Persona 4 The Animation

July 29, 2018

I heard that Persona 5 as the video game was one of the very few excellent games to have come out in recent times. If you’ve been following the video game industry even casually, you would know the state of the industry with all the anti-consumerism tactics and sh*tty and unsatisfying games that hit the market. Not to say that I have played any of the Persona games ever in my life, but with so many rave reviews even from the western side, I thought of giving this series a chance. Yes, Persona 5 even got adapted into an anime subsequently but I’m starting off with Persona 4 The Animation first. Persona 3 was adapted into an anime series as well but I’m too busy watching other animes to go back that far. Heh. After all, all the Persona sequels are not related to each other so I wouldn’t lose much. Oh right. I might be just plain lazy…

Episode 1
Yuu Narukami arrives in the sleepy backwater town of Inaba and is picked up by his mom’s brother, Ryoutarou Doujima and his daughter, Nanako. Back home while unpacking, he hears a strange voice in his head. Why do these kind of voices make you feel pain? At school, Chie Satonaka and Yukiko Amagi quickly become his friends. It seems everyone has to be careful because a woman’s body was found skewered on a TV antenna. Doujima a police detective is investigating this case. Next day, not sure how Yousuke Hanamura crashed into a garbage bin but with Yuu pulling him out, he wants to thank him with a treat. Chie wants in on this. They talk about the rumours of Midnight Channel in which if you watch alone the TV at midnight on a rainy day, your true love will pop up on the screen. That night Yuu tries out of curiosity and is almost sucked in! But could it be just a dream? He tells this to his friends but they find it hard to believe. Especially his TV was too small to fit him. Chie suggests getting a bigger TV and since Yousuke’s dad is the manager of an appliance store, well you can see where this is going. There, the news coverage is played over the recent murder. The witness who found the body was their classmate, Saki Konishi. It’s a reason why she was absent today in class after all the attention was on her. When Yuu touches the TV screen, his hand seems to go through. With Yousuke panicking, the trio get absorbed. They find themselves in a strange misty land. They start running from whatever they think is chasing them until they bump into this strange bear (balloon?) creature, Kuma. He tells to escape because the Shadows are here. He passes them a pair of glasses and runs away. Yeah, those Shadows are here. Yuu could see them when he puts the glasses on. When they are cornered by those perverted licking Shadows, it’s like Yuu knows what to do when the strange voice speaks to him. Yeah, he knows the magic word of Persona that summons his fighting avatar and kicks ass! Man, it’s like he knows how to work this thing all along. Feeling good about your new power?

Episode 2
Kuma accuses them for barging here and riling up Shadows. He throws them back into the TV and they return to reality. Yuu notices a poster similar as the one in the room of the other world. Misuzu Hiiragi is the wife of the man who had an affair with Mayumi Yamano, the murdered woman. Could she be connected to the murder? Next day, a creepy guy, Mitsuo Kubo bugs Yukiko to go out with him. She rejects him and he gets mad and runs away? An emergency meeting is held. The principal announces Konishi is dead. Yousuke is in shock because he has a crush on her. He tells his friends about the Midnight Channel. He was curious and tried it. He saw Konishi’s face. He thinks the one you see there will die. The only way is to go back into the TV to find out more. Yuu agrees to go with him. As they enter, Kuma is not pleased they have returned. He accuses them for throwing people here. He can tell when they do so because this place is foggy. When it is not, the real world is foggy and that is when the murders happen. Yousuke didn’t like his accusations and unzips him! Empty?! Putting this egg bear back together again, he agrees to believe them but hopes they could help him solve the culprit who throws people here. As they move along, they hear voices of people badmouthing Konishi as well as some family argument. But the one that cuts the sharpest is Konishi herself revealing she never liked annoying Yousuke and was only good to him as he is the son of a manager. Yousuke denies all this and this materializes a clone who is actually a Shadow. He reveals or the hurtful and embarrassing truths about Yousuke in which he denies. The more Yousuke denies all that, the Shadow becomes real and takes its own Persona form. Yuu summons his Persona to fight but Yousuke is still traumatized by all the hurtful truths. And then Yuu punches him! Because all that matters is he loves Konishi. That was enough to wake his eyes up. As Yousuke starts accepting himself, the Shadow ‘dies’. Now it becomes his Persona. The guys return to the real world and Yousuke wants to work with Yuu to solve these murders.

Episode 3
Chie is worried as she cannot contact Yukiko. Worse, she thinks she saw her in Midnight Channel. Thankfully she gets a call from her. She was busy attending to a surge in non-reservations staying at her family’s inn. To make sure if it was here, they watch the Midnight Channel again. This time a clear view of Yukiko in a princess outfit ‘announcing’ how she wants to snag a hot guy and a harem of them before running into a castle. Next day, for some dumb reason, Yousuke brings a couple of toy samurai swords to show it off to Yuu. Naturally they get arrested by the police station but get bailed out by Doujima. They learn Yukiko is now suddenly missing. A police detective, Tooru Adachi mentions they have been contacted by the family to look for her. He carelessly says about rumours that Yamano who was staying there got involved with the manager who is Yukiko’s dad. She might be laying low for some reason. Chie almost blows her top had not the guys calm her down and leave. The best way to solve it is to head back into the TV. Chie so eager to protect her friend rushes in as she leaves the guys to fight the Shadows. Inside a room, Chie hears Yukiko’s voice. She hates her name and existence until Chie came along and brought meaning to her life. In short, Yukiko views herself as useless while Chie as superior. Chie is surprised to see a clone of herself. The Shadow claims Chie enjoys being superior over Yukiko since she envies Yukiko’s beauty. As expected, Chie denies all that and this gives the Shadow its Persona form. Chie is paralyzed from the denials and the guys have a hard time fighting the multiple Shadows. Until Yousuke snaps her out by saying their friendship was real. Yeah, that was it. Although the Shadow becomes weaker, it is still a tough nut to crack. Because Yuu is the main character and so called chosen one, he gets a sign to summon another Persona. A chibi Jack-O-Lantern? It burns through the Shadow. Chie accepts this inferior part as herself and now gets her own Persona.

Episode 4
The friends are rushing to find Yukiko. They find her. Not. That’s her Shadow. The real one is of course being trapped in a cage as we see her mundane life of being busy helping her family inn or being saved by Chie. When the friends arrive, the Shadow relishes her princes to come save her. Time for Yuu to activate a new Persona so a cue for the Shadow to attack Chie. As expected, the more the Shadow rants about the truths, the more Yukiko denies and this materializes the Shadow into some monster bird. This is by far the creepiest Persona ever. It gets stronger as it claims Chie isn’t the prince she is looking for who will whisk her away from it all. Time for this episode’s Yuu’s words of realization: Chie may not be her prince but she did come to rescue her. Yeah, the Shadow just got madder. With Yukiko still rejecting herself, Chie has something to say. She admits she always envied her as she has everything she wanted. Good grades, good looks and guys hitting on her. That’s when she felt good when Yukiko depended on her. Yukiko continues to lament she is not strong as she thinks she is. Unlike her pet bird who escaped on its own when she forgot to lock its cage, Yukiko doesn’t know how to escape. Chie acknowledges they aren’t what they think to other is. She too has her own horrible side. All she wants is for them to be friends. And with the cliché power of friendship, the Shadow starts weakening. Yukiko breaks out of her own cage as the guys finish off the weakened Shadow. Both girls come to terms with each other as Yukiko admits she created this princess persona as a form of escapism. With her accepting her flaws, she gets her own Persona. I think this is by far one of the better looking ones.

Episode 5
Chie has Yuu help out her friend in the basketball club, Kou Ichijou. It seems they are short on members. Yeah, that guy is so obliging. Worse, everyone else in the team isn’t interested in basketball especially the manager, Ai Ebihara. So obliging Yuu is that he ditches school with Ebihara to go shopping with her! Okay, so he thought she was going to get stuffs for the basketball team, but still. He learns she likes Ichijou and is forced to find out his type of girl. He obliges. Guess what? Ichijou likes Chie! Ebihara heard that and is so depressed that she wants to kill herself! After Yuu stops her, he learns about her bullied past and hence the reason she did what it takes to become popular. Ebihara wants him to take responsibility and date her. Yeah, he obliges even though he doesn’t want to. Is no a hard word in his vocabulary? Heck, they even ditch school to go date! More like queen control. You know something is wrong when Yuu hangs up on her! But he has to be that good guy so he shortly calls her back to apologize. WTF. When Chie thinks he is being mistreated, Yousuke misinterprets she likes him and tries to set them up. So she pops up at the basketball club and receives those piercing stares from Ebihara. In the locker room, Yuu hears from Ichijou he might quit after the next game since he parents don’t approve of being in the club. So if he wins, he will confess to Chie! Oh dear. As the match gets underway, Ebihara and Chie start arguing and get into a slapping fest! OMG! Why isn’t anybody noticing this b*tch slap and focusing on the one-sided match? Until Yuu spots this and tells them to stop since this is Ichijou’s last match. Too bad their team lost. In the aftermath as they eat, Yuu apologizes for not living up to his expectations. But Ichijou is okay since he changed his mind. He loves this game and will not quit. So until he wins, he will confess to Chie. Looks like I can see a losing streak… With Chie opting out since she isn’t compatible with a certain person, Ebihara has turned over a new leaf and tries to be a better manager. She thanks Yuu for it and gives him those photo prints whereby she tried to kiss him. Ugh. You can keep that.

Episode 6
Kanji Tatsumi is rumoured to beat up a motorbike gang and became their leader. Such badass guy holds a cute bunny strap?! So weird… Doujima calls Yuu that he will be working late on the case and cover for his colleagues so he won’t be home. This means Yuu has to take care of Nanako. Don’t worry, she gets to hang out with Yuu’s friends. She shows her mature side when the friends learns her mom died in an accident. She doesn’t mind it all since she has dad and ‘big brother’ and that she is having fun now. Later the friends converge to talk about the murders. Yousuke deduces the targets have something in connection with Yamano. They agree to keep watch on Midnight Channel as they believe it is a warning for their next target. Not sure about who got the balls to interview Kanji because the camera crew got attacked. Yeah, he appeared on the news. And what are the chances he appears on Midnight Channel too? The friends know his family runs a textile shop and as they head there, they see Naoto Shirogane just leaving. Kanji isn’t back yet and Yuu notices a familiar scarf. They remember it from Yamano’s room in the other world. Kanji’s mom tells them Yamano specially ordered it. When they leave, they see Kanji speaking to Naoto. Kanji misinterprets Naoto is being gay for him!!! He spots the quartet spying on them and getting the wrong impression so they flee. It is suggested they keep watch on him and his shop. Yuu and Yukiko keep watch over his shop while Yousuke and Chie spy on Kanji and Naoto. Because they are bickering, Kanji spots them. Time to run. It becomes one farcical chase and even more nonsensical when some beef bowls Chie ordered from Aika Nakamura, she really come delivering them on her scooter! Scooter can match their running?! Even got time to pay and get change?! Oh, screw this. They manage to lose Kanji and Chie gets to enjoy her meals. Just leave the bowls… Where to leave them? If you think that was bad enough, wait till Yuu sees this shocker on Midnight Channel. Kanji acting as some macho gay guy!!! WTF???!!!

Episode 7
Doing more investigation, Kanji’s mom says her son recently beat up bikers because they were too noisy around the area. Outside, a boy is looking for Kanji. Apparently he lost a bunny strap his friend gave him. Kanji promised to make him one. Yes, he made this almost perfect duplicate with his own hands! He is here to thank Kanji but too bad he isn’t around. Talking to Naoto, he says he was just asking Kanji about his recent activities. Because he point out bluntly he is acting weird, this makes Kanji acting even weirder. Naoto feels as though he is trying to hide a complex. Letting Kuma smell the bunny strap, it leads them to a gay bath… Oh sh*t… The guys have a bad idea about this. Yup, Shadow Kanji is being so gay that they summon their Personas! Better get this sh*t over quick before they lose their minds. Meanwhile Kanji is faced with his Shadow. The latter as usual spouting the truths about him disliking girls and likes boys instead. All of course he denies. Yuu and co are hesitating to open the door to this but I guess the inevitable has to happen. They’re here to save Kanji, right? Their worst nightmare with the gay Shadow being even gayer. When Kanji denies it, as expected the Shadow turns into its gay Persona. Oh God. More Shadow gay macho men! Is this going to be something like Chou Aniki?! Those gay guys are masochists too so whatever pain the girls deal them, they love it! More serious gay sh*t when the macho men loves swiping the guys’ butt and they piss off the girls by showing no interest in them. It’s already so hot in this sauna and it’s getting hotter with their blood boiling. Also, time for Yuu to do his usual because now he gets to combine his cards to create a special Persona. Also, he tells Kanji he likes his bunny strap because it is cute. It makes Kanji happy as he beats and defeats his own Shadow! Kanji accepts the fact he fears being rejected and trying to be a coward making everyone hate him. He then gets his own Persona that looks manly instead of gay. Phew. Kanji now joins Yuu’s groupie as he wants to find out who pushed him into the TV.

Episode 8
The school goes on a camping field trip. Yousuke almost died thanks to the curry Chie and Yukiko made. Apparently they went to buy everything spicy and other stuffs they think should be in curry. Like coffee. No wonder. As Yuu brings Yousuke to get some medicine, Naoki Konishi who is in charge of the supplies is not happy to see them. Right off the bat he tells them he hates them. They return to the rest and looks like they called Aika for delivery help. Lunch is saved. They talk to Kanji about Naoki. He knows him as they are childhood friends but doesn’t know more about him since they are in separate classes. He does admit after his sister’s death, he seems to be acting different. So what better way as Kanji brings Naoki himself to them and ask directly. With Yuu being too straight, Naoki is glad of this change in pace as he explains how everyone is trying to be overtly nice to them but keep their distance. He feels better after letting this out and apologizes for hating them for not even knowing them. The friends now discuss the patter of the murders and it seems those who appear on TV being interviewed are the likely targets. At night as they sleep in the tent, the guys are worried with Kanji sleeping with them! Didn’t they accept him? Yes. But not at night. Together! To prove he is a manly man, he decides to barge into the girls’ area. Yeah, they’re encouraging him. Meanwhile Chie and Yukiko can’t sleep because their fat classmate, Hanako Ootani is snoring like hell. So when Kanji crashes into them, they run to Yuu and Yousuke’s tent. The teacher is passing by so they have to hide under the covers. Close proximity. Then they put a barrier in between when they sleep. As though it wasn’t cram enough already. Yeah, they can’t sleep either. But is this better than being gay? As for Kanji, he is a dead guy as Ootani crushes him and uses him as a bolster. Next day, Yousuke forces the girls to wear swimsuits from his shop as penalty for the curry incident. Yuu’s comments blushes them before making them outrage (because their body still has the potential to mature further) as they kick the guys into the river. Kanji nose bleeding not because of the sexy babes… Then they notice upstream the teacher who drank too much last night is vomiting… Oh sh*t! On the way back, Ootani confronts Kanji. Is she going to confess? Unfortunately she turns him down as he is not her type. WTF???!!!

Episode 9
Rise Kujikawa is a famous idol. Then she suddenly quits! Shockwaves! So she goes back to her hometown Inaba because her grandma runs a tofu shop there. I know she shouldn’t overdress to make herself more suspicious but she’s like walking everywhere without any disguise so naturally everyone knows her. Then of course she feels somebody is stalking her and she quickly runs. Turns out to be Yuu returning her dropped handphone. I guess he didn’t want to attract attention by screaming out to her. Yuu and co talk about Rise who might also be a murder target as she fits some criteria. They feel keeping a watch on her would also help debunk theories that the murderer is targeting only those related to Yamano. That night, Rise appears on the Midnight Channel. The friends are split if it is her. The difference? Boobs. The guys go to talk to Rise at her tofu shop just to warn her she might be stalked. But she’s not alerted or anything because she is used to this kind of stuff. Later Doujima comes by to warn her of the same thing but she already knows thanks to those guys. This only has Doujima suspicious about high school kids coming to warn her before he does. So the friends now watch her and think this otaku nerd watching her in a suspicious way is the killer. They chase after him and tackle him down before the inspector arrests him. Case solved? Yeah, something doesn’t feel right. Is the murderer this nerdy and wimpy? Meanwhile Rise was left in Yuu’s care. Conveniently a thrown away magazine with her as the gravure idol in it. They rip off pages and make origami. Yeah, Yuu does it better. She tells him that idol version is not her and no one looks at the real her. That night, Rise still pops up on Midnight Channel. Back to the drawing board. They think it is a form of warning from the killer or his mind of the person he wants to attack next. Rise will be transferring to the local school and is here to do the paperwork. With reporters outside, thanks to Yuu, he shows her another escape route. Naturally her tofu shop is also swamped with reporters. Then they meet her manager, Inoue. He cannot accept she quit although she is adamant she won’t go back to being an idol. When he says the movie she was supposed to star in now goes to Kanami Mashita, Rise gives that worried look. He is now her new manager. Rise is being a dick when Yuu tries to ask nicely if she is lying to herself but is blamed for being like everyone else and that he doesn’t know her. Well, that idol you was fake, right?

Episode 10
Rise is on the Midnight Channel again. This time she is teasing us she’ll strip and bare it all! Next day our friends head into the TV only to find Kuma depressed because they haven’t been visiting him often enough. Must be beary lonely… Anyway, helping them to find Rise’s scent leads to a strip club. Oh sh*t. Shadow Rise continues to tease everyone with her strip show. First she starts off with pole dancing. Since nobody is getting a boner, the Shadow introduces the real Rise as her special guest. Others summon their Persona to fight but are kept at bay by other Shadows. Rise rejects herself and makes her Shadow upset as she claims if none of them is the real her, which one is then? Finally when Rise fully rejects it all, her Shadow becomes a Persona. It can scan the weaknesses of other Personas and give their just desserts. While our heroes are getting owned, Kuma suddenly turns Super Saiyan?! He is worried if they die, he’ll be alone again. So he charges straight into it and explodes? Don’t worry. Kuma lives. But he is now like a limp balloon? I guess everyone is praising about his bravery as Rise comes to accept that there is no real her. All of her other personalities makes her, her. Yup, she got herself her own Persona. Just when you think it’s over, Kuma’s evil creepy Shadow rises and threatens to destroy everything. Heck, it does so anyway as it questions what the truth is. Kuma is sucked into it as Rise uses her Persona to track Kuma. Inside, Kuma rebuts his Shadow about being lonely and finding his true self. When Yuu destroys the core, Kuma returns. Kuma laments he doesn’t know who he is and hopes to find an answer. The friends assure he is not alone and will help him find the answer. Oh, Kuma gets his own Persona too. Yuu sends Rise home as she agrees to join them to find the culprit. She is glad she has made this place her home as she hugs his arm. I think I know her motivation to stay…

Episode 11
Kinshirou Morooka is found dead. He is Yuu and co’s teacher. The friends are now demoralized since he didn’t appear on Midnight Channel. They get a shock to see Kuma in their world. Apparently there’s an exit and never thought of going through until now. So nobody else is freaked out with this mascot? Okay, cute enough not to be suspicious. Asking him about Morooka’s death, Kuma has never noticed him being thrown in. This has them wondering if the killer got impatient because they have been thwarting murders from the TV and he decided to do it on the real world. More shock when Kuma takes off his head and there is a cute boy inside! It seems he grew a body so he could score with Chie and Yukiko. WTF. I guess for convenience of the plot he can now wander around in this world without suspicions. As Nanako shops and is about to take a food, Kubo cuts in front of her and takes it while calling her rude. Something untoward would have happened had not Yuu stepped in to send that guy running away. The friends stumble into Naoto again as he explains he is a detective being hired by the police to help solve this case. He asks Yuu about Morooka not appearing on Midnight Channel but he too isn’t sure. Morooka’s replacement is Noriko Kashiwagi. She looks more like a slut and porn star… Damn this class is always screwed. From an idiotic moron teacher to a sexy slutty one. Kubo once again tries to get Yukiko to come with her but with her other friends, Kubo is chased off. To vent his frustration, he posts on the internet that he is the killer but nobody takes him seriously. This makes him even more pissed and determined to prove it all. The friends feel sad for Morooka dying like that despite never liking him. Then here comes Naoto to tell them the culprit is identified. Yeah, he doesn’t know who it is except he is a high school student (I won’t be surprised who). Too bad it is game over for Naoto since the police has terminated his services. The friends now wonder if their gathering will end too since there is no more they could do. Not if Yuu would have it otherwise. No harm checking out Midnight Channel again. What do you know? Kubo pops up and taunts everyone to catch him if they can.

Episode 12
It’s time to go hunting. Since his castle is like a video game, they have to clear the level to get to him. When they do, they see Kubo trying to deny all that his Shadow has done. Suddenly change in scene. The case is over and the friends are now shopping for ingredients for their own aftermath party. Though the friends assure they will still meet up like this, as the days and weeks pass, slowly they drift away with their own stuffs like Yukiko busier than ever helping her family inn and Rise suddenly closing down her tofu store and moving away without telling anyone. Yuu all this while could feel something is off. One night the Midnight Channel just didn’t appear but what appeared is a creepy baby (cousin to the one in Half Life?) claiming he is empty. Scared Yuu tries to summon his Persona but nothing happens. Before he gets killed by the baby, he hears Yousuke’s voice calling him and is pulled out of this illusion. Yup, we’re still fighting the boss baby. It’s like Yuu’s revenge as he summons all his Personas to showcase and defeat it. Hey, since when did Yuu obtained a whole load of new Personas? With them being victorious, Kubo returns to his normal state. They ask him if he did the murders and he admits them all. Once he did that, his Shadow vanishes. He is arrested and the case is closed. It is said he did the murders for attention. Yuu worries the friends will disband seeing there is no more incentive for them to gather. On the contrary, they still want to gather like this. I mean, they’re friends, right? With that, they have their aftermath party celebration via omelette rice cooking competition. All the girls suck to say the least. Not sure if Nanako has a zombie taste bud since all of theirs taste nice. Of course the best and the winner of it all is Yuu.

Episode 13
Nanako sees a lost fox in the rain and leaves her umbrella (and apron) with it. She then notices that Yuu has been coming home late and tired. I’m sure she doesn’t want to bug him and hence the excuse for her to follow her favourite anime detective, Loveline to go snoop about. She should know better than to follow Kuma’s nose because all he smells is great food! Next day, she bumps into Yuu’s groupies and they too are worried about him since he has recently not hang out with them. They look for him all around town but nothing. But they stumble upon weird Kuma who talks and acts funny before bolting. The next time Nanako spots Yuu, it is with a woman! So young already starting to get depressed? She tells the guys and the next time they go spy on him, he is indeed with a woman but a different one! And she has a child! Now the girls find out and they’re bent to get to the bottom of this. What woman they see him this time? A really old granny! Things are getting weirder. But it gets more depressing for Nanako since she has a chance to ask him but just couldn’t. If not for that accidental bumping with Naoto who advises her that detectives don’t give up, she wouldn’t have gotten her detective spirit back. So during the festival as Nanako looks for Yuu, she helps many others along the way. When she finally finds him, great timing for the great fireworks display. Though not explained, I’m sure Yuu was helping others. Nanako understands this and believes Yuu has been putting smiles on everyone’s face.

Episode 14
This episode explains what Yuu has been doing all along. After learning Nanako lost her umbrella, he decides to buy one but realizes he has no money. What to do? Part time job. Which job? Strangely, the fox hands him a wish plaque as well as the notice board seeking help for a private tutor. The troubled kid, Shu doesn’t like school as he is a bully victim. This leads to Yuu also landing a day care job after a friend learnt he is tutoring. A fight broke out between rich boy and poor boy regarding a broken toy. When Yuu tries to break them up, looks like he broke the toy further. He takes responsibility to pay for it. Yeah, it’s going to cost him… On another day when all the kids start fighting, he pacifies them by dressing up as Kuma. Yeah, it was hell. Even more so bumping into his friends. At the shrine, he hears an old lady falling down after being victim to a snatch thief. He sends her to hospital and her injuries aren’t serious but the cute nurse tries to hit on him. Too bad his job is more important. Next day when he is about to visit granny, the nurse on her off day flirts with him and brings him to a bar where she rants about her troubles as a nurse and is contemplating quitting. Yuu resumes his visit but is now met with poor boy’s mom. She too tells him her woes that this is not her real son but from her husband’s previous marriage so it’s awkward for her trying to be his mom.

Now that Yuu is ready for the visit, granny is discharged. She tells him about wanting to leave this town as it has too much memories of her late husband. She throws away the comb from her late husband. Yuu sees it stuck to a giant fish. Hence he orders a fishing gear from the TV shopping channel and fishes all night! Yeah, he might have cleaned up the entire river pulling out junk. Eventually he needed his Persona to take the comb. At the festival, he sees granny and returns the comb to her. He noticed she became sadder after throwing it away. He then sees Shu stealing the fireworks because his friends continue to taunt him so he wanted to ruin their fun. He gives him a board game that he could play with a friend instead and will go return the fireworks and apologize with him. Poor boy and rich boy get into a fight. Rich boy’s mom mocks poor boy’s mom for being a poor parent. Poor boy tries to beat her up but backfires. His mom protects him as she starts bleeding. Yuu calls the nurse on how to apply first aid. The night is saved with Yuu returning the fireworks in time. All that he has helped thank him as well as helping them realize what is most important. Yuu finally joins his friends at the festival but Kuma steals the show by dating all the girls. In the aftermath, Yuu has enough money to buy the toy. But what about the umbrella? The fox shows a hidden stash of money underneath the shrine’s donation box. Enough to buy Nanako’s umbrella. The fox then gives the umbrella to Nanako and even puts back her original strap on it. What a wonderful day indeed.

Episode 15
Naoto will be a transfer student at their school and will be staying here due to family issues. The school soon goes on a field trip to an artificial island but it isn’t anything like the school trip they imagine. Long boring lectures and tours of the facilities and then their lodging is what seems to be an ex-love hotel. Yikes! The girls are okay playing around with the rotating waterbed but the guys… Can’t shrug off that gay prejudice of Kanji, eh? Next day, do we need some Yuu-Chie time after he witnesses her saving a weak kid from being beaten up by ruffians? Rise brings them to a bar where they see Naoto drinking alone. They serve alcohol to minors? And let high school kids enter? Oh well, it gets ridiculous because some of them really get drunk like Kuma, Rise and Yukiko. Yuu is like having the best talent to be a host club guy. Too cool! So drunk that they play the king’s game that includes an awkward moment of Chie having to sit on Yuu’s lap before the other girls tussle over Yuu. So weird… Then they want Naoto to reveal his embarrassing past and in exchange he wants them to tell theirs. So he is just the fifth generation of family detectives who help the police. Sorry if you’re expecting more. He asks them about their involvement in the TV murders but he isn’t going to believe them about being thrown into the TV and fighting Personas. Can’t blame the alcohol because he confirms this place hasn’t been selling them for a year after some drunk incident. So WTF did some of them get drunk with then?! Next day, some of them have a hangover as they eat ramen before their trip back. Because Kuma ate too much and being a dick, they threaten to leave him behind. Yeah, he can’t cover his ticket back…

Episode 16
Naoto appears on TV to discuss about the recent murder cases in Inaba as he feels something is off. The friends also feel something off because he isn’t the kind of person who would attract attention even if it’s for a case. Naoto explains to them his theory of what he finds off. With a long period between the second and third murders and with some of the friends being kidnap victims but somehow managed to survive, he initially believed one of them was the culprit. But Morooka’s death broke the killer’s pattern as he wasn’t kidnapped nor has he been on TV. He is the only one whom the police identified how he died (Yamato and Konishi’s cause of death is still unknown). Like as though the police wanted to quickly close the case. Naoto noticed the interesting thing they said about going into the TV to rescue kidnapped people. Midnight Channel is back with Naoto appearing on it. He claims of doing experimenting on himself and walking a new path in life. With Naoto now missing, the friends discuss reopening the case. They believe Naoto made himself as a bait to be kidnapped. They also wonder if Kubo took the fall for the real killer. They split up to go find more clues about Naoto but nothing conclusive. Yukiko notices the townspeople acting strangely. They’re like happy and talking about others but also afraid of something. Inside the TV, they manage to sniff out Naoto’s whereabouts. A secret lab? Oddly, they see Naoto interrogating his Shadow and make it cry! Of course the tables are turned when the Shadow pinpoints about truth and delusions. Something about still being treated like a child when his detective abilities are not needed. Then the biggest revelation of them all: Despite his masculine name, Naoto is actually a girl!!!! Naoto is taunted that he can never become an ideal man when he is never one to begin with. With this rejection, the Shadow takes its own Persona form. But don’t get zapped. Because you’ll turn into an old hagged person!!! Old man Yousuke…

Episode 17
Yuu fights the Shadow until he too is turned into an old man. The Shadow now wants to operate on Naoto as it rants about Naoto’s ineptness to make friends since young. Time for plot convenience as Kuma knows a way to reverse the aging. Some Persona power of his to revitalize the youth back. The counterattack is successful and with the Shadow defeated, Naoto comes to terms with herself. It isn’t that she wants to become an adult or a male. She wants to become the best detective. With her own Persona, welcome to the gang. Naoto remains the same male dressing despite everyone else knowing her true gender and some mocking her but she ignores them. With Naoto’s kidnapping, it proves the real culprit is still out there. Naoto could faintly remember his kidnapping. Someone grabbed him by the back and covered her mouth. She was thrown in a sack and carried. Though not a word was spoken, she could tell the culprit is male and is working alone with no accomplices. There was also a short time between she was kidnapped and thrown into the TV. As for Kubo, he killed Morooka out of jealousy and perhaps trying to be a copycat killer for attention. But the question remains how he knew about the TV world. If Kubo knew about it, why didn’t he kill Morooka the same way like the rest? He might not know how the real killer operates and nobody in their right mind would view that world as suitable for murders. Kubo’s act verifies that the position of corpses are just what happens when someone is killed over there. More clues could have been revealed if Naoto had the courage to ask Kubo himself but couldn’t because she was scared. Wait. This activates some crush in Kanji? Oh wait. He has been showing such signs ever since they met. Naoto has everyone undergo a medical check-up to see if going to the other world has some sort of effects. Everyone is clean. Except for Kuma. X-ray shows he is empty! So how the heck does he stand upright without bones? Don’t tell me it is air because he doesn’t move like a balloon. We take a short distraction with the possible revelation of the girls’ 3 sizes but are left to our imagination when it is hinted Naoto’s measurement isn’t what is stated on paper and in reality. Also, Kanji admiring and singing praises about Naoto feels weird. This prompts him to be himself and help others understand him better. Naoto receives a love letter in his locker from a girl. But since it isn’t related to the case, she isn’t interested in reading it.

Episode 18
There is a hit and run in town. Though it is of course but won’t cause any waves, such cases are close to home for Doujima since his wife, Chisato was killed in a similar fashion a year ago. When Yuu tries to get some bandages, he finds a hidden photo containing Chisato. As Nanako explains, after her death, dad hid away all her photos and never talked to her about it (Nanako is unaware of how Chisato died). Doujima is so focused on this case that he is willing to return to work while Nanako is in the midst of having stomach cramps! Don’t worry it’s not lethal but still… She wonders at this rate if he could attend her PTA. Yuu goes to talk to Doujima about it and learns why he didn’t tell his daughter. Chisato was on her way to pick up Nanako when the accident occurred. By the time he found out, Nanako has been waiting at preschool all by herself. You mean the staffs just left a single kid there? As there was no cold witness on a cold day, Doujima was worried as a detective, he had no clue till this day on catching the culprit. More ‘woke’ questions from Nanako as she asks Yuu what happens when you die. You go to heaven. I bet that’s where mom is. She also wonders if her dad is the real one as he treats criminals more important than her. Man, she’s got a point. One night as Doujima comes home tired, when asked about the PTA, as usual he can’t make it. This is the final straw. Nanako starts crying about him caring about criminals more than her. A little arguing ensued. Then she overheard her mom died in a hit and run. It hits Doujima when Nanako says he isn’t a real father. This is mind boggling because she runs away and 2 adults lost her?! How far can that kid run???!!! I MEAN SERIOUSLY!!! They think she wants to go to heaven but thankfully find her at the riverbed, the place where the family used to pick flowers. Doujima wants Yuu to talk to her as he is more family to her than him. But he asks if he is going to run away again. Doujima mans up and talks to her. Get ready the tissues for an emotional father and daughter reconciliation. In the aftermath, Doujima spends more time with her, even turning this random day today to be their family day. Uh huh. The day they become a real family. And he is also available to attend her PTA. Wow. Conveniently happy ending is so conveniently happy.

Episode 19
School cultural festival. Yousuke suggested their class to do a group dating café as a joke and everyone except Chie seems to accept it! If that is not bad enough, Yousuke without permission enters the name of his female friends in a pageant contest. With Yuu’s 30 minute explanation on pageants, I guess the girls can’t back out now. As revenge, Chie enters the guys’ names in a cross-dressing contest. This is sure going to be fun. During the preparation, Yuu befriends a struggling trombone player, Ayane Matsunaga. She is having troubles trying to get her act together since her club will be playing during the festival and she is supposed to replace the role of an injured senpai. Yuu and co try out the group dating café. It’s so weird when they all know each other. It gets weirder when Yousuke asks their ideal type only for himself to almost start falling for Yuu!!! WTF?! They’re not even drinking alcohol! Time for more trombone drama with Matsunaga continue to screw up in practice. Luckily her senpai returns and with everyone’s approval, she gives her role to him. Yuu can tell she isn’t happy with this so what else this nice guy has got to do but listen to her love for music. He takes her around the festival until Ebihara hijacks him so she could do some love life fortune telling? The event we’ve been waiting for! Okay, not. Time for our guys to step up for their cross-dressing. Kanji is the worst Marilyn Monroe ever, Yousuke a creepy high school girl, Yuu a delinquent girl (somehow the girls love his badass-ness) and Kuma as Alice In Wonderland. It’s no surprise Kuma wins it and since he’ll be the judge of the beauty pageant, he announces it will be a swimsuit contest. Oh yeah! See the girls in their swimsuits! Now this is what we’re waiting for. However the hall isn’t filled with people since Kanami is in town doing a shoot so many ditch this to watch that. Yeah, only losers see this pageant, right? Ironically we won’t get to see Naoto in her swimsuit because she is so shy (but enough to give Kanji nose bleeds) and she won!!! WTF?! Power of imagination? While Rise accepts her loss and even says whatever Kanami does isn’t her business, she can’t help feel disappointed. Yuu as usual tells her it is natural for her to be upset. Being Rise is part of who she is. This gives her motivation to return to showbiz next spring. She invites him to be her manager but he declines.

Episode 20
Yukiko invites Nanako to stay at her inn seeing Doujima had to be away. The rest misinterpret this and invite themselves along. The guys notice something strange in their room but couldn’t put their finger on it. When they decide to hit the baths, they are shocked the girls are in there. I wonder if there are endless supplies of wooden buckets for them to throw at them. Why the hell does Yuu think standing their ground is such a good idea?! Retreat! Eventually Yukiko realizes it was her fault since she mixed up the bath times and it is supposed to be the men’s turn. So the guys later try again at another section and end up in the wrong one again. Did they not read the sign this time? Yukiko is faced with a bunch of reporters who are trying to coax her into doing a special programme of her cursed inn. When she refuses, they badmouth the inn and this causes her to snap and tell them off. They threaten to air this but had to back off when she threatens back about complaining to their sponsors. Since the girls still haven’t got over the guys trying to peek at them, they continue to label them as perverts. Even Nanako is starting to think Yuu and Kuma are one. Back in their room, they realize this was the room that Yamano stayed. Now they can’t sleep. With everything not going their way, I guess Yousuke gets this last ditch attempt to sneak into the girls’ room. They get excited when they first go through their stuffs before lying next to them. Then something feels odd. The girls sleeping there are actually fatty classmate and slutty teacher!!! OMFG!!! In fact they are so deprived of men that they want them to stay!!! Monsters unleashed! It didn’t take long this time for Yuu to issue the retreat order. Phew, that was close. Their chastity still intact. Thank goodness. Later Yuu talks to Yukiko that she is going to take an exam to obtain a licence to run this place. The irony was how she wanted to leave this place. After the battle with her Shadow, she felt she wanted to protect it even more. Flashback a few days ago, Yuu received a letter ordering him not to save anyone anymore.

Episode 21
Naoto tried tracing the letter but its source cannot be determined. Seeing that it was sent directly to his mailbox, it could be the perpetrator is closer to them. That night, Midnight Channel pops up but it is unclear who the person is. Next night, Yuu receives another letter. This time it warns him if he doesn’t stop, someone close will be killed. Doujima sees this and wants an explanation. Wow. Even if he is family, Doujima won’t break protocol and interrogates him at the police station. Yuu tells the truth about Personas and Shadows but obviously Doujima thinks he is lying. So Yuu is going to stay in the lockup tonight?! Nanako calls Yousuke about Yuu receiving a weird letter before dad took him to the police station. Oddly, there is a TV in the lockup because it is Nanako’s face who pops up!!! As deduced by Naoto, Nanako may not be seen on TV but heard. A politician who often appeared in the news and visited Nanako’s school used to quote her anonymously. She is on his way to check if Nanako is still in. By the time the guys come to get Yuu, they tell him Nanako is missing. Doujima rushes to go find her. I don’t know how weakling Adachi could lock up all the other guys in the same room. The girls want to bust them out but I guess it makes more sense to explain what’s going on than resort to violence. When Naoto checked the place, there was no break in. Hence the culprit is someone she knew and Nanako opened the door herself. Also, the culprit must be carrying a huge TV in his car. But who would carry something big without others noticing it? Yuu realizes it is a delivery truck. Coincidentally in this small town, the local delivery company only has the same deliveryman every time. It seems that guy matches the police profile too. Taro Namatame was a city council secretary before becoming a deliveryman. The guy who also had an affair with Yamano. With the puzzle of the pieces together, Adachi lets them out. He then calls Doujima about it. Super coincidence the delivery truck was just passing by. Police chase! Delivery guy is so panicky that he swerves his truck to force him off the road. By the time the friends come, Doujima is lying bleeding on the ground. The culprit is gone. There is indeed a TV in the back of the truck. Yuu becomes desperate to save Nanako. He is calmed down that if they fail, who else is there to save her. Naoto discovers a notebook left behind. It contains the names of all the victims (except Morooka). It also states he discovered the existence of a new world and must save people. Yuu is determined to save Nanako after seeing the letter she dropped that congratulates him on his test. Even more determination when Doujima leaves it to him to save her.

Episode 22
What is this heavenly garden space? Namatame takes Nanako and run. How far can he run? I can’t believe he runs faster than the group of young people. Anyway, they still got time to talk. Namatame claims they are the killers and he is the one saving them. Cue maniacal laughter so an immense amount of Shadows could absorb into him and transform into a terrifying Persona. Yuu rushes in to save Nanako but gets mind controlled. Namatame uses his Personas to keep the rest at bay. I guess Nanako’s voice gives them the much needed distraction for the rest to pound Namatame. The power of lolicon is strong with Yuu rescuing Nanako from Namatame’s clutches. At this point, the other friends are mind controlled. Not too sure about this spirit of Doujima giving extra power to Yuu to power up and summon a golden dragon? Is this Dragonball reference? With everyone free again, they take down Namatame for good. However Nanako is unconscious and is wheeled into ICU. Everyone is anxious and starts blaming themselves if they hadn’t listened to Namatame’s rant and instead went straight rescuing her, this wouldn’t happen. Yeah, in TV world, everyone always talks first action later. So I don’t blame you guys for that… But it’s the power of believing in her because many days later, Nanako is recovering and police interrogation has Namatame admit to the kidnappings and killings. He regretted to all he did and was just scared. Adachi lets in a little secret from their investigation that it seems Namatame was also trying to make advances on Konishi. The fog is thicker than usual in their world. The people are concerned and some have gone a bit crazy thinking it contains some sort of virus. When the friends put on their glasses, they see a clear view. Could it be the fog is leaking from the TV world? Kuma is sad that since the case is over, there is no more reason for him to stay. Of course they welcome him to stay anytime and this makes him happy. Hey, I thought they’re supposed to help find his origins too? As the friends discuss the Christmas present they should pick for Nanako and the party for her release, Yuu gets a distressing call. Nanako’s condition has suddenly turned for the worse. Yuu is allowed to be by her side as he tries to desperately assure they’ll always be together. But Nanako’s heart stop beating… Nanako!! NOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!

Episode 23
Let the tears flow… :’(. Doujima heads to Namatame’s room and is going to kill him! I guess screw being a detective once your only reason to live is gone. The friends hear something going on in his room and enter. Hey, what happened to the police guys stationed outside? They think he is trying to escape. All get mad at him when Midnight Channel pops up. A Shadow version of Namatame taunts them that the law cannot touch him. He dares them to kill him because alive or dead makes no difference to him. Naoto gets this idea to throw him into the TV. Yuu picks cowering Namatame up and is prepared to do so. The girls are against this but the guys want him to continue. In the end, Yuu couldn’t do it because it would make them no different than him. They must calm down and rationally think about this. So far, they have not heard from Namatame’s point of view. They discuss about Namatame’s motive to kill Yamano but couldn’t deduce anything motive since he was separated from his wife then who also knew about Yamano. It’s getting late so Yuu calls it a day. He then breaks down in a way we never seen him before. Only Yousuke’s around to lend a shoulder to cry on. Next day, the friends continue their investigation despite realizing Kuma has not been with them ever since. They wonder if he ‘saves’ people by killing them but if so, doesn’t that make the rest after Konishi failures? Yuu notices something strange about the warning letters. Like as though they were written by different people. They go talk to Namatame and he is willing to tell them the truth since the police refused to believe him. After his scandal was exposed, he returned to his parents’ house to hide. He saw Midnight Channel in which Yamano was seen in danger. After she was killed, he thought Midnight Channel was an SOS from her. When Konishi popped up, he recognized her as the daughter of the liquor store. He tried to warn her but she refused to listen because obviously any normal girl would think he is some sort of crazy dude. After she died, Namatame got this idea of throwing victims to the other world and then take them back out once things blow over and went around his rescue mission as a deliveryman. As the rest continued to live, he thought his mission was a success. He realized too late that one from inside could get out on their own. Kuma realizes he doesn’t belong anywhere and vanishes. Then a miracle happens. NANAKO LIVES!!!! Plot convenience???!!! Who cares?! She’s alive so the rest can breathe easy and have motivation to solve this case. As Naoto thinks the culprit is one who has connections to Yamano and Konishi as well as in a position to observe their investigating actions periodically, Yuu thinks he knows that person who fits all that criteria. I think so too…

Episode 24
Kuma now remembers. He is a Shadow from this world who took on a form of its own and made himself forget he was a Shadow. He is back to being happy after learning Nanako survived. Do we have time for Yousuke telling Yuu how much he envied him? So the make them equal, he wants to be punched? Wow. Yuu did just that! But does it change anything? Heck, he even says equality for them is when they both punch each other! Do we have time for fist fighting?! Must be their weird way of reconciling. When the friends and Doujima head to the hospital, they hear from Adachi that Namatame has been relocated. They start asking him several questions about his meetings with Yamano and Konishi and the warning letters. He plays dumb but when they accuse him of being the culprit. Because when Naoto read the notebook, Adachi felt relieved. At this point the police had no idea there were other attempted murders related to the case. Adachi brushes it all off and runs away. Where could he have disappeared in this room? See that TV? Ah… Inside the TV world, they cannot find Adachi but Kuma. He tells the truth about himself but you think they care? They welcome him back and this motivates Kuma to help find Adachi. They find him or at least his Shadow. He claims this world will soon seep into reality and humans will turn into Shadows. Adachi shows us what happened. When he confronted Yamano, he knew she lied about the affair with Namatame. After all, Adachi liked her. When she resisted, he threw her into the TV. He then talked to Konishi and tried to blackmail her about her meeting with Namatame. She resisted and got thrown in too. After Konishi’s body was found, Namatame called the police. Of all the people who picked up, it was Adachi. So he called his story a bluff and told him to save them himself. He did all this because it was interesting. So when Kubo wanted to take the blame, Adachi feared the game would be over. He threw Kubo inside the TV so the game would continue. Adachi and his Shadow clones fight the friends just to see whose world will come out triumphant.

Episode 25
Adachi claims the world is such a boring place. That’s why everyone is going to turn into Shadows and live like a zombie. Isn’t that even more boring? He talks about people fearing reality that is why they yearn for all the fakeness. He claims the friends are the same like criminals. They seek some thrill to their boring lives and hence playing this detective game. Even if Adachi is caught, so what of it? Everyone will still think Namatame as the killer. Of course the friends deny all that bullsh*t and call him a kid throwing tantrum. So cliché that bad guys lose their cool and hence their dominance. Plot convenience for them to fall and good guys to win. They beat the crap out of him. Adachi knows this is the end and tries to kill himself but the Shadows possess him. The big boss of all Shadows, Ame No Sagiri is a giant eyeball and the master of the fog. He claims all this doing is because this is what humans desire. More talk on how humans turn a blind eye to reality and rather live on in darkness and false imagery. Everything was his doing and went according to plan. Except for the parts they beat up their own Shadows and turn them into their own Personas to fight. That’s why he wanted to test them and see if it is worthy to put his trust into it. Everyone fights in vain as Yuu gets absorbed. But thankfully with all the bonds with his friends, this allows their Persona to evolve and become better looking versions to help pull Yuu out. Then he gets the honours to summon all his cards into some demon Persona and dismantle the eyeball! Now that he has seen their proven potential, he backs down. But warns if mankind so desires again, he will return any time. The real Adachi prepares for the worst to be killed by the kids but of course they tell him to be punished by the laws of their world. That’s how it works. In the aftermath, the friends see off Yuu at the train station. So he is leaving? As though he came for a case and left when everything is over. Nanako so sad that she confesses she wants to marry him when she grows up?! Okay. But no shady stuffs while she is under-aged.

Episode 26 (Special)
This adapts the true ending from the game. The friends are preparing a farewell party for Yuu. Oddly, the day restarts again and this time Yuu reads a letter for him. It is from Adachi serving his time in prison as he mentions about someone giving them strange powers to enter Midnight Channel. Yeah, why write such a vague letter with no answers? I suppose this is to prompt our friends to do their own investigation. The day restarts again as this time as he remembers when he first came to Inaba, he had a strange dream. He remembers stopping by the gas station and the gas attendant talked to him. He makes his way there and it is revealed the attendant is the one who gave them this power. All by just shaking hands. He transforms into his true form, Izanami and reveals he created the Midnight Channel although he has only been observing after that. It seems Midnight Channel shows what you want to see and the hidden side that everyone wants to show others. Hence a ‘window’ to peek and cater to both. Because like what that eyeball said, humans only want to see what they want to see. This is what the fog represents. With Yuu refusing to believe it all, Izanami shows him the truth. He is fighting a monster Persona in which all his friends have become victims of Shadows. This is the truth. Because Yuu cannot handle this, he chose to live in his own version of the fog and happiness. Hence Yuu succumbs to this and continues to relive that Groundhog Day over and over again. He looks ‘happy’. Until Margaret snaps him out of it and is disappointed in him. Not sure what is happening because it’s like she is sending Personas to attack him but with Yuu hearing the voices of all those who support him, he gets back all their Personas. Then he sees his own Shadow who admits his fear of being alone. That’s why he doesn’t care if it is all an illusion as long as they’re with him. After accepting his Shadow, he returns to fight Izanami. This time nothing could stop Yuu. He is no longer alone and will show mankind’s true potential. With his evolved Persona, he defeats Izanami and dispels all the fog. The TV world returns to its original beautiful state. The friends are alive and happy to be reunited with him. Now that Yuu is free to see the world, hence he leaves Inaba on a journey. His friends bid him farewell and promise to wait for him, believing in the bonds of their friendship.

The Golden Animation

Apparently there is an alternative version of this series that came out 2 years after the original aired.

Episode 1
This first episode plays out in the exact same fashion as the first original one. From Yuu’s arrival to Inaba to the school he enrols, to watching Midnight Channel, entering it, meeting Kuma and summoning his Persona for the first time to kick Shadow ass. Only difference is the appearance of a new character, Marie from time to time. In the epilogue, we see Margaret officially introducing a bashful Marie to us and Yuu is tasked to show her around Inaba. He just got here too so is it like the blind leading the blind? Anyway, Marie is a bit distrusting since she has no memories of her previous life whatsoever (why does this sound so familiar). Since she likes the wide space of Inaba, she puts herself in Yuu’s care.

Episode 2
Yuu introduces Marie to his friends and goes along with the premise that she is his old friend from his old school. A month down the road, Yuu has gotten his bike licence. Doujima gives him his old scooter. Yuu receives a call from Chie to accompany the girls shopping next Wednesday. Unfortunately Yousuke shortly calls him after that to fix next Wednesday to ride their bikes to go pick up girls. Since he isn’t given any space to reply, looks like he is double booked. But he has the perfect plan. As Yousuke’s plan starts first, he will go with him. He is supposed to meet up the girls in the next hour and will give a few minutes provision to go to them. And then he will return to Nanako and have dinner with her. Yeah, a perfect plan that will offend nobody. It starts out fine at first but the guys fail at picking up any girls. Just when it’s time for Yuu to leave, Kanji won’t lose out and it becomes an hour-long battle to see who can hit on the most girls. Yousuke is in a pinch but he decides to use that hour-long battle to go to the girls instead. When he arrives, he sees Chie and Ebihara fighting over the last skirt left. They enter an hour-long fashion competition and make Yuu the judge. Oh boy. So Yuu has to run in between both places, trying to hit on girls while judging their fashion sense (he is calling all of them as draws!). In the aftermath, he is dead tired and knows he is running late for Nanako’s dinner when she calls to tell him that dad is going to return for dinner too. In the end, Chie and Ebihara’s fashion contest is resolved by Marie who coordinates suitable clothes for them. Now they’re best of friends. Yousuke wins the pickup contest with a single number. However that number belongs to Ootani! Did he slip up somewhere?! The moment she sits on his bike, it breaks apart!!! And she got the cheek to tell him to up his game if he wants to date her. Double loss? By the time Yuu returns home, he is close to dead and has missed her dinner.

Episode 3
Beach episode. Our friends (minus Naoto) head to the beach during the summer vacation. Looks like everyone has got bike licence now. Time for our girls to parade their cute swimsuits. Until Kanji had to ruin our eyes with his Speedo. ARGH! MY EYES!!! Perverted Kuma tries to make nip slips but end up doing one on Kanji!!! Damn this guy is now indecently exposed!!! Are you trying to rape my eyes???!!!! When the girls are coming back, they have to quickly use seaweeds to hide his modesty. It only serves to enhance his perverted image. During the break, everyone tries to ask Marie lots of questions to get to know her but this upsets her. She runs away but Yuu talks to her about things and before your know it, they reconcile. Marie talks to Margaret about being aware of one’s true self. Because of that, she uses a video camera to record the friends’ answer regarding about their true selves as well as other stuffs. Each giving their own version of what it is that also serves as some sort of motivation to Marie. After watching the fireworks, they play their own sparklers. Yousuke is now talking about their next winter vacation plans and everyone is surprised but happy that Marie seems enthusiastic to join them next time.

Episode 4
Marie discloses to the friends that she is an amnesiac character. Of course they are eager to help her uncover her memories since the cops aren’t interested in such trivial cases. The only clue she has is a weird comb. They see Daidara the craftsman’s thoughts. He can’t pinpoint its era and feels it is out of this world. It is then Marie starts feeling pain in her head and collapses. She wakes up only to hear the friends talking to a granny about a comb not a suitable gift as it contains the words death and suffering. Next day, Marie seems okay enough to go shopping in her friends. However she got distracted by a comb stall and before she knows it, she is lost. She panics, worried to be alone. The friends start looking for her and Yuu eventually finds her at the reception. Immediately she takes his hand and walk away. She tells him she was scared because the person was asking about her real name and other stuffs. All of which she knows nothing of. She is afraid because she can’t remember anything. When Kuma is seemingly working to fix a quiz show stage, Yuu gets this idea. When he goes to talk to Marie, it seems she has almost given up on finding her identity and doesn’t care. So he ushers her down to the stage where Kuma as the quiz show host and the rest are participants. At first Kuma asks weird questions that Marie doesn’t know. But soon she is able to answer familiar ones. In the end, Marie wins the quiz and she realizes these are what memories are supposed to be. She is happy with the new ones she made and does not bother too much with the unknown.

Episode 5
Yousuke might be in trouble. He might be transferring school! It all began when Kanami was supposed to be a temporary local police chief at Inaba but it got cancelled. His dad was already planning sales and promotion from his store and with this cancellation means the end of them. He hopes Rise could be Kanami’s replacement. At first she didn’t want to buy after hearing this, I guess she relents. But with a condition that all of them join them on stage as her backup band. Hence our friends pick up and practice music instruments. They are all amateurs except for Marie who seems to be natural with the electric guitar. With Naoto deciphering how to read musical scores, everyone is motivated to play on. WTF?! Can you read scores that easy?! Marie is so obsessed in making memories that she won’t stop practising, causing her fingers to be sore. After some pro advice from Rise to take care of herself and be on tiptop condition, the practice continues until they really nail it. On the day of the concert, Rise is late to show up. Yuu gets a call from her that somebody has posted fake news she is making a comeback and holding a hand shaking event, hence a large fans gathering outside her house. Chie has an idea so she runs down there and points out to this fake Rise to give those dumb fans a wild goose chase. With Rise still not turning up, the rest hit the stage with Marie taking on vocals duty. The bewildered crowd soon accepts her and before you know it, Rise joins them on stage. In the aftermath, the friends celebrate a successful concert as well as the good sales the store made. The fake Rise turned out to be Ichijou in drag. I guess he isn’t the only one who is happy. Marie realizes she was so absorbed into this that she didn’t realize she was making memories. Eventually all this will become memories. Later when she watches Nanako leave, she starts to feel pain.

