of this at first I thought Sakura Quest and Shirobako are almost similar because it follows the story of 5 girls trying their best to complete something in their industry. Well, generally speaking.

Voice acting… MAMIKO NOTO MAKING HER CAMEO AS SAYURI!!! Nothing else needs to be said. Just kidding. The cast list is very long as there are many minor and background characters popping up in almost every episode. Too bad I only recognized Hiro Shimono as Yamada, Mikako Komatsu as Sanae and Youko Hikasa as the young high school girl version of Oribe. I thought Tomokazu Sugita was the voice of Minou but it turns out to be Daiki Hamano (Yatoji in Re: Creators). But the most surprising seiyuu among them all is Sandal. He is not voiced by a Japanese native but a foreigner! Surprise, surprise. This character again. Though he is not the first character voiced by a foreigner that I have heard but it has been a long time since I heard one. No wonder he sounds so different that it is refreshing. Sandal is voiced by an Indian, Vinay Murthy who is of course proficient in the Japanese language and this is so far his only anime role. Oh right, there is another foreigner here but only as cameo in the final episode, Eric Kelso as Naumann. I also believe actual foreigners were also hired as those Spanish people.

The rest of the other casts are Ayaka Nanase as Yoshino (Osamu in Boku Dake Ga Inai Machi), Reina Ueda as Shiori (Jasminka in Little Witch Academy), Chika Anzai as Maki (Reina in Hibike! Euphonium), Chiemi Tanaka as Ririko (Tsuji in Sansha Sanyou), Atsushi Ono as Kadota (Blitz in Re: Creators), Maki Izawa as Oribe (Hatobane in Kujira No Kora Wa Sajou Ni Utau), Kazuhiro Yamaji as Doku (Eugen in Granblue Fantasy The Animation), Katsuyuki Konishi as Takamizawa (Laxus in Fairy Tail), Nanako Mori as Angelica (Eiko Yamano in Knights Of Sidonia), Tomoyo Kurosawa as Erika (Kumiko in Hibike! Euphonium), Masashi Nogawa as Kindaichi (Rakshas in Berserk), Youji Ueda as Noge (Usui in Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei) and Yuusuke Kobayashi as Kousuke (Subaru in Re: Zero Kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu).

All the opening and ending themes including the few insert songs are sung by [K]now_Name (it looks like not only the naming of groups these days are getting ridiculous or creative as they put it but the way they use symbols and all too). The first opening theme, Morning Glory has this hip and playful feel to it but the second opener, Lupinus doesn’t appeal much to me since it is more of pop rock. The first ending theme, Freesia is also quite good as well as the second ending theme, Baby’s Breath with the former being hip and the latter having this calming and sunshiny beat.

Overall, this series is still a great watch despite not one of those hyped and mainstream titles. It is one of those hidden gems of the season or year. Those who watch it would definitely find it satisfying in the sense that you get to learn some life lessons and the broader and more meaningful concept of family or community. And those who are working would resonate well that after a hard day of work, it is always well worth to see the fruits of labour grow. Like the old saying, sometimes you might not end up where you want to be but you will always end up where you are were meant to be. And for Yoshino, she has found her place of calling. A place she could really call her home. Welcome home, Yoshino. Wherever she may happily be.

Jikan No Shihaisha

February 10, 2018

Time and tide wait for no man. Sorry, had to think of a time pun to start off my blog about an anime that has time manipulation as its setting. I’m not expecting much from Jikan No Shihaisha as it sounds like one of those action shonen animes of a group of warriors with the ability to use time to fight against monsters who devour time of ordinary people. Since it is not going to be the next Bleach, Naruto, One Piece or Fairy Tail (that is, it isn’t going to run into 3 digits of episode numbers), I guess there is no harm in trying. After all, what do I have to lose but a few minutes and accumulatively a few hours of my life?

Episode 1
Several girls of a high school are talking about rumours that one can turn back time if one makes a wish under the clock tower at the cemetery. Koyuki brushes it off as untrue but perhaps she is one who really wished for that rumour to be true. She had a beloved older brother who died in an accident. As she prays by his grave, she sees a guy fighting a monster. Kiri Putin is fighting this dark monster known as Horologues but it runs away. Kiri is confident because his partner, Victor is where it is heading. Anytime now… To his horror, he sees Victor flirting with girls! He chides him for fooling around but Victor points back at him. Is he fooling around with Koyuki? So at a cabaret, they try to dismiss all they have seen as special effects of a movie they are filming. Too bad Victor is having a good laugh and tries to ruin it all with his contradictions while writing in his journal. When Koyuki mentions about the rumour, Kiri rubbishes it. Because those who died can never return. Kiri does damage control before Victor could further ruin things. But Victor leaves a note for her to wait at a certain location. Back in their hotel, Kiri chides Victor for trying to reveal the truth to Koyuki that could have put her in danger. Victor argues a person’s desire is hard to erase unless they force reality upon her.

Koyuki graduates and she still believes in the rumour. As she makes her way to the cemetery, she sees her teacher, Emily looking younger than before. She heard rumours she did that ritual. Victor sees Koyuki praying earnestly for time to turn back when her brother was still alive. However a Horologue pops up and demands her time. Luckily Kiri saves her from being devoured. Koyuki still doesn’t care if this dangerous ritual calls forth some demon. Then reality hits her hard when she sees Emily has reverted into a child. Victor tries to save her from approaching the Horologue but her time keeps reversing till she becomes nothing. He explains about Horologues who appear to grant humans wishes but they actually devour their time. Once a human is bitten by them, their time is drained away until they return to nothingness. Victor then activates his Oath of Time and uses his cards to fight the Horologue. Oath of Time is a device that only allows them to control the speed of time. Koyuki still won’t give up. Kiri explains how Victor let his mother die. His depression allowed a Horologue appear. He was bitten. Victor has an Oath of Time embedded in his skin to slow down the time of flow within. It is slowly turning him into nothingness and not any younger. It also eats into his memories, that’s why he writes things in his journal. Victor does a dangerous move that could speed up his own time. After defeating the Horologue, Kiri wonders if Victor still recognizes him. Lucky for him, he still does. But still fooling around as usual. Kiri returns Koyuki’s dropped pendant. Behind the picture of her brother are words stating he will always be with her. The memories she had with him is a priceless treasure. As Koyuki leaves town, she remembers asking about Victor’s actual age. With each passing day, Victor becomes younger by a day. So could Victor be Kiri’s older brother? His true age is 39. Victor is Kiri’s father!

Episode 2
In this sin city, Victor allows a pickpocket to steal their money! He believes he can earn it back by gambling! Yeah, gamblers’ mentality… Kiri doesn’t have pleasant memories of his dad since he often goes out to gamble. Later Kiri sees that pickpocket trying to pay off his debts but since it isn’t enough, the debt collector gives him a final chance. This causes the pickpocket to fall under depression and summon a huge number of Horologues. Kiri manages to slay them but a huge eyeball Horologue appears. Everyone thinks it’s some filming. Father and son confront this giant eyeball, Aiks. He knows Victor because he was the one who bit him 12 years ago. Victor is desperate to get back his time and is in danger of speeding his own time. He won’t listen to Kiri since he is willing to sacrifice himself to get his revenge in worst case scenario. They get assistance from this hot chick, Mina who claims she is Victor’s wife. The debt collector tells Aiks to back down or it will put their master in a bad mood. Kiri remains suspicious of Mina because his mom’s name is Nana and died 12 years ago. The name Mina also has never appeared in Victor’s journal. With the guys continue to argue like usual, Mina steals his journal. Kiri goes after it but what made her return it? After Victor ‘threatens’ to do lots of censored stuff on her. Mina decides to live with them and they’ll make even better memories together. Because Victor is still reeling from his missing memories, Mina had to show a scar that she too has been bitten by a Horologue. With Victor and Mina teaming up, the teasing on Kiri has just doubled. Mina takes them to the organization who fights Horologues, Chronos. It is believed it has Victor’s records of his time working there. Yeah, Victor, conveniently remembers vaguely he worked there. Kiri remains suspicious if Mina is actually his mom. She explains proof of Chronos’ existence is because of the Oath of Time. However all of them are based from the one original that is called Unique. It avoids sudden massive regression in age as it is able to control time of living things and not objects. Victor has Unique. However if Victor has the one and only Unique, how is Mina slowing her time? She whispers maybe she’ll kill him for it.

Episode 3
Chronos’ HQ is located underground. They meet this perverted guy, Snake who is the head of Chronos’ technology division. He likes school girl uniforms…After examining and confirming Victor’s Unique as the original, he explains about Chronos’ establishment 2,200 years ago to fight Horologues. Snake then paralyzes them with his Oath of Time. He is under orders to take Unique. With so many of their comrades sacrificed and dead, if they have Unique, they will be capable of ruling time of all living things and put a stop to the war on Horologues. Sacrificing 1 life for the future is worth it. Mina opposes this but there is nothing much she can do. Before Snake’s assistants could take them away, Victor and Kiri easily escape Snake’s trap. Victor’s cards put up some sort of barrier to prevent the paralysation. They coolly leave and don’t want to be part of whatever Chronos is planning. Mina is sad because Victor has never trusted her in the first place. She tries to convince she wasn’t tricking him but it fell on deaf ears. Once father and son reach the surface, Victor locks Kiri out as he returns to the HQ. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. All Chronos members are on alert to bring them back dead or alive. So as they go on a wild goose hunt, little do they know Victor has snuck back into the HQ and this works for him since less personnel means less guards. He remembers Mina telling the documents are located at the tower top. Inside the library, he finds a book containing his records. Only one problem: He can’t read this language! There is also a photo of him and Mina together and the date stamp shows it was taken 12 years ago. Kiri tries to break in but is faced with this crazy fire dude, Blaze. Victor is interrupted by this sexy vixen, Ice Radar. She remembers him but obviously he doesn’t. He wants to know why he joined Chronos and how he can get back his time but is explained the origins of Chronos instead. Something about the god of time fought and won over Horologues but a small number of them survived and hence the formation of Chronos so his descendants will continue to fight them. Victor considers himself an atheist so Ice Radar is going to prove there is one standing right before him.

Episode 4
Victor jumps back before Ice Radar could pummel him. She continues explaining she is the true descendent of Chronos and the one who will subjugate all Horologues. She will be taking his Unique which belongs to her that she lost 2,200 years ago while fighting Horologues, and then put him to sleep. Being one who is able to control any flow of time, Victor can’t even control his own time to fight against her. Mina returns to the tower to see Victor getting owned as he tries to desperate use a desperate measure to speed up time. This horror has her remember 500 years ago when she was at her mom’s funeral. She was devastated mom left her alone. Apparently Ice Radar is her older sister and is told the harsh reality about the fleeting life of humans. Everyone she knows will have to die one day. Although Mina doesn’t have the true power of Chronos yet, if Ice Radar dies, she must carry on and inherit those powers to subjugate the Horologues. It is her duty. Now Mina tries to fight Ice Radar and blames her for always getting in her way. Mina easily gets owned and is paralyzed in her own time. Mina is willing to sacrifice her own leg to break out of that paralysis. It is a small price to pay not to lose Victor. Luckily Victor is back up and saves Mina. She breaks down in tears, happy he is still alive. Victor has always thought Mina was fooling around but realizes she is genuinely in love with him. But the fight with Ice Radar is not over yet. When Victor fights her, he realizes he could speed up time without losing his own. Ice Radar reveals she fixed his Unique and missed his vitals. Now he can use his powers without worrying the side effects. She did this favour because the info he gave to them 12 years ago when he returned from the Horologues’ nest is more vital than his life. Victor realizes this is her way to test him if he is worthy to hold on to Unique. Well, the test is not over yet. The fight continues with some complicated speed up, speed down of time explanations. Because Victor has found a loophole that Ice Radar being a god doesn’t make her absolute. Something about her may be able to control time but that doesn’t mean it nullifies his own ability. The control of time can only be countered by controlling time. Huh?

Episode 5
Kiri can only defend against Blaze’s punches. Blaze claims he wants to be the worst villain in the world. Why? Oh, flashback time. Long time ago there was this good kid who did everything to help others. The villagers loved him. On the other hand, there is also this bad kid who bullied others. The villagers gave up on him. What happens when good kid tries to turn bad kid over to a new leaf? One night, bad kid has good kid follow him to a windmill. Bad kid burns windmill down! Both kids got caught and although bad kid got scolded, it was much worst for good kid. They think he has been lying to them by being nice. Everyone hated him. Because of the disappointment, he decided to become a villain. This means he is not tied down to anyone. Nice story about yourself. It’s Kiri’s turn. Not after he surprises Blaze with a move that his old Oath of Time model cannot do. Seems he is able to pull it off because he swapped Mina’s Oath of Time while she was sleeping. His intentions was to limit her movements. So Victor’s back story rants about how his father has regressed into a stranger. Guess what? Blaze is so touched that he cried!!! Such tragic past! WTF?! Blaze blames the Horologues for this and will take them down to be the next villain. Until then, stay undefeated. Also, he wants to become Kiri’s big brother. Kiri collapses after Blaze reveals it is not his master’s plan to kill Victor but to see if he is worthy of Unique. So back to that fight, Victor manages to pull out some tricks up his sleeves to bind Ice Radar. He has learnt a few things from the fight like her limited range of time control despite calling herself a god. Well, she still manages to live up to that since she manages to break out. She beats him up before he finishes talking thinking it is his form of distracting her. Then to her surprise, it is like he is able to control her body and slow down time. After checkmating her, he reveals that it was his torn cards scattered during the fight that got stuck on her body that allowed him to slow down her time when the timing is right, making it look like he controlled her body. So next time, let others finish what they have to say first. She acknowledges him worthy to keep Unique.

Episode 6
Kiri must be even embarrassed as Blaze keeps calling out to Victor about his son worried about him. Snake welcomes them back and reveals this was all a test. He lets Kiri know about the records on Victor but it is in a coded language that is still being deciphered. Because Victor is a mysterious man himself and they didn’t know he is his son, what are they chances they know about his time here? But guess what? Time for Kiri to blow his top again when he sees Victor flirting with the ladies! Heck, all of them are flocking around him! Kiri asks Snake about Aiks and if it is possible that Horologues can talk. Normally they couldn’t but after devouring humans for a long time, they might have developed that ability. But even if they defeat it, it might not be able to recover Victor’s time. It is possible if it is 60 seconds when it was first devoured. That night, Kiri sees Victor successfully deciphering his records. They are coded alphabets that he substituted out with the names of girls. So he wasn’t just only flirting then? Many of the records are nothing important. Just flirting around. But there is one that details everything. It was his final mission. It is at Coubjurs, his hometown.

Next day, Victor says his goodbye to Ice Radar. He sets a time of 1 month to defeat that Horologue otherwise he will return Unique to her. He also asks if Mina is really his wife. If she was, she would have tried to help reclaim his time but she is more interested in creating new ones. Ice Radar shows a DNA test she secretly conducted on Mina and Kiri. Not related. But then again, Mina is a descendent of Chronos and her DNA changes when she reaches 18. But she knows Victor and Mina were a team back then and she really wanted to marry him and have a child. When he went missing, she fell into depression and only ‘revived’ recently when she heard he was still alive. She isn’t sure if they are really married but Mina’s love for him is real. Ice Radar has a favour to ask of him. He hopes she can open her eyes. As a descendent of Chronos, human emotions will only cloud her judgment. Victor can’t promise that and can only love her as long as she loves him. Ice Radar then freezes his time as a threat. He won’t change his stance but words it in a way that if Mina loses interest in him, he will not pursue her. As they leave, Snake gives them a few items and ‘cool’ nicknames. This signifies they are part of the top 12 Guardians of Chronos. Mina joins them in their trip to Coubjurs. You think teaming up bullying Kiri is on the cards but when Victor says he will be hers once he gets back his time, Mina snaps. So now she is not happy? Apparently she thinks he is doing this out of responsibility and if so, she doesn’t want this kind of love. I guess Kiri is in a dilemma again. If they’re acting like stupid lovers, it’s bad for him. Now they’re not talking and such heavy mood, it’s still bad for him. And then Blaze pops up. In his own pace he makes everyone get along. Yeah, looks like he is going on this trip with them too. For once, Kiri is grateful he saved the situation.

Episode 7
While on a plane to Coubjurs, they stop this gamer freak kid, Bill Reidan from using his Horologue ring on the rest of the passengers. How? Mina’s swift wind power blast the related parties outside to fight on the plane! And everyone else didn’t notice a thing. Yeah, it must be just a small turbulence or something. Anyway, he uses the ring to summon a Bahamut to fight them. It is a 3,800 year old Horologue so you bet it packs some power. Although Bill gets injured, he doesn’t feel any pain. He thinks life is a game and hence doesn’t feel the pain. So there’s this flashback of him of how boring he views reality. He found his ‘reality’ in online games. He turned into a shut-in and this made his mom sad. But her love for him had her continue to feed him and leave him alone. Until she died via overworking. It was then Bill woke up and regretted it. A strange man approached him and told him a way to get his mom back. Giving him the ring, if he collects time from others, the reverse flow of time will eventually get his mom back. Well, they destroy his ring and if Bahamut goes out of control, Victor destroys it with a single strike using Unique! Down on the ground, you could say Bill is now brought back down to earth as he starts to feel the pain and regret of reality. Victor tries to give him hope that his mom might be gone but memories of her still live inside his heart. However Bill only remembers treating her like trash and a slave. He never once said thank you. It is those memories that made it so painful. It’s because he can remember them all. This invokes a deep memory inside Victor. Standing at the beach and 2 coffins next to him. The coffins are empty. Victor lets Bill go as they make their way to Coubjurs. Although he claims he is okay, Kiri can tell he is only putting up a strong front. And Blaze is crying over Bill’s touching story… I hope he doesn’t want to be his big brother too…

Episode 8
Arriving at Coubjurs, this backwater place brings back lots of childhood memories for Victor. But to his shock, he spots his parents before his eyes. They’re supposed to be dead. Then they realize the date of a newspaper. It looks like the time of this place is 34 years ago! Kiri knows something is wrong but assuming if those are Victor’s real parents, it could mean time has been turned back. Victor is tempted to go to his parents, Alexander and Eve who run a local clinic but Kiri doesn’t want them to raise suspicions. This place might not mean anything to Kiri it does to Victor. Kiri decides to play along with his sentimentality in exchange their relation won’t be discovered. Mina assures it won’t since they don’t look alike. Kiri hits back that she and Ice Radar too don’t look alike. That’s for sure. They aren’t really blood related and call each other so for convenience. Besides, she too doesn’t remember her past but doesn’t care about it as she is more concerned of building a future with Victor. When Eve bumps into them again and invites them for dinner, Kiri naturally wanted to decline but Victor views it as a worthy investigation. They might get to the bottom of it all if they stick around them. Alexander talks how he became a doctor to help with Eve’s weak body. In short, he is unlicensed and a quack doctor although his intentions are good. Kiri is pissed he is made to cook for them. Yeah, it tastes horrible! Almost died? The commotion causes a young Victor to tell them to pipe down because he is studying. Plus, he badmouths his parents and doesn’t have high hopes for them. Blaze wants to teach him a lesson but Victor tells him to let it go. Kiri knows Victor’s parents died in a fire although the cause is unknown. The loss of his parents forced Victor to grow in the truest sense and made him appreciate them. Next morning, Victor talks to Eve about the drawing she wanted to give her son. Kiri had to remind him about his sentimentality to atone his wrongdoing. Because his parents died in the fire, he never received the drawing. On the contrary, he already knows what it is because he returned to the spot and saw the drawing. It is a message for him to be a victor. Kiri tries to remind him he can’t change the past and these people are fakes but is shrugged off he doesn’t know anything or how parents feel about their child. Both go their own separate ways to investigate. Why so mad, Kiri?

Episode 9
Kiri, Blaze and Mina are fighting a 4,500 year old snake Horologue. However it soon turns tail and run. Kiri knows something is wrong. Like is as though it is being controlled by someone and trying to lead them somewhere because it is running ‘slow’ enough to let them follow while being fast enough to dodge their attacks. Kiri and co decide to follow it in hopes it will lead to the perpetrator. Kiri wonders why of all days Mina decided to not follow Victor. Ever since he met Eve, there is always that sadness in his smile. She hates this town because it only brings Victor sadness. Hence she is going to change this town. Only when Victor is happy, she is happy. Meanwhile Victor sees Alexander rushing home because he got word his wife has collapsed. Thankfully young Victor did all the necessary. However something is still wrong. Even isn’t getting better. Alexander deduces a blood transfusion is needed. But Eve has a rare AB negative blood. Young Victor decides to return and donate his blood. Mom doesn’t want him to miss the bus for his entrance exam but I guess young brat decided his mom’s life is more important. However his puny size means the transfusion isn’t enough. Victor just realized he too has the same blood and steps in. Even though he feels his parents might be fakes but he can’t help hope that by doing something, something will change. Eve’s life is saved so when Victor tries to praise his little self, he instead badmouths his parents that thanks to this, he missed the bus and now has to wait another year. He is stuck here with them when he could have gotten away from them for good. Victor slaps him! I guess little brat is still a kid and cries like one. Alexander isn’t appreciative of that. Thanks for saving Eve. But please leave. Depressed Victor has this strange dream of being admonished he isn’t the strong victorious Victor his parents hoped him to be but a weakling who can’t put his parents behind him. Kiri and co now stumble upon a strange barrier that might have stopped time in this town.

