Imagine wandering aimlessly in the vast ocean of a dry desert. No, I’m not talking about the Mad Max movie franchise. Instead, Kujira No Kora Wa Sajou Ni Utau has a small island nation that drifts meaninglessly seemingly for eternity through the unending sand ocean. Depending on how you view life of its peaceful citizens, it could be heaven or literally hell. Of course all that boring peace is shattered when more truths about their little island and the world outside is revealed. So much for having life’s a beach.

Episode 1
A funeral is held for Benihi. After putting her in the coffin and dropping it into the sand ocean that ‘devour’ it all. Chakuro as the archivist painfully records this down. As narrated there are over 500 people living on this floating island named Mud Whale as it drifts to the sea of sand. There are some people who could use magic called thymia and these people are called Marked. Those who cannot are called Unmarked. The other difference is that Marked ones have shorter lives compared to the Unmarked. Hence the latter group is mainly reserved for the chieftain and elder councils who are the leaders of Mud Whale. When an island is sighted, Chakuro and Sami become part of an expedition to scout it. They explore the surroundings and it looks like there were civilizations around but mostly abandoned. Chakuro stumble upon a strange girl who tries to kill him. Luckily she was already weakened and a simple use of thymia knocks her out. He brings her back to his team who are all shocked to discover there is another human. The mission is cancelled as they return to Mud Whale. Sami decides to call this girl Lykos based on the name on the clothes label she is wearing. More shock for the inhabitants of Mud Whale when they see Lykos. She agrees to go with them peacefully and not resist since she is the only survivor. Chakuro and Sami show her around like the infirmary to treat Marked people when their physical strength start to deteriorate. Taisha brings Lykos to the elders as she has Chakuro follow Suou to deal with the bowel moles. That’s a fancy name for prison. Those who break the law will be placed in this underground area whereby thymia somehow doesn’t work. Ouni is the leader of a group of young delinquents who are often repeat offenders. Their goal is to get off this island in search of greater freedom. Upon release, they hear about Lykos and are eager to get her and get off the island. The elders interrogate Lykos but she will not answer unless they answer her questions first. Seeing that she has no emotions or remorse for some killings, they believe the world out there still has not changed. There is no point continuing this conversation as they restrain her. Chakuro has been eavesdropping outside when Ouni drops in to kidnap her. He gets dragged into his plot as he has Lykos take them to her island.

Episode 2
Lykos shows them a grave of everyone on this island. Deep inside a ruin, she shows them a strange bubble creature called Nous. They feed on emotions as nourishment. Ouni is desperate and willing to trade his emotions to get off Mud Whale. He tries to touch it and when Chakuro tries to stop him, he sees memories of Lykos. Luckily Lykos pulls them out. They return to Mud Whale where the duo received their punishment. Down to the bowel. But Chakuro doesn’t have to stay long and is soon freed as he was dragged into this by force. Neri is tasked to serve Lykos. But the latter’s concern is getting back on her island as she can’t live without it. Chakuro then ‘kidnaps’ Lykos so that he could bring her to watch the locust swarm phenomenon. Sami gets jealous Chakuro pays more attention to Lykos than her. As they watch the phenomenon, Lykos tells Chakuro part of her past. She was enrolled in a military prep academy at a very young age. She learnt to toss away her emotions then. Chakuro knows from the memories he saw. Lykos can’t understand why it hurts so much now. Next day, Chakuro and Sami tend the fields. Suou goes to check on Lykos but Neri believes she is under stress. She requested to have an audience with the council but they refused her. Suou uses his authority to go speak to her. Lykos warns they have to escape from this place at once. This place has been targeted and all sinners will be hunted down. Strange men with clown face mask pop up on the fringes of Mud Whale as they indiscriminately open fire! Sami uses her body to protect Chakuro.

Episode 3
Chakuro cannot believe Sami is dead. The slaughter of the Mud Whale people continues. As explained, it seems their ‘sin’ is to keep complete and thorough records. Hence they will be eliminated and this elimination will be recorded as lesson to others. Some of Ouni’s pals get killed. I guess he is the only badass kid who can just take on those clown soldiers. Meanwhile everyone else gathers at the square. Suou takes control since Taisha is dead and there are no response from the elders. It is suggested they retaliate and fight back but Suou maintains they should not use violence. Wait till he sees Ouni killing off those soldiers! No mercy! I wonder if some of the soldiers are dumb. They wait for Chakuro to finish crying over Sami before slowly prepare to kill him. I don’t think some of the soldiers can fight too. Chakuro simply fights back and breaks one of their masks, revealing his face to be just a teen. Lykos tries to stop the madness and is recognizes by one of the top soldiers. He wants her to return with them but she refuses. He thinks she has lost her mental faculties without the restraint of Nous. Lykos is the younger sister of Orka, the commander in charge of this extermination. A crazy guy, Ryodari is happy to see Lykos again. He is a bloodthirsty maniac as he defiles Sami’s corpse and when Chakuro tries to stop him, he gets beaten up and then get mocked for crying. An order is heard for the troops to withdraw. Also, Orka orders Lykos to become a sample to test the effects of this place on the body. Looks like she gets her wish of staying here. Later Ryodari talks to Orka about using his sister as a guinea pig. He wonders if he is using her to attain power because he will become some provincial governor if this mission succeeds. He brushes off he is looking for political power and his objective lies somewhere else. Ouni returns to the group to get some medicine and at the same time inform that those soldiers will return to kill them all. He captured a couple of them and made them spill the beans before killing them. Their goal was to only collect the ship they found the girl on. The next day, a mass funeral is held for the departed.

Episode 4
Suou is summoned by the council to be made the next chieftain to replace Taisha. However he will have his first and last duty. The council has decided to sink Mud Whale and everyone with it and Suou is to lead everyone to a proud death. It is better than being murdered cold blooded. Suou cannot accept this and so he tries to pry more. He learns that their ancestors committed crimes and have been exiled to this sand ocean. Looks like it is time for their execution. As he tries to ask more, he is knocked out by Shuan and thrown into the bowel. Chakuro is carving on the wall as Ginshu tries to cheer him up by making him her little brother and teach him self-defence? Neri then sees Chakuro. She tells him the sand ocean is beautiful because of all the souls of the dead. She shows him a ball whereby all the souls of the dead appears! There’s Sami too. Can he receive a kiss from the dead? He wants to go with her after she admits she wanted to become his wife but she tells him he has a duty. Then he sees Taisha telling him his role to tell the truth. More weirdness as Chakuro experiences some inter-dimensional universe. He sees Ouni covered in blood, Suou in a cage and Lykos being sad before being brought back to reality. Neri then tells him of the council’s plan but before he can save everyone, there is someone’s heart he must free. He goes to see Lykos who is repenting what happened. He believes in her and needs her help. They discuss how the council plans to sink Mud Whale when they don’t have control over its direction. Chakuro remembers a forbidden section in the bowel. First, Chakuro gathers his allies. Masoo, Rou and Nezu agree to join him but they don’t have the strength to defeat the guards guarding the bowel. Chakuro tries to seek Ouni’s help but he has lost hope and doesn’t care. Chakuro thought he just couldn’t find the right way to protect everyone and got slapped for trying to profile him. I guess they have to barge into the bowel themselves. Thank goodness they have Masoo’s might. But with reinforcements, Chakuro used his ‘bond’ with Ginshu to turn her against her allies. Too bad she got caught after they head down. They fear facing Shuan as he is the strongest but he walks past them. Turns out Ouni was following behind and Shuan wants to fight him. Rou and Nezu go find Suou while the rest head into the forbidden area. Lykos tells Chakuro this place should come to no surprise as this place too has Nous. Yup, there is one. Sitting on a giant rocking chair.

Episode 5
Lykos further explains that every ship has a Nous. It is like the ship’s heart. Killing it will sink it. The council arrives and orders its killing. Is there a more efficient way than just shooting arrows? But the Nous is in pain as the entire Mud Whale begins to shake. Shuan doesn’t care about living so Ouni tells him off not to decide his life for him. Lykos tries to protect the Nous and an arrow hits her. This shocks everyone. They thought she was the enemy who plans to sink them but why is she trying to protect them? She claims people here are this world’s hope. One of the council, Hakuji refuses to believe that as they are descendants of sinners. Chakuro then snaps back the BS he is saying because it insults the deaths of others. Lykos came from the outside but yet grew to love the Mud Whale. He is fed up of running and doesn’t want to lose hope. Everyone then changes their mind and help Lykos get treated. Neri reveals to Hakuji she was the one who led them here. The Mud Whale then returns to normal after Neri returns to her ‘mom’ the Nous. Suou doesn’t need jailbreak. Hakuji release him. Taisha’s aides make Suou their next chieftain. They do not trust the council anymore and take him to see Lykos to reveal more about the outside world. The Empire has 8 such ships in addition to a mothership. Still, taking out the current one, Skylos will deal a significant blow. There also other ships-cum-countries navigating the sand ocean but none know the existence of Mud Whale that is better known to the rest as Falaina. This ship is different than others because the Nous cannot devour their emotion. Their ancestors rejected that notion and that was their sin, hence the Empire imprisoned them. Everyone learns Falaina as a barbaric country because of the people refusing to throw away their emotions. Now that the Empire has the technology to traverse the sand ocean, they can’t risk Falaina falling into their hands and won’t accept or forgive the sinners. The only choice is to exterminate them. Suou wants to make friends with other countries to help fight against the Empire. Lykos will help if this is his wish. Suou then addresses his citizens about hope and then tearfully pleads for the Marked ones to help use thymia in their fight despite feeling guilty about trying to save them from their brief lifespan. Ouni mocks him for being weak because the Marked ones already accept their cursed fate. All he needs to do is order them to fight. So is Ouni helping them? Yes.

Episode 6
Because Marked ones will rapidly lose power when they reach their late 20s, many children are now undergoing training to fight the upcoming invasion. Elder Rasha tries to hint something at Suou. They may have killed his sister and hate them but the children might end up having to kill someone tomorrow. It is him who decided on that. She even accuses Kuchiba for being next to Taisha and yet he failed to protect her. Sure, he argues back but she lets him say anything. Either way, the cursed children of Mud Whale will finally be saved. Flashback shows Ouni one day popped up on Mud Whale. Nobody knew who his parents were nor what group he came from. Nibi tried to make him an underling but got his ass handed to him. They were thrown into the bowels and that is when their friendship and groupie started. Now, Nibi still hasn’t given up on getting on the outside world and will take Ouni along with him. Suou tries to unite the people to fight against the enemy. Too bad Rou and Nezu completed their giant sand throwing machine and dump it all over him. Suou got ‘mad’. He starts throwing sand back and everyone thinks their sand throwing festival has begun and do the same. It’s one of those weird festivals whereby they throw sand at each other regardless of status the entire day. Weird. Of course the other significance pertains to the souls of the deceased melded into the sand being returned to them. Shuan’s wife is deeply saddened her husband doesn’t care if she dies in the battle. Chakuro thought he saw Neri but she is actually her twin sister, Ema. Neri is currently healing mom. Ema hopes he will keep his promise to protect Mud Whale and live with everyone here forever. Do that and she will tell him all the secrets of Falaina. During the sandstorm, Suou goes over the mission to fight the invaders and survive. But this is just a plan to buy time for another group led by Tokusa to infiltrate Skylos and destroy their Nous. The strongest thymia users like Ouni, Ginshu, Chakuro and of course Lykos are part of it. Nibi wants to join despite not chosen. Before departing, they hear a strange sound. Lykos recognizes it as the mothership. They are here.

Episode 7
With the enemy attacking, the team make their haste departing to Skylos. While the Mud Whale citizens fight back, it is unbelievable to think that anyone can aim and shoot straight in this bad sandstorm. Worse, some even shoot right out in the open! WTF?! Some kids steal the dead soldiers’ weapons to give it to Suou. Is he having cold feet to go out there and fight? Lykos and co have snuck into Skylos as she leads them to its Nous. Chakuro finds the interior of Skylos made of the same mud like Mud Whale. Their intrusion is anticipated with the guards getting in their way. But Skylos’ commander, Araphne instead of ordering to capture Lykos, wants her slaughtered with the rest of the invaders. But don’t worry. Those guards are so weak and useless as though their role is just to pop up and die. So is it necessary for Ouni to go into some super hyper mode to successively take them all down by himself and wow the rest? With the enemy breaking through Mud Whale’s central tower, Suou has a change of heart to go out and fight. Hakuji defends the kids and gets slashed. The weird part is how he still have the strength to push those USELESS guards (in shock, I suppose) off the ledge!!! I see, score some brownie points before he dies. Tells his regrets and love of Mud Whale to Suou. Taking too long that Ryodari had to kill him. Even if Suou is mad, he can’t fight against him and gets beaten up. I guess Ryodari must be so bored with everyone being a zombie that he stalled enough time for Shuan to pop up to face him. As Lykos and co edge closer to the Nous, she feels something odd. Colourful stained glasses? No guards further pursuing them? The team then split itself up to guard the door in case of reinforcement (Chakuro, Ouni, Nibi and Ginshu) and the other to move forward and destroy the Nous. Buoyed with confidence, the moment they open the final door, the guards were waiting and fire. Everyone in this group dies except Lykos and Urumi.

Episode 8
Lykos tries to take on the squad commander, Pagoni. I don’t know how Ouni was so fast and sneaky that he was able to hold Pagoni hostage by his neck when he was in the centre of his squad! Ouni wants Chakuro and Lykos to head to the Nous but then, more guards. Araphne shoots Ouni. In the leg. Meanwhile Ema dances and strange creepy ghost hands surround the Mud Whale people, dead or alive. This allows Suou to peek into Ryodari’s heart. He was ostracized by his own people since young since he was different. He was able to have feelings despite all the procedures. His family were ashamed of him and when he tried to tell them about the hearts he saw, they shut him down. They should have let him finished his sentence because the hearts he saw are all the twisted desires of humans. And that’s how he became as twisted. Ryodari and Shuan’s fight is interrupted by Suou who offers him to live with them if he found his own world painful. Only to be interrupted by Shuan striking him down because he disagrees extending an olive branch to the enemy at this point who has killed many of their kind. Killing interrupted by Suou who wants Shuan to help a friend instead of killing an enemy. Ryodari fears death for the first time and tries to escape. He stumbles upon equally scared kids. He is being scary wanting to play with him so they shoot him until he drops into the sand ocean. Meanwhile Ouni’s groupies are split, arguing among themselves if Ouni is just a dog for the Unmarked and that the Unmarked are risking their lives for the Marked. Kicha remains hopeful Ouni will come back. Speaking of him, Araphne mocks him and his kind that they are unaware of their own sin. He accuses them of regressing instead of advancing their culture after 100 years in exile and not knowing what has happened on the outside world. They are even unaware why they have short lives and it isn’t their ancestors’ sins is what makes them guilty but what they bear themselves. The sin of a meaningless existence.

Episode 9
Don’t know why Pagoni was just slashing and wounding Ouni instead of killing him outright. Because of that, Nibi had enough time to rescue him. Then they both go on a killing spree. Yeah, those guards just stood there to be slaughtered. They could have been on a streak until Araphne shoots Nibi. Yeah, I guess the guards are useful enough to only kill a corpse. Ouni becomes so angry that his thymia goes berserk. He is using his thymia to kill everyone! So badass that his thymia kills Skylos’ Nous, Olivines. With that, strange creepy growth appear all over Skylos. Not sure if Ouni is so sad or high on his thymia that he is in an alternate dimension as he sees a young Nibi on a boat with his dead groupies. Talk of goodbye and Nibi being satisfied doing things with him to pull more heartstrings. Ouni cries for the first time and it’s goodbye forever. Meanwhile Chakuro too has his own hallucination. He is before Olivines who wants to make a deal. Offer all the emotions of the people on Mud Whale to the great Nous, Anthropos and he will give this weird shell called Kokalo that belongs to Anthropos. Bring it to Ema and the people will advance to a new stage. Chakuro probably doesn’t want to get involve but Olivines restrain him and let him experience some pain. Don’t like pain? That’s because your mind says so. Don’t want it? Just need to alter the heart a little. You see, all Nous suck people’s emotions and only share pleasant wants to make them seem like they truly belong to. Olivines tries to tempt them especially Lykos but Chakuro stays strong with this proposal of rewriting their sorrows with the power of Nous. He questions back what about the memories of everyone else then? Especially those who have died. They might not be around but there are proofs that they lived. Olivines gives him Kokalo. It doesn’t matter if Chakuro agrees to the deal. Olivines is interested to see the decision he makes. Returning to reality, the survivors make haste to get off Skylos as it sinks into the sand ocean. So what happens to all the Skylos guards on Mud Whale? They commit suicide and jump off the edge! Yeah, saves time. Suou is glad to see Chakuro and the survivors returning.

Episode 10
A mass burial is held for the departed. Even the enemy soldiers. Man, do they have enough caskets? But the saddest is Shuan’s wife as she took her own life. That guy didn’t even see her off and told somebody just to cut part of her hair as memento. Then he goes somewhere alone and ‘cry’ while being admonished by Rasha his mom. Ouni is recuperating but Kicha blames Suou for picking him to be part of the team? But what about Nibi then? He wasn’t picked but got killed. Anyway Suou assures her this time he will protect his people by trying to avoid fighting. Lykos tells the council that they might be safe for now because with Skylos’ failure, this will make the Empire a little cautious in attacking them and Orka will be brought before the emperor, Ekklesia for punishment for losing a Nous. This is just her opinion and she knows Orka will not go down without a fight. Meanwhile Orka isn’t fazed to face his disciplinary action and knows what is going to say. Apparently Ryodari is still alive in his chamber. Orka wants him to become his lowly jester because by becoming his possession is the only way he could incorporate him into his plans. I mean, he wants to get back to the fun on Falaina, right? Put on those jester clothes and be as gay as your fellow jesters! Kokalo turns into some critter and runs rampant throughout Mud Whale. A small ship fast approaches Mud Whale by Lykos can tell it is not the Empire due to its flag. It lands and the small entourage has the misfortune to see Suou butt naked since he was bathing nearby. Getting the wrong first impression of this nudist colony. Rochalito (his full name is so freaking long but Suou remembers!) of Amonlogia plans to annex Mud Whale, much to Suou’s disagreement. He thought they were equals. Rochalito and his men show their technological prowess however Shuan and the other thymia users can easily overpower them with numbers and magic since these people cannot use thymia. Time to surrender. They are treated to local food in which Rochalito devours them all and yet calls it disgusting. Is it their lingo that disgusting is yummy? So disgusting that he wants to bring the entire Mud Whale’s field back home. Meanwhile Chakuro sees Ema and seeks answers as promised. Ema enables Kokalo as it turns into giant wings. You see, ships like Skylos are able to steer in any direction unlike Mud Whale because the helm is stolen from the latter. Kokalo is that helm. With this, they are now able to sail wherever they want.

Episode 11
Orka is brought before the council. They accuse him that Falaina’s aimless drift was good enough as warning to their citizens but Orka came up with this bright idea of exterminating them and failed. He and the survivors of Skylos will die. Orka laughs back at their short-sightedness. He reminds them of their ancient story of how heaven tore part of itself and scattered it down to the world. The Rain of Katharterio also brought about evil. When the world was purified, they praise the Nous, the body of God and offer their past mistakes and hearts in exchange for their power. It is then 2 species of man were born, angels of Nous and those who aren’t. More popularly known as Marked and Unmarked respectively. However there is a third kind called daimons. They are the strongest warriors created by the Nous’ power. They are considered legends and non-existent because they have been made to forget them by the past. Ouni is a daimon and with his appearance, Orka considers him and his kind a threat to the Empire. He then shifts the blame to Araphne who insulted and provoked the daimon. Araphne panics and when he thinks Orka is going to take out a weapon to kill him, he shoots back (although missed). Orka just took out documents as Araphne gets arrested. Orka then blames the council for appointing Araphne for this mission so they too are partly responsible for this failure. Orka claims the second Rain of Katharterio will fall in the new chapter of history. He believes the world must be purified again and doing so they must control the daimons. If they keep executing those who failed to kill the daimons, who will there be left to kill them? Orka believes he is different than others and can succeed. He puts the nail in the coffin for Araphne as he is the only one to blame for the failure because everything was at his sole discretion. With Araphne taken away, the council agree to appoint Orka as the next commander and let him do as he sees fit. Orka then goes to see Astali, the commander in chief. He wants to make use of another ship, Karcharias and if he gives the okay signal, the council will not object.

It seems the Marked ones all saw a weird dream of Olivines. This dream allows them to help use Kokalo and guide the Mud Whale. Rochalito shows Suou the map of the sand ocean. He points where the United Kingdom of Siderasia is and Amonlogia is one of the many countries under it. They are fighting against the Empire. The Mud Whale is currently stuck in this vortex area. Due to the current patterns, rudderless Mud Whale is doomed to sail in circles. This area acts like a natural prison and is rumoured to other nations as an evil region that is why many stayed away. Rochalito’s ship was travelling in this direction but was shipwrecked and stumbled upon Mud Whale. Now they are able to escape the currents and return to Amonlogia. Later Rochalito confronts Lykos as she is different from others on Mud Whale. He is curious why there are so many young people on Mud Whale. Could it be a plague? She reveals the biggest secret about Nous. It normally eats emotions and in exchange gives them thymia. However Mud Whale is different. In order to grant the Marked ones thymia, it eats their life force. Cliché moment as Chakuro heard that and becomes upset, running away. Soon, the council summons Suou and the Unmarked ones. They too know about this secret and have been preparing for this day of truth. Well, it sure didn’t come out of their mouths first. Suou might be shocked but this doesn’t change the fact he still needs to protect his people.

An uprising is heard. Shikon and Shikoku, the twins and frequent tenants of the bowel mole are causing a ruckus. They are claiming themselves as the new leaders of Mud Whale. They try to convince the Marked ones they should take control of their lives and freedom instead of the Unmarked ones. The people are not easily swayed and has accepted this way of life. But they argue that many of those who died are Marked ones. In fact, Hakuji is the only Unmarked one who perished. The Marked ones had to put their lives in danger while the Unmarked ones hid safely somewhere. Though the people argue because they lack thymia and would only be in the way, the twins add this is all the more reason why they are just a hindrance. They always hold them back. At this point some of them are having second thoughts. Ouni interjects but they are not afraid and call him a lapdog for the Unmarked ones. They seem to easily overpower him and try to convince him to join them since he is a monster who killed many. Once more, reminding the people they have the power to change their destiny, they will no longer be insulted or stepped on.

Episode 12
Ouni rises up. His weird powerful aura makes the twins scared. He tells off all those who depend on others should just pray quietly and play their toys. With that, the rebellion ends and the people scatter. Masoo’s health is deteriorating fast. He thinks he has done all the killing and bringing it along with him to the sand ocean so the people of Mud Whale had their hands clean. Kuchiba disagrees. They’ve started a new journey and he wants him to get back to work? Meanwhile Orka is going to see Astali but is attacked by his assassins. Ryodari kills all of them (I think partly his bad singing too) but Orka knows this was just a warning since they were easily disposed of. Ryodari seems to be fawning over Orka like a little gay boy. It’s his only ticket to get back to Falaina. Orka seems to threaten Astali to gain control of Karcharias. He is certain he will accept his demands because it is all part of his plan not only to obtain Falaina and daimon boy but to then steal Anthropos and create his utopia. A sad day for Mud Whale as a funeral is held for Masoo. Chakuro reminisces about his times with grandpa and Sami and the reason why he wants to keep recording. Suou gathers everyone and reveals the big secret how their Nous steals the life force and hence shortening the lifespan of Marked ones. As many are shocked, this gives another opportunity for the twins to stage another revolt. They even attack Suou and would do the same to traitors who defend the Unmarked ones. Until Ouni steps in again. He tells them off so many Marked ones died in the battle, so are they saying they were tricked and died for no reason? It doesn’t matter if you are Marked or Unmarked. Everyone who died here died for Mud Whale. He will never forget that they lived. Suou adds their ancestors didn’t hide this for their own safety but rather they didn’t want the Marked ones to live or lament their fate of shortened lives. Mud Whale is now crossing a highly turbulent area that acts as the cage for this vortex prison. Don’t worry. We have Kokalo to steer us out. Apparently Lykos is still blaming herself over what Chakuro overheard. He has to assure her he is not now (though he was at first). He doesn’t think blaming Mud Whale for everything is the answer. There. Feel better? A testament to that is how Lykos would rather live here and abandon her homeland. Well, looks like Orka is shipping out now. Mud Whale escapes the vortex and makes its way to Amonlogia.

Circle In The Sand: Children Of The Damned
Ugh. As I feared. Unfinished. Sort of. But I suppose if this season was just to explain the mystery of the Mud Whale going around in circles, I guess they have accomplished their mission and broke out of it. A new chapter and direction is in store for them and that will be another story to tell. It will definitely be a whole new world for Mud Whale as they sail into uncharted territories, meet new nations, make new allies and for sure butt heads with the Empire. Come to think of it, if they throw in all those other elements and turn this story and world into one big cauldron of mess, this series will look and feel very different to what we know when we first started from. The world of this series was only confined to the small space on Mud Whale and suddenly now we have ventured to the vast unknown. Just like a tiny story part of a bigger anthology. A drop of water in the ocean. More accurately, a grain of sand in the desert.

I believe the overall story and plot are a very missed potential. The setting and the initial mystery of the series are quite intriguing and interesting at first. Seeing this is a fantasy genre, naturally there are a few things that viewers would need to learn in order to familiarize themselves with the world. Though some of the points are unfolded in due pacing, there are many others that are still not, hence the very disappointing ending that this adaptation unfortunately ended at. Although I was anticipating some sort of twist or the kind of mysteries that would be unfolded (like what the Nous really are and why Mud Whale couldn’t steer freely by itself), somehow its revelation didn’t come as surprising or shocking to me. It is not that I predicted the answers but when the answers came about, I was like, “Oh, so it was like that. Okay. No big deal”. There wasn’t this oomph in the revelation that would bring about the excitement and anticipation after following the series. It is probably because of the Skylos invasion arc. I find that arc to be dragging out a lot more than necessary so it took away some of my enthusiasm despite I have a feeling they were trying to put in some drama and the feels there.

Of all the unanswered questions that I have in my head for this series, the biggest mind boggling one came in the form of Kokalo. Now, before Olivines gave Chakuro a Kokalo, didn’t Lykos already had one? I mean, when Chakuro and his crew first scouted and landed on Lykos’ ship, didn’t one followed them back? I mean, if you think about it, this critter is also a Kokalo, right? So why didn’t Lykos reveal or let them know that this is her ship’s Kokalo? She might not reveal it at first because of trust issues but as we have seen, she has grown quite attached to the people of Mud Whale. So why didn’t she really tell them? This is of course I am assuming in a big way that critter is a Kokalo. It has to be. They look so similar! Don’t tell me Skylos’ invasion was the distraction and thus the reason because Skylos had given Mud Whale a few days of leeway before their execution. Shouldn’t Lykos then use this Kokalo of hers to steer Mud Whale away? Don’t tell me she forgot… Don’t tell me that Kokalo didn’t make enough cameo appearance because it certainly did show itself up from time to time hanging around Chakuro. Thinking back now with all that has happened, had she done this in the first place instead of letting Ema do the honours, I believe a lot of people on Mud Whale could have been alive. No doubt Skylos would still be around and probably continue to hunt them but they would have saved a lot of casualties and also prevented a mutiny as well as Orka turning into his next phase of ‘world saviour’. But since we never see that critter becoming the sails, I guess it isn’t one for the job and just serves as some forgettable animal mascot.

But one of the interesting things to note with the direction of where the plot of this series is going, it makes me think and wonder if this is the price to pay for Mud Whale if they ever have true freedom. Just look at them after obtaining their new freedom to sail wherever they want. Suddenly this newfound power and liberty has some delinquents going up against the older establishment despite being short-lived. And you thought Mud Whale has wandered so long in the sand ocean and finally found its path but they are back to wandering again, this time with a leadership and no-confidence crisis. I bet those twins aren’t going to back down so easily yet and if they can do it a second time, they’ll wait for another right time for a third. After all, if Suou told Ouni they are heading to Amonlogia to find friends, what are the chances the twins would do the same for their own cause? So it looks like it is as much a blessing as it a curse for Mud Whale. Besides, I am still confused if their ancestors’ sin was due to not wanting to give their Nous devour their feelings or whatever carefree culture they developed while in exile. Not really sure. But don’t care at this point. Also interesting to note are the emotions on people that set apart cultures. Would you rather toss away emotions and live a boring mundane life (which is redundant because without feelings you wouldn’t know) or would you rather retain them but risk feeling negative and bad emotions sometimes? I guess that is what defines us as humans. Or not.

As for the characters, I couldn’t help feel that many of them are a big disappointment. Especially the 2 main characters, Chakuro and Lykos. From what I can see, the duo hardly move the plot of the story and barely stay relevant. Chakuro seems to look like the protagonist because he is appointed Mud Whale’s only archivist. That is why he is such a ‘precious’ and ‘important’ person. Uhm, couldn’t they have appointed more people for this post? What do you mean you do not want inconsistencies in your recordings and notes?! Oh, right. Put all your eggs in one basket in recording Mud Whale’s history. Sure, Mud Whale is such a small country that having 2 archivists would make them both so free because you know, many hands make light work. Is the writing system on Mud Whale that hard to master because I only often see Chakuro recording and reading. I don’t see other Mud Whale citizens do that. Are many considered illiterate? Besides, sometimes I see Chakuro writing on walls. It isn’t like he ran out of paper or anything. If this tradition of writing on walls goes on, the entire Mud Whale would be one big public archive. Anyway, because of this protagonist aura Chakuro has, this gives him a free pass to be the person to go to when there are revelations of stuffs like the Nous. Apparently you can’t tell other citizens first because no, no, no, we must tell the archivist first so he could record it all down at the precise second which the revelation was made. F*ck those records. And yeah, him being a Marked one makes him feel like a lame ass weak character because people who keep records are nerds and hence wimps, right?

Lykos also feels disappointing as the leading character and I can see her as to no more as a device to advance the plot. She surely took her time in revealing some of the secrets one by one instead of all of them at one go. Being a foot soldier of the Empire, I am sure she would at least know some of the workings or secrets but she seems to only say such revelations when the time calls for it. Blame it on no emotions? Heck, she is showing more emotions than she was when she was found. So much so it feels like some sort of device to stir up some emotional drama. Too bad it got a little annoying in the end. Afraid that the people of Mud Whale can’t take in too much information at one go? Oh sure. Let’s wait for another day and in the meantime there will be other distractions like the invasion of Skylos and the twins trying a coup detat. She hardly does any fighting like during the invasion into Skylos and it was a missed opportunity to show if she was a badass like she was when she was first found but unfortunately, she had to be idle and stand aside so that they can showcase Ouni and make him as one of the pivotal points in the story.

Speaking of Ouni, despite making less appearances than Chakuro and Lykos, he feels more of the silent protagonist type doing things at his own pace and more badass than the duo. We can see why (though sometimes being some emo kid makes him look more annoying and reducing his enigmatic badass feel). Because of his delinquency, I guess that is why he is being reduced to just a supporting but that might change assuming the series gets another season. Ouni’s past and revelation as a daimon isn’t so surprising because he was obviously so different than the rest including his own bowel mole groupies that there was obviously something about him that doesn’t make him local. His past overall is still shrouded in mystery after all.

Suou tries to be a strong new chief of Mud Whale but I can’t help feel sometimes that he is just so weak and that makes him gay. I don’t know, he sounds gay because of his frail expression. I understand he has been thrust into this leadership position suddenly for the first time and with the events that occurred, he needs to make a quick and steadfast decision for his people. His actions and decisions are noble and with good intentions. But if this was set on anywhere else in the world or in another parallel universe, I don’t think his weak voice would have reached the people.

Orka might sound like a typical cliché crazy villain of wanting to cleanse the world but because of his radical and crazily bold ideas, it makes him very much interesting. Not sure if he has his emotions eaten by Nous because he sure displays a colourful one during his verdict at the council. Almost as if he was this close to become a mad man. Only, the council couldn’t pick it up because they had no feelings and no brains. Haha. Anyway, with him being the main antagonist, it will be pretty much interesting to see the lengths he will go and the means he will do to achieve his goal. Ryodari is pretty crazy too but more of the annoying kind. Oh why do they have to bring him back alive for future plot purposes instead of leaving him dead? Ultimate humiliation? I suppose so. Now that he looks comfortable being Orka’s little gay boy joker, things are going to get crazier.

There are so many other minor characters that feel that they don’t matter. They are introduced and then make their cameo from time to time so as though you won’t forget about them. Not that I can see how relevant they are to this season but it is as though they are just setting a stage for these characters in case they need more character developments in the future. Like Shuan who is the top fighter of Mud Whale. You know nothing about him except he has a scary looking eye kept hidden behind his eye-patch. The way he acts and speaks make it as though he might be no different from the people and soldiers of the Empire because he lacks emotions. I mean, have you really seen him in full blown emotions before? Sure, he smiles. A little. He cries too. A little. Like as though he is trying so hard to do them. Then there is Ginshu who is only there because we need some spunky girl who needs to have this big sister complex to somebody, namely the main protagonist. Not sure if it is this series’ running joke because Masoo and Kuchiba are always butting heads. And they make it so obvious that Masoo is going to die because of his pain acting up from time to time. All aboard the last death stop of the season. RIP Masoo. What are Rou and Nezu for again? Supposedly Chakuro’s best buddy and his groupies but rarely with him.

The fight scenes are meh. Disappointing to say the least. I don’t expect anything flashy from the thymia users and perhaps it is a good thing because it would then be very jarring to see peace loving Mud Whale people suddenly pull off flashy moves they probably have never done in their lives because you know, violence is forbidden on Mud Whale. Probably the more ‘exciting’ one is between Shuan and Ouni but that is still average at best. But the most disappointing and at the same time ‘hilarious’ fight goes to Skylos invading Mud Whale. Also the dumbest soldiers ever sent to just exterminate a little moving island. They’re like clowns moving at the speed of snail. It feels like they are video game enemy NPCs, waiting their turn to fight or just stand there to get killed. What a joke. No wonder they wear jester masks! You’re supposed to laugh at them when you kick their ass? And supposedly a ship like Skylos is supposed to house the best soldiers and yet we have all of these lowly foot soldiers who look the same by the way and we couldn’t care less too by the way, to have so mediocre and amateur skills that even a kid without martial arts training could beat them. Right, my pet hamster could even do a kill streak here. So if you get seriously killed by them (not counting the genuine surprise attack), you deserve to die. Useless soldiers. They all should become Orka’s gay jesters instead.

One thing I would like to note is the unique art of the series. I’m not saying that it is such a masterpiece but at least the sceneries are considerably breath taking. Even though it is all just mainly sand and sand and more sand over the blue skied horizon and rocky terrain on Mud Whale. The backgrounds have this sketch-like visual to it and this makes it quite unique to look at. This is after all a fantasy genre so I guess it is okay. The character designs are a bit simplistic but animated in conventional 2D. It doesn’t clash with the sketch-like backgrounds and that is quite good. Otherwise it would be a dizzying experience if that happens. Also, with the backgrounds mainly in boring colours, the slightly colourful character designs help alleviate some of that monotonous. I guess Suou is the only guy with green hair so you can easily tell from afar that he is your chief. Yeah, characters like him need to stand out visually. But why only those in the vigilante corps like Shuan and Ginshu get to wear cool and different outfits (Chinese-like design) unlike the rest who wear clothes that make them look like normal peasants?

Voice acting feels decent with me recognizing a few like Natsuki Hanae as Chakuro, Akira Ishida as Orka, Mikako Komatsu as Ginshu and Hiroshi Kamiya as Shuan. I never realized it was Aki Toyosaki behind Olivines’ voice. Lack of lines? Too soft her voice? But yup, that’s her. Other casts include Manaka Iwami as Lykos (Chiaki in Gamers), Yuichiro Umehara as Ouni (En in Binan Koukou Chikyuu Bouei-bu Love!), Nobunaga Shimazaki as Suou (Sousuke in ClassicaLoid), Ai Kakuma as Neri and Ema (Miyako in Imouto Sae Ireba Ii), Kenn as Rochalito (Jinbei in Mushibugyou), Daiki Yamashita as Ryodari (Midoriya in Boku No Hero Academia) and Hisako Kanemoto as Sami (titular character in Shinryaku! Ika Musume). The opening theme is Sono Saki by Ririko. Sound rather okay and not too shabby in its own right. But the one that takes the cake is the ending theme, Hashidairo by Rionos. It is a very slow and lovely but sad sounding ballad. It stirs up some emotions hearing the sad but hopeful lyrics as well as the animation that is just plain sailing through the endless sand ocean.

Overall, this series is interesting at first and has the potential to do better but let down with its characters and the direction of the plot. Because a dozen of episodes feel like it did not do the series justice and could have been better had they extended it for another cour. Still, it feels like this season has something missing to it that makes it hard to just really want to love and learn more about this world. Hardcore fantasy genre lovers might feel disappointed and casual ones would stay long enough just to satisfy their curiosity but not enough to make them want more. I mean, of course we want more answers but the direction this season was heading, it didn’t make us hungry to find out more. It’s like, if there is another season, we’ll see about it. Otherwise that’s that. Like as though the adaptation was created so that at least there is some sort of record, some sort of history left behind of this series for us ‘lucky’ ones to have watched it before it slowly sinks and gets devoured forever in the sands of time. I think this series shadows and could apply to today’s age of the internet and I fear it is slowly resembling and coming to that. So much data in the sea of web… Man, there’s going to be lots of Byte Whales out there going in circles… All together now sing with me: Circle in the sand/ Round and round/ Never ending trip is what we’re bound…

Shoujo Shuumatsu Ryokou

April 28, 2018

Imagine a free and easy tour around the world. You can take your time going wherever you want and do the things you want to do without ever having to stick to that strict and tightly scheduled tour guide. No tourist gimmicks or frauds to worry about too. Best of all, it is all for free and without money! Wow. A deal so good, so where can you find such great tour? Well, there is a catch. Only if the world has been devastated and you are the last humans left on Earth! Oh my. That escalated quickly. Basically this is what Shoujo Shuumatsu Ryokou is. A pair of girls only have themselves for company as they slowly trudge through the devastated civilizations, scavenging what they could use for survival while trying to find meaning and hope from it all.

Episode 1A
Chito AKA Chi and Yuuri AKA Yuu are riding their bike-cum-tank vehicle, Kettenkrad through a large abandoned factory. They have been going through this place for days that Yuu is complaining about the darkness despite it was her idea to explore this ‘hole’. Plus, they are running low on rations and fuel. Who knows how long they’ll have to trek through. They take a break and fall asleep. Chi dreams of some war they were in and what it looked like their superior sent them away. She wakes up crying. Then she notices a breeze. If they can follow it, it might lead them to a way out. Eventually they do so and finally find the exit. They’ll finally have some light! But it’s night time. Funny, the light at the exit was so bright that I thought flood lights were shining at it. Anyway, the starry sky is definitely a sight to behold. Don’t mind the decimated city below, no siree. To celebrate their exit, they have some soup. That’s already a luxury given the circumstances. So nice and warm! Yum!

