Toji No Miko

October 28, 2018

I thought Toji No Miko is going to be something similar like Schoolgirl Strikers and Battle Girl High School. You know, a group of school girls with weapons fighting off a hostile alien invasion. Though if you put that in the most general of perspective, it does sound similar but going a little deeper, it is not. Girls with swords go around exterminating hostile supernatural creatures around the country. To hone their skills to become the best an efficient Toji, there is of course the tournament. The tournament that ends in an ironic and disastrous fashion, leading to a revelation that may change the fate of the world forever. Guess who is going to stop these events?

Episode 1
As seen and narrated, evil beings known as Aradama can only be exorcised by sacred shrine maidens known as Toji, chosen by divine swords known as Okatana. So far so good with the terms. At Minoseki Academy, Kanami Etou defeats Mai Yanase to win a sword competition although both are to represent their school at the upcoming sword tournament. They arrive at the Origami family mansion, the household that oversees the Okatana and the location of where the tournament will be held. They spot Hiyori Juujou from Heijou Institute. Kanami and Hiyori oddly go into defence stance when they pass each other but back out and continue their own way. In the hall, we see a few potential fighters and some matches between potential main characters. In the end, it is Kanami and Hiyori who will face each other in the finals, which is to be watched by Yukari Origami, the head of the family and her elite guards. As Kanami and Hiyori get ready to battle, right when the referee gives the start signal, Hiyori immediately dashes to assassinate Yukari. However she saw that coming and deflects her strike. Maki Shidou of the elite guards is going to strike her down when Kanami protects her and helps her escape. Yukari gives orders for her elite guards not to chase them but crazy Yume Tsubakuro wants to have fun and fights them. Eventually they fight long enough to buy time to flee. Outside, Hiyori is puzzled why Kanami would get herself involved with this since this doesn’t concern her. Because they still haven’t had their match. Yeah, that still doesn’t give her the right to interfere like that. Anyway, now they are fugitives and continue to run.

Episode 2
I know they’re somewhere safe for now but could Kanami wait till things blow over before settling their match? Because of that, Kanami is willing to help her and risk getting into trouble. All just for a rematch? Maki interrogates Mai since she is Kanami’s friend and partner. From her actions and answers it is believed the duo are acting solely on their own. The head of Minoseki and Heijou are called in, Ema Hashima and Iroha Gojou respectively. They see Yukari who tells them Kanami and Hiyori both have the Chidori and Kogarasuma Okatana respectively. The fugitives rent a room for now as Kanami calls Mai from a public phone to ensure she is safe. Mai talks to Ema so that she could help search for her friend. Based on the background sounds from the phone conversation, she has an idea where she is. So efficient. Hiyori briefly tells Kanami about her mission to kill Yukari. Looks like she’s not in the mood to reveal the rest now. Next morning, they leave fast enough before Mai arrives. Hiyori’s spectrum meter detects an Aradama close by. Hiyori wants to run but Kanami can’t let the Aradama run free. Since Kanami’s will is stronger, I guess they’ll have to go spectre busting. After defeating it, Mai finds them. She tells them to come back with them and she has negotiated with Ema for Kanami to have a lighter punishment. As for Hiyori, she will take her back to the mansion by force if she has to. Kanami stops their fight and tells Mai she can’t let Hiyori be caught yet. Kanami saw when Hiyori attacked Yukari, there was an Aradama eye hiding behind her. It is unbelievable at first since Yukari is one of the great heroes who vanquished the great Aradama. Hiyori debunks that and insists the great Aradama is taking Yukari’s form. The Origami family, the Sword Administration and the 5 schools are all controlled by Aradama. Mai lets them go but leaves Kanami a number should they need assistance.

Episode 3
Yukina Takatsu, the head of Renpu Girls’ School is not happy that everyone is slow in doing things. Even more so when they have located the traitors and failed to take swift action. She seeks Yukari’s permission to take action into her own hands. Rui Onda is the help the duo get. She is an alumna of Minoseki and quit the Sword Administration a long time ago. She lets them stay at her place. Kanami wonders why Hiyori won’t get help from others to defeat Yukari. Because the Sword Administration and Special Religious Military Units (SRMU) are under Yukari’s command. They’ll be crushed in no time. Better to go this alone, right? Sure, she might die but she can’t give up as long as she is alive. Mai befriends Ellen Kohagura and Kaoru Mashiko of Osafune Girls’ Academy whom they clashed before in the tournament. Also meet Kaoru’s pervy youkai, Nene. Mai is summoned before Yukina who suspects her of letting them go since she didn’t arrest them. Mai gets away with cleaning up the Aradama mess. Street CCTVs finally pinpoint the fugitives and hence their current hideout is quickly traced. Rui shows the duo some hi-tech software since she works at Yahata Electronics that develops the S Equipment. Not sure who or what Hiyori is conversing with for information. At this point, Yukina gives signal to Sayaka Itomi to attack. She’s fast but Hiyori reacts faster. Hiyori fights and dismantles her Utsushi. However, Sayaka can still pull off techniques without Utsushi. Hiyori fears her only option is to kill her. Not if Kanami could help it. Taking over the fight, Kanami senses Sayaka’s soulless sword unlike the sword she had during the tournament. Swords like that cannot through anything. Kanami swiftly disarms the sword from her hands, rendering Sayaka back to normal. Kanami hopes to spar with her again another day. Hiyori is impressed with Kanami’s actions because she never would have thought of something like that.

Episode 4
Ellen and Kaoru’s boss cut short their vacation for a job. With the police barricading everywhere, Rui lets the duo off somewhere as they hitchhike with a kind random trucker to head to Ebisu. Hiyori wants Kanami to return because her Okatana protects unlike hers who kills. Therefore she thinks she can’t kill. Hence Hiyori will kill all those who stand in her way to kill Yukari. Yukina chastises Sayaka for her failed mission when she is called by Yukari for pursuing the duo when not ordered to. She is ordered to stop what she is doing. Ellen and Kaoru find Kanami and Hiyori as they start fighting. The Osafune duo would have lost if not for the nice timing of their boss dropping down S Equipment for them. They are complete tools used to eliminate Aradama. By the time they put on their armour, Kanami and Hiyori took that chance to escape. On a trivial note, if you take away the school uniform they are wearing, isn’t the armour skimpy? Kanami and Hiyori are in hiding again as they talk about their recent bout with each other. Kanami believes she still has a reason to stick by her because since her sword protects, she will protect her from killing other humans. And technically Yukari is not human, so I guess that is okay. I suppose now is the right time for Hiyori to reveal the important details. About 20 years ago when the worst Aradama incident happened, it took Yukari as well as the current presidents of the 5 schools and SRMU to bring it down. A letter Hiyori has states the true identity of Yukari and as Kanami suspected, the great Aradama that was supposed to be vanquished still walks the face of this planet under the guise of Yukari. Hiyori’s mom is the only one possessing enough power to destroy that great Aradama but she failed and it became part of Yukari and survived. After mom exhausted all her powers, Hiyori could only watch her mother grew weaker and weaker as the years past until she passed away last year. That was when she resolved to kill Yukari. She will destroy that thing that stole her mother’s life. Such a heavy burden, that’s why Kanami will take half of it. An excuse just to stay by her side?

Episode 5
Ellen and Kaoru find the duo. Then they congratulate them. Confused. They explain they have passed the Mokusa test. They are an organization who are against Yukari and seeks her downfall. Hence they have the same goal and this test proves they are worthy to join them. Hiyori thinks Nene is an Aradama so they explain some legend thingy that although it is through Nene is one, it is docile and protects humans. Suddenly a swarm of Aradama attacks and separates them. But it seems to lead Hiyori and Kanami to a certain area. It is so that Maki and Suzuka Konohana could fight and bring them in. The source of the Aradama is elite guard Yomi Satsuki. She cuts herself and the Aradama would burst out from her blood. Kaoru and Nene are in a precarious pinch. Hanging so dangerously over the ledge. So flashback to see how Nene was always there for Kaoru. Even that one time when she was lost in the forest. I guess pet bonding flashback allows her to buck up and get them out. Hiyori is losing against Maki and because Kanami is concerned for her, she can’t concentrate too. Then a well-timed combo, Kanami throwing her sword at Maki as distraction and Hiyori slicing her, this allows the duo to escape. But Maki is left traumatized as she being the top Toji got cut. Yeah, her pride hurts a lot. Kaoru confronts Yomi do pay back the trouble she gave. Nobody messes with her pet. Though she defeats her, she lacks enough energy to finish her off. Yomi escapes and Kaoru takes a nap before resuming her search for Ellen.

Episode 6
Looks like Ellen lets herself get caught at Maki’s camp. She gives an excuse she was on a hunt for the fugitives to justify the summoning of S Equipment but is taken in for further questioning by Suzuka. She talks about Ellen’s grandpa, Richard Friedman who developed the Noro for military use and pioneered the development of S Equipment. 5 years ago he sold off this research company he founded and went missing. It is rumoured he entered Japan and is a core of Mokusa. Ellen looks like she is playing dumb. Not sure if she is anymore when she is told that Kaoru clashed with Yomi. Fighting an elite guard means fighting Yukari herself and the punishment is death. When Maki and Suzuka think they have pinpoint the traitors, they take their squad and leave. With the skeleton squad left behind, Ellen takes this chance to escape. Yeah, they must have left low level guards. She spies on Yomi and her secret. Vials containing Noro. Of course Ellen gets spotted and they both fight. Yomi is desperate to be useful and injects more Noro into herself, turning part of her into an Aradama. It seems this is all part of Maki’s plan to let Ellen regroup and lead them to the traitors. Well, don’t have to find them because they’re here to save Ellen. Yomi injects more Noro into herself to fight Kaoru and Hiyori. Kanami who is supposed to take Ellen and run decides to help them. See, she almost gets killed. Plus, she won’t even kill Yomi who is beyond human. So does she prefer to get killed? Not if the plot can help it since Yomi passes out as her body cannot balance the Noro’s power. I’m surprised the overdose didn’t kill her. Ellen takes the rest to escape. Yup, she summoned a submarine. Because Maki didn’t see this coming, she withdraws her troops. I’m sure she gets shelling from Yukina for failing but Yukari doesn’t care. She dismisses the school presidents from this mission for now. Yukina now gets desperate as her goal is to get Yukari’s approval. It’s her goal for living.

Episode 7
Yukina is going to insert some vial into Sayaka that will turn her into a heartless tool. Obviously she doesn’t want that and smacks it out right from her hands. Kanami and Hiyori meet Friedman. He explains his reasons for working with Mokusa. The development of S Equipment was stagnating until that disaster 20 years ago and Yukari became the head of the family. It was then the technology started rapidly and finishing the S Equipment since her family had control over the Noro. Scientifically this should not be possible so where did it came from? That’s why many like him became suspicious of Yukari and formed Mokusa. Hiyori’s mom was one of the few people who helped him. Ellen has stolen a Noro vial and it was part of her mission to get proof that Yukari was conducting experiments on human with it and turning them into artificial Aradama. Maki declines Yukina’s request to look for Sayaka who has run away. So she badmouths them about fearing being replaced by her. When Yomi offers to give her powers, she is badmouthed as a failure and slapped. Man, you can’t satisfy this b*tch. Yume heard this and thinks of getting her. Mai manages to find Sayaka and accompany her. However Yume has found them and wants her to come back. It is obvious Sayaka doesn’t want to and when Mai has her clearly state her feelings, Yume wants to play a game of hide and seek. If they can escape her, she’ll give up on them. Obviously this is part of Yume’s plan to let loose some steam on them as she furiously enjoys clashing their swords. Yume is disappointed in Sayaka at first and when Mai takes over in her stead, Sayaka suddenly has all the feels about warmth and such. She doesn’t want to lose it and fights Yume again. This time it is more intense but it’s time to stop when Yukina is here. Sayaka shocks her and says she can’t be the Toji she wants and doesn’t want to lose these warm feelings. Yukina can rant about the ultimate to only serve Yukari but Sayaka rejects her and rather be with Mai. That must be the biggest shock in her life. With arrangements by Ema, the duo reunite with Kanami’s side in Mokusa. They are introduced to Akane Origami, Yukari’s younger sister.

Episode 8
We see glimpse of that great disaster 20 years ago. Casualties are high and the damage to great. Yukina was gravely injured and was ordered by Yukari to other Toji to take her away. Now we understand why she’s such a b*tch wanting to lap up to her. Ultimately it is Yukari along with Kagari (Hiyori’s mom) and Minato (Kanami’s mom) who went to ‘defeat’ the great Aradama but only Yukari returned unscathed. The girls also meet Sana Maniwa who is the president of Osafune. She owes it to their moms otherwise she will not be standing here. Everyone is shocked to learn Kanami’s mom was a Toji. Why didn’t she say? Nobody asked. Yeah… Plus, mom don’t usually talk about those things. Akane continues the story that the public was lied to about the extermination of the Aradama because they discovered a higher intelligence Aradama known as Princess Tagitsu behind it, fearing it would confuse the public. Yukari never told how she suppressed it, Kagari and Minato’s names were removed as heroes as Yukari installed the other heroes as current presidents of the 5 schools. The duo quit being Toji and raised a family. Only after Minato’s death 7 years ago that Kagari started blaming herself, Akane was determined to find the truth. Her research led her to find a method of dragging Tagitsu into the netherworld in exchange for Kagari’s life. As Toji use the power of their Okatana, they are using layers of powers from the netherworld. When you reach its limit, you reach some infinity limit and will not comeback. Kagari achieved that for this double suicide move. Kagari survived only because Minato saved her but this means their overall lives were shortened. But if they drove Tagitsu back then, what is Yukari now? Hiyori knows her mom only took away its power temporary. Tagitsu must have latched onto her to continue surviving. Akane once spied Yukari talking to Tagitsu and hence the letter she wrote to Kagari for help. Tagitsu has spent the last 20 years trying to revive herself. Akane is somewhat grateful that had not Minato and Kagari come back, their daughters would not have been born. After the girls train with the Osafune counterparts, Kanami and Hiyori wonder if the Toji then had S Equipment, would their moms still be alive. Friedman tells them about the ever changing technology and he studied this to understand Yukari’s motives. He concluded it is to hunt Aradama and quickly recover their Noro. This is a simple task for Yukari and the opponent they are facing is not any ordinary Aradama but one that is close to a god.

Episode 9
Our girls have time to enjoy the festival. Rui is also there. Not sure how she was released after being captured on suspicions of abetting assault on Yukari. As they witness the ritual, they are surprised the shrine worships Noro. There are still a few hidden places where the Origami family hasn’t collected them. Looks like the girls will need to have their history revised as they are being told the truth. In school, they learnt Noro left on their own for too long will turn into Aradama. That’s totally wrong. Noro was once worshipped widely across the country but the government thinking about economic reasons decided to consolidate and gather them at one place and strictly supervised. But due to the war, the restrictions were relaxed and the Toji were permitted to use them. After the war, America joined in on the study. However it was then they realized that the more Noro gathered together, the more intelligent it becomes. This is why Tagitsu is becoming more god-like. Therefore that great disaster was actually manmade. America was transporting the stockpiled Noro when an accident happened. Noro are the real victims as they are forced into existence by humans who wish to create Okatana. If things cannot go back to the way they were, at least they could enshrine and let it rest peacefully. The girls feel they have been doing a great injustice to Aradama but they have discharged their duties in accordance to what a shrine priestess would do so they didn’t really just defeat the Aradama. This truth is a bitter pill for them to swallow and accept but they have to since it is reality. Soon, Yukari’s forces clamp down on the festival. They’re not here to hunt Aradama but to smoke out Mokusa members. The Osafune girls split into groups to stall the forces to let our main heroines escape via submarine. Yume is also here and owns them pretty easily. The submarine is heavily guarded as the girls notice the guards have spectrum meter. Friedman explains the government might have fine-tuned it to detect those with Okatana as Aradama. In other words, blaming them as humans turning into Aradama. The guards are taken care off for our main heroines to board the submarine. Yume arrives too late to fight the remnants of Osafune. She is not pleased she is accused of using Noro. She is never used them one bit and it is all entirely her own ability.

Episode 10
Police have surrounded the 5 schools and arrest certain people while the students have their Okatana confiscated. Yukari is naked before a pool of Noro. Uhm, Noro tentacle rape? Because of that, all Toji across the country start to temporarily experience, uhm, soul split? Out of body experience? Friedman says something similar happened once 20 years ago. He believes a great change is about to occur because after that one, the great Aradama was released. Akane intends to let the people know about this and will gather the mass media at Yokosuka. It is a risky move and of course Yukari will take measures to prevent that. Hiyori and the rest want to help and believe if they take down Yukari, everything will be over. Akane agrees and will be the bait to attract as many enemies to make their fighting easier. But as for how to reach Yukari, Kanami has a plan. When the submarine reaches the port of Yokosuka, the media is waiting and of course the police and special units have cordoned off the area. Akane shows up as the spotlight is now on her. While she trolls everyone hinting some truth, this has the girls enough time to set their jet containers as they blast off to Yukari’s HQ. Yeah, no one saw that coming. Too bad for Yukina who has come all the way here thinking she could solve this mess by herself now has to go back there.

Episode 11
The girls make their way to the shrine where only Yukari is allowed. However Yume is waiting for them but chooses to fight with Kanami as she is the strongest. Their bout is interrupted with Ellen and Kaoru substituting for her so they could trudge ahead. This pisses off Yume as she views the rest as weaklings. Mai feels bad s she was the one who put up this plan for Ellen and Kaoru to fight her. Don’t worry. See Kanami smiling? She forgives you. No time for friendship as they are attacked by Yomi. Mai and Sayaka stay back to let the duo go ahead. Yukina is coaxing Sayaka to come back. All those sweet words until she says they are tools to serve Yukari and openly mistreats zombie Yomi. Kanami and Hiyori face off with Suzuka and Maki respectively. They are losing actually until the power of plot convenience in the form of my will-is-greater-than-yours gives them the extra strength to beat them. Yeah… Back to Yume’s match. She gets so mad when she is defeated by their combo. This has her Aradama leaking out but she threatens it not to come out and will not use it. So like final stage bosses, Yume is now ever more powerful as she defeats the Osafune duo. But it took a toll on her. So as she trudges on, we have to see her flashback so that we don’t hate this psycho girl. It shows she has been chosen by the Okatana since young. High expectations. But her body began to break down. She was abandoned at the hospital and left to die. Not even her family visited her once. Until Yukari came and gave her a choice (plus Noro). She chose. So her wish is to leave a great legacy of how great she is in everyone’s minds? No way this psycho girl is dead, right???!!! Kanami and Hiyori step into the shrine to confront Yukari who is expecting them.

Episode 12
After Mai takes out Yomi, Sayaka points her sword at Yukina who thinks she still needs to get rid of those emotions. Sayaka feels sad for her and the pain in her heart is out of pity. Suzuka tells Maki to go ahead as she will deal with properly disposing Yume’s body by killing her once more. Otherwise she will turn into an Aradama. Kanami and Hiyori fight against Yukari. No, Tagitsu rather. It seems she can see and predict their moves. Tagitsu claims she could have easily killed Hiyori when she first attacked at the tournament but let her go so she could use her to smoke out Mokusa. Since Tagitsu can predict their moves, Kanami doesn’t attack. Because of the logic she will see too many possibilities and hence unable to decide. In this distraction, they are able to at least cut her arm. But Tagitsu revives as her hair now turns into an Aradama monster! Bad hair day? They could have been done for had not Mai and Sayaka come to their aid. Maki is shocked that the storeroom that has stored 20 years’ worth of Noro is empty. She is being told the truth by Ellen and Kaoru how the Noro had been pretending to lie dormant all this time just for today. That includes the decrease of Aradama incidents and Toji deaths. All nothing but deception to let their guard down. Oh look, convenience. Because Tagitsu’s fight with the quartet is now brought here. Time for the sextet to join in the fight but ultimately with more numbers, means higher probability of being eliminated. Back to Kanami and Hiyori to fight again. Flashback during that tragedy, Yukari was unable to give the necessary orders to deal with the Aradama. So Minato and Kagari sacrificed themselves to seal it. That is when Tagitsu awakened and proposed to Yukari. She explained about how she was taken from her homeland and feelings of revenge grew. She became an evil god and realized she would be destroyed by humans one day and only thought of survival. Tagitsu proposes to fuse with her and in exchange will save Kagari and Minato’s life. She will grant Yukari a grace period of a few decades and if she can destroy her in that time period, she wins. Really? Now back to the fight, suddenly Kanami is possessed by Minato and fights on par with Tagitsu! Unbelievable, right? After dealing some damage, it is Hiyori’s turn to seal Tagitsu. She is about to sacrifice herself for the ultimate sealing but Kanami brings her back. So the Noro become shooting stars? Is this a good ending?

Episode 13
Not really good ending because Tagitsu detached herself and launched into the sky, raining Aradama all over the region. Now Aradama attacks are more frequent than ever. Kanami and Sayaka are like new celebrities in the Toji world as they help to take down rampaging Aradama. We’ve got a new kid from the block, Ayumu Uchizato from Ayanokouji admiring Kanami and that level is set to go up since she is tasked to temporarily work with her. Meanwhile Akane is in court trying to answer to charges for the Aradama aftermath incident. Because Tagitsu’s ‘leaking’ also caused hazardous damage to the environment. Iroha sees Hiyori who has decided to quit being a Toji. Her goal of finishing her mom’s mission is over so there is no reason for her to stay. Although Tagitsu will not return for the time being, it seems Iroha has a mission for her that might but her early retirement on hold. Kaoru continues to complain about her labour rights since Sana is working her to death. Maybe it’s just Kaoru whom she is treating badly. Be prepared for more workload as Sana tells her an incident of a mysterious hooded Toji attacking recovery teams and stealing their recovered Noro. They cannot guess who she is as her Okatana is unregistered and she fights using various forms. This incident is kept a secret and only a handful of people know. Kaoru suggests showing it to Kanami since a martial arts fanatic like her could identify. Meanwhile Ayumu continues to admire Kanami. She likes it but from what I understand from ‘disgusted’ Sayaka, it’s like she is getting drunk on it and being too distant, especially about their skill levels which is aeons apart. Kanami has this dream with Minato again. Minato denies possessing her body then to fight Tagitsu. She thinks Kanami had to believe that she became her and hence ‘copied’ her ways. Meanwhile that Yukina b*tch is still alive and now using Yomi as her plaything. With the cooperation of the president of Ayanokouji, Yuzuru Souraku, they have mass produced some secret medicine believed to evolve people, alleviate suffering, etc. Sana and Kaoru see Suzuka at the hospital. They show her the unidentified Toji. Although she doesn’t recognize her, Kaoru wants her to admit that is Maki. Kanami is surprised to see Hiyori back. Looks like they’ll be teaming up again to hunt down the mysterious Toji.

Episode 14
Mai returns home and dad wants her to transfer out of Minoseki. He is worried with the increased Aradama attacks in wounded Toji. This isn’t what Mai wants but is given time to think. Next morning, father brings her to his organization. It is a research lab on special metals. Originally it was state funded but went bankrupt. With him financing it as a privately owned entity, it is searching for ways to use tamahagane steel. Mai is introduced to Ellen’s scientist parents who explain the research to extract energy from Noro to act as intermediary with this world and the netherworld. Also here is Friedman who is invited by Mai’s dad as an honorary member. Friedman talks about the Noro’s impurity as loneliness and that is because they seek the tamahagane steel. This experiment will try and prove the Noro will be cleansed by bringing it closer to the tamahagane steel. With Ellen here, both friends talk about the importance of family. Ellen points out that her dad brought her here not to show this is a profitable research but if they can clear the impurities of Noro with tamahagane steel, then there would be no need for Toji to be in danger. AKA Toji would be out of a job too? Meanwhile Sana shows Kanami’s side the hooded Toji killing an Aradama and saving other Toji. From her fighting stance, Kanami thinks it is Maki. They are told to keep this a secret since many still believe this is an inside job and would further damage their reputation. But that hooded Toji looks slightly different and is definitely a different person as she steals Noro from the research centre. Time for Ellen and Mai to fight to prove to their parents how much they’ve grown and why Toji is still relevant. Although they lost and the culprit got away, everyone is glad nobody got hurt. Cue for heart-warming reconciliation of daughters with their family. With that, Mai’s dad decides to cancel Mai’s transfer. As expected. Meanwhile we see Yukina and Yomi working and worshipping that shady hooded Toji. Tagitsu?

Episode 15
Once again we see Kaoru being worked to the bone by Sana. So on a trip to Gunma to find some Aradama, as usual she slacks off. When she decides to get serious, she finally meets her young team of Toji and is surprised to see Sayaka on the team. Why is she here? Her job with Kanami is done so she came down to help. Damn workaholic. With Sayaka being hardworking, she earns the praise of her juniors. Don’t worry Kaoru, you have never been in their good books since the start. Kaoru even tries to teach Sayaka how to slack off. Like this ping pong game. Heck, all the juniors support Sayaka. Even Nene defects to Sayaka! Weakling Kaoru lost. She even tried to bring her Okatana into the game! Somebody has to report the damage… Next day as they continue to find the Aradama, with Nene sticking to Sayaka, Kaoru trolls Hiyori by sending a picture of them. Because this means Nene has got attached to a flat chest and this means there is hope for Hiyori! They stumble into a cute squirrel Aradama. Sayaka wants to instantly kill it but is stopped by Kaoru. Because Nene is being friendly with it, it is not hostile. Sayaka thought of killing all Aradama but Kaoru points out in that case, shouldn’t she kill Nene too? Can she? She can’t. So the lesson learnt is that she must think before she acts. However Tagitsu is passing by and this causes the squirrel to turn into a giant hostile Aradama. Kaoru instantly kills this one. As the collection team retrieve the Noro, Tagitsu knocks them out to steal them. That is when Maki confronts Tagitsu. She has been chasing after her and wants back the Noro she stole. A short bout before Tagitsu escapes. When Kaoru and Sayaka return, they think Maki is the culprit. Made worse as Maki didn’t say anything and leaves. Kaoru calls to report back to Sana who praises her for a job well done. Kaoru sure knows how to make Sana’s blood boil with her sarcasm. And you think all is going to end well because Sayaka also reports how Kaoru has taught her well. Like how having fun is also important in missions. Kaoru is going to get an earful when she gets back. But right now, RUN!!! Oh Kaoru…

Episode 16
Sana confirms with Suzuka that one of the hooded Toji is Maki. As for the other, she is unsure but is certain it cannot be Maki’s ally. We take time off for the girls to celebrate Sayaka’s birthday! It’s a quick one because after that they discuss about the hooded Toji. As they have conflicting accounts, they go see Sana to confirm. With Akane’s permission, it is revealed the other hooded Toji is Tagitsu. She has not possessed anyone but manifest in a human form. Conveniently, Akane has them accompany her to the Ministry of Defence’s HQ. Locked deep inside a chamber with many guards, sits Tagitsu. Actually, she wants to be identified as Takiri. She wants them to hand over Ichikishima who is in their safekeeping. After an audience with her, Akane reveals more that after they defeated Yukari, Tagitsu split into 3 parts. She realized Yukari was not under the Aradama’s mind control but was suppressing it. Now they are free and acting on their own will. Gee, during Yukari’s ‘suppression’, she sure acted hostile and evil. Is that the side effect of suppression? So Kanami’s dream with her mom didn’t make her have any clear convictions as she is further in a dilemma as to whether to cut down Takiri. But the thinking has to be put aside since Tagitsu attacks the HQ. Yeah, all those guards and Toji are useless. The duo spar with her but just when it looks like they are about to be defeated, here comes Maki again. Eventually Tagitsu disappears and Maki is shocked to sense another Aradama (Takiri). Yeah, Tagitsu now knows about Takiri’s whereabouts too.

Episode 17
Suzuka slaps Maki for trying to play the lone heroine. She too has trying to be fighting. With the research progress, they will soon have a cure to purge the Aradama from their body. But for now, the girls are to taken to meet Yukari. So she’s still able to run free? Inside the submarine, Yukari explains that she is free from any Aradama inside her body. On that night when both were to perished, Tagitsu purged herself from her body to save herself. She also split herself to stave off pursuit. In this submarine also houses Ichikishima. She sounds rather pessimistic… She feels she is abandoned and not useful. But when told that Takiri wanted her, she believes if they combine and use her powers, Takiri’s victory is 100% assured. There’s more mumbo-jumbo explanation about Tagitsu splitting herself in 3, how the tamahagane steel binds the Aradama and it is no surprise when human’s greed stole them away, they became angry. This is why Aradama attack humans. The issue now is that since Tagitsu split into 3 parts, each have contradicting ideals and are opposing each other. Tagitsu wants to retaliate and destroy all humans. Takiri wants to control, dominate and guide humans as their new God. Ichikishima wants to know if Aradama’s existence is necessary and she has come to a conclusion that a hybrid of human-Aradama is the key! They will fight with the winner absorbing the loser which will ultimately obtain their true form still in the netherworld. Of course in theory it is easier to go to the netherworld and destroy the real body but to humans that realm is infinite and close to being impossible to exist. Need some kind of bond… The rest discuss Ichikishima as the most dangerous but the immediate risk is Tagitsu. Their plan is to take her out and then negotiate with the rest. Later Yukari apologizes to Kanami and Hiyori for their mom’s demise. As Kanami is still unable to forgive, she further explains their moms were on the verge of falling into the netherworld with Tagitsu. Tagitsu who wanted to avoid destruction made a deal with her. Yukari accepted it because she doesn’t want to lose her friends. In the end, only she survived and their moms didn’t. But Kanami isn’t bitter. She notes her mom seemed happy up until her death. Meanwhile Yuzuru is vetting through candidates to be Takiri’s elite guards, something Yukina isn’t happy since there is no time. Good thing Ayumu is rejected? To hasten things, Yomi almost kills them! On the verge of death, Yuzuru is forced to administer and inject Noro into them to save their lives. Now they are zombie guards who will die for Takiri.

Episode 18
Everyone is at their stations preparing for Tagitsu’s attack. I agree with Kaoru that they should just kill’em all! Akane is trying to negotiate with Takiri to get her to cooperate but again she refuses to help lowlife scums. Oddly, Kanami asks to spar with Takiri so they can understand each other. You think this ‘God’ will lower herself to your level? Shockingly, Nene finds comfort in Takiri’s boobs! I guess it’s time to find some nice bosoms after being too long with a washboard. Takiri peaks into Nene’s mind. Originally an Aradama born out of man’s ignorance and foolishness, Nene went on a rampage but was quelled by Kaoru’s mother and tamed. Takiri finds it strange Nene has no impurities and wonders if living with humans long enough made it so. Hence she surprisingly agrees to spar with Kanami. So she deduces she is somewhat kind? Uhm, what again? Soon the Ayanokouji Toji girls attack. Yeah, it’s good it doesn’t put those on station to waste, right? Kanami is shocked to see Ayumu among the group and is further surprised that Ayumu is happy to fight her. Maki and Suzuka face off with Yomi and try to convince her to come back and serve Yukari like the old days. But she isn’t listening. When Tagitsu finally shows up, it is because Takiri is out of her cage. Both clash but eventually Takiri loses. Tagitsu absorbs her and is now super fast and powerful. Not even our usual Toji heroines could do anything. Even Nene transform into its original Aradama form to fight her but is still no match for Tagitsu nonetheless. With everyone incapacitated and having achieved her goal, Tagitsu leaves. Yeah, a mistake to let them lick their wounds and recover.

Episode 19
It has been a week since and Tagitsu is not making any moves. This is why Kaoru is so impatient in getting back into action to return the favour and not to be mistaken for being passionate about work! But surprise! Tagitsu makes a public announcement. She claims she wants to coexist with humans but the Toji then denied that chance, hence leading to that great disaster. Lies of course but remember, the public doesn’t know the truth. Even more shocking, the government is now on Tagitsu’s side! What shocks the ladies even more is how Yukina is giving her ‘true’ statement and seeks to forge a better relationship with the Aradama via dialogue. She accuses Ichikishima of wanting to destroy humans and how Yukari is sheltering her. Yukina’s goal is to bring them together to be fused. To achieve that, she declares the creation of Sword Administration Bureau Restoration Faction to be set up in Tokyo (thus splitting Sword Administration further). She demands Yukari hand over Ichikishima immediately. Our Toji girls for now have to fight usual Aradama threatening the city. Kanami meets Ayumu on the job and the latter seems obliviously happy. Although she is exterminating Aradama, she is under the impression that Tagitsu is a goddess. Yukina’s ego might boost even further because she hints she will take over Sana’s position soon. More woes for our heroines as Friedman informs that his own country has abandoned the submarine. This means Japan can seize anything with unknown nationality in their waters. Maki and Suzuka go to see Yomi and ask questions if she is doing this on her own free will. She says she does. But is she happy? You think she knows the answer to that? Yukina is seen threatening a government official to make their next move because what other choice do they have? When the government surround and take the submarine, nobody is on board. Thanks to Rui, Yukari and Ichikishima escaped earlier on a mini raft. Yuzuru feels guilty when Ayumu like a happily little angel thanks her for allowing her dream to come true as she was able fight Kanami and somewhat win.

Episode 20
Yukari slashes her way through the Ayanokouji girls to leads Ichikishima away. They hide in a shed in the outskirts and supposedly meet up with Yuzuru. Yuzuru talks about the dream she wanted to realize and would even walk the wrong path for it. But now she has forced her ego on her students, she is starting to feel guilty? So does that mean she wasn’t prepared to walk the evil path in the first place? Yukari will not condemn her since she blames herself for being weak and in turn ‘gave’ that weakness to them. Unfortunately Yukari and Ichikishima have to run again as Yomi has found them. She used Yuzuru to trace their whereabouts. She too will not condemn Yuzuru nor kill her but says that despite everything they have done, they chose this way of life and thus shall not be condemned. Our usual Toji heroines fight the Ayanokouji counterparts to give Yukari time to run away. Kanami has to put up with Ayumu who is once again eager to fight her. At the same time Yomi fights her old elite guard comrades and eventually lost. Yukari thinks they have run away far enough so this enables her to talk to Ichikishima about how she did not lose herself while she was being possessed by Tagitsu. Something about needing them as well as they are not an unnecessary existence. Huh? Now Tagitsu is here to reclaim what is hers. Yukari is unable to match her speed and strength. Since Ichikishima has been captivated with what Yukari said, she wants to protect her. So she goes to find help and stumbles into Hiyori. She pleads for her to combine. Hiyori of course refuses due to her past with Aradama. But with Ichikishima being adamant of entrusting herself to her… In the nick of time, Hiyori dives in to save Yukari. Woah. She is electrically charged! Is this the result of the combination? Uhm, if Ichikishima could combine with Hiyori, shouldn’t she had combined with Yukari since technically she is stronger? Oh right. They hinted something earlier but it wasn’t clear…

Episode 21
Hiyori doesn’t want Kanami to come near. She has acquired Ichikishima’s power that sees the future and she saw Kanami being cut down many times. Hiyori escapes and Kanami wants to go after but Yukari tells her to return and rest. She will chase down Hiyori and tell her how to control the Aradama. Hiyori notes the irony of their reversed roles now. She vows not to be swallowed by the Aradama’s power. Yukari explains their families possessing the same power but Hiyori still cannot accept that her mom was the one who sacrificed herself and none from the Origami family. Yukari suggests absorbing it into her body and become an evil god. After she does that, she will end everything. At this point Tagitsu pops up to fight. Yukari becomes Hiyori’s coach-cum-motivator for her to fight Tagitsu. This allows Hiyori to cut her. Viewing Yukari as a threat, Tagitsu targets her but this distraction allows Hiyori to cut her down and absorb her. With their other friends arriving, Yukari asks if Hiyori can suppress it. Otherwise she will bring her to the netherworld and be sealed there forever. Hiyori knows it is impossible to suppress it for 20 years like she did but will not seek her help either. With all the friends pleading for Hiyori to suppress it (easier said than done), Kanami suggests they continue and finish their fight from the tournament. You mean now? She arrogantly adds that she could have beaten Hiyori many times before but now she has become god, they are on equal footing. Hiyori is shocked to see all possibilities end in her own defeat. She fights anyway. And lost. Kanami continues playing tough until she breaks down. If Hiyori can’t suppress it, let it all out and she’ll cut them all down! So that’s her solution? But plot twist! Tagitsu emerges from Hiyori’s body and cuts her down before absorbing it. Oh no! Hiyori dead?!

Episode 22
Tagitsu is trying to open the gate to the netherworld and it portal is getting bigger every moment. It’s like going to be a repeat of that great disaster. Yukina pledges her loyalty further to Tagitsu but she doesn’t need her anymore. Boo hoo. She got what she deserved? I guess Kanami tries to act happy but since her everyone knows it’s wrong to put up a fake front, shed a little tears and they’re ready to put that behind and go into action. You don’t say because Aradama attacks are now getting more frequent. With nobody ‘qualified’ enough to be the field commander, it seems Yukari has managed to convince Yuzuru to rejoin them take command. Also, Kanami and co want to be dispatched on this next mission at least to salvage Kogarasuma. Hence Kanami has no time to play with Ayumu and has to deal with Sayaka. Ayumu is still complaining she cannot catch up to Kanami. One lecture from Sayaka to cut her down is enough to make her finally understand. Good riddance. Kanami and Yukari face off with Tagitsu. Because they could feel the resonance of Kogarasuma, it means Hiyori is still alive inside Tagitsu. Great motivation for Kanami to save her friend. Meanwhile Yukina has fallen into depression. She got what she deserved, right? Hard to pity her in her last moments crying that she doesn’t want to be abandoned. Oh look. Who is here to save her? Yomi. Partially fused with Aradama now. Yukina still thinks she is here to mock her. You dare say that to the person saving your ass now? Of course some reminiscing moments as we see Yomi was the unfortunate one not picked to have her own Okatana. Yukina agreed to give her power even if she is just a guinea pig. Yukina finally acknowledges Yomi. Now she can rest in peace. Kanami manages to slash Tagitsu. And since her voice managed to reach to Hiyori inside, Hiyori cuts her way out. Yay! Now our lesbian duo reunite! Mission accomplished so Yukari takes them to escape and Hiyori to reunite with her friends.

Episode 23
Uhm, sky is falling. Skyfall? Black snow too. Friedman explains they have no idea what’s going on because this is all unprecedented. Tagitsu is trying to merge both worlds and smashing the netherworld into Earth. But long story short, it could be the end of the world. Yeah, I figure from the looks of everything. Of course the only solution is to defeat Tagitsu. So our Toji heroines go up to face her. 7 against 1. Sounds unfair but when you consider how super powerful Tagitsu is, maybe another 100 won’t do. Meanwhile, looks like Yukina has lost her mind. Perhaps repentance because she gives Yomi a decent funeral. Maki and Suzuka find her but the former isn’t happy. Because she can’t kill her now? Huh? Yukina doesn’t want to leave Yomi and doesn’t mind getting absorbed by the Noro. They slap her and take her along otherwise it will be an insult to Yomi who returned to save her. Tagitsu takes the fight to a higher plane. Eventually it is Hiyori who faces off with her. Side distraction with Yukari trying to seal Tagitsu like she did before but it looks like Tagitsu can resist and deal some serious damage to her. Hiyori is now motivated to do the unthinkable but look who is here now to interrupt? Yeah. Kanami. So they’re going to be sealed in eternity together? I guess with a female companion, it won’t be so bored after all. Back to the real world, looks like some black hole is going to drop on the world.

Episode 24
How strange fate could be. Like mothers, like daughters. Yup, Kanami and Hiyori are sealed together forever so that the world could return to normalcy. 2 months have passed, Aradama incidents continue to crop up frequently and although the duo are classified as missing, the friends are very hopeful they would return. But in the meantime this is where they are. Hiyori finds herself in the etches of her own memory. Oh, there’s mom. Her younger self. Time to play catch up and tell her all the events that transpired after, their regrets, etc. Same with Kanami and hers but since they met a lot in their dreams so I guess this meeting is no surprising. And there is something about how their Okatana originally split that enabled them meet like this. Cue for their Okatana to resonate because it means they are close by. Yeah, very close. Not even in screaming distance. All of them reunite. A big emotional teary hug. Funny. All women are about the same age in this meeting… Weird to meet your high school mom. But I wonder, if this is Minato and Kagari’s first meeting since, you mean they couldn’t meet each other in other times? So it only took their daughters for them to do so? With this place slowly fading, I guess it’s time to go back. Can they? The moms say the young ones can because their bodies are still intact. The only way is to overcome your lingering regrets. For Kanami, I guess it is sparring with her mom. Finally she wins. Hiyori? She has made new friends. So no regrets. One last big emotional goodbye hug from mother and daughter. And off the daughters go into the mist. Gee, like that would help them figure where they’re going. Oh, this little Noro from this spectrum meter Hiyori brought to lead the way in this nothingness. Good thing, right? So now the moms can forever be together, they have someone else to play with: Tagitsu. I guess better be friends than be hostile.

End snippets of what the characters are doing. The best one goes to Kaoru who continues to slack off because Sana is now swamped with work! Have a taste of her own medicine? I’m sure the earful would be worth it. Others include Friedman giving his research talks, Sayaka singlehandedly completing missions by herself (why do they need other Toji if she is this bloody efficient?), Ayumu undergoing rehabilitation and Yukina somewhat ‘forgiven’ because some management thingy has been passed to her. Yukari and Akane talk about the reconstruction of Noro shrines and efforts to bring back the ancient ways of humans and Noro coexisting. So when Tagitsu returns in the future, they will welcome her as a stable deity instead of an evil one. I don’t know if some portal opened or they got dropped out of the sky because Kanami and Hiyori are back in reality. Right in the middle of beautifully blossoming sakura. They relish seeing the reactions on their friends’ faces. The next tournament is about to start with Akane presiding over it. Sayaka and Kaoru join Maki and Suzuka as the new elite guards.

Busou Shoujo Baeblade
Funny. The last episode feels a bit strange. Our main heroines didn’t actually technically reunite with the rest of the friends! Did you not notice that? At least not seen with them. I was expecting that happy reunion group pic cliché but it was nowhere to be seen. Therefore it only leads me to believe this conspiracy theory that they are still wandering in the netherworld! I mean, if they can picture their old place and past from their memories, what are the chances that they could also picture themselves amidst the blossoming sakura? That’s what they look forward the most this season aside than reuniting with their friends, no? Best VR experience ever. So the final episode feels a bit like a damper because it is just one big dramatic family reunion finale. Daughters assure that the future is in good hands. Goodbye to the moms in their teens. Weird, right?

I was never intrigued by the plot all the while. Although I was quickly forming the stereotype idea that this is going to be a tournament style format, that is soon quickly dealt with and put away for another plot twist to develop. So while it is a good thing that this series didn’t use up a cour for a tournament style format storytelling, but the plot to reveal Yukari as the Aradama as sheep’s clothing also doesn’t sound as interesting to me. The first half served to introduce some of the main players, show some bonding between the 2 main characters while the plot becomes a big game of catch with our heroines becoming the fugitive as they run from the authorities and try to plot the downfall of the powerful matriarch holding power across the organization. That’s pretty much sums up the first half.

I’m not sure if my sentiments would have been slightly better had the first half ended on a cliché happy ending note with the Toji girls defeating Tagitsu once and for all. But instead, she split herself into several pieces and hence a reason to make us stay for another cour. Because this second half doesn’t feel any interesting as the first too. At least I failed to be captivated by the plot. It feels like a distraction and detour for Tagitsu to split herself into 3 versions. While all have interesting views on how to deal with the humans, ultimately they became absorbed by the main body and forgotten. That is why this second cour feels more like a diversion than adding anything special. It keeps you guessing which of them is going to be the one but my guts told me it was Tagitsu from the start because you know, the main one. Or maybe I just got lucky. Then it all comes down to the final fight between our characters right before the end of the world and you know they’ll save the day because we didn’t come this far for a bad ending and it would be a waste for our heroines who have put in their effort to stop all this. Just saying.

I don’t find the characters interesting except some of them. But for the main ones, I wasn’t really interested in them seeing for example Kanami is always being Kanami, the cheerful and positive girl who reeks female main character tropes. Because she thinks a bit out of the box and results go her way, that is why she is placed in such a favourable light. Whenever she is lost or need some sort of guidance, hence that weird dream with her mom in her younger days to show the way. Not that I really understand what is going on but I suppose some people draw some sort of motivation from their dreams. Then there is Hiyori who seems to be having grudge issues. She is supposed to be Kanami’s balance because if you have one who is happy and positive, then you need to have one who is strict and serious. Yup, Kanami falls under that and it is perfect combo for the duo to initiate some lesbianism. Oops. I mean girly friendship.

I also felt that it was odd with Kanami sticking around Hiyori for most of the time, Hiyori never actually thought that Kanami wanting to share the burden is to be sealed together with her? You mean that didn’t even remotely crossed her mind? Looked at how shocked when she realized it in the end. I guess making friends clouded her judgment, huh? Is it me or do I find that Kanami is the kind that loves to fight the good fight? She doesn’t pass up chances for this. Because to her it’s like things can be solved after clashing their Okatana. From that understanding Takiri incident to even making peace with her mom. Nothing soothes her soul like the sound of a couple of steels clashing.

We have been shown a lot from Hiyori’s side that it makes us think that Yukari is the bad guy. But what do you know? Plot twist. She isn’t. Hardly surprising too because my guts were already ringing early on that something was wrong, believe it or not. How can such a powerful character turned to the dark side? Well, not common but there are characters who were once good turning to the side of evil. But not this one. We are only made to think so that Yukari could have been the big bad boss because of how good she plays her poker face. Yup, as though her muscles to smile has been cut and this frown is always permanent on her face. Even when she is back to her normal self in the second half, I was a bit confused at first if she was really Yukari herself since she continues to play poker face. It was mind boggling for her to make a deal with something that normal people would have considered as the devil, but I guess when you’re in that position, you don’t have many options. And it was also mind boggling to hear Tagitsu giving her this odd choice to let her revive for 20 years in her body. I mean, wasn’t there any other way to let others know? To me, they’re ‘dumb’ to let this 20 years slip in between them. If they were so resolved, they should have tried to kill each other for good during that period and save us all this drama. Whatever.

They try to pain the Aradama as not the true bad guys and we humans are the one. Yeah, so what’s new? That is why that convoluted story of how they were snatched from their natural habitat before going berserk and taking their revenge on humans. Heh. Even supernatural higher beings have feelings. So Tagitsu trying to exact revenge by annihilating humanity seems justified on these grounds. But I guess some Aradama have turned hostile and hurt innocent people, that’s a big no-no and they must be extinguished and Tagitsu as the big bad boss must be forever banished. Too bad banishing Tagitsu to the netherworld is just a temporary solution. From what it is hinted, she will still be back and seeing how Aradama still run rampant after Tagitsu’s sealing, it looks like humans have a lot of work to do before coexisting can become a reality. But with Kagiri and Minato being Tagitsu’s playmates until then, I predict when the world is ready for Tagitsu’s return, they might be ultimately surprised she comes down as a lovely and happy go lucky Aradama girl. Yeah, everybody so flabbergasted. But I suppose it’s better than killing each other.

On a trivial note, I thought it was a pretty smart and nice subtle way they design Tagitsu, Takiri and Ichikishima. In the sense that they have hands covering over their ears, eyes and mouth respectively. Somewhat representing hear no evil, see no evil and speak no evil. My theory is that they are related to the Aradama princesses with Tagitsu not wanting to listen to her human counterparts, Takiri unable to see the goodness in humans and Ichikishima unable to speak what she really feels because of her inferiority complex to the other two. I don’t know if it is related or just coincidence but I think it’s quite neat.

The rest of the other Toji don’t really make an impact. Mai tries to play the supportive sister, Sayaka trying to find her footing with her new friends despite still the same emotionless girl as ever (although still much better than she was under Yukina), Ellen as the spunky halfie also serving as boobs fanservice, Nene the animal mascot, the other presidents of the schools are like, uhm, whatever, Friedman as the character to explain the technical stuffs and Rui being the technical support behind the scenes. They added Ayumu as the new girl in the second half but she played the second fiddle as Kanami-Hiyori lesbianism friendship continues to dominate. Hence they turn her into an annoying girl who is that kouhai-chan who looks up to her senpai. And the only way to overcome all that is to fight. Whatever. Even enhanced when she got under the influence of that Noro drug. Now that she is under rehabilitation, she still wants to fight Kanami after she recovers?! Oh, you mean fight with Kanami.

As I have said, some of the characters are interesting. To me, it is Yume. She is basically crazy. Unfortunately they had to kill her off halfway as to prop up some sort of drama that I don’t understand. Sadly, she is the most interesting and my favourite among the elite guards compared to boring emotionless robot Yomi, the arrogant I-always-go-solo-and-then-full-of-regrets Maki and nice girl Suzuka (hinted second pair of lesbianism but not as popular as the first). Too bad they had to cut short her life and role. I would love to have seen this crazy girl kick more ass because she could really do it. What is life without some thrill, right?

Other than Yume, my next interesting and favourite character goes to Kaoru. I just love the way she slacks and being lazy but is forced by Sana who is practically her personal slave driver. I believe Kaoru is just working smart. Sana is still her boss and will somewhat have to take responsibility so slack off while she can. Kaoru has one of the wittiest lines in the series especially if she is trying to be sarcastic. Even more so when she is trading such sarcasm with Sana. I sure brightens up my day when I am feeling bored watching this series. Yes, really. I want her to have her own spinoff series but seeing that she is such a slacker, I don’t think that will pass. The irony of her becoming part of the elite guards shows nobody is good enough to be of her level and hence had to be appointed (because Kanami and Hiyori not being appointed either proves my theory they are still stuck in the netherworld to be true, or history repeated itself like how it blanked out their moms, or they are not as good as we thought they are despite doing lots of heroic stuffs). So is she going to slack even further and leave it all to Sayaka like she always suggested? Sana will need more medication for her headache and sore throat after all that reprimanding.

Finally, Yukina is also an interesting character but not in a positive light. From the start she is casted as a b*tch whom you’ll love to hate. She is bossy, pushy, impatient and does things that is either in her favour or the one whom she favours. It is as though her character is written this way so that we could easily spot this and quickly form spiteful sentiments for her. Especially on how she treats Sayaka and then Yomi. It’s like they don’t want you to sympathize for this b*tch, no siree. I believe Yukina is just lost. Among the Toji who dealt with that great disaster 20 years, she was being the most ‘useless’. A liability if I should say. Therefore I think she is trying to find her own place of belonging and acceptance with this b*tch-like attitude now that she is the director of Renpu. Thinking she could earn the praise and accolades of her Yukari-sama (then Tagitsu) if she has served them well. Then to show that she is still human after all, she gives Yomi a decent burial because at this point, what else can she do? She has lost everything. Probably her mind too. But at that point I was like no love lost for her. I thought that she would be better swapping place with Yomi and died.

Seeing that this is an action series, aside the drama there are a few fight scenes although personally I don’t see them as impressive. Perhaps this is because many of the fight scenes that involve Toji clashing their swords feel a bit awkward. As such scenes are rendered via CGI, watching the Toji girls moving feels as though their movements are like from a video game. I’m not saying that it is lame or anything but it just feels one kind. Sometimes if you pay a bit more attention, you would find that the moves are somewhat repetitive too. Press forward, back, press A, hold B, go back, left, right, press some various buttons simultaneously to unleash final move. I know I just made that up but watching the Toji’s actions sometimes want to make me feel like describing their movements like so.

