High Score Girl

January 27, 2019

Oh well. You know the state of the video gaming industry these days, right? So anti-consumer. Ah, if old guys like me could just go back in time where the arcades were king and games were somewhat much simpler. Yeah, damn those nostalgic memories. But thank goodness for High Score Girl, right? Now I can visually relive those memories of the early 90’s where many fighting games (still my favourite game genre till this day) were running rampant. Back in those days, boys were often seen as playing such games. But a gamer girl? And a beautiful one? Very rare. But they do exist. That’s what this series is seemingly about. The bond and relationship of a video game nerd boy and a very well-off and lady-like beautiful gamer girl.

Episode 1
Haruo Yaguchi is on a roll playing SFII. Until this girl and classmate, Akira Oono beats him. It is her turn to rack up the winning streak. All guys who challenge her fall to the wayside. Haruo won’t give up and attempts to defeat her. He uses a cheap move from Guile to defeat her Zangief in the first round. So confident that he plays the next round with only one hand. And lost. Then back to that cheap strategy in the third round. He wins. Guess what? Oono punches him! Who is the sore loser here? Haruo cannot believe a rich cultured girl like Oono is entering his video game domain. To protect his pride, after watching her defeat Vega (That’s Bison to you Americans) with Dhalsim, he tries to do the same but realizes the cabinet is in poor conditions. She beat the game like that? Haruo plays Splatter House and can’t help notice Oono watching him. After he finishes, she follows him home! WTF?! Is she turning into a stalker? Turns out she is afraid of horror stuffs and got scared after watching him play Splatter House. Later Haruo hits the arcade again. This time his opponent is a real sore loser. He gets noisy abusing the machine if he loses. When Oono takes over and does the same, the dumb couple confront her. Haruo steps in but gets beaten up. Oono then beats them up for being too noisy! Haruo takes her and run as the dumb couple get arrested by the arcade guys thinking they wrecked the machine. On a rainy day, Haruo and Oono are stuck in a candy store run by an old conniving grandma. She only lets you in if you have money to spend. And so what a better way for them to pass time by playing the Final Fight arcade. Haruo thought he is better than her at this game but soon realizes she is only beating the game with normal moves. She won’t let him take power ups too. It dawned to him that she is trying to gun for a high score. When they finish the game, the weather has cleared. He treats her to lollipops. Just as they leave, suddenly Haruo is run over by a car! It is Oono’s butler looking all over for her. Thank goodness Haruo didn’t even die or have permanent damage.

Episode 2
The class is cleaning the pool. Genta Doi might be the class’ handsome guy but he doesn’t have Oono’s heart. Try as he might but she ignores him. Worse, he is jealous Oono is even mixing with loser Haruo. When Haruo gets sick after that, he rests at home but Oono pays him a visit to hand some notes. Mom sure loves a cute girl coming to visit her son and even hopes for some sort of ‘accident’ to happen. After mom goes out shopping, Haruo notices Oono itching to play his PC Engine. He lets her play but finds her suck using a controller. You see, this is her first time playing a console! He introduces her to a few more games in his collection but since she still sucks at the controllers, he can’t take it anymore and tries to show it to her. By that time mom returns and thinks her son is trying to take out his beastly desires and wrestles him. Why does she look so happy? When Haruo is well and back to school, he realizes Oono’s conspiracy to try and make him sick again so she can visit and play his PC Engine! With the summer vacation around the corner, it seems Oono is not too please that her personal tutor, Moemi Gouda is going to inculcate all that is considered ‘culture’. Hence, it is understandable why she ‘runs away’ with Haruo who heard about some legendary arcade whose price is as cheap as 10 Yen for all games (he too is ‘running away’ from showing his mom his report card filled with Fs). Borrowing some aunty’s bicycle, they make their way to this creepy and shady joint. But they get to enjoy themselves with lots of old and retro original games. Even the crane game is an outdated version. They leave when they’re done but Haruo realizes he forgot the bicycle keys left behind. The moment they turn back, the joint is now an abandoned shop lot. Oh sh*t! They hear rumours how the owner of this arcade passed away many years ago after he went out of business. Oono is so scared of this ghost story that she beats up Haruo?! Is this female logic?! No choice, they walk the entire way home. Haruo is considerate enough to lend his shoes to her to walk more comfortably. He even treats her to some ground meat cutlet with all that’s left of his allowance. Happy ending when her butler finally finds her. He tells her he can join him at arcades if she ever wants to ‘run away’. But Haruo’s hell has just begun as mom beats him up after seeing his report card. As punishment, she takes away his PC Engine.

Episode 3
Haruo notices Oono not focused in her games. Doi invites some of his classmates to a flower garden in a theme park but his real intention is to get Oono to like him. Good luck on that. Then Chihiro Onizuka suggests a boy-girl pairing did Doi appoint the pairings. This is so weird because Onizuka is bugging Haruo of wanting to show his penis to confirm if there’s a bone in it?! WTF???!!! Eventually Haruo and Oono manage to escape from their ‘tormentors’ and end up in the arcade. Great gamers think alike, huh? They have fun with many of the arcade games before realizing the need to get back to the rest to avoid suspicions. Yeah, Onizuka has targeted Doi to show her his bone penis!!! Haruo and Oono end up riding many of the other attractions and he only obliges since she has never been to a theme park before. Too bad the last ride on the Ferris Wheel is closed. On the bus ride home, he lets her sleep on his shoulder, thinking she has her own set of problems to deal with. When school resumes, Haruo is shocked to learn that Oono will be transferring out since her dad’s job changed to Los Angeles. Hence everyone buys gifts for her. Haruo isn’t the only one who didn’t buy any and is accused of being insensitive. Worse, he brags with her gone, he will dominate the arcades again. Of course the real reason is Haruo didn’t know what to get her. So spend it all on the arcades! As he keeps playing, he feels a sense of void. He keeps thinking of Oono. So much so the voice of Guile lectures him to be honest to himself! With that, he runs out of the arcade and goes all the way to the airport. I guess it must be nearby for him to reach there just before her flight is due. He lets her know how he’ll be lonely without a competitor. He gives her some small ring which he wanted to give to mom for mother’s day. It’s the only thing he could give her. Oono is so touched that she jumps to hug him and lets loose the loudest ever cry you’ll hear. It’s the first time we hear her voice this clear even if she’s just bawling tears. Her family forcefully tear her away as we see Oono’s heart breaking tears of separation :’(. Even in departure, she somehow manages to scratch Haruo’s face. Is this her present to him?

Episode 4
Haruo is now in middle school and what a year it is because Virtua Fighter just came out. Fellow classmate, Koharu Hidaka doesn’t seemed impressed with Haruo’s carefree attitude as he spends his time mostly at the arcade. Unlike her boring life of studying in her room. Yeah, he looks like always having fun. The school has sent out warnings to those who patron the arcade. Nice best friend Haruo has got there as he got ratted and must now write an apology letter. But after he waits for everyone to leave, he quickly takes out his handheld to play SFII! Until he realizes Hidaka has been waiting for him to close the class since she is on duty. Because of that, a heavy blizzard falls and she has no choice but to take shelter at granny’s shop. Haruo is there too as he introduces her to video games. He lets her try playing SFII. Wow. She picked Zangief (because he looks the strongest) and is this beginner’s luck because she defeats Ken in straight rounds! Of course she lets Haruo handles the rest as he wins the game. After they leave, Haruo laments this store will soon close as granny is too old to man it. He will lose his place of arcade. Hidaka then says her family shop recently set up a few cabinets outside (they run a liquor store by the way) and this delights Haruo as he promises to come there every day! Hidaka has a strange dream of being in a pixelated video game world with Haruo. Spend one long time with him and she’s seeing weird things? The class is having a Christmas party and as Hidaka leaves, she sees Haruo playing the arcade outside her family store. This is more important than some stupid Christmas party! Hidaka isn’t too fond of joining the party too and wants to watch him play. Finally when he has had his fill, they prepare to head to the party when Hidaka’s grandpa comes in to install the latest Super SFII! OMG! Now Haruo can’t leave! He must play this game! Screw the party! I wonder if Hidaka enjoys watching him play or just him. Hidaka wants him to play a few games she suggests as she is having a hard time clearing the levels but he tells her to try first and if she still cannot beat it, then he’ll show it to her how it’s done. When it’s game over, Hidaka suggests they exchange their Christmas gifts. Hers is a pair of mittens that she knitted. To keep those cold fingers warm when he hits the buttons outside in the cold. Haruo’s present is a game magazine. I’m pretty sure she is happy not because it is a magazine…

Episode 5
Haruo is about to head to the shop to buy a cheap game for the new year when he stumbles into Hidaka. OMG! MORTAL KOMBAT CAUGHT HER EYE!!!!!!! I LOVE THIS GAME!!! BRINGS BACK SO MUCH MEMORIES!!! Haruo introduces her to all the real-like gore of MORTAL KOMBAAAAAAAT!!! They even mock about the gibberish lines some characters say! He even lets her try but she got lucky with her button mashing and even pulls off a Fatality!!! Awesome beginner’s luck?! Do you not know how long it took me to even figure out the first fatality?! Anyway, after that they play Samurai Showdown and Haruo totally owns the sore loser guy. He might be using cheap moves but hey, you’re bad means you’re bad. In the end, it descends into some lame physical brawl. Hidaka is not amused by it all. Not only Haruo had somewhat bad gamer etiquette, despite praising her mittens that he is able to pull off better combos, the mittens are now wrecked. That’s putting it to good use, right? Next day, she notices him playing outside her store. She feels guilty if she was being cold to him. Even more so when he is still playing when there’s a blizzard. Worried, is she? Thinking he is waiting for her to go see him, she does and since his hands are full at the controllers, she has him feed him? Then she learns he is trying to get high scores and put his name on the entire list to mark his presence! She unplugs the cable… NOOO!!!! It is Valentine’s Day and Hidaka hears guys mocking whoever gives chocolates to Haruo are just dumb. Yeah, I guess Hidaka is the only dumb one… Since Haruo feigned sickness just to stay home and play his games, Hidaka visits him to of course pass some school stuffs. Once again, mom is getting pretty excited for a girl to visit her son. Please stop stalking at the door! Since she is here, Haruo introduces her to his game collection and even plays some before passing the controller for her to continue while he goes get some rest. But Hidaka plays an old game once Oono played and this brings back nostalgic memories. He realizes it has been 2 years since she left and he feels the need to get better so he can fight her in tiptop condition. After Hidaka leaves, she notices Haruo became awfully quiet after that. Like as though he is thinking of someone else. A woman’s intuition of another is never wrong… And it’s not like she’s giving up on this feeling either. Speaking of Oono. Looks like she has returned to Japan.

Episode 6
It’s the start of the new school term and Haruo as usual isn’t interested in anything except his games. Even when Koutarou Miyao says there is a new transfer student, nothing will stop Haruo and his arcades. Hidaka once more accompanies Haruo to the arcade at the mall but since it is crowded and the cabinets aren’t 2 players friendly, they leave for the real arcade to play the SFII X. Haruo racks up straight victories with Guile. When the teacher, Numata is seen entering, many students scram. Haruo is in danger of losing his streak but Hidaka will cover for him since she is not in a uniform. I guess it’s better to lose your streak than to get caught. As Haruo hides in the toilet, Hidaka amazingly manages to win! But the next player… Oono! At first she looks like indecisive to choose a character. However she activates and selects a hidden character, Akuma! Hidaka gets her ass whooped. Hidaka apologizes to Haruo for the loss and tells him of this hidden character. Haruo feels the need to meet this player (Oono however left after that victory) and starts running out to find her only to be run over by the butler’s car. Ah, such nostalgic feeling… Don’t worry, Haruo’s okay as always. Oono spots Haruo but isn’t pleased to see another woman with him. Next day, Onizuka asks if Haruo has met Oono but Haruo looks calm, probably holding in his shock. After school, it finally hits Haruo that his rival is back and even though scared to see her again, he believes he has levelled up enough to face her. At the arcade where he first played her, he finds a crowd watching and amazed at her 100 over winning streak! With Zangief! When it’s Haruo’s turn to challenge her, Oono left her seat. This only saddens Haruo. Accidentally he went to play Final Fight and Oono is playing it?! Haruo could sense she is taking out her anger on him on his character. He starts getting teary eyed, conflicted about the return of his rival. He thought he has practised hard enough to fight hard but apparently she too might have levelled up beyond his reach. Perhaps the right to be equal in play is not his right anymore. After completing the game, Oono leaves. Hidaka sees them together. A woman’s intuition is again never wrong. Oono is seen still holding on to Haruo’s ring.

