Grancrest Senki

September 30, 2018

I thought Grancrest Senki was some sort of sequel or even a spinoff to Granblue Fantasy. Blame the name for giving me that impression. Both are totally different and have no relation to each other whatsoever. So what is this series about? Warring nations and greedy Lords fighting over the land for territory and power instead of uniting and fighting against the common supernatural enemy of hell. Yeah, humans being basically humans. No wonder hell isn’t invading humans and just letting themselves kill each other. But of course as the real plot demands it, a young hero and his assembled team are going to liberate the tyranny and unite the land to fight against the true evil. I guess it always starts off this cliché for most action fantasy flicks.

Episode 1
Siluca Meletes is late for a political wedding ceremony between Alexis Deux and Marrine Kreische but makes it in time. This wedding between both nations signify the long outstanding war between the Fantasia Union and Factory Alliance. Too bad the evil Demon Lord of Diabolos had to ruin it by killing both the fathers. This is known as Great Hall Tragedy. Marriage called off. War resumes. Siluca is to be the mage of some lewd count from the Alliance (this explains her slutty uniform) and Irwin who served the Kreische family, left his post to atone for his failure to save the patriarch during the chaos to serve her. Along the way, they are stopped by a few unruly guards claiming to be subjugates under their Lord who is a member of the Union. Coming into the picture is Lord Theo who won’t stand for this atrocity for them attacking an innocent by-passer. Theo claims he is neither with the Alliance or Union. The unruly ones attack him thinking their numbers would win but are defeated easily and sent running with their tails between their legs. Siluca is interested in his Crest in which he crafted from the demons he exterminated. Asking what kind of world he would like to create with this Crest, he explains his hometown of Sistina where Chaos frequently run rampant and hence the frequent natural disasters too. It doesn’t help with their current Lord Viscount Phederico Rossini ruling with an iron fist making the people suffer. His goal is to rid Sistina of all that and save his people but Siluca notes his rank will note have him rule a single town let alone Sistina. She agrees to help him but first tests him by summoning a demon to see how well he could handle the situation. Okay, not bad. As his rank is promoted to Knight, he can now enter a contract with a mage. She forces him to make a contract with her. It’s not that he likes it but he doesn’t mind it either. Sartorius reminds his Lord Mesto Meadrich about his thugs violating the treaty but he doesn’t care. Theo’s group storm the castle to demand him hand over his Crest. He still doesn’t care and will not obey. Sartorius defects since he has violated a lot of rules and hence their contract is voided. Foolish Meadrich then fights Theo alone but being the coward he is, he loses. It didn’t take long for him to choose between his life or his Crest. Now that Theo has inherited his domain, Sartorius wishes to be under his service and offers to go talk to the King of Clovis, Viscount Shakes since there will be other Lords in the area who will oppose to this. Siluca forcefully suggests Theo join the Alliance despite it will make more enemies. This is part of her plan to help realize the world he envisions.

Episode 2
Lassic David hears of Theo’s achievements. He is not pleased and wants to invade his domain to take his Crest and territory. He splurges on his army in a big gamble to take back the land. He is confident that all he needs to do is win. A few more villages recognizes Theo as their Lord but Theo starts to wonder if this is okay because he just wanted a rank high enough to govern Sistina. They also talk about the other neighbouring Lords trying to make their move to seize this land and they suspect Lassic will be the first to do so since he is ambitious. With no allies yet, Siluca decides to call for assistance. True enough, Lassic’s army is seen approaching. The help Siluca sought for is Aishela, her senior when she was an apprentice. I wonder if this is some sort of sisterly greeting since Aishela loves to hug her. Siluca relays her tactics to Aishela and Irwin to take on the different units of Lassic’s army. Siluca comes face to face with a fellow mage, Moreno Dortous. While Irwin is deadly in his sneak attacks, Aishela is slamming her way with her hammer. What is most interesting about her fight is that there is this plain kid who seems so out of place that he doesn’t look like a fighter at all. Just like a normal high school kid if you ask me. He might look weak but he is smart. With Aishela gaining ground, he orders to retreat. Aishela takes a liking for him and manages to kiss him and in the meantime strangle him! This kid is willing to sacrifice him and die with her so she is forced to escape. His side continues to retreat and Aishela takes a liking for him. She hopes they can date when this war is over. I believe his face is all blue not because from the strangle… Siluca is no match for Moreno and could have lost if this lasted longer had not Theo come to her aid. Lassic is about to face off with Irwin when Theo announces he has captured Moreno. Usually when a mage is captured, it’s like game over. Moreno is sure Lassic will not yield to this but to his shock, Lassic agrees to surrender! Lassic wants to serve Theo. He believes he is strong and that they’ll never be defeated. Seems his ambition is just to be able to reign over a nation even if he is serving another. I guess that’s good enough for him. Moreno thinks it is pity but since this is only what Lassic is capable of that’s the reason he had him join his side. After Lassic gives his Crest to Theo, the latter now attains the rank of Baron.

Episode 3
One night, Priestess Priscilla Farnese from the Order of the Crest wants to join Theo and support his fight against Chaos. Siluca shoos them away thinking they’re like the Jehovah Witness of this world but kind Theo allows them their Order takes care of his people too. Siluca lays down Theo’s plan to defeat Rossini and save his people. Hence his first move is to join the Alliance. Well, this is the first time Theo is hearing this. She adds that he should choose a family name and she suggests Cornaro as it is the name of the hero who unified the island only to be betrayed and struck down by Rossini. It looks far-fetched for Theo but he likes it. Laying the groundwork for this plan, they need to negotiate with the King of Sievis, Viscount Naville to recognize Theo’s independence. Sartorius remains suspicious of Siluca’s plans. He doesn’t doubt her loyalty to Theo but is this what he really wants? A Chaos occurs in the nearby town and the main building is on fire. A dangerously rare Salamander from Aether pops up as Theo goes to fight it. Siluca thought she could help since she has done her healing part but slips up but luckily Theo is there to protect her. She wakes up next morning, the aftermath has been dealt with and being guilty for last night’s incident, she helps treat his wounds. She tells him what Sartorius said to him but Theo is glad she came up with that idea because it never occurred to him he should fight Rossini. Now he has a clear goal in mind. Moreno returns with the negotiations failed. Naville is leading his army to subjugate them. Despite the Lords in this region gave them free reins to walk through this land, they didn’t supply any army to help. I suppose they’ll be screwed if not even one of them shows up. Don’t worry. The town they just saved, the folks are eager to help fight. Theo at first disagrees because he is supposed to protect them. Siluca reminds as their Lord, he must also fulfil their wishes. And so Theo raises his Crest, the Patriot’s Flag and gives his blessings to all those fighting for him. The war begins. It looks like Theo’s side is gaining ground. Naville thinks he still has what it takes to fight but the other free Lords join in and fight against him. Naville though lost the war, manages to flee with his life. Siluca then goes to see Marrine and the mage who serves her who is her father, Aubest. As explained in her earlier letter sent to her, it details Theo’s victory over conquering Sievis and thus his wish to join the Alliance. Hence he will pledge his alliance to her in her bid to conquer the continent. Marrine needs some time to consider this.

Episode 4
Marrine and Aubest discuss Siluca’s offer. They come to a conclusion to reject it and add Theo is to relinquish all territory and rank and leave the area. Of course Siluca will not accept this and the next step is now war. Her backup plan is to ally with the Union as she goes to see Villar Constance, the Earl of Altirk but is met with his mage assistant, Margaret Odius. She is hinted Villar doesn’t want to see her and will not offer any help for now. Aubest and his Waldlind Knights prepare to attack Theo’s castle. Theo’s side barely hold their ground and thanks to the traps, the Knights retreat. Aishela gets severely injured and could have died had not Priscilla started healing her. Lassic’s side made a tactical retreat but up the narrow mountain path, Lassic then fights back one on one with Naville’s soldiers until he faces off with the old king himself before finally killing him. With Theo’s victory, the next plan is to broker a ceasefire. It is likely they want Theo to relinquish his rank so they believe to leave Sievis’ leadership in Lassic’s hand and turn Theo into a wandering Lord. But when Siluca talks to Aubest for the ceasefire, his condition for it is Theo’s life as Waldlind is blamed for Naville’s death and hence they will accept no less. Marrine and the Waldlind Knights discuss if they should go all out in full force to wipe out Theo’s forces. The only thing stopping them is Villar’s interference. They are in a dilemma if he is waiting for this chance to spring an attack on them. They take this gamble to go all out fighting and their worst nightmare comes true with Villar’s reinforcements attacking and driving them away, granting Theo’s side a great relief. So great that Siluca hugs Theo? I think this should be the start of another kind of development… Villar talks to Theo’s side. As Siluca was supposed to originally enter into a mage contract with him, he believes she has done all that she is expected to and will welcome her into his ranks. When he suggests Theo to become King of Sievis, Theo rejects. He would rather serve under him as a Knight than give up Siluca. With Margaret’s advice that they are exceptional people, Villar agrees to Theo’s proposal. But he will live in his castle and not get any territories. Also, Siluca will be treated as one of his mages. Theo hands over his court rank to Lassic. He might be demoted but that doesn’t mean he has given up on his dream. Meanwhile Siluca wonders about her feelings…

Episode 5
There seems to be a fallout between the Vampire King, Dimitrie and the Werewolf Queen, Clara. Black Witch, Jana tries to agitate them but Dimitrie allows her to do as she pleases. Theo and Siluca are introduced to Villar’s other mage assistants, Laura Hardry, Helga Piarosa and Colleen Messala. They are visited by Lord Milza Kuces of the small continent of Dartania. He wants Villar to become the new emperor in which he agrees. Good thing because if he refused, Milza would steal his Crest and take it back home. Villar later introduces the duo to the White Witch, Zelma. There seems to be trouble brewing between the vampire and werewolf clan so Villar sends Theo and Siluca to the Forest of Darkness to solve the problem. The duo encounter the werewolf clan waiting at the fringes of the forest. They distrust the humans but Dimitrie lets them pass through to his castle. Dimitrie has no interest in helping them but wants them to relay a message back to Villar. He hopes to return to the Dark Ages where Chaos runs rife. Although the irony is that he was one who fought the Ultimate Chaos, he fears death for he believes when all the Crests are fused and Chaos vanish, Artists will lose their power. That permanent end is what he fears. Meanwhile Clara is facing off with Jana who has captured her daughters, Emma and Luna and is on the losing end. Theo and Siluca enter the scene after being tipped off by Dimitrie. Jana is not pleased to learn Dimitrie has left, hence making her do all the donkey work. She decides to do things her way and attacks them. They fight back and during the commotion, Clara frees her daughters. All attack Jana. Though she is injured, she flees. Unfortunately Clara sustains grave injuries and soon succumbs to it. A burial is held. The werewolf clan are grateful for Theo and Siluca. They pledge their allegiance to them, all part of Villar’s plan to have an ally to a path to the demon world. Theo learns something from this as Sistina is also considered part of the demon world. He vows to grow stronger. Uhm, so are Emma and Luna part of Theo’s harem now? Werewolf maids? Weird…

Episode 6
Villar has Siluca prepare a grand 25th birthday party for Margaret. Officially she will resign from his service and return to her hometown. We get to witness their weird ballroom dance too. We also see Theo clumsily dance with Siluca before Milza who still dislikes this kid takes him outside to fight and prove his worth. He does not like Theo’s fighting style of just defending because he might only protect himself while his allies will die. He views him as unbefitting of a Lord. Theo thinks he wants oppression but Milza’s goal is to serve the emperor in which he hopes Villar to be that man. Of course Theo will walk down his path his own way. Villar and Margaret share their moment together. They talk about Lady Floria, the daughter of the man who founded the Alliance, Jurgen Kreische. She married into the Constance family who was then part of the Alliance. But Villar’s father, Lucifer defected to the Union. Denied with any possible return to the Alliance, his mom hated him and began abusing Villar. That’s how he once came to hate his mom and revered his father. Now he admires Floria because his mom was sure dad would fear the Kreische blood running through his veins. It is believed Villar resembled Floria and hence Floria might have rejected him so harm wouldn’t come to him. So instead of hating his mom, he would rather love her instead. So touching that Margaret cries and even throws in an I-love-you confession. Due to Lassic’s conquest of Sievis, the neighbouring Lords of Forbes and Clovis are gathering. Their plan is to vanquish them while they make their way to Ismeia who is aligned with the Union. First they see some of the men from these countries who want to align themselves with them. The King of Forbes still chose to side with the Alliance and Lord Baron Ladvan has decided to side with him. Milza offers to handle this himself. He barges into his castle and demands him to hand over his Crest. Ladvan wants to negotiate in which Milza refuses. The only option is to kill him. They thought their numbers would make it easy but Milza cuts them down like as though they never had any fighting skills to begin with. He only spares the attendant, Nikola since he was the only sensible one to resolve this amicably. After taking the Crest, Milza tells him to tell Lassic about all he has witnessed when he arrives to take this castle.

Episode 7
Theo is supposed to launch an attack on Lord Ladvan Torius’ castle. Seeing he has the people with him, Theo negotiates with him. Ladvan may give his Crest and castle but will still side with the Alliance. As Theo will not attack and get innocent people involved, he warns that Lassic may march in here with his army and attack. Ladvan thinks the best solution is to go down to Theo. But the people continue to side and protect their king. Theo admits defeat and asks him to join him in defeat. Ladvan thinks again and since he considers his people more important than the allegiance to the Alliance, he defects to the Union. Ladvan got the wrong idea about Theo wanting to fight as he doesn’t care about military achievements and wanted this resolved without any bloodshed. Ladvan would rather serve him but since Theo is serving under Villar, he would serve Ladvan instead. Lassic kills the King of Forbes and takes his land. At the Unions’ ball, Villar introduces Theo and Siluca to his old friend, Lord Croute Gallas and the Earl of Le Couleurs. However Marquis Dawson has a bone to pick with Villar as he ignored the consensus of suspending their hostilities with the Alliance. After Alexis makes his entrance, Villar then has Theo meet Rossini who is not happy Theo took the name Cornaro. That night, Alexis personally visits Theo and Siluca to talk to them privately. He is amazed with Theo’s heroics and admits he is still in love with Marrine. He understands her position to lead the Alliance. His wish is for all Lords to stop fighting and unite. As they leave, they are attacked by assassins. Theo recognizes the markings as Rossini’s flag. All will obey his command without regret no matter how cruel. Alexis is able to depart after all the assassins are killed. Theo and Siluca knows the assassins’ target is Theo. This move will have the Rossini clan expelled from the Union and it is then they will make their move.

Episode 8
I guess now we see a flashback of how Alexis and Marrine met. Weirdly, it was on a public road. He was taken in by her beauty at first sight. Soon he started sending him letters and flowers. She is sceptical at first but at a ball when a guy whom she is not interested tries to make his advances, Alexis politely steps in to diffuse the situation but was punched! It’s a good thing the mask broke and not his face. Thanks to that, Marrine had a private bonding moment with him. They fall in love with each other despite knowing fate will not allow them to be together. But she still kisses him for the flowers. That was supposed to be the last time they see each other but she again sees him doing charity with the poor children. His explanation he isn’t doing charity must have triggered their love. Screw that fate thingy because she wants to marry him and hopes he will wait (even forever) for her. Don’t worry, he will. Sealed with a kiss. During the Union’s conference, all agree to expel Rossini. The next agenda is about either peace or war with the Alliance as Dawson vouches for the former. Villar explains Theo’s actions of defeating Lords who are unfit for their position and wasn’t going around to defeat the Alliance. So when the Alliance attack, surely you don’t expect him to do nothing. Villar’s eloquence charms everyone as Alexis agrees with the proposal to go to war against the Alliance. But he wants to choose a leader for this and picks Villar. To everyone’s shock, he refuses on grounds as the grandchild of the Alliance’s founder, the grandchildren should not be fighting. Hence Dawson picks himself as the leader (since others had no balls to do so) and proposes for peace. Siluca feels the Union has wasted a good chance to destroy the Alliance. Aubest informs Marrine about the Union’s proposal for peace in which makes her mad because they took over Sievis, Clovis and Forbes, and now they want peace? Get real. She orders her forces to prepare to attack Starck which will be their foothold to invade Altirk. Deep down in her heart, she feels sad because her dream of being together with Alexis is fading further and further away.

Episode 9
Lord Pavel Murado seeks to fight alongside Villar and doing so, a few more territories will secede from the Alliance. However Villar claims they are in peace talks with the Union and has no intention of fighting. Siluca argues that fighting is necessary if Altirk is to survive but Villar will not betray Alexis’ will. He sends Theo and Siluca to return to their domain. I guess with them being dismissed we see them having an intimate moment together as Siluca confirms if he likes her. He does and they seal it with a kiss. The armies from both sides clash at Starck. They should just use Milza as he singlehandedly kills the Waldlind Knights. Later as Marrine’s forces gather to discuss their tactical strategy, the geography doesn’t favour them. Aubest suggests creating miasma from a nearby swamp, let the wind blow it and once it is clear, attack the incapacitated forces. This is a dirty tactic against whatever code but Marrine doesn’t intend to be a virtuous inept leader as she wants to hold influence over the continent. Marrine’s forces score overwhelming victory over the enemies as she herself kills Pavel with her own hands. She has her ladies in waiting, Layla and Kamhi to bring Milza to see her. He has a condition she comes to see him alone. She seeks his Dartania support if they are to unite the continent by merging all Crests and in the process ridding Chaos. Milza agrees to fight for her seeing Villar isn’t the worthy man and lacks the will to do so. But Milza has another condition for this alliance. He wants to sleep with her! Is this some kind of ritual for war allies? She agrees but asserts doing so will not make him own her. So they’re going to do it here right now? Oh well, nothing more romantic like sex in the wilderness. He pledges to be her sword and fight for her but not pledge his loyalty. This has got to be the most ‘romantic’ episode so far in the series from both sides of the faction.

Episode 10
Dartania’s king has died and Milza has now ascend the throne. We see several of Villar’s allies rallying up their troops to go into the upcoming battle. From Lord Selge of Regalia, Solon the King of Kilhis and Eudokia the Queen of Haman. Margaret soon returns to Villar’s side to report that Milza has defected to the Alliance. He killed the king, his father who opposed this as well as all other subordinates who supported the king. Milza’s fleet arrives but Villar’s maritime allies fight to stave off Milza. Even so, Milza’s troops continue to sail through. Heck, this Milza is such a one-man killing machine, he might as well be the entire army for Dartania. Meanwhile on the ground, Solon and his Kilhis troops engage the Waldlind. In a fierce to-the-death battle, eventually Solon’s side is surrounded and eliminated. Solon dies in battle. With reports of Lassic driving back the Ozerl forces as well as Theo doing the same to the Bultava side, Villar is amazed that Theo is able to pull off this surprise with such a small army. Although Villar will have them invade the enemy’s territory now, this would mean Waldlind who has lost both those domains will have to fiercely attack Altirk. Villar’s backup plan is to ride out to sea if the castle walls are breached.

Episode 11
With the arrival of a thousand Nordic fleets halfway around the world led by Ulrika, the daughter of Erik who is the Marquis of Nord, Villar knows his time of defeat has come. The question now is how they should lose. Of course, they’ll go down fighting. He leaves his last message for several people. Eudokia’s men punch her out to let her escape alone as they all die to defend the onslaught of the Nordics. Also, one last romantic fling between Villar and Margaret. Meanwhile the other Union members gather to discuss about it. Dawson remains adamant Villar brought this upon himself and once he is defeated, the Alliance will resume peace talks. But Alexis remains worried and wants to save Villar at all costs. Waldlind breaks through the castle as Margaret goes rampage with her hellfire magic to take down as many enemies as she can until she could no more. In the end, she turns into ash and Villar continues his killing spree until he could not go on anymore. In his final confrontation with Marrine, he hands over his Crest. He tells her to continue the path she believes in and he himself still believes and prays for her marriage with Alexis to bring peace. Marrine enters the throne room. Laura hands over the castle to her but warns she has not conquered Altirk as the other Lords will surely rise against her. She then poisons herself. Marrine gives this castle to Milza and wants him to conquer Altirk. News of Villar’s death reaches his comrades and of course they’re pretty sad to hear about it. Villar’s message to Theo is to go forth and further stun the world.

Episode 11.5
Recap episode. No new scenes. Only recycled scenes but at least we have Siluca’s narration and the definitions, important characters and the plot so it is not totally a copy and paste.

Episode 12
Milza fights against soldiers loyal to Villar. He is not pleased he is not achieved anything in life so what does he hope to achieve in death. Lords loyal to Villar has signed a treaty to carry on his legacy. It is suggested Selge who is Villar’s younger brother to be the leader but he deems himself unfit and wants Lassic. He too doesn’t see himself fit and passes the torch to Theo. But with all the Lords favouring Lassic, Theo suggests Lassic be the leader until he proves himself. In the battlefield, Milza and Lassic clash. They didn’t lose their heads but know how formidable the other is and hence Milza pulling back his troops for now. Marrine arranges a meeting with Theo. Before it starts, an odd show of love between Siluca and Aubest as father and daughter hug. Then it’s like, okay it’s over, back to the meeting. Theo begins that Alexis still loves her and would like them and both sides to unite. But she believes that if the war continues, their Crests will eventually be fused. She is prepared to kill and allow bloodshed for that. Theo would like to strive for the ideals Marrine has abandoned and credits Siluca for it. Although both don’t want to fight each other but want to reclaim what they lost, I guess it’s back to the battlefield. As they leave, Theo wants Siluca to make a miracle for him regarding bringing Alexis and Marrine together. He shocks everyone by kissing her in public!!! This is to show that this war is for the sake of love! Whatever, it rallied his men. But Marrine isn’t amused. She still thinks love will not help save her people or country. Later Siluca reports the withdrawal of Waldlind as Croute has crushed the Alliance in the north that was led by Erik and this means Waldlind is left vulnerable from behind. With the battlefield likely to shift to the north, Siluca wants Theo to use this chance to return to Sistina and liberate it. After all, for the miracle to happen, he must achieve the same rank as Alexis and Marrine. With this military achievement, the other Lords will recognize his power and he can take over from Lassic. Lassic hears this and gives his instant approval despite only Theo and Siluca are going. Rossini and his loyals hear the return of Theo. They prepare to take precaution as we see also see the brutal oppression on Silica.

Episode 13
Theo’s group has arrived on Sistina. Siluca’s plan is to go to the main town and announce his return to rally the people. However they see Jana dining with Salvador, Rossini’s son. Since the black witch has a bone to pick with them, Salvador uses his Crest to mind control the people to attack them. Not wanting to involve innocent people, Theo makes a run for it. Theo’s plan is to tour the neighbouring villages to call on the people to revolt. However the people are so in fear of Rossini that they do not believe Theo can overthrow him. All those who have resisted are killed so they think it is better to be on his good side. Because Salvador has sent out warnings to all villages, each village they tour all the villagers become hostile towards them and wanting to get out. Nobody called their help to overthrow Rossini. As suggested by Siluca, Theo visits the village he was born. Everyone never thought he would return. So did he. His childhood friend, Rebecca reveals that when Rossini was plundering the village, Theo’s father kept a secret food cellar. Somebody snitched on him and he was killed to be made an example. Theo left the island blaming them for this father’s death but now he has returned, he asks them if they want to continue living under Rossini’s oppression. As Theo visits his father’s grave, he knows Rebecca has been threatened by them to do something. She claims they will take her to the city if she handed him in. He wants her to tell everyone to flee. Even if Theo is handed over, he will be killed to be made of an example. Theo then goes to face the enemy himself. Rebecca returns and pleads to the villagers to fight with Theo because history will repeat itself if they do the same thing. Remember how they were taxed even more heavily after handing in Theo’s father? The same will happen. With that, the villagers rally behind Theo to face Salvador’s troops. Theo fights Salvador but the latter escapes and lets his guards deal with him. Rebecca tries to stall him but gets killed. Mad Theo cuts down the coward. So his troops retreat? I guess against the soldiers, Rebecca as their only casualty isn’t that bad. Okay, maybe not. Siluca notes despite Rebecca putting her life on the line to stop Salvador, letting him escape would be the same as losing.

Episode 14
Rossini is discussing with his remaining sons about the uprising of the people. It’s gathering steam. Dorni will go take out Theo and though father believes in his son’s abilities, he tells him to take a few thousand soldiers with him because you can never be too sure. It would be too cruel if he loses both his sons. Suppression is the only way they have because that is how they’ve ruled the island. Easing up on that would mean the people losing faith in them. Jana talks to Salvador’s loyal assassin who still needs to finish his mission to kill Irwin. She offers to take out the werewolf twins then they can kill Theo and Siluca. Theo has managed to gather some soldiers and the townspeople to fight. Irwin fights the assassin and manages to kill him but not before he stuck his poison knife into Irwin. But don’t worry, there’s always Priscilla to do the healing. Jana uses some demon magic to rein in the twins but they do some thinking outside the box to dispel her magic and do a great deal of damage to her. It’s mind boggling that the people have more willpower than the Dorni’s soldiers. Because they start fleeing from battle! WTF?! Are they soldiers?! This distracts Dorni as he finally realizes why Theo has only been defending. It is part of his plan to wear him out. When Dorni is tired, Theo sticks his sword into his throat. Jana goes all out to kill Theo but Siluca blasts her out of the sky. With the angry mob outside Rossini’s castle, Rossini is willing to give his life but wants his remaining son, Juzel to escape. Juzel has a plan to negotiate with Theo. Rossini rescinds all his court rank to him. Juzel negotiates for those loyal to Rossini to not lose their lives and fortune. Theo rejects. He wants all their fortune, their Crest and both their lives. This is the will of the people. Juzel agrees to relinquish their lives but those loyal to them would not stay quiet. He proposes to pledge his allegiance to him so those loyalists would listen. Theo rejects again because this would mean going against the will of the people who joined in this revolt. But Theo personally doesn’t want to annihilate the family and asks him to pledge his allegiance to him instead. I guess there’s a difference if Theo is the one saying it. Juzel agrees but the bottom line is that Rossini must still pay for his crimes. The people rejoice their new dawn under Theo.

Episode 15
Siluca interrogates Jana as she also stands accused for the Great Hall Tragedy. However she laughs in delirium. No choice, she is sentenced to be burnt at the stake. But before they could burn her, she summons the Demon Lord to kill her. Milza does not pay heed to Theo’s heroics and still considers him a small fry. However Milza’s areas are under ambushed and his side suffered losses. As advised by Telius, if his people are revolting against him, they are considered enemies. He takes up the suggestion to slay his own citizens as the blame will be put on those who revolted. Milza’s forces subjugate the villages of the werewolves and White Witches before killing all those free Lords against him. Theo has returned and Lassic is glad to see him. Laura is also alive (poison not lethal enough?) and is now serving Eudokia. Meeting with the other treaty Lords, Theo agrees to not change leadership of the treaty now and takes responsibility of the many Lords while he is away liberating Sistina. He declares to invade Altirk and bring down Milza. They discuss their plan to attack Milza’s great forces in the forest because of the thick woods, movements are limited. After their victory here, they have to move on to take Villar’s castle which is heavily defended. Lassic is working hard to get other treaty Lords to contribute manpower but Croute has his hands full fighting Waldlind and can’t spare any. As there is a slave rebellion in Starck, they think of using that but who should they send? Juzel offers himself since Rossini has experience in being a tyrant and knows how to quell such uprising. Once Theo’s declaration reaches Milza’s ears, this angers him as he promptly mobilizes for battle. He disregards Telius’ advice about being at a disadvantageous terrain of the forest because he thinks he can kill Theo with his eyes close. As he wish.

Episode 16
The werewolves and White Witches attack the Dartanian forces in the forest and separate them. Milza manages to defeat some of them but the forest soon turns into a maze. Nevertheless they reach the castle. Theo warns them to return as the forest will be baying for blood during the night time. Surprisingly Milza agrees and leaves. As advised, Theo probably has 2 choices: Return to Bultava or emerge from the forest. If it is the latter, Milza’s force would easily slay him. So for him to lure him out, Milza sends his strong force to attack Regalia. Siluca suggests Theo to take the bait since the people’s morale are high over their recent victory. But Theo is reluctant since he has to use a volunteer army again. However with the people trusting him, he suggests marching towards Villar’s castle in full force. As Milza’s force heads towards Regalia, he receives word that Selge has fled and he left behind his contracted mage. This is odd because Theo was recently victorious over them but Milza thinks Theo isn’t worthy of Theo’s trust. He leaves some troops to reclaim it before Lassic does. Later he sees Theo’s expanding forces. He never thought Theo would sacrifice Regalia to buy time and gather this much soldiers. Milza still things they are a ragtag force and can be dealt with. But when advised to wait for reinforcements and retreat, Milza doesn’t like giving up without a fight but chooses to trust his comrades. Although Marrine has ordered Ulrika to support Milza, it seems she is more interesting in subjugating Haman first. Laura advises Eudokia to strip naked to address to the people that the Nords have taken everything. There is nothing left to take except their lives to fight for freedom. Don’t worry, Laura will go naked with her. They do so and the men rejoice and will die for her! See what a beautiful naked woman could do? But do they need to strip off their armour too? I mean, are they really going to fight naked?! This throws Ulrika off. Eudokia tries to rally the Starck slaves to rebel and with Juzel’s suave persuasion, the slaves eventually fight back. All hail the naked woman! Ulrika is forced to retreat despite she doesn’t want to. Milza is not pleased reinforcements haven’t arrived yet. Because Theo’s army has established as stronghold outside their castle. Even if reinforcements come, it won’t be easy to join them. Milza stares at the possible of his first loss that stands to lose everything. Yeah, things just got worse with Lassic arriving with his 30,000 strong troops.

Episode 17
Milza wants to take on Theo’s forces and not wait for Marrine’s reinforcements. Telius begs him to have faith in Marrine but he reasons he will not put her in danger. Besides, if he loses, it just means he wasn’t the chosen one. Milza leads his Dartanian forces as they barge through waves of forts to reach Theo. He takes a detour and avoids fighting with Lassic’s side. Then he has to put up with Theo’s comrades first before facing off with the man himself. He accepts Milza’s challenge to fight him, making Siluca worried that if he loses, he would have played right into Milza’s hands. She’s saying she has no confidence in Theo winning? Is this so we can have a cheesy romantic moment between them? Because Theo’s hug us sure assuring. Theo and Milza begin their fight. Oddly why do their swords light up like lightsabers?! Theo realizes Milza has changed. Until now he has only used his Crest’s power for himself. But to take over Altirk, he bestowed subjugated Crests on his men and his Crest lost power accordingly. Theo can still fight but Milza is already out of breath. Theo might not have won but Milza is already defeated. Just take a look at his Dartanian forces. They surrendered! Wait a minute. You mean they weren’t going to fight to the death? Who gave them the order to surrender when Milza is still fighting?! With Milza losing, Theo out of formality asks for his Crest or his life. As Milza is one not to beg for his life, Theo kills him and takes back Villar’s Crest. A big relief hug from Siluca. Telius is saddened by Milza’s death that he poisons himself. Marrine is disappointed over hearing Milza’s death. Like as though he never trusted her and belittled her. This means they have no use of continuing their advance as Marrine orders her troops to turn around and reinforce their fight in the north to defeat Le Couleurs.

Episode 18
With Villar’s castle retaken, everyone pays their respects to Villar. Lassic now hands over his Crest to Theo, signifying he is now the Treaty’s leader. Also, Selge renounces his Constance family name and hands it over to his younger brother, Igor. Theo’s goal is to fulfil Villar’s wish to bring peace between the Alliance and Union. To do that, the Treaty will break away from the Union and remain neutral. Uhm, so it isn’t possible between 2 parties but it is so with a third one? This might look like giving Alliance a booster since the Union has already broken up into 2 factions but they will still remain to cooperate with the Union to strike a power balance. For now, they celebrate their victory with a feast. Later Theo talks to Siluca that his final dream is still to return to his village and bring happiness (I guess being liberated doesn’t mean instant happiness). However there is one thing he would like to do that with: Siluca. Siluca didn’t get it and thinks of it as his eternal mage who has sworn loyalty to him. He has to hug her to make her realize his intentions and hence our cheesy Theo x Siluca romance. Later they talk to Priscilla about her Crest that resembles the Holy Grail. Because Pope Leone of the Order of the Crest has proclaimed himself to be the Holy Grail and might eliminate her as a threat. Word has spread that Croute has died in battle. This is due to betrayal from Dawson stamping out reinforcements (Alliance welcomed him in exchange). With this, the Union will be shakier and more vulnerable than ever. Siluca suggests heading to Jalucia to cheer up Alexis since he was close to Croute. Alexis wants Theo to become the head of the Union but he disagrees since he wants both sides to reconcile. Uhm again, so he can’t if he is leader of one of them? Alexis is visibly depressed that he no longer feels he can do it. Time for Theo to play the Marrine trump card. Even if she wins, unites all Crests and becomes emperor, she isn’t happy. She is suppressing her feelings and doing her duty as the leader of the Alliance. Only Alexis can save her. With that, Alexis suddenly matures and has this damn manly confident aura. Even his servants are shocked! No more weakling Alexis. He is going to attack Dawson and when other Union Lords hear about him rising up, they rally behind him. Surely Dawson would have seen this coming since he is being touted as a traitor so why is he so shocked to see Alexis’ troops marching to his doorstep?

Episode 19
Dawson calls Marrine for help but since her reinforcements are busy fighting the Treaty side, she tells him to tough it out. Dawson tries to defect back to the Union but Alexis rejects. He will spare his life if he surrenders and hands over his Crest. And so Dawson decides to fight. But Alexis fights this battle like as though he is a composer and painting?! So the battlefield is his work of art?! Anyway Alexis’ forces easily defeats Dawson. Marrine receives news of this but is shocked to hear that Alexis led the attack. She fears he will be dragged into the war. Alexis’ forces now makes his way to fight the Nords. Erik who prides himself as the king of the seas accepts the challenge in this naval battle. Alexis employs some weird tactic. The Nords get their power and turn into zombies? It’s going to take more than an arrow to kill them. Both sides suffer heavy losses. Erik will not back down and rather die as a warrior. As he makes his way to Alexis’ main ship, I believe he is the character who racked up the body count in such a short time! See him decapitate and spill blood of all the soldiers protecting Alexis! After a hard fought battle, Erik is finally decapitated and this guy has so much blood that it is overflowing the ship! Good riddance. Alexis takes his Crest. Siluca sees Marrine who proposes a truce in which the latter outright rejects. The only way left is to fight. Siluca suggests if the Union and Treaty loses, they will hand over their Crests and territories. Otherwise she must accept their proposal. She also thinks this would only give their true enemy the edge whom she believes is the Mage Academy who is responsible for the Great Hall Tragedy (though she may not have definitive proof). Marrine is still bitter she has sacrificed so much and yet Alexis got involved. She cannot turn back now. This battle might see the creation of the Grancrest and create something far greater than the Great Hall Tragedy.

Episode 20
The Alliance side uses a huge magical beast the barge their way through. Until it fell into a big dug trap. Then it is a messy affair with everybody clashing and flanking everybody. Both sides get motivated when Marrine and Theo head down to the battlefield. When Alexis and his Union show up, Marrine gives the order to retreat or else their escape route will be cut off and will be routed. Theo also backs out and calls for a meeting among the 3 faction leaders. Theo proposes a truce for all sides in which Marrine again rejects because it would benefit their true enemy, the Mage Academy. A truce ensures a court rank system and hence fights over titles. In fact they might even be where they want them now. Theo’s second proposal is for Alexis and Marrine to marry. He will then pledge his loyalty to their Grancrest. Marrine again disagrees because of the fear of the tragedy repeating itself. She is against Alexis helping her and wants the enemy to only target her. She is satisfied with the goal of sacrificing herself, make known to the world the true enemy and one day somebody will take up and continue her fight. Alexis then shows him a huge human rose pattern created by his troops. He proposes to her again. Why she rejects him? Because she lost her virginity to Milza. Oh yeah. Remember that scene? Alexis doesn’t care as long they love each other. Still not convinced? Theo announces Siluca as his wife. So Marrine needs a little bit more nudging, a few more assuring words from Alexis before they are once again happily reunited. Much to the cheers of everybody. Alexis and Marrine want to give their Crest to Theo for him to become the first emperor. Once the miracle is over, Siluca suggests Theo hand it back to Alexis and then they can return to Sistina and live happily ever after. Yeah, we’ll go with that. Meanwhile the head of the Mage Academy is secretly purging mages who support Lords. Knowing that Grancrest is about to be born, he must make the Mage Academy as a monolith and thwart any attempts to bring an era of order.

Episode 21
Wow. Mages at Eramu are being purged like ants. Are they that useless to defend themselves? Theo and Siluca’s romantic moment is being interrupted when a mage informs her about this. Hence Siluca gathers everyone to tell about the situation. Some mages will stick with their Lords but some like Alexis’ decide to terminate their contract and return home. Those who remain are forced to break their wand. They cannot use magic without it but the wand serves as a tracking device as well as communicator for the Mage Academy to eavesdrop. Later there’s this weird reconciliation between Siluca, Aubest and Aishela. Aishela still not too forgiving to Aubest for trying to kill Siluca once. Late that night when Siluca is asleep, she hears Aishela calling her name. Suddenly Aishela tries to kill her! Only to be stopped by Irwin! She admits she is a spy ordered to kill her. Tied up, she is interrogated to spill the beans. She comes from a secret organization within a secret organization, Pandora. Their purpose is to control Chaos and is made up of failed mages like her or collaborators like Jana. Speaking of which, Jana was the one responsible for the Great Hall Tragedy. Aishela’s orders were to kill Theo and Siluca. Theo knows she failed on purpose because she could have killed them in their sleep. But Aishela had to carry it out and not disobey. She shows them a magic mark on her breast. Fail and it will kill her. But why is it activating now? Because she also spilled the beans. Damn this mark is lethal. As the rest try to save her, Aishela screams in pain. Then here comes Priscilla using her Holy Grail to save and heal her. Phew. Siluca is so relieved. Now you going to believe in God? Not really… With Aishela saved and her mark gone, this also means she loses her abilities. She deems herself useless now but Theo views her as trying to protect them by failing her mission. Skirmishes and in-fighting start to break out in all camps. There are casualties in the aftermath against Lords who were used by Pandora and then discarded. Even though the next option is to invade Eramu, they might not be well prepared but that’s the only choice they have. And losing isn’t an option either. But don’t worry, they have the support of the people.

Episode 22
The Order might have a strong following but most of their followers are women, children and the elderly. Damn, you don’t want to be seen like a bully and fight those innocent people. Priscilla suggests going to talk and convince Leone but Theo is against it since it is dangerous as they know better the Order will use these people to shield itself from attacks. Don’t worry, Siluca will accompany her. Oh, Irwin and Aishela will accompany them. Leone tries to rally his followers that those who monopolizes the Crests will be punished by God because they believe all Crests belong to the One God. This is actually the same goal as Theo’s as it is to eliminate Chaos and bring peace. However Leone brands Siluca a liar. Time for Priscilla to step up and wow the followers she is the holder of the Holy Grail. As she shows her Crests, the followers are now convinced she is the true one. Leone fears his dwindling influence so he is advised by his subordinate to kill her and let her Crest turn into Chaos. Leone pretends to agree with Priscilla’s idea. When she gets close enough, he stabs her. Irwin spotted this but is given that look by Priscilla not to intervene as this is a duty she must fulfil. Mad Aishela wants to kill them all but Siluca stops her. If Leone is dead, the inevitable war will happen with the Order. But I guess it’s okay to kill the other guards. Because Priscilla’s Crest continue to shine and didn’t turn into a Chaos, Leone is most shocked. She killed a true holy maiden instead of a fake. His subordinate tells him to seize her Crest but Leone is too shocked to do so. He is about to kill Leone instead but Irwin protects him. Theo is mad after receiving word of Priscilla’s death. I wonder if he teleported because he reached there fast. He takes Priscilla’s Crest and is now the guardian of her Holy Grail. Now the Order’s followers follow him. Seeing Leone’s face makes Theo mad so he lets Siluca deal with him to investigate links between the Mage Academy and the Order. Theo carrying Priscilla like his dead wife…

Episode 23
The Imperial Army is reported to have arrived at Eramu. The Mage Academy head, Hubertus orders the release of a dangerous monster that could destroy Eramu itself. I guess if you don’t take the risks, you won’t reap the rewards. That monster is a giant Cyclops that the Mage Academy once sacrificed many to seal. I suppose this creature only lives to destroy because right after it is freed from its long slumber, it goes on a rampage. Looks like it is time to give Lassic the limelight as he decides to do the impossible and bring it down before it puts Theo’s plan in jeopardy. So we see him and his few men seemingly trying to do some puny damage that don’t even matter. Until Moreno has powered up his whatever solar magic for Lassic to reflect and blind its eye before the Sievis King kills it for good. All hail Lassic the Giant Slayer! And he didn’t even lose a man! Such great happy ending. Meanwhile, Alexis leads the army to attack the castle walls. With all the tricks and strategies, in no time they take the walls. Hubertus isn’t worried. He expected this. Because he believes all they need to do is kill Theo and all the lords will fall into disarray. Theo’s side is about to make his move when they suddenly find themselves in the Forest of Darkness. Siluca realizes they have been ‘invited’ by Dimitrie.