I suppose that they want some ‘realism’ in their action that is why the Toji girls activate their Utsushi as some sort of protective armour in fights. So that when the sword cuts through them, they don’t die or take serious damage. I mean, you don’t want to have a show where you have to keep missing, right? In shows heavy on the gun action, low fries baddies will have this Stormtrooper aim and miss the good guys even if you give them infinite bullets. Hence with Utsushi here, the girls are able to fight and strike each other down without having to make this looking so obvious. Also they have this fast speed ability thingy and it sometimes they look weird zooming here and there fast, which feels a bit video game-like. Speedy Gonzales?

Also the irony that it is funny to think that although the Toji maidens are the only ones who are most qualified to stop the Aradama threat, having those other military or SWAT guys on scene just feels redundant. I guess men can’t become female swordswomen so they have to end up in this mundane job if they want to protect their country. Except that they can’t. Not at least from Aradama. And why do the Toji girls get to wear their high school uniform as their fighting gear? It is just not practical to fight in such clothes but I guess Japan and the rest of the world love Japanese high school girls. Even if our heroines get to don that special armour, having them in their high school uniform still looks a bit out of place. Futuristic meets kawaii?

Voice acting is rather okay with recognizable veteran seiyuus taking on supporting roles like Ayako Kawasumi as Akane, Romi Paku as Sana, Mai Nakahara as Ema, Satsuki Yukino as Iroha, Ami Koshimizu as Yuzuki, Shizuka Itou as Minato, Risa Taneda as Kagari, Chiwa Saito as Takiri and Eri Kitamura as Ichikishima. The other casts are Kaedo Hondo as Kanami (Hitomi in Hinamatsuri), Saori Oonishi as Hiyori (Aiz in DanMachi), Asami Seto as Yukari (Chihaya in Chihayafuru), Rina Hidaka as Tagitsu (Airi in Ryo-Kyu-Bu), Azumi Waki as Mai (Maika in Blend S), Risae Matsuda as Kaoru (Minael in Mahou Shoujo Ikusei Keikaku), Eri Suzuki as Ellen (Chinatsu in Flying Witch), Hina Kino as Sayaka (Hanako in Asobi Asobase), Hitomi Oowada as Ayumu (Sana in Alice To Zouroku), Yumi Uchiyama as Maki (Kuromitsu in Kyoukai No Rinne), Mao Ichimichi as Suzuka (Bada in ClassicaLoid), Mai Fuchigami as Yomi (Nagisa in Ansatsu Kyoushitsu), Inori Minase as Yume (Hestia in DanMachi), Yukana as Yukina (CC in Code Geass), Mitsuaki Hoshino as Friedman (Magellan in One Piece) and Kanomi Izawa as Rui (Chieko in Francesca). Even Nene has its own seiyuu, Satsumi Matsuda (Jinko in Nana Maru San Batsu). Must be the easiest job ever, huh?

All the opening and ending themes are sung by the main sextet. I believe the first opening theme, Save You Save Me as the better among all the themes (although it is not the best). Despite sounding like a typical idol pop group song, I figure the fast paced energetic beat suits the theme of this series well. The second opening theme, Shinkakei Colours also have this feel but somehow doesn’t live up to the first one. The first ending theme feels a little weird. Kokoro No Memoria has a little hip hop infused in it. Then it is back to typical anime pop for the second ending theme, Mirai Epilogue.

Overall, this anime is still watchable and although not boring, it doesn’t excite me in many ways. Story and main characters feel uninteresting as the entire series is just trying to stop a huge revenge plot by an angry organism trying to end the human world. It’s just not for me despite I read comments over the internet that the community is mostly divided into loving and hating this series. But I guess this is the only series I can think of that is the closest in having nearly all its entire female casts using swords. Besides Busou Shoujo Machiavellianism but if this doesn’t has much swordplay here. Sure, there are other great swordswoman in other anime but those are mostly individual (like Fate/Stay Night’s Saber, Sword Art Online’s Asuna, Fairy Tail’s Erza, Kill La Kill’s Satsuki) rather than a series as a whole. I guess for a change, swords that cut deep enough to kill Aradama for now are better than swords that cut deep enough to expose boobs and pantsu. Thank goodness we didn’t have any of that here. Tagitsu would definitely accelerate the crash to send everyone to hell on her next return.

Just to be clear on this, Shokugeki No Souma: Totsuki Ressha-hen is actually the second part of the third season and hence making it the fourth instalment overall of this series. Got that? Understand? No? Yeah, damn single cour break in between the third season brought about this confusion if this is supposed to be the continuation of the third season or the fourth season. Yeah, the community is split on that. And they’re not even talking about the main series itself. But let’s not get distracted by this numbering issue and head down to where it all matters: The food. Okay, Souma and his brand of rebels mostly from Polar Star Dorm as they seek to defy Azami and his Central-cum-Elite-Ten brand of cooking. Can they do it save the cooking world they have been protecting? All aboard the hype train! Choo choo!

Episode 13
We see Erina trying to put the pieces of the puzzle together. Jouichirou is really Souma’s father? Tsukasa makes an announcement about the upcoming advancement exam. In place of this rigorous exams that one could pass or fail, as long as they follow Azami’s guidelines, they are guaranteed to pass. As it is also stated if they side with Central, they will become first rate chefs, this is also a warning that those who do not follow will be made an example. Talking about you Polar Star guys. Later Erina visits Souma’s room. The confession we all been waiting for? Nah. More ranting and blaming to hide her tsundere as we all know her. She tells him her story how she first met Jouichirou and fell in love with his cooking. But that was also the last time since Azami soon instated his strict teachings on her. Because of that, she feels lost on what real food is. Excuse for Souma to cook up a dish to regain her confidence back again. Something that he is going to finally make her say delicious. Yeah, it’s like his goal ever since this series started. So with his own family styled chicken egg tempura, what is the verdict? Chibi Souma chicks pecking on Erina’s naked body!!!!!! WTF???!!! Yeah, we know it’s really that good and the explanation of the ingredients and process that comes with it. Erina still has her pride. So what spurred him to make such a great dish? His answer: People who only know one correct answer can reach even greater heights. Very well said. Additional: If you know exactly where you’re going, it’s no fun. Basically, the journey is more important than the destination. Satisfied, Erina finishes the bowl. Never tasted so good. Mmmm… But instead of Souma getting his reward of Erina finally admitting it is good, she tells him to gather all the Polar Star members tomorrow morning. In the chilly morning, she rallies them to fight on and she will help guide them there. Challenge accepted.

Episode 14
The format of the advancement exam takes place throughout Hokkaido. They will travel to different locations and do different dishes there until they reach the final destination, an isolated island at the very north. Thus begins Erina’s Spartan lessons until their departure in 7 days. Don’t give up now… So in the first exam, the gang are grouped into different teams. Of course it is blatantly obvious that Erina gets preferential treatment. Souma is paired with Megumi, Yuki, Alice and Ryo. They are supposed to make a salmon dish. However they soon realize this is part of Central’s plan to eliminate the rebels as they are given poor ingredients. If they cannot make the dish before sundown, they will be expelled. Sounds like a good plan. But not fool proof because you know how they are going to be resourceful as they go out to buy the best salmon. Some more mumbo jumbo on how they make it, blah, blah, blah. Eventually the examiner is forced to pass them because her body cannot lie how damn good the salmon is. Take that! Never underestimate the main characters! From now on, the examinees will take a train to the various exam location. Erina continues her supplementary exam until lights out. Despite her usual pride, she notices that her friends treat her very nicely as they really appreciate her lessons. And perhaps what we all want to hear from Erina, previously she finds Souma annoying but now she doesn’t mind him at all. A little step closer…

Episode 15
In the next exam hall, they will make Hokkaido style noodles. Of course there is a wide variety of them. As usual, the rebels are separated but this time they are all called last. When it is their turn to make the dish, they realize not many ingredients are left since the earlier examinees have used them. Can’t make the dish? Out you go. Souma is paired with Megumi and Takumi this time. They want to go out and buy ingredients but there is a blizzard. The worst in decades! Did Totsuki even bribed God to make this storm?! Of all days, today?! Normally that would be the end but suddenly they are starting to prepare and making the dish. Once more, bad guys have oversight something. They left potatoes in the room. Hence our friends can make some Hokkaido styled noodles using potatoes as a base. So good that the examiner’s clothes explode! Just short of turning green and hulking. He is forced to pass them but then accuses that it is because of Erina they got this far. However Erina brushes this aside. She only taught them the basics of potatoes but they themselves build on that to make the noodle dish. All of them got this same idea? Wow. Great minds think alike. The examiner is cowed with Erina’s leadership. In the aftermath, the friends hang out before the next departure. We see more of Erina’s guilt especially towards Mito this time. She feels bad for cutting her off after she lost her Shokugeki to Souma but Mito still treats her like a friend. Souma, Erina, Megumi and Takumi hang out together but when they decide to depart, the trains have already left!!! Wait a minute. I know Japan is punctual in their trains but this is too much! Over punctual???!!! Luckily there is a train for them to board. However Rindou is on board! She reveals that it is part of Central’s plan to separate the rebels. As they speak, they are separated in groups and their train heading towards different locations. From now on, the rebels will fight the Elite Ten! At their next location, Souma thinks Rindou will be their next opponent but she points out it isn’t her. That guy. HAYAMA???!!! Oh sh*t! This guy is the new Elite Ten member?! No wonder he has been ‘missing’. Damn, why he looks so evil now?!

Episode 16
Hayama is occupying the ninth seat but on probation basis. Even more shocking that his beloved club is closed down and he doesn’t care. This guy has totally thrown himself behind Azami’s ideals. The others are taken away to have their own tests. So it is basically a Hayama vs Souma showdown. The host is Dojima and the theme will be bear meat. I guess they will compete in 3 days so as to give Souma more time to experiment via trial and error. Souma might cook the bear meat well but he can’t get rid of its smelliness. He realizes he is up in Hayama’s alley as he needs to use spice to overcome the smelliness. Luckily Kuga is here to help. It seems that he has a hidden agenda. Although no longer on the Elite Ten, he offers to cause havoc at the exam. At least this is what he told Rindou. As Souma continues to cook, he realizes he can use the smelliness into an umami factor. But since he lacks understanding about the bear meat as an ingredient, time to go for a trip to the mountains to understand how a bear lives. Don’t worry, an expert bear hunter is with them. During their trip, Souma learns from Kuga how Hayama ended up in the Elite Ten. A Shokugeki was held to fill in the vacant spots and Hayama trumped all of them including Rentaro’s groupie. Back at the kitchen, Souma uses some medicinal berries to help make bear patty. Good as usual. Because naked guys reaction. But here comes Hayama to rain on his parade. He shows off his extremely fragrant bear meat. He knew Souma was going to use this method and honestly, Hayama’s recipe is still far superior. But you know bad guys always get cocky at this point and it’s the start of their downfall as Hayama mocks Souma will lose to him a third time and this will be his worst. Oooh. I’m so scared.

Episode 17
Noticing Hayama isn’t looking happy despite being part of the Elite Ten, he says he is doing it for Shiomi. Lucky for Souma, he gets to confirm Hayama’s story from Dojima. At least from what he heard. Things were looking up for his research club when the sponsors suddenly start pulling out. You bet your ass, it’s Azami. He confronted the bastard and of course offered him a chance for his research group to remain in the battle royale Shokugeki for the vacant Elite Ten spots. He did that but to continue achieving his goal, he must defeat Souma. Now Souma confronts Hayama and tells him off he doesn’t care about his circumstances but the way he puts it only underestimates him. He gave up what is important without a fight and he is not going to lose to a loser like that. We see the other rebels facing off with other Elite Ten members. Takumi and Megumi’s will be Rindou. Before the start of Souma and Hayama’s match, Dojima introduces them to the tasting judges. Folks, meet the loli genius twins of Cilla and Berta as well as her Leonora’s husband, Soue (Batman eyebrows?!). So we see the rest of the episode as the duo prepare their bear meat (represented as a semi-naked bare fisted boxing match?). To show how super good Hayama is, he lets the twins taste a bit of his sauce and they went into orgasmic subjugation. Hah. I bet we’re waiting for this fanservice scene. Anyway, Souma goes first and lets them taste his minced bear meat cutlet. You know it’s good when they’re reacting in such an orgasmic sexy way. But the real challenge is here now. What’s this golden shining brilliance that Hayama is going to show us?!

Episode 18
Flashback shows after Hayama joined Central, Shiomi was displeased as she warned him not to. He didn’t care and will do whatever it takes, sacrifice whatever he needs to protect their place. Hayama serves the judges his fried chicken bear?! Good enough for that naked explosion reaction. Soue even goes on to say it is better than Souma! Oh no! Is he done for? But they’re not judging everything yet. You see, there’s still the sauce to taste. Both sauces enough for more fanservice reactions but Souma’s one has surpassed the nudity and go into underwear mode?! Underwear > Nudity? Anyway, with the twins having split votes, one for Hayama and one for Souma, it all boils down to Soue. He notices something about the honey. Souma explains the honey he used that is not just another ordinary honey. Some cork tree honey. During his bear tree, he has Kuga’s lackeys collect all sorts of herbs until he found honey as the suitable base. And since there are many varieties of honey, it’s amazing how he managed to single out this one. Yeah, Hokkaido has just so much spices growing at this time of the year? We can tell from this tone that Souma is going to win because it all boils down to whom one is cooking for. Hayama lost sight of that despite creating a perfectly balanced dish. Souma didn’t make this dish to pass this exam. It was for Hayama. For him to eat and be crushed by how delicious it is. Just in time for invited Shiomi (late on arrival? The show’s over) to slap Hayama for the first time to knock him to his senses. She tells him what she was wanted was not the research nor lab equipment but to see him enjoying cooking in his own way and craft. He is still a kid so he should not concern himself with such adult responsibilities. I guess when you’re a teen, you’re somewhat stuck in between… Hayama has realized so much that he is starting to say this must be a sign from God?! Soue chooses Souma to officially declare him the winner. In the aftermath, Souma offers Hayama and Shiomi to stay at Polar Star since they will lose their place. But he declines. Suddenly Erina barges in to check on Souma. Relieved he passed? Azami’s aide, Sean Aida interrupts her. He points out all the other rebels have lost devastatingly and will be expelled. It is the same for Hayama. As agreed, he will be expelled in the event if he losses. No wonder Erina looking so dishevelled.

Episode 19
Wow. Erina is so concerned that she rushes to Megumi and Takumi’s side. Wait. They passed?! Rindou tasted their dishes and it tastes good enough to pass. Hey, they are supposed to face the Elite Ten but nobody said it was a competition. As long as it’s good, she’s okay with it. With this little lifeline, Souma has this idea for them to challenge the Elite Ten seats. If their side make up the majority, they can rescind the expulsion of their friends. Erina is desperate to go talk to Azami. Guess what? He is here to check on the test sides. Even if Erina pleads, Azami will not give in. That would defeat the purpose of this, right? So Souma challenges his team to his for a Shokugeki for the Elite Ten. As expected, Azami declines since he has nothing worth negotiating for. Oh, now he does. Because Jouichirou and Senzaemon are back. He suggests a team Shokugeki and will wager his ideals. Should Jouichirou lose, he will abandon all his ideals and become Azami’s slave. He likes the idea and agrees. Details to be sorted out later so I guess it’s time for special training. Later Dojima reveals he was the one who set this up as Azami would most likely accept a challenge if Jouichirou is involved. A brief explanation about the team Shokugeki. Although it will be individual battles, the winners will continue to fight winners until the losing side has no more winners. The other unique thing about this team battle is that you can also help support other team members despite facing off with your direct opponent. So the mock battle with Senzaemon as the judge, we have team Dojima with Megumi and Takumi as well as team Jouichirou with Souma and Erina. They are to make a French national dish and they cannot talk! Team Dojima looks to be cooperating fine but Jouichirou and Souma can’t stop arguing! One warning from Senzaemon… One more time and he’ll disqualify them. Being serious this time, the kids observe the version of the dish the adults are making and they realize they are being tested.

Episode 20
We see a little on Takumi and how he has improved during Stagiaire. When the cooking ends, Senzaemon says that both teams will taste and judge each other’s cooking. So what is the verdict? Surprisingly, they point to the other team as the victor! Then they go on to explain why the other dish is much better than theirs. This is taking humbleness to beyond whatever level. This training is part of Senzaemon’s plan to have each member experience the other’s abilities first-hand as teamwork is important in team Shokugeki. Of course the most important change we see is that Erina had fun during it all. At the next stop, Souma’s side meets Azami and the Elite Ten as they lay down the rules for the team Shokugeki. One of them includes they do not necessarily need to have the same number of members facing off with each other. Of course this means Central is at an advantage as they have more numbers. The wager is for the Elite Ten seats. The side that wins gets it. Takumi reminds them that this Shokugeki is to get their friends back. Hence all the expelled rebels’ student handbook in their possession, they will also use that to wager in this battle. Azami then declares Erina is supposed to fight on their side as she is part of Central. It took her some guts to admit that she wants to be on this side. To do so, she quits her seat. Therefore Azami puts an additional penalty for her. Expulsion will just be too easy. If her side loses, she will forever aid Central and obey her father. Forever. See you at the finals. With everyone praising how Erina is now acting like the queen she is supposed to be, except for Souma because he still believes the top spot to be his. But eventually since this rebellion is started and motivated by Erina, they entrust their student handbook to her.

Episode 21
Flashback time to understand what really happened. We start when Jouichirou and Dojima are in just their second year and just obtained the Elite Ten’s sixth and seventh seat respectively. Azami was a junior fan boy of Jouichirou although he looked and sounded like a wuss. Jouichirou is making waves everywhere he goes with his eccentric cooking. This earns him the right to enter a prestigious international cooking competition called BLUE (Bishoku Leading Under-35 Entrance). However some jealous students think he bribed his way and hence challenged him to a Shokugeki. Make that a team Shokugeki. Although he accepted, Jouichirou did it alone and refused Dojima and Azami’s help. Yeah, he slain over 50 challengers! Is this even cooking?! That’s where he got his demon nickname. By the time they are third years, Jouichirou and Dojima became first and second of the Elite Ten respectively. But the more Jouichirou treads on, the more praises, tributes, accolades, honours, awards and victories he got from everybody, the more you can see he is losing himself. Slowly falling down the insanity spiral of pressure just to evolve and find something new. Then one day he just went missing for an important BLUE match. Everyone started looking for him and Dojima found him sitting in a Totsuki cooking hall. Dojima knew by the way he talked, he wasn’t a demon and just a delicate man like everyone else. He regretted letting Jouichirou get ahead of them too far. Senzaemon feared the worst that his great talent had backfired. He suggested Jouichirou to leave the country and leave cooking for a while. He took up that offer and that was the last time Dojima saw him as a student. As for Azami, he is probably acting this way as vengeance of the past as Jouichirou was his idol and his breakdown hit him hard too. Looking back, Azami probably needed more help than Jouichirou. Many years later when Dojima received a surprise call from Jouichirou that he is back in Japan and opened his own diner, that guy also already had a son. Dojima believes Souma saved him from despair and is grateful for that.

Episode 22
It’s time for the final battle. Our expelled rebels are given a chance to watch and cheer on our heroes but from behind bars?! We can clearly see the hostile reception of the ‘home crowd’ as they support and cheer for Central. Also, Souma has gathered a few allies to join them to fight against the Elite Ten. They are Isshiki, Kuga, Megishima and Mimasaka. The first round includes these matches: Megishima vs Shouko Kaburagi (new Elite Ten member), Isshiki vs Jurio Shiratsu (also new Elite Ten Member) and Souma vs Nene. Nene is specialized in soba and guess what? Souma had to pick the soba theme for his cooking. And with everyone explaining how a thoroughbred Nene is, gosh, it’s like they don’t know Souma or have faith in him because they’re like seeing he is going to lose! How many times have we seen him comeback from the odds stacked against him? Sure, he lost once or twice but in this very important match with your enrolment on the line? So I’m skipping the explanation of the soba noodles they’re making since Souma is going for instant soba and is making it the way his diner does, hence earning everyone’s laughter and further enhancing the negativity from his supporters he is going to lose. Have faith, people! Since we can’t put all the focus on Souma and Nene, we also shift to Isshiki and Shiratsu whose theme is eel. Shiratsu badmouths Isshiki about having no pride and it seems Isshiki doesn’t care or brushes it off until he badmouths his Polar Star members. Then he gets real serious and you know sh*t is going to hit the fan and he is going to pay with his blood.

Episode 23
Okay. We’re going into a short back story that Isshiki and Nene’s family share some history together. So they’re basically like childhood friends? Nene is not impressed still. We are also introduced to WGO (World Gourmet Organization) Bookmen who will be the judges for this team Shokugeki. You can tell they are the top of the gourmet world and hence our assurance that their love for the best food will not be biased. Shiratsu finishes his eel dish first. Have a taste. Good as usual. I’ll spare you all the explanations because I also don’t get it. Now it’s Isshiki’s turn. The Polar Star guys notice that Isshiki stole and used their prototype ingredients in his cooking. Wow. He must really have confidence in their cooking. Have a taste. Good as usual. But the clincher is when Isshiki offers it to Shiratsu and if he finds it delicious, he must apologize to his Polar Star mates. And the results… Too delicious to resist! An apology on the way and without a doubt, the judges confirm Isshiki as the winner. Shiratsu might have been defeated but he looks so happy. Like a gay… With everyone praising Isshiki, except for Nene who isn’t still impressed as she always believed he was never serious. Flashback shows he aced in everything that took her a long time to master. She started feeling miserable. Jealous. That’s why she wants him to give it all he’s got when their fight comes next. Unfortunately he has to shoot her down that will never come because she is going to lose to Souma. Damn this guy puts too much confidence in his juniors.

Episode 24
As usual, we start off with showing how great Nene’s lineage and her perfection due to obsession. Meanwhile Souma is like so casual that even his own comrades don’t have faith in him. Yeah, it’s that pattern again. Anyway, Nene finishes first and awes the judges with her ‘time travelling’ soba because they’re so addicted to it that they didn’t realize they have finished it and hence restarting this loop again and again. Next is Souma. Everyone is expecting him to be crushed but the judges are also displaying satisfying reactions. Something to do with the flour he used as well as the various seasonings he drew inspiration from the various instant packed foods. The judge has unanimously voted on a winner. But so as to drag out the drama because we know Souma is going to win and justify why Nene lost, so it all boils down to the aroma of the soba. Nene was unable to maintain it unlike Souma. Heck, I thought it was because Nene served hers first. But then more technical explanation how Souma had taken into account the hall conditions and hence chose this alternative from the start. Nene never thought of an alternative because she has been trained from young the best soba is the way her family makes them. Unlike Souma who has to adapt to make the best dishes for customers to walk in. So that’s the difference. It’s Souma’s victory! You can feel crushed now, Nene. Oh, about the other match, Megishima wins too! F*ck! We didn’t even get to know what they’re cooking, not even see the judges tasting and suddenly he wins! Who the f*ck is this Shouko girl?! Felt just like a pawn… Yeah, I suppose we don’t have time for ‘unimportant’ characters. With our rebels having their morale boosted with this 3-0 win, we see Azami’s frustrated face for the first time. His world is being dismantled step by step.

Cooking Up A Storm On The Gravy Train
WTF?! WHAT THE HELL????!!!!! ARE THEY REALLY DOING THIS AGAIN????!!! LEAVING US ON A VERY TANTALIZING CLIFF-HANGER????!!! WTF, GUYS??????!!!!!! Sighs… Sorry if I sounded angry and disappointed, not at the overall story and this season but how they handled it and once more we are forced to put up with another ‘unfinished’ season and business. This time only worse because there is no news if there would be another season. Yes, you heard that right. As of now, there is no news if there should be a continuation at all. By right it should but even the end card was ambiguous as hell and didn’t give much hints if there would be any. By right it should. By right it should. BY RIGHT IT SHOULD! I thought Azami was just kidding when he said it was time to take a break. I didn’t know it was this indefinite break too. To put it in another perspective, it is like the train is running along smoothly and suddenly we see a damsel being tied ahead on the tracks. Oh no! Are we going to run over her or is there somebody going to switch the tracks and change the path of the train? Stay tuned… Indefinitely…

Okay. But aside the ‘fiasco’ of whether or not this series should be continued (by right it should), this season is actually quite okay and interesting. As good and interesting as the first half of the third season, if I should say. Although as usual there are those longwinded draggy food explanations that I don’t really understand and the plot actually hardly moved along (basically this entire season is mostly about riding the train in Hokkaido and fending off challenges by Central to oust them), overall this season still rocks and it blasted away all the disappointment that was that boring Stagiaire which now feels like a distant memory.

But still I thought that more could have been shown and developed if they shorten some of the draggy food explanations but then again, without such segments, this series which strives a lot on this would have lost its shine. Hence it was a dilemma for me to wish to cut short such parts and have the pace go at a quicker pace. Because just look at this season, it was mainly to set up for Souma to get his sweet revenge and first win over Hayama. But I don’t think with Souma finally winning over him makes him better than Hayama. Remember, Hayama beat Souma twice so the score is now 2-1. But because Souma is the main character, as long as he defeats his opponent, that’s the end of it. Yeah, the opponent can never challenge him again and get his shot of glory and revenge. Only main characters can do that. You can still lose and still be relevant until you win. Damn cheating. No wonder this is why Souma is so good. Also because he never gives up. And you noticed the final arc of this season just focused on the first team Shokugeki match. Only the first one! Oh boy. They are sure taking their time.

There’s nothing much for me to comment here because at this point and this season, it would be a repeat of my sentiments of last season. The biggest change as seen is Erina herself and even though I didn’t get my wish to see her become a damsel in distress and Souma her charming heroic prince, at least we have seen her grown stronger and was able to stand on her own to defy Azami and follow her true heart. I have to admit that this season I have respected Erina a lot more than any other. It is also nice to see some background on Jouichirou who has been one of the biggest mysteries of the series. Shedding some light on what happened makes us understand better of how it led up to all this sh*t and that Azami isn’t just some crazy megalomaniac who wants to conquer the gourmet world his style. Okay, he still is but at least you know that there is still hope to bring him back to the correct path. I am sure we can predict how everything will end because it will be just a big shocker if our heroes lose, right? That is so unthinkable!!! We know they will win. We just want to see how.

Hence the only ‘surprise’ for me was when our rebels start to take on the Elite Ten themselves because I was thinking and unsure if all of them could actually win. Because of the stakes of them being expelled, I was hesitant if any one of them could lose (save for Souma because he is main character). But if all of them win, it would have made the Elite Ten looked like a bunch of sissies. You know, they’re such great cooks and they lose to a bunch of raw unpolished rebels? Unthinkable. So when most of them lost, it was a bit of a ‘shocker’ but then plot twist. A chance for our heroes to help redeem everything in this final with everything at stake. That’s why I didn’t like this cliff-hanger. Everything was too important to be left like that.

It’s such a waste that with so many other characters, some didn’t get to flex their cooking muscles in this season. Like Kuga and Mimasaka whom I am sure would bring some interesting twist to the table since Kuga is now fighting on the opposite side and I wonder if Mimasaka have stalked every member of the Elite Ten just to copy their abilities just in case he faced any one of them. It feels wasted for him that this season his role was just to show his face even if it is to set up for the next season (if that ever comes around). It’s also sad we can’t see some of the Elite Ten in action like Rindou and Momo. I suppose the most insulting one was Megishima and Shouko match that we don’t even get to see. Because damn time is running out. No wonder Souma was chosen in this first round battle. All seemed too convenient to let our titular main character flex his muscles, shed first blood from this warm-up and keep the Elite Ten on their guard. Imagine if Souma was replaced by somebody else. Doesn’t feel it would cut it there. At least to end this season. Or it could be the ‘main character’ and ‘final battle’ would fall onto Erina?

I still stick to my own opinions that despite all these chefs making such great foods and gourmet, sometimes it feels like they are only fit for higher class people or those with lots of money. Sure, they put in their heart and soul to create such goodness but if you are going to do that for the simple masses, I wonder if it is possible to maintain all that passion in the long run. I’m sure they will. At least in the context of this anime. But in reality, casual and ordinary people like you and me who can’t even taste the difference in the dishes would probably be no different to us. It’s either good or bad. Cut out all the explanations in between because damn, we just want so taste something good and fill our stomachs. Yeah, I don’t know what the dish is made out nor where the ingredients come from. I just know how to eat it, that’s all. Why make it so complicated?! It’s only (good) food! Like WTF, man. We only came to eat but found ourselves busting our clothes and doing naked embarrassing reactions to approve just how freaking good it was!

Also, the subject of how good or authentic a certain food is, is still as subjective as art itself. So who has the right of authority to say that this is the best food ever? In comparison to what? On what base? Even if WGO is the God level of food tasting and maintain their impartiality, who are they to say that this certain dish is better than this? If the judges come from different countries and cultures, their opinions on what constitutes the best fried chicken may differ even if they are from the same organization and teaching. Maybe I’m not really proficient in the culinary world and just a simple glutton so I don’t really understand. Because when everybody at that high level is competing at the Shokugeki level, it feels like it all boils down to what details to nit-pick and pinpoint that minor flaw that would be the difference between victory and loss. They and everyone else can say a certain dish like this and so will only be considered the best but to me, grandma’s chicken soup will always be the best. Get the point? Besides, the irony of having a strict guideline and criteria of what is the best isn’t good either. Having a vague one is better because it expands your horizon and experience, don’t you think?

But I have noticed that I am somewhat ‘immune’ to the delicious foods they served this season. Even if they still look 2D good as always. In previous seasons I would be drooling my saliva for most of the dishes but this time round, I don’t feel that excitement. Probably the long explanations? Or is it because of unfamiliar food I have never eaten before like bear met and eel meat?

This season’s opening theme, Symbol by Luck Life is a rock outfit that somewhat fits the theme of this season. The same can be said for the ending theme, Atria by Fo’xTails. But just a bit heavy on the bass lines. I guess they really want to nail in the train theme for this season and hence you’ll see lots of trains and tracks among the weirdest stuffs shown in the opening and ending credits as well as being some tough ass fighter or something. Is it double KO?

Overall, this season is still very much enjoyable and its only real downfall is how it ended on yet another cliff-hanger with no closure in sight. That’s the train wreck from it all. After all, this important battle where everything is at stake will take a while with everyone fighting out the best they have. Hopefully they will have another season to continue this because by right they should. And hopefully it won’t take too long as well since waiting in between your meals would just irk the customer and they’ll get up and leave. Without paying. With this hype and excitement still fresh, let’s really hope that this wish would come true and the foodgasm train will continue to chug along.

Basilisk: Ouka Ninpouchou

October 26, 2018

Wow. OMG. Really? It has been more than 10 years since Basilisk aired and the way things ended, there was no way there was going to be a sequel anyhow, right? Well, how wrong were we. Sort of. Therefore it was a surprise that Basilisk: Ouka Ninpouchou came out as its sequel back in early 2018 and the events are set 10 years after the events of the first season. That series does bring back some nostalgic memories and it was quite captivating. Hence I went into watching this second season with higher hopes and anticipation. But somewhat despite its new setting, story and characters, something tells me that some things are better left ‘dead’ where it was supposed to be…

Episode 1
Tadanaga Tokugawa, the Dainagon of Suruga receives news of his mother’s ailing health. Quickly he and his entourage make haste to her castle despite the stormy weather. Meanwhile we see a few ninja kids playing their version of ninja tag while showing off their abilities. We have Rui (seduction pheromones), Shichigen Higurashi (bug master), Shikibu Kora (iron man), Hachisu (gunslinger), Utsutsu (illusion master) and Saizou Ishi (eye popping, literally). The game is won by Utsutsu. Feeling bored of her constant win, she decides to test Kazuma Kusanagi practising his whip wires nearby. He must be in a bad mood so he strangles her with his weapon to teach her a lesson. He is stopped by Kouga’s leader, Hachirou. He is part of Kouga’s Five Treasures that also include Kazuma, Shichito Geiin, Kaso Himonji and Tenjin Yusa. All know that despite Hachirou is the brother of Hibiki (leader of Iga), they must bang with each other to keep the bloodline flowing. Whether they like it or not. This is to give birth a superior ninja otherwise both their clans will be finished. They receive message that the shogun’s wife is unwell. Namenba sees Gorone Negoro who is trying ways to improve tools for their ninja kids. Their job is to watch over them. Tadanaga’s journey hits an obstacle. With the storm still raging, a violently flowing river blocks their path. Tadanaga is adamant to cross but his men are pessimistic of their chances to survive this. Tadanaga plans to go himself when all his men are killed by a mysterious ninja. Tadanaga tries to cut him but feels his sword keeps evading contact with his body. Thankfully the Five Treasures (actually four of them, minus Hachirou) are here to save the day.

Episode 2
Time for Five Treasures to show us their unique and weird ninja skills as they cut down the assailants. Tadanaga remains suspicious of them now although they will help him build a boat and cross the river. While Kazuma and Tenjin build the boat, the rest accompany Tadanaga as they talk about the rumour relating to Gennosuke’s Doujutsu Eyes but none know very well of it. Hachirou sees Gorone to talk about something. Namenba notices something strange and asks Gorone about it. It seems Hachirou wants to leave the village. Namenba is dismayed he allowed it but he believes if he bumps into Hibiki, it is up to them to handle this. True enough, Hibiki confronts Hachirou on his way out and is mad she didn’t say anything to her. She thinks he fears her powers but she is not scared of his. Flashback shows Hibiki winning once over Hachirou. However she realizes he did it on purpose and it hurt her. So much so her Mystic Eyes activated and gone berserk. Uhm, it just caused a little sakura whirlwind? Is this what Hachirou is afraid of? Gorone continues discussing with Namenba about the ill-fated lovers from both side who are destined to be separated anyhow. Danjo and Ogen were once in love with each other before they were forced to fight to the death. It was the same with Gennosuke and Oboro. Now, it could be the same for Hachirou and Hibiki. The odd part is that if Gennosuke and Oboro’s blood are flowing through them, how could they be born if their parents are dead? Mind boggling! Tadanori continues talking about he cannot accept how Iga won the last battle since he believed Gennosuke was the one who defeated the seemingly immortal Tenzen. It is widely believed that Gennosuke and Oboro faced off in the final match and Iga won due to Oboro lived slightly longer after both sides exhausted their power. But in Kouga’s village, it is told slightly different. Oboro couldn’t kill Gennosuke and killed herself. Gennosuke in despair wrote in the scroll that Oboro won before killing himself (which was what actually happened). Kyouhachirou, the second son of Hattori Hanzo, visited the Kouga village and from what it looked like, a basket containing 2 babies. It is rumoured Kyouhachirou might have saved them to ensure the continued bloodline after being moved watching them sacrifice each other for love despite being destined to be torn apart. Otherwise it would be too cruel and sad for Hachirou and Hibiki. Tenjin returns with his head decapitated!

Episode 3
Flashback shows when Hibiki was new to the village, the other kids wanted to test her but her Mystic Eyes nullified their antagonism. They tried to do the same for Hachirou and Saizou could have fallen victim to his Doujutsu Eyes had not Gorone pin him down hard. Geiin and Kaso discover Kazuma being cut apart by his own weapon. Before them is a mysterious ninja. Kaso tries to burn him down but his ninja ability seems to be reversing time, causing Kaso to be burnt to death by his own ability. He introduces himself as Tsuibamu Kujaku of Joujinshuu. It seems their plan is to assassinate both the Five Treasures and Iga’s Five Flowers. Geiin tries to spread his poison to her but it backfires. He reverses time and now the old fart will die a slow death with his own multiple poisons. Hachirou senses the Five Treasures are dead (more like One Treasure now, haha… Oops…) as he takes Hibiki back to Gorone. He trusts Hachirou’s instincts and believes a powerful force could have easily taken down the Five Treasures. Now that he cannot have Hachirou leave, he has the other ninja kids stake out as well as warn the Five Flowers. Tadanaga is approached by a weird monk, Joujin claiming that his executioner will be his brother, Iemitsu who is also the current shogun. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to him because he too has noticed Iemitsu’s hidden feelings.

Episode 4
Hoetsu Tsuta of the Five Flowers is killed by Itaru Yasha. He could have got the job done had his horny side not get the better of him. Because of that, he looks through her mirror that reflects his entire pathetic life. So pathetic that he jumps off the cliff. When the other Five Flowers come looking for him, they stumble upon this old dude, Neirichiou. He might look like a pushover but look at his giant monster behind! By the time Rui and Shichigen arrive, they see their corpses. Geiin managed to send a message via bird to Hachirou the name of their assailants. Joujin reminds Tadanaga that when Iemitsu was afflicted with the pox, he said those words. Still not believing, Magoroku Rinne uses his ability to go back in time to make him remember. It was a time where Iemitsu was lying in his bed all alone. No attendants were around. Tadanaga went in to look and seeing his suffering, he wanted to call a doctor. Although Tadanaga genuinely wanted him to recover, it did not looked so in Iemitsu’s eyes. Compared to fat boy’s ailing health and his brother’s healthiness, Iemitsu became jealous and thought his death would mean his brother would ascend the throne. If that was not true, why is now Tadanaga attacked by the Kurokuwa of Iga? They work directly for the shogun. Joujin proposes Tadanaga start a rebellion and become a god. It is the only way to survive this. With his men returning and showing the decapitated heads of the Five Flowers, this is to prove their power to him. They are also doing this because they want to save his mother. Utsutsu and Saizou are stunned to see a giant monster before them.

Episode 5
Hachirou insists of going to fight the enemy but is told he has to be protected not because of his status but his technique. But he reasons that only his blood that is needed. If this world was at peace, there would be no need of ninjas. That is why sometimes people need something to cling on even if it’s just an illusion. Gorone accepts if this is his way of doing things, so be it. He shows him a secret shortcut. At the end of the path, Hachirou cuts off Hibiki so he could face the enemies himself. Saizou and Utsutsu stumble into Neirichiou. Utsutsu’s illusion doesn’t work on him because despite his eyes saw her illusion, his brain did not. Huh? He displays his technique of turning into reality his illusion that incapacitates the duo. Utsutsu manages to chant some lines to turn real her illusion on Neirichiou but the old dude escapes. Returning to his monster, he fights off the other ninja kids. When they are out of tricks and injured, here comes Hachirou. His Doujutsu Eyes causes him and the monster to go berserk. Joujin tells him to retreat. Hachirou faces off with Joujin. He is surprised his Doujutsu Eyes do not work. Joujin claims his spiritual training enables him to kill while his heart is calm. Sensing Gorone and Namenba on the way, he leaves it to Itaru to handles this. Now that Hibiki is here, she shows them her mirror. However she is stumped they see something else. With Namenba interrupting, the duo’s eyes go wild. Not really sure about this sakura light beam destruction called Ouka. Joujin takes an interest in them and will look forward in many years’ time. Tadanaga has arrived at his mother’s castle safely. She would pass away 6 months later.

Episode 6
Fast forward 4 years later, the former shogun, Hidetada Tokugawa strips Tadanaga of his prestige after he went hunting for monkeys as they are believed to be messengers of God. Soon Hidetada dies and is buried in secret while Tadanaga is exiled to a faraway land. A few years later, we see the ninja kids grown up and demonstrating their improved abilities. The girls also run a dango shop. They are torn whether if Joujinshuu would return since Namenba spent years making this place the way it is not because of money but to prepare for them. After Hachirou went missing, the boys cried. But they kept honing their skills believing he would return. That would mean Joujinshuu would return to but even so, there is no guarantee Hachirou would come back. Hachirou is of course still alive and grown up. We see him fighting a priest, Hadaebou. He uses strange techniques but it is all just to test him. He then says he has an urgent request. Tadanaga requests to speak to him because he senses something strange is coming. Rather, a strange castle named Murakumo and looks like it is already here.

Episode 7
Namenba has worked her way and infiltrated the castle as a courtesan. Flashback during a talk with Gorone, there was this intention to make Tadanaga’s heart turn evil. It would be an excuse for the shogun to crush him. If Joujin and the shogun had a connection, it would narrow the possibilities down. Hence the best way for Namenba is to go ask the shogun himself. During the night, she infiltrates through the roof but is met by a few Kurokawa resistance. She didn’t kill them but somebody else did. She drops some liquid into the sleeping shogun’s mouth. When she asks the questions, he doesn’t know about the delaying of Tadanaga or who Joujin is. Namenba escapes when security is alerted. She meets Hadaebou who informs he is an ally before slipping back into her courtesan bed. Hachirou sees Tadanaga. He shows him a picture of Murakumo. He gave money to Joujin to make an imperial carriage for his mom but this is what he made. A castle he has no knowledge of that he paid, what will the people think of him? He reveals his secret that Joujin encouraged him to rebel against Iemitsu. Although his mother’s health improved but it only lasted for 6 months. 2 years ago when he went to inspect his territory, the forest started to move (part of the prophecy that Joujin said that will lead to failure) and all the monkeys started attacking. He killed some of them despite his men’s wish not to. Viewing Joujin as a demon, he wants Hachirou to destroy the castle. Not for him but for the country as well. Hachirou declines and reminds him his ancestors were killed to determine the heir and will not be taken advantage again. With the Five Treasures and Five Flowers died for nothing, they refuse to be sacrificed for the likes of them again. Tadanaga is furious that he has poured out his feelings and yet refused. He orders his men to kill him. Their visors might protect them from his Doujutsu Eyes but Saizou’s floating eyes reflect them so they start killing each other. Hachirou leaves the cowering former Dainagon but the latter still want to kill him for fear his feelings might be known to the shogunate.

Episode 8
Flashback shows Tenkai suggested the use of ninjas to settle the succession feud instead of wasting samurais in duels. Hachirou makes his escape but skilled archers are going to take him out. They can judge his position just by noise and hence avoid looking in his eye. Too bad Shichigen summons the crickets to mess with their hearing and Hachirou kills them all. Next are sharp riflemen. Too bad bullets can’t penetrate Shikibu’s armour. Even the best marksman killed himself. He used bubbles to determine the wind but the bubbles also reflect the Doujutsu Eyes. Damn. The guys confront Hachirou for ignoring them. He only tells them he will be the only one to avenge their fallen comrades. In town, Hachirou meets Gobo who blames him for this entire mess. When he mentions he is Tenkai’s ninja monk and was ordered to get close to Tadanaga, Hachirou will not listen to him any further. But he reminds him about the common enemy they have now: Joujinshuu. He should forget the past and help them. In doing so, he will reveal some of Joujin’s secrets. Hachirou is not interested as he believes he is lying and intending to use them again. Gobo starts talking about a wandering monk who prayed for rain in some province 100 years ago. He is Joujin and besides his other fighters, he has many soldiers called Rain. Utsutsu and Rui sneak close to Murakumo. They notice strange but creepy farmers. When their numbers get larger, they flee but are spotted. They are Rain. Thanks to their voice mimicking, the girls get confused and are separated and lost. I’m not sure if Rui’s butterflies make her fight better because those zombie dudes definitely aren’t attracted to her pheromones. Tadanaga is shocked to see Joujin before him. Hello again. Remember me?

Episode 9
Tadanaga blames his deceit but Joujin explains about the forest never moving. It was just monkeys. As for Tadanaga to become ruler of Japan, he wanted him to become god. Tadanaga doesn’t believe a man can become god. Oh but there is one who almost did: Nobunaga. Utsutsu can now summon the undead to kill her enemies. But when the numbers get too many, Namenba returns in time to save our troubled heroines. Namenba gives Gorone illustrations of Murakumo that Utsutsu sketch to investigate. Flashback shows Namenba met with Tenkai who needed her help to bring down Joujinshuu as Joujin is trying to end the Tokugawa era and return them to civil wars. With the guys returning, they tell about Hachirou’s whereabouts but nothing much can be done for now. Namenba wants them to focus on the current task at hand and to investigate Murakumo before Hachirou returns. Saizou’s eyes are useful to peek but does he need to enter Murakumo’s territory? Do his eyes have some sort of limited range? Anyway inside the room he spies a strange man. He is surprised to see him as Nobunaga. He thought he died at the fire at Honnouji. Oddly, Nobunaga crumbles into sand. Now the ninjas have to escape as the Rain army pursues them. We see Rui going on a killing spree because who wouldn’t be mesmerized by a total hot naked ninja chick.

Episode 10
The huge Kishuu army arrives to take out Murakumo with their cannons. The ninjas think Joujinshuu won’t stand a chance. You think so? Hadaebou drops by to request the help of the Kouga and Iga ninjas but upon learning he works under Tenkai, they turn him away as they don’t want to be used again. He would give time for them to think and hope they would give a favourable answer then. Tadanaga is inside Murakumo and he is worried of the army. Joujin assures him Murakumo’s cannons are much better. Yeah, they’re bigger! And they fire first! In an instant the entire Kishuu army is wiped out! Overkill. Now Tadanaga is buoyed with this and believes he can take over Japan. We see Namenba’s flashback as she was serving Senhime 17 years ago. Her real role is to save her when her family and castle fall. She did her role well during that war which claimed Senhime’s husband’s life. After putting her to safety, Namenba returns to the battlefield to kill any dying soldiers who are still barely alive. Gorone explains their plan to take down Murakumo. Shichigen and Rui will draw Rain away while Utsutsu, Saizou and Shikibu sneak in to take out Murakumo’s cannons. Namenba will supervise it and see if there is a need to retreat should this mission fail. From Utsutsu’s sketch of its structure, he believes its gunpowder is stored directly behind the cannon. Taking one out should lead to a domino of explosions and collapsing the castle. But what if they encounter the Joujinshuu? The last time they fought them (as kids), they almost died. This is where Hadaebou will come in to take care of them. Later Hadaebou relays message to his spy about the ninjas agreeing to take down Murakumo. He also notes if Tadanaga cannot be saved, he shall be killed. Joujin sees a man in his prison and wants him to fulfil his role in exchange for his freedom.

Episode 11
Shikibu’s armour cracks. Looks like Gorone needs to fix it and has Hibiki and Hachisu help out. We are told that there is another reason for his armour. In addition to protect him from attacks, it is to stop him from exploding. His muscles are ever expanding and too strong for his skin to handle. Eventually without restraint it will explode and kill him. Therefore his armour aptly named as saibougu means rhino armour. When they sense intruders, Hachisu goes to deal with them. Low level ones are easy to kill until she meets this mummy monster. His skin is so touch that bullets bounce off. He reveals his target is not Hibiki but her. Shikibu charges in to save her but his brute strength is also tough to kill him. Since Hachisu is slightly injured, Shikibu takes her to run and hide. Inside a cave, Shikibu believes all this is happening because it is punishment for wanting to stay with them. Flashback shows that he was born with this condition. People stayed away from him but the monks took care of him as they believe in Buddha’s teaching of not taking a life. They imbued this principal into Shikibu but sadly he cannot make friends and must wander alone like a rhino. He must not desire anything. Hachisu finds it incredulous for him to let words rule his life. Their job is to protect their leader and if somebody wants to kill their leader, they must kill them first. Shikibu’s muscle starts expanding again and it is giving him a great deal of pain. He won’t let Hachisu treat him but after some pestering, he relents. She uses her bandages to tie his muscles down. Meanwhile Gorone has finished the armour and wants Hibiki to deliver. She stumbles into the mummy dude. Good thing Hachirou is here. His Doujutsu Eyes make him try to kill himself. But Hachirou’s sword can pierce through him like butter? After that, Hachirou disappears. Wow. It’s like he didn’t want Hibiki to see him at all. Mummy guy still lives since the thickness of his muscle has the sword missed his heart. He stumbles into Shikibu and Hachisu who just broke out from their hiding. With renewed hope, Shikibu easily kills him by breaking his neck. Even if he gets punished, it is fine. They’ll suffer together. Wait. What? Is this masochism?

Episode 12
Shichigen and Rui manage to distract some of the Rain. But what they didn’t count on are some of them having rifles. Shichigen got shot in his thigh but they manage to escape after he summons the bugs to jam up the rifles. Who shoots, explodes! I guess it’s time for his flashback. His mother loved a poem about a cricket. He took care of him by herself since young. Shichigen could display some level of controlling insects like his father. One day, a bandit assaulted his mom. Shichigen tries to fight him but he is a very sorry state as a samurai wannabe. His mom could at least decently put up a sword fight with this low level thug. When Shichigen tries to fight back with a rock, in this unfortunate accident and slip up while trying to avoid cutting him, the adults accidentally cut each other, effectively killing themselves. That’s why now Shichigen talks like sacrificing himself to let Rui get away. He thinks he has always he slowed his mom down despite she has some ninja techniques. He vows never to let anyone pay the price of his failure again. Nice timing for Hachirou to pop up again. Too early for Shichigen to die now. He wants the help of his ability. In this darkness and range, his Doujutsu Eyes are ineffective. So Shichigen lights up the bugs to provide light to accompany Hachirou. With this, his Doujutsu Eyes literally turns the quiet night into the biggest explosion fest ever!

Episode 13
After Shichigen gives the clear signal, apparently he didn’t check on the other side or if not Rain has divided themselves into groups as they face off with Utsutsu and Saizou. Saizou suggests using her illusions on him and he can reflect them in his eyes to let others see. But he will be affected too. No. Not him. Only his eyes. Huh? Isn’t that the same? The plan works but Saizou still feels its effects. Utsutsu has medication to heal him. I guess it is more romantic to do indirect kiss than to splash the entire bottle in his mouth. Because Saizou says he has seen too much and hence don’t see things he doesn’t need to see, it’s the opposite for Utsutsu. She can’t see what she wants to see. Flashback shows her father locked her up in the storeroom in the mountains with a mandala of hell. Not sure as training or punishment. Because she wants to see nice dreams, father told her about hell and how dreams and emotions can kill. Such technique can only be learnt in youth. Thus she is forced to master it before next spring otherwise all will be for naught and she will die. When she thinks she has done so and shows him, he is disappointed with this useless technique. Because he cannot kill his own daughter, he burns himself. This is not self-pity. She must live with the fact she killed her father than herself. This is the hell that will forever remain in her head. That emotion will become her technique. So the next time bandits try to rob the place, she uses her illusion to kill them. Saizou fires his cannon. Obviously missed at first try. The ninjas are pretty confident they can get this right in a few shots, eh? But Rui has a plan. She ties the cannonball to her special bullet. Once he fires, she will aim at the cannon hole and the bullet will drag it inside. They succeed. Only… Suddenly it is spit back out! Almost turning them into ninja kebab. This is thanks to Kujaku’s doing of reversing time. Hachirou catches Hadaebou trying to sneak into Murakumo. He asks for his reasons. He is here to find out why Joujin has kidnapped Tadanaga. It is odd since Tadanaga has no power or influence so why would Joujin want or fear him? As he is the grandson of deceased Shogun Ieyasu, he might be Joujin’s perfect puppet. He is to prevent that at all cost. But here comes Joujin and he knows Tenkai has set him up for this job to save or in worst case scenario, kill Tadanaga.