Episode 1B
The duo are having target practice. Uhm, I know there is nothing to kill but aren’t they wasting precious bullets? After that they explore the devastated battlefield and stumble upon a tank. It’s like a graveyard for these war vehicles. They ponder the question if food was scarce back then, shouldn’t more food be produced instead of weapons? Oh well, you know mankind making wars the utmost importance to food. Then they stumble into a bomber plane. They search its contents and Chi believes the explosives are more useful than guns since they can use it to blow up walls or obstacles. But the best discovery ever: Rations! Man, I hope they’re not expired. They load as many as their vehicle can carry. Not sure why they are trying to make the plane fly by turning its propeller and of course they failed. It made them hungry. Have some rations. They equally split it until they realize there is a last odd piece. Chi thinks of splitting it but Yuu snatches it and points her rifle at her! OMG! This is war?! When Yuu gulps the whole thing down, Chi gets mad and beats the crap out of her! I suppose they have moved so much that now they are hungry again. So hungry that they eat snow? Mmm… Not bad. I thought there were so many ration packs? Unless they want to ration the rations…

Episode 2A
The girls are moving through some thick blizzard. Yup, they’re lost. They even wonder if they’re dead and this is the afterlife. Not really. You’re supposed to feel warm and good in that. And it’s freezing now. They arrive at some abandoned facility. Looking around, they noticed a pipe doesn’t have snow covered and some hot liquid is leaking. Yuu shoots at it. Many times. Miraculously the ricochet didn’t hit them. Finally it goes through and comes gushing out is hot running water. Time to take a nice bath. Is this heaven? Not a good thing to say since they just ‘came back from the dead’. But how or who is using this hot running water if there was no one around?!

Episode 2B
While camping for the night, Chi writes in her journals as records. She then explains to her carefree friend the importance of books and pivotal to mankind’s progress. Too bad many have to be sacrificed as fire fuel. Yuu wasn’t listen and tossed one of her journals into the fire! Chi quickly saves it but it is burnt badly. After smacking her, Chi immediately goes to sleep. I guess that means not talking. Next morning, the snow has stopped and everywhere is covered in thick snow. Chi isn’t mad and tells Yuu to move on. When Chi reads her journal, she sees a scribble from Yuu. What’s this? It’s a sleeping face of Chi! Doesn’t look like her at all. Yuu is being bitten by the drawing bug and wants to draw more. Too bad Chi tells her not to waste paper…

Episode 2C
The duo are at a big dam. Apparently with the warming days, Chi can tell the exact moment melted snow will gush out from these giant pipes. They leave their vehicle and trek down to some island rubble because apparently today is a good day to do laundry. While they wash their uniform and Chi talks about oceans, suddenly something caught Yuu’s attention and it made Chi trip into the water. Apparently she caught a dead fish. Well, this is their first time seeing a fish. Of course they want to eat it but if this is their first time, how do they know how to cook it? They take turns eating it and it tastes good. Thankfully it doesn’t taste like chicken. Hmm… If this is their first time eating fish, why didn’t they get choked by the bones and how do they know how to eat one because they actually picked to bone clean. No meat left. Just perfect shining bones.

Episode 3
The city is divided by a huge chasm and the girls can’t find a way to cross over. They then spot a live cigarette butt on the ground. Somebody must still be around! As they be alerted, suddenly the building next to them explodes! Luckily they survive and they are shocked to see another person. He introduces himself as Kanazawa and was trying to get himself across so what better way than to blow up a building and use it as a bridge. Yeah, almost killed them had the timing been slightly off. As the girls’ goal is to get to the tallest tower on the other side to get to the next level, Kanazawa hopes they could let him ride across with them. But crossing isn’t easy since Kanazawa and Yuu have to clear the debris for Chi to move Kettenkrad across. After they managed to do so, Kanazawa has maps that pinpoints exact locations like the refuelling station. It seems he used to make maps of this area before the bridge was destroyed and went around on his bike till it could no longer move. His maps allow them to head to the tower. Although the tower has real mechanisms for an elevator, nobody actually knew how to make it work and made a makeshift one outside. Looks flimsy but thankfully still working. Chi has acrophobia and laments why no safety parts were installed and they ‘quip’ it was probably a waste of resources. When you worry so much that this elevator might tilt and fall, it is sure to jinx it. Yeah, it happened. Kanazawa manages to stop it in time but his bag of maps slide off. He is crazy to jump off to grab them but the girls grab him. Sadly his hard drawn maps scatter below. Now he laments why no safety parts were installed. Yeah, waste of resources probably. They manage to fix the elevator and get to the top. To ease Kanazawa’s depression, they share their rations as they watch the beautifully lit street lamps on this level. Kanazawa then gives them his camera and part ways. He plans to head north and continue making maps. The girls continue their journey to the centre where the brightest light is shining.

Episode 4A
Because Kanazawa didn’t teach them how to use a camera, the girls experiment taking pictures with it. So much so they crash into a little stone statue! Don’t worry, no big damage. It goes to show that you should not take pictures and drive! They continue their journey to the bright centre. They rest at night as Chi tries to figure out more on the camera. From the reducing number, it looks like they can take around 52,000 more photos! Chi has figured out how to use the timer so the girls stand a pose for a picture.

Episode 4B
The girls arrive at the building in which the brightest light supposedly originates. There are lots of those stone statues so Chi thinks this is a temple. Confirmed when she reads writings on the wall that this temple is dedicated to Gods for the afterlife. Yuu doesn’t really like this afterlife paradise and Gods thingy because the hotspring bath seems like a better paradise. Suddenly Chi’s lamp goes out. All dark. Yuu is stunned and tries to call out to Chi but no response. She fumbles around and ponders what she will do without Chi. Then she trips on Chi. Why didn’t she say anything? She wanted to see her reaction. Wait. In this darkness? Suddenly bright lights light up the place. Hmm… A huge God stone statue, weird shape frames hanging about and a fake pond with fake lily pads and fake fish. I guess this makes Yuu even more disappointed because what is the point of making everything so nice like this when it is still all fake and disappointing. Nobody knows what the afterlife is. Chi reminds her what she said earlier about the afterlife being a dark world. That is why people created this temple with bright lights and fake things just to feel better. Yuu notes she felt more at ease after finding her. Yuu then realize the God statue looks a bit like Chi. So is Chi a God? In that case, she must offer her food to God. Please give me your food. No way. Now Yuu thinks herself as God. Nope. I can see where this is going… Please give me your food. No way. Food now! No, no, no…

Episode 5A
The girls enter a residential area and ponder about houses. They enter a room and try it for size how people used to live in one. They start fantasizing the things they want if they have a house of their own. Quite a vivid but yet simple desires. They stay for the night and the next morning continue their journey. Yuu suggests making their vehicle a moving house but Chi rejects it outright.

Episode 5B
Chi dozes off at the wheel and if not for Yuu smacking her up, they would have crashed into the wall! Folks, remember not to drive when you’re tired. They take a break and play a game of balancing rocks (discount jenga). Yuu won 10 times in a row and Chi always blame the wind. The next game they bet on their ration and again Chi lost. Then they take a nap as Chi has this strange dream. She is balancing on a giant rock while a giant Yuu tries to blow her off! Chi then falls into the ocean and finds Yuu as a giant fish trying to eat her! Because if Chi was going to get eaten, wouldn’t it be better to be eaten by her best friend? That’s one messed up logic. Luckily Chi wakes up from this nightmare and since Yuu is sleeping noisily, Chi stuffs a rock in her mouth! Take that!

Episode 5C
It starts raining in this abandoned concrete steel beam ‘graveyard’. They take shelter in some makeshift cave. Bored Yuu starts hitting things with a metal pipe and the echo becomes unbearable. This has Chi quip about echo because it is empty. Like Yuu’s head. Yuu then cheekily hits her head to prove she too is empty but Chi strikes back that hers is even more. As they gather water, they realize the raindrops make different sounds on different objects. So they gather what they can and make music! Sounds a bit cacophony at first but then it sounds good enough (and an excuse) for us to listen to their rainy song. It ends when the rain stops.

Episode 6
The Kettenkrad just broke down. Chi is having a tough time fixing it and Yuu won’t help. She’s lazing around and loving this feeling of helplessness! I guess it’s better that way. If Yuu tries to help, she’ll make things worse! They notice a plane flying by and a person chasing after it. As they catch up, they realize the plane is a mini prototype and was made by Ishii. She was so engrossed in testing its flight that it took her a while to realize they were standing right next to her. Chi asks her help to fix her vehicle. She could but in exchange they help her out. She takes them to her base which is an abandoned plane hangar. She shows them a real plane she is making and is almost at completion. She plans to leave this city and if they help her fix it, she’ll help them with theirs. Ishii lets them take a bath and treats them to delicious potatoes (that’s all the rations she’s got). She also tells them she found blueprints of planes of the old technology and so far as to say alien technology. So she has been gathering the blueprints and making one. After the girls help fix the plane, Ishii helps fix their vehicle. Then it is back to putting the final touches on the plane. They celebrate and she lets them have more yummy potatoes. They ask where she is going and it seems she saw some city on a bright clear day. She must use this nice and warm weather to get there or there will be no chance. The chances might seem remote but it is better to die trying than die along with this city. The girls see off Ishii as she starts and takes off in her plane. Ishii thanks them for not only helping her but also witnessing this because doing so will definitely make it go down in history. The girls are delighted seeing the plane take off to the edge of the city. But then it just dismantles in mid-air! OMG! It looks like a blooper but it’s just tragic! However, don’t panic yet. The girls see Ishii floating down safely in a parachute. That’s what you call thinking ahead and making preparations. Although disappointed, Ishii couldn’t help smile and feel better that the burden is off her shoulder. The girls wonder why she is happy so Yuu thinks she has resigned herself to the feeling of helplessness. Feels… So… Good… The girls pack up and make their way to the next level while Ishii slowly floats her way down to the lowest level.

Episode 7A
Following Ishii’s map to a ration production facility, looks like the girls are lost in some pipe labyrinth and the worst part is how Chi is being scared walking on the pipes because they’re really high. Yuu comes to the rescue to help guide her but the more they trek forward, the darker it gets and Chi realizes she forgot to bring her lamp. That is when they realize they are really lost. Chi will not rest in the dark and forces to trudge forward. Despite warning Yuu to watch her step, it is Chi who falls through a metal fatigue portion of the pipe. Hey, there are lights down here! There are even arrows guiding them. I guess they somehow missed the path that Ishii travelled inside these pipes as Chi laments if only life has such arrows to guide them.

Episode 7B
The girls finally arrive at a potato farm. Thrilled of course. They explore more of the facility and upon sliding down the chute, they arrive at its production site. Yuu messes around with the switch and makes Chi run like a hamster on wheels because otherwise she will be grinded and squashed by the machine! They deduce this machine grinds the potatoes into powder. Noticing sugar and salt packs, Chi remembers these are the ingredients used to make rations. They decide to use what they have and make their own rations. First they kneed the grinded potatoes before stretching it out and then cutting them. Now to bake them. Sorry Yuu, you have to wait a bit longer for it to bake properly. Once it is done, they taste their hard work. Delicious. Sweetness is happiness indeed. So as not to waste the remaining ingredients, they bake more. Yuu gets creative by making her rations in different shapes and also faces of those she knows.

Episode 8A
The girls are in some huge strange area. Rows of slabs that are actually lockers. So far they found a few useless items in the ones that they could open. Trekking on, they stumble into a stone statue. Yuu is relieved to see it that she starts taking pictures. This prompts a conversation about Kanazawa whom Yuu almost forgot about! They talk about the likelihood of never meeting him again when Chi realizes the lockers have name on it. It was too small to read. It’s not that they forgot about the things they put in here but rather it is so they wouldn’t be forgotten. Hence these lockers are actually graves. But seeing this world has no one else left, who would pass by and remember them? Maybe that is what this statue is here for. Chi believes they should return the things they took back to their rightful graves as it would be meaningless for it to leave this place. Good luck trying to remember where they took it from.

Episode 8B
The girls are going up an endless tower in a spiralling fashion. It is so hypnotic that Chi almost fall over a broken path. Luckily somebody built a detour outside. Too bad it looks flimsy. Will it support the tank’s weight? Only one way to try out. Chi sums up her courage as they move on. However their worst fears come true as the nuts and bolts start loosening and falling apart! Step on it! They manage to detour back inside the tower before the flimsy scaffolding breaks apart totally. They finally reach the top and Chi is glad they can go back to their usual fashion of sleep, wake up, eat and travel. This makes Yuu quip that perhaps their life is like a spiral too.

Episode 8C
At the tower top that has abandoned buildings and rooms haphazardly built so close to each other, they examine a room as Yuu finds a strange antenna. Not sure with the moonlight, she goes a bit crazy and starts smashing things with it. Then she hits Chi. Payback time. That is when they discover a few bottles of beer. Under the moonlight, they drink beer for the first time. Another bottle? Oh no. Chi is drunk. Is it lesbian time? Yuu attributes this to the power of the moon. Then both girls merrily dance like a carefree drunkard under the moonlight while humming in the strangest but funny fashion. While they’re at it, Chi now dreams big and wants to go to the moon. Oh, she is eating Yuu’s hair too! Next morning, Chi has a big hangover while Yuu is like nothing as usual.

Episode 9
Arriving in some area, they notice the machineries are still running. This has them pondering if there is life. What is life anyway? Then they get a shock when a big robot crosses their path. AT-AT Walker rip off? Luckily it passes and they continue. Also more pondering if machines are life because that one seems to be running on its own. Then they stumble in an aquarium. A fish! Sorry, you can’t eat it. Says this mini AT-AT Walker spoof. In exchange of not eating the fish (to Yuu’s disappointment), it will tell of this place. It seems this mini robot and the big one are the only operating AI machines around. The small one does maintenance and the big one does the construction so they are safe from any harm. As Yuu wants to swim, it lets them used an unused aquarium tank. This place was a fish production facility. Of course it was abandoned and this is the last fish. No, you still can’t eat it. After Chi does the laundry, she takes a dip. But in her underwear instead of being naked? Well, there’s somebody watching. You mean the robot? Yuu forces her in as Chi panics because it is deep. She almost drowns but is saved. Not after that weird fish dream. Next, they feed the fish and talk about evolution and stuffs. Yuu helps feed the fish and thinks they can be friends! Hard to believe her with that drool. The robot suggests the girls sleep between the pipes since warm water is running through them. More talk about how the robot is as alive as humans perhaps because of empathy. A big rumble wakes them up before the big robot breaks in and starts tearing the place down. Mini robot communicates with it and it seems it will continue to deconstruct this area deemed unnecessary to preserve materials. Yuu is mad this means the fish will die as the debris will contaminate the water. Yuu then wants to save the fish. You mean not to eat it? Yes, save it. Mini robot tells its weakness so Yuu becomes the heroine to drop explosives there. This makes Chi wonder if they are killing something despite being a machine. It all depends on your definition of life. Yuu succeeds and the destruction stops. Mini robot says now the fish’s life is prolonged a little. Yuu then wonders if life means something that has an end. Mini robot stays behind and can only stop the water leaks. The girls part ways and hope they will live a long life. Bye fish.

Episode 10A
The duo board a huge train. During its long journey, they ponder about moving and rotation, hence the talk of how fast Earth is spinning that just confuses Yuu. They see a broken clock and hence begin a conversation about time. Noticing their time is constrained by food, Yuu is happy to note that as long as they have food, they can move forward.

Episode 10B
The girls disembark after a long journey. They have been travelling in this facility ever since they got on this level so they wish it’s nice to see the sun. Yuu picked up some strange radio but the transmission isn’t clear enough to hear the voices. Though, Chi believes it is what is called music. They arrive at an elevator and after taking the fast express trip up (it could almost kill them), they finally get to see the sun. The radio becomes clearer but it is playing a sad song. Because of that, the red colour dusk also makes them feel sad. Especially Chi starting to cry. Maybe she looked at the setting sun too long so her eyes are itching?

Episode 10C
Arriving at a very devastated battlefield, they follow the source to get some water. They take a break as Yuu ponders she would like to eat fish. Especially the one in the aquarium. Eat it, then save it and now eat it again? Yuu then spots a strange critter in one of the pipes. After luring it out and capturing it, they think this creature is a cat. Well, personally it looks closer to a mole rat, this strange alien critter. But we’ll go with cat for easier reference. Oh, they call it Nuko so I’m going with it too. Guess what is on Yuu’s mind? Can we eat it? Bake or roast?! Somehow Nuko can communicate via the radio albeit it is just repeating what they say. Chi believes it is best to leave it behind. Can’t eat anything that talks. But after a while, Nuko starts following them. It takes a liking for Chi so she decides to let it follow them since it is nice to add to things (they’re always losing things so this is a nice change in pace). I guess Yuu can only see it as some food as she starts rubbing on its smooth body…

Episode 11A
Nuko loves eating bullets! The bigger the better! Also, it seems to have learnt quite a few words and is able to converse basically with the girls. At a tank depot, Chi sees a book on a ground. She is fascinated with it although she cannot understand its language (it’s in English and about war). She decides to keep it so Yuu ‘admonishes’ her about picking up useless stuffs since that is what Chi always told her.

Episode 11B
Arriving at a strange machine where its mechanism is still running, the radio picks up a song and Nuko can pinpoint its source. As they head over there, they talk about culture and ecology. Yuu questions the need to wear helmets since it isn’t like anything will hit them. If anything would, it just means they’re very unlucky. You don’t say because debris start falling on them! Thank goodness for helmets, right? Suddenly more debris start falling and they manage to get out of there in time before a giant robot comes crashing down! Then inside a building, Nuko seems to be able to act as some power source and powers up the HUDs of some control room. Yuu is fascinated with the button and presses one. A missile destroys part of the city! Feeling fun, she presses another one in which a huge laser beam razes the entire horizon!!! Oh sh*t!!! Are they trying to subtly hint that this is what happens when power falls into the wrong hands? While Chi is shocked, Yuu starts laughing at how funny it is! Chi punches her! Oh. Not funny. With the sea of fire raging, they sleep where they are. Chi looks through the photos and drawings. She sees the similarity between Nuko and the stone statues. Could they be…?

Episode 11C
Nuko seems to like eating fuel too. Because it can eat like anything, they wonder if it will eat them too. Then they discuss about the food chain as they enter a strange area of strange windmills. At the end of this area, Nuko points out the source is definitely coming from this huge landed submarine. Nuko seems to be able to unlock locks and it is still okay when it gets squished by heavy things. The girls head inside to further explore.

Episode 12
While looking around and talking about loneliness, suddenly the camera starts synching with the control board. All the pictures they have taken pop up on screen. They notice other folders containing photos that were taken by Kanazawa. They are filled with life and many people. For the first time they see a video. In fact I think for that few minutes they saw the entire history of mankind! From birthdays to funerals to sports events to court sessions to concerts and eventually the big war. Wow. The duo must be in shock. But they could quip how less lonely they feel. They dream of how grandpa made them go on a trip in the midst of the war as they are smaller and able to fit into smaller openings. Plus, with a small body size, they require less food. Next morning as Yuu wakes up first, suddenly there is a huge Nuko next to her. Suddenly it eats her and leave! OMG! Chi panics but feels the need to go after her. In the meantime, flashbacks of their time together. Outside the submarine, she sees the giant Nuko sunbathing with Yuu sticking out? Then she is spat out. Yeah, she might not taste good. It then starts talking to them (telepathically?). It claims it does not eat living humans and only ate her radio so it can communicate with them. This is also why they used the equipment on this ship. It transforms into its true mushroom form. More of its kind pop out nearby. It seems their role is to ingest weapons and devices that produce high energy. Those that are unstable like bullets and missiles, they ingest and dismantle them internally into a stable state. Once they have ingested all of the weapons, Earth will go to slumber and so will they. As they have surveyed all the higher levels, it seems the duo are the last humans left! Thanking them for bringing the little Nuko back to them, they want it to come along with them as they must travel in a group. Nuko is reluctant and prefers to stay with the girls but they want it to return to its group where it has friends. Nuko returns to them as they all float away. The girls note the world is going to end but don’t care as long as they have each other. Yuu believes the singing voice is from them. The world is going to end, probably that’s why they’re singing a sad song. After the Nuko group leaves, all devices in the area stop working. The girls pack whatever food they have and prepare to leave for the higher level. They hope to find something there. Yuu suggests maybe they’ll aim for the moon once they get there.

On The Last Leg Of A Lifetime Tour
Let’s be honest here. This series is walking a fine line between intriguing and boringness. Although personally I feel that it is currently on the former, there is always that danger at any moment where I could fall into the latter and never recover. But the ending somehow leaves a bit of a bittersweet ending for me instead of being confused. It is sad to hear that the girls are the only ones left but what about Kanazawa and Ishii? Are they dead? Well, I supposed those Nuko aliens have been going from top to bottom and haven’t met other survivors at the bottom yet. At the same time it is a good thing that the girls have seen this end of the world thingy in the same if not a new light. Because they have been together for the longest time and will be till the end of their lives so what difference does it make? Carry on, girls. Carry on. After all, there is nothing to stop them in doing whatever they want.

Watching this series somehow makes me think that this series blended in a few ideas from past anime series. Having a pair of main characters just travelling about with no particular destination in mind? Did that already in Kino No Tabi. Mankind being devastated by war until nobody is left and eventually the end of the world? Sounds like Saishuu Heiki Kanojo to me. Military girls in a post-apocalyptic world? Reeking a little of Sora No Woto here. In a way Kamisama No Inai Nichiyoubi too because of a seemingly dying world that has been abandoned.

One of the most intriguing and baffling things about this world that kept bugging me is the people. I mean, where are they? What happened to them? Although it is greatly hinted that mankind could have destroyed themselves in a war but if that was so, where are all the bodies? You see the girls entering the supposed battlefield and find all sorts of destroyed weapons, vehicles and debris. But none in the form of human corpses. Therefore I must be thinking that everyone has just got up and left. They abandoned the place. But to where? However my conspiracy theory is that this situation seemed like everyone has been abducted by aliens! I mean, look at this way. In what reason did everybody had the same idea to just abandon the town and leave the facilities running? Oh yeah, we don’t care anymore. Let’s just leave the machines running and get out of here. No time to switch them off. No, siree. Besides, in areas which are not directly affected by the war, many of the abandoned buildings and things left behind look dilapidated over time instead.

This also has me ponder on how long have the place been left abandoned. How long have the girls been travelling. Watching through their endless journey, it also made me question what kind of technology they were exposed to. Because there were so many current day items and stuffs like clocks and videos in which the girls are unfamiliar of. Chi somewhat knows it because of the books she read. This either show that the girls were never exposed to such simple inventions (and could have been living a very sheltered military life) or if the technology in this world has advanced so much (proof of all the weird automations and machineries everywhere). But if it was the latter case, such objects should not be lying around anywhere and would have been stored in the museum or something. Hence how long has it been since the duo have not have any proper contact with other humans? Were they also raised isolated?

Hence there is this short animation clips lasting 1.5 minutes each known as Shoujo Shuumatsu Jugyou, which transports our girls to a normal modern day classroom. With a dozen episodes to go with it, our girls are the students in an empty classroom while the ‘teacher’ of the episode would be one of the items or things that was the main focus in the episode proper. While some episodes we have quite a brief but educational and insightful information such as aerodynamics and photosynthesis, others are just mainly about fooling around while trying to make sense of things. I bet this is all just a dream because if a fish could talk and even a dead fish only in bones too, I figure out this must be all a fantasy in Yuu’s head. Oh right, the stone statues don’t talk… Well, thank goodness they get a graduation ceremony in the final one. Sort of.

Also, the other mind boggling thing is how many of the machineries are still in good running condition. I mean, you see that certain places the girls go, there is still running water and food that are not expired! It might show that it has not been long since mankind disappeared but then again when you look at all the abandoned stuffs and building, it really shows that time has made its mark on those manmade objects. Sometimes it is like trolling with us if there are any life nearby. Then something would pop up and scare the sh*t out of us. And then for once we could see Yuu could put her rifle to good use. If not, Nuko’s food fodder it will be. Or it could all be just red herring because nothing eventually happens. A let down?

So many questions and yet so little answers. My guess is that this series is not meant to solve the riddle of what happened to mankind. You are to draw your own conclusions on what have happened because it doesn’t matter what happened to civilization of the past. Even if there are records but nobody to notice them, it is as good as vanished and gone forever. So I suppose one of the interesting aspects of this series is that some of the things that Chi and Yuu ponder along the way based on their logic and understanding of things, it makes you think for a while that from their perspective, it could be true too. However it is not such a deep thought that you would lose sleep over with. More like shower thoughts for you to ponder a bit and then you move on. Because if you try to answer to every question in the universe, what is the meaning to life then? Yeah, another thought to ponder upon.

There is not much on Chi and Yuu themselves for us to know more about. We don’t get to see anything deep from their past that brought them about their current situation. Because if almost everyone in this world is gone, how on earth did they become one of the very last few survivors? Did they miss the boat or something? Maybe they were playing in some rabbit’s hole when Armageddon happened or when aliens abducted everybody. Even if they were sent away, did all the missiles and bullets miss them in their escape? I mean, they had to drive Kettenkrad along, right? Personally, I feel that duo have emotions like robots. Chi is pretty obvious but Yuu despite being the troublemaker and the ‘livelier’ one, her enthusiasm too feels robotic. Even when Chi is afraid of heights, somehow I couldn’t feel that fear of hers is genuine. Perhaps it is genuine for her but watching her in fear doesn’t make it look so convincing. Perhaps they have not interacted with other humans for so long that they lose their ability to have a myriad of emotions. Sure, they have each other but they know each other inside out so well that it makes them like robots.

But still, watching their little banter among themselves can be quite amusing because after not seeing any human interaction for so long (can we all live without a minute of social media nonsense these days?), it is still good to know they haven’t entirely lost their entire humanity. With Yuu being more blunt and honest about her thoughts, personally I see her as the more amusing one. As long as have food, everything is okay. Or rather, she sees food in almost everything! Well, can’t argue with that. I am not sure if it would have been better had we know their goal in reaching the top. Wherever that is. Is it to find another civilization? From the final episode we clearly know the situation. But still, it doesn’t change the girls’ goal. But I suppose we never get to learn their true goal because like the saying goes, it isn’t the destination but the journey. That is why we get to enjoy and be intrigued at the adventures they go through. However the saddest thing that I can think of now is that assuming they are the last humans on Earth and if they are now happy with each other’s company, I wonder what will happen if one of them dies… Too grim and dark to think further! Come to think of it, I don’t think being lesbians can produce any offspring although as females they have that capability. Heck, I don’t think the girls know what being yuri is. Unless they stumble upon such manga… Common sense dictates their natural instincts would kick in but given the nature and direction of this series I don’t think procreation is anywhere on the top of their list either.

It would have been a really boring affair if this series only had the duo as the only characters in its entirety. So that’s why for a little variety and surprise (if you may call it that), they stumble into a couple of more humans. Too bad we don’t get to know more about them and they are only featured prominently for that single episode they appeared in. It is unfortunate that all of them have different goals and hence do not eventually travel together. It shows that perhaps this world devastation is not as bad as it seems to be. Because if it was, wouldn’t the survivors be happy to find other survivors and band together? Kanazawa and Ishii were already travelling alone and have their own goals to achieve. By going their separate ways, it shows that perhaps the world void of civilization isn’t so dangerous after all. Yeah, man is the most dangerous thing in the world and looks like the world has rid them all of it and hence true world peace!

Hmm… Is it me but do I see a trivial pattern here? In every third episode, the girls encounter somebody or interact with some artificial intelligence? But… Then the Nuko encounter broke that combo. And of course the final episode that has a myriad of other humans although they are all confined to the playback of the video. Is this consider human interaction too? Well, if it made the girls feel less lonely. Hence the biggest questions from the final episode stems from the origination of Nuko. What are they? Are they aliens? I don’t think they are the ones who ended humanity as it is greatly hinted the war did. If they only appear after the destruction of mankind, why are there various (creepy) stone status of them almost at every level? Are they some sort of ‘God’ because they eat and stabilize dangerous weapons? If they are really cats evolved, that could be scary. Nui… Perhaps these are what you call the guardian angels of Earth. They clean up the mess and menace that is made and known as men before everything goes into slumber and perhaps another millions of years before any life form can have a chance of evolving and living again. Besides, how did that little Nuko got separated from the main pack again?

I have this mixed feelings of the art and drawing style. At first glance, the girls look cartoonish. Somehow they look like characters from Hidamari Sketch, that chibi trademark look. But with the girls looking this simple, it somehow takes away the gloom and doom of the world’s devastated settings. There are many scenes in the series where it is dark as well as this eerie sense of emptiness in the sense that everything is just abandoned. Personally, it would have had a scarier feel had the girls look more like your typical conventional 2D Japanese anime girl. So having them looking this way takes a bit of the tension and avoid making you be depressed and blend into this forsaken world. Yeah, sometimes I feel that there are jump scares waiting to scare the hell out of me. Even those stone statues look helluva creepy if you give it too much thought. Although their drawing is so simple and didn’t put any effort into coming up with at least a decent design. Looking at you too, Nuko. Its mushroom form feels like, WTF. Honest. But this world is also strange enough as the cities are built upon layers and layers on each other. It makes you wonder how far into the sky the civilization has tried to reach. This series is animated by White Fox who did Gochuumon Wa Usagi Desu Ka, Akame Ga Kill, Steins; Gate, Re: Zero Kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu and Jormungand.

I believe this is one of the very few animes in which there is a very few number of casts involved. Gakkou Gurashi comes to mind. Although Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 has only 3 main casts, there were other very minor background characters. And this series would have been a record 2 seiyuus only, Minori Inase as Chi (Rem in Re: Zero Kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu) and Yurika Kubo as Yuu (Hanayo in Love Live!) had they not met other characters during their journey. Of course the final episode with all those videos and different unrelated people making a short cameo in it, can it be considered as racking up the seiyuu list? I think not. While I recognized Akira Ishida as Kanazawa and Yuuki Kaji as that mini AT-AT Walker rip-off, the most surprising one to me is Kana Hanazawa as Nuko! OMG! Is that really her?! Damn radio interference that interfered with her voice so I can’t really recognize it’s her! But hearing it again and knowing it is her now, so true that it is really her behind it. No wonder there was this sense of familiarity behind that voice but I just couldn’t put my finger on it. Slightly reminding me of those days when she did the titular character in Potemayo… The other cast is Kotono Mitsuishi as Ishii (Boa Hancock in One Piece).

Ironically for a show that is mostly slow and mundane, the opening is quite lively and cute. Sung by the main duo, Ugoku, Ugoku has all those cute sound effects that would have your feet tapping a little too. Because the girls do a little jiggle themselves in the opening animation credits. But the most amusing one goes to the ending theme, More One Night by the same duo. A cuter, livelier and catchy piece because of this hip hop and rap feel infused into this song. So if you’re feeling gloomy from the overall of this series, just hear this piece because it will definitely brighten up your day and also make you want to get up from your seat and do some embarrassing dance. Thank goodness nobody is here to see me rave this big fail. The special ending song for that raindrops and final episode, Amadare No Uta is also not bad and quite creative using different beats in the background. But for many of the other BGMs in the series, most of them have this melancholic feel. One of the more ‘conflicting’ BGMs is the one with angelic choir-like voices. They feel so out of place but yet so calm. Like as though everything is dead and this is heaven.

Overall, despite looking like a slow boring show, it is not entirely one and it keeps you intrigued with the mysteries of the world (unless being a bloodthirsty action junkie is your thing because this series has nothing of that sort). Though it served like a double edged sword because it is those unanswered questions that helped keep the romance of this series alive but at the same time that unsatisfied feeling that we will never get to know them. At least not in this season. Despite the pensive mood and the very desolated world, we get to see how a pair of youngsters manage to keep surviving on hope (and food too). It makes us want to dream and think putting ourselves in their shoes, what will we do if we are the last humans left on this planet? I’m sure we’ll have fun going ballistic doing all the things we want without restriction before reality hits us if this is what we want from life. But you know what? I would prefer to be the last surviving human on this planet with nobody else compared to be the last surviving human in a zombie apocalypse! Free and easy at my own pace indeed. I would definitely sign up for this final world tour package for the ultimate peace and quiet (hooray! No social media spam!). It is not that we’re scared of being alone but rather we are not alone!

Shokugeki No Souma S3

April 27, 2018

From the looks of the second season’s OVAs, it sure whipped my appetite and motivation for Shokugeki No Souma S3. Hopefully with the introduction of new characters and possible challenges our titular hero needs to face to bring whatever changes and realization that is needed to revolutionize the food industry and Totsuki, I’m praying hard this season won’t bomb like the second. I know, it is a hard feeling to shake off. A great first season but a second disappointing one makes you a bit cautious if you should try the third. But then again, like all heroes need some sort of revival and comeback. Could this season be it for Souma?

Episode 1
Megumi talks to Souma as they reminisce the events that transpired during the OVA. The part where they met the Elite Ten and Souma throwing down the challenge for a Shokugeki but got rejected. But now they have to concentrate on the upcoming Moon Festival for the autumn. It is a 5 day event whereby the sales rankings are announced at the end of every day. Of course Souma thinks of participating and prove himself worthy to challenge Kuga. Since he specializes in Chinese cuisine, Megumi introduces him to Miyoko who also specializes in that area. She then takes him to Kuga’s club, the Chinese Cuisine Research Society (CCRS). Man, are those human clones machines?! Tossing dry rice in perfect sync?! Kuga tells him he is going to serve mapo tofu at the festival and then proceeds to make a spicy one to let him try and realize what he is up against. Of course it is nothing like his diner. Kuga’s ‘robots’ have trained till literally perfection! Of course Souma won’t be intimidated by that. He will beat him with his own cooking. As they leave, Miyoko warns Souma there is another factor that has him lagging behind Souma: Reputation. Kuga’s name is also well known outside Totsuki and hence loyal repeat customers. Polar Star residents will have their own booth at the festival too but of course Souma can’t participate with them. He learns from Isshiki that the area a stall sells is also important. The festival is divided into 3 areas. The main area is the most common as this is where many people gather and the foods are cheap. The central area is where foods are mid-range price and need some professional preparation. Finally the top area known as Yamanote is where many of the Elite Ten will be located. Yup, expensive dishes. Unless you are well known, attracting customers is going to be tough. After racking his brains for the best strategy, Souma finally hands in his application form. Everyone is shocked to learn he will be putting his stall right across Kuga’s CCRS in the central area. So his plan is to steal his customers? Then he is reminded if his stall loses money, he will be expelled. Say what?! Oh sh*t!!! Too late to change things now…

Episode 2
With Mitsuru’s help, Souma is able to advertise in the magazine that he will be putting up a Chinese cuisine battle next to Kuga’s stall. Alice complains to Erina that she now wants to participate in the festival despite the deadline has already passed. Souma passes by and has them come try out his mapo tofu. Nice but this isn’t anywhere near that would beat Kuga. Erina explains the significance difference of his dish that lacks ma and la. Others weigh in their thoughts on spiciness like it is perceived as pain but can also be pleasure while in medicinal cuisine it can help reduce stress. Thus Kuga is like turning people into masochists, loving his extreme spiciness despite being too hot to handle. Souma doesn’t have to man his stall alone. Megumi will help him out. So it’s only the 2 of them? Let’s hope it doesn’t turn into some romantic mess… But Megumi becomes Souma’s guinea pig to test his spicy dishes. I hope she won’t die from it all… Keep trying… Meanwhile Hayama is shocked to find Alice and Ryo have hijacked his stall. Apparently she convinced Shiomi about creating memories for Hayama for his school life. Her maternal instincts kicked in and allowed it. Too bad Alice won’t be facing off with Souma as she wanted since Hayama’s booth is in the main area. During the setting up of the stalls, more problems for Hayama as Shiomi allows Alice to do anything she wants. This is going to get messy. Kuga uses his budget to turn his stall into a giant Chinese restaurant! Souma also needs something for his stall to look attractive. He gets Miyoko’s help and permission to use a couple of stone ovens. Before the festival opens, all the students gather for an assembly and sing Totsuki’s anthem. Only Souma doesn’t know?! Feeling so left out? As it begins, there is a long queue as expected lining up outside Kuga’s stall. Souma is selling black pepper buns that is a popular Taiwanese treat.

Episode 3
Hayama is really in trouble. Alice bought wrong ingredients and needs an outlet to plug her centrifuge machine. At the end of the first day, Souma has not many visitors. Kuga rakes in heaps and stacks of tickets (used as the festival’s currency). Megumi is panicking but Souma is laughing it off. The top 3 sales are announced. In the main area, the Aldini brothers take top spot. Kuga takes first place by a mile for the central area while Momo takes control at Yamanote. Erina blows her top learning Souma, Megumi, Hayama, Ryo and Alice lost money on their first day. And to think they were finalists at the Autumn Elections. Oh, Souma is dead last for the central area’s rankings. But that doesn’t stop him from being casually having everyone eat his leftover buns as give their opinions on it. After the second day, it seems Souma also sold noodles and he went up a few places in the rankings. Kuga still dominates by a mile, though. Night fall, he and Megumi take their stall to the main area and let other people try it for free. They bump into Nao selling her grotesque smelly food and it sounds like a horrifying nightmare that they want to create the most grotesque smelliest ‘masterpiece’?! Anyway, the reason Souma is carting around like this is to see the customers’ reacting to his dishes. As the customers have been eating all day, the noodles with black pepper seems to be a great way to end the day. This is something similar to the popular Taiwanese danzi noodles that allows one to continue eating well without getting tired. Souma analyses his stone ovens that should attract people but it didn’t. On the other hand, it is hard to imagine his buns as tasty unless you see someone eating it unlike Kuga’s mapo tofu. You can tell it is delicious just by looking at it. He also notes his diner’s mapo tofu was never that spicy because Jouichirou wanted flavours that all regulars would enjoy. He thinks of building on that mapo tofu and adding some new ideas. This means more sleepless night for guinea pig Megumi. Looks like Souma goes back to his diner for this experiment. Mayu thinks he is back and enters the diner only to see something horrifying.

Episode 4
Kuga is trying to ‘persuade’ Souma to close his stall. You think he would give up just like that? As per requested by Souma, Tomita has delivered tables and seats that were just gathering dust in the shopping district’s warehouse for his stall. Souma lets him try his mapo noodles with a giant meatball but is told to eat the noodles first. While doing so, Souma notices Kuga too has a problem. The long queue is getting unbearable for those waiting and those who are seated are being rushed off after finishing. It is about time Tomita digs into the meatball and when he does, the fragrant smell attracts all those in the queue. There’s an explanation to what he made but let’s cut it short and says it is a great revision of his mapo tofu dish. With many of the customers now turning to Souma’s stall, Kuga is not panicking yet because Souma’s stall has lack of manpower and will soon crumble. Yes, that is the very problem Souma is now facing as the queue is building up and the orders keep piling. Don’t worry. Here comes additional help: Mimasaka! Oh, remember the great imitator! Previously Souma sought his help but to perfect his profiling, he needed to use his diner. Souma gave him the keys and hence that horrifying Mimasaka pretending to be Souma that Mayu saw! But with more customers, it looks like they may not be able to handle it especially Megumi who is nearly at her limit. Souma wants to cover for her but luckily he doesn’t have to. Because here comes volunteer help from Mito and the Aldini brothers! As it is getting dark, they have set up colourful lanterns to light up the place and attract more customers! Kuga realizes Souma has spent 4 days in creating his very own stall. At the end of the day, Souma’s stall tops the day’s sales and pushes Kuga’s stall down to second. You mad, bro? Meanwhile, Alice’s stall is also doing well making a comeback. She used her 3D printer to print chocolate that melts over Hayama’s curry rice. Curious customers try and love it.