Episode 24
Confronting Dimitrie in his castle, he reasons even if Chaos is gone, people will still fight each other. Even so, that is their choice, Theo replies. Dimitrie became an Artist to survive and he would continue to do so if it is boring. As they fight him, the werewolf twins’ brother, Aeon brings the real body of Dimitrie. Uhm, just bring him here to show he could be killed off? Even so, Dimitrie has cloned his shadows and technically still lives. They fight the shadows but they are a tough bunch. Then a holy miracle in the form of Priscilla’s Holy Grail lighting up so bright that there are no more shadows. Eventually Aeon sacrifices himself to pin Dimitrie down so Theo could finish him off. With the last shadow scared and weak, the twins let him go since they have avenged their mother and brother’s death. With Dimitrie gone, they march into Eramu with Theo and Siluca confronting Hubertus. To know the truth, they are told to touch the Chaos Globe. Doing so, they are teleported to another dimension as they hear the voice of Pandora repeatedly telling them that the Age of Chaos must not end. They are shown the previous civilization which is as futuristic as hell! You see, without Chaos, humanity eventually evolved so great and created an ultimate energy weapon that is on par in destroying the world. To avoid that, a decision was made to flood the world with Chaos and destroy civilization. An age with Chaos is the beginning of the end. Even if Theo now understands, his feelings have not changed. It is not right to sacrifice today’s people and those who have aren’t born yet. Because that is his decision, Hubertus poisons himself. Gee, that’s the easiest final boss fight. With that, Theo has all the Lords gather as he makes his speech. With this empire named Leon and Eramu as its Imperial Capital, he lays down the ground rules that an Emperor must be fair, blah, blah, blah, otherwise the people has the right to revolt and overthrow the Emperor. 3 years later, double wedding! Theo x Siluca and Alexis x Marrine. Siluca almost late for her big day? Kissing scene. Siluca so happy that she cried. Theo creates the Grancrest that purges all Chaos from the world. You mean it was not done then when all the Lords gave him their Crest? In the aftermath, as promised, Theo abdicates his throne to Alexis. He and Siluca retire to their happy farm life in Sistina. And finally another kiss from the duo. So magical that rainbows appeared!

Command & Conquer: Unity (And Love) Through War
And so everybody lived happily ever after. Hooray. Such a great happy ending. But not so happy ending for all the Chaos monsters and Pandora. Well, enjoy the peace while it lasts. Assuming if history repeats itself and that mankind decides to take up war and kill each other again. Who knows how long that will be. It could be centuries or millennia. But Theo won’t be around when that happens! It’s like, that’s not my problem anymore. But it is not fair to pin all the responsibilities and blame on Theo. He already helped created a peaceful world but you war-hungry idiots in the future decide to ruin it all and fight and kill each other. So really, if that is the case where mankind really destroys itself because of no Chaos, is it to also say that there is no God in this world? Damn, I think I just confused myself even further.

Basically, the general plot of the story goes something like this: Lord or King from a country attacks another nation. If successful, they become the new masters and gain new territory. Otherwise, status quo. Hence it was pretty weird for me to see that a big part of this series is about attacking one another. Uh huh. Time for our strategic attack on this kingdom. Charge in! Yay! We did it. Oh no, we lost. We live another day to try again or get our revenge. Planning and strategizing in between. Therefore this series is like one big unofficial world war that has been ongoing ever since and there is no stopping to it until the ultimate Grancrest is created. I still can’t believe it is finally created 3 years later. Could it be that one of the requirements is to be held on a wedding day? A day of utmost sacred union? Maybe.

Speaking of the Grancrest world map, I didn’t realize it at first but I soon noticed that it takes after very much like the map of Europe. Yeah, why is Europe always such a nice base for alternative fantasy settings? From Youjo Senki all the way back to Prism Ark, Europe’s base is a favourite for differing nations because of its vast variety of cultures. Anyway, for this series, it is obvious that Dartania is Turkey while Kilhis and Haman are Greece. While Bultava might sound like Bulgaria and Regalia like Romania, taking a closer look it is actually Regalia that is Bulgaria and Bultava the Czech Republic. Hence I am guessing Altirk is Romania because of the Forest of Darkness in this domain and Dracula, you know, Transylvania? Eramu is suspiciously Switzerland (the supposed most neutral country), Le Couleurs is France and obviously Sistina is Sicily. Rossini is such an Italian name… The rest I feel are like bad puns. Clovis = Croatia? Sievis = Serbia? Ismeia = Italy? Ozerl = Austria? Waldlind = Ukraine? Jalucia = Spain because you know, Andalusia? Oh well, better than obvious making lazy and obvious modifications. Oddly with the battle between the Alliance and Union and then the Treaty, I noticed that Bredland and Courtwells (England and Scotland respectively) aren’t involved. A big war that the British isn’t involved? It must be fantasy.

Other than the attack-here-attack-there plot, the other thing about this series that bugs me is the characters. Technically I am not wrong to say that there are too many of them! However a lot of them are also killed off. Therefore sometimes you think a character is going to be one of those main supporting ones, only to be killed off in the same episode or a few episodes later. Yes, it does make the war theme of this series believable because with so many casualties, sometimes even the warlords are not even sparred from the fate of death. So sometimes when such Lords or Kings fight their last battle and get killed in action, it might be sad but honourable but by the time the next episode rolls out, I would highly have forgotten about them. There are a few of them that actually survived and stuck to the end with Theo (not talking about his immediate troupe) like Selge’s contracted mage but she is insignificant enough that I can’t even remember her name. But generally with so many nations and Lords fighting in this never ending war, it is hard to keep track of who is who and when the plot commands it, they get killed off. Like Croute whom we don’t even see him die in the battlefield! Just a notice. He’s dead. Get over it. But I think some like Milza would leave a longer impression because of his brutal and violent get-what-he-wants personality. Oh right, who could forget about that sex scene he had with Marrine. But I’m sure I’ll remember him for his ruthlessness than that. On a trivial note, I noticed that even Milza had become king, he is still continued to be referred as the prince. WTF?

If you think those characters are bad enough, wait till you hear what I have to say about Theo’s groupie. Now, it is understandable that Theo and Siluca are the main characters so they hog a lot of the screen time whenever there is a chance to show their side. After all, they need to build up that romance factor, right? But for the rest of the other notable comrades in his group, they feel somewhat disappointing. Heck, they feel like the invisible man for most of the time. For example, Aishela. She made her debut very early in the series and looks promising as Siluca’s battle aide. After a few episodes later when she gets seriously injured, she is then side-lined for most of the series until the end where I suppose for the shock factor she turns out to be a spy. But at that point I am asking myself, so what? In between Aishela has been sorely missing and even though she does take to the battlefield sometimes, she does not stand out as much as she did as she made her debut.

This goes the same for Priscilla. Some random priestess suddenly decides to join Theo’s group. Okay. I guess he can add more to his harem. Having a holy woman is a variety in his harem. Heh. Since she has no fighting abilities, she is relegated to the side-lines even more than Aishela. With only her healing ability as her worth, you keep wondering why the heck do they need a redundant character in the group. And of course as the final stretch of the anime nears, that Holy Grail plot twist crap thingy pops up and yet in another attempt for shock factor, Priscilla offers her life because I guess that is the only way Theo is going to have all the Crests other than from Alexis and Marrine. The Holy Grail is after all still technically a Crest. And yeah, a character whom you won’t remember much suddenly dies for the greater good. Wow. So noble. I cried. Read, sarcasm.

Having said that, it goes without saying that Irwin is very underutilized here. As a black butler who offered himself to serve Siluca as atonement for the Great Hall Tragedy, I felt that his super assassin skills are mostly wasted. Sure, we get to see certain fight scenes where he engages in high speed assassin style fighting but that is all we get about him. I know assassins aren’t supposed to stand out but Irwin in this context feels more like a background character the more this series progresses. He guards and protects from the shadows and though that may be good enough for him, I guess it is not good enough for yours truly because I really want to know his past or his struggles so as to have something relatable or at least I can root for him not because he is a super cool killing machine. Lastly, the werewolf twins. What the heck are they here again? Being grateful to Theo is one thing but following him around, don’t see them do much except in some fight scenes when necessary, what else have they got going now that their mother’s killer is dead?

On to Theo and Siluca, like any main character material, he has his own ideals and justice that we all love to have but in this era has become too cliché. You know, the kind of hero that wants to save everybody and not sacrifice a soul and hence bringing ultimate peace to all sides. Thankfully it is anime so it can happen for him. Not sure if I can call his ultimate goal to retire in Sistina and live a happy life with Siluca is refreshing or boring. Becoming the emperor seems like a stepping stone to that and while it is different than most main characters who end up being the permanent leader to lead the new world, I suppose in a way that this is quite a unique dream. He always has Sistina in his heart from start to finish. It just seems that the goal of uniting the warring factions looks bigger and overwhelming, thus the action he takes look like it is in that best interest.

But during Villar’s moment of limelight, Theo like his other groupies, became a bit side-lined as well. Sometimes I feel that Villar is such a great guy and his death was unjust and untimely. He has his own past and his own charm but I guess when you have to push a new young hero to greater heights, somebody has to use his life. Hence Theo feeling more like almost non-existent as he is away when Villar and his allies make their final stand. And then when Theo comes back, it’s like the plot takes a little detour for him to return to Sistina and liberate it. Necessary plot for him to be the next leader. It is meaningless for him to be the leader of the Treaty if his own country isn’t resolved. On a trivial note, I keep thinking Theo Cornaro would make a great ice cream maker. Cornetto…

Siluca started off as a strong independent woman. I remember she has plans for Theo and she sounds like she is using him or if not at least has her own motives for laying out those plans for him. Over the course of the series, it feels like she strayed from that path and becomes more worried about him. Not because he is an integral part of her plan. Get what I mean? I can obviously blame love for this. Uh huh. Ever since that cheesy romance in the Forest of Darkness, there are times watching Siluca being worried feels like she is a teenager in love. But I guess that is what is needed for this series instead of fighting and fighting, killing and killing. So we need some cheesy romance factor as some sort of distraction. After all, when you have 2 main characters who have been working together for a long time, what are the chances of sparks of romance igniting? Unless you’re gay or lesbian but thankfully, right?

Speaking of romance, I am sure that I am not wrong to say this war is prolonged just because of the failed love between Alexis and Marrine. This series would not even have started and Theo getting his chance to shine had not the Great Hall Tragedy happened. They would have been happily wedded ever after. Hence the prolonged war is partly due to Marrine who can’t get over her mourning and hence trying to shoulder all the burden, sacrifice and responsibility on herself just to achieve the minimum. On the other hand, Alexis was totally a wuss. He sounds so gay that I thought he was in the wrong anime! In this sense, I believe Marrine is more brutal and has more balls than Alexis! Thankfully thanks to Theo playing the ultimate matchmaker, their love is reunited and of course our true enemy whom you are supposed to least expect turns out to be the very Mage Academy that produces world class mages.

Although in my personal opinion I dislike war and war is bad in general, I suppose that some people cannot live without all the fighting. So with the Mage Academy as one of those sneaky hidden final boss (not so much of a final boss anyway as seen. They didn’t even put up any resistance with Theo. I guess not seeing he defeated Dimitrie their last line of defence), sometimes I feel that their reason for wanting to preserve Chaos is also correct. In the sense that if you completely destroy Chaos, you destroy the overall balance. Without Chaos, no doubt humans of the land would live in peace but humans being humans, do you think that peace will last? I presume that people will start to fight each other again for even pettier reasons. We see how the Lords and Kings cannot agree with each other and got greedy for land and titles instead of uniting to fight Chaos. Until Theo came along, that is. But ultimately if this goal is reached, it is hard to think that humans will ever sit still. Even the Vampire King himself as a living being is afraid of ceasing to exist. So the idea of war to continue is a good or bad thing is very much debatable. Like I said, Theo and the current people won’t live that long into the future to see where their efforts would lead humanity. But having Chaos destroy civilization is the same as destroying mankind? Either way, it tells us that mankind is the culprit and root of the problem, no?

As I have said that the general plot of this series is about attacking and conquering one another, it goes without saying that the action parts are the main draw of this series. Of course it might look a bit unrealistic since magic is employed but they help add to the might of the fight. To show the brutalities of war, there are a lot of blood spilled. A lot. There are also lots of casualties too and not just minor characters but all those foot soldier guards who lay their lives for their leader. It makes me wonder about the population of this world. At the rate they are killing each other, the population is sure taking a nosedive but yet we see so many soldiers from so many nations. It’s like a never ending supply of men. A lot of young children are going to be orphans with their fathers getting killed in the battlefield. In addition to the brutal war action, sometimes it is not just go all out and kill the enemy. Some strategies and battle of the brains are needed. Thus some of the strategies employed here are interesting and entertaining. Not all victories lie in reducing the number of your enemy. Heck, even retreating is an option sometimes!

While the art and animation feel pretty standard, my only complaint is that during some action scenes, there is a dip in quality. It is obvious. I mean, not so obvious that it sucks but if you at least pay slight attention and watch, you can tell the drop in quality. Don’t underestimate the human eyes because even a normal guy like me can catch it. Such scenes are usually when the action is fast and frantic. So why the heck put in the effort in the detail when the scene might last only under a second or two? As for the character designs, my only comment is that, doesn’t Siluca look like a sexier version of Saber from the Fate series? With so many nations and their emblems, they have this grand feel to them but overall they look pretty similar to me.

This series has so many characters so I guess the list is long, some only making a cameo. But for the main ones, those I recognized are Takahiro Sakurai as Villar, Yuuichi Nakamura as Irvin, Satoshi Hino as Lassic, Yoshitsugu Matsuoka as Moreno, Youko Hikasa as Jana, Hiro Shimono as Selge, Yuko Kaida as Margaret and Ayane Sakura as Layla. The others are Kentarou Kumagai as Theo (Haruhiko in Tsurezure Children), Akari Kitou as Siluca (Yonaga in Alice To Zouroku), Ai Kayano as Marrine (Inori in Guilty Crown), Yuuichi Iguchi as Alexis (Saji in High School DxD), Natsumi Takamori as Priscilla (Azusa in Orange), Reina Ueda as Aishela (Mira in Dimension W), Wataru Hatano as Milza (Gajeel in Fairy Tail), Satoshi Mikami as Aubest (I-Guy in The Reflection), Chika Anzai as Laura (Hanabi in Kuzu No Honkai), Minori Suzuki as Emma (Freyja Wion in Macross Delta), Megumi Nakajima (Kaede in Kampfer) and Sayaka Harada as Ulrika (Sayaka in Aho Girl).

The first opening theme, Starry by Ayano Mashiro sounds like your typical upbeat anime music that fits this genre very nicely. The second opening theme, Rin by ASCA also sounds familiar but with an added touch of dramatic. ASCA also sings the first ending theme, Pledge. It is a slow ballad and not too bad. Somehow the second ending theme, Shoudou by Ayano Mashiro reminds me of the ending theme of Shukufuku No Campanella, Mirai Kaikisen. The pace and beat sound almost similar and even the singer herself sounds almost comparable.

Overall, I can place this series as just average at best. The simple thin plot of uniting everyone for the ultimate Grancrest is overwhelmed by the excessive battle scenes. Attack and attack and attack! Defend and defend and defend! Lots of blood spilled. Lots of people get killed. You win some, you lose some. Oh yeah, don’t forget the cheesy romance that is happening in the midst of the big war. This series could probably have worked better if it was a video game but unfortunately this wasn’t adapted from a video game but rather a light novel. So I wonder if all the drama in the written words got lost in translation and substituted with action scenes. Not that I read the light novel anyway. Oh right, did I say this series was also a table top RPG game? Yeah, maybe that would work. But for the anime adaptation, it’s like saying war is peace and peace is war only further confuses everyone and make everybody fight everybody. As the saying goes, war is not about finding out who is right, but who is left!

Butler themed anime series aren’t that popular. But even if there was one, the most famous butler in anime would no other be that Sebastian of Kuroshitsuji (Black Butler). Over the years, that series had its sequels and side stories. Butlers: Chitose Momotose Monogatari isn’t one of them. It is another butler themed anime and with some supernatural elements but without that demon contract thingy. Just another group of good looking butlers for females to swoon over. Because which girl wouldn’t want a hot guy to treat and serve her well?

Episode 1
All the girls are swooning over Kouma “J” Jinguuji as the newly elected student council president. Yeah, his members are also hotties. Haruto Hizakura the vice president, Ren Shiratori the treasurer and Hotaru Aoba the secretary. A guy (Megane Jerk I’ll call him) who narrowly lost to J accuses him of using dirty tactics. But he gets scared when J with those ‘vicious’ eyes tells him if he has the resolve to fight for what he wants. J then meets headmaster, Takashi Mikuni who praises J for his efforts and gives him a mansion just for the student council’s base. It seems this place holds some memories for J. As they clean up, they accidentally woke up Yuuki Fujishiro AKA Dracula. He is skipping class and sleeping here. He is not punished since his wealthy parents finance the school. They ignore him and clean up the place. After Haruto sets up the internet, J has a request to do a search on this old friend of his, Hayakawa. The search narrows down to a guy working at Café De Wayne. Indeed, Tsubasa Hayakawa works here and is loved by all his female patrons. The manager, Akira Tachibana is glad he has such employee. Also there are 2 guys from the newspaper club, Daichi “Holmes” Kurosawa and Kyoichi “Watson” Sano. They are trying to investigate if J is plotting to take over the entire school via his post. Next day before the student council inauguration ceremony, Ayame Kitazono comes up to J to confess. J trolls her by coming close to her just to identify her pendant. Then he rejects her and says he is not her type. Boo hoo! J then talks to Hikari Kageyama who warns him about the danger he will be facing. When he returns to the ceremony, he sees Hayakawa passing by and gets upset. Later, he visits the café and picks a fight with him. He believes Hayakawa remembers it all although the latter asserts he doesn’t. J points out that his mark makes him a Butler just like him. They protect the Blood Spirit. He accuses Hayakawa something about entrusting his sister, Tenna Kisaragi to him. Hayakawa continues to not know what he is talking about so J vows to make him remember. Flashback shows Tenna underwent some sort of ritual. It went wrong and she disappeared and turned into a pendant. Hayakawa believes she will never return. J struggles to get the pendant from him but they got teleported somewhere.

Episode 2
Mikuni found J unconscious and brought him home. Because an old mansion is visible across his place and J kept looking at it, he is told nobody has lived there for 100 years. Over the years, Mikuni knows about J’s story and secret and wants to help him in any way he can. There is nobody at Café De Wayne at this supposed busy hour. Dracula who has made this his new sleeping place, points out there are bad rumours about Hayakawa hitting on customers. It is obviously exaggerated and he was just handing out free coupons. Don’t believe all the media tells you! Hayakawa thinks J is the culprit but doesn’t say. True enough, J hired some underlings to do this but he admonishes them for going overboard. His student council members talk about this rumour and because some of the girls in their school is being hit by Hayakawa, they offer to help out and look into more about this guy. Of course such rumours don’t stay long since Hayakawa is such a hot hunk to be ignored. Girls soon start streaming back in and with manpower shortage, Dracula is forced to help. This is followed by Ren and Hotaru who come in to investigate followed by Haruto and the detective duo. Now we’ve got a bevy of hot butler dudes serving you ladies! So dreamy! Eventually the student council trio realize their original mission as they observe Hayakawa not to be a bad guy as the rumour says. They learn he just worked here but refused to say where he worked before that. That is when Akira hints Hayakawa was in some accident of losing someone close a long time ago. That’s why he wants to help out in any way he can. Hayakawa is basically a good guy as you can see. The rest then discuss who would spread such rumours as Holmes deduced it must be someone who is a master of controlling others. Haruto has a feeling it is J but brushes it off. J narrates about his changed life ever since that incident. Ever since he disappeared, his bloodline disappeared from that world too. The key to everything is in Tenna’s pendant. Oh, looks like Hayakawa is having it, kept hidden in his coffee stash.

Episode 3
Ren is shocked to see Hotaru skipping their meeting to go flirt with the music teacher, Satsuki Mikami. With Holmes and Watson interested in this juicy detail for their headline, Ren warns them not to write bad things about his friend. So as the trio tail Hotaru who is following Satsuki back to her home, they see him stalking outside. So they confront him and he doesn’t bat an eyelid to admit he is in love with Satsuki. Oh, did he not tell you? Satsuki is his older sister! They have different surnames because their parents divorced. Meanwhile J confronts Hayakawa in an abandoned video arcade building. He beats him up in this one-sided match in his bid to force him to hand over Tenna’s pendant. But Hayakawa insists he doesn’t know. However when J is going to kill him, that is when Hayakawa unleashes his super abilities to turn the tables and beats up J! OMG. Hayakawa knows about Tenna’s pendant but before more can be revealed, here comes Haruto. Hayakawa escapes as Haruto is shocked to see J in this messed up state. He wants to help him but is told off never to get in his way again. Was it something he did? Because of that, Haruto gets depressed. Nothing to beat depression with a cup of bitter coffee at Café De Wayne… Even Hayakawa serving him advises him about feelings. You may think you know what is right for that person but it may actually be not. If he truly cares about that person, he’ll understand someday. It is no surprised the next day, it gets awkward when J and Haruto meet but the latter tries his best to ignore him. Why does J look like he regretted it?

Episode 4
The school is organizing a festival. As Café De Wayne has also set up a stall, Akira wants the student council guys to help. No way. Hotaru then comes up with this idea that pits their butlers against each other. And so in this butler competition of J vs Hayakawa, they have to serve their customers and the one receiving the most satisfactory points wins. Yeah, all the girls are going to swoon over those hot hunks. Especially the ones being served on stage, girls would die just to be served by them. The duo try to outperform each other with various nifty butler skills and tricks but Hayakawa is leading. This also stems from the fact that Hayakawa was J’s senior and taught him the finest techniques to be a butler. In the next round, J’s customer is Ayame. She is going to make him pay for embarrassing her. She makes abnormal requests like wanting freshly picked grapes. Is J going to do it? Haruto uses his corporate muscle to call in his troops to pick and deliver to him! I hope they didn’t have to wait long. Next, she wants J to act like a dog! Grrr! All the girls are mad at this b*tch! However it is Hotaru who acts on his behalf. Then she spills her coffee and wants J to clean up by licking it! Is he going to sully his pride? He carries her away to the backstage so she could clean. Saved! He tells her not to sully her beauty like that. With all the girls so excited, the pushing causes some of the scaffolding to collapse. It is going to fall on Ayame so J uses his super speed to save her. But when that is not enough, Hayakawa protects them. Now you think they’re cool? Hayakawa might have saved him but J won’t thank him as he failed to save Tenna. J is adamant to get Tenna back so Hayakawa tells him to think about her feelings. With this incident, the competition can’t go on and their score is tied. Can we just accept both as the best butlers? Holmes finds it strange because he saw J ‘disappeared’ from stage when it was collapsing.

Episode 5
The mansion is going to be torn down, built anew and refurbished. While the student council guys rejoice, only J is against this. He sees Mikuni about this who says it is by the orders of the chairman who is acting out of safety concerns. The mansion is over 100 years old and might collapse. He knows J lived there with his family but it is time to move on and deal with reality. J cannot accept this so his student council guys decide to help him out. It’s Hotaru’s idea to spread ghost rumours to stop the demolition and bait the detective duo to investigate. Well, don’t try, don’t know. The ghost outfit must be so scary that Haruto freaks out! Cheap jump scare in the form of Dracula sleeping in the closet. At this point Haruto runs out and the detective duo thought they saw some ghost. Haruto slips down the stairs as J uses his super speed to save him. The lights are on and the ‘ghosts’ are busted. But as Holmes investigate the photos they took, he notices large gaps in the footprints left behind by J (I guess his shoes were wet) when he ran to save Haruto. Like as though he jumped through space. This is compounded by the fact of J’s strange moves during the festival. When Akira and Hayakawa return, they find their café ransacked. The money is not stolen so Hayakawa thinks J must be here to steal the pendant. He checks and it is still there. Suddenly J snatches it from him. He waited for him to show where he hid it. J runs away as he tries to activate the pendant. Nothing happens. Frustrated. Suddenly somebody snatches it from him and J gives chase. Meanwhile Holmes does more investigation on J. He realizes he transferred last year, one day after the incident known as Plasma Sky. He remembers seeing Mikuni’s car (he identified it from the tyre tracks?) and stopped to pick up someone. It could be J. His guts tell him something is going on between J and Mikuni. J fights the hooded figure who isn’t Hayakawa because he picked up the pendant that was dropped during the chase. The fight is so powerful that the pillar of the mansion comes crashing down. But J is forced to let the culprit go when he realizes the pillar has crushed Haruto! Oh no!

Episode 6
Thank lady luck because Haruto escaped with minor injuries although is hospitalized. J comes to apologize but he still can’t say anything, souring the mood. Later J talks to Hayakawa about the perpetrator. Based on his movements, he is likely to be another Butler. There might be more Butlers who came from the past. Although the mansion’s demolition is put on hold (Haruto using his father’s influence for it), there are bigger things to worry about. There are nasty posters accusing J of being an irresponsible student council president for hurting Haruto. Hey wait, suddenly everybody hates him! Even the girls?! I thought such rumours would be hard to shake their trust in this hunk. Megane Jerk then wants him to resign and hold new elections and has signed petitions as proof. While J’s buddies stand up for him, shockingly J agrees to resign and views himself unfit to hold that position. He has been forcing his ideals on others and only brought them troubles. His friends sense he isn’t acting like his usual but respects his decision and hope he doesn’t regret it. Even Hayakawa tells him not to shoulder all the blame. J remembers telling Tenna he will protect her himself if he has to. She tells him to rely on others because they are family and the more they work together, the greater their power. Meanwhile Holmes does more investigation. He finds the broken pillar isn’t due to anything natural but via force. Footage around the area shows Hayakawa’s face so he investigates him further and realizes the coincidence that he too has history that only goes back as far as Plasma Sky. J sees Haruto and tells him the whole truth about him being a Butler and from 100 years before. Meanwhile Akira tells Hayakawa his café was named after his grandpa who had weird powers. He shows a mark on his stomach as proof as a descendent. He wonders if Hayakawa is also a descendent because his mark has been tingling ever since he met him. He only says it now after eavesdropping on his conversation with J. But Hayakawa denies he is a descendent. He is from the original family. Haruto needs some time to believe so J lets him touch his bracelet. However it reacts and Haruto suddenly has a mark glowing on his hand. It is proof he is a Butler destined to protect the Blood Spirit and has inherited those powers. Haruto isn’t sure he has such powers but J says it will awakened depending on the person. It might not be his time yet.

Episode 7
J shows Haruto a secret place in the student council room. He reveals his real name is Jay and the other one was created by Mikuni to help him blend in. Pointing the bracelet at the board, a number “2220” pops up. He doesn’t know what it means so he hopes Haruto could help. The same story is being told by Akira to Hayakawa as the former reads out a diary left behind by grandpa. Tenna the priestess had an ability to control space-time. Every 100 years, some space-time distortion will occur and Tenna was supposed to seal it but something went wrong and it threw the Butlers 100 years into the future. As there is someone else trying to get his hands on the pendant, if Tenna knows this, could it be she sent them here to stop the culprit? Suddenly Akira’s owl, P-chan starts to speak. It says about another space-time rift and to gather all Butlers to stop it. Haruto tries to find the connection with the numbers but hits a dead end. As he looks at the map of this place 100 years ago, Ren tells him that the badges of the schools in the area were based on this old map as honour for this town’s development and putting them together creates the old map. Meanwhile there is a strange incident in school. Some students forget why they are even in school! Holmes and Watson investigate this and conclude the culprit is Hotaru. They confront him and accuse him of putting something in his sweets that causes partial memory loss since all those students are from his class. Hotaru denies doing anything so the best way is to investigate his sweets. Holmes pops one in his mouth and he doesn’t know why he is here! Oddly nobody suspects anything so the detective duo leave. J remembers some members of the bloodline could use this ability by using a medium to activate their power. He remembers Hotaru not wanting to study for the test and hoped to forget everything and have fun. He might have unknowingly manifest that power in his candy. When J lets him touch his bracelet, a mark on his chest glows. OMG. Is he one too? You don’t say because Ren also has a mark on the back of his neck glow. Dracula is unamused of all the commotion. He too has a mark on his ear glowing! WTF?! What are the chances?!

Episode 8
J tells his friends the truth. Because the friends have some sort of old jewel passed down by their dads, J confirms that this means their fathers were descendants of Butlers. However Ren finds it hard to believe this time travelling story and special powers thingy. He thinks it is all a prank. Next day, we see the powers of the rest awakening. Like when Haruto touch things, it breaks. Dracula could see the vision of the future and Ren although he might not notice it and claims he is normal, he didn’t realize he broke his alarm clock. Also, Akira displays his invisibility powers to Hayakawa. With Ren continuing to brush this nonsense off, Dracula sees a horrifying vision. He sees unconscious Ren covered in blood at school. The rest race out to find him. Ren is horrified when he starts bending things out of shape and grows boobs! WTF???!!! OMG! It’s true! Confused and embarrassed, he runs and hides as his friends try to look for him. They finally find him but Ren refuses their help. As Ren ponders what he should do next, his power activates, causing the railing to bend and he falls off. J uses his speed to save him. But he accidentally kicks and spills red paint. Hence Dracula’s vision came true. But what bugged me was why the f*ck did J put Ren on the paint! Sure, it is to line up with Dracula’s vision but really, putting Ren on the paint he spilled?! Anyway, Ren thanks everyone and finally comes to accept about such powers. Dracula sees another vision on J this time but doesn’t say. Haruto and J continue to find out the meaning of the numbers. Nothing. Perhaps they are looking at it the wrong way. Taking a closer look, they realize it isn’t numbers. It could be a symbol. Like this zero is actually a circled shape symbol.

Episode 9
Flashback shows Tenna brought J to a room and showed him something. Hayakawa explains to Akira about this world having many layers. If the power of the pendant is set free, it is possible to enter that space-time rift. But if that rift is left alone, it will swallow up the world. Hence a ritual that can only be done by the Blood Spirit priestess is required. The detective duo enter to interrogate Hayakawa about his connection to J and everything. He is not answering until he mentions a similar Plasma Sky incident happened 5 years ago. Back to Haruto’s deduction of the bracelet’s number. Putting the maps together, 222 refers to the address of this mansion. And nobody actually thought of that remotely? As the map of the city is perfect for some feng shui leylines thingy, the mansion is right smack in the centre. The zero is actually a symbol. They think it is a message left behind by Tenna to find that thing with that symbol in this mansion. What could it be? Looks like J might have hit it. It is a prayer room that Tenna uses. Nobody uses it since no electricity. There is that circle thingy. J activates it and finds a letter from Tenna inside. Hayakawa reveals to the detective about the truth of himself. It is believed that another person from his timeline may have come here 5 years ago. They think it is Mikuni since that was when he became the headmaster. Also, the incident of him picking up J might not be a coincidence and he might knew J would show up. The duo leave to get statements from people who are close to Mikuni. J reads the letter from Tenna addressed to him. Doing so means something has happened to her. She knew somebody was after her pendant but doesn’t know why. She sent Hayakawa to investigate. She assures him whatever happened is her decision. If she ever needs her powers, go see Hayakawa as she has given him the key to her power. Angry J confronts Hayakawa and realizes he knew everything from the start. He wants him to hand over the pendant right now. Since Hayakawa won’t, the only way left is to fight. The detective duo see Hikari. He doesn’t say much until Holmes touches him. His power activates (why am I not surprised) as he sees his memories that he is the culprit who hurt Haruto (why am I not surprised?). At the same time, Watson too has his mark glow. Damn, all the characters sure are related to Butlers, huh? Hikari attacks them.

Episode 10
Mikuni gives Satsuki eat Hotaru’s candy. Now she has lost her memories, he makes an excuse she was supposed to be with him. And just like that she agrees? It’s not like she is under mind control, right? I wonder how the student council guys could identify Watson’s scream from afar. If not for them, the detective duo would have been toast as Haruto and Ren use their power to stop Hikari who in turn escape. It seems Watson’s power is to restore lost memories so Holmes now remember everything. Seeing that all of them are Butlers, they decide to share info on what is going on. Akira spots Mikuni and Satsuki heading to the rooftop. He follows them via invisibility. He spots Hikari returning to him. It seems Hikari is working for him so as they could return back in time and Hikari will get to see his dead parents again. Because Akira is spotted, Mikuni has Hikari take care of him. Hayakawa explains to J about the bloodlines being able to go to other timelines. Because some use it for selfish reasons, it starts changing the past and this threatens the world. Only the Blood Spirit priestess is able to seal it and it was Tenna’s fate and duty that she chose to sacrifice herself to save the world and sent the duo to the future. Tenna knew she would be interrupted in the ritual and hence did what she had to. However J doesn’t believe him. He thinks it is excuses. He is still going to save Tenna and nothing is more important in the world than Tenna’s life. Yeah, the whole world can die but even if you save Tenna, no world to live in, how? The fight continues as J accuses him of not saying things and Tenna means nothing to him. That’s when Hayakawa admits he too loves Tenna. Even now. He loved her smiles but she never did so to him but only for J. He doesn’t exists in Tenna’s heart because J was already there. Tenna loves J. This revelation sure weakens J. Hence it is Hayakawa’s duty to protect J and prevent him from going back to the past to do something futile after Tenna sacrificed her life to save him. Suddenly Mikuni stops time on them and lets Hikari steal their pendants. They try to get it back but looks like the storm for the rift is here.

Episode 11
Dracula tells the gang to hurry because it is this vision he saw J being sucked up into the storm. As J fights Hikari, the latter tells him not to get in their way. In fact, J should be on their side as they have the same goal. He brings J to Mikuni. Conveniently all the other friends are here too so we don’t have to explain everything twice. As expected, Mikuni is the mastermind behind everything. As all of them are Butlers, he put all of them together especially the student council members as when they awakened as Butlers, their pendant would resonate. It took a while as their bloodline was thinning. Mikuni mocks J for being more gullible and easier to control than Tenna. He is the guy who was after Tenna’s pendant. The storm kicks up and suddenly time stops. Those who are of the bloodline can only move. Hayakawa meets up with Akira. They notice Mikuni’s cat can still move as it has a pendant on it. J realizes Mikuni’s plan to travel through time and space. When he tries to get close to him, Hikari whips him. Akira tries to reason with Hikari about wanting to see his dead parents. Can he rationalize that you cannot get what is lost? You cannot go back and change time? I thought you can in this anime?! With Mikuni assuring he will grant his wish, Hikari still sticks to him. Hayakawa throws Mikuni his pendant from the cat. It is proof he is once a Butler but because of a crack on it, it proves he was casted out. Mikuni explains there were 2 factions of the bloodline. Those who tried to seal the distortion every time it occurs and those who go back in time to stop it. Mikuni’s parents is the latter. But when they did so, they were caught between the feud of both sides. They died before his eyes. He lost everything. His goal is to go back a thousand years to stop all this crap that happened. More revelation as Mikuni approached Tenna during the ritual. He offered her to come to the past to fix things but she declined. Before he knew it, he was sent to this world. It’s not his fault he disappeared but it was her choice. She might have risked her life to save the world but she wouldn’t have died if the ritual didn’t exist. As they cannot agree, Mikuni uses Satsuki as his hostage. Using Hayakawa’s key the pendant activates. He coaxes J who has been silent since to join them. Will J go back in time to save Tenna and destroy this world? Looks like it…

Episode 12
Surprising but not surprising, J’s intention to get close to Mikuni is so he could save Satsuki. With the hostage out of the way, our Butlers can now fight to their hearts content. Because Hikari failed to stop the duo, it is an excuse from evil Mikuni to dump him away and head into the storm. As the rest treats him, Watson’s power restore his memories, important words mom said to him. I guess this means he switched allegiance. J and Mikuni continue their fight. J explains he will not go back to the past because this is the world Tenna chose and he will protect it. J almost gets sucked into the storm but Hikari redeems himself using his vine to pull him back. You know, I thought Mikuni could have easily entered the storm and go back in time had he not stick around to fight them. More J truths as he tries to open Mikuni’s eyes. He thinks what he is doing will bring about more sacrifices for the future. That’s why they’re not supposed to try to redo it. At that point, the pendant and all the Butler marks start to resonate. They form Tenna?! I figure this is the last chance for her and J to properly say goodbye. Tenna becomes a pendant again in J’s hands. Upset Mikuni becomes desperate to get it back. Hayakawa fights him while telling J how to use the pendant and the key to seal it. In the final fight, J defeats Mikuni. J could have saved Mikuni from entering the vortex but Mikuni lets go of his hand and warns he will regret this. With things returning to normal, J explains the path he chose. They have to live with their mistakes and regrets. He is just sad he cannot see Tenna again. I guess it’s time for J to really cry his heart out as Hayakawa consoles him he is not alone. He has his friends. In the aftermath, it is the start of a new school term. Ren is now a college student and Dracula surprisingly decides not to skip classes. Hikari too returns to school although he has to repeat a year but is happier. Everyone except J and Hayakawa lost their Butler powers. Nobody thinks much of that stormy incident since it is reported that a tornado destroyed the mansion. With no place to hang out, Hayakawa offers his café. But just be ready to put on a butler outfit. For a happy ending, J meets a new freshman. A girl who has this uncanny resemblance to Tenna. Glad you stayed in this world, eh?

Butler Buster: A Wrinkle In Time
You know, somehow I felt ‘cheated’. When I read the synopsis, I read that it is about 2 handsome butlers travelling through time to fight their archenemy. In addition to fighting the supernatural, they also experience a slapstick comedy life at their school. WHERE THE HECK WAS ALL THAT????!!!! My perception is that despite the cool and butler-like display of the main characters, kind and polite to the girls who would always faint from their excessive swooning, behind the scenes they would be fighting monsters, invading aliens and even the Demon King himself to keep the peace of the world and the school they attend! WHERE WAS ALL THAT I EXPECTED?????!!!!! And hence because they had to juggle with their school life as well as their secret identity, the hectic and frenzy life of both sides is what causes for all the slapstick hijinks and misfortunes. It will always be a close shave for them to keep their identity a secret and play out the perfect butlers they are before the normal ordinary people. Yup. BUT WHERE THE HELL WAS ALL THAT????!!!! THERE WAS LITERALLY NONE OF THAT!!!!! Even if those were all my fantasies and ridiculous expectation, the biggest lie in the synopsis that broke the camel’s back was the slapstick comedy part. There is literally none here. This is not a slapstick comedy. See Gintama if you want to know what slapstick comedy is.

Therefore the entire series is one big supernatural drama as we try to guess the secrets behind J and Hayakawa’s past and when everything is pieced together, it wasn’t anything that spectacular. Sure, there were a few funny moments, but nothing that would actually constitute me to even think it is close to being a slapstick comedy. If Haruto being afraid of ghosts is funny (that was just average funny), then I suppose Ren growing boobs was funnier, huh? Anyhow, it doesn’t make it anywhere close to being a slapstick comedy. Damn you synopsis! You lied to me so you made me watch your series! And there weren’t even maids in this series!!!!

So if you just take a look at the plot itself, it is nothing really spectacular. Just a couple of Butlers or rather just J himself trying to get back to his own time to save his beloved sister. It’s really that simple and that boring. So when he learns the truth (AKA plot twist) that Mikuni is the mastermind and the biggest crook behind it all, he has a change of heart. Good guy changes and accepts reality, lives with what he has now, bad guy is defeated and all leads to a happy ending. Besides, I think a plot this simple would be better and much welcomed for me because if they’re talking about going back to the past and change the timeline, woah, that’s going to bring about a whole lot of can of worms. Because you know, if J actually went back and saved Tenna, would the current world still be around? It would most likely be destroyed or become non-existent as Mikuni implied. Different timelines, different characters, different outcomes and a whole lot of new headache. Something my puny mind can’t handle and probably not enough episodes for this series to flesh out.

Even when the gang tries to deduce the 2220 code, it somehow makes me feel that everything explained is just out of convenience. J has never been able to guess it before probably because he is so preoccupied thinking about his days with Tenna and trying to get back there. And then all of a sudden with everyone gathered, Haruto finally found the solution. Not very sure of Haruto is a problem solver but that kind of puzzle solving, I thought if the detective duo explained it, it would have at least looked more probable. Heck, when J and Hayakawa first entered the current timeline, you mean nobody got suspicious when the duo just popped out of nowhere?! They continue life like normal like as though they’ve blended in here for years. Sure, Mikuni and Akira might have taken them in but as for other people in the area, don’t they just question where the heck they came from? “Yo, sir. Haven’t seen you around in this parts before? New here?”. You know. That.

Character wise, nothing exciting either. With a lot of the spotlight on J, the rest of the other characters feel side-lined. There is nothing more about them you would know that has been explicitly stated. Like Dracula who is the son of the financier of his academy. That’s it. That’s why he is able to laze around without getting expelled. Haruto looks like he has corporate connections here and there. We see him only exercising that might once. And that’s about it. How well do you know about Ren and Aoba? Hikari just wants to see his dead parents. That’s it. More disappointing as these guys are the detective duo. You just see them snoop around and Holmes on the verge of hitting something but usually falls short. Sometimes I feel that they are redundant and their roles are just for convenience sake. In other words, many of these characters I feel only exist to prop up the numbers of handsome looking men. Otherwise, outside J and Hayakawa, perhaps 2 or 3 characters would probably be more than sufficient. That is, even if they get their due screen time and decent fleshing out.