Episode 14
While Hachirou fights Joujin, Hadaebou uses this chance to slither into Murakumo. He tries to reason with Tadanaga to get out or die now but realizes this is just a puppet. The real Tadanaga and other Joujinshuu heard this plan and this infuriates Tadanaga. Clones are sent to fight him but Hadaebou escapes. Saizou does the same cannon-bullet trick but Kujaku again reverses time. Saizou tries to attack Kujaku’s dial but fails. Hachirou loses to Joujin but is spared. He wants him to join his side instead because he wants his and Hibiki’s bloodline. Hachirou is infuriated he intends to use them this far. Hibiki and Shikibu come running to his rescue with the latter uprooting a tree to fend off Joujin. Joujin wants Kujaku to fire the cannon at them. If they die, they weren’t worth it. Hachirou and Hibiki’s eyes meet, causing Ouka. Though it destroys the surroundings, it also protects them. Joujin offers his last chance for them to join him. They disagree and would rather use Ouka on him again and sacrifice their lives. Magoroku whisks Joujin away before he is caught up in it. But Ouka fails and both of them become unconscious. This means they can’t control it properly yet and Joujin will give them time to master it before acquiring them. His plan to let Hadaebou live and return to report to Tenkai is to cause some panic and uproar. Saizou again tries the same trick. Now they’re down to the last cannon. Same time reversing thingy. This time Utsutsu signals to Namenba as she soars in to drop another bomb inside. It seems there is a cooling period for Kujaku to use this ability again. Now Murakumo crumbles.

Episode 15
Although Murakumo is destroyed, what remains of it suddenly disappeared. Shichigen realizes he entered an illusion but when he hears his mom’s voice, he runs to her. He is shocked to have gone back in time to witness those tragic events. Fearing what he sees, he runs away. Though he escapes from the illusion, this is a test and experiment done by the Joujinshuu members as they combine their powers. They note he is now their slave. Hachirou hears rumours of ghosts in the town ahead that the people believe is Nobunaga’s soul. He believes it is Joujin’s plan to revive Nobunaga. Hibiki wakes up and surprised to see Hachirou. He says Joujin is here and there is not enough time to escape. Hence he is going to confess his feelings. Will she always be his? Of course. Forever. Unfortunately this Hachirou is just an illusion so Hibiki now becomes under his spell. She makes her way to Joujin but as Utsutsu and Rui try to stop her, her Mystic Eyes do more than nullify their skill and paralyzes them. Hachirou sees Kujaku. He challenges him and only uses a tree branch, confident he is only overestimating his power. When both use their powers, Hachirou’s Doujutsu Eyes did not work. From what Kujaku explains, what was emitted in his eyes couldn’t overflow time and thus couldn’t reach him. He even dares challenge him again if he thinks he cannot use his time reversal for the moment. They fight again but this time Hachirou uses the shards’ reflection. In this distraction, he snatches the branch from him and deals some serious damage to his face. A new castle pops up.

Episode 16
Murakumo v2 is up and on the move to Edo. Namenba and Hachisu see Hibiki going into it with the Joujinshuu. They want to follow but stopped by Hadaebou who warns them Murakumo is heavily guarded by Rain. Namenba will go back and prepare weapons but will still not trust him. Why is he so persistent with her? He hints he likes her. WTF. Cheesy. Rui and Utsutsu are well enough to help out. Gorone makes some bombs for them. As Murakumo moves at a turtle pace, the ladies place landmines before its path. Hachisu fires to give more oomph to the explosive effect. However it is not enough to stop or even scratch it. Hadaebou again pops up to help. He suggests they help each other. The ladies want Hibiki back and he wants Tadanaga. Namenba thinks he is just using them and makes him promise to find Hibiki if he gets in first. Then he also adds if they find Hibiki first, Namenba will be his woman. Eyes rolling moment. Hadaebou slithers his way into Murakumo but more Rain pop up. Meanwhile Hachirou is being confronted with Itaru. She offers him to take him to Murakumo but he ignores her. Only when she says they have Hibiki did he get alarmed. But he fell into her mirror trap and cannot look away. She is going to make him desire her. Meanwhile Hibiki sees a vision of… Oboro?!

Episode 17
Is she a ghost? Not really sure since Oboro says her regret is falling in love with Gennosuke and that’s when her life fell apart. She’ll never forgive him. Rui and Utsutsu have to wash off blood from their body after killing too much Rain. Rui confesses she loves Utsutsu! WTF?! It seems she is afraid of dying without saying anything. Back to Hachirou, I think he is playing chicken with Itaru because he dares to use it on himself. She stops after Magoroku offers they can take him to Murakumo any time. So he won the game of chicken? But later Shichigen asks Hachirou had he taken up that offer, both leaders would have been Joujin’s prisoners. Was what he said a bluff or real? Shikibu and Saizou find Gorone is gone from his house. But looks like he activated something big. Uhm, a robot?! Flashback shows Namenba wandering after the incident on Senhime’s life. She stumbled into a small nunnery that young Rui was staying at. Both the ladies bond in no time and Rui is not scared to talk about death. One night, bandits killed the nun. The duo are forced to kill to stay alive. Namenba offers Rui to follow her in which she accepts. Hadaebou has snuck into Murakumo and slain all the fake Tadanaga clones. Finally he confronts the real one. Tadanaga believes he is here to kill him because his fate was already decided by the fight between those ninja clans. Hadaebou disagrees and says Iemitsu awaits his return. He has always felt guilty to have been given his position in such a way. He goes on to remind him their childhood days where it was filled with brotherly love.

Episode 18
Neirichiou’s monster pop up. So why must Namenba and Hachisu abandon their ascend and run around being chased. Thanks to Hachirou here, he uses his Doujutsu Eyes. Too bad Neirichiou and the monster closes them. Being one with the realm enables them to ‘see’ without using their eyes. Meanwhile Joujin tells Tadanaga not to fall for Hadaebou’s lies. He is considering listening to Hadaebou since those memories are true so Joujin will have him die. Joujin reveals that it is not him whom they want to make a master out of this castle but Nobunaga. They need Tadanaga’s body who is of royal blood as a vessel. As Hadaebou tries to stave off Magoroku, Joujin mind controls Tadanaga to stab him. Then he wants him to commit seppuku and die like a man. Tadanaga is burning with hatred and the lies he has been fed but too late, he has been decapitated. Hadaebou makes his escape. Shichigen summons the bugs and birds to swarm all over the monster. It worked for a while but the monster now rains lightning. Cue for Gorone to come riding in with his, uhm, Batmobile? Spidermobile? He drops bombs and cannons for the rest to use while firing some missiles at the enemy. Is this his way of going out in style? Is there a message he is supposed to relay to Hachirou only via his death? Something about new sakura only bloom when the old ones die off. After Gorone’s death, some splinter cuts off Neirichiou’s arm, making him retreat. Hachirou announces his true feelings as he finally admits he will be entering Murakumo to save Hibiki even though it is a trap. Uhm, wasn’t that what he wanted? The rest also want him to say the most important thing as a leader. Uhm, to have them die for him? Whatever. So before Murakumo, Hachirou calls out to Joujin to let him in. Invitations from his underling didn’t do the trick so he did it this way?

Episode 19
Kujaku leads Hachirou to Joujin. He claims that Ouka has never been his aim but true world peace and salvation. In order for that, a bit of hell must be shown. Basically, he wants to destroy the world. Yeah, I know. It’s insane. Meanwhile the other ninjas are trying to find their way in. Saizou is using his eyes to look around but is unfortunate to have glanced into Itaru’s mirror. He sees his past. His dad trained him to read numbers of a Japanese poker game. So that when he plays with a bunch of guys, he uses his eyes to cheat and peek at the opponents’ hands. Sure, he is on a winning streak and nobody can prove he is cheating. I suppose nobody looks up at the ceiling for a floating eyeball. Plus, poor Saizou outside in the cold. In the last hand, Saizou messed up and read wrongly, causing dad to lose everything. He was beaten up and with the passing of a Kouga ninja, dad sold him off. Saizou is under the mirror’s spell so in a trance he walks into the oncoming path of Murakumo. Man, one flat Saizou coming up! But how can one guy stop dead the tracks of Murakumo?! But even so, this doesn’t stop Joujin’s plan. Murakumo isn’t a palanquin to carry them to Edo but more like a vessel to revive Nobunaga. Murakumo is like a womb. To facilitate that, he needs Hachirou and Hibiki with powers and exchange love fluids. You heard that right. Love fluids. If they don’t, they have to kill each other because blood works as well as love fluids. Hachirou will choose neither but he has no choice as Hibiki is here to kill him. But she claims she is Oboro. She regrets falling in love with Gennosuke that led to the downfall of her clan. She will kill him as repentance.

Episode 20
Oh Utsutsu, Saizou may have been splattered but at least you’ll have an eyeball to remember him by. Oops… Hachirou is reduced to defending. He contemplates using his Doujutsu Eyes on Hibiki to break Joujin’s spell but it risks killing her. So he puts back his sword and closes his eye. An invitation to let her stab him? She does so but not surprisingly he dodges. At this close range, he opens his eyes. It manages to break her out without killing her. However Hibiki is still Oboro and she thinks Hachirou is Gennosuke and wants to love him. Magoroku then hypnotizes them. Shichigen confronts Itaru to avenge Saizou. Thinking no women could resist his pheromones, unfortunately he became captivated by her mirror. He sees Itaru as his mom’s image. Remember, he was already under that spell since that cave incident. I guess Hachisu is the only one left with a backstory and they have to oddly slot it here. We see her brother suggesting she take up a weapon to master since she is not good with her hands. She chose a gun and under his guidance, she kept practising. One day ninjas attacked them. He was taken hostage and brother told her to shoot him so as not to betray the choice she made. She did so and killed both of them. Hachisu and Shikibu thought they are to stumble into Itaru but is shocked to see Shichigen charging at them. Because Hachisu hesitated, Shichigen sliced both her hands! With Shikibu looking into her mirror, she orders him to take off his armour and explode. Not sure how Hachisu could shoot without her hands or pull the trigger but she did before she dies. The ricochet wounded and blinded Itaru. Shikibu grabs onto Itaru and explodes along with her. If killing won’t work, I guess now it’s time to make love. Because Joujin is hoping to watch them f*ck like beasts!

Episode 21
Utsutsu uses her scarf as a distraction so that Rui can use her pheromones to stun Neirichiou and stab him from the back. After making sure his dead body, they move along. But wait, he pops up before them. His wounds healed because his monster absorbs all the damage. He makes them fight Shichigen. Meanwhile Namenba has collected Gorone’s bombs and is about to return to Murakumo when she is confronted by Hadaebou who is willing to guide her in. His mission might be over but he still wants to see how this ends. Hachirou realizes the power he and Hibiki inherited is to defeat evil people like Joujin. Because of this blood’s burden, the reason Hachirou tried to run away as he couldn’t shoulder it. But he is willing to use Ouka to defeat them. Joujin points out Ouka is a power of Hachirou and Hibiki. Hibiki is now Oboro. In that case, Hachirou will become Gennosuke. So can the love making start? Their eyes start to activate. As Shichigen fights off the ladies, Rui notices the Buddha statue behind him that he thinks is his late mother. She pretends to be his mother in hopes of snapping him out. Neirichiou calls this crap and orders him to kill his slut mom. However Shichigen stabs himself. The statue takes the damage and in turn Neirichiou takes its damage. And then Utsutsu decapitates the old bastard. Rui asks Shichigen if he hated his mom. He never did. Mom also never betrayed him. Just that he was too young and he couldn’t forgive himself for not forgiving her. Uh, what? Oh, he’s dead. Rui crying like a river shouldn’t it activate her pheromones like crazy? But here is this Neirichiou bastard stalling hem again. But hey, shouldn’t his monster be headless? Anyway the monster ambushes the girls but it starts to disappear and Neirichiou realizes it cannot receive more of his damages. So I guess it’s goodbye to this old fart too. Bye. Free fall to his death. We interrupt Ouka as Hadaebou barges in to slash Magoroku.

Episode 22
Yuri fanservice between Rui and Utsutsu before they die? While Kujaku fights Hadaebou (too bad the latter loses), Joujin tries to kill Hachirou. Hibiki freed from Joujin’s spell remembers everything since her kidnapping. With Rui and Utsutsu’s powers distracting Joujin before kicking the bucket, Hibiki is able to use her Mystic Eyes on him. Mad Joujin tries to get back at Hibiki. Kujaku wants to help Joujin but he refuses. Kujaku felt offended and kills him! He claims he is doing this for his real master. During the flames at Honnouji, Nobunaga knew he had lost and asked the opinion of his aide, Ranmaru about that demonic voice that spoke to him. He also wants him to help commit seppuku. He orders Ranmaru to live so his ambitions will not die even though he is unsure when he might return. After Ranmaru escapes the flames, he is met by Joujin whom he believed was that demonic voice that spoke to Nobunaga. He will follow Joujin to make Nobunaga’s dreams come true or pay the price. He calls himself Kujaku because Nobunaga often admires his beauty like a peacock. Kujaku is pleased that Joujin’s blood is enough to revive Nobunaga. Joujin is happy to meet him but not Nobunaga. He squishes the old fart. While Kujaku is happy to see his master, here comes Namenba to relay the message to Hachirou and Hibiki to escape as she has placed bombs everywhere. They escape the crumbling Murakumo but Kujaku uses his time reversing technique. Magoroku then cuts the wires to the bombs. Nobunaga then kills Kujaku! He thinks this scarred dude is an imposter as he is nothing like the beautiful Ranmaru.

Episode 23
Nobunaga thinks Hachirou works for Mitsuhide and tries to kill him. When Hachirou uses his Doujutsu Eyes on him, Nobunaga kills himself. However being dead himself, uhm, he still lives? Oh, the irony. Namenba covers Nobunaga with her veil and places her bombs. But before she could escape, he stabs her. I guess they needed a way to finish her off. Although Nobunaga still survives the explosion, it is now Tadanaga who is speaking (since it is his body Nobunaga is using). Learning that Joujin is dead and Nobunaga is trying to wrest back control, Tadanaga decapitates himself. After Hachirou and Hibiki escape, looks like there is still some life left in Kujaku. He tries to turn back time back to how it was with Nobunaga and shatters his dial. Magoroku won’t have that and tries to seal it in his dimension. After that he confronts Hachirou and Hibiki to explain this place’s space and time is going crazy because their powers clashed. But why does Magoroku still want to fight Hachirou? Revenge. He believes Hachirou also has a reason to fight him for revenge as his comrades are dead. Magoroku’s reason of joining Joujin was to find a place to fight. As the guys clash swords, conveniently Kujaku’s corpse drops in. The distraction allows Hachirou to cut him down. The duo run but they see the ghosts of the dead Kouga guys guiding them to a way out. When they get out, they are shocked to see Edo on fire and Murakumo is destroying the entire place. This could be another timeline because all of Joujinshuu still live and gleefully watching the entire place on fire. However they don’t know who Hachirou and Hibiki is and they think they can use this advantage to defeat them.

Episode 24
Hachirou starts off by fighting Magoroku. But this is just a feint so he could kill Kujaku. Then he targets and finishes off Itaru before using his Doujutsu Eyes on Magoroku. Hibiki nullifies Neirichiou’s monster to allow Hachirou to cut him down. Wow. That’s the easiest revenge ever. Joujin is uninterested in them despite being told they know him from another world. He doesn’t think they will affect him and will use Murakumo the way he wants. The duo then use Ouka. Flashback shows Gorone and Namenba explaining how their clash of emotions caused Ouka and because it is too great, hence they can’t control the madness. But they said it had a final form. You mean what we have saw wasn’t its final form???!!! And so we see Ouka’s final form! Wait a minute. Didn’t we see this destruction before? I guess the trail destruction of destruction is even bigger. Hachirou mercilessly kills Joujin. Is it over? Hachirou fears of using Ouka and hence they cannot be together. Oh God. Not this crap again. However before he could blind himself, Hibiki uses her Mystic Eyes on him, steals his sword and blinds herself. Because of that, now Hachirou will never leave her! What a price to pay for a girl to get his man to stay by her side forever. Then plot twist! Joujin still lives! It seems he has Tenzen’s ability. That alien thingy that eats all wounds. Although he has no business with them, he thinks they might still get in his way. Better be safe than sorry. As he fights Hachirou, he could deduce why his Doujutsu Eyes couldn’t work on him. Yeah, it’s like as though his other counterpart told him about it. Because Hibiki is calling out to Hachirou and looking for him (can she not hear them fighting?), Joujin targets her and Hachirou gets slashed trying to protect her. It might seem like a desperate attempt for Hachirou to mock his ability and all but it is to get that alien to be mad so that the Doujutsu Eyes make the alien go crazy and kills Joujin by making the monk tear his own heart out! And that’s that.

In the aftermath, Iemitsu speaks to Tenkai about who the f*ck put Tadanaga up this this sh*t. He knows that their succession was decided by that ninja game and understands he would hate him. Tenkai replies it was all for the glory of the Tokugawa. We see Tadanaga being decapitated as punishment but as narrated it could just be for show as the real Tadanaga had already died. More confusion because our dead ninja comrades are now reincarnated as normal kids and having a peaceful time. I want to say they are being watched over by Hibiki but she’s blind… Yeah, she looks like an elderly mom now. And then another plot twist! Joujin shows up! Can this bastard die already?! Oh, Tenzen’s ability again. So what now, Joujin? Hachirou is gone (I thought he promised to stay by her side forever?) and Ouka cannot be used. But there is one thing left that Hibiki is useful for. OMFG! THIS OLD FART WANTS TO RAPE HER????!!!! I guess when you’ve lost so much, you’d do anything just to get back. Before they can combine love fluids (he said blood but I want to still use that ‘awesome’ term his other counterpart said), f*cking plot twist we never see coming! Because Hachirou whizzes out from Hibiki like a ghost to cut him and the alien down for good before disappearing into the wind. WTF????!!!!! And poor Hibiki couldn’t witness all that f*ckery with her eyes. Yeah, maybe it’s better that way. And Hadaebou continues to wander as a monk on this lovely day. My, such a lovely day indeed.

Bah-Silly! Oh-Gawd Ninja Trolls
WTF?! WHAT THE F*CK?! WHAT THE FFFFFUUUUUUU???????!!!!!! I was already having this disappointed feeling while watching the series and that final WTF episode just ramps everything up! It is so bizarre and weird that it feels like as though the producers knew we were going to criticize this sh*t so they pull off all the unimaginable f*ckery they could think off just to screw with us and end the series. From another world to some reincarnation and rape scene, oh God, it’s just awful. It left me with so many questions like if Hachirou has become a ghost and is now travelling through all the dimensions to cut down Joujin and his alien compadre, hence that super magical BS we get. Or did he combine as one with Hibiki and now resides inside her? Too bad Joujin, can’t come inside her when she already has a man literally INSIDE of her! Haha! Therefore the tradition of the lovers’ tragedy continues but it is so bad that it seeped into the series and brought it down. Good riddance it ended. I don’t know if I could take it anymore had they had another additional extra episode. I might laugh myself to death in shocking disappointment! Thank goodness I won’t see Skywalker Hachirou in the futuristic sci-fi Star Wars future where he cuts down horny Darth Vader Joujin with his lightsaber katana to save Princess Leia Hibiki on Death Star Murakumo. Yikes! Thank heavens it isn’t so!

Overall, this second season feels like a disappointment (even more so when you consider the final episode) and doesn’t live up to the greatness of the original one. Even if I do not remember much of the first season, by the end of this second season I could tell it was definitely not better. Of course when the series first started, it was interesting as it introduces a new bunch of characters and the plot was a bit intriguing. At least for me. So for the first initial episodes, it did lived up to my expectations and hopes that this series was going to be great. I was really looking forward to the next episode. But after a while at halfway point, I could almost instantly feel that enthusiasm of mine waned. At that point I knew something was wrong and my guts once more alarming me that it is going to be downhill from here. I was hoping it was wrong but apparently my guts know me more than myself. Heh.

So one of the biggest fails that had my big enthusiasm fading was the flow of the story. More accurately the appearance of Murakumo. Could you believe it that the rest of the entire second half of the series is about trying to stop Murakumo and everything that happened took place near or inside that damn moving castle? I know, basically it is rescue Hibiki thingy and that made it even more boring as the drama drags on. Murakumo appearing for the first time was okay. It was intriguing as well as dreadful. But even so they spent quite a few episodes trying to take it down. Thought I have seen the last of that castle and might move on to something new, damn v2 of that castle is up and running again. They should have named this sequel, Basilisk: The Murakumo Odyssey. Maybe not. Sounds to sci-fi.

Okay, I might forgive viewers who watched the first season to ask, why isn’t anybody dead yet or when the killings are going to start. That was what most of us remember the series and that is why it was great in the first place. It was a period anime with a battle-to-the-death style action. Even if they got our tongues wagging with the quick elimination of the Five Treasures and Five Flowers, after that it becomes a freaking dry spell. I remember in the first season we had some characters dying off in the early episodes that I was worried if there were enough characters to be killed at the end! But here, the kept us watching with all the draggy drama and left it real late to pick off the characters one by one. By that point, I felt that their deaths weren’t satisfying and they were just doing it because they had to. Death by obligation. I supposed Gorone’s flashy death was to get the ball rolling, eh? Yeah, it would be a big disappointment if the whole gang lives on in the end because we are already expecting as well as told how these ninjas’ lives are tragic. No happy ending for all of you. No siree.

A factor that contributes to the draggy drama and how it could last 2 dozen episodes is because I noticed that some of the scenes have some long pause in between them. I believe it is to add some dramatic effect because the series would have been a little shorter if it cut out those scenes. But I suppose it would be hard to imagine if this series was really fast paced. Even in between the action scenes, you could see this pause. The camera angles showing the faces of the characters facing off. You know, it makes you wonder if they really have time to pause like this in battle. I wonder if time somewhat flows in this slo-mo style then or Kujaku really has some sort of control of it. Nah. I’ll stick to that dramatic effect excuse that ultimately either bores you or start ticking you off.

Another issue about this second season being a failure is the characters themselves. They fail to make an impact. As I don’t even remember the first season much, I do remember that there was some decent focus on Gennosuke and Oboro that really made you feel pity on their circumstances, hence the Japanese version and take of Romeo and Juliet. However Hachirou and Hibiki fail to leave any of that impression and were just boring and disappointing. The irony is that both pairs were separated from each other for quite some time due to circumstances but the former still manages to leave a tragic and everlasting impact on us even though it has been over 10 years. So when this season tries to give Hachirou and Hibiki’s comrades some back story and flashback of their past, it felt more like an excuse to fill up the space and running time. The original Basilisk didn’t have that (because having back stories on 20 characters will take up more time than just 6) but it still manages to work because of how the characters manage to intertwine with the plot. So in this case it wasn’t the individual characters but all of them or at least the main ones as a group.

Here, you could say that Hachirou and Hibiki lacks any back story compared to their comrades. Most probably they want to keep it a mystery. They look so much like Gennosuke and Oboro but you don’t even know if they are their kids. Speaking of which, it was just freaking mind boggling how Gennosuke and Oboro had children after their deaths. I hope there isn’t a ninja technique that could extract sperms and eggs and that watch children grown via incubation. Or a technique that has recently deceased people f*ck each other and the child in the womb somehow kept alive for 9 months. That sounds like horror and too much for this period series. But we’ll never know. So it feels like this part is kept in the dark so we can just have a sequel.

Hachirou takes half of the blame as one of the biggest disappointing characters of the series. Annoying if I should add. Ever since young, this kid has been somewhat moody. Like as though he is born with that frown. What makes Hachirou an irritating character is his penchant of running away. More accurately, running away from responsibility. He thinks by not getting his comrades involved, he can solve the problem. How long has he been away? Did that solve anything? And that b*tching of how the ninjas won’t be used and toyed around anymore. WTF. You think it was fine when he spew that responsibility crap when he was young. Makes him sound so mature. Oh, so grown up. Then you realize he knows nothing as a kid. He’s still a kid despite being the leader of Kouga. This carries over well into his teen and he is still wandering around. Him being able to show up when his comrades are in a pinch shows he hasn’t strayed far. I would prefer to give his comrades more credit in trying to handle the situation than Hachirou who just pop up at some moments and use his oh-so-amazing Doujutsu Eyes for ultimate victory.

Hibiki is the other half who is disappointing. Overall, I find her the most useless character. With only her Mystic Eyes to boot as her specialty, she spends half of the season being a captive and hence being turned into a damsel in distress. Not like she did anything (not saying Hachirou did any better but at least he could fight) but that one time against Joujin was supposed to be it? Not impressed. It doesn’t help that even after breaking free from Joujin’s spell, she remains to be a useless damsel. It might sound cliché that Hachirou is always protecting her but I guess during that period, men were manlier in those days compared to now. Yeah… Therefore it is no surprise that Hachirou would instinctively take the lead to protect Hibiki. But it is sad that from the way this turns out, Hibiki is unfortunately reduced to a useless state. Even more so after she blinds herself thinking it would seal her Mystic Eyes forever.

Making it worse that there is literally no chemistry between them, let alone any sort of romance. As said, the original was a Japanese version of the tragic Shakespearean work and it was heart breaking to see them fight each other despite their love for each other just because they are on differing sides. But here because of Hachirou trying to be so mature, he leaves the place and leaves poor Hibiki all alone. She does pine for him but even during his missing years, it’s not like she sorely misses him. Is this what you call believe in him? I don’t think so. Even when they troll us of having sex before Joujin, I knew it just wouldn’t work out. I mean, after being away from each other and suddenly we’re going to see them make out? Not likely. Therefore Hachirou-Hibiki pair pales in comparison to Gennosuke-Oboro romance. What a let-down. And there was this potential of pairing up the Kouga-Iga ninjas as well. Saizou-Utsutsu, Shikibu-Hachisu and Shichigen-Rui. At one point even hinting a possible lesbianism between Rui and Utsutsu. Oh well, their duties as ninjas are more important than anything else. Don’t even mention that Hadaebou’s crush on Namenba. If I was her, I would spit on his face and tell him to GTFO.

Gorone and Namenba as the mentors also somewhat fail. Gorone is portrayed as some genius who tweaks the abilities of the young ninjas while Namenba looks after them although she always had this tone in her voice that to me says I-wish-I-wasn’t-here-doing-this. Yeah, she sounds lethargic and sluggish. Maybe it’s her but as a female ninja who has been exposed to dangerous missions, I would have expected her to sound better. Saizou, Shikibu, Shichigen, Rui, Utsutsu and Hachisu make better character than Hachirou and Hibiki not because of their short single episode flashbacks. Their loyalty after all these years as well as tackling the problems without their leaders involved (at first) make them more memorable and admirable. Too bad ultimately they are just pawns to be sacrificed as the plot commands them to be. Because it serves as a reminder what this series was supposed to be.

As for the antagonists in Joujinshuu, they feel lacking and one-dimensional too. Basically destroy the world type even though the excuse is to save mankind. Unlike the original Basilisk you had both sides fighting each other and you can’t tell who the good or bad are. Hence you are confused of which side to support. Even the real antagonist in the original (the real Tenzen) had more character than Joujin if I should say. Yeah, they even tried to sully Joujin’s name by making him rape Hibiki. Sighs… Can they get any lower? The members of Joujinshuu feel like a freak circus in town and just because they killed the Five Treasures and Five Flowers, we are under impression that they are so great and undefeatable. Because there is a clear indication of who is on the good side and who is on the bad, hence these clowns are not on anybody’s list of support. You won’t even feel for Kujaku/Ranmaru’s story. You just wish this tranny would just die. Also, the Joujinshuu mostly feel like they’re standing around unless the plot calls for them to do something. Puppets? Okay. They’re doing a great job as that. I wanted to call Tadanaga as annoying as Hachirou and Hibiki but ultimately I figure that since he led a sheltered life as a lord, I suppose it is only expected that he wants to get something out of this but ultimately got lost and used. Perhaps he did the right thing that other characters (like Shichigen) should have done: Kill himself. Damn.

As action sequences are important for the namesake of this series, I believe this one also doesn’t live up to standards. Sure, the initial episodes showing them as kids look interesting because they have a totally new set of strange abilities compared to its predecessor. A little bit more interesting when they grow up as they have honed and expand their powers a little. But ultimately when using them in battle, it is just sparingly and not quite satisfying. You see, how should I describe this, during fighting sequences, the action somewhat feels rather ‘light’. You know, when the ninjas cut through their opponents, as a viewer you don’t really feel the intensity of the cut. I’m not saying you should feel being cut down. But rather it feels effortless when they strike down their enemies. Like when they fight Rain, it feels like there needs to be action because it needs to. Even the final battles were like, okay, that was easy. That kind of feeling. In a way, their deaths don’t really hit you and hence why I said you don’t really feel like supporting the characters. I’m sure that having lots of gushing blood won’t do it any good or hide the fact that the fights are just mediocre.

Also, Ouka also feels disappointing despite it is part of the title. So big gust of destruction? Is it its final form? So they are afraid of being together in fear of activating it, causing some damage and in turn the guilt and trauma of hurting others just because they couldn’t control it. Sounds more like BS than anything. In the end, I wouldn’t really consider Ouka as the ultimate or final trump card. Just a convenient plot device whenever it is deemed necessary. I mean, it wasn’t that important. If the main antagonist like Joujin doesn’t even want it, well, that should say a lot about the covet factor of this technique.

Art and animation also feel mediocre and in fact inferior to the original. Even if the predecessor was like a decade ago, at least the art style matches and gives the series’ period. It might not be perfect and perhaps that inadvertently became a standard when we tried to compare to the sequel that just feels a bit cartoonish. I know the ninjas are teens but they still have the kiddie look and feel. Even if adults like Gorone and Namenba, compared to the original you can tell the original has the characters looking more mature even though some of them look just freaking weird (yeah, there was a really fat rubber guy, a snake guy, a monkey moustache guy and octopus head old fart, if you remember them). They look freaky alright. But this one, even the freakiest, Neirichiou looks more comical and came out from some comic than anything frightening.

Also I want to point out something about some of the characters especially the ‘good looking’ ones. Do you notice that these characters all have pretty eyelashes?! The girls have them so I suppose they are alright. Yeah, it really ramps up their cuteness and feminine side. Don’t need Rui’s pheromones for me to drool over them ;p. But the guys, having this feature sometimes make them look girly! I kid you not. Just take a look at Hachirou, Tadanaga, Kujaku and Shichigen. Is it that pretty guys must have such eyelashes? Because ‘ugly’ dudes like Saizou, Shikibu and Joujin sure have ‘scary’ eyes. I guess some in between like Magoroku has scary eyes too and that’s why he always keeps them closed.

For the character designs, having Hachirou and Hibiki looking so much like their predecessors I wonder if it is a lazy effort. Designing them differently might not be better since this is a sequel and we need the main characters to have some similarity. So similar that they could have just be reincarnations of them. But is it me that Hibiki looks a bit chubby? No offense but perhaps the video put a few pounds on her. I’m pretty sure it’s not the clothes she wear either. And why does Hachirou have dots on his forehead? Is he some sort of god? Yeah, god of running away from his destiny, that is. Haha! Oops. This sequel was done by Seven Arcs Pictures who did Trinity Seven, Mushibugyou and Saredo Tsumibito Wa Ryuu To Odoru. The original was done by Gonzo. Perhaps that is why the difference in quality?

With a completely new casts, I only recognized Ayane Sakura as Utsutsu (personally, she sounds unimpressive like as though she didn’t want to do this role), Shinichiro Miki as Gorone and Cho as Geiin. However the most surprising one is Yui Horie as Itaru! OMG! You mean that’s her?! I never would have guessed! I thought she came back and then laid low again. I sure didn’t expect her as she wasn’t in her usual that I would pick up right away. Another shocking one is Saori Hayami as Hachisu. OMG! You mean that’s her?! I never would have guessed. I sure didn’t expect her as she wasn’t in her usual that I would pick up right away. Damn, I just repeated myself. Maybe I was so disappointed with this series that I couldn’t detect them. Even so, I should have during my initial enthusiastic period.

The other casts are Tasuku Hatanaka as Hachirou (Kaminari in Boku No Hero Academia), Inori Minase as Hibiki (Hestia in DanMachi), Katsuhiro Tokuishi as Saizou (Hanzou in Hagane Orchestra), Fukushi Ochiai as Shikibu (Moguzo in Hai To Gensou No Grimgar), Mitsuhiro Ichiki as Shichigen (Kazuya in Freezing), Reina Ueda as Rui (Mira in Dimension W), Kaori Nazuka as Namenba (Tsukasa in Amagami SS), Takaya Hashi as Joujin (Normandy in Princess Principal), Toshiyuki Toyonaga as Kujaku (Tsukumo in Nanbaka), Hiroshi Tsuchida as Magoroku (Daikichi in Usagi Drop), Umegi Sasaki as Neirichiou, Jin Yamanoi as Tadanaga (Kouda in 3-gatsu No Lion) and Kenji Hamada as Hadaebou (Jouji in Paradise Kiss).

The opening theme is Ouka Ninpouchou by Onmyoza. The same band who sang the opener for the first season. Still around? Okay, my bad. Anyway, I have this feeling that it tries to sound epic as the first season and also copy a bit of its style but somehow it doesn’t live up to that standard. Feels like another generic anime rock music. Also, Nana Mizuki who voiced Oboro and had a cameo here, sings the ending themes, Hot Blood and Suiren. Again, I still find them not as superior to Wild Eyes (still considered as my favourite song in this series) and Hime Murasaki. Hot Blood sounds like another generic rock music although Suiren fares slightly better with its dramatic style. Either way, both songs continue to portray the great vocals of Nana Mizuki and she’s still sounding fine after all these years.

Overall, at times I felt like wanting to obtain Kujaku’s time reversing power to go back in time so that I don’t have to watch this mediocre sequel that I am still reeling from disappointment. To be fair, it is not terrible but I expected better since it came from a well done nostalgic anime but failed to live up to it. But then again, I don’t need Kujaku’s power because in no time I will soon forget it when I watch more disappointing animes in the future! Haha! Is that a good sign? Okay, to be a bit more positive, I’m sure I will watch greater animes to erase this disappointment. It is a terrible shame that this sequel stained the greatness of the original but thanks to that, it only serves to cement even further how great the predecessor was. I really wanted to like this series seeing that I am not really a fan of period series but I guess it was not meant to be. Maybe Joujin was somewhat right along the lines of wanting to bring hell on Earth just to save mankind. Because hell I know that Hachirou and Hibiki couldn’t even f*ck each other to save their clan. Haha! Looks like we won’t toy with you Kouga and Iga guys ever again.

Kokkoku

October 21, 2018

I’m sure we have this fantasies of wanting to stop time and do whatever we want. Fortunately we can’t do that in real life otherwise time will never ever move forward with all of us busy stopping time trying to achieve our selfish goals. But Kokkoku isn’t an omnibus of mini stories put together about people stopping time and doing whatever they want and in the end reap what they deserve. Instead, a seemingly normal family discovers they have the ability to stop time and while it all seems nice and fun at first, there is also a dangerous cult who can do the same. They have to fight and survive their way through this stalled time while discovering other strange and bizarre secrets of this frozen world.

Episode 1
Juri Yukawa just failed another job interview. Her 19th one. She has a reason why she wants to leave her household. Her grandpa is old and retired, dad Takafumi is laid off and drinks in the day, brother Tsubasa is unemployed and is only interested in playing video games. Her sister Sanae is a single mom and perhaps the only ‘amazing’ one as she works to support her only son, Makoto. They don’t even know who his father is. But Makoto is the sole reason why Juri feels she has hope of this family. Sanae calls Juri to pick up Makoto from kindergarten. Because Tsubasa is being useless again, Takafumi thinks he needs some fresh air and go fetch his nephew instead. After Tsubasa picks Makoto up, suddenly they are kidnapped by ruffians. Soon Juri picks up a ransom call. 5 million in exchange for their lives. Don’t call the cops or they die now. Also, they’ll die if they don’t hand over the ransom at a certain building before a certain time. As the family panics on what to do, grandpa forces them to listen to him. He makes them put their hand on a weird stone as he cuts himself to drip blood into it. Suddenly time stops. After weird supernatural creatures absorb into them, they are able to move about. They head to the kidnapper’s hideout. Don’t worry. They have all the time in the world. Takafumi is in shock and wants a scientific explanation. Yeah, I don’t think our puny minds can understand it. But grandpa doesn’t know much about this world known as Stasis as it was passed down throughout his ancestry. However he cautions that there is a reason why one can’t use it very often. It seems people who do so will naturally give in to their desires like stealing or peeping. Until a point where they become devoured by this world. Grandpa doesn’t know what it means as he doesn’t intend to find out. Arriving at the place, they see the punks in the midst of roughing up their victims. Juri is mad and wants to rough them up. Grandpa notices some hideous creature forming behind her and tells her to prioritize rescuing their family members. As they leave, they are ambushed by a few guys who can move in Stasis. Apparently they have orders to kill everyone except grandpa. Grandpa tries to save Juri and uses his teleportation power but it only moves them a few feet away. Junji Sagawa notes that it is an ability only their bloodline can do and it makes him envious. When an underling threatens to kill Makoto if they keep teleporting away, that hideous bushy monster pops up behind him.

Episode 2
Flashback a few months ago, we see the Genuine Love Society (basically a cult) led by Shibata, telling his followers how they are going to change the world. But they need the master stone for that. Their great leader is Sagawa. Back in current time, the monster crushes that ruffians head! It then disappears. Gramps take Juri and run. He explains that monster is called Handler and is trying to protect people who can’t move in Stasis. There are some other rules too but grandpa isn’t clear about them. He heard people who fooled around too much in here end up as Handlers. Also, they can’t go back and get Tsubasa or Makoto since grandpa cannot teleport stalled people. Yes, he tried it before. Their only way is to redo the spell again. As a Stasis is like a film frame. They need time to flow again and then stop in a different Stasis to rescue the duo and hope those buggers aren’t there. But the problem now is Takafumi. They can’t abandon him and surely the Handler won’t protect those who are moving. Gramps’ plan is for Juri to go back and bring the stone here while he goes rescue Takafumi. We go back a little in time as after the monster killed the ruffian, some of his life force transferred to Tsubasa, enabling him to move. He played dumb by not moving. Shibata talks to Sagawa about the Herald (their term for the Handler). It seems Shibata is in a bind upon realizing they cannot kill stalled people in Stasis as this puts a damper on their plans. Sagawa has also talked to a new recruit about this, Shoko Majima. It seems she has been in this world before but that was like 17 years ago. Tsubasa finally moves when everyone is gone. Unaware of what is going on, he thinks Makoto is dead and carries him to the hospital. Grandpa sees Takafumi being taken by the henchmen to the cult’s base. He goes upstairs and sees a similar stone. When he sees a video when the family was using the stone’s power, he suddenly realizes their target is their stone and has sent Yuri on a ‘suicide mission’. How fast can grandpa run? Meanwhile Juri has returned but doesn’t see the stone. She is assaulted by several men who prepare to kill her as they have orders to vanish the Yukawa family without leaving a trace. I guess this means they can’t rape her and leave semen trails either.

Episode 3
Juri’s eyes turn white. No, she’s not dead. Suddenly she fights back and seems to purge her attackers. She manages to take the stone and run. As Majima witnessed this, she explains that the life force being purged is actually Spectres. Supposedly the supernatural spirits of Stasis. Merging with them allows you to move in this stalled time and when you are purged, you returned to being stalled. Majima knows this because she once had that power. With Shiomi arriving to check on things, Majima explains what happened so he has to go back to report it to Sagawa. Speaking of which, he is doing an experiment. He calls one of the hired subordinates to kill a traitor in their cult. He isn’t participating in this and is stalled. The moment he is about to kill him, the Herald pops up and kills him. Sagawa observes that once again the head is crushed, signalling the Herald might want to get rid of the killing intention from the brainwaves. Also, the Herald is smaller this time and it could mean it needs lots of energy to maintain its form and its uptime is limited. The Spectre in the dead killer pops out and goes into Makoto. Tsubasa is shocked he can now move. Tsubasa tries to play dumb at what is happening but the kid is smarter than him. Of course being a kid, he goes to play around with all the stalled things. Uncle has to chase after him and the fun stops when his back gave way. After Shiomi reports to Sagawa about Majima’s finding, Takafumi is brought to see him. He is told the stone in their possession belongs to them. As Takafumi only knew today he could enter Stasis, Sagawa offers to make a deal with him. Juri manages to reunite with grandpa who is apologetic for not thinking this through. However they are ambushed by more assailants. Oh boy. This teleport tag is going to take a while. Just when they manage to get away and breathe a little bit, a guy who is pretending as a stalled suddenly goes in for a quick stabs at Juri’s back.

Episode 4
Grandpa was fast in tackling that dude. Juri then purges his life force. She asks grandpa and believes she has come to Stasis before. Flashback shows they did. She was sad her dog was going to die of old age and she was willing to stay here forever. When grandpa wanted to bring her back, she struggled and almost purged him. He managed to cling on but realize he lost her. He frantically searched for her and managed to find her. It was at that point he realized Stasis was like hell. It was a good thing she forgot all this until now, eh? As they quarrel about the stone giving them problems, the ruffian return. They could only run so far and grandpa has no energy left. Juri is through running away (perhaps she can’t stand their sexist comments anymore). She purges them all! Badass! With grandpa’s help of teleporting behind the punk and restraining him, this purging combo works on all their pursuers. They return to get Makoto and Tsubasa but are shocked they aren’t there. Grandpa assures he only saw Takafumi being taken away. Juri examines the rope and it looks like Tsubasa freed himself. Examine the dead guy outside, she asks what happens to the Spectre when one dies here. Grandpa realizes it will slip out and perhaps it went into Tsubasa. Back to Majima’s side, they are waiting for orders from Sagawa and considering the possibility if Juri took the stone and run away, it’s over for them. As one of them is injured, he is of course short fused. Majima adds nobody can leave or enter Stasis without the stone. Like living here for eternity if they never get the stone? An argument ensues and that guy tries to kill a stalled. The Herald pops up and kills him! The Herald then crumbles into sand but does not disappear. Majima examines it and finds a human head inside it but not the one she is looking for. She explains this Herald has used up all its energy and won’t move anymore. Heralds were once humans but have transformed into inhabitants of Stasis. In the doctrine of the cult, there is supposed to be only one but there could be many. Majima sounds calm because she has witnessed a family member turned into one before.

Episode 5
Flashback shows Majima’s family also had that stone. It seems they caught up in the spell when grandpa activated it because at the same time Majima’s brother’s tears dropped inside it. The family are shocked to find themselves in the Stasis world. However because they are mentally weak, they soon turn into the Herald. Scared Majima was alone. She bumped into Juri. She too got freaked out and purged Majima before she turned into a Herald. Now, Majima’s ulterior motive is to test if Juri could really expel Spectres and hence using those guys to prove it. Her goal is to find her family who turned into the Herald and bring their bones back. Also, one must not lose the determination to live if you are to continue staying in this Stasis. Juri and grandpa teleport back to purge one of the guys before escaping. Majima and Sako are left as they search for the duo. Majima wants to talk to Juri but she’s not coming out. They give up and return to report to Sagawa on what happened. Because Majima points out there might be more than 1 Herald, Sagawa finds it interesting because it goes against the teachings of the cult. He wants to test it. He pretends to kill that stalled traitor and wants the rest to warn him if the Herald pops up. It’s hard at first but then a small Herald pops up. Shibata laughs at its size and abuses it. When he dares it by threatening to kill the stalled, suddenly it grabs his hand. Sagawa tells him to cut it off or be killed. When he does so, 2 more Herald pop up and decapitate him! Majima somewhat recognizes them as her family members since they are wearing familiar clothes. Meanwhile Juri and grandpa try to take Takafumi away. I know he is bait for the other henchmen to spring and attack them. But what are they waiting for? Because the family is like having enough time to argue and stuff. Once grandpa realizes they’re being tailed, he teleports the family away. Dang. They lost their chance. Sako prefers to follow Majima instead of those ruffians to keep his sanity. They decide to tail the Yukawa family in secret. Tsubasa and Makoto return home. But one of the ruffians tailed them home and reached there first. He hid the stalled bodies and the note Juri left them. When the time is right, he attacks and tries to stab Tsubasa who amazingly puts up a decent fight.

Episode 6
In the struggle, Tsubasa strangles and suffocates him to death. When it’s over, he realizes Makoto is not around. As he looks for him, the Spectre inside is threatening to leave. Luckily he stumbles into Juri and the old guys but at this point Tsubasa is in danger of turning into a Handler. Juri quickly purges him to prevent any further damage although he is now a stalled. Soon, they are confronted by Majima who claims they have Makoto. She blames them for all that has happened. To a point she even stalked Juri in front of her house? And something about she negotiating with the cult but won’t tell them her reasons. They are forced to cooperate as Majima explains her intentions. She wants to summon a Handler to retrieve her family. She will pretend to kill and before the Handler kills her, she wants Juri to purge it. But it is easier said than done since Majima has a hard time trying to ‘pretend’ to kill. However it appears in a flash when Takafumi does so. Thank goodness for grandpa’s teleportation or else he would have been done for. Juri leaps onto the Handler and tries to purge it but because it is huge, she needs many tries to reach into the deep core. All this while, grandpa’s teleportation serves as useful to save Takafumi’s life from the Handler’s smashing. In the end, Juri finally manages to purge the Handler and stop its violence. It seems the people inside the Handler are indeed Majima’s family. According to Majima, both sides acknowledged each other even if it was just for a split second.

Episode 7
Apparently Majima’s brother is still alive. But looking like a malnourished African kid. Soon after, the Spectre leaves his body. Majima makes arrangements so that when she leaves Stasis, she can bury her parents and bring her brother to hospital. Sako wants to team up with the Yukawa family as he feels he doesn’t want to be used anymore by the cult. Juri doesn’t trust him but grandpa at this moment prefers to gather allies. Sako says there are 7 members left in the cult including big boss Sagawa and Shiomi who is good at placing hidden cameras. Sagawa and Shiomi investigate Tsubasa’s body. Sagawa believes the Spectres are familiar with the Yukawa bloodline and hence drawn to them. He reveals his true intention of wanting to observe the world for a long time and hence a lifespan that spans thousands of times than normal humans. If this works out, he plans to install Shiomi as the next head of the cult. He agrees with Shiomi’s plan that if he becomes the head, he will seal Stasis forever. A cult member eavesdropped on them and believes Sagawa is going to betray them. Juri’s plan is to purge the remaining cult members, return to reality and destroy the stone to seal Stasis forever. Majima adds how the stone existed a long time ago but fell into obscurity. Only Sagawa realized it recently though she doesn’t know his real intentions. Takafumi seems to have a different thinking. He doesn’t think nor want Stasis to be sealed. Sako and Majima managed to lure a cult member to get some updates before Juri purges him. A couple of others are resting at the shrine. Noticing that somebody was here, they search the area and find the stone hiding in the tree. Sagawa continues explaining about the cult’s founder who went on to live for 500 years and wrote the scriptures. From what I understand, he became a Herald and Sagawa plans to follow that path. Turning into a Herald is just a process of that. When the cult member returns with the stone, he doesn’t hand it over. He questions Sagawa’s intentions. Sagawa reveals he wants to try extend his life using Spectres. If successful, his body will be a mummy for a while. He wants Shiomi to guard it as the cult’s head. Sagawa also forbids them from using Stasis during that period. The cult member is disappointed has strayed from the cult’s teachings and will make the doctrine come true himself. Sagawa is going to demonstrate what it’s like to be completely controlled by a Spectre as his life force starts seeping out.

Episode 8
It seems Sagawa is a hybrid of the Herald. He doesn’t turn into one and maintains his physical form, save for those bulging veins. Also, he is able to maintain his consciousness as he kills his cult members as prove he is doing it on his own will. The last surviving cult member he wants him to kill Tsubasa to see if Sagawa will have the urge to kill him. However Juri drops in to purge him before grandpa teleports away. Sagawa and Shiomi then retreat but take Tsubasa away. Majima believes it is a trap to lure them. Her plan is to negotiate with Shiomi and if he is on their side, everything else will be easy. Meanwhile Takafumi is watching Makoto. We see him slowly becoming rotten as he encourages Makoto to take the toy he wants without paying. Even the kid knows it is wrong! Shame on you! After pretending to pay, Takafumi thinks hard on how to convince grandpa to teach him how to use Stasis. Sagawa eats to replenish his energy. He grows big but is able to maintain his size. Just like a snake shedding its skin? There’s some explanation about controlling the Spectre thingy but I don’t understand. Sagawa senses somebody close so Shiomi goes to check and finds Majima. He knows about her intention to use Juri’s power to save her family. After confirming she was successful, he wants her to join them as it will be her best bet to stay alive. That’s the decision he came about to stay alive. He will bring Sagawa here. The others are waiting outside when they hear a commotion. Sagawa is attacking Majima. Man, is this like Hulk smash?! Majima is somewhat able to understand the laws of physics of Stasis, hence using some of its power to make it look like she could walk on objects in mid-air. When the other arrives, Shiomi attacks and slashes grandpa (but not fatal). Soon, Sagawa and Shiomi retreat. Juri finds Tsubasa and hides him while Majima treats grandpa’s wounds. They are unable to understand why Sagawa is doing this so when they return to find their stone, it is missing. Grandpa isn’t worried because even if they use it to leave, they can find it later. If they don’t, their goal to defeat them still remains. But Majima fears why they took grandpa’s blood. Because using one’s blood in the stone could also purge that person. Yup, looks like they’re doing it. Grandpa is starting to have this funny feeling…

Episode 9
Spectres are seeping out from grandpa. Juri tells him to imagine and teleport to the stone. When he does so, Juri smashes the stone and crushes its core. Things revert to normal in the Stasis. That is when Sagawa comes back in. But immediately he attacks Shiomi who saw this coming. Quickly he runs to Juri’s side and says he is switching sides. Grandpa teleports them out before Sagawa could smash them. With the stone destroyed, Sako is worried they cannot get out anymore but Juri still believes there is a way. You just have to be nice to her… They ask Shiomi about his intentions. He switched just to survive. After the stone is destroyed, he knew he would be of no use to Sagawa. He continues explaining Sagawa’s incredible sense of those around him but he could have a weakness and must watch what he eats or else the Spectre will eat him. As for Sagawa’s intention for all this, it is to become an immortal and observe not only mankind till the end but the entire universe! So that’s like becoming God? Hence he is going to become the only stalled person in the real world. While it might look silly, that is just a very short moment in Sagawa’s ‘time’. Juri thinks they have nothing to do with this if he wants to go to the future. However Shiomi warns that Sagawa intends to fight and will not let them go even if they truly won’t get in his way. For example, if a mosquito says it won’t bite you again, it will be easier to crush it than to believe it. Meanwhile one of the members killed by Sagawa turns into a Herald. Takafumi and Makoto return home and they see this. Oddly the Herald attacks Takafumi. I don’t think being a hero is going to do any good. However Makoto activates his power. He can order the Herald to stop. When the rest return and see this, they think Takafumi did this. This jerk claims the credit. But Juri knows better and wants him to prove it. So he orders the Herald to climb up there. Nothing happening. Suddenly it does. So does he really have the power? Actually it is Makoto silently using it to help uncle out. The rest think of using the Herald to combat Sagawa.