Episode 5
Kuga’s failure means he gets lots of teasing from Rindou. But after the final day as the total sales are tallied up, Kuga still wins the central area. Flashback shows Kuga challenged Tsukasa to a Shokugeki and flat out lost. So he made a promise if he managed to top sales in the central area for all days, he would have the right to challenge him to another Shokugeki. However with Souma breaking that combo, he will not get his Shokugeki. And Souma too since he couldn’t dethrone Kuga. So no Shokugeki for anybody. Rindou then brings Souma and Megumi to Yamanote area. It’s such a posh and expensive place. Don’t worry. It will be on her. She brings them to Tsukasa’s location where he is the only one who prepares and cooks from start to finish. Also because he has panic attacks worried if something may go wrong. All unfounded… When they try his sakura shrimp, it is of course so good that we get that explosive naked reaction. Tsukasa explains about his cooking that involves erasing all evidence of his involvement and focuses solely on the quality of ingredients by enhancing them. Souma notices over the course of this talk, Tsukasa has never asked how their food taste. It could mean he is very confident of how it turned out and clearly Souma acknowledges he is way out of his league. Meanwhile at Erina’s place, she has been keeping a reserved table free in hopes that Jouichirou would come based on their old promise when she becomes a good chef. I guess this means she hasn’t. Suddenly an unexpected guest comes in. Who is this evil looking man? Oh, it’s her father, Azami. He is so badass that Erina is quivering around him. He is supposed to be exiled from Totsuki. He believes Erina’s cooking is not made for these lowlifes and some high and mighty version of what cooking is supposed to be. He forces Erina to cook for him to show how much she has improved. When Souma comes in to share his bun with Erina, why is it that most of the others look to him like as though he is a saviour? Anyway, being the dense guy he is (or is he?), he wants to share a table with Azami. Azami loses interests and leaves. He is confronted by Senzaemon outside, reminding him about how he has been also banned from the family. They clash on their ideas on what Totsuki is supposed to become so Azami shows him a letter. Because the Elite Ten holds equal and sometimes more power than Totsuki’s director, it seems a majority of them have revolted and agreed to install Azami as Totsuki’s new director! Tsukasa and Rindou are among those who supported this.

Episode 6
Jouichirou so happen to bump into Dojima who happen to get a call updating him about Totsuki’s new director. And that’s how they know. With Azami as the new director abuzz all around Totsuki, some like him but those who know better stay cautious. His first duty is to relief Hisako as Erina’s secretary because daddy will now forever be with her. Creepy! Erina cannot say no whatsoever because she just can’t. Creepy. Senzaemon is so free that he could pay Souma a visit and talk to him. He tells him Jouichirou who was the second seat in the Elite Ten and was encouraged by him to let Souma enrol at Totsuki. He asks Souma’s opinion of Erina. If I may put it in a word of my own: A b*tch. Senzaemon notes Erina used to laugh a lot. Till dad started brainwashing her with fear to train her God’s tongue. Yeah, it’s pretty traumatic for a kid. Senzaemon found out about it and exiled him. But he remained active in some selective wealthy community but never expected him to stage a coup with the Elite Ten. Knowing Erina will be imprisoned by him again since his influence over her is still great, he pleads Souma to save her. Well, this Nakiri family isn’t his problem because his goal remains the same and it is to let Erina say his food is delicious. I guess that’s a roundabout way of saying he’ll do it. Senzaemon notes he was right to sought Jouichirou’s advice. Alice and Hisako help take Erina and run away from her room. But the problem is where she will stay note. Their estates are heavily involved with the Nakiri family so she will be instantly noticed. A nicely timed Megumi appearing means Polar Star Dorm is nearby. The residents are worried they’ll be accomplices but after hearing from Hisako about Erina’s sob story, now they all welcome her like a friend and vow to fight the tyranny! They throw her a party but can they stand her criticisms? In fact, they ‘love’ it because how often to you get a person of her talent to taste your cooking? Here’s more cooking for her! Azami knows Erina has run away but doesn’t do anything for now because it is more important to prepare his revolution. And that means he shows the Totsuki staffs about his proposal to turn the place into some food utopia. But those with a sane mind can see it is a dystopia that will split the gourmet world.

Episode 7
Azami makes his first speech towards the students. First, he officially disbands all the clubs and societies. Violation means expulsion. Second, there will be a new sole decision making committee called Central. It is handpicked and the Elite Ten are part of it. What I understand is that you cannot do your own cooking and all cooking are dictated by what Central says it is. This means there is only one method for cooking instead of from various ideas. The logic is that everyone can learn and benefit equally, hence no more unnecessary competitions and expulsions. They can all learn directly from the recipes and ideas worthy of the Elite Ten. With agents going around with official documents to close down clubs, even Polar Star isn’t spared. Eizan comes down to personally hand it to them. Of course Souma won’t let this go. How about a Shokugeki? Of course. Although Eizan has no obligations to accept, he is after all swamped with Shokugeki challenges from clubs trying to prevent their shutdown. Surprisingly, he accepts them all! Speaking of which, there is one today and it is broadcast live. Watch it and be warned. So Eizan goes up against the president of some skewer club. Souma feels weird that Eizan isn’t focused on cooking and even if he wins, the other clubs wouldn’t back down. Once the time limit is done, it seems Eizan scores absolute victory when the judges didn’t even taste their food! Yup, he bought out the judges! Poor guy just got expelled. Thanks to this ‘warning’, all subsequent Shokugeki challenges are cancelled. I guess they got cold feet. So while everyone wallows in hopelessness, we see Erina’s depressed face, Polar Star reminiscing about the good ol’ days and then jinx it by getting emotional and crying about losing their ‘home’. And more Erina sad face like as though she is at fault. In some ways I guess so. You think this fired up Souma? Well, he went to challenge Eizan to a Shokugeki despite all that. He claims he isn’t doing it for Polar Star but himself because this is the place he will master his cooking. So Polar Star guys are worried he is doing this alone when they are ‘family’? Before the match starts, Eizan warns Souma that he has sent his gang to vacate Polar Star. Yeah, he played dirty by bringing forward the deadline and by the time this Shokugeki is over, he is going to see Souma’s sad face seeing the sad faces of his roommates. Boo hoo!

Episode 8
Souma makes his gyoza with chicken while Eizan stands idly and mocks him because the results are already in the bag, right? Well, that’s the start of Eizan’s downfall because he gets a call from his goons that the Polar Star guys are fighting back! Fumio provided them with construction helmets and they have water hose and smoke screen to stave off those jerks. With Souma mocking back if Eizan wants to talk to him, do it with his cooking, Eizan gets serious. So we hear Eizan’s past achievements of being the best consultant ever that earned himself tons of money and Totsuki lots of connections, hence his nickname The Alchemist. He could have ranked higher in the Elite Ten had he concentrated on his cooking. Eizan finishes and lets the judges taste his chicken rice. Worthy of his seat as expected. Eizan thinks of ending the Shokugeki but Souma wonders if he is scared to taste his. I mean, he proclaimed he has won so what has he got to lose by trying his, right? Took the bait. So as Souma adds weird ingredients like Parmesan cheese, he earns the mockery of the judges for ‘tainting’ the chicken flavour. He pours some sauce as the finishing touches. He lets Eizan taste. Long awkward silence. Could it be it is delicious? He lets the judges try but one of them refuses. The others in that case wants to take his portion! Can’t resist now, can they?! Souma reveals his secret ingredient in the sauce which turns out to be tomato ketchup. This idea didn’t come from him but from the brainstorming with other Polar Star guys. In the end, the stubborn judge gives in and like everyone else, your body can’t lie to good cooking. All judges vote for Souma! Eizan is seething in anger as Souma reminds him with the results Polar Star will not be shut down. That’s not all. He then throws a warning to everyone watching to ever mess with his buddies. To that and he will come at them with all he has got. Even if you are from the Elite Ten.

Episode 9
Not sure if those hooligans took their time leaving Polar Star or the Shokugeki hall was just close by. Because Souma is back when most of them are still leaving. Anyway everyone is glad, mad and happy that Souma has returned and save their precious dorm. What else to do but to party and celebrate! Isshiki returns after a short absence. He was laying low because had he helped, Azami’s administration might make things more difficult for them. But thanks to Souma’s victory, new rules have been drafted to allow Shokugeki for clubs facing closure and to be judged fairly. A few days later, Isshiki is summoned before Azami. He wants him to step down as an Elite Ten. Not only him but those who opposed his plan. They are Kuga and Tosuke Megishima. But shouldn’t Erina resign too? He believes she will come back to him. Azami knows Isshiki has been secretly going around to gain allies to draft laws for Shokugeki matches. Now Azami has to send his ‘soldiers’ to face them. With many clubs requesting for Shokugeki, Polar Storm guys split themselves into groups to go watch the Elite Ten battle it out in simultaneous matches. Of course all of them won unanimously. I wonder how long Souma can hold off his urge to do a Shokugeki. There are a few handpicked new Central members by Azami too. They are Rentaro Kusunoki, Kumai Shigemichi, Mea Yanai and Rui Kofuru. Souma and Takumi can’t help tease and almost pick a fight with Rentaro because of his arrogant and confronting ways. But it is time for their next Shokugeki match against Ryo and Alice. Apparently Alice was okay with her whatever club she hijacked get disbanded. But Ryo got worked up when Rentaro called him a small fry and so it’s on.

Episode 10
We take a short detour to see other Shokugeki matches in other halls. In short, Central unanimously owns everybody. Back to Ryo and Rentaro’s salmon dish battle. As usual, we see how they prepare the dish and everyone being the expert commenting on how it is done. In the end, judges have a taste of Rentaro’s Salmon Confit Flamme and Ryo’s Coulibiac. They are both so superior and on the surface it looked like this is going to be a draw. But taking a closer look, there is one clear winner in the sense that the winner managed to prevent the loss of the salmon’s umami. While it sounded like the judges are praising Rentaro for using his cryomill and olive oil with his flaming technique, the surprise turn of events when all judges vote Ryo as the clear winner. Something about his double layer brioche using crepe and dried bacon powder. And more crap about how Ryo’s dish bring about the unevenness that it would be better if we viewers had just taste it instead of being explained to. We also see how Ryo had improved and wasn’t the same person during the Autumn Elections because during the Stagiaire he had the misfortune to work in some Indian restaurant who was meticulous about spices. That changed him for the better.

Episode 11
Azami was watching this match and despite reminding Alice that their family has this responsibility in advancing the gourmet dining world, Alice is bold enough to tell him off she doesn’t like him and doesn’t share his vision. She will not let him have his way with Totsuki and Erina. Oh, Erina is listening. How convenient. It might look like a reconciliation is on the cards but if you know them, it will usually turn into one of their usual arguments. Too bad all other clubs that have lost will have their buildings demolished. With Central taken over, class formats have also changed. Teachers who do not disagree with the teaching method are fired. Like in Souma’s class, his substitute teacher is Tsukasa! First he calls for an assistant in which Souma is the only one with balls to do so. Souma is able to remember all his orders and keep up with his pace as they make a great French dish. Now Tsukasa wants everyone to replicate the same in the same amount of time! At the end of class, Tsukasa is impressed with his skills and wants him to join Central. Of course he rejects. However as Tsukasa tells him his cooking is unnecessary and will be just his assistant to further improve his cooking. Souma thinks his skills are better than him so Tsukasa challenges him right now. He is putting his Elite Ten seat on the line but if Souma loses, he will join Central as his assistant. Uhm, isn’t it either way Souma will be part of Central because if he is the first seat, he is technically still under Central? Anyway Souma will not let this chance slip and agrees. Tsukasa pulls out all his got as he uses venison to create his French dish. Even Erina, Hisako and Megumi spying outside all fall for his supreme aroma. So good! Souma then asks him why he joined Central as he is fine by his own. Of course this means asking Central’s true objective. It couldn’t be just taking over Totsuki, right? Tsukasa without batting an eyelid reveals the true overall goal: To close down all subpar diners in Japan! This means everyone will be eating fancy gourmet food? Sure. I don’t mind. If you make it dirt cheap. Hence this takeover of Totsuki is just the first step for a nationwide shutdown. But what pisses off Souma is how Tsukasa also mentions this means all small diners are unnecessary as well as those small places that hold great memories for everyone. Souma will not join Central or be his assistant. He will win this match.

Episode 12
So who are to judge the dishes? Pull in those spying girls. Souma pulls off his unpredictability by adding chestnuts and grilling venison meat over charcoal, which generally doesn’t fare well in French cuisine. But how come it tastes so exceptionally good? Because he added coffee. Something like that. Now it is Tsukasa’s turn. His double venison meat has twin flavours, French pepper and berries. Megumi and Hisako are in a dilemma to choose. I mean, they really can’t as both are so good. Also it would be bad if Souma loses and he ends up in Central. But Erina knows a clear winner. One that brings out the flavour of the venison: Tsukasa. Oh no! Souma loses?! Oh dear Souma, have you forgotten the winning rule to not let your dish get taste first?! However Tsukasa believes his predictability will not make him a good assistant. He would get worried to much! Besides, this isn’t a real Shokugeki so he calls it a draw. Souma despite admitting his loss, continues to sulk. Erina wonders if Tsukasa is showing him pity but he notes his cooking will not change no matter how much he tries to force it. A few days later, Souma’s friends continue their winning streak against the Central members. Yeah, they all won 3-0. So as they celebrate their glorious perfect victories back at Polar Star, look who comes to visit? Azami! He came all the way here to get Erina? She would have gone with him had Fumio and Isshiki reveal other info about him. He used to go by the name Nakamura until he married into the Nakiri family. He is an alumni of Polar Star and occupied the third seat of Elite Ten behind Dojima and Jouichirou. Everyone knows he plans to destroy Polar Star. I guess he’ll come back another day. Souma asks if he had felt no connection to this place. Azami believes this place is not the world he seeks. At least not now. He claims the golden age of Polar Star was when Jouichirou was around. He is the only chef whom he looks up. Souma reveals that is his father. See the shock on Erina’s face? Azami adds that his revolution is a salvation plan is to the culinary world that ruined Jouichirou. He feels lucky he gets to show the fruits of his labour to his son.

Menu Overhaul!
Yes! Definitely! Continue! You must continue!!! But why the heck do they need to split this third season into 2 cours? Are they trying to make me wait a gap season knowing that this season was awesome enough and therefore it will make the appetite grow and the dish will taste much better when it comes around? Okay. I think I can wait then. It is a very good thing that this season is quite interesting and hence blown away all my scepticism and doubts that I initially had at the beginning. And now I can look forward to the next season without any uncertainty clouding my mind! Hah. Being swayed by emotions after every season is sure a complex thing. So having that boring Stagiaire in the second season sure did lower my expectations. Imagine if it was so good, the hurdles would have been higher and you know what they say, the bigger they are the harder they fall.

I suppose it would have been a pretty boring and predictable formula had the plot been something like Souma challenging almost each and every one of the Elite Ten as he slowly climbs up the ladder and defeats the boss in the top seat. I think that would have made the entire series worse. This format might have worked in the early days of anime (like 20 years ago) but now it won’t. So the ‘twist’ of the plot comes in the shape of a new director for Totsuki. He sure does changed a whole lot of things around that serves as a wakeup call or more accurately a death knell for many of those who have gotten quite used to Totsuki’s traditions. I am sure many of us would love to hate this guy because of his dictatorship ways. After all, how else could you cheer on the hero (that’s you, Souma) and support him to defeat the big bad boss if that final antagonist is not as worthy? And so that is where Azami comes in. He is a demon as seen in the ending credits animation. That bad, huh?

Therefore with the latest revelations and developments especially Azami’s ties with Jouichirou, this whole Totsuki and possibly the culinary world thingy might get even more interesting as well as messy. Then maybe it would be Jouichirou’s turn to finally step back into the spotlight since he is mostly making his appearances in flashbacks. It seems there is more than meets the eye to one of the greatest chefs of his generation. Think about it. He graduated from Totsuki but didn’t really left his mark in the culinary world that tells he is an alumni of Totsuki. Like as though he doesn’t want to be associated with it. For many years, he has been laying low with his own mini diner until he decides to close it down and make Souma enrol in Totsuki. The one who will save the culinary world from certain doom? Maybe he disagreed or witnessed something horrifying. Like how meat ingredients are made from human beings! Oops. Wrong show. But the possibility is there for shock factor. I mean, are things all looking that good as they seem on the surface as well as what goes on beneath? There are things we do not know about Totsuki and an institution this big and influential may have dark secrets they want to hide from everyone forever.

While Azami’s plans might seem good on paper, but that is just about it and there are so many flaws that one may object but unfortunately our voices will not be heard because of his narrow minded thinking. First of all, he thinks that everyone should eat the same great food. Hence the same great cooking. That one and only way. Nothing else. He failed to realize that the rest of us ‘low lives’ are not so fortunate as him or his elites, getting to have this gourmet skill or whatever you may call. Sure, many of us would love to taste and eat good food for the rest of our lives but in reality, we are all just earning enough to eat. Barely. Yup, the same ol’ food for me again. And tomorrow. So unless he revolutionizes the prices by making them affordable, I think I will die of starvation first. Or even kill just to eat. Is this the chaos he wants to descend on Japan and the world?! That will be like he gets to control who gets to eat. Besides, if he is so cocksure that only one strict method is the right way, might as well discard all the various food types and cultures in the world and everyone’s meal would be all packed into one little pill. Yeah, that will be the ultimate. Also, the common people’s taste buds aren’t so sensitive so many broad spectrums. If it’s good, it’s good. Otherwise it is not. Simple. No need to rate out of 1000 and go into technical details on every fibre of the food. We common folks don’t give a sh*t. It all goes into our stomach and we’re satisfied. Period.

Call me a sadist but one of my biggest ‘joy’ for this season is seeing Erina being reduced to a weakling and scaredy-cat in the presence of her father. For the past 2 seasons we have known how obnoxious she is and especially towards Souma. Of course we learn about her past and circumstances but that doesn’t make it forgivable that snobbish b*tch she was before. So watching her in this frail state is like her getting her just desserts for being a dick towards everyone else. Maybe with this humility, it ought to open her eyes. I won’t say I didn’t feel pity for her seeing her in this state for the longest time, I do feel a bit bad for her but overall, I still enjoy seeing Erina stop being a b*tch for once. Of course, my wildest fantasy was to see Erina being further reduced to a damsel in distress situation that she would cry and finally run into Souma’s arms for help! Please Souma, I beg of you. Please help me. I don’t know what to do anymore. Boo hoo (insert more dramatic crying here)! And then like the true prince charming he would defeat his enemies and sweep her off her feet! And their culinary romance can begin! Kyaa~!!! So cringey. Should be Souma x Megumi but I really want to see that alternate fantasy too! Yeah, I also got my wish to see that face when she realizes Souma is the son of Jouichirou. It is priceless. The guy whom she adored long ago has a son whom she despises. Karma coming full circle. Now she’ll be forced to apologize and be nice to him. If she ever gets on her high horse and begin sounding b*tchy, just show a picture of her dad and she’ll shiver right away. That’ll do the trick. Sorry, still in my dream land…

Tsukasa feels like one of the oddest characters ever. I mean, Totsuki hosts a hell lot of weird characters but none as weird as him. Because he is so panicky and a worrywart in almost everything but the irony is that his cooking is so flawless and seamless like as though there was nothing to worry about to begin with. Like as though he has a split personality when it comes to cooking because he is just so cool whenever in that state. Yeah, his anxiety is somewhat a running joke for the series. Rindou I feel although has this very carefree and playful demeanour, it is as though underneath all that she has an ulterior motive. I mean, she does have the eyes of a snake, doesn’t she? Or maybe it could be she is just that and wants something more interesting to spice up her boring life.

Every other character are just hanging in there. What do you expect when you have only a dozen episodes and so many other characters that have been introduced since? So we don’t get to see Mito fawning too much over Souma and while Takumi still has his gay challenge waiting for Souma, it isn’t as annoying as he doesn’t pop up as often. Isami is still fat, though. They trolled us with Megumi becoming Souma’s assistant for the Moon Festival because we thought there would be some romantic sparks lighting although there were none. Not even a hint. Then there is Hisako who has become more receptive of Souma and Alice is not as bad as you think she is although she is still reckless. Ryo is still aggressive and full of angst as long as he wears his bandana while Mimasaka is still copying everything. And to show the Polar Storm members aren’t being useless, hence that eviction episode that ended in their victory.

At least this season we had a couple of Shokugeki and they aren’t a let-down either. They still maintain all that exaggerative goodness that will only make amateurs of this series want to take a chomp out of their screen. Me too but this time round, I had more resistance. More control over my appetite and not fall for those exaggerated naked reactions (those are still hilarious yet nonsensical). Seeing Souma and his side giving those high and mighty arrogant guys their humble pie never feels old. The food still looks as good but if only they could be real in real life. Sure, they will. If you cough up enough cash. Even if I don’t understand all the technical details what they’re saying in preparing the food, I am sure my average common sense will still tell me they are all great food. You people don’t have to cook such a great dish that will blow my (naked) mind away. Something that fills my stomach and give the thumbs up. Simple.

At this point I am starting to believe that rank and reputation too have a very stark influence on one’s confidence if the dish one makes would be successful. Of course it is for drama effect but for example when Souma went up against Tsukasa, the girls were very worried with the fact that Souma had a higher chance of losing because well, he is up against the number one. Of course it is to show that the seat is well respected and if anybody doesn’t feel fear, awe or inspiration being challenged or just being with this dude, it takes away the meaning to have such ranks and organizations. So don’t let the people with higher rank and better public reputation fool you. They odds might be stacked against you at first but remember, that doesn’t guarantee that you will lose. Just a higher percentage of losing, that’s all. At this point everyone should know and believe in Souma. Sure, he wins some, he loses some. His forever underdog tag might be the culprit why his pals are so worried when he challenges higher ranking people. But as the protagonist, he’ll win. Right? Just remember to let your dish taste the last.

Another rock outfit greets the opening theme for this season, Braver by ZAQ. Initially I felt such hard rock pieces aren’t suitable for this food themed series but seeing the direction of where things are heading, maybe it is a little okay after all. Nano Ripe reprises her role for the ending theme, Kyokyo Jitsujitsu. Is it because of the cool crazy guitar riffs and bass lines that distracted me from her ‘terrible’ voice? Okay, she doesn’t sound that bad after hearing her so many times but this song isn’t actually all that bad. Maybe it is all the delicious looking dishes in the ending credits animation all so nicely placed out that makes it even more appetizing.

Overall, the third season did do some justice and recover the series’ name. Not sure if it was a good thing to split the season into 2 cours instead of a continuous one. It’s like having your appetizer and main course first and then come back tomorrow for the dessert. Because maybe the restaurant ran out of whipped cream and needed to go to the store to get some but they’re all close. And we’re okay with that because we know they’ll deliver. Yeah. That kind of feeling. So while the story is getting pretty generic about an unconventional talented kid challenging the conventional and bringing his form of revolution to everything, it is the way they present it that doesn’t make it tiring. After 3 seasons and having being presented with the same awesome foods but in various forms, I guess it is true that variety is indeed the spice of life. All that talking is making me hungry for the next season already.

Imagine taking some of the famous fictitious characters from famous western works and combine them all into an anime. You get Code: Realize: Sousei No Himegimi. Crossovers are hardly new in today’s world but it is very rare to see the likes of Lupin and Van Helsing coming together into a single story or series. Oh right, there was that movie, The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Anyway this series tells of a girl who has been locked away in solitude for so long because of a deadly substance in her body that melts anything that comes into direct contact with her. Of course being such a deadly potential of mass weapon of destruction, in no time certain parties are out to get her to fulfil their own agenda and goals.

Episode 1
The British Army led by Rempart Leonhardt storms into a building only to wake Cardia Beckford from her slumber. Thinking she is just an ordinary girl, one of them carelessly touches her but his skin instantly burns. It seems her body is made of poison and her special clothes keep her from burning everything upon contact. As they load her into their vehicle, this gentleman thief, Arsene Lupin makes his grand entrance and proclamation to steal her. The sleeping gas knocks them out. Cardia wakes up in his steam junk car driven by his mechanic buddy, Impey Barbicane. They pass through the outskirts of London which is a heavily industrialized nation. Under the reign of Queen Alexandrina Victoria, Britain is the world’s super powerhouse. Back at their mansion, she is introduced to another comrade, Victor Frankenstein AKA Fran (he has wanted posters of him being a terrorist everywhere). They note the other friend, Saint-Germain isn’t here but he is more like their patron supplying this base. Cardia is surprised they know her father, Isaac. Everyone should. He is the creator of this perpetual machine called Horologium. Infinite energy. For some reason he embedded it in Cardia’s body. That is why the British Army is after her. However they note the one pulling the strings behind this is a terrorist organization named Twilight. Cardia shows the Horologium embedded in her chest. It makes her question why her father did so. Lupin says their job is to protect her from falling into the wrong hands. As she rests and remembers how her father coldly told her to live in isolation since she is a monster, a cute dog, Shishi comes up to her. Of course you follow it. Soon the guys learn she is missing and look for her. In the forest, Cardia is attacked by wild dogs. By the time Lupin finds her, she laments the death of a wild dog who bit her. He brings her band and since she is still feeling guilty about staying, he tells her no one in this world should live in isolation (drawing from his own past experience). He gives her the motivation to stay. It is warm here and now she has a reason to look for answers why father left her with Horologium. Lupin throws in a bonus that in exchange for stealing her heart, he will grant her a wish. Well, she has none. Don’t worry. She has all the time to think.

Episode 2
Cardia meets Saint for the first time. She also learns Fran was the head of the royal alchemist but is now running from the government as they framed him. Their plan now is to stay low and gather info on Twilight since they lack the means to fight them head on. Meanwhile Finis, the leader of Twilight, has a chat with Victoria about their failed attempt to capture Cardia. Because of that, he has sent his men to finish the job. Fran examines Cardia and confirms the poison in her body is the result of Horologium. Surgery to remove it is not recommended as he couldn’t hear her heartbeat. This means she has no heart and Horologium is keeping her alive. For a change of pace, the guys take Cardia to London. She is confused about their kindness so Lupin tells about Shishi. Some stranger cut of his leg and Impey can’t leave it alone, made him a metallic leg and adopted him. Despite all that, Shishi is still alive. She is no different than them. Lupin senses danger and takes her away. But at the alley they are ambushed by Twilight men. They get unexpected help from Abraham Van Helsing. However he too is after Cardia. A greatly timed smokescreen from Fran allows them to escape but Van is a step ahead of them and cuts them off. Holding them at gunpoint, he confirms with Cardia that she has Horologium. Fran knows Van as an ex-member of Twilight wants to use Cardia against them. Van further reveals his goal is Finis and he will use Cardia to make him pay for all the atrocities he has done. Fran suggests joining up with them since they have the same goal. However Van refuses. He shoots Lupin but his gun backfires since Lupin initially tossed some ball into it to jam it up. Fran once more offers him to join them they will have a force to fight Twilight. The more they thwart their plans, Finis will eventually show up. Van agrees. Despite he is now on their side, Cardia can sense he is filled with sadness.

Episode 3
Van now hangs out in their mansion but keeps his distance. There is an article of a phantom thief that steals stuffs belonging to a vampire family and it isn’t Lupin behind it. Lupin returns with info that Finis will board a train to London in 2 weeks so what better idea than to steal him and the train. Van wants Cardia along this mission since she is Twilight’s target but that is precisely why the rest are against it. Agree to his terms or he’s out. Oh well, Cardia herself wants to join because they’re friends, right? So everyone trains Cardia what they are best at. To show the fruits of her training, they decide to stop this phantom thief and claim the fat reward. After all, they are running low on funds. Deducing from the phantom thief’s pattern, Lupin knows he will hit an auction house that is going to auction a pendant named Nosferatu’s Saber that belonged to vampire family. True enough, that phantom thief shows up. Everyone freaks out not knowing he is a kid but is a real vampire. He is Delacroix II and claims he will have his revenge on mankind. Apparently Delacroix and Van know each other and the grudge runs deep. Delacroix tells him to meet their meeting place to settle their business once and for all. Meanwhile the rest ponder about the history of vampires. It was wiped out by the British during a war. In actual fact, it was just a witch hunt to eradicate vampires. Van was a member of Twilight then and played an important role in Britain’s victory. More flashbacks from Van. As seen he was Delacroix’s teacher. Finis then told him about Britain’s upcoming witch hunt (just to show foreign nations of their might) in which he was against. However Finis held his family hostage and he is forced to do as he is told. Delacroix had the misfortune to see Van kill his father. He vowed revenge. Now Van is at Delacroix’s old home and fights him. Too bad vampire kid isn’t as good and Van owns him in every way. Asked to give up his revenge on mankind, where will he direct his anger then? Van remembers Finis murdered his family despite carrying out his orders. Van will allow Delacroix to kill him but only when all this is over. He has his word and Cardia and co are the witnesses. So end his revenge and hatred for everything else after he kills him. Cardia then invites Delacroix to live with them as she doesn’t want him to be alone. Who will look after the graves then? Van suggests to keep an eye on him and after he kills him, he can offer his body to his parents’ grave. As they leave, Van agrees to teach Cardia martial arts. Cardia still sees sadness in his eyes but now knows there is kindness behind it. Since Delacroix is going to live with them, he will go by his original name, Dracula or Drac for short.

Episode 4
Victoria hires super detective, Herlock Sholmes (that’s not a typo) to accompany Finis. He agrees as he has his own agenda. Lupin tells his members about their plan to abduct Finis. Sounds great in theory. Putting forth their plan into action, it begins with Van and Fran knocking out the train driver. Lupin and Cardia assimilate as train conductors as they make their way from the back to the front. Lupin drops a smokescreen to cause the soldiers to alert. Van then handles them for the duo to move on. Lupin’s plan is to use a bomb to destroy the coupling to detach the train. Once that happens and at the precise moment, they would have reached a fork and Impey would switch the train to another track. The train will then stop on a bridge over a ravine in which Finis will have no means of escape. However before them is Herlock. He has been following Lupin and dreams of catching him. Lupin fights him and has Cardia put the bomb herself. Don’t worry, she can fight those Twilight guys. I suppose they underestimated her. With help from Van, she manages to put and detonate the bomb. Once that happens, Lupin escapes on Impey’s weird mini helicopter. When Cardia and Van enter the room Finis is in, they are ambushed by his aide, Jimmy A. Aleister. Saint calls Impey and warns them not to head to the bridge because it is a trap and the mission failed. The bridge then blows up. Finis reveals he knows their plan because he was the one who leaked the info that he will board this train. So it was them who fell into his trap. It was a ploy to meet Cardia, his older sister. Say what? He further reveals they are related because of the same father. He wants her to come with him but Van won’t allow that. Finis mocks him that the old Van would have shot him by now and being unable to do so means he has changed. Lupin bombs a hole in the side of the train and tells Cardia to jump. She does and leaves Finis heartbroken. Yeah, she chose a phantom thief over some bratty brother. The British army’s airship picks up Finis before the train dives into the ravine.

Episode 5
The guys are now all wanted criminals. Fran is the hardest hit as he sinks into depression. Cardia goes to talk to him but she too has her own worries ever since Finis revealed he is her brother. That night, Cardia spots Fran sneaking out alone. Good thing she followed him or else Fran would have been done in by the British guards. It seems he plans to see Victoria and negotiate with her to revoke their wanted status. Man, he thinks it is going to be that easy? They hide from reinforcements but looks like Twilight is also after them. They find an unlikely ally in Leonhardt as he protects them from Twilight. He has orders to bring them back alive. There is only so far they can run before the British side corners them. Who is going to save them now? You bet Lupin and Van are here in great timing to handle the guards so they can flee via Impey’s helicopter. However the British airship starts firing at them right over town and they conveniently crash into Buckingham Palace right in the middle of a knighting ceremony. Don’t worry. Despite the helicopter is trashed, nobody is injured. With the guards surrounding them, Fran threatens to bomb the entire place unless he seeks an audience with Victoria. He gets his wish but she is not moved with his threat because she knows his detonator is just a toy. Fran then gets serious and takes out a liquid explosive. If he drops this, they both will die and Fran has taken steps to assure the spread of the Zicterium throughout the world, something Victoria fears. Seeing his resolve, Victoria announces to the public the rescindment of their wanted status and will now be under the British’s protection. Victoria warns him not to further anger her. Wow. That was easy. Back at the mansion, Fran reveals the truth to his comrades. He was part of the team tasked to create the Philosopher’s Stone. Some alchemy thingy that is associated with eternal life. However Fran discovered something even more terrifying: Zicterium. To his dismay, Victoria wanted to use it as show of strength against the vampires. The rest is history. After Fran defected, Isaac took over the project and discovered something else: Horologium. Fran blames himself had he never invented that, Cardia wouldn’t have been in this position. But Cardia isn’t mad. She is grateful that the events that transpired allowed her to be here now. Feeling better, Fran vows to find a cure for her poison.

Episode 6
Saint wants Impey to build an airship to enter a race called The Gathering. Its first prize is a posthumous writing of Isaac. Lupin thought he could steal it but learning that Herlock is guarding it, looks like he changes his mind. Impey works on the engine while Lupin goes to steal the exterior. Cardia learns Impey’s dream is to fly to the moon and his infatuation with the mechanical stuffs started since young when he saw the steam train. During race day, Impey is running late. He leaves it really late to come by and makes the rest really anxious. Nobody is appreciative of his work except for this mad gay scientist, Nemo. He even shows Impey around his airship. As the race begins, it seems firing at each other is also allowed. Wait a minute. They’re flying over London. Is this even allowed?! Anyway, Impey’s airship has no weapons since he took it out to enable them to fly faster. As long as they can avoid getting hit. The fake paint on the airship comes off due to the wind. This belongs to some company so you bet they are mad. Hence the race turns into one whereby a 20 million reward is given to whoever shoots it down! But the other airships are taken down by Nemo as he claims he will be the winner of this race. Luckily Impey’s airship is smaller to Nemo’s giant. He makes a u-turn to leave him in a lurch. However this means facing off with other racers as they fire back. An engine is shot down and if they lose another one, they’ll crash. This is when Impey unleashes his ‘secret weapon’. Van has to get inside this cannonball? It is then fired towards an airship! Van is going to make Impey pay for this but after he sabotages and takes out the enemies’ airship. Heck, Van even crashes one into Nemo and sends his airship exploding in the sky! He’ll be back, says Nemo? Metres away from the finish line, Impey’s airship is on the verge of crashing. Can he make it? Thanks to his awesome skills, they win. Yeah, everyone almost died. It’s a miracle they survive that last minute crash. After they get their winners’ photo taken, Impey hands the prize to Cardia. She keeps them as her precious treasures.

Episode 7
Following the writings, it leads them to a secret underground lab where there are many Cardia clones in the tubes!!! OMG! Cardia is a homunculus?! Naturally she falls into depression. Naturally this makes the guys worried. They believe it is all part of Finis’ plan as he knew Cardia would one day go to that lab. Fran always had a feeling was a homunculus because of the Horologium. He never said anything because he didn’t want to hurt a pure and kind girl. Lupin disagrees because it is better she should have heard it from them the truth and get hurt rather than being kept secret from those trusted. And naturally too, she runs away the next day. Where to? Her old home. She needs to find out about herself. While doing so, it brings back memories of a woman who took her in while she was on the run from authorities. Elaine and her young daughter, Etty sheltered her for a while. However soon the villagers led by an arrogant priest start knocking on her door, wanting her to hand over the monster. Elaine declined as they blamed Cardia for the village’s drought and everything. Eventually Cardia and Elaine were thrown into some rock prison. Because there is no ventilation, Cardia’s poison starts permeating the space. By the time she burns a hole in the rocks, Elaine died suffocated. The villagers saw the horror and Etty ever since blamed Cardia the monster for her mom’s death. Cardia finds a hidden compartment and a letter written by Isaac to her. Too bad those villagers are back to harass her. One of them saw her returning and alerted the rest. Yup, they blame her again for everything and by defeating her, they will have God’s blessing back. As Cardia is about to resign to her fate, guess who shows up to save her? You guessed it. Lupin. He tells them off for not thinking for themselves and conveniently blaming others. The villagers feel guilty and do not listen to the priest to go after them.

Resting in the woods, Cardia still feels guilty about everything and doesn’t want to return home. Lupin tells of his past. His master was a chivalrous thief stealing from the rich to give to the poor as atonement for his sin. He never understood what it meant until he tried to set things straight. Somebody ratted his group out to the police and they blamed him. He was killed. Lupin learnt his ‘sin’ was knowing of Isaac’s terrorist plot and running away doing nothing. Despite all that, Lupin regarded him as his father. That is why he is now in London. He has a past that can’t be erased nor does he want anyone else to know. Does she hate him now? No matter her past, it doesn’t matter to him or the others. At first he wanted to use Cardia as a connection to Isaac but after fleeing with her for the first time, he knew he just couldn’t leave her alone. That’s a long way of saying he loves her, right? Next day as they leave, Etty surprisingly pops up to warn them that the road ahead is blocked by villagers. She might not have forgiven Cardia for Elaine’s death but now doesn’t view her as a monster. On the way back, Cardia allows Lupin to read the letters. Mostly mathematical formulas. But there is one letter telling her if she gets lost, got to the underground of St Paul’s Cathedral in London where he will be preparing to wage war against God. He hopes she will join him for a new future in this plan called Code: Realize. She knows that term. Lupin too. Because it was written in his master’s notebook. It is the codename for Isaac’s terrorist plan. I wonder if it is too late because London now is on fire! Finis and his Twilight has begun the commencement of their new world.

Episode 8
The attack is more of a coup d’etat. Some of the British soldiers have defected to Twilight so it is utter chaos to see the soldiers fighting among themselves. Twilight’s goal is to kidnap Victoria. Our heroes reunite and are in the heart of London’s chaos and knowing Twilight well, their goal in stopping this havoc is to take Victoria first before Twilight does. Saint meets up with Guinevere. She gives him some sort of potion but Saint wants to put his faith in Lupin and co first. Lupin and Cardia storm into the palace looking for Victoria. Lupin manages to impersonate Victoria’s voice so well to fool some of the dumb soldiers. Thankfully they come into Victoria and Leonhardt first. They agree to work together for now to escape. But Finis is a step ahead of them. He and his side ambush them while they’re crossing the London Bridge. Finis mocks Cardia if she likes the gifts (the clones) he gave her. Cardia denies him calling her a monster. She asks what Code: Realize is. To put it in short, a plan to destroy the entire world! Oh, Cardia is an essential part of the plan who will destroy it. And he blames her as the one who will kill everybody! Naturally she is in shock. Lupin tries to shut him up but what good will it do him when he gets shot? Don’t worry. Not in vital areas. Oh, Lupin getting shot? That’s Cardia’s fault too! WTF?! All in great timing, Impey’s ship passes by. The smokescreen is enough to cause a little confusion as our heroes and the queen hop on for their escape. You tell me Twilight can’t go after that slow poke boat? At their hideout, Victoria hears Lupin’s plan to storm St Paul’s Cathedral to suppress the rebellion. He needs her to rally her British Army to do that. Seeing no case for objection, she agrees to work with him. After all, she needs to teach Finis a lesson. Meanwhile Saint talks to Cardia. At the end of all that heart-warming talk, he tells his intention that he is here to kill her. Gasp! What?!