Episode 10
Kiri further deduces that the Horologues are protecting Coubjurs so that the residents can have a peaceful life. There is also a possibility that the town is repeating the same day because the residents seem not to remember them when the next day arrives. It could also be that the time in the town is flowing backwards. They encounter the perpetrators, Kyousuke Fujibayashi and Raiko. They have a ring that controls Horologues. But they aren’t the ones behind this but their master. Their job is to lure them away from Coubjurs in which their master is conducting an experiment and kill them before moving on to Victor. Fujibayashi somewhat recognizes Mina. He calls her Nana and remembers her as being all over Victor back then. There was also a little specky kid who was always clingy to her. This makes Mina mad. She tells Kiri to go save Victor while she handles him. The fact is that there is something she doesn’t want Kiri to hear. Meanwhile Victor is depressed back at the cabin when one of Alexander’s frequent patients show up. He is confused despite Victor saved Eve, he is not happy and hit his young self. Bill then pops up looking for another ring. Patient dude isn’t sure what he is talking about so he devours Bill to read his memories! This guy is actually Aiks and as a Horologue who has lived so long, he came to possess an ego and disguised himself as a human to observe them. So he made this town his experiment to understand them. He tells of several experiments he did on Victor’s family like killing them or letting them die but their reaction is not what he expected. As he is able to do this experiment infinitely, he assures he will turn back time of this town to normal when he is done. Victor gets emotional and attacks him but fails. Aiks suggests he become the subject of his experiment if he doesn’t like this. He lets him know that consuming time of this town has him use a large portion of his energy. If he can damage his eating organ, he could spit up the time he has eaten. The town will return to normal but Victor will not see his dead parents again. Therefore Aiks is curious to know which Victor will choose. Victor doesn’t hesitate to attack him to take back his memories. But Aiks can tell he still has doubts as his attacks aren’t as powerful. Victor is on the verge of being devoured by disappointed Aiks. But here comes Kiri to the rescue. He too is disappointed a pathetic father he is.

Episode 11
Mina thought breaking his ring would turn his Horologue crazy and eat him. However it isn’t working since the ring she broke was fake. She then cannot move. Fujibayashi explains when she protected Kiri and got bitten by his Horologue, its toxins are taking effect. Horologues not only eat time but they also gain the abilities of those devoured and in this case all the venomous snakes and bugs. As he tries to experiment poisons on her, his Horologue suddenly disappears. Apparently Mina’s blood can purify poison because of her relation to Chronos. Therefore it is like fighting poison with poison. She locks him in a vacuum. Meanwhile Blaze is having a hard time with Raiko but isn’t giving up. He is shocked to see his body fused with Horologue. Old guy explains he was abandoned by his parents since he has muscle atrophy. But his master took him in and fused his body with a Horologue. That’s why he will devote his life to him. Guess what? Blaze is crying and touched by his story. As they continue fighting, Blaze seems to be on the losing end. Till he plays his ultimate trump card. Scattered gunpowder that might be small but when blown up together, the effect is immense. One roast jiji coming up. Kiri fights Aiks and although he manages to damage him, Aiks eats himself to heal himself like as though reversing time before the injury. Huh? Kiri then gets bitten as Aiks explains he still doesn’t understand human emotions after all his observations. Except for one: Fear. If you’re wondering why Victor didn’t move in to help, it’s because his inner conscious in the form of Alexander and his young self are holding him back. They warn him killing Aiks will kill them. Does he not want them to exist? Victor sums up his courage to reconcile about reality. He knows his parents are dead and can’t save Kiri if he is trapped in the past. He breaks free of his chance and will claim victory with his own strength. For he is Victor the victory. But why is he now scared when he is going to kill Eve? Must be the sad gentle smile…

Episode 12
Victor attacks Aiks but avoids his eating organ. Aiks wonders why Victor now has the confidence to defeat him when he did not before. He observes him again by making him see visions of Eve and other townspeople accusing him of being selfish if he returns the town to normal. Victor will not be fooled and punches his way to shatter the illusion as well as destroying Aiks’ eating organ. With that, the flow of time of this town is slowly returning it to its dilapidated state. Victor wants to go see his parents one last time but Kiri tells him to face reality now or he will never be freed from the regrets of his past. So Victor talks to Eve. Especially about the painting she was to give Victor. He knows what it is and assures Victor will grow up to be a fine man. But Eve explains about the pen she uses to draw it. It was given to her by Alexander whom he got from his father. It is very precious and has lots of memories in it. This is what she wants to give to him. This makes Victor realize he was wrong. He didn’t trust his family and companions and only believed in his own abilities. Eve knew this Victor was her grown up son ever since they first met. She thanks him for turning out what they had hoped for. Victor apologizes and regrets all that he has done. Too bad he took too long and now mom is gone. Aiks returns and thinks Victor didn’t appreciate his family when he was young and he grew up troubled by it. He wants to experiment this again and recreates Eve. But when Victor says the experiment ends here, he kills her. Victor then asks how it feels to understand human emotion. After all the experiments? Nothing. Victor punches him and is going to make him pay. With everyone reuniting to fight against him, Aiks is stumped that they have no fear in fighting him. He materializes wings that will turn anything upon contact into nothing. It puts a little fear back in them. Flashback shows Aiks ate some villagers to learn about fear. Then he met his master who named him and will give him endless supplies for him to understand human emotions in exchange for his loyalty. Aiks gets pounded once the rest know the trick to his attack. No more fear again. This forces Aiks to transform into his true form and fire his devastating Gastas Ray directly at Victor.

Episode 13
Don’t worry. He survives. Mina goes on the offensive with Aiks seeing that she is the only one with Chronos blood and can fight him without taking too much damage. Trying to protect her son is so touching, eh? Kiri then hatches a plan. Before that, he apologizes he can’t remember his mom and didn’t understand how Victor felt when he came here. When father and son come up close to Aiks, his attacks doesn’t work. It seems they cover the cards with puddle and turn it into a mirror. Because Aiks attack digests everything he sees, this means he eats his own self in the mirror. Too bad, not yet final victory yet since Aiks hid his real eating organ somewhere. As he rains devastation everywhere, the rest hides and Victor tells Kiri his dangerous plan. Kiri is against it since failure means his life and even if he is successful, there would be high damage. Keeping positive, if they are successful, they can defeat Aiks. In the end, it boils down to believe in him. First, Victor quickly attacks him with Unique. Time is seeping out fast from him. This dangerous act makes Aiks expose his real eating organ to defend himself. This is the cue for the rest to attack Aiks with all they’ve got. They defeat the Horologue and Aiks realizes another emotion other than fear and loves it. In the aftermath, the rest are looking for Victor but only sees his clothes. Cue for emotional infighting especially Mina calling her son not her son because she allowed Victor to die. But wait. Victor is around but as a ghost? He is disappearing fast. Then he sees his parents as ghost. They are happy about him being a victor and tell him not to come over here and that he has a life. See how everyone is calling for him and Kiri getting too emotional. He is calling Victor as his dad and would be lost if he isn’t around. With that, Victor returns to everyone’s relief. After Kiri denies all that embarrassing stuff, he hands Victor the pen. As they take a train home, Kiri talks to Victor and knows Aiks is still alive out there because Victor is still in his same form. So it’s not over yet by a long shot. The past might never return but as long as you have those dearest in your heart, you can take off to the future again.

Time’s Up! A Pyrrhic Victory?
So I guess that when a Horologue eats your time and you can never get it back is just crap. Victor just proved it. All you need to do is find the right Horologue and hang on long enough before you turn into nothingness. Well, too bad nobody else has Unique so I suppose everyone else cannot be saved. So looks like the happy family of four is going to take another road trip to wherever leads them to. Hopefully within the time frame of their lives because they aren’t immortals, you know. But for me, I’ve it’s time out. I was hoping there would be something interesting for me to look forward to but alas like in many animes, it didn’t. And here I thought the final episode would have some sort of interesting twist or something that would allow it to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Oh Victor, your name only means so in the context of this anime but otherwise it has been a total loss for the rest of us. The series may have ended on a good and happy note but with nothing that spectacular throughout and possibly for the sequel (if there is going to be one but I highly doubt it), this ‘victory’ seems somewhat hollow. Because pretty soon it feels like this anime will be quickly tossed into those forgettable bins and never to resurface in time again. What’s the use of speeding up or slowing down time when nobody gives you their time?

Honestly, although the general plot and setting of the series starts off as interesting, it quickly loses that excitement as early as the second episode. I believe the first episode is by far the most interesting one as it sets up the lore and settings of this series. Heck, it was like a standalone filler but it was okay. The intrigue of a high school girl’s desperation to turn back time to get back her lost brother serves as an introduction for the main characters who look simply interesting and fascinating at first (as well as the first looks of how horrifying Horologues look). And then by the next episode when the ‘real plot’ starts to get rolling about finding Chronos’ HQ followed by the trip back to Coubjurs, that is where the series starts to wane. I don’t know. It just felt boring. Like as though the entire series is just one long journey for Victor to try to get back his lost memories. Therefore the synopsis I read about this series felt like a big troll because it was basically a summary for the first episode! Deception or surprise? You’ll never hear of that Koyuki girl ever again. I try not to sound bias but seeing that this story was written and adapted from a Chinese manhua… Oh well…

Because of all that, I also find the characters to be annoying in some ways. Like Victor and Kiri is one of those weird opposite team combos because while you have one who is easy going and cool, the other is the serious and trying to keep things in line. Making it even weirder is that Victor is Kiri’s father and he is getting younger by the day. How weird is it to have your father one day be the one who is younger than you? Certainly the curious case of Benjamin Button… As said, the entire series is like a long journey to shed light on Victor’s past. He gets the big bulk of the focus. Sometimes he is funny but more often at times comes off as annoying. It’s like he is trying to be funny but fails. Especially when he is flirting around and having girls swarm all over his feet like as though the purpose of it all is to piss off Kiri (especially that recurring joke of wanting him to eat pasta through his nose. WTF. And no, Blaze, don’t you dare challenge that with pasta up your butt…). And what do you know? He was actually doing something beneficial by using his charms to get or do something. I guess there are some things you just can’t get by walking straight up to someone and demanding for it. So that’s why I suppose Kiri is always complaining, blowing his top thinking his father isn’t serious in getting the job done. Like as though it is his destiny to always be mad. Also, I think Victor doesn’t reprimand Kiri and just let him be because doesn’t Kiri’s anger reminds Victor of his own when he was younger? Yeah, he knows how that feels. You can’t fight anger with anger.

Mina and Blaze complete this ragtag quartet group and also as annoying in their own ways. Like Mina (whose ‘complicated’ past and relationship with her ‘sister’, Ice Radar which I still can’t understand) who is constantly trying to pander to her darling and the terrible duo become Kiri’s worse nightmare as they team up to tease him. It’s good she is thinking of the future and moving forward instead of being obsessed about the past. But you know what they say about knowing history and preventing it from happening again. Therefore Victor has to solve the case of his parents and put a close on it before he needs to move on. By the way, in which it doesn’t feel too convincing since Victor feels like an outsider watching his own past unfolding, then having the dilemma of wanting to stay this way forever or not, then making his decision by coming to terms with reality. And goodbye mommy. Sad to say, that didn’t stir up any emotions in me. Oh sh*t, am I as bad as Aiks?

Speaking of Aiks, as this season’s main antagonist, he too doesn’t feel like one. Just one confused Horologue trying to understand human emotions and hence his twisted judgment of experimenting on humans of a little town over and over again. The reason he could never understand it is firstly, he isn’t human to begin with even though he knows what fear is but that doesn’t mean understanding a human emotion is an indication he should be able to understand the rest. Secondly, with that said, this is the case of trying to describe colours to a blind person. Thus no matter how many experiments with different variations he pulls off, he is never going to understand anything. We saw how he didn’t feel anything after all that, right?

Before I forget, Blaze feels like the obligatory comic relief character as he is shown as the biggest idiot who is more brawn than brains. With lots of passion. Guys like him are supposed to relief tension in the group but this is also what makes him annoying. Unlike One Piece’s Luffy and Fairy Tail’s Natsu, this guy isn’t the main character so that is why he isn’t that likeable. At least to me. Just annoying. So all you need to do to get this guy on your side is to tell a decently touching story, wait for him to bawl some tears and then by that time if you don’t intend to kill him, wait for him to announce to be your brother or ally or whatever. He’ll be on your side definitely. And what’s this about wanting to be the world’s greatest villain? Bad guys don’t help others but themselves. It’s like he is just twisting the definition of a villain but plays the hero of justice. But if he says he wants to be the world’s greatest clown, that I can agree… Maybe Snake can be his buffoon partner but I think he’ll get arrested before that could happen. Yeah, doing time… Haha!

Therefore a few mysteries and questions bugging me like the history of Chronos and Horologues, the workings of the Oath of Time and if that you can never get back your devoured time still lingers on my mind. I believe some are explained but not in detail. Just enough to get you by this season. Because we all know there is one big master behind the Horologues and the likes. The mind boggling thing about Ice Radar isn’t about her being a descendant of Chronos or how Mina who isn’t blood related became her sister, but rather how the f*cks this she end up with such an alien name like Ice Radar?! Not that I can see she uses any ice power or radar effects. Not too sure if it is a corruption of her name in kanji, Aisuredar. Whatever. Are you curious to find out who are the other members of the 12 Guardians of Chronos? Who? Don’t remember them? So do I. Yeah, so irrelevant and unrelated…

I was hoping the action bits would alleviate some of the boringness but unfortunately even though they are still averagely entertaining, it still didn’t manage to boost my impressions of the series. There are a few terms albeit simple ones but I still don’t understand them. Especially about that speeding up and slowing down of time. Whatever. I thought Victor’s team is going to be a group of elemental warriors seeing with have water for Kiri, wind for Mina and fire for the aptly named Blaze. So who is the one controlling the ground or earth element? Beats me. Because a pack of cards sure isn’t in any way related to that. Whatever. Not too sure about the variety of moves they have too because Kiri is always slashing with his sword, Mina kicking some wind action with her feet, Blaze bursting flames with his fists and Victor throwing his cards or setting them up as barriers.

Art and drawing are also average. Sometimes I can see a dip in quality but with me so bored at this point, I don’t even care. I just want to point out that when I first looked at the characters, I had this familiar feeling that I have seen them from somewhere. Though I won’t name them all because I can’t remember which anime character they resemble (read: Lazy), the one that caught my attention is Kiri. Think back. Why does this guy look so familiar? Why, isn’t this Ishida from Bleach???!!! OMG! Did somebody cut and paste this character?! Did the designer blatantly rip off this character? Bleach has gone off the air for so many years and this is where he ended up? He traded his spiritual bow for a water sword? This might be a long shot but I think the designer took inspiration in Victor’s design from Devil May Cry’s Dante. The original one. I also find some similarity with Blaze and Fairy Tail’s Natsu. Despite looking different, same fire power, same hot headed temper. And doesn’t Eve look like a gentler version of Erza of Fairy Tail? Last but not least, doesn’t Bill look like a crazy version of One Piece’s Ace?!

As for the design of the Horologues, at first they seem a bit scary at least for me since I am a horror averse person. I mean, with clocks as eye pupils, creepy enough for me. Especially with multiple of such eyes popping up all over the body. It’s not like I got used to it but then I realize that clocks aren’t scary and once I accepted that, the Horologues don’t look scary anymore. So I was like Victor facing reality and now I don’t have to fear again? What BS did I just say? Also, those round eating organ Horologues from Aiks, I can’t help think of them as a dark evil version of Pac-Man…

The opening theme, Ruler Game by Fo’x Tails did get my attention at first because of the frenzy piano finger play at the opening. Then it descends into some noisy hard rock punk death metal music. I suppose it is fitting for this genre but I didn’t quite like it. So I prefer the ending theme, Jikan Wa Mado No Mukougawa by Nagi Yanagi even though it sounds weird in the sense it feels out of place for this series. It starts off as a slow and calming ballad before turning up the pace and tempo a little. Also I want to note that there are a few BGMs in the series which have this jazzy feel to it. Although they aren’t too shabby, but sometimes it feels a bit out of place in a series like this. I don’t know, it just doesn’t fit but they’re nice to hear at times.

The series is ‘saved’ with the casting of a few recognizable seiyuus albeit not by much. Great to hear voices like Jun Fukuyama as Victor, Rie Kugimiya as Mina, Jouji Nakata as Aiks, Shizuka Itou as Ice Radar, Sayaka Ohara as Eve and Tomokazu Sugita as Snake. For the rest, they are Kaito Ishikawa as Kiri (Iida in Boku No Hero Academia), Kenji Akabane as Blaze (Arashi in Triage X), Kazuhiko Inoue as Alexander (Gildarts in Fairy Tail), Kengo Kawanishi as Bill (Rei in 3-gatsu No Lion) and Chika Anzai (titular character in Hitsugi No Chaika).

Overall, this is largely a disappointing series. A boring less than stellar plot and annoying characters outweighs the cool jazzy BGMs and popular seiyuus landing their talents here. It looks like the Chinese manhua has still got a long way to go if they want to match up to their Japanese counterparts but given the fact that this series has been given the Japanese anime treatment, I guess it shows it has some potential, right? Or does Japan starting to run out of creativity and decided to look for that elsewhere? Too bad the time I have ‘wasted’ watching this series didn’t turn it into something enjoyable. I won’t be wise of me to wish for time to be turned back and returned to me because it would have defeated the purpose of watching what this series is all about. And sadly this series will eventually fade away by the time the next season rolls around. Couldn’t stand the test of time… Sorry, needed to make a time pun to end this. Heck, better than eating pasta through your nose joke, right?

Oh my. You mean there is more of it?! More of the gayness?! Well, it seems that Binan Koukou Chikyuu Bouei-bu Love! Love! Love! Is going to be the final. That is why this OVA is almost an hour long! Oh boy. I don’t know if I should feel relief or sad but this is it. Graduation is looming for the gang and with that they won’t be able to stay together like before. Let’s hear for one last time for the boys.

The ending of the love…
We hear the guys discussing how Tawarayama has been revived so many times that they wonder if he is still the same person. It creeps them out thinking if he isn’t. Next we see the guys taking a bath as they talk and reminisce about things. Among them include Kusatsu having a writer’s block to come up with a graduation speech, the very short encounter of how Kusatsu and Zundar met but a very long one between Wombat and the Earth Defence Club quintet. Then there is an argument between the Beppu twins, Io, Ryuu and Akoya on which one of them is supposed to address the speech as the underclassman representative to the graduating students. Cue for each of them to sing their own character image song. Each of them. Yup, this is going to take some time. Then they realize something is wrong when Yumoto isn’t here. Something truly is when Wombat says he has not been cuddled once today! They find him depressed in the clubroom holding a sponge. What’s this? Wombat getting jealous and wants him to hug him like he always do?! Creepy! And to think he hated the ‘raping’ so much. However Yumoto is still dejected and denies he is the main character or something. The rest think he must be sentimental since spring is here and to leave him alone. Yumoto passes by Yuzuru Botan who hates graduation ceremonies. Yumoto sympathizes with him and knows how he feels.

When the graduation ceremony is here, a button monster attacks the place. Caerula Adamas go into action to subdue him but he escapes. The quintet then want to leave this to them since they have to concentrate on the ceremony. The culprits behind this are Zundar and Dadacha. They pretended to have reformed and gone home but waited for the right time to exact revenge. Battle Lovers get help from VEPPer but still aren’t good enough to take the monster down. They argue the good of the graduation ceremony when the monster questions back if the important things are found in every day, so what is the point of having this special ceremony? For the first time, Yumoto is outdebated and loses his power. Goura explains this is so because Yumoto doesn’t want the graduation ceremony to happen too. Yumoto admits that and doesn’t care about it. They should even call it off. The rest also feel the same. Yumoto is surprised and explains he didn’t mean this to bother them. It is that he wants to stay with them like this forever. The monster attacks as Yumoto’s friends protect him. Goura wants to help but Wombat stops him. This is a challenge to see if Battle Lovers can solve this themselves. After all, his love is letting things go. Zundar and Dadacha try to convince the twins to rejoin them in the universal stage but they refuse. They thank Dadacha for everything but it’s time to say goodbye. Yumoto and the rest face the reality of graduation. He thanks them for everything and for the first time they purify the monster without being in their Battle Lovers form. The graduation ceremony proceeds well. When they don’t see Wombat, they realize he has left a note in the clubroom. By the time they read this, he is already preparing to leave this planet and taking along Zundar and Dadacha with him. As Earth is now filled with love, his role here is over. There are still many planets filled with hatred and fear so his retirement is still a long way off. The guys manage to catch Wombat for the last time before his galaxy railways takes off into the stars.