Episode 7
Hidaka finally got a Super Famicom version of Final Fight and hopes this would lure Haruo to her place to play. Too bad it backfires because he wants to borrow instead. During recess as he goes over the game magazine, some guy calls out to Oono just to confess to her. In front of everybody?! Of course that face means you’re rejected. This loser then starts blaming Haruo and wants to know his relationship with her. You mean Haruo starts thinking for an answer? As he doesn’t want to expose her as a gamer girl and knowing she is way better than him to be called a rival, he says she is more of a thorn by his side. Oh dear. Oono angry. And when Haruo tries to talk to her, it’s that cold shoulder again. Can’t understand women. I suppose Haruo gets another shock when Miyao says he wants to confess to Oono at their school field trip to Kyoto. When the train is at a stop, Numata is having some motion sickness and has Haruo get some cider for him. Since he is given extra money to buy other drinks, Haruo is having trouble carrying it all. Hidaka helps since the train is going to leave. You know how punctual Japanese trains are, right? Oops. It left. And while Hidaka takes the responsibility to call and inform the Kyoto side, Haruo is delighted there is an arcade nearby. All for himself! Hidaka is so mad that she’s showing her frustrations by playing this whack-a-mole game. Haruo does have a little consideration so he walks with her along Lake Biwa as she confuses herself with thoughts that this is like a date. Then an old sweets shop with old arcade games. Oh yeah! She finds it strange that video games connect her to him. But sometimes it backfires because Haruo has her take over as he goes to the toilet. By the time they take the bus and reach their inn, it’s already evening. Why so sad, Hidaka? Want to stay like this a little longer, you say? Oh, there’s an arcade at the inn too. Haruo spots Oono there and teases her gamer instinct but brags about being with Hidaka and all the arcades they hit along the way. Not sure which one is angering Oono more. Maybe both. Is Haruo doing this on purpose? He should’ve seen it coming she would beat him up. He thinks of playing Bomberman with his pals with the PC Engine he snuck onto this trip. Too bad the teacher, Reiko Touno confiscate it.

Episode 8
Since today is a free day, Haruo plans to sneak to Osaka for an SFII X tournament. Miyao will cover for him. Hidaka isn’t pleased that Haruo prefers game to Kyoto but Miyao can tell she has fallen for him. He might be an idiot but is a nice guy once you get to know him. At the tournament, Haruo sees Oono there too! He believes it’s their chance for a rematch but good thing or bad thing as they are at opposing sides of the block so they’ll only get to face each other in the finals. Of course Oono makes her way to the finals but during Haruo’s semi-final match, he is up against a guy who is an Akuma user. He is bad against such players and can only hope for a miracle. However this guy accidentally chose wrongly and hence indeed a miracle for Haruo to beat him. This guy trashes the cabinet demanding for a rematch but is taken away. It’s the anticipated Haruo vs Oono final. Guile vs Zangief. This time Haruo shows off all he has learnt and does not rely on cheap spamming tricks. Because of that he wins the first round. But as the second round starts, he starts hesitating if Oono is holding back. Yeah, he loses. In the final round, Haruo makes a comeback and wins it! After collecting his trophy and everyone has left, Haruo overhears the technician checking the cabinet. It seems Oono’s buttons were not properly functioning! Probably damaged by that Akuma user guy. Because of that, Haruo angrily confronts Oono about not saying anything. He starts complaining of how hard he had practised so he could fight her on the same terms but now she won’t even face him properly in a big event? She truly is just a thorn by his side! Oono starts punching him. Haruo fights back but Oono took martial arts before and that’s some mean punches she throws at him! She only stops after hearing him say he longed for her to come back after all this time. Then he sees the ring she is still keeping. Time to clean up and head home. Haruo learns (through the voice of Guile) that Oono didn’t say anything so as not to kill the mood. Not especially when the final was about to start. They return to the inn but I wonder how Haruo is going to explain about his messed up face. Miyao could understand what happened after Haruo explains his master-apprentice relationship with Oono. He knows he has no room between them. On the way back, Miyao and Hidaka are shocked if Haruo is still hazy from the injury because he is starting to think about his educational future! Perhaps this is the only way if he truly wants to stand at the same level as Oono.

Episode 9
Haruo is at the arcade as he sees Oono’s butler trying to take her back but she is throwing a tantrum. Haruo talks to him and hopes he cuts her some slack. He also gives him ‘permission’ to hit the pachinko in which old geezer gladly obliges. I suppose everybody just wants to have their break. Haruo and Oono play Virtua Fighter and she completely owns him in the first round before Haruo coming back with the remainder rounds. He wonders if Oono was just being considerate but ironically she didn’t hit him or get mad this time. Has she matured? This has Haruo think that she is still alone. He continues to talk about games with her especially the new Playstation and Sega Saturn consoles he wants to get and inviting her to come to his home to play. They spend their last summer days hitting the arcades with Oono astounding the crowd by beating Darkstalkers for the first time without losing and that punch-o-meter… Haruo is starting to worry if she is taking out her anger on him in this punch. I think she can knock out any heavyweight boxer! Haruo vows to not only cheer her up if she ever again gets lonely but to also be with her. This means surprise, surprise, Haruo starts studying! Even mom is shocked and moved to tears! Too bad his memorization of combos isn’t doing well for his studies. He is even hearing voices from his games to play him! But his resistance is strong. Haruo tells his friends he is applying for Jounan, a super tough requirement to enter high school and of course this is where Oono is enrolling.

During the PTA, I guess mom trolled-cum-embarrassed her son that his change of heart from always slacking to suddenly become studios is because of love. Love for mom! With his motivation, Touno and friends help him to study. While he is hitting the arcades less at this time, Oono continues to make her usual visit to the arcades but she is often in a slump. Wonder why… On the day Haruo goes to take his entrance exam, surprisingly Oono’s butler comes to pick him up. Apparently he bumped into his mom and she revealed everything. He believes the arcade is what links Haruo and Oono together. He was worried he was hitting the arcades less and this might make their feelings grown apart. Because even if Oono was at the arcades, she still feels down. Too bad Haruo is too dense so butler has to spell out for him that she goes to the arcade just to wait for him to come. She finds emotional support in him. As he has not mentioned this to her, Haruo has to tell her by himself. So in the car, it feels awkward between the duo. Haruo breaks the ice by talking about some upcoming cool games. As the game industry is evolving at a crazy rate, he wants them to witness that evolution together. Because she excels in both games and studies, it will be uncool for him to fall behind. Hence he is trying to get to Jounan too. Hearing this makes Oono feel sad and the most she could do is hold his hand. Haruo begins his exam and he hopes to confess his true feelings to Ono if he passes. Unfortunately that would not come to be as he failed but Oono passed.

Episode 10
Hidaka has grown her hair out and despite having a few guys confessing to her, she rejects them. Still having that sole guy in your heart? Too bad went to an all-girls high school while Haruo ended up in the same high school as Miyao. Hidaka visits him and learns that he is also doing some part time work to earn money for his games and that he is spending more time playing his Sega Saturn than hitting the arcades. She knows because she has been going to the arcades lately and hasn’t seen him there. Although she has a Playstation, Haruo’s gamer logic means he can’t betray his loyalty to Sega Saturn? Once a while it’s good to return to the arcades. Hidaka challenges him to SFII since she has gotten good. Haruo thinks he still has it and despite she chose Akuma, he still believes he can beat her using E. Honda. He lost! He challenges her to Darkstalkers but gets an even more humiliating defeat. Haruo realizes Hidaka has gotten stronger and he has gotten weaker ever since ditching the arcades. Reality check for Haruo as he realizes he hasn’t been good in his studies and now his pride is shattered to pieces. How can he face Oono like this? With the help of Guile’s voice, he won’t give up and will return to hone his skills at the arcade. I thought I forgot all about Doi but apparently he is also in the same high school with Haruo. I’m sure he is still worried about Oono but who cares. This guy is full of complaints even as he follows Haruo and Miyao to the arcades. Welcome to the video game world. Miyao can tell Haruo has been avoiding Oono as he is giving all sorts of lame excuses. So while Miyao takes Doi to the horse betting game, Haruo is surprised Hidaka is here. Why does he sound disappointed that it isn’t Oono? Haruo even says he is spooked by Hidaka because he dreamt of her beating him in the arcades? Well, that technically made Hidaka happy in some ways. Hidaka shows how much Haruo is lacking by defeating him easily in Samurai Showdown. Haruo only manages to win a round because of his dirty joke distraction. She even beats him at other games and sounds haughty. Hidaka might sound harsh but this is because she knows he is not paying attention to her. It is her belief that as long as she beats him, he will take notice of her. Probably she crossed the line after all those crushing defeats for Haruo, he runs home thinking he needs to start going back to basics by playing the most basic game. Poor guy. And then Hidaka and Oono meet… Oh, is Doi hooked on the horse betting game?

Episode 11
Miyao tries to be considerate and intervene but Hidaka requests Oono play a match with her as she wants to know her feelings. Instead, Doi tries to show off and flirt with Oono again. During the basketball tossing game, when Hidaka asks Oono if she has seen Haruo lately, this causes her to lose concentration and the ball hits her face. Normally one would be out but instead she went to play Virtua Cop! With Hidaka playing with her, Oono seems invincible until Hidaka asks those questions. She says Haruo has been avoiding her because of how inferior he felt after failing to get into Jounan. That’s why he hasn’t been coming to the arcade. If she isn’t interested in him or feel anything for him, Hidaka will gladly take that place. Oono suddenly powers up in the game and does an awesome move. Can we take it that is her answer? When Oono returns, she gets reprimanded by Gouda for still visiting the arcades. She then proceeds to remind her strict education life. Curfews and her devotion to study until college where she will marry a pre-determined partner. Sad. It sounds mean but can we blame Gouda since this is her parents’ wish and she is entrusted to ensure all that. Oono’s butler tries to side with Oono that allowing her to lose some steam via games is not that bad. Even if she isn’t allowed to go to the arcades, at least buy her a console. No can do. Maybe it is gramps who want a console?! With so many on her plate, it is no surprise Oono cries in her sleep. Especially what Hidaka told her about Haruo. Speaking of him, now he feels he has trained enough and has got his groove back in the arcades. However Oono is nowhere to be seen. He starts to feel sad if this is going to end up like before. One day as he returns home, he sees Oono’s butler outside. Looks like Oono has run away from home! He tells him what happened and he thought she would run to his place. Haruo gets permission to look for Oono. But how does he know where to look for her? Her butler did say she didn’t bring enough money so she could be at arcades where she can play a long time without spending much. Haruo visits the many arcades and could have gotten distracted if not for the inner voice of Guile and other video game characters tell him to get back looking. Finally he finds Oono playing a game in an arcade at Kawasaki. Found you. Time to go get something to eat.

Episode 12
Haruo calls mom for help. What to do? Oono doesn’t want to go home and they’ll miss the last train soon. If you leave it to mom… Yeah, she booked a nearby hotel for them to stay a night. In the same room! Wow. She really got this planned out, huh? Oh Haruo, you’ve got a lot to worry if this is going to look like some sort of kidnapping. What else can 2 kids do in a room? TV has the same boring ads. Aha! Plug in this new Famicom he just bought! You mean he just thought of that now?! Thanks to that, the night wasn’t so boring. When Haruo falls asleep, Oono admires his sleeping face up close. Next morning, Haruo has to leave early for his part time job but promises to be back before she checks out. Wow. He sure has deep pockets to even leave her some money to buy food. He is even considerate enough to think he wants to be her pillar of support and knows her family will scold her when she returns. Haruo must have taken half day to have time to go back and pick up Oono who is patiently waiting for him to return. Sure these 2 should start dating right now? On the way home, Haruo assures her that his mom will try to explain to her family to lessen the impact. He also invites her to come to his place if she gets sick of her family. A final photo commemoration and Haruo thinks of doing funny but Oono beats him up and the picture really comes out funny. Him being beaten… Meanwhile Hidaka is grateful that Haruo introduced her to video gaming and she is now a pro in her own right. However she laments no matter how good she got, she never got close to him. His eyes were only for Oono. Still, she continues to be captivated by him because of his straightforwardness. Later Hidaka visits Haruo’s home to lend her Playstation since he wanted to get good with Tekken 1 before Tekken 2 comes out. There goes his loyalty to Sega Saturn. Meanwhile mom wonders why so many girls are going for her son. I guess zero was the usual number so 2 seems like a lot. Haruo is excited playing the Playstation, he wants Hidaka to play with him. However she is just happy watching him play from the back. Yeah… Haruo decides to lend her his Playstation. Then Hidaka sees that photo of Haruo and Oono. Day ruined. As he walks her home, she asks him straight if he is dating Oono. Nope. Does he like her? Just her gaming skills. It gets even awkward as Hidaka cries and confesses she loves him. Please don’t use his console to beat him up! Even if she thinks he likes someone else, she still likes him. That rematch he wants with her so badly, here’s the deal. If he wins, she will leave quietly. If she wins, he must date her. Uhm, does he have any say in this? Guess not. I guess the real battle starts now! A battle Haruo has no practice experience ever!

Ready Player One (And Two)
Looks like we have got to wait for a little while longer to see if Haruo ends up with Oono or Hidaka. Or in worst case scenario, all by himself! Announced at the end of the TV series, this series will ‘continue’ in the form of OVAs in the near future. Until then, we are left hanging at one of the most crucial part of the story and possibly one of the most important events of the series. So frustrating! Don’t you just hate it when things are seemingly getting good only to be cut off suddenly? Why does this remind me that if you want more content, please pay up? The series’ setting might be in the early 90’s but the greed level is of today’s amazing standards.

First things first. This entire series is probably one big advertisement of nostalgia as the main attraction of why people like me watch this series is because of the retro arcade games featured. That is the showcase of every episode in this series and you can bet there are some retro games for your visual eye candy. Of course Japan being Japan and back at the early 90’s where the internet was still very much at its infant stages, there were quite a few games that I never knew. Not that it really set my tongue wagging wanting to play but even as an old time gamer who used to play a lot of games on computer (and some fair share at the arcade, only limited because I’m not rich enough to have so many coins at my disposal), there are still so many old games that I never knew off or called by a different name in its original Japanese release. Perhaps they are Japan only and not for the rest of the world. So it is with irony that seeing a short cameo of those games actually makes me feel a lot excited than the latest games today! Unless it’s Mortal Kombat!