Episode 6
Why do they even need to give Adachi his own episode which is just a poor flashback one? We see Adachi arriving at Inaba as a new police officer stationed here. He has got this look on his face that screams I-wish-I-wasn’t-here. Late on his first day, Doujima lectures him about principles in which he doesn’t even give a damn. You know, the usual Adachi shrug. He follows Doujima to solve local cases and it is clear his heart isn’t in it. Heck, during the briefing, he mispronounces names so much that the team had to correct him all the time! Then one night he discovered Midnight Channel and it sparked some devilish thoughts. We briefly see scenes of him confronting Yamano and throwing her into the TV, subsequently doing the same to Konishi when she rejected his advances. Fast forward to present day, we see Marie chasing after Adachi (the source of the pain, she thinks) but loses him. When Yuu asks why, she isn’t sure and warns him to stay away from him. Then this weird scenes of a grandma treating Adachi like her substitute son as he coincidentally shares the same first name and almost looks like him. Good things come to an end when some other hot guy takes over the role. It wasn’t that Adachi was happy when she treated him, but it sure looks like he isn’t either now that this bugging old woman is out of his life. Because of that, Yuu accompanies him because he wants to help those in need! He even makes him lunch! At this point I think Yuu is the creepier one. One night, he tells and asks Adachi about Marie’s warning so Adachi talks about betrayal and stuffs. Hence it is better not to get involved or do anything from the start since it might later turn out worse. So when the kidnapping of Nanako happened, we hear Adachi’s monologue that he blames Yuu for it for trying to play detective. Did he make a pun on his name? As in, I told Yuu… Yeah, that’s the title for this episode too.

Episode 7
We’re still continuing this? Heck, even the episode title is warning and insulting us, “It’s cliché, so what?”. Taking place during the events of Nanako in coma, Yuu has got a hunch that Adachi is the culprit. So he goes to see him in the other world where Adachi tells him off that he was the one who believed in whatever version of Adachi he saw and now he gets disappointed when he isn’t so. After half a season gone, finally we get to see some Persona fight. As they clash, we have a glimpse of Adachi’s lifestyle. Not to say he was a loser but he doesn’t achieve much and is always on the side-lines. Underachiever. Since Yuu has a glimpse of this too, I think he is overwhelmed by it all so when Adachi fires a warning shot telling him to go home to his friends, he did just that. Too easy. Then he talks to Marie as she tells him about how searching for her memories became creating new ones. More about bonds and trusts but hey, they warned us about being cliché. She gives him her comb to keep because whether searching or creating memories, it is definitely going to be with him. With renewed confidence, Yuu and his friends return to fight Adachi. More about bonds and believe. Yeah, what did they tell us about being cliché? So Personas fighting turn into fist fighting. Yuu turns Adachi into a punching bag. Man, his cheeks are so bruised! Adachi even feels lame that it ended this way since they have the same power but why did he lost? Bonds. Ah… Cliché… Before they can go home, the giant eyeball hijacks him but it doesn’t take long before he defeats him. Meanwhile Marie is being told that the fog is her place. Looks like she remembers now and she fears she cannot stay with her friends anymore. So much about making new memories. She disappears along with the comb.

Episode 8
Yuu tells separately each of the girls (including Naoto, minus Marie) to keep their schedule open on Christmas Eve. This makes them nervous as they start thinking if he wants to confess. Naoto overthinks that Yuu wants to kill them?! Even more so when she sees Yukiko with a knife (present for Yuu), Rise wanting to blow him away (cooking, that is) and Chie ‘killing’ Kanji (she is watching a crappy kung fu movie with a character that sounds like him). Of course the plan is for the guys to cook on Christmas Eve and not let the girls turn this into a poison night. On that day, it seems the other guys have their own commitments and are unable to help Yuu. Kuma is kind enough to send some help. Each of the girls arrive at different times but instead of finding out Yuu’s feelings, he sends them to do errands. The help Kuma sent is Ebihara. A moth freaks out Chie as she accidentally throws tomato at her. A fight breaks out and with all the clumsiness, tomato spills everywhere. Oh, I can see where this is going. Finally Naoto arrives in a protective headgear. Sure she didn’t forget to wear the thickest armour? She misinterprets this ‘bloody’ scene as the girls being ‘killed’ and only made worse when Yuu returns with a knife in hand. Time to freak out. The murder scene might turn into a zombie scene with the girls waking up. The event is postponed next day. At least they get to celebrate with Nanako. But our disgruntled girls secretly take it out on Yuu for all that misunderstanding. The friends enjoy New Year’s Day and playing in the snow. Too bad Yuu got sick a few days later. I know the friends are kind enough to accompany him when he is sick, but it feels like a weird ritual that all of them are sitting around him. I mean, give this dude some space! Then he dreams of Marie. He doesn’t remember him but she does about him. Sadly, she promises she won’t forget about him and disappears. He wakes up in cold sweat and tears.

Episode 9
As Yuu will be moving away in the spring, the friends go on a skiing trip to make their final memories. In the hotspring, they remember the times spent together but it feels like there is something missing. Then while going through the photos of all their outings together, they find it weird that there is a gap in the middle of the group photo. They start to get scared it is a ghost photo of something. Remember that video that Marie took that interviewed all of them? Yeah, they’re watching it too and it brings back memories. But… Who is recording this video! Freak out time. Cue for blackout to stir up some screams. When the lights come back on, they see Kuma trying to eat all their snacks. The girls think this is his prank and beat him up. But Yuu believes there is someone else besides them that they have forgotten. Instead of being gloomy and racking their brains, they return to the snow for more skiing. Yuu spaces out and crashes. He is lost and the snowstorm makes it misty like the other world. Then he sees a familiar figure and goes after her. He starts to remember memories of Marie (though it is just her silhouette). Then her comb is somehow in his hands and he remembers her. Good thing there is a cabin nearby. Good thing all his worried friends manage to find this cabin and are relieved he is alive. Comb is still in his hand. Yeah, they remember who Marie is. Oh, conveniently it’s Midnight Channel time. Why the hell is there a TV in this remote cabin???!!!

Episode 10
Yuu hears Margaret’s voice that leads him into the TV. I wonder how he can fit in if the TV is quite small. Margaret tells him about bonds and truth. Not that I want to understand anyway. Yeah, I’m averting my eyes at this point. As his friends have arrived in this world but separated, Yuu uses Margaret’s power to help reunite. Along the way, the friends notice this strange surreal place. They are like places they have been with Marie. As Margaret continues to lead Yuu, she tells him about this Hollow Forest ahead. Marie has sealed herself and will forever cut herself from the rest. This is proof she has remembered all her lost memories. Because this forest isn’t completed yet, this is a reason why the friends are still able to connect with her. But once it is done, nobody gets out. Forever. This means if Marie seals herself for good, they will all forget her for good. The friends stumble into Marie (is she a clergy?). As usual they tell her to come back or tell them whatever problems because they’d be willing to listen to but she remains stubborn. She reveals her reveal name as Kusumi No Okami and is the same as that eyeball creature. In short, she is a spy sent by the gods to check on the humans. That is why she is in human form to blend in. Yuu reminds her about that comb promise she made. It descends into a childish baka argument before she has had it. She believes she is doing this for their good and out of her own consideration. I guess it’s not appreciated. She summons a few Shadows so that we can see some Persona fights. After the tough battle, they still insist to bring her back. Marie is even more annoyed. I think even more so when they spew that because-we-are-friends crap. Her denial is so strong that her Shadow engulfs her. Oh well, time for another round for their Personas to bust her out. But what’s this?! Everybody gets owned?! That’s unexpected. So much about the power of friendship. For now.

Episode 11
Marie further reveals about the fog. It is the gods’ goal to control it. Ever wonder why it never go further than Inaba and fog the entire world? That’s because Marie’s body absorbs them. Each time she dies so, it starts killing her and she feels like going insane. Hence her ‘consideration’ of saving the world and dying all alone in this Hollow Forest. BS. Even Yuu knows it. He wants Marie to say what she really wants. And after all that bugging (but of course) she finally says she doesn’t want to die and for them to help here. There. There’s your cue and permission to go save her. The power of friendship revives the other friends as they evolve their Personas again to kick ass. Yuu being the hero of course jumps into her Shadow, cuts down whatever stands in his way to rescue Marie. Gee, Marie looks so happy to be rescued by him. As though she is expecting and wanting it so badly. Now that she is saved, the epic hug could last longer had not Rise b*tch about it and this cliché of the place collapsing. As they all run out, they start laughing over Marie’s usual complaints. Yeah girl, you so funny when you tsundere. Just in time when they get out, the TV breaks. Phew. I guess nobody is going back there ever again. Marie lets Yuu know about the voice she heard in her head. She doesn’t know who but finds it familiar like the same voice she heard after they defeated the eyeball monster. She brushes it off and thinks it might be her own voice. They play snowball fight with everyone timing up against Yousuke. Great team effort. Some naughty fanservice potential when the guys try to peep at the girls in the outdoor hotspring. The fence comes down and both sides see each other naked. No prizes to guess what happens. But does Marie have lightning powers as she zaps them?! I didn’t know she had that. Nanako gives Yuu a ghostly chocolate for Valentine’s Day. Yeah, the girls thought her how to make it… Run, Yuu! But seeing how innocent she is, he feels bad if he doesn’t. The clincher is when she thanks him and says how much she loves him. Yeah, don’t worry. He eats everything! It’s a miracle he survived. Then he goes to see Marie who has her own Valentine chocolate for him. The box is pulsating… Is it something living?! Oh boy. What you gonna do? Because she is so cute and shy trying to give it to him, leave it to Yuu to finish it all. I’m starting to believe Yuu might be a demon (not god) since he survived that too. When Yuu hopes she won’t go away again, she tells him the irony of him going away in spring. She hopes to stay here forever.

Episode 12
As everyone prepares to celebrate Yuu’s farewell, Marie realizes she is turning translucent! Kuma has this idea of everyone writing down their wish and put it in a time capsule. When the loudest thunder strikes, Marie again becomes translucent and is now possessed by Izanami who claims Marie is part of her. She tries to strangle herself to kill Marie but since there is resistance, Izanami decides to test their faith. So Yuu is summoning his Persona for one last Shadow fight. Yuu cannot believe the truth about Marie and Izanami originally as one being. Yuu is in a dilemma to save his friends caught in her Shadow grip. With Izanami spouting more crap about averting eyes to the truth, she tells him the only way for him to live the way of life he wants with Marie is to shield his eyes from the truth and live a lie. It sounds tempting but before Yuu could give in to that, Marie tells him not to fall here. She tells him only the truth can defeat Izanami but he is not willing to do that because Marie will disappear. She assures him she will not. She will become one. A God. So that is not good enough for Yuu because she won’t be with her friends? Oh, don’t worry. She’ll always be around watching them. You know how God is always omnipresent, right? With this resolve, Yuu won’t hesitate anymore. The duo walk towards Izanami and their light barrier dispels any Shadows that try to attack them. Marie realizes she wasn’t disappearing but was merging with Izanami. Marie’s wish to protect wishes and Izanami’s wish to grant them made them separated due to their conflict. Yuu’s wish is for everyone’s heart to light up so as to lift the fog covering their hearts. Marie and Izanami become one. Marie vanishes with her last smile to him. The day soon comes for Yuu to leave. But a few months later, he returns. Apparently Doujima was so busy that he forgot to pick him up. Yeah, go hang out with his friends. Too bad their ploy to surprise him failed since he noticed the commotion on how to do so (note, Doujima was also in on this surprise). Looks like all of them have a little change. Like Naoto looking a bit more feminine. But the biggest change is Kanji. He looks like a nerd! Almost unrecognizable! Everyone celebrates his return at home as they show him another surprise. On TV, Marie is now a weather girl. In precise timing, she takes this chance to confess her love for Yuu! She must be damn confident he is watching this right now. Kuma wants to open their time capsule but Yousuke disagrees. A struggle has the lid open. Everyone officially welcomes Yuu back. Yuu’s wish reads he wants to stay with everyone forever. Hardly surprising.

Persona: Through The Looking Glasses
I keep wondering why Yuu had to leave Inaba in the first place only for him to come back a few months later. Heck, it’s not even a year and his return is greeted like as though he has been away for years. Yeah, the town must be so boring besides him, huh? So did he go to other towns and liberate them from their local fog and gods? Or this could just be the so called happy ending because Yuu gets his wish and everybody gets to be together again in the end. Happily ever after. Yeah, they ‘killed off’ Marie but somehow turn her into a weather girl. I am thinking people’s memories must be manipulated along the way for them not to question her origins. She just popped up like that. Now she’s telling us the weather. It’s always sunny here. And in our hearts! Just kidding.

Personally, the story seems pretty ordinary and nothing special. A group of kids in a small town playing detectives because the local authorities couldn’t be bothered in solving the mystery. I guess even when you have a workaholic like Doujima but the rest of the department are so useless, things can never get done. So having teens go into another world to summon an alter ego of theirs sounds like some sort of action battle fantasy. An excuse to put up some fights for entertainment value. But more on that later.

The original Persona spends its first half gathering the usual suspects for Yuu’s groupie. It always follows the same predictable pattern because who else in this world doesn’t have problems? If we could only face our problems and accept them so easy like them, the world would have been such a better place. Unfortunately in reality there is no such conveniences. Escaping to a fantasy world through a TV is only possible in our heads. So once all that is done, the second half tries to focus on catching the real culprit with a few fillers in between. Even halfway through the series, I could guess who the real culprit was. I’m not kidding. Because having a kid doing all those murders doesn’t seem to add up and you can sense something amiss when Kubo has been acting so strangely that even kids can tell he is a bad actor. But not our high school heroes here. Not until the plot tells them something is wrong that they start thinking the real culprit is someone else.

So when they pop up Namatame as the supposed culprit, I was pretty sceptical because if you do a murder mystery genre, it would be very unfair to the audience to suddenly introduce a character we never knew of as the killer. Yeah, so Namatame might look crazy but him being the perpetrator? Who the f*ck is he, I asked. Even pinpointing lesser casts who are close to non-existent like Kanami (who again?) or perhaps bringing back to dead like Konishi for super shocker effect would be so unfair. And true enough when Namatame wasn’t the real culprit, the true culprit, the final boss came to light. And he it came to no surprise to me. In fact I was going, “I told you!” repeatedly in my head. Mind you, I didn’t read any spoilers. The fact that Adachi has always been acting strange in the sense that he is carefree and slacking on his job, plus given the fact that he is one of those few characters who appear decently enough, makes him the biggest indicator to be the perpetrator. The cliché of the culprit is always the one right under our noses. I know Aika could be it but for this series, how can you make a cute takeout delivery girl the baddie! That’s too cruel! Yeah… So wow to myself. I could go solve murder mysteries now. Move over, Naoto. I’m the new detective prince in town!

But the oddest and weirdest plot of the story has to be the gods watching over the humans. Yeah, the world is such a huge and big place and they choose this sleepy small town as their main observation for humans?! Earth may be a small tiny place to the gods but then again, why not pick at least like Tokyo? So by summing up the general behaviour of mankind based on the actions of a few in this small town, it really makes you think if the gods were just trying to find the lamest excuse to destroy Earth. And of course based on the script, we must have a good ending and hence the incredulous logic that a group of high school teens using the power of friendship and trust, to even make the gods change their minds and let mankind live longer! Damn! These kids should just be gods.

If the original Persona’s story was just okay to me, Golden was even worse. Yeah, I don’t even know why they needed to make this alternate setting so that we could have just a new character and a bunch of fillers in that season. Yup, even though half of Golden’s episodes feel like fillers, they are ‘essential’ to the plot because it is a reason to make Marie feel conflicted about the memories she made with her friends. Even if that is the ‘plot’ for Golden, it still feels pretty weak. No wonder I read many Persona fans didn’t like this Golden spinoff alternative in the first place. It was crappy and only serves to increase the power of friendship BS. Besides, with half the number of episodes than the original Persona, with all those fillers you don’t even get to see any decent Persona fights until the final few episodes. Not even cutie pie Marie could save this disastrous sequel. Heck, she didn’t even want to save herself until her friends ‘forced’ her to.

There are quite a few no brainers or questions to ponder in the plot but by the end of it, I couldn’t remember them. Blame the fog? Me being lazy? Okay, here’s one. About Midnight Channel. It is said to appear at the stroke of midnight. Sure, it never fails to pop up on a rainy day. But what if I adjust the clock forward or backwards? Can I still watch Midnight Channel? And I’m not sure if it is a joke because Yuu has multiple times said he could record it. We never see proof because he could have just showed the police but then again, the kids want to solve them themselves, right? Then there’s the time Yuu and Doujima lost Nanako because she ran away from them after hearing the truth about mom. How far can a little girl run and 2 adults loose her who was within their sight a second ago? Oh right. Who could forget the super unbelievable miracle of Nanako coming back to life. Nanako is God!!! Then there’s that ‘drunken’ bar episode and everything else in Golden relating to Marie… Oh boy, better leave it as it is.

The characters are a mixed baggage. Each of them has their own personalities and traits. They’re both likeable and annoying at the same time. Like Yuu as the main character, he has this dense aura around him. He is also blunt and honest to your face. He is no saint either. Because when the guys get naughty like wanting to go peek at girls, Yuu doesn’t hesitate to actually join in! As Yuu isn’t a talkative character, sometimes the way he speaks makes me feel that it is as though he is some sort of retard. Even Kuma sounds better than him. Really. Go listen to Yuu’s way of talking. I bet this is why it matches his blunt personality so well. So in the initial episodes when Yuu was giving his soon-to-be-friends his honest advice, that is like supposed to be the lesson of the story or episode, I guess. Yuu could be a good counsellor or something since his words always gets through. If it doesn’t, he’ll make sure until it does!

As for the other characters in Yuu’s groupie, we can sum it up for them like this: Yousuke the best friend and joker of the group; Chie the tomboy; Yukiko the cool beauty with a laughing fit thanks to her bad sense of understanding jokes; Rise the washed up idol that nobody cares anymore; Kanji the manly gay boi; Naoto the cross-dressing failed detective wannabe; Kuma the cute animal mascot that could also double as another comic relief character. And Marie, I guess they needed some eye candy and cliché amnesiac character. I want to note something on Naoto as a detective. She basically fails in her job. At times she might sound she has a clue but that’s mostly stating the obvious or something so general that it doesn’t go anywhere. She is practically the most useless character in terms of relevance to the role among the groupie and perhaps only exists to serve as Kanji’s boner material and to prove he isn’t 100% gay. Yeah…

Too bad for anyone hoping to see some romance or love triangle but I had a feeling it would happen. No it didn’t. If it did, perhaps it would have diminished further the quality of this series. There are a few moments of Yuu having a short moment with one of the girls during those fillers but nothing really conclusive. Save for Rise who is the boldest in declaring her love for Yuu. If she was still an active idol, I bet Yuu would have received lots of death threats. Perfect for more Midnight Channel cases. But that’s another story. Now with tsundere Marie in the picture, the competition might just get heated up. Oops, ran out of episodes. Maybe next season with more fillers would do. If there are any. Now that Marie has confessed on TV and the whole town know, Rise better step up her game if she wants her senpai so badly. Oddly, all the girls are bad cooks and this has become a running joke of the series because they really make killer dishes. Not sure they really know their cooking sucks but I think they do because I am suspecting that they get their kicks by tormenting the guys with their food. Kashiwagi and Ootani might be a great complicated factor if they got added into this love mix equation. Slutty teacher wants to f*ck to prove she’s still available while fatty girl thinks she is so damn high standard that guys don’t deserve her unless you’re qualified. Yeah, those 2 are like the minor running gag and a big danger red alert signal to our guys.

Then there is the super innocent and cute Nanako for those who are lolicons. I want to believe that Nanako is a strong girl for her young age because she seems to be taking everything in stride. From her mother’s death to whatever problems her onii-chan is facing. Not sure if she is a kid and is not aware. But I remember the part the girls were having a cooking contest and she was tasting them. Didn’t feel anything. Is she a mini god or something? Heck, she did come back from the dead once. In many cases I believe Nanako is the central pillar to everyone because see how worked up Yuu became when she got kidnapped? His friends treat her like their little precious and even workaholic daddy changed his ways to spend more time with his home alone daughter. Yeah, screw work. Not that the cases can be solved anyway. Lastly about Aika, I thought she would play a prominent role and be part of Yuu’s group but I found out that she is an anime-only character. So I guess the running joke about her is how she can deliver her takeouts anywhere without fail and some mega beef bowl that is so endless that nobody has ever seen the bottom of the bowl.

I also want to mention about the Velvet Room that is often served as the starting and opening scene in many of the Persona episodes. We see that long nosy guy, Igor and his beautiful assistant, Margaret (literally beauty and the beast) talking to us. Actually it is the first person view of Yuu. Not sure what crap they are talking about bonds and trusts created on our journey because I certainly do not really get it. Maybe Persona fans can understand but a casual viewer like me, I’m so lost. Sometimes Velvet Room will be empty and you know some serious sh*t has gone down. Then for the first half of Golden, we get to hear Marie’s narration of the poem she likes only for her to snatch it back in embarrassment and reprimand us for reading it without her knowledge. I guess this part is only necessary so we can fawn over how cute Kana Hanazawa sounds being a tsundere. Kawaii!

On a trivial note, I wonder if there was a spelling error because in the original Persona, the next episode preview is termed as “Next Scent”. Wait. What? You mean, next scene. Maybe they’re trying to hint this about Kuma’s sniffing abilities. Not that I can see how useful it is either. Sure, Kuma’s sniffing might lead our friends to where they needs to go (because the plot says so) but I find it weird that this is so. A play on words? At least the next episode for Golden is termed as “Next Memories”. Also, not sure about that ability link for Yuu as the original Persona’s mid-intermission. Every episode we see Yuu’s ability of either courage, knowledge, diligence, expression and understanding go up by one level until everything is maxed out. Not that I can see how he increased those stats in the anime but even at the end whenever he is at maximum level, he still feels the same. Uh huh. Even before that he could pull out so many Personas so I’m not sure if this radar chart is accurately accurate. But hey, he is the main character so he has to be.

Originally the Persona game is an RPG-like game mixed with simulation but they also spawned a couple of fighting games. What I want to say is that when the friends summon their Personas to fight, the fight scenes are not that entertaining. Just a few oddly designed oversized characters slashing and slicing their way through various plainly designed Shadows. Short enough for it to be over and get on with. But the oddest part is how Yuu has managed to gather so many of his Personas (based off from the tarot cards) without even us knowing. I guess those scenes from Velvet Room must be it. Because it is like when conveniently needed, Yuu will power up and use that new Persona. Too bad they are used mostly once or twice and then never used again. It is annoying because it makes him look so powerful with so many weapons at his disposal and yet he uses them for a short while. Yeah, we can’t even remember many of them.

On to the art and drawing, I find them mostly satisfactory but the one thing that kept bugging me in the original series is the tone and colouring of the characters’ face. What do I mean? When I first watched this series, I find it really obvious and odd that there is some sort of weird shade on their face. Imagine this. Like as though the characters went to the beach to tan but only covered their eyes. Yup, it looks like they had tan marks over their face except for their eye regions. Are they some sort of reversed raccoons? If this is the series’ art trademark, it certainly feels weird. However come the Golden, the good news is that this is done away with and although the art and drawing are much brighter compared to the original (because it is mostly foggy and dark), the quality takes a dip. Like as though the characters are now looking slightly simpler and Kuma who is already looking comical in his bear suit, looks even more comical with the simpler drawing. No wonder this season feels crappy.

As for the designs of the Personas, I have to mention that they are the weirdest looking ‘monsters’ ever. They could even be creepy in my books. Maybe except for Yuu’s main Persona because he is main character so his Persona has got to be designed like main character-ish too. It’s like the group sat down and tried to brainstorm for some designs. They want them to look badass and mighty but with time running out, they just go with whatever they had. So watching the bunch of Personas even in action sometimes made me think that this is what happens if this was a darker version of Pokemon if they evolved even further. To be fair, their evolved version designs look much better although it is a shame that they are not often used. I suppose it is fair in the sense that your first being won’t be that good looking but when you try harder and level up, your stats in terms of abilities and aesthetics would also look better.

As for the human characters, no qualms about their bishoujo and bishonen design. But I’m just wondering why Chie and Yukiko are allowed to wear a different set of clothes as their school uniform because nobody seems to be complaining. Sure, it’s to make them stand out but really, the school authorities don’t seem to care? Okay, upon closer look they might be wearing a different coloured sweater over it but all the time? Also, I find their school uniform design a bit funny because it has this lines all over that makes it look like it is not completely sewn or the sewing wasn’t done properly and hence you see all those ‘stitch lines’.

On a trivial note, having them wearing glasses so they can see better in the fog and as a device to summon their Persona, I thought it makes them look a bit like nerds… I think the idea of having glasses is symbolic for one to have a clear view if everything looks blurry but I have perfect vision and putting glasses on only makes me dizzy! Also, if everything else fails, maybe they’ll just look smarter in glasses…

There are many recognizable seiyuus lending their talents here. Probably since this is an ‘old’ anime where most of my favourite recognizable ones are still around as compared to recently where they are slowly retiring one by one. Yeah, feeling old and having nostalgia. Anyway, the recognizable ones include Yui Horie as Chie, Ami Koshimizu as Amagi, Showtaro Morikubo as Yousuke, Rie Kugimiya as Rise, Romi Paku as Naoto, Kana Hanazawa as Marie, Sayaka Ohara as Margaret, Tomokazu Seki as Kanji, Aoi Yuuki as Aika, Yuko Kaida as Yamano and Tsubasa Yonaga as Naoki. I also recognized Kappei Yamaguchi as Kuma but I want to note that throughout the series as that beary character, he sounds so gay ~kuma! Maybe that is how the character sounds but I can’t help feel with that kind of fun voice, it makes Kuma so gay even though he is a (almost) lady killer. Perhaps Ichijou is a minor character, I didn’t recognize Daisuke Ono behind it.

Other casts include Daisuke Namikawa as Yuu (Rock in Black Lagoon), Akemi Kanda as Nanako (Asuna in Negima series), Unshou Ishizuka as Doujima (Bunta in Initial D), Mitsuaki Madono as Adachi (Kon in Bleach), Kouji Haramaki as Namatame, Kanae Itou as Ebihara (Sanae in Shinryaku! Ika Musume), Hina Nakase as Konishi (Ran in Tayutama), Hitomi Nabatame as Kashiwagi (Rokumon in Kyoukai No Rinne), Tsuyoshi Takahashi as Kubo, Ryou Agawa as Ootani and Osamu Ryuutani as Morooka. A special mention for Isamu Tanonaka as Igor. I read all his lines are taken from previous recordings because he passed away a year before the original Persona went on air and hence he is credited as special performance in the credits. Rest in peace.

Many of the songs in the series are sung by Shihoko Hirata (unless stated). Honestly, the hip hop and funky beat songs seem to fit the series’ themes better. Like Pursuing My True Self (special opening for first episode), Sky’s The Limit (first opening), Beauty Of Destiny by Shihoko Hirata featuring Lotus Juice (first ending), Next Chance To Move On (Golden’s opening), Shadow World (Golden’s special first episode opening) and Never More (final episode 25 ending) but this one sounds more like slow hip hop. They are mainly sung in English. Therefore I somehow feel rock pieces don’t feel right. Maybe in battle scenes but for opening and ending themes, not so much. Like Key Plus Words (third opening), Dazzling Smile (Golden’s ending), True Story by Rie Kugimiya (special opening for episode 9). The special ending theme for that Loveline episode, Koi Suru Meitantei is as cute as you would expect Yui Horie to be.

But slow pieces like The Way Of Memories -Kizuna No Chikara- (second ending) isn’t too bad. True Feelings is a slow piece that is okay as special ending theme. However when they play this in a couple of important battle scenes, it sounds so out of place. I think they want to prop up the feels but I still feel weird hearing this slow song played during heated battles. Believe it or not, Subete No Tamashii No Uta by Shoji Meguro is an instrumental piece. No, it is more like an opera piece with the soprano belting out quite a nice one.

Overall, the series is just average. Just slightly above average since I’m feeling generous. Kids going around solving murder mysteries and fight mysterious beings with their strange alter egos is definitely not the best ingredients for an anime out there. Maybe it works in the game but when you adapt it to anime, it loses its shine. This is why video games and TV or movies cannot and do not mix or go well with each other. The anime has its own funny moments for laughs but otherwise the blatant power of friendship saves the day, saves the people, saves the world feels kinda ridiculous. But it doesn’t stop me from wanting to go watch Persona 5. I’ll still go watch that and expecting more or less the same thing. This series might try to teach us about accepting who we are and not give a damn about what naysayers say about you. So with that said, can I accept this series as just average then? Everybody wants to live a lie that suits their preferences, right? Yeah, what the fog ~kuma?!

3D Kanojo Real Girl

July 28, 2018

It’s time for another otaku love story. Not to say that there are countless of such romance and love stories regarding otakus and nerds who do not favour 3D girls, start falling in love with normal hot chicks and in a way become slightly more tolerant and open about reality. I suppose it is that timely reminder to tell us that even otakus can fall in love with a real woman. Therefore this season, 3D Kanojo Real Girl is something like that. And at first I thought it was going to be a 2D girl from the computer coming to life into a real 3D girl and hence giving our protagonist otaku a chance to find real love of the 3D kind and not the 2D kind. Nope. Nothing that sophisticated or sci-fi level. But damn it would have been interesting if it was that instead of some normal high school tale.

Episode 1
Hikari Tsutsui and Iroha Igarashi are late for school. As penalty, they have to clean the pool together. Tsutsui as an otaku hates all that in Iroha as a 3D girl. Even more so when she considers his messy bangs as gross. While cleaning the pool, they both accidentally fall in. Tsutsui attributes his tardiness for school was because he lost track of time watching his favourite magical girl anime, Ezomichi. Tsutsui gets stunned when Iroha doesn’t hesitate taking off her top to dry herself. Plus, she doesn’t remember saying that gross word to him this morning. With him running his mouth about his stereotypes on sleazy girls like her, Iroha advises him he should fall in love. Tsutsui’s only other otaku friend is Yuto Itou. They are being mocked by an old classmate who still recognizes his otaku side. Tsutsui tries to stand up for Itou after she badmouths him until Iroha happen to pass by and tells off those ugly b*tches to go away. The guys start thinking she might not be a bad person because she did compliment them on their fetish that others think are gross. In the school corridor, Tsutsui sees a couple of guys fighting over Iroha. Apparently she has been two-timing them. When the ‘victor’ decides to have his way with her, Tsutsui jumps in to fight in. Can he fight this karate dude? No. He just wants to give time for her to run away. And so he got beaten up. He would have given up had not the power of Ezomichi give him encouragement.

In the aftermath, he sees Iroha by his side. As thanks, she kisses him! Later, she goes to his class and in front of everybody asks Tsutsui to date her. He gets upset thinking this is a prank and rejects her. After school, he sees her crying alone at the park. He then follows her to the bookstore and witnesses somebody calling the storekeeper to seize Iroha as she has been accused of shoplifting. It is made worse when she refuses to cooperate. When threatened to call the cops, Iroha empties her bag and even takes off her top! Tsutsui didn’t want to get involved but remember what Ezomichi said about cowards… He jumps in to defend her and becomes her alibi, stating the time and place where she was. Wow. Now he sounds like her stalker. Tsutsui is so bent on keeping her perfect school attendance record that he wants to go to school despite being sick! Of course he is late and the heartless teacher makes him clean the pool. Oh, Iroha is late too so that makes two of them. Feeling responsible for his cold, she decides to take it by kissing him! Tsutsui is confused but after Itou gives him a pep talk about being bullied for so long, he knows what to do. He confronts Iroha and asks her to go out with him. They hug and kiss. Man, this show has so many kisses between the main characters in its first episode. Then she drops the bomb that she will be transferring schools in 6 months. Let’s make this worthwhile. Damn…

Episode 2
Now that it’s official, the entire school is like shock and confused. One afternoon weekend, he caught glimpse of her with another hot man in town. That night when she comes to see him, he hints this relationship is not possible if she isn’t serious. Instantly she takes him to the hotel. She’s really letting him f*ck her???!!! It’s her first time too. Tempting but thanks to him being a virgin and virgins have their pride of being a virgin (WTF?!) I guess everybody’s virginity is intact tonight. Next day, he recognizes that hot man as the hospital’s doctor. He confronts him and being nervous, it is obvious the doctor can tell he is Iroha’s boyfriend and expecting him to tell him to stay away from her. Because Tsutsui is being negative about himself, the doctor calls him weak and shouldn’t be by her side. Ouch. He goes to confront Iroha. At first she lies the doctor is her boyfriend but after seeing his sad face, she tells the truth he is her family doctor and she has a grave illness. Next day, Tsutsui sums up all his courage to support her but then she reveals what she said then was a lie too. But she is grateful for him thinking about her. This better be the truth. The doctor treats her asthma. Embarrassed Tsutsui sees the doctor to apologize. In turn, he is told Iroha’s birthday is next week. Tsutsui brings her to his home, shocking mom and little brother. Never thought it would happen, right? She watches Ezomichi with him. The mood is right for them to kiss until mom comes in. Ever heard of knocking? Tsutsui and Itou work hard to make Iroha’s birthday gift. Mom is so kind to buy Tsutsui and his girlfriend amusement park tickets. Iroha is so happy she wants to ditch school right now and go there. Yeah, they did that. If only Tsutsui could stomach the killer rides… In the Ferris Wheel, he gives her birthday present, a miniature doll that looks like her. How sweet. Perfect mood this time for them to kiss. Yeah, it was definitely worth it.

Episode 3
This weird dream. Ezomichi is jealous Tsutsui has a girlfriend when he has her as his wife all along! OMG. 2D jealousy! Traitor! Tsutsui tries to balance his life of hanging out with his girlfriend and friend. But it’s like between a rock and a hard place. When he goes home with Itou, Iroha gets sad. During gym, he helps Arisa Ishino up after slipping but she didn’t like this otaku touching her. Tsutsui accidentally smacks Iroha’s hand away when she tries to touch him during his depressed mode. Later, Ishino happen to pass by and see his depressing state. He asks her for love advice seeing she has a boyfriend. When Tsutsui wants to walk home with Iroha and she declines, he can tell she is mad. Woah, like an expert? Even more so when she smacks his hand away. Oddly, Ishino again sees his depressing mode as he explains about it. She thinks his bangs are ugly and offers to cut it. Luckily Iroha stops her and warns not to touch him because he belongs to her. Ishino is unsure why she likes a guy like him so Iroha fires back if she knows him on the inside, she will come to like him. Hope that won’t come back to bite her someday. Tsutsui and Iroha reconcile but we’ll just get a hug for today’s episode. Because Tsutsui’s mom and Iroha like some baking drama, Tsutsui tries his hands at baking. Suddenly Ishino is like part of the groupie and joins them often? They get a chance to see Ishino and her boyfriend together. Because this love thingy still confuses Tsutsui, he thought of playing a dating sim to understand. Too bad it made him even more confused. A woman’s mind is sure difficult! Soon we discover Ishino’s boyfriend is a dick and leech. He brags to a friend the dumb girl she is and sticks around because she gives him money. Though Ishino knows this, she can’t help it because she is in love. Ironically, after Iroha tells her not to mind what other people think and do what makes her feel happy, she dunks her bag on her boyfriend for being a jerk. Her boyfriend soon break up with her and even if Ishino accepts it, she starts crying and isn’t happy about it. Tsutsui has treats her to his cakes because stressed = desserts spelled backwards, right? Ishino now feel jealous Iroha has a boyfriend like him. Iroha isn’t worried of that because she isn’t a good judge of character but is good at finding good things in people.

Episode 4
Iroha wants Tsutsui to help her study. Can’t blame him. This is his first time. Can’t concentrate. Went on to hug her. Before one thing can happen to the next, he realizes mom and little bro watching him. Damn drama tension… Is Tsutsui going to get a harem because now he has a love letter in his shoebox! He believes it is a trap but Ishino advises it might be a genuine girl waiting for his answer. To his worse fear, it is indeed a trap. It is actually sent by Mitsuya Takanashi. To put it short, he is in love with Iroha and wants this otaku to hand her to him. Of course Tsutsui won’t so Takanashi does some threatening. If that doesn’t work, he gets punched! Later at the park, he helps a lost girl, Anzu. She is Takanashi’s little sister. He doesn’t like this a bit and tells Anzu to scream. The most efficient police ever as they apprehend Tsutsui and record his statement but let him go due to lack of proof. Thanks to that, rumours spread that Tsutsui is a lolicon and once more the class is back to giving him weird stares and calling him names. Not that it doesn’t bother him but he is used to this sort of thing. He tries to tell Iroha to stay away from him until this blows over but she believes in him. When Takanashi tries to talk to Iroha, she completely ignores him. You have everything going in the world in your favour except the one goal that you want in which you can’t attain. Meanwhile Anzu talks to Kaoru who is Tsutsui’s little brother. He is sad that his bro is a criminal. He believes his life is now a wreck after working hard in his studies and being popular with his friends. Too bad mom even believes her son’s life is over. Tsutsui calls Iroha just to tell her there are other guys better than him but she cuts him off because she knows the guy she fell in love is nicer than anyone else, cares about his friends and awkward but loving. He is the best guy in the world. Instead of going in this alone, she wants to stand by him. Tsutsui ignores further mocking at school and even laughs it off. When Iroha leaves school, she bumps into Anzu running in. She is looking for her brother. Good timing. She is worried that Kaoru is down and not doing well because her brother is accused as criminal. She blames him all this happened because he told her to scream.

Episode 5
Now that the cat is out of the bag, Takanashi will not apologize. Not to that otaku. Tsutsui continues to withstand all the abuse and this pisses of Takanashi. Back home, Iroha tries to cheer him up over this big misunderstanding. A kiss is on the books but ruined by Kaoru who blames him for taking it easy while he has to try his best not to let everyone know he is his brother. Tsutsui’s abuse gets bolder so much so Takanashi confronts him about not doing something. Tsutsui is like so zen. Anyway it was Takanashi’s fault to begin with so don’t get caught up in the guilty conscience. When Takanashi’s friends teases him, surprisingly Tsutsui fires back at them and in a way saving Takanashi’s face. So they talk things out about what they want in life. Eventually Tsutsui brings him and Anzu to his home where they clear up the misunderstanding and apologize. Later when Tsutsui wants Takanashi to explain it to Ishino, instantly that girl wants to hook up with him. Iroha comments the tolerant part of Tsutsui is what she likes most about him. One morning, Tsutsui in his dizzy state (after binge watching Ezomichi) bumps into Sumie Ayado. He thought he lost his newly bought anime magazine but she returns it in the mix up. She is glad to have an otaku equal to talk to. But seeing him with Iroha, she thinks she has got a wrong impression of him and runs away. Tsutsui and Iroha hang out at the local mini festival. They see Takanashi and Anzu happy together. This prompts Tsutsui to ask if Iroha wanted to be his girlfriend when he first approached her since he is better looking. This makes Iroha mad. He has not listened to what she said up till now and if she liked hot guys, she would have dated them. She hates this inferior complex of his. Wow. Everything soured in just seconds. Of course when he tries to find her, you can’t seem to contact with women when you want to reconcile. So he bumps into Ayado at the school garden. He saves another time to talk about their anime preferences. Later he hears guys talking about Ayado’s figure. She happen to be nearby so he talks to her about their anime preferences just to divert attention. She is happy to talk to him because she believes people think she is weird and this makes her anxious. Later Ishino sees this and beats him up thinking he is trying to two-time Iroha. When he finally finds her, he explains being inferior is what he is used to. But she says that is not the point. Huh? Don’t understand. Why can’t just women explain and say what it is instead of letting men figure it out? No wonder he so confused.

Episode 6
Ayado gives him some potatoes. It makes him feel it is much easier to talk to her than Iroha. When he tries to talk to Itou for advice, he seems to be busy with his own thing. He discovers he is talking to a cat! Shocked, he confronts him and believes he is lonely. But his concern is unwelcomed and it makes him upset since Tsutsui sounds arrogant. Tsutsui starts thinking about Itou’s circumstances. This leads to a flashback when they first met. In the same class for the first time, Tsutsui ignored him. But Itou helps find his things that the bullies often throw out. When the duo are forced to stay back and work on some school project, that’s where they started ‘bonding’. Itou is also a bully victim in a way as they often copy his homework. Of course it isn’t okay but he rationales as long as he is useful to others, he doesn’t mind. One day the bullies try to rip Tsutsui’s newly bought magazine so Itou pushes him away but gets punched. That’s when they started hanging out with each other. Now Tsutsui makes up with him as Itou makes it known he would like to interfere as little as possible in his happy life. Tsutsui still hasn’t thought of what made Iroha angry so that night he visits her house just to give her dumplings he made from the potatoes. Before he knows it, she lets him into her room. First time in a girl’s room. Yeah, put his face all over her bed, will you? Now that she isn’t angry anymore (to allay whatever fears he still thinks she is), she reveals she was mad because she thought he didn’t trust her. Nobody knows his good side and she is lucky to have him. She kisses him. Is this enough to trust her? Apparently he still can’t believe it. Can’t believe he is this happy. Good for him. Then he has to panic and the cliché moment of him falling over her. Don’t expect anything because it has become worse for him as he runs away, fearing himself as the most dangerous! WTF. Because of that now he avoids Iroha at all costs at school! WTF. But he seems to mingle well with Ayado. Iroha spots this. She doesn’t like it. Nice timing for Ishino to turn up and provide a shoulder to cry on.

Episode 7
Ishino was so eager to hear Iroha out but feels disappointed when she starts talking about jealousy. Iroha thinks she has consulted the wrong person so Ishino suggests talking to him and he will listen to what she says. Iroha does just that but it makes him a bit awkward. Even more so when she runs away as if it was nothing. She even confronts Ayado but with Ayado admiring how beautiful and kind she is, this only makes Iroha feel guilty as she doesn’t think of herself as such a nice person. Later Iroha talks to Tsutsui again. She really finds Ayado as a nice girl. She realizes her own hypocrisy of telling him to believe her but yet she doubted him. Next day, Tsutsui is cornered by Ishino for his ‘cheating’. Complication arises with Ayado walking in to give him fresh produce from her garden. When Itou comes and Ayado takes an interest in his cat ears, he quickly gets out of the picture. Tsutsui points out he is shy of people. Tsutsui invites Ayado to join them from lunch for the tomato dessert he made. Ayado thinks of finishing her food face to be considerate after noticing Itou is staying quiet all this time. Ayado can’t hold back her tears thinking everyone around Tsutsui is so kind. Maybe he is kind, that’s why others around him reciprocate. Tsutsui’s mom wants him to dress fashionably since he has got a girlfriend now. But what does he know about being fashionable? Good timing Takanashi is passing by so he enlists his help to be fashionable. Not sure why this guy obliges even if he clearly doesn’t want to. In the streets, they meet Ayado working temporary as a maid handing out tissues. When a few other guys try to get touchy, Tsutsui defends her that this isn’t a cabaret and this would constitute to sexual harassment. Wow. Those guys really back off after being told off by a nerd? Okay. Whatever. I guess Tsutsui hasn’t got his portion of Iroha today so he purposely calls to meet her. Yeah, she mocks his fashion sense. Uh huh. This was what chosen by Takanashi. Maybe he got sabotaged? Ishino is trying to force Tsutsui and co to go camping at her uncle’s villa. Apparently if she helps clean it, he’ll give her some allowance. So she’s trying to get free labour? Heck, she even wants Tsutsui to invite Takanashi to come. Tsutsui doesn’t like such ‘normal’ event and doesn’t want to go. But Iroha looks interested. She’s never been camping before… And Itou is pondering about camping with friends… Uh oh…

Episode 8
Camping only brings back bad memories for Tsutsui. Yet he gets abused by Ishino for slacking off on the cleaning job. Apparently Takanashi is also here. Ishino tries her luck to score with him but he is being brutally honest she isn’t his type and even lists down all her negative traits. Karma is a b*tch when Takanashi tries to do the same for Iroha and though he really repented his actions and sees Tsutsui in a slightly better light, she still hasn’t forgiven him for trying to defend himself till the end. Meanwhile Ayado looks like she can do a lot of stuff but she sounds annoying with her low self-confidence that she is just a plain normal girl. Including praises from Itou. Itou’s action and monologue that he likes Ayado confirms it. That night when Ayado accidentally scalded her hand with boiling water, Tsutsui helps to wash her hand. With everybody awkwardly staring, Ayado becomes too conscious in noticing this and pulls back her hand. More awkwardness. So obvious that you can tell but the characters won’t say it. Iroha and Itou talk to each about their worries but not to the point they admit it. Unless you’re Ishino who tells Iroha straight in the face about her being uncertain about Tsutsui. She hints about Tsutsui each time he is with Ayado. Ishino tells her if she doesn’t say it next time, things will get weirder.

Then Ayado has slight fever and is put to bed early. Iroha nurses her and can see her obvious guilty looks. Even when sick? Ayado tries to give back her handkerchief but Iroha insists she keep it. Then things just got too emotional. Then it turns awkward when Iroha meets Tsutsui. Feelings thingy. She won’t say it properly and blames him that things turn out like this. Wait, what?! So she runs out into the woods. Oh dear. Ishino becomes abusive to beat Tsutsui up so that he could go look for her. Tsutsui is frustrated that Iroha doesn’t say things but Ishino rebukes him that if she has to spell out every single thing for him to understand, that makes him worse. Itou and Takanashi hear from Ayado (blaming herself again as usual) that this happened because she told Iroha in her face that she liked Tsutsui. It’s wrong but she felt she had to let her know. She can’t keep quiet forever. At this point, Tsutsui is officially Ishino’s punching bag. Does violence solve anything? He lets her know his traumatic camping during school days. He had no good memories of it, that’s why he felt uneasy coming here. But today was fun and he thought of wanting to cherish everyone who is with him right now. Thoughts that he was never good at interacting with people hence good at ignoring everything has him think if he will continue to unknowingly hurt Iroha since he never quite understood her emotions.

Episode 9
Tsutsui finds Iroha. They could have continued talking in the cold had not Ishino tell them to do that back at the villa. They do just that but as usual, the way Iroha talks sounds more like riddles to him. You know, she wants to make up since it is her bad that she gets jealous when he is kind to other people. But she fears the more she tells him, the more he won’t understand. Yeah. I guess her logic is don’t say a word so that he could be as confused. Heck, Tsutsui even asks Ishino and Takanashi’s advice. He really believes no other girls except Iroha would like her. Damn Takanashi just wants him to fail. Next morning Ayado leaves for the hospital. Itou is on his way out and accompanies her. Not sure if it’s due to her still being sick because being the blabber mouth she is, she tells Itou that she wants to confess to Tsutsui. What a way to ruin the mood. Does she like being in melancholy? Back at school, Tsutsui needs to solve this problem fast so he thinks of talking to her. The idea of confessing to her seemed good in his head last night. Not so now because he is getting all nervous. Good or bad timing, a text from Ayado to meet. Initially Iroha who wasn’t placing any hope on this talk, you can see the concern in her eyes. Out of the fire and into the pan. That’s what Tsutsui is in.

He meets Ayado only for her to tell him she loves him. Yeah, otaku boy so confused he even asked who. It’s you Tsutsui! More confused when Ayado says she told Iroha that first. Because now Tsutsui thinks Ayado x Iroha yuri! Ayado even come clean about hoping they break up. Poor Tsutsui. So shocked that it overloaded his system and ran away. Itou notices his depression and can guess Ayado confessed to him. Tsutsui thinks he can read his mind. Because he still blames himself for hurting Iroha and ran away before he could tell her, Itou scolds him. Great. Now best friend won’t talk to him. Turning to Ishino, he wants her to punch him? Before he could finish his sentence, her fist already reached his face! It’s like she knew. Yeah, everybody seems to know what he is thinking. Ishino shares the blame since they should show more of their good side. Takanashi’s chance to talk to Iroha. He still maintains Tsutsui sucks as a guy but overall he is okay. Iroha blames herself for wanting to trust others but end up not trusting them, hence she doesn’t understand herself. Wow, a woman not understanding a woman especially herself? Takanashi is forced to advice about believing in Tsutsui and talk to him often. But he leaves a disclaimer if all that doesn’t work out, he will be available. Tsutsui texts Ayado that he wants to meet her and reply her confession.

Episode 10
Both of them meet. Awkward atmosphere of course. Iroha hiding and eavesdropping of course. Since he has a hard time finding the right words to Ayado, he tries to explain his love for Iroha like playing catchball. Yeah, I don’t get it either. In summary, he hated it at first but gradually comes to like her because she pulled him out of his 2D otaku world and introduced him to the wonders of 3D life. Normally that is like betrayal to the otaku world, right? Then he pulls Iroha out from her hiding and says this is the girl he loves. You know, it feels like rubbing it in. Here’s my girlfriend. Hope you are acquainted. Ayado’s sad face is so visibly sad but they ‘collapsed’ after the end of this nervous confession. Later Iroha has Tsutsui confess to her again. Doing that automatically gives you a pass for a free kiss? Now that the shackled are free, Itou talks to Ayado, lends her another handkerchief (boy, it is going to take a while to get over it), they both look happier. A couple of girls spying mocks their first love. Ishino ticks them off that they don’t have such a grand love. Takanashi’s presence diffuses the tension. Ishino tries to ask him out. Flat out rejection. Here’s a romance that didn’t turn out well. With this love triangle resolved, looks like Tsutsui and Itou are back to being friends again. No more fighting over the same girl, right? Itou tells him there is a girl he likes and keeps him guessing. I guess the duo are now hardcore converted love bros that Itou hangs out and sleeps over at Tsutsui’s place. No gay moments. Just guys who are happy with their respected love.

Now we hear Iroha’s narration how guys from all ages (even old men) always confessed to her. Perhaps she is confused and that explains her poker face and her promiscuity. This also has her thought how everyone cares only about her looks and body and not the real her. Until she met Tsutsui of course. The duo are shocked to see Kaoru and Anzu holding hands! Woah. They’re an item now! Young kids these days sure have no shame in being flashy. They’re so cool about it. Iroha asks if there are things in life Tsutsui hasn’t done before. She suggests doing them. Like karaoke and bowling. Don’t worry, a guy like Tsutsui would never suggest sex. Oops! Tsutsui is a horrible singer but looking at the passion he puts in while singing, yeah Iroha’s pretty awed. During bowling when she accidentally chipped her fingernail, she allows him to take care of it or she’ll never hear the end of why she should. He treats her nicely and it makes her want more of it. I thought they are officially back and hence not still on breakup terms. Because Iroha is thinking of being invited to his room. Doing so means end of their breakup? Though he is happy just to see her smile, he knows she won’t be here in 3 months and hence needs to do something so he won’t forget her. That means a kiss on her forehead? Is this just the beginning of inviting her to his room so, you know, sex? Damn I’m reading too much about this!

Episode 11
Itou has tickets for Tsutsui for the Noseblade movie this weekend. However he has to visit his family grave as he suggests Ayado since she is interested in that show too. Itou feels scared to ask her but eventually does so. Tsutsui sees that kind of face his best friend never put up before. The face of love? Ishino feels jealous that there are couple vibes among her friends. So when an ex of hers asks her out, she jumps on the chance. She dresses up for the occasion but too bad that guy stood up on her. She feels like an idiot and close to tears but Takanashi happened to pass by and invites her for ramen. I guess all is not lost. Blessing in disguise? Yeah, her time of youth has come. Why is Tsutsui surprised when he finds out Itou and Ayado did go to the movies together? Their vibe is good but wasn’t it his idea? Anyway, he thinks of trying to help them out so he organizes a picnic. Is this like a double date? Because he tries to bring Ayado and Itou close together, he acts so weird that Iroha is able to catch on to what he is doing. He gets chastised for doing things that make others feel weird. Partly true because despite Ayado acting natural, it is Itou who is left feeling very awkward being alone with her. So going home on a train, when Tsutsui asks Itou about the girl he likes and he admits her to be Ayado, Tsutsui didn’t pull off any surprised reaction, showing he actually knows it. Well, duh? Itou knows he is trying to help him but also notes what he is doing is pathetic. This time Tsutsui is able to make amends by apologizing he thought he could pull this off easily. But if falling in love was that easy, none of them would be having so much difficulty. When Tsutsui and Iroha walk home together, suddenly this hot guy, Chika pops up out of the blue and punches Tsutsui! WTF?! This guy isn’t Iroha’s ex but her younger brother who just returned from overseas! He doesn’t believe this nerd his her boyfriend and drags her home. Even if he does ‘believe’ he is her boyfriend, he doesn’t want her dating him because the way he puts his hands on her face and says how worried he is about her… Oh no. I know this kind of guys… SISCON!!!

Episode 12
Chika confronts Tsutsui outside his school. Because he sees him wearing the broken glasses and hasn’t change as he doesn’t have a spare and this was given by his late grandma, Chika is kind enough to buy him a replacement?! This is sure awkward. Then they talk for real this time. Chika still doesn’t like him and wants him to break up with Iroha. Because she is from a well-bred family and if their relationship is pointless, please stop. I’m sure this serves to put more guilt into Tsutsui’s head but at this point he should have learnt a lot of lessons and isn’t going to easily give up Iroha. Besides, their relationship is not pointless! Tsutsui calls Ishino for advice. She suggests giving a ring. No money? Work for it! Yeah, Ishino is b*tching how she wants to fall in love… And so Tsutsui finds himself working as a mascot at the amusement park. Therefore he can’t walk home with Iroha every day. Chika notices this and asks Iroha about it but she replies she doesn’t know why but trusts him. Then he tells her about his talk with Tsutsui to break up with her. She’s not amused. She insists Tsutsui is the only guy for her. Chika tries to show his dominance. She isn’t cowed. Then the big reveal: They aren’t actually blood related! Holy sh*t! So no incest controversy! Itou was spacing out and got slightly injured during PE. At the infirmary, Iroha talks to him about love and understanding and what it means to be happy. Okay. Whatever. When Iroha finally sees Tsutsui and asks about why he isn’t able to walk home with her lately, he reveals his job. I suppose he has gotten enough that he shows her the ring he bought for her. Oh my. She is starting to cry! Damn, girls really do love shiny things. But I believe Iroha is in tears because of how wonderful her boyfriend is instead of being materialistic. But uhm, Tsutsui putting the ring on Iroha’s finger, doesn’t it look like he is proposing to her?! And then they kissed! Right in the middle of the school corridor! Oh what the heck. Who cares what others think when you’re in love, right? Thankfully there’s nobody around.

Real Love, Real Pain
If the ending of the friends eating ramen together feels weird and that it gives us an unsatisfactory feeling of whether it ended it ended or not, please be informed that even though this season has ended, a second season is given the green light but will only be back in early 2019. So shelve your disgruntled feelings and wait for next year if you really want to conclude your overall thoughts and opinions of this series. That is, if you intend to watch it.