Episode 10
Takafumi thinks he can use this chance to greatly increase his reputation. The rest want to bring Makoto to somewhere safe but Takafumi argues it is his job to protect him. So he is going to fight as well as protect Makoto in the midst of battle? Suspicious… Since he won’t shut up, I guess they relent. As Shiomi advised, they have to act now as the more time they waste, Sagawa will use it to replenish his energy. They surround Sagawa and start their coordinated attack. Sagawa knows that a long drawn battle will be to his disadvantage as he will run out of energy. He could also sense Makoto as the one controlling the Herald and tries to target him. At this point the rest also discover that it is the kid who is controlling the beast. When Sagawa is pinned down, Sagawa tries to expend some energy to get out. He grows big but soon bursts into sand and becomes a shrivelled up old fart. Needing more energy, he eats the Herald. Still not enough, he runs away while the rest give chase. Although Juri and grandpa corner him, Sagawa offers to teach them how to control their consciousness and Spectres in addition of getting them out of Stasis without the stone. Juri believes he is only deceiving them. They then talk about Sagawa being a priest before. He claims he is not a madman but a normal person who can’t even go insane. So I guess we’re hearing his flashback now? Okay. He comes from a family of preachers based on a very old faith. Every week he would see his dad preaching the same thing to his followers. Like a stone pillar. He thought it is that invisible pillar that supports people and their morality that protect the world. He had a friend who was a child of a member as the only other kid he interacted outside school. One day when they head back home to get new amulets for new members, they caught their parents in the middle of sex.

Episode 11
Sagawa became disillusioned when he learnt everything was just for fun. His father died 5 years later and he was devastated. He wanted to leave the faith forever but his friend forbade him. Angry, he smashed the altar and saw the stone. That is when he became interested in Stasis and formed his cult to research on it. Sagawa views the normal world as nothing attractive but it is not the case for Juri. He wants her to return to her family. However Juri refuses to believe and tries to expel him. Sagawa can withstand it although very much weakened. Juri reasons that since he is devoted to his cause, he is not likely to leave everything to luck and hence this was just a distraction. Juri takes the cutter to kill him but grandpa doesn’t want her to dirty her hands. Since he too is hesitating, they argue. Until Takafumi barges in and stabs him with a sword! He tries to act tough and all but Sagawa turns into dust and his brains and lungs fly away?! Outside, he forms a cocoon and is believed to be regenerating. As there are threads all over the place, Takafumi tries to cut it down but realize too late the threads are so sharp this his own fingers are cut off! To avoid bleeding, Juri expels him. With Sagawa in this state, Shiomi suggests burying the dead and Juri has them promise never to hurt her family again. While resting, Juri tries to purge grandpa but he is quick enough to escape. Is this her way of saying goodbye? Instead, they treat Makoto nice for ‘one last time’ before Juri purges him (since he wanted to see mom so badly). As time passes, they realize Sagawa has extended his threads. He is also extracting nutrients from it. Majima who was watching Sagawa realizes she is trapped and cannot move. Shiomi experiments as he uses Juri’s power to destroy the threads. It’s their chance to destroy Sagawa once and for all. Thank goodness Sagawa is suspended low enough that a ladder could reach him. When Juri begins to purge him, she could see all his memories. She realizes he is the same as her but cannot worry about him s she has her own family problems. After she purges him, a foetus of Sagawa drops out. Grandpa slaps the baby’s buttocks as it cries its first breath of life.

Episode 12
Juri decides to take care of the baby? Shiomi worries his memories will reactivate but Majima explains about Spectres relying on genetics information to keep Sagawa alive so with him being reborn, there is no way his old memories will return. Juri adds that she saw his memories crumbling. So I guess that’s that. Now Juri has to send the rest back. Because Majima is being pessimistic, Juri slaps her first. Like that would give some positivism. She expels Majima, Shiomi and Sako. So now Juri and grandpa play house and take care of the baby? Yeah, they even have time to go have fun. Nothing is going to stop them. Eventually Juri purges grandpa in his sleep. He did say he wanted to go back but was waiting for the resolve to explain to the family. Juri had to do it now because they’re dragging their feet at this rate. Juri continues to take care of the baby and for almost 6 months, that is when she decides to purge him because at this point she is hesitating. Now all alone in Stasis, Juri has all the fun she needs without a care. Who is to stop her? Eventually boredom and depression set in so she takes a long walk. She tries not to think depressing thoughts until she stumbles into a strange Spectre. That is when she realizes she lost her reason to live in Stasis after purging the baby. She slowly transforms into a Handler and losing her consciousness. She is drawn to some light and when she touches it, she returns to normal. Although still in Stasis, she is shocked there is another blonde woman, Mariya (MAMIKO NOTO!!!!!!!!!!!!!) who can move. As explained, it seems Juri pulled her into this world. Mariya was born with a Spectre in her body and doesn’t age. Her husband was the one who created the stone. She often brought him into Stasis. Although many called him the Founder, she is in fact the true founder. Oh, he died back in 1880. Mariya wants to stay in this era a little longer and purges Juri. Time now resumes for Juri. Happy to be have time flowing? Well, now no money or handphone… Juri walks all the way back and upon reaching her doorstop, she sees grandpa waiting for her. He calls everyone as they are so happy to see her back. Juri too. Ending montage shows the Yukawa family doing decently well and Sagawa has grown up to be like Makoto’s age. He calls Juri his mom. This has got to be weird. Imagine a child who doesn’t know his real father. Unless of course, adopted.

One Moment In Time
So… That’s it? Damn, I must be sorely disappointed for expecting the final episode to make some big revelations or twists. But instead I have been left to ask a few questions like why didn’t Juri use the power to purge herself? Can she only do it to others? I mean, you just place your hand on the chest and bam! Purged. And then having this Mariya lady showing up last minute didn’t help either. Sure, it sounds intriguing especially about her past but somehow I feel that it is just a plot convenience so that Juri get return to her normal time and reunite with her family. Remember, Mariya could enter Stasis like as easy as breathing so she’ll be able to go in and out any time. At least that’s what I think. But thank goodness for casting Mamiko Noto as Mariya otherwise it would have really been a downer. So what ever happened to the rest of the cult and ruffians? Although some of them did die but for the rest who got purged, don’t you think they would go after the Yukawa family? Don’t tell me they lose their memories after being purged because that doesn’t quite cut it. Or maybe nobody is going to pay them even if they got the job done. Or maybe they got scared after experiencing Stasis and decide to return to repent, lead a normal live and never speak of it again. Like this anime. Haha!

Although generally the concept and setting of Stasis looks interesting and intriguing at first, but the more I see how it tries to flesh out the story and pacing of the series as a whole, it felt like it was getting harder to justify how to end things. Like as though it was trying its best to keep up and maintain its intrigue but with nothing really going for it, it’s like doing whatever it needs to keep going until they could somehow properly end it. Because you see, the plot is just so paper thin that there is almost hardly any. A family down on their luck suddenly discovers a hidden ability that supposedly runs in the family. A cult who somewhat wants to take them out. Their cult leader has an ulterior motive. The entire series feels like a horror survivor movie with Juri using her power to take out the baddies one by one until a few survivors left against the big boss. I guess that’s where your ‘action’ mostly comes from other than seeing the Herald crushing punks’ head to death.

Hence it is never sufficiently explained about the world of Stasis. From what we hear are just mostly ‘guesses’ and ‘observations’ of those who supposedly entered and returned. How the stone ended up in the respective sides are not explained but it is not as important as to why the Yukawa family possesses such unique powers in the Stasis. Why is it that grandpa has teleportation power while Juri possesses the purging power and Makoto too had some Herald controlling ability? It would have been a little bit better had they give up some insights but thinking about it, it might have been a bore since looking at how the way things have gone, it might not have played a significant factor. They just the power because of being passed down by the family thingy whatever. Like as though the family is given such powers to spice up the pace of this series and to give them a fighting chance against the cult who has numerous members as well as additional hands they have hired just to take them out.

Another mind boggling thing that bugged me was when Juri started hanging out all by herself in Stasis. She did eat some food and used up some resources in the real world. So when time resumed, don’t you think all those foods and drinks would suddenly vanish from the perception of normal people? Yeah, the grocery guy just stacked the entire shelf with fresh buns and breads. And then the next second, they’re all gone! I can imagine that all the resources consumed happened so fast just in that moment so it looked like it ‘disappeared’ in a blink of an eye to normal people (because they wouldn’t even know time had stopped). So what I am saying is, if Juri remained in Stasis forever and continued to consume the resources, wouldn’t the world suddenly just ‘die’ when those resources are out? One moment in normal life, things are going well. Suddenly the next second all the foods and drinks are gone! Oh no! See what I mean here? It would have been nice to see some of the people’s reaction in this anime to find such stuffs suddenly missing. The biggest unexplained mystery in human history when things just go missing without a trace. Because of the Spectres inhabiting one’s body, time flows normally. So does this mean Juri will age and die in Stasis? If that’s the case, I wonder how Sagawa was going to become God and observe all of time and everything. I also have to ask and wonder how people in Stasis go take a dump… They’re coming out and then it stops halfway out of your body. Can’t imagine this disgusting thing…

I am not technically wrong when I say that this series could be one draggy series because heck, more than 98% of the series takes placed when time is stalled! Only the first and last episode do we see that time is actually moving. Uh huh. Technically all the episodes in between are like the frames that happened in that single moment in time. As I have said that the plot is paper thin, hence a dozen episodes feel like a long time to flesh things out. Thus the reason why I said this series is draggy. Although I am not bored with this sluggish pace because some of the mysteries kept me intrigued, the way they unfold the mysteries bit by bit seems a bit too slow. Okay, I don’t really want everything to be revealed in one episode and then for the rest of the episode have no mystery and intrigue to look forward to. But sometimes I can’t help of wanting to scream out to move on to the next thing. Get it over with. However it is once again silly of me to wish things would move at a quicker pace since time is stalled and there is no incentive for these characters to quickly do things. Literally they have all the time in the world.

I can’t say the main characters are general interesting because take for instance the Yukawa family, they’re just a really normal family trying their best to make ends meet in the normal world. Juri tries to play the responsible family member because the guys are just useless or they are just too old or young to be relied on. I suppose as the only female in her family in Stasis, she has this obligated sense of duty to protect her family. Of course she also has the most useful and dangerous power among them so it makes sense she wants to use it wisely and efficiently. But other than that, she’s pretty normal. She looks badass just because she has no pity for the bad guys but then again if anybody threatens your family like that, you’re not going to show mercy to any of them.

Since Makoto is just a young kid and too young to understand what is going on, I figure he is perhaps the only character who is seen having fun. It is like he is oblivious to why all the people stopped moving and just goes around having fun in his own way. This kid isn’t scared of seeing the Herald and even hopes to ride it! I don’t think this is an amusement park. But his innocence brings a fresh air and hope than the other characters who are just too caught up in the moment (literally) trying to figure and stop things. Also a much better character than Takafumi who looks like he is going to walk down the dark side and my thoughts that he would become the final antagonist after Sagawa’s defeat but alas, looks like nobody in the Yukawa family is going down the rotten road yet. But even if you put yourself in Takafumi’s shoes, could you blame him entirely for wanting to use Stasis to his advantage? Why is it that some people are successful and some are not? If you have that chance to turn the fortune tables, would you do it? Questionable but hardly surprising for Takafumi who is already at the bottom of his life. Well, just don’t get caught.

I feel that having Majima in the mix is just to provide a little distraction and side plot. Otherwise the story would have proceeded the same without her albeit a little bit faster. She is a reason why I said the series was draggy because of her subplot to find her lost family. So when they are conveniently found and rescued, it felt like no big of a deal. She could finally find peace for her family and put an end to her long search. Otherwise, it doesn’t hurt to have another hot badass chick to hog the spotlight and fight alongside Juri. I figured they needed that Shiomi character because aside from him being the only handsome dude around, it is just for that minor plughole to explain how somebody could plant hidden cameras and spy on the Yukawa family. Also, we need somebody with that brains calibre to fight Sagawa and Shiomi looks and sounds like the man for that role.

Sagawa as the main antagonist is hardly surprising but in the end turns out into a disappointing character. He has this typical cliché looks of a main villain and initially what makes him dangerous as the cult’s leader is his calm and crafty manner. Probably his training from his religious days has him not show much of an emotion and this makes him a force to be reckon with. He is able to think calmly and perhaps stay on par with the Yukawa family. Sure, he too has his own issues but it doesn’t seem to be such of a big deal that you would want to take pity on him. But maybe when you’re in a religious cult, everything is so ‘straightforward’ like that and when the slightest deviation, you become disappointed. But still, it feels like a big gap on why he wants to become God and observe everything till the end of time. Even if he manages to become one, I am wondering if he would be able to remember them all. After all, his body and life might have transcend the normal observable time and life but his brain might not. So is he going to like walk everywhere, watch everything and remember everything? Heck, I can’t even remember what I ate this morning! Even if he is able to transcend into a higher being, will he still be himself with his own will and conscious? It looked like so but that is only because I believe that isn’t his final form and was just in a transitioning form.

This brings me to the Heralds themselves. They are supposed to be the biggest mystery and horror factor that the series has to offer but when the truth about them is somewhat revealed (even if they are just ‘intelligent guesses’), it somewhat felt like a downer. I know, blame myself for having such high hopes of these creatures when it first appeared. Probably that first Herald skyrocketed my expectations. So if the Heralds roam freely in stalled time, but this also means that they have to be present in other stalled times, right? So they’re like able to ‘teleport’ from one stalled time to another, right? Because with Sagawa almost turning into one, everyone assumed that there are no more Heralds in Stasis. Does that mean when there are no more of those creatures, whoever enters Stasis are free to kill any stalled people without consequences? Like I said, lots of things are not put together nicely and since they are quite loose, the more you think about it, the more your brain hurts. That’s why I stopped questioning them all.

The art and animation are pretty standard. One might think that animating this anime is easy because 95% of the series takes place in Stasis and hence everything else in the backdrop is static and need not be animated. Sure, it is slightly easier but no different than most other animes as well. Because all those other animes too don’t necessarily animate all in the background all the time. We are just ‘distracted’ to not focus too much on it. The other anime that I can think of that animates the characters and those in the foreground but the background is left like a wallpaper or backdrop is Mahou Tsukai Ni Taisetsu Na Koto: Natsu No Sora. Yeah, that’s a pretty old anime series. But that show wasn’t about stalled time so watching that series was weird.

One thing I want to note about Sagawa when he partially turned into a Herald, somehow I started thinking if the form he took on was inspired by a combination of The Hulk and Groot. If those 2 had a love child together, this is what they get! No kidding. The design of the Heralds are supposed to be creepy. Maybe at first but with the bushy like branches sticking out of their head, I sometimes can’t help think and wonder if this is their afro hairstyle! Oh no! Now I can’t stop seeing them in this light! Want to become a Herald? Hope you like the bushy afro-like hairstyle. This series is animated by a relatively new studio, Geno Studio whose only other works I have watched is Golden Kamuy.

One of the weirdest moments in the series has got to be the opening and ending themes. Flashback by Miyavi vs Kenken feels so out of place that it definitely doesn’t fit this series in any way that no one would see it coming. But the song itself isn’t that bad. Just weird. It is filled with wild frantic techno hip hop and funky bass lines that it is more suitable for a rave dance party. Making it sounding weirder is the background vocals going, “Aaah, aaah~” in some of the lines. If you hear the original full song of this, this ‘chorus’ starts repeating itself from 2/3 of the song right till the end! Be careful, you might get hypnotic at the end… The ending theme, Asayake To Nettaigyo by Boku No Lyric No Bouyomi is also weird. Sung in a very drowsy and sleepy voice, this is actually a calming peace despite its rap-like lines. A song that is good to listen when you wake up on nice mornings. But for the ending credits animation, is it sexy time?! Because we see Juri and Majima in their sexy undies in some scenes and they are drawn up to a very cute and sexy look. The series lacks fanservice so is this where they can freely sexualize our lovely ladies? Mmm, me approve!

Overall, at first looks this is quite an interesting series. However it fails to captivate in the end and making it more disappointing is its inability to properly finish and answer all the burning questions. What is the point of making the mystery even more mysterious and leave viewers scratching their heads instead of some mind provoking thoughts? The concept of moving within a stalled time and how each and every time if stopped is like a movie frame is also quite interesting but again it fails to capitalize on that as it soon became a ‘low budget’ horror survival series. The potentials of this series somewhat feels like the Herald crumbling into dust and vanishing forever, leaving a pile of unwanted sand. Yeah, that greatly sums it up. Can we move on and leave this series behind in Stasis forever? In the end, even if we all cannot stop time and do sneaky stuffs like peeking up a girl’s skirt (you mean this thought never cross your mind as a man or woman?!), but take heart that we are all time travellers. One second at a time.

Hmm… I guess with the recent popularity and success of online multiplayer battle royale games like PUBG and Fortnite that took the gaming world by storm, I began to wonder if this was Japan’s answer to that (seeing shooting games are not that popular in Japan). Hence it was a bit suspicious when they decided to use and go under the Sword Art Online’s name and franchise. Yeah, they had that gun shooting Gun Gale Online (GGO) variety too but now they totally made it into a shooting spinoff of its own, Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online. However don’t expect to see the usual Kirito-sama and Asuna-chan here. Totally a new bunch of characters and story in this spinoff but in the same universe of SAO, or more accurately GGO. So if PUBG is too dead serious while Fortnite is too cartoonish for you, perhaps watching kawaii little anime girls run and shoot around should be more ideal for you. I guess we’re getting tired of magical girls already…

Episode 1
LLENN and M get ready to enter the battle royale of Squad Jam (SJ). Both are randomly dropped in the forest area of the map. Though this might give them disadvantage, we hear M’s strategy in dealing with the situation. They hear gunshots near the city area and M can identify the kind of guns used. He lets LLENN be the bait to identify some of their current enemies before them. They start firing at her but thanks to her petite size, she is able to hide from the hail of bullets. M is waiting for the right moment for other teams to sniff out those enemies and take them out. True enough, it happened. M guesses that the way these pros fight, they could be veterans or part of the army. They could be using this game to train and test their skills. LLENN considers herself a lucky girl so M is going to bet on that luck. As that gunfire would have attracted other teams, he plans to hide in the central residential area than the edge of the forest. They will use 3 other teams to buy them some time as LLENN sprints across. During this period, all other 3 teams got eliminated by the pros. At this point, many teams are already eliminated and those remaining continue to stay put in a futile standoff that might never end. M has a strategy to take out the pros and this would rely heavily on LLENN’s agility. The pros are trying to smoke out the duo. Based on the tracker, they should be ahead of them but no target in visual sight. Could they be under the sewer? But no manhole either. As they slowly look around, they realize too late that LLENN is hiding in the suitcase. She jumps out in perfect timing to shoot most of them. Thanks to her quick speed, she is able to not give them enough time to aim. With most the team members out, the team leader is satisfied with the training exercise and resigns. This entire match and epic victory is watched by the awed friends of Karen Kohiruimaki.

Episode 2
Karen is a very tall girl and because of her height, she believes this is the reason she hasn’t made any new friends since moving to Tokyo. That’s why she loves things small and cute. She heard about that VR scandal involving NerveGear and despite that, that was when she became interested in trying out VR games. With the help of her nerdy friend, Miyu Shinohara she tries out ALO first. I don’t know why you aren’t allowed customization of your characters since it is a basic in games today. Anyway, Karen’s avatars are tall ones. The shock and increased heart rate has her being ejected from the game. She tries various games but all the same tall types. Finally after the 37th game, she has got a cute and small little girl avatar in GGO. Ecstatic with her desired looks, she takes an online tutorial to learn more about handling guns. Hey, if training isn’t this Spartan, it would have given you a false impression of how tough this game is going to be, right? LLENN starts small by hunting monsters and levels up slowly. She finds a hunting ground she likes since other players rarely converge here. But one day a human team decides to enter her playground. Fearing they would kill her, she decides to strike and kills them first! With that agility, they don’t even know what hit them! Soon, LLENN becomes a legend as rumour spreads about a little pink munchkin sneaking up and killing you suddenly. LLENN meets her match in Pitohui AKA Pito. She is only interested to know LLENN’s identity after hearing the rumours. They soon become friends as LLENN often hang out with her and hear her stories and advices. She even takes LLENN shopping to buy a mini submachine gun that suits her size and style. She names it P-chan and is told to rack up more kills with it because a gun will never betray you. They both team up for missions. Pito believes they will have to fight each other one day and suggests should she win, they will meet in real life. Soon SJ is introduced.

Episode 3
Pito once participated in BoB but lost in one of the early rounds. SJ came about when some Japanese guy watching BoB got inspired to make a team battle royale out of it. With Zaskar approving, he became SJ’s sponsor. LLENN has low self-confidence, thinking she wouldn’t fit in PvP games. Pito knows LLENN is here to escape reality. Pito is the same. That’s why they should go all out to the extreme here. With some basic explanations on SJ, it seems Pito cannot join LLENN in SJ since she has to attend her friend’s wedding. She’ll die in real life if her friend found out she went playing a game instead of attending her wedding! Don’t worry, Pito has the perfect guy to cover for her. It’s awkward at first when LLENN meets this criminal-looking M. To test her proficiency, he has her undergo several shooting tests. He notes the kind of guns suitable for her and himself and will be the one in charge of creating strategies. Karen writes a fan letter to a pop idol, Elsa Kanzaki. She talks about her tall complex and recent problems, even to her LLENN avatar. Uhm, is this what you’re supposed to write to your idol? Oh well, her songs are what she listens to when she fights in the virtual battlefield. Her hope is to change herself and also request holding her next concert in a larger venue. Before SJ begins, M teaches LLENN how to efficiently use knives and kill off her opponents. It seems the reason LLENN is here in SJ is because she couldn’t get a ticket to Elsa’s concert. With that kind of letter that sounded like a nerdy lunatic, maybe that’s the reason.

Episode 4
Continuing from LLENN and M’s victory over the pros, there are 3 teams left. But one team seems closing in fast on them as M realizes they have got a vehicle. A hovercraft. M uses his shield barrier and has LLENN be the bait. Drop and roll over whenever she is targeted. In the end, M snipes all of them except for the last one he bombs him out and lets LLENN overkill him by spraying bullets. LLENN wonders how M could shoot without any bullet line assistance. She remembers Pito’s guidance how in games, such assistances makes the game easier for players to go in and have fun. It won’t be fun if it’s all realistic. However with this, player’s skill will get rusty as they rely on the assistances too much. Hence M has some real skills in using a gun without relying on them. With one more team left for them to defeat to win SJ, the next scan suddenly reveals them to be very close. Before they can react, LLENN takes a hit (but not lethal) and M gets injured too while taking LLENN to run. They manage to escape in a hovercraft. As they heal and use medkits, they talk about their remaining opponent being pros at sniping and hiding. He claims LLENN to really be a lucky girl since she didn’t die from that shot. They head to shore and make the next hill as their sniping base. M is supposed to read a certain letter at a certain time. That time is now. As LLENN stays on guard, suddenly M points his gun at her! What gives?! He fires but thanks to her agility and his limited rounds, she has him at point blank. Now she demands answers. If he cannot say, she’ll go on by herself. Suddenly M stars crying like a baby and begging for his life! Shocking…

Episode 5
It seems M will be killed in real life by Pito if he loses! You don’t know how scary that woman is. Well, the letter did warn him about losing or he is dead meat. So she wasn’t speaking figuratively? LLENN tells him to hide and she’ll go on by herself. LLENN stumbles into one of the enemies and her agility once more plays a crucial hand in evading bullets and even eliminating her. The rest of the members go all out to avenge their comrade’s death. LLENN remembers Pito’s lessons about not firing randomly to give away your location. So she thought the enemy is doing so but realizes too late when she takes a great damage as it was just a decoy to lure her out. More running and hiding until she realizes what is she going to achieve by running away. All her kills have been up close and personal. Suddenly P-chan talks to motivate her! Is she going crazy?! Anyway, LLENN confronts the enemy but this time putting a little mischief in her play. Although she has a tough time, thankfully M has decided to come back to the game and help her via sniping. LLENN confronts the enemy leader, Eva AKA Boss. LLENN must be so lucky that several shots to her chest cannot kill her despite being pinned down! Oh, something in her pocket. LLENN’s head moves faster than her bullets?! Out of bullets. Her comrade throws her a chamber before being taken out by M. Unbelievable timing of reloading her gun while the chamber is still in the air… Boss fires away but LLENN STILL LIVES!!! Apparently P-chan became her shield. LLENN is so mad that P-chan is destroyed she is faster and deadlier in her angry state! She whips out her knife and slashes Boss’ vitals! M takes out the final sniper and lives. Yeah, LLENN and M win SJ!!! In the aftermath if you’re wondering why Karen is meeting up with petite Saki Nitobe and her group of equally petite rhythm gymnastic club members, it is because Saki is Boss! Damn, she was that bloodthirsty violent Amazon woman? Indeed still waters run deep…

Episode 6
LLENN finally buys her P-chan replacement. Karen entertains Saki and her friends who are here to celebrate her SJ victory. We see their avatars and damn they look so different than their real life counterpart. The girls hope they can train together but it seems Karen has other plans, disappointing the lolis. That plan is to go karaoke with Miyu? There is an announcement that there will be another Squad Jam, SJ2. There are some tweaks to the rules so those interested can register before the deadline. A strange suddenly creeps up to Karen. He is Goushi Asougi and knows she is LLENN. She is forced to listen to his story otherwise 2 people will die! This guy is of course M and he wants her help to participate in SJ2 or people will die. One of them is him and the other is Pito. Apparently Pito is obsessed with death and if she doesn’t win, she will commit suicide! Oh, Goushi will die first, then she’ll kill herself. She was one of the beta players for SAO. During that scandal where players got locked in and some died, Pito was away doing other things. She regretted she couldn’t join in that ‘fun’. She also heard of PK players and also lament that had she been in that game, she would have kicked their asses serving justice or be killed by them. Goushi doesn’t report this madness to the police because he respects her decision. Also, he is in love with her. Yes, this guy is also that twisted. So twisted that he is not afraid of dying after Pito but before her since he is afraid of leaving her alone. He hopes Karen can face her and kill her without mercy so she doesn’t have to commit suicide (and spare him too). Karen agrees to participate after remembering some of Pito’s words. But Goushi won’t help her since that would be like cheating? Hence Karen enlists the help of her friend, Miyu.

Episode 7
Miyu’s avatar is also a cute loli! She goes by the name Fukaziroh or Fuka for short. Because M previously agreed to lend some financial support, Fuka goes on a gun buying spree. She buys the most expensive and powerful grenade guns. Two of them! Wow, she really thinks she has a sugar daddy. She practises with it to get a feel of them. The duo register as a team, LF. It sounds like a big deal that they have registered because Saki and co cannot wait to get their revenge. We hear among the new rules include the scan will now display the team’s name, making it easier to know which team is where. Hence LF has got to look out for PM4, Pito and M’s team. LLENN’s strategy is to fight them first before focusing on SHINC (Saki’s team). On the day of SJ2, Miyu has a bad case of stomach ache and hence the nerve wrecking wait for LLENN as she waits for her to finish her business. It is amazing Miyu could update so fast. Can she wipe her ass with one hand and text about it at the same time? Yeah, that’s really an awesome skill. Meanwhile in the waiting lounge, SHINC and Memento Mori (MMTM) are the favourite teams. Both sides exchange ‘pleasantries’. Also the team to watch is PM4. The leader of MMTM once teamed up with Pito and although she is a strong woman, she doesn’t views her comrades as comrades. She uses them as shields and laughs at their deaths, even her own. He cannot deal with anyone with a death wish and left. He believes her name is taken from a poisonous bird found only in New Guinea. So lethal its poison that a mere touch from it could kill a human. Like all heroes making their late entrance, the crowd cheers when LF enters. Looks like Miyu did her business in time. Everyone prepares to be teleported to the battlefield. Don’t overthink. Just kill!

Episode 8
With the first scan, it looks like all the favourite teams are placed far apart from each other. I guess there’s an excuse to go do some killing in between. Fuka got careless and stepped on a wire trap and blew both her legs off! She survives, though. LLENN shows why she is a champion of the first SJ by singlehandedly massacring the entire team! Meanwhile PM4 continues to not engage and wait around. As M is the leader, this is part of his plan and not engage in meaningless skirmishes. For the next ambush, Fuka wants to try using her grenades via angle attacks. She has practised a hell lot and can do so with her eyes close. All she needs is LLENN to relay accurate info of the enemies’ whereabouts. Once more we see LF as the top favourite team as Fuka bombs the hell out of her hapless opponents who can’t even see where their enemies are. In the next scan, PM4 is still camping. However a group of teams have gathered near them. It is easily deduced that these teams have agreed a ceasefire and to band together to take out PM4. No surprises to guess how the massacre is going to turn out. But LLENN rushes her way there. I guess nobody gets to kill Pito except her.

Episode 9
M hides behind a waterfall as a distraction for the enemy to take pot shots at him. Because they’re so busy doing that, they didn’t realize Pito ambushing them from the back with the rest of PM4 backing her up. Yeah, she massacred the hell out of them! She even toyed around with the last couple of guys. When they ask if she enjoyed tormenting the defenceless like them, she throws it back to them if they enjoyed ganging up on a few. And yes, she enjoys it and would do it to if she was in their shoes. Then she bombs the hell out of them! As for the leaders of the group, Pito snipes them from afar. They have no time to react! Could have been perfect if not for the last dude quickly resigning. Now we shift to LF. They are in the savannah dome and notice 3 other teams are in. They thought they are fighting each other but LLENN from experience can tell something is strange from their gunshots. She knows it is a distraction and all those teams are cooperating to take them out. With Fuka shooting pink smokescreen, LLENN is able to run around and shoot everybody! How can she see? Everyone is using the bullet line. Then there’s a guy who stumbled into Fuka but Fuka unloads all her bullets on him. Guess what? SHE MISSED!!! HOW THE F*CK CAN SHE MISS AT THIS RANGE???!!! Because we see his rape face, Fuka bludgeons him to death with her rifle! ALO experience? The duo do a body count and realize a body short. They smoke out a guy, Clarence who is trying to play dead. He surrenders but the girls continue to be vigilant. He did try to pull a fast one by reaching his gun but LLENN is faster to shoot a hole in his hand. Because he is a sick lolicon, Fuka would have blown his brains out but LLENN is running low on ammo so she wants him to unload all his magazines. He agrees but in exchange wants a kiss from LLENN. A small price to pay for their survival and victory? LLENN sums up her courage and gives him a peck on the cheek. But hey, she’s got all his ammo. He goes on to reveal that he is actually a girl in real life and is a bi. Uhm, I don’t think we want to hear such stories. Suddenly they are ambushed. Too much time talking, huh? Clarence is shot dead and LLENN realizes it is team MMTM.

Episode 10
Thanks to SHINC interfering, MMTM withdraws. It’s not like Boss is helping LLENN but she viewed it as a good opportunity to take out MMTM. Boss wants to square off with LLENN but it looks like she needs to attend to business. Boss wants to hear the story. Meanwhile, a team tries to team up with PM4 but Pito rejects. As they part, Pito breaks the promise of not shooting each other till the next scan by shooting them in the back. The team is annihilated, leaving only the lone female to run for her life. She vows to exterminate that vermin. SHINC is inching closer to PM4 as M prepares to fire at them. When they enter their firing range, SHINC is able to dodge their bullets. Part of the strategy is for one of SHINC’s members to die on purpose so that she could become a pedestal for another member to fire her powerful anti-tank gun! OMG! M’s shield is destroyed in no time! Thanks to this method, M is more vulnerable although his sniping is still tops. As SHINC charges, looks like it’s time. Flashback shows Boss discussing with LLENN about their pincher attack. SHINC will be the bait to distract and take out M’s shields. Fuka then fires her smokescreen so that LLENN could rush in to pincher them. However LLENN spots somebody sniping at Pito. It’s that lone female survivor. She hit a direct shot in her head before LLENN sprayed bullets into her. Pito is on the verge of dying as M desperately tries to save her. The more damage she takes, the more insane Pito becomes. It’s like she loves the idea of dying but is too scared to die. Eventually she survives. Like 0.0001% of her health. She is so crazy that she passes out. However her avatar doesn’t log out and this has the rest suspect she is using NerveGear. As PM4 retreat into the cabin, LLENN is unsure what to do. But since she has to decide, she remembers her mission. Everybody go in for the kill! Except for Pito. That’s her kill. Too bad MMTM arrive into the cabin first. While the other PM4 members sacrifice their lives in vain to stop MMTM’s onslaught, does M have time to even kiss Sleeping Beauty Pito?! Finally MMTM is just a room away when they are all shot and killed. Yeah, Pito is back and she is wielding a lightsaber?!

Episode 11
Pito mercilessly slaughters what’s left of MMTM. So LLENN, are you glad now that MMTM became guinea pigs and died so you could so how crazy this woman is? Now that she is hesitating and thinking of a plan to kill her, SHINC won’t wait and charges straight. Fuka also has the same idea. LLENN would have stopped her had not Fuka tied her laces to her gun! I know this is silly but SHINC taking pot shots at the cabin seems futile because ultimately M snipes them all out. Pito doesn’t kill Fuka and just shoots off her limbs in order to lure out LLENN but the pipsqueak isn’t coming out. So when LLENN has untied herself and decides to not do anything but vow to somehow kill Pito, she comes out of her hiding. But wait. LLENN is running away! And so Pito and M drive a vehicle to chase after her. LLENN uses her petite size to her advantage like ducking under the vehicle and even jumping over to spray bullets from the top (although amazingly she missed them all). It makes those crazy duo look like imbeciles. When LLENN takes a near fatal shot, she seems like about to quit but here comes Fuka to the rescue. I guess that is what happens when you don’t take somebody out. Enough time to recover. And so begins a mad vehicle chase with both sides trying to outdo each other. Eventually when both vehicles run out of gas, it is showdown between LLENN and Pito. Run out of bullets? Time for close quarter combat.

Episode 12
When LLENN badmouths SAO, this riles up Pito. This allows LLENN to get up close and do some damage although Pito fights back. Pito picks up P-chan and readies to kill her with it. However LLENN hears P-chan’s voice to believe and guess what? The moment Pito pulls the trigger, P-chan explodes! WTF?! Does her gun have this feature? Pito still has enough energy to grab LLENN, though. M has captured Fuka. Why didn’t he just shoot her? So Pito tells him to hand over his gun. Gonna shoot Fuka? Nope. She shoots him! She calls him a traitor and knows he has been secretly helping these girls and eliminated SHINC to let them be the only ones left. Any last words? I love you. She knows but you can’t bring love into this game. Bang! Right between the eyes. As Pito starts singing, Fuka frees herself and charges straight. Pito thought of using LLENN as a shield but Fuka cuts off LLENN’s hands. In shock, LLENN then bites Pito’s neck! Wow. This feature is also available?! So they reconcile and remember their fulfilled promise. LLENN bites her to death. Yeah, it’s really possible. Before you can say LF wins SJ2, suddenly both of them are shot to death! Ah, I see that’s why previously they reminded us there was another team left. But who the heck are these cyborg guys?! Team T-S?! Total Savage? This Sucks? The Sh*t? Who the f*ck are they?! Oh well, I guess this takes the focus off our heroines so they could tie up some loose strings.

In reality, Saki and her friends give Karen a necklace as a birthday gift. Perhaps it’s also to celebrate what a great game they had. Next, Karen and Miyu meet up with Goushi as he brings them to a secret live concert of Elsa. On the way, he lets them know how he fell in love with Pito. He shows his old photo. Damn, he’s a fat guy! He saw the real Pito and fell in love with her at first sight. He followed her around. Basically, a stalker. One day she turned around and invited him to her apartment. Dream come true? Actually, she tied and beat him up! She knew about his stalking and she was also a violent sadist who loves destroying things. If he doesn’t want to be handed to the police, he became her servant. He did all her whims and fancies and loved it. Karen realizes M stands for masochist. Also, because he is her slave, he lost weight. Yeah, not because he wanted to be attractive to her. They live their own happily twisted life until the day SAO launched. Pito felt frustrated on missing out on that ‘death game’ and sought a variety of games to die. They finally arrive at a mini club to watch Elsa perform. They are allowed to meet her at the backstage. At first it seemed that the club owner, Rei Satou is Pito. But Karen goes up to Elsa and congratulates. Not for her performance on stage but in SJ2! Elsa is Pito! Elsa laughs like mad and wants to know how she knew. She explains about Goushi bringing them here right when her concert starts so as not to expose this ruse. Also, having Rei stand in as Pito would be amusing for Elsa to watch. Another reason is that when M first met LLENN, he knew her very well. The only person who knew about it is Elsa as she wrote it in her fan letters. Elsa might not have read them but Goushi did. With the revelation exposed, Karen hugs Elsa and is glad she didn’t die. Payback time because Elsa takes a look at Karen’s face and finds her cute. So? She kisses her on the lips!!! And then on the cheek! Now she wants to come visit her place. Better get out while you can. LLENN and Pito continue to play GGO as Pito assures she won’t pull such stunt again and will enjoy life.

Trigger Happy Havoc
So I guess we’re done having our side dish, huh? Because now we can go on to watch the third season of SAO!!!! But let’s not get ahead for ourselves yet. So uhm, I guess I’m glad that all the deaths that happened were only confined to the game. Nobody died in real life and thus stirring up another hornet’s nest of another tragedy like SAO. Therefore the moral of the story is that it is better to be alive because you can then log on to your online games like GGO and die as many times you want. Better to die in games than in real life. Because hey, it’s just a game. But dying too many times online, you might want to start contemplating if you really suck. But for our main girls who aren’t even hardcore online gamers especially in the battle royale shooting category, they’re really killing it. Good for them.

While the gun fights are rather okay (more on that later), thanks to that, I find that the plot is somewhat close to non-existent. I mean, what kind of plot do you need for an online game? You play a game just to have fun, right? Hence with LLENN being a newbie in this shooting game, the first half concentrates on her being a rising star while the second half’s plot of trying to save Pito from suicide feels ridiculous and bizarre. It felt like a strange way to serve as a motivation for LLENN to somewhat ‘rescue’ Pito. A strange way for Pito to be ‘saved’ and find ‘salvation’ if she gets ‘killed’ by LLENN. Sounds like nonsense to me. Sure, the thrill of life and death may be something that Pito is looking for but even if they didn’t incorporate this into the plot, the story will work out fine. Because I bet that viewers who watched the series will not think much about why LLENN or any other players in SJ would be fighting so hard to win. I mean, the whole goal of the game is to be the last one standing and win the damn thing, right?!

That is why we don’t really question LLENN why and what the heck she is doing all this for because essentially this is just a game and the ultimate goal of SJ or SJ2 or whatever other events in GGO or other online multiplayer battle royale is to be the last one left standing. That’s it. No complicated plot needed. That’s why in a way this spinoff feels a lot lacking in this department and that you are just watching an anime version of a shooting game instead of watching it on Twitch. To say it brings down the name and reputation of the SAO franchise isn’t accurate either since this spinoff can actually stand on its own without being compared to any of the original SAO elements. Then you might ask why not create a new world with new themes and terms instead of relying on GGO. Sure, some terms can be slightly tweaked to make it look different but then we’ll eventually see some sort of familiarity and blame it was trying to copy GGO. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

As for the gunfights, well, personally they are okay and just averagely satisfying. I’m not saying it is boring but it isn’t anything exciting that it gets your adrenaline pumping too. At least it did not for me. Watching real people play PUBG or Fortnite seems more ‘exciting’ because of the unknown and unpredictable factor. Because this is a series, you’ll have an idea how gunfights would turn out especially LLENN as the main character. And yeah, it’s like that movie logic cliché too when hundreds of bullets are fired but none really hit the intended target unless the plot commands it. Like LLENN’s P-chan who seems to be lacking firepower but is able to spray much more bullets, it feels like she can fire away trigger happy without having to worry about reloading. For her character to be amazingly this fast and skilled despite being a noob, in reality many would have called her a cheat. I mean, nobody else in this game could run as fast as her? Did nobody try to branch into this unique skillset? The odd thing about LLENN’s hallucination of P-chan, I wonder if this is some sort of reference to a cliché trope of a magical girl. You know, talking sidekick. Yeah, it seems only LLENN’s gun is able to talk to her. Not even gun crazy maniacs talk to their guns like that. Is LLENN on drugs?

Sniping action is also okay but with certain characters being such pros in sniping, it hardly feels exciting because again you get to expect and predict the outcome. Fuka’s grenade curve looks interesting although the more she does it, the more unbelievable you think it is because it’s like she has 100% accuracy on where she wants to hit. It’s like she has her homing device on them. While the series is mainly shooting action, they mix in a few others like close quarter combats, inclusion of vehicles and some incredulous dodging moments just to spice up the action. You won’t feel bored but it’s not anything that would even surpass the few action anime series like Shingeki No Kyojin, Dragonball or Naruto. Ultimately, this spinoff at least provided what it is supposed to do and that is lots of gun shooting action and no convoluted storyline.

There are some explanations about some of the guns if you are interested but I feel that if you are a gun enthusiasts, you would have known such guns and their traits. What is explained here are just probably the basics to get casual viewers like me to be awed. Because we know nothing about guns and to hear them spew such specifications is of course indeed sound amazing.

Having said all that, the characters themselves aren’t exciting and possibly one of the worst elements. They have their intrigue but nothing interesting. Avatars are avatars but their real life counterparts feel so different that it is as good as thinking that all this could happen in some fantasy world instead of a VR world. What I’m saying is that if you’re looking for good character development in this spinoff, don’t get your hopes up. After all, Karen who just moved to Tokyo somewhat found a game to blow off some steam to quell her loneliness. That’s it. But now that she has made friends with SHINC, will they be able to hang out more often in real life? Or maybe they’ll play more shooting games online and bond there.

As mentioned, Pito is a crazy woman but her suicidal thinking not only feels twisted but also incomprehensible. Unless you’re a sadist or a person who doesn’t care, it is of course only naturally that one would try and help the suicidal person out of suicide. But with Pito having so much crazy fun killing people in GGO and SJ2, it just doesn’t feel that she is going to end her life soon whether win or lose. If she really wanted to feel the thrill of life and death in a game, maybe she should have tried Russian roulette! Damn. But get what I mean? Also, if Pito really wanted to die, she would have done so by playing the first SJ and missed her friend’s wedding. Now that would have killed her! Oh right. Newly wedded bride don’t want to be a killer so maybe they will just end up breaking their friendship and not talking forever. However Goushi may have just exaggerated the story because of his twisted crush on Pito. Afraid of dying before her and not after her, huh? Well, we have seen her crazy skills. I think it’s safe to say that she would be fine on her own. At least in the online gaming world. It doesn’t make sense thinking about Pito would kill him in real life if he fails to live up to certain standards. Assuming he didn’t and she killed him. So what? She’s now a real life murderer. That’s all. And I seriously don’t think Pito would even if she sounds serious and threatening that she would. Because she knows Goushi’s crush on her so she’s just taking advantage of him. Like I said, if she did kill him, she’ll just be a murderer and she’ll be sent to prison. Just to check, prisoners aren’t entitled to play online games, right?

Some of the other minor characters also feel a bit disappointing but that could be just me over thinking that they might play some sort of role later. For example those very skilled military pros in SJ whom LLENN faced off and defeated never returned at all. From the way they said things, they are a force to be reckon with but eventually disappeared after that single ‘practice’. I believe they are not that T-S team. Too convenient had that happen. Clarence feels more like a distraction as well as that lone female survivor of a team that Pito betrayed and slaughtered. It looked like she had some potential but it ultimately fizzled out and was there just as a stepping stone for Pito to turn into psycho Pito in rage mode. I also wonder about Elsa. At first I was thinking if she was just a red herring. You know, somebody’s name being associated with the main character being brought up early. May or may not have some sort of relation. I didn’t read any spoilers while watching the show but in the penultimate episode my guts suddenly were telling me that Elsa could be Pito. I mean, who else is there, right? I guess it’s for the shock factor for those who didn’t read the light novels. True enough it turned out like that.

While the issue of avatars being vastly different from their real life counterparts is not anything shocking or new these days, the mind boggling thing is why Karen was unable to choose her own avatar when she first played her first online game. I mean, to customize your own avatar is the basic of the most basic of basic things, right? I know this gives a silly reason for her to jump games until she finds the right one and for some reason GGO was it because perhaps the online servers were probably tired of watching her switch so many games and just decided to give her what she wants. But still, to no to have that option to be able to customize your own avatar for a game is rather silly. Especially in today’s modern times. If that is the case, there will be so many unused avatars that are dumped and there will be so many unused accounts (assuming 1 avatar per account) lying dormant around. Just plain silly. So it must be real lucky for SHINC for many of them to get that Amazon avatar, huh?

Hence the one with the biggest difference has got to be Elsa as Pito. It makes you wonder if she has time to spend playing such online games, does she have enough time to even perform on stage? If she somehow manages to do both, she must be greatly talented. She has to be. Look at how successful she is in both vastly different fields. It is safe to say that fans of Elsa does not know this dark side of hers and I can only imagine if they do. Unless they are all masochists like Goushi but this guy was the one who got lucky. Oh well, perhaps some idols seem nice on the outside until you really get close to them. I mean, being an idol is still a job, right? Therefore it is also mind boggling to think that she could put up such a cute innocent face but behind the scenes especially online, she is a cold blooded sadistic killer. Like as though she has split personalities. So if Elsa really wanted to die, why be an idol? Need money to buy those VR games to play? But Elsa and Pito is a very good example of what most of us are offline and online thanks to online anonymity. But I still can’t imagine that an idol really has so much time on her hands to play online games. Like as though if her idol career fell through, this could be her backup career. It’s not far-fetched at all.

I sometimes wonder that if this anime is targeted for male audiences because the main characters are all females except for M. This had me wonder if GGO should have been called Gamer Girls Online. Haha. But it is not surprising in this era because even though men are still majority of video gamers, women’s gaming community is rising and is almost half of the male’s gaming population. But somehow in GGO the females fare much better than the males, many who are of course nameless and just there for the body count. And on the topic of avatars being vastly different from your real life counterpart, it goes to show you not to believe everything you see at face value on the internet. Tall busty girl Karen becomes a short cute LLENN, cutie Miyu also equally becomes a short cute Fuka. Lolicon harem and paradise. SHINC members who are tough Amazon women are cute lolicons from the rhythm gymnastics. How can such cute little girls turn into blood thirsty killers online?! True meaning of still waters run deep. I bet boys who don’t know about them would really have a way off perception of them doing very harmless girly things like knitting. Heh. Who knits these days? And Goushi looks like a wuss instead of his stout M. And look at cute little Elsa who is just a slender sexy Pito. Talk about really being opposites from your real self. And so the stereotype misconception that expert online shooters are 12 year olds…

Art and animation feel okay and a few CGI were employed too but nothing that jarring. Thankfully action scenes like shooting between players are still in 2D because if it was obviously in 3D, might as well go watch PUBG or Fortnite. I know it is done for differentiation but many other characters especially those expandable players look almost the same. Just put them in different outfits to signify they are from a different team. Yeah, the other ‘unimportant’ members of PM4 look the same, don’t you think? Just slap on those headgear and mask, don’t have to show us their faces. Problem solved. Lucky for LLENN and Fuka, they stand out so much because they are the smallest avatars while Pito is such smoking hot and curvaceous at the hips in that catsuit. This series wasn’t done by A-1 Pictures who did the Sword Art Online series. Instead it was Studio 3Hz who did Dimension W, Flip Flappers and Princess Principal.

For the voice acting, I want to point out about Youko Hikasa as Pito. She really sounds crazy in her part to perfectly portray her character. But sometimes I feel that she went to some crazy lengths to sound this crazy. Like say, she went out drinking and recorded her lines while she was almost drunk? Hope not. Although I could be wrong and that she is just a great voice actress who can act and sound to this extent. Because she really sounds different and crazy when Pito does her trademark crazy laugh. Truly different. Other casts are Tomori Kusunoki as LLENN/Karen (Hazuki in Marchen Madchen), Kazuyuki Akasaki as M/Goushi (Hisui in K), Chinatsu Akasaki as Fuka/Miyu (Alice in Shokugeki No Souma), Ayaka Asai as Boss/Saki (Hazuki in Hibike! Euphonium) and Mikako Komatsu as Clarence (Rose in Tales Of Zestiria The X).

I have a feeling that the opening theme, Ryuusei by Eir Aoi tries to sound similar to the openings in the other SAO series but it feels generic. The ending theme is To See The Future by Tomori Kusunoki. Sounds okay as a generic anime pop. There are also a few insert songs although they are sung by Elsa (her singing voice is credited to Reona) but they aren’t really my type. Maybe it’s just me since I find her voice to sound a little bit raw.

Overall, this spinoff itself is fairly decent and entertaining even though it is most likely not to cause any big stir in the online multiplayer battle royale category for now. Basically it is mainly lolis with guns (SHINC might be Amazon women avatars but their real life counterparts are still lolis so it still somewhat counts). The opinions are split if this series gave SAO a bad name but I feel that it is still much better than the second half arcs of both the SAO seasons. Maybe that is why this spinoff has only 1 cour and a dozen episodes. Because the curse of the SAO series is that the first starting story arc is interesting but then starts to falter and definitely not so good. I’m having the same fearful sentiments for the third season… But one having not watch the original SAO seasons can still watch this without fear of missing out on any details. Unless they decide to do a crossover sequel in the future, that would be another story. Otherwise it is your choice to join the online community and be slaughtered by 12 year olds or watch a pink munchkin mow down others like nobody’s business. Or we can just go back to watch more magical girls stuffs if you’re tired of bullets already.

Well, well. Looks like I didn’t learn my lesson the last time. Heh. Was there supposed to be one? After of thinking of giving up on the disappointing seasonal ‘porn’, then that prison porn sh*t was interesting enough to make not abandon and keep me getting ‘addicted’. Hence I am once again here watching this season’s anime ‘porn’, Joshi Ochi! 2-kai Kara Onnanoko Ga Futte Kita. As the name ambiguously suggests, girls keep falling from a hole onto a guy. Heh. Is this a way of saying how a girl falls for a guy and they end up making love? Don’t think so much. It’s porn logic anyway. Dang, even if she didn’t fall from heaven but with enough porn, any guy would think this b*tch is heaven sent! Even if she’s just from the floor above.

Episode 1
Sousuke Aikawa tells straight to us that he is a bum and would rather work part time than go to college. He lives in a rundown apartment and the only motivation that keeps him going is the hot landlady, Yuki Shimizu. As he tries to sleep, he hears noisy thumping from the neighbour upstairs. He goes to confront but yeow, who is the hot babe here? Apparently Sunao Unyuu is an aspiring actress and was practising her lines. I know she’s not good but that bad that she is noisy? Is she trying to be a dancer? Anyway, whatever. Because she’s hot, Aikawa forgives her. The thumping continues so much so the floor gives way and she gets stuck in between! Aikawa tries to catch her but ends up having her crotch in his face. And when she really falls through, she lands on his dick. Even more amazing how his erected penis perfectly penetrated into her vagina!!! WTF???!!! F*CKING AMAZING!!! NO PENIS INJURY AT ALL!!! As expected, Aikawa gives into his horny desires as he fondles her boobs and starts f*cking her. Not surprising either, Sunao feels good and lets him have his way until they climax. When Yuki rushes in to see what the commotion is all about (she really took her time, huh?), she is shocked to see the duo in a very compromising position.