So we got all the main and supporting male characters as Butlers. Isn’t that surprising? When the student council members started to have their powers awakening, I started to have a hunch that probably everyone else would also have that kind of power. What do you know? They all are! He’s a Butler! You’re a Butler! Everybody is a Butler! How convenient. The only character whom I predicted but did not make the cut of becoming a Butler is that Megane Jerk. Damn, it sure would have been interesting if this arrogant dude was actually a Butler. Because he would have given J a run for his money as a Butler regardless of what purpose he had.

With these characters being Butlers, it still doesn’t make things better for you see, many of them just use them once or twice and then that’s it. So much so it looked more like convenience to advance the plot or to put in some drama. Like that episode where Ren’s powers started to manifest and he can’t accept it. Because the final climatic battle scene is mostly between Mikuni, J and Hayakawa. The rest are just standing there like observers. Probably they want to settle it on their own but making the rest of them as descendants of the bloodline sounds redundant. I suppose conveniently when time stopped, those concerned can only move. Oddly and conveniently, it took 2 generations for the bloodline to thin out, hence the lame excuse for these characters’ power to disappear for good. If so, how the heck did their ancestors maintain their bloodline without thinning for generations? No Tenna = No Blood Spirit = No bloodline continuation?

Talking about J himself, this guy is really annoying. He isn’t as cool as Sebastian of Kuroshitsuji but if they were the same, many would call it a rip-off and rip this series to shreds. Instead, J as mentioned is more concerned about returning to the past all for Tenna’s sake. From the outside and to other students who don’t know him, he is the perfect guy whom every girl would die for (until that accusation episode in which just threw that belief out the window). Otherwise being a cold and distant dude even among his peers make him look like an irritating bastard. Heck, I even believed Haruto to have better personality than him.

Hayakawa makes up the other mysterious half to J. Most of the entire series keeps teasing us about their relationship. Like I said, the so called ‘charm’ of this series is to keep us guessing their secret past and once that is revealed, you think back and realized that it isn’t such a great deal after all. Although it looked like Hayakawa could have just solved everything if he just told J the truth, but in addition to the much needed drama, would J have listened had Hayakawa told the whole truth and nothing but the truth? As seen once, the Tenna-obsessed J wouldn’t. Hence bringing more conflict to the table. Otherwise, Hayakawa is a cooler character than J, more taciturn, mature and looking over J as his little junior. Yeah, it’s sad to think about it that Tenna prefers J more than Hayakawa but I guess that’s love for you.

Tenna is the only other main female character although she is mostly a side character and only exists in flashbacks and the past. Again, a lot of troubles would have been avoided if she would have made her words clear to J but like in Hayakawa’s case, would J have believed her? At that point in time, perhaps no. So maybe her sacrifice wasn’t just to save this world but to open J’s naïve eyes. Thank goodness he did or her death would have been in vain. The other ‘prominent’ female is Satsuki but clearly she doesn’t play much of a role. Aside surprising us she is Aoba’s sister and being a hostage that didn’t amount to anything. Oh, I almost forgot about Ayame. She’s just a b*tch right? After that failed attempt to embarrass J during a stage competition, I was thinking she would turn into a tsundere. Nah. Just negligible.

Mikuni has been suspicious from the start. My guts were ringing that there is something more to than meets the eye to this headmaster. Firstly, his voice already sounds very suspicious. I don’t know. Maybe it is just me. If a character has this kind of sound, call it bias or stereotype but I would definitely be a bit cautious hearing this kind of voice. Secondly, there are short snippets of hinting Mikuni doing shady things. It could be red herring but it came out as I predicted about him being the main antagonist. Because J vs Hayakawa is like Batman vs Superman, no? Even if they show his tragic flashback, it doesn’t feel sympathetic enough that you want to sympathize with his cause. Heck, if the time stops forever in this world or it gets destroyed in the process because the storm went out of control, I’m still fine with that outcome too seeing my sentiments for this series is already going south without any chance of recovery.

Perhaps one of the reasons one would watch this series is because of the host of bishonen men here. That is what mainly the art and animation style here. It is a good thing that everybody here looks good. Even supposedly the ‘delinquents’. But this isn’t entirely a male series as there are also bishoujo looking females. After all, when you have a bevy of hot hunks, having not cute girls fawning and idolizing them would be a waste. This isn’t after all a totally masculine gay show. Looking at you, Binan Koukou Chikyuu Bouei-bu Love. There are some scenes that I noticed there is a dip in quality especially the fast fighting scenes but it’s not too obvious that it becomes irritating. Oh, did I notice some recycled scenes? This series is produced by Silver Link who did Strike The Blood, Kokoro Connect, Masamune-kun No Revenge, Busou Shoujo Machiavellianism, Non Non Biyori and Baka To Test To Shoukanjuu.

Voice acting is nothing spectacular. Except for the moment when J gets really mad and starts screaming, man, he sounds really mad. The casts are Tatsuhisa Suzuki as J (Ban in Nanatsu No Taizai), Takuya Satou as Hayakawa (Sasajima in Nana Maru San Batsu), Toshiyuki Tonaga as Haruto (Tsukumo in Nanbaka), Mitsuki Saiga as Ren (Phantom in MAR), Takuma Nagatsuka as Aoba (Akira in Nana Maru San Batsu), Noriaki Sugiyama as Mikuni (Shirou in Fate series), Kenn as Dracula (Jinbei in Mushibugyou), Seiichirou Yamashita as Holmes (Kakeru in Orange), Kazuaki Kobayashi as Watson, Keisuke Koumoto as Hikari (Tazuki in Miira No Kaikata), Tomoaki Maeno as Akira (Schubert in ClassicaLoid), Sachika Misawa as Tenna (Sakuyo in Mahou Shoujo Ore),Yuu Wakui as Ayame (Yoko in Sansha Sanyou) and Risa Taneda as Satsuki (Erina in Shokugeki No Souma).

The opening theme, Growth Arrow by Oldcodex is hard rock style and would have been very much suitable had this been overwhelming a butler battle action series. Sure, this series has its share of fight scene but it is not as intense and you wouldn’t really feel it is suitable for such a hard rock music to be played. Even as an opening theme. The ending theme on the other hand, Hidamari No Niwa by Sachika Misawa is quite a slow and lovely ballad. Then again, thinking of the pacing of this series, it also doesn’t quite fit as an ending theme. Sure, the song by itself as it is would be okay but after watching an episode and then hearing this song, somehow it just don’t feel right. But I suppose this is the only place where you get the hear Tenna’s voice more often. Uh huh. She has more singing lines than speaking lines. Just saying…

Overall, just your average butler story with a pinch of supernatural and (nearly) time travelling elements. Personally, only to be let down after realizing there was no slapstick comedy element as I was hoping for as stated in the synopsis. Even so, the plot and characters are mediocre. Mostly out of convenience and like as though they gave us a bevy of hot handsome guys in hopes you could forgive and overlooks this mediocrity. Sorry, guys. I’m not really into butlers. If I was given the key and pendant to go back in time, I would have somehow make the producers make a maid version of this. I would definitely watch that no matter how much it sucks. Yeah…

Ani Ni Tsukeru Kusuri Wa Nai

September 28, 2018

Imagine if you have someone so irritating and always doing such idiotic stuffs that you want to beat him up to your heart’s content. You can never get rid of that person ever and even more so that person is your brother. Folks, welcome to the world of Ani Ni Tsukeru Kusuri Wa Nai. Her brother is so idiotic to a point that it makes her want to explode, she would use violence on him. Every time. And he never learns. See people, violence is proof that it is never a way to solve things. But it sure makes you feel good when taking out those exploding frustrations.

Episode 1
Shi Mao and Shi Fen are at the sausage stand. It looks delicious and she wants to buy it. However he refuses claiming there are leftovers in the fridge. It is that nikujaga dish she loves so much. Indeed. If it was 6 days ago. But he kept adding weird stuffs in it that it is no longer a nikujaga dish. It’s some mysterious dark thing now! She blames him for always eating snacks and hence they have no money for food. But thankfully today she can buy a sausage with her own pocket money. After doing so, she sees his cursing face. At this rate it won’t taste so good. So she offers him to take a bite. That guy swallowed the whole thing in a single bite! No prizes to guess she beats the crap out of him. Oh, did I mention that Shi Mao is good in martial arts while her brother is just a useless guy. No specialty, no girlfriend, no knowledge, no guts. No kidding, I’m sure.

Episode 2
Shi Mao sees a group of guys taking her brother away. It seems they want him to pay back the money they loaned or else you know what these baseball bats will do, right? He can’t pay back. Before they can start, Shi Mao gets in between and asks. She whacks Shi Fen when he tries to act cool like protecting her. The guys feel odd as the sister harasses the cowardly brother on what’s going on. Then they take Shi Mao as hostage. Bring the money or else. Shi Fen agrees to do so and has them wait while he goes get it. But Shi Mao knows better. He is not coming back and has run away. She is going to show them how to deal with this idiot. She chases after him and beats the hell out of him! Those guys must be so scared they call the police after witnessing this brutality!

Episode 3
Shi Fen sees a little brother protecting his little sister from crows. He believes this is how it should be as he reflects on his not so perfect circumstances. Yeah, who always gets beaten up? So when Shi Mao scraped her knee from a hurdle practice, he decides to show off how cool he is by carrying her to the infirmary. Only problem is, he has no strength to even lift her! She’s waiting… After a while, he decides to carry her on his back. No strength to even stand up. This is taking too long. She then threatens to kill him if he doesn’t get his ass moving… Somebody is going to get more than just injured.

Episode 4
Shi Fen forgot to bring his meal card so Shi Mao reluctantly lends hers. However he goes to show it off to his friend, Kai Xin who has forgotten his. He makes his friend go buy some food with the card. Meanwhile Shi Mao’s friend, Miao Miao lends her card to her. However it has no more credit! With no cash, the cafeteria lady is breathing down her neck! Thankfully here comes her prince charming. Kai Xin offers to pay for her portion. Grateful Shi Mao will pay him back but he thinks that since this is Shi Fen’s card, he says no need. Shi Mao is so in love with this guy now. Later Shi Fen realizes he forgot to give her back the card when he hears her chasing him. When she beats him up, he finds she has this weird expression on her face. Like as though a girl in love…

Episode 5
Shi Mao is still daydreaming of Kai Xin. She is sad he isn’t at the cafeteria and can’t repay him. But she can still fantasize about him… What’s a girl in love got to do? But later as she leaves, she bumps into him outside. Flustered, she tries to pay him back but he says that card was from his friend. He will bring him here for her to personally thank him. Kai Xin tells Shi Fen that a cute girl wants to see her. That guy immediately gets up and has the cheek to tell his friend not to come because the girl only wants to see her! Imagine the shock when both siblings see each other? It’s no surprise she beats him up. As they are still unaware of each other’s intention and they won’t say, they keep waiting there until night time… Nobody else is showing up…

Episode 6
There is a buffet at half price but only for couples. Shi Fen wants Shi Mao to masquerade as one but it seems she has her pride and won’t do it. Hence he calls Kai Xin to be his couple! OMG! Gay???!!! Yeah, food more important than pride! After taking an odd couple photo, they pig out at the buffet table. They realize there is a penalty to pay if they waste food. Realizing they have taken too much and cannot finish, Shi Fen hits a devilish idea. When the waiter cleans up, he notices the cups oddly stacked. They hide the excess food in there! And under the plates too! In the aftermath, a photo of them is placed outside and a notice that they are banned from the premise. Shi Mao sees this and sees her prince charming. She is confused why he is with her stupid brother. Even more disturbing, are they gay?

Episode 7
Shi Fen finds it odd that Shi Mao asked him to accompany her to the festival. He wonders if there is a guy she would have asked out. This makes her fluster as Kai Xin’s face pops up. She is very curious to ask him but her obviously flustered face will only make it obvious. Shi Fen offers to shoot some prizes for her. He missed all his shots. Blaming the gun, huh? Until the bullets somehow ricochet and hit Shi Mao, she beats him up and takes over. All her shots hit. Yeah, she might ruin the stall. For the last shot to get a perfect game, she has to shoot a lion plushie that has an uncanny resemblance to Kai Xin. She panics and misses. On the way back, she blames him for taking her to this shooting gallery and beats him up. Poor guy didn’t even know what he did.

Episode 8
Banzai is a rich kid and he insists he wants to go to a normal high school. Those group of punks are already surrounding him for money but luckily his butler beats them up and hopes he would rethink his decision. Banzai claims that being born into a wealthy family, tall and having good looks made him very popular with girls. That is not true love. He wants to lead a normal life and believes this high school is it. Because there is ‘ordinary’ in its name. After introducing himself in class, as usually the girls swoon over him. He sits next to Kai Xin and Shi Fen and thinks they are normal people. Until Kai Xin asks if he is rich. How does he know? The school badge on the uniform he is wearing. Yeah, Shi Fen is already asking for money! Banzai lies that he is poor and only got in because of his good grades. So when the exam results come out, Banzai actually fared worse than the duo! And they didn’t even pass! This makes them think they can actually enter that high class school after scoring higher than the ‘genius’!

Episode 9
Still thinking about Kai Xin, Shi Mao? Oh, somebody’s ringing at the door. It’s Banzai. And Kai Xin. The moment she sees him, she slams the door. Got the wrong house? They are here to celebrate Shi Fen’s birthday. Banzai gives him a rare onyx stone as present but looks like this idiot doesn’t know how to appreciate it. Kai Xin has a hideous drawing instead. The oddest part is how Shi Mao acts like an overly cute sister to celebrate with them. Like a totally different person. Creepy? From her acting, Shi Fen deduces she is in love. But which guy? He tries to think from her perspective and thinks it is Banzai. Yeah, he almost pass off that flirting face to that rich guy. Creepy? Shi Mao sees Kai Xin’s drawing and finally learns his name.

Episode 10
Shi Fen calls Banzai to meet. Then he punches him! He explains that Shi Mao is in love with him. But how can he tell if he never ascertained it with her? Easy. If he was a girl, he would fall in love with him! Creepy! After school, Shi Fen confronts Shi Mao. He hints he knows her feelings she is hiding and is giving her permission. At first she flusters thinking he has discovered the truth. Then he introduces her to Banzai and hopes they could be a good couple. To Shi Mao’s horror, she sees her dumb brother and Kai Xin applauding them. Kai Xin even congratulates her! She reaches boiling point and beats up Banzai. Shi Fen knows what is going to happen next and runs! Too bad she catches him and beats him up big time! Man, it’s a miracle if he survives all that. Kai Xin is so confused that he thinks a girl’s heart is complicated. Yes indeed…

Episode 11
Shi Mao is depressed ever since. So much so Shi Fen could coolly walk over and steal her food with no repercussions! Of course Shi Fen is upset because she has not used violence on him ever since! He tells his friends her dream was to take up arts but made a mistake and took up martial arts. Every day has been hell for him since. So he is lonely now without that? Is he a masochist? Hence Kai Xin goes to talk to Shi Mao directly about Shi Fen. It made her feel a little better and this gives her the courage to say that she is not in love with Banzai. Kai Xin will tell it to him. In the aftermath as Shi Fen waltzes in to steal her food, she defends it perfectly and beats him up! We can see her happy face while doing so and also his happy face while receiving it. Ah, all is well and fine.

Episode 12
I forgive you if you mistake those pretty sounds of the fireworks. It’s not. It’s Shi Mao incessantly slapping her brother for drinking her milk tea without permission!!! After forcing him to buy a new one for her, she wants him to buy fireworks. He is so broken today. Financially and perhaps physically. Morally too maybe. Since he has no money, they watch a father and son play fireworks. I guess the latter duo got a bit shy and let them have their leftovers. Shi Mao manages to find a lighter on the street as they try to light it up. Finally it does and they have their own mini spectacle. Until Shi Fen accidentally kicks and spills her milk tea. Oh boy. Here we go again. She has to tone down the violence since their friends are here but that doesn’t stop her of still wanting to get him.

Our Idiot Brother
Oh great. Good news. Apparently there was a second season of it. And double the number of episodes too! The irony is that while I was browsing on what animes to check out for the particular season, I stumbled upon this series. Hold on a second. A series with a second season in which a first season that I have not heard of? Maybe I did but it was so obscure that I completely forgot all about it as there were other ‘hot’ anime series to be put on my priority watch list then. Besides, the first season came out in mid-2017 and the sequel around a year later. So thank goodness for this coincidental stumbling? Definitely.

With only 3 minutes per episode, there isn’t much going on and hence everything has to be nonsensical and in fast paced. I’m not saying that everything zooms by in a flash that leaves you scratching your heads but the main purpose of this short comedy is to make you laugh and it sure did hit the mark. The plot might not be really exciting and original since it is generally as the daily lives of a pair of siblings who are often at odds with each other. Perhaps the formula works because cartoonish violence is used? Is this why watching old Warner Bros cartoons like Bugs Bunny and that Road Runner Show, we can never get tired of their silly antics? Yup, it feels the same here. Because the violence is in cartoonish style, we are more inclined to think that it is okay and that it is all for comical effect. Which is exactly what it is intended for. But in this sense some may argue the comedy is childish and definitely not for mature audiences as it could easily border annoying. But since it works for me, I give it a thumbs up!

The series is made funnier with the characters who are just oddballs themselves. Especially Shi Fen who acts like he is cool but his imagination is stronger than what he is in reality. Hence the comical effect that he shows off like an idiot, only to fail and fall flat in the end. For this kind of joke to be a running joke of the series, hence I figure that Shi Fen’s idiocy is the kind that makes him sort of like Superman. You know, it goes all the way back to Urusei Yatsura with the main character being an idiotic pervert. No matter how many times you pound or whack that Ataru jerk, he never gets injured and keeps coming back without learning anything. The same can be said for Shi Fen. He is able to withstand all the beating and bone breaking moves that his sister does on him that normally a normal person would have easily died or end up in coma. Because of that, Shi Fen doesn’t learn and continues to torment and be tormented. Yikes, like as though he is a masochist. Which one of the episode almost definitely confirms it. Yeah, he feels like home whenever Shi Mao beats him up. So used to it, eh? Ah, that is what you call family. I think.

In this age where such excessive violence (even if it is comical) is used on one particular character, I can’t help to think what happened if the genders were reversed. Uh huh. See where I am going with this? It’s sad that I have come up with this thought despite I don’t feel offended in anyway. Because this makes me wonder if all this is really acceptable had Shi Fen being the one who beats up Shi Mao who is then portrayed as a stupid character. No siree. We will not stand for any form of violence against women, you misogynist chauvinist pig. Sure, there are very idiotic female characters but I don’t remember they get the abuse to this extend. Even if they do, the bully would most likely be female.

Anyway, it is understandable why Shi Mao often takes it out on her brother since he is a total jerk and idiot. He is like her personal punching bag but only for almost all the time. Besides, I think she takes it out on him not only because he pisses her off but also out of pity. Remember what she said about Shi Fen having nothing? No this, no that. Nothing to his name. So I guess with him being a punching bag, it gives him some sort of assurance and existence. Yeah, twisted logic but hey, every family is dysfunctional if you find flaws in everything. Shi Mao tries to be nice to her brother but he usually blows it. Ah well, you can choose your friends but not your family. In her case, her brother.

The rest of the other characters are rather okay but they don’t distract us too much from the siblings. Like Kai Xin who is basically the same idiot as Shi Fen but just slightly to a lesser degree. Probably he lives up to the meaning of his name by being happy. Always having that happy look. He exists to give that little plot of misunderstanding for Shi Mao to fall in love. Funny how misunderstandings could make Shi Mao fall for this dude. Oh, if she only knew the truth. But I guess that is love and love really makes you blind. I wonder how devastating it would be for her had she known the entire truth. Even more devastating for Shi Fen because no prizes to guess what will happen to this poor chap. Banzai is introduced late but I feel that his character as introduced is only to serve as this mini love triangle complication. Other than that, rich kid wants to be a normie… Pfft. Why is the grass always greener on the other side? Miao Miao feels like an extra background character even though she is Shi Mao’s best friend. But she is so lacking in appearance or role that she might as well be a nameless character. Hopefully the next season would bring in more character development even if it’s just a little bit.

The art and animation style looks like it is done using Flash. Yup, it’s that one kind animation but it doesn’t feel so bad as the characters look a bit cartoonish as well. After all, this series was released on the web so I suppose it must be the way to animate things. Perhaps one reason why this series was obscure is because it was based on a Chinese manhua. Yup, you should have noticed the very Chinese-like name and some Chinese influenced elements. Hence the cartoonish looks of the series somewhat hides both the Chinese style and Japanese anime style of art. Plus, this series was jointly produced by Imagineer and Fanworks who did Flash based shorts such as Gakkatsu and Aggressive Retsuko.

Yuuichi Nakamura as recognizable as Shi Fen as his somewhat angsty voice here reminds me of some of his trademark similar sounding characters like Gray in Fairy Tail, Tomoya in Clannad and Kyousuke of OreImo. The other casts are Sora Amamiya as Shi Mao (Aqua in Kono Subarashii Sekai Ni Shukufuku Wo), Kensho Ono as Kai Xin (titular character in Tanaka-kun Wa Itsumo Kedaruge), Natsuki Hanae as Banzai (Sieg in Fate/Apocrypha) and Chitose Morinaga as Miao Miao (Umiko in New Game). The opening theme, Sunny Side Up by Brian The Sun is quite a lively and catchy rock piece that certainly suits the theme of this series. Hmm… Maybe the reason why it sounds good is because it sounds strangely similar to the other anime song they sang: Heroes of Boku No Hero Academia (the first season’s ending theme).

Overall, this is quite a funny and entertaining short comical piece. I am hoping to catch the second season. If it gets subbed anyway. Heck, I think that is the reason why I missed this series entire in the first place too. It was not completely subbed when it came out and only by chance after I stumbled upon this series, I noticed that it only had complete subtitles for all its episodes in early 2018. But this show is definitely not a role model for those with intense sibling rivalry. Misunderstandings aplenty, sure. But turning into a fighting game character and pulling off vicious combos? Leave that to the animated realm. Like they say, violence never solves anything but it sure makes you feel good when you hit something. And hence the vicious cycle of violence continues…

Golden Kamuy

September 23, 2018

Initially I was going to give Golden Kamuy the pass. I know, over the years the biasness and stereotypes of certain anime genres are a big part in how I make my decisions to watch a certain anime of the season. So when I saw that historical genre tag for this series, I was quick to cast it aside. You know, I had too many animes to watch so I need to downsize! Yeah… But then again my guts told me something else. It told me to properly read the synopsis. Just read it. And then boom! Suddenly I found myself interested to check out what this series is about. Soldier dude and Ainu girl pairing up to find a lost heap of gold stolen from the Ainu people. It’s not only them chasing after the gold but other criminals and military soldiers as well. So, historical Japanese version of Indiana Jones?

Episode 1
Saichi Sugimoto is nicknamed Immortal Sugimoto because of his miraculous survival against all odds during the Russo-Japanese war. Now that the war is over, he is still poor and panning for gold in some river. Accompanied by some drunk guy, he is being told of a rumour that could make him rich. There was this guy who stole loads of goal from the Ainu tribe that he slain and hid it somewhere in Hokkaido. However he was caught and sentenced to death. Before they did so, he was tortured and the tendons in his leg cut to avoid running away. He never told anybody. Because he still needed to tell his comrades, he tattooed codes all over the other prisoners’ body that would reveal the location of the treasure. Only his comrades outside can decipher it. Oddly, why and how did the guards even allow this? Anyway to crack the code, all prisoners are needed. Of course the authorities got greedy and one day decided to transfer them out. It was part of their plan to escape. The prisoners killed the guards and ran away as part of the deal was whoever finds the treasure gets to keep half of it. Sugimoto dreams of his best friend who died in the war and his last request was to take care of his wife’s failing eyes and hopes he could take her to an American doctor for a cure. The drunk guy realizes he has said too much and is going to kill him. This only makes Sugimoto believe his story. He fails to kill him and runs away. Sugimoto thinks of hunting him down before he gets a chance to return to kill him. However that guy is already dead. Yup, he became bear fodder. Look at the hole in his guts! But Sugimoto has to ‘save’ this corpse since he spots tattoo all over his body. Yes, he is one of the escaped convicts.

Sugimoto’s fears come true when the bear returns. Thankfully for this petite Ainu girl, Asirpa she manages to kill it. However upon opening its gut and finding it empty, this bear didn’t eat the prisoner. Asirpa fears the only bear who could do this are those who could not hibernate and is in a foul mood. The worst of the worst. Since it is getting dark and Sugimoto can’t just leave the corpse, he tells Asirpa the story. He needs her help as he needs the money. Surprisingly, she believes him. Because her father was one of the slain Ainu people. Night fall as Asirpa makes the necessary preparations to stave off the moody bear. I wonder how the bear can creep on them in this snow. I know it’s dark but they should have sensed something this big close. Sugimoto gets pinned down as he tells Asirpa not to shoot her arrow as she might hit him in the dark. The saviour comes in the form of a white Ezo wolf. It distracts the bear enough for Sugimoto to pick up his bayonet and stab its heart. End of the nightmare. Asirpa gives Sugimoto the credit for killing the bear so she points out certain parts he can sell for a high price. Sugimoto reasons that the gold hasn’t been found yet since this guy is hiding out here. The man who killed her father may still be alive in prison. The government won’t kill him until they find the gold. Finding the gold is a way to avenge her father’s death. She need not dirty his hands, just lend him her wisdom. He wants money, she wants revenge. Together they will be unstoppable.

Episode 2
We see Asirpa putting squirrel traps. The duo arrive in Otaru, the biggest port city in Hokkaido. They believe this is where the prisoners will be hiding as hiding in small villages will only make them stand out. They ask around for men with weird tattoos but none has seen any. They noticed a suspicious guy tailing them and they lead him straight into their squirrel trap. He is one of those prisoners as he reveals that he doesn’t know where the rest are. After the prisoners escaped, they started killing each other upon realizing things. Because of the way the tattoos are inked on their bodies, you have to skin them. This means the mastermind never intended to have them alive. As part of the deal, Sugimoto cannot kill the prisoners. Thankfully Asirpa is a good sketcher so she can sketch the tattoos onto her notes. As they interrogate further, they find out the man who carved the tattoos is called Nopperabo, literally meaning no face. Suddenly he is shot. The duo go into hiding until Sugimoto gets a chance to tackle him. Hyakunosuke Ogata is from the 7th Division, the strongest military unit in the army. They fight each other until Ogata accidentally falls off a ledge and his head knocks on a rock. Any normal person would have died from that but… Sugimoto reiterates to Asirpa that he is not a killer but after surviving a war, he learns in order to stay alive, you must not get killed. But if somebody wants to kill him, he will not hesitate to kill him first.

Now we see Asirpa cook squirrel meat and innards for dinner. Better follow her way of eating raw and not offend her. Ogata is found alive and close to death by his regiment. Next day, another prisoner gets caught in the squirrel trap. As Asirpa sketches the tattoos in the body of Yoshitake Shiraishi, they spot a rabbit. Catch the rabbit! Food! But Shiraishi uses this chance to escape as he is an escape artist. He keeps tools inside his throat! Sugimoto chases after him when the weather suddenly changes. It is bad enough that the temperature drops, now both men fall into the freezing river. Sugimoto knows they must warm up in 10 minutes or risk dying of hypothermia. He needs to find his bullets so he can start a fire with the gunpowder. He wants Shiraishi to start looking for them in the river but he insists on making a deal to not kill him. Sugimoto reluctantly does and he takes out a big bullet from his throat! They manage to make a fire. Shiraishi explains there are 24 tattooed prisoners in total. The only one who knows them all is the leader of the prisoners who led the escape. Surprisingly he is Toshizou Hijikata, the vice commander of the Shinsengumi. The only thing Nopperabo told the prisoners is go to Otaru. Sugimoto tells him to forget about the gold and leave Hokkaido. It isn’t Nopperabo’s friends or the prisoners gunning for it. The 7th Division too. Shiraishi is confident as an escape king, nobody can catch him.

Episode 3
Time for rabbit stew. When Sugimoto takes out his miso flavour, Asirpa gets shocked and thinks it is poo!!! Really, oh sh*t! After putting some bear trap, Sugimoto spots some reflections in the distance. Instantly he takes Asirpa and run. He knows those are binoculars. True enough, those are men from the 7th Division. To split up to lose them. One guy is assigned to track down the Ainu while the rest hunt down Sugimoto. They corner him and have him surrender as they accuse Sugimoto of attacking Ogata. In a bold gamble, Sugimoto dives into the bear’s den. They shoot inside. Suddenly the bear charges out and rips apart their guts!!! Holy sh*t! Eventually the bear and the army took each other out. Sugimoto exits alive as he couldn’t believe the Ainu’s legend that a bear will not attack a human in its den to be true. But if the den was small enough to fit Sugimoto, how did he hide behind the bear assuming the bullets hit the bear, right? Asirpa is caught and she plays dumb by speaking Ainu. However the soldier is smart enough to tell she can understand him. Before he could kill her, it’s that wolf again to the rescue. Man, it is tossing him around like a ragdoll! When they reunite, Asirpa is not pleased that Sugimoto has a bear cub! He wants to play mama to this cute bear whose parent has died?! Asirpa reminds him of the responsibilities of taking care of a bear so he reluctantly hands it to her. Hope she doesn’t turn it into bear stew. Genjirou Tanigaki as the sole survivor of this group is fascinated with the wolf. As he is from a hunting family, he is very interested to hunt down that wolf for its silver fur.

As Asirpa’s village is nearby, she takes him to there to stay. The Ainu are curious people so they are fascinated with Sugimoto. She brings him to talk to her grandmother. As she doesn’t speak Japanese, Asirpa translates for her. She talks about Asirpa spending her youth in the mountains and hence can do non-women stuffs like hunting, fishing, etc. This means she cannot land a husband and she hopes Sugimoto would take her as his bride. Embarrassed Asirpa mistranslates that about not eating that miso poop. Sugimoto learns more about the Ainu culture like how newborns are given hideous names to avoid them from being taken by evil spirits. When they are old enough, they are given proper names surrounding their behaviour. So Asirpa was once named her grandfather’s anus before being given a name that means a new year. Also more Ainu culture on why they do ceremonies for the gods (termed as kamuy) so that when they come down and give their blessing, they will know this is a fun place and return here again. That is why for the baby bear’s case, they will take care of it for 2 years before doing a ceremony to release it back into the wild. Captain Wada is not pleased that Lieutenant Tsurumi has took his men out for some hunt at this hour. As he rants about his punishment, Tsurumi bites off his finger! When a guy has his front skull blown off, you better not agitate him. When Wada orders him to be shot immediately, the men shoot him instead. Tsurumi has him stripped and buried. Tatsuma Ushiyama (Mike Haggar?!) is interrupted from f*cking his prostitute by Hijikata who has found a way to copy tattoos onto oil paper instead of killing them. He wants to join forces because at some point they will have to face the 7th Division and they’re going to steal the tattooed skins they have.

Episode 4
Sugimoto almost stepped into a poison trap but luckily for him, the warning of Makanakkuru made him live longer. He talks a bit more about the gold that was stolen from them. He believed it is a curse from the water kamuy because people tried to pan for gold there and the Ainu don’t even use water that flows from that river. They believe defiling the rivers to make war is blasphemy. More Ainu culture as Sugimoto learns from Asirpa about the belief of guardian spirit behind everyone’s neck and the game that children play by trying to make the scariest noise. That night, Sugimoto hears a howling of the wolf. When he describes a wolf that saved Asirpa twice, Makanakkuru explains Asirpa and her father saved it when it was young. Named Retar (white), it became close to Asirpa after her father’s death and often accompanied her when she goes to the mountains but one night it too cannot resist the call of its fellow pack and left Asirpa. She was very sad and stopped smiling ever since. She might look tough but she is still a lonely girl. Recently Asirpa is happier and he believes she must be enjoying her times in the mountains with him. With grandma even hoping Sugimoto would stay with her, he understands how much everyone loves her so he packs his bags and leaves. Next morning, Asirpa is mad that Sugimoto left without saying a word. It will be tough for her to find him in town and since Retar stands out, they’ll have to wait till night fall to move.

Sugimoto is looking for tattooed prisoners when he is ambushed by soldiers from the 7th Division. He puts up a fight before being outnumbered. Of course Tsurumi won’t kill him otherwise he won’t get to know the other skinned tattoos he has. As he is being interrogated, Sugimoto tries to play dumb. He even tries to make it sound they’ve got the wrong guy. But Tsurumi knows him. Doesn’t anybody in the army not know about his immortal status? With Sugimoto still playing dumb, not taking things seriously and laughing, Tsurumi suddenly sticks a sharp toothpick through his cheeks. No screaming. Tsurumi wants him to join and fight for him to find the gold. But with almost 100 men by his side, isn’t that too much to split? Tsurumi wants that to be their war chest. They’ll buy weapons from America and take over Hokkaido and major ports that control flow of goods to the mainland. Sugimoto still refuses him. Asirpa has Retar sniff Sugimoto’s sock to find him. But it leads to Shiraishi. During that hypothermia incident, they got mixed up. Shiraishi tells rumours of Sugimoto being caught by Tsurumi and Asirpa wants him to bring her there. Shiraishi tries to escape but Retar could easily find him. We can play hide and seek with a wolf all night. Sugimoto is further tortured and locked up. A couple of soldiers feel like cutting his fingers to make him talk. Even in this tied state, Sugimoto can still fight back! But it’s one big weird fighting orgy…

Episode 5
Sugimoto makes all those noises when he is fighting so that the other guards could come and stop them. This also allows Shiraishi and Asirpa to pinpoint where he is. Noticing the rusty window grill, he can break a grill and dislocate his joints to slide in. He just needs some oil. How about bear fat? He slides in as Sugimoto thinks he is a ghost! But those soldiers come back to kill him. With one of them watching outside, Sugimoto is swift to steal his bayonet and kill him. When others arrive, they see Sugimoto in a critical state, like as though his guts are cut opened. He promises to tell them the gold for treatment. Tsurumi has his men take him away for the best treatment. Tsurumi then examines the body and finds it strange on the way he dies. Then he realizes it is a trap. Sugimoto cut out his guts and put his clothes back on. Sugimoto breaks free from his soldiers and rides to freedom but Tsurumi is riding close behind. Thanks to Asirpa’s poison arrow taking out his horse, he gives up for now. When he returns, the police station is on fire. The soldiers lament they couldn’t save the skins but Tsurumi shows he is wearing them! Sugimoto’s reunion with Asirpa… He got punched! Hijikata gets some finest weapons from his old Shinsengumi comrade, Shinpachi Nagakura. Ushiyama thinks there is more than just gold that Hijikata is after.

The horse would only be an easy target so it is killed for horse meat. RIP horsey. Sugimoto feels bad if Asirpa dies on this mission and doesn’t know what to tell to her village. However she tells him to tell them she was in his way. She made her decision and failed. But the real issue is him. He didn’t trust his partner, acted alone, made poor decisions and got caught. He is the one who failed. Asirpa didn’t like it after finding out Sugimoto added miso into the horse nabe. But after tasting it, now she loves it! You mean she is all okay for Japanese poop now? Never try, never know. Hijikata and men go to see a bandit leader, Zenjirou Shibukawa. Earlier he sent a messenger to team up for the gold hunt but never returned. Shibukawa beat him up and had him spill the beans. Now he wants to see the skins. Hijikata shows him the heads of the men outside he killed. They can kill each other or help each other. Shibukawa orders his men to kill but it becomes a one-sided fight with Hijikata turning into a demon to slay them all. Ushiyama asked about his ulterior motive. It seems he wants to revive the Shinsengumi and call for Hokkaido’s independence. Yeah, this guy plans to live for another century. More hunting documentary from Asirpa as we see them drink water from certain vines and how to track deer. They spot one but in Sugimoto’s haste, he missed its vitals. It ran away but left blood trails. Sugimoto feels bad for making it suffer unnecessary and hopes to finish it off quickly. As Asirpa tracks, she notices footsteps of 2 men and a dog. It seems Tanigaki has teamed up with a fearsome hunter, Tetsuzou Nihei to hunt down the silver wolf. Though, Nihei is famed for being a bear hunter and kills one bold enough to stand before him!

Episode 6
More bear hunting stories from Nihei. Also, bear blood cuisine from him! Nihei asks why Tanigaki still wears his military cap. Something about his dilemma of leaving his homeland of hunting and the humans he killed he did not say the same prayers to the animals he hunted. Nihei thinks his hunter soul is lost here and wants him to kill the wolf and take its pelt back home. Tanigaki burns his cap. In order to catch the wolf, they need to prepare something special. They will hunt for deer meat. Sugimoto gets another chance to kill the deer but it still has enough strength to escape. They’ll continue this tomorrow. Hot on the heels of the deer again, Tanigaki and Nihei coincidentally are on the same trail. Nihei’s dog, Ryuu starts feeling afraid despite not scared of bears and he knows they are in wolf’s territory. When Asirpa smokes out the deer, it runs straight towards Sugimoto. However that fearful look on its face as well as its frozen blood icicle from the wound reminds him of the traumas of war. He missed his chance. Retar bites it down before Asirpa kills it. Lecture time about don’t shoot if he isn’t willing to take responsibility till the end. Also, a deer’s life is never in vain. Humans and animals eat its meat and the rest goes back to the ground and trees. As they sense somebody approaching, they quickly take what they can and Retar can get the rest later. When Tanigaki and Nihei arrive, they find the sloppy mess. They note the bad job of cleaning up like as though they leave it for the wolf to come back and eat. Nihei suggests they bath and clean each other since the wolf can sharply smell them. Sugimoto and Asirpa watch the duo from afar as Asirpa believe Tanigaki must be after her.

Back at their tent, Shiraishi has returned from town with new information about the tattooed prisoners. One of them is Nihei. Tanigaki is shocked to see the tattoos on Nihei’s body. How can he still associated with him after killing his comrades? Nihei tells his story of hunting down his human prey which is more fun than hunting down bears. Killing them was what landed him in prison. He escaped because he wanted to die in the mountains. As a hunter, he will probably be eaten by an animal and then pooped out and become part of the mountains. That is his ideal death. The duo wait at night for the wolf to come but it never did. Next morning they examine the deer carcass and find wolf poop over it. They realize the wolf must have come when they were bathing and sensed their great killing aura. To make the wolf obsessed with them, Nihei burns the droppings to make it think they’re the intruders they hate. Sugimoto’s group goes to find Nihei and they seem him in a position to shoot. He has laid a trap for the wolf and we see Retar hiding, judging if it is okay to take the bait. Just when Retar thinks it is okay to move out, Asirpa shoots the trap away. Retar runs away while Sugimoto confronts Nihei. With Shiraishi identifying him, Nihei isn’t cowed by Sugimoto’s threats and dares him to see who will survive. Ryuu attacks Sugimoto. In no time, both men start going all out at each other in bloody mortal combat.

Episode 7
With Sugimoto and Nihei at a deadlock, Shiraishi and Tanigaki are in a standoff pointing rifles at each other. But Tanigaki has Asirpa as hostage so Sugimoto has Shiraishi throw down his rifle and agrees for the guys to be killed on condition that Asirpa is taken far away and not witness the killing. Nihei forgot Shiraishi is a master of escape so the guys did just that the second he took their eyes off them. Tanigaki accidentally steps into a deer trap. Asirpa helps take out the poison by cutting out the portion of his flesh. Since Nihei still wants to kill the wolf, he uses Asirpa as bait to lure Retar out. He doesn’t care about the money and wants to be the last hunter to kill a wolf. True enough the ferocious wolf comes charging and Nihei relishes the chance to shoot it. Retar zigzags so fast that Nihei can’t aim so he uses his own arm as bait for Retar to bite. He thought he the wolf is dead at point blank but another wolf bites him in the neck! This wolf is Retar’s wife and they have a pack of cubs! Nihei is satisfied with the outcome and dies. Tanigaki is taken back to Asirpa’s village. Asirpa mentions about the gathered gold in Hokkaido by the Ainu for generations that it is kept hidden and forbidden to speak. Eventually only 1 man in the village knows its whereabouts but was killed by Nopperabo. Shiraishi is shocked to hear this because of what they’re told, there is only enough gold for 1 person to carry all. Tanigaki explains Tsurumi is an intelligent officer and strategist and passed out false information.

Tsurumi led his 7th division to a seemingly suicidal mission. Although he won, half his battalion were casualties. The commander who ordered this mission initially did this for personal glory, regretted it and committed suicide. The government blamed the division for his suicide and nobody received any compensation and were treated like outcasts. Tsurumi met a foreigner who is willing to buy his weapons so he could sell it to the world and make a profit from war. That’s when Tsurumi rallied his men to create a military dictatorship to use that gold to build a weapons factory. It would put some food on the table for the families of the soldiers killed in action. Tanigaki doesn’t know why Sugimoto wants the gold but his reason is nothing compared to Tsurumi’s burden. Of course Sugimoto will not back down and keep his promise to his friend. As he is a dangerous person, Sugimoto will still not work with him. Next day Shiraishi heads to town to find more info. He chose the wrong brothel to ask because Ushiyama is here. The moment he sees this hulk, he runs. But Ushiyama gives chase. No matter what Shiraishi throws at him to slow him down, he charges through like a raging bull! Finally Shiraishi stumbles into a group of soldiers and technically he isn’t lying saying that a prisoner with tattoos is after him. Will guns stop this dude?