Sorry but not sorry to say that the story becomes boring very quickly in the beginning. I thought it was going to take a while before Tsutsui and Iroha will become a pair but it came as quickly as the end of the first episode. Sure, all the awkwardness with love comes after that but considering that Tsutsui is an otaku who doesn’t have many friends in his early life, with Iroha he converts fast. There are some doubts and suspicions at first but they need to hurry the plot that didn’t go anywhere somehow. Then it gets annoying when they try to add other characters into the love equation like Ayado, it becomes irritating to watch. And then suddenly at the end of the penultimate episode, we are introduced to a new dick character. Did things get so boring that this was the only twist factor left? So basically the drama and tension comes from everybody being confused and amateurs at love. Yup, to quote them again, if love was this easy, they wouldn’t be facing this mess in the first place.

After a while, I find all the characters annoying in their own ways. Because all of them are amateurs in love (yes, that includes you, Iroha – because you haven’t experienced true love while flirting around), them trying to not offend the other and trying to be considerate ends up making them sound so irritating. Especially you, Ayado. It was amusing at first to see her over apologetic character but then it will dawn to you that if this is part of her character, boy, this is going to be annoying as hell. It’s like she wants to be with Tsutsui but knows he has a girlfriend so she can’t really confess straight up to him in fear that there might be repercussions but at the same time she really does want to be with him however the thought and fear that the status quo might be broken gives her the chills. Rinse and repeat. See where this is going? So they try to solve this by pairing her with Itou. But she is still going to be annoying if she continues to act like that. Maybe Ayado and Tsutsui have made their peace and just remained friends but in a way you can tell she isn’t totally over him and there are chances she is going to get into her trademark awkwardness when she is together with him.

I can’t blame Tsutsui for being awkward and a noob, trying to be a normal guy. After all, he spent most of his formative years as an otaku and loner. But still irritating nevertheless to see him fluster and trying to get it right even if it is not his fault (because if Iroha told him the problem straight up, it would have been much easier). It’s like the much needed drama and tension that this romantic series needs. Because I suppose clueless guys in love are fun to watch as they try to figure out the right path without making any permanent or irreversible damage. Because it would be too easy if he made all the right choices and viewers might not like that as it would be so unreal. Hence the dilemma that despite Tsutsui is trying to become a better character, it is the way we see him do it that makes it irritating and less appealing.

I’m surprised Tsutsui as an otaku have lasted this long with Iroha and is still going strong with no signs of breaking up. He will be considered a ‘traitor’ by otaku brethren’s standards. For an otaku, can you count how many times this guy got kissed by a hot chick! Already twice in the first episode! Damn lucky otaku bastard. At least he is treading a different path outside his comfort zone. He is willing to give this real love a chance despite in the early episodes we hear him narrate how much he hates reality thanks to all his stereotypic beliefs (which isn’t very far from the truth, by the way). So for him to change in this manner is a good and positive way. At least his mom can now breathe a little easier knowing her son will have a future.

Despite Tsutsui being a very weak character (so different than Kaoru that you wonder if one of them is adopted in the family), sometimes I can sympathize with him not fighting back and accept all the bullying others do upon him. He might look silly trying not to quell all the misconception on him during that period, but will people believe him? After all, he is being heavily painted as a lolicon so where is his justice? You can argue that he should have done something to have a fighting chance but what if he doing nothing is his way of fighting? Because he is like going the Mahatma Gandhi’s way of non-violence. If you look how ostracised he is, you have got to admire him for being patient instead of giving in to violence. In that sense, I respect him a lot even though it still makes him a wuss. Or maybe he just has no clue on what to do and hoped everything will turn out just fine. Thank goodness it did.

It doesn’t help with Iroha being one kind. In the synopsis she is labelled as a promiscuous girl and showy with no female friends. Therefore I had this pre-misconception that for most part of the series, Iroha would be trying to lure, bait and convert Tsutsui with her sex appeal but since the power of otaku nerdiness is stronger than the power of boner, she will fail often. Too bad none of that came about. It would have been funny and interesting had the series turned out like that. Instead, Iroha turns out to be close to an emotionless girl, like as though she is born with a face that cannot smile. Even if she does, it’s like a rare sight when the planets aligned or something. She also sounds tired that gives the impression she doesn’t give a damn and is not bothered with life. For example when she and Tsutsui had a fight, she didn’t want to tell him what the problem was. I know she wants her guy to think for himself instead of being spoon fed. But the way she does so rings very familiar bells in real life where there is indeed something VERY WRONG when women don’t tell you what it is or says she is not mad. Yeah, for a guy it can be very scary. One wrong move, game over. So can you blame Tsutsui for being insecure? Plus, she did say she doesn’t even understand herself. How can we understand her if she doesn’t know herself either? Is that why she has this poker face? Unsure about her life?

Then they have to throw in the red herring in the name of Chika at the end of the penultimate episode just to stir things up. Ultimately it didn’t do any good except for the fact that it adds to the number of rivals for Iroha’s true love. I think it would be an episode too early to end so that’s why they bought in this seemingly new character into the fray just in case for next time. I guess it must be a slap in the face for us to think he is her brother to be used as an excuse but then they are not blood related, hence another excuse if they should get horny and f*ck each other. Seriously. And do you remember that hot doctor in the beginning? No. Neither do I.

Also, like I pointed out Iroha being promiscuous and showy just felt like some cheap bait because in the initial episodes, Iroha has no qualms in taking off her shirt before Tsutsui. Don’t worry, this is such a mild fanservice than it doesn’t even constitute to be a fanservice. Because Iroha always wear a camisole, this is why she could take it off without any hesitation. I figure that in this world and modern society, when a girl does something this slightest, she will be labelled all kinds of names like a slut. After becoming Tsutsui’s girlfriend, this promiscuous thingy is fast forgotten. She might have dated other guys in the past but after becoming Tsutsui’s one and only, the power of loyalty is strong with her.

Even Ishino as the most honest in your face character comes across as annoying. Because it feels like she thinks she knows it all with her high and mighty attitude but if everybody were experts in love, she wouldn’t have to point out and give her 2 cents worth of opinion. It is a mini running joke that she tries to hit on Takanashi but that guy rejects her because it feels like as though he is the backup and next lover waiting in line for Iroha should Tsutsui to fail in his romance with her. Yeah, we’re all playing the waiting game. But if all the lose strings and love polygons are to be nicely tied in the end, I suppose everyone will end up having somebody. With Tsutsui-Iroha pair, this will relegate Ayado to be with Itou and of course Ishino for Takanashi because after constant bugging, might as well settle for the next best thing than nothing at all. Of course don’t forget Kaoru-Anzu, the first true couple in this series and ironically, kids younger than our high school characters. Let our young ones show you the way in love in today’s world!

Art and animation for the overall series is bright and simple as the background and sceneries sometimes look like they’re done with paintbrush. Sometimes it feels like the animation is low quality because of its simple design without any sophisticated art. So much so sometimes I get confused between Iroha and Ishino as they look almost similar at certain points and angles. The other characters look so generic that I mistake them to be characters from other animes like Tsutsui who looked like Soutarou Kanou from Kaichou Wa Maid-sama and Takamatsu from Angel Beats; Itou like a tame and lamer version of Shingeki No Kyojin’s Armin; Takanashi like all hot blonde guys but without the smiley attitude – Chiayafuru’s Taichi, Kodaka from Boku Wa Tomodachi Ga Sukunai and Takumi Usui of Kaichou Wa Maid-sama.

I want to point out that Reina Ueda who voiced Ayado sounded a bit raw. At first I thought it was Ami Koshimizu but was totally wrong. Although Reina Ueda has voiced many characters in her career from Onoya in ReLIFE to Mikan in Jitsu Wa Watashi Wa and in the same season Fuura of Comic Girls, the way she sounds as though she is like an amateur. I don’t know, maybe this is how her character is supposed to sound but it still makes her character sound very much annoying. As the series progresses, I would be like hoping she won’t make that kind of flustering trying-not-to-offend-others voice each time. And every time she does, I would be like, “Oh God… Here she goes again…”.

The rest of the casts are Teppei Uenishi as Tsutsui (debut role), Yuu Serizawa as Iroha (Yumemi in Kakegurui), Shouta Aoi as Itou (Ai in Uta No Prince-sama series), Takuma Terashima as Takanashi (Mugai in Mushibugyiou), Minami Tsuda as Ishino (Yui in YuruYuri), Shiki Aoki as Kaoru (Asuka in The Idolmaster Cinderella Girls Gekijou), Kotori Koiwai as Anzu (Renge in Non Non Biyori), Yuusuke Kobayashi as Chika (Caules in Fate/Apocrypha) and Sayaka Kanda as Ezomichi (Miharu in Konbini Kareshi). The opening theme, Daiji Na Koto by Quruli has this sleepy feel to it that it sometimes feels like Iroha’s theme song. Hide The Blue by Bish as the ending theme has more rock feel to it but considering the pace of this series, I don’t feel it is quite suitable.

In addition to the sequel, there is a live action film adaptation of this series coming out months after the anime ended. No sci-fi, fantasy or complicated action adventure needed, hence perfect to adapt into a romantic drama movie. Like as though if anime and animation are too kiddie for you adults, here is the live action film adaptation to suit your taste. Not sure if it would be a continuation or just another media form of retelling. I wouldn’t want it to be a continuation since the media format would be too jarring. Imagine watching this in 2D for a dozen episodes and now you have to continue the story in 3D for a couple of hours. It just feels so odd. But if you know me, I’m not going to watch it. Excuse that 3D shows aren’t my cup of tea…

Overall, this series that started out with some potential quickly turned irritating and boring with its annoying characters and seemingly mundane plot. If this series was trying to tell us that there is merit in dating a real 3D girl instead of a 2D one, well, this certainly didn’t help. There is this temptation to go back to 2D should the real 3D relationship fail. Yes, both 3D and 2D love have their merits and pitfalls so it all boils down to preferences in which one suits you the most. Of course reality is more dangerous and you can’t reset it and go back to an earlier saved point if you made a mistake. Or try a different route with a different choice with different outcomes. Always almost guaranteeing that you will land ‘true love’ with your girl. For many, 2D kanojo is where the real girls are.

I guess in the previous season, the lesbian themed anime of Citrus was too much to handle even though that the yuri parts are considered between mild to moderate and nothing very hardcore. So for those who can’t handle that lesbian show, perhaps some need to take a few steps back and take it easy. Like this season’s yuri themed Tachibanakan To Lie Angle. It is short (only 3 minutes) and has a very mild case of lesbianism (what do you expect as all the casts are females) and nothing that would give you a sudden jolt to the system. Hopefully. When a new girl moves into a dorm that is inhabited with only females, what do you think is going to happen when the synopsis puts it as “it was not what she expected”? Yeah…

Episode 1
Hanabi Natsuno is excited to start her new high school life as she makes her way to Tachibanakan, the dorm where she’ll be staying. She is disappointed it isn’t as grand as she thinks. Wrong address. She sees a naked, fair and beautiful lady with great proportions. She is interrupted by petite Konomi Fujiwara who is mad at her for thinking she is a kid when she is of the same age. But what upsets Konomi is that Hanabi has forgotten about her. Yoriko Fujiwara the manager of Tachibanakan welcomes her. Yup, not a mistake this rundown place is Tachibanakan. Is boobs smothering a welcoming tradition? I would like to move in to this place too… With Konomi still mad, Hanabi now remembers. Yoriko and Konomi were her neighbours before Hanabi’s family moved away 6 years ago. She often played with Konomi. She feels bad for forgetting unlike Konomi who never did. As Hanabi ponders the identity of the mysterious girl, Yuu Tsukishiro asks her about Yoriko’s boobs treatment. Hanabi is in shock realizing she is going commando.

Episode 2
Apparently forgetting to wear her pantsu is part of Yuu’s prank. I guess it is also Tachibanakan’s tradition for newbies to be fondled by Yuu and get their proportions checked out. Konomi plays the moral police so Yuu teases her that she’ll always be alone. She ends up running away in tears. Yoriko explains that after Hanabi left, Konomi couldn’t stop crying. She might be worried if she had forgotten about her or that she isn’t happy to see her. Immediately Hanabi darts out to find her. She knows their secret hiding place under the bridge. They talk things out and now they’re friends again. Better hang out more often together. Hanabi tries to get away from pervy Yuu and ends up seeing Konomi in her birthday suit in the bath. They’re both girls so nothing is wrong, right? Well, apparently Konomi doesn’t like it. Next morning, Hanabi sees that mysterious lady in her room. As she takes a peek, a sakura petal floats into her eye. Hanabi panics and falls over her. Iori Takamura, nice to meet your acquaintance. And everybody sees Hanabi as the dominant type over naked Iori.

Episode 3
Iori is also a new resident having moved here just a day before Hanabi. With Hanabi being teased for being bold with Iori, it seems Iori doesn’t mind. In fact, Iori wonders if Hanabi likes her. This makes Konomi jealous. Now she’s the protective sister? Hanabi tries to figure out about Iori’s character but even helping her with stuffs and observing her, it only makes her more mysterious. With this occupying Hanabi’s mind, Yuu teases her she is thinking of leaving. This causes the sisters to panic and start holding on tightly to her. Uhm, is Yuu taking advantage of this situation and trying to molest her? Iori looked like she might save Hanabi from this mess but she vomits due to the strong alcohol stench from Yuu. Hanabi sleeps with Yuu and with the latter asking if she likes her, Hanabi realizes her love is of the simpler type. Later Hanabi goes to talk to Konomi to appease her fears about moving away again. All seems fine until Iori wakes up half naked to give Konomi the wrong idea they might have been doing something shady. Jealous Konomi beats her up. Hey, I thought only guys get this sort of treatment? I guess in an all-lesbian show, somebody has to take the fall.

Episode 4
It all started with Yuu accidentally clogging the toilet. So Yoriko called the plumber and since Konomi is the only one around when he came, she has to hold it in and can’t use the toilet till he finishes. She can’t use the neighbour’s as it will be too embarrassing. So she uses the excuse of walking the dog to go to the toilet at the convenience store. Damn dog too active and tying her up. Then Hanabi and the rest coincidentally bump into her. They rented a horror movie and hope they could go back and watch it real soon. Yeah, Konomi is real scared. Once the plumber is finished, Yoriko goes to check but Yuu won’t let Konomi use this as an excuse to escape. Hanabi gets the wrong idea she is scared of the movie so Konomi uses this excuse to go to the toilet. I don’t know how long she has been holding it in but as she is about to do her business, she spots a (toy) bug at her feet. Immediately she barges out but it seems she has created a ‘yellow flowing river’. Now there is a big note outside the toilet door from her warning not to bring weird things into the toilet.

Episode 5
Yuu brings her drunk friend to stay for the night, Sonoa Mitsui. It’s a good thing Hanabi didn’t get raped. Hanabi suggests to Iori they should try their school uniform. After they’re done, not sure how Iori ended up in a dominatrix lingerie!!! With the others coming, panicky Hanabi takes her to hide in the closet. Of course with that tight space, they’ve got to keep quiet as the others are dangerously close while looking for them. It gets worse with Iori inviting her to do pervy stuffs on her. Not even sure how Hanabi got a pantsu in her hand. So when Yuu finally hears Hanabi’s squeal, she opens the closet door to bust them. Sorry for the intrusion. Kind Yuu even offers to lend her vibrator!!! Hanabi loses it as she runs away. Sonoa wakes up from the hangover and perhaps she thinks she might still be in dreamland when she sees a flying pantsu! I know Hanabi threw it away but is it so light to float this long and far?

Episode 6
Sonoa is embarrassed in the nurse outfit she is in. Did Yuu do something naughty to her last night? Sonoa wants to leave this place but the rest consider her as a tenant. While she was drunk last night, they make her sign the contract! Yuu then has a welcoming party with everyone playing a survival game. In this team based game, whoever gets their t-shirt soak and their bra see-through loses. The winner gets loads of ice cream and free use of the inflatable pool. Highlights of the ‘matches’ include Yuu using her special skill to take off Sonoa’s bra before her dress gets soaked. Isn’t this more embarrassing? Konomi not wearing bra but her swimsuit beneath and hence no fear from Yuu’s onslaught. Iori takes Hanabi’s hostage to ‘kill’ Konomi before ‘killing’ Hanabi and win the entire thing. Wow. Iori is scary when she is serious. I guess Iori is the only happy one with all the ice cream. And Sonoa laments this wasn’t even a team game to begin with.

Episode 7
The girls celebrate Konomi’s birthday. While the rest get the cake ready, Konomi takes Hanabi to see the meteor shower up the mountains. Seeing the meteor shower is amazing as Konomi lets her know this area is believed to have mystical powers pertaining to love. When Hanabi asks if Konomi likes anybody, she flusters and asks back if she likes that pervy Iori. This has Konomi admit that she doesn’t seeing Hanabi with Iori. She might sound immature and so to be mature they have to try and kiss? Is this lesbian logic? They are about to do so when a loud sound startles them and crash their mouths together. Oh, it’s a wild boar. Quickly they make a run for it. Konomi remembers grandma’s advice to fend off boars with a bucket of water. Conveniently she finds one and whacks it away into the stars!!! I don’t think that is how it’s supposed to work but whatever. Poor wild boar… I guess this is to show how sexy Konomi is since she splashed herself with the water. The birthday party resumes as Hanabi and Konomi ponder if that could really be considered a kiss.

Episode 8
Suddenly Iori says she is in love with Hanabi! Suddenly Iori strips her! WT?! Though Konomi stops her, she realizes she is no better because of that kiss. Hence she seeks Sonoa’s advice on the ABCs of love. Yeah, she’ll teach you all the way from A to Z! Better learn fast because Iori is trying to ‘rape’ Hanabi! Yuri fanservice for us. The steamy encounter ends with Yoriko distracting her with some squid snack. I guess her first love is always food? Yoriko then enlists Hanabi’s help to make some kiss fish tempura since she is bad at cooking. Now Konomi is going to show off what she learnt about love. Too bad she has no cleavage so Hanabi doesn’t really understand. I don’t know how it ended up with Konomi on top of Hanabi and the former with her panties down. How did it even end up like that? As they recompose themselves, nervous Konomi asks the kiss question and Hanabi excitedly says she has experience with that. Wanna try it out? Sure, I’m gonna show you. Turns out she is teaching her how to make kiss fish tempura. Disappointed?

Episode 9
Hanabi is sick and not surprisingly the best way Iori thinks of nursing her is to get naked and skinship. Thankfully Konomi drags her off to school. This means Sonoa is left to nurse her. Can’t blame Hanabi as she sinks her face into her cool boobs. Yeah, the heat is really getting to her head. As Sonoa puts her to bed, time for Hanabi to tell about her past. She had no friends due to her dad’s constant job reposting. One day she got really sick in school and embarrassed to be left alone, mom came to pick her up and stayed by her side. It was amazing how she calmed her down. As the only child in the family, arriving at this dorm was nervous. She akin the dorm members like her family such as Yuu the dad, Yoriko the mom and Konomi and Iori her sisters. Sonoa? The big sister. They may get touchy sometimes but everyone feels like family. When Hanabi has recovered, everyone celebrates but now Sonoa catches her cold as Yuu teases her for going far with Hanabi and a lolicon.

Episode 10
The girls visit a local hotspring. Iori doesn’t think Hanabi should be embarrassed bathing naked with her because she sees her naked body every night! Is she trying to spite Konomi? Yuu suggests a ping pong doubles match. You lose a point, you strip a piece of clothing. Whoever ends up naked first, that team loses. The winner gets to wash Hanabi’s back. You bet they’re going to play. So it’s Iori-Sonoa vs Konomi-Yoriko. Of course we see them get their turn of losing so that each could take off their pantsu first (they’re only wearing a bathrobe otherwise). Iori’s weird technique has her team winning. But I guess it doesn’t matter since they’re all stripping and entering the hotspring anyway. As Hanabi is shy, Iori will not wash her back but in exchange wants her to accompany her at the summer festival. Konomi better think fast or she’ll lose her grip on Hanabi for summer…

Episode 11
The young ones are getting ready for the festival. Iori looks stunning in her yukata. I guess Konomi really loses out this time, huh? Hanabi has fun with her around the festival grounds. She notes Iori having this mature feel. Surprisingly Iori asks Hanabi to take a picture of her, something she never thought she would ask. But we need to have some lesbianism for this episode so Iori licking the candy apple dripping off Hanabi’s hand is one. Hanabi then sees Konomi at the festival too but with her classmate. Because she only sees her act in the dorm, she never pictured her getting along with someone else. Time for some yuri dilemma because we hear Hanabi worry about this. Then it starts to rain. Time to take shelter.

Episode 12
Hanabi asks why Iori asked her out. Well, Yoriko asked the same question and Iori thought it is because she loved her. Hence the reason why she wants to be with her. Yeah, we figure that out like, ages ago. Before Hanabi’s slow brain could decipher what it means, looks like the rain has stopped and the fireworks resumed. While they watch it, Hanabi asks about Iori’s childhood. She doesn’t remember much as it wasn’t anything special. Hanabi suggests making fun memories from now on. That sincerity of hers somehow activates Iori’s horniness. She kisses her cheek and then tries to get down and dirty with Hanabi right now. Oh look, she’s already unrobed her yukata. Great timing with Yuu coming in to pick them up. No yuri kiss tonight. Back at Tachibanakan, the fight for Hanabi is just beginning as jealous Konomi joins in the argument of who to bath with their beloved. Girls, girls. Please! Hanabi doesn’t belong to anyone of you. They belong to all of you! Haha!

House Of Yuri
And so another disappointing series ends its run. The Tachibanakan girls can go on to create their whatever fun memories but I am sure that it will mostly be the shameless yuri and near lesbian misses that is going to be remembered by. Heck, when Hanabi grows old, she will reflect back to this day at Tachibanakan and only remember all the pervy lesbian assaults and tussles over her and might feel so embarrassed about it. Ah, those are memories for you. You get what you make. Better cherish them for life.

Sadly, this series is more likely to be forgettable when the next season rolls around because of the non-existent plot and even if you remember this oddly named series, it would be about a group of horny lesbians living in a dorm. It’s not like in this same season we didn’t have any good ecchi series targeted for straight (and pitiful) otaku guys (High School DxD Hero, anybody?) but this one feels like as though you are a loser in life and the only way you’re going to get more kicks other than straight ecchi fanservice is watch some low quality lesbian fanservice in its place. It makes you even sadder. Because I feel that despite its yuri think, I don’t think its intended demographic audience would be females. My guts tell me they have better taste in yuri than this crap! And hence otaku losers (like yours truly???!!!) with slightly better acceptance of lesbian shows (but not gay shows?) would somehow and somewhat find some sort of solace watching this low quality yuri to begin with. Sighs… I don’t even know what I’m saying anymore.

Therefore the characters feel just so lacklustre and as though they exist just to give us low quality fanservice. It also seems to fuel the wrong impression that guys would think if girls stay together, there will be potential hot lesbian make-outs one way or another. Hence Iori’s character just feels like that. Being an airhead-cum-retard and always spacing out inside her own world makes her a ‘great’ device to infuse and force in those yuri fanservice. Because with Hanabi and Konomi as the flustering type, we need one who is emotionless, like a robot, when doing those sexually charged stuffs so as to show us that because she is an airhead, we forgive her for outraging the modesty of the other girls, especially Hanabi. And because she’s cute. Can’t apply for #MeToo if there are no men involved… So Iori is like either seen as harassing Hanabi or eating. It’s her only other love than Hanabi…

Then we have new but returning girl Hanabi and Konomi in the mix. Konomi and Iori both are seen as rivals in their bid to win over Hanabi. Hanabi and Konomi are shown to be close but not close enough to warrant any potential lesbianism until the start of this series where she returns and hence all their raging hormones and pheromones start to screw teens around that age, confusing them about their sexuality. Is it friendship? Is it lesbian? Hence the way they fluster and get all embarrassed are supposed to be the moe parts of the series because who wouldn’t like cute girls looking embarrassed? Straight or homo. Damn, I even wonder if that accidental Konomi’s kiss to Hanabi could be even counted. Perhaps that’s the only lead Konomi will have over Iori other than the childhood friend factor. Otherwise Iori dominates in every way to reach Hanabi’s heart and even her chastity. Be careful, Hanabi. You might lose it in the most unlikeliest and unexpected of places…

The rest of the other dorm residents are supposed to be the ‘adults’ but they fail to make any impact. Because Yuu is portrayed as the drunk troublemaker while Yoriko as the busty big sister who may have some sort of hidden desires to flaunt her sexuality. I think. Sonoa? Why the heck do they need this character for?! Why do they need to add another tenant to Tachibanakan? Are they desperate for rent money or company? And since Sonoa doesn’t challenge the contract, I bet she would eventually be a resident sooner or later. So I guess, the more the merrier!

It bugs me why the title of this series is “To Lie Angle”. I am very sure that this might be a creative way to write ‘triangle’ since the obvious yuri love triangle is between Hanabi, Konomi and Iori. Or maybe the Japanese author misinterpreted something and it got lost in translation. But I digress on this one. At first it almost confused me with To Love-Ru or perhaps they are making some sort of reference to that anime but none. I don’t believe it got mixed up with the word ‘angel’ either. Thus my conspiracy theory of having this odd name is that given the fact we see their yuri triangle relationship, Hanabi and Konomi aren’t really being honest with their feelings and hence ‘to lie’ about it from their ‘perspective (angle)’. Damn, one of my worst theories ever…

As with a small cast of seiyuus lending their talents, I only recognized Eri Kitamura as Sonoa and Mikako Komatsu as Yuu. Although Eri Kitamura has voiced tons of colourful characters in her career, I am starting to stereotype her as one who greatly fits voice acting characters who are drunk. Previously it was haughty and arrogant characters. Sonoa isn’t a character who is prone to being drunk but she does sound ‘impressionable’ in that state. Hence with me thinking she has voiced a few drunk female characters in anime like Fairy Tail’s Cana and the recent Osake Wa Fuufu Ni Natte Kara’s Chisato, all the more reason why I think this character suits her. The rest of the casts are Minami Tsuda as Hanabi (Yui in YuruYuri), Arisa Nakada as Iori (Suzu in Kiitarou Shounen No Youkai Enikki), Amisa Sakuragi as Konomi (Sayaki Oki in Bakegyamon) and Rei Matsuzaki as Yoriko (Ayame in Noukome).

Perhaps the weirdest thing that I find in this short series is the ending theme, Motto, Nee Motto by Erabareshi. Although this is one of those ubiquitous all-female Japanese idol group, the song sounds more like some sort of hard punk rock!!! Especially the beginning of the track which feels like as though some dude is about to scream off his long like a had punk rock music! Heck, if there is a guy screaming as the background vocals, it would sound very much like home. The very hectic and frantic pace of the music sometimes feels like as though maybe somebody fast forward the music by half a degree since this series is running short of time. I think if you turn your volumes up, the heavy bass effect might shake the roof of your house down! Definitely a weird song to fit this series in many ways. Definitely makes you go WTF before you don’t give a f*ck.

Overall, it is that catch-22 situation if either this series is good or bad. Of course personally and generally it is more of the latter. But with cute girls doing cute and (almost) harmless lesbian stuffs, plus this anime is really short that you aren’t wasting your precious time which could have been used to watch real porn or hardcore lesbian shows, if you dare or curious and have too much time on your hands, feel free to explore this. But if 3 minutes x 12 episodes feel like too much of a time to be wasting on crap like this, remember, you and I and many others could be out there doing something productive for the country and world. Instead we watch low quality lesbian shows like this and then crap all over how bad it is. Certainly this must be where the real lie angle is…

Violet Evergarden

July 22, 2018

Wait a minute. Saber with mechanical hands? And she goes by the moniker of Violet Evergarden now? Of course I know it’s not. But another funny thing because in the same season that Fate/Extra: Last Encore ran its course, there were 2 other anime series in that season in which the main character looked like Saber. One of them being in Grancrest Senki (yes, Siluca looks very much like Saber in my books but in skimpier outfit) and the other one being this series. So I heard the setting is that the war has ended and hence this Saber-like titular main character who was once part of the military, finds a new job and rebuild her life while trying to find the meaning of love. ‘Mysterious words’ left behind by her late beloved killed in the war. I also read that some tissues are needed if you want to sit through this. Oh…

Episode 1
After the war, Violet Evergarden finds herself in a hospital. She writes to Major Gilbert Bougainvillea the need to return to active duty but if she is having a hard time grasping a pencil, I’m not so sure. Claudia Hodgins who is Gilbert’s colleague, comes to retrieve her but Violet keeps insisting about Gilbert. Each time, he tries to change the subject or ‘assure’ her he is alright. I think at this point we already know his fate. As she is discharged, she checks through her belongings and finds the emerald brooch from Gilbert is missing. She becomes frantic and wants to search for the gift Gilbert gave her but Hodgins assure he will find it for her. Arriving at the port city of Leiden, the capital of Leidenschaftlich, he leaves her in the care of the Evergarden family. Since she is still clumsy with her hands, taking off her bandages reveal a mechanical one. She is not used to it but assures in time she will. She is given a pair of gloves. As Hodgins leave, Violet is not satisfied and demands an answer why Gilbert put her here. She insists she can still fight after some retraining. He says the war is over. In that case, she wants to be disposed of if she is no longer needed. She considers herself as Gilbert’s tool. Hodgins changes his mind and has her follow him. He explains he is no longer with the army and has set up his own business. A postal and ghostwriting service. He will give her commands in Gilbert’s stead. He puts her in the postal division and has Benedict Blue show her around. Being the kind who executes her orders perfectly, she literally takes his words and even does night time deliveries! Hey, need to deliver all the letters, right? Hodgins has to stop her and talk to her about things. Asking her last orders from Gilbert, she says it is to run away and live free. And there is also that I love you she is eking out to say. Violet is still confused over his words so Hodgins says taking her in is his way to make amends for Gilbert. One day she’ll understand what he is saying. Violet hears a client using the Auto Memoir Doll (ghostwriting) service. This brings back memories of her with Gilbert during the war. Because she wants to know what I love you means, she wants to work in this division. Flashback shows Violet frantically trying to save Gilbert’s life. But he knew his time was up and ordered her to stop. He uttered those final words before breathing his last breath.

Episode 2
Short flashback shows Gilbert was introduced to Violet by his older brother. She was found on the north eastern front. Violet is introduced to Cattleya Baudelaire who is the best Doll in the company. Other Dolls include Iris Cannary and Erica Brown. Violet is tested for her aptitude using the typewriter. She is hitting it so hard that she is forced to stop. Painful to watch. But Violet isn’t the only Doll facing personal issues. Iris and Brown feel bored since joining the company. They have done nothing but type addresses as Cattleya takes all the best customers. They want to write exciting stuffs. Cattleya tries to flirt with Hodgins to purposely piss off Benedict. Violet sits next to Erica during her ghostwriting job. Since Violet is honest and straight, she actually comments on the direct implication of the client’s words instead of rewording it nicely. Especially when a client becomes angry that the letter is written in a way that makes it sound it is his fault. When he gets violent, Violet reciprocates. With customers complaining, Hodgins has to talk to them. One afternoon when Cattleya is out, a fancy lady is looking to use their service. Erica lights up upon knowing she wants to write a secret love letter to a man she loves. However her recent experience has her hesitating if she should take the job. Too bad Violet usurps her and will take on the job. But soon that lady comes back fuming because the letter she wrote made her sound obnoxious and arrogant instead of being subtle and hinting she wants him to pursue her! No wonder the man was pissed. Cattleya talks to Violet who has realized she has failed to understand. Cattleya says about the 2 sides of words and what is spoken isn’t necessarily all there is to it. It is human’s weakness to test others to reaffirm our worth. Violet and Erica do some soul searching why they want to be a Doll. As for Violet, she wants to know what I love you means. Thus Erica goes to plead to Hodgins not to fire her as her typing skills are exceptional. Despite earlier on she didn’t think Violet would be a good ghostwriter, she views herself as the one who isn’t suitable, that’s why she spoke on her behalf. Erica narrates the history of the typewriter, invented when his wife became blind. Now it becomes a symbol of ghostwriting. As this story touched her heart, she hopes one day she could write letters that touch the hearts of others. Violet is surprised when Hodgins has found the emerald brooch. He claims somebody stole it and was lucky to find it on the black market. In actual fact, he used up the company’s funds to buy it. Cattleya has her suspicions of it and has Hodgins spill the beans.

Episode 3
Violet attends the school that trains Dolls. She is like a robot when the teacher asks to type and hence she needs to be specified how fast and how many words per minute. She awes everyone with her mechanic hands and her insanely precise typing skills. Violet befriends fellow Doll trainee, Luculia Marlborough. It is no surprise Violet always tops in her grades. A little detour as we see Cattleya and Benedict being loggerheads with each other. Violet and Luculia become partners in a ghostwriting practice. While Violet’s letter sounds more like a military report, Luculia decides to address hers to her parents. However Violet makes it sound like a soulless report and hence the teacher admonishes her for not writing a letter. Luculia takes Violet to a rooftop to show her the beautiful scene of Leiden. This reminds Violet that Gilbert told her he hoped she would see the beautiful city of Leiden. Luculia finds her drunk and injured brother, Spencer getting into a bar fight. She brings him home. He doesn’t care. Luculia can only cry in silence. The teacher gives pins for those who graduate as a fine Doll. Luculia is one of them. Violet is not. This has her question why she went to that school for. It makes her realize she can’t understand her client’s expression and hence is not fit to be a Doll. Luculia decides to help Violet in ghostwriting again. She wants her to address it to Gilbert whom she is always talking about. Learning she wants to know the meaning of I love you, Luculia reveals the truth about her parents. They’re dead. Spencer is the only family she has got. During the war, he was posted at a front where it rarely sees action. As the war nears its end, that front got penetrated. Their parents were visiting there then. He was filled with regret he was unable to save them. Despite he became a handicap, she was always happy he at least came back alive. All she wants is to thank him for coming home, which never got to tell him. This might have hit Violet’s heart as she begins to write. Spencer got himself into another fight. His military instincts has him almost beat up Violet but she is here to deliver Luculia’s letter. I guess we know Violet has levelled up if he is crying. When Benedict and Cattleya seems to be on good terms, Violet thought they were fighting. Yeah, they end up fighting. Damn. She just instigated a fight? Next day, Luculia brings Violet to the teacher. She has shown her the letter she wrote. The teacher views her as fit and gives her the pin. Wait. Just 1 letter like that? What if it was a fluke? Luculia is very grateful for Violet’s help. Hodgins is impressed of her progress.

Episode 4
Iris is ecstatic as she gets her first ghostwriting request from her hometown of Kazaly but from an unknown woman, Sara Florent. In her happiness, she trips down the stairs. Although she injures her arm, her fall is broken by Violet. Now she has to accompany her to ghostwrite. When she meets her family, it is obvious Iris tries to exaggerate that she is a successful ghostwriter while trying to hush Violet for correcting. It seems Sara is the name of Iris’ great grandma and the request was actually made by her mom. She wants to write invitations for Iris’ birthday party. Iris is not pleased learning most of the invitations are guys. You know what kind of party this is when mom starts hinting she is already of that age. Iris demands Violet do not send an invitation to one of the guys on the list, Emonn Snow. But during her party, Emonn shows up. Violet checked with her mom and she said to send it. Party ruined with Iris showing that angry face and locking herself in her room. Violet learns from Iris that Emonn was the guy who rejected her. Yeah Violet, care to elaborate out loud what it all means? Now she’s crying. When mom tries to talk to her, more screaming and blaming. After Violet apologizes for not reading her feelings thoroughly, I guess Iris cools down and tells the whole story. She always loved Emonn and confessed to him on the day they graduated from school. But he rejected her as he could only see her as a childhood friend. It broke her heart so much that she couldn’t stay around here and left for Leiden. This has Violet noting that confessing requires a lot of courage. Violet suggests writing apology letters to all the guests. This includes Iris’ parents and you can tell it is a heartfelt apology and sincere gratitude in a way. So Violet’s ghostwriting isn’t a fluke. You can tell when her parents are moved to tears. Too bad Violet will charge Iris for that and won’t give a discount. As they leave, Iris receives flowers from her parents. I guess now we know why she is named so. She was born when those flowers were in full bloom. This has Violet remember how Gilbert named her. He spotted a lovely plant and decided to name her so in hopes she would grow up to be a lovely person worthy of that name instead of a tool.

Episode 5
Hodgins sees his former commander and is told another war might break out as some countries in the north do not accept the peace proposal. Drossel and Flugel are 2 enemy countries and they will be entering a marriage of convenience. Hodgins sends Violet to be the ghoswriter for Princess Charlotte Abelfreyja Drossel as she will exchange public love letters with Prince Damian Baldur Flugel. Violet is introduced to Charlotte by the court maid, Alberta but Charlotte is not happy with all of this one bit. She questions Violet about her age because it seems there is a 10 year gap with Damian. As Violet is unsure with the concept of love, this only upsets Charlotte. She even demands her to show some emotions! Hope she doesn’t regret it… Violet ghostwrites her first letter. Wow. It’s really beautiful. Damian also equally replies. Charlotte is not happy things didn’t go her way and kicks up a fuss. Alberta has to remind her of her position and how she won’t be around once she is married. Charlotte insists she should be since she has been by her side ever since birth. Their public love letter exchange captivates the people and this goes on for a while until Charlotte is fed up of it all as she believes Damian has a Doll writing those letters. She explains to Violet how royalties have their marriage arrangement as soon as they turn 10. So her birthday party looked like a big meeting for a prospective husband. Nobody cared about her feelings. She was crying outside till Damian showed up and consoled her. As he spoke from his heart, he captivated her. Soon the war broke out and talks of marriage was put on hold. She studied on the benefits of the marriage between their countries and is happy to receive his official proposal. But her problem is that she doesn’t know his feelings. She is worried they might not get along. Violet suggests writing the letters herself and she has gone out of her way to talk to Damian’s ghostwriter and they agree to this. Charlotte and Damian write from their heart. The letters sound less flowery but remain true to their hearts. Their weaknesses, fears and all while assuring they still love each other. It captivates the people too and it feels like as though they are watching a real live drama! In the end, Damian proposes they meet and he officially proposes to her. She accepts. Hooray! Charlotte has matured and looks stunning in her wedding dress. Her only regret is that Violet isn’t around to see her wedding. Violet meets up Cattleya on her way home. She was the ghostwriter for Damian. She owes her for convincing Damian. When Violet steps back on Leiden, she is confronted with Dietfried (Gilbert’s brother) and he is not happy she has become a Doll. He is not amused that someone who has taken many lives is now writing letters to bring lives together.

Episode 6
Many Dolls from all over the continent gather at Shaher Astronomy HQ. This means Violet meets up with her old classmates like Luculia. As the men’s usual job in the manuscript department is to preserve old, rare and poorly maintained books, last month they received a huge number of those. Hence the Dolls’ services are required. A man is paired with a Doll for the job. He will read and she will type. Leon Stephanotis is paired with Violet. What are the chances of a guy who doesn’t like Dolls… Yeah, you’ll slowly see him being taken in by Violet’s beauty as well as her skill. Violet is so efficient that they’ve completed 3 days’ worth of work in a day! Man, that guy is sure going to have a sore throat. One day, Leon hears his colleagues trying to tell Violet that he is wasted on her due to his circumstances. Thanks to her honest nature, it doesn’t get through her. Seeing his ‘natural face’ after hearing that, it’s funny how Violet replies she too has this kind of ‘natural face’. Leon summons the courage to ask her to go stargazing with him since Alley’s Comet (Haley’s Comet?) only comes around once in 200 years. What a major coincidence. Too bad the bread was squished to parts unknown for this invitation. While waiting for the comet, Leon explains what his colleagues said was true. His mom was a travelling performer and married a local. He had a happy life and dad’s job was travelling around the world to collect rare books. One day he vanished and the search was called off after 2 years. Mom decided to go look for him and was never seen again, much to Leon’s dismay. That’s why mom is very important to him. It’s Violet’s turn to tell him she has no blood relations but a certain man who cared for her for a long time. Hearing her talk about him, he asks if she would rush to his aid if she finds out he is in danger despite putting herself at risk. Her hesitant to answer is not because of how to answer him but how to apologize to him. That man means the world to her and she would rather die than lose him. I take it he is rejected. Before he could say the obvious she loves that guy, here comes the coincidental comet. The Dolls leave after the enormous work is complete. Leon sees off Violet. He admits he always wanted to follow his dad’s path but thought by being in this manuscript department, he could wait as long as needed for his mom to return. Thanks to her, he has changed his mind and wants to travel the world no matter how dangerous. He hopes they could meet as travellers one day. When that happens, he hopes she would still go stargazing with him. The odds of that might be even more astronomical than Alley’s Comet but he is glad he won’t hesitate anymore for she gave him the courage to take the first step out from the room he locked himself in.

Episode 7
Violet’s ghostwriting skills now take her to the nation of Genetrix where she will ghostwrite for Oscar Webster, a considerably famous playwright. However arriving at his home, his place is unkempt and he is not in good health. He prefers drinking than starting on his work. Plus, he treats her like a maid to do errands! Violet does so much but eventually puts her foot down and gets their work started. She types as he speaks the story but there are still many plot holes. When Violet finds a beautiful parasol, he suddenly wants to be left alone. Then when he sees her use it, she reminded him of someone dear. He snaps and hits it off her hand. He tells her to leave but she apologizes as she lacks the ability to understand whatever he is hiding in his heart. Oscar says he is trying to complete a story told by Olivia, his daughter. After his wife died of an illness, they moved here. However her days were numbered too and they lived as much as they could until she died. He lost all hope. Oh dear, Violet is so sad that she cried! She understands how it feels to lose someone and never getting to see them again. Once they both regain their composure, they continue finishing the story. It seems one of Olivia’s wish was to show she could walk on water across the lake to dad. Oscar didn’t think Violet would actually try and do it! OMG! Is she really walking on water???!!! This scene sparks lots of emotions inside him. Trying so hard to hold back the tears… :’(. Oh, Violet manages to skip 3 times before sinking. Damn I thought 1 was even impossible. Once her service is over, Oscar gives her the parasol. On her way back, she starts thinking words said from Dietfried, Gilbert and Hodgins and it makes her feel conflicted. Landing on Leiden, her former Evergarden family greets her. At this point this is where Violet finds out Gilbert has died as the mistress mentioned about his soul resting in peace. Violet storms back to confront Hodgins about his lie. He didn’t have the heart to tell her. He explains she was found alone alive outside the church. Perhaps moment before the bomb took Gilbert out. Although his body was not found, his dog tag was there. Violet takes this as a sign that Gilbert is still alive and refuses to believe otherwise. She runs away in tears.

Episode 8
Violet forces her way into the military to see Dietfried. Is Gilbert dead? He says yes. She says no! So what do you want to hear? But Dietfried feels mad. How can a heartless tool feel sorrow he thinks. As Violet makes her way home, we have more flashbacks. When Violet was found, Gilbert treated her kindly unlike Dietfried. Hence he took custody of her. Bringing her home, Violet was sceptical at first but gets used to his kindness. Gilbert was ordered to bring Violet to the frontlines to fight. He cannot disobey and in worse case, just abandon that tool. Well, well. They should just send in Violet as a one (wo)man army as she swiftly and efficiently kills the enemies in the most lethal way. Violet has reached Gilbert’s home. Is Gilbert around? Uhm, well, here’s his grave. Oh, it must be a coincidence the tombstone has the same name as Gilbert. The flashback continues. After Gilbert names her Violet, she showed some reaction and understanding. He trained and thought her how to read and write. To show his gratitude, we wanted to get her an accessory. She pointed out that emerald brooch because it has the same eye colour at his and looking at it moved her heart. Honestly she thought his eyes were beautiful when she first saw them. Moments before the final battle, Hodgins was posted to their same unit. He felt uneasy with his promotion because his family was the main funder for the war. Knowing this could be the last battle, Hodgins planned on quitting the army and open a store. He hopes Gilbert to come work for him but he wouldn’t want to. He teased he should hire Violet instead. Violet mistook this as Gilbert may not want her anymore and put her under Hodgins custody. They never got to finish this talk as the final battle soon begun. Gilbert’s troops were at the frontlines storming the enemy’s fort. Lots of casualty and even one whereby they were surrounded and ambush. Even if Violet was superhuman, there was no way she and Gilbert would have gotten unscathed and return to kill of all them. Anyway after a hard fought battle, Gilbert signals the victory to the reinforcements to storm the fort. But shortly after that, the enemy shoots his face.

Episode 9
Violet will not abandon him and carries him away despite under enemy fire. Heck, even if she lost both hands she still insists! And then that final heart wrenching scene we all knew. He tells her to live and be free and the confession of I love you. Confused Violet wants to know what is love (Baby don’t hurt me, don’t hurt me-… Oops, sorry) but the place soon collapses. Now Violet is at the remnants of the site looking for Gilbert’s body. Hodgins is here too as he reveals the enemy tried to bomb the place in their final attempt. Gilbert must have pushed her out of the explosion. Everyone in hospital lied to her Gilbert was alright because she seemed more concerned about him than herself. Before that final battle, Gilbert strangely asked him to take care of Violet should anything happen to him. He didn’t see her as a tool but was worried over her future as an ordinary girl. Violet follows him back although they have to take a detour as there is a little unrest from the anti-peace faction in the town ahead. Violet is back but she holes up herself in her room. So sad that she is seeing visions of Gilbert interacting with her. Of course it all comes crashing down. Frustration sets in. She breaks stuffs. Tries to strangle herself. Can’t. Interrupted by the old postman guy. He has a letter for her. Because Benedict injured his feet, Violet is asked to cover his delivery. Violet does so and notices the people receiving the letters very happy to receive them. Once done, she returns to read her letter. It is from Iris and Erica. They wrote as they are worried over her wellbeing. Spencer requests Violet to be his ghostwriter to write to Luculia that he is doing fine and found a job. Thanks to her, he got back on her feet. Violet also notes the letter she received was her first one. It made her happy. Violet sees Hodgins and asks if it is alright for her to be a Doll and live on. Why is Hodgins crying? Oh wait, me too. He says all the horrendous things she did cannot be undone. This goes the same when she is a Doll.

Episode 10
Anne Magnolia sees a beautiful large doll (Violet) walking into the house. She is amazed she can talk, drink, etc. Seems her dying mom hired her to type letters for a week. Anne spends some time with Violet during the break and one night as she is tuning her mechanical hands, Anne tries to ask who the letters are addressed to since it couldn’t be her dad as he died in the war. However Violet is unable to disclose that information. Client confidentiality. Does a little girl know what that means? Over the next few spaces, we see Anne bugging Violet for things. She reveals to her that she actually wanted her mom to do those things but Violet keeps spending time writing those letters with her. Thus she wants Violet to stop taking away the time mom spends with her. Of course she can’t do that and this only frustrates Anne. One day, mom shows signs of weakening that she almost collapsed. Distraught Anne wants her to stop writing those letters in which mom insists they are very important to her. Anne is unable to understand and snaps that she knows she is dying and will be left all alone once she is gone. She is upset she is willing to spend her limited time writing letters than with her. Anne runs away as Violet catches up and talks to her. More heartbreak to see Anne cry and blame herself for being a bad girl, the reason why her mom isn’t getting any better. On the last day as Violet leaves, Anne realizes Violet is human and has soft skin (aside her hands). She is warm, gentle and kind. The seasons come and go as Anne spends more time with her mom. As expected, she passed away. Unsurprisingly for me, it is revealed the letters mom wrote are addressed to Anne. Each one delivered on her birthday. Anne reads them as it brings much tears to her and us. Fast forward we see Anne grown up into a lovely woman, married to a lovely husband and has a child of her own. The main point is that no matter how far apart or long it has been, mom will always be watching over her. I don’t want to sound like a jerk but it is revealed that mom wrote 50 years’ worth of letters. But man, she must really be confident her daughter will live that long. I mean, in this age and era… Hopefully she would. When Violet returns to HQ, she starts crying to think how lonely Anne would be when her mom is gone. She was holding back her tears all the while. Yeah, that poker face of hers worked for once. Oops, sorry. Bring me some tissues too, please :’(. Cattleya comforts her that it will be the letters she wrote that Anne will read.

Episode 11
Violet overheard Hodgins and Cattleya talk about a request for a Doll at Ctrigall’s Menace base. It seems that country has just plunged into a civil war as some wants the war to continue. Of course Hodgins will not send his Doll to the battlefield but what do you know? Violet secretly takes up that offer and heads over there. There, the people aren’t willing to send her right into the battlefield. Furthermore, Menace base is completely surrounded. Violet notes a steep hill that is less protected and the only way is to fly a plane and parachute down. The idea is so crazy that the pilot decides to do that just for her. The enemy is preparing to ambush but they got ambushed instead. All were killed except Aiden Field. He desperately flees but is shot by a sniper. Though, he still lives. Not too sure if allies or the enemy finds him and is about to kill him but here comes Violet dropping in. She dodges bullets to bring them down! One of the soldiers recognizes Violet as a killing machine so he tells his men to leave. Must be really fate and coincidence for Violet to meet Aiden. In the cabin, Aiden insists she writes the letters instead of treating his wounds. Okay. So, uhm… Air typewriter? She can memorize them in her hands. First, he has the letters addressed to his parents and hopes he would be reborn as their child again. Close to death, he now has another letter addressed to his childhood friend and crush, Maria. He really loves her and wants to return home to her. He doesn’t want to die but he is weakening by the second. Violet plays as his beloved Maria before he dies. Next morning after she buries him, she makes a detour to deliver the letters. The parents and Maria break down. When they thank Violet for bringing him back, this dismantles all the tears Violet was holding back. Now she is crying along with them :’(. She apologizes she failed to protect him :’(.

Episode 12
Remnants of the anti-peace faction are planning to disrupt a peace treaty signing ceremony. Hence the army assigns Dietfried to ensure this ceremony proceeds. Dietfried sarcastically replies he is now sent to clean up the mess after the original troubleshooter who was his brother is dead. Cattleya and Benedict are to accompany the ambassador for the ceremony. Dietfried is also there and although he is relieved Violet is not on this mission, he still doesn’t miss a chance to badmouth her. Benedict stands up for her and believes her letters she wrote has given a lot of hope to many. Violet is taking a plane back when she spots several explosions along the rail. Up ahead is a train station where the ambassador is on. Violet must have a damn good eyesight to spot Cattleya and wants to drop down here right now! She tells Cattleya what she saw and with Dietfried hearing this, he wants to know the details. He realizes the rebels plan to disrupt several spots along the line before finally attacking the train directly. They will pass a point where they will pass a long tunnel which took a long time to construct. There will be no repairs along this stretch and if the tunnel is bombed, it will take an awful long time to be repaired again. When Violet wants orders, Dietfried is not happy she still wants to be ordered like a tool. I guess there is no other way or transport so the train still continues its run.

I know some rebels infiltrated the train but how did the other rebels climb on board later? Without the other guards knowing? Furthermore, they even detached the train and all the guards are in the last carriage. That’s why mom said never to put all the eggs in one basket… Dietfried will go stop this train and wants her to protect the passengers. She insists she will not kill. I know it’s cool to see Violet fight the baddies on the train top but it’s unbelievable she takes her not killing motto to the extreme that she saves knocked out rebels from falling off the train! Don’t mind getting a few injuries from that. Yeah, some talk about the war and how the rebels felt betrayed and it never ended for them, blah, blah, blah. Then her brooch falls off during the fight. Right into the hands of the rebel leader. It’s her Kryptonite because now all the rebels gang up and beat her up. Why don’t they just throw her off instead of wanting to cut her head? Because of that, Dietfried is able to show up and shoot and throw them all off! Now he is pissed, chastising her that she even failed to protect herself. Is this the woman Gilbert died to protect? He tells her to die but she wants to follow Gilbert’s orders to live. He calls her a deadweight and the reason Gilbert died. She killed him. Violet responds that she too wanted to protect Gilbert. Amazingly rebel leader is still clinging on the edge. Anther rebel fires a mini bazooka. Violet protects him. For once her metal hands come in handy to deflect it.

Episode 13
Wow. A few more shots and her whole arm comes off! Must be worn from all that use. Rebel leader tries to jump off but Violet kicks him back! She almost loses her brooch but Dietfried catches it for her and returns it. Rebel leader thinks he has the last laugh because the train will be passing through a bridge in which a couple of bombs are placed. Dietfried tries to stop the train. Normal brakes don’t work. Violet operates the emergency brakes. With one hand. Then she jumps down to try and pry the bomb out. Oddly, Benedict handles the other bomb as he jumps down and flying kicks it off into the river!!! OMFG! Is he a super soldier too?! Meanwhile Violet can’t even pry it and her arm is tearing apart! Must be one strong glue. Eventually it comes off with her arm. Don’t worry, Benedict saves her from falling. Damn this guy must really be a super soldier. With the ceremony a success, true peace reigns. With Violet back with new arms and ghostwriting, she is advised by Cattleya to write a letter to herself. She doesn’t know what to write so we have this flashback of her with Gilbert before the final battle. She thought he wanted to transfer her away and had no use for her. Because she insisted his orders are everything, he scolds her that if he had seen her as a tool, he wouldn’t have taken her in. He tried to explain the sad and frightened emotions she has right now but she doesn’t understand. He blames himself turning her like this. As Violet is still unsure what to write, Hodgins just tell her perhaps a sentence would do.

Violet is surprised when Dietfried wants to see her (sorry it’s not Gilbert). He takes her to his home to meet his senile mom who thinks Gilbert is still alive. Violet assures he is still alive and shows the brooch. Mother tells Violet it isn’t her fault and is not her burden to bear. Dietfried had many times told to give up on him but as his mother how could she? He is definitely alive. In her heart. Even if it is painful to remember him, she will think about him the rest of her life so as not to forget him. Okay Violet. Try not to hold back your tears so I can cry too :’(. As she leaves, Dietfried gives his final orders for her to live and then die. Best Violet reply ever: She doesn’t need orders anymore. The Air Show Day must be popular since people write letters and a plane randomly drops them all over town and you pick up whatever you read. Interesting ones to note are Erica hinting she has someone she likes, Benedict wanting to take over Hodgins’ position and Cattleya reading aloud Hodgins’ embarrassing letter that he consider his staffs as his children and himself as their papa. Of course we hear Violet’s letter addressed to Gilbert. It might sound she is still in deny that she believes he is still alive somewhere out there. That is because she will continue to live and if she so happens to chance upon him one day (hopefully not in heaven), she will let him know she now understands a little what I love you means. Damn Violet, you crying some more makes me wanna cry some more!!! Oh what the heck, a little more tears wouldn’t hurt.