Love Is Over!
Oh well, like I have said, I don’t know if I should feel at ease because it is all over or sad because everything has already ended. Unless… But as for now and at this point, it looks like another one of those series which I didn’t even expect to get a second season has finally come to a close. I suppose this is much better than many of the other animes out there which never got its proper closure and just left hanging and forgotten over time after losing its appeal. It goes to show that nothing lasts forever. Not even love. Heck, even Naruto has ended! Although technically there is a new spinoff of it running, basically the original is already done. So there goes my joke of what is the difference between love and Naruto. Love ends. Hah… Not funny anymore…

It is so obvious that a big chunk of this OVA is because of the character image songs in the first half of this show. This is why the running time could last up to almost an hour. I believe this is the first time I am hearing all of them (except the Beppu twins who used their trademark battle song) and I figure the best sounding one is Io’s since it is all about money. You know this is going to be some sort of special final goodbye when during these songs they start replaying clips from previous seasons, many of which I cannot remember. Oh yeah, those were the good ol’ (gay) days. Making it even ‘sadder’ is the ending theme, Kokoro To Kokoro De which is filled with all the goodbye and parting words. It definitely gives you the feels that it is really over.

Fighting the final monster also feels like a final parting gift for the series as we see everyone in their battle uniforms for one last time but the twist of it all is that how the power of love that comes directly from the heart heals the monster instead of the usual love attacks. It is still creepy and cringing to now think that Wombat has accepted Yumoto’s cuddles. It was one of the very ambiguously gay moments (if not bordering bestiality) that sends shivers down your spine but at the same time makes you laugh at how silly and cringe it is. Oh well, no more Wombat raping moments ever. From the looks of it, Yumoto has gotten over that since he has prioritize his friends. Good for him.

So this is it. Even if this series is gone, I’m sure the love making will not stop. Things have to go on and move forward but essentially all that love is still the same but in different forms. The only mind boggling thing is that if Wombat claims Earth is now filled with love, is this only confined to Japan? Because hell, it looks like the rest of the world didn’t get the loving touch of Battle Lovers. Oh Wombat, one day you will realize this and make a u-turn back to Earth and reunite with our boys again. And hence another sequel! Oh God. Please don’t think about this and give others strange ideas. But for now, we know a certain pink wombat is out there trying to bring peace and love to all that hatred and terror. And possible getting ‘raped’ at it. The price of love…

Isekai Shokudou

February 4, 2018

Another food anime? Well, I suppose there are those who can’t stand the exaggerations of Shokugeki No Souma, Chuuka Ichiban or Yakitate! Japan and all those muscle heads abominations in Toriko. Heck, even Kofuku Graffiti is a little too sexy and distracting to be considered a food anime. But it is. Piace – Watashi No Italian is too short and Amaama To Inazuma is too boring and very down to earth-like. JK Meshi sucks and everyone has forgotten about Ben-To. So how do you please somebody who wants great down to earth food but also a fantasy setting? Yes, you can have that. It’s all in Isekai Shokudou. Imagine a normal western restaurant serving our food to mythical creatures from another world. Yeah, our food must be so good that these creatures become returning customers for life. Is this some sort of subtle? Advertising. Well, let that sink in. I mean your teeth into those juicy delicious foods.

Episode 1A
A samurai, sage, barbarian, beastman and lizardman are eating in a western restaurant, Nekoya. No, this is not a walk-into bar joke. They all argue what dish goes best with their rice. Then they try to steal each other food to taste and see if what they’re saying is true. Could have been an epic bloodshed had not Tenshu (master chef of Nekoya) tells them to stop. Keep this up and he’ll stop cooking for them. That did the trick. A majestic red dragon transforms into her sexy humanoid form to patron Nekoya. Her lair is filled with gold and treasure so I’m sure she can afford anything and everything. But she always orders her favourite beef stew. After she has her fill, she has Tenshu fill up a pot of more beef stew in which she can further enjoy back at her lair.

Episode 1B
Aletta wanders in Nekoya and feeling hungry, she can’t help herself to finish the delicious corn potage and falls asleep after a good meal. Goldilocks? However she is caught red handed by Tenshu. She explains her story she came to the capital to work. She is of the demon race and as proof she has demon horns. However she has no magic skills or super strength. She tried to make an honest living as a waitress but when her horns were found out, she had to quit due to the discrimination against non-humans. Currently she is living impoverished in some ruins and still unemployed. One cold night, a mysterious door appeared before her and she curiously entered. He invites her to eat breakfast with him. Yeah, ham and bacon and eggs taste so good. Tenshu offers her to work here as a waitress, to wait on tables and clear the dishes. She’ll also be able to eat as staff meals. Aletta seizes this chance as she begins her new life as a waitress of Nekoya.

Episode 2A
Sarah Gold the treasure hunter is in another one of her treasure hunting adventures. She sees a strange door before her. She enters and finds herself in Nekoya. She takes up Tenshu’s offer to stay and eat. Suspicious at first, soon she finds the ice lemon water delicious and the prices of many of the menu items cheaper than many places. She enjoys her minced meat cutlet and gets to order refills for her bread and soup. Once done, Tenshu hands her an extra takeout of more minced meat cutlet since she enjoyed her meal a lot. It’s on the house. Apparently Tenshu knows her father, William (Indiana Jones clone?). However he has sadly passed on and his ‘regret’ was he won’t be able to come here anymore. Sarah notes this was his last hidden treasure.

Episode 2B
Tatsugorou the samurai sees Lord Heinrich Seelemann in his castle to return a sword he has long forgotten. Seelemann remembers 3 years ago he was in charge of a fort that was swamped by monsters. As he was an excellent rider, he was chosen to ride to the capital to request for reinforcements. However he did not pack enough food and his horse died along the way and he had to travel the rest of the way by foot. Weakened and hungry, he stumbled upon a cottage with a strange door. He entered Nekoya and is offered friend shrimp. He starts eating the mouth-watering dish and it whets his appetite as he orders 3 more! After licking all of the plates clean, he remembers his mission and realizes he cannot pay him. In order not to be indebted, he left his sword as collateral and promises to come back the next time to pay. He leaves in a hurry and didn’t hear Tenshu’s words that the door only appears once in every 7 days, on the day of Satur. Seelemann was able to reach the capital and sought what he needed and the duchy narrowly escaped doom. When he returned to that cabin, that door is gone. Seelemann wants to know more about Nekoya. Tatsugorou knows there is a similar door close by. On the next day of Satur, Seelemann steps into Nekoya once more and is glad to be back.

Episode 3A
Thomas Alfade is a famous proprietor who deals with various ingredients and seasonings. He has revolutionized the dining table and is dubbed the Genius of Culinary Innovation. He is now retired. Underneath his cellar is a door to Nekoya. He brings his grandson, Sirius along. Sirius is introduced to the various other worldly food. Tenshu then hands him a box containing various gold and currency. It is payment for ingredients Thomas brought for Tenshu’s own consumption. He uses them to research flavours too. Thomas orders his favourite spaghetti with meat sauce. His son also tries the same and is overwhelmed by the taste. Note, in the other world, tomatoes grow in squares?! Thomas then reveals his title is no more than a sham. He comes here to eat Tenshu’s food and merely brings them back to his world for others to try. He leaves it to Sirius to continue his legacy. Yeah, looks like he orders the same food Thomas does every time he visits.

Episode 3B
Adelheid is the granddaughter to the king of a small nation, Wilhelm. Due to her sick condition which has no definite cure, she has to stay at his castle and is always alone. One day he decides to take her to his secret place and must promise not to tell anyone. Adelheid is now all grown up and Wilhelm has passed on as she returns to his castle. She cannot remember much of the place except she ate ‘clouds’. One day while in her room, a strange door pops up. Entering Nekoya brings back a few memories. During that time Tenshu was just an apprentice chef and his grandpa was the main chef who served them. Apparently Tenshu remembers Adelheid. She’s all grown up so beautiful but he still could identify her? Heck, he even remembers serving her chocolate parfait. The ‘clouds’. Adelheid feels a lot better and returns home. It really brighten up her day.

Episode 4A
Why does this feel like a documentary? We take a look at the lives of the lizardmen living in the marshlands in the south. We also take a look at their strongest warrior, Gaganpo. Why the heck do we need to see him bath, clean and arm himself?! Not the fanservice I was expecting! Anyway this is to get ready for a ritual. 30 years ago, a mysterious door popped up at the altar. Gerupa who was the strongest warrior then bravely ventured into Nekoya. He brought back delicious food. And so it has become a ritual that every 7 days, a strong warrior is chosen to enter Nekoya. Today is Gaganpo as he orders omelette rice. Weird seeing a reptile eat this. He brings back 3 takeaways for his tribe. I wonder if that is enough. Yeah, it is carefully divided into small pieces. Better savour it. If you want more, better be the strongest. Because that is what Gaganpo plans to continue being so he can eat more omelette rice for a long time.

Episode 4B
Fardania the elven archer goes out to hunt for food. She stumbles upon the door to Nekoya thinking it is an ancient elf magic. She enters the restaurant and is sceptical of everything. She also looks down on the barbaric human cooking. She challenges if they could serve a dish that contains no meat, fish, milk or eggs. Otherwise she’ll leave. Tenshu says he can make one. Fardania is surprised. Can he? One trace of those ingredients and she’ll reject it. Tenshu makes tofu steak. It’s not a real steak. Made of tofu and seaweed stock. There is also rice to go with it. She tastes it and brings back fond memories of her late mom. She used to go to the human world to bring back dried mushrooms that made the soup tastier that no ordinary mushrooms in their world could. Could this be the same method? As she doesn’t want to lose to a human, Fardania wants to start cooking better dishes. Is she sure she just didn’t make up an excuse to continue dining at Nekoya?

Episode 5A
Lionel the beastman lost his battle to a half-elf hero, Alexander. He is not killed but sold as a gladiator slave. Oddly, the door to Nekoya pops up in his cell. He ventures into it and meets Tenshu’s grandpa who is still a young man then. Feeling hungry, he wants to be fed. Anything as long as it brings him victory. So he is made katsudon. That’s a pun, right? Of course one bowl of those delicious pork cutlets isn’t going to cut it so he eats not 2, not 3 but 5 of them! Man, he is going to be really victorious! No money? No problem. Put it on his tab. He returns invigorated and easily defeats his opponent. He uses the money he wins to eat more katsudon and went on to dominate the arena for more than 20 years. I guess that confirms it. Katsudon = victory!

Episode 5B
Sage Artorius narrates in some eastern continent, a duchy has an eldest princess who remains unwed, Victoria. She is likely to remain so because she is half-elf. Oddly, both her parents are normal humans. Somehow this world discriminates against anyone with elf traits and you know life for them is tough. Their options on what they can do are limited so Victoria walks down the path of mastering sorcery. She has talent in it and in no time her ability was recognized and became the court’s head sorcerer which leads her to become Artorius’ disciple. Under his tutelage, she began researching on magic and is generously funded on a condition that she keeps out of the spotlight. But she isn’t always researching. She takes a break once in 7 days. You’ve guessed it. Nekoya time. She always orders pudding a la mode as she likes sweets. Back then when Tenshu was young, he didn’t know what desserts to add so she helped out by suggesting a few. Her handwriting is still used in his menu. Once done, she heads back to her research and of course having a few more for the road. Aletta realizes if she is half-elf, can she eat egg and milk based food? Well, Victoria isn’t bitter about her half-elf lineage. She is grateful for enabling her to do more research on it.

Episode 6A
We see Aletta’s day at Nekoya. Before the store opens, she starts by washing herself clean. It’s good to be clean, right? After dressing up and eating breakfast, she cleans the place. When Tenshu arrives, he finds there isn’t enough ingredients. So they take the elevator to another floor where he houses the raw ingredients. I understand Aletta has ‘trauma’ on potatoes because this is the food she ate while she was very poor and hence it is a food for survival. Tenshu will teach her how to cook a delicious potato. But first, the store opens and the usuals arrive to dine. There are days when they end up arguing which dish is better. Today is that day. Yeah, this time what goes best with bread. Can meek Aletta tell everyone to pipe down? Well, nobody listens to the waitress unless she is repeating your order, right? Eventually all start suggesting that the best sandwich would be their favourite dish and put it on bread. To solve this, they order that for the other person. My, with this much orders and extra orders, can Aletta keep up with it all? Looks like she can without screwing up. And without writing them down! Impressive!

Episode 6B
After the last customer has left, Tenshu now shows Aletta how to steam a potato. We hear him explain the little science of steaming. Although it took him many years and practice for him to perfect the art of steaming dim sum and the likes, the easiest to steam is the potato. Once it is done, he puts unsalted butter as topping and voila! We have steamed potato with butter. Bon appetite. Aletta eats this delicious dish as it melts away her trauma. Alas what was once a food she feared most has now become her favourite.

Episode 7A
Admiral Alphonse Flugel was once the strongest navy in the duchy, his ship was sunk by a Kraken and presumed missing. But he was washed up on an uninhabited island where he had to fight tooth and nail for his survival. He lived there all alone for 20 years. Then 3 days ago, a passing ship stopped by to repair its damage. Alphonse is spotted and taken back with them but he is reluctant to leave. Apparently there is a door to Nekoya there! No wonder! Now he has to say goodbye to the best curry dish. He hopes to find a door in the duchy since he noticed a countrymen was dining there. Eventually he finds that door at the cabin and is glad to have his curry again. After having his fill, Tenshu wants him to test taste a new curry dish.

Episode 7B
A black dragon sits in solitude on the decimated moon. She narrates how the 7 coloured dragons cooperated to fight some marble-tentacle-monster. It was a brutal fight with the dragons emerging victorious. But the black dragon represents death and weaker beings die in its presence. Feeling she is no better than that monster in this case, the dragons divided their territories and so she ended up on the moon where there is no life. One day, the door to Nekoya pops up. Even on the moon?! She takes a peek into it. Tenshu gives Alphonse taste his new chicken curry dish. Spicier than usual but he loves it. The black dragon also wants to taste it and assumes the form of a naked elf girl. Well, if they’re going to get embarrassed, Tenshu should’ve put up a sign that says, “No shirt, no shoes, no service!”. Haha! Anyway, she can materialize some clothes for herself. Artorius can tell she is no elf but a black dragon. He fears her but chooses to observe her for now. Alphonse orders curry rice for her and puts it on his tabs. Not sure if they’re in some competition because they keep ordering and eating more. Even when Alphonse has reached his limits, she continues to devour plate after plate, hour after hour!!! The red dragon enters for her usual beef stew and notices her. She advises her that she needs money if she wants to continue eating like this. Money? What’s that? She is warned this place is under her jurisdiction and if she tries anything funny, pay with your life. So if she has no money, all she needs to do is work. The red dragon suggests to Tenshu to let Kuro work here even for scraps. While Kuro is okay with that, poor Aletta is in shock as she jumps the gun thinking Tenshu is unhappy with her and is going to fire and replace her! Don’t drop the pot of beef stew…

Episode 8A
Rokei went sailing but a bad storm causes him to get thrown overboard. Luckily Arte the mermaid saved him and even prayed to the gods for a better weather. He is then taken to an uninhabited island to rest and when he wants to repay her and she requests 10 silver coins. Rokei finds it weird because mermaids do not use currency like humans do. To find out why, she wants him to return here in 3 days. Of course we all know there is a door to Nekoya here. Arte can pray to the gods to transform her into a human form as she patrons. She has been a returning customer that Tenshu and Aletta know her and she likes to order Hamburg steak. She lets Rokei tastes it and he likes it. He orders extra but she fears she has not enough money. Don’t worry. He’ll pay. It’s on him. That’s thanks for saving his life. They agree to come back here again on the next day of Satur.

Episode 8B
Aletta has found a steady job as a housekeeper but it is the house of Sarah! Tenshu has also given her assorted baked cookies as gift for this good news. Apparently above Nekoya is a bakery. Aletta has to ‘ration’ her cookies so she doesn’t finish them in one sitting. But it’s hard to eat just 1 each time, right? Oh, they’re quite expensive too so better savour them. When Shia, Sarah’s younger sister visits, Aletta answers the door. Sarah isn’t home at the moment. Shia doesn’t like her sister hiring a demon. An explanation about this family that certain generations get this ‘curse’ to go on a feverish adventure. Many end up paying with their lives. Sarah is one with this and whenever she is back home, Shia visits to check on her. Aletta serves her the cookies and quickly Shia likes them (as well as opening up to Aletta too). Shia wants more although Aletta has served the last of it. She needs to know more and is shown the box. Looks expensive. Shia gives her a gold coin (worth her entire month’s allowance) to buy it for the next time. Yeah, she’s placing her hopes on Aletta to get them. Aletta makes good her promises as she manages to get a few boxes of different sizes and at dirt cheap price of 1 or 2 silver coins! I’m sure they taste as good.

Episode 9A
A couple of dwarves trek up the mountain to a door to Nekoya. One of them is sceptical about his friend bringing him to this place. Yeah, just wait till you taste the food. And like they say, seeing is believing, or rather in this case, tasting is believing. Now the friend is a total covert as they drink and order big glasses of beer. While waiting for their food, they admire the simple beer glass design. Then they dig into the fried seafood plate. Despite being short people, they have enormous appetite and order more. I guess this is considered tiny by dwarven standards. To top it all, they have whiskey. In the aftermath, the dwarves spruce up the cabin for travellers to stay who come to visit their land. But there is a locked room in which they only hold the key to. It’s their ultimate treasure and no surprise the door to Nekoya.

Episode 9B
Prince Shareef from an Arabian-like desert kingdom seems to be frequenting Nekoya because he is smitten over Adelheid. But he is such a shy guy that his step sister, Renner had to lecture to him to be bolder or else he’ll never win her heart. And she doesn’t even mean it on a diplomacy level where both their nations marry to strengthen ties and such. I guess even if you’re a prince of a nation and the guy who created iced coffee that is all the craze now in his kingdom, when it comes to the matters of the heart, it isn’t easy. So on the next visit to Nekoya, while they wait for Adelheid to show up, we see Renner having a go with her melon soda float. When Adelheid finally arrives, Renner invites her to dine with them but Shareef again becomes a shy guy. This is going to take a long time…

Episode 10A
A strange door opens in the land of fairies. Queen Tiana Silvario XVI and her subjects think this is some sort of invasion as they prepare to go through and take up whatever challenge the invaders have in store for them. Of course it is a door to Nekoya as they are surprised by its interior. Tiana then asks Victoria about the place since she could sense some magic aura on her. After explaining about this eatery, Tiana decides to be bold and try a cooking. Victoria considers the kind of food and diet fairies can eat and ends up ordering a mixed fruit crepe for them. As usual, they find it delicious and good. Tiana then asks Tenshu about the door appearing in their land but he isn’t sure about the details. Tiana is grateful to Victoria and gives her a flower seed. Victoria in turn will pay for their bill each time she dines. Many months later, since everything is so good, the subjects are arguing what to order. So they head over to the other side and continue their debate.

Episode 10B
Fardania has found the secret location of Christian who is her parents’ best friend and one who is a gourmand still researching in cooking. She notices rotting smell in his place as he reveals of the cheese he is fermenting from elven beans to eat for himself. When he explains he got this idea from a restaurant from another world, Fardania also knows the place. So at Nekoya, Christian treats her to natto spaghetti. It isn’t a popular dish and apparently only he orders it. After having their fill, Fardania has this idea to try this natto with rice. Christian is shocked that she is daring to try this combination which he never ever thought of. Let’s say it tastes even better. Back home, Christian informs that rice too exist in their world but only in the western continent. He gives her a jar of miso made from his fermented elven beans since he knows she likes it. This is the result of his years of research. He notes despite the elves’ long lifespan, the world out there is still a wide place to explore.

Episode 11A
Kuro narrates one day she felt a strange gaze from Tenshu. Not wanting to pursue it, she ignores and continues to have her chicken curry. She also narrates the deal she made with the red dragon. While Kuro is working at Nekoya, the red dragon told her to protect the place while she works until she arrives. A pair of sirens, Iris and Arius want to find a new island to make their nest but there is one that they feared as the one they nicknamed Chimera Killer lived there. They believe it has been so many years and this monster would be old and week. As they explore the cave supposedly to be the Chimera Killer’s nest, they find a box of gold and silver as well a strange letter. The Chimera Killer is actually Alphonse as he left behind these treasures for those who are shipwrecked here. The letter also states about Nekoya so the sirens go look for it but do not find anything. After a few days waiting, the door finally pops up. They enter and Aletta explains to them about this restaurant. When they see a piano and hear its nice sound, they start singing, causing Tenshu and Aletta to fall into some trance. Kuro quickly shuts them up and warns certain creatures aren’t immune to their songs. She also warns them never to sing again if they want to eat and return in one piece. They wonder if this place has raw fish. Certainly do. It’s called carpaccio. Tastes good as always. They return home and agree to make this place their new nest.