Episode 9
Saint reveals he is from a secret organization called Idea. Their mission is to watch over humanity and guide them on the right path. Translate that as: Eliminate any errors and mistakes that mankind would make that will lead to their doom. Idea has deemed Cardia as one as well as Isaac’s plan. He gives her the potion that will grant her a peaceful death. She takes it but will not drink it. Cardia reunites with the rest at the makeshift British Army base in the woods. Lupin is still recuperating but Cardia doesn’t feel like seeing him. Instead, she talks to Van and thanks him for being her friend. But he has to remind her once this is over, he will no longer be alive. Yeah, that promise to Drac. Why you go make her feel uneasy? Fran goes over one of the notebooks Cardia found. There are missing pages but from what he could deduce, Nemo is deeply part of Isaac’s plan too. Guinevere once again sees Saint. She reminds him as a fellow Idea member, he must carry out his mission. Saint seems to be wavering and having second thoughts. She gives him a pocket watch now? Is it something symbolic like time to die? Van sees Lupin and makes him fluster when he points out he and Cardia are in some sort of love relationship. The point he wants to drill is that if there is something on his mind, tell her now. There is no telling if they’ll be alive after the battle. Wow. Van can give this sort of advice? Cardia makes friends with a soldier who is pinning for his family. But shortly he dies from his wounds and this only makes Cardia sadder. Oh no. Is this what Finis means when she will kill everybody? Lupin finds her crying alone. She throws a fit at him because he acted as though he wasn’t scared. She hates the fact he put himself in danger for her sake. If he dies, she can’t see him anymore. Her chest hurts when she thinks of him. Can it be love because you know, she has no heart. Anyway, Lupin promises to protect her and will not die. The rest of the gang unite to pledge the same. Saint rejects Guinevere’s proposal to join them. Wasted the pocket watch, cut in half… Drac for the first time makes himself useful by joining their cause. Though he gives the lame excuse he can’t let Van be killed by anyone except him. Tsundere? Cardia makes her heartfelt speech thanking them and to help her for a while more. Next morning, Victoria rallies the troops for a simultaneous attack from the inside and outside.

Episode 10
With Leonhardt’s group distracting Twilight guards outside, the rest sneak in. Of course, more Twilight guards. Drac proves his worth by fighting these low level guards. Heh. Even those with no martial arts skill can take on these useless soldiers. The path is blocked by Aleister. Van has a hard time fighting him since he is his former superior. Saint stays back to fight him so the rest could move forward. Inside the secret chamber, they are shocked to see a giant globe before them. And of course, Finis. Van tries to make him spill the details but Finis mocks him if he is here to find out how his family died and dares him to just admit he is here to kill him. The closer Finis gets to Cardia, his pendant starts affecting her health. When Lupin tries to help her, Finis gets mad about him for touching her. He tries to stab him but Saint stabs him from the back! Where the heck did he come from without anybody hearing?! Just like that Finis is dead? Why you’re not happy, Van? You were expecting some epic boss fight? Oh, be careful for what you wish because Finis still lives! Or at least his clone! In fact the entire area is filled with his clones! Finis reveals these are just puppets and the real one is inside the globe, which also houses Isaac. You see, after Isaac died, he was placed in this mechanical vessel. The crucial plan of Code: Realize is to combine Cardia’s Horologium with Finis to create the ultimate God. But why go so far to start a world war? You see, mankind can only make scientific advances via war. Therefore an endless war means infinite evolution for humanity! Hence a new world. Nice logic… This is Code: Realize’s true goal. Van tries to target the globe but hesitates when Finis says if he is killed, the cure for Cardia’s poison is no more. Yup, that really made him stop. But there’s more. Tentacles pop up from the globe and start whipping everyone while kidnapping Cardia! You think this wouldn’t hint something hentai until Finis says he will become one with his sister! You mean like incest? And with that, father will be proud? Lupin fails to retrieve Cardia but tells her to trust him. Tactical retreat, I guess? What choice does she have put to believe in him to come rescue her? The globe is then sucked up by the giant Nautilus piloted by Nemo. It also drops poisonous Zicterium bombs that kill everyone who inhale it on the ground.

Episode 11
With Nautilus needing time to recharge, Victoria has her troops reinforce as they plan to take it head on. Though it might destroy London in the process and its recovery taking longer as a result, Victoria has a duty as the matriarch to ensure the safety of her children (read: London citizens). Lupin blames Van for not taking the shot to destroy Finis then. Van reasons that he wanted to grant Cardia’s wish, to rid her of her poison. Even if Lupin is okay with Cardia still having her poison as long as he is by her side, has he not forgotten Cardia’s wish to rid of her poison so she could touch things? Lupin realizes he never said the important things to her. Don’t tell it to Van he loves her. In that case, Van’s job is to deliver him to Cardia. Saint introduces weird mages in robes. They are from Idea and despite they shouldn’t have assist Saint, their goal is to stop Isaac’s plan. The mages will provide magic support as the army attack Nautilus. Finis tells Cardia how his body is a vessel for her Horologium’s energy. When they combine, a new God and world will be created. All that is left is for Isaac to awaken. The result of their union is that Finis will die. Good news: Cardia will lose her poison. Bad news: She cannot live without her Horologium. Finis is fine dying because that is his role. He believes Isaac will love and praise him after fulfilling his duty. As the airships begin their attack on Nautilus, the magic barrier helps protect them from Nautilus’ gunfire. However it does not protect them from its tentacle attacks! WTF???!!! Impey crashes his airship into Nautilus. It’s the fastest way to get on board, right? Somehow Cardia runs away from Finis. He lets her go because where else could she run to? Conveniently she stumbles into Lupin. Unfortunately she tells him her poison is getting stronger and hence cannot be with him anymore. This is goodbye. Lupin doesn’t give a f*ck about that. Because he loves her. To prove that, he hugs her even if her poison corrodes his body. Sorry to cut short your romantic tryst but Finis doesn’t like this one bit. Destroying the pendant, not only Cardia goes into pain, her poison goes into berserk. Anything around few inches of her radius is melted even if she is not touching anything. Finis kicks Lupin off the ledge.

Episode 12
This is what happens with the ‘unification’. Cardia is transported inside the globe, Finis drops dead and Isaac awakens. Thanks to that, Cardia is now able to see Isaac’s past. Looks like a lovely family she had there. Isaac was a researcher trying to solve food shortage. Too bad people became impatient and when deaths of starvation happened, they blamed him and science for bringing God’s wrath. Naturally kicking him out wasn’t the only thing to do. They burnt down his house and family. And that was how Isaac turned to the dark side. Cardia now understands why father wanted her to live in solitary and would have believed that until she started thinking about Lupin. And what do you know? Calling out his name, here he comes busting in to save her! How the f*ck did he manage to survive that fall, break through thick tentacle wires and pull her out???!!! He is only human!!! Anyway, they noticed Cardia’s touch doesn’t burnt. Flashback last night when Fran told Lupin about it. Deducing from whatever theory, the timing must be precise for the globe to suck out her Horologium but leave enough behind for her to be alive. Exact timing is needed. I don’t know how Fran knows about this even if he is a genius scientist, can he deduce all that so fast and perfect? Screw it all. Anyway, now we have Isaac in hologram form. He is badmouthing Finis for being a useless doll and as expected, Cardia disagrees and argues how Finis fought all for his love. It is him who is the monster. Still, father doesn’t change his stand. Meanwhile Impey and Fran has placed explosives around the ship and apprehend Nemo. He isn’t much of a fighter so it’s easy.

Isaac has Lupin in his grasp (and lecturing how hopeless humans are and that they can’t change always to be counter argued by the hero) but that won’t stay for long because in perfect timing, Lupin throws his stick to light a fuse to a bomb he placed on the globe. PERFECT TIMING!!! The tentacles cannot diffuse it in time!!! Even more unbelievable, the globe is destroyed that easily?! They should have thrown lots of bombs at it. I know, tentacle barriers but still throwing bombs sounds a sure kill way. When bad guys die, why do they always lament the perfect God they should’ve become? Finis resurrects but is disheartened he won’t get the love he wants. As the explosion rips apart Nautilus, Finis falls but Cardia catches him. She wants him to love together with her but I guess he doesn’t have that much of a siscon. Sorry, sister. He drops himself to death and with that, Finis is officially finished. Sorry, bad pun. Just a while ago, Lupin said he won’t lose Cardia but now he plans to sacrifice himself and stay behind just because his wounds are now acting up? So he gets to play the hero? Cardia of course won’t and stays by him. Time for some quality time chat. I guess if they’re going to die, might as well go out with a bang. Because they are free falling from the sky, embracing each other so tight, confessing they love each other and even kissing! Man, the most ‘romantic’ scene ever! Amidst the decimating London backdrop. Fast forward to the aftermath as we see London being rebuilt. Guinevere confronts Saint to settle their score but for good ending’s sake, she backs off and warns him to keep an eye on her for the rest of his life or there will be no second chance. Yeah, giving this chance proves they’re willing to compromise. Cardia and Lupin are still alive and short flashback shows Impey’s mini aircraft came to their rescue. Cardia wonders how she is still alive because she would have died not from the free fall but the balance of the little Horologium inside her has ran out. Could it be Finis or Isaac giving her the remnants of their lives? Or as cheeky Lupin put it, it’s the power of love! Haha… Anyway, speaking of which, today everyone has gathered because Lupin and Cardia are getting married! That sure escalated fast. Now they can touch and kiss all they want and create a new world of their own.

If Your Heart Melts, Will You Go Into Cardia-c Arrest?
Meh. I just felt the final ending was just ludicrous in so many ways like as though they tried to fit a lot of things in just to end it. Throughout the series, other episodes had this feel but none as bad as the last one. Lots of things didn’t make sense especially how Lupin who could have died a few times could defy death and come back alive and kicking all because in the name of the plot. And yeah, he gets to save the girl and marry her in the end! I suppose if you are gunning for a good happy ending might as well go all the way no matter how ridiculous it seems. The world might still be a sh*thole and sh*tty place to live but at least we know there is going to be a very happy couple living out their beautiful life not caring what the world has to say about a gentleman thief and a homunculus do. Why care about the world that will eventually be ungrateful when you can put yourself first and be happy till death do you part?

Based on a visual novel game of the same name, somehow it made me think this series would have somewhat similar elements to another visual novel game that was adapted into an anime series: Amnesia. A reverse harem, a girl being surrounded by a few hot hunks. However on the surface that is pretty much where the similarity ends. Despite all the guys in the group do love Cardia and do have their moments with her, it seems they prefer the status quo of being friends with her. After all, how can you make love or even flirt when you have a girl that melts you at the mere touch? And it has been so obviously hinted it should be Lupin x Cardia (and the ending of this anime proves it) so I guess that settles the romance part for this series. I guess with Cardia losing her poison now means they get to have normal penetrative sex?! It would be some kind of horror-cum-comedy if you were to put your penis inside her only to find it gone a few seconds later. I can think of some silly sex puns of that but I think I’ll pass…

With only a dozen episodes, I believe that the main characters aren’t really fleshed out that well. I am sure that is one the big problems when you have a game adapted into anime. The game allows you to invest and learn more about the characters in depth but the anime doesn’t allow for such a liberty. Therefore the characters mainly stay the same as they are without much development. Even more so if you have read those western classics, I am sure you would find many of their traits similar to the original characters. Like Impey who is the greatest mechanic in Britain (if not the world) and Fran being a genius scientist. Van is supposedly the greatest vampire hunter but seeing vampires have been massacred, his role is simply to hunt down the main antagonist to find his closure. Lupin as a phantom thief may not look like he lives up to his profession save for a few occasions of stealing when necessary to the plot so I guess the biggest steal he needs to take is one where he wrests back Cardia from Finis’ hands. Sounds legit for the plot, I guess.

Of course some characters are slightly modified like Nemo who originally is supposed to be piloting a sea ship but Nautilus is now turned into a giant airship. Also, I didn’t read the original works but Nemo being casted as a bad guy and a crazy mad guy? And possibly gay too? Oh well, I guess having famous fictitious characters all on the good side won’t be that exciting. So I guess this series is missing a few other famous characters especially from the English legends like Robin and King Arthur… Maybe Oliver Twist and Mary Poppins won’t be so bad either. Ironically this series’ setting is in London and we have some main characters whose origins are from France.

I try not to look Cardia as a damsel in distress but it seems she cannot do much because of her circumstances. So she is like being a dangerous weapon trying to avoid making the biggest mistake that would end mankind in one fell swoop but at the same time trying to find her place of belonging. As expected, she’s not a monster like most people claim to be as she discovers the meaning of emotions and the likes. It’s a good thing she is in good hands under Lupin and co’s hands because imagine how devastated she will get if she were to be in the hands of other ordinary people. Name callings and witch hunts will not stop. And thanks to these guys, she can be said has more humanity than an ordinary person. Not bad for a homunculus, right? I wonder what happened to all her unconscious clones. Oh well, I guess they’re not alive so technically we don’t need to care about them. I mean, it’s not like they burnt the lab or handed it over to the authorities, right? I’m assuming it’s all still there… Heck, if other Cardia clones escape and come alive, will Lupin be accused of cheating Cardia? Oh boy. This sounds so confusing the more I think about it.

I feel Herlock’s role feels wasted despite fighting on the same side with Lupin and co in the end as the queen’s advisor. One of the most famous fictitious characters and this detective genius gets relegated to a secondary role and let a phantom thief take all the glory and even more so gets the girl? Due to my lack of reading habit, I thought Herlock’s name was a typo. But of all characters, why only his name is spelled differently unlike the rest? It couldn’t be copyright infringement, could it? Turns out that Herlock character too exists but in Lupin’s world and stories. Of course Herlock was created as a transparent reference to Sherlock Holmes to rival Lupin. Even though I thought using the original Sherlock would have been better and give more ‘variety’, thinking about it, Herlock isn’t too bad either because at least it gives and shows a sense of rivalry for Lupin. The original Sherlock stories do not have Lupin so there is this disconnection there.

One of the most annoying characters is Finis. In short, this kid seems to have daddy issues. He is so insecure and must have felt he never got enough of daddy’s love in his younger days and hence his twisted character and him playing the villain role to succeed Isaac’s plans in hopes daddy would love him forever. People, this is what happens if parents do not spank their kids. Assuming he never got one. Heh. I think Finis also has got some sister complex because he gets mad whenever he sees others touching her. Though he claims she is just a tool for initiating Isaac’s plan, he treats her well enough although his teasing of her being a monster poison killing everybody feels like a normal sibling love-hate relationship. You know, your sibling is jealous of you and starts mocking your bad sides or habits. That kind of feeling.

Victoria is supposed to be the queen of Britain but yet I feel her character lacks any sort of authority. She may be the head of state but there is this sense of disconnect of her and her people. I don’t know. Maybe it must be she never smiles sweetly. Like as though she is the queen because she is the queen. I mean, have you heard the people shout “Long live the queen!”? She looks and sounds more like a cold b*tch and could have turned into the series’ main antagonist as well had not Finis pulled the rug from other her feet first. From the looks at the end, it looks like the people has not lost their faith in her. So back to governing Britain.

Drac’s character feels the most useless in the sense of the overall plot. He is there just as a plot device so that Van could not be reckless enough with his life to achieve his goal. So that he could return with a reason to live because his life is in Drac’s hands. Huh? After his debut which is his most prominent feature, Drac has somewhat being relegated to the background. Heck, he is not involved in almost all of the group’s work. He is usually left behind. In that sense he gets treated worse than Cardia just because he is a kid. Do you not remember he is a vampire? Which means he possesses far better superhuman abilities than you ordinary humans! So I guess he only stays back to provide support role because we don’t want to get any kids hurt in this series, do we? Oh but Finis… He’s the baddie so it’s okay. So with Van still alive at the end shows Drac having a change of heart that he is merciful or he might just be delaying it to another time. Shishi feels like the series’ mascot. What is cuter than a corgi? A corgi with a mechanical leg and a top hat! I think this is what they had in mind when they designed this doggy.

Idea as the organization is basically a joke. (I suppose this is supposed to be some joke and reference to Idea Factory, the creators of this visual novel game). It is some shadowy secret organization that we know nothing more about except its vague mission to guide mankind on the correct path whose leader is some granny looking ready to kick that bucket. What correct path? Who determines what paths are correct? Are you telling me they are playing God? Having letting this terrorist plan get started itself shows the organization is a failure. No, allowing them to plan it for some time is already a big fail. And what freaking steps did they take to solve it? Just push it onto Saint and letting him shoulder the burden of giving a poison to Cardia. That’s it? Yeah, that sounded so easy and fail proof. I expected better. Cardia may have been the main ingredient for Code: Realize and they might be thinking among the logic of nipping the problem at the bud but when you consider she is harmless and in the safe hands of handsome hunks while the real terrorists are those Twilight guys, man, they have not been watching carefully over mankind. No wonder Saint left it. History repeats itself because they let him live. But then again, it’s their incompetency to begin with. You know what they say about those who fail to learn from history… And with Finis gone, what the heck would happen to Twilight? Would it just die a natural death since those dumb goons are too dumb to do anything on their own.

The action parts feel okay and if not mediocre generally. Because I believe the ‘coolest’ fighting goes to Van as he coolly shoots his bullets that are actually made out of salt pellets. But that even so somehow gets boring after a while but I guess it is better than how the others fight, which isn’t really much. Because the Twilight guards are just so annoyingly dumb and low level that they rank lower than the slime if this was actually an RPG. They are really a joke to Twilight that is supposed to be a feared terrorist organization. I have a feeling they are also homunculi since they are so easily disposable as they are great in numbers. Also, we don’t care about them.

One thing that really stood out for this series and attracted my attention are the visuals and aesthetics. More accurately, the steampunk designs of alternate London (did they take inspiration from The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen?). From the extravagant costumes of the characters to the weird inventions like the airships, personally they are really a sight to behold. Ironically the very colourful costumes of the characters makes them stand out against the bland and monotonous backdrop of London. Those intricate costumes look complex enough that you wonder if it is feasible for them to even move so freely in their everyday life. Even so, it also makes them look like they pop out from some fantasy dream. Of course the characters have this bishoujo and bishonen look but my only complaint is how Finis looks so girly in the sense that his voice sounds mismatched with his looks. Also another weird design is the Twilight soldiers. They look like some plague doctor. Seriously. I know they are a terrorist organization but they don’t look like they spread terror via biological warfare or something. Oh, maybe the poison thingy… Also, sometimes they look like that comic strip characters, Spy vs Spy.

Saori Hayami is decent as Cardia. Her voice suits the soft spoken character quite well. Yuuki Kaji as Finis sounds like he has to be a crazy one whenever he helms the role of a villain as seen in Dimension W. Initially I thought it was Satomi Arai behind Victoria’s voice. I was really convinced it was her since she sounded so close and I was on the edge of wondering if she would break out into that typical prankish voice that I know her for. At least she sounded like she was going to. Unfortunately it wasn’t her. Instead, Naomi Iida plays Victoria. Other recognizable casts include Junichi Suwabe as Van and Showtaro Morikubo as Impey. I didn’t realize it was Tetsuya Kakihara as Fran since he didn’t sound anywhere close like Fairy Tail’s Natsu or Kyoukai No Rinne’s Masato. The other casts include Tomoaki Maeno as Lupin (Reiji in World Trigger), Daisuke Hirakawa as Saint (Makoto in School Days), Miho Ishigami as Drac, Kazuya Murakami as Herlock and Youji Ueda as Leonhardt (Usui in Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei) and Daichi Endou as Isaac.

The opening theme, Kalmia by Mia Regina sounds weird. I mean, the song sounds flat. Like as though the singer wasn’t interested in putting in any passion in singing the song. Not to say that she sounds bored, just flat. At least the ending theme sounds better. Twinkle by Saori Hayami is a slow and lovely ballad. Hearing this piece makes me feel better than the songs she sang in Fukumenkei Noise. Yeah, those sounded horrendous even until today…

Overall, not really of that good a series but it’s not that bad either. Unless you’re a fan of the game and didn’t like how the anime didn’t do any justice to the title. The romance part is a downer if you were really hoping something out of it. If you like crossover fantasies steampunk style, you may find this enjoyable and passing at best. Perhaps it could have been more interesting had they include more recent fictional British characters like James Bond, Harry Potter, Austin Powers and God forbid, Mr Bean! Okay, the last 2 aren’t from literary works. But that will be straying too far from the original works itself. With so many adaptations and forms given to these characters, they have already poisoned our minds with all the crap and BS. Why go through all the trouble to physically poison and destroy the world when you can easily just poison and destroy the mind? That itself is as good as world destruction and the end of mankind that a group of fictitious heroes can’t save. You thought Cardia emitting poison to destroy the world was bad? Recently we had stupid people eating laundry detergent pods just to get views on YouTube… Mankind is so doomed even without the need for Code: Realize to be put forth…

Love Live! Sunshine!! S2

April 21, 2018

Seeing that the ultimate goal of saving their school wasn’t accomplished yet, that is why we need to have another season of Love Live! Sunshine!! S2. Another reason for us to keep up with one of our favourite anime idol groups and for hardcore fans to get hyped and salivate over their favourite girls prancing and dancing on stage. Can Aqours do it this time? They better. Or else we would need to have another season…

Episode 1
It is the new school term and Chika is already running late. Meanwhile Mari addresses her fellow students that Aqours failed to make it to the nationals but thanks to everyone’s effort, they manage to keep the school open. However there is more good news as there is another Love Live competition announced. But their goal now is to find a way to increase the enrolment numbers of Uranohoshi before finding their own way to shine. As they go about their daily lives, Kanan notices Mari acting stranger than her usual strange. It is revealed that Mari’s father has decided to cancel the open house that is supposed to be the draw to attract more students to enrol at Uranohoshi. This means Uranohoshi will not be taking applicants for the next year. Mari tried persuading him but he will not budge. Guess what? Chika wants to go talk to him personally now?! He is in America… Naturally with nothing more they can do, they can only imagine in gloom doom fashion had they won Love Live then. So we see Chika doing her usual bumming-cum-pondering until she gets her baseless confidence back to create a miracle. Guess what? The other Aqours members too have the same idea. They’re not giving up yet. They’re going to shine together.

Episode 2
Mari once more tries to convince her father. Even though his stance remained unchanged, unless they can bring in 100 new students, he might budge. So far they only have 10. Well, doesn’t look far, right? Only 90 more to go… Discussing about the new Love Live preliminaries, a rule is that a new song must be sung. So they’re racking their brains to come up with 2 new songs. One for Love Live and the other for the open house. Instead of putting pressure on a single person to write the songs, it is suggested they split into groups. The second years will be writing one and the seniors and juniors will be writing the other. The latter group heads for Mari’s luxurious seaside mansion and end up having fun instead of doing any work. Too tempting… Dia puts her foot down and has the venue change to hers. No fun… We see that both the juniors and seniors have very different tastes in music. So much so Chika is called to intervene because they are at odds over the kind of song they want to write! Seeing that trust is important, it is suggested they do bonding stuffs. Again we see their different tastes. The seniors are more of the outdoor type while the juniors prefer indoor activities. I guess the only true way for all Japanese people of different walks of life to bond is the bath. It certainly feels good but they hardly make any progress. As they leave, it starts raining so they take nearby shelter in a temple. Cue for jump scares… No progress still but then the roof starts leaking as they place pots, plates and pans to catch the leak. This is when it hit them. The different drops come together as one big harmony. That’s the motivation they need to come together. Coincidence or not, both sides finish their song.

Episode 3
More trouble for Aqours. Mari gets a call that the open house will be delayed a week due to the rain as the storm wreak havoc damaging the roads. Chika, it is not okay because this clashes with your Love Live preliminaries! Although held at different times, they discuss the possible travel methods after finishing one. Helicopter? Mari doesn’t want to ask her father for help since they have to do this by themselves. Luxurious liner? Whoever has this kind of cruise ship? The bus is the only possible solution but with a condition: They must go first in the preliminaries as the next bus is in 3 hours. And so all of them have to decide who should take the draw for the preliminaries. Yoshiko wants to do it but others view she has more bad luck than any other. Eventually she ‘defeats’ Dia in a rock-scissors-paper game. Behold her amazing luck! Aqours will perform as number… 24! That’s right in the middle! Hence the girls are now divided to just perform in either one. Of course nobody wants that as they want both. Can a miracle happen? Apparently Chika hits upon a great idea. Tangerines? After Aqours perform in their stylish kimono clad outfit at the preliminaries, all of them start making a dash across the mountain! OMG! Are they going to run all the way?! Not exactly. It seems in the mountains, Chika’s classmate runs a tangerine farm. They can ride some rail machine that is used to pick tangerines. I don’t know if Aqours riding it feels like overcrowding. What the heck? A turtle is faster than this machine! Then Kanan breaks a handle. It now becomes a roller coaster ride. Then they make the rest of their way by foot and manage to awe everyone at the open house. Wow. They really have so much energy after all that running. They can even perform like normal with all the energetic moves and smile. Truly idols. Truly a miracle. Truly crap…?

Episode 4
Everyone except Chika is nervous about the preliminaries’ result. That’s because they did so wonderfully that there’s nothing to worry about. Good for her. And the results are in. They pass! But of course. But here comes the real problem now. They lack the funds that would take them all the way to Tokyo. Just a stinking 5 Yen left. Of course the best next course is to work part time (sorry, Mari is not lending her fortune) but Dia scoffs off that old fashion way and suggests a flea market. It seems she has an ulterior motive. Noticing everyone is closer to Kanan and Mari, Dia too is ‘jealous’ she wants to get closer to them. At the flea market, Chika gives in to cute puppy dog eyes of little girls to sell dirt cheap while Dia makes it a hard bargain and will not sell below the listed price. Yeah, they didn’t sell much anyway. With Chika noticing something is wrong with Dia, she talks to Kanan about it. So Kanan and Mari go bug what’s bugging her. Eventually she reveals it and they couldn’t stop laughing. So at this day job at the zoo, Dia tries to be nice to everyone but they think she is mad and is suspicious of her goody behaviour. Is this really Dia? To avoid more confusion, Kanan and Mari tell the rest the deal. Somehow kindergarten girls are being let loose running all over the place. The girls can’t control them. Some even weep. Even Ruby?! And then Dia takes control of the situation and in her nicest behaviour rounds up all the girls to behave. Wow. At the end of the day, Dia feels dejected she couldn’t achieve what she wanted to but Chika tells her how everyone loves Dia for being strict with them when they slack because it makes them secure. They hope she will always stay that way. Don’t come complaining when she starts scolding the next round…

Episode 5
Riko still has fears of dogs. Especially Chika’s pet, Shiitake. One day, after Yoshiko’s mom visits Yoshiko’s mom, she left her handphone behind. She wants Riko to go return it to her but along the way Riko stumbles into Yoshiko feeding a stray dog. Yoshiko has it chase Riko around! Riko knew this was coming but Yoshiko wants her to temporarily keep this dog as her place doesn’t allow apartments. It seems the other girls will have their reasons too. So her logic is to keep it safe in one’s place who has phobia of dogs? Riko is forced to accept seeing Yoshiko has the dog chase her again. It gets a little awkward for Riko trying to feed it in her room but gets used to it. Then when Yoshiko comes by to claim it, Riko now wants it to stay?! She won’t give it back?! They end up arguing about it including the different name they have given it. It is like fate intervenes because Riko’s mom shows a poster of a missing dog. The dog is rightfully returned and the duo are depressed ever since. Heck, they are in perfect sync depressed. Yoshiko doesn’t accept this outcome and comes up with a conspiracy theory that the owner is fake! She is going to get the dog back! Riko tags along as she feels responsible for it somehow. Outside the owner’s doorstep, the moment the owner pops up, they run and hide. You mean they are going to wait there as long as it takes until the dog appears? We hear Yoshiko and her views as a fallen angel, destiny and unseen power. She might act like chuunibyou but she is also pretty perceptive of reality. She knows all those aren’t real but also accepts them. When the dog finally appears, it looks like it doesn’t remember them as it goes back in the house. I guess that ended it. I guess that’s destiny for them. Riko looks like she has overcome her dog phobia and is able to touch Shiitake. Talk about unseen power and dreams that are more than just coincidences. I don’t know. At least she learnt something from Yoshiko.

Episode 6
Time is running out. They don’t have many applicants and only a month left till the deadline. With the looming preliminaries of Love Live, there are websites trying to predict who would make it. Yeah, Aqours name is surely there. This time the polls will decide who advance to the finals. While it may do away with the anxiety of waiting for results, however this means the number of supporters you have determine your fate. How many students are enrolled at Uranohoshi again? Huge disadvantage. Because of that, Mari and Dia are bugging Kanan to resort using their last chance which is some dance choreography she came up. Kanan still has her doubts since Mari injured herself the last time. She throws away her notebook into the see but Mari jumps in to save it. See her resolve? Because Chika also feels the need to shine more than other groups, Kanan’s choreography comes to mind. Another round of bugging. If they don’t use it now, when will they? Kanan is not amused but decides to put her trust in her. But if it ever becomes risky, she will stop her even if it means dropping out of Love Live. So we see Chika trying her best to practice those moves but comes up short. Of course the usual flashback and motivation why she pushed so hard like everyone else. Even her pals come to support her. Don’t cry now. Keep trying. Close, but still not close enough so Kanan had to give her a final warning if she cannot pull it off by next morning, she’ll forget about doing it. Yeah, she’s going to take the whole night then… With more support from her friends, they remind her the most important person she is doing this for. She named everyone except herself. Yup. That’s it. Because of Chika, they are where they are now. And what are the chances Chika could pull off that move? Because now we see them performing perfectly at the preliminaries.

Episode 7
The results are out. Only the top 3 make it to the finals. And who are they? Drum roll please… Let’s say Aqours not only made it but they won the most votes!!! Thank goodness this isn’t some trolling dream. It is no surprise their view count on the internet keeps rising. But the real test is here. Do they have enough enrolment? Nope. Deadline is looming. Mari calls papa and he only gives her a mere few hours of extension. That’s like 5am in the morning, right? But right after that, the enrolment slowly rises. And then stops. This is like heart attack for them. Chika is so desperate to force invite others and even do a concert now! At this dead of the night? All you can do is believe in yourself. Yeah, believe. I guess shouting to the computer screen won’t change things either. Or screaming to the rising sun. But can a miracle happen? Because 98 enrolments and a minute left to the deadline. Come on… Come on! Suddenly applications are closed. Damn it! So close! On a side note, I want to know who the f*ck enrols during the dead hours?! Unless they’re foreigners, why would any Japanese kid be looking at the site and enrolling at this point?! Unless they are having haunted dreams to enrol or else… Damn drama… Anyway, everyone is frustrated. Especially Chika. Oh, if hard work could only guarantee victory. In the wake of this ‘defeat’, an announcement is made that the school will be absorbed to Numazu. So while everyone is putting up a brave front and try to practice because they still got the finals to win, Chika had to ruin it for everyone and cry. Okay. Nobody is in the mood either. They need some time to think if they really want to participate in the finals for the seniors, it isn’t that important. Eventually everyone believes they still want to participate. Damn you Chika for ruining things again because she doesn’t care about Love Live or their own way to shine. Without the school, there is no way to shine. I guess she complained so loud that the entire school could hear and hence give their answer to support them. They want Aqours to win the finals and cement Uranohoshi’s name as part of Love Live’s history. That is one way to save it and live forever. Not bad idea, right? New motivation, new hype. Let’s get to it.

Episode 8
Aqours is invited to Hakodate in Hokkaido as a special guests to watch the region’s Love Live preliminaries. A few antics of staying warm from the cold and keeping their balance on the wet icy ground… Before the performance begins, they go visit Saint Snow at the backstage. They renew their rivalry with the sisters, Seira and Ria to meet at the finals. Funny, it felt like a jinx because Saint Snow didn’t make the cut! It seems they made a single mistake during their act. Tough luck. Understandably Saint Snow isn’t in any mood but it is affecting Aqours too? Especially Ruby? Yeah, they heard Saint Snow were fighting and made a mistake in their last tournament too. Is this the end of them? Aqours go sightseeing and then stumble into the shop where Saint Snow works and lives. Not sure why Ruby was snooping around but she caught Ria crying in her room. Oh no. Death threats if you tell it to others. Ria then announces Saint Snow is through. She is done with anything that is idol. Later Aqours ponder about Saint Snow’s fate but Ruby seems to be the hardest hit. Because you know, big sister thingy. She almost reveals about Ria’s crying and instead ran away crying herself. WTF. Dia talks to her and it seems Ruby is worried they won’t get to sing together anymore once Dia graduates. She doesn’t want to be alone. Dia tries to be realistic. The school is closing down anyway but don’t think too much about it because focusing on the finals is what is most important. Dia was very happy when Ruby told her she wanted to become a school idol as she thought and decided it on her own. Later Ruby personally goes talk to Ria. Sounds more like reinforcement of their love for their respective big sisters. Ria too is worried about showing to Seira she is independent but screwed it up and now it has become their last song. Ruby tells her not to make it so then as she takes her to sing under the beautiful lighted up Christmas tree.

Episode 9
Ruby wants to do a performance with Ria for Seira and Dia but she needs Hanamaru and Yoshiko’s help. The quartet try to brainstorm things but since more time is needed, they get ‘permission’ to stay back while the other Aqours members take their flight home. Kanan and Mari make Dia paranoid that those young ones are definitely hiding something from them. Like as they they’re going to split from Aqours and form a new unit. Herald Saint Aqours Snow! Oh my, Dia panicked and almost caused the air stewardess to think if it’s some terrorist attack or something. The trio are in Ria’s room. They notice a snowflake crystal on her shelf. Ria explains the story how it was the symbol that made them form Saint Snow. Once they are done writing their song and lyrics, not sure what audition they had to go through so they could approve their event. Nervous, but I’m sure all that love and tears are worth it. They even make their announcement via radio broadcast. Probably the slipping up is what made it memorable. Ria seems to be hiding from a couple of classmates whom she never had the courage to talk to. Apparently she thinks they are upset for losing out on Love Live preliminaries. Yeah, with those faces I can see why… But it turns out they aren’t and are supportive of her and Seira. Wow. Sudden strike of friendship. More tears flowing… Aqours are soon called back to Hakodate. Is this just an elaborate setup so the younger sisters could give their older sisters an invitation to their event? Of course big sisters won’t miss it for the world. Time for a sisterly hug. And more tears… Looks like Aqours have also prepared a surprise and hint their new outfits are prepared. So we get to see the collaborated performance of Aqours and Saint Snow. If it was a surprise, why are they so well coordinated? Okay, maybe they had some little time to practice. In the aftermath, Ria makes up with Seira. Ria won’t keep Saint Snow going and will start a new group and find a different snowflake (why does this sound so politically incorrect?). She’ll make a school idol group that everyone can love.

Episode 10
Flashback shows a young Mari, Kanan and Dia went up to some stargazing site to make a wish on the star. Too bad God wasn’t on their side as it is cloudy and it is starting to rain. Mari was on the verge of giving up till Kanan marked the star chart for reference so that they could have their wish to stay together always. It is New Year’s Day. Saint Snow is here to help Aqours in their training. I guess this is the only way they could keep their relevance. Mari gets a call to be the director at Numazu as it would help ease the transition process. She declines since she is going to an Italian university recommended by her dad. Hence the reminder, she has 3 months left with them. Oh why do you need to trigger those worries and sadness for Chika? A little soul searching as Chika has to come to terms with reality. Mari thought Kanan and Dia would be mad at her for not telling about her plans. They aren’t because they too have their own plans and didn’t tell anyone. Now they’re even. More childhood flashbacks of them being together. One that includes Mari threatening to disown her parents if she didn’t get to hang out with the duo. They must love their daughter so much. The star chart brings back memories. Yup, even it gets cloudy and rains. They start ‘blaming’ each other but eventually Mari blames God! He is trying to not make their wish come true?! If that’s the case, she will disown Him! WTF?! That night, the trio have an idea. They gather the rest of the Aqours. Mari in the driver’s seat? Don’t worry. She’s got a valid licence. Her driving’s fine. I hope. Where to in this night trip? To see the stars. I know this series has some exaggerations but this one is totally ridiculous because we see the van flying into the night sky into the stars!!! OMFG!!!! I figure they must be high on drugs to see this illusion. At the site, looks like it’s raining. Again. Their wish is to one day be together again. So they’re going to stay here till it clears up? Haha! Or else they’ll disown God! Haha! Hahaha!!! You think the sky is going to listen to you? Haha! Haha~… Oh my… God must now be an Aqours fan because he clears it up for them???!!! Freaking miracle???!!! Is God scared of being disowned by a few cute girls? Oh yeah. So scared that he showered a few shooting stars for them to make several wishes. Now wanna bet He is going to make them win Love Live?

Episode 11
Uranohoshi prepares for its closing festival. The highlights include Mari trying to cook some premium nabe and some of Aqours see a couple of strange walrus mascots running by. Tracking them down, they suddenly disappear! Oh my. Ghosts? Still want to continue investigating in this dark storeroom? Why don’t they turn on the lights? Anyway they see the bed sheet moving and the culprit revealed underneath it is Shiitake? When the walrus duo pop up for real, it scares the sh*t out of the dog as it now rampages throughout the school. Why must it break down the arch that took lots of time and effort to put up? Anyway, Dia gives them an earful despite Chika giving explanation that Mito was walking Shiitake but the leash got loose. It is discovered that Kanan and You are behind the mascots and they are supposed to put on some show for kids for the festival. However if You has been fixing the arch, who is the one behind this mascot? NOTHING! OMFG! Real ghost???!!! The festival proceeds well. Highlights include Dia putting up a Love Live quiz and Yoshiko and Hanamaru ‘forcing’ Chika to come take a fortune because no customers. The biggest surprise for everybody is a bunch of girls release an arch made completely out of balloons to thank everyone for everything. Then they release it all to the sky. What a waste. Wouldn’t this be air pollution? What will the next prefecture say when they see balloons flying over? Oh, who cares? This is their last festival and since everyone is happy, let’s turn a blind eye. The festival ends with the students having a bonfire dance. Then Mari makes her final statement as Uranohoshi’s director. Happiness. Thank you. Emotional apology. You know the drill. But with everyone chanting Aqours’ name, everyone turns into a giant choir team and sings together. Wow. Did they sing until the wood becomes charcoal?

Episode 12
I wonder why Chika still holds that previous results sheet that has Aqours in dead last place with zero voters? Anyway, Aqours are off to the shrine to pray for their victory. They are glad to see many of their friends too have written their wish for them to win. But why the sad face when they see that there are also many other fans vouching for other idol groups to win? It’s not like they’re the only group in town, right? But this must be the only shrine in town because the board is filled with only idol victory wishes. Saint Snow is also there to personally give their blessing. Seira asks Chika if she wants to win Love Live. I thought that was a silly question even if Chika asked her previously this same question. As they stay in their inn, they are obviously nervous and pressured to win Love Live to etch Uranohoshi’s name in history. You eases the tension by having a pillow fight! We see Chika going about asking some of Aqours about why they want to win. Again, I thought it’s a silly question but I guess we need to ramp up some emotions from the viewers as they give their personal honest answers. Mostly, it’s got to do with love and pride of being part of Aqours. Of course everybody wants to win! Which team ever goes to the finals and wants to lose?! Silly! So throw away that old results sheet and chart your own path. Anyway, the next day, the big finals is on the cards. One last hurrah from Aqours to hype things up that they have come this far and all that is left is victory. From zero to one, from one to the future. Go, Aqours! We see them in their heavenly performance on stage.