Episode 14 (OVA)
Taking place when Violet is a ghostwriting noob, Violet attends an opera concert. The conductor, Ardu Morini notices her in the crowd. That kind of beauty definitely stands out. At the backstage, Ardu introduces Violet to Irma Fellicha, the opera singer who hired her ghostwriting skills. However Irma wants to use the alias Marieta to write a letter addressed to a man named Modest. Here’s another catch: She wants Violet to type it out herself. Of course Irma had to reject her many times as it sounds like a military report, outdated and repetitive. Each time Violet tries to do more research but ends up getting rejected. So much so Violet stands at a corner unsure what to do! Like a dunce? She tells Iris and Erica about it but they themselves can’t help out with this complicated task. When Violet meets Ardu, she is told Irma isn’t writing a letter but the lyrics of a song that she wants to sing at the climax of the next opera. Violet tells this to her colleagues and indeed it looks more like a screenplay. Benedict suggests all of them pitch in to write a large letter for the song. I know many hands make light work but too many cooks spoil the broth… Keep trying. Meanwhile Ardu sees Irma and tells her he has already given up but she insists she hasn’t. When Violet shows the ‘masterpiece’ to Ardu, he believes this might be what Irma is looking for. He brings her to watch Irma rehearsing. Violet finds it strange that the opera’s setting is in current times instead of traditional. It is supposed to signal to the people that they live in an era that war is over but the people’s hearts are frozen and cannot move on. The climax is for the protagonist to read the letter but Ardu couldn’t write something of that calibre to convince her. It was when Ardu’s friend, a teacher of a school who trains Dolls recommended Violet. Yes, she is that teacher who coached Violet.

In order to know more about Irma, Violet follows her? Stalker? When Irma learns that Violet has someone dear from the military, she starts to reveal her own. There was a man she was in love with, Fugo. He is Ardu’s son. He promised that he will come back but you know, war doesn’t discriminate against its victims. He is currently listed as missing and Irma hopes he would return despite knowing the overwhelming odds he would not. She just can’t give up. Oh, they’re at the train station as they watch relieved couples reunite. Cue to pull heartstrings. As Violet ponders about all this, the old postman guy, Roland talks to her. He mentions about letters are meant to be delivered otherwise they are returned to the sender. This doesn’t mean it is because they work in a postal company. Roland shows her a warehouse filled with lots of returned letters. Violet is shocked to read some of them. All of them containing “I love you”. Letters that will never reach its intended reader. Now that Violet has an idea, she starts typing. She shows it to Irma and this is what she wants, so much so she cries. Nobody would have thought of the day Violet could actually write this. Not even Violet herself. We hear Irma singing this lovely song on stage, incorporating the words of the letter. Violet and her colleagues attend the opera that ends with a standing ovation.

Evergreen Feelings Via Letters
Sob, sob. Sniff, sniff… Maybe I’m getting old. How long has it been since I have watched an anime that has very long periods of sadness or one that continues to force the tears out of my eyes right till the end. A real tearjerker right till the end. That mixed feelings of sadness as well as happiness when we finally reach the end of the series. It isn’t even a very tragic or sad show to begin with but it really touches your heart. When a journey ends, a new one begins. This is very much true for the titular character herself. But I guess for us, that is as far as we can accompany her on this journey. Any more we might need another load of tissues. I don’t think my heart and eyes can take it any more of the crying.

The overall story might sound ordinary. A fighting machine trying to find the meaning of love and trying to live as a normal human being while coming to terms with reality. Thanks to its pacing as well as how the story is being told, I was never bored and more intrigued to know more about it. Okay, not to say that I was 100% glued to the screen and watching with baited breath anxious and eager to know what is going to happen next. But it was done well and interestingly enough for me to stay put and hoping to find the answers along with Violet. Not the answer to whether Gilbert is dead (that question is still up in the air considering the excuse of his body was never found), but to whether Violet could actually overcome this obstacle that is hindering her progress in life and move forward. Thankfully she did. It would have been a real tragedy had she not and I believe it would not have sit well with viewers. We watched Violet from the start and hoped to see her grow as a character and to see her forever dwell in her past and self-destruct would be an insult.

Therefore some of the episodes might feel like standalone or fillers. Especially when Violet is sent to somewhere to ghostwrite. It may look disconnected at first but if you watch closely and connect the less than obvious dots together, you can see it all forms one big story for Violet. Thus every ghostwriting job is not just to fill in the extra screen time but it helps advances the plot and the direction in life for Violet. I might be getting old because the later episodes where Violet is despatched to ghostwrite like Oscar and Anne’s episode, it gets even more emotional for me to watch and it really hit close to home and pulled the heartstrings.

I’m sure the series is subtly hinting about the use of letters to convey feelings. With electronic technology so advanced in our world, old fashion letters are dying out. Who sends love letters these days? Let alone postcards or greeting cards. Do we even send them? So the theme of letters and typing them using the typewriter (I bet a lot of youngsters of the new generation don’t even know what this is. They’ll probably think it is some fashionable and bulky keyboard) makes this series stands out on its own. That is why I am thinking that the producers of this series whom I read went as far as to create their own alphabet system (actually, just change the Roman letters into some other pattern), if we were to live in this world, we would definitely be illiterate and need a ghostwriter! Quite impressive. Also, having such alphabets mean we can’t clearly proofread what is on the letter and criticise any inconsistencies in its contents. Damn…

As you know, Violet as the main character who is even the name of this anime is given a lot of the limelight. She is the main focus and is given a lot of development and screen time to flesh out her character. Before I get to her, what I want to say is that many of the other characters in that sense feels a bit neglected. Of course we have Iris and Erica being given an episode to focus on their own issues but that is only if it involves Violet somehow. Hence the other minor supporting characters feel like they are not significant especially those at Hodgins’ company. I was wondering about the feud between Cattleya and Benedict and if there was any chemistry between them or even Cattleya with Hodgins but those might look more like distraction than anything. After all, if we get too deep into those characters, Violet will not be fleshed out properly so I’m going with the reason that these characters don’t get too much focus for the benefit of Violet. Yeah, you can’t have everything.

Violet as the main character is an intriguing watch. We see her transform from an emotionless killing tool into one that could think for herself. It is both interesting and heart wrenching to see her go through life and the circumstances stacked against her. She might not be in the most unfortunate of circumstances but we could ‘blame’ Gilbert being the main obstacle in her life. Her life basically revolves around him. Gilbert knows how dangerous that would be and tried to set her free. It is sad to see her not being able to get over the death of Gilbert at first but as you know, she can’t keep crying over his dead body. Oh wait. They never found it. Only with the acceptance of Gilbert’s death could Violet move on as the thought of any chance of him returning to her is the biggest reason why she is being held back. Thank goodness for all those ghostwriting experiences, right?

Talking about Violet’s ghostwriting skills, at first it was amusing to see Violet as a very blunt and straight in your face character. Making it even more amusing is how she can say it with that poker face. Violet looks so much more beautiful if she smiled often and just eking that out feels like hitting the jackpot. Because it is most of the time that poker face or her crying face. It was unbelievable at first that she could pass her ghostwriting school with that fluke letter. It remains to me as the only unbelievable part of the series (there are many more like that skydiving down to the train to warn her colleagues but this is by far the most farfetched one) only because to advance the plot. Imagine if we have to wait a few years for Violet to turn pro, we aren’t that patient, are we? Sure, she learns fast but just like how there are things that can only be conveyed in letters (and vice versa), there are some things you can’t master overnight.

Therefore Violet becoming a ghostwriter is no surprise a blessing in disguise to the lives that she touched. She might still have her problems but she helps bring the emotions of loved ones together and bring them hope. Sometimes it feels like before she could solve her own problem, she has to help others and learn from it. Only then she has earned enough experience to move on. And hence we see Violet being freed from the chains known as Gilbert and living her life not because he told her to but rather because she wants to. I figure that Dietfried being the ‘antagonist’ and the only one who hates Violet (even enemies who fought her don’t want to mess with her) doesn’t really hates her. He might seem like putting the blame on her for killing his brother but I feel that it is more along the lines of him blaming himself for being unable to prevent his death. Violet was the convenient tool to channel that sadness and anger. Every time she says Gilbert’s name and to the point of seeing her face, the pain of remembering his dead brother is too much to bear. Because Gilbert and Violet became somewhat inseparable until his death.

One last thing about Violet, although she did made some improvements, her past is ultimately shrouded in mystery. Conveniently she is given that amnesiac treatment so that we are not tied down to that cliché when a main character starts remembering her past and then she goes berserk or something changes. Hence her past does not bog her down in this sense as fat as this series is concerned. While in a way that is good, this also gives a problem for those who really want to know how Violet came about. How did she became a killing machine that is so adept in fighting and killing, she could have been the one (wo)man army to take down nations whoever her superior is. So, who trained Violet to be that indispensable fighting machine? If it is the military, wouldn’t they want to claim her? Remember, it is claimed that she is found. So did some alien drop her on this continent and left? I think it would be an insult if they ever make a back story of her with something like that. A princess from an alien world being exiled. Yeah, that would really be unsettling.

Oh, a question I pondered for a while: How come the medical technology here is just advanced enough to give Violet her mechanical hands and move it like as though it is her own. I don’t know the medical state and technology now in the series but it still looks ancient enough because there are still people dying of some disease that could have been prevented or at least treated with our real world technology. I’m not a medical expert but this is what I feel. Because of that, sometimes I think that Violet having mechanical hands is just a minor novelty. Just to get people who see her for the first time to be in awe and fascination. Because imagine if she has normal flesh and blood hands, the story and plot will still proceed as normal without any fuss but it would be less stellar because no robotic hands. It’s not like her mechanical hands hide some machine gun or buzzsaw, right? Besides, before she had mechanical hands, she was already moving faster and punching and kicking harder than any ordinary soldier and only got the pair after the war ended. Besides, I don’t see other amputee soldiers. Did Violet only get special medical technology because she’s beautiful? Because if there were other soldiers fitted with mechanical arms, you’d be seeing them around and the military would try to reuse them again as long as you’re not dead.

On a trivial note, flowers seem to be the theme of this series as many of the characters are named after flowers or have relations to them. Obviously as we see how Violet was named so, but do you know in the language of flowers, violet means innocence and the thought of love? Yeah, that seems to fit Violet’s image very well. As for Cattleya’s surname, French author Charles Baudelaire wrote a book called Les Fleurs Du Mal (The Flowers Of Evil). Speaking of names, I find it odd that Hodgins’ first name is of a female. Cattleya teased him once about it but I was really curious to know the history behind his name. Maybe his mom wanted a girl but a boy came out instead. Some mysteries we will never know…

Aside the story, the other biggest draw of the series is the art and animation. Everything is really gorgeous and breath-taking. The sceneries, backgrounds, the lighting effects, the weather and even the characters too look quite good. It is a nice eye candy if you like your setting to be post-war European style. Of course with this anime being produced by Kyoto Animation, there seems to be many character designs that seemed taken from their other works. Most notably, Hibike! Euphonium. So aside the very Saber-like design of the titular character, for most of the other characters I can’t help think how all of them looked like from that said anime. As though the brass band has been disbanded and now they find themselves with jobs in this world. For example, the young Anne looks like Hazuki and Charlotte has that uncanny resemblance to Yuuko. Doesn’t Cattleya look like Asuka without the glasses while Benedict and Shuuichi might be long lost relatives separated by a different anime? This might be a long shot but I do see Kumiko in Maria. But aside all this, the artwork is quite beautiful and to behold.

Voice acting helps in bringing out the drama and emotional side of the series. They’ve done quite a good job in portraying their characters. Like Yui Ishikawa who does a fine job as Violet, you might wonder why her poker face and voice is familiar. That’s because she was also the voice behind Shingeki No Kyojin’s Mikasa. Damn, I can see the resemblance between both characters. Casts that I recognize are Takehito Koyasu as Hodgins, Minori Chihara as Erica, Kenjiro Tsuda as Damian and Youko Hikasa as Irma but I couldn’t for Haruka Tomatsu’s Iris. On a side note, Ayako Kawasumi who was the voice of Saber, made a cameo as Anne’s mom.

The rest of the casts are Aya Endou as Cattleya (Miyuki in Lucky Star), Hidenobu Kiuchi as Dietfried (Ryouhei in Kateikyoushi Hitman Reborn), Daisuke Namikawa as Gilbert (Rock in Black Lagoon), Kouki Uchiyama as Benedict (Ichika in Infinite Stratos), Azusa Tadokoro as Luculia (Kotori in Gokukoku No Brynhildr), Sumire Morohoshi as Anne (Seira in GJ-Bu), Megumi Nakajima as Charlotte (Ruri in Sacred Seven), Mami Koyama as Alberta (Balalaika in Black Lagoon), Subaru Kimura as Spencer (Gian in Doraemon), Shintarou Asanuma as Aiden (Tsuda in Seitokai Yakuindomo), Yuuto Uemura as Leon (Juugo in Nanbaka), Satoshi Taki as Oscar and Takuya Inagaki as Emonn.

The opening theme is Sincerely by True. Rather and okay song. Fits the pace of the series well. But the one that takes the case is the ending song, Michishirube by Minori Chihara. This is very slow and lovely ballad and if you’re not ‘strong’ enough, you might end up crying listening to this. Thankfully, I didn’t. I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining, but since this is Minori Chihara we’re talking about singing this song, personally I have always found her voice to be one kind when she is singing. It’s not as bad like, say, Nano Ripe but it is something more on that lines. Also another beautiful song is the special ending theme in episode 9, Believe in by Aira Yuki. Even more powerful and emotional as it is played befittingly as the turning point for Violet. Violet Snow by Aira Yuki as the final episode’s ending theme stirs up even more emotions with its emotional ballad. Damn, everything so perfect to make the tears flow so easily!

Overall, this is a very beautiful and emotional story. Great story that would move your heart and almost to tears as well as instilling hope even in times where we could see there is nothing but losses and hopelessness. Despite I’m calling this series beautiful, it still isn’t perfect nor it is a masterpiece since it looks and sounds so beautiful that it fits more like a fairytale. So beautiful that it seems so fake? But inspiring nevertheless. Violet may not have truly grasped the meaning or love but she has naturally given to many others the warmth and love she sought to understand. In that sense, she is already loved. The love she was looking for has always been around her. You don’t see love. You feel it. Some things you just can’t really explain it in words or letters.

Mahou Tsukai No Yome

July 21, 2018

If Beauty and the Beast had a Japanese version but filled with lots of supernatural stuffs and magic, it would be Mahou Tsukai No Yome. On second thought, maybe not. Because on the surface it looks like some hideous bone creature thingy has taken in a young human bride. Hmm… Even death covets the flesh of our young mortal girls. Not even close. The story tells of a young girl who is auctioned away and a mage bought her at the highest bid since she is some rare type. As the human life has abandoned her, now she lives a new life learning magic and the supernatural surroundings around her.

OVA 1
Angelica Varley talks to Hugo as she prepares to send documents to Elias Ainsworth. At Elias’ home, Silky makes breakfast for everyone. Angelica’s raven familiar arrives and drops the loads of books at the doorstep. They take the books and place them in the library. Speaking of which, it is time to do some spring cleaning too. Chise Hatori notices one of the books sent by Angelica, The Lonely Little Star. As Chise has some sort of connection to this book, Elias is interested to know more. He might be his magic teacher but she is his human teacher. Putting her on his lap, she begins her story about this book, a book she used to read when she was still alone. Chise’s mom was mentally unstable and unfortunately killed herself. She is taken in by the Hatori family but the sons often tease and bully her. Foster mom tries to treat her equal (although from the looks of it she is doing it because she had to) but Chise is always keeping her distance and looking very scared. It doesn’t help that Chise could see scary monsters everywhere when normal humans couldn’t. Eventually this household starts breaking down with the wife accusing her husband of taking Chise in. One day, Chise got lost in the woods after bumping into someone in the park. A rat monster tries to get her as she runs for her life. She runs and takes refuge in a strange house in the middle of the woods. It seems the monster’s attack stops. Chise then meets Riichi Miura, the librarian of this place. Although there are creepy critters here, Miura assures they won’t attack her because they are busy reading. He also assures the evil creatures outside cannot come inside here as he is the magician of the forest. He welcomes her to the library of the forest.

OVA 2
Miura tries to help Chise feel at home but she still feels uneasy and wants to leave. So he gives her a library card. This allows her to come back here. Chise returns home. The family continues fighting. The sons blame and continue to hate her. Eventually the mother and sons pack up and go live somewhere. With nowhere to go, Chise finds her solace at the library. Since she has a book report to write, she uses this excuse to come over and read. Miura lays down 2 important rules. As long as she has this library card, she is a member and can borrow any books. Also, never leave the front door open. Follow them and she can come here anytime. Chise spends many wonderful moments reading books and sometimes Miura would read stories for her. Although Chise is unable to choose which book to write as her report, she notes how she loves reading the last page of a book more than anything else. This sends Miura panicking and has Chise leave for today. The next time she comes, Miura hands her a book he wants her to have, The Lonely Little Star. He then turns the library into some magnificent starry show and reads some lines from the book until Chise falls asleep. He notes she will never come back here again. When Chise wakes up, she is back home. Next day when Chise visits the library, she doesn’t see Miura around but manages to enter. Miura wakes up from his slumber only to be surprised to see Chise inside. Unfortunately, Chise forgot to close the front door. The monster rat rushes in and starts devouring all the books. Miura saves Chise from being devoured. When Chise comes to, she notices all the books in the library gone and Miura is partly devoured.

OVA 3
There is a favour Miura wants Chise to do and that is to deliver this book to somebody. She cannot stay here or she will be stuck here forever. Touching the book, Chise sees the memories of regret of Miura. Mayumi Niikura lent him a book and he was supposed to return it that night. The loving the last page of a book is a fondly remembered quote from her. However he failed. He got injured as he was running through the forest and then he stumbled into this library. Before he realized it, he became a captive of this library and began reading. He isn’t sure how long he has been here. So when Chise said those words, he knew it had to be her to return the book. Chise takes the book and run as the library crumbles. Miura is confident nobody will wander into here again. Chise manages to find the house of Mayumi. However the lady who answered her is her granddaughter! She is told Mayumi is at the hospital. She makes her way there and sheepishly hands over to granny Mayumi. She confirms it is her book and notes despite Miura never came to her, he fulfilled his promise. Mayumi hugs and thanks Chise. Chise returns to the spot in the woods just to ‘inform’ Miura she had completed her task. She sees The Lonely Little Star on the ground. When Chise was transferred away, the Hatori family moved back in. Like as though they got rid of a curse. Chise left that book behind in her room. Now, Chise can’t believe this book is here after she let it go. Elias finds something strange in her story. Based from old legends, stumbling into a house in the middle of the woods is called Mayoiga. It shows itself to those who get lost. Those who wander in are allowed to bring home just 1 thing and probably a condition for their returning to their own world. If Chise wasn’t given anything, she could have been stuck there forever. That is what it means to wander into the other side. Miura must have known this fact since he gave her this book. If it wasn’t for that book he had given her, Chise wouldn’t have left him there. They realize they have been talking for so long that it is already evening! Tea time has passed and Silky is mad nobody came to eat the tea she made. Oh well, eat it over dinner then. Chise wants to give this book another proper read through because she feels she can read it differently this time.

Episode 1
Chise signs a contract that has her become a slave to be auctioned off. The highest bidder to buy her is Elias. Everyone is shocked that he made his public appearance. As he takes her back, he knows she could see supernatural things. He calls her fortunate to have that sight but she vehemently disagrees. It brought nothing but misfortune. In that case, he will have to make her feel fortunate of that one day. He can’t have her be helpless as he paid good money for her. He takes her back to his home at the outskirts of London. Here, she will become his mage apprentice. First, he makes her take a bath. Strange fairies visit her but they rather be called neighbours (though, I think they look more like harpies). They offer to help her if she plans on becoming a mage. After Chise gets out, she has a few questions for Elias. Those fairies are called ariels and are attracted to anything new. As for why Chise is categorized as Sleigh Beggy, it is a term for someone capable of attracting and binding all manner of things. As Chise is able to see the supernatural, but that’s not common among her kind. However it brings fortune and misfortune. Their kindness may not necessarily benefit humans but to be loved by them, she will never be without assistance and she needs their magic to do magic. Chise is unsure if she wants to become a mage but Elias welcomes her as his family and gives her an adder stone as a charm. When Chise retires to her room, an ariel visits her and suggests they go for a night walk. However it is a trap to lure her away from Elias and make her stay forever in their kingdom. Chise will not go as they play psychology that she has nowhere to return to. But Chise fights. Elias considered her as family even though he might throw her away someday like a toy. Elias finds her and shoos the ariels away. The stone acts as a tracking device. He will forgive them this time but warns the next time they’ll be salamander food. The ariels give up for now but will welcome Chise with open arms if she changes her mind. Elias carries Chise home. She gets shocked when he says that even though he bought her as an apprentice, he hopes to make her his bride someday.

Episode 2
Chise is introduced to Silky who is a fairy living nearby and does the housework. Despite acting like a servant, she is more of the landlady. Elias then wants to prepare for their honeymoon. But first, he takes her to London to see Angelica to get the stuffs Chise needs. Angelica is suspicious if Elias has done anything weird to her. If stripping her for bath and then proposing is considered weird, then yes. Angelica punches him and kicks him out. Angelica introduces herself as a mage who crafts items to be run by magic. She explains the difference between sorcerers and mages. The former uses sorcery, a form of science they use in their own power to rewrite and change things to their own ends. The latter uses magic and their miracles depend on fairies and spirits bending reality. To give Chise a taste of magic, she gives her a crystal and has her imagine a flower she likes. Chise imagines a flower field with her mom. Elias quickly snaps her out of her and warns Angelica not to put strange ideas in her head. It seems the floor of the room turned into an ice flower field. Angelica learns Chise as a Sleigh Beggy and blames Elias for not telling her first. On their way home, Elias asks if her parents are dead. No matter the past she had, she is here now. She felt it was blunt but comforting and kind. She isn’t sure about her dad but her mom died before her eyes. Waiting outside their home is the local priest, Simon Cullum. Nobody really likes him. It seems he has a few requests in which the church can’t deal with but should be easy for Elias. It’s his penalty for his free actions as he has been inactive for decades and all of a sudden he has a disciple. Simon has no option but to report it to his brass. Of course the church and mages would prefer to stay away from each other. So Elias and Chise head for their first errand that is also their honeymoon. In Iceland they’re supposed to investigate the last bastion of dragons. Speaking of which, Chise is suddenly snatched away by one.

Episode 3
At the lands of the last dragons, Elias has tagged along in Chise’s shadow. Elias introduces her to Lindel who is a mage like them and his job is to take care of the dragons from human sight. While they get down to business, Chise plays with the young dragon saplings. She encounters a very old and dying dragon, Nevin. Unlike humans, dragons do not fear death and look forward to it when their time comes. Nevin knows he will become a tree when he dies as all other dragons before him. Chise looks sad but she claims she isn’t. Nevin peeked through her memories and saw her tormented life as well there was a time she tried to take her own life. He tells her not to be envious of the dead. He believes she needs to experience the joy of flight and will take her on one. He is too weak to physically do so but will let her fly through his mind and memories. The flight awes her. Lindel notes Chise is sharing Nevin’s last dream and her power is flowing into him. He advises Elias not to lose her as there are many others who would kill to have a Sleigh Beggy. He didn’t obtain her easily and for sure he won’t let her go so easily too. Nevin’s last advice to Chise is to live. When the dream is over, a tree quickly sprouts all over Nevin’s body. Lindel has previously planted seeds over his body and is told a beautiful tree will grow. He hopes when Chise is a worthy mage, she will make her wand from his branch. Chise still looks sad so Lindel tells her not to as this is part of nature. Chise feels dizzy. Is it because of the flight? As she collapses, she couldn’t help feel envious that Nevin passed on peacefully.

Episode 4
The next honeymoon brings them to the kingdom of cats, Ulthar. So don’t be surprise to see talking cats like Jasper and Barney. They bring them to see their king, Molly. She knows they are sent by the church and of course there is trouble. As Elias goes to investigate, Molly brings Chise around as she tells the story how this land there was once a man who killed cats. His reign of terror ended when the first king rallied all the survivors to kill him. The little islet in the middle of the pond has some sort of breaming corruption. No prizes to guess what happens if it spreads. Suddenly Chise is usurped. That’s the second time as many honeymoon trips they’ve made. Oh, she’s been dunked into the water too. That’s the second time too. When the corruption engulfs her, she sees a vision. A married couple, Matthew took care of his sick wife, Mina. She wished she had 9 lives like a cat. She feels her punishment was resting on his love. Therefore even though Matthew is the corruption, she is the core and cause of it. Chise is saved by Elias. He knows someone is trying to get in their way but now they must not contain this corruption and cleanse it. As shadow is his essence, he is not compatible with this purification and hence Chise must step up to the task although she has no formal training yet. He believes she can do it. He will have an ariel guide her as he gives her words of encouragement like this world might not be kind to her but it is still not her enemy. As Chise proceeds, she worries if Elias will cast her away if she fails. Also, Mina telling her to kill them makes her more worried. How could she say that in a calm voice? Before she could begin, the perpetrators stop her. They have use for the corruption. Elias remembers him as Mikhail Renfred the sorcerer. Chise’s worries goes up a notch when Renfred mentions she is Elias’ test subject. He dares him to tell her the death fate that awaits a Sleigh Beggy.

Episode 5
Alice (Renfred’s assistant) explains Sleigh Beggies are treasures that create an unending supply of magic. Being alive, they relentlessly absorb and generate magic. Eventually this process will kill them as their body will be strained. However Chise rejects their generous offer to free her. She doesn’t care if they are the truths or lies because Elias is the first to call her family and to value her. Until he lets go of her hand, she belongs to him. Elias goes to handle them so Chise can continue her cleansing. Inside the memories of the corruption, Chise witnesses Matthew meeting a wandering sorcerer. He told him Mina will not live long. Matthew becomes desperate and will do anything. Anything, huh? With Matthew missing for a few days, Mina gets well enough to stroll around. She stumbles upon a shed in the woods. You know what they say about curiosity kills the cat. Literally. Inside the shed there are so many dead and tortured cats! Cat lovers would die of a heart attack. Even more shocking, Matthew killing them. According to the sorcerer, he is using the cats’ blood to make her a potion. Mina wants him to stop but he won’t listen. With the help of the sorcerer, they force the potion down Mina’s throat. After squirming in pain, she explodes! The sorcerer notes the failure of this experiment and will have to find another way to condense souls. Matthew is now broken. He thinks the cause of it is not enough cats. Before he could go on another killing spree, the other cats killed him. Chise is sad but Mina only wants her to erase them. Because of this curse that turned them into corruption, they forget how to return to the cycle of life and then and hence want Chise to erase them from existence. Molly is willing to guide them since she is on her final lap of her life. However Chise will not accept it and comes up with this solution. She wants the ariel to use her wind power to carry the seeds far away. The logic has something to do with pollination (I think) but anyway it works. Mina is reunited with Matthew as they manage to find peace. Now Chise is worried when her turn is to die.

Episode 6
With the corruption gone, Renfred has no more business here and leaves. Chise asks Elias about him. A sorcerer who hates mages and often picked a fight with him. Though, the last time he saw him he still had his left arm. Chise hasn’t forgotten about her death. He explains she will die in 3 years if nothing is done. But don’t worry, he has a way to fight that. That is his experiment and he never told her because his plan doesn’t involve her dying. Also, there was no need and he wanted to wait for the right time. As for his reason picking her, since he isn’t human, fairy or spirit, he has observed humans but never quite understood them. He thought he could learn something if he raised one as his own. Chise passes out from exhaustion. It has been 2 weeks she is lying in a comatose state in the forest but this is the fastest way to replenish her magic. The fairy queen, Titania and her husband the fairy king, Oberon pay a visit. Oberon might be a little mischievous but he uses his magic to fully heal and wake Chise up. First thing she did was to get freaked out seeing this weirdo and run to Elias. With Oberon teasing them being married, I guess it is time for Titania to put a leash on him and leave. She hopes they will come visit her land and will welcome them with a feast. However Spriggan their servant is not amused and warns them not to come even if the queen invites them. He hates humans for their past atrocities on fairies. Elias and Chise walk home. She wished he bought her 10 years earlier. He looks forward on a positive note that they will spend more than 10 years together in the future. She hopes his experiment will succeed.

Episode 7
Renfred is threatened by a sorcerer over his failure. He better buck up next time or else he will turn his disciple into ingredient. Chise asks Elias why he does things for the church. A long time ago, he made a mistake and they had their eyes on him. So in exchange to be left alone, he has to do their requests. A commotion is seen outside the church. A corpse with bites and scratches. Elias goes to talk to the head as Chise scours around. She stumbles into a bad spirit and could have been devoured had not a man, Ulysse destroyed it. Chise can tell he is not human. Seeing Chise reminds him of Isabelle as he turns into a giant black dog. However Ulysse is also wounded and collapses. Alice pops up and demands the dog to be handed over. Chise refuses and splashes sleeping potion over her. Ulysse wakes up. Chise has treated most of his wounds. He talks about Isabelle who is his younger sister. She’s dead. Wondering if he is her pet, he clarifies that he is human and watched over her since she was little. Alice wakes up and once they assure they will not harm her, she explains about her predicament. Alice was supposed to take Ulysse as ingredient to make a chimera. It wasn’t her either. A sorcerer kid showed up and demanded them to. Renfred didn’t want to get involved but was forced into it. He was the one who took his arm. Alice comments about herself as nothing good, pointing out her circumstances similar to Chise once. She just had a bit of magic talent but Renfred picked her up. Alice admits she loves Renfred and will do anything for him. Elias shows himself after he heard her story. He sees the wounds on the corpse and Ulysse as those from a chimera. Alice pleads to help dispose of that sorcerer and is surprised when Elias agrees. If he is left running around, the church will be complaining to him eventually. As she tries her best to describe that kid, Chise pushes Alice out of harm’s way. She bears the brunt of that thorny stab. That kid appears. He was supposed to kill off Alice for blabbing too much. He adds Elias shouldn’t be sad because it’s not like he cared about his guinea pig or become attached to a human. Well, Elias is so enraged he turns into a scary monster.

Episode 8
As Elias attacks the monster, Chise sees Ulysse’s past. The happy dog and her master until her untimely death in an accident. However he thinks she is merely sleeping and waited at her grave hoping she would wake up someday. Chise returns to reality assuring Ulysse. When Elias calls the sorcerer Cartaphilus, he gets mad for using that name. Before he could transform into a monster, Renfred shoots him in the head. However he soon regenerates and explains his goal to use a fairy to create a chimera. He summons a monster using Isabelle’s corpse. This breaks Ulysse’s heart but makes Chise mad. She breaks some rules of magic by materializing insects to attack him. Elias tries to stop her but she ignores him and each time he touches her, he gets devoured. They are saved and whisked to another location by a passing blue fairy (will o wisp) who then lectures Ulysse to remember his role as a black dog: To chase grave robbers to the gates of hell. Ulysse wants to make a new pact with Chise. They will share knowledge and feelings together. There is also a risk. If she dies, he dies. At this point, Cartaphilus has found them. So they quickly get on with it. The contract is complete when Chise gives him a new name: Ruth. With his new master, Ruth immediately attacks and kills off monster Isabelle. Cartaphilus is told to give up and surprisingly he agrees. When one has lived so long, one will learn to give up. He reveals his purpose of it all. As an immortal who is sick and tired of rotting away till an end that he doesn’t even know, he wants to live a painless life even if it means at the pain and expense of hurting others. Since he hates that Cartaphilus name, he goes by the name of Joseph. All our related parties make their way home. Elias will explain to Chise in the morning as well as give her a scolding.

Episode 9
For 2 weeks, Elias has been locking himself in his room. Never coming out once. Silky sends Chise and Ruth out for errands so they go out with Angelica. I think there’s some sort of confusion made by Angelica here. One point she is telling Chise to not do everything herself and rely on others, then later she is asking if she is too reliant on others hence not so spend her life living on hand-outs. This cause Chise to go into some breakdown and apologizing for her cursed life. When she returns home, she gets curious and enters Elias’ room. He almost attacks her. Although it is dark, she can still see he is in his true monster form. He can’t control his body yet and will explain things in the morning. But next day, Elias is not around. Chise and Ruth go look for him and stumble into an old man, Joel Garland and his rose garden. They see hanging around him a Leannan Sidhe, a vampire who grants men talent in exchange for their blood. Ruth suggests she rest while he goes to find Elias. Joel dozes off while telling his story over tea. So Chise as the vampire girl about sticking around Joel since she is granting him any talent nor taking his blood. She hints about love at first sight despite complaining this guy isn’t her type. When Chise wonders if she is in love, she kisses to shut her up! She adds that isn’t the answer she is looking for and that they love by consuming and giving. Ruth reports he has found Elias at the forest’s north. Chise rushes there to see him languishing in the pond. It’s his way of trying to adjust and balance things out. She is mad at him for not telling her things. It is not like she is disinterested in him that she doesn’t want to anything. As he tries to explain, she thinks half of it are lies. But he hopes she could give him some time to gather his thoughts. Is Chise angry despite not acting so? They are interrupted by a fairy familiar of Lindel. He has business with Chise and wants her to come to the land of dragons again. Looks like a dragon ride is already here.

Episode 10
As Lindel learnt Chise had troubled using her magic, he wants to hasten to make a wand for her. However he wants her to come alone and not with Elias. Don’t worry, Ruth can go with her. There, Lindel has her cut a branch from Nevin’s tree since it would be her wand. Night fall, Chise is curious if mages live long so Lindel feels disappointed Elias has not told her anything yet. He believes he is trying to tame her but Chise doesn’t mind. Her original family left her. Only Elias kept her by her side so she doesn’t mind not asking what he doesn’t say. She wants to be complacent but it does not look like it to Lindel. This has him tell her his story of how he first met Elias. Long ago before mages knew they were different from ordinary men, some questioned about their longevity but perished during their quest. Lindel got sick of it and wandered by himself. One night he was watching for wolves to protect his reindeers but they never came. Instead it was that thing (Elias). But Elias collapsed due to hunger. Lindel saved him and brings him to his master, Rahab. She is stumped of his kind because he is close to a fairy or spirit essence but there’s hint of human in him. The best possible explanation is that he was human but dabbled in black magic. Elias cannot remember anything. The first he knew was he started walking in the forest. He continued to walk and walk. Oh, and there was something red too. Rahab assigns Lindel to take care of him since he found him but he doesn’t like it. Elias can continue walking if he is not needed around but Lindel being a tsundere will provide him with shelter and prefers to see him as his acquaintance. Rahab then gives Elias his name and her pendant. Even if no one notices him and he is sad, suffering and lonely, the gods and fairies will always watch over him. So take comfort and save himself.

Episode 11
Lindel and Elias travel around for a few years. One night when food was running low, Lindel entered a village and knocked on doors to heal anyone sick or injured in exchange for food. As he heals a sick boy, he didn’t realize there was a young girl watching them. Because this girl thinks his shadow (Elias) and screams. This alerts the people and they believe Lindel is a demon trying to take their children. He flees as they throw stones. When Lindel is injured, Elias enrages and attacks them with his thorny vines. He could have killed them had not Lindel stopped him and used his magic to transport them away. As they talked, Elias says he thinks he has eaten humans before. Chise feels uneasy hearing that because at one time she thought Elias too was going to eat her. However despite being able to see things since young, she is never afraid of him. Lindel stops her and wants her to tell the rest to Elias himself. Next morning, Lindel cuts some of Chise’s hair as it will be used as the core of her wand. He then lets her choose from a few wood and then she starts carving on it. Night fall, she is almost done as Lindel talks to her with mages having different names. She knows his going by the name of Echos, the song of 100 flowers. He adds mages are named so as they are described by their features and true nature. His magic are songs as he demonstrates by singing. Chise beholds this beautiful night of fantasia, dance and song of the supernatural. She is surprised to see Elias’ reflection in the water. It seems Lindel’s singing activated her water mirror ability. They talk with Elias feeling a bit lonely without her at home and Chise telling him the many things she heard about him and wants to tell him what she has been unable to tell. Once her wand is done, she’ll come home.

Episode 12
When morning comes, Chise realizes her wand is completed. Lindel adds a couple of magic stones to the touches and blesses it with his song. When she touches it for the first time, she is transported to the border world where she sees Nevin. They talk about things but Chise is still having insecurities that Elias might abandon her. Nevin questions if Elias is ever is such person. In fact, he shocks Chise when he is grateful for her parents. For she soared the skies with him for the last time. Plus, she has saved others whom she encountered. When her mom killed herself and regretted giving birth to her, why didn’t she take Chise’s life too and let her live? Because of that, Chise is able to become herself and offer her hand to others. She is free. But if she wants to be depressed about it, it is her choice. Thus he wants her to think not for others but what she wants for herself. Chise returns to reality and she wants to return home quickly to tell Elias all about it. As Nevin said the wand connects to him and everywhere, Chise has the help of the ariels to turn her into some phoenix woman and fly home! Right into the arms of Elias! But in an awkward fashion! Of course she exhausts herself after expanding a lot of magic. Thankfully she wakes up 2 days later. But lots of flying sheep? Shearing season. This time Chise is happier and grateful to have a place call home. A warm to boot too.

Episode 13
As Chise helps to shear the fly sheep, a different one approaches her. However it attacks her and she starts feeling cold. Heck, it even lays an egg and continues attacking with its newly born offspring! Not even Ruth’s fire could stop it. But thank heavens for Elias coming to her rescue and shooing it away. He explains that this is an icy one and steals warmth as it is breeding season compared to the woolly one. As Elias helps her regain her warmth, she talks to him during her trip to the land of dragons. Because she was awake that night and saw him trying to eat her, Elias tries to erase her memories. Chise stops him by hugging him. She doesn’t want to lose memories of someone important. She then talks about her family who left her. Thus she is not afraid of how Elias looks but rather the fear of him leaving her. In turn he asks her about loneliness and is grateful to learn something from her as a human. He takes a look at her new wand but still refrains from telling her more about himself. Chise continues to learn magic (I guess the OVA scenes of Chise telling Elias her back story goes here). That night, a strange figure visits them. Ashen Eye heard about a newly born mage and is here to celebrate. He takes a close look at her. He then gives her a fox hide as present for capturing and binding his people. Chise saw too late through her stone of his evil figure and Elias was also too late to stop him. Now Chise has turned into a fox.

Episode 14
Chise runs off into the wild as Ashen Eye believes this is her way of finding her home. Besides, Chise in this form will be easier for Elias to keep by his side. Chise is revelling in her new animal freedom and wants to go to the other side but Elias tells her he needs her. She reverts to human form and agrees to come home. She can’t stand the cold. Elias shows Chise the fox hide Ashen Eye left as a gift. It turns the wearer into a werebeast. Pretty sure he isn’t going to use it ever. Late that night, Leannan Sidhe pleads to Chise for help as Joel has not woken up all day. Immediately she rushes to him. We can tell he is dying as Elias bluntly points out so and no matter how far Leannan Sidhe leaves him, his fate is already sealed so she could eat him. Chise hints Elias to stop while she talks to her outside. Leannan Sidhe claims she isn’t in love with him because if so they should have followed through. Joel wakes up and thinks Elias is a grim reaper. He has no regrets in his life and is happy to go but only wishes to see that beautiful lady with red eyes once more. Chise gets an idea to make a fairy ointment so Joel could see her one last time. Normally this is forbidden but Elias allows it but she has to do it on her own. She barely makes it and gives it to Leannan Sidhe. Applying it on his eyelids, he finally sees her. She blames him she couldn’t leave him when their eyes first met as he said he was afraid of being alone after his wife died young. Now she’s mad for him for apologizing? You just can’t please her. But Joel is happy to have met her for giving him a reason to live. Thus she can take his life. This makes it harder for her to leave him. Joel is unsure of where he will go next but believes will come to her side eventually. As long someone is waiting for him, he is not afraid. Joel then vanishes. Oh, now she’s blaming him she didn’t get to reply? Oh, you can start crying now. Yeah, even Chise can’t hold back her tears. Leannan Sidhe thanks Chise and will continue to stay at this house in case Joel comes back. Oberon knows Chise made the fairy ointment and wants the remainder back. When she hands it over, she starts coughing blood.

Episode 15
Oberon suggests taking her to the land of fairies for healing. Chise wakes up by the side of Doctor Shannon. Although she is a fairy, thanks to the swapping, she was raised by human parents. Her swapped counterpart, Shanahan looks more like a Centaur because a human who spent a long time here will become something not human. When Shannon brings Chise to a pond, she tells her how much she is attracted to a Sleigh Beggy and also hates it. Immediately she tries to drown her! It seems Chise succumbed to death but comes back alive and turns the tables on Shannon. It looks like this is part of Shannon’s shock treatment as a human who is on the verge of death will suddenly have the fighting will to come back alive. This also helps heal her wounds. Meanwhile Elias is taken to see Titania. She wants Elias to let Chise live here as she is closer to this side. She might have to abandon her humanity but her happiness will be eternal. However Elias rejects her. He still wants to learn about humans. He knows their kind always mocks and pity him. Humans might fear him but they are also the ones who accept him. He wants Chise to remain human. Silky cleans up the house and eager awaits their return. This allows her to see her back story. As a banshee, she become lost and lonely after the family she possessed has passed on. This means she has lost her voice as that family is no longer around to hear her. She wanders until she stumbled into Spriggan. Because she whispers she wants to spend more time with them, he leads her to a house with life. As long as there is a soul living there, she will find light. Silky transforms from her desolated look to one that looks like a silver flower. Hence her being named, Silky by him. Elias brings Chise home. As time flows differently, by the time they return home, it is already winter. The moment Chise steps in, Silky rushes to give a big hug.

Episode 16
Chise meets a couple of Yule twins. Elias explains that since Christmas is coming, they are preparing for the Yule festival. Elias and Chise also do the same and the former wants to try that kissing under the mistletoe legend. Weird. Girl kissing skull head. And then one for Ruth too. On Christmas Day, Chise hangs out with Alice in town. They stumble into former mates of Alice. They once pushed drugs together. Alice doesn’t like their company and beats them up before taking Chise to run. Cue for Alice to tell her back story. She considers herself as good for nothing until one day Renfred picked her up and let her stayed at his place. She was sceptical at first since from where she came, it was hard to trust others. One day while cleaning his library, she accidentally opens a book that contains a demon. She would have been done for had not Renfred shielded her. Though, he did sustained grave injuries. She felt very sorry for that and vowed to become his bodyguard. Chise returns home and Elias isn’t pleased she went out alone and exposed herself to danger. She knew he would say no even if she told him. Precisely. Anyway she got him a present which is a pendant. He too has a present for her. This big teddy bear was what once Angelica wanted so he has been making them for her family since. Also, there are other gifts for Chise from other people. This present distraction wasn’t enough to switch the topic because Elias will still scold her about going alone to town. He too had wanted to do some errands. However she wouldn’t want him to come along since she had a secret talk with another girl about girl stuff.

Episode 17
Chise and Elias go out for a walk when they stumble into Stella Barklem. She is frantic because her brother, Ethan is missing. Chise knows she has to get involved when they see Stella’s parents going after her. They are stumped about her looking for her brother when they think she is her only child. Chise talks to her as she is the only one who remembers Ethan. Elias possesses Chise to ask for compensation. She is willing to make sweets for them and since she visits her grandma here once a month, she’ll make as much as she wants. They begin to trace Ethan but it seems Chise has to ask the help of the forest spirits to show the way. Each time, giving her magical flower as reward. When she runs out of that, she has to give her own blood. This shocks Stella because it’s like she’s hurting herself. Chise says she has a brother too but cannot see him anymore. Stella still can and wants hers to be reunited with him. Finally it leads them to Ashen Eye and he has Ethan in his possession. He warns about humans saying words so nonchalantly. Flashback shows Ethan rushed out of the house against her advice. She told him off she didn’t need a selfish brother. Ashen Eye took this chance to claim him now that their bond is broken. Proof is that Stella cannot remember his name now. He wants to play a game and forces Elias to play. He hides Ethan and Elias and gives the girls until sundown to find them. Failure means he owns both of them. This is unfair since Ashen Eye stand to lose nothing. But Chise knows what to do when he hints about looking for them with her beastly nose. Elias and Ethan are trapped underwater. Ethan is freaked out at first but is soon captivated by his weird features. Elias transforms himself into Chise’s clone? Elias is unsure of family bonds thingy as Ethan talks about being family and he really wants to apologize to Stella. Chise has found them. She used the fox hide to transform into a bear and sniff them out. Stella and Ethan stubbornly quarrel like siblings always do before making up. Ashen Eye admits his loss but it was fun. He warns Stella about being careless with words again. That’s why there are spirits like him lingering close to snatch them when the opportunity arises. Instead, he takes the magical flower Stella has that Chise gave her prior. Returning to their parents who remember and were worried sick about them, Stella introduces Chise as her new friend.

Episode 18
Stella visits to give sweets as promised. She and Chise chat until Chise realizes Elias going out. Knowing something is wrong, she goes after him. As she cannot keep up with his beast form, she uses the fox hide to turn herself into a wolf. Once she catches up, she gets engulfed in his shadow. Elias explains he did so because she wanted Stella to leave and he felt strangely satisfied when Chise ran after him. This has her thinking Elias might have been feeling the same way she always did (the fear of being abandoned). Confused over this feelings, the tentacles grow tighter. She knows she will be consumed at this rate so she uses her wand to send an SOS signal to Ruth. However with the darkness, Ruth cannot pinpoint the location. A passing fairy helps light up the place for Ruth to find them. Chise explains about this jealous feeling Elias has. But since he isn’t listening, Chise threatens to kill herself. Immediately she is spit out. For once, Chise is like the mature grownup as she calms him down and takes him back. Next day, Chise visits Angelica but since she is busy, her husband, David accompanies her as he talks about his blessed family despite him being an ordinary human. When Angelica is ready, she hears Chise’s problem. Apparently she sang Elias a lullaby and he cannot get up now. It could be that Chise has her magic compounded in the song. Angelica goes to fix a medication as Chise starts feeling weary and coughing blood. David talks about Angelica never changed until their daughter was born. He realized why she always turned him down. As they have to continue sending people off with no end in sight, it is painful to think how many days left they can laugh together. He hopes they can live as long without stressing or forcing it. Back home, Chise makes the medicine, forces open Elias’ mouth and slams it in! Not sure which one woke him up. Now it is Chise’s turn to sleep. Meanwhile poachers are trying to capture dragons in dragon land. Luckily Lindel is here to stop them but Cartaphilus shows up with his own motives.

Episode 19
Chise dreams of spotting Cartaphilus in London. However he has no memories of himself. Then he goes berserk and pleading to Chise to help save them. She wakes up after 2 days of sleep. She sees Alice here and apparently there is something going on. When she joins Elias, it seems Renfred along with his college buddies, Adolf Stroud and Tory Innis are also present. They mention poachers have captured 2 dragons and left behind a teleportation device that Renfred created. It is believe Cartaphilus is behind this. They hope Elias could help them look for the dragons. However he refuses seeing he is in no obligation to do so and will not put Chise in danger. But after hearing Chise care about those dragons, he relents. They have no clue where Cartaphilus is but Chise believes he is in London. After finding out that dragons fetch a high price, she has a hunch where it is. She sees Seth Noel who works at an auctioneer at the black market auction. He offers his help to inject more funds if the bid goes over the amount the college cannot cover. The bid begins and the price is getting higher and higher. Chise hears the voice of a woman who would like to offer her help. By the time Seth bids 2.9 million, the dragon breaks from its bind and cage. From all the trauma and fear, it goes berserk burning the entire hall down. Chise starts crying and could feel the trauma and fear it is feeling. Elias hugs her and assures those are not her feelings and do not need to let them take her.

Episode 20
Chise needs Elias’ help to help return the rampaging dragon home. As the rest try to distract it, Elias takes Chise up to the base of its neck to touch and absorb its magic. However the dragon rampages further and breaks through the building. It is now soaring in the sky with Chise holding on tight. Don’t worry about normal people seeing this because they can’t. Chise manages to touch its neck and sends it crashing into the river. Chise wakes up at home with Shannon by her side. The dragon is outside sleeping soundly but it looks like Chise’s left arm is now monstrous. As explained by Lindel, she is cursed by the dragon’s power. It will slowly fester in her body and tear it apart. Chise isn’t startled. She already has the Sleigh Beggy’s curse so what is one more curse, right? There is another option for her to live longer and that is to live on the other side but at the cost of her humanity. Chise will think about it. We see Chise and Elias taking a walk and talk things out. He thinks she is okay with self-sacrifice as it is some sort of proof she existed. Of course she denies that and is even unsure of her own actions. She just felt like she wanted to do it. They are visited by Marielle the witch. She is supposed to take the dragon’s blood in exchange for money at the auction but circumstances makes it impossible. She takes a look at her cursed arm. Fascinated by it, Marielle asks if she is interested in becoming a witch. If she joins them, they might help her. Elias does not like this but Chise is open to the idea of joining her. For starters, join their gathering as a guest as soon as possible. Later Stella comes by to give Chise an invitation to her birthday party. Guess what? Today is Chise birthday! Stella is not amused the rest didn’t do a party for her. They don’t even know party means… Chise starts feeling sick and excuses herself as she vomits in the bathroom. She feels pathetic for trying to do what it takes to live. Elias hugs her and is okay with this. Her health is more important. Then it might not be too late to think about her next year’s birthday party? Meanwhile Joseph learns of Chise’s curse. He thinks of the irony that he is cursed to live that keeps him from dying while Chise is cursed closer to death. Looks like he’s got something up his sleeve.

Episode 21
Elias and Chise head for the witches’ gathering and meet with Phyllis the high priestess of the coven. She turns them down and says they have no knowledge of freeing Chise’s curse except to kill the dragon. This upsets Marielle but as Phyllis explains, Marielle intended to use Chise’s curse to free Phyllis from the tree curse. Even so, they can’t repay them. Phyllis believes Chise should walk her own path and someday somebody might cure her curse. The duo return to normal life as Elias tries to research ways to save Chise. Because now he has a goal, Simon thinks he looks better. Stella comes to see Elias and this brings him relief as he doesn’t have to find her. Oh no. The ariel scolds Chise that she wouldn’t have ended up like this had she followed her. Chise believes she only sticks around because she is a Sleigh Beggy. Chise can tell Elias is planning something without telling her. She needs someone who will obey her no matter happens to her. That’s why she picked the ariel since she likes Sleigh Beggies so much otherwise she wouldn’t have sided with Elias. Chise then sees Elias and is shocked to see unconscious Stella in his hands. He knocks her out and she could tell Ruth is also in cohorts with him. Chise is now in the other world with Nevin. She thinks he is always guiding her but he disagrees as she is the one guiding herself. She must decide what to do. Chise knows. She needs to find out what Elias is up to. She injures herself to break out of the spell. Elias begins the ritual to use Stella’s life and transfer Chise’s curse to her. But it seems Joseph has possessed her body and mocks him for doing such a thing. Who is the real monster? When Chise barges in, Joseph acts like Stella and tells what Elias was going to do. This makes her mad for even trying this as she wanted them to think together. Elias didn’t bat an eyelid that he purposely chose Stella for this. Because Chise’s treatment to her is different to him. He doesn’t like that. Mad Chise punches him and then goes after Stella. When she catches up, she realizes it is Joseph in her body. He proposes a deal and in exchange will ward off her curse and free Stella. She agrees and takes off her stone, seeing she can’t be with Elias as he is right now.

Episode 22
Chise is now with Joseph. He wants her arm so that he could die and in exchange she will have a body that can never die. Chise doesn’t trust him but is there any other choice? He wants to test for their body’s compatibility so he gorges out his own eye and exchanges it with hers. So far so good. Body not rejecting. He will do the transplant while she is asleep. Since he still hates her, he makes her dream of her past. Chise sees her old memories, a time she was living with her original family. Despite her mom was fragile, they are indeed a happy family. Halfway through the happy story, Joseph pops up. Or at least a fragment of him. Since he chopped and embedded so many parts, they don’t even know which is the real him. He believes Joseph is making her relive this is to hurt her but at the same time protect her. It looks like Chise’s dad could see the supernatural and one night left with her baby brother and never returned. This was when things took a turn for the worse for her mom. She tried multiple jobs to support them. As she could now see the supernatural, it spooks her out. She tries to remain strong but is always pushed to her limits when the supernatural even attacked Chise. Then one day she gave into the weakness of her inner voice. All this wouldn’t have happened had Chise not been born. She tried to strangle her but ultimately realized her doing. Shortly, she killed herself. With the spirit of Chise’s mom continuing to haunt her, Chise rebukes she is her real mom and is only a version she created inside of her. She will not forgive her but is also grateful to her because without being born, she wouldn’t have met all those wonderful people. She also loved her but has a hard time remembering all that ever since. She met a person who cared for her more than herself. She thanks her for letting her go that day. She won’t forget her but will leave her and move on. Chise meets that Joseph part again and is told as long as she wishes to live, he will be her blessing. In reality, Chise wakes up from her operation (has it started yet?) and tries to strangle Joseph. She is going to find out why he is doing this.

Episode 23
Elias in his beast form tries to find Chise. Because of his unruliness, Spriggan holds him down. Titania and Oberon are willing to help find her but want them all to live here happily forever. Elias rejects them and realizes the need to rethink his ways so Chise can accept him again. Nevertheless, Titania will still help him as she extends her branches all over to find her. We peek into Joseph’s tragic past. He was a gravedigger and the people scorn him thinking he is a witch who talks to the dead. One day he heard a voice asking for help. He brought this strange mummy, Cartaphilus home and decided to heal it until it is better. Once that happens, he hopes to leave this town and the duo can live happily ever after. However Cartaphilus never got better and with Joseph continued to be bullied, he breaks down in frustration. Then he gets this weird idea that they should become one since Cartaphilus cannot die. Now that they are one, Joseph feels pain everywhere. As they wander, all good Samaritans who helped him end up being killed and he took their body parts to replace his hurting ones. But the pain is still there. Even the shaman he visited only knows it is a very old curse. Joseph continues to wander and seek help. Now that Chise has seen his past, Joseph becomes mad. He attacks her and tries to rip off her arm but that’s when Titania comes to her rescue. With Elias going on the offensive, frustrated Joseph unleash his zombie army of mashed up creatures. While Renfred and Alice handle the grieving souls of the dead, Joseph escapes and Chise goes after him. Luckily she bumps into Marielle who gives her a bull to ride. Chise tells Elias that she is still mad at him and wants him to make up for it. For that he needs his help and to keep a promise.