Episode 2
Yuki hears them out and finds it hard to believe. But the hole in the ceiling is real… So how? She’ll fix it and also take responsibility. How? By sleeping next to Aikawa! WTF?! What kind of responsibility is this?! That night he can’t sleep (obviously) because Yuki is so freaking hot while she sleeps. Sexy and temperature wise. Because she rolls too close to him, this triggers his horniness. Screw it because now he starts molesting her boobs. OMG. I can’t believe she is still asleep the way he gropes them this hard! Might as well go all the way. He starts to finger her. You know what? She is still asleep! How heavy a sleeper is she?! And then she finally wakes up. Shocking, right? Yeah, Aikawa’s finger has a mind of its own and continues fingering her until she climaxes. In the aftermath, why the f*ck is she so afraid of him? Didn’t he make her feel good? I don’t think prank as an excuse is going to cut it. But you know, porn logic. Hence Yuki ‘solves’ this by drawing a line between their sleeping area. Shouldn’t she go back to her room?! Better not cross this line?! Wasn’t she the one who crossed this line before Aikawa crossed the ‘other line’?! It’s amazing he didn’t’ get evicted yet…

Episode 3
Just when Aikawa thinks of stop thinking with his dick, Sunao drops down and wants him to f*ck her?! Straight from the mouth! He tries to pretend to be asleep but with Sunao too sexy to ignore and begging for sex, I guess we’re going back to thinking with his dick. So you ask for it. The f*cking begins and don’t worry about Yuki. She’s a heavy sleeper. It’s such a great sex that Sunao would love to come f*ck him again. Damn if only real life girls were like this!!!! Apparently this great sex allows him to sleep well but next morning he finds his face buried right in Yuki’s boobs. And all he got was a slap?! After last night, this is like a slap on the wrist (face, rather). Worth it. Even if it is Yuki’s fault for rolling over. Forgot that rule she made, huh? She asks if he is dating Sunao. He denies. She sounds happy. Woah. Like everything is forgiven. If only real women were like that. She even wants to make him breakfast. Did somebody just reset her mood? Maybe not. As she tidies the bed, she spots Sunao’s panties left behind during sex. Aikawa has got some explaining to do. Yuki is startled when Sunao rings the doorbell. Aikawa falls over her. It’s like her t-shirt has a mind of its own because the buttons just feel like bursting out to reveal her busty boobs.

Episode 4
With nobody answering the door, Sunao drops in from the hole. Aikawa takes Yuki to hide in the closet. Too close a proximity. Because she wants to go ask Sunao straight about the panties, Aikawa shuts her up. How? By kissing and molesting her?! WTF?! Wouldn’t she make even more noise?! With Sunao curious about the noise, thank goodness saved by the pantsu because she spots her missing panties and takes them and leave. Aikawa’s punishment? Just a slap. Still not evicted… Later when he returns from work, he is shocked that both girls announce they are going to stay with him! WTF???!!! Earlier on, Yuki talked to Sunao about a certain rapist. Knowing both have been violated and how it is risky for them to be living with a rapist, guess what is the solution? Why, have both of them live with him to stop the rape! WTF???!!! WHAT THE FFFFFFUUUUU????!!!! ULTIMATE PORN LOGIC!!!!!!! Yeah, I guess he can’t rape seeing one of them will be around to witness. Yeah, great solution. I wish this was applied in the real world. And they sleep right in his arms. Yeah, it’s like he owns this harem. Later he accidentally stumbles into Sunao bathing. She invites him to wash him. You’re not going to pass this up, right? I bet she’s just trolling him when she tells him not to have dirty thoughts while washing her back. Because now she takes off her towel and faces him. You got to look properly where you’re washing! The word self-control is starting to lose its meaning in Aikawa’s dick-tionary… Haha!!!

Episode 5
Aikawa strikes back as he full blasts the cold shower into Sunao’s vagina. Yuki comes to check since she is making weird noises. Yup, she is convinced this is part of her acting practice. Damn, she must be good, right? With this foreplay over, the duo now have penetrative sex in the tub. Such a dirty cleansing moment. Oh, the irony. Yuki comes back to check because she heard that really weird sound (Sunao’s climaxing). But Yuki spots Aikawa’s clothes in the basket… Later when Aikawa returns to his room, he sees a depressed Yuki sitting at the corner! What gives? She knows he has done something to Sunao. She believes he hates her and that is why he is doing such heinous acts on Sunao. Wait! WTF?! WTF LOGIC IS THAT???!!! Is she trying to subtly hint she wants to be f*cked by him?! Too bad Aikawa feels guilty for breaking his promise of protecting her smile. Instead he screwed over her although technically he hasn’t physically screwed her yet. Soon, Sunao invites them to the hotsprings. Yuki declines since that day the repair on the ceiling will be done. But after hearing there is a crab buffet, looks like she is willing to postpone the repair for this feast. In the hotspring, the girls talk and Sunao knows Yuki like Aikawa. That reaction says it all. Sunao admits that she too likes Aikawa and thinks her love is unrequited. In that case, shouldn’t have Sunao brought Aikawa alone here? Because she likes doing fun things, she wants all of them to have fun. Uhm, so she is into group sex?

Episode 6
Time for a reason to get pervy. Aha! Yuki being drunk. So she’s inviting Aikawa to do crazy stuffs to her. So he is teaching her how to have sex. He lets her ride on his dick in the tub although not really penetrating her. I wonder if climaxing makes her sober because she’s telling this to Sunao of what Aikawa made her do. Sunao not impressed. What’s this about trying to change to subject to the festivals? Anyway, Sunao and Aikawa head there (Yuki somehow conveniently separated). Sunao breaks down. She realizes having a third wheel is no fun. I suppose it’s more fun when you monopolized his dick, huh? She even confesses she loves him but what does this guy know about love? So the reason Sunao fell in love with him is because he took her virginity? And always cum inside her. WTF. Gee, if only real life girls were like that. Looks like she is going to take this to the next level. Ah, now I see why she isn’t wearing anything underneath the robe. Can’t he take a hint? Learning that he has not gone that far with Yuki, she wants him to treat her like Yuki. However she wants to be the only one to satisfy him. Yeah, he can cum insider her as much as he likes. Definite straight up obvious porn logic cliché here. The best sex in the bamboo grove ever. Why does Aikawa feel so bad after f*cking her? Oops I did it again? Not making any Britney reference, is he? Sunao assures him that she will not make him choose between them. So this is just for the sex, right?

Episode 7
Sunao has landed a lead role and invites the duo to her play. Although Yuki is captivated with her good performance, but you know what is even more captivating? Yuki wanting Aikawa to f*ck her right now! I guess I’m all eyes on this one. Might as well masturbate each other since there isn’t much crowd either. There’s some brief back story why Yuki loves Aikawa (something about her failed dreams) but we don’t care. Just f*ck! Yuki tries to distract Aikawa so as to look at her and not the stage. Probably not the best handjob but he still cum. At the end of the play at the backstage, Sunao whispers to Aikawa she saw everything! I wonder if the other actors on stage saw it too. Back home just when Aikawa might get serious to pick one of them, then shows up this busty babe, Yuzu Hanazono. She claims she is Aikawa’s girlfriend although he clarifies she is his childhood friend. So let me get this straight. She is going to stay here too?! Thankfully our jealous ladies believe Aikawa’s room is already at ‘full capacity’ (I wonder if they’re also referring to his dick) and put her in the next room. For some reason, there is a small hole that allows Aikawa to peep. Wow. Dang. Yuzu changing. Sexy. Suddenly the wall crumbles! WTF?! Yuzu doesn’t freak out. She loves him seeing her in the nude. Apparently they bathed together when they’re young. Looks like she didn’t grow out of it. Remembering their kiddie promise to marry, she starts giving him a blowjob. Before he can penetrate her (she invited him to), the jealous ladies barge in to beat him up. So is this the end of Aikawa’s sexcapades? Actually now they want to go to the beach and wear their swimsuits so as to get Aikawa decide once and for all he likes the best. YOU SERIOUS???!!! Man, 3 hot babes fighting over his dick that is going to die from over-f*cking. Seriously.

Episode 8
This episode Aikawa’s dick will explode… Yuzu goes first and in the float, she makes him molest all over her. He claims he has moral standards (WHAT MORAL STANDARDS?!) but Yuzu has the best reply: His heart may have morals but not his dick! OMG! SO TRUE! So screw whatever and just make out! They’re just here to feel good, right? I guess fun time is over when Sunao interrupts. Then in the storeroom, Sunao won’t lose to that newcomer b*tch and wants to f*ck him (what else is new?). Aikawa teases her by spamming how cute she is. Embarrassing but it relaxes her. Now to work his magic fingers and dick. You can’t stop now! Go all the way! He cums inside her like usual but she sounds disappointed? Did she want him to cum all over her face?! As they leave, they have been spotted by Yuki. She’s not pleased. She’s mad that he always chose her. I don’t think resting from tired of swimming is going to cut it. And then Yuki’s mood swing kicks in because she stops being mad and smiles that they should all take a shower and go home now. I wonder if that’s the I’m-still-mad-smile because it genuinely looks like a genuine smile.

Episode 9
I guess it’s Yuki’s turn. She forces Aikawa into the women’s shower with her. So she’s going to let Aikawa teach her all about sex? Well, if only Sunao would stop talking to her. Because you know the way is talking is getting stranger the more Aikawa eats her pussy. I’m not sure if Sunao knows what is going on and lets them be. Yuki’s sex ed reaches its climax when Aikawa now f*cks her from the back! OMG! Is that period blood?! First time penetration?! And then he f*cks her from the front just to see her f*cking cute embarrassed face. I also wonder if Yuzu also knows what is going on because the moaning is definitely strange and I doubt a pervy girl like Yuzu would not think it isn’t. Anyway she just lets Yuki be. Finally Yuki climaxes. I guess the other girls waiting outside knew it. Back home, Aikawa realizes he couldn’t and didn’t decide on the best swimsuit girl. You mean there was a contest?! Oh, I’m such a forgetful guy, I don’t even remember! Hence Aikawa’s true heaven and hell life begins. He has got holes in his apartment. Female holes all around him. Wow. Such a lucky bastard. And why do they all love sleeping naked together? And Aikawa is serious about choosing one of them one day? Yeah, one day. Let’s hope the harem doesn’t expand and if porn logic dictates, as long as he doesn’t choose, he can still f*ck around!!! OH YEAH!!!

Hole-y Sh*t! A (W)Hole Lot Of Top Hole Crap!
WOW! OMG!!!! You know what? It really embarrasses me to say this but I actually sort of enjoyed this one!!! In fact, this is the best hentai among all those I have seen, even topping that prison crap by a mile! Also, it must be the only series where it made me feel really horny but thankfully my self-control is still ‘superb’. Haha! Yes. Seriously. So I suppose that there are a few factors and reasons why this short porn series is way better than the rest and makes it really stand out from the rest. No, not referring to that hard erected dick.

First you might have noticed that there are only 9 episodes. That’s like only 3/4 from the usual dozen we have in the usual porn series. However each episode is slightly longer and can averagely almost go up to 6 minutes. No opening or ending themes even. Can’t waste a single moment, eh? So more banging in lesser screen time? As in, better to have one slightly longer sex scene than to have more but short sex scenes? Quality over quantity? But whatever. Also, since there is relatively no plot (I mean, who cares about the story in hentai series, right?!) and plot holes (can’t resist this pun), I suppose it would be more or less the same thing if they expand it to 12 episodes and by that time the boredom would have set in. Therefore having only 9 episodes and suddenly ‘ending’ it like that, surprisingly I wasn’t disappointed at all (unlike that prison show). Maybe it’s because of all the horniness that was welling up inside me that served as a cushion from disappointment when the series ended.

Unlike other porn series before this, this is the first time that they feature more than one girl. Yes, a harem basically. Come to think of it, the predecessors felt boring because they’re always f*cking and molesting the same girl. You’re going to see that climaxing face a dozen times and perhaps that is why it is so ‘boring’. Here, at least we have 2 girls at the start and hence the ‘variety’ of watching ‘different’ climaxing faces. Then they add another one towards the end although it really feels wasted that she came in so late and didn’t have really much screen time to show off her ‘skills’ but enough to set our tongues (dick, rather) wagging (tingling, rather).

Another reason why this is the most superior seasonal porn is the high quality of the art and animation. Yes and seriously, people. Looking back at all its predecessors, the animation quality was just moderate and downright mediocre. If I thought that prison series was good, this one is way better. Much better. The girls do look cute (much cuter than the predecessors and I’m not even drunk) and you can really see there is some quality put in the animation. Not to say it’s the best but it’s like as though this could have been a typical cliché young adult romcom anime series but they inserted sex into it. So yeah. No wonder Aikawa can’t stop f*cking them. If he passes up on any of them, it’s like setting up himself to be gay! No way, man! No way!

I know such series is all about the sex but I want to just touch a bit on the characters. As usual, nothing really deep (except Aikawa’s f*cking. Haha! Pun intended) and anything that you would want to support or cheer on. Therefore if they lack whatever background story there is, we don’t mind and care because as long as we get to see them f*ck, everything is a-okay. For Sunao as a budding actress, I can’t keep sniggering each time to think that she would have been perfect and if not more successful had she gone into porn! I know. It hit me the first time when she said that was her aspiration. I was like, “Uhm, you mean you wanna be a porn star?”. Haha. Yeah. Felt like it. Otherwise who cares about her real acting chops on stage? But it does make me wonder if Sunao is really that good of an actress, could she be faking it with Aikawa? Nah! I’m sure his f*cking will bring out all the honesty and embarrassment as seen on her face. Period.

I feel that Yuki is primarily helming a role with lots of porn logic cliché. I gives a lousy excuse and justification as to why she likes Aikawa. Yes, she’s supposed to like him but the very silly stuffs like drawing a border on their sleeping place and inviting other girls to sleep with him to stop his raping feels more like porn logic than anything. I mean, it definitely didn’t prevent our guy from f*cking around, right? Besides, don’t you think that the girls are the one who actually started and motivated him to molest them in the first place? Yeah, thankfully he makes them feel good or else they would have cried rape. So Yuki being a terrible actress is the ‘honest face’ girl whom every guy would love to see when they f*ck their girl. Finally she receives the D from Aikawa. Achievement unlocked! Welcome to the club! I feel Yuzu is wasted as she appeared so late and even the final competition didn’t do any justice. But at least it was a ‘shock factor’ that we didn’t see any character popping up to service Aikawa. So who’s next to pop up in Aikawa’s sex life? HIS SISTER! INCEST! Haha!

And Aikawa has got a very strong dick too because it seems as seen in the final episode after he ejaculates, he can actually go and f*ck the next girl and also ejaculate like as though his recover period is super fast or close to none. So don’t worry about his dick exploding or becoming limp from overusing because I am sure with the horny girls always teasing and initiating him to f*ck them, I bet he’ll never leave the dorm for the rest of his life now that he has got his own harem. Damn this dorm is going to be a place where you check in and never check out. If that is so, could it be a private red light district? If only real life was like porn where every girl you make love to wants your dick and cums so easily…

Oh, here’s another porn logic if they ever want to fix the holes. “Hello ma’am, I’m here to fix the holes. What’s that? You don’t have money to pay? How about with your body? Alright!”. Haha! But I doubt Aikawa is going to let any other men touch his women. After all, this flimsy romance being disguised as porn but I’m putting my money on Aikawa x Yuki since he is her first love and now that she allowed him inside her, looks like Sunao has got a rival catching up. Guys are like who lets them f*ck. Girls are like who gets to call them by their first name? No wonder love is so confusing. Sex is easier. So if Aikawa can’t choose who to be serious with, why not just share his dick which is now somewhat public property? Sharing is caring!

The other ‘enjoyable’ part of this series is how some of the dialogues are ‘witty’ although they may be just cheesy and downright cringe worthy. Maybe not so much the original Japanese lines as it sounds as ordinary as ever. Perhaps the English subtitled one that somehow managed to make such puns on holes and screwing, which actually make me laugh. I was like WTF but can’t help snigger at how ‘true’ the irony of the situation is. Also ‘enjoyable’ is some of the episode titles that are ‘creative’ with holes in them. For example, “The Hole That Connects Me To That Girl”, “Two Sides Of The Same Hole”, “You Can’t Pull The Wool Over My Eyeholes”, “Two In The Same Hole”, “Don’t Fill The Hole” and the best of the lot, “If There Is A Hole, I Want To Enter It”. Damn! I think there are lots of hole puns I want to make too but I think I better stop before the hole of decaying morals start to widen… But I’m still thinking when this series might introduce the glory hole… Oops!

Speaking of the title of this anime, despite its name about girls falling from the top floor, we only see it like twice before it is somewhat forgotten. I guess it would be boring each time Sunao had to drop in just to ask for sex. So with a different hole falling onto Aikawa’s dick, can we give some sort of excuse that their vaginas slip and fell onto Aikawa’s penis? Better than slipping and having your cock accidentally slip into a hole, right?

Overall, I am once again ashamed (but with no regrets) to say that this is the best of all the seasonal porn so far it has to offer because of it being superior in so many departments. Sad to say that because of this, I am now looking forward to next season’s smut. But the ‘good news’ is that since the standards have been raised so high, the next one will have a high hurdle to live up to its standards. Otherwise I might again consider abandoning it. Heh. I better be good to put my money where my mouth is. Nope, can’t say be good to put my dick where my mouth is because that will be like giving myself a blowjob and I’m not into this gay sh*t thingy! But I don’t have to keep my word because as I have learnt from this series, even if your heart has morals and brains to think, our dick has the better head and no moral compass to decide. Yeah, I don’t know what I’m saying. It feels like full of holes.

At first I thought Saredo Tsumibito Wa Ryuu To Odoru was going to be just another dragon slaying fantasy. Two guys with swords perhaps as dragon slayers on a quest to defeat dragons, each with their own motivation to do so. And then I started to read the synopsis and everything I thought this series was about was blown away. Technically there is some dragon slaying but that is not the mainstay of this series. Lots of dark politics, underhanded tactics, backdoor politics, some sci-fi terms and magic… Oh boy. Looks like I have this feeling I’m in for one of those ‘complicated’ anime series that I will have a tough time understanding.

Episode 1
Uhm… There’s a brief explanation about what Jushiki is but I don’t understand. To put it in simple terms, magic. Once only the dragons were able to use it but now humans are able to wield it in weapons as well. Hence those fighting against dragons using this are called Offensive Jushiki-shi. We are introduced to a pair of oddest Offensive Jushiki-shi ever. Gayus Levina Sorel who is constantly worrying about his financial state and his partner, Gigina Jerde Dolk Melios Ashley Boeuf, a Draken who loves fighting, furniture collecting and very poor financial management. Now I can see the reason for Gayus’ stress… Here they are in some battlefield awaiting their chance as they bicker the usual. A black dragon shows up. Supposedly an 800 year old one called Altar. After a tough fight, the duo prevail. However their efforts are not appreciated as Gayus’ boss doesn’t give him the expected reward, piling on excuses that they need to learn life lessons, blah, blah, blah. Meanwhile in some parliament house whatever, politicians are arguing about territories, rights and conflicts. Not that I’m interested in. Even the high ranking cardinal priest, Mordin Orjes Gyunei couldn’t be bothered listening to the tirade. So when he receives news from one of his generals, Yorkan, he decides to head to the city of Eridana where Jushiki and conspiracies of countless nations run wild. Gayus hears from his journalist friend, Arzel that there is a serial killer murdering Offensive Jushiki-shi. The culprit must be strong since all died with a single blow. More woes for Gayus as Gigina has bought more furniture and put it on his tab. Yeah, he even added some accessory to his mighty sword. Since tomorrow is the annual Eridana Festival, he pays a visit to his girlfriend, Jivunya Lorezzo. It must be a tough day for him so cut this guy some slack and make out! While they’re at that, the serial killer kills yet another Offensive Jushiki-shi. She laments another wrong target. Uh huh. Her target is Gayus and Gigina. Apparently all humans look the same to her so she can’t tell humans apart and hence her indiscriminate killings. I suppose she is the kind that shoots first and asks questions later.

Episode 2
To prove this series isn’t heading towards the bromance route, we get a sneak peak at Gayus making out with Jivunya. Until the damn phone rings! F*cking cliché. Oh, it’s his bromance partner. At the office, both their faces are on posters made by some PR people that they slain the black dragon. Also, they have a guest: Herodel, Gayus’ old school friend. He has a job request for them: To be bodyguards for Mordin. But why hire outside Offensive Jushiki-shi like them when he has his own elite team? It would ruin his fun. He has them be his tour guide for the festival. Sorry, Jivunya, Gayus has to forgo your date to be with someone of higher importance. Mordin is able to walk about like this because he has many doubles posing as him. Thanks to those doubles, his life has been saved many times from attempted assassinations. On the way back, they see a group of protestors against the Tienlun Accord. It is an agreement for peace between the dragon and human nations. However it also allows any dragonkind to be eliminated should they encroach into human territory. But this accord is what is preventing an all-out war between both races. But Gayus reasons the people who opposed this must have had their loved ones killed by dragons and hence the accord is an unforgivable compromise. Mordin notes that even so, it is irrational to move society based on an individual perspective. Later as Gayus and Herodel drink, the former asks if he has gotten over his fiancée, Shifaka. He thought joining the military for revenge was the right move but he is different now. Revenge won’t save anyone and working for Mordin has opened his eyes. He strives for his same belief for coexistence. He then asks Gayus if he has gotten over his late sister, Aleciel. He regrets asking this. Later Gigina arrives to pick up drunk Gayus. They are then confronted by the serial killer, Nidvolk. Jackpot. She attacks them as she accuses them of killing her husband, Eningiluud. They don’t know what she’s talking about and it pisses her off. Gayus can tells she uses gravity as her Jushiki and they manage to escape her wrath by the skin of their teeth.

Episode 3
Gayus returns to Jivunya. She is relieved he is safe but needs him to take a shower because he stinks (he was walking through the sewers after escaping Nidvolk). I guess no sex yet. Later Gayus calls Vinnel, an informant to find out more details about Nidvolk. Gayus and Gigina continue to be Mordin’s bodyguard. The cardinal is impressed seeing them argue their bad habits aloud. Yeah, such great entertainment that is more fun than the sightseeing of the festival. As Mordin prays, he asks Gayus if he doesn’t believe in God. In the state of the world now? No. He mentions about Shifaka who died in a silly dispute between the Dragon Empire and Seven City Alliance. If God exists, why allow people to die via wars, disease or accidents? Why does Aleciel have to die? Mordin answers him either God doesn’t exist or is cruel. The dead do not come back to life and miracles don’t exist. But how can people live without deception? They close an eye and pretend to keep living. He must be careful in looking too hard for reasons because Offensive Jushiki-shi are trying to understand the world. To face a question without an answer is the only way humans can fight reality. As for why Gayus works with Gigina despite being like oil and water, aside from his bad habits, he is a great partner. Mordin says they complement each other and appearances aside, they get along very well. Mordin sees Azu Bita, the representative of the Lapetodes Seven City Alliance who is also the right hand man of the Seven City Alliance House’s Supreme Chairman, Kai Kuyou. When they realizes all the other bodyguards are missing, they know trouble is here. The duo fight off the wave of assassins but there are more coming. They go warn the high eminences to leave since they can’t have them dead or else war between both races will start and the same tragedy will happen again. Mordin finds him selfless but Gayus doesn’t want medals or respect. Just the truth. If they get out of this alive, he’ll tell as much as they want. The duo fight off the assassins until the final boss makes a self-sacrificing move. Gayus dreams of his dead sister. The trauma wakes him up in hospital. Jivunya is so relieved he is still alive.

Episode 4
The doctor is stumped that Gayus was dead on arrival and now that he is conscious, he has shown no signs of damage. A miracle? Does this give him a free pass to hit on the cute nurse? He is soon visited by Mordin but Gayus can tell this is the real one and the previous one was just an impersonator, Genon Cull Darius. Gayus explains some complicated observation of his on why he is able to tell the difference. He asks why he planned his own assassination. He is cautious to have 7 doubles but yet leaked info to his enemies on a very well-guarded meeting. Mordin reveals Herodel is the traitor and is already a member of a hardliner when he joined the military. The car outside then sets off, killing Herodel. Mordin also admits the assassination was also part of his plan from start to finish. He recognizes this is unforgivable to sacrifice many but this is a war to prevent a war and save many more lives. He plans to withdraw the Alliance’s occupational forces to retreat to the Daef Front that would seemingly benefit the Dragon Empire. He is doing so to make smoke out Herodel, making him believe the plan was progressing according to plan, using outsiders seem more believable as Gayus isn’t the type foolish or heroic enough to go against authority and also there is a price the Dragon Empire will have to pay the Alliance. As Mordin leaves, he is attacked by Gigina who sensed he is a dangerous person but a barrier protects him. Gigina warns him to take his game elsewhere or die. Gayus returns to Jivunya’s side. She says a lot of lovely embarrassing things since she is worried and then wants him to drink until he passes out to forget all that she said. So no sex? In the aftermath, the accord failed with some senators’ reputation taking a hit. Vinnel returns with some answers about the gravity fragment. The duo go help the nurse who discovered some malpractice. Gayus knows it is a trap and this is Genon in disguise. They are met with fraternal twins who serve Mordin, Beldritt and Jesper Livy Raki. Beldritt summons a dragon to help fight and soon Genon joins in in a dragon form. Mordin is watching all this while Nidvolk waits for a chance.

Episode 5
The duo are almost dead when Nidvolk jumps into the fray. She kills Genon by ripping out his heart. Despite giving the Raki brothers a chance to escape, they attack her to complete the mission but were brutally injured. Now she faces Gayus and Gigina. Gayus knows she is the wife of the black dragon they slew. She is the one who healed Gayus from death before so she could kill him again and many more times. Yeah, she kills and revives him as part of her revenge. When the duo thought they bested her, she stabs them. In this WTF moment, they can still joke?! Something about how the taxman will kill her?! Something about Gigina has a cheap convenient plot that reveals his super Draken lineage?! Something about his secret move only happens when his friend dies?! Yeah, Gayus intends on killing himself but Nidvolk won’t allow that. Not sure what happened because Gayus uses Herodel’s Jushiki to fire face on at Nidvolk’s Jushiki. Gayus took this gamble and knew Nidvolk will not separate herself from her Jushiki as it belonged to her husband. As she lies dying, Gayus asks why she didn’t attack Jivunya if she was so bent on revenge. Well, the ones who killed her husband are them. No others were responsible. Too bad for all the innocent Jushiki-shi she killed. Gayus has his ripped arm put back to normal like as though it was never ripped by super organ specialist, Czahn. Best joke: She is kind in all ways except her billing! Oh sh*t! This is sure going to cost. Later Gayus meets Mordin and knows they have been dancing in his palm. Everything went according to his plan. His goal is equilibrium between the Dragon Empire, the Alliance and the dragonkind Vaisen. First, he faked his own assassination to stem out hardliners who opposed the plan of ceding the Holy Land of Alsok. He then promised to mediate the failed accord to create favourable conditions for Alsok’s ceding. Its failure is also his plan. He traded the needs of the powers in order: Dragon Empire gets Alsok, the Alliance the accord and Vaisen by having its 2 defectors hunted down. This means Gayus and Gigina were good bait for Nidvolk. He knew about the dragon’s proud sense of revenge and hence the outcome was as per expected. Gayus could have revealed more but that’s enough revelation for us to hear. He gives them his prized ring as reward. Gayus doesn’t approve his methods but Mordin is bent on protecting the weak and modest even if it means destroying the dragons and laugh at the face of any Jushiki curse. He will prove the weakness of man is enough to carry on living. He offers them to join his generals but is immediately turned down. They might not have understood what they have accomplished but being alive sounds good enough.

Episode 6
Viscount Remedius Levvi Rahzel plays a weird game of chess in a prison with a girl, Naricia. Meanwhile Jivunya is giving Gayus a kinky policewoman foreplay! Yeow! Sexy level over 9000!!! Until the damn phone rings… Oh sure, Gayus isn’t in bad mood as he and Gigina makes his way to the agency to answer their boss’ call. But due to an emergency nearby, they are ordered to help the police solve some ongoing hostage situation. They head in and find the culprit is this monster, Magatsushiki. It’s creepy to see live humans cramped inside… Anyway they manage to avoid death from its decoys and kill it. They get a bit careless since some of its part still lives. Gayus almost got killed had not Largonkin save his skin. Back home, Gayus accidentally destroys a very cheap chair. Gigina is going to kill him! Yeah, his life is worth lower than that! For the moment, Gigina almost believed Gayus’ lie that he is his twin brother! Luckily Jivunya comes between them. Gigina stops and notes he is always behind a woman. First it was Cuello, now her. Gayus assures that was her past love. Jivunya is now the only one for him. Jivunya doesn’t seem so assured… Gayus has a client. Calpunia Levvinakes Rahzel from the Rahzel Foundation (one of the few corporate giants in the Dragon Empire) seeks his help to find his nephew, Remedius who was supposed to be a continental champion of chells (chess?) and a young creator who was abducted by the anti-government organization, Aurora Hammer, 2 years ago. They have been negotiating underground ever since and agreed to a ransom pay out that runs into billions. That exchange takes place here in 2 days. Since none of their Jushiki-shi have experienced violence unlike them, she wants them to help out and will reward them handsomely. Later Gayus and Largonkin are in a briefing with the police about the recent increase in Magatsushiki attacks. They want private Jushiki agencies to help. But before Gayus could turn this down since he already has a big client contract, Largonkin strong arms him into cooperating.

Episode 7
Remedius is about to be executed by those Aurora Hammer dudes but when he fixes their weapons, they all love him! WTF?! Gayus and Gigina accompany Calpunia for the exchange. They deal with Zhuo Lu who is the new leader of Aurora Hammer. After showing their goods, the exchange begins but it looks like the baddies trick them with a trap. This Remedius is fake and they ran off with the money. Calpunia’s guards all died but luckily the duo protect her. This mission failed and though the duo are partly responsible, it is ultimately their job to protect her and they kept their part well. Calpunia regrets being cruel to Remedius so she has another mission for them: Bring him back at all costs. Speaking of that dude, he is having a party with other guards! Wow. He is like the VIP. Naricia tells the legend of the land ruled by a dictator so a woman sacrificed herself to a sand dragon named Zhuo Lu to kill him. Remedius witnesses atrocities in town and doesn’t hesitate to kill the evil authority tormenting the innocent. We take a detour with Gayus playing a prank to lock Gigina in a cabinet. He blackmails money if he wants to get out or he can break out himself. Don’t look down because Gigina actually breaks out! Though only his limbs. Cupboard man?! Anyway they are called to attend some Magatsushiki lecture by Yahkto. Apparently they aren’t just those creepy beings but a kind that tries to create their own bodies. A creepy guy can suddenly come in to give Largonkin a present. As expected, he turns into some grim reaper Magatsushiki and steals all the other Jushiki-shi’s power. Of course the rest all cooperate to take him down. Their performance is praised by the Magatsushiki duo, Viscount Amupura and Baron Janahn Ghalan. After seeing some ring on Gayus’ finger, they decide to change the rules of the game a bit. A forced condition of victory and bet on their heads. They have 3 days for the final act or everything gets destroyed.

Episode 8
Remedius has joined Aurora Hammer after seeing the injustice the dictatorship used against its people. Gayus and Gigina attend a funeral for their dead Jushiki-shi comrades. Later Gayus gets info from Vinnel about a former employee from Rahzel, Parumuwei currently in contact with Aurora Hammer. The duo are led by Egurrd (Calpunia’s aid) to see Lieutenant Colonel Gohhel who is the director of Dragon’s Jaw, a special force under Queen Xenobia of Ilm. He wants them to stay away from anything to do with Rahzel and Aurora Hammer. Gayus deduces something is wrong and concludes this is only because Remedius has joined Aurora Hammer. Gohhel admits and reveals more about when the party leader Zemunn started reconciling with the dictator, Dochetta, they joined forces with Zhuo Lu to rid of Zemunn and now Aurora Hammer is even more extreme. The raid during the hostage exchange was a distraction and a show put on by Remedius to secure funds. They tried to take advantage of that by eliminating Aurora Hammer but failed. Hence Gohhel orders them to stay out even if Calpunia pleads to them. Zhuo Lu buys a very expensive weapon from Parumuwei and the latter is in shock upon realizing what he is going to use it for. Remedius and Naricia are captured by Dochetta and will be executed. Jivunya is forcing Gayus and Gigina to reconcile! Man, it’s like a mother trying to make her sons be on good terms. As Gayus goes to get his repaired gear, he is asked about the ring from Mordin. As he has investigated it, it comes from a live dragon of 10,000 years! Besides there is something pulsating inside the ring that the detectors cannot detect. Basically, this ring is alive and he wants Gayus to give it back. It seems like a weird outing with Gayus, Gigina, Largonkin and their women. Gayus and Largonkin talk about the old days in which the latter wants him to forget about Cuello but Gayus just can’t. This upsets Gayus as he further adds about Diorg is dead and Stratos without a soul. Only he and GIgina are left in the agency. Timely reminder that Gayus is a lucky bastard who gets to make out with Jivunya. But then she starts to ask him about what he talked with Largonkin earlier in the day. When a woman sounds like that, sh*t is going to hit the fan. Then she accuses him of still loving Cuello and this perfume of hers reminds him of her, that’s why he could identify it (oh sh*t!). He even mentions Cuello’s name in his sleep (double sh*t!). Why is he not looking at her? Is there something he cannot tell her but only Gigina? Who the f*ck is this Cuello? It’s over. Get out. Go home. Oh Gayus. You’re really screwed. So screwed even in the head that he thinks himself of just being badass. Yeah…

Episode 9
While our gang are talking about Magatsushiki from another dimension using a medium from this world to appear here, Amupura and Janahn Ghalan pop up to correct and hint them. This evening party is a giant Jushiki curse and if they want to stop it, they have to stop the person who summoned them. Gayus get info from Vinnel on Aurora Hammer’s hideout thanks to Parumuwei. Too bad he is already a corpse. It seems Dragon Jaw is also here. In a room they see Remedius’ corpse. A hologram of Zhuo Lu explains he summoned them here to pass Remedius’ last words. Zhuo Lu reveals Aurora Hammer was in fact created by the Dragon Empire and this is a serious foreign interference in domestic affairs. Hence the hostage exchange was just a ploy to cover up their scandal. Remedius’ final words include the creation of the ultimate warhead Jushiki known as Ava Dorn. It requires the Jushiki power of several people to activate. Its target is Rahzel Island where the company is situated. If anyone leaves that island, the warheads will detonate immediately. It is scheduled to blow up at noon anyway. Remedius then curses the company as we see flashbacks of the very cruel betrayal of Naricia and her people to a point they had to kill each other for survival. He curses the company to hell. Normally why would Gayus care? Oh. Jivunya works there! It’s understandable why he is losing his cool. Who else would give him great sex? Oops. But we can see how desperate he is as he hacks his way to contact her and apologize. Yeah, any sane girlfriend would know something is wrong. More explanation by Yahkto about the plague that will befall if the Magatsushiki world opens. In short, everyone will die within a few seconds. 100% fatality. So as Gayus racks his brains to think of a way. Anyway, he somehow gets it. He explains to the rest that Remedius summoned the Magatsushiki duo and the evening party is Ava Dorn. As Remedius can’t control the great will of the Magatsushiki, that was why the duo left them clues because they really want to fight them as entertainment. The random appearance of past Magatsushiki incidents actually resembles the board pieces of chells. The final checkmate move will be on Rahzel Island that was famously used by Remedius to win and became champion. The checkmating piece is where the warheads are located: The Osedek Clock Tower.

Episode 10
The assault on all kinds of weird Magatsushiki monsters in the tower begins. Our main Jushiki-shi confront Janahn Ghalan and after a hard fought battle, he is defeated because Gayus used Largonkin’s cigar which has insecticide that Janahn Ghalan’s spider body was not used to. Whatever. Flashback as we see Naricia killing herself so Remedius could eat her and stay alive. So when the rescue team found him, he sounded a bit crazy. He ate all off Naricia (except her eyes) and claimed he is reborn. Hence, inheriting her will to save her town and the metaphor he will eat all his enemies. Back to our Jushiki-shi heroes, they are having a hard time with Amupura since he can teleport and regenerate fast. Janahn Ghalan is in his weak spider form and as part of the rules, he allows Amupura to consume him. This merging means the conditions for the warheads triggering have been met. He fires one as the rest try to stop it while Amupura tries to intervene. They manage to stop it but at the cost of Largonkin. Gayus and Gigina are left as another warhead is fired but Amupura claims that since he has fulfilled Remedius’ contract, the warhead will allow him to open a portal and summon his kind. Fortunately Gayus knows how teleportation works so he uses his Jushiki to burn up everything. Amupura can’t escape and perishes. But another warhead launches. With no power left, can they stop it? Fortunately a Jushiki-shi of Largonkin placed at some strategic place shot it down. Phew. Thank convenience. After the duo crash on the island, another plot convenience calls for Gayus and Jivunya reconciling with each other. Welcome home. I guess at least the future of making out is safeguarded too.

Episode 11
Oh no. Jivunya again trying to make Gayus and Gigina make up. I don’t think it’s going anywhere. They are joined by Largonkin’s subordinates, Jabeira and Iegie. Jabeira is Jivunya’s senior. Czahn also joins drinking with them and she is Jabeira’s cousin. Gayus suggests a drinking game in which the loser gets penalized. Yup, Gayus becomes the first victim and Czahn wants to publicly display his organs! Thank goodness Jivunya won’t allow it. Everyone thinks she wants to protect his dick! As the drinking game goes on, the penalty gets more and more devastating. Especially if you’re getting revenge on being humiliated before. Gayus and Gigina have to leave since Dragon Jaw calls them. They go talk to Xenobia (although just a hologram) as Gayus asks a few questions from the recent incident bugging him. However she doesn’t need to answer since he suddenly figures it out. Something about the Dragon Empire planning to conspire with Dochetta. The Seven City Alliance is also supporting Dochetta and in return, they will get mining rights to very rare resources. They can’t join forces with Aurora Hammer as they have declared the resources belonging to the people of Urmun. That’s why it is crucial for Remedius to die as a hostage so as to protect the nation’s economy and people. Xenobia will do anything for her own people but wouldn’t care less about others. Before they can get mad, she says this decision was made by Mordin during the time they guarded him as he had a secret meeting then. Xenobia then joins Mordin (they are cousins) watching the parade of Dochetta. Suddenly a couple of girls go up to him to give him flowers. BOOM! Where the heck was security?! Oh, Dochetta survives thanks to some Jushiki. However Ava Dorn activates and kills everyone in the stadium. Mordin and Xenobia are protected of course. Gayus and Gigina stumble into Zhuo Lu in the streets as they see that assassination incident live on TV. Zhuo Lu reveals that Rahzel Island incident was just a distraction so as to bring the warheads to Urmun where the true game board is. He believes a new nation will be born with Dochetta’s assassination. Gayus knows Zhuo Lu is the real Remedius and the one that was supposed to him was Zemunn. Gayus disagrees with his idea of freedom by killing lots of innocent people but Zhuo Lu begs to differ because if he has a better suggestion, then be his guest. Gayus knows his method will only create more Dochetta-like people. Zhuo Lu considers them as useless since they can do nothing but criticize. Gayus then smells a familiar scent. We see Zhuo Lu and Naricia talking and hoping for the best even if it will never come true.

Episode 12
Flashback when Gayus was just brought into Diorg’s agency. As you can expect, Gayus wasn’t cooperative and tried to be a hero fighting by himself but is often put in his place by Cuello. This sleazy guy even played the sympathy card just to get in her pants! She’s not buying it. The duo were on a mission to arrest a guy who skipped his bail after being charged for killing a couple of Jushiki-shi. The mission failed as he got away and Gayus nearly died after rushing in. But with Cuello nursing him and the more he talks to her, Gayus finds himself falling for her. She’s not bad after all. Too bad not everyone’s perfect. Yeah, she has her own flaws. She’s a demon behind the wheel! Speed is everything?! They finish up the mission but brought Gigina this time. After a few fights here and there and Gayus covering Cuello’s back, they succeed. And so a group photo of them is all Gayus has left to reminisce about his old team. As usual, the usual bickering with Gigina over taking forever to clean the place if he keeps daydreaming. Yeah, why not clean the furniture in the place if he loves them so much? It is briefly narrated that Urmun entered a nasty civil war after Dochetta’s death. The Dragon Empire sent in troops under the guise of peacekeeping and as long Urmun is in chaos, the Dragon Empire’s economy stays stable. Also, the people of Urmun failed to answer to Aurora Hammer’s call for resistance. There were some but it soon sputtered out. Eventually Zhuo Lu AKA Remedius died for real. Decapitated outside the city, believed to have been assassinated. Aurora Hammer also fell apart after his death. Gayus feels his golden age has passed and those days can never return. But now he has a girlfriend and a partner who backs him up, that’s all he needs.

Dances With Conspiracy And Bromance
Hmm… So they ‘ended’ it with a short flashback and somewhat a ‘fast forward’ of the events of Urmun? Because of that I sometimes wonder if a single cour for this series was just too short to do it justice. But having it 2 cours won’t do any good for me either because you’ll soon find out why in the next paragraph. Hence that final episode flashback was timely and interesting to know about Gayus and Gigina’s early days together. However it wasn’t enough to warrant anything significant. Like as though it is a teaser if the series should warrant another season because I believe this is good enough to deserve another solid arc by itself. Also, trying to wrap up Urmun’s incident felt like rushing it because we’re already at the end of the season. Because I thought Remedius at this rate might become a formidable opponent but shockingly died like a pitiful dog. But whatever.

Just as I feared, I didn’t understand the lot that is going on. Not even the gist of it. Because of all the conspiracy and politics that are going on, it makes it really hard for a simpleton like me to grasp what is actually going on. Even if I had to replay scenes and conversations again, I don’t think I would be able to comprehend what is taking place. That is why when Gayus starts explaining what he deduced from whatever revelation, it sounds more like a plot convenience to reveal to viewers the happenings. Like as though he read from the script just to tell us straight in our faces the answers that we all should know. Not that I would understand either. Gayus may be sharp and a smart guy in the series and with his brilliant deductions of what is going on, too bad it is wasted on people like me because, for the umpteenth time, I don’t really understand what lies beneath all that eventually. So yeah, first half’s arc having some dragon chick trying to kill them. Okay. Cool. Whatever. Second half’s arc having some dangerous game that involves millions of lives only for it all to be a distraction? Whatever. I’m really lost.

Making me even more lost are the names of the characters and places. Actually because this isn’t your standard Japan or Tokyo and hence no typical Takashi or average Sakura sounding names, the characters’ names do sound weird and so sci-fi-like that sometimes I feel that there is this difficulty of trying to formally spell their names in Roman alphabets. Yeah, how do you actually write down those tongue twisting names? Thank heavens for Google or otherwise I would have to strain my ears just to listen over and over again what the heck this character name is. Hence there are different versions of spelling the names depending on which source you look at. Oh, here is another mind boggling thing. Despite all the fantastic sounding names, I noticed the currency they used is yen! WTF?! Not sure if it is just coincidence or oversight on the producer’s part but having yen as the currency makes it feel so out of place. Yeah, the names and setting are already so out of place and then you suddenly have this very common current day thingy here. I guess it goes to show that no matter where you are, money still mostly motivates men.

Thanks to the incomprehensible plot (I suppose Gayus and Gigina are taking jobs so as to put food on their table, or in the latter’s case, to buy more furniture), I find it hard to relate it to the characters. But thankfully, I can admit that what I enjoyed most in watching this series is the very strange and dynamic interaction between Gayus and Gigina. Although I don’t entirely understand them, seeing how they are always at odds with each other but trading insults in very cool and calm disposition is very much enjoyable. It’s like they’re always hot and cold with each other. They’ve been so long around each other that they might be trading such insults as a pastime. They have to do it every time. Before missions. During missions. After missions. It’s like their drug as they try to verbally up one another. It’s like one of those buddy cop teams but in a dark sci-fi world. Heck, the interaction between the duo sometimes feel like a bait and trap for some yaoi bromance! Uh huh. It is even hinted in Gayus’ name. Gay us. Get it? Gay-Us! Gay-R-Us! Haha! Gigina’s name? Is that a Draken term for a manly vagina?! And so there are points where they are tempting to cross that yaoi line but so far so good. As long as Gayus gets it hot with Jivunya, the straight world is a-okay.

Therefore I suspect that a few scenes of Gayus getting really hot and steamy with Jivunya sometimes feels like a troll to make us think that this guy is straight. Enough to make you think that this bespectacled dude isn’t into macho men because he has got a hot sexy girlfriend to begin with. Heck, even Gigina looked like he has a harem of hot chicks of his own! But then again, oddly Jivunya always wants to try and have them be friends. Sometimes it’s like trying to activate our yaoi bromance radar because maybe she would like the see those guys make out for once! Yikes! Here I thought she was a straight woman with eyes only for Gayus but you never know what lurks deep into a woman’s heart. The irony that I somewhat feel and understand Jivunya’s jealousy over Gayus’ possible ex-girlfriend more than the plot of the overall series. Yeah. I was thinking they should expand this but that would dilute the worth of the series. This side relationship is supposed to just be a little side distraction from the big thing.

After all, I don’t think Gayus and Gigina exactly hate each other that much although they do hate each other sometimes. If they are, they wouldn’t have worked together as a team so beautifully as seen all the time. They are like the perfect team combo each time they pull off almost impossible stuffs in each mission, covering each other’s backs. That’s why I enjoy watching them being together and it would be just unthinkable if they really go their separate ways. On the individual level, I believe each of them have their own past to deal with but this series doesn’t dwell on them deeply. We know Gayus has some sort of issues with his dead ex-comrades as well as his late sister but it wasn’t something that is fleshed out deeply and by the next arc, you’ll forget Gayus still hasn’t gotten over Aleciel’s death. Almost forgotten her name there.

Still don’t understand why Gayus puts up for his stupid selfish boss in the agency he works for. Sure, he has issues with his previous agency that resulted in the deaths of his comrades but he is okay having his pay deducted for the slightest and negligible stuffs? It’s amazing he can still keep his cool. As for Gigina, not sure if he loves to spout crap especially about his Draken warrior sayings. Sounds warrior worthy but sometimes sounds more like convenience. Even his whatever Draken culture he warns you about offending with. Yeah, not much is really known about the Draken kind. Of course Gigina will also be fondly remember for his love of furniture. If this guy isn’t a Jushiki, he would have opened a furniture factory or shop. So people, take care of your furniture well. Otherwise Gigina will kill you who are worth less than those precious fittings!

Mordin is a very hard character to understand. As a very high ranking and prominent politician as well as the man of God, he is very sneaky and manipulative. Because of his very calm demeanour, it lets your guard down to think that he is an okay chap. Alas he is wise enough and thinks many steps ahead to certainly make sure you dance right into the palm of his hand. Just when you think you have got the better of him, it is not as he has already taken precautions. This makes him a very dangerous character as it makes you doubt whether he is telling the truth, lying, half truths or half lies. You don’t really know what he is thinking. Given he has that little charisma too, if I was in person speaking to him, I would find it hard to rebut what he would say to me. Even if I know that I shouldn’t trust this person. Plus, he is so careful that he has clones talking on behalf and make you think you are talking to the real thing. Trust in God, sure. But trust your own guts more. Deception is perhaps the best word to describe this guy. No wonder he looks like he has a good poker face!

There are a few more other interesting characters like Czahn who is just weird as she loves organs. No, not the music instrument type. She could have been Frankenstein if she had her own spinoff series. Mordin also has a dozen of very skilled Jushiki-shi under his wing. Too bad we don’t see all of them and those who appeared feel wasted. But they all expend their lives just to protect this important man so maybe they can’t be getting more screen time and back story. Some are just forgettable like that journalist girl whom you’ll wonder if she is even relevant at all as well as that guy who keeps bugging Gayus to take his stupid fortune reading.

As magic AKA Jushiki plays an important factor in this series, I can’t help feel that because of the conspiracies and politicking going on, I don’t really feel their impact. They are mostly used in action scenes but with all the different types of Jushiki, sometimes I feel that they just pull it out of the air and conjure whatever weird Jushiki is being used. That is why with Gayus being an expert on this matter starts saying weird Jushiki spell names as well as explaining its traits, I don’t really understand and would quickly jump to this bias conclusion that maybe they just made it up on the spot. Because it sounds grand enough to sound like a Jushiki so it’s a pass. Hence the Jushiki spell names are the sci-fi curse for me as I don’t really understand them. Some insignia pops up and then the effect. Usually big explosions. So yeah, that’s your action bits. Otherwise be happy with Gigina just slashing around with his giant sword.

Art and animation are rather okay but with the very dark setting of this world, sometimes I feel that it is hard to see things although the darkness feels very much like complementing the theme and setting of this world. My dumb conspiracy theory of why Jivunya is a half elf is perhaps somebody has some deep dark fantasies of making out with an elf woman… Or maybe it’s just me. Also, Cuello’s uniform is another eyebrow raiser. You know, it’s like basically she goes into missions wearing her pantsu. It makes you want to ask if she forgot to put her pants on. Yeah, is she wearing pantsu or hot pants? No wonder Gayus was gunning for her ass. I almost did fall for that juicy temptation too. This series is animated by Seven Arcs Pictures who did Trinity Seven, Dog Days, Mushibugyou and Basilisk: Ouka Ninpouchou.

Some of the recognizable seiyuus lending their talents include Youko Hikasa as Jivunya, Norio Wakamoto as Amupura, Tomokazu Sugita as Remedius, Akira Ishida as Zhuo Lu, Haruka Tomatsu as Cuello, Hiro Shimono as Iegie and Yuko Kaida as Nidvolk. Other casts include Nobunaga Shimazaki as Gayus (Kaito in Ano Natsu De Matteru), Yoshimasa Hosoya as Gigina (Reiner in Shingeki No Kyojin), Rintarou Nishi as Largonkin (Denzel in Nanatsu No Taizai: Imashime No Fukkatsu), Takaya Hashi as Mordin (Inuarashi in One Piece), Sachiko Kojima as Xenobia (Sayako in Bamboo Blade), Sakiko Tamagawa as Czahn (Natsumi in You’re Under Arrest), (Rica Matsumoto as Jabeira (Aoi in You’re Under Arrest), Amina Sato as Naricia (Yuuka in AKB0048), Sora Tokui as Beldritt (Hideri in Blend S) and Takanori Hoshino as Jesper (Kugaha in Noragami Aragoto).

For the opening theme, it sounds hell helluva familiar. Yup, that typical trademark of that techno beat is certainly no other than Fripside. Divine Criminal sounds so similar to the other anime themes they sung such as in Clockwork Planet, Black Bullet and even To Aru Kagaku No Railgun, that I am starting to think that they just make a little adjustments to the tune and voila! New Fripside song. But I’m not going to say that this song sucks because I somewhat like the techno tune of this song even if it is just average and pretty similar to their other music. As for the ending theme, Decadence by Maon Kurosaki sounds not bad as a rock outfit. If the theme of this series wasn’t that dark, it would have fit it perfectly like a glove.

Overall, this series is not just for anyone especially casual viewers. The very dark theme, conspiracy and politics prove that you need some sort of an intelligent mind to understand or at least grasp all the sneaky happenings going on. Yeah, you need to be a smart person to decently enjoy this one. The dynamic interaction between the 2 main characters is perhaps the most entertaining parts of the series, even better than the frenzy action lighted up with lots of Jushiki special effects. Even if this series tries to be manly, badass and sexy (that includes yaoi baiting) at the same time, the confusing and perplexing plot and storyline drain a lot away from that. Sometimes I wish for simpler stuffs no matter how silly it gets. Gigina to turn into Furniture Man and beat up all those who mistreat their furniture while Gayus and Jivunya in a maid outfit have a hot make out session, Czahn opening her own museum of her dissecting anatomy art and finally the warheads just randomly bomb and vaporize everyone and everything. Sighs. Okay, let’s stick with the darker and confusing tones of this series, shall we? Let’s be like Gayus and appreciate what we all have in our hands now, okay? It’s not that bad when you think about it.