Episode 13
From the banner at the start… Aqours won Love Live! Hooray! End of story. Oh wait. There’s still more? Oh right. Proper closure needed. So we see the students ‘vandalizing’ Uranohoshi walls with paints of positive messages because apparently this is their last day so it gives them the right. Then a final assembly and Mari’s last speech to officially close the school. Then everyone goes around reminiscing their times. Tears flow. Last moments together. More tears. Finally the closing of the gate in which Aqours have the honours to do so for more tears effect. Oh Chika, why make promises that you can’t keep. Because why tell everyone not to cry when everybody is already so into that? In the aftermath, spring is around the corner. The most shocking revelation is Riko is no longer afraid of dogs and has adopted one! And Shiitake has pups now. Shiitake is female?! Chika bums around at the beach. So apparently she gets to keep the banner and puts it out on the beach as it is the best place for everyone to see? Why not on some tall building? Whatever. Then with some encouragement from her family it isn’t like her to give up, Chika throws a paper airplane in which at the gust of her yell, it really flies ridiculously far as Chika chases after it. Oh, like fate playing a prank because it leads her back to Uranohoshi. Hmm… The gate is open… Chika walks around and reminisces all the things she and her pals have done in that particular corner of the school. So nostalgic that damn she’s crying now. What did I tell you about not making such promises? At the hall, she is shocked to see all the students waiting for her and on stage, other Aqours members extending their hand for Chika to join them singing as a group. One more for the road? Man, did they really plan all this and waited for Chika to show up? And Chika not knowing a thing? Okay, I understand if it’s Chika. And they expected all this to turn out exactly as planned? Okay, not surprising if it is for Chika. Thanks for the performances. Bye.

From Sunshine To Shining Star
Oh well… You know it is not over yet because… There is a sequel! Technically, a movie. Apparently goodbye seems to be the hardest word. I mean, would this be the end of the Love Live franchise? Or will they come up with another school that needs to be saved so we can have another bunch of new girls who are ‘forced’ to form an idol group to save their school by winning Love Live? Yeah. This formula is getting old. Unless you are super hardcore fans of idol themed series and one who is so into the Love Live series, then I guess the producers have got you locked in there, milking and squeezing all the money and every penny (or yen in this case) out of you. But I suppose you people won’t mind because you love your idols more than money, right?

I figure only fans of the series and Aqours can only appreciate this sequel. Casual viewers like me would have found nothing exciting or new to the table. Though, it does have its funny moments. In the sense that it felt weird that it seemed funny. But other than that it is basically a bunch of girls becoming idols in hopes of winning and achieving their goal. But if you think the Love Live series is going to be ultimately the same, this Sunshine series is slightly different in the sense of the plot that Aqours were unable to save Uranohoshi. Unlike in the original Love Live series, Muse managed to save Otonokizaka by the end of the first season. If Aqours managed to do that even by the end of the second season, I guess it would not be any different and might as well go back and watch the original Love Live series.

Therefore it gives a much needed drama for this season for Aqours to be even more relevant and work harder to achieve that goal to save their school. Thus for this series, that is why we have Uranohoshi’s final closure as the main ‘story’ while the Love Live tournament feels relegated as secondary. It works to make the feels via separation than winning something. It hits you harder on the emotions there. Hey, this show is about Aqours, not Love Live. I really felt this scene of saving their school was ridiculous because of how unrealistically the numbers were trickling in as the deadline closes. As if it was to enhance the nail biting drama that they could do it, they could do it, and they could do it. At this point you would expect the final second saving grace moment. You know, when a hero diffuses a ticking time bomb, he usually does so with a second left on the clock. Yeah… Alas it was a heart attack and heartbreak for those really expecting for good news. They might have lost this battle but they have won others, right? So it’s not so bad after all. Hey, you can’t win everything and earn a flawless victory. Life is not that rosy despite looking at how easy and fun becoming a school idol is when it isn’t so straightforward. I know they put in a lot of effort in the background that is not shown but still, they make it look like so much fun. Maybe it is for them. After all, it’s not like they want to dominate and conquer the world, right? Or do they? The other ridiculous part was ‘flying to the moon’. I know, exaggeration but really, that was too much.

Fans would be familiar with the members in Aqours especially if you have a favourite girl. This season does focus on some of them but not all of them. I feel the second years like Chika and You are mainly on the side lines while the juniors and the seniors have more limelight and screen time. There is not much changes to the characters either since Yoshiko (or is it Yohane?) is still acting like a chuunibyou, Hanamaru speaking in her weird accent and Ruby still being the shy and most timid of them all. I guess the biggest ‘change’ is Riko overcoming her dog phobia. No more Shiitake chase running joke? Okay then. Good for her. I still maintain Chika as the most annoying of them all because of her tendency to drag others into her own pace. Despite all that sunshine and super optimism, it becomes annoying when you see her spout all those flowery hopes and dreams and making it look so good. Then she tries to act tough by keeping up her positivism and cheery side when we all know that deep down inside she’s breaking up. Shouldn’t she be true to her feelings like always? Whatever. In the end, Aqours is Aqours and they certainly have found their own shine after all the moments they have been through. Their breakup is understandable as they will be going separately to different places. But can they reunite in the later years? Maybe that is all a different story altogether and it won’t be the same as now when they’re still in high school.

As part of the surprise and twist, Saint Snow who is supposed to be Aqours biggest rival crashed out early. I guess this only gives an excuse to have more friendship drama because the sisterly duo definitely have more screen time and focus. Heck, even more excuse to show their sisterly love! I suppose that is the other theme of this series other than friendship. In a perfect world, big sisters love their little sisters and likewise little sisters love their big sisters. What a big happy world. Is it me or does this worlds have only females? Yeah, coincidently those with siblings only have sisters. Where are all the guys?! They become fat ugly useless otakus possibly showing up at concerts and performances when they have to support their favourite idol group. But then again, I have a feeling all the fans in the stands are females too. No wonder you don’t hear any creepy stalker stories from this series. Too traumatic for its sunshine theme.

Artwork and animation remain consistent as the first season, bright and colourful. Cute looking girls and the use of CGI when the girls are dancing on stage. Doesn’t look too bad but it would be if you think too much about it because CGI dances seem to make them look a bit robotic. Because the setting of this place is the seaside, there are some nice backgrounds to look at. As usual, an idol themed series is all about the songs but I didn’t find any that I really like, not even the various insert songs. Well, there’s one. The closest that came to attracting my attention was My Mai Tonight. A typical group idol opening theme, Mirai No Bokura Wa Shitteru Yo with all the cute stuffs that you would expect from Aqours. The same can be said for the ending theme, Yuuki Wa Doko Ni? Kimi No Mune Ni. Of course this has multiple versions. You have the individual solo or duo versions and the big group Aqours version.

During the same season, another idol series aired with its second season: Wake Up, Girls! I am not sure if they are supposed to be going head to head with each other and pitting fans of both sides against each other. But I don’t see anything of that sort serious rivalry since there is no reason to hate or sabotage other groups as long as you love your own. Right? Either way, both have their own styles and their own fans so no big deal or cutthroat competition to see who is better. On a side note, I am neither their fans but yet I still watched both series and all their previous seasons. Am I a closet idol fan?

Overall, like I have said, only fans of Aqours and the idol genre would definitely connect and grow with the characters over 2 seasons (4 if you include the original Love Live that has no real connection with this one). You learn, laugh and cry at all their endeavours and attempts as they inch towards their dream and shine and feel the heart-warming friendship that brought them this far. But like everything else, it must all come to an end so what better way to go out in a bang and do the things you love and want to do before you can never have that chance again. Thank you Aqours for leaving a lasting impression in our hearts (at least till this season ends). Oh wait, there’s that movie sequel so looks like they’re going to be sticking around for a while. From zero to one, from one to the future, and from the future to infinity and beyond! Aqours can really reach for the stars now.

I am not a drinker, not even beer. Therefore anime series that involve with alcoholic content as its main concept I will certainly pass. Like that Wakakozake short that I didn’t see because of partly this element and also the character design looks creepy. But what made Osake Wa Fuufu Ni Natte Kara the exception? I sure did read and know it was alcoholic content (plot wise, that is) and was going to skip it but why did I see it? Because of the synopsis that states a wife who makes the cutest face when she gets happily drunk! Oh man, I want to see this! Oh sh*t… Damn those male fantasies…

Episode 1
Chisato Mizusawa helps her colleague, Koharu Sakurai to finish her pile of work. As thanks, she wants to treat her to some cocktail but Chisato declines and would rather have lunch tomorrow instead. Chisato returns home to her husband, Sora. He treats her to Plum Splet. Because it has alcohol content, she starts hanging loose. Okawari! She then tells him her colleague asked her to go drinking but she had to decline despite loving alcohol. She has this tendency to act weird when she gets drunk. Weird in this sense means she becomes oh so cute that would make any guy’s heart go kyun~. She doesn’t want others to see her in that way. Maybe except Sora. Perks of being her husband, I suppose. She thought he teased her about being her real character when drunk then her mood swings to the I-love-you kind. Sora you lucky bastard! Next morning she’s got a hangover.

Episode 2
Chisato has been out drinking on her day off. Sora suggests resting at home. He is going out to do some errands but she doesn’t want to be left alone and forces him to rest with her. Because it is raining outside, the more the reason she needs him to stay. The pantry is almost empty and all that is left is aged sake, something Chisato doesn’t like. So he makes her Orange Breeze instead. Though it has sake content, it is not heavy so those who aren’t fans of sake can still enjoy this. As it continues raining, this reminds them the first time they met on that rainy day. The rain has stopped and now they are totally out of alcohol.

Episode 3
Chisato injures her feet during work. Koharu feels guilty for partly causing that injury and panics. For now, they call Sora to come get her. He carries her home to rest as she requests for a drink. He thinks she shouldn’t but since she keeps insisting, he makes Cinderella for her. She goes into her usual drunk love as she cuddles him and proclaims her love for him. Sora then reveals that cocktail actually have no alcohol content. It is just a mix of various fruit juices. So that means that was Chisato acting as her true self. Poor Chisato felt so embarrassed she starts hiding under the sheets.

Episode 4
While sleeping, Sora hears Chisato’s stomach growl. So he makes her some light cabbage snack and to wash it all down with Spritzer. But that’s not the end. There’s more. To best way to end all that is with a curry rice meal. No Chisato, you’re not dreaming. Such a wonderful meal, such a wonderful husband. Such a cute embarrassed reaction too. And as a reward for all that, she is going to squeeze him tight back in bed. Whoops. Looks like it is past our bedtime.

Episode 5
Chisato wants to lay off drinking for a while since she has a big presentation and report coming up. She works hard and nonstop that it is obvious she is going to burn herself out. Sora makes her a special Banana Cocktail which has no alcohol content and is good for exhaustion. It makes her feel better as she thanks him for everything. Later that night Sora sees her sleeping at the desk. He carries her back to bed and pecks her on her forehead. Thanks for everything too.

Episode 6
The chief decides to go with Chisato’s plan for the next project instead of Yui Shiraishi. So when Yui later calls out to Chisato, everyone else thinks sparks are going to fly between the women. Actually she called her out to treat her to a drink as congratulations. This is what she calls being gracious in defeat? But Yui got depressed and drunk instead. Her husband had to pick her up. Chisato goes home and requests a celebratory drink from Sora. He makes Bellini. She tells him what happened but also credits Yui for helping her get this far. She dozes off while talking. Sora’s reward is getting to see her cute sleeping face.

Episode 7
While watching a horror movie, it is obviously Chisato is scared despite saying she isn’t. Sora then makes her Irish Coffee. It supposedly ‘calms’ her nerves. Well, it contains alcohol. Now Chisato is being the ‘scary’ one! So she takes anything as any form of excuse to be ‘scared’ just so she could flirt with him. Looks like she’s enjoying it. Yup. It’s real ‘scary’ at how cute she is when drunk.

Episode 8
Chisato comes home only to find Sora sick. She shows her dark side and forces him to rest while she goes to cook dinner. Well, she can’t. Sora is worried but she insists she can do it. I hope that Google on how to make the easiest porridge is helpful. Why is it when you go check on someone for a little while, the food suddenly gets burnt?! Too cliché! With many ingredients out, she uses what is left to make Egg Sake. Tastes good. Of course. He lets her try it. Wait. Drinking from the same cup? Would she catch his flu? Too bad it’s got alcohol content and now she is acting up her usual cuteness. I suppose Sora is going to heal faster seeing her this way. Even more so when she feeds him. Yeah, he is going to need all that loving he can get. Because the kitchen is in a mess…

Episode 9
Chisato seems to be feeling lethargic and down. Before she goes to work, Sora hugs her for 30 seconds. Apparently it supposed to replenish you. She asks for an ‘extension’. This miracle works as she is now productive at work. I wonder how much more had she hugged longer. Chisato notices Yui feeling the same way and also gives her a hug. Weird out at first, she plays along and what do you know? She is also revitalized. She goes home and seeing her husband having less than stellar day, she hugs him. Man, this is effective and infectious. Chisato feels good and has this Zoom drink that represents embrace. Now she is a hugging addict and wants Sora to hug her more. And longer. I’m pretty sure that isn’t the alcohol talking.

Episode 10
Chisato receives a message from Sora he needs help because he turned into a teddy bear! Obviously a troll and Chisato is laughing about it until she realizes she cannot find the real Sora. Could he have really turned into one? Of course not! The real Sora pops out for an April fool’s joke. Chisato pouts so in conjunction of this day, he serves her a fake beer known as Shandygaff. Chisato still pouts. She was really scared he turned into a teddy bear. He apologizes and wonders if she hates him. She gets worried and denies that. She was just lying about it. He assures he still loves her and notes she can lie. Then she starts trolling him in her drunken state that she hates him. In that cute voice and face? Nah.

Episode 11
Chisato’s colleagues bring her out for drinking. But it seems this bar looks familiar and Chisato definitely knows it well. But she didn’t count on Sora being the bar master! Looks like the original master got sick and he had to suddenly cover for him. Yup, flashback on how they met. Chisato tripped on an empty bottle when she passed here. She picked herself up and left. Sora saw her and noticed she dropped her lemon plushie but was too busy doing stuffs for the master. Chisato had a bad day at work and everything went wrong. On the way home, she realizes her plushie is missing. And it’s starting to rain. She took shelter outside that bar. Sora recognized her and returned the plushie. So happy that she started crying.

Episode 12
Continuing from last episode, Sora treats her to a frozen mango cocktail since it is pouring heavily outside and the atmosphere inside is equally as heavy. This is Chisato’s first time drinking alcohol and she really likes it. Yeah, she gets happily drunk immediately. She soon falls asleep but when she wakes up, is embarrassed to realize what she has done. She leaves in a hurry but Sora asks if she will come back again. She nods she will. Now, Chisato’s colleagues are drunk and teasing how lucky she has Sora as a husband who could make her drinks. After the bar closes, the happy husband and wife walk home together slowly, hand in hand.

Episode 13
Chisato returns from another hard day from work. Know-it-all Sora makes her something light on the stomach first. A yogurt smoothie followed by curry rice. Not satisfied yet? But the one that hits the spot is the frozen mango pudding. Of course it brings back memories of the first time they met and the first drink he served her. Sora should be every wife’s dream husband because he still remembers vividly that day. Flashback with montage clips of all the nice romantic times they had together. So she toasts to alcohol and Sora. Oh yeah. The night is still young and things are just starting to pick up. Looks like happy hours is early tonight.

Happy Hours! Bottoms Up!
Frankly, thanks to this series I will now never go into drinking at all! Not that I was ever curious to even try in the first place but this series sure reinforces my stance that I should stay away from alcohol as far as possible. Never going to touch it even if it is going to kill me. Okay, maybe I might reconsider that in a life threatening situation but generally speaking, if this is the producer’s idea of trying to introduce alcohol to newbies, they’re doing it the wrong way. Heh. Veterans wouldn’t even be watching this crap and would rather start drinking all night! If you’re drinking and watching this disappointment, it will just enhance your sadness. So stay away from it if you can’t handle alcohol and bad anime altogether. Really. Even if it is that bad, I’m not going so far as to drink and forget this anime. Yeah, to me drinking is still much worse than watching bad anime.

Firstly, despite the ‘draw’ of this series is Chisato’s cute face and voice when she enjoys a good drink, it somehow feels as a poor cover up for the non-existent plot. There isn’t any. Really. The ending was like, and so the happy couple (or rather Chisato alone in this context) goes on to live a happy drinking marriage life. After a while you can deduce some sort of pattern. Chisato has a bad day at work or she did something good or something that is non-life threatening happens to her, she comes home and it always ends up with Sora serving her some cocktail to make her feel better. That is it. Seeing her cute face is nice at first but after a while, it gets tiring. Don’t get the wrong idea. Chisato is as cute as any 2D anime girl that any 2D lovers would love to see. But if I ever wanted to always see a girl’s cute face whenever she is drunk, I might as well print out a photo of her in that pose and keep it in my wallet. It lasts longer and ‘crystallized’ for eternity that way. So yeah, Chisato’s cute face is the draw of the series but it wasn’t enough to save the series.

Because of that, I feel that the cocktails that are introduced in almost every episode are being relegated to just ‘side characters’. Sure, Sora will narrate the very simple and few ingredients that you need to mix and blend to make that cocktail but unless you are a beginner and are curious to try, this part merely feels so-so. In fact, there are no bad cocktails that Sora has ever made for Chisato. Every damn cocktail is so good. Because it will feel so wasted that we are here for Chisato’s cute face but then this one lousy drink didn’t manage to orgasm her and hence or rage will dramatically increase for not having our ahegao in our 3 minute episode.

I wonder if this show is giving the wrong idea about alcohol on so many levels. Because they are showing how a happy couple stays happy together because of alcohol. Uh huh. And I thought alcohol is one of the very big factors that lead to the breaking up of a union. Just like how porn give guys unrealistic expectations about sex, this series gives clueless alcohol beginners and amateurs the wrong idea that if you make the right cocktail, you can definitely make your wife happy. Okay, that sounds legit in a way but if alcohol really solves all your problems, shouldn’t we be drinking all the time? Oh wait. We already do that!!! And heck, there are so many jokes about how alcohol is a SOLUTION!!! If you’re talking about science, you know what I mean ;p. Do I see a pattern here too? Chisato comes back from work almost tired and not in the mood and all it takes is for Sora to whip up some alcoholic drink to make her feel good again. Rinse and repeat almost every weekday. Oh yeah. It’s like saying alcohol is ALWAYS the solution. Better than sex. Get out of here!

Because of that, I keep thinking of this conspiracy from a very dark perspective about Sora’s character. What if Sora isn’t actually the nice and kind husband he seems to be? What if Sora is actually a sociopath and sick maniac who has brainwashed Chisato! OMG! You see, as much as we enjoy seeing Chisato’s cute face, Sora always manages to keep his calm and composure. He never gets angry and you’ll never see his dark side. Maybe he has none but that is because we don’t know. What if his real purpose to intoxicate Chisato not only to see her happy drunk face but when she is in this happy state, she is defenceless. This means he will rape her and to all sorts of hentai things to her!!! You don’t see it because how long is this series’ duration again? OMFG!!! SORA YOU MONSTER!!!! F*ck my demonic male fantasies are running so wild. Now you know why guys spike their girls’ drink… And I blame it on how bad this series is. Yeah, see what alcohol content can do to your brain even if you don’t consume it?! Besides, what is Sora’s real job anyway? Is he a house husband? Yeah, I know, more women power but this looks pretty suspicious that Sora stays home and does the chores with a happy face. Who wears the pants around the house then assuming my conspiracy theory is true?

Art and drawing seem okay. Chisato looking cute because duh. 2D anime girls are always better than 3D ones, right???!!! Also oddly, we have that chibi lemon mascot appearing at times (as well as other assortment of fruits or ingredients for variety) especially when Sora narrates the makings of the cocktail of the week. I don’t know, they’re supposed to be cute but I find them annoying. Most probably because of that haughty air they give off each time they appear. Like as though they’re ‘insulting’ you with that smug expression that feels like “Don’t you know it, pal?”.

One of the other draw that led me to watch this series is because of Eri Kitamura as Chisato. Well, as one who is familiar with her voice, she certainly does her part well here and she definitely sounds cute in her character role. The other casts are Mitsuhiro Ichiki as Sora (Kazuya in Freezing), Ayaka Asai as Yui (Hazuki in Hibike! Euphonium) and Arisa Nakada as Koharu (Suzu in Kiitarou Shounen No Youkai Enikki). One of the most ironic things and perhaps my other favourite part of this series is the ending theme, Don’t Let Me Down by Cellchrome. No, it is not a cover of The Beatles’ hit. Hearing this title which is sung at the start of this rock piece makes me feel like this is what the series has done to me. But on the other hand, this song isn’t too bad so I guess I enjoyed listening more than drinking here. However I feel there is something weird instead of badass seeing a lemon riding a chopper…

It seems the subsequent season has another drinking themed anime, Takunomi. This time a group of women living and drinking together. Even if they look averagely cute (at least not as horrible as Wakakozake), I don’t think a bunch of women having happy hours in their private time is going to make me want to watch them. Even if assuming they make that cute orgasm face. I’m through with drinking related anime. If I wanted to see a show that a man can pleasure greatly a woman, I might as well go watch porn that is so abundant over the internet!!! Oh sh*t!!! Damn those raging libido and male fantasies! But at least I know clearly what to pick in the event of making the hardest choice between drinking and f*cking.

Urahara

April 15, 2018

Not too long ago, we had a group of vigilantes protecting the sanctuary of Akihabara from aliens who want to take over the place. Looks like now it is Harajuku’s turn in Urahara. Actually a group of aliens are trying to steal cultures from all over our world. But a group of girls in Harajuku love their place so much so they band together and defend their little city from being stolen by aliens. Of course they can’t do it by themselves since they are just normal human beings. They receive some sort of power up that allows them to fight on par (or overpowered from the way I see it) with the aliens. Nobody is going to take stuffs from Harajuku and get away with it without a fight!

Episode 1
Rito Sudou, Mari Shirako and Kotoko Watatsumugi run some sort of boutique named Park in Harajuku. They are having fun coming up with designs in their field of expertise as well as selling customers their goods. One day, a strange person walks into the store and is searching for creative individuals who can create something out of nothing. He believes this store has it all from the clothes to the food. He wants to buy everything and will be right back. Soon on the news, aliens named Scoopers start scooping up famous landmarks all over the world. At first the girls thought it was some prank until those aliens really show up close to home. Orders are given to evacuate Harajuku. At first they oblige the orders but then they feel they don’t want to leave the place. So their love for Harajuku outweighs their overall safety? Whatever. They head back to Park and stumble into an army of Scoopers. Then a weird rocket ship crashes before them. Out comes a little girl, Misa Maruno and a talking fried shrimp, Ebifuruya AKA Ebi. Misa isn’t an alien but was abducted from America. Ebi who is the Scoopers’ pet helped her escape and considers himself an ally of humans. He explains Scoopers lack their own culture and is constantly stealing cultures of other planets. Thus they kidnapped Misa thinking she could help create culture for them. They will stop at nothing until the entire planet’s cultures are stolen. Encountering a real Scooper up close this time, Misa hands them some weird items called Amatsumara she stole from the Scoopers’ ship. Scoopers are unable to use them as they lack imagination. So I guess this means the girls will use their creativity with it and turn into superheroes?! So Rito has speed, Kotoko has logistical support and Mari has some super bazooka? So the first fight against the wave of Scoopers end as Mari blasts her bazooka into them and they all turn into doughnuts! It’s raining doughnuts all over Harajuku!!! When a missile from the International Defence Force (IDF) is fired, their will to protect the city is so great that they activated some self defence system in the form of a giant parfait?

Episode 2
Though it saves them from the missile, this parfait has created a large protective sphere over Harajuku. They wonder if they would be staying like this forever trapped inside this bubble. Because trying to break it has no effect (it regenerates itself) and they play it safe by not touching it, not knowing what would happen if they do. Too bad this sphere is also blocking all communications from outside. Along the way back, they stumble into a fat cat. Rito tries to offer it her sausage but it didn’t like it and snarls back before running away. Maybe it got scared of Ebi? Funny, I thought cats like that kind of food. Back at Park, they listen for updates on the local radio. When there is interference, they go out only to see a part of the sphere dented. Are Scoopers trying to break in? I’m not sure what happens next because the surrounding area starts turning into some alternate dimension. From what I understand, in this hidden area called Urahara, this allows them to fight and defend without destroying the actual Harajuku. A giant corn-like Scooper is seen. Mari’s bazooka is easily deflected. Kotoko detects its pattern and tells Mari to fire on her count. Before this giant corn fires again, its body becomes very hot so they’re going to use this window of opportunity to fire inside its opened mouth. After they do, it now rains popcorn! Different colours and flavours! Yummy!

Episode 3
The girls notice that other people are starting to come out of their hiding and into the open. I guess life has to go on as normal. The girls go check out Rito’s street art. One of her best is a Harajuku girl painting on a wall. Nearby is a girl named Sayumin who is making free crepes for everyone. Seeing the recent events, she just wants to cheer everyone up and do something for them. This inspires them to do and create something. Like Kotoko creating a new menu to reopen the store and Mari some new clothes. However Rito still cannot find her inspiration to draw. While sitting by her wall art and pondering things, Sayumin happen to pass by so she hears out all Rito has to say. Sayumin advises her instead of worrying about the hard stuff, why not just draw what she wants to draw? Now she gets inspired and has Kotoko and Mari help her too. But then they spot a Scooper. Since there are no holes in the barrier, could it be one of those trapped and hiding all the while? Looks like it is attracted to Rito’s creativity and wants to steal her art. Of course they’re not going to allow that. After destroying the Scooper and it turns into macarons, the weird effect of Amatsumara is that it also pops up cute little creatures. WTF?! They call them Shirako since it’s being a Pokemon and that’s all they could say for now. Wait. Isn’t that Mari’s surname? Rito finishes her drawing next to Harajuku girl, which is a traditional house she used to live with her family before moving out. This attracts other people to admire it. Back at Park, Kotoko sees weird visions. Purple patches randomly appear and disappear on her friends.

Episode 4
Kotoko needs to get to the bottom of this as she secretly steals a strand of their hair to experiment. Since nothing came of it, she thinks of taking their blood! Rito and Mari are also noticing she is acting strange and they get freaked out seeing Kotoko like a mad zombie scientist asking for their blood! The problem is that she won’t tell why she needs it. She falls asleep after sleepless nights of experimenting. Her friends feel the need to cheer her up and go out to buy ice cream. So when she wakes up, Kotoko gets the wrong idea they have abandoned her. Sayumin happen to pass by as Kotoko talks about being lonely as she has no friends before until she met Rito and Mari here. Like always, Sayumin advises her to talk to them and is confident they will understand. Meanwhile the duo are fighting off some sludge fudge Scooper and having a tough time. Here comes Kotoko to join them. Using her calculations, she has Mari wait until the right time before firing her bazooka at a building. Kotoko who is making herself as the bait to let the Scooper chase her so that it could get hit by Mari’s shot. Something about how Kotoko calculated the ricochet effect and all in perfect timing for the end result. Now the streets are filled with ice cream. Back at Park, Kotoko finally tells why she needs their blood. She didn’t want to say as not to make them worry. They reconcile and be as their usual friendliness again. It’s not like their friendship was that strained to begin with. That night as everyone is asleep, Misa secretly looks into Kotoko’s findings. I believe whatever unknown substances was detected, she altered it and now there are none.

Episode 5
The girls are in the midst of their own thing when Scoopers are detected. So drop whatever you’re doing and let’s go Scooper hunting. Too bad Harajuku is now a looking like a safari with all those animal-like Scoopers. However it seems these Scoopers are stealing colours from everything. Although they do not steal cultures and the object is left untouched, it is still unpleasant to see it in black and white. Hence Misa wants to join in to fight them. But with no fighting abilities? She won’t since the rest tell she might get in the way. While defeating the Scoopers will revert the colours they stole, there are too many of them and at this rate they will tire out. Noticing that the Scoopers are chasing them because of their colourful clothing, Rito gets this idea as she paints a colourful mural in the barrier’s ceiling. It does attract all the Scoopers to converge as they try to stack up and reach the mural. Cue for Mari to blast them all. However they didn’t turn into sweets and combine into one giant Scooper. They go on a full assault until they bring it down for good. Now they have a mountain pile of sweets in their backyard. After all the colour has been returned to its rightful place, Rito gets this idea to paint the ceiling so it won’t look so dull when one looks up. As the girls picnic, they give Misa a bracelet as present. Sparkly girl is sparkling happy because she loves sparkling things.

Episode 6
With Mari and Kotoko having fans and followers of their own, looks like Rito is getting down because she has none. So what’s the problem if drawing makes her happy? Nobody to appreciate it? So she talks to Sayumin about how nobody complimented her art and in fact when she was younger, she was too shy to show it to anyone. So did she answer her own problem? So is popularity her goal? Anyway a Scooper is detected. This cloud Scooper seems to be targeting Mari. After Rito saves Mari, it seems Urahara has been dispelled. The Scooper then steals Rito’s Harajuku girl art before vanishing. To cheer themselves up, Misa tries to make beads. Apparently she sucks and needs to be guided by Rito to make a better one. At the same time Rito thinks back the first time she worked at Park. Mari and Kotoko saw her drawing and were amazed. They told her to draw whatever she wants that make her happy. The Scooper returns. Again targeting Mari. Kotoko tries to study the movements of the Scooper but cannot come up with any effective strategy. Eventually all of them are caught and Urahara is once again dispelled. Now it steals Rito’s house art. Strange, why didn’t it steal it the first time since it was right next to each other? Rito gets so disheartened and breaks out of its grasp. Then she enters the Scooper and runs rampage until it explodes into cakes. With all of them freed, however they notice strange things sticking to their body and cannot get it off. Kotoko fears it must be those marks. It could be their bodies were already changing then. She blames herself for not doing more research despite the results showed nothing. Then here comes Misa with a big smile to tell them that this means they are no longer human.

Episode 7
The biggest revelation as Misa admits she is a Scooper! So was that kidnapping story a lie? It seems this is all part of the plan for Scoopers to bring creativity home. As the girls have eaten food from defeated Scoopers, those foods were laced with Scooper powers. Hence they are evolving to become one with such powers. Scoopers need them for their creativity and they are evolving to survive space. Plus, if they become strong Scoopers, they will be capable of mimicry and can be anything they want. Naturally the girls are in shock and depressed. Kotoko thinks deep and wonders if they are no different from Scoopers because they too steal cultures from others. Think about it. All those ‘research’ from wiki are mostly copy and paste, right? However Mari cannot accept this. She vehemently protests against this theory and runs away. Wow. So mad. It is her dream to be an actress and looks like she is seeing delusions of her dwindling followers. Rito talks to Sayumin while Kotoko starts to remember her lonely past. It couldn’t be worst timing than this as Scoopers attack. The girls cannot invoke Urahara since they aren’t strong enough. Ebi wants them to eat more stuffs but looks like they aren’t buying into it. Mari takes out her frustrations by blasting Scoopers. Feel better? But hearing others thank her for it, it soon becomes her drug as she turns trigger happy to hear more praises. She loves it! Man, a wake of destruction she left… Similarly, Kotoko doesn’t want to be alone again and goes to join Mari. Rito is disheartened to see them eat those foods. Kids, don’t pick up weird foods from the ground and eat them.

Episode 8
Mari and Kotoko ignore Rito’s plead not to eat and continue on. Sayumin then comes by to give them more food. At first Rito is relieved but to her horror, Sayumin’s food is the same as Scoopers! Oh no. Could she be? Mari and Kotoko want a piece of it. Heck, they’ll take the whole thing! So the rest of the episode sees Rito trying to convince her friends that they can still achieve their dream if they work together at Park but they refuse because they rather be a Scooper than lose what they fear most. Heck, they even think all they’ve done at Park are just copying from others. After eating Sayumin’s food, it seems Sayumin has grown into giant size. Sayumin tries to persuade Rito to join and because she is still stubborn, Sayumin thinks of destroying Park that is in the way. Rito will not allow it and fights her. Even if Rito is reminded about her fears, she still will not let Park be destroyed. It just looks ridiculous Sayumin feeling ‘pain’ over Rito’s weak hits. Finally Rito stabs her boob. She turns into stone and crumbles! WTF???!!! Mari and Kotoko are mad at her for killing their friend. They also accuse her along with the other people that Rito went to extreme lengths to protect Park that is still standing compared to other buildings that were destroyed. Again, Rito tries to tell them the truth. Again, they brush her off. So sad. Well, looks like the cat is her only ally. Too bad Ebi had to make it his turn to brainwash Rito. After all that nagging, I guess there is only so much a girl can take. If can’t beat them, join them. Rito has had it and will eat the food to become a Scooper. Her friends rejoice! Here we go. Yum!

Episode 9
Rito likes it when people look at her drawings. Eat up. There’s more. Rito is the fastest to evolve closer to a Scooper but the more she eats, she sadder she becomes. Oddly, she has this problem of people not looking at her drawing, so what does she do? She starts cutting buildings in half! Uhm, isn’t she supposed to draw? Anyway, with her powers going berserk, Mari and Kotoko try to stop her. Since when they snapped out and are more concerned with Rito than their own desires? It ironically comes to a point where Rito is going to destroy her own wall art. Mari and Kotoko use the power of words to try and convince her. Hence we have the remainder half of this episode showing how Rito first came to Park. They found out she has this talented knack for drawing anything and were impressed. Name it and Rito could draw them. It motivated them to come up with their own brand and everything. When you have flashback that long, it is bound to move one’s heart and so Rito snaps out of it and cue for all of them to get emotional together and bond. With their resolve not to eat anymore, Ebi is here to convince them otherwise. Are they willing to lose what they have got? Oh yes. They shock him by destroying Amatsumara. So shock that he has to repeat his shockness. The girls revert to normal and this makes Ebi mad. Why don’t they want those powers? They don’t need false powers. The have all the creativity naturally inside of them.

Episode 10
Ebi is bent on taking them as he introduces a device that will steal their creativity. But what a shocker, Misa will not allow him to do it! Change of mind? Change of heart? Apparently she now knows what is like for something to be stolen. After learning to make beads, she understands how hurt one would be to have it stolen after putting in all the effort. Misa admits she was bored the whole time. Flashback shows Misa and Ebi in their original Scooper form. They go from planets to planets and steal their creativity. Misa was always excited at new things at first but soon got bored because as Scoopers, they lack creativity to use those items. One day, their next target is Earth. Ebi shows how fascinating Harajuku is. This excites Misa as they take impersonate a fried shrimp and human girl to take a look at the place. As usual, they love it and she wants everything! Misa is glad to have met the trio because now she wants to be like them and create wonderful things. Cue for more flashbacks from the trio and how their friendship and creations in this city made them successful and wonderful. Misa reveals another shocker. The trio are so creative that they actually created this city and all the people in it! Harajuku is in ruins and everyone evacuated. Of course with Amatsumara and that parfait that amplified all their power helped too. This means all the people around praising their work are just figments of their imagination! So it’s like praising themselves? Even Sayumin was created by them. Misa is awed they were able to create and destroy her. Looks like they have been living a fantasy life. Is it that bad?

Episode 11
Despite Ebi saying their fight against Scoopers was real, the girls are still sad and in shock that everything else wasn’t. So having imaginary people cheer for them wasn’t what they wanted? Technically, wasn’t that what they’ve always dreamt of? Oddly, Misa also feels bad for deceiving them. Creating the beads made her happy so she understands now how much a lie would hurt. She would have returned to her planet had not Rito talks about realizing the difference between fantasy and reality. They now know what is important and real. Yeah, Misa is feeling even guiltier now. Also, she wants to make more things with them. However Ebi will not take this anymore. He is disappointed in her and disowns her as a Scooper. Because Scoopers are supposed to steal and not let their heart get stolen! Ebi is so mad that he transforms into some weird shachihoko? For now, the girls run. Funny, I wonder what can a weird shrimp do to them? Strangely, they lose each other but still kept running. With Kotoko tired and the need to come up with a plan, they decide to use the power of the parfait to change the straight streets of Harajuku into a bumpy and circular one. You bet Ebi is running around in circles and doesn’t even know about it because Scoopers only know how to steal, right? They’re not good in directions… So the girls’ counterattack plan is to drop some freeze bombs on him and drop a basin on his head? Nothing happens! In fact, it only makes him bigger and angrier. Now he is going to get you! This circular path backfires on them because they have now nowhere to run. Ebi is going to rid of all of them especially Misa and become the leader of Scoopers. Misa won’t allow it and vows to protect her friends. Then her Amatsumara starts to shine and respond. For a Scooper?

Episode 12
So Misa’s power is dropping loads of beads on Ebi?! I guess it still hurts. Now run! Same tactic? Thinking of a way to fight back, Misa laments her only creative is beads. So the girls help pool their ideas to come up with something. Use the beads to create a giant cat! Because cats like prawns and fish, right? And so we have a Godzilla-like slugfest between Ebi and Super Bead Kitty! Not! Ebi got his ass handed to him and Kitty didn’t even do anything much! Tired so soon? However Ebi has a secret sneaky move. His tail boomerang move destroys Kitty! My, another fragile and weak piece. With Misa losing confidence fast, the other girls motivate her not to lose faith in Kitty. With that, Kitty bounces back to defeat Ebi for good. With this defeat, Ebi reverts back to normal and seeing that a Scooper can evolve this much, there is no need for them to steal anymore. Just like that? Whatever. Hooray! So the girls return to Park and celebrate victory by eating a giant parfait they make. Then they decide to destroy the parfait in the sky. Where the f*ck did they get such a tall crane? Oh. It is their imagination. But a few pokes with the giant fork shatters it?! The real devastated Harajuku is back after the barrier disappears. They see that fat cat and find a sakura petal on it. Because it is not its blooming season and only existed in their fantasy world, it means the cat was with them in that world. So I guess the lesson is that the time they spent in a world that wasn’t mostly real, some of it was. This means it is okay to dream and fantasize? Whatever. They manage to feed the cat this time. Misa would love to stay and help the girls with their creativity but she wants to go back and teach her Scoopers how to be creative. Wow. Just a few lessons and she’s now a pro? Well, that’s a big improvement from one who has no creativity at all! As for the things they stole, it is impossible to give back all of them but they’ll try and return what they can’t. Those that can’t can be rebuilt, right? And so a tearful goodbye between the girls before Misa blasts off for home. The girls walk around Harajuku and find it weird. Because Scoopers just dumped the world’s monuments here! From Eiffel Tower to Taj Mahal! Why travel the world when you can see them all in Harajuku! Oh boy, the international community is going to cry and demand them back. The girls see the people coming back and cleaning up. Best news: The real Sayumin offers them crepes but she doesn’t know who they are. Good enough. The trio return to Park and operate their business. Rito’s new drawing inspiration is Kitty? Oh come on. I thought she could do better.

Culture Appropriation!
What a disappointment. What a disappointment, desu no! So disappointing there I said it twice! And Harajuku is saved thanks to the imagination and creativity of just 3 local girls. No blood was shed and no lives were lost during this invasion. And everybody gets to go back to their normal lives like as though none of this ever happened. Just pick up a few pieces, that is all. Yeah, you’re not imagining things. The aliens never saw it coming and will even have a cultural revolution of their own soon back at their home planet! OMG! Harajuku saved not only their own culture and the world’s but inspired some dumb alien species to spark their own creativity. And since our world’s treasures have been kindly ‘returned’ and dumped in Harajuku, are Scoopers going to do the same to the other planets that they stole? Man, that is going to be a hell lot of cultures to return. So people, if you have a feeling your country’s heritage is missing, please try finding it at Harajuku. The huge international version of lost and found section.