Episode 8
Ushiyama grabs Shiraishi and flings him around! Hijikata’s men distract the police so as to let Ushiyama escape. As Tsurumi inspects the dead distractor’s body, he learns an explosion set off at the financial district. He realizes this was a just decoy to rob a bank. He questions the bank manager about what is in the vault. Bonds, jewels, a sword… Yeah, Hijikata came here to steal a better sword. Tsurumi and Hijikata almost clashed but the latter got away in the former’s horse. Shiraishi pays the prostitute for Ushiyama’s clothes he left behind. He goes back to Sugimoto and Asirpa (hunting tanuki) to request permission to borrow Retar. But Asirpa says Retar doesn’t belong to her and besides, she doesn’t want to get the wolves involved. They blame Shiraishi for letting the tanuki escape but thankfully, Ryuu caught it. Hence Shiraishi uses Ryuu to sniff out Ushiyama’s hideout. He eavesdrop him talking about a couple of fishermen bodies found at the coast. They believe it to be the work of a fellow prisoner, Kazuo Henmi since he is basically a wandering serial killer. Shiraishi is discovered and is made to help them. He lies when asked if they have a single tattooed body. He is then tasked to get Henmi. Shiraishi returns to Sugimoto and Asirpa to tell exploits about Henmi. He talked to that guy once and his serial killing stemmed from watching his brother struggle and died helplessly after being gored by a wild boar. Remembering those moments make him want to kill others. Did his dick just glow as a way to say he has a boner thinking of that?! Because the marks left by him on the corpses, he fears it might be his work. Asirpa is worried since her uncle is there to catch whales and herrings. Yeah, she wants to eat whale meat too.

Upon arriving there, Asirpa’s uncle immediately seeks their help to harpoon a whale. They manage to do so but the whale takes them for a ride. It bumps into a group of fisherman, causing one of them to fall over. Sugimoto wants to go back and help him seeing he would die of hypothermia. So he leaves Shiraishi and the Ainu to catch the whale? Sugimoto and Asirpa pull this guy back up and on land, we are shown he is Henmi. He can’t show them his tattoo and gives excuses he is shy. He killed those fishermen as bait for other tattooed prisoners. Henmi could sense the same killing aura from Sugimoto and is tempted to be killed by him. He holds back from showing his tattoos since dying now will be too easy. He must struggle like his late brother and then die a horrible death. He returns to his dorm to change. A sick man saw his tattoos and Henmi kills him! Henmi treats Sugimoto and Asirpa to some hospitality as he watches Sugimoto chop things up and gets orgasmic thinking of the horrific way he will die by his hands. Then he asks him about the people he killed in his war as Sugimoto explains he will never forget those he killed as atonement. So when he dies, he will never think he is going peacefully. Henmi’s death boner is glowing so bright now…

Episode 9
Asirpa discovers a corpse in the toilet. She returns to warn Sugimoto but Henmi has taken him elsewhere. When the 7th Division is seen, Sugimoto tries to hide so Henmi takes him to hide in a nearby private manor. A couple of those soldiers are there and they thought they spot Sugimoto. As Henmi tries to give excuse, he kills them but not without getting shot. As Sugimoto tries to carry him, Tsurumi is in this manor too. Sugimoto runs to the shore whereby Shiraishi has captured the whale. When Shiraishi identifies Henmi, the latter tries to kill Sugimoto but is shot by Asirpa’s arrow. Henmi lets his intention of dying known so Sugimoto allows him to fight and die like a man. Oh God his dick is glowing! And when Sugimoto sticks his bayonet deep in him, did he make a sexual subtext that it is coming deep inside him!!! WTF???!! But that is nothing compared to suddenly an orca grabs him and swims back to sea. WTF???!!! Can an orca go so close to shore like that?! Can they row a boat faster than that sea mammal? For some reason, the orca is tossing and playing with Henmi. So Sugimoto strips naked (except his hat?) and dives in to save Henmi. How the heck does he swim faster than the orca?! Asirpa fires a whale harpoon and they’re in for an orca ride until it dies. Henmi is glad he gets to experience this glorifying death. Sugimoto prepares to cut up his skin. Tsurumi receives word that Ogata and Kouhei Nikaidou are missing.

When Tanigaki returns to the Ainu village, he is shocked that Ogata and Nikaidou are here. Tanigaki somewhat lies that he was injured by a trap and was saved by the Ainu, hence he is staying here to repay them. However the duo believe Tanigaki killed the other soldiers that were sent with him. At this point, they are holding grandma as hostage as Tanigaki pleads not to kill them. They claim they were joking and leave. Tanigaki realizes he can’t stay as he pleads to grandma he wants to leave but the Ainu kid loves him? Suddenly a shot grazes his head. Ogata tried to snipe him. Nikaidou wonders why he didn’t kill him back then. He would have to kill the hostages as witnesses too and he didn’t want that. Tanigaki knows he is f*cked seeing Ogata is a sharp marksman. He tries all sorts of tricks but Ogata is experienced. Tanigaki remembers he was told the 7th Division are made up of ragtags and some don’t share Tsurumi’s goal. This means somebody is going to betray him but he never thought Ogata was going to be the one. He considers them their enemy. He throws a few smokescreen and escapes by breaking a hole in the back wall. Ogata realizes this a bit too late but notes Tanigaki can’t go far in his recovery state. Meanwhile Hijikata visits Sugimoto disguised as some old passing man. He just casually chat with him before leaving. Asirpa sleeping like a baby?

Episode 10
Tanigaki uses this hunting knowledge to get away from the duo. Next morning, Ogata spots a fire and next to it a corpse of a baby bear. He sends Nikaidou to examine and it is clearly a trap. However mother bear attacks and mauls him! Ogata is in a dilemma whether to shoot because it will reveal his location. But with Nikaidou screaming for help, he eventually fires and the bear is sent running. Ogata then exposes himself, confident Tanigaki does not have a gun. Suddenly a shot is fired into his chest! It is a soldier from 7th Division as he meets up with Tanigaki to explain, Tsurumi has been following them closely to weed out traitors. But he is shot in the head by Ogata. His binoculars saved him. Tanigaki and Ogata flee when Tsurumi’s side arrives. He interrogates Nikaidou and cuts off his ear as warning. He wants to know the names of the traitors. Nikaidou is willing to die but when Tsurumi says he will let him kill Sugimoto (since Sugimoto killed his brother back at the base then), Nikaidou immediately names them. Sugimoto’s side talks about mermaids and also some Ainu monster fish. Speaking of which, Shiraishi gets eaten when he fell into the lake! He is saved thanks to Kiroranke Nispa, Asirpa’s father’s old friend. As Asirpa explains the fish besides eating and can be used to make clothes and accessories, why think so much? Just eat it!

Sugimoto is on alert when Kiroranke says he is from the 7th Division. However he has already quit the military and during his time, Tsurumi wasn’t the commanding officer. He tells them that a strange old man (Hijikata) came to his village asking for a woman named Asuko Kochoube. Asirpa is shocked since this is her registered Japanese name and only her deceased parents know it. When Nopperabo gave hints to prisoners about his comrade to meet after they escape, it seems Nopperabo wanted to entrust the gold to Asirpa. Nopperabo is Asirpa’s father! She is in disbelief about her own father killing the Ainu and stealing their gold. Kiroranke reveals that Nopperabo and himself aren’t really Ainu and came to Japan. Judging by the route Nopperabo took, he wanted to gold to be shipped out from Japan. Asirpa wants to see her father and if so, he will tell her everything. This means they have to sneak into Abashiri prison, the toughest prison in Japan. Also, it would be easier to ask him than finding all the other scattered prisoners. Don’t worry. That’s what Shiraishi is for, right? Kiroranke wants in on this as he feels responsible for stealing the Ainu’s gold. They can take their share but the rest goes back to the Ainu. Going back to Asirpa’s village, they see Tanigaki fitting in nicely with the Ainu. Looks like he has decided to make this his life. They make route plans to Abashiri in the north but Kiroranke wants to go buy some weapons and explosives first as they will be expecting to fight. Shiraishi wonders if Sugimoto plans on letting Kiroranke on this. Sugimoto doesn’t trust him like he does with him and that Kiroranke is not telling everything he knows about Nopperabo. But if Asirpa trusts him, he can’t be that bad.

Episode 11
Ushiyama enters a hotel run by the proprietress, Kano Ienaga. It seems she recognizes who Ushiyama is but the latter not so. Ushiyama is interested to screw her but with the right timing of Sugimoto’s gang coming in for lodging, she attends to them. She also knows who Shiraishi is and wonders if he knows who she is. On the outside this might seem like a normal hotel but it is a maze-like murder dungeon. Ienaga tracks through the secret passage as she spies on her guests. Her goal is to find the perfect body. She wants Ushiyama’s body and Asirpa’s eyes. To prevent Shiraishi and Ushiyama from meeting each other, she springs a trap on the former that sends him falling into her torture dungeon. Ushiyama tries to make his advances on Ienaga again but she bites his tongue. I guess he can wait for tonight. She then knocks out Shiraishi and ties him up. Ushiyama meets Sugimoto for the first time and they almost start fighting with their judo stance. Since Ushiyama likes them, he treats them to dinner. All of them got drunk and start talking about dicks! Even Aisirpa! It’s time for Ushiyama to screw Ienaga so he goes back to his room. He finds a secret passage an unknowingly falls into the dungeon. Shiraishi tries to get his help to escape but since Ushiyama is still drunk, he thinks he is Ienaga and makes out with him!!! OMFG!!!! Shiraishi tells him about Ienaga’s identity. Now he remembers she is actually one of the tattooed prisoners. That old doctor dude who likes to cross-dress! That mole beneath the mouth jogged his memories. Ushiyama doesn’t care! He still wants to f*ck Ienaga!!!

Meanwhile Ienaga is in Asirpa’s room. WTF is she trying to lick her eyes?! Luckily Sugimoto kicks her away. She tries to give excuses but Sugimoto knows something is off. How did she get in if he locked the door and it still remains locked? That is when Shiraishi returns, knocking on the door and shouting Ienaga’s true identity. Ienaga tosses syringes at Asirpa. Sugimoto manages to catch it but Ienaga is gone. She ran away via secret passage but now she has to run away from the rampaging Ushiyama who still wants to f*ck her! Ushiyama and Sugimoto confront each other again in which a one-sided judo match occurs. Ushiyama could have crushingly won had not Sugimoto fell through a trapdoor. Ienaga tries to destroy this place and along with all the evidence. Now that Ushiyama is sober, he sees Shiraishi. He tells him a message sent by Hijikata: Always let him know his whereabouts and don’t think he can trick him. Shiraishi manages to warn everyone to get out because he accidentally dropped his bomb. Ushiyama picks up Ienaga pinned underneath a pillar. She rants about her regrets of wanting to stay young, beautiful and perfect even if that means stealing from others. Then the hotel explodes into smithereens. RIP to other guests who were sleeping there. Sugimoto believes Ushiyama didn’t survive the explosion and Asirpa who was asleep all this time (thanks to the sleeping gas), wakes up and is sad thinking Dick-sensei is dead!!!! Don’t worry, that guy still lives. A few piles of rubbles can’t even scratch him.

Episode 12
Shiraishi gives Ushiyama the copy of Henmi’s skin. In turn, Ushiyama brings him to Ienaga who reveals a juicy bit. After some fox hunting lesson, Sugimoto’s side stays at an Ainu village belonging to Asirpa’s grandma’s brother. He notes a strange woman is staying here to. She is Inkarmat and is a fortune teller. She uses the skull of a fox to tell fortunes and she deems their journey will fail. However Asirpa views herself as a new age Ainu girl and will not believe such nonsense. Well, it’s just a prediction, not an order. But then Asirpa is left to think twice when Inkarmat guesses that she is looking for her father. As her fortune telling is believed to be 100% accurate, you know what this means, right? Shiraishi takes her down to the horse racing track to bet! She finds it interesting and agrees. In no time Shiraishi becomes rich from all her true predictions! So when Sugimoto and co come looking for him, that bastard is so cocky that he could pay off whatever debt he borrowed from Asirpa for those earlier horse races he lost. But Kiroranke can also ‘predict’ which horse to win. He has been handling and training horses since young so he has a good eye. Suddenly a couple of guys is in search of a missing jockey who ran away. They think Kiroranke is it and has him be the replacement. But Kiroranke can sense something afoul because the next race is going to be rigged when some of the guys try to bloat the horses with water.

With a certain horse certain to win, of course Shiraishi bets all his money on it. Win big or lose it all. Asirpa tries to stop Inkarmat but the latter reminds her that it would be good for her if Shiraishi loses. Because if he wins, he will have no reason to help her anymore. Similarly as Sugimoto restrains Shiraishi, he is being told that he doesn’t need that much money. Yes, they are in Hokkaido to make money but they don’t necessary have to risk their lives. Sugimoto as his principles and will not abandon Asirpa. Asirpa is left shocked when Inkarmat views her eye colour as pretty as her father’s. Then she disappears. She had enough fun for today. When the race begins, it is very obvious that the horse designated to win, its jockey is playing dirty. Kiroranke will not allow this and rides his horse to victory, causing a major upset! Oh Shiraishi, you lost it all. Now keep dreaming in the bundle of money you’re swimming in. Hijikata sees Ogata. The latter offers to be his bodyguard. Before Sugimoto and co depart for Abashiri, Shiraishi tells that juicy bit from Ienaga. She relates a thief who stayed at her hotel told her about a house full of taxidermy skins. He saw one with strange tattoos that didn’t resemble a yakuza. That house is in Yuubari. The Abashiri plan may not work so it’s also best to have another plan like gathering info on other prisoners or tattoos. Meanwhile Tsurumi and his men are also at Yuubari. They spread false rumours and are waiting at the grave so a grave digger could show up. He did but ran away after realizing he is being watched. His men go after him while Tsurumi picks up his dropped items.

In the small town of Barato, 2 opposing small gangs are fighting each other. Hijikata and Nagakura are hired by the mistress of Hidoro gang to be their bodyguards. You see, they only take up the job because Mrs Hidoro has got a prized tattooed skin that they want. Meanwhile Ogata is also here and the chief of the place warns him if he sides with Hidoro, he is done for. Too bad Ogata beats him up and Umakichi is interested in hiring him. The plan is to kidnap the pregnant mistress, Chieko and hold her hostage until the skin is handed over. Shinpei, Mrs Hidoro’s son fears she will not hand over the skin. Plus, Chieko is pregnant with his child and not the boss’! Once this is over, he hopes to get away from here with Chieko and start a new life. Hijikata starts by killing some of Hidoro’s men. He sends out word that it is done by Umakichi’s men. So when Ogata and Umakichi arrive at the scene, Umakichi fears he will be blamed but Ogata can tell the bullets left behind are from Hijikata. Soon an exchange will be made. Both sides lie in wait, ready to ambush each other. Mrs Hidoro throws down the box containing the skin for Chieko. However her plan is when Umakichi’s man is going to check it, she will shoot him and thus a signal for her men to attack. However Ogata snipes at Chieko! It is revealed that Nagakura is masquerading as the pregnant mistress. With the box laid out in the open, it is tough for anybody to go near because either Ogata will snipe you or Hijikata will cut you down.

So it becomes a bloody war between both sides. Hijikata is concerned in taking out Ogata who is sniping from the high ground so he leads some of Hidoro’s men closer and to surround him. Ogata has been thinking too much of why a greedy Mrs Hidoro won’t take the box and instead returned to her burning lodge. He realizes he is surrounding by Hijikata’s force and tries to flee but gets shot in the shoulder. When Umakichi and his men try to claim the box, Nagakura kills them all! It is discovered the box is empty. Hidoro finds out Chieko is not pregnant with his child but Shinpei’s. Mrs Hidoro insults him that she knows he is infertile. After Mrs Hidoro retrieves the skin and badmouths Shinpei for being weak, Hidoro then bludgeons her to death. Shinpei vows to rebuild his life better than him and before Hidoro could kill him, Ogata snipes the big boss. In the aftermath, looks like everybody on both sides died and left a trail of corpses. Only Shinpei and Chieko survive as they split from this town. Hijikata and Nagakura arrive at the lodge only to see Ogata with the skin. He offers them to hire his service as a bodyguard. Elsewhere, over on Sugimoto’s side, we see him trying to catch some eagle. After Asirpa kills it, she is almost taken away by some big legendary vulture bird! Not really sure about this legend…

There Is Gold On Them Thar Skins
I knew it! It can’t just end like that, can it?! This series is going to have another season! Hooray! Hinna, hinna. I don’t have to wait long for it since they are taking a one cour break. Hinna, hinna. My hunch was telling me that this series is going to have a lot of unfinished business when it reached the halfway mark. Because there was so much things going on and at the rate at this is going, it is definitely impossible to end it or even in worst case scenario, make it a very rushed ending. Heck, the last episode felt like a filler because WTF, horse racing and gambling? It’s like they’re wasting time, know what I’m saying? One season wasn’t definitely enough to tell everything. It would be tad sad had this series ended so without any possibilities of a sequel due to all the potential developments that are slowly unravelling at an interesting pace. But looks like I don’t have to worry about that possibility since it is going to happen.

I have to give credit to my guts for telling me to stay and watch this anime because ever since I started watching this series, my attention has never wavered and my eyes glued to the screen. Maybe the occasional distraction when things get slow but overall, everything has been downright interesting and intriguing. Right down from the plot to the characters. The intrigue is fascinating enough for me to think what more is in store for the characters and what kind of bizarre plots are going to be laid out for all of them. Sometimes I lose track of time watching this series that I only realized time has flown by when the ending credits showed up. Even so, I can’t help crave and be impatient to watch the next episode.

While the general plot may be about various characters trying to get their hands on the elusive and mysterious gold, some characters are not driven by this gold rush and have different agendas of their own such as Nihei and Henmi. Sometimes I feel like those episodes are like fillers but short of being standalones. But in the bigger picture, I suppose that such characters and side plots are eventually needed and necessary because they’re going to need all 24 tattooed prisoners for them to put together the map. Who knows how many have died and are still alive.

As for the main characters, it is interesting to see the dynamics between Sugimoto and Asirpa. A tough hardened soldier who seems to have the devil’s luck in surviving the impossible and a young Ainu girl who has the skills of surviving the wild. They may look like a mismatch and an odd pair but you can tell right from the start that they complement each other. Not because the series’ promotional poster tells you so. So it is great to see them rely on each other, trusting each other as partners despite coming from different backgrounds as they work together for a common goal while remaining as they are.

One of the oddest moments that I tend to notice is if Sugimoto and Asirpa aren’t in the plot to hunt down the next tattooed prisoner, they are mostly surviving in the wild and trying to hunt for their next meal. Sometimes this makes it look like I am watching the Discovery Channel or National Geographic! Just without the narration. Hence from time to time when I see them prepare their traps or cooking their meat from the hunt, I also start thinking if I am watching an educational documentary programme. Who is up for some deer meat?

Is it me or do I start noticing that lately Asirpa has become more of a joker character. I thought Shiraishi was enough to fit this comical role himself but I have a feeling that Asirpa is almost becoming one but short of being a manzai comedy partner for Shiraishi. From her distrust of eating ‘poop’-like food and most recently looking up to Ushiyama as her Dick-sensei (?!), wait a minute, has she been influenced too much by modern Japanese?! I know, she is still a young girl and probably naïve and innocent to the so called Japanese culture. I believe her Ainu roots are still strong and she is just influenced for the moment. I hope. But sometimes comical notion to break the tension might seem a bit out of place because the moment is serious and then this. Like, huh?

I hope next season brings in more exposure and development to the other characters. Namely the other rivals of Sugimoto in this gold rush like Hijikata-Ushiyama combo, mad Tsurumi and his 7th Division, rogue ones like the traitorous Ogata and who knows other parties or individuals that have not showed up at this point and have yet to surprise us. Maybe like those damn Americans too are secretly in on this! This season sets these characters’ goals and motivations for wanting the gold and hence a little bit messy when this season shows bits and parts of these different camps. There will be one point where all of them will converge and slug it out in one big battle royale.

My only question is if Tanigaki is still in on this hunt or has he decided to live the rest of his life as an Ainu. After all, he wasn’t in on the gold in the very first place and wanted Retar’s fur. Speaking of which, Retar sometimes feel like plot convenience because it pops out of nowhere to save Asirpa. And then for some reason there is his family pack and because they don’t want to endanger the endangered species anymore (wolves are officially extinct in Japan but you might never know. They’re breeding underground away from our prying eyes…), Retar is not heard again. Like as though, uhm, it’s no more useful for the plot so it’s tossed aside. For now.

I believe this isn’t the first anime that puts the Ainu tribe in the limelight. Shows like Princess Mononoke based their characters on this. I thought it was my first exposure in anime watching the Ainu people but apparently in past retro animes like Shaman King and Samurai Champloo, they have characters from the Ainu tribe but I never realized that they were. My memories don’t serve me so well here but I don’t remember them being really given as much focus or prominence as this series. Since I know nothing about the Ainu tribe except that they are the true natives of Japan, everything they do feels fascinating and interesting. Probably it is their respect for the land and being able to live off the land in their simplistic ways that charms me (despite I have no interests whatsoever to turn to that kind of life – yeah, can’t live without internet!).

I don’t want to offend anyone but being an agnostic person myself, hearing people talk about their beliefs in higher being and gods sometimes feel like one big fairytale (that’s a nicer way of saying nonsense). I’m not disrespecting their culture or anybody’s culture about their beliefs in such beings but it’s just that we understand so little about ourselves and having this as the base of logic for me isn’t my cup of tea. You’re free to believe what you want but I’ll still listen to those godly and supernatural stories. Back to the Ainu prominence thingy, I believe this series just showcases part of the Ainu’s culture and tribe, their way of life and beliefs. You can even learn a few Ainu words from here too. Hinna, hinna. Though it sounds foreign to Japanese, if I’m not concentrating on how they speak, it sounds Japanese enough… O_O

But I just got to ask in the event if the gold is returned to the Ainu, so what of it? Like I have said that the Ainu has continued to live in a simple and respectful way, do they really need the gold? I mean, somebody in the future might come up with this bright idea of stealing from them again, right? It is not like returning the gold to Ainu would bring back their glory days or appease the gods. Would it? I don’t think they would really need the gold and safeguarding it from future greedy bastards would do more harm than good. So it’s best to leave the mad corrupted men to kill themselves over it, don’t you think?

The action parts are also one of the most interesting draws of this series. In many fights, you can bet that it is going to be bloody so it is definitely for the faint hearted. Even if those blood drops and blood spills are 2D animated. As the fights are mostly no holds barred and ultimately it is kill or be killed, the fight for survival is often exhilarating with the characters having different ways to fight like Hijikata with his sword, Ushiyama with his fists and raw brute force, Tsurumi with his pistol, Ogata and his sniping and Sugimoto whatever means he needs to stay alive. Don’t worry, he is immortal, right?

While the art and animation look pretty okay and average, but there are a few things that I want to bring up. Firstly, the horrible CGI bear animation!!! It is so obviously horribly rendered, you wonder if the production was using an outdated software or they had underpaid interns designing it. If they used normal 2D hand drawn techniques, it wouldn’t look so bad but this was really bad. I am not sure if they want the bear to look like some god being or something because imagining it in 2D form might not make it look as ferocious as it is bad when it is in 3D. Retar is mostly animated in 2D but sometimes in CGI format too but it is less obvious thanks to its white fur and the white snow surroundings so it does not stand out pretty badly like the bear.

Another art style I want to bring about is the look on Asirpa’s face when she is displeased. I know it is for comical purpose but the way they draw her meme or derp face makes her look weird. Really. It’s like suddenly Asirpa has aged into a granny or something. Uh huh. At least I know what Asirpa looks like if she lives to a ripe old age. But seriously that kind of derp face drawing, it either makes you laugh and go WTF or give you nightmares. Throughout the years, anime has this distinct art style that immediately lets everyone know it is anime. So characters from all nationalities usually have this anime look. So while they want to differentiate how the Ainu looks like, I can’t help feel that many of them looks very cartoonish. Thick cartoony eyebrows, thick cartoony beard and just cartoony overall. Except Asirpa of course. Nice blue anime eyes… Oh right, her dad is said to be not of Ainu origin. Damn loophole…

But other than the Ainu people looking funny, I find that some of the characters also to look a bit odd. How should I put it? They have this eyes of a dead fish. This is mostly characters from the 7th Division like Tsurumi, Ogata and Nikaidou just to name a few. Looking at them gives this feeling like as though they’re emotionless and dead even if they’re being crazy, mad or showing other emotions. Starring at those eyes too long might make you go crazy. Luckily I didn’t. But just to be safe… Essentially, many of the characters may look bland and dull but at the same time weird. For instance, Ushiyama. You can’t help notice that ‘fish cake’ stuck onto his forehead and it makes you curious to want to try and pry it out of his head. Don’t do it, Asirpa… As for the backgrounds and sceneries, it’s mostly the cold and freezing rigid snow of Hokkaido. Be careful, you might get snow blindness starring too much at all the whiteness… This series is animated by a new anime company, Geno Studio who started off with Kokkoku before helming this one.

Voice acting is pretty decent with recognizable talents including Jouji Nakata as Hijikata, Hochu Ohtsuka as Tsurumi, Kenjiro Tsuda as Ogata, Akio Ohtsuka as Nihei and Sayaka Ohara as Ienaga. I was surprised to learn Tomokazu Sugita is behind Nikaidou’s voice. He might not sound like his usual in Gintama as he puts up a more sissy and derpy voice in this character. But upon closer hearing, yup it’s that guy. The other casts are Chikahiro Kobayashi as Sugimoto, Haruka Shiraishi as Asirpa (Kirie in Himouto! Umaru-chan), Kentarou Itou as Shiraishi (Renji in Bleach), Kenji Nomura as Ushiyama (Shishigou in Fate/Apocrypha), Yoshimasa Hosoya as Tanigaki (Reiner in Shingeki No Kyojin), Masaki Terasoma as Kiroranke (Kanbei in Samurai 7 – say, doesn’t this character look alike?), Takayuki Sugou as Nagakura (Wanyuudou in Jigoku Shoujo) and Toshihiko Seki as Henmi (Mousse in Ranma 1/2). Remember what I said about the Ainu language sound like Japanese when I’m not concentrating? Well, they didn’t hire any real Ainu to voice the roles of the Ainu characters. Enough practice and you probably sound like one. So like Asirpa’s grandma is voiced by a true blue born and bred Japanese, Miyuki Ichijou.

Of course I’m not going to leave out my favourite Mamiko Noto who has a cameo here as Inkarmat! Hah. You thought I forgot to put her name down when I mentioned recognizable talents and would surely put down her name first. Surprise, surprise. While she is splendid as usual voicing the mysterious Inkarmat, something bugs me as I wonder if for this particular season she is taking on character roles who make their debut in the final episode. Because in that same season she did the same for Mahou Shoujo Site as well as Comic Girls (though technically there was an earlier episode she just said a word). Like as though it’s a sign that tells us she’s still not done yet and in the least unexpected final moments, there she is. Like as though the producers really know how to make my day and slip in this goddess and make my heart skip a beat. Okay, skipped several beats.

Hearing the opening theme, Winding Road by Man With A Mission, it sounded very much like an American rock piece. Probably because more than half of its lyrics are in English and the way the lead singer’s voice, it sounded like at least a Caucasian. Alas they are just your Japanese rock band. But the song itself isn’t too shabby and not bad. In some ways, this song somewhat reminds me of that insert song in another anime series, The Reflection, Sky Show. But ultimately this one sounds better. The ending theme is also another rock outfit, Hibana by The Sixth Lie but this one sounds heavy on the bass lines.

Overall, this series is very interesting and I am glad to have watched it. They didn’t betray me by giving it a sequel. Hinna, hinna. Its plot might sound generic and the characters as well on a broad level but the pacing and development of the story and the characters will compel and captivate your interests. At least for me. Therefore this is one of the better series of the season that I truly enjoyed despite some of its less than stellar flaws and incredulous moments that makes no sense like that orca scene or even moments to just give some mini shock value and WTF factor like Henmi’s glowing boner. Yeah… Otherwise it is overall a great series. This season leaves up to its title of being golden in many ways and hopefully it would achieve greater heights in the next season. Uhm, Platinum Kamuy, anyone? Hinna, hinna…

Fate/Extra Last Encore

September 22, 2018

Another season, another Fate series adaptation. After the rather okay Fate/Apocrypha (I was satisfied with it although the general public or rather the hardcore fans were not too happy about it), I was wondering if they wanted to give the red Saber its due debut. The one in Apocrypha didn’t really count, okay. Fate/Extra Last Encore is another one of those alternate universes like Apocrypha that isn’t directly related to the original works so I thought there would be something new instead of reusing the same 7 Masters with their 7 Servants fighting each other to win the ultimate Holy Grail and get their wish, that tired storyline that probably has been done to death in the Fate universe. Probably. I’m not a fan of the Fate series and have only known and see them in their anime format. But this series involving the moon and digital format thingy? Oh no. Smells like a heap of confusion ahead. Hold my breath and take the plunge…

Episode 1
Wow. Starting off with Saber fighting Buddha? In space? And lost! We now go to the current scene. Hakuno Kishinami is a student of a school, the teacher talking about summoning of Heroes and other mumbo jumbo I can’t understand. After class, he hangs out with his friends, Shinji and his girlfriend, Misao Amari (this loser has a girlfriend?!). They talk about limbo and existence. Not that I understand again. They go watch a chess match that is won by Leonardo “Leo” Bistario Harwey. Popular enough to have his own legion of fan girls. The mind boggling thing is that the loser in chess got killed off! Even more so his body just left there after the crowd disperses! Hakuno examines it and is met by Rin. They take it to the infirmary as the school nurse has him ‘take out the trash’ at the incinerator as she has no authority. After dumping the corpse-like thingy into the abyss, some scientist dude tells him about the different layers of this world something about illusion and paradise thingy and the days repeating itself. WTF. Angelica Cage. Sea of the Seven Heavens. Don’t get it. Before Hakuno could ask for what it all means, he is told time is up and didn’t make it. Kirei announces 100 participants have qualified and because 28 spots remain, the remaining participants have to kill each other to qualify before the final purge. Hakuno meets up with Shinji as they run and hide. But Shinji betrays and stabs him to death, believing Hakuno has no desire to win this game like him so he should die for him. Yup, best friends alright. After the last spots are taken up, the purge begins. All those who failed to qualify are being killed by Terminator robots. Apparently Hakuno is still alive. He makes his way to the incinerator as some Archer clone tries to kill him. Apparently Archer clone is bad in dealing the lethal blow so Hakuno falls down. Deep enough until he reaches some area with a red sword in the middle. He slowly walks to pick it up. The enemy slowly walks to kill him. Eventually Hakuno picks it up and he summons Red Saber. To show how awesome she is, she destroys the clone with devastating strikes. At the end, she asks him if he is her Master. Kirei narrates about the Holy Grail War abandoned long time ago and hence the activities conducted in this paradise were a mere echo of the past. Things repeated and the results were the same. But with Hakuno as the 129th Master, a miracle has happened, his existence is his final task.

Episode 2
Hakuno and Saber ride the Moon Mile Ladder, a capsule that heads to the moon. Inside is a luxurious facility for them to recuperate as well as explain to us the things we need to know. All participants are to fight each other until one is left in Moon Cell (moon’s version of Holy Grail) and the winner gets to fulfil their wish. More mumbo jumbo about this is all just artificial spiriton world created by the moon’s mainframe. During the preliminary stages, participants’ memories are suppressed but will only regain them once they become a Master in the main tournament. Even so, Hakuno has not had his returned yet. Not that he cares. Participants are supposed to fight their way from the lower stratum to the higher one but it seems Saber is amazed with this festival-like atmosphere of this first stratum. Of course they go around not only to have fun but to find opponents. In this bar, Saber thinks the bar master is a Master but is told many Masters who reached here have sold their Servants to Central Tower because life here is too good so there is no need to fight in any Holy Grail War. Saber leaves disappointed but Hakuno is given a tip that there are some Masters in this stratum who haven’t sold their Servants yet. A bevy of hot policewomen take the duo to Central Tower as they talk about besides Masters, everyone else is NPCs and not humans. The mayor of this stratum is Shinji?! He explains this might be the lowest stratum of SE.RA.PH but it is liberated and has its own laws and government. Shinji buys the Servants to turn them into efficient resources to help provide comfortable lives for all Masters. Shinji wants Hakuno to sell his but after hearing this, his decision is easy: He will not sell Saber. Shinji takes his next action to eliminate them. He separates them and has Saber fight 3 Berserker Servants. Meanwhile Hakuno gets stabbed by the police babes. This is the second time he gets stabbed… But don’t worry. Looks like his intense hatred and again has him pull out their swords. Oh sh*t! Is his true form or memories some sort of monster he is? Dead Face?

Episode 3
Just in time, Rin. Her hacking saves the duo from whatever troubles. Rin is a Master without a Servant and is fighting as a resistance. As they recuperate, Rin explains about the situation. Masters who fear fighting and death all are stuck in this stratum. It is all due to the creation of that wheel in the sky, Chakravartin, the rules of the Holy Grail War has been broken. Each stratum became independent and Masters no longer have to kill. But there was one who won his first round but for some reason could ascend to the next stratum. So Chakravartin changed how SE.RA.PH works and as the only one left on this stratum, he became Floor Master. He used all this resources to create this city. Even those from higher stratum descend here to this city to live in peace. Angelica Cage is acting weird and the only way to find out is ascend to the highest stratum. You can only do that by defeating another fellow Master. Speaking of which, there is only one here who is no other than Shinji and he is the Floor Master. Hakuno gets his resolved to kill him. Payback time? Rin hacks her way and becomes the bait so the duo can ride up to the next floor to face Shinji. Flashback shows he killed another Master to win. Realizing he is the only one left, he feared killing again and will die with nothing to show for. To prove he is alive, he will create a city to house Masters who have given up on the Holy Grail War. If he can gather hundreds of spiriton hackers, he could accomplish something. Now Shinji gives Hakuno the right to fight him. The city is flooded as he summons his Servant, Rider whose real identity is the pirate, Francis Drake. Saber met her before as that bar master. Shinji activates her Noble Phantasm. Not sure if Saber can’t swim and is drowning so Hakuno swims down to kiss her. It’s his way of transferring mana to her. Yeah, she likes it. Because of that, Saber rejuvenates and with a great stroke of luck cuts down Rider. Shinji will not dissolve his contract with her and risk disappearing along for he doesn’t believe she has lost. Saber’s win was just fluke. Shinji regrets of being unable to do anything for a long time that he started going mad. He had nothing and stayed here because the thought of humanity would be judged as worthless if they disappeared here. Hakuno stops him, probably doesn’t want to hear his sorry story. At least he won’t hate him anymore. So are they friends? Shinji’s sarcasm says no. Hakuno and Saber take the Moon Mile Ladder up to the next stratum and Rin just manage to join them in time.

Episode 4
Hakuno ponders about Rider’s last words of why he wants to ascend. He has no memories and only hatred of wanting to ascend. Saber doesn’t care as it is human nature to be greedy. Just go for it! In the next level, Dan Blackmore’s wait has finally end with the arrival of Hakuno and Saber. He will defeat them and ascend to the next stratum. First he snipes at them but Saber being quick to deflect his bullets before they jump into the forest for cover. Dan sends Archer to eliminate them. Archer uses his invisibility to mask himself and his arrows and his poison mist in order to slow them down. Saber uses her body to protect Hakuno from an arrow when he fell into a trap. But before everything could be over for Saber, some miracle burns away Archer’s arrows and causes him to be visible. Archer retreats. It is hinted that Hakuno may have used a Command Spell to get out of this situation and their saviour is Rani VIII. She too is a Master without a Servant like Rin and is fighting the resistance on this level. She explains about Dan who became Floor Master and started hunting Masters who came here. Rani didn’t descend as she saw the stars that a Master who strives to ascend will appear. That was 50 years ago. More about Moon Cell constructing this place as an ideal environment for humanity’s soul to go. It could have been humanity’s utopia had SE.RA.PH been used correctly but is now facing destruction. Hakuno dreams of that scientist telling him about his Holy Grail War was just a means for Moon Cell to gather data on humans but people misinterpreted it and started helping themselves rather than its roots. He will choose one who is fit for the Holy Grail. Hakuno is more confused since he was killed by him and if he was kicked out from Angelica Cage. Later Hakuno sees Rani attending to the graves of the fallen Masters. He asked about that 50 years thing so she is disappointed he failed to notice it himself. The year is now 3020, about a thousand years since SE.RA.PH broke down. Earth’s population has dwindled far below 10,000 and reaching unsustainable levels. If you consider civilization to be the core tenant of humanity, those in SE.RA.PH are the last remaining humans. If SE.RA.PH is destroyed, so will humanity.

Episode 5
Flashback 999 years ago when Dan was fighting as a Master and lost despite being far superior in ability and determination. Apparently he realized it is the quality of that will that gives one the strength to go forth that is important. He questioned his goal to win the Holy Grail to get back his dead wife. Normally that would be the end for him but due to some error in Angelica Cage, he is summoned back to this stratum with his Servant, restored. He took up the challenge to fight again. Rani discusses their battle plan. On Dan, we learn that he isn’t a real Master because he initially lost. That is why all the Masters he killed, Moon Mile Ladder will not appear. Hence he is fighting a futile struggle. Archer’s identity is Robin Hood but they must beware his Noble Phantasm that is triggered after you take a shot from his arrow. Poison will flow into your blood stream before finally exploding. To do that, he must reveal his name. The battle begins with Saber facing off with Archer while Rani takes Hakuno to the tower where Dan is supposedly based. But upon reaching the tower, Rani is sniped. She tells Hakuno not to save her. For Dan didn’t kill her outright so as to lure him back out to kill him. Hakuno is in a dilemma that his selfishness will kill and sacrifice her. Then he transforms into his Dead Face version to swiftly save her before Dan could even see anything. Archer thought he has Saber in his palms. His arrow has hit her and the poison spread throughout her body. All he needs is to use his bow and let her touch it to explode. However nothing happened and Archer is sliced. Apparently Saber drained her entire tainted bloodstream! Was there a character in history who could do that? With the explosion heard from the tower, it means Dan is also defeated. We see how Hakuno snuck in a sniped Dan. Uhm, that easy? Me no understand. Dan lies satisfied in his death as the sound of the bells reminds him of his happy days with his wife. With Moon Mile Ladder here, Hakuno wants to go back down to save Rani as the stratum is collapsing. But Saber reminds him that Rani hinted she never wanted to ascend with them. Her wish is to stay here with the dead and their dying wishes. So up they go. One question: If Dan isn’t a real Master and not qualified to ascend, how can Hakuno a real Master defeat an unreal one and ascend? Double standards? Rin who has been sorely missing since this stratum, pops up to hitch a ride with them again. Sneaky…

Episode 6
We start off by seeing Hakuno claiming victory over loli, Alice. I guess it’s not nice to see how a loli gets defeated. She doesn’t want to be left alone so he promises to come back after getting the Holy Grail before ascending to the next stratum. So okay, we get to see what happens. Arriving at this strange forest, the trio trek through as Rin explains about cyber ghosts. Yup, they can exist in this world. Hakuno thought he saw a loli. Indeed. Alice is happy to have found someone and has been alone for a long time. She admits she is a ghost. They play a few kiddie games together as she tells him once he leaves her, he will forget all about her. He wonders if this is a Servant’s ability. Alice explains her wish to be cured of her illness. After a war that killed everyone, she was alone in a hospital. The adults did things that hurt her. Eventually she died without being cured. She is happy to be in this level where her wishes could come true. Hakuno has had enough and leaves. When he reunites with his girls, he can’t remember meeting somebody although he could feel he did. As they trek further, Rin sees a vision of her confronting Amari on this level. Amari claimed to have cast away everything and came this far to win. She challenged Rin but was given a disappointing excuse why she would not. At the same time, Hakuno sees a vision of Amari and talks to her. Something about she hates her own name because it means unwanted. Her mom got knocked up by a bigwig and then abandoned. Amari was then also abandoned. Her wish is not to be laughed at so she abandoned everything in order to win. But the first few rounds was easy because in order to be stronger, she observed and used a weaker opponent to her advantage. At this stage, there were no weaker opponents. Alas, she had no choice and will still fight. Back to reality, the trio realizes this place is something off. Their sense of time is off and they have been seeing weird visions. After seeing the blood on the wall, Rin suddenly remembers why many Masters fled this stratum. There is a monster that cannot be killed. Don’t look now because it is here! Saber engages it but before they know it, they are back at starting point. Rin realizes the Servant has a Noble Phantasm that restarts the day when defeated. That way she can read all the stories she wants until she gets it right. The Servant’s true identity is Nursery Rhyme. Even a personification of children’s fairytales can become a Servant? Oh well, you don’t know how scary some fairytales can be. Although the motive of the Master is unclear, they continue to stay here and repeat this one day.