The next episode preview is a perfect place to relive some of your retro game nostalgia even though it is just bare bones. It just tells us the name of the game and the year it was released in arcade and just one lousy screenshot of the main screen of the game. Hardly anything but for those old time gamers who spent lots of time playing that certain game, I’m sure it will bring back old memories. But this series isn’t just about old nostalgic games as the mid-intermission actually tries to help promote current games such as Tekken 7. Yeah, another form of nostalgia hitting us since you’ve realized how long a road the world of gaming has come. Feeling old already?

Putting aside the video games, I guess the storyline isn’t much. You could say I was being more distracted to the video games than paying attention to the plot, the seemingly budding bonding and relationship between Haruo and Oono. And possibly a love triangle with Hidaka getting caught in it. If I was in Haruo’s shoes and age, I believe I would be the same like him. Just dense and thinking nothing about games. Too engrossed with the games to even notice the feelings of the hottest chicks around him. From the start it looked like Haruo views Oono as a rival and has been doing stuffs just to be on par with her as a gaming rival. But as anime veterans know better, this relationship is going beyond video games, right? Yeah, maybe we’re just overthinking and reading too much as Haruo just actually wants a strong video game rival or an equal partner whom he can connect to with his hobbies. Heh. What’s that you say about Haruo not realizing he is in love with Oono? I’m too busy looking at the video games, man! Don’t distract me!

The other problem is Oono herself. Because she does not have any real dialogue in the series and is only reduced to grunts, groans and moans, I started to establish and stereotype her as some sort of retard. You know, a lot of problems would have been solved if she just open her mouth and speak but instead we are left to guess or Haruo taking on the role to speak on her behalf and guess what she is saying. I thought she has some sort of incurable throat cancer and that would have made it understandable and so tragic but with Oono continue to be an extreme taciturn, I really find her annoying and dislikeable. Sure, she has her own family issues and that is understandable. But if she doesn’t open her mouth and say her feelings, you think everybody is an esper? Girl, you got gold in your mouth is it? Funny, she was born with a silver spoon in her mouth, so to speak! I’ve got this funny joke that when guys confess to Oono, is it because they like her as she is a woman who doesn’t open her mouth! Holy sh*t!

While the story seems average and is just one long wait and see game, can you call that character development? Sure, the unique friendship between Haruo and Oono is interesting to watch. No, I don’t mean Oono taking advantage of her gender to sometimes beat the crap out of Haruo when she sometimes throw a tantrum because it would be atrocious if it was the other way round. But anyway, to see a kid with no high expectations (not even from his own mother) to strike up a friendship with a girl who has her life laid out everything before her is interesting enough to take note. Yeah, I suppose it’s a reason why I sometimes don’t be engrossed at the video games here.

Both are from vastly different worlds and what connects them is simply video games. Oono might be multi-talented in everything she does but she does not have that one thing that Haruo has: Freedom. Even if Haruo is skill-wise inferior to her in video games, at least he has the freedom to do what he wants, say freely what is on his mind, be true to himself. This is what Oono really craves for and sees in him. Oono has to act (and ironically, say) what is expected of her at all times. I want to believe that she sees him as a link to freedom and in the future hopefully he will be that key to unshackle her from the chains that so called rich people and society expects of her. As you know, back in those days, video gaming isn’t as glorified and glamourous as today and that is why it is frowned upon by the rich and ‘classy’ high people of society. Hence video games are her way of escaping reality. Too bad sometimes I feel watching the relationship between Haruo and Oono is frustrating simply because the girl can’t speak and hence it is pretty much a guessing game with Haruo following his guts (it feels like a weird monologue because Haruo ‘speaking on her behalf’). Thus watching them can sometimes be a drag. You want them to get together but with the predicament they are in, looks like we’re in for a long ride.

Hidaka brings in the potential love triangle but watching her trying to get into Haruo’s heart also feels as painfully slow and draggy. Can’t blame her as she is new in the video game world and the only way to win Haruo’s heart is through the things he loves. So that would take time and we can see it pays off. However it also backfires because this only hurts Haruo’s pride as a gamer and because she failed to make her feelings clear from the start, the longer she drags this out, the more complicated it will get. So the question now is to see who gets to confess to Haruo first. Logically it would be Hidaka because you know, Oono can’t speak… Oh well, she could write but that would dampen and spoil the mood. Imagine confessing via writing down on a note instead of traditionally saying it with your mouth. What a downer. Finally she has spilled first blood with her confession so she’s not going down without a fight. Something I guess she learnt through video games. But I suppose the game of love and romance isn’t something one can learn from playing dozens of dating simulations either. Good luck to you youngsters. First one to Haruo’s heart wins!

As for the other characters, they don’t really bring much impact and feel like side distractions. Some aren’t bad like Miyao who is actually a good friend to Haruo but too bad about his short-lived romance for Oono. Friendship > Romance? Doi is annoying and I thought he would never return but he did. Handsome guy thinks he is a winner with his looks but I guess you can’t see what others see of you because he looks more like a loser. Besides, even his sparkles are dark! No wonder Oono doesn’t like flashy guys like him with no substance. In this comparison, Haruo is much better! Haruo’s mom is a funny character but I wonder if she would have ruined the chemistry between Haruo and the girls had she had more screen time. She gets her kicks seeing her son and a girl together. Probably better than her TV dramas. And there’s this one ugly ‘animal’ guy who often loses and resorts to attacking others for his own failure. There is always that one gamer guy like that. People, don’t be like this animal.

The first thing that will catch your eye are the visuals and animation. If I have to put a word to honestly describe it, that would be UGLY!!! Yeah, the way the characters are designed are ugly. I’m not sure if they took inspiration from Pop Team Epic because certainly the characters do remind me of that anime. Even the so called beautiful Oono and Hidaka are just barely passable. They just look so weird at certain angles! Had they been any uglier, they would have been like Onizuka. Yes, her character design feels like a total disaster and that in order to make Oono and Hidaka look ‘prettier’, this monster was designed as a comparison. Seriously. When I first looked at Numata, I wonder if they copied his design from a character from Virtua Fighter. Hey Lau, was this your job before you joined Virtua Fighter?

The other thing about the animation that I cannot seem to determine is whether or not this series is created entirely based on Flash. Because of the visual style, there are some moments whereby the animation looks like it is animated using CGI or Flash but at some other times, it would look like it was done via traditional 2D animation. I’m still confused and can’t really tell up till the end. Because if it was truly 100% Flash or CGI, it would have been so obvious and one kind like in some other series like that Bishoujo Yuugi Unit Crane Game Girls or JK Meshi. It is not so clear cut here (just like the same dilemma I had with God Eater) and since my lazy Google didn’t yield any results about whether it was done via CGI or Flash, I suppose it wasn’t. But I could be wrong because I read so many viewers comments how bad the CGI was. Ah well, looks like graphics in TV series still has a long way to go.

I thought the only place where we get to hear Oono’s voice is via the ending theme, Houkago Distraction by Etsuko Yakushimaru. Uhm… Sounds like a little loli girl singing her lines flat! Maybe that is why she doesn’t say a thing in the anime. Horrible? Well, the song sounds nice and cute and her voice makes it sound one kind. Oh, too bad Oono wasn’t voiced by Etsuko Yakushimaru but Sayumi Suzushiro. I guess with no proper lines, you can’t tell it’s her singing the ending song so I assume they’re the same person. The opening theme is New Stranger by Sora Tob Sakana. Though the song itself feels rather okay and suitable for this genre, I feel the voice of the singers unsuitable because in a way they sound flat and trying to keep up with the frenzy pace of the song.

For the voice acting department, Kouhei Amasaki as Haruo (Monoma in Boku No Hero Academia) does a good job in making his character sound boyish and like a raw gamer kid. His voice really fits the character well. Nice to hear Satomi Arai again as Haruo’s mom because it’s that cheeky voice that is her trademark of many of such characters like Shirai in To Aru Kagaku No Railgun, Hata in Seitokai Yakuindomo and the titular character in Yuri Seijin Naoko-san. There are a few other recognizable seiyuus as well such as Shizuka Itou as Gouda, Cho as Oono’s butler, Kana Ueda as Touno and Yuuichi Nakamura as Numata. Others like Hiroki Yasumoto as Guile and Norio Wakamoto as Vega also voice their counterparts in the recent instalments of their characters in the video game but I never really get to hear the original Japanese video game voices so it was a pleasant surprise for me. Other casts include Yuuki Hirose as Hidaka (Mana in Action Heroine Cheer Fruits), Kazuyuki Okitsu as Miyao (Hisui in K) and Daiki Yamashita as Doi (Midoriya in Boku No Hero Academia).

Overall, this series isn’t exactly bad per se but my nostalgia kept overwhelming me and my mind was thinking mostly about the old games I have played rather than focusing on the little sweet romance this anime has to offer in its dozen of episodes. Yeah, too much nostalgia from the good ol’ days is clouding my judgment for this series. If you’re a video game enthusiast, you would appreciate more while watching this series than non-video game background viewers. Ah yes, when times are so much simpler then with no technological advances spamming in your face and daily lives every single day. It would have been an ultimate fantasy dream come true for a geeky boy to marry a gamer girl back then. So Haruo, don’t waste that chance! If Oono was living in today’s era of games, she would have owned everybody in Overwatch, PUBG and Fortnite. Battlefield and Call of Duty. League of Legends and Dota. She would have dominated the eSports for years to come. Will gaming ever be the same again? But the love for gaming would always be the same.

Boku No Hero Academia S3

January 26, 2019

Oh yeah. More teenage superheroes. My Hero Academia has been garnering a lot of fans and rave reviews over the years so it is no surprising that Boku No Hero Academia S3 was inevitable. So inevitable that we already knew it at the end of the second season over a year ago. I hope this third season will pack more pows and punches and go to greater heights than ever before. Because at this point a handful of series reaching its third season start to decline… I hope I didn’t jinx it… But always believe and go beyond! Plus Ultra!

Episode 39
We see Shigaraki depressing over the recent incidents but he’ll make everyone realize how fragile their justice is. Also a brief reminder of Class 1A heroes and their Quirks. All of them. If you think Mineta and Kaminari are hardworking by booking the school’s pool, it is too peek at the girls swimming of course. They invite Midoriya but they didn’t expect him to call the rest of the other guys. So we see some flashbacks of Midoriya’s exploits last season. Yeah, such a great guy. Then the guys decide to hold a competition to see who can swim the furthest. Of course with Quirks allowed, some look like ‘cheating’. Eventually it boils down to the top dogs of the class, Midoriya, Bakugou and Todoroki. More flashbacks of Midoriya’s heroics and before we can get to the start, Aizawa cuts short the fun. Pool time’s over.

Episode 40
Even if it is the summer holidays, it is no rest for our heroes because they will have a training camp in the mountains. Helping to supervise them is the veteran hero team of Wild, Wild Pussycats. They consists of Mandalay, Pixie-Bob, Ragdoll and Tiger (uhm, cross-dresser?!). Training begins when they arrive because they must get through the forest fighting golems to get to their inn. Remember to get there in time or else you’ll miss lunch. Of course and exceptional display of their Quirks in action but they took too long and now it’s dinner time. At the inn, they are introduced to Mandalay’s cousin, Kouta. Seems he hates heroes. After dinner, they take a bath and Mineta as usual tries to satiate his perversion only to be stopped by Kouta. They slip as Midoriya catches Kouta. He learns why Kouta hates heroes. His parents were heroes but died in the line of duty protecting citizens from a villain. As a kid then, he couldn’t understand what it all meant. Despite society praising heroes, to Kouta he cannot understand them and finds them unpleasant. Next morning, Aizawa has Bakugou demonstrate his growth by throwing a ball. Compared to the last time, it seems he barely improved. Aizawa explains they have improved in the mental and technical levels but their Quirks themselves did not. Hence this is the real focus of this training camp.

Episode 41
We see our heroes doing rigorous training to control better their Quirks. Class 1B is also here to join in the training. Looks like they have to put in more effort. Now you know why Class 1A got so much attention in the previous seasons. Also because they are the main characters ;p. Midoriya tries to talk to Kouta who still hates heroes so he talks to him in third person about a friend he didn’t inherit any Quirks (that’s himself, right?). Kouta is still not impressed. Meanwhile a small group of villains led by Dabi has arrived. Their plan is to ambush the young heroes in training in a small group. So why need to wait all 10 of them to arrive? Shouldn’t the 7 of them be enough then? After dinner, our heroes play kimodameshi. Except those who failed, they continue to undergo training by Aizawa. Sorry folks, can’t go play. This means with the odd number for kimodameshi, Midoriya ends up by himself. As the game gets underway, suddenly something feels wrong as poisonous mist fills the area and the forest is on fire. Yup, the villains have begun their move. Why so shock to see baddies here? Sure, they were assured how secure this place is and how this training is conducted in secrecy. But after all that has happened in previous seasons, do they not take any precautions just in case?