Episode 24
Chise finds Joseph who complains about the nagging pain he has never stopped feeling and being treated like a monster. Her reply: You want others to know or just to believe he is the only one suffering. Angry Joseph counters that by saying she has a coveted body and has no trouble getting food and shelter. She is the one who acts like as though she is suffering the most. She admits she once hated and envied everything in life. They are the same. That’s why she is going to beat the crap out of him. Seriously? She can’t even hit him. Looks like Ashen Eye is with Joseph as he tries to rid of Chise. Luckily Elias and Ruth are here. Ashen Eye takes Joseph to escape but Elias combines with the ariel to cut down Ashen Eye. More Chise pep talk about he might have suffered but that doesn’t mean he has to make others suffer too. Joseph stabs her but this is part of her plan and promise by Elias to bind them together. As he struggles, Ruth gorges out Chise’s eye from Joseph. With Elias’ magic, Chise feels Joseph’s pain and then sings a lullaby till he sleeps. Yup, she definitely doesn’t want to feel this pain forever. Chise collapses from exhaustion. In her dream, she sees that part of Joseph who tells her his blessing will keep her alive but the dragon’s arm will try to kill her. Both will cancel out each other and keep each other in check so nothing is going to happen to her for a while. Chise wakes up back home in Elias’ arms. Everything seems normal. Until Chise starts lecturing him. He too lectures her back. I don’t think Silky’s hug is going to stop their bickering.

In the aftermath, Elias reports to Simon about Stella being back to normal, the witches have stopped trying to recruit them and the dragons have gone home with Lindel. As for Joseph or Cartaphilus, who knows what happened to him but he won’t be back in a few decades. In fact he is sleeping soundly in a secret place where Chise comes to keeps check from time to time. Ashen Eye is not pleased that Joseph has found a place to rest and is bored with it all. Chise pays a visit to Angelica before coming to Stella’s birthday party. But she is surprised Stella also throws her a birthday party. Yes, it’s Stella’s birthday but since Chise didn’t have one, she will host one for her now. When Elias goes to pick Chise up, he sees her in a wedding dress. Is he supposed to understand that this is beautiful in human standards? But I wonder why Chise is wearing it. Sure, she got them as presents from Angelica and Stella but why put it on? Right now. At this time. Then it’s time for Chise to remind us what her role and this anime title is as she puts rings on their ring finger. Yeah… Then Chise’s speech to thank him and the likes. How she has changed over the year but still hates this body. Elias on the other hand doesn’t intend to hurt her but there will be times he might turn into that monster again. Is that okay? You saying that at this point? Chise says that even if they argue or don’t understand each other, they can always talk till they do. Sure, words are easy… He picks her up and carries her home like a princess. She is his bride after all. So will she stop being his disciple then? Nope, she’ll continue. For the first time she calls him her teacher.

 

With Great Powers Come Great Respectability
I am wondering if Chise’s arm is healed. Although logically the dragon curse is still with her, the lack of that monster arm in the aftermath sure does pose some questions. She might have covered it but that doesn’t mean its size could shrink to that of a normal arm, right? Unless there is some magic to make that look so. Nevertheless, the ending feels pretty okay. All the while Chise has been going through lots of changes and dangers that we forgot she was Elias’ future bride along the way. So when is the right time to marry? Before she kicks the buckets! Haha! Oops. Well, considering she is a Sleigh Beggy, her lifespan is shorter so better make those wedding plans quick. Unless Elias finds a way to cure that. But still, time is ticking for Chise.

Sometimes I feel that the plot isn’t the strongest point of the series because in many instances it generally feels the same. Chise gets into some sort of trouble and then with her friends, they overcome the trouble. Chise learns something new. Cue drama effect. Rinse and repeat. I suppose it is for character development but I’ll touch on that later. Therefore the stories and the mini arcs themselves aren’t anything extraordinary. They just involve the supernatural and some hint of magic. That’s all. But I guess it is better than my initial expectations that a creature of death is keeping a human girl as his sex slave, thus turning the entire series into a hellish nightmare. Yeah, how did I ever end up thinking like that?

I feel that there are lots of wasted potential and it would be easy to blame that the anime has just 2 dozen episodes (plus 3 initial OVA episodes). For example when they introduced about mages and sorcerers. In many other works, they are interchangeable but not here. So I was thinking there would be some sort of showdown between both sides. Maybe I was just overthinking. Maybe not yet. After all, Chise as a Sleigh Beggy is quite coveted and they say many would do what it takes to get her body, it seems her life is pretty safe and sound besides the few misadventures. You don’t hear from anywhere that there are shady people and organization trying to kidnap her because of this status. Unless she is so sheltered and protected by Elias that the perpetrators would think twice and would rather not mess with him because the risk is not worth it. Which should also make sense since Elias paid a lot for her so he should have taken great measures to foresee and at least prevent this. It would be a pain if every arc is about Chise getting kidnapped for this.

I am not a guy who is fond of supernatural elements. That is mainly because I usually associate supernatural with horror and I’m don’t stomach the latter very well. So shows that mainly deal with spirits and the unknown aren’t usually my cup of tea. But of course I tend to break my own rules sometimes as there are a few handful of supernatural themed animes I have watched over the years. So even as I watched the supernatural in this series, I have to admit that I wasn’t really spooked by the spirits and spectres here. Of course supernatural doesn’t naturally mean horror and even if some of the creatures do look spooky enough, they aren’t frightening nor eerie enough that I would have nightmares. Maybe some of the dark evil ones will spook you but surprisingly I wasn’t scared out of my daylights. Is this proof that I am maturing and ready for horror? Oh, my guts still tell me so. Better be safe than sorry.

Hence being afraid of the supernatural aspects of this series all boils down to the simple answer of how well you know the unearthly things. We fear the spirits because we lack understanding of their nature and quickly give in to our stereotypes and biasness of what we think those creatures would do to us. Sometimes I’d like to think that using supernatural themes in shows is one way to hide the ‘creativity’ because we are either awed or not with the unexplained. There are good spirits and there are bad ones. Like Chise has spent quite a while involved with the supernatural so she could naturally tell. But if I had a choice, I’d rather be a human who would never be able to see those things and live an ignorant but blissful life. Even if the plus side of seeing such things is to have magic, no thanks, I’ll pass.

The main draw of this drama is probably the character development especially between our main characters. Generally speaking, the pacing between Chise and Elias is slow and those who aren’t used to dramas and infused with supernatural elements might not see anything special. As the manga is still ongoing, the anime of course does not do very much justice when you look closely. There are still more questions to answers and the relationship between Chise and Elias are still on a rocky situation. They have a very long way to go if they are to understand each other fully. A long way to go before they become a married couple. There are times when they do feel close especially Chise opening up more than usual but those could be just the lull before the storm. A false sense of security since the situation isn’t all that bad and it is much better compared to her previous life. Until they start knowing each other deeper that the true test of whether their union will survive or not.

So Chise’s character isn’t anything particularly amazing or extraordinary. Sometimes it feels like she is caught between a rock and a hard place. Out of the pan and into the fire. Thanks to her Sleigh Beggy status, her life doesn’t seem to be better. Of course it still beats the hellish abuse she endured when she had no help at all. It is slightly better than before but still no better generally. Unless some sort of miracle happens, she will still die of the Sleigh Beggy’s curse. Comparatively being a mage and dying this way isn’t so bad for Chise as she is able to have met a few people along her journey. So even if the curse kills her, at least she could say she lived this magus life to the fullest unlike when she was young, she was literally powerless to do anything. Not sure if it is the guilt of her curse life that Chise is trying to help others and neglect herself. Very noble but if this was reality, humans being selfish creatures themselves would go for self-preservation. But I suppose this is anime and you need some sort of drama and a great heroine whom the viewers can root for.

All she wants is acceptance and a place to call home. Somebody that she could call family. Elias gave her that chance and despite some disputes now and then, he is pretty much she would call her closest family than anybody else. Even if Titania and Oberon sound so tempting and keep bugging her to come stay in their world, sometimes it is best to go with the basics. Everything might be happy and fun for a long time in the fairy world but remember, Chise is for the most part a human. She will lose that humanity of hers if she stays too long. Elias might not be human but the home he provides is the closest to what is best for her and the safest as a family. Also, I wished we had known what happened to Chise’s real father and baby brother. Maybe they will reappear much later in the plot but for now it just feels unsatisfying to leave it hanging as a mystery like that but at least it gives us an insight and a starting point to Chise’s troubles.

There are lots of things we do not know about Elias either. Sure, that past with Lindel does light up some things about his background but anything more than that the anime did not answer. Oddly he wants to learn more about humans but having his disciple who is his future bride as his teacher about humans doesn’t real feel right. He can still learn about humans but only from her point of view. Because if he wants to know all about humans and how varied their personalities are, I don’t think taking up a course and majoring in sociology, psychology or even behavioural science isn’t going to make you an expert. Sure, Elias has the advantage of living long enough so he might be able to understand humans better. After all, humans generally through the eons do not change, right? Yeah, I’m sure he would instead of just wandering and being confined to his lovely English home doing who knows what. If he wants to know more about humans, he should get out there and interact more with them. Of course there is the danger of scaring them and many would fear him but that’s the risk he has to take if he truly wants to learn more on humans. Honestly, I don’t see how Elias and Chise are teaching each other either. Maybe learning isn’t just listening to lectures and doing your homework.

So I am thinking that he is just trying to understand Chise herself. Remember, he is trying to do an experiment on her as a Sleigh Beggy and he might sound suspicious and not even trusting when he doesn’t even tell her all about it by himself. Only when the situation corners him, he let the cat out of the bag. After all, Elias and Chise are both different beings and understanding each other doesn’t happen in a day or weeks or months. Heck, some men never understood women their entire lives! Haha! Oops… So it is basically down to that old values of trust and believe if Elias and Chise want to make their relationship work out. Of course we understand Chise’s anger in the final arc because she has never known much about Elias to begin with. Don’t expect a reclusive creature to open up after thousands of years but I’m guessing with Chise around, he will change. After all, didn’t Chise’s ‘defection’ to Joseph stemmed from Elias’ jealousy?

Other characters don’t feel substantial. There are quite a few characters in this series since Chise would meet them as she learns, expands and controls her magic. Those who are relevant for that certain arc are mostly forgettable once the arc ends like those cats and that sexy vampire. But for those who are mainly supporting, they don’t do much justice. Even you would wonder what Angelica’s role is for besides being another mage Chise could talk to. After all, this series as said is putting its limelight on Chise and Elias. For example, Ruth. After we see how he becomes Chise’s familiar, he doesn’t play a significant supporting role after that. Sure, there are times when he comes to her aid but it just feels like as though they needed to show us that Chise isn’t strong yet and there are those she knows who would come to save her. I know Chise is trying to be strong but overall I still see her as weak. In her powers, that is. Can’t blame her since she is still trying hard to control them. So back to Ruth, he is like mostly keeping an eye on her. And I thought Silky would have some sort of hidden power or something. Even after exposing her past I thought she would be some sort of trump card. Nothing of that sort. Do you guys even remember Simon? It feels like his character is supposed to be a joke for Elias to dislike. Why the heck they introduced Marielle the witch in the end that didn’t bring anything important forth? Or that college duo. What happened to them anyway after that dragon berserk incident? So yeah, so many characters but they don’t really feel all that important to the storyline for now.

Renfred and Alice seemed like they are the antagonist but once we learn Joseph/Cartaphilus as the main baddie, their roles have been reduced significantly. So they make sparring appearances so that we don’t forget them. Joseph’s back story is interesting and tragic to explain why he resorts to heinous activities but not enough to pity him. So the solution to all the pain is just to sleep? Man, if real life problems were that easily solved. Not sure if Ashen Eye is an antagonist or not because no doubt he hates humans but he doesn’t outright kills them. Like as though he would love to carry out his plan through someone or something. Maybe he lacks the certain power? Renfred supposedly had a long hostile history with Elias and now with Chise around, they’re like not exactly friends or even allies but more like friends of convenience. I suspect that Titania and Oberon might be the true villains despite their friendly and playful demeanour. Villains doesn’t necessarily mean evil people who want to hurt others and rule over the world. Or become filthy rich. What I mean is they always keep pestering Chise to come live in their fairy world forever. Though they are not forceful, the constant bugging may get annoying. Of all people, why Chise? Is it because she is a Sleigh Beggy? Are there no Sleigh Beggy creatures in their domain? Once Chise accepts to live in their world, they may show their true colours. After all, how much does Chise know about them and the fairy world again? I might just be overthinking but when dealing with such, you can never be too careful…

I have mixed feelings for the art and animation. Although some of the background and sceneries are gorgeous, sometimes I noticed the animations of the characters leave more to be desired. Important scenes with important characters will retain their quality but for other scenes, the quality takes an obvious drop. This coming from Wit Studio, the anime production house that gave us Shingeki No Kyoujin, Koutetsujou No Kabaneri and Owari No Seraph. As for the character designs, initially looking at Elias’ skull, I thought it reminded me of those dead cattle rotted to the bones you see in American deserts. As for Chise, at first I was wondering why Shirayuki from Akagami No Shirayuki-hime was doing here after she has been living happily ever after in the kingdom of Clarines. Like as though this is the cursed version of her in an alternate universe. As mentioned, the supernatural creatures are not that scary but this is part of the ‘creativity’ in showing various forms of other worldly beings.

This isn’t an ecchi series but how come high level female spirits have very huge boobs! Like Titania and Leannan Sidhe. Boobs that could only appear in super ecchi or hentai shows. I suppose it’s a sign of attractiveness but what does a low level human like me know? Sometimes they try to diffuse the tension and drama by adding in some light-hearted moments. While I am fine with that, sometimes the art and animation turn the characters into chibi mode. Not really sure it fits with the flow of the series. It is somewhat distracting. Not to say that it is that bad but when you have the theme of the series to be grim and then all of a sudden this chibi style pops up. Like a little jolt to the system.

There are many seiyuus lending their voice to this series. Recognizable ones include Sayaka Ohara as Titania, Kappei Yamaguchi as Oberon, Hiroki Yasumoto as Spriggan, Jouji Nakata as Ashen Eye, Junichi Suwabe as Seth, Yuko Kaida as Angelica, Akira Ishida as will o wisp and Takahiro Sakurai as Miura. I thought Chise having looked like Shirayuki would be voiced by Saori Hayami. It would have been weird. But she is voiced by Atsumi Tanezaki (Miu in Blend S). Saori Hayami does play a role here as Leannan Sidhe. I thought Silky would be a character with no dialogue but with very soft and rare murmurs, I guess they need one played by Aya Endo (Tchaikovsky in ClassicaLoid). The other casts include Ryota Takeuchi as Elias (Albion in High School DxD), Kouki Uchiyama as Ruth (Ichika in Infinite Stratos), Daisuke Namikawa as Lindel (Rock in Black Lagoon), Ayumu Murase as Joseph/Cartaphilus (Kazuo in Hatsukoi Monster), Satoshi Hino as Renfred (Kamui in Gintama), Mutsumi Tamura as Alice (Sonya in Kill Me Baby), Maaya Sakamoto as Marielle (Ciel in Kuroshitsuji), Toshiyuki Morikawa as Simon (Munakata in Danganronpa 3), Ryuuzaburou Ootomo as Nevin (King/Orb in MAR) and Sumire Morohoshi as Stella (Nina in Shingeki No Bahamut: Virgin Soul).

I feel that the first opening theme, Here by Junna fits the overall theme of the series. It has this enigmatic and energetic feel to it. I think it also has a bit of tango in the piece. Because the second opening, You by May’N feels inferior in my opinion. It loses all that enigmatic feel for that generic pop feel that is so May’N’s style. But it’s not that bad, just that the first opener sounds better. Because of that, I also feel that the first ending theme, the slow ballad of Wa -Cycle- by Hana Itoki is beautiful as enigmatic as it sounds thanks to the choir voices of the vocals. Although the second ending theme, Tsuki No Mou Hanbun by Aiki & Akino From Bless4 is also a slow ballad but again it loses that enigmatic feel that fits the series well. Again, not that bad but I still prefer the former. Also to note that some of the soundtracks are nice and beautiful especially the slow ones.

Overall, this series is one long drama between an unhuman mage and a young human girl with magic and supernatural elements scattered in between. The overall visuals and soundtrack stand out more than the plot or characters. Despite the magic elements, this is no fairytale so don’t expect all that happy-happy and bright themes but deals with grim topics like loneliness and depression. Of course it also tries to impart hope and living life to the fullest but then again, those kind of topics sound more like fantasy and fairytale than real life lessons. I don’t know which is worse. Having to see spirits and the supernatural or having to see dead people. Worse, having to choose to marry an undead creature or your pedo uncle. Not even magic can cure creatures known as humans.

Alice Or Alice

July 20, 2018

I don’t know why she’s leaving or where she’s gonna go/ I guess she’s got her reasons but I just don’t want to know/ ‘Cause for twenty four years I’ve been living next door to Alice. Uhm… I don’t know… For some reason, hearing Alice Or Alice makes me want to hum this song from Smokie despite having nothing to do with it and more to do with the one from Lewis Carroll. Not really based on Alice In Wonderland either but it is said the titular characters are Alice twins and they have a brother with a sister complex. Oh sh*t. I think I can see what kind of show this is going to be…

Episode 1
Twin loli morning fanservice as we see Rise trying to wake up Airi. Nothing wakes up your twin like touching her flat non-existent boobs. However Airi still feels sleepy and mixes up the toothpaste with the face wash. Their siscon loving brother, Ani makes them pancakes but Airi still feels dizzy. Turns out she is sick. They put her back to bed so in order not to make her feel lonely, Ani gives her an alpaca plushie as his substitute in which he says is a forest fairy. Really? It makes her day. Doesn’t she look better already with that smile?

Episode 2
The glutton flat chested Maco and her clumsy big breasted sister, Coco visit the twins. As Ani is in the midst of making lunch, Maco hopes to taste his cooking. However he only made enough for the twins. Maco throws a tantrum she wants to eat his cooking and of course the solution is to help cook with them. Coco is clumsy in handling things but nothing life threatening. They finish making their cake so Ani tops it off with his special strawberry prize.

Episode 3
The girls visit Kisa Kissa, a maid café run by Kisaki who is Ani’s childhood friend. As recommended by him, they will be helping out and working part time here. Of course they need to practice first and who else better than to practice their hospitality on Ani? Rise is so shy and cute that Ani wants to order her! Airi accidentally drops cake on him but makes up with an omelette rice. Maco whips up a great sundae but can’t help feel hungry about it so he lets her eat it. Coco burnt her steak… Their reward at the end is Ani’s cooking but he didn’t do it alone. He got the help of some little fairies, Kabi Usagi. WTF. I hope the food isn’t drugged to see such cute mythical creatures.

Episode 4
The girls find a homeless girl in a box next to the dump. Because Ruha freaked out Coco, she got slapped out. I guess when you’re hungry and tired, you go back to sleep? Thankfully Ani carries her to Kisa Kissa. She wakes up and Coco feels sorry and tries to make up with her (death) pudding. Almost killed her. She runs to Ani for protection. Since she is hungry for hamburgers, Coco wants to make up for it but Ani will help to make sure they don’t turn out to be poison. Ruha eats her fill. Kisaki then lets Ruha wear a maid outfit. Because she is well endowed, she looks kinda sexy. This turns Kisaki on as she starts snapping away.

Episode 5
Everyone visits the hotspring. Kisaki being the pervert trying to harass and take pictures of everyone while Ani on the other side is meditating to keep out horny thoughts. That night they visit the festival and just right as Ani suggests holding hands so as not to get separated, they realize Coco is missing. Indeed she somehow got lost. Then this Alpaca fairy (you mean this is really a fairy?) tells her as long as she loves everyone in her heart, they’ll always come back to her. True enough they reunite. Maco is most emotional so Coco apologizes for making her worry.

Episode 6
Now everyone visits the beach. They’re using Alpaca as a ball? Fuzzy and bouncy. They notice the watermelons gone and then find out cheeky Maco is using them as boobs. Cool it Airi. We want to split the watermelons and not a human head! When they go swim in the sea, it seems Airi is reluctant to join them. Turns out she isn’t good at swimming. But don’t worry, Ani will teach her. Now she can decently swim with everyone. Except for Ruha who continues to munch down her food.

Episode 7
The girls noticed another maid café, Dark House has opened across. Sum up your courage and enter this creepy Halloween themed building. Then again, is it creepy when you have a cute bat mascot, Cory guiding the way? They meet Dark House’s owner, Yamiry as she gives them try her dark hamburgers. Well, Ruha didn’t die from it so I guess they’re okay. They are confused when Yamiry says she is their fan. Could she be one of Kisaki’s customers? So why open another rival maid café? That is why Yamiry is going to challenge them to a competition. The loser closes down forever. This mean if Yamiry wins, Kisa Kissa will not only close down but all of them will work at Dark House as well. Challenge accepted.

Episode 8
Ani is dressed up since he is going to be the judge for their showdown. But of course. First round: Eating contest. Gluttony Maco eats her way fast to victory and leaving slowpoke Ruha in the dust. Second round: Cooking contest. Yamiry defeats Kisaki only because she added some tongue numbing spice to her cake. Honestly, if Yamiry added that and had Ani eat first, shouldn’t Kisaki’s cake also not taste anything? I guess the effects wore off fast. Final round: Cosplay contest: Ruha’s dark Santa or twins’ mini skirt reindeer? Instant hands down for the twins! With Yamiry’s loss, she isn’t happy and instantly hugs Ani as an excuse to cheer herself up and a small peck too. She promises to win the next time and make him all hers.

Episode 9
New Year, new Alice? Because it might be a feast for Ani’s eyes when he sees Airi sexually molesting Rise! Yeah, blame the sweet sake that got her drunk despite having no alcoholic content. As Ani pulls Airi away, I suppose sexualizing her brother is better than sexualizing her twin so she wants to stay close to him to feel better. She admits she has a hard time opening up but if she is like this, she feels she can be honest to her feelings. But that won’t do for Ani. He wants her to ALWAYS be honest to her feelings. Hence he suggests to make it this year’s goal. And with that, the twins are happy being with him. Before they dig into their special New Year food, the other sisters visit and Ani can tell they’re going to have another lively year ahead. You don’t say…

Episode 10
Yamiry is back to her vile ways once again. Luring Ruha with food so that she could lure the Kisa Kissa girls here and challenge them again. Yup, Ani is going to be their judge for this Valentine chocolates test. The moment he tastes Yamiry’s chocolate, he judges this the best and won’t taste any other! It is discovered in this chocolate box there is a naughty manuscript of the twins! While this distress them, time for Yamiry to put on some (crocodile?) tears and say she too wants to make Ani happy and actually loves them all. With Ani understanding how much she cares for everyone, Kisaki suggests she work at her place. Kisaki must love the extra help and extra income but her eyes are continuing to blink in money as she plans to sell the manuscript! Don’t you dare!

Episode 11
The twins realize that it has been 2 weeks that Ani has been busy and even waking up late. Furthermore, today is their birthday and they don’t really want to force this issue on him. It makes them feel a little sad, though. As the day nears its end, they think of making him a treat but when they return home, Ani pops a birthday surprise for them. Looks like he has knitted a big fluffy scarf overflowing with his love for them. I know we should be feeling warm about this but I can’t help feel cringe the way he said that… So this is the source of his late nights and being busy. He really wanted to make something on his own. Time for some big sisterly twin hug! I love you! Aww!!!

Episode 12
Suddenly… Kisaki announces they are going to be an idol group! Apparently Kisaki has some experience as a solo idol. Look at all those unsold CDs… With Kisaki seemingly assuring they can get or do anything they want (food, hamburgers, you name it!), the rest are going to hop on this idol wagon. They practice before Ani before the real deal. Now that the show night is here, the crowd is building up and the twins are nervous. All it takes is for Ani to say he will be there to support them and all those anxiety blues are blown away. And so Kisakiss6 head out there and strut their stuff like pros. Damn, I was hoping they sang Smokie’s Alice song.

Siscon Or Lolicon Or Pedo?!
I must be wondering to myself every time I finished watching such series… WHAT THE HECK DID I JUST WATCH???!!!! Sure, it is nothing awful but it was nothing good nor even average! So is this bad? Definitely. So bad that it is good? Nope. So bad that it is still bad and will continue to remain bad for the rest of eternity. Forgetting it will be the least good thing that could happen to this series. Honestly.

This entire series feels like a disaster the moment you finished watching the first episode. Uh huh. A lot of cuteness between them and nothing really much that happens. It makes you wonder why they even bother adapting this series that is originally from a manga. Like as though there was some fallout with another previous different series that was supposed to be adapted and so in search of a replacement, they selected this one instead. Heck, with the running time of only 3 minutes (actual running time of only 2 minutes if you take away the opening and ending themes of 30 seconds each), it’s like they aren’t even interested to do this series in the first place. Thinking that perhaps if they spam lots of cuteness and overload it with moe and kawaii elements, it would be forgiven. At this point in time, maybe veteran anime viewers like me won’t. So is this show literally about cute girls doing cute things but in the form of Alice twins? Maybe. Even so, there is nothing much ado about them.

There is no plot whatsoever and each episode that you watch makes you ask the question what the heck is this for? I know some anime series dwell very well on randomness but not this one. It’s like the producers have no idea on what to produce and just simply throw out whatever they can think of using the characters of this series. Like whatever Yamiry’s challenge and then the final episode which turned the girls into idol materials. Say what? Oddly Yamiry isn’t part of Kisakiss6. I thought she is under Kisaki now? Don’t tell me she got fired.

The characters themselves aren’t exactly exciting and if they think that making them cute was just enough to pass them, they’re wrong. At least not in this era. So we have basically the twins who are supposedly the star of this series. What do they do? Not really sure. Except being super cute and being loved by their Ani. Heck, you don’t even get to know why they are being called Alice twins except for the fact that they dress up pretty similar to Alice In Wonderland. I suppose Ani is their Mad Hatter and they live in their own fantasy world that looks pretty much normal to us. Oh right. There’s that Kabi Usagi fairy and Alpaca fairy. Cute and weird, if you ask me. Sometimes I think everybody is hallucinating instead of real magic, whatever.

If there was one thing ‘good’ about this series, it is that Ani isn’t portrayed as some desperate sleazy siscon thanks to the series’ second title, Siscon Nii-san To Futago No Imouto. Yeah, that spells out pretty much everything. It automatically makes you think he is some sort of pervert who is grooming them to grow up to be his sex slave or something. Thankfully, no. He loves his twin sisters but not to a point where he would display such depravity that would make us further hate him and the series. His love for them feels so normal that it makes it look like he takes care more of his harem than this.

Speaking of this and the other characters, it feels like just in case you get sick of Ani and the twins, they have other friends to spice up the variety. Otherwise they are pretty much redundant. With the twins being a bit meek, these characters stand out more as they are livelier and haughtier like the glutton Maco, the money minded Kisaki and the eternal rival Yamiry (who feels she is playing the antagonist just for attention because what better way to signal her love for Ani than stirring up some harmless contest?). Coco only exists for fanservice in case there are some viewers who aren’t into washboards while Ruha as the wild card is a bit unpredictable because she feels more like a pet than anything else. As long as you remember to feed her, she’ll be quiet munching over her food.

Hence if you really want to know more about the characters, you would surely be sorely disappointed. From the simple background and past stories of the characters on how they become friends as they are, literally are non-existent. I know the synopsis says to peek at their daily lives. But with only 3 minutes of running time (oh I forgot again, 2 minutes actually), how much can you tell? You just accept everything you see in the name of cuteness. I guess to some watching cuteness with no substance is enough. I don’t think true lolicons would stop there…

Art and animation is flowing with cuteness. Everyone already looks cute and when they are in chibi form sometimes, they ramp up the moe and kawaii factor even more. Heck, until the end I still can’t tell them apart although you can if you want to as they have easily different eye and hair colour. Produced by EMT2, they’ve animated quite a few series that utilizes the cute aesthetics such as Urahara, Nyanko Days and Kuma Miko as well. Even having the girls all in maid outfits didn’t win me over. That is how bad this series has become. If I should say, this is the worst series made under them as I even find Fudanshi Koukou Seikatsu and Renai Boukun to be even better.

Yoshitsugu Matsuoka is recognizable as Ani, almost mirroring as another character from another anime that is a siscon, Sora from No Game No Life. The other recognizable seiyuu is Ayane Sakura is Rise but it took me a while to recognize her since she wasn’t in her trademark bratty voice and is quite soft-spoken. The other casts are Rina Hidaka as Airi (Silica in Sword Art Online), Natsumi Takamori as Maco (Patricia in Nora To Oujo To Noraneko Heart), Sora Tokui as Coco (Nero in Tantei Opera Milky Holmes), Saori Oonishi as Ruha (Eriri in Saenai Heroine No Sodatekata) and Aina Suzuki as Yamiry (Mari in Love Live! Sunshine). Petit Milady sings the generic manufactured anime pop opener, A Or A while Pyxis sings the ending theme, Lonely Alice that sounds generically similar.

Overall, this garbage literally fails in every aspect and the only good thing is that it is 3 minutes long. Who knows how bad it would be had it been the normal duration but then again, it is hard to say because more could be fleshed out and given proper attention. It’s just sad that this series is trying to sell and capitalize on cuteness and nothing else. Over the years we have so many series doing that even under its own category called cute girls doing cute things like Gochuumon Wa Usagi Desu Ka, Kiniro Mosaic, Slow Start, Hinako Note and even in that same season we had Comic Girls but at least all these have some sort of plot no matter how boring it gets.

Heck, in the previous decade, there was an anime about twins, Futakoi. If you saw that one, you’ll remember it’s about a guy who has a harem of twins! And they all fight for his love! Yeah, maybe I should go back and watch that one. It is with regret that I have to call this series a waste of time although I did not regret watching it because otherwise I wouldn’t know how bad it is. Hell, maybe that is why for that reason I wanted to start singing again that Smokie’s song… Twenty four years just waiting for a chance/ To tell her how I’m feeling maybe get a second glance/ Now I’ll never get used to not living next door to Alice. But I think I can get used to not living next door to this Alice for sure.

Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens

July 15, 2018

Judging from the name of this anime, I thought Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens would be an anime about ramen. Which feels pretty weird because in that same season, another ramen themed anime was aired (Ramen Daisuki Koizumi-san). So why the heck do they need to show 2 different ramen anime in a single season? Is it ramen appreciation month? It doesn’t make sense and even more confusing when I saw the promotional poster that does not indicate any relation to ramen whatsoever. Even more baffling reading the synopsis that this series’ setting revolves around assassins, murderers, professional and hired killers. I don’t think that the ramen in Hakata are that good that it is worth dying for. Just saying…

Episode 1
A guy is in danger of being assassinated by this hot chick. Oh wait. It’s a cross-dresser! He tries to bribe him to spare his life but Lin Xianming is one who sees through his contract because he is a professional killer. But to his dismay his mission isn’t over yet as his employer gives him another target. With this, he hopes to free his little sister, Qiaomei. However upon arriving at the spot, the police already cordoned off the area and it is believed the target committed suicide. Oh well, job is done then. Meanwhile this nice and meek looking guy, Saitou joins a company that hires killers! Is he up for the job? Detective Shigematsu is talking to his freelance colleague, Zenji Banba that this isn’t suicide but one that is setup to make it look like one. He knows the man well so he knew something was off in his ‘suicide note’. There is a photo of a mayor candidate, Shoutarou Harada and his female bodyguard, Reiko Asakura. Speaking of which, they are in town campaigning. Banba pops a balloon to see the reaction of Reiko. If she shielded him, she is his bodyguard but however the stance she took was definitely a hitman’s reaction. Reiko returns to her colleagues. They will have their hands full again because the mayor’s idiotic son, Yuusuke has killed a woman he has a fling with and wants them to clean up. Banba sees his informant, Enokida to find out more about Reiko. She worked at Red Rum Inc until 5 years ago. Everyone in their line knows that this company is just a cover up for Murder Inc, a hitman organization. Her specialty is poison. Reiko tries to advice the idiot Yuusuke to be more careful and not cause his father more problems but he doesn’t care. Not that he likes his father anyway. More problems because dimwit college boy has footage of his friends beating up foreigners and he plans to upload it online. She quickly unplugs the power and wants the names of all his friends involved.

One of the foreigners takes out his complaints at Bar Babylon. This is no ordinary bar as it is one who accepts requests for vengeance. His friends got hold of one of the attacker’s name card, Jun Murase. Jirou accepts the avenger job. Saitou gets his own fake name card as a wine salesman and is warned of a hitman who kills hitman. But Saitou doesn’t need to be concerned with this opportunistic Niwaka Samurai as he only kills those worth their salt. Should he be insulted or relieved? Banba does more investigation and meets up with Yamato. He talks about a guy killed this morning because he cheated his host club millions. Lin is not amused he didn’t get the agreed amount so he calls Zhang his employer about it. In such a bad mood already, he punches passing Yamato for swiping his ass. Lin didn’t realize he stole his purse. Saitou is tasked to kill Murase so his great plan is to hide in his room. Oddly somebody else rings on the door. Being an amateur, he opens it but Jirou mistakes him for Murase and punches him out. Lin is face to face with Zhang and complaining. He is warned if he keeps this up, he’ll have the Samurai deal with him. If he wants cash, go kill this Banba guy as he is sticking his nose around his business too much. When Banba returns to his office, Lin is already waiting for him. However he is not here to kill him but to protect him.

Episode 2
It seems Lin rejected Zhang’s offer and will kill whoever he hired to kill Banba. Saitou wakes up and sees Jose “Maru” Martinez torturing and skinning a guy like how he did to his cat. Horror. Luckily Saitou is given a chance to speak as he clears his name he isn’t Murase. So where is the real one? Dead in an accident. Looks like DUI. Of course this is set up to make it look like one. Lin will not let Banba leave as part of his protection plan but Banba complains about spicy pollock roe he needs. If he can’t go get it, maybe he could on his behalf. Of course it’s a wild goose chase because there are so many varieties to choose from. Should have been more specific. With this distraction, Banba sees Enokida to find out more about Lin. Lin faces off with Maru but after the latter punches his face, he leaves. Claiming he is an avenger, they don’t do more to the target than was done to the client (Yamato in this case). When Banba returns, Lin just finished beating up a killer who was waiting to ambush him. Banba smoothly returns his purse and makes it look like he left it on his chair. Zhang sees Munakata and they make a transaction for a human trafficking girl. Munakata pays him the cash but Zhang wants something else instead. Kill a hitman who used to work for him. That poor girl becomes the latest plaything for that idiot Yuusuke.

Munakata’s team is on their way to kill Lin. He talks about the Samurai and nobody knows his real identity because those who do are all dead and killed by him. Saitou calls Jirou as he saw Murase’s death reported on the internet. Was he involved? Nope. They were together at the same time, remember? Saitou then sees his bank account. Looks like he got a windfall from killing Murase?! At first his conscience tells him to return the money he did not earn but after seeing those astronomical figures, it’s time to party! He hits every boob touching joint in town. Banba is surprised Lin likes to watch romance dramas. His reason is that in this line of work, he needs to know the lives of regular people. Can he tell fiction from reality? Banba further asks why he became a hitman. Was it out of debt? Sort of. It seems he needs 5 million to clear it. Banba suggests if he could pay off his debt right now, what would he do? There. Cold hard cash right in front of you. This has Lin answer more of his questions like the organization he works for (a bunch of yakuza who were exiled plus a few Chinese mafia) and it is mostly involved in human trafficking. Showing him a picture of a man, Lin recognizes him as Wang Longfang and the head of the organization. Banba now connects the dots as to why the mayor doesn’t want anyone seeing them together. Saitou must really be having a great f*cking spree. He wakes up naked with bed and next to him is a naked girl. Last night must be a blast, huh? Well, sh*t is going to hit the fan because this girl is dead!!! OMG!!! Lin leaves as he contacts Zhang. He is confident he can pay off his debts now. However Zhang tells him he didn’t see the news. Conveniently it is playing right before his eyes. A Chinese girl named Qiaoming is found dead in a hotel and they are finding a man who was sharing the room with her. Zhang further adds a good buyer showed up recently to buy her and had he been more cooperative, they could have reunited. I guess the money doesn’t mean a thing now. He is going to kill him and his sister’s murderer.

Episode 3
Saitou is actually framed by Munakata and Reiko who really make it look like he did it. Lin barges through and kills mercilessly Zhang’s men until he reaches him. But Zhang isn’t worried. He further reveals the money he sent back to China for his mom, he pocketed it all. Distracted, Lin is restrained by giant Ivanov. Zhang claims he is just a killer and not a professional, that’s why he cannot kill him. He leaves it to Ivanov to settle this. Lin pulls out a hidden knife to stab him but it doesn’t work. But a knife pistol did the trick. Banba then walks in. He had a tracer on Lin and will now put it on Ivanov. Saitou pours out his woes to Jirou. He didn’t really kill her. He explains he almost killed somebody while playing baseball. It was unintentional but that incident scarred him. But Red Rum seemed to accept that and hired him. Saitou requests to be avenged. Frame the person who framed him. Zhang is disappointed that Lin still lives. Munakata wants to take this responsibility so Zhang tells him to capture him alive so he can kill him. Munakata knows Ivanov wasn’t done in by the Samurai as he only uses swords. He remembers seeing the Samurai once but it was only from the shadows. He was to snipe his target but the Samurai got to him first. Paralyzed by his killing intent, the Samurai threw a dagger and blinded an eye of his. He quit his hitman job and got employed by the mayor as he thought it would be a less risky job. Banba agrees to help Lin find his sister’s killer but wants 5 years’ worth of spicy pollock roe. Zhang calls Genzou Gouda who supposedly knows the Samurai and wants him hired for a job.

Banba and Lin see Enokida who show hotel footage that Saitou came in to the room with a completely different girl (Reiko) and then a man (Ivanov) came in with a giant suitcase that could hide a corpse and put it in place. A recorded conversation from the tracer that Yuusuke brokered to buy a girl. Yuusuke has a bad record of dabbling in shady things but is of course covered up and never made public. Lin wants to kill this guy as he is the one who murdered Qiaomei but Banba as a different idea. Noting they want to buy another girl, Lin agrees to play that girl. He is perfect for the part, no? Banba talks to Genzou as he reveals he and Lin have been targeted. He has to follow through this job but doesn’t want to see him dead. He asks if he can introduce the Samurai to Kakyu Association. Banba gives him the green light. What about him being killed? Maybe he’ll play dead. Munakata and Reiko ambush Enokida to find their target’s location. Enokida is willing to sell them information for a price but just this time, he gives his info for free and tells them about Banba helping Lin to kill Yuusuke and that Qiaomei is Lin’s sister. But he doesn’t need to worry about finding them because they’ll come to him. Banba becomes Lin’s broker as they meet up with a henchman for an exchange (Lin is hiding inside the suitcase). When Lin is brought to the place and emerges from the suitcase, looks like Zhang has anticipated their ‘reunion’. We meet again.

Episode 4
We see in detail Enokida selling out to Munakata and Reiko. Zhang tells Lin that his informant sold him out and as proof, there is Banba’s decapitated head from the Samurai! But Lin notices something off. Does Banba have ear piercing holes? Before he has his head cut off, the Samurai then whispers about the 5 years’ worth of spicy pollock roe. He decapitates Zhang and swiftly avoids all bullets to take down all his henchman! But what if a bomb is thrown? Hit it back like baseball! Munakata knows if he escapes, he will regret this. So he faces him and gets sliced. In the aftermath, Lin seeks an explanation about the fake head. He went to see Dr Saeki to get a corpse and do a bit of cosmetic surgery. He also got the corpse to make its hair like him from Jirou since he was a hair stylist. As for his status and nickname as the Samurai, he once accepted a job to kill hitmen. A few kills here and there and suddenly he got that nickname. He is still a detective, though. They make their way to Yuusuke’s place. But first Banba calls Reiko. He tells her he killed her comrades and their target is Yuusuke. Reiko is smart enough to leave and will not sacrifice her life for this piece of sh*t. But at the door is Jirou and Saitou. Saitou identifies her as the one so Jirou punches her out. Banba and Lin go in to find Yuusuke. He is hiding in the closet. So why didn’t he shoot Lin on sight? Heck, Lin even taunts Yuusuke to shoot him since he is going to get killed by the Samurai. Yuusuke gives in to his taunts but before he could fire, Saitou couldn’t stand this violence and throws a curveball knocking Yuusuke out.

Yuusuke is tied up and made to confess all the girls he murdered. This recording is streamed live all over Japan! But streaming is stopped when Yuusuke tries to describe the Chinese girl and this riles up Lin as he beats the sh*t out of him for killing his sister. Then Maru takes over the rest of the torture. With that done, Banba talks to him about what will happen next. Like with Yuusuke’s confession, the mayor will be in ruin as his collusion with criminal organizations will come to like. Reiko will be framed that she killed Zhang of Kakyu Association and the abduction of Yuusuke. Lin plans on leaving tomorrow since he has no reason to stick around. Banba reminds him he is breaking his contract. That 5 years’ worth of spicy pollock roe. Looks like he is going to be around now. Lin now joins Banba’s baseball team called Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens (HTR). It includes Genzou, Enokida, Yamato, Maru, Jirou, Shigematsu, Saeki and loli Misaki as manager. Lin and Saitou have joined as newcomers. Lin isn’t impressed since he doesn’t know how to play baseball. But Saitou might relive his glory days. He looks a bit different since his original face is known to public as a serial killer so Saeki gave him a cosmetic surgery. HTR is up against Dazaifu Sanders.

Episode 5
An order is out to kill Saitou since he knows the company’s secrets. Meanwhile Shunsuke “Saru” Saruwatari is dissatisfied he only gets weak targets and threatens to live. They let him go seeing he isn’t popular and even warn he will regret it. Wait. Shouldn’t they kill him? So now he is wandering around and he meets his old right hand man, Naoya Nitta. He is a hitman consultant. Yeah, there’s such a thing. Hearing out Saru’s wish to have strong targets, he has the perfect place for him. How does going up with the Samurai sound? Enokida meets up with Gwen for information about Saitou since he is his target. Saru thinks Nitta is making fun of him since he is introducing ninja weapons. So a samurai and now a ninja? He gives a list of hitmen from some organization and to pick a few to kill. They’ll eventually pick up on somebody killing their men. Lin learns that Banba will temporarily stop working while he is away participating at the local Yamakasa festival. Since Genzou fired a couple of guys for killing the wrong target, Banba thinks Lin could cover for him but he won’t. Nitta is surprised Saru killed everyone on the list. Well, they’re all weaklings. Nitta reveals he is meeting with his client from Kakyu Association as they want the Samurai dead. This could be his big break. Enokida calls Saitou to tell him someone is waiting for him at his home to kill him. Bye. Yeah, what kind of dumb killer leaves the windows open and waits right in plain sight for his target to return? Naturally Saitou runs and calls Banba for help but since he is out drunk, Lin takes over and is willing to help. He has Saitou run and hide in a train. That’s the problem with killers talking instead of killing. Because this gives Lin enough time to fight him. But Gwen takes Saitou hostage. WTF?! Aren’t you supposed to kill him? For the first time, Lin uses Banba’s baseball advice to get the better of Gwen and kill him. Luckily nobody is on the train. I bet somebody is going to freak out when they see a bloodied corpse. Saru is given a chance to kill the Samurai. He will do it since he is strong.

Episode 6
Hey. Lin is impersonating Samurai as he faces off with Saru?! Regretting of taking on the job in Banba’s stead? Halfway through, a couple of punks (the ones fired by Genzou) kidnap Lin into their van. Thanks to Nitta paying a hefty amount to Enokida, he manages to track the van down. However Saru is not going to be happy when he learns from the guys that this Samurai is fake and is already dead. It seems they hired a torturer to beat him up to spill the beans that he isn’t the real deal but then the torture went overboard and now he’s dead. A picture of Lin is posted and for the real Samurai to show up. Genzou has to interrupt Banba in the middle of his festival and this dude is willing to ditch his festival to go rescue Lin. When Banba arrives, he meets Saru and is told about the circumstances. But before they fight, the Kakyu Association interrupts. Change of plans. Their boss, Wang wants to kill him instead. Saru is left fuming over Nitta’s betrayal but since that guy dares him to kill him if it makes him feel better, reverse psychology works. But Nitta also betrays his employers as he has placed a tracker on Kakyu Association. Lin wakes up alive back in Jirou’s place. When they saw Lin’s picture posted, they had to scramble for a plan. They had to find a similar dead body and doll it up to match his. Maru was called to torture and did the body switch. Lin apologizes for trying to be the Samurai so when he calls Genzou and he learns what happened to Banba, he rushes out. His turn to do the saving?

Saru kills the lowly guards to save Banba. He can’t kill him if he’s dead. Yeah, I figure that too. With the Kakyu Association guys hot on their tail, suddenly they get news that Wang is dead and stop their pursuit. Apparently had he not busy f*cking his mistress and went ahead to kill Banba, it wouldn’t have happened. Did he die during sex? Now Banba and Saru can fight to their heart’s content. But it has to be a draw since Saru almost fell off the building and Banba saved him to repay his debt. Another time, okay? Nitta talks to his colleague, Sayuri. There was an insane request to assassinate Wang but how did she manage to slip pass the guards because all women who sleep with him will be subjected to a thorough body check. Yeah, they didn’t check the poison in her nails. Lin gets his vengeance as Maru beats up the guys who torture him. Lin finally finds Banba when it is all over. They talk things out and he apologize for impersonating him. But Banba is most upset that the festival is over. This year is particularly special and he waited all year for this. Now it’s gone. Like Lin cares. Don’t worry. He’ll treat him to ramen with spicy pollock roe. HTR is against Ogura Fried Udons (OFU) in another baseball match. It seems Saru is on this team and Sayuri as their hot manager! It gets heated between Banba and Saru so they trade blows. Their headgear falls off and they realize who they are! It’s a small world after all.

Episode 7
Kazuo Matsuda gets a blackmail telling him to bank in millions or his secrets will be exposed. Yagi his butler knows someone who can deal with this. Saeki is baffled as he shows Banba and Lin a few photos of homeless guys being beaten to death. Also, Saitou has been arrested because for cybercrimes? Thankfully Enokida liaised with the police to get him released as Saitou explains how some remote virus hacked his PC and made it look like he did all those cybercrimes. Some guy sees Chegaru and wants this person named Macro Hard taken out because he has been snooping around politicians they have been supporting. Chegaru returns to his henchmen, Siva the hacker and Irasawa the washed up boxer to begin their operation. Yagi sees Banba and Lin to find a long lost person. Doesn’t that look like Enokida? Speaking of which, here he is! They know each other and immediately he runs. Yagi shows us he is no butler to be messed with as he jumps down the window to catch up with him! Siva hacked into Macro Hard’s PC and finds something interesting. Of all the people he has hacked and blackmailed in his folder, Matsuda’s name popped up. Siva knows he has a son who hacked into the Metropolitan Police site during the heat of an election but that case was covered up. He goes by the name Black Leg Nameko and lucky him he has found a footage that shows he is around town. Yeah, it’s Enokida.

Enokida still holds a grudge against his father who tried to kill him. Well, Yagi was ordered to kill him (for the hacking) but did not. He let him flee to Hakata where he has some friends should he stumble into trouble. Enokida doesn’t want to have anything to do with this but Yagi says he is here to hire him. If he is a professional, he shouldn’t let his personal matters disrupt business. Saeki calls Banba and Lin as he receives another dead body again. However this isn’t a homeless guy. This guy is Macro Hard. They check out his address nearby and Enokida is also here. It seems his PC is gone as they notice a hidden camera watching them. Watching it, they see several men coming in to beat him up and then take away his PC. Chegaru reports to his employer Macro Hard has been taken care of but warns of Black Leg. Considering him a threat, he wants him taken out too. Enokida receives a call from his friend in the police that M3 is targeting him. It is an organization of hitmen targeting hackers. In no time, a bounty is put on Enokida’s head on the shady website. Thank goodness Banba sees it because otherwise he wouldn’t have rushed to save Enokida’s ass being ambush at the alley. How the f*ck does he know where he is? He didn’t bring up that tracker thingy. Unless it’s given. As Enokida tries to take down the post, he realizes too late it is a trap to track his every move. How about going offline? That too is a trap and what they expect him to do because how useful can a hacker be without his computer? But Enokida gets an idea when they talk about bait. He parts ways with Banba and goes on his own.

Episode 8
Siva tracks Enokida’s movements from time to time. When Irasawa is sent to get him holed up in some public toilet, only his laptop is there. Siva realizes he used a remote virus to hack the laptop and then control it from his handphone. Enokida has hacked the site to remove his name but he put Saitou’s name as distraction. Poor guy now has mercenaries after his ass but thankfully Enokida sent Yagi to protect him. Siva uses the ol’ street cameras and manages to pinpoint Enokida’s whereabouts. As he is hanging out in a café, the cue is made for Irasawa to kidnap him when he temporarily cuts off electricity. Irasawa beats the crap out of Enokida in his personal boxing ring. Then it’s time to kill him. Chegaru is satisfied with the death of Enokida from the video he downloaded. Next day he waits for his employer to tell him about his done mission but is shocked to see the real Enokida coming to talk to him.

Enokida reveals his brilliant plan. The one Irasawa beat up was Lin in disguise. Yeah, he really took a beating before it was his cue to cut him up. Lin also had a different camera and this one was used and edited to make it look like Irasawa killed him. It all started when Enokida during his walkabout sent a coded message to Banba and Lin’s handphone. Banba was able to decipher it to send Yamato to swipe his wallet at a certain intersection at a certain time. Inside his wallet contains his following plans. While waiting at the café, Lin came in and sat a few tables away. After Enokida made a few distracting calls and entered the toilet, Lin then followed. Both exchanged clothes and places. The rest is history. Irasawa is tied up and tortured by Maru for the details of his colleagues. When Chegaru downloaded the video, it had a virus that would allow Enokida to steal all his information as well as those he is connected to. This means he got his employer’s detail as well. All that is left is for the police to arrest him. Siva is ruining people’s lives by editing fake photos of them. He is stopped dead in his tracks when Samurai knocks him out. Enokida sees off Yagi at the train station. He noticed on Macro Hard’s PC all the details pertaining to Matsuda’s case many years ago. Why did Yagi bought a plane ticket in his father’s name after faking his death? Yagi reveals it was part of his orders to fake his death and let him escape. Enokida always thought his father saw him as sick and incurable. Yagi lets him know the other half of what he said. The best way to cure it was to set him free. Dad’s birthday is coming up but Enokida won’t go back to that place. Rather, he sends a prank happy birthday message and his father knows it is him. He realizes he has been pranked and has Yagi search the entire room for bugs. Enokida has his sweet revenge while enjoying his BBQ with the rest.

Episode 9
Lin just finished a job that returns the favour to the culprits of betraying the ones they trusted. This seems not to sit well with Lin. Lin looks like he is getting the hang of HTR’s complicated baseball coded signs. But this teamwork action has him remember his gruesome past. Living the poor rural life, a broker tried to coax his sick mom to sell her children. Of course she refused. One day, Lin (real name, Maomei) and other boys were taken from the village. Lin was the only one left in the long journey and was sent to a facility that trains assassins. His partner is Fei Lan. Apparently his partner committed suicide so they brought a replacement. On many occasions, Fei Lan helped Lin out when the going gets tough. Lin reveals he sold himself and lied to mom he got a job. Fei Lan on the other hand says he was born to a prostitute and she thought she could use him for the trade but couldn’t. So ending up here was the best thing for him. Both agree to work together for 5 years and get out of this joint. They train hard, suffer hard until they are the best among the teams. On the day they are supposed to take their final exam, it is a fight to the death. No time limit. No holds barred. The winner is the one left standing. Or both die. Lin thought of a plan to pretend fighting each other to keep hitting and break the chains. However Fei Lan betrays and stabs him. He reveals his former partner’s suicide was a lie. He overheard how the finals were to be conducted and killed him thinking he would get out of here but then Lin came as a replacement. Lin becomes mad over this betrayal and slices his left eye before stabbing him. Lin ‘graduates’ with flying colours. Of course right now, Fei Lan is still alive and a professional killer in Beijing. He has info about Lin’s whereabouts and is going to see his old partner.

Episode 10
Banba and Saru coincidentally see each other at the batting centre. You bet sparks are going to fly. Sayuri comes to see Banba but only Lin is in. She tells him she was Banba’s girlfriend and is here to hand him a list of Kakyu Association’s executives. Yup, Banba plans on taking them out. Nitta sees Lau of Sheung Wan. He wants his organization’s presence here and since Kakyu Association is in disarray after Wang’s death, he plans to strike in this confusion. Nitta suggests Saru for the job but Lau wants to test him by taking out a few simple targets. Coincidentally, Banba and Lin as well as Saru select the same targets. Although assassinated at different times, when they get to their next target, they are shocked to see the target dead. Kakyu Association has the executives shipped to a save place and has Suzuki in charge of overseeing a hired killer who can take out these guys. That killer is of course Fei Lan. His condition to work for them is that he wants to know the whereabouts of Lin. Of course they want to test his worth too so Fei Lan easily kills a spy in a convenience store. Lin thought he spotted Fei Lan in the streets. So that’s why he now has those nightmares? Because of that, he plans on running away, fearing he has become complacent and almost falling into that trap. Get out before Banba betrays him? Unfortunately he bumps into Enokida who ‘threatens’ to tell everything if he doesn’t help do a favour to keep his mouth shut. Enokida needs him to take out a killer who killed one of their informants. Lin is shocked to see from the CCTV that guy is Fei Lan. With Suzuki providing details on Lin, Fei Lan agrees to do whatever he is told. But he goes overboard and kills all the Sheung Wan people in their hidden drug stash. Then Saru enters. You know what happens to people who kill his prey, right?