Episode 7
I’m confused of the timeline here. Anyway, we see Alice walking around in search for Hakuno but to no avail. She doesn’t care about the challenge Amari throws to Rin. In her bit to replenish her resources, she turns into that monster. So when all the other Masters see her, they attack her out of fear and she kills them all. She knows Hakuno will not recognize her like this but will keep waiting nevertheless. The trio re-enter the place, prepared defeat that monster whom they believe is the Floor Master’s Servant. We see another scene of Hakuno spending time with Alice. After that Amari confronts him to tell him off that he is doing nothing as Alice is his opponent. One must kill the other. Hakuno asks Saber if there is anyone who has ascended without fighting. Surprisingly she says yes. If the opponent resigns, the other wins by default. They are attacked by the monster. As Rin puts up her barrier, the monster is too strong and breaks through. It would have killed her but Hakuno uses a Command Spell to restart again. This is when Amari shows Hakuno the truth. The real Alice is not this cute loli. She is just the dream of the real Alice who is a creepy mummified sick child hooked up to all the IV drips in a hospital bed. This Alice cannot do anything and is being left all alone. After all, saving her makes no sense as she is already dead. The trio begin their trekking again. This time Hakuno talks about this place being a cyber ghost and attachment of the past just like him and his hatred. It is so piled up here that it smothers the present. Saber adds that even if one reaches Angelica Cage and defeat Twice Pieceman, there is no guarantee Moon Cell will even grant that wish. Everything is questionable and uncertain and yet with that people still chose to fight and ascend. We replay that opening scene of Hakuno defeating loli Alice and going to ascend. Because she is dead to begin with, Moon Cell can’t kill her. After picking up the book, they start to remember. No one is really left here. Now the trio fight against the monster and defeat it for good. The book disappears and only leaves behind a bookmark. Hakuno at least now wants to ascend with hope. Alice’s ghost doesn’t think this is such a sad fate and bids goodbye to Hakuno.

Episode 8
The fourth stratum was probably so easily that we see them ascending to the next level! Maybe we’re running out of episodes too? In this next stratum, Rin explains there is no Floor Master and there is a ladder to ascend to the next stratum. Easy. But of course there is a catch. There is a maniacal killer on the loose and his equally insanely powerful Berserker. That maniac is Julius Bistario Harwey, Leo’s brother who is said to be the best warrior. Saber and her previous Master once defeated him but luck played a great factor then. As Rin scouts the area, Saber and Hakuno talk about one being a talented genius. It doesn’t take long before both sides start fighting each other. Saber has a hard time fighting Berserker but with Rin now able to transform and use some spear weapon thingy, she leaves it to her while she goes find Hakuno who is fighting Julius. Hakuno transforms into his Dead Face to fight on par with him. Julius can also do the same. Hakuno remember memories of him and realizes he was killed in the Holy Grail War. So is he a ghost? Julius laughs like a maniac. He claims they are both lower than ghosts. Hence this flashback of Hakuno talking to the scientist to explain more incomprehensible mumbo jumbo. Sighs… Apparently there is a difference between ghosts and Dead Face. Taken prisoners by death, they are curses acting as members of the dead to spread death. Something about death of body and death of spirit is separated in SE.RA.PH. When Angelica Cage closed and Holy Grail War ended, SE.RA.PH became a digital hell with the regrets of the dead stopped being purified and left as they were. He wanted to reform humanity but failed due to naivety. Hence he decided to stop the growth of all humans and killed all victors. Some were worthy heroes but neither were enough to bring salvation. With the regret and hatred piling up, someone who was not anyone awoke to bear those burdens: Hakuno. Thus this Hakuno isn’t the real Hakuno but a repulsive homicidal maniac given form simply from hatred towards living. He is a mass of death. He ascends in order to kill. Normally Hakuno would have died from Julius attacks but you know, he is already dead. With Saber coming into the scene, Julius backs off. However Saber soon collapses as she used her body to stop Berserker’s attack on Hakuno. Because Berserker’s Noble Phantasm kills the enemy in a single blow. Julius and Berserker go off to deal with Rin attacking them while Hakuno is filled with regret for letting this happen to Saber. So we see him walking and wallowing in that regret as the voice of Saber tells him to be positive. He enters a room where a movie is about to start.

Episode 9
This video is supposed to help Hakuno remember the important thing to become a Master. Great. A motivational video? We see Saber’s ex-Master being berated by Julius for not being up to par. Even so Saber came to her defence. She was also shocked that she was an NPC but Saber lifted her up with her positivism. She took Saber as her Servant but misinterpreted she had a joyous life. Hence Saber told her true identity that she wouldn’t at first for fear of learning her bad repute. She was a Roman Emperor, Nero Claudius who loved everything. She too had her enemies and they plotted her downfall. When the Senate put her on trial, she thought the people would be by her side but none did. In the end, she killed herself never ever knowing what true love is. Despite all that, she continued her positivism. Hakuno may have called her out due to desperation but to her, that calling was irreplaceable. After a few last motivating words about himself from the ex-Master, Hakuno wakes up. Apparently Rani still lives and is treating him and Saber. Saber is glad they’re both okay and wants to go take on the enemies. But Hakuno is still filled with guilt and doesn’t deserve to be her Master. She slaps him and tells him off he got the order of things wrong. He fought because he didn’t want to die. He ascended because he didn’t know anything. He didn’t awaken to be another person. Even if things change, the foundation doesn’t. Hakuno is Hakuno. The person with the same feelings and heart. Saber’s ex-Master is also Hakuno. But now he exists with a different face and gender. With renewed motivation, they vow to stay by each other side and defeat their enemy. Saber lets him know her true name for she needs to unleash her Noble Phantasm. Saber does so in her fight with Berserker. She kills him in her grand Coliseum thingy. Now Hakuno faces off with Julius. The latter laments he is like a recurring nightmare that can’t be killed. Hakuno claims he isn’t the Hakuno he knows and won’t share his nostalgia trip. Eventually Hakuno defeats him and Julius warns the dead cannot change things. He will soon become just like him. Uhm, can Julius also die because I thought he was the same like Hakuno? With that, the duo ascend to the next stratum. It is revealed that Rin and Rani are in cohorts to lead the duo as proper Master and Servant before the next Floor Master. Their role is over but Rin still wants to stick around (claiming she is worried) and follows them. She parts ways with Rani.

Episode 10
Flashback shows Rin and Rani as the only 2 Masters left. They propose a truce and form a plan to get out of their predicament of finding another Master and drag them up here to the sixth stratum. Hakuno dreams of a conversation between Rin and Rani back on Earth. Rin worked as a wizard but from her position, she is considered a terrorist by the government. In her fight against the Harwey Conglomerate, she followed Leo to the moon. He might be heavily guarded on Earth but on the moon she has a chance to take him out. You see, with the dwindling resources on Earth, if the people from Harwey wins it, the conglomerate will control everything. The future will be screwed. Hakuno wakes up as Saber brags about how she defeated Berserker. Now that Hakuno is aware of what he is, he theorizes he is able to pull off battle experiences from dead Masters as well as their weapons. Arriving at the sixth stratum, it is a foggy land of nothingness. They are attacked by, uhm, Rin? Oh here comes giant Rani. But Rani kills Rin? But Rani killed by Rin clones? Who are then killed by Rani clones? Rinse and repeat. Hakuno and Saber run for it as they witness this never ending loop as well as the unlimited corpses of Rin and Rani. As they theorize about the situation, the real Rin pops up to refute it all. Although, she claims some of it is true. She admits she and Rani are the Floor Masters here but refuse to elaborate more. It is also true they were trying to kill them. Because their objective of having them reach here has been achieved, Rin doesn’t care if they live or die so she takes them to the safest place around: The dome. But right before they enter, Rin breaks up and disappears. I guess inside the dome they’ll find their answers.

The voice of Rin and Rani’s consciousness explain to the duo about this dome being the centre of this stratum. They fought as Masters on this floor but neither won. Neither winners nor losers, they cannot die nor ascend. At the same time, the Holy Grail was suspended and their original bodies became installed in the centre as supplementation devices. Their souls went into deep sleep and themselves refined. Hence each time they dream of fighting and killing each other to ascend to the next stratum but each time they regenerate new avatars. Thus their meaningless battles and the endless numbers of their corpses. So they thought of an idea if Moon Cell put down a verdict, this endless slaughter will end. Therefore their plan to find another Master to reach this stratum. They found one who didn’t give up on the Holy Grail. They hope he would defeat one of them in hopes that one would be freed. In the centre where their bodies lie, Hakuno has to make a choice who to save. Rin wakes up. So did he choose her? She sees Hakuno by Rani’s side. Her body on the verge of disappearing. It seems he wanted to save both of them. But Rani’s body was somewhat complicated and he failed. Rani doesn’t want him to regret and thanks him. At least she now has a proper chance of saying goodbye to him. Rin realizes that had Hakuno killed one of them, the results would have been still the same but it was a path that would at least let one of them rest in peace. Before ascending to the last stratum, they even have time to make a proper grave for Rani. Rin vows to support the duo as long as she lives.

Fake/Extra Bad, Last Straw
I would say that this is the worst Fate series that I have watched. One reason for me to attribute that is that there is no real ending. All the Fate TV series that I have watched have some sort of ending. And they were 2 cours. This one doesn’t even last a dozen! Oh, that Illya spinoff was somewhat ‘incomplete’ but it is ongoing. So we are left hanging and the final fight on the final stratum is not shown. Couldn’t they just have this season a dozen episodes instead of the same amount normal people have as fingers? You see, there was an extra episode released months after this season ended. However I saw that its running time is 2 hours!!!! FREAKING 2 HOURS!!!! Holy (Grail) sh*t!!!! That’s like watching a movie. Watching just 24 minutes of an episode in this one feels like an eternity and you expect me to sit down for that special for 2 hours? Forget it. I’d rather be disappointed and confused now than risk be confused even more. Yeah, if I was a Master taking part in the Holy Grail, I would have been the first to sell my Servant, give up and live the luxurious life in the first stratum.

Hence I will never know if the final extra long special (pun not intended) would really give a closure and a proper end to this series. Because while watching this series, it also felt like as though there are many other parts cut out or missing. For example, the fourth stratum. I mean, out couldn’t be that easy for our main characters to advance to the next level without any sort of fight, right? What about that Leo kid? It’s not proper to ‘introduce’ him and then for the rest of the season for him not to appear at all, right? But his brother got a shot? Plus, I saw the promotional poster for the special, Leo’s face is on it so I suppose he is going to appear there after all. Remember that big conglomerate Rin was trying to take down? Can’t turn that into a red herring, can we?

So I thought perhaps the special episode would like in this series, pepper throughout its duration some flashbacks as part of this series’ trademark to fill you in and piece the puzzle together. I’m not a very smart guy so trying to understand what the hell is going on is already confusing. Yup. Trying to comprehend this series is my hell and dystopia. I guess it wasn’t going to be as simple and cliché as Master and Servant pair fight together stratum by stratum until they reach the final level and defeat the final boss to get their wish fulfilled or whatever answers to their question. We learn about the opponents’ struggles, we learn more about the characters, add drama and tension, blah, blah, blah, yada, yada, yada, and voila, there you have it. An end to another mediocre Fate series.

One of the obvious things I noticed first when I set sights on this series is how the art style and animation is so Shaft-like. Yup, it definitely wasn’t Ufotable handling this Fate series. Hence all the Shaft trademarks from the bizarre angles and their trademark head tilt are ever present. It is so permeating that I won’t blame you that you would first see this as a Shaft series instead of a Fate one. Heck, when I watched the first episode, I was starting to think if I was actually watching a Monogatari series! Not joking. The art style and presentation are so similar that I was thinking they may even do a crossover. Even that episode involving that Alice monster, I thought it was taken inspiration from another anime series Shaft produced: Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica. The monster especially reminding me of that Gertrude witch. You know… Scissors? Yeah… But other than the Shaft-like features, the art style just feels rather normal because when you talk about this segment for this series, you cannot help but compare it to the very superior quality of the Unlimited Blade Works TV remake and its prequel, Fate/Zero. This one is just okay.

On a side note, I just want to note that some of the female characters, Saber and Rin in particular, they look more cute than they are to mature. Just a few more modifications, they can be in their chibi format. Really. But looking at them sometimes had me thinking if they are dolls because they really looks as cute as one. Seriously. I also want to comment on Saber’s outfit. While even the original blue Saber’s battle outfit isn’t really practical for battle and more for aesthetic purposes, I find that this red Saber’s outfit to be a little of a wardrobe malfunction. Although her outfit is made out of a few separate layers, I can’t help if there was a design flaw or because some horny dude decided to design it so as you will notice there is an obvious hole at the back, just enough to see her butt! Yes, she wears some weird one piece swimsuit to cover her boobs down to her tummy and ass (but leaving her back wide open naked) but still it is an odd ‘fashion design’. And of course, Saber’s outfit is also to flaunt her delicious boobs. Yummy.

After watching this Saber for a while, it had occurred to me that she has a more bratty personality despite her sunny and positive disposition. In a way, she sounds more like Shinobu of Monogatari series than Saber! Another reason why I thought this might be Monogatari series. Yeah, I thought Saber’s true identity was that vampire girl! Haha! It would have been mind blowing had that really been true. Compared to the original Saber who has more of that arrogant pride, sure they both Sabers are different Heroic Spirits but this bratty Saber makes it feel like as though she is a kid and her reeking bubbliness sometimes makes it annoying. There is a limit to how positive one can get. Or maybe it is just me being a gloomy otaku loser :’(.

Hakuno himself is a big mystery. It is understandable at the start that he isn’t supposed what he is supposed to be but as the series progresses and bits of his identity is revealed, the more confused I get. By the time the series ended, I am still confused if he is the reincarnation of the female Hakuno or as stated, an accumulation of hatred from all the fallen Masters. Because with all that talk about being ghosts even in cyber space and everything, it just made it more baffling. I mean if you die in cyber space, can you really become a digital ghost? Heck, you already exist in digital format but then you ‘die’ so technically if you’re a ghost you’re still in digital form, right? Argh. My brain is so hurting now.

Hence Hakuno having no clear intention except for the fact he moves on based on the sole emotions of hatred and anger might sound like lazy writing at first because well, plot convenience. Then at every level you start noticing that some characters ask the same thing to him, why he is ascending. Ah, there must be a reason. They might have explained it but my mind was already going haywire so I probably didn’t understand well. So if Hakuno actually wins this Holy Grail War, will he himself get the wish or all the mass he is made up? Unlike Saber whom I thought felt like Shinobu, I don’t feel Hakuno is in anyway a counterpart to Monogatari’s Araragi. He lacks the sarcastic punch line the latter has. And he has got no harem. No, Rin and Rani don’t count.

Rin feels like a sneaky scheming little rat rather than someone prideful. Probably she had no Servant so this is what she is reduced to. But it confuses me as I am not sure if the entire event is repeated again, although it is likely it is so. Because Rin remembers something like that. Heck, everybody remembers something like that. It is said that this Holy Grail War repeated itself many times with the same results but only this time (this series that we are now watching), Hakuno somehow broke that cycle and is now part of the happening. Unprecedented? Hence Rin is like the mysterious guide to lead the duo to where she and Rani are in hopes to find an end. And Hakuno being the good guy despite the irony he is made out of mass hatred, tried to save them both.

I don’t really understand how the Holy Grail of the Moon Cell works but assuming it is all digital and there is a winner, wouldn’t any wish be very much feasible because you know, the internet is capable of creating anything! You want to live forever? Sure. In digital format. Forever. You want riches? Sure. Have unlimited amounts of Bitcoins. You want a harem? Of course. Dating simulation for all eternity! Whatever you want, the internet can provide! Hence the thought of people’s souls being trapped and locked down here and the only exit is if somebody wins the whole thing (plus if you die here, your real body also dies) feels like a rip-off from Sword Art Online. Too freaking similar… After all, this series came out a year later after Sword Art Online which debuted in 2009 – almost a decade ago!

The action stuffs are just okay. Just enough to satisfy your thoughts that since this is a Fate series and it involves the fight for the Holy Grail, therefore there must be some fights between Masters and Servants. So the usual Noble Phantasm that is used once because you know it’s not a good thing to always spam your trump card. I think it would have been a little more awesome if we get to see the format of all 128 participants fighting each other for the next stratum. You just need to kill 1 opponent for the next stage. Or at least a battle royale in the early stages. Like PUBG or Fortnite. I suppose with Hakuno as the 129th one, it screws up the perfect elimination format. Heck, it could just mean that somebody may get 2 kills or an unlucky participant gets left behind forever stuck on the first stratum. But instead for some plot twist, we have our main heroes fight a boss of the floor instead. Yeah, it feels like they’ve been put there waiting for this very sole reason.

Some of the old seiyuus of familiar characters were retained such as Kana Ueda as Rin, Hiroshi Kamiya as Shinji and Jouji Nakata as Kirei. New ones are Sakura Tange as Saber (Jack in Fate/Apocrypha – damn if she was voiced by Maaya Sakamoto, I would have continued to make my assumptions how Saber is indeed Shinobu reincarnated), Atsushi Abe as Hakuno (Touma in To Aru Majutsu No Index), Asami Sanada as Rani (Kurumi in Date A Live), Ayaka Imamura as Amari (Angie in Princess Principal), Urara Takano as Rider (Maria in Sakura Wars), Mugihito as Dan (Wombat in Binan Koukou Chikyuu Bouei-bu Love), Kousuke Toriumi as Archer (Mercurius in Dies Irae), Ai Nonaka as Alice (Kyouko in Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica), Wataru Hatano as Julius (Gajeel in Fairy Tail) and Romi Paku as Leo (Edward in Fullmetal Alchemist).

The opening theme is Bright Burning Shout by Takanori Nishikawa. Hard rock music which feels suitable enough for the theme of this series even in its entirety it is not action all the way. If the ending theme, Tsuki To Hanabata sounds freaking similar to you, then you must have seen the anime series, Kuzu No Honkai. Yes, the same singer, Sayuri sings both songs and you can tell how freaking similar Tsuki To Hanabata is. Damn, I thought it was the same song! I suppose this must be her trademark singing style like how Ali Project is to mischievous gothic and that out-of-tune-voice is to Nano Ripe. Yeah… Fortunately because I like Heikousen, this piece also doesn’t sound too shabby.

Overall, not one of the best Fate adaptations and only hardcore fans can either appreciate or hate it to the core with disgust. Or both. But I have a feeling it is more of the latter. Ordinary viewers like me would just be so confused since it is very much assumed that you would have read the Fate novels and played its games to have some very basic knowledge. With Shaft handling this spinoff, it feels more like a Monogatari series than a Fate series from the way the complexity story is told and its visual angles. Having a Holy Grail War and a Fate series in a virtual world sounds like a bold and fresh attempt. But I figure there is a reason why this series has to be the original physical format of Masters versus Servants. At least magic by default looks and sounds more acceptable unlike digital hacking and cheating. You might get banned from the server but cheaters will still find a way to come back and continue cheating. Not even the Holy Grail can ever stop that from happening.

The teasing has not stopped yet. Nor it will ever. Hence that is why we have an extra episode, Karakai Jouzu No Takagi-san OVA to continue watching Nishikata’s torment. Since this doesn’t amount to any serious bullying, I guess we’re okay with it. Also, this OVA is somewhat your ‘fanservice’ pool episode. Sure, the TV series had its own mini pool episode but this one is entirely at a real pool amusement park. Wait a minute. Are we here to see Takagi in a swimsuit or she pulling her usual pranks off Nishikata?

Water slide
Remember that swimsuit that Takagi had Nishikata accompany her to buy? Yup, she’s wearing it now. Isn’t she cute? Also, it looks like not only the duo are here at the pool park but Nakai and Mano too. The moment they meet up in their swimsuits, Nakai takes Nishikata to the water slide. Immediately this frustrates Mano. Not only did he not compliment her swimsuit but she really wanted to ride the water slide with him. She thought of busting her blues by hanging out with Takagi but soon it becomes apparent she does want to be with him. Later it is discovered why she wants to ride the water slide with him because of the legend that says those who ride down together will forever love each other. Sighs… Another one of those urban Japanese love rumours. Who the f*ck keeps telling people such ‘lies’?! Of course Mano wants Nakai to be the one who ask her and is willing to wait. Good luck on waiting forever. Yeah, everything must be perfect for a girl in love. Takagi agrees to help out and gives an excuse to go be with Nishikata. If she is with him, Nakai would surely be with her. Meanwhile the 3 Stooges are also here. Yukari is appalled the floats are out of stock. And she can’t swim. Don’t worry. The duo will teach her. But soon we see them lazing around and enjoying. What happened to the swimming lesson? It sees there is a reason why Yukari fears the water. She sinks like a hammer. And no, it is not her weight!

As the guys walk up to the slide, Nishikata hears Nakai talking going down the slide with Mano. She hinted something about it but he brushed it off. Yeah, he thinks it is okay. Then Nishikata feels somebody giving a death stare. Holy sh*t! It’s Mano! Definitely not okay! So as he slides down, he is trying to think of an excuse to break away from Nakai. Too bad he couldn’t enjoy the ride down and Nakai teases he was thinking about Takagi. This gives Nishikata a great idea but then again, this would make him look like he is asking Takagi out. Back to the drawing board. Eventually he gives an excuse to go find her but Nakai thinks he should just say he wants to be with her. Nishikata is thinking hard but look like Takagi found him. She suggests they go get juice. They talk about Nakai and Mano and the slide so Takagi suggests spying on them. Looks like they’re heading up and riding down together. No problems. Since it looked fun, Takagi wants Nishikata to ride down too. Separately. That kid almost got a heart attack. As she goes first, she lays down a challenge for him to catch and then makes a head start. This leaves Nishikata as usual fumbling as he tries to catch up. Just when he has find the rhythm to slide down faster, Takagi tells him about the slide’s love legend. Instantly embarrassed Nishikata tries all his might to slow down. ‘Hand brakes’ not working. Yeah, he didn’t enjoy the ride down either. Takagi has the laugh of her life. Had fun, did she?

Meanwhile Takagi’s other male classmates are also here. They see Nakai and Mano together. But when dense Nakai invites them to ride the water slide together, immediately they can see Mano’s unhappy face! Thank goodness they are sharp enough to make excuse they want to do something else! Phew. Takagi and Nishikata resurface from the pool. Nakai again teases him for his bumpy ride due to thinking about Takagi. Now that the guys go ride the water slide again, the girls laugh to each other and decide to have fun somewhere else. At the end of the day, Yukari looks like she didn’t enjoy her pool moment. She thought she saw Takagi but came to a conclusion she didn’t. This prompts the rest to assure her they will still be her friend even if she cannot swim. Even if she is heavy! Hey!!! After Takagi and Nishikata part ways, the former can tell by the embarrassed reaction of the latter that he has been teased all day. He won’t admit it but in his heart he does so. Nishikata thinks that he can get back at her now since she is no longer in her swimsuit. But Takagi strikes first! She wants to come ride the water slide again. Images of that love legend spring into Nishikata’s mind, causing him to fluster. Even if they slide separately next time, Nishikata insists he goes first. Okay. But Takagi insists she will catch up to him. Poor guy. He just can’t win.

Don’t Let Your Love Slide Away
Ah well, another rather okay entry to the series and nothing really spectacular. I guess we have gotten so used to the formula that we expected Nishikata to get tons of teasing nonstop. Either we have become immune or maybe they cut a bit of slack for this guy. Because it feels like Takagi has reduced the ‘impact’ of her teasing on Nishikata. There were no over the top pranking manoeuvres nor excessive mind reading to stay many steps ahead. Expect the unexpected. You know, that kind of moment in the TV series of prank or be pranked first. Always and often it is Nishikata who always gets the short end of the stick. Thus the pranks here feel tame in comparison to some of the teasing she pulled off in the series but then again, she doesn’t even need to put in a lot of effort just to tease Nishikata. Just say the few right words and this guy will blow up as always. He won’t disappoint, I guarantee.

Besides, this episode wasn’t totally on them as it sometimes focuses on Mano and Nakai. They’re pretty normal but I guess Nakai falls under the category of one of those dense boyfriend. If this guy was the subject of Takagi’s pranks, it will fail from the start and the pranks will never happen again. Yeah, this guy is so dense that he could still be riding the water slide if the whole place is somehow on fire! Well Mano, keep trying and praying that you dude will finally open his eyes. Well, literally. Because his eyes is often closed. Haha! Whoops… So we can expect more or less the same thing wherever Takagi and Nishikata are. Fun on the beach, camping in the mountains, visit to the hotspring inn or skiing down the snowy terrain, we know as long as they are together, the teasing will never stop. Anytime, anywhere. At least they’ll always have each other at heart.

Tada-kun Wa Koi Wo Shinai

September 16, 2018

I get it. I can tell from the title, Tada-kun Wa Koi Wo Shinai is going to be some slapstick comedy about our titular character who is never going to fall in love. Well duh. It’s in the title that says it all. Because of his stubbornness never to fall in love, there will be numerous parties trying to set him up so as they all have their ulterior motives but they all fail because he is the kind of guy who isn’t going to easily take the bait of falling in love. Hence the slapstick comedy of people trying and failing to convince guy to fall in love until the real love of his life comes about. Challenge accepted! Wait… What was that you say? This series is nothing like that? Not at all?! So you mean it is still a romantic comedy but involving a normal Japanese guy with a beautiful foreigner girl. Oh… Oh… Uhm… Okay. You mean something like Princess Diaries? So of all the millions of local kawaii nippon onna, some ranging to the perfect yamato nadeshiko, a blonde white chick got his heart? Oh… Oh… Okay. I guess that’s love for you. I’m still in shock it’s not the former synopsis. How epic it would be had it been so… :(

Episode 1
Mitsuyoshi Tada is taking pictures in the park when foreigner, Teresa Wagner hopes he could help her take a picture. Too bad her batteries are dead. Since she is lost and her companion has all the stuffs, Mitsuyoshi suggests using her SD card in his camera to take a photo. Later he catches her trying to jump into the river thinking the sluice is some secret passage. She’s a big fan of Rainbow Samurai period drama. Another chance meeting when he sees her getting wet in the rain so he brings her back to his family café to dry. There’s grandpa Shouzou, little sister Yui and pet cat Nyanko Big. Everyone is stunned with Teresa’s beauty and of course Mitsuyoshi has to deny she is his girlfriend. You can tell Mitsuyoshi’s friend, Kaoru Ijuuin is egoistic when Nyanko Big often snarls at him. Heck, the snarling is a staple entry in their online blog? As he takes a closer look at Teresa, Alexandra “Alec” Magritte comes in to beat him up, thinking he is attacking her. The surprising part is not how he got a black eye after flying to the wall but rather how the f*ck did she see that as attacking. Perhaps for comic relief for Kaoru to always fear her? So as the girls talk, we learn Teresa is from Larsenburg. Where the f*ck is that small country in Europe?! The duo take their leave and from Alec’s lecturing to Teresa to take more responsibility, it is very much hinted she is a royalty. My guts tell me she is so. Definitely. Later as Mitsuyoshi and Kaoru hit town to take more photos, they stumble into the duo again. Apparently they are lost thanks to this badly drawn map of the place they’re supposed to reside, Grand Palace Ginza. Well… It’s a hotel just right next to the café!!! How the f*ck did they miss such a big building on their way out?! That night as Mitsuyoshi goes through his photos, he now knows why Teresa feels familiar. She has the same green eyes as Nyanko Big. To complete the cliché, surprisingly not surprising, Teresa and Alec become transfer students in Mitsuyoshi’s class. Hot foreigner chick is so obviously hot.

Episode 2
Class rep, Hinako Hasegawa talks to Teresa and Alec that based on the school rules, all students must join a club. She takes them to various clubs and right at the photography club where Mitsuyoshi and Kaoru are members are, they hear the club president, Hajime “Pin” Sugimoto making a passionate declaration they must win the photography competition using women nudes. When Teresa seemingly touches memorabilia of Hina the gravure idol, Pin loses his cool. He goes on ranting about her being the top model representing Japan, blah, blah, blah, but Alec could sense that Hina might be Hasegawa. Yes it is. Oh, did I tell you that she is also a club member? She and Pin don’t get along well but I’m guessing there’s a reason why they act like that… It is suggested that the duo try out the club. But of course. The best way is to hold a photo competition. After Mitsuyoshi whistles for other club member, Kentarou Yamashita to come (he responds like a dog and hence his nickname Yamashita Dog), they split themselves into teams. A team will chase the other team and try to take pictures of them. No blur or partial shots. Once time is up, they will switch roles. At the end of the game, the one with the best photo wins. It begins with Mitsuyoshi, Yamashita and Teresa chasing down the others. Despite Yamashita’s keen sense of smell, they might track down Alec but she moves fast like a ninja! They also bait Pin with Hina products and they get some good clear shots. When the roles are reversed, Alec uses his swift ninja skills to corner Mitsuyoshi’s team. Seeing Teresa’s pitifully cornered looks, she subtly helps let them get away. Now Pin’s team is on the run, the canteen lady seems to splash water on Hasegawa. Luckily Pin uses his body to protect her. It might look like a romantic hugging scene until it is revealed he was just protecting the expensive camera from the water. In the end, a photo from Alec on Teresa wins the competition. With Teresa having lots of fun, you bet she wants to join. Everyone celebrates their new members at the café.

Episode 3
We hear the narration from Nyanko Big’s point of view of how Mitsuyoshi saved him by picking him up as a stray. As repayment, he will always watch over him. A considerate cat? Maybe Mitsuyoshi feeds him good. Then he smells nice fish from Teresa’s room (conveniently right across Mitsuyoshi’s room) and jumps! Fat cat can’t jump far but don’t worry, a cat is still a cat and can land well. With Teresa and Alec helping Mitsuyoshi in his café, we also hear his narration about some of the patrons of the café like the rich spoilt brat Kaoru and a café regular who reads hitman all over his face. The friends take a break with Alec introducing this chocolate spoon drink. A stick is stuck in this chocolate solid cube. Just dunk it into hot water and you’ll have a nice hot chocolate drink. Nice idea. We also see Nyanko Big walking around town and for reasons unknown to him (and for us for the rest of the season), everyone else calls him Miko-chan. Oh well, cats don’t speak… At the park as the photography club members take photos for their competition, Kaoru seems to believe in the existence of kappa because of an incident where his foot got stuck in the river and his friends abandoned him thinking the kappa was going to kill him. Only Mitsuyoshi ‘saved’ and pulled him out. Teresa also remembers a ‘river incident’ back home. Alec made her a floral wreath and it dropped into the river. Without thinking she jumped in to save it. Although Teresa was alright, worried Alec started crying over her reckless behaviour. Mitsuyoshi continues to take more pictures and as explain, his father was a famous photographer and he wants to follow his footsteps. A female cat comes up to Teresa. Everyone knows her as Cherry, the cat from the beauty salon. Nyanko Big sees her and has fallen in love with her. Too bad he can’t jump across the river. Almost drowned but didn’t. Cherry ignores him. Even cats know the pains of love.

Episode 4
Pin is excited there is a greet and meet event with Hina. Oh no. Time to hear his godly Hina praises. The guys know he is going to get nervous like he always does when he gets up close with a girl. Evidence with him imagining Hina and he passes out. I guess the best way to overcome that is to practice. Hasegawa ends up practising with him and he is still as nervous as hell. But he isn’t so as he rants about her bootylicious curves. Later, Alec talks to Hasegawa and knows she is Hina. It’s very obvious from her point of view. She explains that her aunt works in a modelling agency and was made to stand in when a model didn’t turn up. Before she knew it, she started modelling and Hina took a life of her own. Hasegawa thought that this was a good chance to change since she was a shy person to begin with. Pin doesn’t realize she is Hina and she couldn’t tell him not after he told her he became her biggest fan. Obviously she likes him too. Although he might be dumb and perverted, Hasegawa knows his shy and gentle side. Sooner or later he will discover she is her but she still can’t bring herself to tell him for fear of disappointing him. But she wishes he showed interest in the real her. Teresa believes Hina is part of the real Hasegawa. You know Pin is a wreck when he comes to the even dressed as a punk! Luckily for him but unfortunately for Mitsuyoshi (because he lost the bet), they swap clothes. It is Pin’s turn to meet Hina. Nervous as hell. Even more nervous when the notes he wrote to say to her (looking more like curses) is misplaced. Hina as a professional calms him down. Will Pin realize the same words Hasegawa used? Nope. Just allowing him to calm down and at least greet and talk to her. Right before the security drags him out for overstaying his allotted time. After Pin brags to his friends, he calls Hasegawa to tell about the beautiful girl he met. Is this rubbing in her face? Not sure but at least she feels happy. For now, she would prefer status quo and is okay with him not realizing she is Hina. She will tell him once she has more confidence in herself. She wants to save what is important for last.

Episode 5
It has been 10 years since Mitsuyoshi’s parents died in a car accident. Kaoru shows up to do his annual show. This time he cooks a special dish for each of his friends as per their request. When Teresa spots a young photo of Mitsuyoshi, he explains that was the last photo his parents took of him that day they left to the airport. Oddly, only the camera and its film were left intact. Teresa feels sad for him. Later the friends visit the public bathhouse. As usual, the girls talk about boob size as well as if they like anybody. Nothing solid but we already know that Hasegawa likes Pin and Yui for Yamashita. And of course, it sounds like Teresa has a fiancé, right? Over to the guys, of course they talk about girls’ boobs (size does matter!) as well as if they like anybody. Why are they talking so loudly that the girls’ side can hear? Pin slips but luckily has no serious injury. This only aggravates Kaoru’s fear for kappa since the pail he stepped on had that print. As they leave, Kaoru seems to be troubled by something from Mitsuyoshi. But Mitsuyoshi thanks him for his annual show and he is okay now. He sulks but promises to continue doing it every year. The siblings tell the foreigners about today being the death anniversary of their parents. Kaoru tried to cheer Mitsuyoshi up every day and ever since then, he started his annual show just for that on this day. It’s his way of being nice. When Teresa and Alec return to their room, they are surprised to see Charles de Loire waiting. He has followed his fiancée here, the future queen of Larsenburg, Princess Teresa de Larsenburg.

Episode 6
Charles’ university is on holiday so he figured what a better way to get to know the country his fiancée is visiting. After Charles leaves for the night, Teresa knows Alec likes Charles. She admits to it and because she respects him, that’s why he is worthy to be Teresa’s fiancé. Charles is introduced as Teresa’s childhood friend to the photography club members. The guys don’t like him but with a little praising, they instantly become his friend! It’s a wonder how certain words can go a long way. He takes a look at each of their photography work and commends them. He also visits the café and with Nyanko Big liking him, I guess this dispels that he might be a wolf in sheep clothing. At least for now. For some reason, the photography club gets invited to a lavish party which is also attended by the Larsenburg royalties. Teresa and Alec look stunning in their dresses. Is this the moment Mitsuyoshi falls for Teresa because he is staring at her awfully long. Mitsuyoshi and Teresa later bump into each other outside. I guess they need a little fresh air. Or is this the way fate decided to put them together? Because it starts raining and they take shelter at a nearby shrine and they pass the time with Mitsuyoshi showing her some of his photos. Meanwhile Charles dances with Alec otherwise there will be other squealing girls who would love to dance with him. He is relieved that her school friends are nice people because he was worried when she left, she would get homesick. Once their dance ends, Alec panics when she realizes Teresa isn’t around. By the time she finds her (rain has stop, time to admire the stars), it is like almost the end of the world for Alec. You can hear the shiver in her voice and tremble in her hands. She was really terrified she had lost her. But now that they are found safe and sound, I suppose everything is going to be alright. Well, except Mitsuyoshi’s heart sank when he sees Charles taking Teresa away. Why looking so sad? Back home, Teresa feels guilty for making Alec worry and promises to be more careful. She assures her that before she came to Japan, she already made up her mind of studying abroad and then returning to Larsenburg. She will marry Charles and be the next queen. But why the worried look on her face after that?

Episode 7
We have a big problem. Nyanko Big is missing. Even his ‘girlfriend’ (a foxtail) is missing. Since Yui is pretty worried as she grew up with him, I guess the gang will have to start searching where he went. Yamashita might have encountered all sorts of cats and being snarled at but no Nyanko Big. When Charles calls Teresa and she tells him the problem, he notes he saw Nyanko Big last night while he was jogging. He dropped his foxtail in the river and jumped in to save him. Of course Charles helped him out. To find out where Nyanko Big went next, Charles talk to a cat. Seriously he understood what the cat said???!!! Is he the cat whisperer???!!! Nyanko Big is seen on top of a flower shop. Nothing the friends do can get him down. Is he stuck? But Yui notices something. From opposite where Nyanko Big sits is the place where Cherry lives. Definitely this cat is in love. Then they see him trying to do something suicidal by jumping across to his love! Good news: He makes it. Bad news: Damn window. As Charles translates, Nyanko Big wanted to give Cherry his prized possession. Too bad he got rejected again. Apparently this is the place where Yamashita’s senior, Chia lives. The way they chat, Yui knows he likes her and it breaks her heart. Later as the friends celebrate at the festival, Yui talks to Yamashita and finds out he still likes her despite only seeing him as a little brother. He has to accept that and is just happy to see her smile. Time for Yui to let out her one-sided love too as she cries in Teresa’s arms about the pangs of love. She wants more than to just see his smile and want to do stuffs with him. Next day, Yui feels better and Nyanko Big heads out again. Not giving up, I see? He bumps into Charles again and they ‘talk’. He understands about never giving up because once you do so, it’s over. He remembers Teresa relentlessly helping to find his lost important bracelet in the river until she found it. It was then he truly fell in love with her.

Episode 8
Charles drives the friends to Mt Fuji as Pin plans to enter a photo contest and the theme is stars. We see them visiting the shrine and enjoying themselves at the inn. The usual Japanese stuffs they tend to do at such places. Later Teresa spots Charles giving Alec a gift. She might have gotten the wrong idea since it was just to soothe her after she noticed him being busy over his work. At night, the friends trek to the camping site near Mt Fuji. Because of the clouds and all, the stars stay hidden and they have to wait till it clears up. You can sense this ‘melancholic’ feel between Mitsuyoshi and Teresa but thanks to Kaoru being a joker, it’s like him clowning around is trying not to make this so obvious. Once everyone is asleep, left Mitsuyoshi and Teresa, perfect for them to talk things out. After he pulls her close to him to avoid her from falling into the lake, then they start talking about ‘melancholic’ things like Teresa mentioning about that last photo of his parents in his café. He replies about the need to grow up quickly and when he asks her back if something similar happened to her, she also felt the same as she hints about making a certain someone dear to her cry after being reckless. She felt sad and apologetic. Mitsuyoshi’s answer to that is to try not to repeat the same mistakes because otherwise that would be regret. I’m not sure if those words spark something inside Teresa’s heart. That gaze. That dramatic soundtrack. The stars are all lit up now. And damn Kaoru talking in his sleep, scaring the hell out of Teresa so she could cling on to Mitsuyoshi. Oh well, time for you sleepyheads to wake up and start taking pictures of the sky. Teresa and Alec see off Charles at the airport. He advises Alec to have more faith in Teresa since this will be their last time can live freely before following their destined path. After the plane takes off, Alec confronts Teresa to talk.

Episode 9
With that look on Teresa’s face, Alec can tell that she has fallen in love with Mitsuyoshi. Yup, that guilty reaction look too. But she assures she will return and become queen of Larsenburg. But she didn’t say who will become her king… Back in school, Teresa acts differently and strangely. Not sure if she is imitating her favourite Rainbow Samurai but if Alec says she is normal, I guess she is normal. After school as it rains, Teresa didn’t bring her umbrella so Mitsuyoshi lends his. Too bad later Kaoru didn’t bring his so that the guys could share. They run back to the café and is all soaked. Pin has the club members show their photo shoots. With Teresa, Alec and Yamashita taking pictures of objects shaped like a star, well, technically… Pin should have been more specific in his star theme. Uh huh. Because vain Kaoru photographs himself since he is the star!!! How big is his ego? Finally some real quality star photos from Pin and Hasegawa but when it is Mitsuyoshi’s turn, he collapses! Due to that rain incident, he has developed a fever. I guess Kaoru didn’t because he is an idiot ;p. Teresa feels guilty for it so she offers to help out at the café. After the guys left, Yui realizes they didn’t bring down the dishes from Mitsuyoshi’s room and sends Teresa to get them. Time for curious girl to look around and ascertain her feelings. After seeing his photos as well as his handsome sleeping face, I guess she can’t resist the temptation to kiss him. You go girl! Are you sure you want to leave Big Nyanko as the witness? Not really sure she did it but she pulls back and starts crying while realizing her feelings. We figured that out like long ago. Like, when we read the synopsis of this anime. Teresa is so sad that Nyanko Big had to console her. There, there. She returns to the rest downstairs like normal. Like all that didn’t happen and was just in our minds. Maybe this is some sort of ‘training’ for the ‘poker face’ she needs to put on when she becomes queen.