Episode 42
When Aizawa receives a telepathy message from Mandalay about the attack, he rushes out only to be put out by Dabi. Mandalay has also relayed orders to students not to engage in fights and return to the centre but I guess some of them have to be stubborn and prove why they are future heroes. Like Midoriya of course. Because he only knows where Kouta is. Speaking of him, he is about to be assaulted by a villain named Muscular. Guess what? This is the dude who killed his parents! What coincidence. Thankfully Midoriya saves him before he becomes pummelled meat. Muscular is looking for Bakugou but since Midoriya is here, he is okay with that. Midoriya fights him but despite putting up all his strength, Muscular is still overwhelming power due to his Quirk of powering up his muscles. Even when giving his 100% punch, Muscular still survives. This only serves to make Muscular even more excited because now that play time is over, he wants to get serious. He doesn’t care about the League of Villains’ goal as long as he could fight and kill. Oh my. Midoriya has both arms broken from the use of his Quirk and is tired. Can he still stand up to this villain? Not when he reminds what it takes to be a hero. He’s not going to run away. However as he is weakened this time, it looks like he is done for. Until Kouta distracts him with his feeble water Quirk. Amazingly Midoriya gets back up and is much stronger now! Holy sh*t! His punch is now 1,000,000%! F*CKING POWER!!!! That definitely knocked him out. Kouta must be so confused and relieved that he never expected somebody like Midoriya to risk his life for him. Definitely his hero now.

Episode 43
When Dabi ambushed Aizawa, he was able to avoid and pin him down. However Dabi soon melts away. That was just a doppelganger created by Twice. When Aizawa makes his move, he stumbles into Midoriya and Kouta. Midoriya leaves Kouta with him and needs to relay a message to Mandalay so she can telepathically relay to all students. He cuts in on Mandalay and Tiger’s fight with Spinner and Magne and is able to let Mandalay relay the message of allowing all students to fight as well as the villains’ target is Bakugou. Speaking of him, he and Todoroki are fighting off the crazy Moonfish. Meanwhile Tetsutetsu and Kendou are trying to find the source of the mist. Mustard plays cheat as he uses a real gun but thanks to Tetsutetsu’s metal Quirk, it saves his life many times but is taking a toll on him. Mustard also badmouths how dumb UA students are and at the same time rant about his own jealousy of being denied. It finally took the combined might Kendou and Tetsutestu to break his gas mask and knock him out. Midoriya is trying to find Bakugou but is saved by Shouji. It isn’t because they are being attacked by a villain but rather Tokoyami’s dark shadow turning into an uncontrollable monster.

Episode 44
Midoriya’s plan is for Shouji to head where Bakugou and Todoroki are and then have them light up to defeat the dark shadow. However Bakugou doesn’t want to light up yet. He lets the dark shadow beat the sh*t out of Moonfish before doing so. Yeah, saved them the trouble. Bakugou isn’t pleased that he is to be escorted and protected. Meanwhile Ochako and Tsuyu have a hard time fending off slasher girl Toga. Crazy girl wants to be friends with them and somewhat knows about their desires. Especially Ochako who loves a certain boy and wants to be like him. In this distraction, Toga manages to steal Ochako’s blood before escaping as Midoriya’s group is in sight. But then they realize Bakugou and Tokoyami are missing. Yeah, let the person who you’re supposed to be protecting walk behind. Anyway, the duo has been ‘stolen’ by Mr Compress. He ‘compressed’ and hid them in his small marble. As they have got what they came for, he signals to the rest of the villains to pull out. Midoriya and co furiously chase after Mr Compress. On the other side, Yosetsu Awase and Yaoyorozu are desperately running away from this creepy Noumu. Damn it has all the horror tools embedded into its multiple arms! They could have died but Noumu suddenly stops and walks away. They think it is because the goal to kidnap Bakugou has been achieved. Yaoyorozu creates a tracker and sticks it on Noumu. As Mr Compress is getting further, Midoriya becomes angrier. He won’t give up and insists he is not in pain. He comes up with a plan for Ochako to turn them weightless and then Tsuyu will fling them closer. So they altogether crash at where the villains are supposed to meet up.

Episode 45
Vlad King refuses to let some of the students in the centre to go out to fight. They are soon attacked by Dabi who mocks that they cannot tackle a small group of villains. Aizawa returns to destroy this fake as he warns not to give in to the provocation as it is their goal. Still, Aizawa won’t let them fight as they are not sure if the villains are targeting other students. Midoriya and co fight to get back their friends. As Shouji grabbed the marbles, they run. Kurogiri then opens the warp to let the villains escape. Mission failed? Actually Mr Compress swapped the marbles so the one in Shouji’s hands are fake. Before the villains could retreat, Aoyama fires his laser as distraction. The marbles fall off but our heroes could only save Tokoyami. Bakugou still got kidnapped. In the aftermath, there are reports and news criticizing UA left and right. Although 3 villains were caught, Pixie-Bob had a serious head injury and Ragdoll went missing. Some of the students are still unconscious from the poison mist. Nezu and the UA teachers discuss their next possible step and perhaps a traitor in the mix. All Might gets a call from Tsukauchi that he might have determined the hideout of the villains after taking statements from Aizawa and Vlad, plus previous field work from his officers. This is a top secret rescue and clean up mission that will require the help of a lot of heroes. Midoriya finally wakes up in hospital. His classmates visit but the mood is sullen after what has happened. Kirishima makes a bold suggestion to go save their friend although this is vehemently opposed by Iida who believes this should be left to the pros. Kirishima and Todoroki came to visit the hospital yesterday and overheard All Might talking to hospitalized Yaoyorozu about how she placed a tracker on Noumu. He thinks of having her create another receiver. If they don’t move now, they’ll never become heroes.

Episode 46
The students reason they can’t let their emotions take over and do what they please or else they will be no better than the villains themselves. After they leave, Kirishima tells Midoriya they are still going ahead with their plan. Midoriya gets the doctor’s analysis that despite Recovery Girl using all her might to heal him, keep up with this again and he will find himself unable to use his arms any more. A little good news from all this depression is that Kouta wrote him a thank you letter. Meanwhile Tsukauchi has gathered a few top heroes for the covert mission. Midoriya joins Todoroki, Kirishima and Yaoyorozu but they are interrupted when Iida is against this. Before Midoriya could explain himself, Iida punches him. A very emotional plea from his side that he is worried for everyone. He worries Midoriya might become like his brother. By going ahead with this plan, do they not care about his feelings? They assure they are not going to fight head on but a covert operation to save Bakugou. Hence Iida wants to join them as excuse to supervise them. Tracking the tracker to Yokohama, Yaoyorozu suggests they disguise themselves as the villains know how they look like. I’m not sure if these clothes are convincing as they stand out even more. Then they see on TV a public apology by UA headed by Nezu and Aizawa. From the hostile crowd reception and bias media, they know UA is being vilified. Shigaraki and his villains are also watching this. They want Bakugou to join them as they explain they plan to make society think what is justice and heroes. Shigaraki as Bakugou released to treat him as their equals despite knowing he will attack them. And so Bakugou did just that. He rejects their offer to ‘harass people’ as he stays strong to his true inspiration who is no other than All Might. He always wins despite being in a pinch. He wants to win like him.

Episode 47
The press grilling continues as Bakugou thinks hard of a way to get out. Surprisingly Shigaraki remains calm and doesn’t want the rest to hurt this important piece. He seeks All For One to lend his powers. Midoriya’s side tries to peek into the building and they are shocked to see so many Noumus. Before Shigaraki could have his comrades put Bakugou to sleep, All Might crashes in while Kamui quickly restrains the villains. Shigaraki orders Kurogiri to warp the Noumus here but looks like he can’t. He cannot locate them. That’s because Mt Lady and Jeanist crashed into the building to apprehend all the Noumus and retrieve Ragdoll among them but she is still in a vegetable state. Shigaraki is not impressed All Might is here. Short flashback shows All For One saved Shigaraki when nobody else did. Shigaraki is so mad that suddenly warp portals open and all the Noumus start showing up. The heroes are in shock because Kurogiri is unconscious. In this havoc, Bakugou is kidnapped again. A couple of minutes ago when Jeanist’s side secured the building, All For One popped up and decimated the entire area in a flash! Midoriya’s side were still in hiding but now they are shaken and traumatized with the absolute destructive power they saw. So powerful that they saw a hallucination that they were killed!

Episode 48
All the villains are warped back to where All For One is and All Might’s side is left to deal with the rampaging Noumus. Jeanist and the rest still live thanks to his quick thinking of pulling them out from harm’s way. Too bad All For One knocks him out. Shouldn’t he kill him just in case? With his villains gathered, Midoriya is too scared to move and he is desperately trying to think of a way to save Bakugou and escape. Then here comes All Might blasting into the scene. All For One can stand up to his mega punches. He then opens a gate for his villains to escape while he stalls All Might. Of course Bakugou won’t go easily so he too puts up a fight with the villains. Midoriya then has thought of a way to rescue Bakugou without having them resort to fighting and they can get away clean. But it all depends on Bakugou. First, Midoriya and Iida will use their power and speed to blast through the wall using Kirishima’s hardness. With that opening, Todoroki will create a tall ice barrier that will take them high enough out of the enemies’ reach. Then Kirishima needs to give the signal to Bakugou to come with them. It has to be him and not the rest as he is the only one who has been building an equal friendship with him. The plan works out like a charm with Bakugou responding nicely to Kirishima’s call. The villains are surprised with this as they try to chase and get Bakugou back but here comes Gran Torino whipping them up with their speed. All For One is now held back by All Might to let them escape. All For One opens a warp to force his villains to escape, disheartening Shigaraki who doesn’t want to leave his master behind. Now that All Might can fight without reserve, All For One uses his warp to turn Gran Torino into his shield and make him bear the brunt of All Might’s punch. But All Might becomes so mad of his atrocities that he manages to land the biggest punch in his face. Too bad he is still okay. He mocks All Might for being so worked up and has seen this exactly before: From the previous One For All successor, Nana Shimura.

Episode 49
Flashback shows when All Might was an apprentice under Nana, he wanted to be the pillar of strength the people could rely on as the country’s crime rate isn’t decreasing. All Might and All For One continue their epic punching. Like the true baddie he is, he targets a trapped civilian so All Might is forced to protect her. This causes All Might to lose much of his power as he turns into his deflated form and shocks everyone who is watching. Even if All Might still stands strong to his principles, All For Might plays reverse psychology. He tells him that Shigaraki is Nana’s grandson. This weakens All Might mentally. The crowd who has been critical of villains are terrified to see All Might in this state. However they start cheering for him. He is still All Might. They want him to win! With all their voices reaching him, All Might gets renewed hope and power as both hero and villain power up their arm for one amazing epic punch of the century. When their fists clash, All Might’s arm is in danger of losing. I mean, he was taking on a monstrous arm embedded with lots of Quirks. But this is a trick as he used his right hand as bait so he could punch All For One with is left in the head (supposedly his weak spot). Here comes the biggie! United States of Smash!!!! WOAH!!!! Is this the most American of American punch?! With that, the final flame of One For All fizzles out inside him. The people cheer in relief over All Might’s victory. When All Might signals it is your turn next, the crowd cheers and thinks all the villains are going to get their asses whooped. However Midoriya interprets it differently and he can tell the message was aimed at him to carry on the torch for One For All. He can’t help cry.

Episode 50
Tsukauchi asks about All Might’s interactions with Nana’s family. Apparently after her husband died, she tried to protect her son in a foster care to keep him away from the hero world. She specifically told others not to contact him even if the worst happened to her. But now it has all backfired. Todoroki returns home to see his father training like mad. He is upset. Why shouldn’t he? Guess who is going to fill in the number 1 spot now? Midoriya meets All Might again but is punched as punishment for not listening. He tells him he has officially retired and cannot fight anymore. He is always disappointed when Midoriya fights, he ends up injured. Except for the last time. He felt really proud of him and wants to devote himself to properly raise him. UA has come up with a new dorm system for young heroes to live and bond together. All Might and Aizawa go around to seek the official permission of the parents at their homes. All give their blessings and it’s much easier than they thought. Except maybe some family members yelling at each other. That’s the real shocker. Like Bakugou’s mom who is so glad they have this system. But the only one who opposes this is Midoriya’s mom. Speaking honestly as his mom, she is very worried of her son getting injuries on his arm. It made her always thought he would be better off happier Quirkless and watching heroes do the saving. As UA cannot stop her son getting injured, all the more reason she cannot let him be in their care. Midoriya tries to give excuse it is all his own fault that he doesn’t listen but then she blames it on UA’s responsibility. If her son wants to be a hero there are many other hero courses other than UA. Midoriya returns to show her a thankful letter from Kouta. It was that proud moment he was a hero. He agrees he can go to any other school as long as he gets to be a hero. All Might is moved and as he prostrates himself, he feels the need to properly raise him as he believes he is the next symbol of peace. He will do so even if it costs him his life. What else can mom do at this point? It’s not like she hate UA and All Might is his reason for living. She just wants him to be happy so don’t give up your life. If he can promise that, she will leave him in his care. Midoriya better make sure he doesn’t worry his mom again. All For One is in a special prison for villains. He monologues and mocks All Might’s missed chance to leave or die. Because now All For One too has passed the torch to Shigaraki who will use all his hatred and regrets to move forward.