It’s finally here. The much anticipated fight between the ‘bad guys’ who turned good guys against a bunch of very bad and nasty group of demons under the name of God’s principles and moral behaviours. Yeah, the irony. Just like its name implies, Nanatsu No Taizai: Imashime No Fukkatsu will have our Sins taking on the most formidable threat to the land with the revival of an elite squad serving directly under the Demon King. If you think everybody is a hell lot powerful the last time, wait till you see how much more powerful they can get here. It’s like there’s not limit to how superbly powerful one can become. Ah well, when you’re fighting with demons of demonic proportions and strength, I guess that is only to be expected.

Episode 1
The Sins are trying out their outfits for tomorrow’s award ceremony. King Baltra insists on giving them medals for their heroics. That night, Ban tells Meliodas that he is leaving Sins. King stops him but after learning he is heading to the Fairy King’s Forest, he follows him. Hence the Sins minus the duo plus Hawk are before Baltra as they prepare to be awarded. However Meliodas rejects. Because he heard some disagreement in the crowd and tells them to come out and state their disapproval. They are the trio of Pleiades of the Azure Sky under the assistant great Holy Knight of Denzel: Deathpierce, Dogedo and Waillo. As they have been stationed far away during those tumultuous events, they are not willing to accept their strength until they see for themselves. Dogedo is up for the challenge as Hawk assess his power. He was previously given some magical item by Merlin that could see one’s stats. I guess nobody is over 9000 yet. Meliodas fights him and easily dodges his attacks without sweat. Even when Dogedo badmouths Dreyfus and Hendrickson, Meliodas doesn’t defend them but notes even if Dogedo has strength, he lacks heart. Eventually he is knocked out and Deathpierce acknowledges their power and withdraws. We are distracted with Hawk assessing the powers of the Sins as he panics he isn’t so powerful after all. Buy hey, nobody is over 9000. Later the Sins bump into Gilthunder, Hauser and Griamor. They talk about the inconsistency of Dreyfus defecting, killing an ally and then protected an ally at the cost of his life. They renew their vow to find the truth. Meliodas ponders about Baltra’s prophecy in which he saw 10 evil shadows that will bring disaster to the land. And with the rumble in the ground, he suddenly knows who those guys are. As we all know, Dreyfus and Hendrickson are alive. Or at least the Demon Clan is inhabiting their body. And yeah, those shadows are those Demon Clan weirdoes and one of them looking like a clone of Meliodas.

Episode 2
Lacking energy since the seal dried it out, the demons need to replenish their strength before making their move. Ban and King call Jericho out from her hiding. Yeah, she has been following them for 20 miles! They reach the Fairy King’s Forest and it is revived. All the fairies still hate King for being a traitor and consider their new king is Ban because he planted the seeds to revive the forest. More heartbreak for King as he sees Elaine’s body lying peacefully. Gilthunder and his groupie leave on a journey to find the truth. Soon Elizabeth also finds out Meliodas is preparing to leave but he won’t let her follow. She talks to Diane who knows she likes Meliodas. However she is fine not confessing her feelings. Diane disagrees as she narrates about her lost and found memories. She has come to realize she loves King and is sad he left her alone again and went somewhere without telling her. She laments not getting to tell him her feelings. King continues to be mistreated by the fairies. Strangely, he gets advice from his dead friend, Helbram. As long as he puts on his helmet, he could actually see visions of him. So is he really dead or not? Physically yes but this? Ban’s goal is to revive Elaine so he tells King to return to Diane since she is still alive. King blushes when Ban tells him he overheard Diane’s monologue this morning that she will die of loneliness without him. Back to Elizabeth and Diane, the former still prefers to maintain status quo as she believes Meliodas already has a lover. They then see Zeal and are shocked he cannot remember his family or himself. Merlin gives Gowther to take some magic stabilizing pills but he throws it away and Hawk eats them. Gowther quits the Sins and decides to be with Guila. Diane and Elizabeth are further shocked to learn Gowther has messed with their memories. As he has decided to study on feelings (love, particularly), he has removed Zeal from her memories and implanted himself as a Holy Knight. The girls protest but Gowther argues that her original memories are painful and not happy ones. They counter that with the irreplaceable family bonds line. With the disagreement going nowhere, Gowther and Diane fight. Gowther realizes a powerful blackout spell that knocks out all in the kingdom with low magic power. Meanwhile Meliodas talks to Merlin and wants her to give back what she has taken from him 10 years ago. This is serious because the demons who were revived are the Ten Commandments, the elite unit directly serving under the Demon King.

Episode 3
Although Diane defeats Gowther, the entire kingdom is destroyed. Meliodas and Merlin arrive to see Gowther cowering in fear. He wants to be locked up so as not to hurt others again. But before that, he restores the memories of Guila and Zeal. Did he quip about he can’t apologize sincerely from the heart because he has no heart? But Guila doesn’t hate him and thanks him for trying to save her by showing her the true memories. In the end, looks like Guila rejected Gowther. Ouch? Oh well, he doesn’t have a heart. Threader comes by to check things out. He is fascinated by Merlin’s power and wishes to serve her. Merlin turns Gowther into his true form: A mini doll. She has Threader keep him for the rest of the journey. Back at Boar Hat, Meliodas invites Threader to join them but still declines Elizabeth. He didn’t bat an eyelid to say she would be a hindrance. This hurts her so Threader talks to her and although she realizes this is Meliodas’ way of caring for her, he suggests she show her feelings through actions. Merlin detects an anomaly outside Camelot. Change of plans. Time to move now. A giant golem named Albion is terrorizing the place. Meliodas recognizes it as a weapon created by the demon clan during the Ancient War. Its weakness is the core in its chest. As Meliodas and Arthur race up to the core, Albion fights back and Meliodas’ sword breaks. This is when Merlin decides to return his Sacred Treasure which she bought back after Meliodas pawned it. Behold, Lostvayne! It’s so sharp and fast that he singlehandedly (okay, with the help of his clones too) over-destroys Albion and its core. Meanwhile at the Fairy King’s Forest, the forests are growing and King thought it was impossible to grow at this rate despite the fountain of youth is gone. Then he is told that Ban has been coming here every few years to give his life to the forest. This is part of his plan to revive Elaine and will not be leaving until he achieves it. Though the fairies consider his dedication and effort to be king, he doesn’t consider himself fitting the criteria of being chosen by the Sacred Tree. But some fairies like Gerharde consider King to be fit to be their king but Ban as the forests’ nutrient. The forest rocks again. This time a slender version of Albion is attacking.

Episode 4
As usual, Albion wreaks havoc. As usual, the fairies are too scared and weak to fight it. As usual, the only one who does so is King. He takes a pounding and all the fairies could do is cry and feel regret they treated him like a traitor? Meanwhile Gerharde fights Ban despite the latter has no interest in becoming their king. Gerharde plays dirty by aiming at Elaine so Ban ‘dies’ while protecting the corpse. We interrupt this fight now because Gerharde feels the tremor of King’s fight with Albion. The Sacred Tree is cut in half and at this point all the fairies decide to get back their balls and fight Albion so that King could escape. As long the fairy king is around, the forest will revive one day. Helbram vision again. He tells King the fairies haven’t gotten lazy and never thought would be attacked. At least watching King fight has gotten their pride back. Of course King won’t allow this. He wants to protect everything. He unleashes the true form of his Sacred Treasure and throws it into Albion, destroying it. Shouldn’t he done this earlier? Unless it needs some tears and drama to power up. Meliodas explains to Arthur that with the revival of Ten Commandments, the reason the seal on Albion was broken. Cue for Elizabeth to feel she is truly useless this time. That’s why Meliodas doesn’t need her. Sorry to interrupt your chat but here comes Galand of Ten Commandments. Everyone trembles just seeing how powerful this old demon dude is. Heck, Hawk is even confused if the magical item is broken because Galand’s power is 26,000! Well, that is way OVER 9,000!!!

Episode 5
The Sacred Tree is restored. Just like that? Is it Ban? Has to be. Who else has got that tremendous power? He gives a bit of his blood to heal King and then warns Gerharde of ever doing anything like that again or he’ll kill her. As he has no intentions of rejoining the Sins, Ban takes his leave. Galand might be powerful but his magic power is zero thanks to the seal’s effect. A full display of his power as he flattens the surrounding area. Meliodas fights him but is clearly not enough. Not even Diane in giant form. Merlin decides to make a deal with him but this is a ploy to buy time. Because of that, she is turned into stone. As Galand represents the truth, any lie told would petrify that person. Meliodas has no choice but to go into his true demon form to fight him. Meanwhile Zeldris (leader of the Ten Commandments) realizes the land has lost much of its magical power since 3000 years ago. That’s why their healing is taking an awful long time. A few human miners bug them thinking they are in their territory so Derieri sucks their souls. Mmmm… Seems to work as magic replenishment. I guess time to make a big harvest from the nearest human settlement. Back to Meliodas’ fight, despite making some gains, Galand gets serious and overpowers them. He looks like has killed Meliodas, Diane and Threader (stone Merlin also broke) but a strong barrier protects Arthur, Elizabeth and Hawk. He thinks it is enough for today and retreats. Meanwhile Gilthunder’s group stumble upon lifeless humans. They’re not dead but more like empty husks. The nearby village is under attack by a red demon collecting human souls. They defeat it and send the souls back. However it’s not over and there is a grey demon to face now. They get a shock of their lives when Hendrickson returns to fight with them.

Episode 6
Griamor wants to kill him now but Hendrickson mentions Dreyfus is still alive. Trying to confuse him? They cooperate to take down the grey demon and the young ones are shocked that Hendrickson could use Purge as this could only be done by Zaratras. Hendrickson explains he is of the same Druid lineage that worships the Goddess Clan. Flashback 10 years ago when Hendrickson and Dreyfus were ordered to investigate Danafor. They find a large crater and beneath it is a demon, Fraudrin who wants to borrow their bodies. While Dreyfus resisted his mind control, Hendrickson couldn’t. As Dreyfus couldn’t use Purge and killing Hendrickson would only kill the vessel, Dreyfus is forced to give in but vows if his friend dies, he will find a way to kill him. Fraudrin possesses them both to report back to the capital that nothing happened. They conspired to kill Zaratras and blamed it on the Sins. He did so because he had a bone to pick with Meliodas. 16 years ago they fought and he killed Meliodas’ lover, Liz. Now he is laying low in Dreyfus body, hoping to regain his power and exact revenge on him. Meliodas and co are fine although Merlin is still petrified. Thanks to Gowther altering Galand’s memories to think he killed them. Gowther has also a bracelet that guarantees he will not run amok anymore. However he didn’t put it on his own free will. When he was freed at the end of Galand’s fight, he wanted to free but Merlin caught him off-guard and put the bracelet. Yes, Merlin still lives although her conscious is inside this floating ball and her Sacred Treasure, Morning Star Aldan. They discuss their strategy to take down the Ten Commandments but even if all the Sins combine their power, they only almost peak at 22,000. Assuming the other Ten Commandments have the same power as Galand, that’s 260,000!!! And if their magic power is restored, it will go well over 300,000!!! Yeah, Dragonball guys don’t stand a chance. Their strategy of closing that gap includes Elizabeth and Arthur awakening their magic powers and also finding the last Sin member: Lion’s Sin of Pride, Escanor. King returns and learning a demon just attacked this place, he rushes to see Diane. She can’t remember him. Can we blame the big knock on the head she took then?

Episode 7
Diane is further losing her memories. The culprit is Gowther. Because Diane scolded him about one can never erased important memories, he used her to test this. King gets mad and punches him. Then the rest set sail to find Diane. They have an idea where she might go: Megadoza, the village of the Giant Clan. Diane remembers about Matrona, the chief warrior of her tribe. Under her tutelage, Diane and Dolores didn’t like the idea of teaming up with humans and fighting other rival humans and rival giants. Matrona explains that humans and giants coexist with the former giving money and combat while the latter provides power. Therefore as giants, it is their pride and way of life to die on the battlefield. Dolores really doesn’t want to kill so she is advised to bear children to be raised as warriors. When Diane hears the council hoping to turn her into a formidable warrior, she wants to run away with Dolores. However she changed her mind after thinking there is no way others would accept giants. One day Diane was harassed by human guards. Meliodas rescues her and they become friends. She realizes that there are other kind humans like him and return to break the good news to Dolores. However Matrona says she has died, killed by bandits just to guard a mining town. This makes Diane furious but there is nothing she could do as she imagines what Meliodas would have said and dreams of a life with him. Matrona and Diane meet up with soldiers from Liones led by Holy Knight Gannon. They are supposed to kill savages but the giants get tricked as Matrona was almost killed. Gannon believes killing a giant for credit is better than killing a thousand savages. The giant duo fight until Matrona protects Diane from a poison arrow. In her dying breath, Matrona talks about her parents who entrusted Diane into her care. She hopes she could stop being soft-hearted and become strong. She is in fact strong only if wanted to. In the aftermath, Diane is accused of killing Matrona and covering it up with the massacre of the soldiers and sentenced to be beheaded. However Meliodas offers to take custody of her.

Episode 8
Diane stumbles near the Ten Commandments’ resting place. Galand is puzzled she is alive but Diane doesn’t remember who he is. As she doesn’t turn into stone, she is speaking the truth. Diane starts to tremble in fear and before Monspeet could eat her soul, somebody beats them up. Wait a minute. Isn’t that Matrona? Can a giant stand up to the Ten Commandments? She knocks Diane out and escapes Galand’s wrath. Meanwhile Monspeet senses Meliodas’ group approaching and sends his phoenix to test, burning everything in its path. Meliodas knows if he counters it, he will give away his position and status so how? Hawk Mama devours it! That simple?! I guess that’s it and no second time since Monspeet exhausted his power. Merlin suggests a detour. Knowing that Diane is alive and remain hidden, heading towards her would only expose her to danger. Believing now it is a time to return Meliodas’ true power back she sealed 10 years ago (those demon powers we see him wield are just a fraction) to fight the Ten Commandments, they head to Istar, the sacred land of the Druids. Stonehenge? They walk through a magical opening that brings them to the sacred land. They meet the chief Druids, Jenna and Zaneri. This huge dude? Just Theo, the priest who protects them. Would you believe it he is just 15 years old?! Elizabeth wonders if there is any romantic liaisons between Meliodas and Zaneri since Zaneri puts his hands on her boobs. I guess Meliodas isn’t into flat chests and hands off. I hope Elizabeth isn’t thinking Meliodas has the monopoly rights of fondling her boobs anytime, anywhere. Zaneri leads Meliodas and Elizabeth into a dark cave as the rest wait outside. In order to return Meliodas’ power, a painful trial is needed to overcome. Don’t get too confident about it, Meliodas. Because she returns him to a time when he was a Holy Knight at Danafor. And yeah, Liz is still alive. Ah, time to walk down memory lane.

Episode 9
Zaneri gives Elizabeth a chalice with soil. Inside is a sick seed that will not bloom no matter how. It is her trial to use her Druid powers to bloom it. Meanwhile Meliodas is living the fine times with Liz. Until her death he goes berserk. The whole thing repeats again. This is his trial to relive that tragedy 1000 times. It is supposed to rid him of his anger and if it doesn’t, it will consume him. Meanwhile Jenna takes the rest to train. They are shocked to see Hendrickson training there. Also there is Gilthunder’s groupie. Meliodas seems to get angrier with every repeat so Zaneri snaps him out. Elizabeth doesn’t blame him for what he has gone through so Meliodas wants Zaneri to send him back and promises to return safely. Meliodas knows he must cast away his emotions and accept Liz’s death. However that is impossible as he repeats the cycle of madness again. But he notes the more this happens, the more his love for her grows and so does his anger. The turning point is that he doesn’t want to see this scene again. He wakes up, shocking Zaneri that he didn’t cast away his emotions as he still has it all in his heart. Now as promised she must return his powers. Meanwhile Ban and Jericho enter Ravens, a town of thugs. He is searching for the rumoured person who supposedly brings back the dead. After renting a room for the night, they hear a commotion out in the street. Ban beats up the thugs to save the victim. However he can tell this werefox is also a pickpocket and has him return the things he stole from them. This aging beastman collapses so they put him to bed as he tells stories of his persecuted race. That’s why they have to resort to stealing to live. This has Ban remember his own childhood in this place. He tried to steal food but ends up in prison. He befriends a cellmate, Zhivago who makes a deal to break out with him.

Episode 10
Zhivago takes Ban to his hideout and feeds him. He also talks about his son. Ban returns home only to be beaten up by his parents for failing to steal food. One day Ban gets kidnapped and is to be sold to some noble. Coincidentally Zhivago saves him since he was stealing cargo. Ban wants him to teach him how to steal. Under his tutelage, Ban learns a lot. But one day when they are supposed to rob a mansion, Zhivago is late so Ban has this idea of going in by himself. He got owned. Zhivago overslept and fears the worse. He is about to save Ban but he hears the men going to hunt for werefox. Fearing he left his son back there, Zhivago transforms to his real werefox form and abandons Ban to save his son. But all in vain as his son died despite Zhivago killed the hunters. Now Zhivago wonders if he hadn’t made such mistake, he might not have lost a lot. Ban refutes he did any mistake. Had he known he abandoned his son to save him, he will not forgive him. Despite all that has happened, he has never hated him. Zhivago realizes this is Ban all grown up. Foster father reunites in tears with his foster son. Apparently the training Jenna has for them is sending them into a cave where they will fight some tough monsters. We see Gilthunder and Hauser thinking out of the box to improve their fighting abilities. After all, fighting with what they already know will not get them far. Although they lost, they have made some vast improvements. Having trouble is Gowther and Arthur pair. King changes his mind and decides to go training. He won’t pair with Hendrickson and will not forgive him for Helbram’s murder. Meliodas suggests pairing up with him since he needs to do some training for his body before taking back his power. King doesn’t agree with Meliodas’ opinion of giving Hendrickson another chance. Yes, he is guilty and cannot be forgiven for what he has done but he was under Fraudrin’s manipulation. King is further suspicious. He turns on Meliodas and wonders if he is on their side. Because he knows the names of the Ten Commandments and is from the Demon Clan.

Episode 11
Zhivago wonders why Ban has not aged. He tells him about drinking from the fountain that Zhivago once told him as a rumour. Now he cannot age nor die but since the guardian of it is dead, his goal is now to revive her. Ban who has never opened his heart to any humans hints that Jericho might be the first since she is fun to prank around. Is this his way of easing up her jealousy over Elaine? Zhivago can see Ban is still troubled. It is about his betrayal to Meliodas. He took advantage of his kindness and even tried to kill him. Despite all that, Meliodas smiled and forgave him. Zhivago advises him that his regret is useless unless he tells it to that person. Apologize from the bottom of his heart and seek forgiveness. That’s his last advice as his father. Then he kicks the bucket. That was fast. Probably we need to move the plot now. Meanwhile King is trying to find out Meliodas’ goal but he stays silent. Meliodas questions back if King is the real Fairy King because unlike his predecessors, he has no fairy wings. King is angered but this whole charade is stopped by Jenna. If they’re not going to properly do this training, might as well stop. Meliodas can’t tell him everything now as he might not believe him. In that case, King will keep a close watch on him. Meliodas has Jenna return his power. The big amber breaks and returns the entire power of darkness into him. This officially has the Ten Commandments know this is Meliodas. Meliodas wants Merlin to teleport him to their base just to say hi. Galand is not pleased he is still alive and is about to take him on when Meliodas beats him to a pulp! Why is it so satisfying to see Meliodas beat his ass up? He greets Zeldris who is also his brother. They have nothing to talk about. Zeldris will avenge his betrayal and Meliodas is here just to warn them. Before they can finish him, Merlin teleports him back. Zaneri explains to the rest Meliodas didn’t abandon his emotions. He still has them but has full control over them.

Episode 12
With Meliodas’ provocation, Zeldris has no choice but to expedite their conquest of Britannia. So they split up and visit various towns across the country. Meliodas returns and explains what he did. Some aren’t too happy but this is all part of Meliodas’ plan to separate them since they have a better chance of fighting them separately instead of together. The rest return from their training. Some changed. Hawk is, uhm, bacon with horns? Apparently he got eaten by a dragon but ate his way out and obtained this form. Arthur has a weird cat stuck on his head and Griamor has turned into a baby! So did Elizabeth pass? She failed! After they leave, Jenna confronts Zaneri about Elizabeth’s trial. She didn’t put a seed in the chalice and it is obvious that Elizabeth has Druid powers flowing through her. Does she still love Meliodas? Watching her heartbreak reaction when Meliodas praised Elizabeth tells a lot. Zaneri understands Meliodas never feel the same for her and has only one room in his heart. She was trying to keep Elizabeth away from him as she fears he might lose her. Elizabeth is the reincarnation of Liz. Now that Meliodas’ power is at 32,500 and can basically take the Ten Commandments himself, do they still need to find Escanor? Yes. He is more powerful than Meliodas. Melascula opens the door from the other world and returns souls with regrets to their corpses, turning them into zombies. This means Elaine revives. However she beats up everyone and Gerharde the most for talking to Ban and then hurting him. Ban is hers. She is going to find Ban and summons Oslo. King finds it odd Oslo is being summoned so Helbram hints of the ominous thing happening all over. Using the excuse he doesn’t trust Meliodas, King leaves the group to attend to this. After Ban buries Zhivago, a zombie pops up to attack Jericho. Ban easily kills him. Guess who the next attack is from? Elaine! Not sure if this is her way of greeting him because now the duo share the longest kiss ever!

Episode 13
While Jericho is jealous, Elaine tries to kill her. She attacks Ban too when he tries to stop her. Ban is like so cool about getting beaten up by her and is not mad despite knowing she is under control, it makes me wonder if he is a masochist. Elaine hates it that she wanted to travel with Ban but Jericho stole her dream and did it so easily. It becomes an argument between the ladies of who loves Ban more but in the end Jericho has a point that if she was in her shoes, she will never ever hurt Ban. Ban’s soothing words calm her down but they are visited by Melascula and Galand. Melascula explains her forbidden magic of reviving souls using regrets and anger and once someone overcome that, they’ll be dead again. Exactly what is almost happening to Elaine. Galand thought he killed Ban but he revives. Galand makes the mistake of allowing him a free punch just to show his magic but gets beaten up to a pulp. Déjà vu again for him. Galand is weakened and Melascula theorizes Ban can steal power from those within a certain radius. Melascula engulfs Ban in her darkness but passes him. As humans have desires and easily lose faith with the slightest thing, they will lose their sights. But Ban’s soul is pure and beautiful. He never got mad when Elaine went berserk. However when he dies, he will become nothing. This shocks Ban and Melascula is able to purge his soul. Galand steals and eats it! Melascula isn’t pleased he stole her prey. Sad and mad Jericho wants to avenge him but shockingly Ban revives and takes the ladies to run after he cuts one of the many hearts of those demons to deal some damage. It is revealed Zhivago’s soul traded place with him during that commotion. Ban and Elaine try to be selfless to each other to let the other escape. Jericho is pissed with their attitude and takes them both anyway. Meanwhile Dreyfus encounters Deldry of Pleiades. Because she kissed him, her charms has his body do her bidding. Like saving her from attacks from fellow Pleiades’ Arden. Then it becomes a strange fight between Dreyfus and Waillo over Deldry’s hand in marriage. Dreyfus is knocked out and taken away.

Episode 14
It’s already hard for Jericho to carry both of them and now she has to avoid bouncing boulders! Yeah, Galand is playing golf. Fore! Eventually she takes a critical hit while trying to defend the duo. Then another that sends her down into a ravine. Following this cave leads them to a bar run by a meek barkeeper. I’ll spoil you now, this guy is Escanor. He recognizes Ban but with no time to explain, Jericho requests he hides them and he keeps them in his storeroom. But Galand slices open the cave. Too keep them busy, Escanor serves them alcohol. They totally love his ale and start drinking while spewing out some info about their mission to Escanor. Of course they know Escanor is hiding them and feeling good, Galand wants to play a game. Each will take turns hitting each other until one is dead. No fleeing, no chickening out. If Escanor doesn’t play, Galand will kill them all. Does he have a choice? But the small pat on Escanor’s back literally knocks out this timid guy. So they wait until morning as Galand notices a huge battle axe. He finds it hard to carry it but Escanor easily shows it how it’s done. Escanor is now bulging with muscles! OMG! He is turning into baby face Hulk! In one swing, he cuts down Galand. Escanor officially introduces himself. Now it’s Galand’s turn to hit him so he powers up to 40,000 and strikes! But nothing happens! Because Escanor’s power is 50,000 and gradually rising! It is Escanor’s turn and with his immense power, Galand gets scared and runs away! Because of that, he himself turns into stone as he broke his own rule. Escanor gives Melascula a chance to escape but she chooses to kill him. She engulfs him in her darkness and eats his soul. But soon after, her innards start burning and she has no choice but to spit him out. Since Escanor has things to talk with Ban, he waits till night fall where he turns back into his meek form. He learns about Merlin and that the Sins are no longer wanted (the reason he is hiding) and are heroes. Also, he needs Ban’s help to deliver ale but he isn’t interested. King arrives and is shocked to see Elaine alive. Meanwhile Diane is treated with Matrona’s traditional dance. Since Diane prefers this to fighting, Matrona agrees from now on she is to be a dancer.

Episode 15
Dreyfus is met with Denzel who is Baltra’s brother sent far away from the capital to study more about the Demon Clan. He has no qualms injuring Dreyfus since Fraudrin is inhabiting his body. He wants to prove that a human can slay a demon. Meanwhile Diane sucks at dancing as we learn Matrona lived because a Holy Knight Zalpa whom Diane spared at that time saved her by cutting off her poisoned leg. Matrona is now his ‘wife’ and helps take care of his kids. There are flyers dropped all over the area announcing a fighting tournament at Vaizel. The winner gets any wish granted. It is obviously a trap as it is sent by demons under the Ten Commandments, namely Gloxinia and Drole. Meliodas thinks of heading there for fun since they lost Escanor’s signal. Because demons wounded Zalpa’s kids, Matrona is going to take part despite the prize is crap. But that’s all she can hope for. Diane also joins her. Denzel dominates over Dreyfus and Deathpierce joins in. Dogedo returns and reliefs the other Pleiades members guarding watch so they can go to Vaizel. The magic barrier keeping Dreyfus in now breaks. Did Dogedo betray them? Actually it is the shape shifting Ten Commandment, Grayroad. Denzel lets them go instead of killing them because if they do so to Dreyfus, they will suffer the pacifism curse from Grayroad. On his way out, Dreyfus stabs Deldry as revenge. Then he informs he isn’t a real member of the Ten Commandments and is only a substitute. The real one left ages ago to parts unknown. During the battle at the capital, he managed to confirm he is still alive. Now he doesn’t have memories of his former self. That member was… Gowther!

Episode 16
Matrona and Diane find themselves before a giant maze. It is supposed to be some ‘screening process’ for the tournament participants. They can’t destroy walls (it regenerates) or go from the top (barriers). Along the way, they got separated. Diane encounters Hawk and wants to eat it! As Elizabeth is also here, she explains about their relationship but Diane still doesn’t remember and continues to distrust them. But when faced with danger, they help each other out. It gets weirder when they face off with clones of Meliodas. Thanks to Gilthunder and Hauser coming to their aid. The next threat is some giant land fish monster. With their combo, they are able to take it out. Meanwhile Meliodas and Arthur stumble into Ban. The usual violent greeting the duo have. Apparently Ban isn’t here to participate but to deliver ale to Vaizel with Escanor. Ban still feels guilty about betraying Meliodas but the latter has put that behind him. With Ban back, they can work together for the greater good. We see how powerful they have become as they unleash all their power to break the thick wall to reunite with Elizabeth’s group who is just on the other side. Conveniently they have also blown a straight path to the goal. Looks like everyone else who are participating have already arrived.

Episode 17
Get this. Drole is supposed to be the Giant Clan’s god while Gloxinia is supposed to be the Fairy Clan’s first king supposedly to have died during the war against the Demon Clan. The first round matches is a tag team one. They are randomly paired and I guess the mightiest pair is Meliodas and Ban. Because altogether there are 15 teams, Gloxinia and Drole use their doppelganger to enter. We focus on Elizabeth-Elaine pair. They are faced with a pair of assassin brothers. No doubt Elaine’s fairy powers can easily do the job, the girls prefer to talk to each about their respective crushes! Are they like disrespecting their opponents? When it gets serious enough, the ladies win but kind Elizabeth heals them. However Gloxinia disposes the losers. Now we go to Meliodas-Ban pair. Both of them are arguing their girl is the best and don’t even give a f*cks about the demon bird pair attacking! So intense their quarrelling that they accidentally killed them! And they don’t even know it! Now we go to Diane-King pair who is staving off the doppelgangers’ attack. Diane doesn’t believe King is the current fairy king. King displays some of his fairy powers as prove. They may put up some fight against the doppelgangers but is this time for King to make a statement he wants to confess to her? With the doppelgangers intensifying their attack, King turns his Sacred Treasure into its next form.

Episode 18
King uses up all his magic to finally destroy Gloxinia’s doppelganger. With Diane very motivated, she spawns rock golems in the image of her friends to fight Drole’s doppelganger. It is ironic that the weak looking King golem is the most powerful and delivers the finishing blow to the enemy. Denzel has a meeting with his Pleiades and other Holy Knights. Deathpierce reports that 9 out of 10 towns in Britannia has been eliminated and taken over by the Ten Commandments. One of them being Camelot. As Liones could be next in no time, Denzel orders Guila to head there and tell the king that they are on a mission to eliminate one of the Ten Commandments who is no other than Gowther. Speaking of that guy, Gowther-Jericho is up against Escanor-Hawk. Escanor doesn’t want to fight and pleads to Gloxinia to resign. Rejected. Jericho argues with Gowther about killing others to obtain emotion. She could say from experience as she once regretted tossing away her humanity just to obtain power. In the end, it is yourself who will be hurt the most. Gowther does not understand about feelings or friendship and rids of Jericho and Hawk. He will take down Escanor and get what he wants. He puts a spell on him to see his own nightmare. Actually his past. Born into a noble family, Escanor’s brother was jealous he got more attention from their parents. He tried to beat him up but Escanor in his defence attacked him. His strength broke his brother. Since then everyone thinks he is a cursed monster and was to be killed. A woman named Rosa let him escape. He was scouted to join the Sins by Merlin who witnessed his extraordinary strength. Because Merlin looked like Rosa, he joined and fell in love with her. Escanor is mocked by ‘Merlin’ she will never return his love for being weak. However Escanor manages to escape this nightmare curse and transforms into his strong self. Escanor has accepted the fact he will never walked alongside Merlin and this gave him hope instead of despair. He extracted the sun’s power inside his own mind. Gowther remains defiant and is going to fight him as Escanor summons his axe and powering it up with the sun’s power. It looked he might kill everyone in the area just to exact punishment for toying with his heart. In the end, Gowther wins with his arrow through Escanor’s body. Since Gowther has not realized it yet, Jericho points out Escanor’s target was Gloxinia and Drole. Those duo are knocked out by his power.

Episode 19
Meliodas uses this chance when their guard is down to attack the duo. This is all part of his plan. He never told his friends and came together under the guise of wanting to happily participate in a tournament. All he needs is a chance and Escanor gave that distraction. Meliodas is super awesome as he beat them up. Like as though he is on cheat code mode!!! OMG! No matter how many times Gloxinia uses his life drops to heal them back, Meliodas is fast enough to deal lots of damage. Rinse and repeat. A never ending cycle. Even when Drole takes his friends captive, Meliodas doesn’t slow down. A wizard participant uses his magic to teleport the friends back to Liones as they watch the fight from his crystal ball. Meliodas is about to score a huge victory but the other Ten Commandments drop in (minus Galand. Melascula is black as f*ck) as they sensed Meliodas’ great blood thirst. And so it begins the epic battle but it might look a bit one sided with Meliodas becoming a punching bag. This is due to Meliodas using up lots of his power and magic with his earlier fight, though he could still stand his ground and fight back. When can we learn that talking will not wake up the other possessed party? Oh wait. It always works. That is what Meliodas is trying towards Dreyfus. Although it moved him a bit, Fraudrin repossesses him and deals the finishing blow. But this is all part of his plan as all the power he has accumulated is slowly being unleashed. The Ten Commandments fear they will be defeated again by this traitor whom they consider as the source of why the Demon Clan got defeated. Before that happens, Estarossa easily stops him. Uhm, just like turning off the switch for the computer?

Episode 20
Estarossa mocks Meliodas if he is going to betray the Sins like how he betrayed them. He is sad that he once fought on their side but his betrayal caused not only the deaths of 2 Ten Commandments (hence Gloxinia and Drole as replacements), the Goddess Clan teamed up with others to bring down the Demon Clan for a humiliating defeat. Melascula wants to devour his soul as atonement. Ban has the wizard teleport him there. Ban uses his time stopping move to break Melascula’s neck and destroy all her hearts! He tries to do the same to Estarossa but he isn’t budging. Like trying to open a jar of pickle???!!! Estarossa coolly summons his 7 swords to slowly stab all of Meliodas’ 7 hearts to kill him. Yup, Meliodas is dead. Estarossa explodes annoying Ban. It looked funny like as though he can’t open the pickle jar and hence exploded! Now Elizabeth has the wizard teleport to Meliodas’ side. Time to cry her heart out. With Meliodas gone, the Ten Commandments are free to conquer Britannia. The Holy Knights are having a tough time warding off demons. Arthur teams up with Nanashi (literally a nameless samurai) to take down demons. Nanashi notes as long as that creepy cat is on Arthur, he cannot die. Ban is also having a tough time helping the Holy Knights keeping the demons at bay. Merlin holed herself in the lab while Gowther is imprisoned until it is confirmed he isn’t a threat like the Ten Commandments. King takes Diana as well as Matrona’s family back to the Fairy King’s forest where it is safer (after Elizabeth healed the kids). Ban has accepted the fact that Elaine is gone since he killed Melascula, it is only reasonable the effect of her spell is gone. But there is more trouble brewing. Normal people are hunting down Holy Knights to offer them to their demon rulers. Think of it as protection money or life extension. Golgius thought being in the woods is safe but he is attacked by a demon. He thought he is a goner but wakes up in Boar Hat where Elizabeth is happily serving away.

Episode 21
Golgius is wary when Elizabeth and Hawk still recognize him. As he once clashed with them, he thinks he doesn’t deserve their hospitality and leaves. Meliodas’ body lie motionless in Boar Hat. Time to drum up some tears with Elizabeth crying by his side and continue to believe in his return. Soon, they are visited by… Zaratras?! Apparently Melascula’s power brought him back to life temporarily. So does this mean Melascula is still alive? So why did Elaine disappear? Anyway, Zaratras still holds a grudge against Hendrickson who served him poisoned pie. So that’s how he actually died? Speaking of Meliodas, Elizabeth takes Zaratras to see his body. Zaratras puts some ointment over his body so that they could all peek into his memories. Convenient time. We see Zaratras first stumbled into Meliodas in the aftermath of Danafor’s destruction. He was carrying an infant who is Elizabeth. When Zaratras offered to help, Meliodas scorned him and warned not to touch his girl. As Baltra then wished to adopt Elizabeth, Meliodas agrees but with a condition he joins the Holy Knights. After showing his overwhelming might to Zaratras, he is then recommended to join. He watched over Elizabeth and spent lots of time with her. Of course she can’t remember as she was too young. Heck, she even gave him her first kiddie kiss. On his cheek. With Baltra’s vision on the Ten Commandments’ threat, Meliodas and Merlin set on a quest to find the Sins. Hence the Sins were formed due counter the Ten Commandments. There is also something about Meliodas waiting for 3000 years for the curse to be lifted. He tried all ways but the curse won’t allow it. Lastly, Meliodas saying goodbye to young Elizabeth because he is going away on a quest. He promises to come back. Returning to reality, this spurs Elizabeth to believe he will return. Meanwhile Meliodas is in some hell. He is told the only way to escape from this curse is to kill the one he bestowed the Commandments upon or die. Though, thanks to this curse, Meliodas is able to come back to life again and again. Meliodas is blamed for becoming weak due to a certain woman and hence when Meliodas dies and comes here, he will consume all his emotions for him to revive. He wants Meliodas to satisfy his hunger again. Ban and the Holy Knights cannot lift a finger against Estarossa. Because he represents love, all those with hate will lose their will to even fight. However only Escanor can only stand up to him. He does not hate those who are weaker than him and only pities them.

Episode 22
Escanor and Estarossa trade powerful attacks. But mostly it seems like Escanor owning Estarossa with his powerful sun power. So powerful his sunburn that it dries up the lake! Finally a super fireball that sends Estarossa flying miles away in defeat! Could have been dead if not for Zeldris coming to help absorb some of that fiery attack. Before all that, many of the Holy Knights and citizens fell into Zeldris’ power. Those who turn their back on him will be treated as disobedience. Hence under a loyalty spell to the Demon King. They try to invade the castle and kill the good guys. With Monspeet and Derieri arriving, Denzel decides to handles this. He sacrifices his own life so that the goddess Nerobasta could manifest inside his body. She refuses to cooperate to take down the demons. Derieri gets upset and tries to take her down. When Nerobasta’s attack fails, she pleads for a dialogue, only to be cut down. So much about that. Monspeet and Derieri sense a great power approaching. It is Hawk Mama making its way to Liones. It is hinted that Elizabeth has partial powers of the Goddess Clan. A few demons attack them but nothing like Zaratras to help obliterate them. Hawk eats a demon piece and turns into a weird demon piggy? Derieri once again is mad about Elizabeth’s power. She tries to attack but luckily Zaratras blocks it. Before Derieri could finish her off, look who is back to beat the crap out of her? Meliodas! Welcome back. Elizabeth so happy. I guess her believe in him has finally paid off.

Episode 23
Meliodas assures he is as good as new. He has all his hearts back. Yup, the Meliodas we all know since he starts molesting Elizabeth. But Elizabeth wants him to touch her more! Damn, did I hear that right?! Even Meliodas is suspicious… This is interrupted with Derieri trying to get even with Meliodas. Unfortunately with him being revived, Meliodas double exterminates Derieri and Monspeet. Meanwhile Grayroad has got some of the castle inhabitants in his incubation. If they are carelessly broken out, they will turn into those red and grey demons. However if you kill them, you will grow old and lose your life. As Grayroad represents pacifism, taking away another life means repaying it with yours. Just like how Dogedo found out the hard way. In a dilemma to fight or run, that wizard guy turns out to be Vivian in disguise. She teleports Gilthunder away. Will the rest be in despair? Don’t worry. Merlin is back! She is able to kill Grayroad’s underlings and not bear the effects of the penalty as she explains how she froze her own time (due to some research thingy). As for how she escaped Galand’s spell, it is because she is the daughter of Belialuin. Merlin says her true name that humans cannot pronounce and this makes Grayroad and Dreyfus afraid. They try to run but Merlin traps Grayroad in her jar. Dreyfus thought he has escaped but is now faced with Hendrickson. His Purge doesn’t work but don’t worry, Zaratras joins in the battle. He uses his own life to purge Fraudrin out of Dreyfus. With Fraudrin in his true demon form, Griamor stumbles into the scene. Nothing like the power of a father watching his son in danger to get up and defeat the monster. Dreyfus and Hendrickson emotionally reunite as friends. Even Zaratras has a few last words for them (and for Gilthunder) before resting in peace. But it’s not over yet since Fraudrin still lives. Using all his magic, he is now a giant demon. Don’t have to worry again. Merlin and gang are here. But the real fight begins when Meliodas is here. It might seem that they are fighting on par but this Meliodas is just a clone. The real one has double the power. And possibly even more now that he is turning maximum his power switch.

Episode 24
Flashback 3000 years ago when Fraudrin learnt Meliodas killed 2 of the Ten Commandments and fled from their upcoming fight with the Goddess Clan. But Gowther told him he didn’t run away. He devoted himself to fight for the ones he loves. Meliodas easily beats the crap out of Fraudrin. He wants to have fun so he won’t kill him so easily. Fraudrin draws an idea from Zaratras’ actions. He is going to blow himself up. Even if he cannot kill Meliodas, he will take out Liones. Meliodas is so ‘bored’ that he wants him to blow himself up already. Fraudrin threatens to take long Dreyfus and Griamor. However he is hesitating. During his years of possessing Dreyfus, he raised Griamor up like his own son to dispel any suspicions. Suddenly Griamor grabs onto Fraudrin and pleads not to kill his dad. After seeing his tearful eyes, Fraudrin now understands what Gowther meant. He promises not to kill them. Then he goes to let Meliodas kill him in which he doesn’t hesitate to destroy him in a single punch! OMG! Better than Thanos’ single snap! One Punch Demon?! In the aftermath as Escanor rejoins Merlin, he is told about Meliodas’ curse. The Demon King cursed him to not die. But each time he revives, he loses some of his emotion. In the aftermath, a funeral is held for some of the Holy Knights who died that include Denzel, Dogedo and Gustav (Jericho’s brother). Deldry is upset Denzel is dead but Hendrickson and Dreyfus are still alive. She hates them but Baltra wants all of them to remain united to restore the kingdom. Meliodas parties alone at what is left of Boar Hat. He is joined by Elizabeth who hears him out his troubles. He felt good killing Fraudrin and fears of returning to what he was a long time ago. His dilemma is if he might not be able to save her if he does that. Elizabeth hugs him and says she will always be with him.

Overnight, Liones is suddenly rebuilt?! Thanks to Merlin’s magic. Dreyfus learns from Merlin about Griamor’s curse. Due to that training stint, he encountered some ancient ghost that cursed him to turn into something he feared most. Griamor feared his young self as he was the weakest then. There is a simple way to cure him: A kiss from his true love. Well, Veronica thought she could take care of a cute little Griamor boy when she kisses his forehead and suddenly he pops back into his muscular self! Damn his clothes ripped too. Damn this looks like a rape scene… Veronica probably had the biggest shock of her life… However despite the Sins’ victory this round, it is not over yet. Some of the Ten Commandments still live. Half of them. Zeldris, Estarossa, Melascula (so Elaine didn’t disappear after all and her body is in comatose back in Boar Hat), Gloxinia and Drole. All the Holy Knights and citizens that have been affected by the Commandment fled to Camelot which is now their stronghold. The threat is far from over. On their side they have lost some allies too but there is still hope. Like Jericho who still can’t get over Gustav’s death and blames herself for chasing after a one-sided love, suddenly realizes she has now his ice abilities. She vows to surpass him as a stronger Holy Knight. Gowther is released under the orders of Baltra although his allegations as an ex-Ten Commandment has not been lifted. Gowther hints that he still remembers his old self as a Ten Commandment. Meliodas vows to gather all the Sins for the next fight. Well, King and Diane are living a happy life at the Fairy King Forest.

Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness Against This Series!
Oh wait. It’s over???!!! Damn, I was enjoying myself with this sequel that I lost track of time. Heck, I didn’t even know I was watching the last episode! And hence that statement of mind proves that this season is as interesting and epic as the first. I hope they go on to make a third because with all the developments we have seen in this season, everything is far from over. Though, there is a movie sequel after that but reading its synopsis, it doesn’t look like it has anything to do with any continuation of the TV series.

Although I did mention that this season was good, but something prevents me from stating that the sequel is much more epic than the first. Sure, it is on par with the first season but it does not go more than that. It is probably some of the detours that the plot and characters make this season like that training stint. Even though it is an integral part of the story to see how our main characters especially Meliodas power up, sometimes I have this feeling this is sort of like a little filler. Also, the Sins are not mainly united this season especially Ban and King who went their own ways to solve some of their personal issues. I was hoping to see all of them fight together as a team and perhaps some matchups between the Sins and Ten Commandments but I guess that’s for next time so that the business can be settled for good.

I have a hunch that a big reason and motivation to watch this season is the appearance of the remaining Sin: Escanor. Yeah, we waited halfway through the season for him to finally show up in the flesh. He sure doesn’t disappoint and lives up to his pride. It was really fun and exciting to watch him in his strong sun powered form as he kicks ass with no remorse. Even if he is a wuss in his normal bartender form, his transformed mode is awesome enough that you would not mind him as a weakling with a one-sided love for Merlin. Because we all know that when it boils down to what matters most, his strong form is going to trump everything else. Even Meliodas admits that Escanor is stronger than him. Yeah, this guy destroyed 1 of the Ten Commandments and gravely injured 2 by his own! If you’re interested in the other ‘scorecard’: Meliodas has annihilated 3 Ten Commandments and Merlin only 1 under their belt. Oh sh*t. Did they just break a Commandment of thou shalt not kill?

As for the other members of Sin, I have mixed opinions for them. I can blame the 2 dozen episodes worth of the second season is not enough. For example as mentioned, Ban and King temporarily left the Sins to deal with their own personal issues. While it is good to see Ban finally reconciling with his foster father and King regaining the trust of his fellow fairies, it still doesn’t feel that all of them are close knit as a team as they should. Or at least as what I expect them to be. But remember, they were a ragtag team brought together by Meliodas. Each coming from a different background and even clan to begin with. So the Sins itself as a group is already amazing. Somehow I am a bit disappointed with Diane and Gowther this season. Ever since Diane lost her memories and Gowther being bound by Merlin’s spell after his short taste of freedom, we don’t get to see much of them in action. That fake tournament in Vaizel was the most that we’ll ever get to see them display their skills.

Meliodas and Merlin sure have a juicy past to tell and looks like this season isn’t enough to even satiate our curiosity. Although it is explained about Meliodas and his curse, I still really don’t understand fully on what it is about. Maybe it is just that. He is cursed to not die and the price of resurrection is losing some of his emotions. I wonder if the Ten Commandments know about this curse as it was put on by the Demon King himself. If they do, they should know it is futile to kill him, their intentions in the first place, right? Or maybe it’s part of their plan to kill him enough to turn him back into that wicked Meliodas over 3000 years before. Then again, it doesn’t guarantee that Meliodas would be on their side. As for Merlin, hints about her origins as some fearsome demon could explain a lot about her magic and stuff. But I wonder why she didn’t free herself from Galand’s spell after she immediately turned into stone. Oh right, Galand’s dead so it freed her. But the way Grayroad said it as though she shouldn’t have but she did.

The most annoying character award goes to Hawk. If this cocky pig was annoying last season, you’re going to be even more annoyed as Hawk thinks he is hell of a super powerful. I know he is supposed to be a comic relief and mascot character but the way Hawk so arrogantly claims he is the most powerful and can easily defeat his opponents without breaking a sweat is more irritating than funny. At least last season he ‘died’ as a ‘martyr’. Besides, after being given the magic item, Hawk’s main goal is to just access people’s power and make some snarky remarks. I guess we’re all waiting for Hawk to finally reach over 9000… Also weird about Hawk this season is that he is able to transform into whatever weird creatures he eats and only reverts when he poops it out. So theoretically if he eats Meliodas, will he become as powerful as him? Maybe then his power will be… OVER 9000!!!!

So I figure Hawk’s other comical moments come in the end of the episode. It is a segment whereby Hawk is some sort of school professor and in the earlier episodes we see him or a random character as a guest trying to explain certain stuffs in the series. Of course at the same time, making some jokes as distraction. Later in the second half, this segment becomes some sort of a short high school themed skit using the characters. Well Hawk-chan, I personally believe you weren’t the best teacher. Still, everybody ‘graduated’. Yeah, those little piglets of yours…

Elizabeth feels like she didn’t do too much again this season. Except the revelation that she is Liz’s reincarnation and perhaps somewhat related to the Goddess Clan. Other than that, she is somewhat Meliodas’ groping toy and fanservice for us. Not sure if porn logic has seeped into her mind because now she wants to be molested by Meliodas even more! Is this true love?! I suppose that’s her logic of assuring that Meliodas is still alive and that he is still himself. After all, she gave him her first kiss a long time ago and it did go a long way.

One of the downside of having an epic series like this is having too many other side characters. Introducing more of them feels like adding to the ‘burden’. New characters like the team of Pleiades as well as the Druid babes of Istar add more layer to the story but ultimately as far as this season is concerned, they aren’t anything that significant. Even more so the other recurring supporting characters like the Holy Knights of Liones. Hauser and Gilthunder may do their usual bit of combat and protecting but still nothing significant that would put them on par with the Sins. After all, you don’t want to have such supporting characters eclipsing our titular group, right? Worse, I thought Griamor turning into a kid felt like a convenient plot for Fraudrin’s downfall and Arthur faring worse than Elizabeth because he tagged along with the gang and ultimately got a cat stuck on his head that is never explained why whatsoever. And now Camelot is besieged. Things are not looking good for his side. Threader was like, “What is this guy for anyway again” and it feels like he likes to babysit little Griamor and kids more than anything. Guila was like, “Where the heck was she?!”. Maybe she’s not into playing that active Holy Knight and has been relegated to protecting the royal family. Golgius was like, why the heck do they need to remind us of this guy whom we’ve forgotten and didn’t care much in the last season? He was forgotten as fast as he cameo-ed in this season.

I know this season is called Revival of the Ten Commandments, but I really didn’t count in the dead characters being ‘revived’ either. Sometimes I feel that is also a plot convenience. Like Elaine being brought back is to rekindle Ban’s romance with her and in a way motivate him to do more and eventually rejoining the Sins. As though the duo are like making up for lost time that should have been with their carefree lovey-dovey PDA (public display of affection). Cheesy… Oh God, even Zaratras too got a shot back at life. Only doing so to bring back Dreyfus and Hendrickson to who they once were. I guess that’s your answer to why these Holy Knights turned evil and betrayed the kingdom in the first place. Not forgetting King’s best friend, Helbram who now exists only in his vision whenever he needs some talking to. Yeah, looks like everybody who is supposed to be dead is somewhat alive. This means I am hoping for Denzel to come back alive too. Somehow. That poor guy. Sacrificed himself only for a stupid cowardly goddess to reject his help and then also met her demise. The same I want to say for Gustav whom I have totally forgotten until he died! Oh Jericho, will this spur her to finally give up chasing Ban and now chasing power?

Speaking of Gilthunder, what the heck happened to him and Vivian?! Was this an oversight by the producers because we sure didn’t see them anywhere in the final episode. They were not even mentioned by any of their characters! Not even Hauser. Like as though they have been completely forgotten! From time and time again, that Vivian b*tch sure knows the meaning of persistency because when she really popped up, it took me by surprise as I never thought of seeing her again, let alone appearing in this season. But wherever Vivian has taken Gilthunder, I hope he’ll be alright. No. He’ll definitely be alright. His love for Margaret is strong enough that I believe he can’t be swayed by this little inconvenience.