Not really sure if this could be considered lazy writing because of the ‘revelation’ that what the girls have been doing since the Scoopers’ attack were all just part of their imagination. In this era, if your story ends like this, “In the end, it was all just a dream…”, your story sucks. A poor finishing and a big let-down. Even though I sensed something amiss while watching the series, I never could have guessed it was this imagination thingy. I mean, I thought everyone evacuated and then there are some people still left behind and popping out of nowhere. How could this be? Sure it was odd, but never in my wildest imagination that I would imagine that the people and this Harajuku are all conjured from their vivid imagination. Yeah, the power of imagination.

But even without this imagination twist, the entire story itself is still boring. It really lacks the depth that it needs. Because all we see are a bunch of teens going around to fight Scoopers to defend Harajuku and at the same time find the meaning of creativity as well as their own. In short, it was just bland and uninspiring. At this rate, even Akiba’s Trip The Animation looks way more exciting than this piece of candy crap because at least that anime has some fun trivia for us to spot. This had literally none. I mean, Harajuku is no Akihabara but still, for those who are unfamiliar of this place won’t really connect with this place because it looks so alien. Not that I know what Harajuku looks like but at least Akihabara had all those otaku and electronic stuffs. Isn’t Harajuku supposed to be famous for its fashion trends?

The characters don’t feel as exciting and are such a bore. We got 3 girls who opened some store in Harajuku and just like any other teens their age, it is not wrong to want others to praise and admire the talents that they have. Individually, a bit hard for me to point out their uniqueness and hence they are hardly memorable. Like Rito who is good at drawing and supposedly the more rational among the trio. Mari the actress wannabe is more outspoken (tsundere potential) and is good with fashion whereas Kotoko has this fear of being alone and is technically the brainiest because sometimes when things could get technical, she really starts getting technical in trying to explain in detail what it is. Could have been interesting had this series been interesting in the first place. Because it is not, I don’t even want to hear Kotoko rant, which somewhat feels like a mini running joke for her. Each has their own dreams and fears so I guess the lesson of their friendship and story is that as long as you have creativity and don’t give up dreaming, you’ll eventually make it come true.

Misa as a Scooper isn’t a surprise because I noticed there was something off with some of her actions. So the whole while she has been observing the trio fighting Scoopers and watching them being creative. Was it to determine if they were worth the creativity to be brought back? And then for the first time she experiences what it is like to be a little creative. Woah. Suddenly a whole lot of human emotions. Don’t steal! It’s bad! Wow. A Scooper now humanized. Is it because she also took the form of a little girl unlike Ebi who looked like something edible? With this said, I guess from all the other planets’ cultures that they have stolen, none of its denizens have ever engaged Misa with their creativity. They either let their cultures get stolen or got wiped out in the process. Earth was the first for her. And she’s a princess of the Scoopers. She really lived a sheltered and pampered life. But might not be so sheltered and pampered after all because if so, she would have thrown a tantrum like a baby if she had not get what she wanted. Instead, she was being patient and then understanding. What a true princess should be like. I hope that Misa’s creativity will go beyond than just beads… Just saying…

Ebi on the other hand feels like a comic relief character as well as the series’ cute animal mascot. He is forced to be the main antagonist and final boss because what else is there left of the plot to showcase how true the girls love their culture? Another mind boggling minor mascot characters are the Shirako pets. WTF are they supposed to be???!!! Their existence is particularly useless except for the fact to drum up all the moe and cute stuffs. I suppose many would find it cute when those chibi creatures start saying single lines in cute high pitch voices. Thank goodness they decided to go back with Misa because Earthlings would start harassing them and make them trending on social media. A kind of culture we don’t really need… Say, whatever happened to that fat cat? I thought it would play some important role but looks like it only trolled us and was almost forgotten. Oh, right. Could be part of their imagination too. But then it had to show up in the final moments just to show us that it is around and some sort of ‘relief’ that all that they experienced weren’t fake. Bummer. It would have been so much better if this cat turned out to be the real Scooper boss who then transform into a giant monster cat and fought them! I know, still lame but at least it’s slightly better.

And there was something odd about Sayumin too. Out of all the people who are in Harajuku, only she came to talk to them. Only she is the one who listens to them. The only one who cares enough to lend a listening ear. I too was suspicious of her from the start. I deduced that she was a Scooper and was the one responsible of letting Scoopers into this barrier. How otherwise would some of them pop up from time to time to attack the place? Then they surprised me that she isn’t real all along and part of their imagination. You see how this reasoning is now getting annoying? Even more annoying and mind boggling that the real Sayumin exists. If she was from Rito’s imagination, how could the real one be this physically accurate? Assuming Rito never knew her before all this. Maybe she passed by the place she sells crepes and unconsciously ‘remembered’ her? Passive memory imprinting? Anyway, having Sayumin show up at the end is some sort of deluded manner to show us that the girls didn’t really kill off Sayumin. Just the imaginary version of her because the real one is still around. F*ck logic.

The fights against the Scoopers aren’t anything impressive. We see Rito swinging her back for short range combat, Mari firing her bazooka for long range and Kotoko glued to her pad as she scouts for information. You can’t have much variety with that kind of combination. After all, if everything seemed so easy and lame, we can always go back and rely on that ‘it’s their imagination’ excuse. They defeat the Scoopers because they imagine it! Because it seemed like heaven when the enemies you defeat start dropping down as tasty treats and snacks! Yum! I also want to eat them! Ultimate paradise! Like as though this is their payment for defending Harajuku. No money, have desserts then. So tasty that every episode is named after some sort of dessert. From doughnuts to popcorns to crepes, ice cream and parfait. Yum! Come to think of it, if you go by the logic that Scoopers are only good at stealing and nothing else, they shouldn’t have good fighting capabilities. This means anybody with no martial arts skill can actually fight them and win! Fighting off a Scooper should be easier than fighting a hamster! You saw how Ebi ‘fought’ against Kitty, right? Lame! So why didn’t those cultures fight back and take back their cultures? They just let Scoopers steal them and get away with it, huh? Yeah, they deserve to have their cultures stolen then.

I’m sure the idea of stealing cultural ideas is nothing new but something that most of us will not want to admit. Humanity has been ‘guilty’ from the start of time of ‘stealing’ from others. Well, there is a saying that imitation is the highest form of flattery but this series is far from being anything about copying. So when the girls were worried about copying and have nothing original themselves, then everyone throughout history should also be feeling guilty for getting inspired by something and then creating something new based from that. It is not a blatant rip-off so it is acceptable in its own way because that is how we humans move forward and evolve. At least under the name of creativity. Hence feeling shame of making a big hit based loosely on some idea to me is ludicrous as long proper credits are given. After all, when somebody makes a big hit, there are bound to be others trying to cash in and ride this wave too. It is a testament that your hit is well, a hit. So instead of crying culture appropriation, it should be culture appreciation in which the Japanese are doing it right with the spread of anime and manga culture being consumed outside Japan unlike certain parties in the west regarding their own…

One of the things that would really strike you is the visuals. Very cartoonish-like. Very colourful. Very messy. Something feels like as though they were trying to put more style than substance. Everything is designed and decorated in such a moe fashion that this truly looks like a cute fantasy world rather than anything that resembles Harajuku. I mean, you just look at everything in the background and foreground. It is like almost every object here has this cute little dots and eyes and little smile! It’s just so unreal. That said, could it be that Ebi is the laziest design of them all? Can’t decide on what animal mascot, eh? Let’s choose a food then. Mmm… I’m craving for friend shrimps now. That’s it! Just slap some eyes and mouth on it and let’s call it a new character! If you are not used to this and are new to this kind of cute visuals, they may look creepy and give you nightmares. Of course for me, they look so cute and moe to a point that it’s just nauseating. I might have exaggerated about that since I don’t get a headache or vomit at the end of the episode. Not sure if you could call it all as creative but perhaps kids who like all this happy-happy wonderland thingy might love it because it’s so colourful and cute. But sometimes the background can be just sketchy like as though somebody put it together in the last minute.

It’s hard to take things seriously when it all looks so cartoonish because the Scooper aliens themselves look as cartoonish and cute than menacing. Heck, I think this jellyfish clone alien would look more fitting as a substitute to Pac-man’s ghosts more than invaders and cultural robbers. Even the girls’ battle mode design feel a bit bland and uninspiring. Not sure if this is called fashion but I guess it is better than having them in some body hugging tight leather outfit. On a side note, somehow looking at Sayumin reminds me of that Kirari character from Kakegurui. Only less intimidating and more on the moe side. This anime is jointly animated by EMT2 (Renai Boukun, Nyanko Days) and Shirogumi (Etotama, Moyashimon). At the end of it all, somehow I started realizing how the animation style of this series reminds me of The Rolling Girls although it is not as moe as Urahara but wacky in its own right. For more creative illustrations, the end card shows different illustration styles by different people. Some look funny, some cute and some edgy. Creativity, I suppose.

The voice acting casts is literally quite a small one but none that really catch my attention. Maybe Ebi because he sounds like some enthusiastic gay. Really. He is voiced by Yasunori Matsumoto (Gourry in Slayers series). The other casts are Luna Haruna as Rito (originally a singer, this is her debut role in voice acting), Sumire Uesaka as Mari (Sanae in Chuunibyou Demo Koi Ga Shitai), Manaka Iwami as Kotoko (Chiaki in Gamers), Kokoa Amano as Misa (Sakura in the remake of Kino No Tabi) and Riho Iida as Sayumin (Rin in Love Live!). The opening theme is Antithesis Escape by Sumire Uesaka. Nothing special about it as I feel they’re trying to infuse it with lots of cute stuffs and effects. The ending theme is Kirameki Life Line by Luna Haruna sounds slightly better as an anime pop but still overall not really that attractive for me.

Overall, some may call this series creative in its own way but since it failed to entertain me, I call it crap. You heard that right. It is crap. It’s not surprising that I repeated that twice. It is definitely odd and bizarre if you can see past all that moe and cuteness permeating throughout the series. If you like it, so be it. It’s your taste. Hence creativity itself is very subjective and depends on how many people love it. The more they love it, it becomes viral and a trend. Otherwise, it is considered weird and distasteful. So now that we have protected Akihabara from aliens and Harajuku as well, when are we going to complete the holy trinity of Tokyo’s unique neighbourhoods by protecting Shibuya from space invaders? Damn those aliens wanna steal and appropriate Japan’s culture! People, get ready to protect Japan’s culture! I said be prepared to protect Japan’s culture! So jumpy that I said it twice!

Kekkai Sensen & Beyond

April 14, 2018

After that final episode fiasco from the first season, I thought I have seen the last of this series. Never to be shown again. However the sequel, Kekkai Sensen & Beyond came out without much fanfare and without much controversial either. It is like as though almost everyone had forgotten and/or forgiven about the huge delay of that aforementioned first season’s last episode whereby the staffs purposely delayed it not because it was lasting longer than the usual running time but hoping everyone lost interest in it and too busy watching other animes to give a sh*t! Oh yeah. You remember that? No? Oh well. Then let’s start watching the second season with lots of strange creatures and happenings in this weird melting pot known as Hellsalem’s Lot (formerly known as New York).

Episode 1
Leonardo and a few unfortunate citizens are free falling from the sky and have this strange glass containing a strange parasite in it stuck on their head. Luckily he is saved by Zapp. Those who are not so fortunate, when the glass breaks, the parasite grows into a giant carnivorous monster and eats them! You can bet this is all part of Femt’s perverted plan. Leonardo’s glass is on the verge of breaking and they are surrounded by the monsters. Cue for Libra members to jump in and show off their awesome devastating powers. Phew. That is sure taken care of. Back home, Leonardo gets ready to play his new video game he has waited so long for. But he is interrupted by Zapp who is being chased by gangsters as he throws him a suitcase. He did the mistake of opening it. Isn’t that the head of the American president, Franz Ackerman?! He is here for a ceremony tonight but it looks like he lost his head. No pun intended. His body, though, still at the hotel as Klaus and Steven believe this is the work of Headless Duke Durer. He decapitates and steals heads, putting them up on his illegal website so you can converse with them 24/7. Leonardo listens to Franz to escape leave his place. True enough, agents surround the room and explodes it! It proves there are enemies within the ranks trying to kill him. But there goes Leonardo’s video game… Leonardo is tasked to deliver Franz to his colleagues and the government will reimburse all that he has lost. Time to get back his new video game. So we see him run from all sorts of weird gangsters since Durer is posting a high reward for Franz. Not sure if Leonardo is one lucky bastard since he manages to escape by the skin of his teeth every time but at the cost of his Libra comrades being ‘sacrificed’. When Leonardo is close to his destination, Hummer and Deldro accidentally hit him (to protect from enemy fire) as he flies and lands back right where he started! Leonardo is disheartened and wants to give up so Franz tells him to only whine after he becomes a loser. So keep running. He borrows his pizza boss’ scooter and uses his eyes to storm his way through. By the time he enters the room, it looks like everyone is being held hostage by Durer. The culprit-cum-traitor is Franz’s secretary. Durer changes his mind and will have everyone’s heads. That is when Klaus and Steven stop playing the hostage and instantly kill him. He didn’t even see it coming. Franz is able to give his speech as Leonardo wonders if he’ll get compensated for it all. Only his handphone…

Episode 2
Looks like Zapp is dying as he is being ferried in a helicopter. A strange hospital pops up and they drop him and Leonardo there. Klaus and Steven arrive and they remember this hospital from the Great Collapse. Back then when it happened as all landmarks are constantly changing places, the duo found a baby and brought it to this hospital. They meet a good doctor and his assistant, Luciana Estevez. At the same time, a Blood Breed is walking his dog and looking to feed it. The duo fight him but the dog has already run inside the hospital. Klaus wants to save the people in the hospital but Steven warns the moment they separate, they will lose. Klaus promises to hold it out here for 100 seconds for Steven to save the people. But as he runs back, a building almost drops on him. Thanks to the Casters working their magic, he could have been flattened. The fight ends and vampire dude leaves. Now, inside the hospital is still as busy as ever. Klaus finds it strange that Luciana is now in the form of a little girl. In fact, there are many clones of her attending to the wounded. She relates what happened that day. After the dog unleashed some spores and almost killed everyone, Luciana is visited by the hospital director, Magra de Grana. She wanted him to grant the power to divide herself to perform simultaneous high speed treatments. It might have been over for her but not for those other people on that day. She has been keeping them on a life support as they are trapped in a cocoon state. The spores have been extracting their life energy. Now that the nutrients would no longer be transferred, the reason this hospital resurfaced as she is sure that bastard will return. And here comes that evolved dog. Cocky, isn’t he? Too bad cocky Zapp gets wounded even further by him. Luciana transforms into her adult form to slice him up. At the same time, the vampire guy returns to get his dog. He and Klaus resume their fight. Klaus looks like he is losing blood just from defending from his attacks. But Klaus gets the last laugh as Leonardo’s eyes are able to let him know his true name. The long outstanding battle ends. Oh, a very bitter Zapp is bandaged from head to toe like a mummy.

Episode 3
Leonardo gets robbed and beaten up in an alley. He thought Chain passing by would save him but she just continues her way. Meanwhile Steven is hosting a party tonight and Zapp is as usual sleeping with one of his many ladies. One of them barges in, upset that her cat is missing so she explodes the boobs of her rival who belittled her and puts the same magical time bomb on Zapp’s dick! Find her cat or else!!! Leonardo goes to buy a weapon and picks an electric baton. He tries to get back at the guy at the bar but gets owned again. Sad. This guy then notices sexy Chain sitting next to him and starts to flirt with her. But then she challenges him to a drinking game in which if he wins, he can do anything he wants with her. You bet he isn’t going to let this chance slip. But that will be his doom because everybody else starts betting and expecting Chain’s victory. As Steven’s guests start streaming in, he lets his servant, Veded go home early. Halfway through the party, all of the guests turn against him and order him to come with them. Resist and he will die. Steven plays it cool and doesn’t care. Before they know it, all of them froze. Earlier on, Steven purposely tripped himself so that he would bleed and uses his blood to embed inside their blood stream. Steven then summons his own personal dark army to take them away. Back to the drinking game, the guy has it coming. With so many glasses of whatever this atomic drink is, he finally collapses. And Chain looks so perfectly fine. He realizes too late Chain has stolen his wallet as well as his lackey’s. And since they can’t pay and resorting to violence would only wound them further, looks like they have to pay with their bodies. Looks like they are now walking heads in a jar. They got almost eaten by a cat but are taken in by Veded’s kids. Leonardo has got his wallet back but stumbles into desperate Zapp. Time is running out… You don’t know how scared a guy is when he knows his dick is going to explode… So Leonardo is riding his bike as fast as he could back to that lady as he thinks the only way is to apologize and remove the spell.

Episode 4
Chain is part of a team of invisible werewolves on a mission to kill some general in his villa. However despite them firing close to about 100 shots, they all missed!!! They get an earful from their deputy chief but pay no heed since they prefer to engage in espionage stuffs rather than assassinations. After they leave, a junior colleague asks Chain about the need to get a token that one has a strong attachment to. Chain warns misusing it could be fatal and then returns to her messy unkempt apartment. The general and his men get a mysterious call explaining how those werewolves could avoid all the high-tech security to get close to him. She hints they can be killed like a normal human being and don’t even need a silver bullet if they return to their true forms. The werewolf girls are called for a mission to infiltrate a facility that has a missile in pre-launched sequence. Although it is 99% trap, they cannot not afford to not do anything. Although the girls failed to prevent it from being launched, they move to Plan B as they erase their existence to almost zero to pass through solids to reach the centre room to stop the missile. Klaus and Steven barge in to see the deputy chief about this suspicious woman they spotted a week ago, Velved Rheinkeimer. She was once a werewolf comrade but was injured and is no longer capable of battle. It is believed she just made a contract with Zeodra, the king of hypersensitivity. She uses her new powers to restrain her infiltrating ex-comrades wherever they are since their existence isn’t completely zero. All that is left is to draw in Chain. However Chain is not cowed and in fact leads her into chasing her down. Velved gets frustrated as she advances to higher and higher levels in a bid to hunt Chain down. As she cannot find Chain, could it be that she has erased her existence to completely zero? There is a risk that she will never come back. I think Velved overused her power so much so it backfires and killed herself. Chain’s comrades are able to stop the missile as it falls into the sea. In the aftermath, Steven is made to visit Chain’s room. Upon seeing her messy place, Chain gets mad and slaps him. Apparently this is supposed to be the token that brings her back? So a messy room that she has to clean is the reason she has to come back?

Episode 5
Because Gilbert got into some injury and continues to work as normal (I wonder how all his bones are holding up), the head maid of the estate, Catherine Bates decides to send another butler to assist him, Phillip Lenore. He might be a bit loud but he is honest and can do anything just as good as Gilbert. He even saves Leonardo from a pickpocket but don’t worry, Leonardo has expected this sort of thing and doesn’t put all his eggs (money, that is) in one basket. Phillip isn’t happy when Gilbert doesn’t allow him to help access Libra’s database as it would put him in serious danger. So while he is out depressed and drinking, it is a trap set by that pickpocket to get him. He plans to scan his brain for details to kill all those related to him. But when he realizes he is part of Libra, he gets an idea to make some money. Gilbert soon notices Phillip’s brain got extracted. So he makes him sit at the database as the pickpocket and his goons watch through Phillip’s eyes all the data. They are going to sell this for cash. Gilbert has Leonardo use his eyes to track down those jerks. So hop into his Batmobile and let’s go for a ride. He contacts the kidnappers and gives them a chance to surrender. But they laugh at him so I guess it is no more mercy. We see Gilbert kicking ass as he rides his vehicle and tears through the place (and goons) apart. The big boss escapes with Phillip’s brain. A mad wild chase before the big boss thinks he has won by cutting Gilbert’s head in half. Too bad Gilbert can regenerate and then blasts him to smithereens. Brain retrieved. Mission completed. In the aftermath, Gilbert explains despite having regenerative abilities, this is only enough to keep him alive. So his body is still pretty much mangled but we don’t have to see all the hideous damage thanks to his bandages. Now we know why, right? Phillip is ashamed he has much to learn but Gilbert cheers him up he is suitable for this city and suggests he could officially join Libra.

Episode 6
Zapp uses Leonardo as a weapon against some monsters. Definitely knocked out. Because of that he dreams of that nightmarish eye stealing incident of Michella once more. He wakes up in hospital under Luciana’s care. He asks if there are any medical technologies to cure his eyes. There are many different methods of restoring sight via magic but has seen none of his case. Magra then points out for his case a mere medical surgery will not cure it but a unilateral breach of contract with a divine being. This almost makes Leonardo lose hope. But for now back at office, he gets bullied by Zapp. Steven is close to finish some tough computing that would expose the perpetrators when an old villain escapes his detention. Everyone goes to easily take him down. Only their secretary, Anila remains to finish the computing but when she thought she heard someone inside the office, turns out to be giant bugs on the ceiling. Scary! When the rest try to return to office, it seems the doors are not leading them there. They are now just random places. Anila cannot be contacted and Klaus calls locksmith Yurian (Ghostbusters?) to check what is wrong. It seems their office has been lockdown. Its defence has been activated so nobody can get it. Yeah, the place is swarming with those bugs. Klaus then receives a call from this bug master who will use their place until he evolves into God. Steven will not allow K.K. to blast it because it will undo all his hard computing work. At the same time, not sure what this earth shaking monster thingy is trying to crush the city that is not visible to the normal eye. Klaus then has Leonardo use his eyes as they climb up their office. The bug master thought there is something amiss when K.K. starts taking pot shots at the building only to realize this is just a diversion for Klaus. Bug master summons his bugs to rid of them but the moment they touch the defensive barrier, everything short circuits. This allows Yurian to do all the hacking he needs to diffuse the lock and Klaus to destroy the bug master. With the lockdown over, Steven in time finishes his computing and by the skin of his teeth manage to trace the culprits right before they unleash whatever earth shaking disaster they were counting down for. It has been a tiring day for him. As Libra’s office is being renovated, looks like Leonardo and Zapp’s favourite diner will for now be patron by Klaus and Steven. Fancy seeing your bosses’ faces too soon? Leonardo decides not to lose hope for Michella.

Episode 7
Leonardo has finally made enough money to host a special party for Zed. Zed hears the rest talk how his equipment at Libra are very costly so he tries to go look for a part time job. No luck. Either they don’t want him or he doesn’t find the place suitable. What has a fish guy got to do than to do some drinking and reminisce about his master talking to him about his loneliness. Meanwhile, Mira Gordon who is some expert negotiator in wars and making decisions on the fly, this busy woman only has music has her refuge. She passes by Zed and mistakes his air gills equipment to be some sophisticated headphone she has always wanted. As she has a meeting with the queen scheduled, she has her men take it from him by force if he doesn’t voluntarily give it up. And so the former was used. Zed of course is left for dead in the streets. Leonardo can’t seem to contact Zed when he sees him lying on the streets. Luckily Zed is taken back to his tank and lives. Since ordering his air gills will take a long time and this means cancelling the party or Zed not making it (he has to be stuck in his tank), Leonardo vows to get it back. Well, if the other Libra members weren’t busy answering to some lunatic necromancer trying to take over the world. So Leonardo has only Chain and Zapp for assistance. He manages to trace where his air gills are taken. They need a plan considering the huge war mongering corporation they are dealing with but Zapp just heads there straight in to ask. After all, you don’t change your angriness based on who you get pissed off with, right? The best thing he has said so far this season. While Zed handles the guards, Chain uses her invisibility to take back the air gills. Mira thinks she can take her out but is given a stern reminder why she shouldn’t f*ck with them. As they head home, a mecha almost takes them out but Zed suffocates the pilot with some water bubble. How can Zed be fine outside without his air gills? Using some trick he learnt from his master, he surrounded his head with a water bubble. There’s a reason why he doesn’t do this. Everyone is laughing their ass off at this ‘space alien’. All is well and the party proceeds smoothly.

Episode 8
Leonardo and his scrawny friend, Riel get mugged again. Shortly after all that is over, some metal ball drops down from the sky, hitting Leonardo on the back of his head. It’s talking too. Taking a closer look, it is actually a flea named Li Gado. Oh, he is a hyper doctor. Fighting pathogens with his super weapons. He further explains he is currently fighting against some bacterial terrorist. No, not some germ warfare. Some bug named Gemnemo who is a micro terrorist. Speaking of which, this bug talks to depressed Riel and can give him the strength so he can view for himself from the side of the oppressor. Too bad his metal ball is supposed to be his greatest weapon and since it is in pieces, looks like Li Gado has to rely on Leonardo’s eyes. Riel has the misfortune to stumble into Zapp at the diner. The latter wants him to pay on his behalf. Riel doesn’t want to and accidentally shoves him, making him fly far! Yeah, he needs to be hospitalized. Fortunate or not, Riel then gets mugged by those same blokes. But this time he turns into Hulk and smashes them. When the police tries to intervene, he fights back. Leonardo takes Li Gado to Steven as he explains some biological stuff about some spontaneous evolution that enlarges muscles and even the skeleton. Well, they get a call from Klaus who is accompanying Hummer and Deldro at the art museum with the warden. Some large organism is taking out the riot police. It doesn’t take too long for Li Gado to figure things out. However when Hummer and Deldro try to fight it, they are being overpowered and thrown back. From the explanation, it seems those hyper accelerated tissues will always heal itself endlessly when torn or broken. So going head on via brute strength with him is a bad idea because all that strength you throw at him will be turned back to you twice as hard. And now Riel has evolved into a giant monster.

Episode 9
With the place in chaos, but soon everyone starts cheering and watching this as though this is some live wrestling match. Indeed. Because the largest individual in town, Gigagigafutmassif (giga-what?!) is going to take him on. Until Riel grows bigger this Giga guy chickens out! What a disappointment! The real Riel is trapped within himself as Gemnemo commends this is way better than expected. However Riel doesn’t want this. He cannot see or hear anybody at this height. He wants to be turned back but Gemnemo will not see his experiment go to waste. Riel remembers his arm broke just by catching a baseball that almost hit Sonic! It was Leonardo who stood up for him to those blokes who laughed at his weak stature. He head butted him and they ran! Riel feels guilty for abandoning Leonardo then and pleads for his friend to save him. Libra goes into action trying to take the giant down. Gemnemo wants him to stomp them but he won’t since Riel sees them as those who won’t back down despite his giant size. Gemnemo has had it and will directly take control of his nervous system to control his body himself. Meanwhile Gilbert flies Leonardo up close to Riel so that Sonic can enter his system. Leonardo then uses his eyes to guide Sonic to where Gemnemo is. He has to do it fast because prolonged use of his eyes will result in overheating. It’s like frying his eyes and brains. Eventually Sonic manages to find and destroy Gemnemo. Sonic escapes in time but Riel trips and falls into the abyss as he reverts back to his normal size. Life returns to normal in the aftermath. Zapp has a field day running his mouth against a very regretful and embarrassed Chain who was not part of the action as she was out drinking with her werewolf girls and got too drunk to answer the call. Until Leonardo points out that Zapp too wasn’t part of the action and that Chain’s inaction couldn’t have inconvenienced him in any way. Prepare for Chain’s counterattack. Sent back to the hospital again. Leonardo ponders if Riel is still alive. If so, he is worried if he is lonely. Suddenly he steps on him! He is ant size?! Leonardo would have Li Gado operate him back to his normal size but Riel likes the view here. Okay. As long as he is happy. Then a bird plucks him away…

Episode 10
Steven’s team is trapped by the terrorist and there is no way out! They relay to K.K. for help! She’s not responding! Where is she?! At her son Kane’s school for parent’s day! Previously went Steven enlisted her as part of the team, she pleaded she had to attend her son’s parent’s day. Steven allows her but not after he made her feel guilty how there would be some casualties, blah, blah, blah. So when K.K. tried to talk to Kane about it, he throws a tantrum that she would be lying as usual. Oh, mommy so hurt. Luckily daddy managed to calm him down and give encouragement to both his wife and son. K.K. finally responds with her great sniping skills. So did she ditch her son’s school? Actually, she has bought several high-tech remote weapons that allows her to see and control them from her sunglass. The team is sure in a pinch since she has to multiple times come to their aid. There was even one time she had to go to the toilet for weapons that require more operation. Almost having Kane thinking she had to ditch today for her job. Well, almost. K.K. then sees Kane being friendly with his classmate, Caroline. Naturally her mom’s instincts make her go excited about her little boy growing up so fast. Then another stupid reinforcement request. Don’t let it get to you… When she fires a missile, it didn’t explode upon impact. Instead, a robot Blood Breed has stopped it dead in its tracks with his hand. Steven is forced to engage it and pulls out all the tricks he knows just to fight on par. K.K. has to personally see to this and hugs her son before leaving. Of course Kane is not happy as it has come down to this like always. K.K. then confronts Caroline’s father who is a Blood Breed remote controlling that robot. She is suspicious of his intentions although he is just like any other parent. The tension breaks when Caroline comes by to eat lunch with him. At that moment of distraction, this allows Steven to destroy the robot once and for all. Otherwise it could have been the end of him. Caroline’s dad admits he lost completely this time. In the aftermath, Kane tells mom Caroline didn’t even stay for the farewell gathering. She could only hug him. It seems Caroline will be transferring school because daddy has a change in his job. He tells her one day when she is older and independent, she can go see Kane again but until then, he will keep her safe. But thank goodness for technology because Kane and Caroline keep in touch via social media!

Episode 11
Leonardo still keeps in contact with William. He is told to contact Michella once in a while. The moment he decides to do so, Michella drops the biggest bomb: She is getting married! SAY WHAT???!!! She also surprises him that she is coming to see him so he could meet her fiancé and arranges the time and place. Leonardo talks to Klaus and Steven about this and they agree to provide some security from the shadows since there would be no telling what would happen to his eyes if anything happens to her. I guess the entire Libra had nothing to do as we see the whole gang peeping from a distance. Leonardo hugs Michella the moment she enters. He is then introduced to Toby McLachlan. Looks like a decent and nice guy. However it seems only Leonardo can see that Toby is being possessed by another being. As he excuses himself, that being, Dr Gamimozu confronts him. He knows he has the Eyes of God and assures he did nothing to Michella. Yet. His job is to observe the Prostheses of God scattered around the world. He reveals Riga El Menhunt, an ophthalmological engineer implanted those eyes in him. These eyes are somewhat recorders all events from the holder’s eyes as it records mankind’s history. Leonardo is not happy Michella is dragged into this so Gamimozu demonstrates how he could easily kill everyone here even if it is just an illusion. All eyes in this area are under his command. When Zapp talks to Leonardo, he unintentionally reveals he is from Libra. Gamimozu is interested to follow him around to see why he is in such organization. Leonardo gets back to Michella. But a call from Klaus that a Blood Breed is going berserk and rampaging has him leaving her but promising to come back in a while. So as Libra tries to fight and stall this regenerating Blood Breed, it seems Leonardo is hesitant in using his eyes. He finally gives in and uses it to reveal to Klaus the real name. After the Blood Breed is sealed, Gamimozu is impressed and now understands of his worth in Libra. He now wants to possess Leonardo.

Episode 12
Gamimozu follows melancholic Leonardo as he walks around town. He seems to know he will get a call from Klaus since he left the scene without saying anything to them. He then convinces him to throw away his handphone into the abyss. Sonic swiftly zooms by to give Leonardo a soft slap on his face. Leonardo notices Gamimozu didn’t see that and does a little test and is now convinced that his eyes is not all-seeing and powerful as it seems. Leonardo then walks into a dark alley to get mugged. He uses his eyes to confuse their vision before making a run and letting a car hit them. Gamimozu almost lost his whereabouts during that commotion but is reunited with him. Klaus has realized something is wrong with Leonardo and summons all Libra members. It seems he has left a secret code at the very bottom of the last text that he is in trouble. Leonardo returns to Michella’s room and is shocked to see the place as their usual nostalgic lake scenery. He gets mad and attempts to physically attack Gamimozu. This allows him to deduce that Gamimozu’s actions are all concealed via visual manipulation and to prevent anyone from catching him, he must be very light. When Gamimozu realizes Libra backup is on the way, he tries to do a quick surgery on Leonardo to take his eyes. Leonardo fights back and overuses his eyes. At this time Michella wakes up. Gamimozu takes her hostage and warns him to let him operate or she dies. Before he gives up, Michella tackles Gamimozu. Leonardo move in to attack and tries to break his eye. Mad as hell, Gamimozu is through playing nice guy and will kill him to take his eyes. Leonardo defends like hell as he tolerates all his stabbings. In great timing, Klaus bursts in to destroy Gamimozu one and for all. A big explosion for bigger satisfaction. In the aftermath, Leonardo is hospitalized. Klaus visits him and has heard from Michella who has left for home with Toby. He praises him for his brave act and strength that makes him no coward. Life returns to normal. Leonardo is shocked that William is working at the diner because he got mugged. But as usual, Hellsalem’s Lot is now swarmed with giant carnivorous monsters, apparently upgraded versions sent by Femt. Oh well. This is just like any other day for Hellsalem’s Lot.

Stranger Things & Beyond
Despite Leonardo being physically the weakest among the capable Libra members, I guess the last couple of episodes were meant to show us he isn’t a wuss as much as Zapp loves to mock and tease him. It was really odd but at the same time inspiring to see Leonardo drawing out strength after strength to protect what he loves most. You could feel the ‘pain’ as he tolerates each of the stabs but that may be just me getting too engrossed in the final episode seeing Leonardo fighting mostly by himself. But still, it might feel that he ‘cheated’ seeing that somebody has to eventually finish off the baddie in good timing but for his standards, he has done well as much as he could. At least overall, no final episode drama and fiasco like the first season. So technically this season fares a bit better?

This season feels more like fillers and standalone episodes instead of a continuous story. Not to say the first season was continuous and had a few filler-like episodes too. Hell, I think it was more or less the same except with that White and Black drama in the background that became the first season’s final arc story. This kind of filler-like episodes feel like a double edged sword here. Because in the first season we had to establish to plot and characters and all so there was some sort of story that viewers could follow (almost). But in this season, it has become a series of more random misadventures that don’t really do much if you are hoping for great overall plot and further character development. However I do not find these silly misadventures boring and in its own way, they are still quite fun to watch. But like I said about series like this once having a continuous story is now a filler-like series, it takes away the epic feeling that this series should have been. See Cowboy Bebop if you want to know what I mean.

However with the lack of a proper story that is worthy of a dozen episodes isn’t all that very bad. Firstly, as viewers who have watched the first season before, they are should be by now know what kind of characters the main ones are. At least generally. Therefore they don’t need to go further into some deep background storytelling to tell us more. While many of the episodes do give each of the Libra members its focus and the share of the spotlight, it is nothing that deep. It just provides some insights on them, that is all. With the establishment that fans and veteran viewers know how these characters are, therefore it is safe for this sequel to be able to do standalone fillers. Secondly, this allows newcomers who have never seen the first season to jump in and enjoy without understanding the deeper aspects. Though, they will be confused as they will not understand how Hellsalem’s Lot came about. Besides, it has only been 2 years apart between the seasons so can a lot of newbies miss that much?

Well, there is nothing much to say about the characters because like I have said before, veteran viewers would already know what they are. Not to say that the first season had very great character development, this season we just get a little more insights about them like Chain being part of some werewolf group and can almost erase her own existence which is her ultimate trump card and skill set, K.K. is a doting mother who loves her kids more than anything in the world but is tied down to her job. And there are those that never change like Zapp. Yeah, this guy is a big idiot. I still maintain my viewpoint that he would have looked more respectable if he kept his mouth shut. Instead, he continues to be the series’ main comic relief and it is like a running joke that in some episodes he gets beaten to a pulp and being sent to hospital. And he can’t even die from all that. Yeah, I feel I should insert this lame joke of how he can’t die no matter how much you kill him. But for the rest like Klaus and Zed, they don’t really make much of an impact this time. This means all the other minor side characters that only appear for that episode, I guess we won’t even care much about them. You will mostly forget about them once the episode is over.

At least in this season, Michella makes a pretty decent appearance in the flesh instead of just in flashbacks. Even if her appearances were just short but it is better than nothing. At least it puts to rest my conspiracy theory that I was building along that she could be dead and Leonardo who couldn’t accept her death was just deluding himself to keep himself going. Holy sh*t! Sorely missing from this series is the main antagonist Femt. After that very brief cameo in the first episode, he has gone ‘missing’ since. Except for the final episode where he makes his cameo just to remind us that he is still around and not dead yet. If last season felt disappointing about him (and Aligura, if you still remember who she is) you would be even more for this season. This guy gets his kicks from creating chaos but seeing that every day is just as chaotic as another, I don’t think he even needs to intervene to bring disorder to this hell hole. Maybe that is why this series feels so filler-like. So if you were looking for a mainstay antagonist for this season, you’d be better wishing for another season. Gamimozu was just something to showcase and bridge Leonardo’s relationship closer to Michella. It may not be physically but the bonds they have since young.

Another reason of this season feeling so filler-like is because we know anything more about the Blood Breeds. There were a few but still lacking hints about them. This season it is even more so despite a few cameo skirmishes with them. They are still formidable as well as scary. They are like Gods, invincible and all powerful until you manage to recite their real name. It would have been very much interesting if this second season would follow a story that discovers more about the secrets about the Blood Breeds. But then again, would the series be the same if it follows a dark and gruesome route? I mean, the series itself is already dark in its own but comical and fun way so if it gets this serious (I’m assuming cases pertaining to those vampire breeds will not be funny), will the series lose its charm?

The action still kills it here with all the over exaggerating effects as well as all the exaggerated flashy moves and the names they give to it. I guess when you live in a city mixed with monsters, aliens and other supernatural beings, it is only right to have such ridiculous amount of power and moves that are equally and aptly named in ridiculousness. So yeah, the fight scenes might be short but they still pack a punch and power that keep you entertain for the moment. And I still can’t fathom how the place gets fixed each time a huge destruction takes place. And everyone still goes about normally in their life like as though they don’t give a f*ck if they die the next second they step out on the road. Oh well, even if you hole up in some corner of the darkest place, there will still be chaos brought to you courtesy of its crazy denizens. You are never safe anywhere in Hellsalem’s Lot. Be prepared to fight or be killed. Expect the unexpected. Considering all that, Leonardo must be one hell of a lucky boy to have survived this far seeing he still has no decent martial art skills at this point. Good thing he made the correct and great friends, huh?

Art and animation still feel the same, as good as the previous season. It still feels like the streets of New York (although haven’t been there myself) but at the same time feeling weird to see strange looking aliens walking among normal humans. Is there a subtle hint about ‘aliens’ (read: illegal immigrants) in New York considering the very politically correct era we live in now? Like my sentiments from last time, the designs of some of the aliens feel like rejects or they were just using as many ideas they could get on the alien designs and put them all in here. Why didn’t they contact me if they want some ideas on alien designs? I bet I can draw much worse!

With the old casts maintained, due to the nature of this series of having new minor side characters almost in every episode, there are some recognizable ones like Yukari Tamura as Mira, Takehito Koyasu as Li Gado and Daisuke Ono as Phillip (oh, a butler role…). Some of the other notable ones from the long list of casts are Maaya Sakamoto as Luciana (Ciel in Kuroshitsuji), Kenji Nojima as Riel (Taihei in Himouto! Umaru-chan), Yuriko Fuchizaki as Veded (Ibuki in Maison Ikkoku), Yuko Sanpei as Kane (Seita in Gintama), Yasuyuki Kase as Gemnemo (Kankurou in Naruto), Junji Majima as Yurian (Ryuuji in Toradora), Kenyuu Horiuchi as Franz (titular character in Guin Saga) and Toshihiko Seki as Gamimozu (Senketsu in Kill La Kill).