Episode 51
Our young heroes move into their dorms. But before that, Aizawa gives all of them a pep talk. To cut things short, thanks to All Might all retiring, he would have had everyone in this class except Bakugou, Jirou and Hagakure (both girls were out due to the poison gas) expelled. Those who didn’t went along with Midoriya were equally guilty for they did not even try to stop them and in a way betrayed UA’s trust. As the students get cosy with their dorms, the girls have this idea to see each other’s rooms. Room raiders? Some are embarrassed, some are just plain, some are quite creative. Except Bakugou and Tsuyu, everyone has seen each other’s room. I’m not sure if they have seen Mineta’s because nobody wants to go to this little pervert’s room. Everyone votes who has the best room and it seems the winner goes to Satou! It wasn’t his room actually. It is the great sweets he made. In fact, all the girls vote for him! Damn, the ugliest guy got the girls’ heart? After this fun, Tsuyu speaks to Midoriya and those who went to rescue Bakugou. She felt sad that despite warning them at the hospital, they still chose to do it. She thought of telling them now even if she can’t gather her thoughts properly. She wants everyone to have fun together again. I guess a few friendship tears are okay. They’re going to need it when they start getting back on track with their daily lives as heroes.

Episode 52
The next step for our young heroes is to take a provisional test for their hero licence. As the test is tough and the passing rate is only 50%, they need to develop their ultimate moves. With the help of Midnight, Ectoplasm and Cementoss, the young heroes train and try to develop at least one ultimate move. Midoriya is having trouble developing his because we all know how his arms will get destroyed each time he goes overboard with his Quirk. All Might stops by to check on them. He advises Midoriya he is still trying to imitate him. He knows his problem but can’t tell him outright otherwise he won’t learn anything. Thinking he needs a better design costume, he heads to the support department to get some advice with Iida and Ochako. Hi Hatsume, long time no see. Excavation Hero take in their requests for process but how come it feels like Hatsume wants to test out her failed prototypes on them? Midoriya starts to see the whole point and what All Might meant after witnessing Hatsume telling Iida to run with his hands in order for his legs to cool down. A few more days of training and we see what Midoriya has learnt. A slab threatens to fall on All Might but Midoriya kicks it away. In addition to his fists, he can use One For All for his legs too.

Episode 53
It is also thanks to Hatsume’s support braces on his arms and sole that enables Midoriya to fight more effectively. Time for the provisional hero licence test. Upon arrival, we get to see more weirdoes from other schools. Like Inasa Yoarashi from Shiketsu High School might look like a passionate guy who loves to do things passionately but he was once offered to attend UA via recommendation but for unknown reasons he turned it down. Then there is Ketsubutsu Academy in which You Shindou suspiciously looks similar to Midoriya. Only much taller, more talkative and sparkling. Then there is the hero, Ms Joke who makes enemies unable to stop laughing while she pummels them, it seems she is constantly bugging Aizawa to marry her. As all hero wannabes gather in the hall, they are being told about the effect of Stain had on the hero world and hence they realize the key factor is speed because for those who can’t keep up will find it tough. Hence this year’s test will only see the first 100 heroes passing. Gee, 1,540 wannabes taking the test. That is less than 1% passing rate! Drastic reduction from 50%! But don’t worry, at least that quota is enough to fit all of our UA heroes, right? So this is how the test will be. All participants will put 3 devices anywhere on their body as long as it’s an open spot. Opponents try to hit it with a ball. Successful hits cause it to light up. You’re out if you have all 3 devices lighted up. To pass, you need to defeat 2 participants. Also, they are given limited balls. As the test starts, Midoriya’s plan is to have everyone stick together and do teamwork. However Bakugou and Todoroki prefer to go solo. Midoriya’s worst fear comes true because all other schools are targeting them. Their Quirks are well known since the broadcast of the sports festival. But if you the others think they are easy meat, think again because it’s time to see the fruits of labour our UA heroes have been putting in.

Episode 54
We see some of the Shiketsu heroes strutting their stuff against their UA counterparts like Shikkui Makabe with his hardening, Itejiro Toteki with his boomerang and Tatami Nakagame with her telescopic. But it is Shindou’s ground vibration Quirk that causes the UA heroes to be separated. Meanwhile Inasa uses his whirlwind Quirk to suck up everyone’s balls (why does it sound so dirty?) and drop them like hail. Because of that he becomes the first to pass and also took out 120 participants! Midoriya gets careless as he gets 1 down by Camie Utsushimi from Shiketsu. She is able to somewhat ‘disappear’ if he looks away. Apparently this isn’t her Quirk and is thought at Shiketsu. Camie is very interested to get to know more about Midoriya. Other heroes turn up to try and steal the show. Midoriya dodges their attacks and sees Ochako signalling to help. However she loses his footing and Midoriya goes to catch her while dodging enemy attacks. So cool or what?! This scene that trolls us that Ochako is looking at Midoriya with loving eyes as she suddenly tries to put him out of the game but Midoriya is faster and slaps the ball out of her hand. This is Camie in disguise and her Quirk is to shape shift. Midoriya knew it was a trap all along because the real Ochako would have used her Quirk to float and not expose herself to danger without any plan. With the real Ochako and Sero coming in to help, Camie is forced to put this getting to know session on hold. Meanwhile Todoroki encounters a group of coloured ninjas from Seijin High School. Are they ninja versions of Power Rangers wannabes? Todoroki is having it tough to deal with them. There is only so much his own Quirk can do.

Episode 55
Even if those ninjas cooperate seamlessly, Todoroki adapts quickly and turns the tables on them. With that, he becomes the first from Class 1A to pass. Elsewhere, Yaoyorozu, Jirou, Tsuyu and Shouji enter a building. However they realize too late as this is a trap set by the highly intelligent Saiko Intelli of Seiai Academy to corner them. At first it seems like they know all about their Quirks as they set traps to seal off their Quirks one by one. Their plan is to finally make Yaoyorozu to use and exhaust her Quirk. Then they will all march in and take the win without any struggle. With the temperature dropping in the sealed room, naturally Yaoyorozu could have easily materialized some items to escape or fight back. But as she thinks further, all her answers lead to the same conclusion of their defeat. She finally hits a solution to materialize earphones for them all and use all that she’s got to create a large speaker. Jirou uses the sound wave to attack and pass out the Seiai opponents. When the coast is clear, it looks like easy victory for UA but Saiko takes Yaoyorozu hostage and even if her school can’t win, she’ll at least take her down. Too bad she didn’t see her other comrades busting in to save her. She never realized that they would abandon one of their own even in such dire situations. I guess this means the quartet wins, huh? Hooray! More UA students pass! Midoriya hatches a plan to use himself as bait so that Ochako and Sero can restrain and secure more enemies (this was his initial plan for UA to stay as a group and to secure a large number of opponents and use them as ‘target practice). Because in the dying minutes, people are getting desperate and will be restless. Meanwhile Kirishima and Kaminari somehow followed Bakugou. They encounter Seiji Shishikura from Shiketsu who could turn people into some mashed potato blob? Yeah, Kirishima turned into one.

Episode 56
Bakugou rushes to fight Shishikura but falls into his trap and turns into a meatball. Kaminari is all that is left but he realizes why Bakugou was trying to focus his attack in a smaller way instead of letting out a big blast and hurt everyone else. Kaminari does the same and injures Shishikura. This releases the rest from the meatball spell as they take him out. But there are other candidates too. What’s there to worry over these small fries? Easy meat. Similarly, Midoriya, Ochako and Sero’s tactic work as they too pass. With more candidates passing and those remaining getting desperate, Shindou’s side uses this chaotic chance to take out others in the vicinity. UA has 11 students passed and there are 10 slots left remaining. Uh oh. Can they make it? Iida finds Aoyama hiding and with other desperate candidates hot on their tail, Aoyama believes he is a liability and will only bring them down if Iida continues to protect him. Hence he uses his navel laser as distraction so that when others target him, Iida can quickly take them out to pass. Of course you know no UA students are going to leave their own behind. Aoyama may have attracted others, but he also have attracted the rest of his scattered UA pals who now converge and combine their Quirks to take down those minor characters and pass. Phew. And that makes 100 candidates. All of UA students pass this first round! As the successful candidates wait for their next test, Shiketsu’s Nagamasa Mora chastises Inasa and Camie for going ahead and fight solo instead of fighting as a team. Because of that, many of their comrades and especially their senior, Shishikura failed. For our successful 100 candidates, the next test is a rescue mission.

Episode 57
There are professional people to play the victims (not politically!) from Help Us Company AKA HUC! You mean there’s a real job in playing the victims (again, not politically!)? They are to rescue as many as they can and score points. Those who score higher than the threshold will pass. During the break, Mora confronts Bakugou and apologizes on behalf for Shishikura’s rudeness. He wishes to have a good relationship with UA. However the same cannot be said for Inasa as he hates them, especially Todoroki whose eyes are the same as Endeavour’s. Well, duh. He is his son. Oh, you mean not that kind of eyes meaning. As the rescue mission gets on the way, UA gets berated by the pros for ignoring this and that. Looks like they are the ones who will be giving our potential heroes the score. UA split up to smaller groups and use their Quirks to help remove and send the victims to safety. They also cooperate with other schools when the need rises. But Bakugou is as his usual. Still yelling at victims at least those who are not of serious injury. Want to minus his points? You better be prepared to face his wrath! However this rescue mission has another twist that none of the hopefuls saw coming. There is a villain attack happening simultaneously! Although it is part of the test and staged by pro hero, Gang Orca, the candidates must now juggle with both saving the victims and fighting the villains. Must they choose either one? The choice is obvious for true heroes.

Episode 58
WTF?! Why do they need to take a break and show a special episode?! Oh well… Midoriya, Bakugou, Ochako, Iida, Todoroki and Tsuyu are in a special class conducted by Aizawa. This is to see if they are able to assess the situation and deal with it. The scenario is that All Might is playing the villain and is holing up in a jewellery store and having 3 hostages (played by Cementoss, Midnight and Mic). At first our young ones decide to access the situation but impatient Bakugou barges in. Suddenly the villain is dead! From now on it becomes a detective game to decipher what happened. After questioning the hostages and confirming there are no other parties involved, it seems plausible that the culprit is among the hostages. However Midoriya puts on his thinking cap and deduces this theory. He believes Midnight knew the villain. Knowing he was on his way to rob the store, she called the police. Then she enters the shop and the villain confused with an acquaintance got a bit chaotic and also took her hostage. Because it’s strange that the store is in the process of being robbed and Midnight entered it. With the heroes on scene and to avoid their relationship being exposed, the villain killed himself. So for the sake of love, they tried to protect each other and it ended up with the villain taking his own life. Congratulations! This was exactly the scenario they thought up. However Aizawa fails them because they failed to capture the villain. He was only pretending to be dead and has now escaped during the deduction. So it wasn’t about love in the first place? Later All Might receives an email from Melissa Shield, the daughter of David Shield, All Might’s sidekick and scientist when he was in America. They are now living in I-Island. All Might prepares his trip there but he also wants to bring Midoriya along to hone his skills as his successor. So this is just an advertisement to go watch the movie if you want to find out more?! Oh well, I’m glad we’re back to the original schedule next week.

Episode 59
Shindou suggests everyone evacuate the victims while he staves off the villains. Too bad he got paralyzed by Orca’s supersonic wave. Todoroki and Inasa are here to stop the villains but they realize they still have bad blood with each other. It seems Inasa hates Endeavour (refused an autograph?) because of his cold angry eyes. He saw the same in Todoroki. Although not intentional, their Quirks get in each other’s way, making their situation even more pathetic like as though they are fighting with each other. When yet another wrong timing Quirk goes awry and almost hit Shindou, luckily Midoriya pulls him away. We see more in depth of Inasa’s hatred. He loves everything passionately especially when it comes to being a hero. But with that experience with Endeavour, he was the only exception. The only hero he hates. During the qualification exam at UA, he beat Todoroki by a whisker in a race. Although Inasa was pretty sporting, Todoroki then was still consumed with hatred for his father and never looked nor acknowledged Inasa. This infighting has Orca taking the chance to semi-paralyze them. Realizing their unsightly and selfish behaviour, the duo although could barely move, combine their Quirks to create a flaming wall to surround Orca. He gets weak when it gets dry. With the victims safely evacuated, soon other heroes drop in to fight the evil henchmen. After Todoroki and Inasa give out and Midoriya lands a surprise kick on Orca, the exam is declared over based on the fact that Bakugou’s side has extracted the final victims. The points are tallied. Guess who are going to pass…

Episode 60
Wow. So many passed! So we can expect our usual heroes to pass! That’s right! Except… Bakugou failed?! Todoroki and Inasa too?! Gosh. Top 2 UA students failed?! I guess Todoroki and Inasa apologize and realize their mistake and even though it’s too late, let this be a lesson for them. The students are handed a sheet that explains how their demerit point system works. Those who passed may only act as a hero on their own only in emergencies. But for those who failed, don’t despair as there will be a special 3 month long course for them to take and after passing this individual test, they will get their provisional licence. When Midoriya asks Mora about Camie because he is interested in some technique she mentioned about hiding one’s presence, it seems she has already gone home early. Too bad nobody knows that the Camie who took the test is actually Toga in disguise! Her Quirk allows her to shapeshift to the blood of those she steal and she has stolen Midoriya’s blood. All Might visits All For One to find out Shigaraki’s whereabouts. Even if he knows, do you think he will tell? All For One tries to deduce the situation outside after All Might has retired. He believes that now that Endeavour is the top hero, there are still those who do not trust him and causing some instability. Hence some other villain groups might take advantage of this instability to rise to the top. He expects some infighting just to rise to the top. All this because of All Might’s new weak form and his retirement. He will not be able to save people as his wish and can only look on in his powerlessness. All Might is not cowed. He will not be killed by Shigaraki and will not die. Is he being desperate here not to lose? Back at the dorm, Bakugou calls out Midoriya to talk. After all that talk that indicates he is still jealous of Bakugou for surpassing him, he explains his deduction that Midoriya received his Quirk from All Might. Both of them idolized All Might and aim to be like him but the irony is that Midoriya who did not have Quirk at all until All Might came to town, was acknowledged by him without Bakugou realizing it. Then he passed the provisional licence test but Bakugou did not. That’s why Bakugou wants to fight Midoriya again. Right here. Right now.