Episode 11B
Tenshu makes curry bun for themselves to eat after work. Kuro being the spicy fan has only praises for it as we hear her compliment and analyse its taste and contents. Then she washes it all down with milk so she can have more of them. When they leave, Aletta wishes her to take care. Kuro notes she is the only one living on the moon and there isn’t many creatures who can actually harm her. But with the recent experiences at Nekoya, I’m sure Kuro is feeling pretty much at home. She also wishes Aletta to take care.

Episode 12A
As narrated, the legendary 4 heroes named Leonard, Artorius, Alexander and Yomi band together and defeated the evil demon lord. However it came with the cost of Yomi’s life. Leonard went on to become a pontiff, Artorius a great sage and magician while Alexander a mercenary. Alexander visits Artorius as he heard from a friend about a door to another world. Artorius agrees to take him there but only later in the evening when no one is around. Because there are a few enemies of his who are dining there. As today is meat day, Tenshu changes the miso soup to pork soup. Since everyone finds it good, they are ordering more of it. Naturally this is depleting their stock faster than usual. But eventually everyone is able to have their fill.

Episode 12B
Once Nekoya is empty, Artorius pops up with Alexander. Immediately Alexander orders croquettes. Alexander could feel something different about Kuro and is scared. He agrees with Artorius not to start any trouble with her. As expected, Alexander finds the croquettes of Nekoya to be much better than those he tried in the Empire. Even much more when he adds the undeniable soy sauce to it. He asks if this sauce can be made in their own world. Artorius says it is impossible. Even Yomi said that. It is then revealed that Yomi is still alive. After their victory over the demon lord 70 years ago, she fell into this world and survived. She has a grandson. Guess who? Alexander finds great comfort that she led a comfortable life and so they drink a toast to this world as thanks for taking her in. Later Alexander visits the grave of his old comrades. It turns out to be the graves of Wilhelm and Adelheid’s great grandmother. Aletta is worried that pork soup costs more than miso soup. Will Nekoya be in the red? Tenshu assures her meat day is only held once a month. The payment from normal meals is enough to cover it. After all, grandpa once said extra service at a restaurant should be provide with food, not money. And with everyone enjoying it, it can’t hurt to do so once in a while.

Good Time, Great Taste! At Nekoya!
Sighs… If only we had eateries that provide such good service and quality food at assumingly reasonable price, the world could have been a much happier place. Don’t laugh. Who knows the reason why this reality of ours has lots of angry people and warring countries is that of the simplest reason that they don’t have good food to eat. When one is full and satisfied, there is no reason to fight, right? Not to say that the other world is entirely living in peace but you can see the happy faces of customers which very much guarantees return patronage. Oh well… The only reason why I regularly return to a handful of eateries is because I have no money and I am still picky on what I eat. Yeah…

Although the foods served at Nekoya are supposed to be the main stars (isn’t that why they name every episode after the featured dish?), what is most interesting is not the foods themselves but rather the back stories of some of the customers that led them to discover this wonderful eatery. And that is what I believe is what keeps this series from being a total bore. Not to say that this series is oh so very interesting and there are certain stories that aren’t as interesting, but a majority of them are. Therefore for a food themed anime, it is quite refreshing and unique in a way that it doesn’t totally focus on the food too much. Despite the staffs at Nekoya are supposed to be the ‘main characters’, the actual main protagonists are those who patron Nekoya. With different races and creatures from all walks of life coming into the restaurant, it is no wonder that many of their backgrounds are quite fascinating to watch. Eventually it is Nekoya that is what ties them all together. Is it me or do all these customers only order the same food? Do they not want to be adventurous to try others? Oh well, you can only come here every 7 days so by that time, you would want to have your favourite food. No wonder Tenshu can remember who orders what. So easy.

Therefore it is a hit and miss if you want to talk about the characters. The customers usually have their one segment of focus especially when they are first introduced. Sometimes, a brief explanation of the land they come from too. After that, they will fade into obscurity and some only will recur as background characters. A few interactions here and there but there is nothing more added to it. So as I’ve said, these customers some have interesting backgrounds and circumstances they come from but that is as far as we know about them. Because it always ends on a happy note. I mean, who would ever complain after being served such great dishes, right? Oddly, this other world houses almost every mythological creature mankind created. It’s like a big mash of fairytale setting all in one world. Just short of zombies…

Even Nekoya’s staffs, Tenshu, Aletta and Kuro do not have much back story to it. Of course we heard about Aletta and Kuro’s case but nothing deeper. Since Aletta and Kuro are only working here part time on the day of Satur, does Tenshu get help from others on other days? Unless there is no crowd… But he can’t be running his restaurant if he doesn’t have business, right? I’m thinking it isn’t about the money that he is thinking about. If it was all about profits, you think he allows certain beings to owe and have tabs? Tenshu is also a big mystery if you want to talk about him because he is just some guy who inherits the place and then puts his heart and soul in his cooking for his customers. That’s all. Heck, you don’t even know his real name. Okay, maybe the last episode’s revelation revealed his blood ties to a legendary hero but that doesn’t mean anything much seeing in this world instead of slaying demons with swords, he slices meat and vegetables with his kitchen knife! Haha! Therefore sometimes this series could be a bit confusing of what it actually is. It’s not really about the characters. It’s not really about the food. Is it just to create awareness that such foods exist?

I won’t say that the foods aren’t interesting but personally they are not as prominent as the stories of the customers. After all, these foods are not made up or created out of creativity as seen in Shokugeki No Souma and Toriko. They are normal dishes in which you can order in decent western restaurants all over the world. So it is sometimes odd to see that these beings from another world being taken in so much by our food. Especially beasts and creatures eating our rice and meat. Fantasy characters eating our normal food? Feels a bit odd. Also, with some characters not having that detailed or long background stories, the focus will be on them describing and praising the food they just tasted. Nothing very exaggerative as they try to keep it down to earth but with some great praises to paint how good it is. Of course it is. You’d think they would come back here if the food tastes horrible? Yeah, it would have been interesting to see a case like that for twist purposes but I guess with Tenshu being so good and dedicated, it isn’t going to happen at all. Not on his watch. Also, this world has a few foods that are similar to ours but slightly and differently named or look. If you’re wondering what the hell is shripe, you’ll understand that it is just shrimp. Marmetts might look a bit different but they taste exactly the same as tomatoes.

Now, throughout watching this series, I am sure this has also crossed the minds of many viewers. The biggest question and mystery of this series is the door itself. With Tenshu once mentioning he doesn’t know how it works sounds like an excuse not to explain it all. Of course knowing how the door works is not what the series is about but as viewers, we would really like to know and the explanation would help make sense of some of the questions bugging us. For example, I would like to start off on why it only appears on the day of Satur (obviously Saturday) and not on other days. Does the door appear elsewhere on other days? I don’t think so because it is day of Satur for all the customers in this other world. And what if the customer in Nekoya misses the door to go back to his/her world? Oh, I don’t know. Maybe he/she got drunk and stayed over a night? Then the next morning comes and you can’t go back anymore. Have to wait till the next day of Satur.

The biggest question of it all is how would the door know which customer to return to his/her spot she came from? As the door appears all over the continent, if there are multiple customers and they arrive and leave at different times, how does the door know which spot to send them back? Has there been a case whereby the customer ended up in the wrong region? I’ll be damned if I ever end up at the arena. Because after I’ve fully eaten, it’s my turn to get eaten! It sucks, dude! Since there are none of such cases, I guess the door must be smart enough. Yeah, maybe the customers’ hands serve like fingerprints and the door automatically knows where you came from. I didn’t know Nekoya is such a sophisticated restaurant despite serving normal but good meals.

The other questions about Nekoya is if Tenshu has ever served normal humans from our own world. I suppose that he does but on other days. That is probably why beings from the other world only arrive on day of Satur. We also don’t see those normal people is probably because, remember the name of this anime? Assuming this is true, then I suppose it is those other days and times when Tenshu stocks up his ingredients. Because it would be damn weird if Nekoya only and solely exists in its own dimensional space. Yeah, it wouldn’t make sense if he had infinite supplies and raw materials to cook. This doesn’t even touch the other stuffs he has to maintain like the gas or the utensils. Who is supplying or fixing them? Unless you say it’s magic… Also, I am assuming that all the different beings in this other world has the same stomach functions and features as our normal humans. Because they don’t seem to have any indigestions or complications whatsoever. Yeah, look at the lizardmen… They can eat omelette rice? I know it’s fantasy stuff, but just saying… Hence, just leave it all to Tenshu! Nobody ever died or even so much as to complain about his cooking.

Art and drawing are pretty standard and nothing much to shout about. The characters and backgrounds do look decent but it is nothing that spectacular. Even the varied locations and terrains of the other world, they just look pretty okay. I have to admit that the food do look delicious because some of them even made my mouth water just by looking at them. I had my dinner already a few hours ago so I think I can consider the way they put some detail into the food as served to the customers as good as it tastes because my only regret is not being able to taste how freaking good it is. That’s the problem with all food themed animes. This series is animated by Silver Link who did Non Non Biyori, Kokoro Connect, Masamune-kun No Revenge, WataMote and Baka To Test To Shoukanjuu.

Due to the nature of this series, there are a lot of seiyuus lending their voice and making cameo appearances. This means a handful of them that I recognize like Junichi Suwabe as Tenshu, Shizuka Itou as the red dragon, Tomokazu Sugita as Seelemann, Yukari Tamura as Victoria, Youko Hikasa as Fardania, Fumihiko Tachiki as Alphonse, Hochuu Ootsuka as Tatsugoro, Hiro Shimono as Sirius, Nobuyuki Hiyama as Lionel, Takahiro Sakurai as Alexander, Nao Touyama as Iris and Yoshitsugu Matsuoka as Rokei. The rest of the casts are Sumire Uesaka as Aletta (Sanae in Chuunibyou Demo Koi Ga Shitai), Saori Oonishi as Kuro (Aiz in DanMachi), Reina Ueda as Adelheid (Mira in Dimension W), Kiyono Yasuno as Sarah (Megumi in Saenai Heroine No Sodatekata), Sumire Morohoshi as Shia (Nina in Shingeki No Bahamut: Virgin Soul), Motomu Kiyokawa as Artorius Yuusaku (Walter in Hellsing), Yara as Thomas (Chin in Toriko), Katsuyuki Konishi as Christian (Laxus in Fairy Tail), Makoto Yasumura as Gaganpo (Akaya in Maken-Ki), Yoshino Aoyama as Tiana (Guri in Renai Boukun), Ayaka Suwa as Arte (Tokaku in Akuma No Riddle), Atsushi Tamaru as Shareef (Shouichi in Seiren) and Shino Shimoji as Renner (Tooru in Seiren). At first I thought it was Rie Kugimiya behind Arius but I was mistaken. It’s Ayaka Asai (Hazuki in Hibike! Euphonium).

I guess this is one of the very few times in which I could instantly recognize which singer sings the theme song. For the opening theme, I was right when One In A Billion was May’N. Well, half right. Wake Up Girls also help sing this piece by providing the support background vocals. They also have a voice acting role here and make their cameo as those fairies. May’N’s powerful vocals was instantly recognizable since this upbeat song has this similar feel to other anime themes that I heard her sing before such as the openers of Ookami-san To Shichinin No Nakama-tachi and Hidan No Aria. But not really sure if the lively beat of this song fits the theme of this anime because you see how civilized and calm everyone has their food so if this is to hype (whet) your appetite, I don’t think it quite cuts it. But it’s still a good song nevertheless. The ending song is a very lovely slow ballad, Chiisana Hitotsubu by Kiyono Yasuno. Although this is quite a nice piece, I wonder if it is fitting for a food themed anime. Because it fits better if it was played on a romance or even slice of life drama genre. I mean, after having a satisfying meal and hearing this song, it just doesn’t go together like how some foods don’t go with certain wines. Also to note there are a few slow and easy BGMs but my favourite one is the short and catchy piano piece played during the next episode preview.

Overall, this series isn’t anything that amazing as the only thing unique that separates it from other food themed animes is that instead of fellow humans eating our food, individuals from another world come in to enjoy them. The plot is close to non-existent while the characters are not very deep. If you often eat the foods featured here, you won’t be tempted or inspired at all. But its rather relaxing and calming pace makes it enjoyable in its own right because that is how we should all eat our food, right? No silly competitions to outdo each other to create ‘creative’ foods that would temporarily kill you (because it sends you into some crazy heavenly ecstasy). No food fights to save the world or survival of the fittest. Just your little humble great cooking with heart and soul as its not-so-secret ingredients poured into them. Sniff, sniff. Makes me so envious that I wish I had such great cooking at regular intervals. So when is that damn door going to pop up right at my doorstep?! Yeah, being hungry makes you irritable alright.

Keppeki Danshi! Aoyama-kun

February 3, 2018

Football is such a dirty game. And no, I’m not even talking about all the diving and fouls committed. It is one of those games that is heavy on the contact side and since you and many other players will be on the field chasing the ball for 90 minutes, it is hard to keep clean. That is why it is mind boggling when you have Keppeki Danshi! Aoyama-kun, the titular character who is part of his school’s football team is actually a clean freak. How can someone who always has the tendency to clean and keep clean play such a sweaty game like football? It’s like saying a person who is obviously tone deaf going on to record a smash hit that sells millions internationally. Oh wait. It did happen… But it’s going to be interesting and funny to see how someone like this dude gets to play football and stay true to his ideals of remaining squeaky clean. Show me an absolutely clean footballer and I’ll show you… Uhm… Never mind. Let’s just watch the anime.

Episode 1
Aoyama scores the winning goal for his country in an Under-16 match! His teammates want to celebrate but he won’t let them hug him! You guys are dirty! So if he is not playing football, he is cleaning everything. Everything! No wonder the girls in class are swooning over him. Such a clean freak. He is even more famous than all the guys who play football in his club. This irks Kaoru Zaizen very much because coach Miwa Takei has paired them together and his clean freak attitude makes him a hard player to play with. I mean, Aoyama won’t move and just stands there… Can’t get dirty if you don’t move, right? Making it worse, all the other guys love Aoyama despite his clean freak because he too is a very talented footballer. So when Zaizen tells them off not to pamper Aoyama, they in turn get mad and tell him back that Zaizen is the one most pampered. He comes from a rich family and is wearing brand new shoes! Who is the pampered one?! Don’t attack Aoyama because if you do, you get a judo throw by Miwa. Oh, did I mention she is a pro in judo? A judo master coaching a football team? That night, Zaizen is shocked when Miwa shows him how Aoyama cleans all the footballs in the storeroom without fail. As a germaphobe, this gives him a handicap because you can’t play football without getting dirty or without contacting others. It is tough on him. Despite all that, he engages in football activities every day. This makes him a true football fan.

Akira Takechi and his guys from Oshigami-Minami are here to arrive for a friendly football match with Fujinami. Takechi is one of the current forwards of Japan’s youth football. He has always acknowledged Aoyama’s talent and cannot fathom why he continues to play for a weak school like Fujinami and wants him to join his better side. He could sound serious if he doesn’t have this weird habit of flaunting his abs… However, all Aoyama says that there is something unique in this school that makes him enrol here. Takechi is going to convince Aoyama to switch alliance with this match. As the game starts, Oshigami-Minami quickly takes the lead. However suddenly when Aoyama gets the ball, he dribbles past all defenders and scores! Then another one! As explained, in order for him to avoid contact with others, his movements are frighteningly precise. When others come too close to him, he moves at this lightning speed, hence making him hard to mark. But if they give him space, his shot becomes more precise. This is the ultimate strategy for a germaphobe. But other than that, he is just standing there not trying to get dirty. With Fujinami leading at halftime, in the next half Takechi has 4 defenders surround him. This might give Fujinami’s other players more space but they’re such lousy shots. Especially Zaizen. Where you kicking? Oshigami-Minami fights back to take the lead. When it starts raining, Aoyama’s movements are weird. Is he injured? Nah. Just don’t want to get wet. With Zaizen and the guys not giving up, he shoots but misses. However Aoyama moves and scores! But he is all dirty now. Is he okay with that? He thinks he can pull through with 5 minutes less and hates losing more than anything. With that, Fujinami scores another goal and wins. But still, no hugging. And definitely no exchange of t-shirts. Takechi is left to rue his team’s failure but keeps wondering the unique thing Fujinami has. Turns out to be the toilet bowls that have this washing feature.

Episode 2
Zaizen makes Aoyama collect the balls. He is going to clean them, right? Aoyama doesn’t pick them up but kicks all of them into the bin. Including some using Zaizen for ricochet effect. Everyone thinks Aoyama has been diligently cleaning the clubroom but folding their shirts too? However he says he would rather die than touch someone else’s shirt. The team captain, Gaku Ishikawa suspects something amiss because the clubroom is locked and Aoyama was practising with them. Aoyama notices a cat doll in his locker. For a few days, someone else has been breaking in and cleaning and folding the shirts. A fairy? Yeah, let’s go with that! But each time the cat doll gets bigger. The culprit turns out to be Moka Gotou. She picks the locks to enter and clean. Flashback shows she saw Aoyama trying to touch a kitten but his clean freak won’t allow him. Moka then gave him a cat doll for it but he won’t accept it till she washes it. Eventually she didn’t give it to him and now that they are in the same high school, she wants to support him from the shadows. She is soon caught in the act by Aoyama himself and she fears it is all over. However he recommends a better cleaning brand and still remembers her. Eventually the other teammates know about her and seeing how cute she is pleading to them, the guys plead to Ishikawa to make her the club’s manager. And the latest cat doll to fit into Aoyama feels a bit too big…

Jin Tsukamoto just did the creepiest thing. He smells Aoyama’s towel while he is in the shower! Wow. Such a good smell?! This has the other guys curious so during matches, while they rest on the bench, each take their turn to sniff it. Eventually all but Zaizen has their share and they relate how great it is! Perverts! Of course Moka overheard this and vows to protect Aoyama. His towels, that is. Yeah, that baseball bat with nails is sure effective to keep the persistent away. While it worked, however Tsukamoto has posted the goodness of Aoyama’s towel’s smell online. Rumours spread like wildfire and before your know it, everyone from all walks of life converge at one of the practice, waiting eagerly at the side lines for a chance. So after Aoyama wipes his sweat, all hell breaks loose. Get his towel! Not even petite Moka can handle this on her own. Well, she could. But she would have to turn into a murderer but luckily Miwa stops her. Surprisingly it is Zaizen who scolds everyone to cut it out because they’re serious about football and they better not do anything funny. Or else he’ll kill them! At least that killed their mood. Later as Zaizen sits alone in the clubroom, the wind blows Aoyama’s towel in his hand. Tempting… The smell gives him this nostalgia of his mom. Wow. He is really sniffing it. Till Aoyama catches him in the act. It’s not what you think! Well, he doesn’t want the towel anymore. So he gets to keep it?

Episode 3
The guys are trying to force Zaizen to treat them as part of their tradition before facing a team tomorrow. They also try to get Aoyama on this but since it starts raining heavily, I guess they’ll have to take shelter in this restaurant. Yeah, Aoyama is cleaning the plates, glasses and table… It seems Takechi is here too. Flexing his abs as intimidation? When food arrives, Aoyama doesn’t touch his. Takechi says he cooks his own food to keep himself optimum as a player but the rest believes he is a germaphobe who won’t eat outside. Somehow it becomes an eating challenge between Takechi and Taichi Yoshioka. Wow. They’re going strong eating all the food in the menu. It has got nothing to do with football no matter how you look at it. Eventually, Takechi thought he won but Aoyama calls a super mega sized parfait. Dead. Yoshioka finishes it and Fujinami wins again! Not even a football match. Next day, the Fujinami guys are at Takada Academy for their first match for the preliminaries. However Aoyama is nowhere to be seen. He is cleaning himself when this girl, Kana who is the girlfriend of Takada’s football captain, Youji Orihara, approaches him to seek his help to clean the football clubroom which is in a mess. But this is part of her ploy to lock him inside and won’t let him play. And if he makes any noise, she will scream rape. However Aoyama collapses because in addition to be a clean freak, he is claustrophobic?!

The match begins without Aoyama and although Takada doesn’t have any notable players, these delinquents like to get rough. They have already scored 2 goals. Luckily Moka finds them thanks to her lock picking skills and would have become a murderer had not Aoyama tell her to stop it. But with 15 minutes left, can Aoyama who has returned to the field turn things around? Yes he can! Because when the Takada side tries to get rough, as usual he goes into that slick dodging mode. He scores! But for the second goal, he got roughly taken down although Zaizen scores the second one. With him all dirty, Aoyama is now sluggish. Both sides become relentless to find the winning goal. But with 5 minutes left on the clock, suddenly Aoyama revives! Nobody can touch him again. He finds the net! Orihara is shocked that he is supposed to be paralyzed from all the dirt. Aoyama tells him if there is one thing he hates more than dirtiness, it is dirty cheaters! In the end, Fujinami goes on a scoring spree and wins 5-2. When Takada returns to the clubroom, it is so clean! That means Aoyama wasn’t locked in but he spent his time cleaning the clubroom! The biggest loser must be Orihara because Kana is now cheering for Aoyama! So cool!