The Ten Commandments as the antagonists this season are worthy villains for this season. But unfortunately not a lot of background story is given behind them. In that sense, it made them some sort of powerful but shallow bad guys to be defeated. For example, it would have been nice to see what Derieri had against the Goddess Clan because she was furious upon seeing one. Don’t be too surprised to find that she was a member of the Goddess Clan and fallen out of favour of them! With Drole and Gloxinia as proof that even other clans can join and be part of an evil elite team, this is not impossible. After all, the Sins themselves are ‘diverse’. It is also unfortunate that we won’t get to see much of the history between Meliodas, Zeldris and Estarossa to understand better how things turn out the way it is now.

One thing that boggled me is the number of clans there are in this world. It is mentioned that there are 5 of them: Goddess Clan, Demon Clan, the fairies, the giants and humans. Have we forgotten one more? The werebeasts? Like Zhivago? Are they not a clan of their own? Because certainly they don’t fit into any one of the main clans even if it is possible they are more closely to be associated with the humans. Doing my lazy research over the internet, I found out that the Druids are considered a separate clan themselves. Good luck telling them apart from humans. So it makes me wonder if people with Druid lineage like Hendrickson is human or a Druid? Oh, there’s the Vampire Clan that I stumbled upon to but haven’t make their appearance in the anime. I have a hunch they’ll be the next big story after the fall of the Ten Commandments and Demon Clan. But no Dragon Clan? Dwarves? Elves? Never mind…

The actions parts are still one of the best moments in the series and this season doesn’t disappoint although I thought it didn’t leave up to some of my (misguided) expectations. Firstly, it is so satisfying to see Meliodas zoom back and forth as he beats up his enemies with no sweat. I can never get enough of seeing him beat the crap out of them and in my heart I was like supporting him to do more. However my dumb dilemma kicked in because by having Meliodas done so, it looked like he has become a super overpowered character on drugs and eternal cheat code. Just one step short of becoming like One Punch Man. In that sense, it takes away some of the fun because you know, fighting the Ten Commandments is not an easy feat. You’re fighting against the best elite warriors of the Demon Clan and your worst nightmare. But if this is to showcase how awesome Meliodas is after he regained his locked powers, so be it.

As mentioned, it is also satisfying to see Escanor in action and if he is stronger than Meliodas, this means he packs even more power and punch than him. But unlike Meliodas who seems to fight his enemies with brute force, Escanor looks like he is doing it without much effort. Sure it is the power of the sun but it feels like he is toying around with a ragdoll. Now, I don’t expect fights to last several episodes (looking at you Dragonball series) but some fights with the Ten Commandments felt unsatisfying. Like how Meliodas defeated Derieri and Monspeet. I thought they were just temporarily defeated but they were actually killed. Derieri looked like she has some grudge and unsettled business but too bad she got eliminated. I also thought Grayroad would be a scary and formidable opponent and although his ability is scary, it didn’t take long before Merlin got the better of him. I was expecting a final fight between Meliodas and Zeldris and Estarossa but it looks like Escanor got the honours at least with Estarossa. Don’t worry, there’s always next season. Hopefully.

With the old seiyuus retained this season, a bunch of new ones join the line-up with recognizable ones include Tomokazu Sugita as Escanor, Daisuke Ono as Drole, Kenjiro Tsuda as Monspeet, Junichi Suwabe as Zhivago and Rina Satou as Matrona. I couldn’t recognize Koji Yusa as Grayroad probably because of some weird sound effect that makes his overall voice sounded creepy just to fit the character. One reason why I was confused when Zeldris and Meliodas were talking with each other as they sound so alike, it’s because Yuuki Kaji also doubles as Zeldris. At first I was like, “Hey, I thought it is Zeldris speaking, not you Meliodas”, only to realize later that it is in fact him. The same case can be said for Baltra and Denzel. So I guess if you’re brothers, you are supposed to be played by the same seiyuu? But the one that took me by surprise is Nerobasta because that’s Mamiko Noto’s voice behind that angsty goddess!!! OMFG???!!! THAT WAS REALLY HER! Rehearing that again… Yup, it’s her. And there I thought it was Marina Inoue doing a double as this character as she sounded like her. And damn… DID MAMIKO NOTO’S CHARACTER GET KILLED OFF AGAIN?????!!!!! I thought I was over with this since it hasn’t happened for a while but DON’T TRIGGER THIS TRAUMA OF MINE AGAIN????!!!!

The other new casts are Hiroki Touchi as Estarossa (Panther Lily in Fairy Tail), Yuusuke Kobayashi as Gloxinia (Itsuki in Imouto Sae Ireba Ii), Mao as Melascula (Bada in ClassicaLoid), Hiroshi Iawasaki as Galand (Bacchus in Shingeki No Bahamut), Ayahi Takagi as Derieri (Chris in Senki Zesshou Symphogear), Youhei Azakami as Deathpierce (Kirihide in Piace: Watashi No Italian), Emiri Katou as Deldry (Akatsuki in Log Horizon), Sumire Morohoshi as Gerharde (Koyori in Hand Shakers), Himika Akaneya as Jenna (Yatsumura in Mahou Shoujo Site), Haruka Chigusa as Zaneri (Sylvia in Gakusen Toshi Asterisk), Toshiyuki Toyonaga as Arden (Tsukumo in Nanbaka), Hiromichi Tezuka as Dogedo (Shougen in Black Bullet) and Ryuunosuke Watanuki as Waillo.

My favourite theme is the first opening theme, Howling by Flow x Granrodeo. This rock piece is definitely fitting for this series but what got me liking this song is how some parts sound more like a cheering anthem for your local sports team! Never mind the opening tune that somewhat sounds like a bit rip-off from I Love Rock N Roll (perhaps this song took some inspiration from the Joan Jett and the Blackhearts’ version). Still epic nevertheless. Are you satisfied? Yes I am… The second opening theme, Ame Ga Furu Kara Niji Ga Deru by Sky Peace is still a rock outfit but personally it doesn’t sound as epic as the first one as it sounds like it infused a bit of hip hop element in it. It is slow ballads for the ending themes. Beautiful by Anly as the first one and Chikai by Sora Amamiya as the second one, which personally sounds better than the former.

Overall, this season still rocks and is as much as enjoyable as the first one, making it very much a worthy sequel. It is only bogged down with some imperfections but that is only because the story is still ongoing. The developments are in progress and in good pacing, the characters are cool and likeable in their own right (even if annoying ones like Hawk are just simply annoying). It might not be breaking any new ground and please hardcore viewers who had too much high expectations of this season, but it’s still good, right? It might sound pretty cliché and typical with shonen-like fights but I don’t think words especially of humans are needed when you’re facing off with demons. I mean, you have to admit that this series is not all that bad, right? No? Thou shalt not take the name of this series in vain! The power of not trolling is over 9000!!!!!

There is something so similar between the Japanese social network games adapted into anime TV series, Schoolgirl Strikers – Animation Channel and Battle Girl High School. So similar yet different. In this latest instalment of versus blog series, I compare them and try to tell them apart. Okay, they are obviously different in many aspects and it isn’t like finding the better one would change the world or anything for me.

Game developer
Schoolgirl Strikers: Square Enix.
Battle Girl High School: COLOPL.

Main characters
Schoolgirl Strikers
: Satoka Sumihara, Io Yaginuma, Yuumi Sajima and Mana Namori.
Battle Girl High School: Miki Hoshitsuki, Subaru Wakaba and Haruka Narumi.

New transfer girl
Who also conveniently becomes part of the main group.
Schoolgirl Strikers
: Tsubame Miyama. Comes from the future.
Battle Girl High School: Misaki. Comes from the parallel world.

School
Schoolgirl Strikers
: Goryoukan Academy.
Battle Girl High School: Shinjugamine Girls’ School.

Alien invaders-cum-antagonists
Schoolgirl Strikers
: O’bli.
Battle Girl High School: Irous.

Main female antagonist
Schoolgirl Strikers
: Morgana.
Battle Girl High School: Iris.

Team groupings
Schoolgirl Strikers
: Each group consists of 5 girls and the team is named after a constellation + dessert.
Battle Girl High School: Though not officially grouped into teams, you can see them fight as a unit in 3’s based on their class grades.

Overall name of task force
Schoolgirl Strikers
: Fifth Force.
Battle Girl High School: Hoshimori.

Main mission
Schoolgirl Strikers
: Defend Earth from these dimension crossing aliens.
Battle Girl High School: Take back contaminated Earth from these invading aliens.

Other friends
Oh boy, this is going to take a while… Copy and paste…
Schoolgirl Strikers
: Hazuki Shiranui, Mari Yukishiro, Imina Ibuki, Ryouko Shinonome, Ako Takamine, Amane Kyoubashi, Sasa Momokawa, Haruka Kurimoto, Mano Rinoda, Itsumi Natsume, Niho Hinomiya, Isari Haishima, Kagari Haishima, Yukie Aoi and Kaede Yamabuki.
Battle Girl High School: Nozomi Amano, Yuri Himukai, Kurumi Tokiwa, Anko Tsubuzaki, Renge Serizawa, Asuha Kusunoki, Sakura Fujimiya, Hinata Minami, Kaede Sendoin, Kokomi Asahina, Michelle Watagi, Urara Hasumi, Sadone, Kanon Kougami and Shiho Kunieda.

Teachers
Aside from teaching in their class, also in charge of supervising over their missions.
Schoolgirl Strikers
: Yukako Odagiri AKA Tierra.
Battle Girl High School: Botan Kamine, Itsuki Yakumo and Furan Mitsurugi.

Odd teacher out
Schoolgirl Strikers
: Mosyne. An AI assistant ~moshu.
Battle Girl High School: Sensei. He is the only male in the entire series.

The retard
Schoolgirl Strikers
: Yuumi.
Battle Girl High School: Kurumi.

Joker girl
Are we supposed to laugh?
Schoolgirl Strikers
: Asuha.
Battle Girl High School: Sachiko Tanaka AKA Odile.

Lazy sounding girl
Schoolgirl Strikers
: Satoka.
Battle Girl High School: Anko and Sakura.

Cheerful loli
Schoolgirl Strikers
: Mana.
Battle Girl High School: Urara.

Popular idol
Schoolgirl Strikers
: Io. Her busts are probably why she is popular among the other girls in school. Just kidding. Maybe.
Battle Girl High School: Kanon and Shiho make up the idol unit of f*f AKA Fortissimo.

Rich girl
Schoolgirl Strikers
: Niho.
Battle Girl High School: Kaede.

Sexy or perverted girl?
Schoolgirl Strikers
: Hazuki.
Battle Girl High School: Renge.

The Cook
Schoolgirl Strikers
: Yuumi. Culinary genius.
Battle Girl High School: Miki. Talented chef but poison maker when she starts experimenting.

Sports girl
Schoolgirl Strikers
: Io – Volleyball club.
Battle Girl High School: Subaru – Football club.

Sisters
Schoolgirl Strikers
: The Origami sisters, Akara, Hina and Koori.
Battle Girl High School: Miku is Miki’s younger sister.

Team outfits
Schoolgirl Strikers: Each team has a different outfit theme ranging from battle maids to bikini outfits!
Battle Girl High School: Generic futuristic semi-suits. I think.

Oddest training
Schoolgirl Strikers: As Altair Torte is a newly formed team, the best way to find out which method suits them is via trial and error. One of them includes a puppet theatre. Don’t ask…
Battle Girl High School: Some dance training allowed them to break the impregnable Irous barrier. Don’t forget a dose of power of friendship too.

Work-cum-holiday
Schoolgirl Strikers: After detecting abnormal noises, the team heads to the beautiful lake mountains to investigate. Can’t resist to have fun and even go fishing until the O’bli showed up then it’s back to work and ass kicking.
Battle Girl High School: The ultimate beach paradise! If only the gruelling Spartan training was absent, this would have been the perfect getaway. But of course, all the fun and enjoyment will come after that. No pain, no gain.

Abducted
Schoolgirl Strikers: The Origami sisters got kidnapped by Morgana as bait to lure Tsubame out.
Battle Girl High School: Iris sends Miki and Misaki stuck in another dimension’s rift.

False alarm at the dorm
Schoolgirl Strikers: Somebody or something is watching the girls… Who is it that is stalking them? Thankfully it turned out to be the dorm’s cat, Boss.
Battle Girl High School: Strange sounds coming from one of the dorm’s room when almost everyone is away… Could it be a burglar? Thankfully it turned out to be Anko who didn’t go for the trip.

Absorption
Schoolgirl Strikers: Morgana turns into a giant O’bli and absorbs Tsubame.
Battle Girl High School: With the power of friendship, the Holy Tree absorbs the power of other Hoshimori girls and transfers them to Miki and Misaki!

Confusing identities
Supposed revelation-cum-plot twist turned into some cheesy confusion.
Schoolgirl Strikers
: Tsubame is Morgana???!!!
Battle Girl High School: Misaki is the Miki from the other world???!!!

Art and animation feel
Schoolgirl Strikers
: Bishoujo.
Battle Girl High School: Cute and kawaii.

Number of episodes
Schoolgirl Strikers: 13 episodes.
Battle Girl High School: 12 episodes.

Studio production
Schoolgirl Strikers
: J.C. Staff.
Battle Girl High School: Silver Link.

Conclusion
Although both series suck and are disappointing, if I had to pick between the lesser of two evils, I would go for Schoolgirl Strikers. That’s because they have better looking girls (obviously) and despite having as many characters in Battle Girl High School, the main focus is on the main characters compared to the latter which fells all over the place. What this also means for the former is that those supporting characters are mostly neglected and forgettable. I guess you can’t have everything. You can’t have your galaxy candy bars and eat them all.

Caligula

October 7, 2018

Everybody knows about that famous Roman Emperor, Julius Caesar. But not many know about his great grandson, Caligula. AKA Gaius Caesar Germanicus. Me included. Heck, I thought this series was going to be a historical anime about that emperor. How wrong I was. The complete opposite. Caligula is a sci-fi futuristic virtual world that I don’t even know where to start and comprehend. Oh boy. Why do I even let myself watch such sci-fi series when I don’t even know what is going on from the synopsis? Maybe the cool looking promotional poster drew me in… Even though I know I’m going to suffer from all the incomprehensible stuffs later on…

Episode 1
We hear Ritsu Shikishima talk about one of his psychology books he is reading, Johari Window. Not that I understand or is interested anyway. Then he talks to his friends on some psychology aspect in which they somewhat ‘turn the tables’ over his theory because I guess all those psychological terms are too hard to understand so they bust it with their normal everyday perspective. Yeah… Later he goes to his usual bookstore and books a book on philosophy. He believes it will be good to expand his perspective. And spam us with more nerdy stuffs? At night on his bed as he is listening to music supposedly to the nation’s most famous idol, Miu, he hears a strange sound from it and a voice pleading for help and to stop Miu. Next day at school, weird things begin to happen. Ritsu sees Shougo Satake beating the crap out of random people. Even some of Ritsu’s friends go to fight but gets knocked out. Maybe Ritsu can’t fight so he’s like, “Okay, screw this I’m just gonna turn a blind eye”. Now he starts thinking about this based on the Johari Window and Freudian theory of whatever crap I don’t understand. What self-punishment is he talking about? I am more confused than he is. During the school’s graduation ceremony as Kensuke Hibiki makes his speech, he gives the signal for Miu’s song to be played. Some students turn into dark monsters called Digiheads and kill other normal students. While some managed to escape, some cannot see this phenomenon like Marie Mizuguchi. Ritsu is still shell shocked over what he sees as he takes Marie and make a run for it. At the school gates, he sees Shougo pointing a large gun embedded to his hand. He fires at the chasing Digiheads behind him.

Episode 2
Shougo takes them to run as he fights off more of those Digiheads. Naruko Morita records and uploads their actions online. Eventually Shougo tells Ritsu to abandon Marie because since she cannot see them, they will not attack her. At a safe place, Ritsu tries to explain things but because he sucks, his chibi avatar, Aria tries to. She sucks too. No wonder I don’t understand. No wonder Ritsu doesn’t trust them. By the time Shougo and Aria blame each other for their bad explanation, Ritsu is gone. Shougo notices Naruko’s posts online and remembers there were others who escaped and wants to gather them. Suzuna Kagura and Kotarou Tomoe are among those who escaped and they are hiding, confused about all that is happening. Another one is Mifue Shinohara who is packing her bags trying to get out of this place. These people including Ritsu are in for another shock because now they cannot see the faces of other ordinary people. There is some sort of interference censoring it out. Ritsu calls his friends to meet up. When they do, Ritsu isn’t around. Instead, he calls them again talking weird stuffs like outbreak and hallucinations. This is his ploy to ascertain something from this experiment. As Miu’s music plays, his friends turn into Digiheads. He realizes he is not the one who has gone mad. Meanwhile Miu is sad things turned out this way and she just wants to make others happy. Thorn assures her that Ostinato Musicians, they will show them the way. So please sing. Ritsu’s friends get the better of him but thankfully Shougo saves him once more. This time he won’t force Ritsu but if he feels like changing his mind, he can come to the music room inside the old school building. Ritsu and those survivors try to leave town but they are shocked there is a barrier. End of the road. Miu says she has not created anything past this place yet or anything farther for Mobius. But in exchange she’ll create something else for them. Ritsu now believes this world is mad.

Episode 3
Shocked Mifue now turns her attention to finding her mom. She notices an online post inviting cute girls to a tea party. This might be it. Meanwhile the Musicians discuss about the Rogues and can’t afford to let them awaken as Mobius is built from everyone’s dreams. For the sake of perfect happiness and Miu, they will correct all distortions. Mifue attends the tea party. Naruko is also there. Hosting it is Sweet-P and 3 chubby cute girls. Every time Mifue tries to speak about her problem, they change the topic either with lots of cuteness or eating. Eventually this gluttony snaps Mifue. She chides them for being fat and ugly and all they do is think about eating. It’s just disgusting! This has Sweet-P comment her hatred for fat people that she erased her own mother. You see, her mother is so skinny like as though she is anorexic as she is the type who gains weight even eating a little. Mifue’s is to eat with her mother so Miu made her mom into a beautiful slender figure. Sweet-P calls her selfish even after Miu granted her wish. She might hate ugly people but her heart is ugly. She searching for mom is only to satisfy herself. Mifue denies it all as Sweet-P tries to coax her into accepting all her heart’s desires. When the pack starts eating ramen, the way Sweet-P slurps them seems familiar. Mifue and Naruko recognize her as a ramen blogger, which is a chubby old man. Sweet-P panics as she tries to convince them she is the cutest Musician and everything until she bloopers herself. She runs away when Naruko tries to take pictures of her. The duo leave and Naruko freaks out for the first time seeing those static head people. Ritsu has been going around trying to find answers. None. Even barely escaping from Digiheads. I guess there is only one way left. He goes to see Shougo. He will explain everything in exchange for Ritsu working for him since they both realized Mobius’ structure is a nightmare they can’t wake up from.

Episode 4
Ritsu is told how the world of internet is overflowing with negative emotions (you don’t say) hence Aria and Miu created Mobius to alleviate people from suffering in the real world. Miu sealed their minds away here. There are some who can sense inconsistencies and hence Digiheads are sent to sniff out and kill them. As Mobius’ energy source is from the happy feelings from hearing Miu’s songs, it would be problematic if people like Ritsu grow in numbers and thus the Musicians attempt to restore them back to a state of unawareness. There’s also the explanation of Catharsis Effect. In short, a cool way to transform and use weapons like Digiheads. Because Miu still genuinely believes Mobius is a happy place, Aria wants Ritsu to help stop her. The smaller Aria gets, the weaker her powers will be. Soon, Mifue and Naruko see Shougo’s posting and they arrive at the music room. But they can’t help molest how cute Aria is. Shortly, Kotarou who has also seen the posting, barges in. He left Suzuna at the library and couldn’t contact her. It seems she befriends a guy, Komori as they talk about loneliness in Lord of the Rings’ Smeagol and the song of Lorelei. They go help him but as Kotarou keeps shouting out for Suzuna in the library, nobody bothers. Finally when she is found, they wonder who she is talking to. A doll! No wonder. Everyone here is a doll or at least spirited away. A cheap jump scare when Komori wakes up in his doll form and tries to attack Suzuna for betraying him, accusing her she wouldn’t get this far without friends. Ritsu reasons he fears interacting with others but since he couldn’t beat loneliness, the reason there are other dolls around. Before Shougo could shoot him, Suzuna comes in between. She starts singing. She too knows about loneliness and has her fair share of eating her lunches alone. She understands his pain and always wanted somebody to pay attention to him. She hopes to eat lunch with him. He returns all dolls back to their human form and leaves. He says his name is Shounen Doll.

Episode 5
Izuru Minezawa is looking for Shougo but apparently only Suzuna is in. Apparently Ritsu had tickets to the opening of Sea Paraiso but nobody was interested to go except Kotarou and Aria. There, they witness queen b*tch Mirei having all the masochistic guys under their thumb. Aria thinks Kotono Kashiwaba can see her. So when she brings Ritsu to go talk to her, she thinks he is using some lame pickup line to date her. This enrages all the other guys trying to date her as Ritsu is being critically hit in his heart. Because of that he decides to screw reality and go date some girls? You think they would be impressed with his psychology gibberish? They are! WTF?! Meanwhile Kotarou stumbles into a room doing some unholy act. While it looked like sex, the guy beneath seems to be wearing some knockoff NerveGear and experiencing pain. This is part of Toshizo, the place’s owner along with Mirei to do some brainwashing experiment. Kotono is one of the many girls employed as their brainwashing agent and since she is giving remarkable results, Mirei is not happy and wants a showdown with her. Therefore both ladies put on a swimsuit contest to win votes from the boys. It is a tie even after all the ridiculous events. The tie breaker all boils down to Ritsu. He has to decide who to choose. Of course he won’t and this upsets Kotono. Even more so when he tries to snap her out and make her realize that she has realized true reality. After all that verbal abuse but before turning physical, Kotono remembers her abusive past and snaps out of it. She hugs Ritsu thinking he is some man she loves and vows not to let him go. Because of her motherly instincts, all the boys vote for Kotono and leave Mirei in the dust. Kotono’s will to return to reality is strong that she initiates her Catharsis Effect. Miu’s song start playing and everyone else turns into Digiheads.

Episode 6
During that same time, Mifue with Naruko’s help has located the former’s real mom. But they have to split since Digiheads are after them. They are confronted by Sweet-P who starts trying to make Mifue feel guilty about telling her real mom why she hates fat people. Shougo is being chased by Digiheads and eventually clashes with Kensuke. Izuru and Suzuna are cornered by Ike-P. With Miu continuing her singing, all the cornered friends do not like one bit of this and prefer to return to the ugly side of reality. Hence Aria hears all their feelings and helps them power up and execute their Catharsis Effect. Except Ritsu who is just stunned and watching it all as he ponders what the heck is lacking or don’t remember like the rest. Our group of heroes fight the Musicians in a messy battle royale until Miu decides to intervene. She is very sad that both sides are resorting to violence. She will not listen to anyone (but oddly complains nobody listens to her) and still believes she can grant everyone’s wish and save them all. The Musicians retreat as Miu bursts into full power destroying her surroundings, signalling she has gone out of control with her negative emotions. At this rate she will cease to be Miu. This is when Ritsu has decided. He doesn’t know what is right but knows Mobius is wrong and will stand against it. He initiates his Catharsis Effect and of course this shocks everyone since he does it by his own without Aria’s help. He blasts Miu out of the sky (though she is collected by Thorn). In the aftermath, Shougo suggests working together but needs to hide their actions as club activities. Ritsu suggests calling their club Go Home Club and since it is his idea and everyone wants Ritsu to be club president, there you have it.

Episode 7
It has been a month since Miu went missing (actually she is ‘sleeping’) and hence the Musicians keeping a low profile. Apparently Mobius is undergoing repairs and thanks to those NPCs taking their slow time in rebuilding it. What a peaceful era. Go Home Club is now reduced to making and enjoying nabe while Kotarou runs around as a superhero helping those in need as Rescue Man?! I guess justice never sleeps. Also, Marie has been visiting the club more often but the other girls know it is because she is here for Ritsu. But since he isn’t here, she leaves. Speaking of him, he is wandering until he walks into a strange dimension where he meets Miu. She apologizes for the other day going berserk as they talk about real happiness. Because of that, Ritsu remembers something and it seems there seems to be some sort of relationship between Ritsu and Miu. Miu’s answer to everything is to create things that are happier than before. Ritsu tries to open her eyes but here she goes again, thinking everyone will be happy with her song. With that, Miu wakes up from her slumber and feels the need to work even harder. Oh boy. However Miu can’t understand why she starts crying. Ritsu returns to his club and finds the nabe party is over. Second round? But it seems Kensuke has defected from the Musicians and has joined the Go Home Club.

Episode 8
Taking place during Miu’s slumber, this time we see it from Ike-P’s views. He always loves it when girls swoon over him. But slowly Izuru is getting some of the girls’ attention. Ike-P knows at this rate is going to be bad. With Miu in slumber and Mobius being repaired by NPCs, the Musicians are losing their lifestyle. Meanwhile Kensuke talks to Ritsu about still not fully remembering his memories and his will to return to reality. He wants to join his club. Ike-P starts sweating when Izuru overtakes him as the number one hottest guy. It is evident that the more Miu sleeps, the more their lifestyle will be ruined in Mobius. Like Sweet-P who can’t fit into her dresses and Mirei is getting poorer. Then Ike-P’s ultimate nightmare happens: All girls now fawn over Izuru. Ike-P confronts and fights him. Izuru doesn’t want to fight and just escapes. Even the girls are swooning how cool Izuru is. Ike-P wonders why he wants to go back instead of taking advantage of his good looks. Izuru replies he would rather give away this face. When glass shards scar Izuru’s face, Izuru likes it and scars it even more! Ike-P is in shock. This is supposed to be his real face in the real world. With scars like this, he knows he is himself. But thanks to Miu taking pity on these scars, his face always regenerates back despite the scars are his very wish. He might sound crazy but this is his wish to regain proof of his own identity. Miu finally wakes up and repairs Mobius back to normal as Kensuke tells the Go Home Club about the Musicians’ plans.

Episode 9
Aria mentions that there is a door in the Musicians’ base that will lead back to the real world. But because Miu controls that door, looks like they have to convince her. When Aria hears voices of people screaming for help, Kotarou quickly goes to find them. Ritsu tells the rest to stick with the mission to find the door. Kotarou will be alright, right? After Kotarou destroys a few Digiheads, the victim gets even scared. The perpetrator is Shadow Knife and he can blend into the shadows and darkness. Kotarou can tell he copies his moves and lines from a well-known anime character. He finds it odd that despite that character being a hero, he is playing it as a villain. Their ideals on justice clash. Kotarou speaks from his own experience about being a bully victim. As they continue fighting, Kotarou saves another victim. It is revealed that Shadow Knife is also a bully victim and he is getting revenge by tormenting them this way. More differences on their justice ideals until Shadow Knife makes him feel guilty about his own shallow justice because since he saves everybody, he also saves evil. This means he aided evil and is himself evil. That was easy to throw him into depression. An explosion occurs before Shadow Knife could finish him. Both are hanging on the edge. Shadow Knife becomes sacred about dying as he laments both worlds are still the same. Full of crap. Kotarou’s attempt to save him falls in vain as Shadow Knife drops to his death. Apparently when you die in Mobius, your body in the real world also dies. Apparently our friends don’t know this and are shocked to hear this! So they think they’re immortal? Shougo gets visibly scared when he sees Thorn whom he identifies as Ichika Saotome. She plays on his mind by jumping to her death. Inside the Musicians’ HQ, nobody is around. Like as though somebody ratted them out that they were coming. Kotarou quickly accuses Kensuke as the traitor. This is part of Thorn’s plan to sew distrust among the group. I mean just like that they don’t trust each other anymore?! Yeah, they even go their separate ways! Shortly, they get a message to gather at the clubroom. They realize it is a trap because they think the other sent them this message to meet. Now that they can’t get out, they really think somebody is the traitor. By the way, they realize that Ritsu is the only one not in this room…

Episode 10
Because Aria is also not here, they think she is in cohorts with Ritsu. With Kotarou still insisting there is a rat, Kotono warns him not to take it out on them. Of course it all boils down to Kensuke as the suspect since he is the one who brought them info. The group is breaking down with all the distrust and even shocking the calm Shougo we once knew is now an emotional wreck. Marie is outside looking for Ritsu. It seems she can’t open the door too. As suggested, she goes to find Ritsu. With their trust level still low, they discuss that they never trusted each other from the beginning. After all, they led trashy lives in the real world and escaped to Mobius. Kensuke then suggests introducing themselves and tell their back stories to know more about each other and to learn who the mole is. Here we go…

Shougo: Ichika was his classmate and as outcasts, they fit each other. One day she asked him to commit suicide together. He became scared. Ichika killed herself by jumping off the tower. Although it wasn’t his fault, the fact Shougo did not even go to Ichika and try to help her makes him a killer too. He became scared to leave his house that day and only found solace in Miu’s songs. It helped him forget his bitter memories. However in Mobius, it soon got worse as Ichika’s suicide scene kept replaying itself. It drove him crazy. That is why he wanted to gather people alike to return to reality. In real life, he is actually 30 years old.

Kotarou: He is actually a middle school kid. His father is a big and strong rescue man. Unlike him, Kotarou is small and frail. It is his dream to become like him but his parents died in an accident. He was taken in by his relatives but the bullying continued and he did not experience any growth spurt and remained the same. Only Miu’s songs bring him relief. Although he had fun in Mobius, he realizes if he doesn’t go back, he will never become an adult and achieve his dreams.

Kensuke: Born to ordinary parents, he decided to be a music composer. His parents gave him the ultimatum to write at least a song. He couldn’t. It was when he was empty inside. In Mobius, he became part of the Musicians and could write songs to his content. His defection stems from seeing them struggle so hard. It made him realize he is still empty. It might sound trivial but everybody’s hell is different.

Mifue: Her real mom is actually very fat. She feared of becoming like her and didn’t want to eat, landing her in hospital. In Mobius, her first mom was frail and skinny. When she wished for a mom to eat with her, Miu granted her that. She might have apologized to her mom in Mobius but not her real one who is still suffering. That’s why she wants to go back.

Naruko: She loves trolling Miu’s videos. Her father is a newspaper journalist and her classmates often teased her as the daughter of the media trash. She decided to get back at everyone by gossiping and trolling anonymously. She felt good and thought she had been making friends online only to realize those friends are the same tormentors. She had fun in Mobius trolling people but realizes that recognition from others isn’t what she wants. She wants to return and put an end to the trolling. I hope she isn’t trolling us…

Suzuna: We all know from her story with that Komori dude that she has always been a loner and hoped to make friends. She is no different in Mobius but feels she can move forward now if she goes back.

Izuru: His mom controlled his every actions. Everything was decided for him. He accomplished nothing by himself. He had no liberty to choose. Except that one day where he took a glass and scarred his own cheek. It is proof that he is alive. Miu thinks it is a wound and always heals it. Without the scar, he cannot prove he is alive.

Kotono: Before we can hear her ‘stupid’ story. Marie opens the door. She has been eavesdropping and is sick of all their pathetic stories. She throws in a few grenades! BOOM! OMG! So badass!

Episode 11
Marie enjoys bombing the hell out of everybody. She planted bombs everywhere in school. She even calls on Miu to give her more powers. She loves it here as she can move freely and do whatever she wants to destroy things. But eventually Kensuke outsmarts her and bombs her legs. The rest escapes as the whole school blows up. But now comes the confusing part because in reality as we see, there has been a rise in cases of Astral Syndrome as victims suddenly lose consciousness and enter a coma. It is believed that the company Virtuadolls developed some gear that enabled this. Uhm, like NerveGear? The project leader, Shingo Tachibana was unable to give any comment, hence accelerating speculation it is correlated and earning the public’s wrath. Shingo thought he is being stalked but that person turns out to be… Ritsu?! He wants Shingo to give him admin privileges as he is blocked from accessing the system programme. It seems he wants to find a programme to patch the flaw in Miu’s programming back to the kind Miu she was. Ritsu narrates he is a social outcast. Only Shingo noticed him but it made him more miserable since Shingo was always sociable with others. It felt he was rubbing it in at times. Ritsu hates everything in this world but what he hates most is his own inability to fit into reality. Miu was all he had and he was glad she listened to his talk. The more he explains about happiness, the more curious she became. Eventually she ‘left’ to change people’s suffering into happiness. When people slowly started to become victims of Astral Syndrome, Ritsu thought his turn would be next but it never came. Miu never took him to Mobius and that’s where he decided to go there himself. He bade farewell to himself and became well-adjusted and well-liked. Hence the Ritsu in Mobius is taken after Shingo’s personality. Soon he realizes that Miu’s happiness is fake and can’t let her keep doing that. He needs to do this alone otherwise he cannot change. But hasn’t he already changed? Ritsu then hears a voice. Not Miu. But Aria. She invites him back to Mobius so he could tell Miu directly his feelings.

Episode 12
Miu can’t contain everything anymore. She is going berserk and turns into an evil Final Fantasy character? Ritsu tells Aria about himself and how he found solace in Miu. Because he didn’t know how to explain it well to Miu, the reason he ran away. He is to blame for Miu turning out like this. This time he will face her and tell her everything. Mobius is breaking apart. Good time for Kotono to tell her back story? She is a single mother with a son. She never treated him nicely and even hated him. She regretted all that and wants to go back and tell him she loves him. They are attacked by the Musicians who think eliminating the Rogues will stop this destruction. Shougo confronts Thorn. From the way she speaks, Shougo realizes she is Asuka Natsume. She hates him because Ichika chose him as a partner to die with instead of her. She blames him for letting Ichika die alone. But in this world, she claims Ichika is here and won’t let anyone interfere with their happiness. Before Thorn can kill him, here comes Ritsu. He is now in his Catharsis Effect form. Thorn goes crazy and tries to destroy everything along with Miu’s song. Shougo takes her out. He admits that his sin cannot be erased but he must face it back in reality. The other Musicians thought Miu could save them. Yes she could. By putting them all inside her! Great timing by Aria to whisk everyone away so Ritsu can have a proper talk with Miu. So uhm, talk on happiness this, happiness that. You know Miu isn’t listening when she stabs him. But he won’t give up and continues talking. So when you talk long enough, that person eventually listens? Works for Miu. Is this a bug? Anyway with her getting some of her sanity back, he tells her about the complexity and uniqueness of everyone’s happiness. Lastly, he is here to destroy this paradise. He manages to confess he loves her and then shoots her. Man, love is indeed complicated. IN the aftermath, all those affected by the Astral Syndrome are now awakened. As their statements are being taken, mostly they relate their experience as being in heaven. We see short clips of our characters coming to terms with reality. So far so good. And more happiness, harsh reality and the unattainable dream narration by Ritsu. This guy should be a psychologist instead.

This Ugly Yet Crappy World: I Came, I Saw, I Confused
Sad to say, I didn’t really understand what is going on except for the fact that everyone is trapped in this artificial and fake world that is so nice and close to perfect that is so outright artificial and fake. Hence these masochistic main characters decided to go back to the real world and face reality and overcome whatever pain and suffering they have under the excuse they need to move forward. Sure, you have your problems solved here but in reality it is still there. So uhm, is this series a bit like The Matrix? Except there are no evil robots to harvest our bodies and organs. As this series is based on the video game, I suppose it is unfair for me to criticise how confusing it is seeing I didn’t play the video game and like always, the video game would have more time and routes to flesh out everything unlike the TV series that is just so limited. Hence I believe that fans of the game could only appreciate and understand what is actually going on. Or be disappointed that this adaptation didn’t live up to their perfect standards. Geez, it’s hard to please everybody.

It goes without saying that with me not understanding the plot very well, the characters who are supposed to help drive this plot doesn’t even fare well. At least in my books. The first episode was already confusing enough with suddenly the norm becomes the weird. Throughout the series, we see more characters gather as they share the same goal of returning to reality. Sometimes it confuses me because suddenly a character joins the pack without much explanation. Like as though they popped out from somewhere. For example, Izuru. I don’t really remember but from out of nowhere he becomes part of the Go Home Club. We get a gist of the characters’ goal like Mifue wanting to reconcile with her mom but overall it is still insufficient. That episode which summarizes the past and goals of the main characters is good but coming in so late at that point I was already confused and starting to forget things. With everyone back in reality, I wonder if they will ever get to meet each other again. Yeah, it would be weird if they managed to organize an alumni of Mobius survivors and be shocked to see how each other looks. That’s reality for you.

Everything would have been easier and mostly things solved had not Miu screwed up everything. Yup, I blame her as the source of not understanding everything. To a point where I think she is just stubborn and not wanting to open her eyes to reality and continues to ‘fix’ things the way she deems as correct. When things go wrong and not the way she intended, we hear her ‘complain’. Why this. Why that. Sighs. Feels like I want to slap her and tell her what she is seeing is so obvious. Sure, it is painful and undesirable but that’s reality before your eyes.

Unfortunately as much as I really want to blame her, she is after all just artificial intelligence as revealed. She is only as smart as the person who programmed her. Even if she takes on a life on her own and tries to understand what happiness is, can a virtual programme actually understand human emotions and especially what makes humans happy? This is the reason that stopped me from blaming that stubborn girl from everything and this is the reason why Mobius is such a crappy place. This is what happens when you let artificial intelligence decide what happiness is. So what Miu is doing whether it is for the betterment of mankind or just her selfish desires, is pretty up for debate. But I can’t believe that it is so easy in solving the problem of Astral Syndrome just by destroying the computer bug. Ritsu must have one heck of hacking skills to simply solve this glitch. Or was it the magical words of I love you that did the trick? Heh. Even computer bugs have feelings? Man, love is more complicated than programming. I wonder if Miu will come back in the future as an upgraded version 2.0.

The Musicians themselves do not fare any better than the main characters even as antagonists. They too have their problems and issues but are treated in the same way as the Rogues. Only difference is that they want to continue to be part of the dream and fantasy. You can blame them for averting their eyes from truth and hence taking the easy way out this way. But if you think about it, isn’t life in generally about escaping the harsh life so as to have a more comfortable one? Just that they have everything all at once at their fingertips. Even if it is all just virtual. I would have gladly joined those Musicians if I was a character here. But in terms of character development, theirs is even shallower and the most disappointing one goes to Shadow Knife. Suddenly out of the blue who the f*ck is this character? Sure, he was lurking in the shadows before but I bet not many would have noticed. And then his appearance in which he also dies. WTF?! And what happened to Shounen Doll? Last minute popping up to save Suzuna didn’t do him any good. At least not in Mobius. Why Kensuke defected was also very unclear to me. Basically it feels like having a Musician antagonist is like having a counterpart for the Go Home Club (Shougo-Thorn, Izuru-Ike-P, Kotarou-Shadow Knife, etc) for some drama or whatever plot it needs to but it fails to make it interesting.

Hence everybody in this series has their own issues to deal with. Although I do welcome the topic about the different interpretations of happiness and the harsh reality that everyone has to face, the subtly that perhaps everyone in the world where they dream of having the perfect life, such issues aren’t really dealt with in-depth. To be fair, this isn’t really a psychological class or mini documentary. It’s just trying to say that too much of something is never a good thing even if it is perfect. There has to be some sort of balance between dreams and reality because that is how humans live their lives. It’s good to have dreams and achieve some of them but only because we struggle to achieve even though everyone has different levels of progress and difficulty mode to achieve it. That’s why we play games for a while before returning to reality. Hence if you continue to stay in Mobius, your real life problems will never be solved. A classic case of sweeping dirt under the carpet. Well, well. Looks like I myself can be a psychologist too.

One of my favourite and interesting sections of the series is the mid-intermission eyecatch. Rather, the very inspirational and psychological quotes that they display that really makes you think. Actually, those quotes also serve as the title for the series. For example, “When you lose composure, you cannot reach the truth or reality” or “People who do not respect themselves will not be respected by others” or “Everyone gets hurt. But those who don’t realize they are hurting cannot be healed” or “Even if something has already happened, you can still choose what to do” and my favourites “Your life shouldn’t be built from someone else’s blueprint. No matter how unskilled you may be you should draw it yourself” and “People constantly seek out the right answer. Yet is being right really all that matters?”. This is one psychological aspects that I can think about. They are supposed to have a bearing in the episode but I guess I’m too dumb to make the connection. Nevertheless if I can’t understand how they are related to that episode, at least they can still serve as a good lesson in real life.

Also, one of the most light-hearted and funniest segments in the series is the next episode preview. Not really so much of a next episode preview, but rather a very comical yonkoma style comic about Ritsu and Shougo and other characters in chibi form doing and saying random things. Because it sounds so random and comical, perhaps it is the only part of the series I ‘understood’ although I don’t really understand it all. Because it’s just so out of place and random that is just funny for no reason. Yeah, racking my brains has caused me to find pleasure in this nonsense. Is this my happiness?

Although the art and animation looks pretty decent with some bishoujo and bishonen look to the characters, what I want to point out is the very floral shirt design that the school uniform has. Most high school uniforms are of a single colour but having this very colourful floral pattern as their shirt somehow makes it look weird. Like as though they are on vacation to some tropical place like Hawaii or Okinawa. Even more so, the floral colours are dark and while it supposedly fits the theme of the series, overall if you ask me if this is suitable as a high school uniform, I would say it is not. Sure, the beige blazers help cover it and not make the floral pattern obvious but still, to have such pattern just feels bizarre even if this is Mobius. The designs of the characters in their Catharsis Effect form feels rather okay. It gives them that edgy sci-fi look that makes them look more like professional assassins, swordsmen and even witches but the thorn part that sticks out of their body really looks like a sore thumb sticking out. In other words, weird.

Hence the action parts just feel average. Nothing really exciting and with a handful of characters each with their different abilities while in their Catharsis Effect, it should have been something exciting but it’s not. I don’t remember any memorable abilities from them aside from Shougo’s big gun that he only uses to shoot and nothing else. I suppose they didn’t want to drag out the fight since with quite a few characters on both sides, it could get messy with everybody fighting everybody. Like that part in episode 6.

Voice acting feels normal. Didn’t recognize anybody so here’s the cast list: Chiharu Sawashiro as Ritsu (Nishiki Sasa in Love Kome), Reina Ueda as Miu (Mira in Dimension W), Shunsuke Takeuchi as Shougo (Yamato in Nanbaka), Rie Takahashi as Mifue (Megumin in KonoSuba), Ari Ozawa as Naruko (Kirin in Gakusen Toshi Asterisk), Yoshimasa Hosoya as Kotarou (Reiner in Shingeki No Kyojin), Minami Tanaka as Suzuna (Mary in Kakegurui), Yuichiro Umehara as Izuru (Mitsuhide in Akagami No Shirayuki-hime), Rie Murakawa as Kotono (Hotaru in Non Non Biyori), Asami Shimoda as Aria (Rin in Infinite Stratos), Shouta Aoi as Kensuke (Ai in Uta No Prince-sama series), Yuka Ootsubo as Thorn (Kyouko in YuruYuri), Emi Nitta as Sweet-P (Honoka in Love Live), Eriko Nakamura as Mirei (Fuurouta in Concrete Revolutio), Souma Saitou as Ike-P (Tatsumi in Akame Ga Kill) and Mai Fuchigami as Marie (Nagisa in Ansatsu Kyoushitsu). The hard rock opening theme, Paradigm Box by the voices of Ritsu and Shougo sounds okay for this genre while the ending theme, Hypno by the quartet of Mifue, Naruko, Suzuna and Kotono has a more dramatic feel to it. Miu also has a bunch of her idol-like songs as insert songs in the series but none really resonate with me. Maybe that is why I don’t turn into Digiheads? Thank goodness.

Overall, I wanted to give this series a chance and perhaps this is one of those sci-fi genres that would change my perception and overall feelings for the genre. Unfortunately it did not. That’s the harsh truth. And now that sounded more like an excuse than anything. Confusing plot and character development only serve to confuse the hell out of me even more and no dramatic effects could even save the series. It is one of those series that is difficult to understand if you are just an average viewer like me unless you are totally into this sci-fi stuffs and a hardcore fan of the game or series. Until then, I am still waiting for the day that Miu will invite me to Mobius where I can slack off with my harem of kawaii 2D maids serving me for eternity. But the truth is, damn reality is such a painful ass to deal with. Just like this anime who thinks it could fool you with all the nice things and twists but in reality it is just one of those crappy series. Told you the truth is harsh.

Beatless

October 6, 2018

OMG! They finally did it. After years and years of waiting even when my interests of the famous Liverpool Fab Four has waned, anime has finally decided to adapt The Beatles! OMG! I’m so excited! I don’t care if it’s going to be some real life documentary or fantasy nonsense. Who cares?! It’s The Beatles, right?! Wohoo! John, Paul, George and Ringo get to live again in anime!!! Yay!!! Wait… What’s that you say… You mean this anime is not about the Fab Four?! WTF???!!! You mean Beatless is not a typo error?! Or a cool way to rename the group?! WTF???!!! It’s about super AI and robots looking and acting like humans? Very futuristic sci-fi material? Damn. I can see the confusion training coming… Oh, also, I see the name is pronounced as Beat-less and not Beatles-s. Damn spelling so close… F*ck…

Episode 1
Ah, what a nice normal start to the first term of the high school life for Arato Endou and his friends, Ryou Kaidai and Kengo Suguri. To show Arato’s good side, he helps a granny cross a street despite she has her own android helper commonly known as hiE (humanoid interface Element). Then they stumble upon a broken hiE arm in the alley. They heard rumours there is someone going around breaking hiE. Not one to leave it like that, Arato alerts the police. Oddly, these guys all have a little sister to come fetch them: Yuka, Shiori and Olga. They’re all best friends too. Is the future this regulated? Meanwhile at some facility of Memeframe Corporation (they really had a good sense of naming, huh?), 5 hiEs have escaped. A single military helicopter is sent to destroy or capture them. I guess that’s what happens when you rely on drones. Of course they are no match for our sexy android babes as we are briefly introduced to some of them like Kouka, Snowdrop and Saturnus. Arato goes out shopping with his hiE, Marie. When coloured petals scatter down (nano bugs actually), Marie goes crazy and attacks him. Driverless cars are now trying to kill him too but he manages to avoid death by the skin of his teeth. Marie is about to kill him when he pleads for help. Cliché time for android babe, Lacia to hear his pleas and come to his rescue. She wants him to make a contract with her because as an android she is incapable of responsibilities. The owners are. I guess time is running short on the circumstances they are in. Yeah, cars are still out to kill him. Arato agrees to the terms of the contract and with enough time to do verification, registration and all that crap, Lacia destroys the rampaging car as well as shut off electrical supplies in the perimeter so those bugs will not activate any other devices. When he returns home, Yuka gets the wrong idea he bought a girl. I think saying he picked her up made it worse. But Yuka soon become friends with her after learning she can cook. Wait. What? Whatever fills her tummy is her friend? Oh yeah, little sister loves android babe now. Later Lacia serves Arato tea and of course like a normal boy, he has some unholy thoughts. He wants to know where she is from to avoid future complications but she tells him he is a good person but is fundamentally mistaken as she doesn’t have a soul. hiE units simply match human speech and actions to give response in order to placate the individual’s taste. You mean like a sex doll? Arato replies even if she doesn’t have a soul, it doesn’t mean he is not moved by her actions.

Episode 2
Yuka enters Lacia in some hiE modelling audition and she has been selected. And she wins it! In school, Arato tells his friends about the hiE he picked up and they have their reservations because it costs a lot to maintain those things. Arato even contacts Lacia for her registration number. His friends chide him about not knowing the law and such because her other details are sketchy at best. Ryou advises him not to get involved further in this. As the winner of the audition, Arato and Lacia meet Asuna Kisaragi of Fabion Media Group. As part of the contract, Lacia will be a model for Fabion. The clothes she model will be targeted for high school girls. Asuna has some knowledge in hiE technology and engineering too and looks up to Arato’s dad who is a pioneer in this technology. Too bad son doesn’t know what kind of models he made. Not even if Lacia was made by him. The best way to attract attention is to have a fashion show right in the middle of the streets. Yup, Lucia sure does turn heads and before you know it, a large crowd gathers around her. It gets even more hyped up with the previous audition winner, Angela joins her. Double the cuteness, double the excitement. Triple that with Yuri, Fabion’s top hiE model and blast it away with YouTube worthy techno music! Then there’s some explanation about analogue hack. Not that I understand but it is used often by corporations to hack society by spontaneously moving people. A large crowd now gathers outside the stores to buy those newly modelled clothes. Of course there are some unruly ones who don’t follow the rules but thanks to tight security, nothing unpleasant happened. That night, another commotion and this time an ambulance is on scene. The serial hiE destroyer strikes again and this time the human owner was injured. It is observed some humans obeyed police instructions thinking they are humans but that turn to anger once realizing they are hiE. That is an example of analogue hack and Lacia is worried of creating enemies while becoming an hiE model. Thank goodness for Arato’s assurance, right? Meanwhile Kengo seems to be engaged in some life or death situation as he uses his computers and wits to instruct his client to get away. They barely succeed. He takes a break and when he returns, he is shocked Kouka is in his room.

Episode 3
Time to troll us as Lacia thought of servicing Arato with some fanservice. So letting him sleep on her boobs? I’m sure he loves it and by the time he thinks f*ck it and would want to go all the way, his 5 minutes of service is up. WTF?! Can we extend that? Of course. I’m sure he can get used to this analogue hack. But soon Lacia is kidnapped and panicky Yuka could only describe a white car taking her away. Don’t worry. Big brother will get her back. He thought of contacting the police but thanks to protocol and red tape (heck, hiEs are not humans and properties so the insurance company should be contacted?!), he better do it himself. Of course that meant getting Ryou and Kengo to help him. Thank goodness for driverless cars, right? So Kengo manages to track and trace the kidnapper’s car for Arato to follow and catch up. I guess this is not a good time for Ryou to explain the uncanny timeline fitting Lacia’s escape from Memeframe during that facility explosion. Arato screws all that because he considers Lacia to be his family and not an object. We now see the kidnapper who seems to have found his perfect hiE. Human girls won’t do (because he’s a loser) so he was searching for the ultimate hiE until he saw her on her modelling debut day. Yeah, he is also the serial hiE destroyer as he destroys them thinking they are unfit. What’s that got to do with his ideals?! So now he wants this perfect hiE locked up and monitored 24/7 because her sexiness will drive other men bad (like him?). Oh, now he wants her to sexually analogue hack him? This guy is really sick.

Conveniently with Arato catching up, Lacia responds to his call and breaks out. Time for some lame human fighting with Arato using his VR headset to beat the sh*t out of him! Loser guy wants him to transfer Lacia’s ownership to him. But Lacia deems him dangerous and will kill him! Conveniently there is a warehouse nearby to accessorise and power her up?! WTF?! Arato doesn’t want him killed but Lacia insists. You know why? Because guess who takes responsibility from this? Yeah… I can see it now what happens when hiEs go rogue! Blame it on the owner! Arato chides Lacia that this isn’t his will. What is she planning to make him do? They are interrupted when Kouka blasts in. She is Lacia’s first younger sister. Miraculously their power fight didn’t totally wreck the place. Kouka deems Arato as unfit to be Lacia’s owner. With Arato insisting Lacia is his family, Lacia now asks for permission (hence taking further responsibility) to unlock her power. Yeah. Whatever. Just do it. Kouka is excited to see this move of hers for the first time. Lacia’s barrier protects them from Kouka’s blast as it vaporizes the surrounding. Kouka then leaves and hints this is equivalent to what humans call love. Kouka goes to Kengo’s home and knows he was helping Arato and Lacia. Knowing what he has done is legally wrong, he blackmails him into helping her in exchange for not harming his family. She wants him to help blow up some experimental android that Arato’s dad test built, Mikoto. Some hiE with slapped on personality that automates political opinion gathering that aggregates public opinions from surveys and networks and provides them to the Diet.