Episode 11
The fight is getting good until Suzuki misfires and sends Saru falling into the sea. Of course that won’t kill him but guess what? He can’t swim! Thank goodness for Banba passing by. A couple of abducted Sheung Wan guys are forced by Fei Lan to fight to the death so that the survivor could bring the head of the loser back to Lau. Inside his mouth is a ring in which Lau suddenly understands and changes his orders not to attack Kakyu Association. Lee who is now the boss of Kakyu Association calls Suzuki as Sheung Wan proposes a ceasefire. Both sides meet up and agree for Sheung Wan not to encroach into Kakyu Association’s territory who will in turn not prevent them from entering other areas. There is also another condition: Trade their hired killers. Lin realizes that Enokida has told everyone about his story with Fei Lan, that’s why they’re giving him lots of gifts. A call from Shigematsu for Lin. A couple of murders with guys of the same named, Hayashi (pronounced as Lin if kanji is read in Chinese). Both have nothing in common except their names. Because he describes the way the victims died, Lin knows this is Fei Lan’s doing and is a message. Lin asks Enokida a favour to find out the next Hayashi he will target. It seems the other thing in common is that those guys buy medicine from the same pharmacy in which the list is sold to Kakyu Association. Looks like there is another Hayashi on the list. Lee tries to poison Fei Lan but he can smell poison and quickly injects some virus into him. If he wants the cure, he must do as he said. Meanwhile Nitta puts sleeping potion in Saru’s drink. When he wakes up, he is mad at Nitta’s betrayal. But Lau is going to kill Saru instead of trading him. This isn’t part of Nitta’s deal, that’s why Lau will compensate him with money. After all, all assassins are tools, right? Nitta gladly accepts the money but then shoots all of them. After he frees Saru, he gets punched. Nitta explains he was just acting and saved him instead of betraying. Not sure if that’s a lie too but whatever. Sure, all assassins are tools but Nitta takes care of his tools, especially ones that are valuable. By the time Lin arrives at the next Hayashi’s house, he is already dead. Fei Lan is seen waiting. He explains Lin messed up in killing him. The one who picked up the corpse noticed he wasn’t dead and sold him to a sick man who loved torturing him. So is he here for revenge? He wants Lin to team up with him and go around the world killing and making a fortune. But Lin refuses and it’s not about the money. He loves this place and the people he has met. In that case, Fei Lan will destroy this city and his friends.

Episode 12
Lin doesn’t want to kill him so Fei Lan fights him to force him to remember his old self. Lin is smart not to tackle him in close quarters so he makes his escape albeit at the price of spraining his escape from that leap out the window. When he is about to call Banba for help, that guy is here. He heard from Enokida and of course there is a tracker on Lin. Sorry to cut this reunion short because Fei Lan shoots Banba in the gut. He has Suzuki and his men take them in. They wake up in a cell in Kakyu Association’s HQ. Banba’s doing fine. Who patched him up? Were the baddies kind enough to do that? Banba learns from Lin about his fear, that’s why he wanted to run away. Banba doesn’t consider his act as stupid. After all, he was also betrayed. But he wants to trust the people he wants to trust. Even if Lin fears of being betrayed again, he believes he will trust again. You can’t play baseball if you cut everyone out after making small errors. With Fei Lan here, we can see where this is going as he unlocks a cabinet full of weapons. They will kill each other and the survivor walks free. Lin won’t do it but Banba walks up and picks up a baseball bat. Lin knows he never kills with that weapon and knows the baseball signs he is sending to him. But when he picks up a knife, Fei Lan shoots it off his hands, knowing he would do something like that. He then threatens to kill Banba. Here is where he reminds us his awesome samurai skill again. When he shoots, he uses the bat to deflect and hit a henchman! WTF?! So damn precise to go through the bars?! Lin uses the knife pistol to pump a few bullets into Fei Lan. Then in precise timing, Banba pushes Lin into the cabinet before a big explosion occurs.

Flashback 30 minutes ago, Jirou at the front gates of the HQ wants the sole dumb baddie to let Misaki use the toilet. Of course he didn’t care but when the gay guy got mad, I guess he relented. Misaki then unleased a mini robo vehicle in which Saeki controls to go around the HQ with Enokida’s hacking. The gang could relay to Banba since he has a transmitter in his ear. That’s why the timing of the explosion was precise. Big holes in the wall and cage but no Fei Lan. Lin wants to settle this by himself and assures he could do it. Since Genzou was once a famous hitman, he comes out from retirement just for tonight and goes guns ablazing in his trench coat mafia style. Stupid goons just show up to be gunned down. Enokida does his hacking while Maru reliefs his boredom by being his bodyguard and beating up weaker goons. Saru is looking for Fei Lan but bumps into Banba. Banba offers to be his opponent and will not let him get to Fei Lan. Saru sees his wound and is in no condition to fight so he gives up. So he is done targeting Fei Lan? Meanwhile Lin follows Fei Lan’s blood trails. They meet again as Fei Lan gives him one last chance to join forces. Again Lin turns him down. He loves this city and people and wants to stay here for real. This time Lin is willing to kill him and is not his old self anymore. A short epic knife bout before it ends in an undramatic fashion with Lin slashing a big one across his body after some candy spitting distraction. At this range, Lin will not miss. Fei Lan’s last words are he was envious of everything Lin had that he didn’t. Was he talking about his freedom? Whatever. Dead body doesn’t need to know. In the aftermath, Lin returns to Banba’s groupies and nothing says peace like having a friendly baseball match. It’s HTR against OFU. Can Banba strike a homerun before Saru strikes him out? By the power of spicy pollock roe…

What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger
Although this is a great anime, I don’t want to spoil it but I can’t help feel a little disappointed with the ending. Not to say it is bad but it isn’t satisfying either. Like as though it is a bit rushed. So does that mean I want a so called winding down episode that lasts an entire episode of its own? Well, the fact that Fei Lan can be considered as a thorn and blot in Lin’s past and for them to get it over quickly with this short reunion makes it look a bit rushed. I mean, Fei Lan got killed as quickly without any fanfare. Yeah, I was expecting the fight to last longer but I realized we’re out of time. Besides, dying a fast death without any distraction seems pretty legit. As a professional killer, you don’t want to drag out a fight that you are almost very sure of winning. Because you know in movies, bad guys always rant when victory is at hand only to give time to the hero to snatch it away and turn the tables. So maybe yeah, the ending might feel unsatisfying but at least it isn’t too cliche. And then we get to see this happy ending of the main characters playing baseball together. Because it’s like they all lived happily ever after playing baseball. Until the next hit job then.

This series is pretty interesting as it reeks familiar elements found in other anime series like Hamatora, Baccano and Durarara. I feel it reminds me a bit more of Hamatora because of that baseball thingy. Just take away the supernatural elements. The enigmatic and interesting characters, the intriguing setting as well as the undeniably lively jazzy background music, this series might not be the most original or fresh of plots but with all those creative elements and great pacing combined, it is surprisingly one of the better series of the season. It even has its own brand of humour especially the names of certain organizations like Red Rum which I assume they parody that iconic word in The Shining. Yup, you would have guessed it is murder spelled backwards. And then you have online websites ShadyJobs.com. Just hilarious.

Divided into several small mini arcs is one of the reason why this series is entertaining instead of dedicating the entire series with a dozen episodes to just a single storyline. Although the arcs can run independently of each other, they are built upon the last arc in the sense of the character dynamics and relationship. Although some of the twists and turns in the plot are itself interesting, sometimes I feel that the revelation of things might feel a bit hasty. Like as though it is for the plot convenience. You know, it’s time to reveal to the viewers what the heck is going on so here is an explanation to put things into perspective and the pieces of the puzzle together.

While the plot is interesting and not hard to follow, the biggest flaw that this series suffers from is the characters. There are a few comrades working together with Banba but this series mostly has its focus on Lin. Sure, he is one of the main characters and the star of this show, having the first and the last arc as him as the centre of attraction. Though we have a mini arc that focuses on Enokida and this is very much welcomed as we get to know more about this enigmatic hacker, this means the other characters are tossed aside and we do not get to know more about them. For example, it would be interesting to know more about Jirou’s background and how he came to adopt Misaki. Or it would be entertaining to know how Yamato became an expert pickpocket and Saeki entering this shady surgery field. What about Genzou who was lately revealed as a once famous hitman? In his line of profession in which he must have been such a pro, he must have stepped on many toes and hence many would like to kill him. So why is he retired so easily running his ramen stall? Unless he killed them all. Hence it makes them nothing more than just plot conveniences and shallow characters that we don’t want to care about. Ultimately, they’re just characters that exist so that baseball crazy Banba could complete his HTR baseball team. Play ball!

Even Banba who is supposed to be the other half making the supposedly dynamic duo, feels lacking. We know he is cool and has his own ways of solving problems. Personally, him being Niwaka Samurai caught me by surprise since I wasn’t putting my thinking cap. I was thinking this Samurai dude would later show up as a potential antagonist and face off with our main characters. So I’m not sure whether to feel disappointed when his identity is quickly revealed by the end of the first mini arc. Because after that, Banba being the Samurai feels less relevant. When it started, the mystery and enigma surrounding this Samurai dude was curious. Everybody was talking and warning about the rumours of this mysterious guy and after we viewers know his identity, it slowly fizzled out. Like the Samurai alter ego didn’t really matter so much anymore.

Lin obviously gets the most screen time and focus. Introduced to us as a quirky cross-dressing killer to save his sister and the only other one (other than Enokida) who has a full flashback of his past. So I guess this is what it means when the past catches up to you, huh? It is a pretty sad but motivating at the same time to learn about Lin’s past because he overcame all the obstacles to earn where he is now. Although his profession isn’t really a glamorous and commendable one. Learning his past makes us understand the choices he made and how he ended up where he is. I suppose his cruel destiny turned out to be a blessing in disguise because he has never met such nice people in Hakata that we would never expect this cross-dresser who at first was not interested in anything the groupies are interested in, to say out loud he loves this city and the people in it. Yes, he loves Hakata and his friends, not because of that spicy pollock roe contract thingy. Yeah, he is truly a fellow Hakata boy now. Fans hoping to see Banba-Lin yaoi relationship might be confused since Lin is predominantly in his female dress. Too bad nothing very gay between them too.

Saitou feels like the comical relief of the gang because of his slightly bungling behaviour. I can’t really think of any skill he is good at. Can you? So he is like the extra there to fill in the extra spot. Because HTR would be incomplete if not for that one member. On a side note, I wonder if the Red Rum Inc name reference was borrowed from The Shinning. Saru also feels like a comical character since he is impatient and he has this angst to want to kill somebody. Trying out his ninja persona and failing at his shuriken aiming feels like a running joke of the series. Sometimes it feels like Saru can never be part of Banba’s groupie because we all need that rival-cum-ally. It would have been an even more awesome team had he been part of it. Hence Saru’s clash always feel like they’re allies but on the wrong side of the coin. Even if Saru won’t kill Banba whenever they stumble upon each other, I’m glad they’re taking it out on the baseball field.

Something buts me about Hakata being the hotbed for killers alike. Assuming that killings, murders and assassinations take place every other day, how come the city is still filled with so many people? If killers kill killers and assassins assassinating assassins, shouldn’t Hakata be close to being a dead town now? Unless new people move in every time after somebody dies. It would be real weird because it’s like nobody senses something amiss with the reducing numbers of the Hakata residents. With all the crimes and body count every day and every night in the city, surely there is going to be a significant drop in population. Last a checked (fast Google, that is), the population of Hakata itself is about 230,000 people. Give or take a few thousands of other people moving in and out from neighbouring wards, if people from professional killers to ordinary citizens alike keep dying like flies, I wonder how Hakata replenishes itself. Even more so when the city is famed for professional killers in this anime. Where do they get their replacement? I guess there is no mass deaths like a plague or something so a few deaths every day is like negligible?

Oh, Fei Lan’s death in the end (assuming he really died but it is unlikely Lin would screw up) is like killing 2 birds with a stone because now Lee can’t have the antidote to the virus and so he’ll die too, putting Kakyu Association in disarray again. Yahoo. Like we cared. Damn, whoever is the head of this organization sure meets his death in weird ways. Imagine such shady organizations have a high turnover in their bosses, it’ll be so unstable. Well, you rise to the top fast, you also fall fast.

Another good point of this series are the action bits. They are quite entertaining although not to say that the fighting scenes are the best in the world. Entertaining enough to compliment the plot. Because if you have professional killers in your anime, it would be weird if there are no killings at all whatsoever. This means you are going to see a lot of blood spilled as our main characters slash, slice and dice the unimportant minor extra henchmen who only exist to be killed in that scene and satiate our blood craving lust in the name of entertainment. The most unbelievable one has got to be Banba in his Samurai form because he really could dodge bullets or hit them with his sword. Don’t say his practice with baseball did the trick!

Art and animation feel pretty good. Of course, since it is done by Satelight who did Fairy Tail, Log Horizon, Nanbaka, Mouretsu Pirates, Madan No Ou To Vanadis, Shugo Chara, AKB0048 and the Symphogear series. Not really sure about the Hakata city but with the details given to it, it sure looks gorgeous in its own way. Well, that is if you don’t take into account the murders and all the blood spill around in the dark alleys and corners. As for the character design, I just want to say that Banba reminds me of a discount version of Cowboy Bebop’s Spike. Is this where he ended up after retirement? And doesn’t Enokida look like Estonia from the Hetalia series? Just take away the glasses. Saeki and Nitta look close enough that sometimes I confuse between them. Better keep that white coat doctor wears, Saeki.

A few recognizable seiyuus include Daisuke Ono as Banba, Yuuki Kaji as Lin, Yuuichi Nakamura as Saru, Yoshitsugu Matsuoka as Yamato, Sayaka Ohara as Sayuri, Kenji Tsuda as Chegaru, Natsuki Hanae as Siva and Takehito Koyasu as Harada. The one that caught me by surprise is Aoi Yuuki as Misaki. I blame this loli having not enough lines (even so, they were mostly soft spoken) and I did not pay serious attention to what she has to say because I thought she was unimportant to the whatever plot. Shame on me. The other casts include Nobunaga Shimazaki as Fei Lan (Kaito in Ano Natsu De Matteru), Kensho Ono as Enokida (Slaine in Aldnoah.Zero), Daisuke Namikawa as Jirou (Rock in Black Lagoon), Tomoaki Maeno as Maru (Schubert in ClassicaLoid), Daisuke Hirakawa as Saeki (Muneakira in Hyakka Ryouran Samurai Girls), Kenji Hamada as Shigematsu (Jouji in Paradise Kiss), Yuusuke Kobayashi as Saitou (Itsuki in Imouto Sae Ireba Ii), Kousei Hirota as Genzou, Maasaya Matsukaze as Nitta (Ren in Jigoku Shoujo), Hiroki Touchi as Munakata (Pantherlily in Fairy Tail), Natsumi Fujiwara as Reiko (Chihiro in Shonen Maid), Atsushi Imaruoka as Irasawa (Dallas in Baccano) and Motomu Kiyokawa as Yagi (Tippy in Gochuumon Wa Usagi Desu Ka).

If you are very familiar with the rock style of Kishida Kyoudan & The Akeboshi Rockets, you will feel very much at home with this series’ opening theme, Stray. It fits the crazy and intriguing pace of the series well. But the one that takes the cake is the ending theme, Dirty Bullet by Tri4th. This is one of the very few pieces for anime themes in which it is instrumental. The very lively fanfare and jazzy nature of the song definitely feels like this is the theme of the series.

Overall, this is quite an enjoyable series but of course only for mature audiences since the body count and blood spills are recurring themes. It could have been longer and lasting another cour to flesh out other interesting characters and personally this is the only downside of the series. Otherwise, the interesting as well as not complex plot (it’s just about killing others and who to kill, right?) and jazzy music make the series alluring and dangerous at the same time. I bet your view of Hakata won’t be the same after watching this. You won’t be heading there to try ramen or watch a local baseball team. It’s a lively city where you shouldn’t be taking it for granted. Because for the most part, it is a city where lives are taken literally. Yeah, the irony of killers making a killing for a living.

Ryuuou No Oshigoto

July 14, 2018

If 3-gatsu No Lion was too depressing and there weren’t enough cute female shogi players, Ryuuou No Oshigoto could be that elixir to counter that. No long boring drama that wreaks of melancholy in every episode, check. No male-only dominated shogi like as though shogi is a men’s only world, check. Lots of cute females, check. Bonus points and double check if you love lolis. Oh yeah. This is going to be a fun ride, isn’t it? Wait. Is this really going to be about playing shogi or the daily hijinks of a young shogi master taking on an even younger shogi prodigy as his disciple? Why do I suddenly want my shogi to be sad and depressing?

Episode 1
Yaichi Kuzuryuu defied all odds and the intense pressure to become the youngest Ryuuou in shogi. But ever since then, it has been 3 months since he is in a slump and he needs to fix his predicament fast for the sake of the title he is holding. When he goes home, he is shocked to see a young girl, Ai Hinatsuru waiting there and wanting to fulfil his promise to take her as his disciple. During his Ryuuou title match, he was close to a breakdown when Ai gave him a glass of water to calm his nerves and that was when he made the promise. Her father owns the inn that Ryuuou match was played. Yaichi plays a match to test her aptitude. The match is intense although he still wins. Ai has been a fan of his and wants to be like him. And to think she just started playing shogi in only 3 months. Prodigy? Another match is played to test if she is worthy of becoming his disciple. They played late into the night until they realize they have forgotten to eat. Next morning she makes him breakfast and she continues to wow him with hard shogi strategies she could easily solve. Yaichi is in a dilemma to take her under his wing because his ‘sister’ might oppose to it. Speaking of which, here she is knocking on his door! She gets suspicious hearing a girl’s voice inside. At the same time, Ai turns into a yandere thinking he has another girl. Caught between a hard place and a rock. Eventually the cat is out of the bag. Ginko Sora sees Yaichi with a naked loli. Of all times, Ai must take a bath? Definitely a checkmate he won’t recover from.

Ginko hints of killing Yaichi and she isn’t joking. I know it’s natural that guys in his predicament try to explain but often in situations like this, the girl will never listen. It is always his fault somehow. Ginko isn’t Yaichi’s blood related sister. As they share the same shogi master, they are treated like siblings. Besides, Ginko is quite a famous idol in the shogi industry and is known as the Snow White of Naniwa. That queen title sounds nice but she is more of the S&M type. Ai and Ginko don’t get along well because of a certain guy. Poor guy gets caught in the middle of whatever feud they have. Ai is brought to their master’s house. He knows about Ai running away from home because the shogi association called him about a missing child. Although there are many professional shogi players in the north where she hails from, she insists on becoming Yaichi’s disciple. That single Ryuuou match must have been so inspiring, huh? Ai is now temporarily Yaichi’s disciple as she meets fellow trainee, Keika Kiyotaki. Yaichi brings Ai to the local shogi association hall to join a training group. They bump into Yaichi’s self-proclaimed rival, Ayumu Kannabe (chuunibyou dude). After he leaves her at the training hall, he goes to have his match with Ayumu.

Episode 2
During lunch break, Yaichi goes to see Ai. She too won hers. As Yaichi is famous, girls of all ages swamp over him, making Ai real jealous. Especially those who were bold enough to shake hands with him. Yaichi resumes his knight-slaying-demon-fantasy match with Ayumu. Can we credit is win to Ai ever since she popped up at his place? Is this the start of his revival? Ai is so talented that she got promoted in the same day. Not so lucky for Keika as she is already 25 years old and there is an age limit that needs one to become professional or else you retire for good. Ai asks Yaichi’s permission to host a shogi workshop at his place with her friends, Mio Mizukoshi, Ayano Sadatou and Charlotte Izoard (oh no, rival French loli character who loves to sit on Yaichi’s lap as her favourite cushion). In addition to playing each other, Yaichi also plays all of them simultaneously to see their level. Because they get so passionate in becoming better shogi players, they kiss sleep goodbye. Naturally they fall asleep along the way and more woes for Yaichi when he wakes up because Ginko is incessantly taking photos of ‘proof’ of him being a lolicon. The world shall know him of his new title, Loli King! The girls swamp Ginko but she isn’t good with kids. Somehow it is Yaichi’s fault when Charlotte gets her drool all over her skirt… Soon, Ai’s parents, Takashi and Akina come to see them. They are taking back their daughter as they don’t see a bright future for a female shogi player. Although Yaichi assures them of her talent that will no doubt make her a title holder, Akina is not convinced because Yaichi has never taken on a disciple before so what makes him so sure he can tell. Ai mentions all the nice things Yaichi does for her (why does she have to make it sound so ambiguously sexually charged?) but mom is still bent on bringing her home. Wow. Daughter calling mother stupid? Yaichi proposes this. As Ai will be taking her training group entrance exam tomorrow, she will face all 3 professional challengers of various levels. Akina wants her to win all matches because if she is that good, winning should be no problem.

Episode 3
Ai hopes Yaichi could give her some sort of charm as motivation for tomorrow’s matches. I hope this fan will do. Ai’s first opponent is Ayano whom she defeats easily. Next up is Yoshitsune Kuruno, the organizer of this training group and an active top shogi player. It took a while but eventually she beats him. Everyone is amazed at her overflowing talent. Only Akina doesn’t seem to be impressed. Ai’s final match is against Ginko. Grudge match? As explained, Ginko might be a female professional but she is not a professional shogi player. Apparently there is a difference. The league is divided into promotional league and the lower training league, each with their own tiers. To become a professional shogi player, you have to be tops of the promotional league but to become a female professional, attaining a high ranking in the training league is good enough. And there’s some other convoluted ranking and promotion system that noobs like won’t understand at first go. Ginko is a tough nut to crack. It’s like she is slowly trying to breakdown Ai’s mental state. Ai used up all her allotted time that her subsequent moves must be made in within a minute. This only serves to pressure and make her panic more, so much so she has a hard time breathing! There is one time Ai claws her way back and takes the lead but Ginko corners back using tactics that Yaichi once thought and practised with her thousands of times! Damn, seeing Ai in tears and trying to hold it in is like some sort of torture. Eventually Ginko wins (although deep inside she is frustrated she couldn’t breakthrough easily and had to draw out all she got). Akina wants Ai to say goodbye and leave but Yaichi after seeing Ai’s perseverance, now he is more motivated to make her as his disciple. Yaichi prostrates himself for this chance and Ai does the same with him. Takashi agrees to leave his daughter in his care. Akina sounds rude when she asks Yaichi how many siblings he has and his annual salary. She throws down the ultimatum that if Ai cannot become a female title holder by middle school graduation, he will marry into the Hinatsuru family and help run their family inn business. This is the risk and responsibility he must take. Either way, it sounds like a win-win situation for Ai. It might sound daunting but Yaichi is willing to risk his way of life for Ai.

Episode 4
Yaichi is called to meet a legendary shogi player, Seiichi Tsukimitsu. However due to an illness he is blinded. It seems he has a request for Yaichi to take on another disciple. The granddaughter of a business family insisted she will not take on a master unless he is some top grade. Yaichi goes to meet the family to save face. He meets Ai Yashajin. Another Ai? To avoid confusion, I’ll call her as Ai Y for now. Ai Y is bitter and disrespectful. After losing to him in a handicap match, she throws a tantrum and returns to her room. Her grandpa apologizes for her rudeness. Her parents died and she faced nothing but the shogi board. It seems her parents are shogi players and they often play with each other. Those were her happy moments. Too bad they died in an accident. Yaichi has a feeling he has seen her shogi moves somewhere. When he returns, he sees Ai being reduced to tears because Ginko showed no mercy. Wasn’t Ginko supposed to be in a title match? Yes. She beat her opponent, Ryo Tsukiyomizaka in 2 minutes! Then she rushed all the way down here to use Ai as her punching back. Ginko claims Ai is getting weaker. Maybe the workshop made her relax too much. This bolsters Yaichi’s motivation to teach Ai Y. He brings her to a shogi parlour to play with other common people. Is that a granny or grandpa she’s playing with? Tranny? Ai Y lost consecutively 5 games. When he returns home, Charlotte wants to be his disciple. Yaichi declines. Why? Because Charlotte will be his bride! WTF?! Did he just realize what he just said?! He can’t even fathom why Ai is so mad? Did he forget about that deal? All he thinks is that Ai doesn’t like the idea of another disciple and hence will not tell her about Ai Y. Oh no. I can see where this is going to lead… Yaichi continues to take Ai Y out for shogi matches on weekends and on other days he is with Ai. When Ai mentions she is now good at figuring out people’s habit, this means she now knows Yaichi is lying because he rubs his pants when he does so. When Ai’s friends speculate it is a man, Ai’s evil aura is growing! To take her mind off it, Mio suggests bringing her to a shogi dojo for a change in pace. Somehow Yaichi and Ai Y are there as he is teaching her how to move. This means touching and guiding her hand. Why do they have to come in at the precise of times? Oh sh*t…

Episode 5
Ai in yandere mode!!! Ai Y makes it worse with ambiguous words so Ai tries to compete with it. Yaichi tries to sound he is not obsessed or anything but Ai takes it the wrong way and runs away in tears. She runs away from home (again?) but is at his master’s house and staying with Keika. His master talks to Yaichi about his worries when he took him on as his disciple as he wanted to push him onto Tsukimitsu but was made to reconsider and honour Yaichi’s feelings of wanting him to be his master. He thinks Yaichi isn’t wrong as he acted with his disciple in mind. Yaichi calls Ginko after she totally crushed Tsukiyomizaka again. He tells her about another disciple he has and her defensive play looks familiar and wonders if she knows anybody who plays like that. Instead she gets mad and hangs up. When Ai Y finally wins at the shogi parlour, Yaichi signs her up for the workshop entrance exam. She easily beats the kid her age. Keika becomes her next victim. Poor Keika in tears. I guess I understand she is already at that age and not going anywhere at this rate. Ai Y’s final opponent is Ai. It makes an interesting rivalry match since both their play styles do not match up. However Ai Y is good at a very complicated move that even experts rarely use. This puts Ai at a disadvantage. In the end, Ai admits she lost. However when Kuruno and Yaichi point out a move that Ai would have easily checkmated her opponent, Ai is left crying and blaming herself for not concentrating. Her mind was preoccupied with her master and became a coward. Yaichi hopes this loss would be a lesson to her, the frustration of losing to a rival of her age. Ai Y remains cocky and won’t acknowledge anyone weaker than her but will admit Ai as her opponent. Ai is motivated once more to learn and play more from Yaichi. Yaichi remembers her defensive play. It was from her father who played a commemoration match with Tsukimitsu who was Meijin then. Although Tsukimitsu won, young Yaichi watched the match and suggested a path that none noticed. Had Ai Y’s dad realized this, he would have won. Astounded, he had high regards for Yaichi and if his daughter grows up to be a shogi player, he wants Yaichi to be her master. So Ai Y being angry at him was not remembering this. Yaichi wants her to be part of his family and her master. He promises to make her happy. Why does it sound like a proposal?! Ai is being childish asking Yaichi who is his number one. Thinking Ai was there first and hence her. Happy Ai. Ai Y thought all this is childish but she too asks the same question. This is because she is going to be part of his family. So if Ai is a yandere, Ai Y is tsundere?

Episode 6
Yaichi faces off with Jin Natagiri who is a shogi researcher and all-rounder. Because Natagiri sounds gay like as though he is flirting with him, Yaichi loses focus and lost. Again too. Yaichi is depressed but he knows this is nothing compared to Keika. She is already nearing that age limit and since she just lost another match, there’s those demotion points. Yaichi and Ai visit Mitsuru Oishi. He is an expert in using the ranging rook strategy as opposed to Yaichi who is in favour of using the static rook strategy. Yaichi gets a taste of how fearsome this strategy is with his first loss. So while under the tutelage of Oishi, they have to help clean his bath house and serve at his bar too. Yaichi is stiff from the working so Ai massages his back. Not enough, she steps on it. Heck, her loli friends also join in. Wow. They must be so light. Be he feels so damn good until a stomp on his head. Oh sh*t. Ginko not pleased. You loli pervert. I think at this rate of stomping he is going to go stupid before he dies. After so many battles, Yaichi finally wins. He is a Ryuuou title holder, you know. But what’s this? Ai crying? She tried this newly learnt strategy with a handicap on Mio and won. Mio cried like hell and it hurt Ai. Okay. Time for some comforting shogi advice as well as life’s reality. If you don’t care for those who lose, you’ll break first if you lose. If you fear victory, you don’t have to suffer. No matter who we play with, we don’t want to lose. If we can’t play shogi, our lives are meaningless. You get the point. Oishi could guess Yaichi’s goal is to fight the Meijin and he is Natagiri’s master. Does he has a chance to beat him? Maybe. On the next official match, Natagiri loses his flirting gay side to put on a serious fight. Yaichi uses the strategies his learnt but Natagiri pours cold water on it because this was the strategy he played out with his master yesterday. After years of research and deadlock, they came to a conclusion the static rook strategy wins. Yaichi thinks he is trying to break him and continues fighting. Just when Yaichi thought he checkmated him, Natagiri pulls a surprise move. Didn’t see that one coming?

Episode 7
I don’t know what Yaichi did but he looks like looking into the future or something. Because of that he pulls off a surprising move and checkmates Natagiri! So I guess his research was wrong. But the main star of this episode is Keika. We all know by now she is getting older and her dream of becoming a professional female player is slimmer by the day. A stinging criticism from Ginko that she studied researches and memorized them. So when it deviates, she panics. That is why she has grown weaker. With Keika prostrating herself to her to become her master, Ginko can’t say no. Short flashback how Keika loved shogi but had a late start in taking it seriously. She thought it would be easy but reality was opposite. Ginko’s advice to her is to have more confidence in her play and not deny her own talent. Before Keika leaves for her demotion match, she tells her father she will quit her training group that she has been stuck in for years if she fails to get consecutive wins. Her first matchup is Ai Y. Since this is her redemption match, we see Keika putting up a different performance. She uses Ai Y’s specialty move against her and wins, forcing frustrated Ai Y to utter those words that she has lost. Next is Ai. Somewhat through the game, Ai starts crying because she has been in a dilemma if she should go easy on her fellow family member. You mean it wasn’t clear? So now she is getting serious, so is Keika. You mean she wasn’t? Because now Keika is all fired up thanks to this letter she wrote to future herself when she was 10 years old. Yeah, filled with hope and optimism to become a professional female shogi player. However in the end, Keika losses. But we all know it is a good game so there is no shame in defeat. Time to shed those tears. She returns home to tell her father that she has to break her promise of quitting. She still wants to play shogi. Even if she cannot become a pro, she still wants to work in this industry. Father moved to tears. Daughter too. More tears. Finally Keika talks to Yaichi about all this. She hints if she can’t become a pro, perhaps she can be his wife. Immediately accepts! I know he likes her but didn’t he make a promise to Ai? She trolls him he will only always be second in her heart. Her first love is always shogi.

Episode 8
There is a Mynavi open challenge for women. The Ai duo are taking it as well as Keika. From what I understand, if Keika passes this and gets through the preliminary match and just win one match from there, she’ll become a professional female player regardless of her status. That easy? But then she lost… So disappointed… The scene that takes the cake is how Yaichi is supposed to make comments on the matches and his partner types it in. She shortens his words (limited comment space is the excuse) and makes him sound like a lolicon! Like as though she really wants to taint his reputation. At the end of the match, Keika somehow wins some remedial match and qualifies for the preliminaries. Yaichi is being approached by Ika Sainokami. She is bugging him for a match and he has to keep refusing this psycho killer girl because he knows she grows stronger by defeating stronger opponents and at the same time ruin their morale. Now Yaichi is providing live commentary for the match Meijin is in. Only, if he cannot be distracted by the cleavage of his partner, Tamayo Rokuroba. I think she is hinting something at him and he likes her good treatment. Till Ai sees this and feels the need to step in. Those eyes… Apparently all his loli disciples are allowed on stage as his special guest? Yeah, it’s like they’re trying to ruin his reputation by saying ambiguous lines of him being a lolicon just to freak out Tamayo. His reputation further tanks when Charlotte kisses him on the cheek. That day, the police station’s lines were ringing nonstop reporting a pedo… Next day, Yaichi and Ginko go to see Rina Shakando who has been holding her title as the professional women’s player for 20 years. She is Ayumu’s master. Ginko plays a match with her and loses. Rina knows what made her lose her composure but Ginko won’t let her say it. Yaichi asks her opinion of Ginko. She has the potential to become a strong professional female player. As for Ika, she is like a demon since her strength is based on egoism. She will hurt and sacrifice others without hesitation to reach her goal. Rina is keeping her in place for now but knows she cannot do it forever. She hopes Ginko will be that seal on that demon when that time comes. Rina has Ginko wear girly clothes to go on a date with Yaichi. Looks like now I know her weakness. To stop her violent behaviour, just put her in such clothes! Her threats now make her sound tsundere + shy girl!

Episode 9
The preliminaries for Mynavi for women begin. Yaichi and Ginko are the commentators but Ika causes some commotion before the start as she reminds Yaichi about his answer. During the break, you bet Ginko is going to interrogate him about that. I believe she just wants to beat him up no matter what he says and make it sound like Ika was his ex-girlfriend. Heck, even Ai is interested to hear this backstory. Yaichi explains how they met and all and how she became obsessed in wanting to play shogi with him all the time. He rejected her but she never gave up. To a point she was once stalking him naked?! As Ika is Ai’s next opponent, she vows to defeat and turn her down. During their match, Ika as usual is making offensive and aggressive moves. Ika starts badmouthing other female players as weak and wants Ai to switch with her to live with Yaichi should she best her. Ika might sound scary and all but Yaichi isn’t worried and believes in Ai. For he knows Ika is arrogant and only cares for herself. She is the kind of person he doesn’t want Ai to become. Ai fights back and leaves Ika literally sweating when the tables are turned. Even planning far ahead to play mind games with her in the sense that Ai could have lost if Ika took certain pieces but because of the daring psychological effect, this has Ika being pressured and making mistakes. Ai will not let anyone take her place with Yaichi. Yeah, Ai wins. More good news with Ai Y and Keika also winning theirs. The Ai duo then make a special thank you announcement just for Yaichi because they remember it is his birthday today (it’s in his name the date). I guess today’s birthday is pretty special. Somebody pushes him so he could hug the loli duo. Such a heartfelt moment. I guess we make it today an exception of not calling the cops. Everyone watches the match that will decide who becomes Ryuuou’s challenger. Can Ayumu beat the Meijin? Nope. I guess it’s Yaichi and the so called god-like undefeated king.

Episode 10
Aloha! We’re at Honolulu. Apparently the first best of 7 matches will be held here. We have a nice reception party and even celebrating Ai’s birthday today. How sweet. Everything looks fine and dandy until the first match begins. It seems if Meijin wins this one, he will break all sorts of records like being in 100 seasons of holding the title as well as the eternal title for all categories. I’m not sure if this is possible but the game is paused midway and will be resumed tomorrow. I know it is taxing but postponement is allowed? I guess we need to take a break to see Ginko in her sexy swimsuit by the sea. Night swim. Of course she forces Yaichi to treat her and being the tsundere she is, she wants him to ‘prove’ he is not a lolicon. She is actually prepared to kiss him but he backs off thinking this is another one of her prank. How sad. The match resumes and it seems Yaichi realizes he is in a pinch. Especially when he is using a strategy he is good at. In short, he lost. I know it is only the first round but it really got to him. Yaichi snaps back at Ai who is trying to cheer on him because his whole shogi world is turned upside down with that. Yeah, all it took was just one match. Yaichi also loses the second match in Osaka. For the third round in Tendou, Yaichi begins panicking and even tries using an eternal looping move to buy time. Though it is not illegal, it is so if it is checkmating move. In which, Yaichi is about to strike out. Realizing this, he panics more and becomes hasty. He lost. He becomes obsessed in researching moves so when Ai tries to request to play a match because of her Mynavi tournament tomorrow, he reluctantly does so. Man, you can hear his heavy pounding. Is he trying to smash the board? It’s scaring Ai. Eventually he smashes it! Oh sh*t. I guess it’s too early to realize he is being a dick so he starts thinking about his current relationship with Ai. It’s wrong. So he tells her tomorrow after her match, she will go live with his master. He has already arranged for her stuffs to be transported there. Thanks to this trauma, Ai cannot concentrate on her match with Tsukiyomizaka and lost. So much so she starts having asthma attacks and collapses! For real?!

Episode 11
Don’t worry. Ai is in the good hands of Keika. She’s playing the big sister tonight as well as giving Ai Y good complimentary for winning her match or else Yaichi would have gone crazy had both Ais lost their match. Speaking of him, he continues to obsess in getting stronger. Even Ginko is here hinting him he can do anything to her like continue where they left off from Hawaii. Yeah, he only remembers that stinging lost. Even madder. He snaps. She snaps. She doesn’t care if he doesn’t have a title as long as they can be together. Wrong timing to bring that up now but if you think Ginko is just going to run away and cry, she is mad first since Yaichi calls her a hindrance. Now she runs away and cries on Keika’s lap, complaining about the jerk. Big sister is sure busy tonight. Today is Keika’s match with Rina. Yaichi wouldn’t have bothered had he not noticed Rina making some big moves. It got him interested to watch and from his analysis, he believes Keika could actually win this. In the end, Keika wins! Now she is a female professional. During her interview, had she not mentioned Yaichi’s name, he wouldn’t have opened his eyes. Too late to cry now. He notices somebody brought lunch outside his doorstep. It couldn’t be Keika since she is away. Oh, right. Ai! Can he just tell by the food? Miraculously he manages to find her. He’s sorry. She wants to be his disciple forever. Big hug. There. We’re back on track. Hey wait. Ai has been promoted to a female professional player 2 days ago? How long has Yaichi been holed up in his room?! Coincidentally the final match is in Ai’s hometown. And Yaichi definitely feels strange because this pre-match ceremony feels like their pre-wedding ceremony! Oh sh*t. Tsukimitsu is even reading their wedding vows but substitute certain words with shogi terms. Yeah, they sign a master-disciple contract that looks like a marriage one. Of course this is part of Tsukimitsu’s ulterior motive to secure this inn as their main venue for future matches. Yaichi shouldn’t feel he is being used first because now he notices Ginko giving him the death stare! A real scary one. Better remember to apologize to her.

Episode 12
Fourth match is here. For the first time, Yaichi feels he came here to play shogi instead of titles. So we see them making moves based on some technique that I don’t understand with many of the characters giving their 2 cents worth about it. Of course Yaichi’s play has changed since playing with the Meijin. Still, he isn’t anywhere close to him and from the looks of his desperate face, it’s like as though he could explode anytime. Yaichi realizes he is going to make that illegal loop move. But after the Meijin makes his move, he calls to suspend the game. Judging from the move he made which is also another illegal pawn drop move, it becomes an extraordinary situation where both players abiding by the rules cannot determine the outcome of the match. A first in history! Therefore this match will be declared invalid. So they’re going to replay it soon? Because I thought with Meijin having 3 wins, he should claim the overall victory. Unless 4 is the magic number. We take a break from shogi stress so Ai could offer her lap for Yaichi to rest. Cue for Ginko and Ai to fight over this situation. Too bad the rematch is now so Yaichi has to get going. Funny, the first match can be postponed the next day but today’s match cannot? I guess things are different in Hawaii and this is an important deciding match too. The rematch sees Yaichi making some improvements but as usual we see Yaichi’s excruciating going-to-explode face. But after a hard fought battle… Meijin admits his loss! OMG! Everybody is celebrating like as though Yaichi won the goddamn thing! There’s even a celebratory party after that so that we can replay that déjà vu scene of Yaichi needing help and Ai is there to give him that help. What does she ask for in exchange? To teach her shogi. In the aftermath, Yaichi won the remaining matches to retain his Ryuuou title!!!!!!!! OMFG!!!!!! Unbelievable!!!! They organize some party but Ai ‘lied’ to everyone to come later so that she could hog Yaichi to play shogi.

Loli-ou No Oh-shit-got-too-many-lolis
Wow. What the hell?! Yaichi won and retained his Ryuuou title?! What kind of utter nonsense is this?! Something like this could only happen because of plot convenience. Personally, had Yaichi lost and the typical cliché ending that he will continue to play and fight for shogi (because everything isn’t so cliché over yet), isn’t as bad. But to make him come back and win by defeating the Meijin? That’s really impossibly impossible. Like as though the Meijin saw his traumatic face and felt pity and threw away the remaining games. All for the sake of Yaichi’s growth that I couldn’t see. Because screw whatever records he is going to break. For the sake of this series’ happy ending and his loli harem, he throws away the matches so that we can all have a good ending. Heck, we don’t even get to see the final 3 matches and hence we can’t judge if they were easy or hard fought ones. Anyhow, it’s like an insult and showing us (and shogi) the middle finger because screw you for the sake of a happy loli ending.

I’m sure there are going to be lots of comparison about this anime with 3-gatsu No Lion. Can’t help it. They’re the only shogi related anime in very recent times. Because Shion No Ou was so long ago and obscure that nobody remembers it. Yeah, I didn’t watch that series either. Anyway, it doesn’t take a genius for those who have watched both these recent shogi themed series to know which one is tops. Okay, for those who don’t, it is 3-gatsu No Lion. In almost every aspect and as overall.

Let’s start with the plot and story. Basically from both anime series, the plot looks paper thin. Young shogi prodigy having to overcome whatever issues they have at hand. It is easy to say that this series does not have enough plot and story because it only spans a dozen of episodes unlike 3-gatsu No Lion in which had 2 seasons and a total of 44 episodes to go along. That’s like almost 3 times the amount needed to flesh out whatever drama, plot and characters needed. But if you take a look at this one, it starts off with Yaichi being the youngest Ryuuou and then somehow he enters a period of slump, hence the rest of the episode sees him trying to pick up the pieces and prove his achievement wasn’t a fluke. Sounds weak and uninteresting if you ask me. And along the way he picks up some loli harem. Like, WTF?!

I believe that if you want to learn some shogi moves or techniques, this isn’t exactly a series to be introduced to shogi. Even 3-gatsu No Lion isn’t a good series if you really want to learn some shogi tips. So like a shogi noob like me who could even barely remember the basic moves of the different pieces, showing the shogi board to me, they could just BS their way through in whatever ways or however they want it because I’m just going to believe whatever impossible moves or comeback moves convenient for the plot to happen. The board looks so alien to me. So when they ramp up the drama with the characters sweating in panic because they didn’t realize or see a move before this, I would be going like, “What?! WHAT?! What the f*ck is happening?! I don’t see anything wrong (obviously)!”. Even if they did mention and briefly explain some shogi moves, it still sounds so alien to me. Whatever. You play whatever moves you want.

Then there are the characters. Forgettable. Everything is so permeating with cuteness and kawaii factor that it makes 3-gatsu No Lion looking like the god of misery. 3-gatsu No Lion’s characters may not be that likeable but you want to root for them because of the problems that are relatable to many of us. Whereas for this Ryuuou loli crap, everything feels so conveniently convenient for the sake of the wafer thin plot. I mean, they tried to drum up some tension and drama when Yaichi was on a losing streak with Meijin. It didn’t work seeing how colourful and glossy everything had been all along. Now they throw in this by making Yaichi a dick? Not going to work. It is going to make us hate him even more. We all know he is going to make up for himself because the plot says so and he is the main character. Yeah, that contorting face of his while facing Meijin is to show some sort of hardship and emotions while he takes on the country’s best shogi player but sometimes it felt comical to a point I was trying to hold back my laughter seeing him stressed out like that. Uh huh. As though the Meijin had no emotions whatsoever and if he so much as to eke out a mini smile, it must mean something. Something, I guess.

It must be a running joke for Yaichi to be the centre guy in this unofficial harem. Mostly loli disciples and a couple of mature females. It’s like he and everyone else is giving this a free pass and not bat an eyelid because they are looking it from a professional point of view. You know, he is the shogi master and they are his disciples. Wow. Everybody is so good that they don’t see anything potentially wrong with it. Unless the plot calls for some little pedo joke. It is amazing Yaichi hasn’t been arrested and his shogi future not in shambles. What’s more, Yaichi being betrothed to Ai at a young age feels so wrong. Although all seems verbal but it doesn’t look like Yaichi is very bothered with it. I mean, all he has to do is not fail, right? Sounds easy until you realize that he is currently in a slump. Oh sh*t. Which makes it mind boggling because he is only being famous for being the youngest Ryuuou and gets so much attention just because he is the main character.

Unlike the true Meijin who has so many records and titles, damn this guy is treated like a mere side character! Show some respect! Making it worse, we don’t even get to see this guy’s face nor has he a voice! Okay, he does. His face is not shown until the final turning point moments and at that point I was ‘disappointed’ because to keep his face hidden for this long time I thought he had a third eye or something. Just some average looking guy. And the only time he spoke is to admit his defeat! I don’t know, but that makes it feel like his character is somewhat a loser, don’t you think? This guy is much more mysterious than 3-gatsu No Lion’s Souya. Thus making this best living shogi player of current time to be nothing more than just a weak character existing just because of the plot. To say that Yaichi’s game with the Meijin woke him up and put in some much added drama. But this still does not avert the fact that this most important man in the game is being given this lacklustre treatment. And after all that he possibly done in the final match for Yaichi, this guy wasn’t even invited to his party. Old shogi rivals were invited but not the Meijin. What an insult. Yaichi, you better hope your retaining of your title isn’t a fluke and you better not be in a slump anymore.

As for the female characters, I guess with a bunch of them, it really gives a different atmosphere compared to 3-gatsu No Lion which is all dominated by men. Middle aged and very old men. So with lots of cute and young (loli) girls, wow, it sure looks like shogi is a little girl’s game too. So much fun. So cute. But I am still confused and don’t understand about the different set of ranking and promotional rules for women. It’s not my place to say but I thought shogi should be like karuta whereby the gender doesn’t matter since it is a game of the mind and not of the body.

Anyway with Ai being the main character and Yaichi’s first disciple, she is only memorable because of all the moe and kawaii aura permeating throughout her existence. The way she acts and talks is so loli wonderful that either you will fawn over her or find it somewhat annoying to a certain degree. I’m sure they want to portray her as a shogi prodigy and hence she wins some of her matches against higher level opponents but that too feels artificial somehow. She has to win because of the plot. And to show that she is a human and not perfect like a robot, there are very, very, very few times that she will lose. All for the sake of the plot. Whatever. To counter all that positive loli cuteness in Ai is the bratty brat Ai Y. I don’t even see the need for her to exist so as to confuse us between both Ais because other than that I don’t even see the intensity of their rivalry as shogi players as well as to become Yaichi’s number one disciple. It feels like Ai Y has been completed side-lined during Yaichi’s showdown with the Meijin. Like as though she has been tossed aside and become an unimportant character to have never existed. Perhaps this is to give more time for Ai to be with Yaichi and reaffirm Ai is supposed to be Yaichi’s number one loli. Ai Y is just for the backup, just in case.

I guess you need a few different tropes of women when you have a harem. Ai as the lovely one (sometimes potential to be yandere), Ai Y as the tsundere, Ginko the amphibian (tsundere or yandere?) and Keika the big sister (also biggest troller to be Yaichi’s wife). Damn you Yaichi! Even if you’re a current failure in shogi, you are sure scoring with a bunch of ladies! This means those shogi friends of Ai are super useless and only exist for some pedo jokes especially Charlotte who is just oozing twice as much moe and kawaii aura than Ai and make innocent little girl statements like wanting to marry Yaichi so that viewers can be irked and call the police. Is it because they are little girls that Yaichi do not take their word seriously they want to marry him? Because he seems to like Keika but she dismisses him. Because Ginko likes him but playing the tsundere and playing the tough girl who always beats him up for any reason turns him off. Don’t worry about Yaichi getting any more mature ladies under his harem. As long as Ai is acting like his jealous wife, you can bet she’ll step in and nip it in the bud. I’ve not even mentioned some of the shogi guys his age who might be gay for him… Damn Yaichi is better known for being popular in the wrong way than his shogi.

I still don’t understand where Ginko stands in the female professional shogi world because it sounds like she is so damn good but at the same time she isn’t up there with the top guns. Her reason to exist in this anime is to provide us with the running joke of beating up Yaichi and blaming him for whatever reasons because it is female’s privilege to do that and not bear any consequences. Guts tell me from the start that her violent nature is to hide her crush on him because can you imagine a very polite and lovely Ginko? Remember, she has a reputation to live up in the shogi world. What snow was it again? Ah, cold as ice… She would have been a lot cuter if she smiles more often… But she is too far down that track to have a sudden character change. We’ll all die (as well as Yaichi) via sudden heart attack.

It sometimes feel that there is this strange focus on Keika. She has been on losing streaks and stuck in her training group for so many years. There is this threat that she will not achieve her dream to become a professional female shogi player by a certain age as stipulated by the rules (who made these damn rules for women anyway?!). This feels like a side story aside from anything that is related to Yaichi and his loli harem. What makes it mind boggling is that she has been losing for so long and the way she sounds like there is little to no hope in making it but all of a sudden, this one Mynavi match, win a few rounds and conveniently defeating Rina who holds the title as Eternal Queen! Do you not see how convenient a plot this is and to add to her character happy ending?! Everybody in Yaichi’s shogi family gets through! Hooray! Wow. I wonder how many women also barely made it through like this. So conveniently convenient that it is conveniently convenient.

As for the other shogi rivals and characters, they lack any depth that would make them likeable. Like Ayumu as this chuunibyou gay for Yaichi or that crazy Ika who could have been a serial killer-cum-stalker had she not taken up shogi and what the heck is Tsukiyomizaka again for? I believe she has another shogi friend and partner who is most of the time with her but I can’t remember her name. So insignificant. I know these characters are supposed to be colourful but in a way it makes them look comical because when you compare it to 3-gatsu No Lion that is so mundane and dull in this sense, ironically that depressing shogi show’s characters feel like it has more life than this one! I know it’s so ironic, right? I mean, like I said when you have the Meijin treated like a secondary unimportant character, it is as though they want you to remember this shogi series as a loli and pedo one.

I want to point out that this series might have a few subtle sexual ambiguity. Aside from the obvious loli pedo hogging many of the scenes as well as those sexual ambiguous cliche scenes that calls for others to walk in and misinterpret the scene, one of the very subtler ones include when Ai is getting serious in playing her shogi game especially making a comeback from a pinch situation, she would move her head back and forth while focusing. I don’t know, it makes her look like as though she is doing a blowjob!!!!!!!!!!! Not kidding!!!!! Call me a pervert because at so many angles, this is the first impression that it gives off to me. Personally the best ‘lewd’ jokes are the ones where the commentator purposely mistypes Yaichi’s words to make him sound like a lolicon. Sh*t might have gotten real if Ika had shown us full frontal nudity in her failed bid to win over Yaichi. Yeah, this series could have easily have a porn parody on its own and fare better! No, seriously.

Art and animation of course has everything so cute and kawaii, bright and colourful. If you like this style of visual, I’m sure this section is where it trumps the very simple looking 3-gatsu No Lion. Thanks to female characters playing shogi, sometimes I feel like this is also a cosplay event. Like Rina who resembles like some sort of witch or rather bride of Dracula. Seriously. And Ayumu is dressed like as though he is going to fight magical beasts from another world when is just going to play shogi. Does this help in playing psychology with your opponents? By a long shot, I thought Ika looked like Kouka from Beatless and Ginko a serious version of Rem from Re: Zero series. This series is animated by Project No. 9 who is better known to animate loli and cute girl anime series like Ro-Kyu-Bu, Netoge No Yome Wa Onnanoko Ja Nai To Omotta, Tenshi No 3P and Saikin Imouto No Yousu Ga Chotto Okashiinda Ga.

You know, I was pretty darn sure that Yui Horie was behind Ginko’s voice. So cock sure that at some points when she sounded a little off, I didn’t even suspect otherwise. Then of course the real shock came when I discovered it wasn’t her. It was Hisako Kanemoto instead. Super failed ~de geso. Now I fear that her voice might confuse me in future anime series since although she is still active in the voice acting world, she is slowing down a little. Another shocker is Haruka Tomatsu as Ika. Argh. So a bit confusing ~de geso. Honestly, I haven’t been hearing her for quite some time so maybe that’s why I couldn’t see it was her.

Other recognizable seiyuus are Ayane Sakura as Ai Y, Sho Hayami as Tsukimitsu, Nobuhiko Okamoto as Ayumu, Kenji Tsuda as Natagiri, Sayaka Ohara as Rina and Yui Ogura as Charlotte. Other casts include Yuuma Uchida as Yaichi (Oga in ReLIFE), Rina Hidaka as Ai (Last Order in To Aru Majutsu No Index), Ai Kayano as Keika (Inori in Guilty Crown), Mitsuko Horie as Akina (Sailor Galaxia in Sailormoon), Kazuyuki Okitsu as Oishi (Madarame in Genshiken) and Machico as Tsukiyomizaka (Serina in Sansha Sanyou). The opening is sung by Machico, Korekara. All lively anime pop style that sounds as generic it can get. The ending theme, Mamoritai Mono No Tame Ni by Miku Itou plays to a slower beat and seems palatable to my taste although it still sounds generic.

Overall, this is a disappointing anime series and even though it came out in the same season as the second season for 3-gatsu No Lion and was never meant to be its competitor, it is impossible to separate and not compare how bad this anime is. Like as though this shogi theme was just a bait and mask its true intention of sexualizing young little girls. Heh. Instead of luring little girls with sweets, you lure them with, uhm, shogi? Whatever. Not too sure if this would lead to give shogi a bad name. Heh. Maybe that is why men and women’s shogi never mixed. When you have a pedo scandal that is blown out of proportion, unlike the game where it just ends with a checkmate, in life it is not just checkmate but literally over. And then imagine this series following the depressing route of 3-gatsu No Lion but with Yaichi now trying to get his pitiful shogi career back on track after earning an infamous reputation. It might be a sad and sorry route but hey, I’m willing to watch that! Truly, shogi indeed needs to be a draggy and depression theme for us to be appreciated.

I guess there is only a reason why there’s an OVA or 13th episode for Code: Realize: Sousei No Himegimi. Yes and of course to milk some money off the DVD and BD sales. But I’m also thinking that because a certain super detective didn’t get enough screen time in the proper series and hence they need to showcase him in a proper light. I mean, what better way for the best enemies and arch rivals to work together for once and solve a crime, right?

Set A Thief To Catch A Thief
Taking place a month after the end of the TV series, Buckingham Palace is going to hold a celebration to celebrate the nation’s recovery and peace. This also has Lupin remembering they haven’t thrown a party for Cardia yet. Wait a minute. I thought they were married in the final scenes of the last episode? Unless you tell me that took place quite some time in the future and was a time skip scene. Anyway as Lupin shops around for a present, he realizes all his comrades have the same thinking and usurp him in buying that gift he had in mind. Yeah, great minds think alike, no? Then a strange peddler hands him a beautiful blue gem. You know it’s trouble when a suspicious person gives you something for no good reason because instantly Lupin gets arrested by Scotland Yard. You mean they didn’t see that suspicious guy holding it but the moment it is in Lupin’s hands they all jump on him! And there are dozens of them! Where the f*ck did they appear from?! So Leonhardt is kind enough to tell his pals back at the mansion about Lupin’s arrest. For theft. Surprisingly but not surprisingly, that is what a thief is supposed to do, right? Even more ironic is that if he is a super thief and has escaped from countless dangerous heists, he failed this one? Thinking the stress and desperation made Lupin resort to thievery, the friends decide to help Lupin get out before Cardia knows about it. Thank goodness she is dense, right? Lupin sitting nicely in his cell receives a picnic basket from his friends. The moment he opens it, there is a bomb powerful enough to blow a hole in the wall! So many questions… First, didn’t the police inspect it?! Second, had they do their job, they would have been killed since all it takes was just to open the basket. Third, if the bomb was this powerful, where the f*ck was Lupin hiding in his small cell for the bomb to go off? Clearly he couldn’t have escaped that unscathed. But he did. Surprisingly it is Herlock who stops a police from sounding the alert and save Lupin.