Episode 4
Shion Narita is also a clean freak like Aoyama. The best way to communicate and stay away from others is via online. The only difference is that nobody knows about it and he doesn’t want others to know. He is always the first in class to arrive so he could clean his table in secrecy. Even way earlier than Aoyama. Therefore, he is forced to put up with all the accidental dirty contacts from his classmates. It is his policy that the best way to live a normal life as a germaphobe is not to be confrontational and tolerance is the key. During home economics, somehow it turns into a cooking competition between Narita and Aoyama. They make great food so much so all their classmates want a taste of it. Since they’re trying to outdo each other, they make more food. It gets out of hand when the aroma scatters throughout school and every other student comes rushing to grab a bite! You thought it is over when they ran out of ingredients but some came back after buying more! OMG! I thought this is a football show and not a cooking show???!!! Once everyone has their fill, Narita notes that as clean freaks, they do not eat things prepared by others. He is surprised when Aoyama makes him coffee. This prompts him to wonder if he isn’t a clean freak and just loves cooking.

Narita is a leader of a guild in an online MMORPG under the alias Smart. When a new guy named San joins his group, he is suspicious if he is Aoyama because of some key traits. But when he starts acting so differently, he doesn’t think so. But in reality, he sees a badge on Aoyama’s bag. A custom made badge that only guild members have. On its reverse side should have his alias. As he ponders to look at it while Aoyama is away, the class in a commotion. It seems somebody stole the gym clothes of Yuuko Rikiishi. Because she put it in her locker yesterday before she left home and since the classrooms are locked, it only means somebody must have stolen them during a certain time period. Everyone starts suspecting Narita since he is always the first and last to leave. He panics and makes the mistake of running away. The boys catch him and pin him down. Try not to let your face touch the floor. He rues the end of his normal life when Aoyama returns with Yuuko’s gym clothes. Looks like Yuuko put it in the wrong locker. Aoyama then hands Narita a cleaning agent. Looks like he knows his secret and wants him to get clean with the rest. However Narita will still not let others know. Everyone apologizes to him but he doesn’t hold a grudge. Literally, washing his hands off the case. Yuuko then hugs and smothers her dirty face over his chest for being such a good guy. How long more can he stay calm? But at least he gets to see and confirm the badge that Aoyama is San. Back on his online game, Narita concludes the vast contrast in Aoyama’s personality. He thinks this is what he would be like if he wasn’t a germaphobe.

Episode 5
Tsukamoto is an expert juggling the ball with his butt. That’s apparently his only best football skill. But this makes everyone laugh and he is dubbed the ‘good vibes officer’ as this antics of his cheers up the whole team. When Ishikawa isn’t practising, he is part of the Aoyama cheer leading squad. Oddly his girlfriend, Yuri Tamura is also in this squad. The weird part is how she cheers on for Aoyama and has all the words printed over her that she is an Aoyama for life but notes the only person she ever loves is Ishikawa. Today, Fujinami will face Minamida Fuzoku. As usual, Tsukamoto is entertaining everyone with his butt antics when suddenly Minamida Fuzoku’s football captain, Ryou Kadomatsu ‘accidentally’ kicks a ball in his face. Looks like they know each other and this brings back some fearful memories for Tsukamoto. As the first half begins, Aoyama scores to take the lead. But Kadomatsu knows Fujinami has another weakness: Tsukamoto. When Kadomatsu pops up before Tsukamoto, the latter freezes and this allows Kadomatsu to score. He does the same thing and scores again. During halftime, Tsukamoto holes himself up in the toilet cubicle. A couple of Minamida Fuzoku players walk in as we hear them talk how Tsukamoto was a bully victim to Kadomatsu in the middle school. After they leave, Tsukamoto is shocked that Aoyama was cleaning in the next cubicle and heard it! It doesn’t matter. Tsukamoto knows he will be substituted.

But when the next half begins, Tsukamoto is still in the game. Apparently his buddies, Kazuma Sakai and Yoshioka also overheard that story and told Miwa not to sub him and keep him on the field for a little while. Since they asked so seriously, she allowed it. Flashback shows Tsukamoto entertained others with his butt juggling. But Kadomatsu always smashed a ball in his face for goofing off with the excuse everyone is serious in playing football. Every time he does this, Kadomatsu does the same thing so much so he freezes whenever he sees him. And looks like Tsukamoto is in danger of falling into the same trap again. Luckily Sakai and Yoshioka are able to cover his back. This improves Tsukamoto’s morale. In the dying minutes, Aoyama is vastly surrounded. Tsukamoto surprisingly pushes forward. This was part of the plan discussed in the toilet. When Aoyama is surrounded, he will pass the ball to him. Tsukamoto is unsure to use his head or feet since he isn’t good at handling such crosses. But instinctively he uses his butt and scores the equalizer! With Aoyama back on their feet, they are able to win the game 4-2. As Aoyama’s side celebrates, some of the reporters note Aoyama wasn’t particularly good today. Even if he was trying to save a fellow footballer, if he loses here, his football career will be over. Taking such a risk makes him an idiot.

Episode 6
Nobody knows that Atsumu Ozaki is the author of a popular shonen manga. However he always has that sad and intense stare. One day he sees a teacher confiscate a manga from a student as she rips it apart! She must be having a bad day since her best friend stole her boyfriend. Oh, her car has cat footprints all over too. She discovers the culprit is Moka who is feeding a family of strays. She blames her to take responsibility and threatens to call animal shelter. Moka of course can’t since her family is allergic to cats. Well, Moka is actually thinking of killing her! Ozaki sees this and snatches her handphone, throws it away and adopts the cats. The distraught teacher wants compensation for her handphone but Ozaki reminds her about that manga ripping. Then he had her fooled as he didn’t actually throw it away and returns it to her. We learn Ozaki is always staring intensely is because high school is a place to get inspiration for his manga. But there is one person whom has caught his interest lately. Who else buy Aoyama? As he observes him, from his perspective he notices Aoyama is like bossing people around and acting arrogant.

Hence in his new manga chapter, he creates a new villain based on Aoyama, Blue Wizard. Guess what? Everybody likes this villain! As this is not Ozaki’s intention, he makes Wizard do more evil stuffs but the more he does that, the more everybody loves Wizard! To the point he is more popular than the main hero! They’re calling the hero a loser?! Ozaki is so distraught that he decides to kill off everything by exploding the planet! Of course his editor rejects it and so he makes Wizard owns all the women in the world. This causes Wizard’s popularity to decline as the female readers dislike it. But Ozaki is happy that he finally nailed it. However his editor reminds him this will reflect badly on the company and with an upcoming anime, he better do all he can to maintain Wizard’s popularity. So when Ozaki introduces a new villain and put Wizard’s fight with the hero’s on hold, everyone hates it! The more Ozaki tries to fix stuffs to make Wizard popular again, the more it backfires. So much so the readers can’t tell head or tails the direction of anything. Ozaki finally decides to go ask Aoyama himself since he notices he reads the manga magazine. However to his dismay, Aoyama skips his story! Actually, he never reads it as he never liked the art style. This pisses off Ozaki so much that he turns Wizard into a traitorous character who ones up on the hero and new villain. Everybody loves Wizard is back! Ozaki just can’t understand these people…

Episode 7
Mio Odagiri is a regular starter in the girls’ basketball team. Despite her athleticism, she can never shoot in! Not sure if it is eternal positivism or just stupidity. Even Aoyama shoots better than her! Heck, is he some sort of shooting machine?! Because of that, Mio looks up to him as her master. This earns the jealousy of other basketball guys who admire her beauty and the source of their strength. As Mio is also a bit big, and I mean not just her bust size, but her overall physique, some girls despise her. In a match, Mio is desperate to score but keeps failing. All the opponents have to do is just wait for her to fail and snatch the ball on the rebound. So Mio asks Aoyama for advice. Feelings. So she goes with the slam dunk. Failed. It bounced back to Aoyama who is cleaning to opponent’s basket. He kicks it back and he scores! She has done it? Of course that won’t count. Mio is grateful to him (despite not doing anything) that she pats his shoulders. Nothing happens. Everyone is shocked that Aoyama didn’t react to that like as though he is okay with it. This prompts everyone to believe they are in love with each other. Soon this spreads throughout school and you can bet it devastates all of Aoyama’s fan girls. Yeah, his supporting team is so dead. Even oddly Yuri wants to break up with Ishikawa… Moka is so depressed that she is eating. Why do I have a feeling it is to bust up?

One day, Aoyama surprisingly asks Sayaka Ariga to shake his hand. They did and she thinks he is trying to mock her but soon Aoyama collapses! Later Aoyama challenges Mio to arm wrestling. He is wearing gloves to touch the table but not her hand? Mio uses too much strength that her button pops out, revealing her boobs. All the guys are so grateful to Aoyama. Aoyama cooks for Mio in exchange she cooks for him tomorrow. She returns the favour with a super huge serving. But he won’t taste it since all the jealous guys take a bite. Then Aoyama asks her to come watch his match this Sunday. I guess at this point everyone really believes they are dating. During an online game, Narita believes he is having problems of the heart but San freaks out that it isn’t so but isn’t sure why he was okay with being touched. During the football match, after Aoyama scores, he wants Mio to high five him. After doing so, it is then Moka realizes that what Aoyama wanted to do all along is to touch others. Then everyone finds out they aren’t really dating. You can’t imagine how relief all his fans are. His support team turns their funeral zombie chanting back to a lively passionate cheer. Moka doesn’t know if there are romantic feelings involved but she finds it cute that Aoyama is doing all the things he can’t with Mio.

Episode 8
Tsubasa Umeya is the best judo guy in Fujinami. However he suddenly quits and joins the football club! WTF?! Ah, I see he likes Moka… You bet his judo coach isn’t going to accept this and teach him a lesson but gets a judo throw. This guy has never played football in his life can suddenly match up to Aoyama?! Soon, the rest of the football guys know Umeya has a crush on Moka. Whenever Umeya sees Moka working, he offers to go help her. At first she is cautious but since he is patient and persevering, she allows him to help out. Though, her sights will always be on Aoyama. Since she still always hide from him whenever he comes around, Umeya asks why she likes him. She doesn’t know but by the time she realizes it, she is already in love with him. Umeya realizes he is the same. Thus he decides to support Moka’s love for Aoyama and sets up a date between them at the zoo. The 3 Stooges think it is his vile plan so make Moka slip up so he can get her for himself. At the zoo, Umeya keeps staring at Moka who keeps staring at Aoyama who is the only one watching the animals. So awkward. And yeah, the 3 Stooges spying on them all. At the cat petting room, that is where they meet Mio and this opens a new can of worms. Yeah, the equation is slightly more complicated now. With Mio also staring at Aoyama, Moka feels inferior in every aspect to her. When gangsters decide to cause them trouble, oddly Umeya didn’t do anything but it is Mio who saved the day and give enough time for everyone to run. Umeya suggests a boat ride before they leave. Aoyama and Moka are together as Umeya serves as the barrier between Mio and Yuuko. Moka is at her lowest point thinking she must be the most boring girl ever as she has not spoken a word to him all day! When Umeya gives her a shout out about today, this encourages Moka to finally talk to Aoyama that she had fun today. Yuuko can’t understand why Umeya is genuinely rooting for them to be together. Does he not mind they end up together? His goal is to protect Moka’s feelings and sometimes it is not destiny for every couple to be married. Of course, he hopes to be buried next to her in exchange for all this. Long term plan?!

Episode 9
Miwa is inspired by her favourite football anime (Football Boyfriend?) and thus decides for the football club to go on a training camp. Zaizen suggests using his summer villa and this prompts everyone wanting to bring their girlfriend, grandma and pets… We’re not going on a holiday. Of course Aoyama won’t go because of all the sharing. When Zaizen goes home, dad isn’t impressed he needs to attend a training camp and knows he sucks in football. Because papa is going to use his influence and change the rules of football! Zaizen’s little sister, Karin tells daddy not to spoil him too much but she gets treated like a little girl. Always her daddy’s princes. Miwa is here because she needs Karin’s help for the training. Surprisingly Aoyama turns up to head to the training camp. Not before he cleans the bus. Well apparently the entire school is going on this training camp. Yeah, the highway is jammed with school busses. You thought everyone is going to enjoy the luxurious facilities but Zaizen prefers the rundown dilapidated versions. It really feels more like a real training camp. Rich kid wants to be a commoner… Practising football on the beach helps to train one’s footing. Aoyama won’t play because the sand is dirty. Don’t worry, Karin assures the sand is all clean! Is that even possible?! When Ishikawa sprains his ankle, Miwa lets Moka play as she knows she has always been practising in secret. Moka shows off her skills and she is much better than many of the guys! She can even dribble past Aoyama! And she also knows how to dive! Aoyama then tells her to stop it. He doesn’t like playing dirty. But he also commends her dribbling. Moka regrets her actions but felt his feet touched hers during the tackle so she feels happy either way.

When everyone trains to swim to the nearest shore, they find something amiss. It’s like they can never get there. Then it turns out the picturesque scene is just a giant picture. Heck, this entire beach is just a dome! Brought to you by all the high technology and research of Zaizen’s corporation! Karin thought of having her brother train by swimming against the waves but everyone knows this won’t help in his terrible shooting. But if Zaizen is happy… For dinner, everyone was expecting some luxurious meal. But it’s just a grain of pea packed with all the nutrients! Damn Zaizen corporation technology and research. Disappointed? When they smell something good, they realize Aoyama is cooking his own meal. They want to share! That sure is satisfying. Miwa has them play kimodameshi. Karin uses a high tech machine for the pairing. Everybody wants to pair with Aoyama but the lucky guy is Zaizen. Too bad he is chicken sh*t all the way. Aoyama is cleaning all the way while Moka whacks and zombies that might bring him trouble. It’s really messed up. In the end, the entire haunted house is cleaned and Zaizen must be the biggest chicken sh*t to be screaming all the way. The training camp proceeds as usual with the usual hotspring bath and pillow fight. Miwa decides to watch her football anime to check if what they all did were correct. Not sure about the answer, but I guess the important thing is that everyone had fun.

Episode 10
When Kozue Kurata appears before Aoyama, he gives the most surprising shock reaction. This of course has everyone talking about the secrets Aoyama have as he rarely talks about himself. Thus Zaizen and the 3 Stooges try to tail him but Aoyama knows and gives them the slip. They still won’t give up and they end up in his house. But what is that youth national footballer, Seigo Ibuki doing in his house eating Aoyama’s cooking?! Actually, this is Ibuki’s house! So what is Aoyama doing here? He lost a match against him and this is his penalty. What?! Aoyama lost?! Arienai! Next day, Aoyama intentionally skips practice so Zaizen and Moka tail him. They are shock at first when they see him meet up with Kozue and Takechi, thinking Aoyama has been coaxed by her to join Oshigami-Minami. However Ibuki is also here as he explains he has joined Oshigami-Minami. Why is a guy like him who is currently playing for a youth football club in Spain coming all the way back to Japan? He is picky of his Japanese soba and misses them. This place has the best soba. Oh, Kozue is his childhood friend and her cooking sucks. Aoyama is here to request a 1-on-1 match with Ibuki. As they play, Aoyama then wants to stop the match. Kozue also agrees. It seems they notice Ibuki’s sloppy performance. Aoyama doesn’t want to win when Ibuki is not at his best.

So Aoyama talks to him in a bid to discover the cause of his decline. From the way he says it, it looks like Kozue is the ‘problem’. Girlfriend problems? It all began when Ibuki puts mayonnaise on all of her cooking. Because her cooking sucks. This broke her heart and she slapped him. Aoyama wants him to call her and go on a date. Now, all the silly things you see Ibuki does is all part of Aoyama’s plan. I mean, that guy said he is clueless when it comes to girls despite being a football genius. So leave it all to Aoyama, eh? So wearing a cat mascot outfit? Because cats are supposed to heal and calm angry people down. Looks like it is having an opposite effect. What’s this? Giving her a recipe book as present? She feels insulted! She tried her best to do her research and improve her cooking and this is what she gets?! Oh, now they’re playing football? Playing together is supposed to bring you closer? Kozue is so fed up and just plays along. She narrates how she followed him to Spain and did everything for him is simply because she loves him and the way he plays football. She wanted to try and help him with that so why can’t he understand that? Aoyama senses they are now back on normal terms and resumes his challenge for Ibuki. Well, well. Aoyama lost again! Kozue thought Ibuki finally appreciates her cooking when he eats it without complain. Actually anything tastes good when you are hungry! Poor Kozue is so mad she wants to break up with him. It’s over.

Episode 11
What’s this? Girls are cheering for Sakai?! Maybe it’s his hairstyle resembling close to Aoyama. Not only he has got tons of girls supporting him but his football skills also level up! He is scoring all the goals! Even the football god is with him! Oh, he has got several girls confessing to him! But he rejects them all because he belongs to everyone! So cool! His pals aren’t impressed that he has gone on to the elite side and try to bring him back with their tomfoolery but fail. Sakai relishes in the new spotlight and loves the girls calling his name. This is his goal and doesn’t care if the team goes to the Nationals. Since he is so good, Miwa is planning to switch Zaizen’s forward position with Sakai. Under threat, Zaizen marks his own teammate and tries to score but fails miserably. At this rate he’ll just be a substitute. Then he gets the ultimatum from papa. Since he wasn’t in the starting eleven, the next time he fails to make the cut, he will give up football forever! So of all people, Zaizen goes to seek Moka’s help to train him. I guess it’s reasonable since the best like Aoyama is into cleaning, Miwa is into judo and Ishikawa into cheerleading. Moka starts off with him kicking spot kicks. Even with no goalkeeper, he cannot score! After a few kicks, he decides to go home and rest. That’s it for the day. This upsets Moka as she tries to bring him back to continue training. Maybe that’s why he sucks. With a few more kicks and he still hasn’t improved, his father has seen it all and is going to do the ultimate. Bribe Miwa to bring him back into the starting eleven!!! This makes Moka angry as she turns into Terminator to beat them up. No more nice little girl. She is going to train him like hell.

During the next match, Sakai is still on a hot streak. Till he modifies his hairstyle a little. The girls lose interest and the football god deserts him. Noticing his declining trend, his friends are tempting him to go back to their ranks. Sakai vows never to go back there again and returns to his Aoyama hairstyle. Once again the girls start cheering. But it is not like before. So he goes to seek Moka’s help to train but Moka is not impressed. She takes it as an insult he is trying to defile Aoyama and threatens to beat him up. At this point, Sakai is starting to panic when he can’t hear the girls cheering for him. With Zaizen finally scoring, Sakai joins his other pals into doing a silly victory dance. The girls find it lame and desert him. And since Sakai has reverted to his idiotic form, I guess Miwa has no choice but to make Zaizen their striker again. ‘Trouble’ starts when everyone notices scouts from the youth division are seen talking to Aoyama. He might quit their team…

Episode 12
Everyone is of course worried if he is going to leave so Zaizen talks to him that the team depends on him. Yeah, this is how important he is (or how useless everyone is). But soon he takes back those words and tells him to play wherever he wants. But for tomorrow’s match with Kuraishi High School, let’s do their best. In addition to those scouts causing more anxiety, the rest thinks Zaizen is depressed is because he just visited the grave of his mom. Today might be her death’s anniversary. So they plan to support him by letting him score a goal. Of course it won’t be easy since Zaizen cannot fully concentrate. Thoughts of his mom weighing heavily on his mind as she used to support his play. Because of that he makes some mistakes and Kuraishi scores their first goal. Oh, did I mention Kuraishi has won all their matches without conceding a goal? The second half starts and Kuraishi scores another goal. Yeah, Zaizen is continued to be bogged down by memories of mama. Before they could score their third, Aoyama uses his body to block it, causing him to be all dirty. This makes Zaizen blame himself for this. But Aoyama tells him if he doesn’t want to win, please substitute himself. This opens up Zaizen’s eyes (complete with heat butting the goal post for total awakening) as he returns to his usual self. Kuraishi’s defence is still hard to break but at least he is feeling much better than before. After blocking a Kuraishi shot with his face, Fujinami takes this chance to go on the offence. Zaizen sees his mom in the stands and draws out enough strength to rebound and score! In the aftermath, Fujinami makes a comeback beating Kuraishi 3-2 (Aoyama scores the rest of the other goals). Everyone gets a shock when they see Zaizen’s mother in the flesh! You mean she isn’t dead? So that grave was just his ancestral grave? It seems mom went somewhere far away to do volunteer work. She lost track of time and 5 years has passed! But she did remember Zaizen’s words that he will score a goal for her birthday and that’s why she came back. After a heart-warming mother and son hug (cue for emotional tears), looks like mom has to be whisked away again for yet another volunteer work. Hello Brazil. But the real question now is Aoyama going to quit the team. He rejects the scouts who aren’t pleased he isn’t taking this opportunity. So what is the reason he rejected them? He likes Fujinami’s white uniform. White = clean. So Fujinami is the only school in Japan who has white uniform?