Remember the first season’s catchy and jazzy ending theme? We have something of that sort this season too. Unison Square Garden who sang Sugar Song To Bitter Step now sings the opening theme, Fake Town Baby. Although this one resembles more of a fast paced rock piece and isn’t as jazzy as the aforementioned one, it is still great in its own right. But if you really want something to dance to, the ending theme, Step Up Love by Daoko x Yasuyuki Okamura feels right at home. But no strange dance here from the casts in this disco and funky piece. Though, we have a few crazy short animations in weird hues like as though the characters are high on drugs and having fun. This season seems to have a quite a number of insert songs and many of them have this blues, sultry, jazzy American feel and blend to it that really makes Hellsalem’s Lot at times feels like a ghetto New York City.

Overall, this season is a hit and miss. You may love it or hate it. Depending on how bar you set your expectations of this show. If you are not looking for deep character development or a very compelling storyline, the action bits as well as its bizarre setting and its own brand of bizarre humour are enough to satisfy and entertain you. To borrow and edit from the last time what Femt said, all of us are in need of some nonsense. Looks like the nonsense has extended its run a little longer. Or maybe everything is just nonsense. It is how we choose which ones are less nonsensical to others to a lesser degree.

Not too sure how I would have lost since I didn’t watch the few movies that released before the second season, Wake Up, Girls! Shin Shou. Heck, I didn’t even see that chibi zoo spin-off series thingy either. Hopefully not much since the title says it is a new chapter, right? Even so, I guess I wouldn’t care since I’m not really a fan of them. Whoops. So what am I doing here watching the sequel anyway? Oh, just sticking around to give them a chance and see if these idols can steal my heart. Just kidding. Didn’t even know the second season was coming out so I got surprised a bit and decided to take a look.

Episode 1
Ayumi Hayashi, Itsuka Atsugi and Otome Morishima uploaded a fan video of a WUG dance. As narrated, WUG won the Idol Festival in 2015 but I-1 snatched it back the following year. This year, with the bad economy looming, idols aren’t spared from the effects. In fact, I-1’s Sendai theatre will soon be closed down. However as Tange puts it, they can’t afford to worry about other idol groups as they are still literally unknowns in the idol industry. Therefore she wants them to go out to do promotion stuffs as their target is releasing an album in 6 months. A next big gig arrives. WUG will be performing on a national programme, Song Stage along with I-1. Before WUG’s turn is up, Airi realizes she forgot her scrunchy. She has to rush back to the dressing room to get it. This causes a bit of a hold up. This scrunchy was made by Yoshino as recycled item from their old idol outfits so it is like their group’s good luck charm. No major delays as WUG goes up on stage to perform. At the end of the programme, WUG apologizes to I-1 for the hold up (their appearance was after WUG). However Moka Suzuki (I-1’s new petite centre) didn’t find it amusing and scoffs off at them they’re not fit to be professionals. While Airi feels a bit down, it was a good thing she had it because without it, she believed she would have messed up. But since everything turned out alright, no need to be so depressed about it. Meanwhile a group of hardcore idol fans converge to discuss the horror of several bands disbanding. They know I-1’s popularity is declining and as fans of WUG, they still aren’t as successful. They vow to do everything they can to help WUG. Matsuda gets a rude awakening from Tange because she has decided to do a national tour and has already got them Sendai stadium.

Episode 2
In addition, Tange wants WUG to live together in a dorm. It saves time for them to be late so often. After all, many of them have already graduated from high school or living by themselves. Better group cohesion, I guess. After WUG move into their new dorm, they meet the nice landlady who hands them the keys to the place. She ‘warns’ them about a ‘freeloader’. Just a fat cat named Zunda. Careful not to get on its bad side. With Tange planning on more solo TV projects for WUG, she wants to promote Minami as a sea squirt lover. Say what? Why does that sound so hentai? Don’t worry. It’s not. Together with Kaya, they appear on a local food show along with other guests like that tweedle dee and tweedle dum pair. Although the girls might be cute but the fatty duo are far more interesting and entertaining to watch. When they are teased they will grow fat with all the food they’re eating, this enrages Kaya so she shows it to them by devouring all that is in front of her! She’ll show them an idol can lose weight as fast! It was impromptu and probably she regretted it but since everyone loved it, everything’s alright. When Ayumi talks to her friends about this show, it seems most of them aren’t that interested. Because the new craze now is V-dols. Virtual idols from an app. With Kaya and Minami taking on more food eating programmes, Kaya is starting to feel a little sick. I’m guessing she has put on weight because she doesn’t want to eat with her other members and she gets mad when Minami continues to snack like there’s no tomorrow. Yeah, this girl probably didn’t even put on a single gram after all that eating. Kaya tries hard to control herself (though, she often sneaks out late at night to eat) and not let others know but eventually they find out and to Minami’s relief, it wasn’t the fact Kaya hated her. So the girls convince her not to skip meals and eat properly since their regular dance practice can burn more calories. So Kaya screws it all and WUG as a whole starts enjoying their snacking. Meanwhile the producer is asking Hayasaka about his composition of I-1’s new song. Don’t feel like writing it.

Episode 3
Miyu and Nanami are assigned to appear on a talk show. They must be feeling weird and lost with the eccentric host ‘talking nonsense’ and is trying to get them to do the same. Though, their I-1 counterpart does it better and more natural. Meanwhile Yoshino heads for a photo shoot. The photographer isn’t too thrilled that she isn’t posing very idol-like (maybe it’s the weird way she smiled?) but the next idols really motivated him and Yoshino is like all forgotten. Airi is doing a local mini segment on TV and again the producers are telling her to be more idol-like. Miyu and Nanami’s appearance is aired on show. However their part is totally cut out like as though they were never there! WUG then discuss among themselves about this obstacle they’re facing since Tange isn’t very clear when she told them about the important working in solo. I bet she wanted them to figure it out themselves. Miyu has this idea to do her own web series once a week after watching Kaya. This is to help her so she can do better on the talk show again. We see other WUG improvising and doing their best like Minami now sings after she tastes her food and Yoshino being naturally clumsy for a swimsuit photo suit. It makes her more interesting and the picture livelier. Above all, she’s having fun. Airi is turning heads because she is wearing a shark headgear for her TV segment. All this makes them stand out a little. Tange wants Nanami to do a musical. She isn’t interested at first as she is done with this kind of thing. She wants to stick being an idol but since there is no law saying idols can be on musicals, I guess she has to. It’s not bad once she tries out the audition. The most shocking job comes to Mayu as she will be co-starring alongside Shiho.

Episode 4
As the drama shoot begins, the duo also answer questions from the press conference. Both maintain their professionalism on questions pertaining to their ex-centre roles in I-1 as well as their current onscreen roles that pretty much differs from their own personality. Mayu’s schedule is now packed as she puts in the effort. During a shoot, Mayu seems to have trouble in focusing her lines. So while they take a break, the drama’s writer comes to talk to them. Mayu gets some clarification on certain aspects of the script before the shoot resumes. Ayumi and co look through an audition for extras for the drama. They get hyped up to apply but first Ayumi needs to convince her mom. You know how kids will say anything (like doing everything) just for this once in a lifetime chance. But a ‘scandal’ breaks out. Moka sprained her ankle after falling through the stage during a performance. Hence Shiraki announces Shiho will be temporarily returning to I-1 to replace her. Hence the drama schedule will be heavily revised. Ayumi and co are on set being filmed as extras. They try hard to not be nervous although they are just background characters in the film. Ayumi got too nervous that she dropped her lip balm but Mayu coolly picks it up and returns it to her. Meanwhile Shiraki and the executives are in one of those high powered meetings. Things aren’t looking good especially sales of I-1 continue to fall (in addition to Moka’s fall – Sorry, bad pun). They will need to relook and overhaul everything. Ayumi is so motivated that she announces she wants to become an idol.

Episode 5
Moka’s feet has recovered so she is able to perform again but Shiho will still continue to perform with the main I-1 group. Ayumi and co are looking through the ads to see if there are any idol recruitment drives. None. When Shiraki walks in while the girls are practising, you know something big is going to happen. In a bid to take I-1 to a new direction, he announces a couple of girls from other units to be transferred to the main unit. Because that unit they are in will either be absorbed into others or shut down. Oh, they have to keep working because their new song is released next week. Don’t rest! Don’t complain! Don’t think! Man, this is starting to sound like a cult. When Shiho learns of this, she couldn’t focus on her acting and makes some obvious mistakes. But after talking with Mayu, she steps up her game and before you know it, it’s a wrap for this drama shoot. At the party, the producer answers Mayu’s question that she asked prior that he purposely casted Mayu and Shiho together to attract attention. But he also did so because he saw potential in them and they surprised him in many ways. Tange now wants WUG to hold a fan club meet. How? That’s for Matsuda to go figure out. Discussing with the girls, they come up with touring Sendai with the fans in a bus. It’s going to be like a school trip. Ayumi and co applied for this and now they are training hard in their walking. Looks like they’re catching their breath a lot more than they’re going to catch WUG. Haha… A couple of producers approach Green Leaves to request WUG to do a song which is going to be part of a full album of a V-dol that will be officially debuting as one of its agency’s entertainers. A Japanese major debut is planned as well. They also heard Hayasaka will be part of it. Speaking of him, he doesn’t seem interested in composing a new song for I-1 because he is occupied with a certain ‘girl’. Shiraki receives report of the sales of I-1’s new song. Didn’t hit the million mark again.

Episode 6
Due to a scheduling delay, Minami might not make it in time to join the rest on the bus tour. Something about a chef needing inspiration and hence a 2 hour meditation? Worst case scenario they might have to perform without her. So the first stop of the tour has the fans needing to find WUG dressed in their animal outfits and once they do, they get a stamp. After lunch, Minami still hasn’t arrived so they bring forward the dance lessons with fans first. With time running out, WUG then performs without Minami. Noticing Minami fans would be disappointed, Nanami has this idea of changing into her animal outfit during the performance. It works because you can’t see one’s face clearly in that gear and it’s not like the fans are very close to the stage. Too bad the secret is out when Nanami trips, revealing her face. She tries to recover, the fans find it funny and some may even convert to be a Nanami fan! Thankfully, Minami has just arrived. Thanks to the super express cab Tange had her ride in. The fare is going to be pretty expensive… Guess who is going to have to pay? WUG performs as a whole and to the delight of their fans, they announce their upcoming album on sale as well as a national tour. In the evening, Airi got separated and lost to her way to the bath. She stumbles into the staffs’ room and like any normal fan who discover their idols’ outfit… And then she hears someone coming… Mayu trips upon entering the room. But she never questions why the outfit was placed in such an odd fashion compared to the rest? Yeah, Airi is wearing-cum-hiding in it. Because Mayu spilled her tomato juice, it looked like she just murdered the animal. Just when Mayu realizes someone is inside, she thinks it is Yoshino and takes her to the bath to wash it off. She’s not even curious why this ‘Yoshino’ was doing here in the first place? With all the steam in the bath, Airi manages to slip out and sneak out. Only after that the real Yoshino pops up and Mayu asks her about it. Not that Yoshino knows what she is talking about anyway. Next day when the fans get their stamp from WUG, Mayu remembers Airi as an extra from the drama shoot. Airi is so touched that she declares aloud she wants to become an idol too. Best of luck. Being too happy-happy is detrimental to our health so now it’s time for something ‘depressing’. Shiraki has summoned his entire squad of idols and he will have them ‘reborn’. Is he going to turn them into mindless killing robots? Haha! Oh no…

Episode 7
A special edition that some call it episode 6.5 because this live action episode and features the casts doing behind the scenes stuffs such as interviews and playing some weird variety game. Not sure if this is lazy (because it’s like they can’t meet this week’s deadline or the overall story this season is too short) or creative (because nobody expected it, at least not me) but it breaks the usual pattern of 2D animation all the way as such specials are only reserved for BDs. Although I didn’t watch the entire episode and just snippets of it, overall it feels like a very big promotion for Ayumi and friends’ characters as they eat up a lot of the screen time… Hmm…

Episode 8
The bus tour is a success and preparations for WUG’s big concert is on schedule. However Matsuda points out a big problem: The seats are not filling up. Tange’s usual answer is to have him to fix it. It’s his job. Who picked the Sendai stadium in the first place? I-1 announces a Christmas performance at Tokyo Dome. We see Shiraki announcing to his ‘army’ about the forming a brand new selection unit in which will have its own centre. Moka is not happy as this means she will be replaced. Was it because of her injury? Partly. Shiraki claims that even though it isn’t her fault, a true centre must have luck. He also switches captaincy between the units. One of them is a shy girl so this makes her even more fearful. More bad news as Hayasaka tells Shiraki straight he isn’t writing I-1’s new song because he doesn’t feel like it. Ayumi and friends enter Green Leaves to request to become idols. However Tange shoos them away as they aren’t recruiting. Sad but Tange believes people who claim to be the biggest fans of something are just naïve. Good thing or not, they won’t give up. Matsuda has just received 4000 printed flyers of WUG’s concert. How to distribute them? Ayumi and co take the liberty to do so but it’s a cold world out there as nobody gives a sh*t about them. Tange is mad at Matsuda for allowing them to do so but he says they whisk the flyers away before he had a chance to do anything. Tange asks them to smile. Creepy… She tells them the importance of an idol’s smile during tough times. Since they cannot do it, they’re not cut out for it. Sorry. Sad ending again. Ayumi practises smiling until she gets her mom’s ‘approval’. This lifts her spirits as they continue distributing flyers. This time with more positive results. At the end of the day, their cheeks are sore with too much smiling? A little boy trips and is on the verge of crying. Ayumi tries to help him but trips. Everyone laughs at her since her face is messed up. Gee, everyone is such a sadist… Hearing positive comments from the boy’s mother, they get motivated to continue distributing with even bigger smiles. Then they go back to Tange and beg again. I guess with all that pestering, she has to give them an audition chance. After having them introduce themselves and show their dancing talent, Mayu’s comments on how she saw them work hard has Tange make them idol trainees. Is it alright to make middle school girls idols? Of course. When there is money to be made! And so WUG now have juniors training under them.

Episode 9
Tange has spent so much on this and it better work. Otherwise she’ll run away! Oh, Tange. You really make the ‘best’ jokes. Soon she hounds Matsuda to get working because they still need a song from Hayasaka. Sure, but what can you do if he isn’t picking up? And it’s Matsuda’s fault?! Meanwhile the juniors’ first task is to clean the office… It builds up stamina. Free labour put to good use. Or maybe she is just abusing her authority and understaffed. Mayu gets a call from I-1’s Megumi. She is crying about being made the new leader and the several changes in I-1 that is scaring the sh*t out of her. There are also rumours the Hakata theatre will also be closed. And when complained, they were told it isn’t their job to think on this. All Mayu can say is that Shiraki will not do something that doesn’t benefit I-1. WUG will be doing a short commercial for departmental store, Nyaon. This will help boost their image and sales for the concert. Miyu then overhears Tange and Matsuda talking about the stagnant ticket sales as well as their concert day clashing with I-1’s tour. Talking to the rest, Yoshino decides to ask them directly but gets scolded by Tange to continue practising if she has time thinking about this. Then Tange scolds Matsuda for making them worry. They should be thinking about performing at the concert and not worry about ticket sales. That’s their job! She’s got a point. WUG does their best to stay positive on the matter. A group of executives just finish watching a commercial about a virtual idol that will be released soon on all media platforms. They hope Hayasaka could write songs for them in the future. Although he agrees, he doesn’t look that all interested. Oh look, it is Matsuda calling and bugging again. I guess it is like saying perseverance pays off because soon out of the blue, Matsuda gets a mysterious email from Hayasaka. He has written a new song for WUG! Only 1 condition: They must write the lyrics. Hayasaka wakes up from some past nightmare about his band breaking up since he didn’t agree with the lyrics and quitted. WUG gets help from some veteran duo who also meet their juniors for the first time. Then a breaking article pops up. Hayasaka is spotted on a trip to America and he might be staying there to work.

Episode 10
WUG is trying to write the lyrics. Not as easy, huh? Not sure what Nanami’s current job is but she has to supervise lots of children. Lots of naughty children. Did she just give up? It hit a nerve when Minami thought it is great to work with children. Because a star of some former would be appearing next week as a guest in Nanami’s show, Minami would like to ask more about her. Nanami thinks she is bragging and this causes a rift between them. With all of them having different work, they have barely any time to practice together and set a date when they are all free to do so. Moka is not happy that Shiraki has dropped her from the new I-1 line-up. Crying won’t get you anywhere… You think Miyu is joking when she asks Tange to hire a housekeeper. It’s not that she’s lazy, most of the house chores are done by Airi who is the least busy. At this rate, she worries she might collapse. Okay. Cue for the trainees to step up and provide more free labour. Mayu notices Shiho depressed lately. She talks to her as she reveals Shiraki wants her to quit her unit, Next Storm. She feels sad about it because she worked so hard to get there. Ironically she now understands how Mayu felt when she quit I-1. Accompanying Shiho means Mayu is late for WUG’s group practice. As promise to Shiho, she can’t tell the reason. Mayu then misplaces her scrunchy at a busy time. The trainees notice this and offer to look for it. But a rift has formed between Yoshino and Mayu. The former accusing the latter of being more dedicated to I-1 than WUG (she continues to be late). She also notices she hasn’t been wearing her scrunchy lately. Luckily the trainees find it (damn Zunda keeping all those junks in his whatever nest). Mayu sheds some tears, Airi suggests writing a shared journal among them. Nanami and Minami are back on good terms and this gives Yoshino a good idea what WUG is about. Individually they are weak and lacking but when united, they become stronger by influencing each other.

Episode 11
The virtual idol named Vdol makes its debut in America. There will be a concert using the world’s first virtual concert system via app that is designed by an American company. Look at the white dude all smiles. And the Vdol’s song is written by none other than Hayasaka. WUG reads this on the news but they have other matters to deal with. Because Hayasaka rejects their lyrics and wants them to come up with something new. Time is short as they have less than a week before their album goes on sale and then kicking off their nationwide tour. Hayasaka and the Americans celebrate their 4th placing debut but why is Hayasaka not happy? He then gets a mysterious call from a strange anonymous person. More woes for WUG because the stage they are supposed to be appearing on is cancelled. Apparently Vdol’s sponsors are sponsoring that stage. Tange believes it will all work out. But does she have to abuse Matsuda? Yoshino then gets an idea they should hold a guerrilla concert at several places like parks and rooftops. Matsuda is against it since they are now somebody but Tange approves of it. The only condition is that they have to do it a limited budget. And guess who has to help them out? Matsuda at your service… In small groups, WUG holds their guerrilla concert much to the surprise and delight of fans. Nothing beats real idols, eh? WUG still has problems trying to come up with the lyrics. Then Miyu sees an ad of Namahagez’s concert nearby. She goes to say hi and they remember the good times they battled during the competition. They have not disbanded despite their agency has closed down. They are now freelancers and work part time to get funds to hold small concerts. Miyu gets this idea to help advertise their concerts. The idea of helping one another has WUG realize what they should write as their lyrics. They finally finish it and what is Hayasaka’s verdict? They pass. They can have the song. Hooray! Think it’s all smooth sailing from now? Think again. Because Vdol buys out the Sendai stadium and converts it into Vdol stadium that is scheduled for a performance on Christmas Eve. Uhm, that’s the day of WUG’s concert, right?

Episode 12
WUG kicks off their nationwide tour. Though, they are still left without a final venue. Shiho confronts Shiraki about the closure of her Hakata side. She is told she has a chance to become the centre again but she is somewhat unhappy. She agrees but hopes to go back to Hakata one last time. She meets her fellow members and tells them the bad news that they are breaking. They don’t want this but what other choice do they have? With no one refunding their tickets for Sendai, WUG is happy to note that their fans still believe in them and will work hard till they get the final venue. Mayu gets a call from Megumi. She tells of Shiho might quit I-1 to keep Next Storm together. Mayu wants to go talk to them and Yoshino agrees on a condition that she also comes. So the girls meet and they ask if this is what Shiho really wants. She should talk to him again if she is really prepared to quit. So Mayu goes to bug Tange to arrange a meeting and with WUG ‘pressuring’ her, she gives in and calls Shiraki. And so that guy could only spare 15 minutes of his time just to talk to Mayu alone. They have very differing views on what it means to be an idol. Shiraki insists I-1 doesn’t need friendship. Hard work and strong mentality are all it takes. If Shiho wants to leave, then leave. You can’t reach the top if you rely on others or swayed by your feelings. Shiraki ends the meeting but little do they know, a paparazzi has taken a photo of them. Soon it hits the magazines about this ‘scandalous’ meeting. Rumours fly that Mayu will quit WUG and return to I-1. Oh well, I’m sure true comrades and friends will believe in them. With Shiho released from her contract, she manages to save Next Storm as Shiraki’s ‘parting gift’ to her. Also, Moka becomes Shiho’s replacement as the candidate for the new centre. Not happy? A chance is still a chance. Shiho calls Hayasaka about her departure from I-1 and also to tell something is happening to WUG. Then Hayasaka calls Shiraki to come up with some ‘mischief’. WUG has some good news. They finally find a venue: The old Sendai airport. The huge land is barren and empty. Looks like more costs to erect a stage. So WUG helps out by picking up trash? This is going to take some time. WUG manages to successfully have many idols perform simultaneously on Christmas Eve. Then they bug and Tange so their apprentices can debut. At first she disagrees but after another round of ‘pressuring’, she gives in. That easy, huh? But the only condition is they will only be WUG’s opening act. Hence she has to bring out a song Twinkle wrote for them. WUG tries to come up with a name for the trainees’ new unit. Noticing how they’re always running around, it is decided to be Run Girls, Run (RGR). I guess it beats having just an alphabet and number.

Episode 13
Tonight is the night where many of the idols will perform simultaneously. A lot of people in Japan must really have no other plans but to attend concerts nationwide, eh? We see I-1 going about with their performance first. RGR is nervous before their debut so WUG helps calm them down by giving them scrunchy. Feeling part of the team now? Naturally they are still nervous and slip up on stage. In their bid to recover, they look so funny that the fans love them. Ah, you can’t go wrong as long as you’re cute girls, right? They manage to recover and do their number. And now it’s time for the main event with WUG performing a montage of their songs for the next 8 minutes of this episode. Then the other idols elsewhere like Next Storm and Namahagez get only a second of clip because we’re not going to show everyone, right? Hayasaka calls Shiraki and it seems he was the one who helped WUG find a concert venue. Even more surprising, it was Shiho who called him to help out with this. Hayasaka then asks him a question the difference between human and virtual idols. To him they are all the same. So I guess to prove what Hayasaka is going to say or why human idols have their own charm, something happens during the concert. WUG’s microphones suddenly get cut off while the Vdol just suddenly vanishes! Yeah, blame the cold snow for messing with the equipment. So the fans for the Vdol will have to wait while the technicians get it to fix back but for WUG, they continue performing and they improvise by getting closer to their fans and performing in their stand. Hayasaka thought letting the perfect idol debut with his songs would be the best way to maximise his music potential but learnt that was wrong. At the end of I-1’s concert, Moka is chosen as the next centre. Apparently she doesn’t look happy. A surprise guest appears on screen then. Rather, guests. Because all the other idol concerts pop up. This is also part of Hayasaka’s doing. Shiraki then answers back by making his announcement. There will be a new idol festival. In the aftermath, Hayasaka returns to Japan (because it’s more fun there). Shocking news as Moka steps down as I-1’s centre because the real battle for it will be postponed until the new idol festival. I-1 has also rescinded their seeding and will participate in the preliminaries alongside other idols. WUG is ecstatic of this news but leaves rookies RGR in a lurch because now they are rivals! No more nice girls?

Virtual Wake Up Call
It would sure be interesting to note about this next new idol festival since the Vdol would also be performing! Well, even if this may seem like one sided because machine is virtually perfect but it all boils down to the number of fans you have. In a way, you can be ordinary idols, famous well known idols, obscure idols, idols from another nation, idols from outer space or spiritual idols for all we care. As long as you can capture the heart of your fans, you’re a true top idol. Well, that’s the only thing interesting for me to watch and see if there should be another sequel. Otherwise, this sequel didn’t really offer much especially for casual viewers seeing the biggest struggle for WUG was trying to maintain their relevance and getting their final concert filled. Yeah, the lyrics writing thingy didn’t really seem that all bad. Personal and individual struggles are not on some epic scale that would shake up anything or cause any concern. Remember that ‘scandalous’ meeting between Mayu and Shiraki? Now that she has put up a great performance I guess all is forgotten and forgiven. If only the real world was this good…

I don’t see this season’s plot as exciting despite the virtual idol being the biggest threat to the dwindling idol industry. For a casual viewer like me, despite WUG being the main stars of the series, I just don’t feel that they are going anywhere. Sure, they are struggling to stay relevant in a time when everything is so online that even idols are now in digital form. They might have made a name for themselves but I am figuring they are not as big as say, AKB48. Because I get this feeling that they are just popular locally at Sendai instead of nationwide. Then there is the struggle to keep the group’s cohesiveness together. Although considered a small group by today’s standards, having 7 members in a group is still a feat to manage as each individual is unique. That problem is partly solved as they are living together in a shared dorm now. But other than that, with a few small arguments here and there that doesn’t matter, ultimately they reconcile in no time and there is no big internal strife that would put the group in danger or risk any of them quitting or falling out. Thank goodness. Thus, nothing pretty much exciting if you want to look in terms of the plot and character development because the past season (and perhaps the movies) have done all that. It’s just more WUG happiness to appease fans.

Aside WUG, it looks like I-1 is going through a major change and shift as well. We don’t see much of it because this isn’t their show so it is understandable. So the problem with super huge groups like I-1 as you can see is the cohesiveness of the overall team. Though not shown, I believe not every single member is close to every other single member. So many members like as though Shiraki who only remembers all the members via a given number (he doesn’t even address them by their name unless specifically forced to), is raising a mini army to take over Japan via singing and dancing through our hearts. This guy really makes his I-1 training camp look more like a boot camp. I suppose when you have so many members, you can’t have everyone voicing their opinions because that would split the group and hence who better to play the ‘dictator’ than the man himself. Sometimes Shiraki’s ways might be too harsh, cold and soulless but if you think deeper into it, there might be some truth in it especially about idols not needing friendship. It is still a cutthroat industry so this one is really 50/50 depending on your ethics and morality. So now I-1 is going through a rough patch and their past glories won’t save them unless they innovate. Good times don’t last forever. But so do bad times.

Which brings us to this new Vdol phenomenon which is sweeping the world at a feverish state. Like a new toilet, it is the talk of town. A different experience that excites everyone. But just like trends of anything and everything, eventually this too would become boring and either slow down or phase out. So our idol girls of the flesh and blood kind will really need to work harder and innovate if they wish to stay relevant in the industry. After all, there are pros and cons of both traditional idols and virtual idols. For the former, you can at least get a physical handshake at special events! You can’t touch your virtual idol’s hands, can you? Not even with the latest high-tech VR equipment. Yeah, those are just so artificial…

With Shiho now on her own and running her own freelance little unit, let’s hope that she would be much happier this way. Looks like history is repeating itself when Mayu first quit I-1 and formed WUG, eh? Will Next Storm cause another blistering storm or just fizzle out? I thought Moka would also quit I-1 in view of all this but I suppose she’s just stepping down as the centre. Sometimes I think it is like a slap in the face, she got what she coveted the most but since she didn’t get it the honourable way she wanted, she doesn’t want it. Uhm what? A win is still a win, it’s not like she cheated or anything. Did she? If not for Shiraki’s greater vision to make I-1 the centre of all idols, her actions could have been shot down and fired for all we know. So count your blessings that at least in this anime, idols get to compete with each other fair and square. And we fans still love you all! True fans or true suckers?

I believe this season tries to introduce a group of young WUG fans that turned into their apprentices. Unfortunately they don’t really make an impact. In the first half of this season, you see them bum around from time to time, admiring and dreaming the great idol life. And then once they join as trainees, they fall further into the side. Maybe that is why in order for them to have more screen time and for us to be more ‘acquainted’ with them, unlike last season whereby the next episode preview is done by WUG’s seiyuus, this time we have the seiyuus of the trio narrating and talking whatever. But I guess perseverance pays off because they finally have their own little unit now. Oh, I almost forget about Zunda. I am guessing this cat is supposed to be the series’ mascot but its appearance is so sparing, it can be done without anyway. I mean, it’s a cat and does what it wants. Screw your deadline, just feed me and give me a place to sleep. I show my face once in a while to remind who your lord is and for all you slaves to fawn over. Right. We need to ramp up more moe cuteness. Cute girls + cute fat cat = Epic cuteness!

Ironically, the more interesting characters are the adults. Like Tange who still is the very sly slave driver with connections. She gets lots of this crazy ideas on a whim for WUG to do like as though she came up with them during one of her drunken sessions. Really. Thank goodness it all pays off somewhat. She talks with stern confidence whether she agrees or not. That’s why she makes a good top level manager. She gets things done. Only problem is that she loves taking out and ‘abusing’ Matsuda and piling up all the work on him. But hey, he too somehow manages to get things done so I guess it isn’t that bad. Too bad Matsuda feels like a wuss pussy like last time for being pushed around a lot by Tange but I suppose somebody has to do the job and it isn’t the girls in the agency. Yeah, who is the only guy in the agency? Despite taking out on Matsuda, she gets easily pressured when WUG demands something. Of course it’s for the better of the group and plot convenience and Tange will be viewed as a b*tch if she doesn’t give in to their demands. After all, don’t want to be blamed if they failed, right? On a side note, there is a bunch of WUG fans who are always plotting their next support for WUG at a diner. They usually get too loud and causing a nuisance around them. Are there better places to meet up?

Last but not least, Hayasaka. This talented guy is still as eccentric and whimsical as ever. Because of his tremendous song writing talents, he gets to do what he wants because apparently nobody in this age writes song anymore except him. So they have to pander and beg him but it all depends on his mood. Feel like it, okay, write it. Don’t feel like it, delete everything, drop it, quit, whatever. Clips on his past insights should be interesting and perhaps would enlighten us on how he came to be this enigmatic and erratic character he is today. So he already had his hands in writing songs for his own group, a famous idol group, a lesser known and upcoming idol group and now the virtual idol. What is next? What is the perfection he seeks that will satisfy his heart and soul? Only Hayasaka will have the answer to that. And looks like he has to return to Japan to find it. Where else in the world has produced more interesting idols than Japan? Oh, right. There is South Korea but that’s on a totally different league.

Not too sure if this season was supposedly the battle of the idols because in that very same season we had the sequel to Love Live! Sunshine aired. So will it be WUG or Aqours? Because I am fan of neither groups and considering I have watched both series including its first season, I can’t tell if there is supposed to be any competition between them. Although in the similar idol industry, the settings are just too different if you want to make them go head to head with each other. It’s like they don’t need to compete with each other in the first place and are sufficiently standing on their own feet without the need of trying to outdo one another. After all, both idol groups have their set of dedicated fan base and unless you want to really delve into the dark and dirty idol world, let’s just assume that everybody is just happy with their own favourite idols without the need to resort to low level mudslinging and name calling.

The opening and ending themes feel like spiritual successors of last season. 7 Senses as the opener is your typical lively idol piece while Shizuku No Kanmuri as the ending theme again feels out of place because of its slow ballad style. Though it isn’t bad and not to say that idol groups don’t sing slow ballads, but I still can’t help feel that it just sounds weird as an ending song. There are a few insert songs too but since I’m still not into them, I guess they didn’t sound that attractive to me.

Overall, looks like idol fans and true blue WUG fans would only appreciate this sequel that would otherwise be just boring and average to other casual viewers. In an age where technology is so rampant and one by one jobs that were once manned by humans are slowly being computerised, nothing is left safe at the hands of so called modernisation and development. Hence the only interesting thought this season provided me is how even idols are in danger of being replaced digitally, which isn’t so far-fetched a reality. Let’s just hope in the event if real traditional idols really die out, they won’t resort to shady stuffs in a desperate bid to stay relevant like releasing sex tapes and making adult videos. You think porn is safe from automation? There are sex dolls now! What a time to wake up and be alive.

Just Because

April 8, 2018

Hmm… We have a normal high school romance that needs to be adapted into anime. It isn’t anything out of the ordinary. Just some plain ordinary romance drama and perhaps a love triangle among the characters. So what shall we call it? Hmm… How about The Normal High School Romance Drama Anime Show? Why? Well, no reason in particular. Just because. I see. Okay then. But I think I have a better name for this show. What is it, then? Well, let’s call it, Just Because. Why? Well, just because ;p.

Episode 1
Ena Komiya is upset that her teacher, Watanabe is going to shut down the photography club. He has valid reasons. With only 3 members, they failed to recruit new ones or achieve any accomplishments. But she won’t take this lightly as she protests so loud that the next room can hear. She vows to achieve something to make him eat his words. She then remembers a transfer student in a discussion in the next room. Eita Izumi walks around and stumbles upon his old friend, Haruto Souma. He is shock to hear Eita is going to transfer in less than a month since his dad’s job relocated. They vow to contact each other every day but that soon become infrequent and they stopped. A few months down the road, Eita is back to this school again but only for the third semester since his dad got relocated again. So they chill out by practising baseball. Eita pitches while Haruto bats. All the while, it caught the attention of Ena as she snaps photos of them playing. And then Haruto hits a homerun. He celebrates like as though he won the championship. Later as they rest, Haruto drops the shocking news that he plans to confess to someone and hence this game was some sort of a prayer.

Episode 2
Haruto is getting nervous as he dashes to the classroom. Too bad Hazuki Morikawa has left. Better find her before she leaves school. Meanwhile Eita bumps into Mio Natsume. The latter didn’t know he is back. They are interrupted when they hear nearby Haruto calling out to Hazuki. He might be screaming but the right words didn’t come out. Instead he asks if she is free tomorrow. And when he realizes the duo are watching them, he also asks if they’re free then. Back home, Haruto regrets being lame but keeps positive because there’s always tomorrow. That’s the spirit. Mio wonders why Eita came back and if he still remembers that. Because she totally forgotten about it. Next day, the guys meet up early and wait. They talk about things as Haruto knows Eita has a crush on Mio although the latter denies despite he knew it because he personally told him that in middle school. The girls finally arrive. Haruto’s joy turns to shock because Hazuki brought her younger brothers. Sorry, they insisted in coming along to the aquarium. Even their friend, Yoriko Inui tags along. Because of the little ones preoccupying Hazuki, Haruto can’t get the right chance. Especially one of them being so whiny. So I guess Haruto has to play his big brother and in no time, they’re like best friends? When Mio spots Mayuko Satou among the crowd with a guy, she takes Eita away to another place. This somewhat allows the respective parties to be alone with each other. Apparently Mio is avoiding Mayuko because she turned down all her invitations to hang out to concentrate on her exam. So it’ll be bad if she catches her here. Mio thinks Eita didn’t recognize who she was at first sight yesterday despite they talked a lot in the committee. Does he still remember about that? About what? Never mind. It’s okay if he doesn’t. Once all of them regroup, they create a chat group for this outing. It makes Haruto’s day when Hazuki personally thanks him for this outing. But for Eita, looks like Mio has to remind him again as she ‘threatens’ to kill him if he tells. It’s bugging her, isn’t it? As Eita walks home, he is suddenly pulled aside by Ena who is just ecstatic to see him.

Episode 3
Apparently Ena is having trouble which photos to use for the competition. That baseball one looks the best when Eita crossed her path. Too bad her prints are left at home. She expects him to wait while she goes back to fetch them? Not a chance. It dawned to her too late that she should have just got his contacts. So Ena calls Mio if she has Haruto’s contacts in which of course she lies she doesn’t. Yoriko visits Hazuki and asks about her future plans. She plans on going to college and get a job after graduation. But one day she is still going to help with her family business. When Hazuki takes her dog for a walk, Yoriko messages Haruto to come pet it. Obviously he won’t since he isn’t good with animals. But Hazuki’s there. That’s the main motivation needed. So he peddles all his might to come down there as fast as he could. Too bad he got a bit lost at first. Meanwhile Mio meets up with Eita and wants him to give Ena the contacts of Haruto. Weird, right? Excuses, excuses. It gets weirder when Ena is here. Now she won’t let Eita go. After learning about Ena’s plans, Eita will not allow her to use that picture of him for her competition as he doesn’t want to stand out. This infuriates Ena but she doesn’t give up. Okay, she does. For now. What does her club disbanding has got to do with Eita anyway? Haruto must be in heaven when he arrives because Hazuki serves him tea. When he tries to pet the dog, it barks at him, scaring the hell out of him. Yoriko laughs her ass off. Later Haruto calls Eita to complain about this. Not that he wants to hear it either. But I’m sure it couldn’t be more a pain in the ass as Ena once again is here to bug him. Bug him to add her to his contacts. What choice does he have?

Episode 4
Ena also helps with the curing of Haruto’s animal phobia. But a cat? Not as bad as Haruto gets chased by Mio’s dog! It’s so funny that Ena couldn’t stop taking pictures. But at the end of this, Haruto is determined to confess to Hazuki when they visit the shrine. On the way back, Haruto asks Mio if she has a crush on anyone. Although she is always giving that exam excuse, she does hint someone so Haruto guesses it is Eita. She doesn’t appreciate him being too nosy. At the same time, Ena asks Eita if he likes anyone and she can guess it is Mio. His reaction says it all. An unauthorized shot of his face has he ‘blackmail’ him to tell the reason why he likes her and she’ll delete it. It’s her awkwardness. Seriously? Awkward… During the shrine visit, obviously there is some conspiracy going on when the friends all pull out and only leaving Haruto and Hazuki together. So they meet up elsewhere as Eita recognizes Mio’s older sister, Mina. This makes Mio a little jealous because he recognized her. Eita says it’s because she never changed. You mean she didn’t get prettier? And Mio is ‘upset’ Eita didn’t compliment her? When Yoriko arrives, the girls try to tease Eita that Ena is a powerful person and how many boys like girls like that. Haruto is spending a few nice moments with Hazuki but he has to take her and leave as he spotted Mayuko who is there with her friend, Momoka Suzuki. Unfortunately she has spotted them too and doesn’t like what she saw. They wonder if Mio is okay with this since they think Mio is always concerned about him. Mayuko personally doesn’t like quiet girls like Hazuki. Eita doesn’t like how Mio is always citing her exams as an excuse not to go through with things. It causes them to argue for a while as Eita hints he always cared for her and known about it since middle school. Meanwhile Haruto prepares to confess to Hazuki. Thankfully he says it all out before the damn train passes (usually a cliché cue to cut out the sound, right?). But unfortunately Hazuki rejects him. She can’t go out with him. He walks away dejectedly.