Herlock brings Lupin back to his home to hide. He explains that the queen wanted to award this gem to a brave hero but someone stole it. Scotland Yard has been secretly trying to get to the bottom of this and Victoria has personally asked him to help too. Of course for it to conveniently get missing and end up in Lupin’s hands is definitely suspicious. Like as though someone who knows him well has a grudge on him and purposely went to set this up elaborately for him to take the fall. Indeed. Loup Noir or Black Wolf is a notorious French group of thieves. Herlock believes they have recently infiltrated London. Lupin remembers playing Robin Hood with them. He stole what they stole from the public and return it to the public again. This happened many times. So Lupin didn’t actually think they would be gunning for revenge?! That’s pretty confident of him. Therefore Herlock wants to work together with him to take them down and also clear his name. Because they are rivals, he won’t accept any other groups to take the famous Lupin down. Part of the plan is for Lupin to stay low in his residence for who knows how long. Bad news is that his friends are searching all over and couldn’t find him. Poor Cardia. Must have thought something happened to Lupin. Good news is that Loup Noir too can’t find him. I guess bored Lupin has to become his ‘maid’ to clean up his messy room while he bide his time.

Then the wait is over and time to move in. Because the front page of the news reports on Lupin striking. Lupin’s pals even know he is fake because they thought the same as I do: Why the heck is he posing as though for photographers to snap a shot! Herlock explains his plan that since Loup Noir is targeting him, their patience is wearing thin so doing this is just to draw him out. That is where they’ll get back at them in their own game. Lupin has an idea of where they will strike and appear next because apparently you need to be a thief to think like one. True enough, the fake Lupin pops up. Lupin confronts him but the latter has brought his members along. Too bad we get a taste of seeing their incompetence as Lupin and Herlock team up to take down the sloppy goons. When their numbers get too troublesome to handle them, the police arrive. Too bad they too get ‘immobilized’ when a mysterious mist gets in a way. Herald Lupin’s pals to the fore. Yeah, you don’t want to mess with them either. Once the mist is gone, our protagonists gotten away, even nicely rounding up Loup Noir for the befuddled police to arrest them. Heh. Basically doing their job for them. In the aftermath, we see them attending the celebratory event at Buckingham Palace as Victoria awards this gem to Cardia. Should you be surprised? Oh well, I guess a gem looks better on a woman than a medal. Herlock is also here but promises he isn’t here to capture Lupin and is just to celebrate with him. Maybe next time they’ll resume their rivalry. Back home, Lupin explains to Cardia but still feels he is the only one who couldn’t give her a present (even Herlock gave her some beautiful roses). She says his best present is having him with her. This gives him an idea there is a present he can still give her. WTF is this small and short kiss?! Shouldn’t it be longer and more passionate than that?! Wasted!

There Is Honour Among Thieves
As cheesy this OVA might seem but I have to admit that because of those incredulous parts, I somewhat enjoyed it. So bad that it is good? But the worst part is that in order for Herlock to get slightly more screen time, Cardia now gets even less screen time. Heck, it is like as though she isn’t even the main protagonist in this OVA. And I thought Cardia was one of the main characters for this series but she is clearly side-lined like the rest in this OVA. Like she doesn’t matter at all. If you ask me, this OVA can be clearly be done without her since she had no hand whatsoever. Sighs, becoming ‘useless’ ever since she lost her melting ability, eh?

I suspect that this OVA is to satisfy some sick fans’ fetish of Lupin x Herlock. Too bad they didn’t get to kiss or even do gay yaoi stuffs during their short stint of cooperation. Haha! That would be a total disaster and I can imagine if Cardia saw this gayness, her melting ability would just come back and she’ll kill herself! Haha! Sorry if I went overboard with that but like I said with all the incredulous moments in this OVA that feels like forcing the plot, I can’t help think of something like that. After all, what else can we do after Twilight and Finis are gone? Best to put some unknown French thieves just for the sake of entertainment.

Worse, that final kiss between Lupin and Cardia which is supposed to be the ‘best’ moment that perhaps viewers were expecting and waiting for, we were given that ‘low quality’ kiss. Not sure if he will give her a steamier one behind the cameras because he doesn’t want us viewers to intrude on their privacy while he makes out with her. Cardia did hinted she could touch things now, so… Oh well Lupin, looks like you’re truly the master thief having stolen her heart too. In the end, like my sentiments of the overall series itself, it isn’t that good but it isn’t that bad either. Now, if they would only make another OVA that would satisfy my fantasy of including other fictional British characters like I have mentioned in my previous blog… That would be groovy, baby. And ta-ta, cheerio.

Space. The final frontier. The final place where men has yet to discover its potential. Too bad this isn’t sci-fi so space isn’t the final frontier. It’s South Pole AKA Antarctica. Yup, the giant inhospitable wasteland serves as the final frontier on our lonely little planet that mankind has yet to fully explore and understand. Despite being so ‘near’, it is in its way the furthest place from the universe. Hence, Sora Yori Mo Tooi Basho. That is why 4 high school girls are going to brave the sub-zero temperatures for a life changing journey of a lifetime. High school girls going to Antarctica? Is it a public park now? I guess it is going to sound cool when they tell their friends about the field trip they made. Oh, been to Kyoto? Boring. Tropical islands of Okinawa? Too warm and sunny. But have you been to South Pole? Now that’s a real field trip.

Episode 1
Mari Tamaki AKA Kimari has a list of to-do things she wants to accomplish in her life. Not much. But yet she has checked off none. So she thought of starting with the easiest on her list: Ditch school. Uhm. Okay? She even tells her best friend, Megumi Takahashi about it. Well, what can she do? It’s her choice. Heck, she even helps cover for her absence at school. But Megumi knows Kimari well. Because at the end, she chickens out. Unfounded fears of what might happen to her. A meteor falling. Whatever. You’re a good joker at least. So we see Kimari telling Megumi about how this bad habit came about. Every time she tries something, the thought of failure spooks her. Thus it is that part of herself she hates. One night while returning from the train station, she notices a girl dropped an envelope. It contains a million yen! Oh sh*t! Telling this to Megumi, Kimari notices the girl who dropped it was wearing their school uniform. They go around school looking for her. And then Kimari hears someone crying and regretting in the toilet. Sounds like her. You can’t imagine how grateful Shirase Kobuchizawa is when Kimari returns her money. Shirase explains what this is all about. Her mom, Takako wrote a book on Antarctica but went missing subsequently. Hence the money is to pay for her trip to South Pole and look for her. Many mock her for doing the impossible but she is going to prove it and shut them up. But can she earn and save that much money via part time since middle school? Okay. I believe her. This interests Kimari as she is now interested to go to Antarctica. She tells Shirase about her bad habit and this is why she wants to support her going to Antarctica. Although Shirase invites her to go, she needs to test her resilience. This weekend she will be checking out the boats and if she can come, she’ll believe she is serious (the ship named Shirase is at the nearby port for public exhibition before its departure). Of course Kimari starts out as optimistic and then her bad habit starts to kick in midway. Thankfully she doesn’t chicken out this time and meets up with Shirase to start her first ultimate adventure.

Episode 2
Shirase pinpoints the schedule and journey of Shirase. As the ship will be leaving soon and they are not, they will take a plane to Fremantle, Australia and meet up with it there before heading towards Antarctica. Since this is the first time in 3 years that the ship will take on civilian passengers, they can’t miss this boat. Kimari excitedly talks to Megumi about this but the latter has her reservations. It takes a huge amount of money as well as the dangers of the expedition (it has claimed lives before). So I guess the girls need more money and hence they chance upon this easy job. An ad that pays good money for high school girls just talking to boys. Hmm… Sounds too good to be true. But you won’t know if you don’t try. Kimari also works part time at the local convenience store. Her fellow colleague, Hinata Miyake knows all about Kimari and her plan to Antarctica. She overheard them the other day. She wants in. Does she have money? Got it. From her job. She still has to take time off school. Don’t worry. She doesn’t go to school! And she is the brainy kind too. Her dream is to ace everything and show up everyone who goofs off in high school and fails. Of course she plans to do something extraordinary this year before she takes her college entrance exams. Later Hinata reveals more to Kimari why she doesn’t go to school. She hates blending in with the crowd but seeing them together made her envious. The trio try to find the Antarctica expedition meet in the crowded streets of Kabukichou. Ironically Shirase is scared of meeting others. I don’t know what the girls are trying to do to ‘seduce’ the guys but when a couple of ladies, Kanae Maekawa and Yumiko Samejima spot them, Shirase recognizes them and tells her pals to run! And so it becomes a helter-skelter chase throughout the crowded streets. Wow. Those ladies could sure keep up even if the trio separate. In the end, the trio blunder and knock into each other. The ladies (Takako’s friends) hear out their plan to get a male member in their group so it would be easier for them to enter the expedition. Shirase flashes the cash and will give it to them if they can bring them along. But they reject her money although they invite them to come to Fremantle as they are going too. That should be good news but Shirase still thinks if she had more money they would have accepted her right on the dot? Hinata and Kimari didn’t like her negative vibe so they vote to a majority to dismiss her as the group leader and just head to Antarctica.

Episode 3
As part of the civilian expedition, a high school girl will also be tagging along as a reporter. She is Yuzuki Shiraishi and a famous child actress. Shirase has this idea to tag along with her but makes her friends call her agency because she is scared to talk to strangers? But don’t worry, Yuzuki is here! In short, Yuzuki wants Shirase to go in her place. Am I hearing this right? She really doesn’t want to go as she is sick of the cold (she’s from Hokkaido). While it might seem like a dream come true, it comes crashing down soon. Tamiko, Yuzuki’s mom and manager arrives and disagrees. Yuzuki has a job and she must do it. But what if they can do it in her place? Well, Shirase is a poor actor. Even though Hinata is naturally good, she doesn’t have the looks. Ouch. What about them combining? Bye. But they are left with a slim hope that if they can convince Yuzuki to go, they can tag along as her company. So the trio ‘stalk’ her outside the hotel she is currently staying. Then they go confront and try to convince her while she is doing her homework and revision at the nearby café since it offers free refills. Yuzuki knows mom put them up to this. So she explains as a child actress since 4 years old, she does not have any friends. Not a single one (she always had to leave for a job instead of joining them). This year she vowed to make one and hence the reason she doesn’t want to go. She doesn’t think they understand as they’re all best friends. They quickly dismiss that as they are all strangers and known each other for about a month. The only thing they have in common is the destination. Yuzuki feels better about it but the trio realize they forgot to convince her. So that night they hatch a plan to kidnap her from her hotel via window?! Flimsy ladder on a stormy night! They’re falling! Thankfully it’s just a dream. But the trio did come and get her. Normally through the front door. Yuzuki is so overcome with emotion that she starts crying. First friends, eh? They accompany her to the Polar Science Museum and check out the things that are to be expected for the expedition. Yuzuki couldn’t have felt happier in her life.

Episode 4
Shirase has all the paperwork done that will allow her to take time off from school for training and the trip. Kimari? Oh well, I guess she is being over paranoid trying to figure out if mom knows her intentions. Why does she have to pick a time when she is cutting vegetables? When she tells her the truth, it seems Kimari has used her stamp without her permission. Mom turns into a serial killer… Not even dad could save her because he saved himself. Thankfully Kimari didn’t die and is given the ultimatum to pass every test or else. She hopes Hinata would coach her but is told off she goes to school and this means allotted study time. If she can’t manage that, then she is useless! So true! The quartet are picked up by Yumiko for their training camp. This isolated woods would be a good practice simulation for what is to come. Inside the lodge, she introduces them to Gin Toudou who will be the captain for this expedition. She lays down a few basic ground rules like treating everyone equally regardless of anything. The girls practice to use compass and mark their routes. There is also the real practice of sleeping outside in a tent. Kimari can’t sleep and is noisy. So she asks if Shirase knows Gin. Takako and Gin were high school friends. Both went to Antarctica. Only Gin came back. End of conversation. Kimari wakes up before the break of dawn and sees Gin looking at the horizon. She asks about Takako. Strange, convicted and stubborn. She might not know her daughter well but she gets the vibe she is a splitting image of her. Kimari also explains her reason of wanting to go to Antarctica and not just somewhere. Although Shirase invited her, she decided it herself. She met others along the way who wants to go and she really wants to go with them too. Kimari wakes up her friends to see the sunrise. This motivates them further to go to Antarctica together.

Episode 5
There’s a school ceremony to tell Kimari and Shirase will be taking leave for Antarctica? The quartet practice reporting but Shirase is still as stiff. But she isn’t one if you insult her because she is willing to pick a fight. Kimari packs her stuffs so her room is in a mess. Besides, with the weight restrictions, it seems her sister is taking the liberty to throw out stuffs she shouldn’t need for this trip. Yeah, look how many tour guides and dictionaries she planned on bringing. While cleaning up, Kimari discovers Megumi’s video game console she borrowed and forgot to return. For 3 years. So she returns it and has some nostalgia playing the only game she could ever beat her. At the park, Megumi meets Kimari’s friends for the first time. When Megumi cautions them about bad rumours circulating, Shirase loses her cool and wants to get to the bottom of this. Hinata keeps her head cool that this won’t solve anything and that they don’t have solid proof they did not either. Besides, they are leaving tomorrow. They have a karaoke party to celebrate for tomorrow’s departure. Next morning as Kimari says goodbye to her family (dad is most emotional), outside waiting is Megumi. She came to break up their friendship. It is revealed she was the one who spread those bad rumours. In short with all the tearful drama, Megumi was jealous ever since Kimari decided to go to Antarctica. All the while, Megumi had always decided for her and this superiority made her feel belonged. She now realized that she was the one who was hanging on to things. Because without Kimari, Megumi would have nothing. So is it too late for Kimari to invite her to come to Antarctica? Well, it is Megumi’s first step into a world without Kimari so it won’t be wise to follow her. Kimari parts ways with her but rejects her break up. She meets up with her travelling companions at the airport.

Episode 6
The girls are now in Singapore. Their flight to Fremantle will be in 2 days. Wow. Haven’t been to Singapore for ages and I can’t recognize the place. Except for the Merlion still there. The girls go sightseeing and a little culture shock when the Japanese food in the menu isn’t the actual Japanese food when ordered. It says ramen but it’s not actually… Their first time tasting durian ice cream stinks… When Hinata asks Yuzu if she has her passport with her, Yuzu instantly can sniff out something is wrong and forces her to spill the beans. It seems Hinata has lost hers. She carried so much junk and not a passport in sight. You do know you cannot leave or return to Japan without it, right? Don’t worry. Google’s solution is to head to your embassy and request a replacement. The fastest is half a day. Too bad it is closed on Sunday. That’s tomorrow. Instantly Kimari could berate the government for being inefficient because she compares them to convenience store workers who work 365/24/7. Yeah… Welcome to reality. Although they can change their flight to a later date and still make it in time to Fremantle, Shirase is against this. Something about the strict rules of their expedition and she doesn’t want to leave that first expedition that they are running late. So Hinata has this idea the 3 of them should go without her. She’ll just get her replacement passport and head home. Next morning, Hinata’s alarm didn’t work. She wakes up only to see the rest has left without her. She catches up to them at the airport as Yuzu is trying to haggle to change their flight date but is unsuccessful. There are no openings for these tickets till next month since they got it cheap. Shirase tries to bribe the officer?! Will it work?! After all that friendship lecture, Shirase wants all 4 of them to go to Antarctica. In the end, they manage to change their tickets to the more expensive business class. Shirase then sees Hinata’s passport in her purse! Oh my. Flashback shows after they got down at the airport, Shirase wanted to tie her shoe laces and gave it to Shirase to hold. How could she have forgotten? With Shirase acting so nervous, Yuzu can sniff her out… Spill it. As punishment, the duo are made to eat the stinky durian. One each. Thank goodness I’m not part of this group…

Episode 7
Another TV reporting test run. Shirase still sucks… They board Penguin Maru as Kanae shows them their room and the few ropes to get around. Yeah, new things to learn. Better learn quick. Especially not losing your directions. Gin points out their room was once used by Takako so please take care of it. Shirase tries to find any clues left behind by her mom but none. With limited manpower and supplies, naturally the girls are worried if they could ever make it to Antarctica. They ask Kanae so she assures them they have taken a lot of measures and with the people on board determined to go, of course they’ll get there. After all, Antarctica is not going away from them! Didn’t think that was a good ice breaker… The girls aren’t convinced and feel she is hiding something. So they snoop around wearing masks? They find a panicky girl regretting coming on board. From what they hear, looks like her boyfriend ditched her and she came just to prove her love. And since he isn’t coming… Yeah… Also, some adults getting drunk. Suspicious… Sleeping in their bunkers, it seems under a bed there is glow in the dark paint making it look like the stars believed to be by Takako. Later Gin talks to Shirase how they started all this. Realizing there was no civilian station on Antarctica, they did all they could to make it a success including securing sponsors. Despite all the danger, they hope to find something worthwhile. Then the unfortunate happened. Sponsors withdrew and the next expedition was delayed till it was postponed indefinitely. Despite all that, they haven’t changed. She hoped to look at the same stars again. Many of them who went before are now back. Many don’t have anything to gain and some may even lose when they return. That’s the kind of ship this is. Kanae introduces the high school girls. Shirase is still nervous but she manages to get by and rally everyone’s motivation to head to Antarctica.

Episode 8
The girls are basking on the warm concrete of the deck. Soak them up because it’ll be freezing when they get to Antarctica. As the ship sets sail, they begin their interviewing. Shirase still sucks. At the kitchen, they are made to peel potatoes. Then it is time for exercising. Ironically they have been walking around all day and for so long, they get tired after one big round around the ship? Better work on the stamina and shape up. Don’t want to be a liability when you reach the world’s largest desert. At the rate they’re working the dumbbells, they might turn into Amazons by then. Shirase blames others for forgetting to do laundry when it was her whom the group decided on for this task. But the real challenge is here. Due to the constant swaying, the girls are seasick. It is just taking effort to hold it all in. They force themselves to eat the next meal for energy but everything went back out. Kanae ‘instils fear’ in them because they aren’t prepared for the worst that is to come. It seems they are entering the rough seas area in which the boat will be rocking from side to side like a roller coaster. This must be worse than a horror movie. At this point the girls are like the masters of throwing up. But the thought that everyone else is holding their ground and them being useless gives them a little motivation. They chose this so they should be prepared. Probably they’ve gone crazy with all the swaying so they decide to take a look outside. They are awed by the vast darkness and laugh in delirium when the salty waves splash all over them. Yup, they’ve gone mad. However the good news is that the next day they are all fine again. Like as though that was the ritual needed for some sort of immunity. As the weather is all clear, they finally see land. Or ice, rather. Antarctica ahead!

Episode 9
Toshio Zaizen suddenly confesses to Shirase that he loves her! Oh my. Did seasickness turn into love sickness? When they talk it seems he is in love with Gin and wanted to ask Shirase if she knows anything about her since her mom was close to her. So I guess he panicked. Unfortunately she doesn’t know much. But the girls would like to help him out although he cannot get involved. Under the guise of an interview, they try to find out her type of men. Too bad she won’t answer anything that is not expedition related. Shirase do eventually get to talk to Gin alone. She doesn’t hate her as mom always talked about Antarctica and she was well aware of the danger. Gin still has some regrets in making a decision to leave Takako behind. When Gin asks Shirase if this is what she really feels, she starts breaking down relating how she knew mom was never coming home. She kept telling herself every day that if she wants to change, she has to go to where mom is. A place further than the universe. The ship hits a fast moving ice. Instead of going around it, they use the ship’s weight to cut through. While so, more snippets of Takako always leaving Shirase to Gin whenever she leaves the house. Gin remembers the final moment when Takako went missing. Her final words over the transmitter was that she something so beautiful. I hope it wasn’t the gates of heaven. Gin starts crying. Right at the moment when Zaizen had his courage all summed up to confess. Hence he can’t and takes out his frustration while drinking with Yumiko. She tries to cheer him up by advising to try someone within his reach. Guess what? Now he loves her! Oh sh*t! Her plan backfired. When the ship finally lands, the girls take their first step on the continent. Shirase starts boasting how she has achieved her dream and take those to all who do not believe her. With the girls also supporting her on this, the entire crew is also influenced and yells the same. In your face, non-believers!

Episode 10
The girls arrive at the Syowa Station. Even though it is December and it is summer in South Pole, it is still damn cold. Kanae gives them a quick tour around the place and they’ll each have their own rooms this time. It is good for Yuzuki since Kimari sleep talks with her eyes open! As this is the first time Syowa Station has people staying in 3 years, there will be a lot of cleaning up to do. Don’t let that cute penguin distract you. Yuzuki receives word from Tamiko that she has been accepted by the drama audition that she took prior to this audition. This makes Yuzuki sad because she will be busier and the quartet won’t spend time together anymore. However they note they will still live separately and they are all friends. But this confuses Yuzuki because since when did they become friends? Weren’t they just strangers with a common goal? This causes her to have trust issues with them. Hence she comes up with a friendship contract that will have all of them remain friends once this is over. But Shirase believes it doesn’t mean a thing. She has been alone before and knows it. However Kimari is so touched that she starts crying. Yuzuki freaking out? So the rest try their best to explain about Kimari’s actions to her. This friendship and trust thingy is sure confusing. Hinata and Kimari try to do a Christmas show but all the drunk adults have passed out. Not sure what Kimari was doing stuck up the ceiling so she could just talk to Yuzuki? More talk about friendship thingy. The other friends then bust in to give her a surprise belated happy birthday cake. They were too seasick that time for that and thus Kimari suggested they all should celebrate it at Antarctica. I guess this means we’re all friends. I guess this also means it’s time for Yuzuki to cry her heart out. Even more when she messes up by blowing out the candles with her accidental sneeze. Not sure if this is inspiring because they think friendship is this one word. Uhm, isn’t friendship itself a single word? Ne?

Episode 11
Nobody can stop laughing at Kimari’s goggle tan lines. Reverse racoon? Even during the live stream, mom and sis laugh the moment they first see her. When it is Hinata’s turn, a few old friends show up. Instantly she shuts the camera and fakes injury. Shirase notices Hinata has been stressed since and sees her taking it all out via violently abusing the snow. Shirase wanted to talk to her about this but the circumstances wouldn’t. Hence there is an email in the public computer addressed to her. Shirase knows it is wrong but the temptation is too great. She takes a peak and is caught in the act. Hinata not pleased. So here is the backstory anyway. Hinata was part of the track and field club. Her club members tell her to go easy and lose out to the seniors since it is their last year. Hinata didn’t listen and she got selected. She then heard some of them badmouthing her. That was the last straw. She quitted. They tried to spread all sorts of rumours of her so she also quitted school altogether. Hence the reason she came to Antarctica is because there is nothing here. An empty place with no one to tie her down. As the girls carry on their work, Shirase lets Hinata know about her thoughts of it. She wouldn’t stand for anyone who treats her badly but yet she is smile. Hinata isn’t Shirase, you know. Hinata thanks her for her concern and the truth is, she is still scared. On another live stream, Hinata wonders if she should forgive them if it would make her feel better but the thought of knowing they would be relieved would disgust her. So when Hinata’s friends are online, Shirase hijacks and tells them to leave Hinata alone. They might think she has been sad ever since but the truth is she is having a lot of fun. Getting straight to the point, since they hurt her friend, they get to live with this. No halfway state business. Hinata so moved to tears. Perhaps the final taking out of the frustrations of the year as the quartet ring the makeshift bell made out of the drum can. Hope it doesn’t break.

Episode 12
Shirase still remembers she was in the middle of class when the teacher called her to go home. That feeling never ended. So when Kanae invites Shirase to head inland where her mom was last seen as part of their next expedition programme, she shocks everyone by wanting some time to decide. Her friends talk to her as she relates how eager she was to come here and did everything she could. But now that they are here, there is nowhere left to go. And if nothing changes, she is going to live the rest of her live feeling this way. The friends do not pressure her but give her some space to think. Shirase talks to Gin about her reason coming here. She has to accept the fact Takako is dead and came here latching onto the supposed dream she wanted her to come back here. But in the end, those dreams weren’t enough as motivation. It was the injustice of reality that made the impossible possible and allowed them to proceed. Of course Shirase eventually decides to join the team but still has this forlorn look on her face. Moving deeper inland, it gets colder and colder so much so you can use a banana as a hammer! They are awed with the sun pillar phenomenon before retiring into their snowcat. A blizzard hits that night and it reminds Gin of a very similar situation of how they lost Takako. She believes she left the main station after forgetting something and slipped. Despite she was right behind her and tied to a rope, it broke and the next thing she knew, she was gone. Next day it is clear as Shirase narrates a letter if she was to write to mom. She talks about having friends who are willing to go this far for her. They finally arrive at the site which is supposed to be an observatory site. It is still far from completion. After seeing Gin shed tears, Shirase’s friends get frantic to look for anything that Takako left behind. Anything. Proof she was here. Shirase remains sceptical but hey look. What’s this? A picture of mother and daughter together. Uhm, wait. Isn’t that a laptop too? After 3 years, it is still working in fine condition???!!! Wouldn’t the electronics just freeze? Apparently Shirase knows her mom’s email password after the second try. Guess what? It starts downloading (not really sure but is wifi available this deep?) all the emails Shirase sent to her. Oh my, there are over 1,000 unread emails!!! Cue for Shirase to cry and scream for mom. If that doesn’t move you to tears, perhaps her friends outside crying for her will. DAMN WHERE ARE THE TISSUES????!!!!!

Episode 13
The girls have got used to things so well that this could be their second home. Yeah, Shirase is such a killer at the mahjong table. Watch out, Saki. There might be a new kid in town… As the girls would soon have to leave, Kimari has this silly thought of continuing their stay. I understand she likes it here but the rest instantly shoot her down because they have families and school to think about. So on their last day, they play baseball. Nobody could take Gin’s pitching except Shirase. Because only Takako was the other one who ever did. Shirase then shocks everyone with her new look as she cuts her hair to shoulder length. A sign she has gotten over this Antarctica and mom issue? The morning comes for the high school girls to depart. The winter team is supposed to swap with them but since there is none, the adults are continuing their stay. Gin makes her speech about this successful experiment featuring high school girls before passing the mic to Shirase. Typical heartfelt speech that leaves everyone crying. Even Gin. Shirase passes her mom’s laptop to Gin. She doesn’t need it anymore. Takako would be mad if she didn’t stay for the winter. Oh, so mom’s spirit now resides in this laptop? That night, the girls get to see the beautiful aurora lights. Shirase receives a mail from her mom’s laptop. Actually Gin sent it after noticing a mail in the outbox. You mean now it only has wifi? What about when Shirase downloaded all those inbox messages? Did she not notice that single mail in the outbox? Anyway it states that the real aurora is ten thousand times better. How convenient and precise timing and setting. The girls return to Japan and part ways before returning to their normal life. Kimari texts Megumi that she is back but too bad the latter isn’t home. In fact she is away at the North Pole! NO WAY!!!

Have A N-Ice Day! Frozen Friends
I guess once you have experienced something so awesome, returning to your mundane everyday life seems like hell. I’m not saying the girls dread going back to society but I can feel that from all the promises they made during their fastest friendship building days, they are certainly ready for the next trip together. Well, if their schedule isn’t packed or conflicted. While many ordinary people are too busy to even bother the achievements of high school girls going to Antarctica (or the most give a 2 second wow, that’s cool line) and shrug it off as so-what-it-doesn’t-have-anything-to-do-with-me, not many could say they went to the freezing hell and came back alive and in one piece plus an even motivated spirit. I wonder if this is comparable to the other kind of hell that is known as the biannual Comiket, going and returning from there alive. Yeah, too many people have done that so it doesn’t seem so Antarctica cool.

Like they say, it isn’t the destination but the journey that is important. This is what this series is all about. Hence the main draw is not Antarctica but rather their journey together and the bond that they created in this short journey that has turned them into lifelong friends. From mere strangers with a common goal into inseparable BFFs. This is the beauty of this series. Despite at times when I thought it was going to be boring and lacklustre, the dynamic interaction between the main quartet sure proves interesting.

There are going to be lots of heartstrings tugging moments to move your heart as you see the girls bond closer each other while working towards their goal. Might not be the most tear jerking anime ever nor one that would normally needs tissues, but unless your heart is as cold or even more frozen than the depths of Antarctica, you will definitely be moved the moment Shirase finds her mom’s laptop despite I still find it silly it still works but the overall atmosphere was so moving that it made me forget this sin. Many times they drum up the drama and the feels close enough to make us cry. It is like they built up all that emotions welling up to this point that became the clincher to release the flood damns of tears. Damn they did it so well I would have gone full blown emotional if I was the weepy kind. Seriously.

It might seem like they are painting it look easy and even accessible for high school girls to jump on this dangerous expedition. I mean, you want to see old guys in place? Anyway we have seen them in harsh conditions and overcoming it (because power of friendship too) and with the supervision and guidance of veteran adults, it is not as impossible as we think. It might seem unrealistic that the girls are having lots of happy times while on the trip but I assure you that this is the correct attitude. Nobody is going to take you seriously if you keep on complaining and whining. Besides, the girls know very well what they are signing up for and hence getting grumpy at the point of no return is going to cause a lot of problems for everyone. Always keep a positive outlook.

As mentioned that the dynamic interactions between the main quartet is the main driving force of the series. All four of them are not without any problems aside from their character flaws that serves as the series’ comical moments (Shirase being forgetful and stiff in front of the camera while Kimari has weird sleeping habits). They have their own issues to deal with and are properly fleshed out during the course of this series. Like Kimari who has done nothing eventful in her life because she is a coward decides to do something big and for a person who has achieved nothing in life, that is commendable. Even Megumi didn’t want her to go because who else would she ‘show off’ to? But I guess in life, changes are inevitable. In order for Megumi to ‘evolve’ to the next stage of becoming her true friend, she have to come to terms and accept Kimari’s freedom. The will to let go. I mean, even when apart they can still be friends, right? Damn that girl pulled a fast one over Kimari because without anybody noticing, she’s now at the Arctic. So why doesn’t anybody talk about the North Pole? Penguins over polar bears… And also Santa never existed… Because of Kimari’s frank and honest nature, sometimes she feels like the comic relief character of the group after Hinata whose outgoing personality is just so outgoing.

Yuzuki is probably tired of being in the spotlight and just wants to have normal friends. Ironically the first friends she makes are while she is out of Japan. Even the cheerful Hinata has her own issues. While it might seem childish that she ran away from society, what would you have done in her shoes? Well, probably heading to Antarctica wouldn’t be on my top 100 list of things to do to escape from bullying. Perhaps the journey refreshed her in a lot of ways. Yeah, nothing like taking a long trip and taking your mind off things. Screw society. Antarctica has nothing and the best place to represent nothing.

Finally Shirase as the one who commenced this group trip has the biggest load of burden over her shoulders. It is one of the most traumatic ways to lose your mom and never having to say goodbye to her. Hence sometimes I feel this is one big trip to pay her last respects by visiting her ‘grave’. It is a long winded process for her to overcome and accept that mom is never coming home. It is her only chance of putting the rest the ghost of her mom’s disappearance and demise. Yeah, I came to funnily believe Takako’s soul is now in the laptop. Because otherwise what kind of ‘power’ do you think would have kept it in good running condition after 3 years of not in use? I know today’s technology allows wifi in Antarctica but I can’t help think it is cheaper to strap the modem on the penguins’ back. Haha!

Other supporting characters aren’t really prominent in the spotlight but they especially Kanae and Gin (also staying strong and trying to overcome and accept the death of her friend) do help support the main quartet in their stay. It was interesting and funny to see that girl who got the short end of the stick with her boyfriend leaving her on this trip alone. It was like the biggest stand up ever. One way ticket to Antarctica if you want to dump your girl (assuming it was but it isn’t in this case). So as not to see her lose everything, he had the heart to contact her in the end.

At the end of this journey, no doubt that Kimari wants to return to South Pole with her friends, it makes me wonder if this will be the only thing for the rest of her life she will be doing. Sure, she has been bitten by the South Pole bug but remember at first she has a list of to-do things she wants to accomplish in life. So is she going to devote the rest of her life not doing anything else but become a permanent explorer of team Antarctica? If so, what makes her think this would be life’s best experience (assuming she said this) if this is the only thing she has accomplished in her life? So if Kimari is going to stay true to her bucket list, I guess she’ll have to spend the rest of her life travelling to other parts of the world and experiencing different new cultures and the likes. Yeah, less time for Antarctica then. Well, at least she did something than nothing. But if she wants to forever stick to Antarctica is fine with me. Hence Kimari’s life will also be known as the Ice Age. Sorry, bad pun.

Art and drawing feel pretty normal and decent. The characters look simple enough and lacking detail. Also, the colouring hues feel a bit bland. Especially when you get to South Pole, everything is pure white and even from myself if I focus too much on the white ice and snow, I feel I might get some snow blindness! Okay, a bit exaggerated I admit. However the background and sceneries of the cities especially the one in Singapore look gorgeous enough. Even so, the backdrop and characters don’t clash and blend in together. I also want to note that one of the biggest exaggerations of this series is when the characters cry. Their tear drops are freaking big! I thought they were crying translucent pearls! It might be this series’ sort of trademark and exaggeration but I find it a bit weird that they really cry big teardrops. Animated by veteran Madhouse who brought to you One Punch Man, No Game No Life, Highschool Of The Dead, Ore Monogatari, Chihayafuru, Overlord, Black Lagoon and Death Note.

Voice acting, got to credit my absolute favourite Mamiko Noto first. Although sounding serious in her character role as Gin and nothing like the upbeat and fun type like Liszt in ClassicaLoid, it may be nothing special to others but she will always sound special to me! Cringe? More like me still fawning over her! Also recognizable is Yuka Iguchi and her lively voice makes it perfect as Hinata. Other many recognizable seiyuus include Kana Hanazawa as Shirase, Saori Hayami as Yuzuki, Yoshitsugu Matsuoka as Zaizen, Youko Hikasa as Kanae and Sayaka Ohara as Tamiko. Also recognizable is Kana Asumi’s cameo as that girl who keeps pining for her boyfriend who left her on this icy trip by herself. Gotta prove this freezing journey is not what breaks their relationship. Break the ice! Not the relationship! Oops. Went a bit off there.

Other casts include Inori Minase as Kimari (Rem in Re: Zero Kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu), Lynn as Yumiko (titular character in Fuuka), Ai Kayano as Takako (Inori in Guilty Crown) and Hisako Kanemoto as Megumi (Ika in Shinryaku! Ika Musume). The opening theme is The Girls Are Alright by Saya. An upbeat song that instils motivation and hope, enough for you to feel you want to root for the main quartet. The same can be said for the ending theme sung by the main quartet, Koko Kara Koko Kara.

On a trivial note, I keep wondering why despite the series is called and pronounced as Sora Yori Mo Tooi Basho (A Place Further Than The Sky) when its original kanji writing is Uchuu Yori Mo Tooi Basho (A Place Further Than The Universe) and this one is often referred to throughout the series. I am guessing what lies beyond the skies are the stars and technically the universe. So using double writing and meaning in Japanese is like Japanese being Japanese, huh? Well, like I said in my opening paragraph about space being the final frontier. When you’re at the southernmost point of Earth, it feels like you’re in space and on an alien planet, no? Or maybe the meaning is just simply interchangeable in this case.

Overall, despite in sub-zero temperatures, their friendship continues to burn and keep our hearts warm. Heck, they even melted it at one point. So is this one cool story then? This is one anime where they correctly use the power of friendship to drive its plot and characters. Even if you are not into this friendship drama thingy, this is still a worthy and entertaining watch. Sometimes it is good to take a break from a long journey and stop to smell the roses once in a while. Who knows the detour you might take and experience something even better? Who’d knew that going south was such a positive thing? This series really gives a whole new positive meaning about heading south. Things are sure looking up in this case.

Marchen Madchen

July 7, 2018

Initially I thought Marchen Madchen would be some sort of fairytale mishmash whereby several classic fairytale story characters are brought to life in a single anime. You know, we get to see Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and Snow White all in one series, anime style. Sure, Disney took those classic fairytales and turned them into separate movies but how cool would it be if all of them exist in the same story universe? Oh right, Shrek… Anyway, this series didn’t turn out to be what I expected. It’s one of those isekai series. Normal girl from our world goes to another magical world, learns she has a dormant power and sort of the most powerful one of them all. Tournament series. Team battles. Friends and enemies. Yeah, pretty much the standard clichés you’d expect to find. And then something unexpected happened… And I’m not talking about something inside the story but the production of the show… Sighs…

Episode 1
Hazuki Kagimura is an ordinary high school girl with no friends. She has this bad habit that whenever she does something wrong, she starts reading to escape to her fantasy world. She calls this Story Syndrome. After finishing reading a book, she notices a strange book in her bag which she didn’t buy. She can’t open it. Then she notices a robed character running pass. She follows her and notices nobody else could see her. But robe girl corners Hazuki and wants to know her intentions. So she wants to be friends? She is not amused and flies away. Hazuki recognizes that girl from the previous book she just read. She continues tailing her to a library and then sees her open a secret door. As Hazuki tries to find that door, we see her past how her late mom used to tell her lots of stories. Mom hoped she would find her own story. Too bad she got confused in all the fantasies she cooked up. Hazuki may have not said the magic word but that magic book starts glowing and opens the secret door. It took some time for it to work? Hazuki gets sucked in and too late to regret not wanting to enter. Dropping in a strange land and enters the nearby school. However she gets scared by Yumilia Qazan, thinking she is a delinquent trying to bully her and runs away. She runs into a nice farm-cum-hotspring whereby the lady kind lets her soak in. Hazuki confirms form her that robe girl is from this school and it is a rule to whoever goes to the other side to wear it. Hazuki’s bath time is interrupted with Yumilia barging in. Poor Hazuki has to run away butt naked only with that book in hand. She eventually finds refuge in some hall. Oops. A few people watching this streaker. When Yumilia catches up, she wants to see Hazuki using her power and transforms into her battle gear. Luckily Shizuka Tsuchimikado (robe girl) stops her but not before Hazuki somehow managing to display slight powers from the book. She gets dizzy and passes out. Everyone thinks Hazuki is a Madchen.

Episode 2
Hazuki wakes up and is being interrogated by petite Ariko Kasumi who decides to burn her after thinking she was insulted! Luckily Shizuka is here to put an end to her prank. She brings Hazuki to the principal, Sugami who is that farmer lady. She welcomes Hazuki to Kuzunoha Girls’ Magic Academy. Hazuki is fascinated that everyone here is a magic user and that book she has is the original Cinderella, a very powerful one. Due to her being an amateur, she is letting her magic being drained out and this would pose a danger to others and herself. Hazuki accepts to be trained as a student of this school. Shizuka becomes her teacher as she demonstrates her own powers using Bouf Hyure. When Hazuki tries out, nothing happens. This prompts other girls to taunt if she is a fake or cheated her way to get in here. Hazuki starts feeling bad that it almost affects her health. Shizuka decides to teach her with something simpler like using toys for a start. Of all the toys, Hazuki had to pick one that belonged to Shizuka and it embarrassed her. Well, her name is written on it. After a few moments of concentrating and imagination, her powers start up. This makes her buoyed in confidence. But Yumilia is here to rain on her parade because she mentions about Hexennacht. It is a tournament between schools and the winner gets whatever wish granted. Because Cinderella is a very powerful book, hence the only reason Shizuka is desperately trying to train her to achieve this goal. Shizuka does not hesitate to admit that. Hazuki cannot help feel disappointed although she should have known better. Oh look. Now she runs away. Shizuka feels guilty she didn’t think of her feelings but Sugami believes she reached out to help her and that was good enough. As Shizuka goes after Hazuki, Sugami forces Yumilia to clean the library as punishment. Shizuka takes Hazuki out to eat hamburgers because it is her favourite food. She adds about her strict upbringing as she was the only daughter in her family. Both girls reconcile and become friends. Ariko too somehow got in the mix.

Episode 3
Hazuki makes some progress but she is still unable to master a basic skill known as Buchhulle. Without it, she cannot participate in Hexennacht. Shizuka explains more of this tournament. Although rules may vary, the main rule of losing one’s Buchhulle puts you out of contention. She takes Hazuki to the library where it houses many Origin magic books. Watching Yumilia clean, there is a reason why magic users need to often do so. Evil magic known as Stains constantly try to eat the Origins. Once an Origin is gone, it is lost forever. Stains that gain an Origin’s power become black beasts called Flecks. I don’t think they’re supposed to look like Godzilla… More on Hexennacht, only 7 schools are allowed to participate. There is only one spot left and looks like the only thing that stands between Japan’s place is their battle with the Coalition School. Yumilia and Shizuka decide to fight here as well as clean the place but Hazuki panics upon seeing a Stain on her Cinderella, inadvertently knocking out Shizuka. Fight over without starting. Hazuki goes home but it seems her stepmom, Saeko has noticed she has been coming home late. Hazuki lies it is club activities but her stepsister, Misa knows it is a lie. Hazuki eventually says there is someone she likes who goes to another school. Technically she isn’t lying. Misa believes her and will do all she can to support her. Shizuka is introduced to a judge from Committee 13 who will oversee Hexennacht. However he tries to persuade Shizuka to only teach Hazuki some parts of Origin and rewrite her memories. Sugami will not allow this intimidation and has this Origin fundamentalist leave. Hazuki sees the girls from top schools arriving, Li Xuemei (China), Maria Rasputin (Russia) and Mahakali (India). All very powerful Origin users. Meanwhile Shizuka is being met by Agathe Arier (Germany) and Arthur Pendragon (Britain). Agathe wants Cinderella returned to her since it was originally from her country. She is not amused when Shizuka says Cinderella has chosen its owner although she isn’t sure if she is participating. Agathe views Japan must participate otherwise it will bring shame to Moon Princess, the oldest Origin as well as Shizuka’s mom who along with many Origin users perished in a disaster 7 years ago. Agathe wants her to find another combatant to replace Hazuki as she still hasn’t mastered Buchhulle. Is she going to miss Hexennacht because of one useless Madchen? Oh, here comes Hazuki to disprove it all. Well, her Buchhulle works. Cinder ashes falling but at the price of her being naked. WTF.

Episode 4
It might just be fluke since Hazuki still has it rough doing her Buchhulle. Yumilia is surprised to see her teammates here, Charles Giovanni and Molly. Apparently, American Lynne Daves gave them a lift here. She knows all about Hazuki since having Cinderella makes her famous. As the girls soak in the hotspring, I guess other nations start arguing how Cinderella was originally from their country. Lynne being the stereotypic American troublemaker lights the fire and before you know it, naked girls start going all out at each other with magic. Hazuki runs but into another bath area whereby Arthur seems to see the truth in her heart. She tells Hazuki that she keeps running from herself, reality and everything she doesn’t like. How far will she run? Hazuki is so overwhelmed that she passes out. Lynne could have owned everyone with her paralyzing magic had not Yumilia rush in to put a stop to it all and threaten Lynne. That was easy. Hazuki wakes up in the infirmary with Shizuka by her side. Hazuki saw the online post of Origin users on Shizuka. It has lots of her details especially Shizuka’s birthday on Christmas. She wants to hold a birthday party. However Shizuka snaps and runs away. Soon, Hazuki learns from Ariko that Shizuka’s mom died on her birthday. Shizuka’s mom was always busy and Shizuka was anticipating her call on that day but it never came to be as she was busy fighting a super power Fleck along with other Origin users and died. Hazuki feels bad but knows what it’s like to lose a mother. Meanwhile Lynne meets up with Yumilia and praises her for her fine acting. Although Yumilia is not pleased, she is in cohorts with Lynne. Using her position as a transfer student, Yumilia is a spy for foreign schools and gives Lynne the data. You see, because Japan fought that Fleck and lost many Origin users, Committee 13 has decided Japan hasn’t the capability to protect the library. This means they plan to distribute it to other schools and if that happens, they’ll be given the priority. Before Hazuki goes home, she is attacked by Yumilia. She has made a deal with Lynne to get rid of her so that Cinderella would be free of any user for the time being when Hexennacht is held. In exchange, she will give her a place to call home. Hazuki calls out to Shizuka for help. It’s like that girl got this sense to know she is in danger, gets over her depression and rushes down to wherever she is. How does she help? She tells her to return to her own world and never come back. This is not where she belongs. But are they friends? No, they’re not. Ouch.

Episode 5
Hazuki is given a potion that will erase her memories and return to her normal life. Looks like she took it and is back at her home. Misa notices Hazuki is down and tries to invite her to a Christmas party but is turned down. Thinking she has boyfriend problems, so the best way to forget a man is with another man? Eh, what? Because she likes reading, those are just words. It doesn’t tell who she really is. Meanwhile Committee 13 has sealed Cinderella. Shizuka receives Mai Sadohara as Hazuki’s replacement. We see Hazuki back at the magic library. Sugami confronts her and knows she has not taken the potion. Hazuki is worried her story has no next chapter so Sugami tells hers. She had a friend who was chosen by Cinderella and her dream was to help even Stains and Flecks. Knowing everyone would laugh at her, she would only tell her closest friends. As a talented Madchen, she was picked for Hexennacht. She was winning until at some point she must have felt her heart has been broken. She gave up her contract and vanished. Sugami doesn’t remember much, her face or her name probably because she took the potion. All she remembers was the feelings they shared in their dreams and her regrets. Even though the story has no conclusion, this is the end of her story. The qualifiers begin with Shizuka’s Japan side against Yumilia’s Coalition School. The game is some castle siege. Either you defend or take control of the throne room to win. It seems Shizuka’s team is losing as the newcomer is slowing her down and ultimately everyone. Lynne is confident Coalition School will win because Yumilia will continue to be her pawn. Hazuki is with her family and starts crying. No, not the beautiful dress she is in. She must be missing her magic world. So a few words of support and encouragement from her family is all that is needed for Hazuki to get moving. She runs back to the library. The secret door doesn’t open apparently Sugami was waiting for her to say the right words to go see Shizuka? Sugami was a little sneaky too and it is a good thing she had Hazuki for insurance. As she ‘forgot’ to wipe her name from the register, it gives her a free pass to barge into the match. Even if Hazuki can’t use her Buchhulle and doesn’t even have a contract with Cinderella, will she still go? Of course. Somehow the magical power of friendship will save the day. Sugami allows her too because she didn’t rely on the potion. Plus, the potion she gave was just water. WTF?! So either way they’re still relying on Hazuki, right? Security is so lax that Hazuki is able to jump into the game. Is having an extra member against the rules?

Episode 6
We go back 15 minutes in time to see how Japan got owned by the Coalition School. Thanks to Mai being a weak ass, that’s when everything went downhill. Oh heck, it was already downhill for Japan from the start. With no options left, Shizuka is forced to use her ultimate magic. This is what Yumilia has been waiting for as her Origin, Shuten Doji steals other magic. Before Yumilia could defeat Shizuka with her own power, this is where Hazuki drops in. I’m sure she can guess the situation seeing her friends down. Characters like Hazuki have to give a pep talk how being one character makes you, you. Don’t follow the book blindly, blah, blah, blah. I thought it was funny she was trying to say how weird Cinderella’s story is. Like why she fell in love with the prince or had to leave by midnight. Girl, you also forgot to mention how a fitting glass slipper could slip off and why the prince only recognized her by her feet. Hazuki decides to rewrite her own Cinderella. One whereby she doesn’t give the prince a f*ck and continues running home to be with her kind family. Hence Hazuki is able to make another contract with Cinderella and rename it as Cinderella Doesn’t Look Back. WTF. I don’t know about you but that sounds like a bad title. She transforms into her Buchhulle form. Chibi pumpkins attacking Yumilia? She tries to fight back but Shizuka’s powers are going berserk. She won’t let go of it. Hazuki got this brilliant idea to make new magic. I don’t know how but it looks like it involves intense staring and shouting. You know Yumilia gives up when she remembers her vagabond days with her pals. Enough to make her realize what home really means to her. I guess Japan wins. And this magic is now spreading to Origin libraries? Whatever. Cue for Shizuka to apologize for being mean and get the ball rolling for Hazuki to admit she likes her and wants to be her friends. Don’t worry about that. Because they’re already friends. You mean they thought they weren’t?

Episode 7
Looks like Japan will face Russia in the first Hexennacht round. Because of that, Maria and her Russian goons plan to sabotage Japan so they can make their comrade’s wish, Tatiana come true. Guess what? Hazuki and honest to goodness (AKA gullible) Tatiana are already friends after having some bonding in the hotspring. Yup, Tatiana even tells her magic’s traits and weaknesses. So the first sabotage is to have the Japanese side drink lots of milk? Because they think Asian’s have weaker stomach? Didn’t work. Next, they think of locking them in some underground room with no connectivity to the outside. Because Japanese loves clean room, they clean it up real good and send a ‘love letter’ to Hazuki. Though she takes the bait, Hazuki manages to call Shizuka to get her out. Too late to see the free wi-fi poster there… When Hazuki and Shizuka are in the library, they get sucked into a mitten. It is a trap laid out by Nadia. Apparently this is considered cheating and the team could be disqualified if found out. But Nadia said if everyone pretended not to know this, only she will bear the brunt of being expelled. But I guess everyone is a bad actor when Tatiana asks about Nadia’s whereabouts. Spill it. As Nadia leaves the library, she is confronted by Yumilia who caught her in the act. As they fight, Yumilia gets sucked into it but all inside gets spit out soon. Looks like Tatiana is here and her Origin nullifies all magic within a certain range. Maria explains that before this, a stranger claimed to be from Committee 13 told Tatiana to hand over her origin. She fell for that trap and later found it tainted. Hence her comrades promise they would win Hexennacht so as not to make her sad again. They still don’t know who the perpetrator is but beg for the Japanese side to let them have a chance at Hexennacht. Obviously Hazuki being the optimistic Japanese girl, goes for the Japanese politeness and forgiveness because this got her the chance to sleep with Shizuka inside the mitten? Whatever. I hope they won’t show this kind of mercy during the proper match.

Episode 8
Hexennacht begins with Germany against India. I suppose India is so insignificant that Germany owns them immediately. They’re not the main casts too so why bother watching them? So now we have Japan against Russia. I think they’re making the Russians look like fools because they think the Japanese will give up if they inflict them with cold. Yeah, too sick to carry on. Nope. Japanese are stronger than you think. Then the Russians decide to tell jokes so bad that they would ‘die’ laughing. Yeah, they actually cannot stop laughing and it would have worked had not they run out of jokes! You gotta be joking! Then, some hypnosis that makes the Japanese hop like rabbits into the mitten. Could have worked had not she looked at where she was hoping and crashed into a tree. WTF?! They’re making a fool out of Russians. All magic then nullifies when Tatiana uses her Origin. Committee 13 wants to consider both teams lose (because they have nefarious plan to take Cinderella) but thanks to Sugami talking about precedent, history and tradition, those old hags are forced to shut up. So with the nullification magic lasting 3 minutes, they think of going fist fighting. As the Japanese side has no martial arts backgrounds, surprisingly Mai says she is well versed in a handful. The Russians dare take her on with their sambo but they all lost pathetically! Singlehandedly! And then when they try to infuse the power of friendship in their sambo, also the same ass whopping result! Man, they’re really making those Russians look dumb. Then this ‘miracle’ happens. Hazuki is so worried to grant Tatiana’s wish that her Origin literally heals Tatiana’s Origin. This means she can now control who to nullify. The Russians regain their power while the Japanese are still powerless. So are the Russians going to defeat the Japanese for good? Until Tatiana fakes some injury. So obviously fake that you can tell she’s lying. Guess what? The Russians surrender! Because they believe their wish has come true (you mean Tatiana being able to lie was it?!). In short, Hazuki’s stupidity fixed Tatiana’s stupidity. Damn, this is sure a stupid match… I guess Russia and Japan are great friends now, eh?

Episode 9
America vs China. Is this hinting something political? And why must drunken fighting be associated with Chinese? Anyway, Lynne knows everything about the Chinese and defeats them. Wow. America beating China? Can’t happen in real life, can it?! Since the next round matches are a week away, Shizuka suggests training back at her hometown in Fukui. Guess what? The Coalition School are tagging along. Haven’t you heard? Sugami suggested it. Oh, guess what too? The Russian girls are coming too. Haven’t you heard? Sugami said so. On the train, Hazuki fears of being alone because of a bad school field trip that somehow always ended up having her being alone. She thought history would repeat itself but once she opens up, now she is the star of attraction. Back at Shizuka’s home, she reports Japan’s success. They start crying and getting emotional like as though they have won the whole thing. Yeah, they’re counting their chickens and calling for a celebratory feast. Getting to the real training, they attempt to learn and discover more about Hazuki’s Cinderella magic so they could find the perfect balance for their team. That night, the girls get into a pillow fight. Hazuki barely escapes and talks to Shizuka outside. She is still talking about that Fleck incident 7 years ago? I understand she is still traumatized by it but what a time to bring it up. Because apparently Shizuka is called by Committee 13 who have found new evidence regarding that incident. It seems her mother fled the scene but was killed in order to keep her mouth shut. Shizuka doesn’t believe a single word but to clear her name, they request she hand over her Origin to investigate. Sugami strongly advises her against it because it will take 6 months and this means she cannot participate in Hexennacht. They seem pushy to force her to choose. I mean, after 7 years and they can’t wait until Hexennacht is over in fear her clan will destroy the evidence? After 7 years???!!! Do you not think they would have done it by then???!!! Unfortunately clearing her mom’s name is more important so she hands over her Origin. So when the rest learn that Shizuka now cannot participate, too late to say sorry. But don’t worry. We have a replacement. Sachi Hino conveniently escapes from hospital and claims she is all good to go (despite still being clumsy). Oh boy… WTF… Meanwhile Lynne’s teammates don’t like how she broke the rules by playing dirty (that had them won over China). Man, America being the good fair players? But you think Lynne is going to listen? She already has plans set in motion for the Japanese. It’s all for dad… Meanwhile get ready for Japan vs America (world’s best comic book style face off) and Germany vs Britain (World War II revisited).