Aoyama-kun Desu Ga! Keeping The Beautiful Game Clean Since…

And so Aoyama will continue to play for his ‘favourite’ school. All because of a colour. You know what they say about geniuses being crazy people. A big relief to the football team because now they don’t have to put in so much effort and just rely on him. Yeah… So while we got this ‘happy ending’ of Aoyama staying, it doesn’t feel so much like an ending considering the nature of this series. The ending may technically symbolizes friendship over a bright future of an individual which in turn makes the nation one of the best footballing nations in the world. You might call Aoyama dumb for his silly reason and choice for staying and that he is wasting his talents. But everyone forgets that the most important thing is having fun when you are playing. I believe Aoyama finds that in Fujinami too. He’s not saying it because it will be so shockingly out of character. Maybe he’ll say it via his online avatar. From the way I see it, Aoyama isn’t going to waste his talents being a nobody. Just that more people won’t be able to watch him play (and agents won’t rake in big money from star power exploitation). So carry on playing how you like and as you are, Aoyama.

Since this isn’t actually a shonen sports anime, it is obvious that this anime isn’t about football because if you really want a true football show, there is always that classic Captain Tsubasa and the more modern but weird Inazuma Eleven. So with not so much focus on the football field (only needed when it is to display how cool Aoyama is), we get to see a wide variety of antics that just doesn’t restrict itself to anything football related. Remember, cleaning is the first priority of someone. So the football matches are pretty much predictable because Aoyama will always be the main striker who scores. Fujinami always wins in the end. If the opponent leads in the first half, Fujinami with the courtesy of Aoyama’s awesome skills will make a comeback.

At this rate, I believe Fujinami will be on its way to win the Nationals. Heck, they would go on to win the AFC Asian Cup and even the big Holy Grail of the football world: The World Cup. Oh heck, I don’t think Fujinami is going to do that but Aoyama himself! He can just be a one man team and score every goal there is while everybody just stands there for decoration and to abide by the rules. Japan, you don’t need a new generation of youths and talented footballers. All you need is Aoyama! He’ll get the job done and stay clean while he is at it. Except for the last 5 minutes. Nah, makes no difference. That’s where you’re also screwed. If a football match’s victory can be predicted by how clean your football is, then Fujinami has got the crown written in the stars since the start. Yeah, if this football world had it Aoyama’s way, he could tell how well your love for the sport by how clean your football is!

One of the biggest dilemmas for me in this series is the characters. Despite Aoyama being the titular character, he does not appear or feel like the main star. Of course this is very much because of his enigmatic character. Heck, even the final episode isn’t about Aoyama himself but Zaizen. The question of whether Aoyama stays or leaves can be slotted in anywhere but I guess this is the ‘happy ending’ we have arrived at. Therefore instead of a dozen episodes totally focusing the spotlight on Aoyama, a big chunk of this series seems to concentrate on the other side characters. This is evident when you have the title of that episode named after that side character. Of course all these side characters have their stories or goals somewhat related back to Aoyama. In a way, it relegates Aoyama to being a secondary character although in an indirect way he still shines. Therefore it is with mixed feelings for me for the characters because even though they are a wild wacky bunch, most of them featured here are just for one episode and then they fall into obscurity. Some may make very small cameos for the rest of the episodes and others you’ll never hear off again. Like as though it makes the series of compiled unrelated shorts.

As for Aoyama, his enigmatic feel sometimes gives an impression that he is the football version of that Sakamoto guy. You know, another anime with a cool main mysterious character who is also named in the title. Being full of mystery and sometimes acting in ways that defies the laws of the world makes him fun and interesting but at the same time mind boggling. I guess in the larger picture this very personality and that we do not know much about him (heck, we don’t even know his first name) is all part of the fun. Because if you know all there is to know about Aoyama, the fun factor is gone. Throughout the series we are made to guess who he really is since he is able to keep clean after everything and dodge people who want to hug him better than any ninja from Naruto. On the downside, it makes Aoyama pretty much predictable and boring because he is obsessed with cleaning and we can expect to see him clean something in every episode. I believe he has other amazing skills but we just don’t see him display it given the nature of the episode and the story being played out.

In some ways like Sakamoto, I have this feeling he might be an alien because of how effortless he seems to be doing all those stuffs. So inhuman… You know what they say about cleanliness is next to godliness. But to show he isn’t perfect, he lost to Ibuki. But that is one of the very few imperfections compared to everything else he does that is so flawless. He also cares about his friends and it might seem he doesn’t directly help them but in a lot of indirect in discreet ways he’ll drop some hints and assistance. Perhaps Aoyama might not show it but I want to believe that he is staying at Fujinami too because of great football friends like these. Okay, maybe not the best of footballers or the best of friend-like material but they still are a team. You might think he doesn’t need others because he is always a loner and doing his own (cleaning) things but without his friends or school, he has no reason to clean! He would have moved somewhere else then.

What can I say about Moka? She’s like the cutie girl factor and one of the many Aoyama obsessed fan (clearly written on her shirt for all to see). It becomes her running joke that if she is ever out of options, she turns into this Terminator mode and takes out her nail ridden baseball bat, getting ready to stain her hands with blood. Thankfully it never got that far. Something irks me seeing her go into this mode because when her eyes turn red (hence why I termed it Terminator), she doesn’t seem convincing enough that she has become a blood thirsty killer. Just her eyes glow in this colour but she maintains her overall cutie pie appearance. I know this is a comedy anime but I think it would be funnier to see Moka’s face actually transforming into something scary. But then again, maybe not.

The other running joke is Zaizen who can never shoot straight. It is just mind boggling how he can keep his striker position. I bet because Aoyama is always there to score so it doesn’t matter if Zaizen screws up or not. I get this feeling that with Zaizen being the rich kid, it goes to show that not even money can buy your way into football! I hope this is true in reality… Among the 3 Stooges, Tsukamoto stands out more because of his butt juggling that perhaps makes it one of the most unique and bizarre technique ever. So called rival Takechi is one of those very self-absorbed characters as he loves showing off his abs. It’s like rubbing it in our faces that he flaunts his six pack every moment he shows up. I get it you have great abs compared to my flabby belly so stop it already! Ugh. There he goes again. If only the girls in this anime weren’t so preoccupied with Aoyama, he might have scored with them. But then again, his only target is getting Aoyama to join his school. I guess he isn’t that desperate because if he was, he could have quit Oshigami-Minami and join Fujinami.

The animation and art seem decent but nothing too detailed seeing this is comedy and nothing very serious. There will be many times the characters go into their chibi mode. The weirdest looking one I find is Yoshioka because I don’t know if his face is of a dog or a monkey. You could also say that the artwork looks clean enough and lives up to Aoyama’s strict cleaning standards. I guess that is why everything looks bright and almost spotless. But if you want to talk about the animation of the footballing action, it is somewhat jerky and not smooth. One might forgive this because this isn’t technically a football anime but still, the below average quality of the football play animation is obvious. Animated by Studio Hibari who did a few sports themed anime like Major and that very old Ping Pong Club anime. Other animes under their belt include Fight Ippatsu Juuden-chan, Kashimashi, Sumomomo Momomo, Happy Lesson, Venus Versus Virus and Wagamama Fairy Mirumo De Pon.

If that angst voice of Zaizen sounds familiar, it’s Tomokazu Seki whom I have haven’t heard in a while. Not to say he was on hiatus, but it must be I didn’t notice him in minor roles in recent animes. But it sure brings back those old days of Nodame Cantabile’s Chiaki and the titular character in Maze. Some of the recognizable seiyuus include Takehito Koyasu as Takechi, Sho Hayami as Zaizen’s father, Daisuke Sakaguchi as Tsukamoto, Mai Nakahara as Mio, Showtaro Morikubo as Ozaki and Sinichiro Miki as Ibuki. With limited lines, couldn’t spot Rina Satou as Yuri. The rest of the other casts are Ryotaro Okiayu as Aoyama (Tezuka in Prince Of Tennis), Anzu Haruno as Moka (Mafuyu in Blend S), Michiko Neya as Miwa (Reiju in One Piece), Noriaki Sugiyama as Ishikawa (Shirou in Fate series), Miwa Hirofumi Nojima as Narita (Akatsuki in Aria series), Souichirou Hoshi as Sakai (Samon in Nanbaka), Hiroyuki Yoshino as Yoshioka (Yajirou in Uchouten Kazoku), Daisuke Namikawa as Umeya (Rock in Black Lagoon), Minami Takahashi as Karin (Megumi in Shokugeki No Souma) and Aya Endo as Kozue (Miyuki in Lucky Star).

The opening theme is White by Bentham. I think it is just coincidence and me thinking too much that this J-pop band is suspiciously named after a certain English footballer and did the opening gig for this anime. I didn’t go through the band’s history so it may be true or not. As for whether this rock music is suitable for this series? Well, if it was a shonen football anime… The ending theme, Taiyou Ga Kureta Kisetsu by the Fujinami football club guys is an interesting and amusing piece. It sounds like one of those retro anime songs (like those mecha series) and even the animation goes so far as to animate it retro style. Alright everybody! Let’s run towards the sun for a brighter tomorrow!

Overall, this isn’t really a football series as football becomes irrelevant as the series progresses. Football is just one of those excuses to bring about some weird settings and enhance the comedic effect around the main and side characters. Although it is funny and enjoyable, it is very much on the light side so also don’t go expecting to be as heavyweight as Gintama. A few lovable and quirky characters but nothing too deep about them and with the almost non-existent story or plot, this is truly for light watching. You watch, you laugh, then you move on. Because with Japan already qualified for the 2018 edition of World Cup in Russia, I’m sure all eyes are now on the national team to avoid that embarrassing exit in the previous instalment (because Aoyama wasn’t playing in it. Damn it). Now Aoyama can clean the toilets and sinks in peace. And since he doesn’t miss a spot, could this mean Japan will not miss their spot kicks? And since he has been keeping clean, does this mean Japan will keep cleans sheets for the rest of the tournament and for the first time land their and Asia’s first World Cup???!!! Ganbare Nippon!

Boku No Hero Academia S2

February 2, 2018

After that pretty meh American-like superhero series, The Reflection, I guess it is time to go back and let the Japanese show us how it is done, their brand and take on superheroes. Heh. And with that, Boku No Hero Academia S2 is here for all those who have been waiting and it even gets better this season because this season is double cour! Twice the length of the first season! Wohoo! I guess more interesting (AKA weird) characters and heroes are going to pop up but seeing how the main characters are just students of a superhero school, I’m not expecting them to take on the world yet. But still, even though it is all just training and practice and the likes, anything superheroes do will still be super and of epic proportions.

Taking place right after the USJ incident, Aizawa and Thirteen are recovering well and are back to teaching Class 1A in no time. So we see them doing a mock rescue simulation with some pretending to be victims and the rest trying to use normal means without their Quirks to rescue them. The next simulation is to locate victims in a devastated city. Basically, one big hide and seek game. As Todoroki ponders about his own past and forced succession by his father, he is attacked by a villain. This bull mask villain then disrupts the rest of the simulation as the other students are shocked to see Todoroki, the strongest in their class defeated. He closes off all the exits to take on them. Bakugou as usual, hot and fiery tries to take him down on his own. However it is Midoriya’s plan that has everyone combine and use their Quirks that help pin the villain down. Before they could do some serious damage, the villain unmasks himself to be All Might! I guess sorry can’t cut it right now. Todoroki was also in on this since All Might asked his help. Flashback shows All Might suggested it to Aizawa. The latter was against it as it might traumatize them but All Might believed it would help strengthen them after the USJ attack. They must learn to have the determination to overcome anything.

Episode 14
All Might writes to his mentor about the aftermath of the USJ incident. Although many small fries of the League of Villains were arrested, the ring leader was never caught. He also writes about the potential he sees in Midoriya to succeed him. Class 1A is shocked that Aizawa shows up in class when he is supposed to be recuperating. He is here to announce an important upcoming event: The UA sports festival. There has been a debate whether to cancel it in light of the recent villain attack but it is decided to continue to show that a little shake up like that won’t deter their spirits. This event is also one of the most important in Japan since hero agencies will also be here to scout potential sidekicks and recruits. The students get motivated to do their best. Ochako reveals her intentions to become a hero is for money since her family is broke. Midoriya has lunch with All Might as he is being told that the recent fight with Noumu has now limited his power to only 50 minutes. Although Midoriya still can’t regulate his power, he noticed that when he used it against a villain then, it had no backlash. It was the first time he tried to use his power on a person. Since All Might doesn’t have enough time and those with evil intent are starting to realize it, he needs Midoriya to succeed him. The time has come for him to show the world that at UA sports festival. He wants him to tell the world that he is the next All Might, the fledgling symbol of peace.

Episode 15
The festival is briefly explained. Hero classes are not the only classes in UA. It also has support, business and general studies. The event brings all such classes together to compete. There will be preliminary stages before the finals. Because Class 1A became ‘famous’ during the USJ incident, many from other classes are here to check them out. Especially this villainous-looking Hitoshi Shinsou from the general studies here to make his war declaration on them. We see montages of them training and before you know it, the festival is here. Before it begins, Todoroki comes up to Midoriya and declares war on him since he is suspicious that All Might has set his eyes on him. Midoriya might feel Todoroki is way better than him, but he isn’t going to give up without a fight. All the students head into the arena. The festival is to be hosted by R-rated hero, Midnight. Bakugou as the representative for the first years, goes up to make his speech. He pledges… He’ll be number one! We expect him to piss off everyone from the start. Midoriya feels something odd about his speech because it’s like he is driving himself to a corner. The first game is an obstacle course. As long as they stay within the course, anything goes. As the race flags off, the students make a mad dash to the narrowing hallways. Todoroki gets ahead of the pack by freezing everyone. But his trick doesn’t work on a few with Quirks. Like Bakugou who is just mad in hunting him down. Their first obstacle are robots used during the entrance exam. It’s child’s play for Todoroki as he freezes them all and times them properly to fall and block off the path for the chasing pack.

Episode 16
We see some of the students using their Quirks to get pass the robots. But Midoriya uses his brains and luck instead. Using a broken metal piece of the robot, he manages to slam those aiming for him in the right moment. The next obstacle has them crossing chasms. This stage is where the support class shines because they are able to showcase their inventions. Like Mei Hatsume and her overkill gadgets that get her easily across. The final obstacle is landmines. Though they are easily marked to be identified, they won’t kill but the blast is enough to send you flying out. At this point, Bakugou catches up with Todoroki and they’re fighting each other. Bakugou is mad that he declared war to the wrong person. Midoriya is at the back of the pack. He uses his brains again. He gathers a few mines and then slams on them to propel him high into the air riding on his metal piece to the front. Then he uses Todoroki and Bakugou as springboard and a final blast to push him to first place. He makes a final dash back to the arena where he wins first place! Todoroki and Bakugou arrive second and third shortly. The top 42 advance to the next round with Aoyama propping up the final spot. If you are wondering why cowardly Mineta is placed so high (18th) and Yaoyorozu so low (17th) it is because that midget stuck on to her back and ride her all the way! Yeah, he killed 2 birds with a stone as he probably admired her ass all the way. The next game is kibasen. So as to be fair, the points of each participant is based on their standings from the obstacle race. 42nd is worth 5 points, 41st is 10 points, 40th is 15 points and so on. So what is the top guy worth? 10 million points! Wow. Everybody is now staring and targeting Midoriya. Literally everyone is eyeing on him now.

Episode 17
Midnight explains the rules. With a team consisting of 4, the team’s points are totalled up in the headband to be worn by the rider. As long as the rider doesn’t fall off and touch the ground, even if you have your headband stolen, you are still in the game. But those who deliberately try to make other teams fall will be immediately disqualified. The students are strategizing who is to be in their team. Midoriya knows points are not important but needs the right people. Of course no one wants to be in his team and lots of people seem to be wanting to join Bakugou’s team (lucky ones who got in are Kirishima, Mina Ashido and Hanta Sero). On a side note, Mineta is in despair as no chicks want to join his team. Surprisingly Ochako agrees. Better to team up with people you know, right? Why do I have a feeling it is more than that? Midoriya’s next plan is to have Iida but he refuses him. He has been losing to him ever since the entrance exam. If he intends to be great, he must stop following him. Iida joins Todoroki’s team that consists of Yaoyorozu and Denki Kaminari. Hatsume surprisingly wants to be in Midoriya’s team because as all eyes are on him, this will make her equipment well known. The last person he needs on his team… Fumikage Tokoyami. The plan is for Midoriya to keep running until the time runs out. As expected, all teams target him. However thanks to Hatsume’s equipment that allows the team to fly, plus Ochako’s making everything lighter and Tokoyami’s dark shadow twin to dispel attacks from all sides, it is the perfect defence and getaway. With half the time gone, the rankings are up to see the standings. Everyone is shocked that half of the teams have got their headbands stolen by team Neito Monoma, launching his team to second place. Including Bakugou’s team. This slick dude explains the reason why hero Class 1B has many of its students end up in the middle or the back of the pack, enough to make it to the next round as compared to Class 1A. From the back, they are able to observe their Quirks. Because he mocks Bakugou for being an ‘annual villain victim’, as expected he is enraged and changes his plan to take him down before he gets Midoriya. Midoriya continues to run away but this has to come to a stop. Because now team Todoroki is targeting him.

Episode 18
Todoroki uses his ice to block off other teams and to limit Midoriya from running all around. With both of them duking out, the other teams have no choice but to steal from each other. As Bakugou tries to attack Monoma, he is shocked to see he possesses the same explosive Quirk. Then he realizes that is not the case. Monoma’s Quirk is to copy other Quirks whom he touches for only 5 minutes. Bakugou is so mad he won’t be defeated by this that his explosiveness breaks through Monoma team’s barrier to snatch back a couple of headbands. Iida uses his secret move in which he accelerates faster than the eye can see for Todoroki to snatch Midoriya’s headband. This is his trump card he never told anybody but using this move means he will be immobile for a while. With time running out, Midoriya makes his last ditch attempt to steal back his headband. He plans to use his Quirk on Todoroki. The move is successful. No damage done to his hand and it leaves Todoroki in shock. However Midoriya got the wrong headband. By the time they’re going in for another charge, time is up. The top 4 teams move on to the next round. Todoroki’s team is in first place. Bakugou comes in second. Shinsou’s team is a surprise third. Guess who makes the final cut? Thanks to Tokoyami’s dark shadow stealing a headband from Todoroki in the final seconds, Midoriya’s team takes fourth place! As the festival takes an hour break, Todoroki pulls Midoriya over to talk. All Might meets up with Endeavour, Todoroki’s father who is only second in the hero rankings to All Might and not impressed with his son’s performance.

Episode 19
Endeavour brushes off All Might and it is still obvious he still resents the latter after all these years just by being number one. Midoriya fears his secret with All Might may be exposed when Todoroki explains he could feel the same aura from All Might from him. But Todoroki thinks he is All Might’s secret love child! Before this can become a joke, Todoroki continues and reveals his father as Endeavour who has always been stuck with the number 2 label. So if Midoriya has something to do with the number 1 hero, all the more reason to beat him. Because Endeavour couldn’t beat All Might, he shifted to his next plan. Force marrying into someone with a Quirk to produce a powerful offspring with an equally powerful Quirk. Endeavour is trying to fulfil his own desire by raising him to be a hero to surpass All Might. Todoroki won’t be his tool. He always remembers mother crying. She told him his left side is ugly. While pouring boiling water on it. That’s why Todoroki picked a fight with Midoriya to show him what he can do and without using that Quirk of his. Midoriya might be overwhelmed hearing this. But he has a responsibility to the people who have supported him and hence he challenges back Todoroki he will not lose. While the draw for the octo-finals is going to start, surprisingly fellow 1A classmate, Mashirao Ojiro wants to withdraw! He was on Shinsou’s team. Everyone is shocked but there is something about pride he can’t say (hinting it has something to do with Shinsou’s Quirk). Similarly, a guy on Shinsou’s team from 1B also wants to withdraw. Midnight likes their passion and allows. With 2 spaces left, the duo to replace them are Ibara Shiozaki and Tetsutetsu Tetsutetsu (both are from the team who has been fighting hard to defend their third place in the kibasen before being snatched away last minute by Shinsou’s team). The draw is done. The first match pits Midoriya against Shinsou. When Shinsou wishes him for a good match, Ojiro quickly shuts him up and doesn’t want Midoriya to answer him. There are recreational games for those who didn’t make the cut before the octo-finals. But now the real match is here. The rules are simple. You win by immobilizing or pushing your opponent out of the ring or make him/her quit. Otherwise anything goes. Of course, no moves that could kill. As both Midoriya and Shinsou take the stage, Shinsou starts badmouthing Ojiro as a coward. This makes Midoriya mad. Suddenly his body freezes.