Episode 61
Bakugou thinks that if All Might chose Midoriya, does it mean that Bakugou’s way of admiring All Might was wrong? Because you know, they both admired him greatly. And so the power fight begins. We hear more of Bakugou’s ‘complaints’ about Midoriya being weak and suddenly he got strong. It seems he feels guilty for being weak and was the one who ended All Might’s career. Midoriya realizes he has been carrying a lot of burden all this time. This fight isn’t about winning or losing. It’s just to release some pent up frustration. Also, time to get serious and test out the limits of his new moves. Hey, if they’re going to fight, might as well go all the way. Bakugou’s complaints continues as he thinks Midoriya is getting arrogant, acting like as though he has surpassed him. Normally anybody this bullied would have stayed away but Midoriya saw all the good and amazing points in Bakugou, that’s why he always continued to follow him. In the end, it looks like Bakugou overpowers Midoriya. Cue for All Might to pop up and stop the fight because he too has heard everything. He tells Bakugou why he chose Midoriya. Then he was powerless but more heroic than anyone. Bakugou on the other hand already had powers. He wanted Midoriya to stand in the same ring and compete. All Might doesn’t want Bakugou to further blame himself since eventually this is the fate he had to walk. He believes both of them who admire and fear each other, they can work together and become greater heroes. Not the answer Bakugou wants to hear and after All Might reveals everything about One For All being passed down (so that he is now equal footing with Midoriya), he promises to keep it all a secret. Midoriya and Bakugou get into one of those rivalry arguments that they’ll surpass the other. Can they both be number 1? Oh, right. Reality says no. Returning to the dorm, Aizawa punishes them to house arrest for a few days. Looks like they’ll be missing the new term’s opening ceremony.

Episode 62
Jin Bubaigawara narrates with All Might’s retirement, Endeavour is now the top hero. However because of his rough attitude, many don’t like him. In the eyes of some, he looks like a normal person pretending to be a superhero. Jin sounds like he is having split personality and the only way to stop all that is to put on his mask. He is who we know as Twice. He has the ability to duplicate things and long ago he cloned a lot of himself to do chores. However they all ended up thinking they should be the boss and started fighting each other. In the end, all but one survived and he is unsure if he is the original self. The League of Villains have scattered throughout different areas to recruit and make their organization bigger. For Twice, he is looking for crazy people like him as he views superheroes only save good people. Maybe he has found one. This psycho pyro dude, Overhaul. Back at UA, Aizawa explains they will have hero work studies in this semester. So it’s like having hero activities outside school. But doesn’t that sound a lot like the internship they did? So do they call it by a different name since they have their provisional licence? Anyway, Ochako is distraught because this means all the hard work she put in during the UA sports festival was all for nought. I don’t understand Aizawa’s explanation how it’s not what she thinks it is because the festival wasn’t just the only way for agencies to recruit potential heroes. As Midoriya is under house arrest and his classmates cannot tell him, this only makes him frustrated and dying to know. But he’ll get to know about it and play some catch up once his house arrest is over in 3 days. Just in time because Class 1A is going to have more details of hero work studies by UA’s seniors and top students known as Big Three.

Episode 63
Funny how Big Three are supposed to be the top UA dogs and we’ve heard nothing about them until now. Tamaki Amajiki is too shy to face them while Nejire Hado is too talkative, asking questions before anybody can answer. And if you think they’re weird, wait till you see the top hero of them all, Mirio Togata. Passionate dude wants all of them to fight him now! I guess action speaks louder than words. As it begins, did Togata distract everyone by turning naked?! We see how he slips through things and even warps to punch all of them in the guts! No reaction time! As noted by Amajiki, what is truly fearsome is not his Quirk but how hard he worked on them. First wave over, now Togata goes in on the second wave. You can’t touch him but he can touch you. Midoriya might be able to predict where he pops out next but he still gets owned. So once that’s dusted, time for some explanations. Togata’s Quirk allows him to slip through anything. His ‘warp’ is because when he deactivates his Quirk, his mass and other mass don’t mix so it ‘rejects’ and ‘propels’ him out. The most mind blowing motivation about using his Quirk is that because everything slips through him, this means he cannot breathe and even light goes through him! Hence he experiences nothing! So he worked hard to improvise, predict and think faster than his opponents. He went from dead last to being the top student in UA. Hence the reason he wanted to fight them is because it is faster to tell them via experience. Therefore the work studies are different than the internship in a way that they are no more treated like guests but as pro heroes. Wow. This guy is so motivating and the closest to All Might, you think he has a chance to be his replacement? But as our UA students prepare their next step, the League of Villains are also making theirs. Twice brings Overhaul to meet Shigaraki who knows this is one crazy fish who has swam in.

Age Of Plus Ultra
OMG! OMFG!!! I knew it was going to happen! There is going to be a fourth season! Hooray! It goes to show that a superhero’s work is never done. And even though the journey is long we have all been walking through this together so you bet that I am going to be one of those many who will continue to follow through! At least for the animated version.

While this season itself is still interesting with the training camp arc as well as the provisional licence arc, the biggest impact that everyone would remember this season is the retirement of All Might. He is just a supporting character in this series but yet I can’t help feel surprised and sad that he won’t be making his usual superhero appearance. He will still be around but not as the buffed version we all prefer and love. I know that this series focuses on our up and coming young heroes and that one day All Might would have to retire anyway. So it is just sad to see him go out and retire this way. But it makes me wonder if this is the best way for him to go out. Him fighting against the biggest baddest supervillain mankind has ever known and defeating it in the eyes of the public was the only way he could ever cemented his legacy forever.

Even when this season ended, I still could not believe to bring myself that All Might will no longer be standing there as a main player on the mainstage. This just shows how much of an impact All Might has on the masses despite technically being a supporting character in this story. To rephrase a line in one of those Batman movies, for All Might’s case, he lived long to be a hero. Salutations to you, All Might! Rest well! They try to soften the blow with new character Togata who seems to be the most promising and next in line to replace All Might in terms of charisma and power. Unless there is some sort of dark sickening twist written for him awaiting his fate (horror if he ends up being the next bad guy!). So tell me again why we didn’t hear of this guy who is closest to being All Might before? Are we really setting up Midoriya to be the next All Might successor?

Midoriya and Bakugou continue to develop so finely this season as they navigate through their thorny and erratic, uhm, friendship? Can we call it that or has it upgraded into rivalry? It is great to see that Midoriya is using other methods for his Quirk to help lessen the burden of his One For All since if he is going to be a fine hero, he needs to take better care of himself instead of always being reckless and then needing have other heroes clean it up. Especially Recovery Girl who feels like it is not going to cut it next season if she continues to heal Midoriya’s grave injuries as it is going to sound more like plot convenience. But I guess with someone as young as him, the only way to learn from it is via being foolish. As long as he learns, he will continue to grow at his own pace.

Bakugou is still the same temperamental hot headed dude. Once more when he fought Midoriya again, I thought he was going to bring back those annoying jealousy memories I had of him back in the first season. Luckily we get to hear from his side and what makes him ticked off. At this point I am in a dilemma even if Bakugou changes his personality, will I like this kind and polite Bakugou? Being the furious and emo kid is how we all know him. Despite all that anger, we have to give him credit that he never waived nor turned to the dark side because his kind of character is stereotypically one who would have crossed over but thank heavens that did not happen. It would be unthinkable to see Midoriya-Bakugou relationship turn from friendship-cum-rivalry into good versus evil trope like Naruto-Sasuke. Yeah… So hats off to Bakugou for being able to keep his dream and vision alive even though he lost it in the anger department. After all, he needs to stay true to his explosive Quirk. Say, why does the kidnapping of Bakugou somehow remind me of the kidnapping of Eren from Shingeki No Kyojin?

One of the biggest dilemmas of having a series grown this big is the amount of characters. This season introduces a few more characters especially heroes from other schools and while they do seem interesting, overwhelming and having their own potential, I just have to remind myself to be patient because this is their debut so things are going to take time to properly flesh them out. That’s we are already confirmed to have another season, right? But the problem I keep worrying is that even so, many of the Class 1A members aren’t given so much of a prominence either. Sure, a few appearances in the spotlight here and there and don’t expect to get Midoriya and Bakugou level of focus. Like Iida who was thrust to the forefront last season now seems to be back to be the proper class rep. Todoroki feels like he has fallen from grace but this is just a temporary setback till he gets his foot back again. No matter how far he tries to get away from his father whom he hates very much, it becomes his greatest downfall. The fact is that he will always be tied and related to Endeavour so the best he could do is at least accept and move on.

Ochako is still having her heart fluttering thinking of Midoriya. So when are we going to have a superhero romance of Midoriya x Ochako? Superhero universes do it all the time! Remember Scott Summers AKA Cyclops married Jean Grey? Even Reed Richards AKA Mr Fantastic and Sue Storm AKA Invisible Woman. Luke Cage and Jessica Jones. Peter Parker AKA Spiderman and Mary Jane. Clark Kent AKA Superman and Lois Lane. Okay, maybe the last 2 married normal people but still, where’s the superhero romance? Sorry folks, not ruining a great series with cheesy teen romance. Better for us to keep daydreaming about it.

The League of Villains at least made a decent appearance this season unlike last season I was complaining how they didn’t have any impactful appearance after that USJ incident at the end of the first season. Even if their plans are somewhat thwarted again and they go into laying low mode, this serves to plant the seeds for their future where it is going to be an epic clash between superheroes and supervillains of the new generation. Nothing much about them is revealed for its current members for now because I believe if this series is going to be great, it needs to do justice to the antagonists too and give their side of their twisted story and see how they end up becoming villains instead of heroes. Was it because the system failed to save them? It would have been interesting because at that point when we are unable to sympathize which side to choose and support, that is what will make the series greater. Greying the lines between what makes a hero and a villain so.

One funny thing that I started wondering is that with the recent attacks targeted on UA students, the dorm system is in placed to help foster closer ties among them. But you see, the ironic part was that the USJ incident as well as the training camp, he villains easily targeted them because they are all in one place! Now that UA has put them and make them stay in one fixed location, isn’t that making it even more dangerous? That’s like putting all your eggs in one basket. Boy, there is going to be a lot of explanation, heads rolling and outrage from the media if the villains ever make an attempt to attack the dorms. I know the dorm is equipped with hi-tech security, closer to the teachers, blah, blah, blah. But there is still a possibility of that happening. They better be prepared and expect the unexpected. You know villains are going to strike when you least expected it. That’s how the USJ incident and training camp episode happened, right?

At this point, I am starting to feel that one of the biggest annoying things in this series is the constant pop up display of the characters’ Quirk on screen. Every time! Every episode! Yeah, yeah. We already know Midoriya’s Quirk is All For One. Those who still don’t know DO NOT deserve to continue watching this series. Hence in every damn episode if that familiar character pops up the first time, it’s that reminder again to us on screen that we should take note of his/her name as well as the Quirk. It might be welcoming for new characters but for older established characters, give it a rest, will you? I bet I can name all the Quirks of Class 1A with my eyes closed. No kidding. Maybe that’s how they make us remember because I sure still can’t remember the majority of the Quirks from Class 1B. Yeah, those heroes from the other class is way too side-lined. And hence the mid-intermission of displaying the characters’ biodata is also in a way getting old especially for established characters. I mean, we have quite a number of new characters introduced here and all they could mostly do is recycled the old ones? Are they saving the newer ones for next season?

The action scenes continue to play a big part in the series. What is a superhero series without all those action sequences, right? This season still packs all those power punches and they are still entertaining to watch. With our young heroes starting to develop their own powers based on their Quirks (some including some very quirky names), you won’t be bored seeing them pulling off the same moves. Though, they are still quite limited at this point. For the art and animation department, they still look good but I still maintain that with so many weird looking people, it feels like this Earth is more like an alien planet. Seriously, can people live with strange looking dick heads walking among them?! Just saying. Also, I want to point out if some of the character designs are ‘stolen’. Okay, maybe to put it in a better way, imitation is the highest form of sincerity. Because when I first looked at Twice, I was wondering what the f*ck is Deadpool doing here?! They think they can fool us by replacing his red spandex with black and cut down on his sarcasm. Remember that Muscular guy? I wonder if they were paying some sort of homage to Dolph Lungren… I also wonder if Mora was also inspired by that hairy monster, Cousin Itt from Addams Family. Yeah… What about Togata whom I feel is a buffed up version of Tintin. No, seriously. And if you run out of inspiration from the outside, just copy what you have! Like Shindou looks similarly close to Midoriya, right? Just taller. Heck, even I think Dabi looks like an evil version of Midoriya.