Episode 10
Mitsuyoshi accompanies Teresa to a Rainbow Shogun fair. Since it’s just the both of them, it’s like a date? She is having the time of her life including getting involved in the stage show. They got a cool commemorative photo with the actor because of that. Now, if you’re wondering why Teresa is talking about her servant, Rachel who is actually Japanese, whose actually name is Reiko and probably Larsenburg royalty can’t properly pronounce her name and hence the corruption, that’s because Alec passes a letter from Reiko to Shouzou. I can guess their relationship now. Kaoru teases Alec to be alone and offers to date. He gets a shock when she agrees but realizes he got trolled when she changes her mind. Mitsuyoshi and Teresa visit the Skytree Tower. Because it is raining, it brings back those memories for him. Hence his regret had he made his parents leave a little later, the accident wouldn’t have happened. Mitsuyoshi realizes he talked too much on this but Teresa says he is not at fault. It is not the accident but rather the regret of not being able to honestly share his feelings. I’ve got a feeling she is saying this from experience, like, you know, right now… She is grateful for his words of not repeating the same mistakes. He doesn’t remember saying that. As the weather clears up, Mitsuyoshi realizes the high altitude and starts getting scared. When they return home and part ways, you can tell something is wrong when Teresa notes how grateful she is for meeting him but didn’t say that to his face. Next day as the friends head to school like normal, they are in for a shocking announcement by the teacher. Teresa and Alec has left for home due to family issues. Everybody in shock. Mitsuyoshi never looked this sad and surprised.

Episode 11
I don’t think shouting outside her room would do any good, Kaoru. You’re just annoying the neighbours. So they try to peep from Mitsuyoshi’s place and what do they see? It’s empty inside! Man, they cleaned everything out. I know the kids were in school but didn’t anybody from the café knew some big movers came? So we’ve got the gang trying to live like normal while trying to wonder why Teresa left without saying a word. At the same time, Mitsuyoshi is like trying to live normally but from experience, he looks like suppressing his feelings, making his depression looking even more visible. We have some trolls like new people moving into the hotel, Mitsuyoshi stumbling into a stash of Rainbow Shogun goods and not responding to Kaoru’s idiocy. Maybe the last one’s okay. You know this guy is so depressed, he went to Skytree Tower alone, not even having his phobia on display. He is awed with the clear view of the horizon. I wonder if he could see Larsenburg from here. More trolling because a couple of girls almost look like Teresa and Alec. Bummer. At the end of the year, the photography club members have to clean out their junk. They find an extra SD card. They check it out and it’s no surprise it belongs to Teresa. Lots of rock photos… And then the one that really hits the feels is that video during that photo competition they had among each other in school. More visions of Teresa. That’s it for Mitsuyoshi. He’s going home. What has a depressed guy got to do but lie down on his bed? Best friend Kaoru talks to him and knows he likes Teresa because of this super beautiful picture he took of her. It’s about time Mitsuyoshi admitted how dumb he is not to realize his feelings. But can you blame him? The people he care about disappear all of a sudden. Even if he shuts out his heart, he still can’t get used to these feelings. He wants to see her one more time. He needs to tell her something. So how? Shouzou suggests going to Larsenburg to find her. So on the day Mitsuyoshi’s beautiful picture of Teresa got displayed in the competition halls, he is already on a plane to Larsenburg and Kaoru is keeping a close watch on him. It’s amazing he didn’t get arrested for dressing so suspicious and acting like stalking.

Episode 12
We’re here at Larsenburg! What bothers me is how Mitsuyoshi managed to get through his fear of heights but how the heck he managed to get permission to leave school for this trip. Anyway, it took him 3 hours just to recover and bum out at the airport. Kaoru missed the bus he got on after he got distracted buying coffee. As he tries to track him, he spots a picture of Teresa and supposedly her family in some souvenir stand. You shock to hear Princess Teresa? Mitsuyoshi has leads from grandpa to find Reiko and so he is outside this palace-like building with guards who won’t answer him. I don’t think they’re obliged to say anything. Luckily for him, Reiko sees him and invites him in. At first she mistakes him as Shouzou but he explains he is his grandson. Well, he looks almost like him. As Reiko explains she once worked in his café during her college years, Charles pops up and is pleasant to see this special guest. Teresa catches Alec sniffing on Charles’ coat. My, my. She knows she is in love with Charles but Alec keeps denying it despite displaying her I-am-lying habit. She then says if she admits, would anything come of it. They are interrupted when Charles surprises them with Teresa. Yup, Teresa looking very surprised. Because Mitsuyoshi has not figured things out (seriously, he hasn’t already at this point?!), Charles tells Teresa to explain things as gratitude.

They are left alone and soon Teresa explains she is the only daughter to the king of Larsenburg. He doesn’t look that surprise but the way he asks if she is a princess clearly shows he doesn’t know. Gee Mitsuyoshi, on your way here didn’t the signs already hinted you or have you been closing your eyes all the time? He realizes Teresa’s talk about growing up and responsibility meant now. Teresa continues explaining about the Larsenburg’s family rite of passage that they leave the country to expand their horizon. Fortunately for us, she picked Japan. That’s how she met Mitsuyoshi and the rest. She realized she had too much fun and got scared and came back home. I know she loves her people and won’t forget her duty but do ‘run away home’ like that doesn’t that sound a bit pathetic? No? Okay. She says once she turns 18, she will marry and become queen. Charles is her betrothed. Now it’s that shock look on Mitsuyoshi’s face. Everything was decided on her birth. So wait. She becomes 18, marries and becomes queen. What about her mom? She retires from being queen? I thought only death allows royalties that ‘luxury’? If not, isn’t she technically still a princess but a married one? Anyway, we know how much Teresa’s heart hurts that she wants to be left alone so she could cry her heart out. Oh Charles, it’s not good to eavesdrop outside hearing your future queen cry even if it’s not intentional. It makes you sadder. Mitsuyoshi also leaves with a very heavy heart. When Kaoru finally finds him, he freaks out seeing Mitsuyoshi crying!!!

Episode 13
Reiko has some advice for Teresa followed by Alec. Whatever the advice was, I guess it wasn’t really that good because both of them start crying. Damn, Charles waiting outside now can’t come in. Kaoru notices a letter slipped in Mitsuyoshi’s backpack (by Reiko). It is an invitation to tomorrow’s royal party. Kaoru wants him to attend so he could say what he needs to to Teresa. Mitsuyoshi brushes it off, prompting Kaoru to chide him he overcome his plane phobia all the way here and has never cried ever since his parents death. You really want to regret this? Still no reaction? He threatens to throw away the letter. Oh, the wind blows it away. Now we have a reaction. Mitsuyoshi jumps into the freezing river just to chase after it! I suppose now he realizes he needs it. Faster, the letter is going to be lost forever in the sewer. Yeah, Mitsuyoshi catching up. While running in water! And it’s like f*ckey because he tries to grab the letter but couldn’t. Like as though someone tied a string to it and pulled it away each time he tries to go for the grab. Funny. Of course he finally grabs it before the point of no return. Phew. So cliché. Next day, Mitsuyoshi looks sharp as he attends the party. Is Charles going to announce his love for Teresa in public? Because hell he can’t as Mitsuyoshi steps up. I wonder how a normal guy like him can get so close to them. Where are the guards? I know Alec is capable but they still need to have security in an important party like this. Anyway, the ever gracious Charles allows them to talk alone.

Long story short from Mitsuyoshi’s words about wanting to say what he really needs to say: He fell in love with her at first sight. He was in love with her the whole time. Yeah, we figured that out like, from the start. Oh sh*t! Teresa’s crying! Remember what Charles said about hurting her and he will beat up your ass? Anyway, Teresa claims this as unfair. She reveals she ran back here because of him. Yeah, that complicated feelings thingy. Long story short from Teresa’s words about what she wants to say to him: She fell in love with him at first sight ever since she met him. Yeah, they’re really saying like as though they’re never going to see each other again. Thanks for the love. Meanwhile curious-cum-worried Alec wants to peek at them but Charles doesn’t want this moment to be ever ruined. Thank goodness. Back in Japan, everyone congratulates Pin’s graduation. Oh, look at that shiny plaque of Mitsuyoshi that he won the photo competition. Then the biggest shocking news: Charles broke off the engagement claiming he needs more freedom! Yeah, now he is hanging around with Alec. Meanwhile Mitsuyoshi is shocked to see Teresa here. In Japan. Why? She came running for you! I want to say it is fate but I’m calling it plot convenience for a happy ending. Because they’re so happy that they hug each other and even kiss! In the park! Thankfully nobody around. Imagine the scandal of seeing a princess kissing a commoner out in the open.

Love Is Always Rainbow
I don’t know if I am to feel happy or annoyed that Mitsuyoshi and Teresa ended up together in the name of true love. At the start I expected them to but as the series progresses and from the direction it was going, I was ‘fooled’ and made to believe and settle that those 2 will never be together. You know, royalty-commoner thingy. Not really surprising. And then this ultimate f*ckery (shock factor, some would say). While the royalty in Larsenburg may not make headlines around the world, but what do the people of Larsenburg think? Well, everyone looks pretty calm. Charles and Alec were able to be out in the open together. Without paparazzi and the media hounding them! Is this really true freedom?! Is this really true privacy respecting?! And for Teresa to come to Japan all alone without being followed (assuming now everyone knows she is a princess), isn’t that a bit dangerous and irresponsible? I mean, the engagement is broken off. That doesn’t mean she has shirked her duties as queen. She is still the princess of Larsenburg, right? That’s why I say plot convenience more than anything (especially in the last episode) and it somewhat ruined all those mushy-mushy sentiments that was building up in me. Yes, seriously.

So the oddest part about Mitsuyoshi never to fall in love stems from the fact of the trauma of fearing to lose the ones he considers dearest. Well, I find that a bit hard to believe because if it is so, does that mean he doesn’t consider his friends from the photography club as dearest? He isn’t as exuberant as Kaoru or even Yamashita and keeps some distance but if that’s the case like how he avoids falling in love, shouldn’t he too try to avoid making friends? If that wasn’t convincing enough, what about grandpa Shouzou and imouto Yui? It makes more sense since they too are his closest and perhaps only family members. He should be living like a hermit and all alone if he truly believes he is cursed in love. Hence the pen-penultimate and penultimate episode of Mitsuyoshi trying to live up to the name of this series by playing poker face and failing badly at it. I know he shouldn’t be like monkey Kaoru but holding in his feelings isn’t going to do him any good. Oh see, now he cried after learning he realizes he is truly in love. You lose the game of love, boy. But since he got the girl in the end, I guess all is forgiven. Hey, how many of us can say we have got a princess as a girlfriend?

Thus I am not sure if it is fair to be annoyed at Mitsuyoshi and Teresa trying to maintain their friendship and be friends because of the circumstances they are in. Mitsuyoshi and his childhood trauma (considering it all, he seems to be handling it pretty well generally) while Teresa has to keep in mind that she will be the future queen of her country. Both try not to cross over the friendship line in fear the unthinkable might happen. Mitsuyoshi thinks history would repeat itself while would Teresa’s countrymen accept her love for a Japanese commoner? Besides, since their marriage was already determined at birth, it would be bad if the family who ‘booked’ Charles to marry Teresa suddenly finds themselves in the lurch because Teresa was given the freedom to choose her love. Every time Mitsuyoshi and Teresa are together, it just makes you want to scream for them to get together already. And then they had to wait until breaking point to do it. If that is the way how their love unfolds, so be it.

The other supporting characters are just rather okay. Kaoru being a joker as part of his life time job and role to supposedly cheer up Mitsuyoshi but all the while we see him in his poker face like as though he can’t really overreact to his monkey business and let out his true emotions or else he would lose whatever. So I guess that’s why Mitsuyoshi is just as close to emotionless when he does everything. I wonder if this is a running joke for Kaoru to be beaten up by Alec initially so that he could shiver in fear whenever she hints that he crossed the line with his pranks. Or is it his way of getting her attention because you know, Kaoru might have a crush on Alec? Don’t think so? Well, I didn’t think Alec has a crush on Charles either. Just kidding. I do.

Speaking of all that, it seems that the romance and pairings of the characters feel like exploring different types of love. Mitsuyoshi x Teresa = commoner x royalty and oddly their relationship is being bound by Rainbow Shogun. So you see clips of their Rainbow Shogun items and it is cue for some nostalgia of their time together; Kaoru x Alec = the couple who always fights; Pin x Hasegawa = idol love. I have a hunch Pin knows about Hasegawa as Hina and only pretends not to because it is easier for him to express his love this way than say, how does Mitsuyoshi handles his by the way? Yeah… ; Yamashita x Yui = unrequited love. I have a gut feeling Yamashita only exists for this equation; Same case for Nyanko Big x Cherry. Even unrequited love exists for cats. And not forgetting the everlasting love represented by a very old couple who frequently patrons the café. But these romances are obviously overshadowed by you know who and serve more as a distraction and detour more than anything else. It’s like saying, hey, these friends could also experience love so why not?

Oddly, I feel it is somewhat wasted about the relationship between Shouzou and Reiko. If she was just an old employee, it’s amazing how he still remembers her after a long time. Must be a very good employee, huh? I thought they might hint there were some past flame or romance between them (a naughty fling during their heydays, maybe) but I guess they don’t want to overshadow our young ones. Reiko couldn’t be Mitsuyoshi’s grandma either because it would be dumb for a grandchild not to recognize his own grandma unless grandpa deliberately never told Mitsuyoshi. And which grandma wouldn’t jump in joy to see her grandson all grown up and handsome? Even if her loyalty is to serve the royal family, her own flesh and blood should bring a lot more joy. Unless it runs in the blood that the family doesn’t show a lot of emotions in such instances. But then again, I don’t think they are related at all.

I don’t know why but I always had this feeling that Charles is going to show his true colours and be the villain. I mean, such a great handsome blonde guy who also has the nicest personality ever that girls would swoon and die over for. Too perfect to be good. He came to Japan just to visit his betrothed is just a guise for him to watch over Teresa’s actions because she is his property. So when he finally becomes the bad guy and forces Teresa’s hand into marriage (via deceiving the rest of the dumb royal members), our hero Mitsuyoshi will barge in and save her, save the day, expose this crook and like a true fairytale ending, the true lovers will wed each other and live happily ever after in bliss. Damn but thank goodness that didn’t happen. Wow. I’m surprised my mind is so suspicious that it could create such unthinkable plot. So essential, Charles is a good guy. A nice guy like he always had been. Period.

Another thing that bugged me was the so called fictitious country of Larsenburg. At first I was like thinking they were trying to copy that American movie, Princess Diaries that came up with something similar. You know, don’t want to offend some REAL country, that sort of thing. And then after a while a realized, uhm, wasn’t that Luxembourg they meant? Is this a typo error? Don’t want to make it too obvious, huh? Don’t want to get sued by the real Luxembourg, eh? What are the chances there are people there who are anime otakus and watching this particular series? Heck, the flag design shown here seems awfully similar… Even the royal coat of arms… Okay, almost. Their emblem has horses instead of lions… I believe if you’re going to do a series that involves a foreign nationality especially from Europe, I am sure the producers would have done some research at hand. Unless it was a stroke of luck that the made up country coincided with it. On a trivial note, the fictitious country in Princess Diaries somewhat exists. At least not a country but a province bearing similar characteristics that was portrayed in the movie. Also, I can’t seem to find details about the hot chocolate on a spoon to be popular in Luxembourg or its origins but there are places there (as well as in Europe) that sell them.

On a trivial note, many animes often use spoof of brand names to avoid getting lawsuit from the real brands themselves. Unless of course they are sponsoring. Hence this is the case for this series as we see Sony and Nikon’s name obviously displayed on the cameras that our friends are using. Oddly, despite Sony and Nikon being seen in the anime, Canon is listed in the credits. Hmm… In a world where our Smartphones have become our all-in-one tool that includes camera (hence we claim to be number one photographers and cameramen these days), it is not very often (although I won’t say it as rare) to see young people holding up real cameras. Of course this being a photography club so understandably real cameras are used.

While the art and animation feel like your standard conventional Japanese anime, mostly bright and clean, there is one thing I want to point out. Specifically, Nyanko Big. When I first saw this cat, I suddenly thought what the heck was Kyuubey from Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica doing here???!!! OMG! Look at those eyes! Those creepy green eyes! Don’t they have that similar feel to Kyuubey? I fear he might take the souls of our friends! Isn’t that why he is sticking around Mitsuyoshi? I mean, a cat being grateful? A cat?! Anyway, some of the other character designs feel like I’ve seen them somewhere before like how Yui resembles a bit like Shinobu from Kiniro Mosaic but only much prettier. Teresa could also look like Alice from Kiniro Mosaic if she done up her hair and is shorter. And Alec is like Lisara from Dakara Boku Wa H Ga Dekinai. Kaoru looked like Usui from Kaichou Wa Maid-sama doing up his hair a little. By a long shot, sometimes I think Hasegawa is a gentler version of Fukawa from Danganronpa. Really. Of all the photography shots in this series, the ones I like best are the stars of the night sky. I guess I’m always mesmerized by the wonders of such heavenly bodies.

Yuuichi Nakamura as Mitsuyoshi feels toned down. Not in his usual angst mode like Gray in Fairy Tail or Toyohisa in Drifters. More like Inuzuka in Amaama To Inazuma. Other recognizable casts include Mamoru Miyano as Kaoru, Hiro Shimono as Yamashita and Takahiro Sakurai as Charles. At first I was surprised about Tomokazu Sugita as Pin. Because he clearly didn’t sound like that previously. I should know as his voice is quite distinct. I later found out that the original seiyuu for Pin, Yuichiro Umehara suddenly got hospitalized for a disease and hence Tomokazu Sugita became his replacement for the remainder of the series. Hope he makes a full recovery.

The rest of the other casts are Manaka Iwami as Teresa (Chiaki in Gamers), Shino Shimoji as Alec (Tooru in Seiren), Shizuka Ishigami as Hasegawa (Renge in Kyoukai No Rinne), Inori Minase as Yui (Hestia in DanMachi) and Hiroshi Naka as Shouzou (Garp in One Piece). Nyanko Big even has his own seiyuu. No doubt Akio Ootsuka (Kyouraku in Bleach) voices the cat, however I wonder if they needed Ari Ozawa (Ayame in Mahou No Stella) just to voice the meowing part. I guess you really need a high pitched voice to make is sound believable as a cat. Even if Nyanko Big is such a big fat cat. Low purrs are scary than cute. The opening theme, Otomodachi Film by Masayoshi Ooishi is lively and upbeat that it gives off this happy lovely casual feeling (seriously) while the ending theme, Love Song by Manaka Iwami resembles more of a pop ballad. Yuuichi Nakamura sang his version of this during his character’s turning point and it sounds a bit weird. Not really used to it.

Overall, it feels like a normal average high school love story with a pinch of international element. Young people trying to navigate their way through love sounds as generic it can get these days as well as the true power of love that transcends all sorts of barriers and obstacles. It is still interesting to watch but it is not on the same level where it would garner worldwide attention when Prince William married Kate Middleton or recently Prince Harry with Meghan Markle. Would it?! I don’t think this series would get another season because considering how it is titled, it would feel redundant. I would like to say that it wasn’t the fact that Mitsuyoshi will not fall in love but rather, he has always been in love the entire time. Love existing in different forms but not recognized in his books due to ‘technicalities’. Love for his family, love for his cat, love for his café, love for his friends, love for his photography, etc. As the saying goes, it is better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all.

To Be Heroine

September 15, 2018

Geez, I didn’t expect To Be Hero to have another sequel. At least not after how sh*tty the ending was despite the overall series was hilarious and fun to watch. But more accurately, To Be Heroine is more of a sequel spinoff. Although it focuses on a new bunch of characters, the old characters from its previous season do make their cameo appearances. I guess when you have a cute female lead for this season, you can kiss goodbye to all the disgusting dad jokes and fart jokes for those who have seen the first season.

Episode 1
Man, I thought I was watching the wrong series as a good part of it is in Mandarin! Futaba Hanaya narrates how she often wanted to grow up fast and be an adult. But now in high school, she realizes that everything has only one choice and no freedom to choose as she thought. One wrong choice and you’ll regret it for the rest of your life. She ponders about the other choice of going to another world. And then poof! Here she is in another world! And apparently this world speaks Japanese too. She is confronted by this little baby in a golden underwear, Hikaru-kun that she is a hero. The best hero. How does he know? He flips up her skirt to see high quality pantsu! Baby or not, she beats him up. So young so pervy. He warns that he is being targeted by assassins. Oh, here comes one, Touichi Touin. Both get into childish arguments before Touichi summons his SpiCloth, Hanzou Hattori. Hikaru-kun tells Futaba to have confidence in herself and do the same. She remembers her friend, Hikaru Isago telling her about focusing her chakra if she ever goes to another world. She does so. Nothing happens. Remembering a more practical advice from another friend, Tooru Utsubari, she makes a run for it before Hanzou could cut her. Under the bridge, Hikaru-kun explains that she has that hero power. Just take off her clothes! Pervy baby! Hear him out. He claims in this world that every piece of clothing has a spirit (hence SpiCloth = Spirit Cloth). Thus the more clothes you have, the more weapons. Hence underwear is like their life. You lose it, you die. Seriously. That’s why he is wearing this 23 gold karat underwear. It’s his family treasure.

Futaba still refuses to believe when Touichi and Hanzou has discover them. Futaba acts so because of her fear of making a mistake if she chose. She leaves Hikaru-kun to die by Hanzou’s blade when a hot Chinese guy, Fubuki Saimon stops the blade. It seems he is Futaba’s SpiCloth and part of her boots (when she kicked Hikaru-kun away, a boots fell off). If this is true, she realizes she has been stepping on him all this time! Apparently Hanzou has this chivalry of not fighting someone without a weapon. Well, wasn’t he trying to kill an unarmed baby just now? Fubuki seeks a weapon from Futaba. So taking off her other boots gives him a sword. Now they fight in super fast and epic fashion. It destroys their surroundings but Hanzou sacrifices himself to protect Touichi. When a SpiCloth disappears, the clothing becomes torn. Touichi will not let his sacrifice go in vain and will also join him soon. He takes off his own underwear and uses it as a signal to contact HQ. When he disappears, Futaba starts to believe Hikaru-kun’s words. You really die without your underwear. Hikaru-kun is amazed she defeated Touichi of the Four Leaders in her first time as a hero. As Futaba is still unsure if she could protect this world, Hikaru-kun further explains how the baddies discovered the power of SpiCloth and used it to cover the sky with darkness. People lived in darkness for so long that they have forgotten what it’s like to wear clothes. Terrified with them for having SpiCloth, the people then fell under their control. As for why they are trying to kill Hikaru-kun, Chou Oji explains it is because he is the light. Yup, true to his name, he literally lights up. He is the only source of light that can shine on its own in this world. It seems the brightness and its duration have a direct correlation to the strength of the stimulation, hence he is their last hope to light up the world.

Episode 2
Futaba already has the other Four Leaders on her tail. After Touichi, Juuichi Saijou was next but his twin SpiCloth scarves turned into some hot BL gay make-out. Next is Bouichi Minamidori but his pants are so tight and he fainted before he could use his SpiCloth. Now they are being chased by Chuuichi Hokkaru and his bug giant SpiCloth slug. Chou Ouji explains that a way to tell humans and SpiCloth is to see if they wear underwear. Because SpiCloth are from clothes, they don’t wear underwear. Only humans do. That’s why Hikaru-kin was just checking her pantsu. Feels like a lame excuse… Now that Chuuichi’s slug evolves into a dragon, Futaba throws her jacket to summon her SpiCloth. A magical toy wand? Nothing happens. She uses her bag but another toy wand. Too bad Chuuichi, you won’t get to see her in a mini skirt transformation. Flashback shows young Futaba with Hikaru and Tooru wanted to get some toy late at night. When it’s closed? However the mean old man spotted them and doesn’t like it. The rest follow Hikaru’s cue to sing a happy birthday song. Uhm, their mini fireworks enough for the protest parade on the other side of town to see? Old man wasn’t impressed and tries to get them. They run but as Futaba is going to get caught, Hikaru saves her and is dragged into the store instead. This leaves Futaba very traumatic. As she cries, suddenly Hikaru comes out with the toy.

On their way home he explains that the old man gave it to him. Seeing them reminded him of his grandchild. He used to give him toys in exchange if he could sing for him. As he ages, his hearing worsened but if he kept singing, he felt he could hear. So he only sounds mean and loud because he couldn’t hear well. Hikaru and Tooru made a promise to protect each other but Futaba felt unsure as she was not as brave or cool as them. Now you might think Futaba’s wand powers up from this flashback (and also learning the babies’ name are the same as her friends’) and strikes away the dragon’s fireball. However it is Chou Ouji’s SpiCloth, his glasses becoming a strong barrier to protect them. Futaba remembers her friends presented her that toy wand she lost many years ago as her birthday. Futaba realizes the power of this SpiCloth and starts singing happy birthday. However she is a horrible singer! Hearing this is worse than death! Even Chuuichi would rather die than run away! Because of that, his dragon goes berserk (SpiCloth will turn crazy if their master die). The wand manages to power up but she accidentally hit Chou Ouji’s barrier and shatters it. Oops. What now? Hikaru-kun starts singing happy birthday and the rest join him. Now this sounds much better. They safely destroy the dragon. More flashback, after the trio return, the adults also return from their protest. It seems something happened to Hikaru’s parents and Futaba could only remember his tiny shaking back as the police informs him the dreaded news.

Episode 3
Hikaru-kun takes Futaba back to their secret base to meet another of their member. Who the f*ck is this tanned beardy baby, Min-chan?! Flashback shows Futaba was being gang bullied. Hikaru and Tooru showed up to save her but got beaten up. Min who happened to pass by was the real heroine as she beats them all up. That was the first time they met and they became friends since. Chou Ouji relays his plan to stop a factory emitting dangerous smoke so that Hikaru-kun can release his light and awaken the people. Min-chan shows off her twin SpiCloth, Oo and Paipai from her bra. Both argue that they are ‘bigger’ than the other until Fubuki shows up. Twins now root for handsome guy as their potential husband. Futaba has more flashbacks. She was worried about Hikaru since his parents went missing after the protest. When Hikaru’s pranks results in Tooru’s losing his diary, Futaba suggests doing a time capsule, putting things they like in it in this secret base and then opening it a few years later. Thus she is stumped this secret base is the same but it feels so different. To get ready for tomorrow’s infiltration, they want to see Futaba’s other SpiCloth abilities. Too bad she isn’t going to strip more than her jacket and stockings. This has Chou Ouji formulate a new plan that Futaba will take on the waves of enemies in front while the little ones sneak in from the back.

So as Futaba summons her electric beast SpiCloth to take on the hordes of darkness, more flashback. Her dad was mad at her low grades. Gee, is 94 low in Chinese standards? Hikaru was pranking around with her until the teacher, Ms Liu confiscates a book in his hand. It belongs to Futaba but she is under the wrong impression he was trying to introduce a lewd book to a girl. Liu calls Hikaru and his mom (now a nutcase – how was she even released from hospital. Oh by the way, his dad is confirmed dead) to talk. But Hikaru’s teacher, Kane stands up for him and argues with Liu about embarrassing her student this way. Not sure how Hikaru got back at Liu by swapping the pendrive during her special presentation with a footage of macho gay man slugging it out. Yeah… Hikaru called his friends to hang out. Min even brought her ‘boyfriend’, Moemoe (remember this dude?). As it is getting late, Tooru insists of wanting to go home but Hikaru insists he waits. When the argument gets heated, Min puts her foot down and tells them today is Futaba’s birthday. Tooru had forgotten. Hikaru bought a cake and wanted to wait till dark to light up the candles. Futaba has exhausted her electric beast but more evil waves. Don’t forget, she has Fubuki. But at the end he too fought till his limits. Meanwhile Hikaru-kun is hoping for Futaba to save them. Because Chou Ouji has betrayed them.

Episode 4
Futaba has a couple of SpiCloth from her stockings – a hard talking hitman named Battle AKA BL and some young police guy, 1857? She must have worn mismatched stockings for them to be this apart in personality. She summons them now to fight Chou Ouji but they cannot best his shadow monsters. Chou Ouji reveals that everyone in this world wants Hikaru-kun dead as they fear the light because you can see them naked once they’re lit up. Does she have the courage to remove all her clothes and face this world? Flashback shows Futaba tried to make Hikaru do some bucket list of hers. After constant bugging, he accepts but with a condition she grants him a wish. So as he ticks off the tasks, she learns he wants her to elope with him to escape this town. Of course she thinks he is joking and doesn’t believe him. Soon, her parents call her and lecture her about her failing grades. They blame her for fooling around with Hikaru too much. Similarly, Tooru is at the door to hand some document to her. Hikaru supposedly gave it to him to pass to her since he was in a hurry somewhere. Inside is a train ticket bearing her name. Her parents are furious about what they were planning. Futaba doesn’t heed them anymore and runs out trying to find Hikaru. Too bad the train has left. Futaba barely saves Hikaru-kun from the monsters. He could feel her warm heartbeat and once the shadows engulf them, Hikaru-kun’s heart starts to shine so bright. Man, he is like an angel floating in the sky and his light bursts to dispel all the darkness. It’s so bright now in this world!

Futaba wakes up back in her room. She calls her friends about Hikaru but they seriously have no idea what she is talking about. They don’t know anybody named Hikaru. Thinking they are pranking her, she calls Kane who also gave a similar answer. So desperate she must have called everyone on her list only to have the same answer. The definition of insanity is… But Futaba remembers the time capsule and runs down to the hideout. And there it is, Hikaru’s diary. Proof that he exists. She reads about him starting to write down things in a diary after Tooru and is slowly able to observe the world around him. Even if he is gone, this diary will tell everyone his feelings. Meanwhile Hikaru-kun sees his monk master in a bid to find Futaba, the girl he loves. The reluctant monk shows him a way but with a few conditions. This includes nobody must see him and he needs to find someone to stand in his place. A person who has experienced life and death who can only see him. Perfect timing because Hikaru-kun possesses Oyaji (Min’s dad) who is praying at the temple for his daughter (damn, this hapless guy freaked out thinking he prayed to the wrong god and got a baby!). Futaba sees Hikaru’s deranged mom and shows her his diary. She wants to know what happened to him. So is mom faking her mental instability because she ushers her in and will tell the truth.

Episode 4.5
Not your typical special episode because this is not a recap. Instead, a special behind-the-scenes production. We get a glimpse of the storyboards and visual keyframes of the animation as well as comparing the scenes in both Japanese and Chinese audio. We are also treated to lots of fan art illustrations on the series as well as from To Be Hero. They show as PV that was never shown in Japan. One whereby Futaba gets a love letter and the guy who eventually comes confessing his love to her is… Oyaji!!!! Plot twist? Too bad he got beaten up by Min. There is a live action dancer dancing to the ending theme song (its Chinese version) and both the Japanese and Chinese voice actors give their thoughts about the character they played. Finally, more fan art illustration indulgence to sign off before next week’s episode!

Episode 5
In this entirely flashback episode, we see Tenshin (Hikaru’s dad) is a mischievous guy (no wonder his son has similar traits). He sucked at every subject except chemistry. Back in college, Tenshin and Kokoro (Tooru’s dad) had a crush on Byakkyou (Hikaru’s mom) but in the end it was Tenshin who ended up marrying her. Kokoro married the daughter of the CEO of Keito Pharmaceuticals in an arranged marriage. In Keito, Tenshin created some medicine that allows you never to forget certain memories and Byakkyou tested it on Byakkyou and soon after married her. After Hikaru was born, that is when the troubles came. Tenshin saw irregularities in the ingredients of his medicine but the CEO approved Kokoro’s improved drug (based on Tenshin’s formula) and marketed in his new drink. Tenshin was against this because he didn’t want his medicine to be misused in such a way and there are side effects like getting addicted if drank too much of it. To fight against the corporation, Tenshin has the media take notice on Keito by dumping harmless white substances into the river that makes the company look like it is polluting. This leads to the locals being upset as they rise against the corporation. The CEO wanted to pay Tenshin off but he didn’t want his dirty money. But Tenshin is left shocked when the river is actually polluted. The protest turned violent and Tenshin was killed (cue that fireworks moment from Hikaru and co at that time). Byakkyou was hospitalized as Kokoro revealed his true colours. He was jealous of Tenshin being chosen by Byakkyou and got stuck in this loveless marriage. He wanted to get back at Tenshin by stealing from him. He was the one who changed the substance in the river to be polluted. Then he had his henchman kill the CEO and subsequently Tenshin during the protest’s commotion. Also, Kokoro created a new drug by modifying Tenshin’s formula that erases memories completely.

Byakkyou heard all this during her ‘coma’ and to protect Hikaru, she pretended to go insane. Many times Kokoro ransacked her home to find Tenshin’s formulas but failed. Kokoro also provided money to them over the years as support. One day a grown up Hikaru told mom he wanted to leave school because he feared people forgetting him and thus he had to change himself and the way he lives. Mom then revealed the truth and apologized for deceiving him for so long. Recently Hikaru found one of dad’s secret formulas that Kokoro would die to get his hands on. At this point, Kokoro is the CEO of Keito and the most powerful man around as he also controls to local triad, Hagyou Concern. On the day he is supposed to elope with Futaba, that is when Kokoro visited Byakkyou and knew she was faking her insanity all the time. He tells her he killed Hikaru. Because instead of running away, he went to see a reporter to try and give details. Too bad that reporter was already bribed by Kokoro. Hearing Kokoro trying to live out his father’s integrity and honesty pisses him off as he orders his henchman to strangle him. Byakkyou tries to continue pretending to be insane until Kokoro leaves. Even if he knows, he won’t kill her because it is more painful to live than die. Now, Futaba is sad hearing Hikaru is dead but Byakkyou wonders why she isn’t being affected by the drug as everyone in town drinks the juice. Sometime about her strange dream in a strange world with Hikaru-kun.

Episode 6
Oyaji (Hikaru-kun) is happy to see Min and harasses her! Of course Min beats this naked ugly piece of sh*t up. Min spots Futaba crying but before they could talk things out, Tooru is here and this sours the mood for Futaba to say anything. It’s not his fault but looking at him reminds her of a certain guy and she doesn’t want to see that person now. Futaba receives a love letter and outside school, that mad guy rushes towards her! Turns out to be Oyaji confessing his love to Futaba?! Another round of beating up by Min. Shortly, a few hooligans try to kidnap the girls. It’s just disgusting watching Oyaji stripping in his failed attempts to summon whatever powers and failed. In the end, it is Futaba’s dad who is a cop who shoos them away. He could have shot Oyaji thinking he is trying to rape his daughter or something! Worse, Oyaji says he wants to marry Futaba! Thank goodness he believes his daughter he isn’t the baddie. But Futaba’s dad confronts the real baddie who is no other than Kokoro. He warns him to stay away from his daughter and is not easily intimidated with his threats. But a cop can only do so much. Because later that night, Futaba’s mom gets a call saying her husband is arrested on corruption charges. Oh look, it’s right on the news now. Futaba skipped school for a week and every night she could hear her mom cry incessantly. She thought of telling the truth about Keito but remembers Byakkyou’s words that the public will not believe them as Kokoro is a very powerful man who gets what he wants.

Tooru ponders what he did wrong for Futaba to act like that towards him. Then he sees her being stalked by Oyaji. OMG. Oyaji has lost weight and is his handsome self?! Did exercise really did all that transformation alone? Anyway, Oyaji tries to hint that he is Hikaru-kun from the other world but it is clear that Futaba’s love is the one and only Hikaru. She regrets not telling him her feelings and wants to do so as well as for people to remember him. Oyaji is amazed with the hero inside her and promises to do all he can to support her. He claims she is not alone and conveniently pulls Min and Moemoe nearby to join in the cause. Futaba reveals the truth to them and they agree to help. But since they can’t come up with a plan, Tooru who has been eavesdropping all this time suggests getting more info. Looks like he is in. He wants a chance to redeem himself to Futaba. They head to Byakkyou’s place. She thinks they are crazy for wanting to stand up to Keito. You don’t try, you don’t know. A spy reports to Kokoro about the kids not giving up. He would have had them eliminated had he not heard Tooru is with them. He believes his son will make the right decision. The gang’s plan is to use Tenshin’s hidden formula to restore people’s memories and sneak into the factory and mix it into the drinks. Everyone except Tooru supports this idea. Tooru leaves home and is shocked when dad asks if his secret meeting with his friends to destroy him has finished. He gives him this house and puts his trust in him. Tooru tells them their next meeting place and hopes he could honestly talk to them as he believes his dad can turn over a new leaf. Kokoro would be happy to. That evil smirk…

Episode 7
Tooru told his friends that there is a factory underneath the school producing the drug. They head there to investigate and record this as evidence. However they realize that this is a setup as Kokoro’s men are here. Tooru is shocked that dad has betrayed him. Can’t blame him if he didn’t see this coming. He was really hoping for the best for his friends. Min fights off the goons as they all run to the rooftop. However she met her match with one boxer guy. OMG! He broke her arm!!! Kokoro and Tooru come in. Dad reminds his son not to be with those losers and gives him a chance to make the right decision again. Tooru summons his guts to go against his father. He will not become an evil man like him. This is when Futaba also stands up for him. They are scared but not of his threats. Futaba is scared of giving up, scared of being weak, scared of someone else protecting her again. Kokoro orders his men to erase their memories. As the subordinate tries to pour the juice down Futaba’s throat, Oyaji’s heart starts to glow. Then comes popping out is… Hikaru!!!! OMG!!! Since when is Hikaru so cool beating the sh*t out of that dude???!!!! If you’re wondering why he is standing there and not doing anything, that’s because he can’t see Hikaru! OMG! A ghost?! Only his friends can see him. The baddie pulls out his gun and shoots at Futaba but the bullet is sliced in half! Look who is here? Fubuki! Not only him but Hanzou as well as the other SpiCloth pop up to beat up those baddies’ ass! Hey wait a minute. This magical girl SpiCloth I have never seen her before. Kokoro gets his just desserts as all the SpiCloth unleash a flurry of devastating combo attacks on him! Even if those baddies take a beating, is it for real? I mean, you can’t come into physical contact with ghosts, right? Oh, f*ck it. As long as you’re bad, you can get beaten up.

Once the fight is over, Hikaru admits he is a ghost! Yup, his friends can’t touch him either. He has come back temporarily because God allowed him to say goodbye to his friends. So he has last words for all of them. Like for mom to get healthy and Tooru to protect everyone in his place. Last but not least is of course Futaba. She believes he is the one who wants to stay the most. That’s why he kept saving her from darkness. Flashback shows Futaba was crying over Hikaru’s death. Dad gave her some juice to ease her sadness. Probably it had magical properties and at the same time she wished to go to another world, that’s where she popped up in that dream world and met Hikaru-kun. She claims he is the hero who saved the world and the one who gave her courage to step forward. His warmth was always there. Finally she spews out the words of I love you. In this odd moment where they rush to kiss each other… OMG… Air kissing?! Looks weird trying to touch each other but can’t… Really weird… With that, Hikaru is gone. Futaba narrates the aftermath. It has been 3 years since that incident. The video evidence posted online was enough for the police to nab Kokoro and even shut down Hagyou Concern. Her father confessed the truth and is out on probation. Min and Moemoe went to the same school while Tooru went to study abroad. Futaba failed her university entrance exam and goes to a local college. However it seems she is going to publish a book of her own about her experiences. After she leaves the temple, she trips down the stairs but a guy that curiously looks like Hikaru catches her.

To Be Friends, To Be Remembered
It feels like a bittersweet ending and also a dilemma for me. It would have totally been a slap in the face had Hikaru really came back alive because of the power of magic (and God’s will) but considering that ghosts do exist in this world, that probability isn’t far off. So yeah, it’s sad that Futaba didn’t get to be with her love but at least she managed to convey her feelings, became stronger and moved forward. But to have her bump into a stranger that looks like Hikaru in the end? Uhm… Up to your discretion on how you want to go about it.

It feels like this season has 2 parts. The first part in the dream world where we try to figure out what the heck is going on. Then halfway point, once we get the gist of what it is, the story then moves back to the real world and that’s where most of the comedy and nonsense are swapped out for some heavy friendship drama thingy. Not that it is a bad thing but looking back from where it started and where it ended, it felt like it has gone on a totally different journey. For example, like as though the clothes power up battle thingy was just a one-off thing instead of something permanent of the series. I guess that ended the hopes of us seeing Futaba in her undies, huh? Yeah, I thought this series was crazy enough to pull off that kind of fanservice since it already has semi-naked babies running around. Damn, they really baited me into thinking that. Or maybe I’m just a pervert. Haha!

But it feels like it makes no sense having this dream world because if this was where Hikaru-kun hang out after he died, why go to all that trouble of lighting up the world and such? And what is this other world supposed to be anyway? It all seems more like a convenient dream anyway for Futaba and then a convenient plot for Hikaru-kun to somehow come to the real world. So if you think back after everything has settled, what really was the importance of that dream world anyway? You don’t hear anymore of it once it got lighted up. I guess all the babies there are doing fine and dandy. Just remember to wear your clothes.

The drama gets heavy after Futaba remembers her forgotten friend. Then it starts to become a coming of age story as well as some sort of romance drama genre as she tries to get her feelings true to the one she loves. And of course with her friends taking down the big bad boss of a big bad corporation. Yeah, huzzah for the power of love and friendship. Cliché and nothing original but at least it was interesting to watch. In fact, during the dream world, flashbacks were heavily infused so it feels like as though we have never left the real world at all. Hence Futaba being in this dream world is just one short moment while the narrative lets us know the bits and pieces that will be put together in the end.