Episode 20
Aizawa takes a look at Shinsou’s stats and notes how the entrance exam was unfair. Because it was a display of physical Quirk, Shinsou’s Quirk never stood a chance and that’s why he didn’t end up in the hero course. But he knew that if he had done well in the games, they would review him and transfer him to a hero course. So as you might have guessed, Shinsou’s Quirk is brainwashing. He tells Midoriya to turn around and leave the arena in which he obediently does. Midoriya remembers Ojiro telling him about this. As long as you answer him, you will fall under his Quirk. Ojiro had no recollection under his spell but during the kibasen when his shoulder was accidentally bumped, he regained control of himself. Some kind of shock is needed to regain control but not sure how much of it. When Midoriya is close to the edge, he sees visions of a few people. It causes him to use his Quirk that in turn damages his fingers, breaking him out of Shinsou’s spell. Shinsou is shocked with this as he tries to make Midoriya answer his hard hitting questions. Midoriya shuts up and tries to push him off the edge. Shinsou fights back but Midoriya eventually does a judo throw. Midoriya wins and advances. Flashback shows Shinsou’s classmates were really admiring his cool Quirk and gave him ideas on how to use it. Despite how tempting it was to turn to the villain side, he never strayed from his dream to become a hero. Midoriya understands his frustration of unable to become a hero before he got All Might’s Quirk. Shinsou is surprised when his classmates praised him for a good fight against the guy who was first in the obstacle courses. There are also a few heroes interested in his Quirk to fight against villains. It was enough motivation for Shinsou not to give up entirely. As Midoriya gets treated, he asks All Might about the vision. One of them looked like him so he figures if that vision is all those who inherited this Quirk. Maybe. But All Might believes it wasn’t that that broke him out of the brainwashing but his strong emotions. The next match is Todoroki against Sero. We all know how this will end, right? Before Todoroki takes the stage, he isn’t pleased to see father who tells him to give up his rebellious side and use his power. Todoroki won’t and will win using only mom’s powers. Todoroki freezes half the stadium to immobilize Sero! Talk about overkill!

Episode 21
Here are the rest of the matches’ highlights…

* Shiozaki vs Kaminari: Lightning boy got no chance against this God praying vine girl, easily absorbing his shocks and trapping him in her vines. All over in a second…

* Iida vs Hatsume: Iida agrees to use Hatsume’s devices for a fair fight. However she is just using him to advertise her products! After 10 minutes of being fooled around, Hatsume voluntarily steps out of the ring. Her work is done… Iida, you’ve been literally taken for a ride.

* Aoyama vs Mina: Looks like laser belly boy can’t fire too long as he gets a stomach ache. Mina turns the tables by sliding around, dirtying his belt, cuts loose his pants and an uppercut to finish it all. How embarrassing…

* Tokoyami vs Yaoyorozu: Dark shadow has no lag time compared to Yaoyorozu who needs to recollect her thoughts to materialize things. He keeps hitting her hard and when he stops so and she has a chance to fight back, she realizes she is already out of the ring. Oh… So sad for her… So pitiful… No chance to do anything…

* Kirishima vs Tetsutetsu: What happens when you have overlapping characters with the same hardening abilities clash? Oh boy, this is going to take a while… Hard punches that go nowhere… When they finally knock each other out, it is a draw and will be decided with an arm wrestling match later. So while we wait…

* Ochako vs Bakugou: Why does this feel like the most disturbing matchup ever? Oh, we’re out of time for this episode…

Episode 22
Ideally, as long Ochako can touch Bakugou, she can levitate him and have a chance at winning. So when the match starts, she charges straight at him. Of course he blows up everything to keep her from coming close. With his sharp reaction times, it will be hard to even distract him. Ochako gets blasted but never gives up. The crowd is starting to feel painful to watch. Some even boo Bakugou for bullying a girl and should end the match if he is a pro. Aizawa shuts them up because Bakugou is acknowledging Ochako as a serious opponent. After more blasting, Ochako puts her true plan into motion. All the ground debris that Bakugou had blown up, she touched them and are floating in the air. She drops them all on him like a meteor shower and hopes this would give the necessary distraction for her to touch him. However Bakugou unleashes his strongest blast to blast everything away. No chance left. Bakugou is about to get serious attacking Ochako but she collapses from exhaustion. Bakugou wins. Midoriya goes to the waiting room to wait for his next match but is surprised to see Ochako fine and chirpy. Meanwhile the arm wrestling match between Kirishima and Tetsutetsu gets underway. Kirishima wins when Tetsutetsu’s arm cracks from metal fatigue. Remember kids, eat more iron. After Midoriya leaves, Ochako gets a call from father who praises her for her efforts. You know the usual stuff that will eventually… Please don’t cry… PLEASE DON’T CRY… Too late… Midoriya stumbles into Endeavour. The latter sense his Quirk is similar to All Might. He tells Midoriya about his son’s duty to surpass All Might and this match will be a very instructive test bed. Midoriya replies he isn’t All Might and at the same time, Todoroki isn’t Endeavour.

Episode 23
The most anticipated match is here. Midoriya vs Todoroki. Todoroki starts off as expected using his ice powers but Midoriya powerfully deflects them all with his finger. Each time injuring them. So if he is going to do this all the time, at this rate he’ll run out of fingers… When he is used them all up, Todoroki tries to go in for the kill but Midoriya used his injured finger to continue deflecting. It’s looking even worse than before. Midoriya is visibly mad. He lectures Todoroki about Quirks being physical abilities. This means it has its limits. He notices Todoroki trembling from the over usage of ice powers. It could have been easily solved using his flame side. However he remains stubborn and wants to be number one with half his strength? He hasn’t even put a scratch on him! Technically, he is right. Surprisingly Midoriya is the one who is able to punch Todoroki despite the punches are weak. Seeing Midoriya going so far and pushing his limits despite his injury makes Todoroki remember his abusive childhood with his father who has always been trying to make him stronger to beat All Might. His only solace was his kind mom but one day he heard her breaking down that she couldn’t raise a monster who is looking more and more like his father every day. When mom tried to hurt him, Endeavour put her in a hospital. Todoroki blamed his father ever since and made that vow not to use his power. With Midoriya reminding him that the power he has is his, Todoroki remembers mom telling him it is okay for him to be a hero. It is when he starts using his flame side. Everyone is shocked to see this. Not Endeavour. He is happy his son has finally acknowledged himself. For those who analysed deeper, they believe Midoriya has done a great service by saving Todoroki. Both sides power up for one final ultimate decisive blow. Do you think Midoriya can withstand the power of fire and ice? Had not the judge intervene with some ground block in between, the explosion might have been even severe. In the end, Midoriya is out of bounds and unconscious. Todoroki wins.

Episode 24
Endeavour is happy his son has gotten over his childish tantrum. After he graduates he wants him to work under him. However Todoroki says he hasn’t forgotten anything. It was just at that moment he forgot about him. Midoriya’s bones in his arm are all shattered. Even if Recovery Girl heals him, it won’t be the same. So we have Midoriya apologizing for not living up to expectations and All Might advised not to praise his act because it was reckless and foolish. Despite all that he has done, it has the essence of what a hero is supposed to be. Midoriya’s arm might have this crooked look and scars but it should serve as a reminder not to be reckless again. Recovery Girl warns she will not heal him again. So find a way to use that Quirk without being destructive. All Might reveals a shocking truth to him that he was once Quirkless. Back then, having a Quirk wasn’t as common as today. His master believed in him and left All For One with him. Back to the match, Iida quickly pushes Shiozaki out and likewise, Tokoyami also pushes Mina out with ease. Iida tries to call his brother but he is out busy trying to hunt down Hero Killer Stain. Bakugou looks to be on the defence even though he bombs Kirishima. But after Kirishima is at his limits because he has to strain his body to harden it, Bakugou shows no mercy and bombs him till he knocks out. The first semi-final match has Todoroki against Iida. Iida uses his super speed to avoid his ice, even giving him a deep kick that is sure to knock anyone out. Iida tries to quickly toss him out of the wrong but he realizes too late that Todoroki has frozen his engines. With his entire body immobilized in ice, Todoroki advances to the finals. At the same time, Ingenium has been done in to a bloody pulp by Stain who claims all the heroes are sh*t and the only one qualified to kill him is All Might. Bakugou bombs the hell out of Tokoyami and knows his shadow’s weakness. As long as there is bright light, his shadow is rendered ineffective. Tokoyami gives up. It is going to be the most explosive and fiery final. Iida gets a call from his mom as she updates him on his Ingenium’s situation. As Stain vows to reveal the hypocrisy of society to the heroes, Kurogiri appears before him and wants to talk.

Episode 25
Even before the match in the waiting room, Bakugou is already blowing his top at Todoroki who is ever more confused if he should use his fire power. Bakugou tells him off he doesn’t care about his problems. He wants him to go all out with his power and that will make his defeat worthwhile. The final starts and Todoroki unleashes his huge ice power. Bakugou and his explosions and anger just blast it all away. As Todoroki is not using his flames, this only incurs Bakugou’s wrath. He doesn’t want to win this way and if he doesn’t have any intention to win, don’t stand before him. When Midoriya screams out to support Todoroki, he gets a little motivated. However when Bakugou releases his fury of blasts, Todoroki withdraws his flames. Todoroki is unconscious out of bounds. Bakugou is super mad now for this easy win. Midnight had to knock Bakugou out before he gets violent. So yeah, Bakugou wins the overall. During the awards ceremony, Bakugou is restrained like a mad dog! Tokoyami and Iida share third place but the latter had to leave to attend family matters. All Might hands the medals to the podium winners, gives them advice and a big hero hug. Bakugou still b*tching about why he won’t accept this win. Just shut up and take the medal! Iida reaches the hospital and is shocked to see his brother barely alive and in ICU. Sadness overwhelms him to see the person he admires to be in such a state. Likewise, Todoroki also visits the hospital to see his mom for the first time. At first his presence would put pressure on her. But after his fight with Midoriya, he realizes that in order to move forward and become a hero, he has to see and talk to her. Even if she doesn’t want to be rescued, he will do it.

Episode 26
On the train, it seems Midoriya is famous because everyone recognizes him. Today’s class will be for our young heroes to choose a hero name. Aizawa also informs with this they will go pick and do their internship in hero agencies who are interested in them. Todoroki and Bakugou lead with the offers with thousands of agencies wanting them. The rest are just so far away… However none for Midoriya. Midnight will help out since she is a pro in hero names. So we have some like as though they’re trying to be funny like Aoyama’s I Cannot Stop Twinkling (is this a sentence?) and Mina’s Alien Queen (you mean as in that Hollywood sci-fi horror movie?), some are creatively puns like Tsuyu’s Froppy and Ochako’s Uravity, some are just huh like Mineta’s Grape Juice and some just describing their ability straight. I mean, Invisible Girl? Todoroki is a surprise because he goes with his first name, Shouto. Iida remembers his brother telling him he cannot feel his legs anymore and this is the end of Ingenium. He wants him to take over his place. However Iida follows Todoroki’s route and goes with his first name. Midoriya also goes with something similar. His previous nicknames all had All Might in them (just at Junior, Super, Captain, etc). This time he picks his nickname, Deku. Bakugou needs to cool down and think of names that doesn’t sound scary. King Explosion Murder? Lord Explosion Murder? Later All Might talks to Midoriya to tell him a hero agency has submitted late an offer to Midoriya. He is Gran Torino and All Might’s mentor. He must be a fearsome guy since All Might is shaking while talking! Aizawa notices Iida’s pick of hero agency. It is in Hosu City, the place where Ingenium was taken down. No prizes to guess his motives here. Midoriya learnt what happened to Ingenium later over the news. He never said anything to Iida because he never talked about it. Before each leaves for their internship, Midoriya talks to Iida and says if he needs help, let him know. Of course Iida puts on that assuring smile but away from those eyes, he has this vengeance look on his face. Midoriya arrives at Gran Torino’s place and gets the shock of his life when the old guy pranks him with his own death.

Episode 27
Gran Torino might look like a senile old man with dementia but he is still powerful. He tests Midoriya’s strength as he bounces about the place with his jet propulsion. Of course Midoriya loses and couldn’t see it coming. He has watched Midoriya fight and tells him his admiration for All Might is a liability and shackle. He needs to get stronger fast but time and enemies won’t wait. So how? Think about it yourself. Maybe he doesn’t know the answer either? We see the other heroes in their internship. Bakugou meets one of the top 5 popular heroes, Best Jeanist. He is not amused jeans face doesn’t like him despite his agency requested for him. Best Jeanist points out his fatal flaw in his personality. There is a thin line between a hero and villain. They are just opposite sides of the same coin. He is going to teach Bakugou on how to control his emotions and enforcing his morals. Stain is taken to see Shigaraki who wants him to join his ranks. When Stain learns his plan to kill All Might and all those he don’t like such as Midoriya, Stain becomes disappointed of his childish tantrums and is going to kill him. Midoriya tries testing out his Quirk in the alley at night. Let’s say he has a long way to go. It is no surprise he looks all beat up next morning. Midoriya understands why All Might is afraid of Gran Torino is because he is always getting beaten up as his training. However Midoriya is unaware of All Might’s late predecessor who was Gran Torino’s best friend and how he came to look after All Might. Midoriya hits an inspiration when he microwaves the taiyaki. He now understands how his Quirk works. Because he thinks of using them when the time calls for it, it will take time to warm up and power on. So why not switch it on from the start and let it flow through his body? He starts getting the feel of it but isn’t sure if he can move his body at this state. Care to test it out?

Episode 28
Gran Torino gives him 3 minutes to touch him. Midoriya gets creative in ways to stop his jet springing. Although he fails, he has improved a lot. Tsukauchi talks to All Might about his investigation on Noumu. The original body belongs to a thug with a criminal record. After doing some DNA tests, they found 4 different people’s DNA intermingled inside. His body has been modified to hold multiple Quirks. Given that only a Quirk is possible for a body, it is very likely there is someone with a Quirk that can give others Quirks. All Might believes that man is starting to move again. Stain almost kills Shigaraki and Kurogiri. However he is shocked when Shigaraki is able to rot his blade. Stain was just testing him and although their goals are opposites, currently they have the same goal. However Shigaraki doesn’t want this crazy guy in his party. But Kurogiri believes Stain will be a good asset. Gran Torino takes Midoriya to Shibuya. That is where their next training will be. What better way for some real experience in fighting different real villains under real circumstances. Midoriya knows he will pass Hosu and hopes to contact Iida then. Iida is being advised by his mentor not to use his Quirk for selfish reasons since it is against the rules. He knows Iida joined the agency to search for Stain. Speaking of which, Stain is back in Hosu. In his bid to reform this city, more victims are required. The concept of hero is no disillusioned. They do not really help and are only in for the money. They only act like heroes. Until the world realizes this, he will continue to appear. Shigaraki still can’t accept his way of doing things so he unleashes several Noumus to wreak havoc. Gran Torino and Midoriya are riding the train when they see fire in Hosu. A Noumu beats up a hero and crashes into the train. Gran Torino immediately fights this one. Iida doesn’t think this flashy chaos is Stain’s style. He must be ‘delighted’ to come into Stain as he stops him from killing another hero in the alley. As Stain warns him to go away, Iida is mad he is not even his target. He then lets him know the name of the hero who is going to defeat him. Iida takes on Ingenium’s name.

Episode 29
Noumus are indiscriminately attacking people. Gran Torino can handle one well. He gets backup from Endeavour. Midoriya is trying to head to the centre of the commotion. He hears a hero looking for Iida since he isn’t around. Realizing that Iida isn’t the kind to disobey in such a situation, it means he must have found the Hero Killer. Mad Iida continues to praise how great his brother was but Stain lectures him about using his own power for revenge. That is furthest away from being a hero. He should die. In good timing, Midoriya arrives and punches him away. Iida is shocked he is here to save him and warns Stain’s Quirk to make one’s body paralyze after being cut. Midoriya knows he isn’t up to handle Stain himself and sends an SOS message. Iida doesn’t want him to get involved and run away. But if he does that, what good is a hero? He fights Stain but also gets cut. Now he is unable to move. Stain likes Midoriya because of his thinking and will let him leave. Before he could kill Iida, here comes Todoroki to save the day. He got his SOS. Midoriya is one who doesn’t signal for help without reason. It must mean he is in real trouble. Todoroki has no qualms switching between his ice and fire powers to fight Stain. Todoroki gets cut but Midoriya is able to move and prevent the unfortunate. He deduces a few possibilities about Stain’s Quirk why some are able to move. It seems he can paralyze your body by licking your blood and how long you stay paralyzed depends on your blood type. Stain confirms O type is the shortest in which Midoriya is one. Midoriya and Todoroki team up to fight Stain while they wait for the pros to come. Todoroki knows the pain and narrow vision Iida has because he too was in his shoes. When he visited his mother and told her everything, she cried and smiled as she knew he would be able to move forward without anything holding him back. Todoroki joined his father’s agency so that he could see and experience first-hand why he was number 2. It was just simple as that although he still won’t forgive him for what he did. With Stain getting more aggressive and Iida still bugging for them not to get involve, Todoroki tells him off to look properly at what he wants to be.

Episode 30
Iida reflects on his immaturity and his past admiration for his brother. He gets up and uses his acceleration to save Todoroki before he gets sliced. They continue to attack him but Stain is still dangerously strong and fast as ever. Iida’s exhaust has overheated as he seeks Todoroki’s ice power to cool it down to the right temperature. At the same time, Midoriya is able to move and powers up to charge at Stain. They manage to thump Stain at the same time and Todoroki finishing him off. He is finally knocked out. What a fight. Meanwhile Endeavour easily defeats the other Noumus despite each having multiple Quirks. All he needs to do is just adjust. Prior to it all, when he first arrived here, he wanted to show his son what it’s like to be a hero but Todoroki got that message from Midoriya and ran off on his own. Endeavour has the other heroes to head to where his son is. They are shocked to see the kids tying up Stain and defeated him. Iida makes his tearful apology to them. Suddenly a stray and injured Noumu kidnaps Midoriya. Its blood somewhat dripped on Stain. He licks it and becomes enraged as he kills it. This is all for the sake of his just society. Shigaraki is mad that his Noumus are dead and Midoriya of all people has turned up here. Endeavour pops up and sees Stain. He is ready to fight but Stain gets up. His infuriating madness sends a deadly shiver down everyone’s spine. He dares to take on all the fakes on his own and proclaims only All Might the true hero can kill him. But all that madness dies down when he passes out. While standing up. Phew. It has been one hell of a night.

Episode 31
The trio are in hospital recuperating. They are visited by the dog faced police chief, Kenji Tsuragamae. He tells them Stain has got lots of broken bones and burns and receiving treatment under close monitoring. He talks about rules in the superhero profession and hence their supervisors will be punished. Todoroki is not amused. Had they not act, there would have been casualties. Is he saying rules are more important? Tsuragamae continues that this is the official police opinion. However if this gets out, they will be praised by the public. Luckily there are few witnesses. This means they can go scot free and their violations will end here. Nobody knows. Which is better? However their supervisors will still be punished. The media is filled with reports on Stain. Shigaraki is not happy. Because it’s like the Noumus are just side stories. Iida has finished his examination. There is long term damage to his left arm. It could be healed with a transplant but after reflecting the truth Stain said, he would like to keep his arm the way it is till he matures as a hero. Midoriya understands and he hopes they could grow strong together. All Might gets a call from Gran Torino complaining about Midoriya. Because of that he has got a pay cut and teaching licence revoked. However he is here to talk about Stain. With the hype coverage on Stain and relating him to the League of Villains, it might encourage other villains in the shadow to follow in his footsteps. He believes the man who killed All Might’s master and the one who made a hole in All Might’s stomach might have foreseen this and must be planning to move again. With Midoriya admiring him so much, it’s time to tell the truth. Meanwhile some shady black market dealer is ruing business is down since crime is down after Stain has been arrested. However his buddy knows of a good way to make money. Showing an internet video of Stain’s idea of how he wants to kill current fake heroes and instil the old real ideal of a hero (which he was rejected and mocked in the past), this video has been taken down and re-uploaded many times. This means his way of life is infectious. Many have not noticed yet but those evil scattered throughout the world in darkness are now making their way to the League of Villains.

Episode 32
The official story released by the police is that Endeavour saved the day by defeating Stain. Midoriya, Iida and Todoroki are not mentioned by name but it is noted the interns got their injuries via accident during their internship. Although we get a glimpse of the others doing their internship (Bakugou still needs to work on his crudeness as he is still making the kids cry!), the main focus is on Tsuyu. Her internship is with the coast guard hero, Selkie the seal and Sirius is in charge over her. Tsuyu feels disappointed when she is ordered to stay and watch while the rest answer a request from the coast guards to apprehend stowaways. Selkie and his men inspect the suspected ship but get trapped. Sirius whose Quirk is sensitive hearing could tell this ship was just a decoy as Selkie orders her to stop the main ship. It is up to Sirius and Tsuyu but Sirius gets taken as a hostage by the squid villain. Tsuyu is in a dilemma whether to lie there were no stowaways as the baddie wants her to or else Sirius is dead meat. She realizes what it takes to be a hero and instead reveals their current location. Squiddy goes ballistic and tries to kill Tsuyu. Luckily her agility as a frog saves her but she can only dodge his tentacles for so long. Before she gets done in, here comes Selkie to beat the crap out of him and save the day. The stowaways are arrested and they put a stop to their plan to distribute some illegal drug. Tsuyu is very happy when Selkie calls her an excellent hero even though she doesn’t have a hero licence yet.