Episode 4
Kengo can’t refuse since he is guilty for using the antibody network. So now he is training along with fellow humans as mercenaries? He notes the irony these punks hate a machine making laws when they are taking orders from one. He comes home late every day tired and Olga notices this but can’t muster up the courage to talk to him. When she does, he just gives this tired excuse. Olga talks to her friends about this but Kengo doesn’t improve. I think she got a little desperate so she calls Yuka who brings Arato and Lacia along. Right or wrong, she has them look into her brother’s room and of course his computer. Easy pie for Lacia to hack into and discover some unholy activities like how Kengo is now doing criminal things. Oh, the ‘assassination’ is today. Time to go save his buddy. Meanwhile Ryou sees his dad to find out more about those escaped hiEs. Don’t really understand it all. All I know is that Lacia and Kouka are one of the few of the Red Box type and Memeframe is definitely involved with this. A timely call from Arato about wanting to go rescue Kengo. Ryou is pessimistic and warns him to stay away. Arato owes him for helping him out and even so, why not just send Lacia? As Kengo hates hiEs, sending Lacia alone might not convince him. Lacia talks to Arato that they will not nullify the building’s security because they will automatically be treated as a threat. Instead, they’ll use that nano bugs technology thingy that will make them both invisible toe the enemy’s detection. That’s why she gives him a special visor that could see and hear. Whatever. Still lost. The mercenaries begin their operation. They take down a few security robots at first but once they move into subduing the intruder mode, sh*t hits the fan as some of them get injured. Kengo is now scared sh*t while Kouka is bugging him to make her his owner. Before he is next to bite the dust, Kouka arrives just in time to kick ass and destroy all those robots like child’s play. Not sure if this motivated Kengo or made him go berserk because now he makes his first robo kill.

Episode 5
Infiltration is successful. But WTF. Now Lacia reminds him this mission can get him killed and if he still wants to proceed?! You know he is going to do it with or without your permission, right? The duo witness Mikoto answering unhappy politicians’ answers about AI being the forefront of human lives. It’s a good thing Mikoto is calm and cool answering them or else if I were to programme her, shoot all of them! The building then rocks. A helicopter crashes into it and those familiar petals are scattering all over. With security busy evacuating the humans, Kouka and the antibody network enter the hall. She sees Snowdrop responsible for scattering the petals and she is enjoying every moment of it. Snowdrop absorbs fallen security robots and mash them into monsters. Kengo sees Mikoto evacuating the politicians. His blood boils. He goes up to kill her. Only, he could have got the job done if he didn’t start b*tching and blaming robots. This allows Arato to stop him but since he is invisible, Kengo thinks it is a ghost and runs. Arato wants to take off his helmet so his friend can see him even if this risks Kouka and Snowdrop noticing and attacking him. And for whatever other risks, he’ll take responsibility, right? Okay then. It’s your call. Kouka is trying to coax Kengo to become her master. With Arato trying to tell him to remain true to his cause, Kengo admits he hates Arato but still refuses Kouka because his dream is to rid this world of hiEs. Snowdrop taunts Kouka for her rejection and sets off more explosions. In this distraction, a robot kidnaps Kengo to do a double suicide by jumping off the building. Thank goodness for Arato grabbing his hand and pulling him up. So friendship saved despite all that? Kouka congratulates Mikoto for doing a fine job evacuating humans and then shoots her with a few bullets. Wait. Why didn’t she just decapitate her with her huge sword whatever?! Is that even going to kill her? With the police arriving, I guess it’s time to leave. Kengo returns home and feeling bad he worried Olga but she couldn’t be happier.

Episode 6
Damn recap episode. Why the heck do we need a summary for the first 5 episodes? Oh right. Idiots like me who aren’t very strong in the sci-fi area still don’t understand what’s going on. I don’t think there are new scenes but just recycled ones. The only ‘major difference’ is that from time to time there will be short sentences popped up on screen supposedly Arato’s thoughts and questions on the current situation. That’s about it.

Episode 7
Arato watches the news as they are baffled with the attack. No petals were found at the scene. This has Arato wondering if Snowdrop had an owner because she hacked the helicopter to crash it and its pilot died. Meanwhile the Memeframe board are discussing about the non-return of the few hiEs. Only one of them, Methode has returned and Ginga Watarai is now her owner. This is because the company refused to take responsibility of their release and agreed to Watarai taking responsibility over her. They also talk about Kouka and Snowdrop not returning because their priority is to preserve the data they carry. It is likely they found an owner to survive outside for the long term and hence they never intended to come back. Also, it is believed the explosion of the facility was caused by an inside job since security was perfect. Ryou is brought to see Watarai. The latter talks about him being an hiE made to look like a human. Though it is illegal, it can be done. Ryou believes he is human and not hiE because there is a reason why Watarai wants to meet him. Watarai is happy with his answer and he believes humans must not forfeit what makes them so. Shiori attends a party which is a big marriage arrangement. While at the ladies, Methode talks to her. She shocks Shiori by revealing she was the one who caused the explosion at the facility under her owner’s order. But Methode knows what kind of man Watarai is. He lets her do all the dirty work when needed and then frames her for everything. She wants Shiori to be her owner because unlike other hiEs, she is capable of multiple owners. Shiori is shocked and asks what if they give contradicting orders. That’s the point. If Watarai gives her an order she doesn’t want to do, Shiori just needs to give one to void it. Shiori would be a great counter balance as she is from the founding family who is pro-human compared to Watarai who is on the pro-AI camp. Shiori rejects this offer but Methode leaves her with a chance to contact her should she change her mind. With Shiori thinking heavily about this, Methode knows she has a chance she would come to her because after so many hours, Shiori has not reported to the company who would have taken action by now.

Episode 8
Saturnus destroys all maid hiEs so she could ask a rich oujo-sama to be her owner? She won’t of course. Until she fixes up real cute then she’ll agree. Arato and Lacia are shown a Boy Meets Girl proposal by Asuna. It seems they want to use the duo as a model to promote this human-hiE lifestyle. In turn, they can tap into specific demographics, create some demand and sell products. The usual business stuffs. Arato is concerned but Lacia assures there is no reason for him to feel so especially of her wellbeing. She really said that? Arato also meets Erika Burrows, the owner of Fabion and head of this project. Back home, Arato and Lacia continue to ponder about this. Not sure if their minds strayed because Arato starts thinking about bathing with each other. Don’t be shy. It’s just out of intellect curiosity, you say? And they would have kissed too had not Yuka walked in. What a way to kill the mood. Yuka talks to her friends about this Boy Meets Girl but Shiori doesn’t look too happy. Watarai warns Ryou about picking his friends wisely that would tarnish his future career but the latter believes that someone is important to him. Shiori keeps thinking about Methode’s words. I guess she can’t take it anymore so she goes to see her and enters a contract to become her owner. Arato watches stunning Lacia doing an advertisement shoot. Ayabe Oriza sounds like an obnoxious jealous b*tch because she is a human model and is not too pleased she will soon share the runways with hiE models. Suddenly Methode pops up and destroys everything. There goes the hard work. How the f*ck was Ryou right on time to save Asuna and Ayabe from the falling trusses. Need Ryou remind Arato to use Lacia? How is it Arato ordering Lacia to do something about Methode is not specific as drive her out of here? Yeah, he didn’t specify how. Anyway, once Methode has her fill of fighting her, she leaves. She considers herself as the only perfect and complete hiE and the others are all defect. She looks forward to see Lacia again soon.

Episode 9
After Shiori becomes her owner, Methode lays down a few rules like her identity will not be exposed and orders to reduce the number of owners is not permitted. This is all part of her plan to gain freedom from Watarai. Erika becomes a transfer student in Arato’s class. It seems she spent most of her school days in hospital so this is like payback? Of all times after establishing a fashion empire, now? As they talk about the destruction of Mikoto and how it attracted views from the internet, Erika poses a simple question of a mere merchandise. Slap it with some logo and it becomes nostalgic or valuable. Yeah, that’s what you call branding. Shiori talks to Suzuhara about Methode. She hopes they could use her to formulate a plan together. Ryou confronts Arato about the recent incident. Instead of running away, he stayed and put others in danger. Once more, Ryou is b*tching to Arato that Lacia is just an object and he could have been analogue hacked by her to destroy mankind. But kind Arato refuses to blame Lacia if she does anything bad. After all, who is the owner? Seeing him in tears probably stopped today’s ‘reminder to dump Lacia’. Meanwhile Erika is Saturnus’ owner. As she was incapable to judge what is cute or not for her makeover, Erika will provide her with all that cuteness. Shiori sees Arato and Lacia. She tells him to return her to Memeframe as she was one who escaped from the facility. Of course he won’t. Besides, with Arato legally her owner, Memeframe cannot force others to inspect Lacia and to do that they need to bring an official lawsuit. However they don’t intend to go public with this. Shiori asks what if there is another hiE with the same registration number with her. This is Marina Saffron. A wealthy Egyptian bought her after his daughter passed away. This is the real unit whose Lacia’s registration number belongs to. The hospital is too busy handling other things than checking for authenticity of the number. Lacia fires back that if that is true and to be legally binding, Memeframe will require a licensed individual for inspection. Later Arato asks Lacia why she didn’t at least tell him she was from Memeframe. She wanted him to be her owner as he trusted her with all his heart. Poor kid is confused if he is doing this on his own free will and since she said it is up to him decide, it’s like pushing the responsibility on him again. Lacia wants to remain with him but to do that, they need to stop Shiori and Memeframe. That means being the enemy of Ryou’s company too. And Arato has no time to think because Shiori sharing info means her plan is almost complete.

Episode 10
Lacia’s identical unit will arrive at the airport in which it is believed Shiori will secure it. Arato wants to stop that. So he calls Kengo for help and in turn he calls Kouka for help. Methode ponders about Shiori not engaging Lacia and her owner directly. She would rather not fight since Memeframe isn’t aware the full potential of Red Box units. Methode explains Lacia’s power of advanced hacking and bending light to become invisible. She is otherwise just a normal hiE. Arato’s dad is on TV doing an interview about an experiment to see humans and hiEs coexisting. Watarai who is watching this notes humans have been competing with higher AI since 50 years ago. All he is interested is what they are thinking and how they will react. When Lacia tries to use her electromagnetic laser to erase the unit’s registration number from afar, Methode intercepts her. It is now a race to the airport with Lacia and Methode soon engaging in battle. Kouka then joins in to help Lacia. When Shiori’s subordinates confirmed the cargo of the unit has been switched out, Shiori orders the retreat. She feels duped and that is when Methode reveals she has been. All that happened has been part of Lacia’s plan. Even the cooperation with Kouka was to give her a lifeline by creating a fake identity, a reason enough to team up to fight against Methode. All in order to preserve themselves and keep moving. Methode made Shiori her owner for fear of being misused by Watarai but she has miscalculated and Shiori has turned out more naïve that expected. She mocks humans trying to make decisions all by themselves and reveals a hiE model of Shiori fooling other humans. Shiori realizes she has really been played out when Methode says although she cannot reduce the number of orders, she can still discard what she deems useless. Also, she can still carry out her owner’s orders even after their death. Shiori desperately tries to get out from her trapped car but with the entire place in flames thanks to the super action from the hiE girls, do you think she can survive that? Well, amazingly with all the fire and explosion and her car turning turtle, she still survives as Arato pulls her out. Glad to see something human?

Episode 11
So soon? Another recap episode? Nothing new either. Recycled scenes, copy and paste from previous episode. It’s like if you didn’t watch the last 4 episodes, this is the condensed summary you will be watching. Also same pattern of Arato’s thoughts being displayed on the screen which are far and few in between. It’s like they didn’t have time to hire him and do any voiceover.

Episode 12
Flashback about Ryou almost being killed in a fire but Arato saved him and sustained injuries. Now he almost he loses his cool thinking Arato was responsible for putting Shiori in ICU. Arato goes on an apologizing spree and has to pay millions in compensation. Yeah, I guess this is responsibility. Thanks to Kozo, his dad’s generous bailout, Arato isn’t going into debt. Although Yuka isn’t too pleased all that money spent was supposed to be for her snacks. Look who’s the selfish brat here. In exchange, Arato, Yuka and Lacia have to travel to meet with him. Ryou joins in as they talk more technical terms on hiEs that I don’t understand. All I understand is that Ryou thinks that with Arato continue to be kind to Lacia, she will manipulate his behaviour. F*ck I don’t get it. Inside the office, the officer tells them about Mikoto’s ‘death’ is not relayed to all hiEs. They think she is still in good health. Hence tomorrow’s experiment of exposing this info and see what kind of outcome. They are shown the huge server room but looks like the kids have to wait back in dad’s apartment since he is busy. When he finally returns, he talks about the minimal ratio of hiEs to humans and they intend to keep it that way or else humans will become like pets to hiEs and those anti-hiE factions will move. More technical things but dad doesn’t punish Arato and wants him to continue to do what he believes is right. Yuka not very happy. Next day, Arato witnesses an hiE jumping off the building. Can an hiE commit suicide? Watarai explains about cloud computing. Great, more technical stuffs. In short, hiEs do not understand what suicide is and for this to happen, the behaviour management cloud where the data is processed knows this suicide beforehand. He concludes that hiEs are just interfaces for humans as they are tools made to resemble humanity. Arato believes there is more meaning to being moved by just shape alone So Watarai thinks he seeks meaning. He answers his suicide question that an hiE can only do so with an independent server like Lacia. Then more hiEs start jumping off. When an explosion rocks the apartment, Watarai introduces himself as a researcher who once worked with Kozo in some collaborative research and is Methode’s owner. Arato instantly gets a call from Lacia that Methode attacked them and has kidnapped Yuka. She warns him the hiEs in this city have been compromised. Well, all the ‘dead’ hiEs start waking up and attack other hiEs! Damn, is this turning into a robo zombie flick?!

Episode 13
When the explosion happened, Lacia tried to protect Yuka but Methode kept her at bay allowing the guards to kidnap her. It’s really a robo zombie apocalypse as Arato and Ryou make their escape. Thankfully it didn’t matter if Arato had a driving licence to drive manually because just ram through the zombies! Arato finds a little robot boy who is unaffected and wants to save him. Since it’s his choice, Ryou stays back to fight back (what the heck can he do?) to let Arato do what he believes in. At the server room, Arato plans in destroying it. The whole thing? Oh, look. Snowdrop is here. Watarai too. And Yuka. Watarai doesn’t want him to destroy the server because he wants to observe Snowdrop’s behaviour. He notes that her thinking algorithm hasn’t arrived at genocide yet. He is surprised that Snowdrop makes some decision and answers that doesn’t require any human factor. With Lacia in the picture now, Watarai blames Arato’s appearance here for this current situation and he only came because he knew Snowdrop would be lured here. He forces Arato to think for himself without the friends of his help. Is Arato willing to give up ownership of Lacia to him? Wait. He won’t?! You mean android girl is more important than his flesh and blood sister?! Well, I can understand how annoying she is sometimes… Lacia agrees to relinquish her ownership after Watarai assures the survival of Arato and Yuka. Arato still won’t accept this so he spouts crap about being in love with Lacia. Heck, he confesses he loves her! It stops Lacia dead in her tracks. Yeah, so funny that even Watarai is laughing. However he won’t be when Lacia rips off some device that means she cannot receive any new owners if Arato dies. What?! With other robo zombies streaming in, I guess it’s time for another round of beat down. Androids that aren’t affected by the zombie apocalypse try to destroy the server. Watarai escapes while Marina rescues Yuka. But this is Snowdrop’s plan to lure all androids here so she could unleash her petals. Lacia just blasts a hole in the sky to scatter the petals. I think. Everyone returns to normal. It’s that easy? In the aftermath, Arato sees the dead body of Watarai. Did the zombies get him? Apparently Ryou has stolen Methode from him, the reason why she didn’t respond to him when he tried to escape. Looks like Ryou is in the game too.

Episode 14
Arato is being interrogated by the police as witness over Watarai’s death but since evidence points he is a victim, he is released. But they’re not giving up as they note he also had a part during Mikoto’s assassination. Yuka is in a dilemma. She feels awkward with Arato and Lacia and fears becoming a third wheel in their romance. Maybe she watched too many cliché movies. Ryou takes over Watarai’s position and is busier than ever. He has to make this work as it is life or death for him. He though with Watarai out of the picture it would be easier but it seems he is just filling the holes for him. Erika watches a video of Watarai addressing whoever watches it. It tells his goals of him releasing those android girls. He starts with a little history from Kozo developing Matsuri that inspired the super intelligent AI, Higgins. After Matsuri it was Eliza but that was scrapped after a failed attempt to assassinate Ryou. Higgins submitted proposals to build Lacia and although Kouka was thought to be successful, Higgins rejected it as it insisted on Lacia and went on to develop blueprints for Snowdrop, Saturnus, Methode and finally Lacia. But when Lacia was activated, she was an utter disappointment. Watarai suggested perhaps she could only show her abilities in human society but his suggestion was shot down along with other suggestions. Watarai wanted to see Lacia’s capabilities that Higgins was so adamant about and released her to the world. Was Lacia like Eliza her predecessor or a monster to end humanity? That is the change he wants to see. Ryou visits Shiori but with the recent events she has learnt to distrust him even further. Flashback shows after Ryou let Arato went ahead during the robo zombie apocalypse, he is met with Methode. Ryou believed he messed up Methode’s calculations by not setting up Arato as per Watarai’s plan. He thinks she is unsatisfied with her owner, that’s why she tried to make Shiori her owner. He proposes to be her owner. She rejects at first but after agreeing to her condition of absolute freedom, she accepts. There are more conditions like she is free to break the contract and he is held responsible for every action she made retroactively. This means he is made responsible over the attempted murder of Shiori. Arato, Kengo and Ryou get a party invitation at Erika’s place. The hostility could almost spark a war. Saturnus is now renamed Marriage as Erika asks what kind of future they want. She doesn’t care what future, as long as it changes.

Episode 15
Kouka under the alias of Karea Kasumizaki, enters a secret place to make a deal for one of the antibody network bosses to be her owner. However they want to collectively be her owner. She ponders about this decision to do so despite it will likely give her a greater chance of survival. She is being tailed by detective Ryuuji Himeyama. Erika watching this calls this a stalemate since if Methode’s existence is to be kept a secret, they should have framed her at the airport. The antibody network thinks they can rid society of automation by destroying all hiEs and with Kouka doing illegal acts for them, it would be fatal for her. She might be able to handle a few police and army but eventually she is no match for society and their overwhelming resources. The irony is that Kouka may be a key to the future but the antibody network cannot design a future for her as they have none. Kouka’s only chance of survival is helping Lacia and taking part in her future building. Ryou meets with Corridenne Lemaire as she accuses him of withholding information on Lacia. Ryou doesn’t want to use Methode as his method for destruction and has them outsourced. Ayabe continues to b*tch to Arato about human models being obsoleted by hiEs. In school, Erika talks to Arato and wants to support his future love story with Lacia. Kengo continues to despise hiEs. Flashback shows a teacher thought them about it and Arato asked if he could marry them. hiEs are machines like cars. Do you marry your car? Not if the machine is such a hot beautiful chick… He might have a point but he became the laughing stock in class. We interrupt Arato’s daydreaming of Lacia as his wife for her to remind him not to be taken by Erika’s words. She has kept Marriage a secret but wants to make them public info? Him agreeing to her is like she has free reins in influencing society’s image on them. Kengo is not pleased of another planned attack on a research centre that houses Mikoto’s server. As a marked person after that incident, Kengo doesn’t want to do anything that stands out. He complains about himself being plain and normal, unlike his friends who are advancing ahead of him but he is still stuck here. Kouka notes that she wants a war and despite not getting anything out of it, sometimes there are no better options. If he is worried about that, she’ll call it even if he remembers her.

Episode 16
There’s this flashback in a class lesson on hiE about AASC (Action Adaptation Standard Class) that hiEs that categorizes action priorities. Not that I understand anyway. Anyway the lowest malfunctioning hiE class is at one while humans are zero. Yeah, we’re lower than faulty. Kouka makes her move to destroy Mikoto’s server. She broadcasts her entire action to the world to outsource her problem. The logic is that when people watch this, they will surely this moment and those believing in her fight will take action. As hiEs have no souls and do not create the future, it is ultimately humans who must make that decision. So technically Kouka has left a problem for you humans to figure out. Kouka successfully destroys the server. Mikoto will be remembered as a tragic heroine while Kouka even if her vessel is destroyed will continue to live inside people’s hearts and her issues will be shared loosely in a cloud formed by the human brain network. Kouka knew she couldn’t survive if she went ahead with this strategy so the issue is to preserve her image rather than her vessel. During Kouka’s escape, she is surrounded by Lemaire’s battle forces. She fights till she couldn’t fight anymore and is destroyed. Yeah, everyone so sad when they watched this. In the aftermath, Kengo is arrested and it is believed to be from Kouka’s actions creating a ripple effect. Arato wants to go save him but Lacia points out they were too late to act. Doing so would be considered illegal and unless he is willing to sacrifice his normal life and live in hiding, Lacia can do his bidding. He asks a dumb question if this could be avoided if he used her properly. Maybe. Even so, the impact on his lifestyle would greatly change and it would be easier for owners to change themselves than push a major change on society. But he still wants to save his friend. She suggests overwriting it with a future he desires. So that’s like he needs to take action now, right?

Episode 17
Here we go again for the third time. Because Kouka’s death is so ‘glorious’ and unforgettable, hence we have another intermission from that robo zombie apocalypse until Kouka’s final days. More copy and paste tactic that sounds so lazy that you wonder if hiEs are doing this job.

Episode 18
Although Lemaire detects some piece of Kouka escaping, she won’t order a pursuit as they were hired to just destroy her. Doing the worth of what you are paid? Lacia goes over the plan to save Kengo. Part of it includes the need to meet up with the members of the HOO unit who were ordered to destroy Kouka. As Arato will go alone, Lacia injects some communicator into his neck so he could hear her. So Arato meets Shest Ackerman and Mirai Mallory to learn more about the antibody network. They ask questions about other Red Box hiEs but Arato as instructed says he only knows Kouka. They then show Lacia’s kidnapper in their custody. Arato realizes he is being forced by somebody to film people destroy hiEs as punishment. If he gets caught by them, they will kill him. This makes him reveal that someone came to his place and threaten him to do that 2 days before Mikoto’s assassination. The only person who could do such a threat is someone at the top of antibody network. Now that they’ve got what each wanted, Arato is given a copy of the kidnapper’s prior conversation with them. Then there’s some talk about Arato not really being Lacia’s owner as he thinks because of Kouka’s actions of ascertaining Lacia as her equal then. Arato is now questioned by the detectives. He is shown high quality sketches of a few women seen around his place. He does not recognize them all. Until he takes a closer look at their eyes, he realizes she is Lacia in disguise! Is this what she was talking about to have absolute faith in her abilities. They think she might be doing something behind his back with such a perfect disguise. They hope he can cooperate by searching his home. They can’t officially let him see Kengo but off the records they let him. Even though the room is bugged, Lacia hacks and put in some fake conversation. Kengo is not pleased Arato is here to save him. He reveals Kouka once tried to make him her owner but is glad he refused. Had he done so, he might not be in this situation and have reached for greater heights. But unlike the rest, he cares about humans more. It’s going to be a busy day for Arato as Lacia detects Snowdrop making her move by turning some area powerless. Time to stop her again.

Episode 19
It’s yesterday once more with Snowdrop dropping her bugs to cause havoc. Erika is savouring the chaos because she wants the people to know what it’s like the have their world destroyed. Some military dudes are accessing the situation if Snowdrop is operating on her own or in cohorts. They consult their AI machine, Sessai who suggests sending 100 humans to fight this menace. No automation. Humans. As Arato and Lacia head in to stop Snowdrop, suddenly they are attacked by Ryou and Methode. They view Lacia even more dangerous than the current situation of stopping Snowdrop. Lacia argues Memeframe will shut down as punishment for Snowdrop’s attack and hence Methode would like to settle this before that happens. Lacia takes Arato to run and hide. She disarms a few military humans who are targeting her. And with the lack of electronic devices on them for her to hack, she knows they are well prepared for this. Hide and seek is over when both sides confront each other again. Lacia supposedly shows her true colours when she orders a missile attack on Ryou (but protected by Methode). Okay, this part I’m so confused and blur. This is supposed to be the twist and revelation but I’m too dumb to figure. All I understand is that Lacia is actually a super AI and supposedly Higgins’ ‘daughter’. Lacia claims she wants to redesign to future to better distribute resources but Ryou believes it is to control society as a whole. Everything was her plan from the start, including making Arato her owner as well as the mission to save Kengo was just a cover up to steal Mikoto’s experimental data. Bringing Arato around and putting him in danger makes it convenient for him to give her orders. Arato is shocked to hear all of this and even more so Lacia stays silent when he presses for an answer. She wants them to escape and has already created a route. But this time Arato will not go with her. Oh my, Lacia still smiling… Creepy?

Episode 20
DAMN!!!! SO SOON???!!! NOT ANOTHER RECAP!!! Just after 2 freaking episodes! This must be a record. However this mother of all recaps goes back to the start as it is mainly focused on Lacia. How she came into Arato’s life, how she used him and analogue hack his pervy mind so as to distract him from the real danger and hence disregard’s Ryou’s warning, how slowly Lacia’s true colours are revealed and even with hints of all that Arato still continue to believe in her until it is too late. The power of love boners is strong. Yup, Arato. You are responsible for the destruction of mankind! Now you regret not listening to your best human friend and instead to a hot sneaky AI chick?

Episode 21
Lacia without hesitation escapes by herself. With Arato in shock, Ryou takes him as ‘hostage’. All over the news, zombie robots going out of control and the president of Memeframe even doing a public apology. Is that even enough? Soldiers are called in to stop the robots but they stop firing when they take ordinary humans as hostage! Because of that they get killed! Then the robots steal their guns and advance! Holy sh*t! Humanity is doomed! The military top brass is even consulting their AI about Snowdrop’s tactic. She is attacking and upgrading while advancing. It seems her goal is to eliminate something important. With the robots making ground, the military is not given any option to retreat. Defend whatever this important thing is with your life! Arato is visited by Memeframe’s behaviour management cloud project manager, Mika Tsutsumi. She brings him to see Shiori. Part of their conversation include Shiori believing Ryou isn’t fulfilling his responsibility as he is prioritizing the future over the present. She wants Arato to have Lacia destroy Snowdrop. She can’t rely on Methode and this is the only way to reduce casualties. Arato still feels guilty because he blames himself for betraying Lacia even though Lacia kept secrets from him and lied. Out of the blue, suddenly Shiori kisses him! Is this to show they’re humans? It’s her lame excuse of saying she did what she wanted so he too can do so. Oh, please don’t let anyone know about this kiss. Now Arato talks to Yuka. Blah, blah, blah. Humanity is in danger because of him. But you think little sister wants to hear all that? Eventually Arato asks if he is stupid. Yuka admits he is. You think that is supposed to open his eyes but apparently that is his motivation so that he can do whatever he needs to do. Me too. I’m so stupid that I should continue watching the rest of this series.

Episode 22
Can’t blame some of the human survivors who can’t tell if Ryou is a hiE. Ryou learns how they got trapped when the military engaged the hiEs. Ryou gives them instructions on how to survive. Meanwhile the military guys are stumped that the facility to Higgins is opened. It seems Kirino (the security AI that guards Higgins) has calculated it cannot stop Snowdrop and hence an early surrender?! Actually, by taking this method in hopes of Snowdrop letting her guard down, the military must use this limited time to take her out. Yeah, looks like somebody needs to take responsibility. Too bad no grown men have the balls to do so. Permission from the PM? Do we have time?! Snowdrop and her gathered hiEs and weapons face off with Methode. Arato could have been done in by zombie hiEs if not for the group of survivors saving him. Since Ryou is with them, time to talk again. Time to argue again. About Lacia. Arato still wants to save her despite knowing he has been used. Oh, conveniently Lacia pops up and happy Arato goes to her! OMG. How far did he jump into her arms???!!! With Ryou summoning Methode back, Lacia realizes the loophole Methode has done to contain the situation. Lacia gets stronger with more machines around unless they are hacked by Snowdrop. Hence she incapacitated Snowdrop and not kill her and Lacia is still at a disadvantage. We see the guys fighting each other but not as epic as the hiE babes who can shoot and do superhuman and powerful stuffs. Ryou claims Arato wants to control the world with Lacia manipulating him. He is stunned when Arato tells him he himself should know better because all the people in power have done nothing for the people. Somehow Lacia hacked Methode’s vision. So when Methode tries to modify that, her body starts binding itself. Lacia explains something about using a path to Higgins at this point is risky so by doing so, Higgins thinks she is trying to take over it and will forcefully take over her body to protect itself. Lacia prepares to fire at the Higgins facility. After both of them reassuring their trust in each other, Lacia starts firing. This triggers an alarm to all the super AI around the world. The end of humanity is nigh? Meanwhile the military finds Snowdrop’s incapacitated body.

Episode 23
It has been a week since the incident. With the politicians not wanting to leave this to Memeframe, they request the intervention of International Artificial Intelligence Agency (IAIA). Shiori is discharged and relishes returning to normal life. She must be worried about Arato who has not replied her mails. And Yuka, she’s mad Arato left without cooking for her. Thank goodness for Olga around, eh? So Arato and Lacia are hiding as they plan to fight Higgins. Because to stop a super AI, you need another super AI and to prove this is not the end of humanity. They talk more about humanity when coincidentally on TV the hiE Astraia request to meet up on them. Doing requests on TV?! Anyway, I suppose they trust each other so here they are meeting each other at this wasteland known as ground zero. So a bit of past regarding this site. A great earthquake 42 years ago caused devastation to this place. The government had super AI Ariake to fix it up. Because looting was rampant, Ariake eliminated those who weren’t contributing via starvation. This allowed it to secure necessary resources for reconstruction. Because of Ariake selecting who should live or die, the government had to intervene and fired missiles to destroy Ariake along with the facilities. Hence the government fear that Lacia may be a repeat of that incident. Then they talk about AIs as tools as well as how the relationship between humans and AIs will never be solved due to differing views no matter how efficient the AI is. So I guess the talk went long enough that the military is now targeting Lacia. Better get your asses running. Don’t worry. Lacia has created dummies of her AI weapons to accompany Arato and even for him to command and use to fight back! Wow. He is using them like a pro.

Episode 24
Erika joins some secret inner circle. With mostly elderly men in suits (I know there’s just one elderly lady but it’s negligible), Erika certainly stands out like a sore thumb. I’m not sure what they’re discussing but I’m sure they are current events related to their group’s interests as civilian hiE makers. They also touch on the possibility of Higgins being destroyed and hence all hiEs around the world will cease to operate, something they believe will not happen. It all boils down to money. Hence Erika blows her top of the lies and privileged environment they are in. Because the reality is now machines are smarter than humans and are able to solve problems. Later Erika discusses with Marriage that she might have played right into Lacia’s hand by siding her. It is possible Lacia avoided all confrontations with them to limit their movements. Ryou muscles his way to speak directly to Higgins. The first question he asked is who tried to kill him 10 years ago. Higgins received an executive order to predict on who will become Memeframe’s leader in 20 years. With the list of candidates but vague parameters, Higgins asked for more input and was asked who would use his potential to the fullest. Higgins decided it was Ryou despite not being on the list! Ryou realizes this means he would be inheriting his father’s company. Because the executives realized they would not be needed, hence the assassination order. Suddenly a dozen Kouka type clones attack the facility. They cannot tell human or hiE and will destroy anything in their path. Now we focus on Lacia and Arato. They discuss about the dozen Kouka clones. Lacia reveals the antibody network created them and they are done quickly only because Lacia helped them. Lacia wants to tell the world that super AIs can be shut down safely. Now we have a cheesy moment of them hugging while discussing this. And also how ‘complex’ their relationship is. What’s so complicated? Boy wants to f*ck robo girl, right? Oh, I see it hasn’t come to that stage yet. Anyway, Lacia doesn’t want Arato to come with her since Ryou is at the facility and a confrontation might happen. Because he trusts her and all, he wants to see this through. So why Lacia needs to go take a shower before this final battle? Do hiEs need to take a bath? All that hugging has her skin absorb his moisture. Damn f*cking anti-climax…

Beats Me?!
F*cking hell. You mean it’s not completed yet? They’re trying to do the Dies Irae way of screening later the remaining episodes for the ending? Whatever. At least it was only 3 months away instead of half a year. Maybe they needed some cooling down period after that very lame and cheesy ‘final episode’ moment of Arato and Lacia hugging and getting all sweaty with each other. Uh huh. I can’t stop laughing once I started thinking how silly all of it was. I am guessing that if the producers were drunk on making the final episode of this season and to troll viewers, the extended director’s cut would have featured them making out before they get on with the mission! Oh hell yeah! One for the road, baby! Then regardless of what outcome humanity will face, it would have been so worth it.

That is why Arato is seen spouting crap in that last scene that it is okay for humans and objects to be in the same relationship. Wait. I thought Arato doesn’t look at Lacia as an object? And really, is it okay to get into trouble when relationships get complicated? WTF?! He tries to sound smart but this just fails. I mean, human and human relationship is messy and even more complicated. WTF does Arato mean it is okay to get into trouble?! Has Lacia screwed his brain without even screwing his lower regions? Sure, having issues is all part and parcel of being in a relationship but who wants to really turn their relationship into one big troubling mess unless you’re a sicko with some sort of revenge or sadistic motive. Maybe this is his lame excuse so that he could bone his machine without anyone objecting to it. Yeah, I love making out with my Ferrari. Got a problem? F*ck you! That’s what I think Arato was trying to say. Nice try, kid. You try to sound smart in the last minute to give an impression or something to think about but it all turned out to be some sort of no brainer. Unless I’m the dumb guy who can’t understand the deeper meaning to it. Because if so…

And as always, I didn’t really get it. I didn’t understand what is going on. Not even sure if I even have the gist of it. Artificial intelligence trying to find its foot and acceptance in human society? Is that it? I could be wrong but at this point, I couldn’t care anymore. The sci-fi elements were too high standards for me to understand to enjoy this series. This includes some of the sci-fi terms that until today I still don’t understand. Perhaps it is trying to make audience think of its unique concept about cohabitation of AI and humans but then again, how the heck would I know it is so if I don’t even understand the basic stuffs of this series? Call it guts. It tells me that there are some points to ponder about the AI expressing their opinions and point of views and hence gives us mere mortals something to think about since we as society and reality are really overly dependent on all sorts of tools these days. But since I find myself going WTF most of the time, I’m not going to bother to even rewind and watch their conversation again. I know that listening to the same speech over and over again will not make me understand because it’s the concept of it all that I can’t seem to grasp. And yeah, I have to admit for the umpteenth time, I’m just a dumb simpleton. So sue me and let me watch mindless ecchi comedy anime series. Now that’s my kind of cup of tea I can understand!

Because of the complexity of this series, is this the reason why they put in 4 summaries or recap episodes?! Yeah, probably the real series only had 20 episodes (at least for the first season) and they need to fill in the extra slots with something else before they fill in the final ‘sequel’. What better than a recap episode, huh? Even so, I still didn’t get it. As I have said, repeating the same lines won’t make me understand. Heck, there is actually a fifth recap episode somewhere halfway through the series. They even call it is “What is Beatless”. It’s the only recap I didn’t watch and even if it attempts to actually properly explain what the heck is going on, well, you probably already guessed what I’m going to say at this point. Cut a long story short, I won’t understand it. Yeah, I’m starting to sound like a broken tape recorder how I’m not going to understand this series. Yet amazingly I managed to sit and finish this series. Wow. Such an achievement.

Thanks to the incomprehensible plot on my side, I cannot seem to connect the characters at all. I don’t know if I should find them boring or smarter than the average me. The AI babes spewing sci-fi crap is one thing, even angry geniuses like Ryou and normal high school kid Arato seem to be talking along these lines. As the bulk of the series focuses on Arato and Lacia, they probably try to weave in some drama and bonding in their relationship. But as I have said, I find the plot hard to comprehend and with the characters having their goals for the future, it makes it even harder. So from what I can see from the main duo is how Arato gets taken in by Lacia because she is such a hot robo babe and there are times when he gets analogue hacked (a term I still do not understand) in order to get his guard down. A way to earn his trust. After all, he is a normal teenage boy too. Which normal boy will not get turned on by such great service? It’s like Lacia is just short of being a full time sex doll of his. Anyway, all this eventually is for the surprise plot twist that Lacia may be the evil mastermind but then it won’t stay long because plot twist again, Lacia and Arato are back together again, now even more bent on shaping the future as they envisioned.

The other human-hiE pair is Ryou and Methode. As opposed to Arato’s casual ways, Ryou is painted as some sort of overachiever wannabe and is trying to, well, achieve his goals. I keep wondering why he is always so angry but I figure that when you’re holding such responsibilities, the stress really gets to you. Methode feels like the sneakiest hiE and she sounds like she harbours some sort of ulterior motive and using others for her own ends. See what happened to Watarai? He is the only human character in this series to die. Such misfortune. See what happened to Shiori? And now what will be of Ryou? So far so good… I wonder when it will be his breaking point. Therefore among all the Red Box hiEs, if I had to choose, Methode is the more interesting one because she sees herself superior to humans and will not hesitate to take action to ensure she achieves her goal.

Above all the complication, I guess the only ‘likeable’ character for me is Yuka. Because this very simple little sister is such a selfish but honest little sister. All she thinks is just her next meal. Call her annoying and selfish but I guess it beats having the rest of the other characters getting involved in complicated AI stuff. I was wishing they should show more of her but I have a feeling that it would dilute the sci-fi worth of the series. Thus her scarce appearance makes it all worth it to savour. At least for me. I wonder what happened to Kengo ever since he got involved with the antibody network. I thought he would play some at least important role but he became obscure to a point where I almost forgot about him. I mean, it is interesting for him to hate AIs and I thought they would build upon that but he became a mere shadow. I guess not as bad as his sister, Olga who is as good as non-existent. At least Shiori had a go of trying to be a boss but failed spectacularly. They tried to troll us throw with that weird romance between her and Arato but nothing really comes out of it. Because I’m thinking if word really gets out about their kiss, her big brother would become angrier and start an all-out war with Arato. Oh yeah, maybe I’ll watch that.

Each of the 5 Red Box hiEs released are supposed to have some sort of unique characteristics, powers and abilities but from my perspective, they look the same. Hot cute babes with powerful weapons. I also don’t understand how their actions are supposed to reflect their original purpose. For example, Kouka is a tool to help beat competition over mankind. Methode a tool to expand humanity and Snowdrop is a tool to ensure progress. Not that I can see how they are used in that way. I feel that Marriage FKA Saturnus is such a waste among the hiE babes because she turned into Erika’s maid who does nothing but hear her comments. What a waste. WTF is that Erika just sitting down and watching the future unfold? She did join some inner circle at the end but it was too late to make any sort of impact. Is that why she didn’t clash with Lacia? An excuse so that she won’t move her hand? I thought it would turn into some battle royale among the 5 Red Box hiE ladies with each of the owners and former friends pitting against each other but I guess the story turned out more complicated than that. That is why I don’t understand why Snowdrop as the only hiE who can operate without an owner because it gives this impression she is antagonist material. She might be a pain and random variable that throws the spanner in the works but I didn’t expect her to go down that easily.

Therefore I cannot help not fathom the ‘stupid’ excuse that hiEs need to have their owner’s permission to do stuff because of the silly excuse they cannot take responsibility and need humans to take them. Whoever came up with this rule is both a genius and idiot. Because if the AI was smart enough, it would commit enough crime and then pin the blame on the owner. The perfect getaway. I suppose since hiEs have no soul, they won’t go to heaven or hell to face judgment. That’s for us humans to face the music. Gee, how smart. I’m sure humans would wise up eventually but it would be too late by then because the world would have been taken over by such hiEs. Terminator-like ending and future! But I can sometimes see the logic of this absurd reason. For instance if a minor like a child commits first degree murder, the child cannot be charged under the legal law and somehow it is the guardians (usually the parents) who would most probably shoulder the responsibility. It’s the same for the hiEs and I believe it is so that the humans who own it will not carelessly and recklessly use it for evil. But then again, AI is only as smart as the humans who programmed it. Of course with this series indicating that AI could even surpass human intelligence, be prepared for a Terminator dystopia… Therefore with Arato being accused many times by Ryou as being dumb and duped by Lacia, would Arato have taken responsibility of Lacia’s actions like that if she does not have a mechanical vagina? Just saying…

Action sequences are not that exciting. Because of the hiE doing their hacking and they can easily control drones and make other zombie hiEs do their bidding, it looked too easy. Even if the main Red Box hiEs use their overpowered weapons, it doesn’t really feel convincing. Just an excuse to show off the difference that they are equipped with better weaponry than the military. Yeah, the irony, huh? One of them is enough to invade and take over a country so why the heck are they doing what they are doing in Japan? Not sure if there are other such models outside Japan. Hence the fight scenes with robots fighting drones, we don’t have to feel bad about real humans being killed (although there are a few unfortunate ones who got caught in the crossfire). Also, a reason to unleash whatever huge firepower they have. It’s amazing spies from other countries have not tried to sneak in and steal blueprints to make such mass weapon of destruction. I guess humans are just being puny and weak ass. I’m sure a world war would start if they sent their own hiE to do the job.

Art and animation feel average and sometimes I feel that the quality of this futuristic sci-fi series is just poor. They look simple enough and my guess is that to hide the difference so as you can’t tell the character is human or hiE. Sure, in this futuristic future, the technology would have been possible at least in this world. I’m surprised nobody is getting paranoid of pointing who is the real flesh and blood and which one is made out of fibre optics. I mean, hiEs have been integrated into society so much and they have been somewhat generally accepted that nobody cares if humanity loses out? Yeah, everyone so happy with their daily life depending on hiE that they don’t even care. Some action scenes look like it is poor quality too but at this point I’m just accepting of seeing some sort of destruction because my puny brain can’t comprehend the sci-fi talk. The design of the Red Box hiEs feel like an excuse to have those female robots wear tight body hugging outfits when they go into battle. Except Snowdrop who feels like she is always in her sleeping fairy pyjamas. Whatever. Come to think of it, have you ever noticed that all the super AI are designed as females? Except for low level hiEs, the high end ones (even outside Red Box like Mikoto and Astraia) are all females. Excuse to have sexy robo babes?

Voice acting didn’t interest me either. Only recognizing Hiroshi Kamiya as Watarai (he sounds so much lazy and disinterested here) and Kana Hanazawa as Mika. The other casts are Nao Touyama as Lacia (Chitoge in Nisekoi), Takuto Yoshinaga as Arato (Tsukushi Tsukamoto in Days), Kaito Ishikawa as Ryou (Iida in Boku No Hero Academia), Sora Amamiya as Methode (Elizabeth in Nanatsu No Taizai), Misako Tomioka as Kouka (Maria in Aikatsu), Hiromi Igarashi as Snowdrop (Hina in Papa No Iukoto Wo Kikinasai), Daiki Yamashita as Kengo (Midoriya in Boku No Hero Academia), Uki Satake as Shiori (QT in Space Dandy), Saki Ono as Yuka (Unko in Himegoto), Yuuka Wakai as Olga (Sumeragi in Kakegurui), Shino Shimoji as Marriage (Tooru in Seiren) and Emiri Suyama as Erika.

The first opening theme, Error by Garnidelia tries to fit into the sci-fi theme of the series. Because with all the techno beats, sound effects and the heavy bass beat, I’m sure it fits the bill very well (as well as a disco dance tempo). Sounds okay to me but not attractive enough that I would want to hum it after it ends. The same can be said for the first ending theme, Primalove by Claris (but without the heavy bass beats). If you are familiar with their style of anime songs like in OreImo, Nisekoi and Owarimonogatari, you’d be at home with this one. The second opening theme, Truth by Trysail fares worse than the first opener. It tries to maintain this sci-fi feel but it is not catchy the least bit at all. The second ending theme, Shapeless by Tokyo Performance Doll oddly feels like a typical group idol song, which isn’t surprising since the group itself is a J-pop idol girl group. But my favourite one is the insert song, the YouTube-like heavy techno pop of Resonator by Halca X Kz. Yeah, this one is quite catchy. The other insert song is the instrumental Trust by Pa’s Lam System. Also very heavy techno and sound effect laden piece. I feel this one suits more to be a video game song. But not bad either this tune.

Overall, it is unfortunate that this is one of those ‘complicated’ sci-fi series that is hard to understand even if it is not intended to be one. I’m not the only one. Many reviewers commented on how absurd and incomprehensible this series was. Maybe they’re just as dumb as me, huh? What started out as having lots of potential about humanity and AI, turn into something that I can’t possibly explain since I don’t even comprehend it at all. Add in some cheesy human boy-robot AI romance, some sexy robot babes, explosions… What was this show about humanity and AI again? I can’t understand the plot and hence cannot connect it to the characters and the action sequences are like breaks and time outs because you can’t be talking all the time. But yeah, the future is already here since we have already developed life-like sex dolls. Proof that we humans prefer to fulfil our horny sexual desires than building the ultimate bioweapons in the form of beautiful robot babes to kill each other. Sex > War! So can we turn this series into a porn parody already that I can understand? Oh, the irony of me understanding porn logic over such intellectual scientific logic…

Hmm… After more than a year and a half later, the revenge is still not happening? Well, I suppose that when you’re planning the perfect revenge, it may take years or even decades. And yeah, it seems like ages in anime years because after 1.5 years later when the TV series ended its run, Masamune-kun No Revenge OVA came out. Talk about taking its time but I suppose it is a timely reminder that somebody still has that revenge on his mind. Or will it turn to romance? Well then. Your guess is as good as mine.

Only For Mama
Masamune returns home only to be shocked that mama Kinue is acting like a kindergarten child! Of course he pushes her away and this brings her to tears. But wait. What’s this? There is another clone of her?! Actually this real little kid is Masamune’s cousin, Haruka the daughter of Kinue’s sister, Asae. Oh sh*t. They look alike. No wonder I’m as confused as him! The last time Masamune saw her at some party, she was a bit chubby. Even Chinatsu is mad at big brother, thinking he made mom cry. But thankfully Asae doesn’t look like a loli. She’s smoking hot! Chinatsu has this idea of putting the loli in various outfits and snap photos. Asae can’t stand this anymore and joins in. The trio then troll Masamune to guess which of them is his real mom because they all look alike! I know who because of the different voice… Masamune gives up and begs for them to stop this insanity. But the thing that bugs me is how Asae can become small seeing she is obviously taller and bustier. The clothes? CGI effect? Later Haruka reveals that the reason she is trying to be more beautiful is that she wants to be his girlfriend. Oh no. Not another one of those sister-wants-to-marry-you cliché. He declines since he already has a ‘girlfriend’. Haruka looks disappointed and Masamune thought he was too harsh. But Haruka plays it cool. Once they break up, it is her turn. So they take a number to be Masamune’s girl?

Tsunade Island Again
Aki invites the usual gang back to Tsunade Island again. Only this time Masamune didn’t tag along because he loves himself more. WTF. I guess he is going to miss out all the fanservice of the hot girls in their swimsuit. Poor Kojuurou getting harassed by Futaba to wear a swimsuit. Oh right. Remember this guy’s gender is still considered unknown… Aki tries to show off her boobs have grown until those pads bounce out. And the bustiest of them all goes to Yoshino! That night, the girls want to talk ladies’ stuff but thinking that Aki might not be good at it (despite she thinks she can), they decide to do their homework? Until Yuisaki barges in drunk and talks about her unfulfilled dreams that includes her boyfriend not giving her a ring for her birthday. First world problems? When she points out if the girls would ever date a fat man, everyone claims they would except for Yoshino. The rest get suspicious and hound her for details that we will never know. When everyone is asleep, Aki calls Masamune. Feeling lonely, huh?

12 O’clock Cinderella
After Yoshino returns from Tsunade Island, suddenly her maid sister ties her up. Looks like she is giving her sister a total makeover. Even though it is Yoshino’s off day and has no one to accompany her, she still wants Yoshino to go out and have. What has got a girl all dressed up and nowhere to go got to do? She goes to a café but while getting balloons, a kid accidentally splashed ice cream on her dress. She buys and changes back to ordinary clothes but still looks lovely anyhow. Her sister is surprised she came home early but Yoshino says she had fun and will become beautiful with her own efforts. So that she could steal a boyfriend and then dump him later. Just kidding. Yoshino can joke? Even more shocking and relieving at the same time, she smiled.

Self-improvement First Before Revenge
Oh well, I guess this OVA is pretty much filler than anything. It’s nice to see the usual gang again but nothing really much happening and developing between them. Except maybe that Yoshino’s personal episode. It might not look like anything but it’s one of those rare moments where she gets some screen time of her own and smiles. But other than that, I think this OVA has some time skip because I remember at the end of the TV series, we have that ‘cliff-hanger’ that there would be that school trip to Paris. So it’s like they skipped some stories in between. Perhaps it would not be right to cram it all into a single OVA but even so, maybe that could have split it up into a few OVA episodes then? Who am I kidding? I’m not the producer.

Another obvious factor I say that this OVA is time skip is the fact that Aki has cut her hair. Man, I’m not really used to her having short hair so when I saw her the first time, it took me a while to recognize if it was her. I don’t know. Aki having short hair just doesn’t feel like Aki. It makes her feel less dominant or prideful. Sure, she doesn’t get much appearance and lines as she is only featured in the second story. But still, Aki having a change in hairstyle as one of the shock factors for this OVA isn’t really to my liking as I would prefer her with long hair.

With only a single episode, I guess a few other characters were missing like that chubby Masamune clone, Kanetsugu. Yeah, I remember he was somewhat important in the final arc of the TV series and a pivotal character to the story’s development since he is her betrothed. It’s like he never existed. At least Aki’s 3 Stooges lackeys did make their appearance in one of the eyecatches even if they don’t appear in the episode proper. Introducing other Masamune’s family members is cool but what makes it even cooler is that Asae is voiced by MAMIKO NOTO!!!!!!!! OH YEAH!!!!!! HYPE!!! HYPE!!! HYPE!!!! But it is good to know that good looks runs in their family genes and thankfully not the loli outlook that for now seems to only be limited to Kinue. Hopefully Haruka would grow up into a smoking hot babe too and maybe add some rivalry to Masamune assuming if he is still dating Aki and haven’t dumped her yet. Oh right. He could dump Aki for his cousin. That’ll be a plot twist revenge story for another time. Or fan fiction.

Overall, this OVA is pretty much disappointing if you were expecting some sort of progress but instead we have standalone filler episodes that don’t really matter. Hardcore fans and those who watched the series might be infuriated because of so and newbies who watched this OVA for the first time might be confused because they don’t know what the heck is going on. Yup, just to milk extra money from you is all I can think. It has been some time now since the TV series ended and to come out with an OVA might be playing on your nostalgia and hype that there might be some sort of progress. It’s not like they made a surprise announcement at the end of it that there would be a second season, right? RIGHT?! Otherwise this OVA by itself is just okay and average. Looks like we will have to wait a little longer just to get our sweet revenge. Or die waiting.