While this season’s first opening theme, Odd Future by Uverworld is still epic and befits the series like a glove, however the first ending theme has got to be the worst of all! Personally, Update by Miwa sounds so girly and gay that, I don’t know, my hair just stood on ends hearing this song. I was like going WTF continuously till the song ends. It just derails all the greatness of this series so whenever the episode ends, I would quickly skip this ending credits just to save myself from having delusions that this song is going to pull down the greatness of this series. Yeah… It makes me wonder if they couldn’t find an appropriate song in the last minute and decided to go with this. The second opening theme, Make My Story by Lenny Code Fiction is also cool but not as great as the first. And thankfully no more gay songs for the second ending theme with the slow rock of Long Hope Philia by Masaki Suda.

Overall, the third season is still as superb as the first and second and I enjoyed every moment of it even the slow ones and that blatant movie promotional stint. While things are looking up for the superhero genre for this series, I can’t help be sad that at this unfortunate coincidental time that one of the greatest legends of comics, Stan Lee has passed away. The retirement of All Might suddenly hit me of this. They may be gone but they have left a great legacy behind forever to be remembered as well as give hopes and dreams to a whole new generation that would continue to spur those hopes and dreams to greater heights. And for people like me, that would be like waiting for the fourth season to come out, no? Oh yeah. We’re so blessed and wonderful indeed to live in an age of Plus Ultra. Excelsior!

Akkun To Kanojo

January 25, 2019

Tsundere is a Japanese specialty. Believe it. It is common to hear about girls in anime to be tsundere but how rare it is for a guy to be tsundere? Oh yeah. I bet we have a hard time naming one. Ed from Fullmetal Alchemist, Ciel from Kuroshitsuji, Chiaki from Nodame Cantabile, Killua from Hunter x Hunter, Kyouya from Ookami Shoujo To Kuro Ouji, Handa from Barakamon, Vegeta from Dragonball series… Okay, okay! You got me there. But I guess tsundere males are not as many as female ones who are as common as a dime a dozen. And now we can add another guy to this list, Akkun To Kanojo. Cute angelic girl puts up with the harsh tsundere treatments of her boyfriend. And you wonder why there are memes about girls always ditching the good ones and decide to go for crappy bad apples.

Episode 1
Non Katagiri likes Atsuhiro “Akkun” Kagari but the latter somewhat ‘hates’ her. He tells her to bug off and calls her ugly but she is still the happy girl she is. Akkun’s friend, Masago Matsuo wonders if Akkun should act like this because he knows Akkun likes Non. In fact, he is obsessed with her and even dating her! We see Akkun’s hypocrisy as he sneakily follows Non and takes photos of her, admiring how much an angel she is. But it’s back to the same tsundere act in class. She shows him a drawing in which he calls ugly (which I think it also is), but alone he is fawning how cute it is. While walking home together, she trips but Akkun quickly grabs her. He likes her scent and later calls Masago how to store it.

Episode 2
Masago asks Non if she should continue to hang out with Akkun since you know, he treats her somewhat badly. Non knows he doesn’t mean it and is kind to her at times. She finds it cute how he tries to hide his embarrassing side. While walking home, a cute look from Non has Akkun suddenly hugging her?! She calms him down by hugging him back. But for a few days he continues to ignore her and then all of a sudden he kisses her?! WTF. Now he has been absent from school for 5 days. Non shows us a graph chart on Akkun’s reaction. The more serious the reaction, the more he goes into ‘hiding’.

Episode 3
It isn’t just Akkun who likes Non. It is his sister too, Chiho. But unlike that tsundere guy, she is more upfront and vows to protect Non from him. We see how creepy Akkun can be because he knows how many times and how long Non chews her food! He then goes into Chiho’s room to search for pictures of Non. As they struggle for the picture, Non calls Chiho. It seems she was trying to call Akkun but his phone battery is out. He snatches the phone to talk to her but in his usual rude fashion. Also, Masago loves spending time in their place playing video games. Yup, he loves playing dating simulations and right now this 2D chick is his girlfriend. While the siblings fawn over the photo, Non suddenly shows up at their doorstep.

Episode 4
Akkun once thought of the many nicknames he should call Non. When he decided, he still couldn’t bring himself to call her that. But as for Non, she could easily call him Akkun and although he doesn’t like it upfront, in his heart he totally loves this cute sound. For some reason, Non’s mom gave Akkun a photo of Non. He plasters it on the wall and finds it lovely. And soon pictures of Non start spreading all over. No space? Put it on the ceiling! Personally I think if he had put the photos closer and leave no space, he could have put even more photos. Masago thinks the duo has never fought before but Non says the most she got was a scolding. She tried to enter his room once but was given this death stare. She thinks there are some things guys don’t want to let others see. And it’s not nude pinup models…

Episode 5
It’s raining and Non knows that Akkun won’t share an umbrella so she gives hers as she has a spare for herself. This has Akkun conflicted because since he gets to borrow her umbrella but couldn’t share one with her. Back home, the sibling rivalry over Non begins. Non wants to watch a horror movie. Chiho is the only one scared while Non is just smiling and comforting her and Akkun admiring how cute Non is. When Akkun and Non go to make coffee, Chiho has no one to rely on so she strangles Masago instead. Can’t she just stop the movie for a while? Akkun notices Non knows where the things are in his house and thinks they’re like a married couple. Too bad the coffee he makes turns out too strong a flavour.

Episode 6
We are introduced to Akkun and Chiho’s parents, Keita and Sakurako. While mom knows about Akkun and Non dating (and jokes about how she wouldn’t want to date such a tiresome guy), Keita doesn’t even know they’re dating! It’s been 4 years… We are also introduced to Non’s parents, Seiichirou and Tsugumi. While Tsugumi is nice, Seiichirou is so tsundere like a certain someone. No wonder Non is so patient. Does this think this is normal love? Yeah, no wonder Akkun is perfect! While both moms are friendly with each other, Keita admires Seiichirou and comes off as enthusiastically annoying. Seiichirou and Akkun look like they have a long death stare with each other but I’m not sure how they are telepathically communicating on how cute Non is. When Non wants to walk Akkun home and as usual he brushes her off, Seiichirou wants to tell him off he can’t say horrible things to his daughter. But Tsugumi remembers how Seiichirou was like that in his younger days. I don’t see any difference now either so why is he looking so shocked? Anyway he be nice to Akkun and hopes he would come again.

Episode 7
Takumi Kubomura scolds Konagi Irie for coming late to school. However she purposely does it because she is in love with him. Furthermore, she mistakes his detention for her as spending personal time with her and his admonishments are calls of love! She thinks Kubomura is the same tsundere as Akkun. Kubomura tolerates her because he wants to educate her. So he sees Akkun being rude to Non. He asks him about his feelings for her. Ultimate praises like she is an angel of God. No wonder Kubomura is so confused and frustrated. Konagi even suggests he puts himself in Non’s shoes to understand better. Guess what? He goes up to Akkun and wants him to say mean things like he did to Non! Oh sh*t. Gay moment?!

Episode 8
Non dislikes studying but decides to read aloud thinking it would help her memorize. It works better for Akkun since he could remember everything exactly what she says! Chiho finds it creepy but can Akkun concentrate? Yeah, he tends to notice all the cute and bad habits of Non when she is bored studying. Konagi has failed her test. However this is intentional. Even so, why is she unhappy? She discovered that Kubomura will not be the teacher of her remedial class. Plan backfired. Later Non suggests Akkun to go to the beach (plus all other synonyms of it) but Akkun isn’t interested claiming he is busy. Probably he saw her disappointed face so he just asks where they should go next for the holidays. The beach…

Episode 9
Chiho is not pleased Masago continues to play video games at her house. Suddenly he notes how cute she is. That is because she looks like the current 2D girl in the game she likes. Chiho’s kendo lessons greatly put to use… Chiho sends a death chain mail to Masago but he wonders if she always starts them since he always receives it from her. Because Akkun is busy stalking Non, Masago arrives at his place first and hence Chiho accidentally greeting him thinking he was her brother. So now she wants to kill him? Chiho returns home late one night after club practice. She got scared out of her wits when Masago unwittingly scares her like a horror movie. Now you really made her cry…

Episode 10
Beach episode. The reason Akkun doesn’t die of excessive nose bleeding from seeing Non’s cute swimsuit is because he has done lots of mental training. You know, cut out a picture of Non’s face and place it over a sexy bikini poster. I wonder how long he had to train before having it under control. Because Non has no strength blowing the inflatable, Akkun ‘offers’ to do it only because he wants to have an indirect kiss. Too bad Chiho brought a pump. Masago didn’t bring his game and hence his ‘girlfriend’ because his current lover is quite frail under the sun. At the end of the day, Non realizes she is a little tanned despite putting some lotion. This makes Akkun wonder if her skin will peel off if she is sunburned. He’s not serious, right?

Episode 11
Non in her yukata. An angel has arrived! At the festival, Non feels the need to hold his hand so as not to get lost. Akkun feels the same too but before they know it, the crowd swamps them apart. Luckily he manages to hold on to her hand. Yeah, that was a really experience if he ever loses his angel. Kubomura is on patrol here but Konagi bugs to join in (because having more people to patrol to cover more ground the better) despite her obvious plan to have fun with him. Akkun admires Non failing at goldfish scooping because she’s just too damn cute. She is glad to be able to see this side of his. Non gets drunk over ramune and starts hugging Konagi.

Episode 12
Chiho got separated from her friend and she certainly didn’t want to stumble into Masago. He tries to be nice to her and help find her friend but she treats everything he does with utter suspicion. Yeah, the candy apple is for you to eat not to smack his head! She is finally reunited with Yui Higano. Since this girl likes hot guys, she instantly falls in love at the sight of Masago. It’s going to get even awkward for Chiho. Meanwhile Akkun takes Non to a secluded spot at the top to watch the beautiful fireworks. Despite he tells her to shut up and just watch, she believes he must have done a lot of research for this.

Episode 13
Flashback on how Akkun and Non met. During elementary school at a rabbit shed, while Non was cleaning, the rabbit escaped. Akkun saw this and helped to get it back. Ever since, Non tried to impress him by doing various things but since she sucks, she comes off more as annoying. Although totally ignored, soon Akkun asked why she kept following him around. Because she wanted to be friends. It is not just the rabbit incident. You see, she observed him helping others and she came to discover his good points. So technically she was the stalker? The rest is history but now Akkun is the one who is the stalker.

Episode 14
It’s Halloween and Akkun has already bought lots of candies for Non. He is imagining her in some cute-cum-sexy-cum-scary outfit. So what is she dressed in? Just a plain ghost. Oh, so scary… She flicks his forehead as a trick thinking he would dodge but as a true masochist, he takes a direct hit. Masago is playing his Halloween themed dating sim. Chiho thinks he is trying to hint something and will not fall for it. But as she decides to tease him, Masago surprises her by giving her a sweet, throwing her off balance. She gets mad and he gets confused because he thought that is what she wanted.

Episode 15
Konagi shows Kubomura a romantic wall slam move from a manga. She wants this to be done to her but he only notes how well the manga is drawn. Oddly, Masago tests this move on Chiho but she feels very annoyed and not impressed about it. She heard Yui talking about this move and wanted Masago to do it on her. Feeling the cringe? As she continues to ponder what’s so nice about this move, Akkun explains he had one done on him by Non. Because of her short stature, they were awkwardly close. Non did it because she was concerned about him being sick and he didn’t want to go to the infirmary. Looks like his illness is going to take a little longer to heal now that he is so feverish about it.

Episode 16
Chiho is not pleased that Akkun shared his food with Masago. It’s not like she made bento for him. If that’s the case, she is going to make one for him and will make him regret eating it. First she makes it so girly and cute in hopes it will embarrassed him. Nope. He is so impressed and shows it to everyone. Next, she tries to find out what he doesn’t like to eat and despite cooking them, Masago notes it is easy to eat and she will make a good wife. With her plan backfired, she is going to kill him! But then she sees his scary sleeping face. And what’s this about mitochondria cell he is talking in his sleep?

Episode 17
With the rainstorm, I guess the Katagiri and Kagari families are stuck and having to sleepover in the latter’s home. Except for Seiichirou who is all alone in his own home. For some reason Masago is also here. Non and Akkun wash the dishes together and the close proximity has Akkun too conscious about it. They remember Sakurako often like to scare them when they sleepover. She still does. Some things don’t change. Keita gets worried when he sees Masago being friendly with Chiho. Maybe the moms get their kicks seeing him worry like that. Keita texts to Seiichirou for help and the latter is so glad he didn’t go over.

Episode 18
It’s Christmas. That reindeer mascot suddenly moving eagerly up to Kubomura could only mean it is Konagi underneath it. He gives her motivation to do her best and her ecstatic reaction is freaking the kids out. Reindeers don’t do that… For some reason Masago follows Chiho during her Christmas errand. Noticing he is cold, she lends her handkerchief, though she notes she forgot to write a death wish on it. Chiho and Akkun have a telepathic showdown that they are the ones who will be spending Christmas night with Non. Masago question’s Akkun’s scarf present to Non. Originally he had a more ‘romantic’ idea by sneaking in as a Santa. But then he was caught by the police and the interrogation was hell.