Episode 33
The internship is over. Midoriya leaves but not getting a goodbye lecture from Gran Torino. He asks despite being All Might’s master, why isn’t he a famous hero? He never wanted to become one. He just got his licence so he could use his Quirk freely. Back at UA, our young heroes are given another basic training, a rescue race this time. In this industrialized labyrinth, the first to reach All Might wins. Midoriya surprises everyone using a hopping move he copied from Bakugou (that guy is getting mad again) but ultimately he slips because of unequal footing while landing. After class, he goes to see All Might as requested. First he assures the One For All Quirk cannot be simply transferred unless the bearer wishes it so Stain licking his DNA can’t steal his Quirk (remember All Might gave Midoriya his Quirk via eating his hair strand). Now for its history. It was derived from a certain Quirk in the past. A Quirk that could steal other Quirks and make them the holder. So there was this one guy in the past who stole Quirks and used it to commit evil acts to spread his influence and get others to follow him. However not everyone could accept the Quirk he gave them. Some became vegetables. Something like Noumu. Others had some sort of mix or change in the Quirk. That guy too had a Quirkless younger brother who has a sense of justice and didn’t like what his older brother is committing. So he was forced to submission to have a Quirk. A Quirk to pass on Quirks. That is the irony of One For All as its justice came from evil. So why an old story? That guy probably had an immortal Quirk. The defeated younger brother decided to entrust his Quirk to future generations in hopes that he would be defeated one day. All Might thought he defeated him but is still found alive and is now the mastermind behind the League of Villains. Therefore One For All is the power inherited to defeat All For One. Midoriya is willing to do what it takes but All Might feels something is wrong but can’t bring himself to tell him. Because when that time comes, he might not be by his side anymore. The League of Villains’ big bad boss didn’t think Stain could get caught but is more than happy others will look up to him and go on a rampage or join the League of Villains as an outlet to release their urges. Currently he is in a race to fix up his body and believes Shigaraki has what it takes to become the League of Villains’ leader and the next him.

Episode 34
The final exams are coming up. There will be written and practical. Mina and Kaminari prop up the bottom of the class based on their midterm rankings. Surprisingly, Mineta is has high as 9th place! First is of course Yaoyorozu followed by Iida, Bakugou, Midoriya and Todoroki. With some of them wanting to be coached by Yaoyorozu, she gets motivated to help them as she starts deciding in setting up her ‘party’. Monoma tries to intimidate Class 1A that they invite trouble but is taken out by fellow classmate, Itsuka Kendou. As apology she tells them information she got from her seniors that the practical will be fighting against robots. Bakugou seems to be getting worse because he is angrier especially at Midoriya and wants to settle everything at the finals. Back to those days? Everyone who goes to study at Yaoyorozu’s place is shocked to find her living in a big mansion. Too great a hospitality… The written exam is over and now it’s time for the practical. However everyone is shocked to learn it will be them against the teachers. As a pair, they will try to take out the teacher by putting on handcuffs or escape from the arena. For handicap, the teachers are worn bracelets to restrain their power. Midoriya and Bakugou are paired up to fight All Might. Aizawa purposely set this pairing because of their bad relationship. A few days ago, the teachers discussed about Stain and the League of Villains. Baddies might be invigorated by it and hence robots will not be the best practice anymore. Hence this students vs teacher suggestion. The first match pits Kirishima and Satou against Cementoss. However all the brute might they use eventually tires them out as Cementoss is able to eternally flow his cement. They lost and this sends shockwaves to the rest. Midoriya realizes this exam’s key is to see how well the students deal with their weakness. Next is Tsuyu and Tokoyami against Ectoplasm.

Episode 35
Their best chance is to escape but Ectoplasm can create clones of himself. Tokoyami and Tsuyu use their Quirks to complement each other. But as they near the exit, the real Ectoplasm stands between them. He now forms a giant clone that has captured them. While Tokoyami’s dark shadow keeps Ectoplasm busy, Tsuyu hatches a last ditch ‘disgusting’ plan. She pulled out the handcuffs she has been keeping in her stomach and passes it to the dark shadow without being seen. So during the clash, Ectoplasm gets cuffed. They passed. Iida and Ojiro is having a tough time against Power Loader who is digging holes everywhere. Iida improvises to let Ojiro escape and they too pass this test. Next up is Todoroki and Yaoyorozu against Aizawa. Yaoyorozu continues to have low self-confidence. She follows his plan to escape as he stays back to hold down Aizawa. Since Aizawa can nullify Quirks, Todoroki is easily defeated. She becomes indecisive to whether save him or escape. And she already turned back to go save him. Still undecided, Todoroki tells her to think of a plan because this is what she is supposed to be good at. She gets her confidence and comes up with one. First they run away enough from his vision to get back their Quirk. Todoroki then forms a large ice wall to put up a barrier between them. When it’s time to move, they cloak themselves. Aizawa thought they could hide from his nullifying but when he attacks, it is just a decoy. She then catapults ropes that looks like Aizawa’s but they are actually some sort of alloy that when burnt, returns to its original shape and this restrains him. They put the handcuffs on and pass the test. Ochako and Aoyama are having it real hard with Thirteen sucking everything. Aoyama is sure a joker joking at such moments. Ochako tries to think what Midoriya would do in this situation. It prompts Aoyama to ask if she likes him.

Episode 36
The shock has Ochako losing her grip and being sucked towards Thirteen. Now, he can’t get too violent with her so he stops his suction. With Ochako in ‘rage’ over Aoyama’s words, she turns into some ‘monster’ and quickly cuffs him. At least it worked. Next is Mina and Kaminari against Nezu who is also UA’s principal. They have a hard time running from his destruction since his Quirk allows him to calculate the aftereffects easily. In the end, the got cornered until time ran out. Next is Jirou and Kouji Kouda against Mic. Mic’s voice is deafening. Jirou has an idea using ants but Kouda is afraid of bugs. Noticing Jirou’s ears are bleeding, Kouda mans up to face his fears. Soon bugs start crawling from out of the ground over Mic. He passes out and this gives them an easy path to escape. Next is Mezou Shouji and Toru Hagakure against Snipe (Overwatch’s McCree?). This one is easy seeing Hagakure is an invisible girl so she easily cuffs him while Shouji distracts him. Oh, she can accuse him of molesting her too. Mineta is running away! But he is mad? Actually Sero saved him from Midnight’s Quirk that makes one sleep when smelling her fragrance. So Mineta is jealous that because of that, Sero gets to touch her boobs and sleep on her lap. Mineta is reconsidering why he became a hero. It was to be popular with chicks. Well, looks like he is so far away. But being at UA he learnt that heroes here aren’t cool because they are heroes, they are heroes because they’re cool. Midnight is coming after him as making her wait is unleashing her sadistic side. But this is all part of his big plan to trap and her make her stuck with his Quirk at the opposite end of the arena. This allows him to carry Sero out to the exit with no hindrance. Job well done. His only ‘complaint’ is that he need not have to work this hard had he not been saved.

Episode 37
As usual, Midoriya tries to talk to Bakugou for a plan but he is yelled at and told to shut up. Nothing works. Argue too much and here comes All Might with his full power. He doesn’t pull his punches and shows no mercy in pummelling the boys. While Midoriya thinks of running away, Bakugou has only defeating All Might on his mind. They only get in each other’s way. All Might tries to advise him on his anger as well as his envy on Midoriya’s sudden improvement. But when Bakugou tells him off he would rather lose than seek help from that pipsqueak, Midoriya surprisingly punches Bakugou and then takes him to run. In the alley, Midoriya admonishes him for giving up because he was never like that. That is why he admired him. So try using him at least once before giving up. Well, looks like Bakugou has got a plan. A pincher attack that has them blast All Might in between (Midoriya borrowing one of his explosive gauntlets) and then make a mad dash to the exit. But he recovers in no time and soon another round of beat down. This time All Might destroys Bakugou’s gauntlets to prevent anything similar from happening. Bakugou refuses to give up as she continues to fight All Might head on as he throws Midoriya towards the exit. All Might tries to thwart this but each time Bakugou distracts him. Without his gauntlets, each explosive blow is putting a strain on his limbs. In the end when Bakugou is knocked out cold, Midoriya turns back to give All Might a good punch and then retrieve Bakugou and head for the exit. They finally do so and pass. And perhaps All Might is already at his limit. Recovery Girl is having a hard time healing them. Barely. All Might notes their tremendous growth and room for more improvement. Meanwhile a bunch of new weirdoes inspired by Shigaraki’s attack has come to apply to join the League of Villains.

Episode 38
Shigaraki doesn’t want these freaks to join but Giran the broker hopes to accept them because he gets a cut for introducing people to join. So meet Hibiko Toga and Dabi. Since they are so hyped on Stain, Shigaraki blows his top and tries to attack them. They too attack back but thanks to Kurogiri’s warp, they miss each other. He advises Shigaraki to accept them since he will need to use all the help he can get. Back at UA, those who failed the practical exam fear they cannot join the summer camp. Then Aizawa relays the good news that everyone is in. Of course a failure is a failure and those who failed will have a different work lined up for them. Most of them decide to go shopping together tomorrow to get the necessary stuffs. At the mall, they all go their own way and agree to meet back later. Ochako is now very conscious around Midoriya and runs away. I guess being heroes from UA is famous because they are quite recognizable. In fact, one of them approaches Midoriya and knows him too well. Why, it’s Shigaraki! So this is his crazy face without those hands. He warns Midoriya not to do anything silly as he is here to just talk. If other heroes come to his aid, he can take down 20 or 30 people before being taken down. Shigaraki talks he is jealous that all his work has been upstaged by Stain. I mean, they’re the same so why is Stain more popular? Midoriya says he could understand Stain. Although defeated, at least he had his conviction right till the very end unlike Shigaraki who just gave up and went home during the USJ attack. This makes Shigaraki very relieved. Because now he believes the root of the cause is All Might. He is going to use Stain’s ideals as a stepping stone and doesn’t have to do what is different.

At this point, Ochako returns to apologize but sees Shigaraki. He ends the conversation and leaves. Midoriya wants to know about All For One’s goal but he doesn’t know or care. Shigaraki warns him to be careful because the next time they meet, he might kill him. Shigaraki is happy of his new conviction to kill All Might because without him, it will show how fragile the justice in this world is. After Ochako reports, the mall is evacuated and locked down. But Shigaraki was nowhere to be found. Midoriya is taken to the police station to give descriptions of Shigaraki’s look to Tsukauchi. Midoriya might feel he didn’t do enough but at least there were no casualties. When All Might picks him up, Midoriya asks if he failed to save anyone before. Lots of them. Those he can’t reach and in dire need of help right now. It’s sad but he is only human. That’s all the more reason to stand and smile so that the symbol of justice can always be lit in our hearts. A bit of a heart breaker when Midoriya’s mom comes to pick him up. She can’t take all this anymore. It’s bad for her heart. Tsukauchi talks to All Might about the UA students might be getting targeted more frequently. He suggests quitting UA. All For One is happy that Shigaraki now has conviction. This means more baddies will join and approve of his conviction. He will provide and support all Shigaraki needs until he is ready to take over him.

Taking place after the internship, we see Tsuyu introducing her froggy family as well as how she made friends with this snake head girl, Habuko Mongoose. A frog and a snake best friends? Today’s hero class will have 4 guests from Isami High School to join them. Aside Habuko, the rest are Kashiko Sekigai (class rep material), Dadan Tadan (fatty pessimist) and Romero Fujimi (overlapping angry character). You bet Fujimi and Bakugou are going to hate each other. They will be participating in a survival game. Divided into teams of 4, they can capture their opponents with tape and the last team standing wins. Midoriya has his mini harem of Ochako, Mina and Tsuyu. Their plan is to stay where they are and not move. The other teams have the same idea but Bakugou has a different idea. He goes around singlehandedly busting a couple of teams. When he faces off with Fujimi, the latter releases pink gas. It is bad because anybody who breathes in turns into a zombie! That is Fujimi’s Quirk. So slowly one by one the other survivors get bitten and even turn into one. Yeah, even Fujimi himself. Tsuyu and Habuko are so good friends that the latter doesn’t even bite her in her zombie form. Too bad Tsuyu got bitten by others. When All Might jumps in to save the day, because he is in his deflated form, the rest thinks he is a zombie! Even the zombies don’t bite him thinking he is one of them! Midoriya, Todoroki, Ochako and Mina are trapped in a cave. The only way is to bust forward. So when Midoriya does so, it looks like the Quirk effect is over and everyone returns to normal, not knowing why Midoriya busted their ass. Bakugou takes this as a sign of challenge and beats the hell out of him. In the end, both sides are really sorry for this but Bakugou and Fujimi are still at each other’s necks. More friendship power between Tsuyu and Habuko. All Might is sorry for what happened. He thought a cake could cheer Midoriya up but his entire face is bandaged…

To Be Hero
Well what do you know? There is going to be a third season! Hooray! The season is saved. The series is saved. My day is saved. My heroes indeed. With so many potentials going on, it would be a waste to just end it like that this season. Because now we have the final final big boss, right? Or don’t tell me there is going to be a twist and there is going to be a final final final big big big boss? Whatever. Just as long as the next season is coming, you bet I’m going to be there. I guess this is a perk of being a normal citizen-cum-bystander without any super powers. You get to watch from the sidelines the people with awesome super powers clash and battle it out while hoping you don’t get caught in the crossfire. Yeah, don’t stand too close to the action, silly. So get ready my popcorns?

This season itself did not disappoint. While it might not be perfect but at least it still lives up to the greatness and all that epic hype stuff as expected and hoped for from the first season. This season might still show our budding young heroes still in training and honing their skills but remember, what is the name of this series again? Despite the double cours and the arcs are a bit long (the sports festival, the internship and the training against the teachers are the only arcs this season), it doesn’t feel a bit boring and in fact each of the arcs are interesting and intriguing in their own ways. Each time it made me looking forward to the next episode with lots of anticipation and when that episode comes, it doesn’t disappoint. Kudos to a good season and let’s hope this momentum can be kept up in the next.

This season does some justice to some of the characters in Class 1A instead of the Midoriya-Bakugou focus that we were getting in the first season. Namely, Todoroki and Iida. We see them grow along the rest of the class as well as with our main duo (I assume their rivalry has also grown to new heights) and you can’t help feel the more you want to support them. Though, there are some characters in Class 1A who are still very much lacking but I guess I can’t complain this season. If you really want to give each of them decent screen time, it would have diluted the screen time of some of the more important ones like as aforementioned, Todoroki and Iida. So even if they still have a much lesser impact, but at least they still have a slightly more screen time thanks to the final arc of training with the teachers.

Bakugou is still as annoying this season but he is much less annoying compared to the first season. Firstly we don’t see him often getting mad each time he gets to be on screen or whenever Midoriya takes the spotlight. Sure, he does get annoyed and angry but it feels like he has learnt some sort of control. It’s a great step but he still needs more anger management class. While you can’t deny the love-hate relationship between Midoriya and Bakugou, I suppose this is the way they interact. This is the way they are as friends. Nobody ever said friendship was a bed of roses. And the question if Ochako likes Midoriya… Still not really answered this season but is greatly hinted. We all know deep down but we just want some sort of on screen confirmation.

While Class 1A heroes are growing steadily and learning to become fine superheroes themselves one day, my main concern and worry was for Yaoyorozu. I had this fear that she would become a villain. Because I noticed that very disappointed and disillusioned look on her face ever since she did badly during the sports festival. There was this risk that she would turn to the dark side as she may have been fighting depression from within while we were not looking. Thank goodness that fear of mine was all unfounded as she got back to her groove in the end. For now. Hopefully. It would have been a shocking turn of events to the series but at the same time leave a bitter taste in the mouth of viewers. She might not be as prominent as the rest but she is still part of the overall team. If she ever really did turn to the dark side, it would be a real shocker and although it would give rise to future interesting stories and clashes, I don’t think we could stomach this one in the long run. Because Bakugou is always that angry dude and is most likely to go rogue and for Yaoyorozu to become a villain is just unthinkable.

Other characters to note from Class 1A is Mineta who seems to be having a fun ride despite all the cowardice actions he has been seen doing. Being physically the smallest, he is the biggest pervert, but it is shown that even if he wants to hit on the chicks, he still needs to put in some effort. Kirishima is slowly establishing himself as the joker and comic relief character due to his hard headedness. Making him even more so is his character purposely overlapping with Tetsutetsu. Double the jokers, double the fun? Though it is a good thing that in the latter half of this season, the mid-intermission screen shows the bio-data of the Class 1A students, the one thing I find very irritating and annoying is the fact that in every episode when a character first appears, their names and Quirk description will always be on screen. Not just Class 1A but every other characters as well. I get it. You want us to remember who they are and the power they have but if you’re spamming Midoriya’s name and Quirk in every damn episode, you have got to be the most stupidest person on Earth to not understand what his powers are (generally) after watching this far into the series. Even so, I still can’t remember the Quirks of the lesser known characters. And so the spamming will continue…

With my praises for the characters of Class 1A, however I seem to have this little discontent with the other characters outside this class. For instance, Class 1B and some of the other students in the other classes. These few new characters during the sports festival were great introductions and breathe some freshness into the season. But when the season ends, that is it for them. It is a shame because I thought Shinsou and Hatsume had some potential especially the former. This guy has an interesting and mysterious personality to him that makes his character hover between good and evil. His Quirk is so villain-like and it is a good thing to see him in a hero class. Had he had more screen time and prominence, I would have probably worried about this guy as much as Yaoyorozu of turning to the dark side. After all, being a hero is no bed of roses too with all the regulations and politics, being a hero and saving the day isn’t as easy and straightforward one might hope for as a kid.

Another disappointing character is Stain. And I don’t mean on an overall character kind of stuff. Though a very lethal and dangerous character, I thought this Hero Killer would be a mainstay, a new antagonist aside the League of Villains or maybe join them. You know, a superhero series needs more than just the same villain so the story doesn’t get boring. But unfortunately his appearance during the internship arc is rather short and ironically taken down by a bunch of students. This is the guy who has been going around killing heroes and he got defeated by a bunch of kids (because they are main characters material too). Alas, too bad he was just part of a little stepping stone for Iida’s story and character to progress as well as setting a bigger stone in movement for the League of Villains, especially Shigaraki’s newfound conviction. This is assuming he won’t return next season but there is this faint hope he might because he is too good of a character and villain to be wasted like that.

Speaking of this group of villains, this season they are pretty much ‘disappointing’ too but that isn’t entirely a bad thing. They were introduced and appeared late in the first season and after that awesome and life and death battle at USJ, they need some time to recuperate. Shigaraki’s final episode encounter with Midoriya and their first on non-battling terms is an indication that things are going to get even more heated up. Stain’s actions that led to his eventual fall did open up new possibilities for the group and with a bigger villain with past ties with All Might lurking in the background, I believe they will make a bigger and more devastating impact next season instead of the little failed skirmish Shigaraki unleashed here.

It is no doubt that the superhero action is the highlight of the series. It doesn’t disappoint this season too although there is this dilemma of mine if some of the fights are too short. I know the more important ones last for a few episodes but I suppose there is this give and take to not bore us by giving each fight equal screen time. The season might last up till 50 episodes in that case. After all, some fights are really over in a matter of seconds. Despite everyone having a single Quirk, it still doesn’t get boring to see the way they use it in various situations and circumstances. So while we do not have some indestructible Noumu as the end boss (the ones during the internship arc didn’t last long under the combine effort of the veteran heroes), at least we got to see why All Might lived up to his name as the world’s greatest hero with some great pounding explosive action with Midoriya and Bakugou whose Quirks do pack a punch. On a trivial note, I guess this season we don’t get to hear All Might spout his American city names in his punches. Except New Hampshire.

This season also continues to rock music for its opening and ending themes that very much befit the superhero genre. But still, not as hardcore and as epic as the one in One Punch Man. This season we have Peace Sign by Kenshi Yonezu as the first opener and Sora Ni Utaeba by Amazarashi as the second one. Dakara Hitori Ja Nai by Little Glee Monster serves as the first ending theme while Datte Atashi No Hero by Lisa is the second ending theme. Oddly, the first ending animation credits feel like one for the girls of Class 1A since it is all on them. The second ending animation credits feel even odder because Class 1A students helming RPG roles slaying monsters and dragons. Weird.

Overall, an amazing second season that makes me feel the series is better than all the Marvel and DC cinematic universe put together. Though, I have not been watching many of such Hollywood blockbuster movies recently. But I get that feel. This series is one of the few anime titles whose second season is as good or better than the first season (Shingeki No Kyojin and Shingeki No Bahamut to name a few) and it is one of the best action shonen type animes out there (sorry Naruto, you’ll never beat this series in my books). So maximum scores for this solid season for a highly entertaining season that really makes me look forward to the next. It’s not just Plus Ultra, make that Double Plus Ultra!

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