Episode 5
It’s the first day of school and the guys feel so lousy they don’t want to go. Don’t want to be late on your first day. Mayuko and Momoka give Mio a charm from the shrine for her exams. Ena actually searches the whole school and manages to find where Eita is hiding! Then she follows him around and can tell something has happened because Eita and Mio are avoiding each other. Then they see Haruto leaving the dumpster. Looks like somebody too is in a lousy mood. He has thrown away his baseball glove. Yoriko talks to Mio and Hazuki and seeing how awkward things are going, looks like their chat group is going to be dead. I suppose for guys to handle this, Haruto brings Eita to a baseball game since his baseball senior invited him. He is made to pitch but doesn’t feel comfortable using someone else’s glove. Well, Eita returns the glove he ‘dropped’. On the other hand, Hazuki and Mio talk things out. Hazuki regrets not putting in much thought to Haruto’s confession. It was her first so she it caught her off guard. However even if she has time to think, the answer will still be the same. Though, it’s not like she hates him whatsoever. She is busy with her own stuffs and they don’t talk that often. It’ll be even less once she leaves town. Mio suggests she tells him that she wants to answer his question again but properly. She thinks it would be good news for him since it will probably be tough for him to be rejected again. Hazuki agrees and would give that a try. Things are looking up for Haruto. He became the MVP of the game. He thanks Eita for the glove. Is it bad luck or fate that Eita and Mio had to bump into each other at the bus stop? They apologize for going overboard the last time. Mio says she would like the make things clear with Haruto not because Eita told her to. But her exams are coming up and she would like to focus on it. This isn’t an excuse or anything. Though, she did feel hurt when he said that excuse thing. Eita is confused over what she meant and if she realized it or not.

Episode 6
Eita and Ena exchange lunch. So when Haruto steps in, he misinterprets she is feeding him. After resolving that misunderstanding, looks like Haruto has a bigger issue to deal with. Hazuki texted him to meet up and talk and he got nervous and didn’t reply. So Eita plays a baseball game with him. If he hits homerun, he will reply her. After a few hits, he nails one. Not too sure why Hazuki was watching this, she rushed down all the way to the music to try and play her trumpet but never got to. Did she lose motivation? Later, Mio wants to talk to Haruto. She gives him an eraser. During middle school, he lent it to her. So she’s giving it back. Huh? Me no get it. The guys either. Since Hazuki is watching from afar, she might be misinterpreting the situation. Haruto replies Hazuki’s message and now it is her turn to feel awkward on whether to meet him or not. Mio’s friends are wondering if that was a confession but that is all to it. Just returning an eraser. Mayuko warns if she is too slow, a certain girl make take him away. She wants to confirm if Mio likes Haruto or not otherwise they can’t help her. Mio seriously doesn’t know. She was just happy doing that. Haruto and Hazuki meet. She plays her trumpet. At the end of the song, he says he likes her. He means her trumpet play. And of course her too. Argh. Super awkward. Hazuki clarifies that she wants to give him a proper answer because what he asked then was too sudden and she reacted on the spot. She needs some time to think about it. But all that matters to Haruto is that he has a second chance so he doesn’t really care if she is going to study faraway because he is screaming like has won the lottery. On her way home, Mio is surprised to see Ena hugging Eita (he saved her after a guy got mad on her taking unauthorized pictures of him).

Episode 7
Ena claims she wasn’t taking photos of that man. Everything happened so quickly when he accused her that she didn’t have time to react. Ena is really gloomy. Then she blames Eita’s fault for not allowing her to send in that photo. Asking why the photography club is so important to her, it is the only thing she has. It’s a place where she belongs. So when Eita gives her the green light to use that photo, she instantly turns into joy like as though she won a million dollars. She starts hugging him and that’s where Mio saw them. Eita also spots Mio walking away. Mio can’t distract herself with this now as she concentrates on her studying. Since it snowed heavily last night, it wreaks havoc all over the area. This means all transportations are disrupted. And today is the day Mio is supposed to take her test. Of all days. She panics that she will not make it in time. Eita is seen rushing to her aid as he narrates this always happens to her on important days. She is about to give up but look who is just ‘passing by’? He picks her up and they manage to get into a train. She still thinks she is already late and forgotten all she has studied from this inconvenience so Eita asks her a few questions in which she can easily answer. Still there, thank goodness. Of course she makes it in time since the test centre has also delayed the exam time. Eita gives her a good luck charm. Mio hopes to ask him something once she is done. After Ena posts her photo, she goes to bug Eita and complain about her stomach discomfort? WTF… I guess the rest of the day she is being grumpy thinking about him… Mio remembers Eita used to not convey his thoughts properly. He alleged her for her weird thinking process when he never said the most important things like when he suddenly had to move away. She gets a message from Ena to meet up. She is asking her permission to date Eita! That shock look on Mio’s face… Her answer? No way.

Episode 8
The friends converge at Hazuki’s place to celebrate Mio’s exam. Meanwhile Ena is having sleepless nights thinking about Eita. She is trying to figure out the right words to ask him out. While deep in thoughts, her cat then ‘accidentally’ hits the send button. Ena in misery. After a while, Eita replies back and agrees to meet up. Now she is thankful for her cat. Is it me or does her cat look and sound evil like some devil in disguise? Eita hangs out with Haruto. The latter teases if he is okay with Ena. Because they seem to be connecting well generally. Haruto knows Eita who doesn’t mix well with girls before so Ena is like somebody different. Eita tries to change the subject of him and Hazuki. He is being honest about it so Eita envies his honest disposition. On the day Eita goes to meet Ena, he bumps into Mio on her way to cram school at the train station. Apparently she knows about their date as she hints she saw them hugging. A silent awkwardness between them. It gets even more so when Ena arrives and joins in. So as not to be a bother, Mio gets off. Hope she isn’t lost at this stop. It seems this ‘date’, Ena is bringing Eita around as she takes photos of stuffs. He snaps a pic of her taking a photo. The ‘date’ isn’t over since there is a place she wants them to go. Back in her clubroom, she shows him a photo album of the past photos of the seniors who graduated. Ena tells Eita to just confess to Mio if he is desperate and not wait just because he too is studying for an exam. It feels odd because it is as though the reason he is taking this entrance exam is because he can’t confess to Mio. Ena has decided. If she wins a prize from the photo competition, she will confess to him. That’s bold. He is left in shock that he probably didn’t recognize Hazuki coming up to talk to him. Well also, Hazuki did a makeover and is almost unrecognizable! Double shock indeed.

Episode 9
When Hazuki enters her class, everyone is in shock over her new makeover. Who’s that girl?! She becomes the talk of the school. At least those who know her. Haruto texts to Eita about this and the latter teases he didn’t tell him beforehand is because he wanted to see his reaction. Later Mio and Natsume talk about their respective reasons to enter college. Mio is feeling lost right now as she doesn’t even know if she wants to go to college. When Mio compliments her new hair and how Haruto likes it, Hazuki thinks she got the wrong idea and asks if Natsume likes Haruto. More awkwardness between Eita and Ena. In a bit to avoid each other, they copy each other’s moves?! Mio seems to be aiming for a higher ranked university and buys the sample questions just to try for size. Souma and his baseball team are preparing to play when Hazuki and Yoriko come by to watch. The teammates get jealous of his beautiful girls and start ‘abusing’ him. Haruto asks Yoriko if Hazuki is in a bad mood because he couldn’t talk to her after her new look. Yoriko sets it up so he is forced to go talk to Hazuki himself. He manages to compliment her hair. Mio reflects about Hazuki’s question asking if she likes Haruto. She once did in middle school but realized nothing came of it and didn’t let anything come of it either and stopped. She is satisfied with that. When her friends ask about it, she will admit that as it will enable her to take part in a conversation. Besides, she has somebody else she likes.

Episode 10
Mio tells Mina that she will be taking a different and harder entrance exam of another higher ranked university. Eita too is studying for his entrance exams despite already being accepted. Ena is happy to see Eita. But then it all turns to heart break when he sees her talking to Mio. Mio sees that Ena wallpaper in his handphone. She too gets heart broken and leaves. When a girl cries, it is like the ultimate sign to say don’t you say or do anything. It’s like a stun weapon for guys. Ena saw what happened and has a hunch what transpired. She takes a look at his handphone and feels guilty about it. Haruto thought he is the happiest man in the world when Hazuki calls to meet up. So after she plays her trumpet as he practices his shadow baseball, she drops the bomb she can’t go out with him. Haruto sounds desperate as he argues he can make things work out. No, you can’t. She will be moving far away and they will be in different levels of society. So when he is just about to accept fate and reality, Hazuki finishes her sentence that she hopes he would wait till she settles down in college life and if he still likes her, they can go out. Thank you God, right? Similarly, Ena calls Eita to meet up. She gives him a tiny chocolate as obligation for Valentine’s Day but also doesn’t want to poison his stomach with her homemade chocolates before his exam. But the real deal is all the different charms she got from different shrines and temples for him to pass his exam. If he passes, Ena will root for him and Mio. He has been studying hard so do you not want him to pass? He gives back one charm in hopes she would win the photography contest. She thought he didn’t care. Now he does. Having said that, looks like Ena has a change of heart. In spite of everything, she still likes him. Uhm, so not giving him up to Mio? Speaking of her, she is somewhat frustrated a certain guy doesn’t know her feelings. She makes a vow to pass her tests and then lay bare all her feelings.

Episode 11
Ena hopes he will tell her when his results are out. If he fails? There is no way he would. Haruto updates Eita about his confession with Hazuki and likewise Hazuki tells the same to Mio. Eita hasn’t told Mio about the entrance exam he is taking but plans to tell her everything if he passes. One night, Mina stumbles into Eita and gives him a ride home. When she goes home, she is smiling from cheek to cheek in teasing her sister about Eita. I guess she really wants to see her reaction. Don’t worry. Big sister didn’t tell anything but Mio can’t help feel suspicious. On the day of the exam, Eita and Mio make their way to their respective exam hall. Hazuki wonder why Haruto is worried over Eita about his acceptance when he got accepted via recommendation. That is when he tells her about Eita changing his mind and is taking the entrance exam as the same university as Mio. Hazuki reveals Mio changed hers to Eita’s. Oops. Switcheroo. Exams come and go. The results are out. Mio has been accepted. That big smile on Ena’s face tells us a lot. I’m sure it’s the same case for Eita’s grin too.

Episode 12
Actually Eita didn’t get accepted! He probably smiled at the irony of his situation. On graduation day, Mio gives her speech. Then all the graduates hang around for the last time with their fellow teachers and classmates. Mio is looking for Eita but he isn’t around. Instead, she bumps into Hazuki who tells her how her touching speech made some students cry. After that Haruto hangs out with Hazuki. Yoriko snaps a picture of them. Haruto wants that picture but in exchange must treat her to an expensive curry bun. Hazuki wants one too so does she get a free pass? Eita is with Ena who shows her winner’s prize. She is quite happy she won the competition and thanks to that she gets to keep the photography club around for another year. Eita knows what she is talking about since he went to the gallery and saw the photos she displayed. She also hands him a yearbook she made. Eita wants to reply her confession despite failing because she told him upfront and he needed to do the same. In short, he rejects her because there is someone he likes. Naturally she cries her heart out alone later. Eita and Haruto play their last baseball game together. This time Eita hits a homerun. Haruto tells him to go for it and Eita runs after it. I thought it was a sign to go after Mio. And I thought it was just coincidence the vapour trails in the sky. But that’s really the baseball he hit???!!! This is crap. I also thought it would lead to Mio but apparently I don’t know where Eita ran to because he didn’t run into her. In the aftermath, Haruto settles in his workplace as with Hazuki in her college. They still keep in touch. Eita is at his college as he gets a surprise to see Mio. She claims she didn’t chase after him. That confident smile may be so. He then confesses he likes her and she does the same.

Just Be Yourself
Oh well. Here I thought Eita and Mio would never confess but I guess they leave all that stuff at the very last second. Like as though that was the entire goal of this series. Wait. It is. So it took them a dozen episodes to get their feelings across? Better late than never. Just because. I suppose it was a blessing that Eita failed because had he got accepted, he and Mio would have missed each other in college again. So in the context of this anime, I guess fate was pretty kind to them. But it is mind boggling that they never talked much with each other since their graduation day until their day at college. Strange. Because they never found out the other college they were trying for. Eventually it doesn’t matter since they’re together.

If you think about it, this series is actually nothing more than one long drawn out romance between the characters. They are unsure about letting know their feelings and drag it out, giving excuses. Even for the bolder ones or that certain pair to have confessed, it feels like nothing much. Just another ordinary day. Life goes on. Yeah, so what. Thus the dozen episodes we got here are just a big boring wait-and-see game among the characters. If it turns out like that, we’ll go with that. Otherwise, we’ll go like… Uhm, never mind, it didn’t. Had they been themselves and not be so roundabout, we could have avoided lots of drama and saved time. That of course defeats the purpose of this series had everything ended so fast and well. And we always blame love for making us do silly things. Why love? Just because.

Something tells me that this show is similar to Tsuki Ga Kirei. It is most probably the slow pace and very normal high school romance that both shows similarly have. There is also a small love triangle inside but didn’t turn out into the biggest drama or scandal for the series. Also, the art style of both series is quite simple although Tsuki Ga Kirei is so much simpler that it might look a bit cartoonish at times. But then, it could be just me feeling so. Perhaps it is the use of the chatting service where they use really lavish emojis and the likes.

Character wise, they aren’t anything special. Ena being the most memorable because of her daring and bold personality. Compared to the rest of the main characters, she is the liveliest and the rest feels so ‘dead’. Not sure why she was adamant to keep her photography club. Saying it is her only place of belonging then doesn’t sound so convincing but at the rate where the series was going, it didn’t matter. Mio is a character whom you will remember is one who always uses exams and studying as an excuse just for almost everything. Want to hang out? Can’t. Have a test. How about after your test then? Can’t. Need to study some more for another test. So then, we make it after all your exams are over? Can’t. I am a study nerd and I must study 24/7 or else I will shrivel up and die as I made a pact with the devil with my soul. Just kidding about that last bit. But you get the idea. Therefore one can only imagine the procrastination she would put in had she failed her exams. Another bunch of moral demoralising reasons.

Using the results of the exams may be one’s motivation to confess but sometimes I feel that it isn’t all that great either. Aside the chances of failing or not getting accepted, sometimes I feel that the need to pass puts another unnecessary pressure. But I don’t see them under pressure whatsoever because Eita and Mio as just being poker face that I can’t tell. Also, when they pass and then confessed, it’s like saying, “Hey look, I passed. Now I am as smart and have the right to declare my love to/for you”. Well, technically not wrong because naturally we are attracted to people who are of the same or higher intelligence for reproduction purposes but I’m not going so far into that for this anime. Eventually, exam results or not, you can’t make that as an excuse for your confession because there needs to be some sort of closure before they move on as seen here. So I’m glad that even though things don’t work out for everybody, at least it does for some. Hey, you can’t have it all.

Eita, Haruto and Hazuki, I can’t think anything about them in particular. I only remember them as the transfer kid, the baseball freak and the soft spoken brass band member. Initially I thought there was going to be some sort of big drama between Hazuki and Mayuko. The latter somewhat disliking the former to a certain degree that you would think that something big on the cards would happen and spice up this boring drama. Nothing. So I guess we get no b*tch fight for Haruto’s case. I mean, Eita already has Ena and Mio for his love triangle equation, why doesn’t Haruto get one and is more straightforward? After all, Mio did once like Haruto and is totally over with that since Haruto also didn’t return the favour. I guess that’s your little drama that didn’t amount to anything. So maybe Haruto-Hazuki-Mayuko love triangle would have been something interesting? Maybe not. But then again, Mayuko did have her own guy (assuming it is her boyfriend).

Some of the lesser known minor characters are more interesting compared to these main characters. For example, the couple of guys that Haruto and Eita are friends with. One of them only wants to fool around and hang around instead but is often a ‘loser’. Then there is the other more responsible who looks like a book nerd. What an odd pair. Is it me but does he look more like an adult than teenager? Must be his bigger size. Then there are Ena’s photography members. The 2 guys are sometimes funny because like that Valentine episode, when Ena left them some real chocolates, they get suspicious if it’s some sort of trap she’s trying to prank them and start looking for tapping devices! They aren’t really dedicated to their club work and only pretend to do so whenever Ena is around. Otherwise, it’s like they have this I-wish-I-wasn’t-here look on their faces. They only do so probably they have no life and girlfriend so it probably sucks to be alone by themselves as Ena is the only girl who interacts with them. Can’t complain… But hey, at least they are loyal. Because looks like Ena is going to appreciate their company now that Eita has left. They too are considerate in their own ways. Not bugging her while she was crying her heart out and choosing the same university she plans to attend. Last but not least, Hazuki little brothers are just brats… I can imagine them getting in the way of Haruto and Hazuki’s romance if they are ever around.

As for the visuals department, while the character designs are just pretty normal and constitute your typical modern Japanese anime standards, the one that attracted me are the sceneries and backgrounds. I am not saying that they are a masterpiece but sometimes they feel surreal enough like as though I can’t tell if they are from paintbrush painting or taken from still photos. Taking a closer look, it looks as though they are from the former but then again, my video hardware isn’t that power and I didn’t watch this show in super high resolution. Because, it’s all just drama, right? Who would want to watch romance drama in HD?! So from my perspective, if the drama ever gets boring and draggy, taking a look at the sceneries and background takes away my boredom. After all, it is not that this series is very bright and vividly coloured anyway. Therefore the mundane and sometimes monotonous feel of the overall atmosphere has the sceneries and background blending in quite nicely. There are some CGI too (like the monorails) but it isn’t as obviously bad. Okay, some are. But not so much as it overwhelms the traditional 2D art style.

One thing I noticed and would like to point out is the camera brand called Canon which makes its cameo as frequent as possible whenever Ena is in snapping action. My guess is that they are the biggest sponsors of this series (they are among one of the many listed in the credits and the only one I recognized). Because you see how detailed the camera models that Ena has in her hand and if you want to call it blatant product placement, it’s up to you. Because there are other brand names that were spoofed to avoid infringement like Yatao. WTF is that?! Uhm, based on that spoof logo too, I figure that’s Toyota… After all in today’s modern world where your handphone now works more as a camera than making calls, it is somewhat time for Canon to remind us that true photography passion still lies in using dedicated photography equipment.

Voice acting is rather okay. It’s just mostly drama so no very dramatic voice acting whatsoever. The main casts are Aoi Ichikawa as Eita, Carin Isobe as Mio, Lynn as Ena (titular character in Fuuka), Taishi Murata as Haruto (Matsugo in Kyoukai No Rinne), Yuna Yoshino as Hazuki (Niina in Gamers), Arisa Sakuraba as Yoriko (Satan in Sin – Nanatsu No Taizai) and Sayaka Senbongi as Mayuko (Morina in Piace: Watashi No Italian). Both the opening and ending themes as sung by Nagi Yanagi. Over And Over as the opener is quite a fast paced anime pop. Sometimes I feel that this is the most dramatic section compared to other parts and rest of the series. The ending theme is Behind and goes to a slower pace but still has its own dramatic feel.

In the end, nothing really extraordinary or special as already ‘hinted’ in my opening paragraph. If you really like slow romance dramas that really drag it out, this one is definitely for you. Because in some ways, this show is the romance drama version for the action series of Dragonball. What do I mean? Guess how many episodes that series take to fight an enemy? Yeah… Don’t even mention the number of episodes they take to arrive on scene, scream at the top of their voice and charge up to their maximum power and forms. Oh, that’s not even counting the flashbacks of flashbacks while they’re at it. Sheesh. I suppose the lesson of this series is that if you have something you need to say or get it done, don’t procrastinate. It will be all over by the time it comes. Though, some things can wait and some can’t. So next time before you’re thinking for a reason or event to pass just to confess, better do it right now on the fly whether you’re unprepared, nervous or scared. Why? Well, just because. Are you mocking me? Yeah. Just because. I blame this series for making me make stupid puns of its title. Oh, no reason. Just because.

Can you measure the distance of love? Probably more obvious when you have an unrequited crush and you try to be as close to the person you are with. Heh. Doesn’t that make you sound like a stalker? Anyway, in Itsudatte Bokura No Koi Wa 10 cm Datta literally translates to “Our Love Has Always Been 10 cm Apart”. This isn’t a stalker story. About a pair of high school students liking each other but not really official an item yet. Hence that distance between them. Can they close the gap in the end? Sure, 10 centimetres might not sound a lot but tell me again to just whip up a simple hello straight in the face of the one you love without feeling nervous and all that anxiety?

Episode 1
Haruki Serizawa is in a film club. He is arguing with Souta Mochizuki about the next scenes they should be filming today. Yuu Setoguchi puts a stop to it and will just film whatever is suitable today. As they make their way out, Haruki spots Miou Aida painting with her club members outdoors. He remembers the first time they met at the opening ceremony and talked to each other about the meaning of their names. His friends suggests casting Miou in the film but Haruki believes that isn’t possible. He tried to film her once but she shied away so much it was embarrassing. Meanwhile Miou also reminisces about Haruki. She remembers him as a popular guy who stood out. She wasn’t really into boys but he was just different. She is interested to know his likes and dislikes. They are often hanging out with each other that one day the class played a prank on them by writing a love umbrella of their names on the blackboard. As they laugh, Miou was paralyzed in embarrassment until Haruki put his foot down to stop this childish game. It made her at ease. Before she knew it, she was always looking at him and somewhat feels a bit jealous when she hears other girls wishing to get to know him better. Miou talks with her friends, Natsuki Enomoto and Akari Hayasaka about the college they are going. Miou is going to a nearby college and not to an art college as she wants to pursue that only as her hobby. Meanwhile Haruki sees Saku Akechi on his career guidance. Haruki is only interested in being a film director and there are no other choices he has in mind. Miou overslept in the classroom and when she wakes up is surprised to see Haruki sitting in front of her. She is embarrassed to think he saw her sleeping face. They walk home together as they talk about his filming. She saw his latest film and finds it somewhat sad even though it was meant to be funny. Haruki notices Miou often has low self-confidence about her abilities. He tries to brush that off to cheer her up but their faces got too close. It gets more awkward when she suddenly asks if there is someone he likes. She hints there is someone she likes. They start thinking the obvious. Could it be him/her? But they know they can’t get closer than 10 centimetres? Huh?

Episode 2
Miou draws a painting from her memories. When she was young and drowning, a man dived in to save her. She doesn’t remember much of anything except this abstract image. Yuu talks to Miou and her friends that the film club is planning to film a love story of an art club member falling in love with a graduating senior. Hence they need art drawn by the heroine. They will choose which of their image fits best. The theme is love and Haruki as the director will be the judge. During summer break, Haruki does a lot of filming and research on films. A fireworks festival has the friends meet up. Everyone is in their yukata. Haruki and Miou are too shy to look at each other. After having fun for a while, the rest start to notice Haruki and Miou going off on their own. Natsuki is interested to tail them but Yuu doesn’t want to do such things in bad taste. So instead she ‘bankrupts’ him by ordering all the food she can get. Souta is also starting to look interested in Akari but is too afraid to speak up. Fate works in funny ways because somehow Akari trips and he catches her. They have good vibes between them now. When it gets a little crowded, Miou almost passes out. So Natsuki takes her to rest at a secluded area. She talks to him about the person who saved her and will soon meet him. Haruki doesn’t sound happy that person is a guy. The fireworks light up. When he starts to leave, she immediately pulls him closer. Awkward at first but soon the mood is right for them to kiss. Stupid barking dogs ruined it!!! WTF??!!! Miou now has an idea to use fireworks as the colour of love in her painting. The next day, Miou’s mom brings her to see her saviour. You must be thinking after so many years, why now, right? Well, Miou is going to get the shock of her life. It’s a graveyard. Here is the next shock. The person who saved her is buried in the Serizawa’s family grave. Now the final shock to nail it. Surprised to see Saku here, he explains he is visiting the grave of his friend who is no other than Haruki’s big brother, Chiaki.

Episode 3
Today is Chiaki’s death anniversary and when Saku connects the dots she is the person whom Chiaki saved, she goes into shock. She hopes he won’t tell Haruki about this. Back to school, Natsuki and Akari submit their painting. However the guys have to put their decision on hold because Miou has not turned up. Even though she is in school, she avoids mingling with her friends and does stuff alone. Obviously Miou is going through depression as she cannot face Haruki after what she had learnt. Haruki gets frustrated by the day as he can’t see her to find out what’s the problem. One day her friends manage to get her to eat with them. Haruki then pops up. Miou tries to leave immediately but he stops her. She refuses to tell him the problem, angering him even more. You think those tears and words never to see her again is going to cut it? Because of that, a visibly mad Haruki is going to hastily continue proceed with the rest of the filming. I mean, Yuu did remind him they are short on time so they have to just pick a painting and get on with it. Saku comes by to talk to him, hinting a few words that Chiaki would have said. Haruki reminisces of his past with Chiaki. He looks like his splitting image. He was really a good brother. One day he got hospitalized for some illness. Chiaki distracted all that by teaching Haruki about filmmaking. Those were really the good days. Haruki and Yuu get into a heated argument because the former did lots of visibly sloppy editing that puts all their efforts to waste. They wonder if they can even film the last scene at this rate. Haruki goes to cool his head when Saku talks to him privately so as to give him a letter. Looks like he won some Japan movie competition that allows him to go study in USA.

Episode 4
Miou has always been good at drawing and draws every day like as if it were a diary. But envisioning a future without Haruki, she suddenly cannot draw. Miou’s friends ‘force’ her to eat with them. Otherwise they won’t let go of her. She thinks of hanging up her painting because it is time to study for entrance exams. They wonder if she is okay with Haruki leaving. Haven’t you heard? He is leaving to study in America. That shocked look. While Haruki’s classmates are congratulating him over his achievement, he himself is in a bad mood. He remembers asking Saku about writing his essay about the future but was told to think for it himself. Asking Chiaki instead, his goal is to be a film director. Coincidentally that is what Haruki wants to be to, eh? He now questions if that was really his dream. Miou is depressed and thinks of tearing up all her drawings. Can’t do it. She gets an urgent call from Natsuki for help. Just short of manpower for some art workshop. Miou is still depressed. A stubborn kid sick of the drawing throws a tantrum and accidentally flings his paintbrush at Miou. She then teaches him how the paint and it all ended well. Yeah, the kid would love for her to be his teacher next time. Natsuki notes Miou still loves drawing but this seems to trigger her sadness. She feels she can’t be happy now. Group hug to overcome her tears? Well, nothing beats desserts then. This is when Miou tells them about Chiaki as her lifesaver. She feels guilty about it even though Chiaki died of an illness. Of course her friends deny that kind of thinking. Miou has also been avoiding Haruki in fear he would hate her if he knew about this. They don’t blame her for it but believe Haruki is also feeling depressed now. They believe he looks happiest whenever with her. Miou feels better and will complete the love themed painting even though the filming for it has been done. Because Haruki said he was looking forward to it so she is going to finish it and go see him. Meanwhile, Haruki thinks of cancelling studying abroad.

Episode 5
Haruki tells Saku he is cancelling his America trip. Because it isn’t his dream. With Miou back on track with her friends, the problem is now Haruki who has been absent from school ever since. Saku wanted to talk to Yuu and Souta but after overhearing how they are confident Haruki will come back and finish the editing, looks like he is going to do some house visit. Too bad Haruki is still sulking in the dark and talking to him won’t help as he isn’t listening. He leaves but tells him he met Miou at Chiaki’s grave. In school, Miou talks to Saku that she plans to tell him the truth. He gives her a CD and hopes they can watch it together because it supposed to contain the most important thing. Miou finishes her painting and then texts Haruki to meet at the usual place. This only serves to piss him off because wasn’t she the one who told him they shouldn’t be talking again? As the snow gets heavier, he starts to get worried and heads there and sees her waiting. He snaps back about doing such silly things but she reveals about Chiaki as her lifesaver. She never said anything because she was afraid he would be mad at her. Sorry. Well, ironically this only made him angrier for her to think he would be like that. Well… Then he says filming and being a film director isn’t his dream. It all belongs to Chiaki. He was just pretending to be him all the while. Hence all the awards he won are Chiaki’s. Before this guy goes crazy about ‘crediting’ Chiaki, it’s Miou’s turn to be upset and slap him (so hard that her umbrella flew away). She tells him filming IS HIS DREAM. Because she has always observed him and he is having fun most when filming. So don’t give me that Chiaki crap. She shows her picture. A picture of her first love. A back shot of them trying to hold hands. She adds Chiaki helped found his dream. It’s getting too chilly outside so they retreat to his room. She shows him the CD and when they play it, it shows Haruki picking up and filming Chiaki in hospital. Chiaki happily explains how she saved a drowning girl yesterday. Chiaki then asked Haruki about his dream in which he excitingly replied he is going to be a film director and win lots of awards. There. This ‘evidence’. This ‘best cut’. That’s where your dream started.

Episode 6
Haruki isn’t sure about the ending for the film he made despite initially it was the ending he had his sights on. Later Miou tells Haruki that she plans to become an art teacher. She notes how odd it is that she sometimes doesn’t know what to draw. Likewise, Haruki also notes his same predicament. He always decided it based on what Chiaki would be happy with him doing. The moment he decide to make a movie for himself, he lost sight of what to do. After graduation day, Souta hopes he could still keep in touch with Akari. It’s not like he won’t if she says no, right? Since Haruki is flying off tomorrow, he spends his last time with Miou. In the classroom, they write down all their wishes. The entire blackboard of wishes. Funny, I was hoping to see a wish where they would want each other! Haha! I guess the gap is still there. Haruki departs to America alone since he is such a shy guy and doesn’t want his friends to see him off. Miou then watches a DVD that Yuu gave to her secretly. It shows Haruki cancelling his movie club’s film and apologizing they’ve wasted all the hard work they’ve put in. His reason was he couldn’t find an ending where Miou could smile and say it was amazing from the bottom of her heart. They accept his decision since this is their graduation project, if he isn’t satisfied, there is no point finishing it. Miou is very touched and will wait forever for him. Thankfully she doesn’t because time skip to 7 years later, Miou is now an arts teacher at her school. It’s like she has never left. She asks Saku why he became a teacher. It was Chiaki’s idea since he was a guy who didn’t want anything in particular. Natsuki happily announces her engagement to Yuu. She tells them how he told her he wanted to stop being her boyfriend and then popped out a ring. Soon, Miou gets a call from Natsuki telling her that Haruki has finally won some rookie director award. Miou is going to get more than that because she hears a familiar voice calling her. It’s Haruki reeking with American culture! Almost. The first thing she does is to cry?! I am guessing it is tears of joy. When he tells her about his award, he is shocked she isn’t surprised. Well, somebody gave her the spoilers already. Plus, he tossed his job aside to come back all the way here just to tell her. I hope this doesn’t affect him long term. Finally, Haruki is able to take her hand and confess he loves her. She too. And lastly, the obligatory kiss!

Paint My Love
Hooray! You did it! It took 7 years to close that 10 centimetre gap to hold hands and seal it with a kiss but I guess it was all worth the wait. I’m sure in no time they will slowly check off their dreams one by one and the final clincher will be them getting married. Oh wait. Did they write that as their dream back in the classroom then? No? I guess this must be some sort of super secret dream that is now unlocked once the task of closing the 10 centimetre gap is done. Good job guys.

If the story seems to only focus on Haruki and Miou and only tease the other potential pairings like Yuu-Natsuki and Souta-Akari, that is because their stories are already done in the movies that premiered the year before this one. I didn’t see them but I read that their romances occur in a similar timeline. These are just one of the many few stories under the light novel series of Kokuhaku Jikkou Iinkai ~Renai Series~. So if you really want to see what happened to the other pairs (as well the other characters that didn’t appear in this mini TV series), go watch the movies.

I suppose the story feels pretty okay. I mean, it just feels pretty standard. Boy meets girl. Girl meets boy. They like each other but some ‘obstacle’ gets in their way of closing the 10 centimetre gap of love. Of course it sounds a bit silly although not far-fetched that they overplayed and dramatized Chiaki’s death as the main reason why their love hit a snag. Therefore we see Haruki and Miou overreacting to it all and hence providing us with much of the needed ingredient for a romance drama. Yeah, it feels like they were trying to ‘blame’ Chiaki and hence can’t move forward. A convenient excuse for Haruki to throw away his dream. There is only so much cliché you can drag out with a plot like that so I guess that is why there is only half a dozen of episodes for this TV series. Not long enough to make it a full season and not short enough to condense it into a movie. But then again, if they mix in other couples (perhaps add some scenes from the movie) to add more episodes, it would only distract and dilute the focus on Haruki and Miou.

So if you can overlook this exaggerated part, I am pretty confident that the character development between Haruki and Miou is quite decent to watch. It is pretty normal that you fear of being rejected and hated and hence all the didn’t-tell-you-in-the-first-place shenanigans. Initial anger expected at first but if they truly love each other (thankfully they do), they can look past this and put this all behind and move on. Because the other characters do not really strongly meddle in their affairs, this is the reason why we get to see how strongly they overcome the obstacles themselves and prove to us their true blue love for each other. After all, the problem between them is only one they could solve themselves. Therefore Saku might look like he isn’t helping and only giving vague hints but pointing them in the right direction is all he needs. The rest is up to them. So he is like their guardian angel?

While watching this series, I can’t help think how some of the circumstances and setting of it are pretty much similar to an old OVA I watched long ago: Memories Off #5: Togireta Film The Animation. This OVA had a guy who has a dream to make his own movie and although he doesn’t have a dead brother, the dead person is his rival whose little sister blames him for her big brother’s death. Wow. Technically more drama here but it felt so long that I forgot almost everything I watched that went in this one. Well, good thing I still barely remember the basic stuffs, eh?

Art and animation are also decent. The characters look like your typical hot bishonen and kawaii bishoujo. This is after all of a romance genre so you want you characters to look good and beautiful. My only ‘gripe’ is that after the 7 years of time skip, we see how the young ones have this mature young adult look. However Saku looks completely the same! Like as though time stopped for only him. Like as though he is some sort of guardian angel silently watching over everything like I’ve said. I believe he too was a young adult but 7 years is enough to age a guy into some middle age man. Oh right, this is anime. Where old people and the aging can still look hot and gorgeous like the young. This anime is produced by Lay-duce who did Classroom Crisis and Magi: Sinbad No Bouken.

It was a pleasant surprise for me that I could identify all (almost) the seiyuus of the main cast. Aki Kenichi Suzumura as Haruki, Toyosaki as Miou, Haruka Tomatsu as Natsuki, Hiroshi Kamiya as Yuu and Yuuki Kaji as Souta. Also, there is Kana Asumi as Akari whom was a delight because I haven’t heard her for quite a long while so it is pleasant to hear her again even if she was a side supporting character and didn’t go nowhere near her trademark Nyaruko style crazy voice. So the only other seiyuu of the main casts I didn’t recognize are Hikari Midorikawa as Saku (Lancer in Fate/Zero) and Ryohei Kimura as Chiaki (Tsubasa in Kyoukai No Rinne). Oh, I thought Miou’s mom sounded familiar and couldn’t put my finger on it. Kikuko Inoue. Sighs. Looks like I let that voice that I am supposed to recognize slipped through again.

The opening theme is Non fantasy by LipxLip. It is quite a lively and upbeat piece and not too bad. But sometimes I can’t help wonder it sounds a little gay because the band is made up of a couple of guys singing. The ending theme isn’t too shabby too. Tokyo Winter Session by the main sextet sounds like a big group mix singing. If you know that American group, S Club 7, you have an idea how this would sound overall. Re: Hatsukoi No Ehon is the special ending theme for the final episode featuring Aki Toyosaki on the lead vocals. Not sure if the rock style of this piece feels suitable. As long as it sounds happy, I suppose everything’s fine then.

Overall, this looks like another one of those typical romance dramas that are of abundance everywhere. Just casual and nothing too deep or convoluted. Perhaps those who would enjoy are those who are fans of the series or starting to like the romance drama genre and would find the love between the protagonists to be cute. Otherwise if you are a veteran who has tons of viewing experience in this category (no, I am not one of them) then the story and characters could be just average and in fact, dull and boring. I guess in some ways this beats ecchi romantic comedy series where you use fanservice and dirty jokes as a cover up for romance. I figure having a 10 centimetre gap with the one you love is better than a 10 kilometre one. Because that sounds more like a restraining order…

Wait a minute. You mean the climbing isn’t through yet? Oh right. Somebody failed to conquer Mt Fuji in the second season. It has been almost 4 years ago since the second season aired and I thought that was the end of it. Apparently not. Yama No Susume: Omoide Present is a special OVA released back at the end of 2017 just to inform us that a third season will be gracing the airwaves in 2018. Time to pack those hiking and climbing gears once more. Mr Fuji, here we come again.

Summer: Kokona
It is the summer break for Kokona and her mom feels bad that she has to work and not bring her daughter somewhere. Luckily Kokona is used to this and understands. This is an excerpt of one of her solo walks during summer. On a bright summer morning, Kokona as usual heads off by herself to Honnou. Along the way, she reminisces the old times she spent here as a kid with her mom. She also sees Kaede being dragged and lectured by her friend to go study at the library. She has to if she knows what’s best if she wants to get into college. Good luck. Later she stumbles into a lost girl who got separated from her mom while she was following a stray cat. Brings back memories when she got lost too. Luckily she helps her find and reunite with her mom. Kokona notes she is never lonely because of all the past memories. Literally, it’s like she’s been everywhere. Why the angel or fairy getup when she was a kid? Later when Aoi and Hinata join her, Kokona tells them of a second Mt Tenran. They don’t believe her until they look it up and find how true it is. Yeah, she knows the place like the back of her hand. Back home, Kokona has made dinner as her mom returns. Kokona tells her of all the memories she remembered today. Good news as mom says she has the next weekend off and will be able to bring her somewhere.

Autumn: Hinata
Hinata hangs out at Aoi’s place. When Aoi’s mom calls her, Aoi warns her not to touch anything. Of course cheeky Hinata despite making that fake promise then looks through her stuffs and finds a weird acorn badly glued on a stock with the word ‘te’ on it. Aoi returns and Hinata barely manages to put everything back. Acting so suspicious… Then they go through their old photo album before Hinata shifted away. When Hinata goes home, she spots a dropped acorn. She feels nostalgic but couldn’t quite put her finger on it. She asks dad about it so he shows his own photo collection where Aoi and Hinata used to hang out together at a children’s park. He still keeps a gingko leaf because it was her first present to him. It would be bad if he didn’t treasure it. Deep in the night, Hinata then remembers. The day before her family moved, Aoi made a doll out of acorns while Hinata just glued one on a stick. The girls were emotional when they separated and gave each other that acorn memento. It wasn’t written as ‘te’ but ‘hi’. Such bad handwriting. Hinata fears she has lost it and turns her room upside down to find it. Nothing. She fears Aoi will hate her for losing something important hence it is obvious she is spacing out very often. Dad doesn’t know the problem but figures if she did something wrong, just go apologize! I guess after all that thinking, Hinata decides to do that. She is sorry she lost that acorn. Aoi doesn’t mind and suggests they go find acorns and make new ones. Hinata is surprised by her forgiveness but as they pick acorns, Hinata remembers when she returned and introduced herself, Aoi did not f*cking remember her at all! That’s worst! Oh Aoi, trying to change the subject?

Climb More, Worry Less
If this OVA reeks of all that moe friendship and nothing about the climbing, don’t be surprise it is. This is what I remember the series is mostly about. It is like the little warm up that this series need for viewers before they get into the main dish of climbing and hiking up mountains or hills. There’s nothing much I can say here since this OVA just mainly delves into the special memories of the characters in the series. Memories, the priceless treasures than mankind could have. As long as you have them, your friendship could go a long way. Well, I suppose it is forgivable if you forget once in a while. Okay, maybe not. At least not the most important aspects. That’s why it’s funny to see how life changes as we grow up. We made promises never to forget and will always remember and then as time passes, we forget all about it. Sorry if I sound a little philosophical about this. It was just an excuse to cover up my forgotten memories for this series. No big deal now that I have remembered (some of it). So let bygones be bygones and move on and trek forward!