Episode 10
Lynne’s teammates are not pleased on what she has done to Shizuka. They threaten to pull out. However, since Hexennacht requires minimum 3 participants, one of them, Lucy Barton betrays to join the Daves sisters (since Lynne’s dad is financially supporting her family) so team America can still participate. Before Japan versus America could begin, it is announced that Shizuka has withdrawn. Also announced, the withdrawal of Lynne’s teammates. Also announced, Britain has withdrawn, handing the Germans a free pass to the finals. WTF?! I thought this was a sacred tournament and they can just easily waltz out?! And if you thought Sachi didn’t make the cut, here she comes in with her flashy transformation scene. So embarrassing. Hey wait. Can they accept last minute entries?! Apparently she has a letter that allows her to do so. Yeah, this tournament is starting to lose its shine. The winner of this match is when the other team is obliterated. They are transported to London. With zombies! Lucy’s summoning them. With Hazuki and Mai distracting them, Ariko and Sachi ambush the Americans. Lynne becomes desperate to win as she fends off Sachi and will not allow her sister, Angelina to surrender. Meanwhile Sugami discovers evidence that Lynne’s father, James has been pressuring Committee 13 to change the report and hence Shizuka’s mom fleeing was a lie. However security system detects her and she flees but the evidence is destroyed. When Ariko and Sachi become zombies, Mai gambles with a risky move to take out Lucy. Now it is Hazuki facing the Daves sisters. Angelina thinks bombarding Hazuki is more than enough but Lynne will not go back to the orphanage and face that perverted sadistic priest. She views her father as their saviour and will win this tournament for him. Just when Hazuki is about to give up, here comes Shizuka. WTF?! Can she just jump into mid-tournament?! Just like that!? Really, this tournament is now looking like a farce. After Sugami’s revelation, she begged to her elders about wanting to participate in Hexennacht. They see her sincerity and deem her worthy as the clan’s successor. Yeah, just like that. Apparently Shizuka confronted Committee 13 who is now so docile and supportive of her clan. They cower when she asks for her Origin back. I guess this is what they’re resorting too now that they are free from blackmails and distancing themselves from America. Yeah, Committee 13 is so spineless… So Shizuka literally drops the moon on everything! Wait a minute. Isn’t that like wiping out everything? I don’t know. The Americans lost. The Japanese win. Sachi embarrassingly tries to give her autographs. Lynne on the verge of going crazy.

Meh-hen Mad-chan
Well folks, if it was already as disappointing in the initial episodes, they certainly outdone themselves with this even bigger disappointment. Didn’t see that coming, didn’t we? Even those who did I am sure we hung on to that small prayer it wasn’t so. Too bad it did not turn out for the better. Everything that we had feared that could have happened, happened. Thanks to production issues, a couple of episodes were stalled midway through the season to fix up some quality issues. Hence the delay in a couple of episodes. However there was no improvement at all and since the allotted slot of the series for the season had ended, the reason why this series had a ‘sudden ending’ with only 10 episodes. F*ck, they even aired a next episode preview at the end of episode 10 like as though there is going to be another episode alas it was not. The fate of the remaining 2 of the dozen is left unknown and it is said will be decided in the near future. This is certainly worse than that Kekkai Sensen series’ first season. At least they finished it. We don’t even know if this one is going to be finished at all. It is highly at this rate and with angry sentiments from fans as well as those who have lost faith in the show running high, I doubt they will get any BD releases (so we’ll get our final 2 episodes even if this is a sorry excuse). It will be a miracle. A magic miracle for that to happen.

The mind boggling thing that stalled the series was said to be quality and production issues. Okay. It was understandable at that point. Even though they stated they would take 2 weeks to improve the quality, casual and rational viewers like me would understand and still wait. But this is where it gets sh*tty and sh*t hitting all over the fan. THE QUALITY NEVER IMPROVED!!!! OH MY GOD!!! IT SUCKS SO BAD THAT IT IS SO F*CKING OBVIOUS!!!! Like as though they purposely want to make us mad by actually airing such bad quality. Now, I don’t actually notice the art and animation quality of this series from the beginning. I was going to rate it as normal, decent, conventional and standard. Nothing out of the ordinary. So-so cute looking girls. Nothing extraordinary. So when this delayed news came and that stalled episode finally aired, the quality took a nose dive. It was inconsistent. It was sh*t. Full of it. Characters looking weird. Animation was crappy. Like as though they never fixed it and in the last minute got some 5 year olds to ‘finish it up’. Yes people. It is that bad. Like as though they wanted to kill the series.

What makes it sadder is the fact that the author of this series died almost 2 years before this anime was aired. Justice will never be served. Even if it did, it is too late as the damage has already been done. He’ll just turn over in his grave. RIP, sir. A sad end to this series that was never properly finished and even sadder to have been given such treatment. I know, I’m not even a fan and I already don’t care that much. Something tells me there might be hidden issues underneath it all and this quality issue was just the scapegoat and distraction to ‘appease’ everyone. It’s a very sad and disappointing moment in anime because even if the series itself is not good and would have gotten lots of bad criticisms in the end and many will not like or even hate the series, at least they should have finished it and not leave it hanging. Yeah, nobody cares. Imagine if the great classic literal works as well as timeless classics we all know today never got finished. Maybe there are such works, that’s why we never hear of it. Lost in the darkness of time forever.

On to the plot, it isn’t anything extraordinary. The usual cliché of an ordinary person with no friends usually comes to another world and possesses such great latent power there. I guess when you have the main character being lacking of friends, this at least closes the case of her friends always worried why she is always missing. It is so convenient for the plot for a social outcast to do whatever she wants since the people of her own world/country/community don’t give a sh*t about her. And to build up some sort of drama and tension, this kind of series has to go after that friendship stumbling block route. Issues that impede the main characters from becoming friends right off the bat. While it seems logical because you wouldn’t really hit it off especially getting to know someone from another world instantly, the friendship drama in this series just feels meh. It just doesn’t feel convincing. I am not sure if I was feeling pretty annoyed too because I know I was bored watching this.

One of the biggest disappointments in the plot is the Hexennacht tournament. This is supposed to take up to big bulk in driving the story forward for the characters and the series but it fails on so many levels thanks to some inconsistencies and mind boggling questions. The first one is why they have such an odd number for the tournament. Yeah, only 7 of them. Because of that, England somehow gets a free pass in the quarter finals. It would have been the magical 8 had the Coalition School been in this equation but I guess a lot of people in this world has got issues with Japan and hence need them to fight an extra round. Oh right. They’re the group with the main characters so need an excuse for more screen time. Even if the Coalition School’s match was supposed to be a qualifying tournament, couldn’t they just add some other country to make it 8? Don’t tell me there are no other famous countries than those participating here? You mean South Korea or Ireland don’t have their own witches? I recommend Canada… Thanks to the sudden end, Germany gets a free pass to the finals and we now can’t watch the former Axis allies battle each other for the ultimate title…

The other thing that makes Hexennacht a big laughing joke is how easily participants can enter and pull out of it. Wasn’t this supposed to be the all sacred tournament that all Madchen look forward to? And then you have England suddenly withdrawing because of some reason that we will never get to know thanks to the inconclusiveness of the series, so what was it that makes them so afraid that pulling out was even more worth it than winning? Or at least even try their best and lose? Because hell, we all know Japan is going to win and restore honour, right? It’s part of the damn script, damn it! Worst of all, the conspiracy to remove Shizuka and then reinstate her back before and during Japan’s match with America felt like the biggest slap in the face. Because those Committee 13 b*tches surely don’t have their own backbone and can cave into pressure after a little coercion. Hey, Committee 13 agrees, the affected team agrees, so what is there not to approve or disallow? I don’t know how famous this tournament is in this world but if this was the World Cup in our world and the organizers pull off this sh*t, there’ll be hell to pay and heads will roll!!! Definitely.

Hence the action scenes during the fights are not exciting and boring. Even if this series didn’t live up to my unrealistic expectations of several fairytale characters in a single series, at least the thought of each of the characters having some sort of powers related to the storybook they wield would prove interesting. It was only on a theoretical level. Practically it fails to translate into anything that viewers would find it interesting or want to know more. You know, weave that story into that character or something. So I assume that you need to know certain fairytales and stories to even comprehend the very faint traits these characters possess. For example, Lynne and her Little Matchstick Girl persona. I am not sure how famous this story around the world is but if you are unfamiliar with this story, you’d be wondering why the heck Lynne has different scented giant matchsticks with different effects during her matches. And I suppose everyone is supposed to be familiar with Cinderella. So why didn’t she use some sort of skill using her glass slippers? Whatever.

Finally, the characters themselves are a let-down. Hazuki as the main character is as cliché as she can get and the only thing that drives her is her will to become eternal friends with Shizuka. After all, the girls in this academy are the first she made friends with so she really doesn’t want to waste her effort. The biggest kick in the balls is if all that she has just experienced are just imagination in her head and this is one big story. Why? Remember her Story Syndrome? How often does she escape into her fantasy world? For all you know, she was still reading her book and started dozing off and what do you know? We’ve been in her dreamland ever since! This better not be it. Though, it would have been the biggest shocker ever for the series. Shizuka has some issues on her own to make her feel more human. You know, that responsibility of regaining pride for her country and that tragic incident in which her mom was killed. Yeah, so far that Fleck incident only feels like a plot convenience because which main character do not have some sort of tragedy that tragically killed their parents?

Then there is Ariko whom I thought is supposed to be the prankster but she turns out to be insignificant after her debut. They just need some backup shorty character. Then they shoehorn useless girl Mai into the team because apparently nobody else is as good as the trio. I mean, aren’t anybody else better than them to represent Japan? With her being the amateur, it calls for plot convenience for her to screw up, make it look like Japan is going to lose, allows Hazuki or Shizuka to transform or undergo some revolution and save the day. The biggest joker of them all is Sachi. I think they want to surprise us with a new character who is so full of herself that she could have been possibly the most interesting character had she been given more limelight. I think she even made a joke about her appearances and by the unfortunate luck of the series being somewhat cancelled, I guess the joke of lacking appearance becomes a nightmare because now it’s like she just made her debut a couple of episodes ago and then is improperly cut off thanks to the series’ unfortunate demise. What a sad joke…

Outside team Japan and for the other teams, they really paint the Russians to look really dumb. That’s all I can see and say about them. As usual, America is painted as the big bad guy because you know, America. Lynne is one of those characters suffering from daddy issues and is it me because lately I noticed a few characters having experiencing daddy issues, hence their twisted reason to fight just so that they could be somewhat accepted by their father. I mean, remember Gintama’s Kamui? What about ClassicaLoid’s Wagner? Yeah, these people have nothing else in mind except the scheme they cooked up just to get their father’s acceptance or doing it all for his sake in some way. So Lynne in turn is painted as a sneaky and calculating brat who will do anything and trample on everything in her way just for this goal of hers. It’s like just desserts when she lost. Thanks to plot convenience. Sorry team America, you were never meant (rather in the script) to defeat Japan and go win Hexennacht.

The Coalition School girls feel like a ragtag team of girls from other countries. I don’t know, why do I feel like they are supposed to be from the Middle East but thanks to anime looking like anime, they don’t feel like they’re from there. No Arabic headgear, I guess. Their mission to go home or find a place of their own belonging feels like one of those people in the world who are stateless or people who seek to find their own independence. I don’t remember much about China or India, but why is it England’s team is painted as airheaded and casual people while Germans are strict snobs? Damn those Nazis still has a great impact in stereotyping what Germans are. Anyway with a few characters making up the team, they don’t get any decent spotlight so you don’t really know nor want to care more about them.

Outside the country teams, the most disappointing and laughable goes to Committee 13. We see them being aggressive and non-negotiable in their stance. Especially when they are targeting Shizuka. But it is Shizuka’s fault to begin with for giving in to their demands. Damn plot convenience also. My dislike for them suddenly turns into disrespect when it is found out that they were being blackmailed to do all those by Lynne’s dad. Yeah, America as your number one baddie again. Can America be so big and flex its muscles to even make the highest order of the Hexennacht to yield to their demands? At least it is true for this series. Yeah, now they are a bunch of spineless cowards after America’s scheme was exposed. Trying to stay away from USA, huh? Well too late. Damage is done.

I know Sugami tries to play the supportive role for the Japanese girls but once again it feels so forced and shoehorned that she only exists for the plot convenience. Hazuki is down and needs some timely advice? Here comes Sugami telling her experiences with her supposedly long dead best friend. Japan is losing a Hexennacht match and needs some sort of comeback? Here comes Sugami turning into a female James Bond to discover evidence that will put Shizuka back in the game. Is she the in-anime scriptwriter? Whatever. Lastly I want to point out Saeko and Misa being Hazuki’s stepmom and stepsister. I know it’s good they are trying to give her some space but don’t you think they have given her too much of her own time to be by herself? I mean, do they not spend family time together? Man, I thought this was reverse Cinderella. At least they don’t mistreat her. So for plot convenience, they believe in her and whatever she is doing. Because the power of family. Thank goodness Hazuki doesn’t get involved with drugs. Her step family is so redundant that they might as well have Hazuki living alone. That would be even more plausible and realistic. But I suppose it is to show that Hazuki has ‘allies’ from her real world too.

Well, I’ve pointed out the art and animation in my earlier paragraphs. But this one I just want to point out how certain characters remind me of others. Yeah, it’s that other section of mine where I sometimes rant about how an anime character resembles like one from another series. For example, when I first saw Yumilia in her battle gear, I thought her design was completely ripped off from Gurren Lagann’s Yoko. I searched it is supposed to be from her Shuten Doji Origin but I can’t help feel that Yoko comes to mind first. When Sachi first entered the picture, I thought what the hell was Toaru Kagaku No Railgun’s Misaka doing here?! Why the f*ck is she so joker-like?! Somehow seeing Shizuka has me think she is from Negima. Sometimes I get a bit mixed up with her and Mai since they look almost similar. Damn Japan’s long black haired beauties… Not sure why, but looking at Hazuki reminds me of New Game’s Aoba despite they look different. And Aoba is much cuter too. But doesn’t Ariko look very close to Koufuku Graffiti’s Kirin? Just take away the smiling face. Hoods Entertainment who produced and abandoned this mess, did made some great animes like Drifters and Nazo No Kanojo X but mostly sleazy ones like Seikon No Qwaser, Aki Sora, Manyuu Hikenchou, Kagaku Na Yatsura, Hantsu x Trash and Rescue Me. Damn I hope they don’t mess up the next season’s project they are animating, 3D Kanojo: Real Girl… Please, please, please…

Voice acting feels average. Didn’t recognize anybody so it didn’t make my day any better. The casts are Tomori Kusunoki as Hazuki (Miki in Slow Start), Rie Suegara as Shizuka (Yui in Diabolik Lovers), Kaede Hondo as Ariko (Yae in Girlish Number), Hiyori Nitta as Mai (Gabriel in Nanatsu No Bitoku), Azusa Tadokoro as Sachi (Fino in Yuushibu), Lynn as Yumilia (Maya in Sabagebu), Rina Hidaka as Lynne (Airi in Ro-Kyu-Bu), Akemi Okamura as Sugami (Nami in One Piece), Airi Ootsu as Maria (Mimi in High School Fleet), Reina Ueda as Arthur (Jasminka in Little Witch Academia), Ai Kakuma as Agathe (Julis in Gakusen Toshi Asterisk), Amina Satou as Angelina (Yuuka in AKB0048), Nodoka Hasegawa as Saeko and Ayaka Shimizu as Misa (Reo in High School Fleet).

The opening theme by Fhana is unfortunately named after the state of this anime, Watash No Tame No Monogatari ~My Uncompleted Story~. Did this generic anime pop beat foreshadow the fate of this series? If so, damn this is scary. Reina Ueda sings the ending theme, Sleepland. I prefer this slower piece as it sounds fitting for a series that has relations to fairytales. However the ending animation credits are filled with lots of the series’ females in fanservice poses while our main duo of Hazuki and Shizuka end up in a hot naked lesbian fanservice position in case our fairytale fantasies and delusions didn’t run wild enough. I think we’re going to need it seeing how the anime ‘ended’. Or not.

Overall, it was already a disappointing series and further made unacceptable and distasteful with the way things were handled and ‘ended’. Everything was so lacklustre that it is as though the producers knew they were going to get criticisms and brickbats and hence decides to up the ante before we could. They gave us a reason to hate it. Well, good job guys. Or should I say, bad job? And notice how I spanned plot convenience in my blog. Yup, that says everything else that is needed. It’s just painful and sorry to see what this series has become. There is this irony that this series had fallen victim to those Stains. It makes other anime series that mishmash various fictional characters together like Code: Realize: Sousei No Himegimi (and to a point even Re: Creators if I should say) to look even superior even when it’s actually not. Of course the best mishmash of such that comes to mind is still Drifters. Even if this series somehow manages to get its final 2 episodes out, I will still watch it albeit I will not put any expectations or hope about it. Like all fairytales, there needs to be a closure and hopefully this one will not become a lost ghost wandering the eternity of nothingness. Sadly and even so, still not a happy ever after for Marchen Madchen.

3-gatsu No Lion S2

July 6, 2018

Time to settle the unfinished business in the shogi world. At least that’s what I thought for 3-gatsu No Lion to have another season. Another season for our young talented by troubled prodigy main character to hone his skills to realize his dream of climbing the professional shogi ladder as well as coming to terms with the ghost of his past. Shogi is already complicated but having life and drama surrounding it makes it even more complicated.

Episode 23
Rei teaches his science club members, Eisaku Noguchi and Oota how to play shogi. It’s a really hard and frustrating game for people from the science division. Not sure if Rei is trying to scare them with the truth or it should serve as motivation as he says the more they play, the more frustration they will feel. And when they ask if one should just play for fun, wow it’s like some complicated scientific formula for Rei trying to figure out what that means! Today is also the day where there is a meijin match between Souya and Kengo Kumakura and the match is broadcasted live. During the intense match, we see the Kumakura chowing down all the cakes while Souya dumps all the sugar cubes into his tea. The much needed sugar rush for glucose nourishment. This prompts Noguchi to ask Rei if he knows how ramune is made. And so with this brief section, this series turns into a little science experiment corner as the scientists let Rei experiment and make homemade ramune. With Rei amazed at how easy and delicious it is, they move on to teach him how to make baking soda. Time to take a break from shogi and appreciate the power of science! Rei goes home happy as he gives Hinata and Momo some of the ramune he made.

Episode 24
Oh no. Harunobu is b*tching about the next tournament’s line-up. Rei is on the opposite side of the block and the only way they can meet is at the finals. Rei trying to cover his ears… They’re so noisy when they arrive at the guest room watching the meijin match, they almost get thrown out! Anyway some guys mock Shimada over his lost to Souya and he is like ‘dead’. Rei wanted to tell them off but then Gotou enters to do so that people like them can’t even get into the title match and should be worrying more about themselves instead of other player’s mental health. Rei still has bad memories of him. He tried to protect Kyouko but was punched and told off if he is God and decides what is good or bad. Gotou then leaves as Kyouko waits for him outside and walks home with him. In the final match between Souya and Kumakura, Souya makes an unusual move that has everyone stumped. Many feel like he wasted a move. But suddenly Kumakura resigns and admits defeat! The sleepy audience is now awakened and abuzz with this surprise development. Rei and the rest try to make sense of Souya’s move and no matter what tactics they tried, they realize Kumakura had no way out. Gotou ditches Kyouko to go visit his comatose wife at the hospital. When he returns home, he is shocked to see Kyouko waiting outside his place. Sneakily, she enters his room when he has his guard down. She thought she could get some naughty time with him when he tells her to get close. Too bad he ties her up and falls asleep! Not all is lost for Kyouko because tired Gotou uses Kyouko as his hugging pillow. Weird. She sees how he has not been sleeping well and now can’t get mad at him. So she wanted to get mad at him? Kumakura leaves town on the first train the next morning without much fanfare. He may have been gracious in defeat last night as he told the press how he will train harder and fight all those A-class demons again for this spot to face Souya again. But it looks like last night he vent out his frustration and went berserk in his hotel room and kicked a big hole in the wall! Looks like Jinguuji has to pay compensation…

Episode 25
Smith and Issa are examining Kumakura’s big shoe that kicked wall?! So infatuated?! WTF?! Harunobu is once again being noisy to Rei the things they need to do so they can have their fated official battle. He goes on ranting about his grand plans after becoming a meijin. Rei thinks he is having all that baseless confidence so when Harunobu hints about the matches he needs to play and win unlike Rei who is a prodigy and doesn’t need to go through all that, it took a while for Rei to realize all that and he instantly became clumsy and embarrassed. Someji is looking to Momo for inspiration for his new sweets. Weird little girl comes up with weird little ideas and weird old grandpa loves them! Akari notices something is wrong with Hinata but she is not saying. Rei makes his way to the shogi hall early one morning. He stops by the park to eat as he sees some ladybug bush that brings back memories of his childhood. Traumatic ones. Those include kids throwing a can with rocks in it at him. This prompts him to think more about his lonely years during elementary school. Instead of joining his classmates during recess, he reads shogi books as company. More woes in his adopted family. Despite adopted mom treated him kindly and he tried to do all that is told of him, he noticed she became sadder and sadder. Most probably Kyouko and Ayumu had always thrown the chore responsibilities to him since they think mom always thought he did it better. Then they accuse him of trying to score brownie points with mom? It could be very stressful on a kid like him. To take his mind off that, he turned to shogi and even has access to Kouda’s well preserved shogi match records since feudal times. He continued playing to where he is now. Rei faces his next opponent and easily defeats him. He goes over to Akari’s place for dinner. When Hinata comes home late, they know something is very wrong with her. From what we can see, looks like she is a bully victim! Doesn’t your heart just sink to see her cry like that?

Episode 26
I hope Momo won’t get traumatized seeing her cry like that. Because the cats are even scared! So the story goes that there has been bullying going on for some time. However it was towards a girl named Chiho Sakura whom Hinata has been friends since elementary school. Ever since rumours about her flirting and sucking up teachers circulated, she was being ostracized. Only Hinata continued to be her friend. She knew the problem and wanted to tell the teacher but Chiho refused in fear the bullying will get worse. In fact it did. So bad that she stopped coming to school. When Hinata tried to talk to the teacher, she brushed it off as a prank. Even her classmates turn a blind eye in fear of being targeted. Eventually Chiho transferred to another school and it was an emotional goodbye for them. Because those bullies continue to badmouth Chiho, this riled up Hinata as she got physical with them. That is when she became their next target. Now Hinata is sad because she couldn’t do anything to help Chiho who even feared her new school in fear of being bullied again. As Momo is also starting to cry, Hinata runs out of the house. Rei goes after her. All he could do is hear her out while she cries. He remembers she saved him from loneliness and it’s time to return the favour. He vows to always be by her side. Next morning, he brings her to the local library that she has never been for years. Brought back some nostalgic memories with Chiho. More tears. He shows her some books on traditional sweets and…. Ladybugs? They go to the park to find one so that he could explain why it is called tentoumushi because it flies into the sun? Oh dear, Hinata cries some more. This is going to take a while. When they go home, Someji talks to her. He is very proud of her for trying to help her friend in such risky situation. She has done nothing wrong and should be proud of herself. Oh no. More tears. But at least this one feels much better.

Episode 27
Rei is asking Hayashida for advice about anti-bullying measures. Don’t panic. It’s not him getting bullied. Besides, Rei admits his is a ‘pro’ at being a loner. Hayashida shows him a website among many about bullying from all sides. But there is no one effective solution as each case is different. In a nutshell, it is important to ask Hinata about the kind of conclusion she wants to reach. Hayashida then asks Rei to describe about her more. He starts having the wrong idea he likes her as a girl when we all know there isn’t anything romantic but more of gratitude. Rei losses his next shogi match and becomes very frustrated. Because this means loss of income that should have been some emergency funds for Hinata. So he calls Harunobu for some Spartan practice and it’s like music to his ears. Yeah, finally this best friend thingy is looking up for fatty. Rei helps Akari carry lots of stuffs she bought from a cheap sale. She gets ‘mad’ learning he weighs less than her! All that work must be making him lose weight. Back home, Akari blames herself for not being able to do anything for Hinata. After that night’s talk, Someji talked to Akari about praising Hinata was the best thing to do even though it put herself in danger. She is already suffering and it will not be wise to add to her misery. Akari also points out her role as her surrogate mom ever since their real mom died. Rei corrects her that what she felt is normal. No one wants to see a family member suffer. After all, Akari is the one who has been watching over Hinata the most unlike him who has always been alone. Asking help from others was terrifying until the sisters saved him. So for Akari to have raised Hinata to be a strong girl, she too is his saviour.

Episode 28
Before we forget this show is about shogi, Rei plays shogi with Hinata to ease her mind. Rei wins this handicapped match with only 3 pieces! In 5 minutes! Oh no. It makes her more depressed! He feels bad about it and when Hinata cheers him up, it’s his turn to feel worse because he is supposed to do the consoling but got consoled instead. Hinata opens up and shares how her group of friends now feel like a funeral wake. Solemn and gloomy. She feels like there is this invisible hierarchy and some sort of direct correlation that the higher you are, the louder you can laugh or do anything you want. One school day, Hinata gets the biggest shocker when Takahashi invites her to play some catch ball. He heard it from Rei who was at his home to teach shogi. He hopes she would invite him over again for curry. Although this made her feel better, the bullying didn’t stop. It just notched up with the bullies now writing on her desk the flirt b*tch she is. Takahashi could sense something amiss when Hinata didn’t show up for their usual catch ball and gave excuses. Noticing the bullies murmuring some light profanity directed towards at her, Takahashi confronts them and invites them to play catch ball. They are filled with excitement at first but Takahashi throws his hardest pitch. It didn’t hit them but the shockwave was enough to scare the sh*t out of them and made them run away. Hinata should feel relieved that at least she has an ally. Rei listens to Hinata blurting out her woes, this time on Chiho whom everyone now doesn’t even acknowledge she existed. Hinata wanted to avenge for her so bad but by that time she already transferred out. She wrote a letter to her but was never replied. Instead, Chiho’s mom wrote it in her stead that she didn’t even attend her new school and is in some rehab. Hinata’s bullies also notch up their bullying by writing it all over the blackboard the perverted b*tch she is. The teacher is shocked to see this and asks Hinata what this is all about but she plays cool and replies she doesn’t know anything. It was already there when she came in.

Episode 29
It must be the season. Hinata has nose bleeds at home and it is quite embarrassing for her. Later Akari talks to Rei about Hinata seeing the teacher after that incident. Apparently the teacher accused Hinata of not being cooperative or didn’t want to get along with others! Rei feels mad but he notices Akari very worried about her. Especially if parents or guardians of both side are forced to come and talk and everything goes south. Rei wants to assure her but does he have to yell out so loud that he is here for them and let the whole world know? Okay. Whatever. I guess it is time to finally see Rei in a proper shogi match. In this newcomer tournament semi-finals, he will be facing Subaru Hachiya. This guy is one to get on your nerves. Noisy and irritating. Clicks his mouth, taps his fingers and the bad etiquettes that you wouldn’t want to see. Rei doesn’t want to let this get to him but the annoyance is just goddamn too strong. So he starts sizing up this guy who always plays his moves fast. He must be so carefree to not be mindful of others and one who thinks the world revolves around him. In the end, Rei defeats him and sends him into shock. Yeah, he leaves noisily. Good riddance? Apparently Smith and Jinguuji were playing their own important seeding match nearby as they accuse Rei of further stirring the hornet’s nest (Smith lost anyway). They view him the same as Hachiya because they think the world revolves around themselves! Then they leave him with Hachiya who bugs Rei for a post mortem review of the match. Must Rei treat him? Look at how many desserts he just finished… Rei will not accept he is the same as him!

Episode 30
Rei talks to Hayashida about Hinata’s case and he gets mad wanting to go tell off that teacher! Rei has to restrain him. He too wants to give that teacher an earful but still feel helpless as usual. Hayashida learns that Hinata’s mom has passed away and dad ran off with another younger woman. He left his daughters behind and married that woman and now they have a child together. Still, Hayashida is willing to become a monster teacher for justice! Rei wins his semi-final match to storm into the finals. However his opponent will be Junkei Yamazaki. He beat Harunobu. At first Rei was mad thinking Harunobu kept pestering him to reach the finals so they could meet and create a legend but he himself lost. Till he heard from Shimada that Harunobu is now hospitalized from the strain on his semi-final match and will be out of action for a while. Rei pesters Shimada for reasons despite he knew Harunobu’s medical condition for a long time but feared asking. Shimada relates how his mentor took in another disciple. Shimada was shocked to see a young and budding Harunobu becoming his shogi’s little brother. He remembered seeing him from the children’s shogi tournament. Like many others, Shimada didn’t have a high opinion of him who is a rich kid and didn’t think he would last. He lost in the semi-finals but what shocked Shimada was his game record. Then he saw him collapsed in the arms of his butler who is handling this very well. It shows he has been fighting his illness for a long time. Shimada often visited Harunobu’s mansion and played shogi with him. As Harunobu always lost, Shimada went easy on him once and Harunobu became hurt and snapped back he has nowhere else to live if he is treated as a weakling. After Shimada passes Rei the game record of Harunobu’s match, we see Harunobu talking to Shimada not wanting him to tell Rei of his illness. He fears that kind kid would lose heart and his touch. In turn, he wouldn’t get any better. The record shows Harunobu toughing it all out throughout the game until he collapses. Shimada asks Rei if he can be merciless to Harunobu. After shedding a few tears, Rei is now motivated to win the finals.

Episode 31
Akari makes Rei katsudon so he can be victorious for tomorrow’s final. However Hinata isn’t feeling very well with her stomach and she has a school trip tomorrow. She feels the need to go as she doesn’t want to have regrets as an adult. Rei gives her hope that he will win for her. And so here Rei is at the shogi hall. At first he didn’t think this bald yakuza guy is Yamazaki but it is him. As the match begins, he kept wondering about Yamazaki’s game records that kept repeating moves that force a draw. He had no winning moves. When others start thinking this is just some game etiquette and fighting style, Rei doesn’t buy this crap. So lots of reminiscence about Harunobu and the sisters before Rei wins the game. This time he doesn’t think about his victory. He finds out from his colleague about the best medicine for relieving the stomach and then rushes down all the way to Hinata’s school trip. I know he remembers the schedule but does he even know where to find her? Don’t worry, he will. And so he does. She is sitting all alone by the river bank. She throws a very surprised look to see him next to her. After he passes her the medicine, she hugs him and cries her heart out. I suppose next time he has to bring a medicine to relieve the tears. Sorry, my bad.

Episode 32
We hear from Yamazaki’s perspective of his belief that if you work harder than his rivals, your dream will come true. We also hear his love for shogi and pigeon racing thanks to his grandpa. He has been in this business so long that he feels he has been stagnating. To a point where he feels there is no progress. So when he sees Rei and Harunobu throwing themselves to the challenges he once did, it makes him feel scared. All that fear has made him tired. Therefore when he faced Harunobu, he knew of his medical condition and his will that was much stronger than his. He knew he was one who would go further than him and felt he wanted to go back to the world they were in again. Despite his loss, he has hope to do his best tomorrow. We now shift to Rei and the sisters. Despite winning the title, he is treating them as promise. So order up. Oh no. The girls are literally ordering everything in the menu! OMG! They’re going to bankrupt him! Even the waitress ran out of space to write! Oh sh*t! Women can be so scary. Yeah, now they are so full and they blame the guys for ordering sweet and salty dishes?! Now Momo wants to go home to go to toilet so they all have to rush back… Hell after heaven… During the rush back, we see clips of Rei’s surprise meeting of Hinata after his win. He talked and treated her nicely and it made her feel like home.

Episode 33
Rei meets Kishou Yanagihara and Jinguuji. It seems they want to celebrate Rei’s new title by holding a commemoration match between him and Souya! Is he shocked? Is he scared? And they plan to make it extravagant. They talk about Souya and Shimada being the same age but the latter looks so much older. This leads to them talking about the Kishou Championship in which Yanagihara planned to have Gakuto Sakurai as the challenger but Shimada challenged him and won. He fears the championship will be cancelled and might lose sponsors. That is why he is leaving it to Rei? Rei returns to his science club as they celebrate his title. It makes Rei tear up knowing there is such a warm place he belongs to. He decides to get a diary to write down and remember such days. We have some narration about Gakuto who often takes his opponents to camp in the mountains. He also treats them so nice that you will be ‘brainwashed’ and taken over by the surroundings. Issa is a living proof of that and somewhat a fan of Gakuto. Gakuto once did invited Shimada too but he declined seeing his school life has lots of mountain climbing so he is sick of that. A new problem creeps up for Rei. As he is the only first year in the club, Noguchi and the rest are already seniors and it will be soon they have to retire and focus on their exams. This sends Rei into near panic mode as he tries to list down things he can do alone in this club. Hayashida then forces him to do posters to recruit members to join the club. Guess who are the new joiners? The principal and vice principal! OMG! They’re his fans too? And they sound like having plans to turn this shogi thing into something big. Isn’t odd for this now newly called shogi club to have Rei as the only students and the remaining members are teachers?

Episode 34
Somebody seems to be harassing the homeroom teacher like hiding her teaching tools and throwing an eraser. As she is an old lady, this spooks her a lot and the class doesn’t say anything. Hinata helps her out and knows the perpetrator is the bully, Megumi Takagi. She dares her and although it might look like Hinata is going to punch her, she just stood there in a confrontational pose. Oddly, the teacher tries to stop everything. A nervous breakdown soon follows. She is sick and tired there is always bullying every year. Different faces but same ol’ classic bullying. Her breakdown ends after she collapses. That was the last time she came to school as she became hospitalized from anxiety. Kokubu becomes the new homeroom teacher. He is well aware of the bullying and tells it off to them that this is the price they pay for being quiet. And it is all happening at a crucial time when they are studying for their entrance exams. You deserve it. Kokubu will hold a parent-teacher conference between Hinata and Megumi’s side. Akari hears this and is proud of Hinata and vows to always be by her side. Come that day, both sides are supposed to see Kokubu at different times. However Kokubu had to attend some minor mischief from his class. This leaves both sides on the verge of clashing. Megumi’s mom is under the impression that Hinata bullies her daughter. When Akari denies and says the truth, she is being told to show proof. She believes in her daughter. This shocks Akari as she falls silent and on the verge of blackout. Hinata takes control and has her rest in the nearby room. Akari feels pathetic but both sisters stay strong for each other. When Kokubu returns, he continues his talk with Megumi’s mom. Talking about proof, he agrees there isn’t any because the bully will never admit it. The only proof is if the victim speaks up. Is he accusing her daughter? Where is the proof? In that case, if she accuses of Hinata as lying, she must show proof too. Until so, he cannot accept her grievance. Kokubu sees Akari. He doesn’t want her to feel sorry for that and wants to discuss on their next course of action.

Episode 35
Despite Megumi and her bully groupie apologizing, Kokubu doesn’t feel the sincerity from their heart. Hence Megumi gets further detained by Kokubu as he tries to talk to her. As you can see, she’s acting like doesn’t care and trying to blame it all on society. In that case, Kokubu could tell his that goes back all the way to post-war Japan and everything doesn’t have anything to do with her. The school gets really serious in tackling the problem as Megumi and her bully groupie each get a teacher to privately talk. Kokubu then talks with the rest of the class who opens up on what they do. Another round of apology but still no sincerity. Then there is Hinata who thinks she doesn’t want to forgive. Because if they just apologize, they’ll be forgiven and get no punishment. This will not give Chiho any justice. Kokubu has a headache dealing with it all. You think he is a sincere man trying to help raise the kids right? Because he too notes if not for the raise, he wouldn’t want to get involved in this. But things are looking up to Hinata now. She gets a letter from Chiho detailing her farm life. Her friends are animals. I can see why. But it’s part of her guided steps to make friends. First with animals, then with adults and finally now with those her age. All she could think was Hinata. She really missed her and hopes she could come visit her at the farm come the next summer vacation. Before we forget that Rei has been ‘missing’ for 1.5 episodes, here he comes to visit. He finds Hinata sleeping so peacefully (like dead?) that he tries to be considerate and quiet. Not sure how, he too fell asleep at the doorstep! WTF?! Hinata wakes him up and he could see her shine better. She tells him what happened. Subsequently after that, the bully groupie (minus Megumi) came to sincerely apologize. They didn’t do so before for fear she would not forgive them. They invited her to their home to bake cookies. They had such a good time. Rei is glad Hinata is alright but is disappointed he didn’t do anything. Hinata tells him off that he listened and came all the way to her school trip so don’t say he didn’t do anything or she’ll bite off his finger! Yikes.

Episode 36
Shimada and Yanagihara freak out upon seeing the super good poster of Souya and Rei’s upcoming match. They complain to Jinguuji about it because theirs was so pathetic. Jinguuji snaps back that their first match was appalling to watch. Yanagihara was coughing and on the verge of getting sick while Shimada was on the verge of getting stomach ulcer! It’s like battle of the sick! And there was some unsightly psychological battle too. Yeah, the internet was having a field day with this. Rei talks to Hayashida about Hinata’s case. He knows things are looking up because of the effort he put in. He has always been listening to him so he knows. With this out of the way, Rei is able to focus on his match with Souya. Rei takes the train to the hotel of where the match is to be played. He is stunned at how big and spacious everything is that it makes him nervous (yeah, that poster too). Even more so when he goes through the reception programme for tonight. A player like him has to do lots of stuffs like Q&A and posing for photographs. Yeah, it’s so tiring. Looks at Souya. Despite looking frail, he is so used to it that he’s a pro. Rei could only think of Harunobu. Now he knows why he always had an idea of what’s going on in such event. Without his words, he wouldn’t be standing here today. During Souya’s interview, a waitress accidentally spills red wine over his suit. He acts like nothing happened and continues. Jinguuji had to take him away and make other preparations since this was the only suit he brought. At the end of the event, Rei could hear how people just felt relieved and some commented Souya is a shogi demon who is just barely holding on to his human form. Next morning, Souya arrives to face Rei in their first match. He is dressed in his traditional wear. Why does he look more power up than ever?!

Episode 37
As the game begins, viewers observe their play and believe they are like introducing each other as this is their first time facing off. Rei realizes he made a mistake. A mistake he realizes that would cost him the game. Although he does his best to fight back, he ultimately lost. On the way back, Rei analyses the kind of person Souya is. The kind of person who has always been alone and never interacted with others. Playing with him somehow turns the surrounding into nothing but white blankness. Rei could often trace his opponent’s thoughts after a while but he could not for Souya. Like as though his mind is completely blank. As there is a typhoon, the train suspends its service. Rei tries to wake Souya up but he wakes up reacting a little frightened. As Rei tries to explain the situation, he notices words aren’t getting through to him. With the crowded station, Rei needs to go get refund for their tickets and get a place to stay. However with Souya giving his ‘guiding stares’, Rei knows where to look and who to call. A walking distance to their hotel, they stop by a convenience store. Rei notices Souya’s food are like rations and cheaper than his. Extravagant by comparison? They continue walking and Rei can’t help feel that Souya is like a God following him quietly.

Episode 38
Before they retire to their room, Souya gives a soft thanks. Rei gets a call from Jinguuji who got worried about them. He talks about Souya’s case of ‘deafness’ that he had ever since 10 years ago. Doctors couldn’t figure out what it is and the best they could diagnose was ‘stress’. Souya was okay with it and lived with this silence. As it has been going on for so long, people let it slide despite him doing the same routine things every time. It hit Rei that he always noticed Souya was always alone and never around anyone. Jinguuji is thankful he has Rei look after him since he has another tournament coming up. Next morning when it is all sunny and bright, Rei is about to pay but finds Souya has paid for him. We take a detour now to the Kawamoto sisters. As Rei has declined dinner with them to focus on his next tournament, they feel ashamed for him because they have cooked their absolutely perfect braised pork and soft boiled egg. Yeah, it took them a lot of tries. Mmm! So delicious. Wait. Is this a cooking show? Yeah, maybe next time he can come since they can cook again. Rei is so engrossed reading shogi records, he almost got hit by a truck! Thankfully Shimada was there to save him. He tells him the good news that Harunobu is out of hospital and is able to play his next official ranking match. He though Rei should go see him to cheer him up. When he arrives at the shogi hall, he just sees Harunobu defeating his opponent with a newly discovered move! And this guy was the one who took care of him in Hanaoka’s absence. He is so fine and happy like that collapse never happened. So fine that Rei starts laughing as relief.

Episode 39
Shimada shows Rei and Harunobu the lame poster of the upcoming Kishou Championship between Yanagihara and himself. I guess that’s what you get if you want it cheap. The duo are to help provide some commentary on the match and he hopes they will do a lively one because with failing support from their sponsors, Jinguuji threatened to hold it in their shogi hall instead in some hotel next year. Shimada knows he will have a tough time against Yanagihara as this championship is basically like his home ground with the reporters and staffs his long-time friends. An old friend of Yanagihara talks to him about how he just got laid off from his reporting job. Early retirement and taking it easy sounds good but he is afraid because take his job away and what is there left of him? This has Yanagihara do a long ponder about his shogi path since young. He and his friends were eager and full of vigour then. But slowly one by one they dropped out and had to pursue other paths. He is the only one left. All that is left is his old body and all the hopes and dreams the rest placed on him. In fact he is the oldest active Class A player in shogi and there were questions asked if he would retire if he gets demoted. Beneath all that exterior, Yanagihara looks like a frail old man with so much medication to take and even patches for his back. It looks like he is going to kick the bucket soon. The match begins with the advantage going back and forth. Shimada then makes a breakthrough with a very advantageous move. This prompts Yanagihara to remember about his friend’s question about retirement. He still doesn’t have the answer.

Episode 40
Yanagihara makes a move that veterans could see would put Shimada in a pinch. Luckily Shimada makes a wise decision and a move that puts him back in an advantageous position. This has Yanagihara’s mind start to wander. Once more, thinking all the burden and weight of the people he knows being passed upon him. At one point he thought he was going to lose it but realizes he can’t. He must still hold on to it all and continue to deliver on behalf of all the people who tried their best to arrive at this place. Advantage back to Yanagihara as he stuns everyone advancing his king. As time draws on, we could see Yanagihara’s weary body taking its toll. Like as though he could drop dead at any moment. After long day, Shimada finally admits defeat. Yanagihara’s victory is much sweeter to savour this time since he has won this title 10 times and this entitles him to the official title of Eternal Kishou. All the weariness somewhat vanishes as Yanagihara becomes lively as he invites everyone including the kids and Shimada to take a commemorative photo.

Episode 41
If you miss the Kawamoto sisters, well, it’s time to liven up after a long gloomy battle. We see them prepare and make various types of dango. In the meantime, Hinata narrates her summer vacation trip to Chiho’s farm. They chat and did things but she could still see the traumatic scars on Chiho’s face. Rei helps out the sisters selling the various dango as their shop is taking part in a local festival. It sold out like hot cakes and the money is making Akari selling yen signs! She even wants to sell their own curry! But they have run out of ingredients. Someji knows what to use as substitute and so business is saved. Yeah, though they raked in tons of money, too bad Akari was too generous with the offerings. They might have become loss leaders but they are happy to see the satisfied faces of their customers. Besides, the dango sales also helped sell their other sweets in the store so it’s not that all bad. Meanwhile Kokubu is going to hand over Hinata’s class to a new rookie teacher as he can’t be the homeroom teacher for 2 classes at this age. Too bad that panicky guy is being super pessimistic because of Megumi’s reputation. He can imagine the protests from her mom while Megumi herself doesn’t give a damn about anything. Uh huh. He is already thinking of putting down all the prejudices he has on her on her permanent record. Flashback to Kokubu’s last counselling session with Megumi. In regards to her question of why people put in effort, he tells her straight he doesn’t know no matter how much he thought about it. He leaves her with this advice that she might be anxious of her future as she isn’t sure of her own capability. She refused to make an effort for fear of her own learning capacity and being disappointed by it. It is okay to be disappointed. Once she learns about herself better, she’ll have a clearer understanding of what to do.

Episode 42
Hinata shows Rei the various sweets designs she wants to sell for the next summer. However she has got exams to focus on. Back to reality. Rei brings along the sisters to his science club to experience their flowing soumen. Behold the power of science! If Hayashida is taken in by Hinata’s cuteness, wait till he sees Akari. Is this the season of love? With Momo having trouble with her hand-eye coordination, they have to adjust the contraption to make it easier for her. The sisters notice Rei having fun and being happy. Hinata has this thought of enrolling in this school. But first she needs to study hard for the entrance exams. Thankfully Rei helps her. He gets happy to learn she wants to go to his school and now he becomes a super sensei supervising and guiding her studies. Akari serves them udon as reward as mom used to make one for her while she was studying. Hinata is counting the cost of a sweet. She wonders how much is left that goes to grandpa. This is because Rei’s high school is a private one and is expensive. Someji knows what she is thinking and tells her to enrol there. She earned it. Besides, he has built up a clientele base so there are customers who are waiting for his products. Although money is important, what is more important is she enjoying most of her life. While this looks like a heart touching moment, Someji brings up the next biggest obstacle: Getting into that high school is no easy feat as only the best could enter. Don’t lose heart now. Hinata continues to study but her heart is assured with Rei by her side.

Episode 43
Someji sees his doctor for his usual check-up. All good to go. He attributes his daughters as his strength to live and will not kick the bucket till all of them gets married. Only one problem, gramps. How old will you be when Momo is of legal marriage age even if she marries early? Oh sh*t. Yeah, his doctor is worried that he can’t live that long to take care of him! While rushing to study for her entrance exams, Rei accidentally lets it slip that Takahashi is going to a faraway school in Shikoku. The shock face on Hinata is so shockingly shock. Worse, she gets a mini fever. She starts thinking how everyone is going far away from her. Chiho is living far away too. Mom and grandma… Oh sh*t. That escalated quickly. Luckily she recovers and is able to take her exams. Oh, because it is snowing, no taboo word about slipping, okay? I guess tripping is okay. Thankfully she passes and the family celebrates with a mountain worth of fried chicken! Even Misaki is praising Rei. Previously she was worried about Hinata since Rei was with her all the while. Even more worried when Akari and Someji put their trust in Rei that nothing would happen. Now she is so thankful of him. Hinata is glad that even if there are some people going far away, there are those who are still around. Thinks are looking up for Rei too as he is on a winning streak and that will enable him to be promoted to the next level. Kouda talks to him and he managed to win and barely avoid demotion. With that, next year means both father and son will be in the same rank and he hopes they can pick up from where they left off last time.

Episode 44
Rei visits his adopted mother’s home after a long time. It brings a pleasant surprise (currently she is home alone as Ayumu is out in prep school while Kyouko doing random odd jobs) as well as her monologue of her troubled and estranged household. The irony of her husband putting more focus on Rei instead of his real family members. The irony of Rei being a good boy compared to her children and hence the eternal question of did she raise them right. The irony of how Rei felt his presence was tearing the family apart and left without saying a word complaining about this. After Rei left, she dreamt Rei was her real son. Another lazy bum? But she smiled because it felt like her normal family. Yeah, this family is sure strange. Rei, Hinata and Takahashi hang out to celebrate Rei’s promotion (something Hinata just found out). They also talk about Takahashi moving to another town soon and his dream to become a professional baseball player. Nevertheless, they will always be proud to be children of this town. It is a shame he has to miss this week’s festival since Hinata’s family will be serving tasty treats again. Akari’s eyes are flashing those yen signs after a container full of money! This big decision by Hinata to cut her hair short as a sign to leave her childhood behind. But is it a disaster?! Well, I’m not used to it. Not sure to cry or to laugh. Because she looks like a kokeshi doll or zashiki warashi! It’s havoc around the house! Is her family teasing her or can’t get enough of her cuteness? I wonder how Rei would react. Hmm… He finds her cute. Seriously? Not sure if he is stunned or not but Momo looks freaked out hearing him said that. He can’t stop complimenting her all the way to school that she’s going to die of embarrassment.

3-gatsu No Yuutsu
Hmm… The final episode felt a bit strange because it wasn’t anything shogi related. At least not in an obvious way. I was beginning to wonder if this was it for this series. As in, there won’t be any more sequels in the future because it looked like they really wind things down. Not wind things up. Wind things down. After all the drama we got during this season, the very easygoing and calming final episode felt like the best dessert you have eaten after a very heavy main course. It felt a bit hanging because some characters like Harunobu whom I thought would make a final cameo did not appear. None of Rei’s shogi associates even appeared. Not even Souya. Did they cut them out just for Hinata’s new revelation and new direction in life? They should’ve named this season after her somehow. For better or worse, I guess that’s it for this season. Since Rei is still young, he has got a long road ahead of him. Yeah, he might be the next Yanagihara carrying the burdens of all the failed shogi players of his generation. It’s like basically saying, life goes on. Which is very true for all these characters and for us.

Is it me or is this season even more depressing than the last? This is mainly because of Hinata’s bullying arc occupying about half of the second season. Sometimes I feel that this series might go off its tangent and focus entirely on another character other than Rei or his shogi colleagues and rivals. Then we have that short mysterious bout with Souya and that final Yanagihara drama in his long journey and bid to earn that eternal title. Yeah, it was indeed a majority depressing season. Of course there are some light-hearted and happy scenes in between to take your mind off the depression and the episodes toward the end felt fluffy and too feel good just because we had to or viewers would end up being influenced and become gloomy after being exposed to the melancholy for so long.

So much so I thought that shogi became a secondary theme for this season as Hinata’s depression and bully victim status takes the forefront. I thought it would lose its way but thankfully despite how depressing and gloomy that stretch was, there was this strange ‘attraction’ that had me wanting to stick around and see Hinata pull through. Of course I know she would but just how. And it was such sweet victory (if I should call it) when Hinata emerges victorious from this saga. She became stronger and did not lose her humanity. Because we certainly don’t need another Chiho clone. Poor girl never got over her trauma but who could blame he rafter being in such circumstances for so long and no one except her best friend to support her. It was truly tragic and a reminder what Hinata could have become had she not had the warm and never ending support from her dearest. She is a pretty lucky and blessed girl in that sense to overcome the trials and tribulations thrown in her way. It’s a good thing Hinata was calm and composed during her bullying period. I can’t imagine what would happen if she snapped and then got into a fistfight. That would be fearsome not only on the character level but the series as a whole.

As I have said, the shogi part feels lacking but then again, you don’t really watch this show to learn shogi. The first season may have introduced to us some of the basics and the few strategies, but this season is almost void of that. The dramatic thoughts of the characters may be dragging it out but somehow this is also the charm of the series. The slow paced viewpoints from the minds of the characters as they make their way through the game of shogi or life. It is fascinating and enlightening but unfortunately for a simpleton like me, they usually don’t stick once the episode ends. Yeah, I’m not really used to this kind of drama (and a depressing one) but hey, I made it! Time for me to celebrate for making it through!

Rei feels secondary too. With his commemoration match with Souya being the highlight of this series because I guess after learning about his past and circumstances last season, what is there left for our main character but to take on the most enigmatic shogi players in current time? Yeah, it was also Souya’s most prominent feature but still a lot is not known about him. Because he doesn’t act the way society usually does, he is viewed only as a genius because of his domination and peerless in shogi. Otherwise he would have been labelled as a lunatic by all layers of society. So much about my hopes of watching Rei taking on stronger (and weirder) opponents to live up to his prodigy status and then finally earning the elite status as one of the youngest meijin. Did not happen. I suppose to show that Rei is human, he too has to experience his ups and downs in the shogi battle.

I thought it was totally dramatized when they played up Harunobu’s health status. Yeah, I thought that kid was going to die and add to the gloomy outlook of it all. Fortunately unfortunately, he somehow make a miraculous recovery but it could be just the eye of the storm. You know, there are periods when the disease f*cks with you that you feel like dying but not enough to kill you. Then there are times when the disease ‘retreats’ for a moment, giving you reprieve and making you feel like on top of the world. Although Harunobu and Rei’s official face off will further be put on ice, at least they still have that chance. Won’t have any of that if he’s dead, right?

I also thought Kyouko and Gotou would play a more prominent role this season but it seems after the second episode, they went ‘missing’. Like as though the producers have totally forgotten about them when they put Hinata’s plight to the limelight. Because I am very sure Rei still has unfinished business with them no matter the circumstances. Or maybe he just learnt to let go because there are other more important issues (like Hinata’s bullying case) to deal with. So much about seeing any love triangle or that short Kyouko vs Hinata showdown last season. No wonder Rei’s life this season felt a little bit peaceful because no aggressive Kyouko to bug him. Not only these characters felt less prominent this season but a few like Smith and Issa who were just minor supporting ones in the last season continue to further fade with that role. Heh. What was I hoping from them anyway? Must be stemmed from my delusion of Rei beating all his shogi allies and rivals one by one.

Surprisingly, Megumi is given decent screen time and enough character. She could have been a nameless bully and classmate of Hinata but it seems they put a decent amount of focus on her too. Not to say she permeates throughout Hinata’s bully victim arc but you know that she isn’t going away even once this bully case is solved. For now. I suppose it is to show that there is a reason why Megumi targeted Chiho and then Hinata and hence we don’t hate this troubled kid too much. But still a character you will love to hate nevertheless.

Art and animation remains consistent like last season. That is, the very simplistic and light drawings that gives the series its unique feel. But this kind of style also serves like a double edged sword. Even though the simple artwork lessens the impact of the depression because you know how those that look close to real would do, but the animation of the lines and motives too are enough to cast a gloomy and depressing atmosphere. Creative, if I should say? And just like last season too, I still find it weird that the characters have this little gap at the edge of their mouths.

For this season’s opening and ending themes, Yuki is the only one from the previous season to be featured in this sequel. This time singing the first opener, Flag Wo Tatero. Generic anime pop. Nothing attracts me. For the second opening theme, it is Haru Ga Kite Bokura by Unison Square Garden. Also sounds generic and is a far cry from their Kekkai Sensen jazzy themes that I pretty much prefer. For the first ending theme, Brian The Sun sings Kafune. It plays to a slower pace to add to the dramatic effects of the series. The same can be said for the second ending theme, I Am Standing by Ruann. Although this one has more powerful vocals compared to the former that just feels sleepy-like.

Overall, the sequel might be draggy and filled with melancholy but it makes better drama, coming of age and character development for the series as a whole. In this sense, 3-gatsu No Lion is much better than the light-hearted loli loving Ryuuou No Oshigoto. I suggest that if you cannot stomach all the depression and boring drama, go watch that series which is filled with all the bright and lively cuteness. Ironically that means lacking the touching human emotions that this series masterfully played up. It isn’t about whether shogi is life or shogi isn’t life. Life is just life being life itself. Except that in life unlike the game, continues after checkmate.