Though it is mind boggling to think how Kokoro has manufactured a drink that everyone drinks except himself. Okay, so maybe he doesn’t drink it himself as he knows better. But still, the thought of making a drug that specifically erases a certain person from everyone’s mind? Man, you have to be that God level to do such a thing. And why in a form of a drink? I suppose you kill 2 birds with a stone because you also get to sell it to them and make money. Thanks for your money. And your memories of a certain kid. Also mind boggling is to think how easily they could manufacture the medicine based on Hikaru’s dad’s notes. If it takes a genius to come up with such great formula, don’t you think it is odd for normal people especially kids to figure it out or even produce it? Oh heck, just f*ck it. We all need to stay true to this series’ title to save the day. What was it again?

Many of the jokes still feel funny especially Hikaru and Oyaji who make up the bulk of it. Some jokes are silly enough but still funny especially when you have Hikaru who is that kind of person who is the sporting kind. In life we always have that one kid in class who is like that, right? As for Oyaji who is mainly being possessed by Hikaru-kun, they didn’t have to resort to crude dad jokes and fart jokes but rather the misconception of an old man trying to hit on a young cute lady. Double that with Min always beating up her father whenever she thinks he is getting horny. As you know, Min already has a rocky relationship with her dad last season. Things got better in the end but now with him chasing after young girls? We hear of child abuse often but not parent abuse.

The main characters are relatable and those you can throw you support behind. It sounds cliché that it teaches you never to give up but if you were in Futaba’s shoes, you’d be confused at first and afraid of taking the first step into the unknown. And it is also a cliché that as long as you do the right thing, even young kids can take down big organizations of big bad adults. Yeah… I want to believe that. Had these events never happened, most probably Futaba would have stayed the same and nothing changed. I’m glad Tooru has a conscience and did not turn out like a splitting mirror image of his father. It would have been no different. Was it because unlike the rift between Tenshin and Kokoro was due to the subtle love triangle between Byakkyou in which the latter ultimately loses out, I didn’t see any similar romance brewing between their children. Hikaru and Futaba are shown closer because the former always teases her. Tooru is mostly seen brooding in the background, unsure if he too harbour secret feelings for her. Perhaps Tooru’s worries are about living up to his father’s expectations, his side of the story we didn’t see.

One of the biggest disappointments pertaining to the characters is the SpiCloth characters. While their existence and appearance sound intriguing, ever since the dream world is freed, they have been side-lined until the final episode that somehow throws aside all the logic how they materialized. I didn’t see anybody taking off any clothes. Probably they existed in Hikaru’s world so when he came down for one last time, all those SpiCloth too. It feels like Futaba entering the dream world for the first was just for this SpiCloth gimmick. Besides, it was also disappointing that the remaining Four Leaders, Juuichi and Bouichi didn’t get their due screen time. Like as though they were just trolling us. Were they trying to surprise us and not follow the pattern of Futaba and Hikaru-kun going around to defeat them? Oh right. Plot twist in Chou Ouji betraying them that somewhat reflected what happened in reality. Maybe I’m to blame myself for expecting to see more SpiCloth characters and they didn’t get any development at all. Some I believe just a few seconds of cameo. They’re just clothes only, right? After all, thinking about it, taking and throwing off your clothes to materialize them to fight is the same as Pokemon trainers doing the same to their Pokemon in battles. On a trivial note, I thought the idea of SpiCloth was taken inspiration from the concept from Kill La Kill (clothes transforming into awesome fighting equipment or battle gear). Only, less superior… Yes, really. Uhm, maybe no overly slutty sexy looking transformed main characters, that’s why.

Noticing the odd number of episodes this series has, I later found out that the original Chinese production has inconsistent running times per episode. Some episodes run as long as 30 minutes while run only half that time. As this series originally streamed on the Chinese website, there was no time restriction but in order to fit into the Japanese airwaves, certain scenes had to be added or cut out to put in that standard 24 minutes running time. Hence some episodes in the Japanese version were actually a combination of 2 episodes of the original Chinese one. Anyhow, I feel they did a good job in the editing because at least I didn’t feel any parts that were disjointed and the flow of the story was smooth.

Well, the art and animation feels… Crappy. I know, just like in To Be Hero, the art style is similar. Because To Be Hero was more like a slapstick comedy, so the horrendous art was somewhat forgivable. I am not saying that this series art really sucks but I thought with all the drama and the pacing of this show, it feels kinda low quality. Sure, they might want to retain this series’ trademark ‘crappy’ art style but being this low quality sometimes have me think that they didn’t put enough effort. Of course you don’t want to stray too much and change the art style until it is totally unrecognizable. Not when you’re going to have the fat ugly Oyaji, right? But I must say that the action parts feel exhilarating because of all the exaggerated special effects so it is not all that bad. It’s fun to see them trade blows and swords especially the final battle with the big bad boss having an insane amount of tag team combo. I was like, “Damn! This old dude still survived this?”. Fun, actually.

To be fair, this is a Chinese production (Haoliners Animation League) so it is reasonable that some dialogues are in Mandarin. I thought it was unique when they had the real world speaking in Mandarin while the other dream world in Japanese. But once the dream world is over, the Mandarin becomes far more blatant. Not that I have anything against the language but somehow it feels like I have been trolled and baited to watch a Mandarin cartoon than Japanese anime! Heck, there was one episode where its entirety is in Mandarin! Hence if you think about it, the Japanese voice acting is far and few in between. After all, the first season was totally in Japanese so I didn’t really expect this to be predominantly Mandarin. Also as I have discovered lately that this series was only given the Japanese ‘dub’ in those scenes when shown over the Japanese airwaves. In its original Chinese format, those Japanese lines are spoken in Mandarin. So I guess I shouldn’t be complaining since there is a bit of the ‘mandatory’ Japanese to make it somewhat anime.

Curiously, Moa Tsukino who was the voice of Min in To Be Hero is now the voice of Futaba in this sequel. I want to say parallel world thingy but since Min exists here too, I guess I can’t. Hence in this season, it is Junko Minagawa (Ryouma in Prince Of Tennis) who voices Min or rather Min-chan. It feels a bit wasted that Rie Kugimiya as Juuichi and Sho Hayami as BL only make very short cameos and then are mostly forgotten. For the rest of the other Japanese casts, they are Motoko Kumai as Hikaru-chan (Ginta in MAR), Omi Minami as Chou Ouji (Hyatt in Excel Saga), Nozomu Sasaki as Fubuki (Mello in Death Note), Seira Ryuu as Touichi (Minato in Idol Memories) and Toshihiko Seki as Hanzou (Mousse in Ranma 1/2).

The Chinese casts are Mie Mie as Futaba, Ding Dang as Hikaru, Liu Mingyue as Tooru and Shan Xin as Min. The opening theme, Ray by Passcode is a hard rock but I wonder if it fits the drama theme of this series. At first it does especially for the initial episodes but with the change in pace subsequently, I’m not too sure. I prefer the ending theme, Koibana Renbu by Re-connect as it is quite a catchy piece. Even if it isn’t that techno dance and it sounds more dramatic, it still is nice to hear and dance to it. Even the ending credits animation show the characters doing their Dance Dance Revolution moves like naturals, racking up the combos and points. Neat. Yeah, those killer dance moves are going to give you a real good work out if you’re going to score perfect.

Overall, not a bad sequel and still enjoyable in its own right. It is worthy as a sequel spinoff but could have worked equally as well had they used new characters instead of those from the first season. But more fun with familiar faces of Oyaji and Min around. The story may have deviated from what I expected but the pacing and direction of the story about saving a forgotten friendship and love made it a compelling watch. It all goes to show that you don’t need superhero powers to save the day (or in this case, an ugly dad). It is the important things in your heart that matters that allows you to reach out to greater heights. Be it alien invasion or greedy corrupted corporations, no one will be able to stand in the way of the power of friendship and love!

On a trivial note, come to think of it, clothes and superheroes don’t really go well with each other so it is good that this trope isn’t used often for this season. Classic case of Superman wearing his underwear outside! And I if imagine if Oyaji manages to do the same of turning his clothes into sexy fighters. Would he be making out with them if they turn out to be super hot babes? Making love to your own clothes… Isn’t that the same as otaku losers making out to their dakimakura with a large print of their favourite waifu? Is this considered wardrobe malfunction? After watching this, now I know why guys jerk off into their socks…

Nanatsu No Bitoku OVA

September 14, 2018

They’re still trying to find the right Messiah? They’re still trying to find the qualified candidate to take on Lucifer? Good luck, girls. You’re going to need them. I mean, really need them. In Nanatsu No Bitoku OVA, we see a couple more short OVAs in which the Heavenly Virtues try their luck for the aforementioned above. But I can tell what the outcome will be like and more importantly, the kind of ‘experience’ I’m going to get while watching it.

Uriel is not happy. She believes she is going to be screwed. Indeed. She is put up to be tested by a machine made by Sandalphon and Metatron. Yeah, it is supposed to judge a candidate’s quality. I’m doubting it but I’ll still watch… Tied to a chair as her legs are forced to be spread open, a candidate is ushered in and made to wear a VR helmet. We can already see he is a pervert because we see him trying to use the mouse cursor to click on Metatron’s boobs. Annoyed Metatron turns off the cursor. Now for the real test. He has to look into Uriel’s eyes and nothing else for loyalty. So far so good. Uriel is then put close to him to test endurance. Hmm… Panting a bit. After a few tests, we come to the final one in which Uriel is tickled like mad as our candidate also tries to do the same with the cursor. Unfortunately the “You are a hentai!” warning pops up and is hence ejected into the water. I guess he’s not qualified. Uriel feels so violated. Patience, patience… Isn’t that supposed to be her virtue?

Looks like Michael has a special training for her angels. Uhm, water gun fight to improve their agility? WTF. Don’t worry about anyone seeing them at the park because Sandalphon’s device to turn them invisible is on. So when it descends into a fun water gun fight, Michael shows what the real deal is about. She fires her gun to really drench them. It turns out the water will turn their swimsuits invisible! What intensity is she talking about if they’re naked???!!! The only thing intense is our libido!!! So they start shooting each other until they’re totally naked. At this point, the device also takes a hit and malfunctions. They realize that there are lots of people staring at them. Holy sh*t! Free show! And Michael can still laugh it isn’t easy to find a Messiah? Is this what this was about?! Michael, you’re fired!

Fallen Angels – Heaven Is Doomed!
All as per expected. The couple of short OVAs are meant to stimulate our pathetic libido while not caring much whether or not they really find their true saviour. Because those without vision can also see how much Lucifer will kick all their asses. You think they would have learnt something from the TV series? Nope. This OVA made them worse and sealed heaven’s fate. If you die and wonder why you didn’t go to heaven and plunge straight down into the depths of hell despite being generally a good soul for a good part of your life, this is why. This is where you pin your blame. We got our free angel tits. Yay! We can be happy for the rest of the day.

I am sure this is the reason why we only have 2 OVAs instead of more. Because we all know deep down, the more we see them, the more inept idiocy they show, the more we lose our faith. Yeah, hence in this sense it is a tad sad that some of the angels don’t even get to have a decent screen time. The fact that God is absent to even supervise their actions especially Michael shows that either God doesn’t care or God is a pervy who wants to see his archangels naked and in compromising positions or God intends to betray us all because he has already aligned with Lucifer. Yikes! This is an even more devastating plot! But for now, we have to put up with slutty fails because now we can also blame them for the increase of the number of perverts in the world instead of saviours. Oh God help us all. Or rather, Lucifer please help us all and save us from this unholiness!

Uma Musume: Pretty Derby

September 9, 2018

What could be more exciting to see horse racing? Unless you love horses and races (or just a flat out gambler), I don’t think anyone would be interested in seeing horse racing. But leave it to anime to turn that around and make it ‘interesting’. Yes, you don’t just see horse racing, but horses anthropomorphized as cute girls running on race tracks! You might be thinking if we wanted to see cute girls running, why don’t we just watch a 100m or 400m athletics meet? That’s why they are horse girls… Anyway, I was sceptical at first to watch Uma Musume: Pretty Derby for this reason. But learning that this series was created by Cygames, the one who made the awesome Shingeki No Bahamut as well as the pretty average Granblue Fantasy, I decided to give this a chance. It’s not like there is going to be a twist in the plot of horse girls turning into heroic characters and slay the evil resurrected dragon. WOULD THEY???!!!

Episode 1
Special Week arrives in Tokyo keen to make her dream to become the best horse girl in Japan come true. Being the country bumpkin, she misses her stop. Don’t worry, she can run the rest of her way there. At the racetrack, she is enthralled by the beautiful and popular Silence Suzuka. Rumours of molesters in the big city might be true. Some guy starts feeling up Special Week’s legs. Never stand behind a horse when it kicks… Special Week is annoyed he keeps following her but don’t mind, the race is about to start. As expected Suzuka wins it. More leg molestation by that dude. Sure he doesn’t have leg fetish? The other special thing about this race is that the podium winners will hold an idol concert with the winner being the centre. Special Week is so awed with everything that she realizes she is late for the school she is supposed to transfer to, Tracen Academy. I guess there were some horse girls are kind enough to let her in. Special Week introduces herself in class as we are so introduced to some of the main ones like Haru Urara, Grass Wonder, El Condor Pasa and Seiun Sky. Then we are briefed with the race system of the many different kinds of ranking races with G-I being the ultimate. When asked what team she wants to train with, Special Week wants to be with Suzuka. Lucky her. There is an entrance test for Team Rigil, the strongest team in the school in which Suzuka is in. The winner gets to join the team. Special Week takes this chance to race. We see her determination and special skill of boosting her speed in the closing stages of the race, impressing a lot of people. Just when she thought she won, it is El Condor Pasa. As Special Week laments her loss, she is kidnapped by Gold Ship, Daiwa Scarlet and Vodka to their room. Special Week is shocked to see that molester. Call him Trainer and he is the trainer of Team Spica. Here is another shocker. Suzuka also just transferred from Rigil to Spica today since they don’t understand how she runs. Say what? You mean running fast just wasn’t enough. Okay. Technicalities, I guess. With everyone having their own dreams, Trainer wants to help Special Week achieve hers and since the Twinkle Series is starting next week and with enough members, he is going to make her debut run. So soon?

Episode 2
Special Week must be special lucky for Suzuka to even be her roommate. Special Week is summoned to see the student council president, Symboli Rudolf who is a Triple Crown winner. I’m sure we don’t understand the school’s motto of “Eclipse first, the rest nowhere” for now. Yeah, it doesn’t make sense. Rudolf assigns Tokai Teio to tour around the school. Then back to more rigorous training for Special Week. Is playing Twister is legit because how does this help in opponents bumping into you during the race? Maybe you have to be stretchable? Fuji Kiseki who is the dorm head, tells Suzuka to take care of Special Week since she grew up without any other horse girls her age. So now she gets special treatment too? When Trainer has a meeting with his team, the plan is to have no plan! Just run the way she wants to run. That night when Special Week looks nervous, Suzuka talks to her. She finds out she has 2 mothers. Her natural mother who is a horse girl who died shortly after giving birth and her adopted mother who is human. As they were both friends, mom adopted her as her final wish and raised her as her own child. She also trained her to be a competitive horse girl and Special Week’s promise to her is to be the best horse girl. Special Week makes her stage debut and is obviously nervous. As she has forgotten her bib, Trainer has Suzuka give it to her. A chance to talk about pressure and fear. It helps eases her anxiety. At the starting gates, Special Week gets intimidated by the opponent next to her. Probably her delinquent looks and crude way of talking scared her so much so Special Week makes a slow start. So we see her starting from the back of the pack before using her special boost to pip the leader and win the race. She is amazed with everyone cheering for her. I know, everybody loves a winner. Of course this means Special Week now gets to be the centre of the idol concert. One problem: She did not train for this and so she just stood there like a rock!

Episode 3
Other members of Spica also win but they too didn’t practice dancing and hence their concerts all end up in shambles. Hence Trainer has them train singing with Teio. She is a good karaoke master. With Trainer acknowledging Special Week as the only one who can win the Triple Crown in their team, her first race for that is Yayoishou in which she must win the Satsukishou which acts as its preliminary race. The unique thing about this track is that the final stretch is an uphill battle so she is going to need a lot of willpower. The opponent she needs to watch out most is Seiun Sky. The race starts with Special Week doing well and Seiun Sky is leading. Running up the hill part, she uses all her willpower boost to pip Seiun Sky and win it. As they celebrate, Teio drops a shocking announcement that she wants to join Spica. Originally from Rigil, she talked to Rudolf about it and that her goal is to be like her and she wants to have fun running. You mean she can’t do that in Rigil? Rigil more like Rigid… More training for Special Week and with a few wins under her belt, the mood and motivation are good. Suzuka even gives her specially made boots as a gift. That’s not all, as Satsukishou is a prestigious G-I race, she must also dress the part. Yup, time for to see what kind of cosplay our horse girls will don. Honestly, it looks pretty tame if you compared it to other teams. As the race starts, as usual Special Week is propping up the back but manages to slowly pass her opponents. Seiun Sky starts to pull ahead and Special Week does her specialty but finds she cannot close the gap. Even during the uphill, she still cannot catch up. She maintains her lead to win it with King Halo coming in second and Special Week finishing third. I suppose when you’re on a winning streak and then you suddenly don’t win, it’s a real bummer. So with Special Week yelling out her frustrations about being arrogant, Trainer does the same with her about not training her better. He tells her to use her loss to get stronger. She is going to beat Seiun Sky in the next race, the Japanese Derby.

Episode 4
Special Week is so down that it’s obvious. Yeah, it’s making her clumsy too. Then a wakeup call. She gains weight. Time to train harder. On a side note, Urara is doing well in her derby match and El Condor Pasa dominates her race. When other horse girls learn of Special Week’s troubles, they agree to help her on her diet. Time to put away the temptation and prepare for Sparta training. That includes high diving. Because you need guts! Trainer reviews Special Week’s run and he realizes her flaws. So he goes to see Hana Toujou, the trainer for Rigil to request a mock race between Special Week and Taiki Shuttle who is the fastest short distance horse girl. Basically a sprinter? As Special Week is still worried, Suzuka is even more worried. Because she put on weight (ouch) so her clothes can’t fit (ouch) and might hurt herself. Trainer advises her the usual: Don’t think. Just run. She’ll learn much more in the real deal than training. The race begins with Taiki Shuttle sprinting ahead. But Special Week manages to keep pace thanks to running in her slipstream. Then the uphill part as Taiki Shuttle starts pulling away. Special Week then notices her running rhythm and adjusts to it. It seems while running uphill instead of taking bigger strides, run in smaller steps. This enables her to catch up but Taiki Shuttle is still fast. In the end, Taiki Shuttle wins by a whisker. Special Week might have lost but she looks happier as she had fun running. Spica watches El Condor Pasa run in some race and win it. Hana announces that in order to get her to the global stage, she will be running in Japanese Derby too. El Condor Pasa challenges Special Week to run against her.

Episode 5
In order to help Special Week overcome the uphill obstacle, she trains to run up steps of the shrine. Meanwhile Mejiro McQueen still hasn’t join a team and Teio suggests she join Spica because Gold Ship threatened her with a pile driver if she failed to do so. McQueen remembers Gold Ship harassing her but it always backfires. She relents but might change her mind after Trainer molests her thighs. However with Gold Ship being close to tears, McQueen falls for this bait and will just sit in for now. The Japanese Derby is here. As it flags off, King Halo and Seiun Sky take an early lead while Special Week and El Condor Pasa are running in the middle pack. Seiun Sky then surpasses King Halo until the final uphill stretch where Special Week’s training pays off. Using her stamina and mini strides, she manages to overtake Seiun Sky and turning her into a frustrated horse girl. However this is also where El Condor Pasa sprints ahead. Man, this has got to be the longest final 50m stretch as Special Week tries her best, pushing herself to the limits and not giving up as she keeps pace with her rival. Conveniently her teammates are seated right at the finish line and using the spirit of friendship power, Special Week has some power boost to catch up with El Condor Pasa. But it is a close finish and it requires a photo finish. A tie! Joint winners! Uhm, I guess there is no provision to say there needs to be a special runoff to decide to winner. Yeah, the crowd is happy about it, even more so with them hugging each other. Lesbian horse girls, crowd loves it. But I think Special Week wins because she is somewhat the centre in the idol concert. And who the f*ck is that third place horse girl in that concert? You mean it wasn’t Seiun Sky or King Halo taking third place?

Episode 6
Special Week writes to her mom to update all that she is done. This includes Spica doing well and winning many of their races, McQueen officially joining Spica, some weird beach training and finally it’s time for the Twinkle Series Fan Festival. Highlights include Rudolf killing it as a butler café, McQueen taking her fortune and it says bad luck (oh, you know who), a doughnut eating contest won by Oguri Cap and Suzuka at the weirdest moment revealing she can’t run with them next year because she is trying her luck overseas. That is why she needs to win races in Japan in which she has been doing recently. Special Week is happy for her but it’s not surprising she feels sad too. Later Suzuka talks alone to her about her reasons for that. She has always had fun running and didn’t want to give up on that every time she raced or trained. That’s why she opted out from Rigil into Spica. She’s having lots of fun right now and wants to run in more races. Trainer talks to Hana and knows the problem she is facing with Grass Wonder. She is one of the top stars in Rigil but due to a nagging injury, this is going to hurt a lot more people than her if this persists. In this next race, Mainichi Okan, Suzuka will face off with El Condor Pasa and Grass Wonder. As the race starts, Suzuka takes the lead. El Condor Pasa plays catch up as usual. On the last stretch, it becomes obvious that Grass Wonder cannot keep it and thus it becomes a 2 horse race. El Condor Pasa is stumped that she cannot keep up with Suzuka’s pace and in the end Suzuka reaches the finish line. Suzuka is so focused that she didn’t know she crossed the line after a while. El Condor Pasa is sad this is her first loss but has to admit that Suzuka is in a class of her own. With Spica dominating, Hana is not pleased Rigil is on the slide. But does Trainer have to rub it in?

Episode 7
Special Week loses to Seiun Sky again in Kikkashou. She makes a promise with Suzuka to run together but looks like they have to push forward that date because after the Japan Cup, Suzuka plans to go to America. Hana continues to train Rigil as they note how Suzuka has become a different horse girl ever since joining Spica. Usually there are strategies and tactics while running a race but for Suzuka, it is like she doesn’t care about all that and just runs the way she wants. Trainer has Spica do some strenuous training to find some inn. Thankfully they reach there by night fall. Suzuka takes this chance to tell the rest about her American move, shocking them. Special Week pleads to Trainer she wants to run with Suzuka in Japan Cup. This means a member of the same team will lose but it all boils down to running with her. During the Tennoushou race, Suzuka takes an early lead and starts to make a huge gap. El Condor Pasa and other horse girls are shocked that they cannot catch up. Suzuka continues to increase that lead until something very wrong happens. She starts slowing down and runs in a very bizarre manner. Everyone is shocked as all horse girls zoom pass her. Suzuka didn’t finish. El Condor Pasa won the race but nobody is happy. Nobody. Suzuka wakes up in hospital and it seems her left foot is fractured. This is due to all the intense training and she never let it up. While her feet will heal and she will run again, it is not known if she could run at top speed again like she did today. Blasting the gloom and doom away is of course Special Week who reminds about their run. Suzuka always keeps her promises, right? So look forward to that! And with her teammates supporting her, this is just the beginning of their next stage.

Episode 8
Special Week has been visiting Suzuka every day and trying to cheer her up. But I don’t think that is to blame for her losing Japan Cup. Looks like her dream to run with Suzuka will have to wait a little longer. Suzuka has healed enough for discharge and go into rehabilitation. They have a special New Year party as they watch Winter Dream Trophy that Rudolph participates and wins. I guess it’s special since the winner only gets to sing solo. With their renewed vows, Spica train and work hard. Special Week gets more motivation with El Condor Pasa writing her a letter telling that she is doing well overseas. In the Takarazuka Kinen race, Special Week is up against Grass Wonder. It is obvious that Special Week isn’t running at her best as she keeps thinking about Suzuka (as this was one of the races she won). Because of that, Grass Wonder finds it disappointing and zooms past her. She easily wins and in the aftermath asks Special Week if she has given her all. Time for reflection and depression. Got even time for that? That’s where Trainer comes in to remind her about her true goal. It wasn’t just to run with Suzuka. It’s to become the best horse girl in Japan and have her mom watch it. Remember that? She’d better. Because Trainer says she is going to win all her races in autumn. Wow. That’s really a massive load of confidence or foresight.

Episode 9
El Condor Pasa calls Special Week to cheer her up. But after putting down the phone, Special Week returns to her worrywart look. Trainer takes Spica for a training camp at the beach. Rigil is also there but Spica won’t be in the same luxurious hotel. It’s a rundown inn instead. Trainer splits Spica into teams and wants them to practice. They will hold a match with each other in the end. We see the horse girls train hard but it looks like Suzuka still has some ways to go. El Condor Pasa calls Rudolf to tell she met Europe’s greatest horse girl, Broye in which they will be running together in an upcoming French race. The match Spica will compete is triathlon. They’re not interested till Trainer says the winning team gets free buffet at Rigil’s hotel. Off they go! During the race, Suzuka and Special Week prop up the rear. Suzuka is still weak and Special Week wanted to help only to be told off by Trainer. Is Special Week really going to stop and help in the middle of a race? Is this Suzuka’s best? What about their promise? If they want to help each other, they should become rivals. His dream is to see them run and fight each other to be top. This motivation has them running like the wind as they zoom past the front pack. They regain their confidence to run but all that tension turns into a joke when they can’t stop to navigate a corner, went straight and crash into the sea. It was really a good laugh. At the end of the day, all of them get to eat the buffet. Everyone watches on TV the French grand prix. El Condor Pasa makes a great start and takes the lead. Not surprisingly, Broye makes her move and pips her to victory. I know everyone is screaming (like El Condor Pasa could hear) for her to go faster or even ‘escape’ but how can she do so when Broye is running even faster than her? Why are the Japanese horse girls so sad? They knew she was up against the best in Europe and were they really hoping for a miracle? Not this time. El Condor Pasa calls Special Week and excitedly talks about her experience. But that soon turns to tears after realizing how painful it is to lose. Yeah, you win some, you lose some.

Episode 10
El Condor Pasa returns to Japan to train more. We see a very motivated Special Week training hard and eating hard. It’s like she has this Duracell battery imbedded into her. Hence the next race we see her much sturdier and everyone is impressed of how well she has improved. But then she falls flat and finishes 7th. What a bummer. Trainer believes she has been secretly training instead of having proper rest. Hence he has the team rest until the next race. This means Special Week has to go back home. Mom must have gotten the memo and won’t let Special Week run at all. Mom has created a scrapbook of all events and races Special Week appeared in. She isn’t sure if she can be the best horse girl in Japan but she is going to try her best. Mom gives her a horseshoe charm she made for her. Special Week will use it in her upcoming Tennoushou race. She lets Special Week do a bit of night training. The break is over as Spica returns and do more training. Special Week and Suzuka renew their vow to win races and race with each other as rivals. Tennoushou is here and it has been a year since Suzuka was injured in this race. Although Special Week is running in it, Suzuka will not even be watching as a spectator as she has more important stuff to do as her rival. Training? The race begins with as usual Special Week at the back of the pack. Then as expected she start speeding up until she is ahead of the pack and holds on until she wins it. Seiun Sky and King Halo are not sad that they lost since the stronger their opponents, the stronger they will become. But make sure Special Week doesn’t always stay ahead of you or you’ll always be second best.

Episode 11
Big news! Broye is going to run in Japan Cup! Why? To show everyone she is the strongest horse girl. Yeah, she’s going to show you Japanese horse girls why European horse girls are better. This means Special Week has to practice harder and also this is Suzuka’s comeback race. Broye tours the race ground and even does a demo run. Her time shows she is way faster than Rudolf. French horse girl can understand what Japanese journalists say but choose to reply in French? Where’s the damn translator?! They don’t have the luxury of subtitles like us viewers :). Snippets of hard work and training. Even El Condor Pasa gives Special Week some advice and wants her to win. Suzuka enters the race a day before Japan Cup. She is given an ultimatum by her rival, Sun Visor. You know how in such situations they will always have to eat their words, right? As the race begins, Suzuka is as expected at the back. Everyone thinks she is still injured and Sun Visor is disappointed. But in the last stretch, Suzuka initiates her secret move. Not really secret. She just runs faster than everyone else. She never looked back since and crosses the finish line well ahead of Sun Visor. So Sun Visor not congratulating her and promising to beat her the next time, that’s like being a sore loser? Suzuka returns to her happy friends and rivals who prepare to celebrate her victory. And now it’s time for the main course, the Japan Cup. Showdown between Broye and Special Week. You can disregard all the other participants.

Episode 12
Broye might sound arrogant and confident in winning (more press conferences for her?) but I guess this is what to be expected from a champion. She’s not disrespecting her opponents. Special Week’s mom is also here. Coincidentally she bumps into Trainer and Suzuka. She asks if her daughter has a chance to win. Wait. I know winning is everything but I thought at least she would ask if her daughter is going to give it all (even if it sounds like a no brainer because mother believes in child). We also see Special Week gets lots of support from her friends. The real race is here but before that, Broye pecks Special Week on the cheek, sending the crowd into shock. Is that some sort of declaration of challenge? Well, it could have been worst. I mean, a French kiss… Special Week has learnt some French words from El Condor Pasa but apparently she didn’t Google it to double check so her cocky statement offended other French horse girls. The race starts with Special Week propping up the back. Broye is following close behind her to observe her move. So when Special Week begins her sprint, Broye also does so. However Broye starts sweating that she cannot gain an inch from her. In the end, the power of support enables Special Week to win! She is the best horse girl in Japan! And possibly the world too seeing she beat the best. But it boggles me if Broye couldn’t even catch up, was her super practice time a fluke or did Special Week break that record? Anyway, everybody is so happy with her win so we don’t care about it. It seems Special Week will only do a solo concert. Apparently French horse girls don’t have idol concerts and they can’t speak Japanese. So be double thankful for Special Week’s win, you idol fans out there! Before she starts, she is interviewed and her speech of wanting to make dreams come true and giving those who cheered on her dreams too, led to lots of tears flowing. Now the Tokyo EX Winter Dream Trophy is around the corner. We have an all-star cast for this ‘battle royale’. Special Week, Suzuka, the other Spica teams, El Condor Pasa, Grass Wonder, Oguri Cap, Fuji Kiseki and Rudolf are among the names. But wait. No Seiun Sky or King Halo?

Episode 13
Special Week writes to her mom on the great achievements of everyone in Spica. Suzuka won all her G-I races and went to America. But I guess what she did there wasn’t important because now Special Week is at the airport to pick her up from her return. With Winter Dream Trophy approaching, there is a big party and press conference. Trainer remembers his own struggles where he was left depressed and devastated when horse girls quit, thinking he wasn’t serious in training them. Only Gold Ship remained. After seeing Suzuka run, he got motivated to get back up and started recruiting. And look where Spica is now. More rivalries and revelries between the horse girls. Before the race, Spica wants Trainer to say a few words. The usual. Don’t think. Just run like they always do. In this big derby of 18 horse girls, Suzuka makes a strong start by taking the lead. Then in the final stretch everyone catches up for an intense final battle. I suppose Trainer is the most anxious because he doesn’t know who to root for. Can he root for everyone? But yeah, there can only be one winner. In the ultimate f*ckery, because f*ck, don’t tell me everyone crossed the finish line at the same time! This would be more than just coincidence because I will suspect fixed game! Well, I’ll be damned because all of them are featured in the idol concert. Giving AKB48 a run for its money… I want to think winners and losers get to sing onstage for this concert too… And prevent fans of certain horse girls getting targeted if ever there was a clear victor. During the concert, Trainer spots a new potential horse girl being awed with everything. He feels up her thighs. Expected horse kick. He asks about her dream and she’ll definitely achieve it if she doesn’t give up.

Horsing Around – Pretty Derpy
And so they lived happily ever after, running and racing and singing with each other. Wow. Life is such bliss for these horse girls. They make it look like it is so easy being a racer and an idol. Uh huh. They must really have the stamina to do all that with a smile and still have the strength to live their lives. Oh right. Who am I kidding? There are horse girls. Horses, damn it. They should have stamina that would allow them to gallop for miles and kilometres. But I’m just pondering with all our featured horse girls in the Winter Dream Trophy being so powerful because the narration said it’s like they’ve won races and hold so many crowns of so many races, I wonder if they will continue to dominate the racing scene and obliterate every other horse girls. Unless they’re just village champs, get what I mean? Otherwise they’ll go out there and dominate the world! Not fair to point out what happened at Suzuka’s short exploits in America but I guess she coming home isn’t just to fulfil her promise with Special Week but I am thinking more of the lines that there is no place like home.

There isn’t much plot to begin with. With Special Week being the main focus, it is predictable that it is mainly going to be about her starting as an amateur with dreams of becoming the best horse girl in the world (but of course, which horse girl doesn’t harbour this dream but because she is main character, she is one of the lucky few who got to live out her dream), becoming a dark horse and then a local hero and favourite who will become the best at the world stage while technically still remaining as herself. A few struggles in between, some few obstacles in between, becoming stronger physically and mentally, nothing that our horse girls cannot overcome because the power of horse friendship.

I can’t also say that I am very impressed with the character development because it feels pretty predictable and cliché. Though, I don’t mean that in a bad way. The main focus is on Special Week and Suzuka. They have their bonds but I just don’t feel that they are particularly close enough. Special Week feels a bit like a retard for comical purposes and Suzuka as the other end of the pole as emotionless. But when they put their minds to it, they become formidable. The other downside about the characters is that there are too many of them! Even more if you want to count all those that are just irrelevant. I know that the horse girls are taken after and are personifications of real life race horses in Japan. So by featuring a lot of them but reducing them to just minor and unnecessary background characters sometimes feel like they need to pay homage and tribute to these certain horses but sorry since you aren’t main character, that’s all the time you get. Yeah, I don’t even remember their names.

Therefore for horses like Urara, I don’t even know what the heck her role is besides her ‘running joke’ of going and returning from trips of races in other areas. It’s not like she is in Spica, Rigil or any of the other nameless teams at Tracen. I also noticed that if you observed closely at Tracen, there is one glutton horse girl who keeps eating and shoving her face with food in the background. She is named (like any other horse girls who are introduced, their name will pop up on the screen) but I can’t remember seeing how insignificant her character is. As for other horse girls, for example Spica. This is what I summarize them as: Boring irrelevant rivalry between Scarlet and Vodka, Gold Ship’s constant harassment over McQueen, McQueen coming from a famous pedigree but nothing more is shown about her achievements and Teio with her dreams of becoming like Rudolf seems like a distant dream that Special Week achieved hers already. What the heck is Sun Visor’s appearance for? Only one episode as Suzuka’s rivalry and that’s it? Feels redundant.

Trainer is being a good and nice guy but mostly feels irrelevant because otherwise watching horse girls train themselves without a proper trainer would feel just weird. You know that when they get lost, at least there is someone who will guide them back on the right path. But I have a feeling that he really doesn’t have a plan. Every time he tells his horse girls the same thing of not thinking and just run. Well it’s good in a way because sometimes the best strategy is not to have one. At least in their cases. It’s just running and run faster, right? So with him telling this every time to his horse girls, don’t they expect that this is what he will most probably say? Maybe they hope he’ll actually say something different, huh? Hence with Trainer and his no-plan strategy, it is like as though the master is trying to make the student think to come up with an answer when he himself doesn’t have the solution. And he’ll go along with whatever the students come up with.

On a trivial and very unfortunate note, the real Special Week passed away while the series was still running. It feels like an irony that the show that made it its main character and for that main character to just pass away, it just feels sad. Because of that, I was wondering if Special Week winning against Broye was some sort of tribute to the real counterpart, making it even more special for those who have close ties to that real horse beauty. RIP, Special Week. Your legacy lives on in the anime! At least for those who don’t know you in real life. But something feels fishy (or horsey?) because if Special Week can beat Europe’s best horse girl, she can’t beat the rest from Tracen?! This is assuming all of them crossed the line at the same freaking time in the final episode’s derby!

If you want to talk about the races in the series itself, personally I find them boring. Therefore I see them drumming up typical anime style drama and tension just to hype up some excitement. Which isn’t really exciting in my books. Yeah, blood needs to be spilled and characters need to die for me to be considered exciting! Woah! Such a bloodthirsty sadist I am. The races follow this somewhat and predictable pattern. The supposed winners whom you could predict and get it right for 90% of the time would usually make a slow start or prop up the back of the pack. In the final stretch, they will exert all their power and make a final dash to the finish line. I wonder if they run on extra friendship power because that seems to be the booster always. There is no real magic so there is hardly any variety to see other than the horse girl running faster. That’s why they added in a lot of other effects to try and make it super exciting but I did not buy into that. No wonder in certain ways, the final episode’s Winter Dream Trophy felt something a bit lacking. That’s why they wasted time dedicated more screen time showing other non-racing stuffs.

So whenever they pass some random horse girl participant who often spout “Muri!” (technically means “Impossible!” but translated as “I cant!” for accuracy), I keep thinking how the heck these other participants even get to participate in the race. I mean, they are horse girls. They’re supposed to have stamina, right? As they reach the end or being zoomed past by our main characters, you hear them complain this line. I mean, I know you horse girls won’t win but how the heck did you get in the front in the first place? Did you sprint like 100m sprinters and use up all your energy but forget there is a few 100 more metres to go? Yeah, that kind of attitude will not let you win races. But in the true spirit of sportsmanship, we often see the winners being humble and the losers being gracious. No wonder the crowd loves them all. I’m wondering if a horse girl wins a race, what kind of prizes does she get besides bragging rights. Don’t see them winning money or cash prize. No jockey, so that’s one less problem. I suppose enough for them to keep racing because this isn’t a dark series where bribery and fixed racing is rife. It’s all about the passion of running!

The one thing that kept me boggled during such races is that the outfits they wear. Because they look more like cosplayers than anything! Sure, they are supposed to look good (that’s why it’s called Pretty Derby, I guess) and I agree on that. But some of the outfits that I see them wear are just freaking wind resistance. No wonder they can’t win. That kind of outfit is not even conducive for running! Oh well, if you can’t win races, might as well look good while running. This is the big reason why I say Broye CANNOT beat Special Week! I mean, take a look at Broye’s outfit. Basically a prince charming outfit with a fur cape. A FUR CAPE!!! How does that not let her being dragged down by wind resistance?! No wonder she lost. And Special Week must be smiling and be thankful for her win. Merci. But I still find it amazing that even after the race, the outfits are not messed up one bit. Are they put together with special glue and material?

But in view of this, now that I look back at it, there is no fanservice whatsoever! Despite their weird costumes, there are no sleazy shots or even bouncing boobs just to attract that male demographic attention. So maybe that is why this series works in a way. They didn’t have to resort to such underhanded tactics and can still go on to make a pretty decent story. I’m sure it would have been distasteful but remember, these horse girls were taken after real horses so don’t want to disrespect them. Oh by the way if you’re asking, Trainer’s thigh molestation doesn’t count as real fanservice. That’s sexual harassment!

Aside from what is seen in the anime, there are other mind boggling questions that I want to ask especially about the horse girls. One of them includes: How the f*ck do they breed?! Okay, I accept that in this world there is another intelligent species of horse girls. But like in its name, they are all only females. Who the heck fathers them?! They have mothers but no fathers! If they are being fathered by real horses, OMFG!!! IS THIS CONSIDERED BESTIALITY!!!! This is f*cking weird just thinking about it. Even weirder than porn! Besides, with horse girls in this world, are there even real horses?! Surely you don’t see them in the city but it really begs the question. Yeah, what do people ride on before modern transportation? Thinking of how they sit and ride on horse girls is just weird. Very weird. The more I think about it, the weirder it gets. Hence…

This thought just came up. Do horse girls have the same rights as humans? Or are they just animals with some human rights? Because if that is the case, can I have a horse girl as a girlfriend AND pet???!!! Oh sh*t! Again, this arises the beastiality question if one tries to perform something kinky when making out with a horse girl. Yeah, what kind of offspring while you get if a human mates with a horse girl… Very curious questions… I wonder if our relationship would also be stable… Haha!!! Also, imagine if weird rich girls instead of wanting a pony as their present, they want the best and cutest horse girl. So awkward…

Another weird concept I want to question is: The horse girls’ ears. Yeah, they have a pair right on top of their head. Actually I never noticed this until they started talking on a phone. The landline one. Because I noticed the receiver is long enough to reach their mouth and to the ears on the top of their heads. At least this dispels the question or any oversight that those ears are useless and only for decoration. But this also begs the question if they also have human ears on their side. I cannot ascertain this as all the horse girls conveniently have hair long enough to cover their side. Imagine if they have no ears there… I would look like horror! And if they do have ears, it makes me ask a new question if they can really use both sets of ears. It would be awesome if they could. Also to note, as all the horse girls have different hairstyles for differentiation, can I say that this is their mane?

Do horse girls who have serious injury and cannot recover be put down? Thank goodness for Suzuka recovering (and Grass Wonder too) and of course I believe injured horse girls will be forced into early retirement instead of being put down. But how come I don’t see any old horse girls becoming trainers? Why are the trainers humans? This means, how long is a lifespan of a horse girl? Don’t tell me they all die shortly after childbirth! That would be too tragic. Besides, seen any old or retired horse girls around? Do you even know their parents?! Sheesh. This is getting even more worrying the more I ask.

Art and animation feel average but I’ll give them points for putting in the detail and do not slack during races. Because it is during that animation where it gets hell to animate. You know, when they run, their arms moving back and forth. Now you know why animators save a lot of time, energy and money animating anime series like Naruto, when they run, their arms are unanimated and we all believe it because of that aerodynamics crap. If not for the different hairstyles, I think I might get confused with their generic looks. Like Special Week and Teio look close to each other thanks to that white strip of hair they got. Thankfully their different outfits and other accessories also help. I always somehow keep thinking El Condor Pasa is a Zorro wannabe… This anime is made by P.A. Works but since I’m not into furries (can horse girls be considered as furries?), I didn’t really see their trademark gorgeous bishoujo art style here as seen in Hanasaku Iroha, Tari Tari, Shirobako, Sakura Quest, Glasslip and True Tears. But I guess better to have horses anthropomorphized as girls than the other way round. Yeah, talking horses with makeup and dresses would be awfully weird.

There are lots of seiyuus lending their voice due to the many characters but the only one I recognized is Rie Kugimiya as Sun Visor. The rest of the main casts are Azumi Waki as Special Week (Mai in Toji No Miko), Marika Kouno as Suzuka (Yua in Hinako Note), Minami Takahashi as El Condor Pasa (Megumi in Shokugeki No Souma), Machico as Teio (Serina Nishiyama in Sansha Sanyou), Saori Oonishi as McQueen (Aiz in DanMachi), Kouji Okino as Trainer (Tetsutetsu in Boku No Hero Academia), Azusa Tadakoro as Rudolf (Chtholly in SukaSuka), Megumi Toyoguchi as Hana (Revy in Black Lagoon) and Akari Kitou as Seiun Sky (Kaho in Blend S). Broye who speaks all her lines in French is voiced by Haruna Ikezawa (Yoshino in Maria-sama Ga Miteru). Since I don’t know nothing about French, I can’t say id her French is authentic or just another of those ‘Engrish’ type. But to be fair, she is born in Greece! Although raised in Japan. Not sure if she is halfie either.

I never really think of this series to be an idol one. Sure, there are a handful of idol bits but that is not given its prominence unless otherwise. So there are quite a few songs in this series. Aside from the typical upbeat opening and ending theme, Make Debut and Grow Up Sunshine respectively (both sung by the members of Spica), there are special ending themes that are slower ballads to pull those heartstrings and work up those feels like Arigatou Kamisama by Special Week and Silent Star by Suzuka and Find My Only Way by Spica. Then there are those idol-like songs like Endless Dream, Koi Wa Derby and Nanairo No Keshiki but I’m not really attracted by them.

Overall, not a bad series but if you do not place too much expectations, this series is still enjoyable in its own right and even without the need of putting in any blatant fanservice (even the swimsuits during the beach training is very modest and nothing sexy nor revealing). The plot and characters might be predictable and cliché but also satisfying in its own pace in seeing how the characters grow and bond. I won’t be betting that this series would get a popular following. Sure, the game and the anime itself will have their own set of fans but if you’re talking mainstream, not very likely. Unless an upset occurs. But for these horse girls, they are more than happy for us viewers to watch and cheer them run. Once they’ve achieved their dream, they know that they can gallop away into the sunset knowing that they lived their life to the fullest and giving others hopes and dreams. Unless I bet on the wrong horse, then all my future dreams are dashed while they dash to the finish line… It’s still a race after all and the winner still takes it all.

High School DxD Hero

September 8, 2018

Holy titties! I never would have expected it. That the High School DxD franchise would be given another season. After the fiasco and disappointing season, it was safe to say that it wasn’t going to get another season. But 3 years later, here we are having this surprising fourth season, High School DxD Hero. Do they think fans have forgotten? After all, 3 years isn’t particularly a long time but maybe it is so in anime terms. And since I have forgotten a lot about this series except for the fact that a boy wants to be harem king and has this privilege of touching boobs from his harem and also fighting demons to protect them (sure, there are other bits of details I remember from this series but ecchi fanservice is what I and mostly all of us would prominently remember), I suppose it is time to forgive and give them a chance to make amends and move on. Okay, seriously, we’re here for the tits, right?

Episode 0
This episode supposedly ‘fixes’ the deviation. From last season after Issei defeated Diodora, the latter is killed off by Shalba. Issei sinks into further depression when is told Asia has been erased from this dimension. This turns his Juggernaut Drive berserk as Issei is now in his Red Dragon armour (not sure to what evolution he powered up) and destroying everything. He pounds Shalba and even kills him! But still, he continues to go berserk and at this rate, he will deplete his own life force. Here comes Vali and his men. Surprise or not, they found Asia totally by chance floating in another dimension. Convenient. Yeah, she’s still alive. Totally convenient. Their focus now is to save Issei but they can’t even get near him. Vali hints there is one way to snap him out. Everyone staring at Rias’ tits. Who’d knew the answer is so simple. The problem is approaching him. One way to approach a rampaging dragon is an ancient melody. Fear not. Because here comes Irina with a giant projector as she plays that children’s dragon boobs song!!! With Issei reacting to it, now it is Rias’ chance to let him touch her nipples. And just like that, Issei returns to normal. Flanked and hugged by his girls, Issei sees Asia and is about to hug her only to be usurped by an emotional Xenovia. Like how rainbows in the sky is a sign of a good ending, this series’ ‘rainbow’ is the appearance of the Great Red. Vali reminds us it is his dream to defeat him. Even Ophis pops up to say hi for a while. Vali and Issei make a vow to return stronger and settle their score another day. A sign to go home with Issei collapsing from exhaustion. Issei keeps his promise to team up with Asia for the 3-legged race. With him further exhausted, Asia heals him. Bonus for Issei because she kisses him and confesses she loves him. Now he collapses from happiness. I’M SO JEALOUS OF YOU, ISSEI!!!!!!!

Episode 1
What a way to start the episode. Since Issei will be going on a field trip to Kyoto, Akeno wants to f*ck him so as to fill up her loneliness while he is gone. It’s just 2 days, right? Of course Rias won’t allow it but since there is also competition from Koneko and Asia, Rias does a boobs slam in his face! I’M SO JEALOUS OF YOU, ISSEI!!! Later, Koneko ups the ante with her skinship healing technique and suggests some amorous techniques. That’s a weird way of saying sex. Of course, no sex if you follow the school rules. Rias and her subordinates visit her family to report. Discussing with Sirzechs, they suggest the removal of several unnecessary rules for the Rating Game so that both sides can go all out. Sairaorg wants to spar with Issei. We see both of them trading powerful punches that could easily rip the place apart. Asia then shouts out about the need for Issei to power up by touching boobs. With everyone agreeing and double confirming about his boobs relying power (why does it sound to make him embarrassed), Rias embarrassingly offers her boobs to be touched. Issei would gladly take up this offer but Sairaorg ends the match. As this would mean Issei would be showing his trump card, he believes Issei is still trying to reach for new heights. He hopes they can settle it all in their upcoming Rating Game. Before they leave, Millicas throws Issei the question if he would still call Rias as buchou once she graduates. Issei is too excited for the trip that he can’t sleep. With Rias giving him ultimate boobs smothering fanservice, he can’t sleep even further. Boobs are better than coffee in keeping you awake. At the train station, Rias gives Issei 2 ‘gifts’. First, a special pass to allow him to enter all those holy temple places that Kyoto is so famous for (remember, Issei is a demon). Second, a great goodbye kiss for the road.

Episode 2
Issei enters the consciousness of his Sacred Gear. There are many former Red Dragon users but they are now mostly like vegetable mode. One of them looks like a boy his age and just like the rest was overwhelmed by his own strength and perished. Ddraig introduces Issei to Elsha who was the partner to Belzard, the most powerful Red Dragon Emperor who defeated 2 White Dragon Emperors by himself. She gives him a box and a key that supposedly holds his Red Dragon Emperor potential. However he must take responsibility once he opens it. It’s like a Pandora’s Box. So he opens it but he doesn’t remember what it is as he returns to reality. Furthermore, he lost it! Ddraig assures because of their strong bonds, it will come back to him eventually. I think we get a hint of what it is. Because Matsuda is fondling Motohama’s ‘boobs’!!!! So gay!!! Even when they reach Kyoto, Issei sees a random guy trying to fondle a random woman’s boobs. During the shrine visit, Issei is attacked by a fox girl, Kuno and her youkai minions. She accuses him of kidnapping her mom and wants her back. Issei doesn’t know what she is talking about but she doesn’t believe him. With the help of Xenovia, Irina and Asia, they stave off the attack but Kuno vows to be back. Back in the hotel, not sure why Issei is hanging out alone in his room (wasn’t he supposed to watch porn with his friends?!), so he decides to go peek on the girls bathing. Rossweisse gets in his way. Ally or not, nothing is going to stop him from peeping at boobs! From the guy who naturally gets to see Rias and Akeno’s boobs every day. Issei defeats he with his Dress Break. There goes the cheap cute jersey she bought. All for the sake for our fanservice pleasure. More fanservice pleasure as we take a detour watching Rias and Akeno getting into a boob challenge, arguing Issei likes their boobs better. During dinner, Issei learns from Serafall that the current head of the youkai clan is missing. This explains the attack and Chaos Brigade is most likely behind this infiltration. Azazel will do his best about the situation and wants the kids to enjoy the field trip.

Episode 3
Flashback shows after the 3-legged race, Issei and Rias fought a member of the Chaos Brigade’s Hero Faction. Although defeated, he turned into some shadow. During the Kyoto sightseeing, Issei and co are surrounded by the youkai. Rossweisse says this is as instructed by Azazel to bring them to the youkai world. Kuno apologizes to them for jumping the gun without doing any investigations. Discussing about their missing head, Princess Yasaka who is also Kuno’s mom, they believe Chaos Brigade is definitely behind the kidnapping since the underworld real doesn’t know anything about this. They show a picture of how Yasaka looks like so that we can have Issei fantasize lewd things with her! That night when Issei’s buddies came to his room to bug him, he hides inside the closet with Asia. Cue for some romantic moments and Asia to kiss him because she isn’t satisfied Rias gave him one before the trip. Their unholy act is discovered by Xenovia and Irina who also want in on this. Xenovia has no qualms for them taking turns to kiss him as well as make babies! Oh sh*t. Girls struggling to f*ck him? I guess that’s why this tight closet space is the excuse for more ‘close quarter skirmish’. Rossweisse and her reinforcements are waiting for Issei to show up. Well, they got Matsuda and Motohama good. Sensing something amiss that Issei is no show, she realizes something is wrong when Asia and co aren’t in the bath. She rushes down to Issei’s room and catches them all with their pants down in an unholy orgy. Next day, Kuno makes good on her promise to give Issei’s groupie a tour of Kyoto as repentance. On the bridge, suddenly they are transported to another dimension. Kuno recognizes this purple mist that is believed to have kidnapped her mom. Before them is Chaos Brigade’s Hero Faction.

Episode 4
The leader of Hero Faction, Cao Cao admits of kidnapping Yasaka for an experiment. He is here to greet and spar with them. He has Leonardo materialize several anti-monsters for Issei’s side to fight. Thanks to Issei making strategic moves, they are easily dealt with. Azazel fights Cao Cao as he now understands why Hero Faction sent assassins to various camps. It is to obtain data to create the best anti-monster, Colossus that is capable of obliterating the Gods. After done with the anti-monsters, Issei’s side fight Siegfried. He has 3 arms? Each wielding a legendary sword? Azazel questions Hero Faction’s move now. Cao Cao explains it is to unearth human’s full potential. Of all the races, humans have always been the ones capable of eliminating those at the top. They want to see how far they can push this limit while remaining human. The giant Gogmagog, a weapon once created by the Gods pops up. It is sent by Le Fey Pendragon from Vali’s side to give Cao Cao a warning. Pendragon is a fan of Issei and wants to shake his hands. Damn, I thought she was going to let him touch her boobs. After Gogmagog falls and Rossweisse realising a flurry of attacking beams in her drunken stupor, Cao Cao ends the fight. He invites them to watch their experiment tonight where he will use Yasaka to conduct something on Nijou Castle. Back at the hotel, Azazel assigns roles to them in taking down Hero Faction and rescuing Yasaka. He will also enlist the help of some professionals since it is unknown how many dangerous guys Cao Cao will bring. Azazel also assigns Saji to be on Issei’s side to restrain him in case the latter goes berserk. Later Azazel returns a pink gem to Issei. Apparently this is his escaped potential from the box that went berserk groping women all over Kyoto. So it’s all his fault to begin with. Issei asks Azazel on what it means to be a hero since it was one of his goals. I thought he wanted to be harem king? The mist covers the land and separates Issei from the rest (he only has Kuno as company). He faces off with that shadow dude again. So if Issei can’t touch the shadow but the shadow can touch and restrain him?

Episode 5
Issei’s flames burns him. Time for the loser to rant about Sacred Gear discrimination that he doesn’t mind being a puppet for somebody because it gives his life meaning. But since he isn’t main character, we don’t give a damn. I guess we’re done with the warm up match so Issei reunites with the rest as they prepare to face Cao Cao and his men. He has Georg turn Yasaka into a giant youkai fox. His experiment is to summon Great Red with this fox and the city’s power. Not sure about this power showing from Xenovia because it’s like to show us she has a new sword, Ex-Durandal (Excalibur x Durandal) and wipes out almost half the city! Good thing this is the alternate dimension. Now we see some matchups, Siegfried fighting both Xenovia and Yuuto, Jeanne choosing Irina, Heracles against Rossweisse while Saji in his Prism Dragon form take on the fox. We see the Hero Faction’s Balance Breaker with Siegfried able to have maximum 6 arms with 6 different swords, Jeanne making a dragon out of holy swords and Heracles just being spiky and shooting missiles. Issei could have died from Cao Cao’s lethal attack but uses his Phoenix Tears to heal. He strikes back and does some lethal damage but is shocked to see Cao Cao also possessing a Phoenix Tears to heal up. Issei takes another devastating blow so he wants Ddraig to fix the armour. At this points, all his comrades lost. Even the serpent lost to the snake. Time for Issei to lose hope and lament how weak and useless he is at crucial points. Don’t worry. Here comes Elsha ex machina. After telling him that potential thingy, he must unleash his own potential with that gem. Uh huh. His own set of boobs. You heard that right. So the gem materializes boob zombies?! Actually these are the wills of all those who became boob molesters because of him and their desires materialized into a human form. Yeah, there are so many of them! Finally all of them combine as Issei summons his set of boobs. Whose set? Rias! Yeah, she was in the middle of changing her underwear.

Episode 6
Elsha guides Issei on how to pinch her boobs! I’m sure Rias is shocked and confused but since it’s Issei, she’ll give him a free pass for now. Upon pressing her tits, is this the best orgasm she ever felt? She is transported back to where she is while Issei receives a massive boost. Feel the power just bursting from within! All because of buchou’s boobs! Heck, he even has a last vision of Elsha giving her final blessing as well as Belzard’s final words of pinching and twirling? Aren’t those the lyrics to Issei’s dragon boobs song? With this new power, Issei is faster, tougher and can change between modes quickly to pound Cao Cao. Thanks to his Sacred Gear, Cao Cao survives without much damage. Cao Cao notes his move is illegal (compared to some chess move) but Ddraig sees it as some 3-pronged attack. Before the fight continues, here comes Yu Long the Mischievous Dragon along with Son Goku. He has a bone to pick with Cao Cao. We see Goku’s tremendous power in handling Cao Cao and his subordinates while Yu Long tames the fox. Cao Cao and co is about to retreat but Issei fires a powerful shot in his face. This makes Cao Cao very mad and wants to retaliate but upon realizing they are at their limits, they back out for now. It’s redundant to tell him to be stronger than Vali. He is going to do that. Issei and Goku unleash some power so Kuno could talk to her mom and return her to her buxom human form. All is fine as well. Lots of thanking before Issei’s party leave for home. Issei’s only regret is that he couldn’t touch Yasaka’s boobs. I guess buchou’s boobs weren’t enough. Speaking of which, back home the group gets reprimanded by Rias but after Azazel explains about the new power he received, I guess she’ll let it slide. Azazel also informs that Ravel will soon be transferring to their school as she has now taken interest in Japan (who wouldn’t?). Now they have to prepare for the upcoming school festival as well as the Rating Game with Sairaorg.

Episode 7
Issei puts up a splendid stage performance as Oppai Dragon! It’s really a hit! The kids love him! Even doing that signature twirling and pinching finger movements?! What are they teaching kids these days?! Fanservice moments at the backstage as Irina has to replace the announcer who sprained her foot. The dress is so tight that her boobs literally rips it apart! As though like they’re screaming they don’t want to be constraint by it. Cue for Irina to do an unholy activity of smothering her boobs on him. Cue for other girls to come in to do the same because all their boobs belong to him. Wow. A plethora of boobs! Issei you lucky bastard! Until Rias tells them to get ready for the next stage. After the show, Issei personally signs an autograph for a boy who turned up late for the event, Rirencs. Rias’ mom comes by to congratulate their splendid play. She also has Issei think about advancing his relationship with Rias. Time to stop calling her buchou? Ravel has officially transferred but she is quite meek instead of being prideful because she is nervous and not used in dealing humans? Gee, so around demons she knows she’s like a, uhm, demon? Issei thought of Koneko showing her around to help ease her anxiety but looks like a storm is brewing instead. Rias requests Issei to come with her as the butler of Sairaorg’s mom has a personal request. She tells him the story of Misla Bael, who hails from one of the 72 pillars of the demon clan. After she gave birth to Sairaorg, the joy was short-lived as he had no magic powers. They became scorned by the clan. She raised him within the Bael area and despite the Gremory clan offered to take them in, they were rejected. She took care of him tirelessly until she became sick with a terrible demonic illness. Now in a deep coma, the butler hopes that Issei’s power of communicating via boobs would wake her up. Yes, he has their permission to touch her boobs. But in the end, despite pushing himself past his Balance Breaker, she still sleeps. Understandably he is depressed. Sairaorg comes to see him to thank him after hearing what happened. But they both assure that this past will not stop them from going all out with each other at their upcoming Rating Game. Rias notes Issei looks like a worthy man now. But he is still the same oppai pervert, right?

Episode 8
Rias’ team is practising for the Rating Game. However they have to stop and reserve some energy since there is a press conference tomorrow. Yes, their match is highly publicized and will be watched all over. I suppose that is why Issei is surprised when Saji tells him his side his having a Rating Game against the Agares clan at the same time but it is so low key and everybody else is paying attention to Rias-Sairaorg Rating Game. At the press conference, the press seems to hound Issei on boobs! Is he going to poke Rias’ boobs?! A slip of his tongue and the media goes into a frenzy bombarding him with boob questions that just makes them uncomfortable and embarrassed. Even Sairaorg throws in his own cheeky comments. While Issei is reflecting in the sauna, here comes hot naked Rias wanting to get down and dirty with him! Is this the moment where Issei would finally lose his virginity? But all of a sudden… The moment he calls her buchou, she loses her mood and leaves enraged. Oh my. All it takes was a title for a boner to a downer. It is a bit awkward when the duo meet for their strategy meeting. As Azazel is appointed their advisor, Sairaorg has Diehauser Belial who is a former Rating Game champion. After the meeting, Ravel’s mom drops a line to say hi to her daughter as well as hoping Issei would take care of her. Who else better than the Red Dragon Emperor himself, right? With Issei agreeing and mom hoping Ravel to improve her relationship with him, it looks like this is giving Rias the worries. So she asks Issei and some of them if they would protect her. Of course. Then she asks Issei what she is to him. Buchou is always buchou. That’s it. That taboo word has Rias calling him an idiot as she runs away. All the ladies agree it is Issei’s fault although he (and yours truly) are clueless in how he messed up. I’m sure it has something to do with their long standing bonds together but I just can’t piece the pieces together… Dang, a woman’s heart is so hard to understand! Even more so a devil woman so to speak!

Episode 9
We hear Issei reflecting on himself. Basically he wants them to be more than just master-servant relationship but fears Rias doesn’t share the same feelings. One wrong move and it’s all over. Yeah, understanding women is hard. Apparently Akeno, Koneko and Asia overheard this so they also share his sympathy. In order to be fair to them, they will equally share their love. Oh man. Is it this early to get naked tits treatment? Fine with me! Let the sexual healing begin! But Asia senses Issei still has some feelings for Reinare. He notes she is his first girlfriend and killed him. In the end he had to kill her and he doesn’t want to feel such ever again. With everyone reassuring their love for him and always be together, let’s put aside the tears and continue our sexual healing. And then Xenovia and Irina had to pass by and see this unholy act. They too want in on the action. The real struggle begins. Yeah, it’s really hard to understand women. Rias’ team are at the hotel and are met with Hades. So Greek Gods like Poseidon are even coming to see this tournament? Rias gets an important advice from Riser about believing in her teammates as well as leaving Ravel in their care. This guy is so much on their side now. More booster for Issei as Sirzechs sees him to let him watch a video of young kids who are fans of Oppai Dragon cheering on him. Tons of fan letters too. As of before the start of the match, we are being briefed over the format of the game. Looks like it isn’t battle royale like I knew it from last time. Both kings will roll the dice. Their total value will determine what kind of pieces they can put forth into the match (each chess piece has a corresponding value like Pawns = 1 and Rooks = 5, so forth). Those who represent multiple pieces like Issei who represents 8 Pawns will be worth 8 points. Both sides roll to a total of 3. This means they can either only use a Knight or Bishop (Sairaorg’s Pawns are also held by the same person). Rias chooses Yuuto for this battle. His opponent is, uhm, also a full-fledged knight. Gee, it’s really the battle of the Knights.

Episode 10
Here are this episode’s Rating Game highlights:

Match 1: Yuuto vs Beluka Furcas (and Altobrau the horse): As dubbed the battle of the Knights, both sides clone themselves for an all-out melee battle that ends with Yuuto being victorious. First blood to Rias’ camp!

Match 2: Rossweisse-Koneko vs Liban Crocell-Gandoma Balam: The duo try their best against the gravity swordsman and discount Thing. In the end, Rossweisse miscalculated her attack and although got both her opponents, Koneko bore the brunt of Gandoma’s final attack. Rossweisse’s survival meant that Rias’ team wins but Koneko and like those who have lost cannot be featured in future matches.

Match 3: Issei vs Coriana Andrealphus: Dubbed the battle of the sexy! Sairaorg thinks this trump card has what it takes to nullify Issei’s perverted powers. True enough, she starts a striptease show and slowly undresses! Issei could have finished her with a single power move but he cannot attack a lady while undressing! Damn perverted pride. However this is the deal breaker. Coriana starts taking off her panties first before her bra! Issei does not approve of this order and fires away! WTF???!!! So he prefers to see the boobs first before her vagina/ass?! What a ‘terrible’ match…

Match 4: Xenovia-Gasper vs Ladora Bune-Misteeta Sabnock: The plan is to have Gasper support Xenovia as she takes on the offensive. However she got cursed by the priestess and is now being hunted by malnourished-guy-turned-mighty-dragon. As Gasper’s healing takes time, against everyone’s wish and to show how manly and useful he is, he becomes bait and sacrifices himself. Yup, we see Gasper getting owned by the duo. With Gasper not giving up, it’s supposed to make us cheer for him and pull our heartstrings. In the end, they focused too much on vampire boy and Xenovia has enough time to recover and blast them away. Too bad Gasper is out, though.

Match 5: Akeno vs Kuisha Abaddon: The battle of the Queens and the fastest! After watching Gasper’s feat, the other Rias members are resolved to lower their opponent’s fighting strength. Yup, this means Akeno lost in this black hole match quickly although I don’t see her dealing much damage to Kuisha.

Match 6: Yuuto-Rossweisse-Xenovia vs Sairaorg: Oh, time’s up for this episode. But we know how this will turn out, right? Yeah, just a warm up match for Sairaorg…

Episode 11
As expected, Sairaorg wipes the floor with them. Though with all their might they put up challenge and eventually cut off an arm of his, they are still no match and are defeated. Issei is so mad that his next match with Kuisha, he doesn’t even think of groping her and quickly defeats her! Actually, had not Sairaorg ordered her to withdraw, Issei would have killed her with his punch! OMG! Issei the killer???!!! Because of the dumb rules, Sairaorg suggests discarding it and have a team match with the remaining members. Approved of course since it is getting too predictable and boring. So we’re starting off with a power punch from the guys already? While the duo duke it out, Sairaorg’s only member left turns into his true form, a giant golden lion. Some legend about it being a battle axe whom Sairaorg found after its original wielder was killed by bandits. He faces off with Rias. I wonder what Asia is doing since she is the only other member left. Don’t want to get in the way maybe? Issei beats up Sairaorg after taking advantage of his weakness that was made known by his comrades in the previous match. But this is interrupted when the lion has mauled Rias and she will bleed to death. Issei uses his Phoenix Tears to save her. The lion wants Sairaorg to wield him but he refuses. This is when Issei reminds him of their promise to go all out with each other, not holding back any punches. Sairaorg fuses with the lion to become a golden armour! Saint Seiya???!!! Yeah, Issei gets owned. Hence he is before the council of past failed Red Dragon users who are forcing him to use the Juggernaut Drive. Issei is on the verge of giving in until he hears his fans Oppai Dragon fans’ motivation! Led by Irina, it’s damn weird to hear the entire stadium with kids shouting out boobs. With that, Issei fights back against the council. He won’t give in to resentment and become a tyrant because he is a lecher. Then this guy pops up, supposedly one of the past White Dragon user tells him to try it out because if anything happens, he’ll save him. Gee, thanks for the assurance. With Issei giving the council hope about the future (not to mention thinking about boobs and the woman he loves), Issei takes his transformation of his Red Dragon armour to the next mighty level.

Episode 12
So we see Issei not only powering up but confesses to the entire world he loves Rias. If he draws his power from love, so be it. So the epic punching begins. Until Sairaorg falls. He could have stayed down if not the ghost of his mom tells him to get up?! At least not the cliché power of friendship. The punching continues but Sairaorg takes more beating until Issei loses his armour because he overuses his power? Issei would have continued with his own bare fists until he realizes (as well as the plot script) Sairaorg has passed out a long time. Only his will made him continue to fight. Issei cries manly tears for his manly heroics. And with that, Rias’ side wins this Rating Game. Issei and Sairaorg recuperate in hospital. The latter doesn’t feel bitter about his loss but strangely satisfied. Sirzechs talks to Issei and he is considering promoting Issei to mid-level demon. Yuuto and Akeno are also potential to be promoted. After Issei is discharged, we see the school having their cultural festival. Issei and Rias are finally alone together. No time is wasted for him to confess how much he loves her. No need to be alarmed by her tears. Those are tears of happiness. She has been waiting for this moment. Especially for Issei to call her by her name. If she had only said it from the start… But she was too afraid to do so. Oh… Now I see… As Rias confesses she loves him back and they are about to kiss, those damn pesky friends are spotted eavesdropping. Heck, they even congratulate and even make cheeky remarks they can officially steal him. Hey, they’re demons, right? Rias blames them for ruining her most important moment in life. Even Issei is not spared. Yeah, it’s his fault for confessing here. But don’t worry, the rest set them up to do it all over this time. Alone. Guaranteed. Finally with no interruptions, the kiss that we have all been waiting for! Yahoo! Such bliss. In the aftermath, more good news because Sairaorg’s mom wakes up from coma. We also see Azazel being mad at Indra for knowing about Cao Cao’s existence before them. Indra thinks it is justified as they know each other since young. Indra agrees to ‘officially’ help him but warns if Issei threatens the world, he will annihilate his soul. He views his own group as the only ones worthy of being made under heaven.

Boobs Without Tits Are Totally Pointless!
Phew. Thank goodness this season didn’t suck. I’m not sure if it is because they decided to follow back the original light novel works or because it has been too long (yes, 3 years seems like a very long time to me nowadays) that I couldn’t remember the detailed bits. Even though I knew the third season was disappointing but time somewhat ‘healed’ it. Or maybe this season is just awesome in its own right. Either way, thank goodness this series came back from the ashes like a fiery phoenix and roared its way through like a dragon. Even if the final scenes were intriguing, it still feels like it has set up an interesting potential for another season. After all, Issei and Rias officially becoming an item isn’t the end of the entire story.

One of the biggest differences that viewers will notice is the animation and art style of this season. Previously the series was handled by TNK but now it is done by Passione (Citrus, Rokka No Yuusha, Hinako Note and Rail Wars). Although the art style is not so different that you cannot make head or tail of the usual characters, there is noticeable difference that makes it obvious it definitely looks different from its predecessors. How should I put it… If you ask me, this season’s art style looks somewhat a bit cute. Uh huh. Slightly this more moe looking style. Not to say the predecessors do not have this cute looks but the former series have this bishoujo feel and look. Thus they have this teen look but the current season makes them look a bit younger. Maybe because of the ‘roundness’ and ‘smoothness’ (heck, what am I saying, boobs are always round and smooth but I’m not referring to those in this context) as well as the colour and hue looking smoother and brighter. So it is either you will hate or love this new art style. Me, I got used to it in no time. Hey, it doesn’t matter if boobs are in 2D or 3D. Boobs are boobs, we get to see a bunch here, is that not enough???!!!

Despite the change in art style, one big sigh of relief for fans is that the original seiyuus in its predecessors are all maintained in this season. Your demon sexy Rias and cutie pie Asia might look lightly different than usual but at least they still sound the same like last time. I guess this is good because if they entirely changed the casts, we might be slightly more confused if this dude is Issei. Because let’s face it, nobody sounds perfect playing Issei other than Yuuki Kaji. Hence the new ones joining the ever expanding list of this series include Sora Tokui as Kuno (Hideri in Blend S), You Taichi as Yasaka (Albus in Zero Kara Hajimeru Mahou No Sho), Kousuke Toriumi as Cao Cao (Acnologia in Fairy Tail), Jun Fukushima as Siegfried (Kazuma in KonoSuba), Airi Ootsu as Leonardo (Maria in Marchen Madchen), Sho Nogami as Georg, Ayaka Asai as Jeanne (Hazuki in Hibike! Euphonium), Mugihito as Goku (Wombat in Binan Koukou Chikyuu Bouei-bu), Rie Tanaka as Elsha (Suigin Tou in Rozen Maiden) and Yutaka Aoyama as Belzard (Yamada in To Be Hero).

I keep wondering if there was any sort of meaning to the second title the series has. The second season was New, followed by Born and now we have Hero. String that together and we have New Born Hero. Seems legit and possible if you’re talking about Issei. Thus it makes me wonder if they’re going to make another season, what moniker they will put for that fifth season. Pervert? New Born Hero Pervert doesn’t seem so far-fetched…

Character wise, they are pretty sufficient this season despite the main focus is on Issei and Rias, especially the drama and issue of trying to take their relationship above the master-servant connection. Sometimes it gets a bit annoying because it mirrors in real life that when something is wrong, the women won’t say and the men must figure it out. Even demons Sure, Issei has been with Rias long enough but that doesn’t mean he can read her mind. It felt like everything could have been solved had Rias pointed it out but I suppose that takes the fun out of everything and it will be too easy and Issei will not learn if he doesn’t figure things out on his own. After all, he has got to prove that he is more than just a guy who likes to grope and poke boobs. Yeah… Thankfully for the sake of this season’s happy ending, Issei got all the buttons right. Phew. Next step: Marriage? I know Issei is an admirable guy but sometimes the way he over-admires his opponents with too much respect like how he is so awed with everything Sairaorg does in his fight but ultimately his own dream is the most priority, well, it sounds like he is trying too hard and overdoing? Just one step away from being annoying…

I know in line with this series’ fanservice and ecchi element, sometimes it feels cliché and super unrealistic that all the girls want to spam their boobs for Issei like as though he is their public property. Especially Xenovia who has no qualms in getting down and dirty with him. As though sex is nothing sacred. But the oddest part is that now Issei has a great following in his Oppai Dragon brand name, it just feels weird to see kids rooting and shouting boobs! I mean, young boys and girls chanting “Oppai! Oppai”, like as though it is nothing. Starting them young, eh? Damn guy has got theme song of his own! It could be the national anthem for boobs kingdom for all you know!

For the other characters under Rias’ peerage, they don’t seem too prominent this season too. Almost forgettable until the situation calls for it so that we can see Issei isn’t just a one-man show and has to rely on some things on his comrades. In a way, the need to prove or at least tell us they are still relevant. Of course they are but not in the limelight focus sense. For example, Gasper. Weak vampire boy who has a penchant of hiding in boxes tries to show us how manly he is despite looking, sounding and acting so much like a girl. Man, doesn’t it pull some heartstrings to see Gasper get pounded (not in a sexual way!) like that and not give up?! As this series has many other characters as well, some feel redundant this season like Ravel. Her appearance may be for future potentials and development but this season feels like as though her cameo is that so you don’t forget about her. I mean, we can’t disregard a cute demon girl who is a potential for Issei’s harem, right? New characters like Kuno also feel this way. But to be fair, this season is her debut and now she too is a furry potential for Issei’s harem.

Chaos Brigade makes their much needed appearance but only time will tell if they will become a formidable foe. Because it’s like we take a break now from fighting baddies as we bring you the most hyped Rating Game of the decade. With the irony of heroes becoming the villains (maybe that is what the title of this season refers to), I also hope to see a mishmash of other characters from folklores and tales. It would really be super epic mess with everyone and everything in the fray.

Action bits are pretty exaggerated but still fun to watch. With all the power ups and boosters especially for Issei, you wonder how much stronger he can become and evolve because it seems like as though there is no end to his evolution and transformation to become the Red Dragon Emperor. Not that it is entirely a bad thing but to think about how he started out as a normal pervert and slowly becomes one of the most powerful characters ever, that’s really something. But one thing I can’t help but smirk and find it sound odd is how when Ddraig initiates multiple boosters for Issei, he will start repeatedly say, “Boost! Boost! Boost! Boost! Boost! Boost! Boost!~”. Since he says that in quick succession, he sounds like saying “Boobs! Boobs! Boobs! Boobs! Boobs! Boobs! Boobs!~”. Like, WTF?! I guess it works for Issei in both ways since the power of boobs gives him the boosts.

Other characters like Xenovia, Rossweisse and Yuuto also help display some of their power and abilities but essentially it all comes down to Issei. Hence it makes me wonder if Issei and the raw brute strength of Sairaorg would eventually become annoying overpowered characters. Heck, they’re not the only ones because there are still other opponents like Vali and Cao Cao to deal with. But I suppose we will come to acknowledge their superiority because we get to see Issei acquire it through sheer hard work (or boobs fondling at least) unlike a certain character in that Smartphone crap series that started out way too God-like overpowered from the start.

I guess Rias vs Sairaorg’s Rating Game was so awesome and good that we have forgotten about the other Rating Game that was supposed to go on simultaneously: Saji’s one against the Agares clan. Yup, whatever happened to that? Not even a hint. I thought this would foreshadow something when they put it like that but not a word out of its results. You know, Saji’s side shockingly loss and there is some ulterior motive by the Agares clan to destroy the world. Something like that. No? I assume they won too and without much fanfare. But then again, if all the focus is on Rias and Sairaorg’s Rating Game and assuming people would prefer to watch that, maybe Saji’s Rating Game was played to empty seats?

This season’s opening theme is Switch by Minami. Nothing really great but I think it is rather okay for this season. Generic anime pop song with a pinch of techno dance genre. As for the ending theme, it is Motenai Kuseni by Tapimiru. Also feels like a generic anime rock pop song. I remember the first 2 seasons the ending credits animation had very sexy and erotic dancing. This was ‘downgraded’ in the third season without all that fanservice and the same can be same with this season. It is much toned down. Despite the amount of bare tits were have been exposed to here (especially the mid-intermission like always, they show the girl covered up in the first half because exposing her top in the next half), they just give us Issei’s harem in their beach bikini posing in moderate sexy poses. Disappointing? But then again, we want to remember this series for its awesome story, characters and tits rather than being remembered for, “Oh right, this was the series that had an excellent erotic ending credits animation ever”. Yeah…

Overall, this season is a very much welcomed and giving the series a new breath of life for future developments. It still isn’t perfect but at least it is much better than its previous season. You thought that it would only take one small negative impact to ruin the entire reputation built up and herculean efforts to try and do damage control. This season proves that as long as you have the right amount of tits and boobs (and done nicely of course), those negative sentiments don’t stay long. Ah, boobs. Who’d knew that boobs are the perfect instruments for power up and world peace. Sing along with me, people! Oppai daisuki doragon koi oshita/ Suichi hime no oppai watotemo suki da/ Doragon, doragon oppai doragon momimomi pochito boing boing/ Takusan oppai aru kedo, yappari suichi hime ga daisuki! Wow… Such an epic piece. This is one boob job Issei and us guys will never get tired of.

Are we still curious to find out what happened to our couple in that Matrix-like room? Well, Boku No Kanojo Ga Majimesugiru Sho-bitch Na Ken OVA will answer that. But for those who are hoping to see if the duo really get it on, don’t place your hopes. After all, being a ‘veteran’ of this kind of genres, they’ll show and give you a very close idea of it but refrain from doing the real stuff in the end. This is after all not hentai. It could be if it wanted…

Exciting room
We put together the narration of the next episode preview from the TV series to see how it all happen. Akiho and Haruka were at the video arcade and it started raining. Needing to find shelter, the nearest they could get was a love hotel? Ah, screw logic. Akiho bathed and put on a bath robe but after that she fell asleep. Bummer. Morning came and nothing happened. What a disappointment. As they leave, they somehow entered the Matrix-like room. A computer voice congratulates them for being the 72,169th customer and they have an hour to get it on. Do one of the many approved sexual positions if they wish to get out. Otherwise the male will be penalized with this dildo thingy through his ass! OMG! Because Haruka tries to force his way out, he is going to receive this painful end! Akiho decides to do take the penalty on his behalf as the robots strip part of her clothes. The dildo just touched her ass and she finds a new sensation? Haruka agrees to just do it and get it over with. As Haruka tries to untie her and button back her clothes, the hilarious part is how they turn this conversation of ‘putting it back in the hole’ into an entirely sexually charged innuendo. Maybe he should also try ‘2 holes at once’, huh? When he manages to untie her, Akiho is somehow stripped naked. She is willing to let him do it. Finally Haruka decides to be a man and also do it. Is this the moment we’ve been waiting for?! As they are about to get serious, the plushie in their bag drop out, coincidentally forming a sexual position. Because of that, the computer detected they have done their part and throws them out. Bummer. The duo are left stranded and confused outside the love hotel. How the heck did they get fully clothed while they were falling? Ah, screw logic. It may be disappointing but thanks to that hotel, Akiho is grateful they managed to get a bit closer.

Ball game
Looks like the usual gang fail their PE test so Aoi is going to have them take a remedial test. Of course, expect her to make sexual subtexts about focusing on one spot (the school subject, she means?) and fill in the holes (fill in the blanks, she means?). As Akiho scored highly, she will be Aoi’s helper. She leaves her with an equipment resembling gigantic balls. They’ll learn all they need to know about health from here. Oh dear… So in this ball game that they’re going to ‘play’, Akiho says they have to worship those balls. Referring to the manual, they are supposed to pull out slips of paper inside and execute what is on it. Of course they are all relate to balls. Like balls balancing, balls rolling and balls tossing. The rule says the person with 2 balls should get all this experience. That’s you, Haruka. And hence your sexual subtexts in the form of the girls imagining how gentle they should handle the balls accordingly as well to how violently and crude too. From heaven to hell for Haruka just for imagining them. Finally something that is not of balls and a stick pops up. Oh dear… Too big to fit into your mouth? Finally all the girls are excited to ‘knock his stick down’ and fighting who should monopolize his ‘stick’ but Haruka is fed up and tries to leave. Apparently Aoi is outside and won’t pass them until they really do it. She has her own naughty suggestions but Haruka is not giving in to it. But the lesson is not yet over yet so Akiho teases us the next game they’re going to do is up to our imagination.

Damn Cock Teasers!!!
As expected, this OVA is just as sleazy and slutty like the TV series itself. Yeah, it feels so much like home. I still find it pretty much enjoyable and fun despite my guts tell me that many ‘normal’ people would find it offensive and childish. Uh huh. Sex jokes told by adults are childish. Whereas having a group of dirty minded girls is considered offensive because in a way you are objectifying women as sex objects. Well, screw you people with no sense of humour. All that matters is that this series made me laugh while being horny at the same time while dreaming that I would have such a harem of naughty girls! And then only to realize how much of a lonely otaku loser I am and cry myself to sleep. Boo hoo! Damn you Haruka! You lucky bastard! Is it because he has a girl’s name so the girls really want to get naughty with him and it’s just like being yuri? At least on the name level? Ah, screw logic. Because even if these characters are all still virgins, just like all of us in real life, nobody are virgins. Because life has got us all f*cked since the day we are born!

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