Episode 19
New Year’s Day. The usual pray at the shrine and Akkun won’t tell his wish despite Non asking but we all know what it is. Chiho’s wish sounds more like a curse for Masago never to come over anymore. As they get their luck read, Akkun doesn’t believe it as it is just randomness on a piece of paper. But then he thank heavens when Non shows her great luck. Oh, Akkun got the worst luck. Akkun tries to force a dream of Non on New Year. But despite covering himself with a blanket of Non’s montage (as well as his surroundings) and listening to Non’s unlimited humming track, his angel never appeared. No such luck. It’s amazing he managed to sleep with all that distraction. Later when Non says Akkun showed up in her dream first and it made her happy, what’s this Akkun suddenly takes her hand?! Is this a dream?!

Episode 20
Akkun’s class is cleaning up the streets. Konagi thinks she could receive Kubomura’s hand in marriage as reward if she does well. With Akkun continue to act like he does with Non, Masago advises he should properly talk to her. Akkun misinterprets that as exposing everything and go die. Later when Masago bumps into Chiho, her friends are ecstatic thinking he is her boyfriend. No matter how much Chiho denies, they keep thinking he is her boyfriend. Finally she manages to tell Masago’s true relationship: He is the enemy of mankind! WTF?

Episode 21
Konagi got separated from her friend and stumbled into this school. That is how she met Kubomura and fell in love with him at first sight. She may bug him a lot but at least she can pride herself that she doesn’t stalk him like a certain someone… When Kubomura is watering the plants, Konagi also wants to be watered to grow big! I don’t think decorating herself with plants would do the trick. She runs through the hose spray anyway and gets soaked. Kubomura quickly throws his jersey over her to cover up. Happy Konagi thanks him with love.

Episode 22
For once Chiho is glad Matsuo came over. There’s a cockroach scurrying around! He takes care of it and Chiho must be in a dilemma whether to be her usual tsundere to him. Eventually she has to and equates him the same as a cockroach. Later as they talk about their future dreams, Chiho takes the liberty to suggest Masago will be a freeloader and scammer. He has good looks and can deceive women but they will eventually leave him and leave him in despair hell. However Masago takes it as a compliment and this really throws Chiho off. It makes her start thinking there is something wrong with her. All she just wants is to diss him but keeps messing up. I think we all know what’s wrong with her. Especially her heart…

Episode 23
A onion plushie has Akkun and Non remember a time when Akkun was sick and skipped school so Non came by his place to take care of him. When his fever worsened, she wanted to go get the towel but he wouldn’t let her. He ranted how she is clumsy and poked her nose in affairs of others. He would feel bad if he got her sick so he wanted her to go home. Because there are lots of things he still wants to say to her like I love you. Is that his sickness talking? Non replied she loves him too and hoped for him to get better. Non views this plushie as their cupid while Akkun hopes one day he could say those words while looking at her.

Episode 24
Non borrowed her dad’s camera and hopes to film some memories but of course Akkun is not interested. Akkun then hears Konagi’s question to Non on why she doesn’t addressed Akkun by his first name. She wants to actually. So while the rest are filming around, Non realizes Akkun isn’t around and goes to look for him. Why is Akkun practising (and stuttering) calling Non’s first name in public and her picture on the wall?! Couldn’t he have done it in at least a room?! Because of that Non finds him so he desperately tries to hide. But then I guess there is only so much a girl can take when Akkun tells her how her constant pestering makes him hate her. Non cries!!! OMFG! This angelic girl cried?! That’s it Akkun! Although Non recovered and brushed off the whole thing, Masago luckily stopped Akkun from committing seppuku. Damn he should have let him. In his repentance, he is able to correctly say Non’s first name.

Episode 25
Well yeah, everyone’s watching and having a good time laughing at those camera moments. Like Konagi still insisting she is Kubomura’s wife. There might be some hope because he said he hasn’t rejected her entirely. We also see Akkun and Non’s parents with Keita panicking while Seiichirou, uh, glowing? Then there’s Chiho being tsundere thinking she needs to say something to Masago instead of the camera. She thinks she got her revenge by filming him playing a dating simulation but all the other girls start swooning over how handsome he is. And finally it is Akkun. Seriously they filmed it in his room with all of Non’s posters on the wall so obviously visible? Anyway he is trying hard to say Non’s first name but accidentally ends up saying puns like non-verbal communication, non-pre-emptive multitasking and non-activist. NOOO!!!! Yeah, that one too. Before the film shows if he succeeded in saying her name (I can’t believe he is just having trouble with just 1 stinking syllable), here comes Akkun ‘flying’ into the room to properly say her name. Hooray! And what’s this?! He wants her to continue to be in her care? Whatever. Last episode. Let’s get all the emotions out. Non is so happy that she hugs him and says I love you. You better treat your angel much better from now on.

I Hate U, I Love U
Wait a minute. Is Akkun giving up his tsundere personality for a happy ending? Could Akkun just be sick and he is just acting up? If that is true, it sure is hard to believe that for a lifelong tsundere guy like him to suddenly change for the better just after one ‘traumatic’ incident. Oh well. I guess many of us would undergo such change. So in the case of Akkun making Non cry was sure a wakeup call. But yeah, we don’t know if it was all in the spur of the moment and he’ll be back to the tsundere Akkun we all know the next minute because you know, a leopard doesn’t change its spots and you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Gee, it would have been such an interesting conspiracy to think if Non being nice to him was some sort of brainwashing and conditioning for him to finally change and confess! Yikes! I’ll leave this dark conspiracy to the darkest corners of the internet…

Sad to say that idea of seeing a tsundere guy gets really old and boring way too fast for me. At the end of the first episode, I could already feel that I was going to be in for a long dreary ride. The idea of watching Akkun being cold and harsh upfront with Non but then goes into this squealing admiring Non-is-an-angel-cum-goddess mode behind her back, seems fun at the first thought. However at the end of that very first episode it got me thinking that if this is going to be the basis and staple of this series, it is indeed going to be draggy. And that it was I feared I found the rest of the episodes to be. Amazingly I managed to stick around and finish this double cour series. Thank goodness for the 3.5 minutes duration of each episode, eh?

One of the ‘problems’ I find this series to be utterly annoying is of course what supposedly is the ‘charm’ of the series: Don’t wait for it, it’s Akkun’s tsundere behaviour. Mostly guys like this are labelled a dick or just moody and grumpy but because we get to see his secret tsun-tsun side, we now get to label him as tsundere. I guess it must be the double standards of society we live in. Because we see Akkun being a tsundere and the way he treats Non harshly, many of use can’t help feel like we want to punch this guy in his face. Although treating your crush like trash is somewhat ‘normal’ and part and parcel in many relationships, but seeing a guy treat a girl like that would definitely have others mark him as the number 1 enemy of women in their books. Remember, to outsiders, we don’t know Akkun fawns all over Non. Hence from an outsider’s perspective, Akkun is a jerk. A big jerk.

However if you reverse the gender roles, it becomes acceptable. If Akkun was a girl or if Non was the one who is tsundere, nobody would bat an eyelid. Nobody would find it the least annoying unless that female character has very obvious b*tch-like personality. In fact, many of us would even start thinking how super cute is the tsundere girl and accept without question how trashy she treats her man. Just as long as she maintains her cuteness while in tsundere mode, everything is fine. But not the other way round. If a guy does this, we just want to beat the sh*t out of him. So do you not see the double standards that we have in society? Of course we can all say that this is just anime and that in my opening paragraph that I have mentioned a few popular male tsundere names. But I don’t think Akkun is going to be mainstream popular tsundere like those other tsundere guys. He will most likely be cast off as just an annoying dick jerk.

Hence that is why I believe why we have Chiho as the tsundere seems not to raise any questions the way she ‘mistreats’ Masago. In fact, it is sad that I find Chiho-Masago relationship a lot more interesting to watch than Akkun-Non. Somehow I prefer the traditional female tsundere role. Chiho’s reprimanding of Masago comes off as cute unlike Akkun who instantly is cast off as annoying. They’re the same but see what difference it makes when the gender is switched? Does being tsundere run in the family genes? Okay, I admit, sometimes if girls going overboard with the stalker thingy can be annoying and scary too. See Momokuri to know what I mean.

So as we can see the tsundere siblings, you wonder why Non and Masago continue to put up with their patient act. Yeah, patience is pretty much the keyword for any relationship to survive. I believe that Non knows that Akkun likes her the fawning and creepy way behind her back and that being tsundere is his way of showing his love to her (aside from the fact he helps her out many times). I mean, love can exist in many forms and as long as she is happy and not crying, it’s alright, right? Unless Non is some sort of masochist who lives each day to hear Akkun’s harsh words. Man, that would be the greatest twist in the story that I never see coming.

Probably Akkun gets his kicks from admiring and worshipping his angel behind closed doors and having everyone know except Non (oh, you think Akkun’s parents never walked into his room once and see all those creepy Non posters?). That is why I believe Akkun doesn’t want to stop his tsundere and stalker act. I don’t think he is the kind of guy who thinks Non will hate him if she knew about his unhealthy poster collection (which I think she does). It’s not like their relationship would change if Akkun became a better guy, right? Maybe. But like in so many animes I’ve watched, the status quo is always better. That is why Akkun continues to be a jerk (probably to maintain the image and first impression since their first meeting) and Non continues to put up with all this crap (because she knows he doesn’t mean all uggo name calling). But still as shown, Non is still human and a girl deep down and don’t go too far with the harshness. Even angels sometimes cry, you know. Instead she doesn’t fight back and returns with more smiles. Because it won’t make things better if she too starts acting up. That way, Akkun is that ‘bad guy’, right? But remember, Non was the original stalker so was it her who indirectly passed the stalking personality to him?

It would be just boring if each episode was about Akkun and Non. That’s why the other characters do provide a little variety and distraction. Like Chiho seemed like she was in the running to be Non’s lover is now so much a contender to be Masago’s lover. I mean, she still loves Non and wants to be with her but this seems to be getting lesser as more of Chiho’s tsundere attitude towards Masago is displayed. So the logic is that if you stick around a girl long enough, don’t show your angry side but your patient side, watch her slowly turn into a tsundere and fall for you? Seems to be looking a lot like that. I wonder if Masago playing video games at their house is just some sort of subliminal message for Chiho to notice him. You know, jealous of him dating 2D girls, might as well go cause a scene. Yeah, Masago might be that sneaky dude trying to snitch Akkun’s sister… You sneaky bastard… Man, could have been a plot twist I never see coming too.

Konagi and Kubomura feel like a distraction because sometimes when we get tired of complicated tsundere love antics, we see this student-teacher one anyway. Dumb girl tries hard to make her teacher fall for her but teacher trying to uphold the values of being a teacher and good job at resisting the charms of a young wild one. But still, it’s not like he totally rejected her and with that tiny bit of hope, the reason why she continues to get shamelessly flirty with him. I bet she won’t care if the whole world knows about it or she purposely lets the globe know but I’ll bet it will be a different story if they are celebrities. Now nobody cares and just ignores their frolicking. Note: I don’t like Konagi’s new look where she cut her hair short in the final episode. Period. Akkun and Non’s parents also provide some little distraction with the moms being the nice moms and the guys having contrasting personality with Keita looking more like the dumb insecure dad and Seiichirou the serious but tsundere. Again why is it that women find strange men so attractive? Imagine if Akkun and Non really got married, it would be one of the most dysfunctional families ever.

Art and drawing are pretty okay. Everything is cute, everything is bright and vivid so nothing to complain about. This anime was made by Yumeta Company who did La Corda D’oro, the Angelique series and Harukanaru Toki No Naka De series. The voice acting casts are Tatsuhisa Suzuki as Akkun (Tou in Dagashi Kashi), Ayaka Suwa as Non (Ikumi in Jinsei), Arisa Kouri as Chiho, Keisuke Ueda as Masago (Heine in Oushitsu Kyoushi Haine), Hikaru Kayou as Konagi, Wataru Hatano as Kubomura (Gajeel in Fairy Tail) and Arisa Nakada as Yui Iori in Tachibanakan To Lie Angle. I very much prefer the first opening theme, Koi No Balloon by Haruna Ooshima compared to the second one, We Pace also by Haruna Ooshima but featuring Ebisu Coffret because even though the former sounds more like generic anime pop, I find the latter’s hard rock style just to be a lot unsuitable. Yeah, excuse it sounds deafening to my ears.

To be honest, this isn’t entirely a bad anime per se as there are some funny and sweet romantic moments enough for a few milliseconds of chuckle and heart going ~kyun. Too bad with Akkun’s overall imposing tsundere attitude of ‘mistreating’ Non just because she is a nice girl who doesn’t fight back and his creepy stalker ways (it’s amazing the police hasn’t caught him yet), it just makes this series to be remembered as something a lot more annoying. As long as the abusiveness remains playful, everything is alright. I think. But I still want to punch Akkun for being an annoying jerk.

RErideD: Tokigoe No Derrida

January 20, 2019

I didn’t think I would try my hands at watching another sci-fi themed anime. At least not after the disastrous Beatless that had me confused and not understanding everything. But don’t worry. At least RErideD: Tokigoe No Derrida isn’t about artificial intelligence. It is about time travelling. Yeah, it’s in the title. Oh no. Are we going to tackle that time paradox and its other issues? Too bad I didn’t have the ability to jump to the future to see whether I will understand or enjoy this show but I have a hunch of how it is going to turn out based on my guts and past experience. So why still watch this? Sometimes when the synopsis is worded in a very interesting manner, the only way to settle that curiosity is to find it out yourself. Only time will tell…

Episode 1
Derrida Yvain meets his fellow colleague, Nathan Bilstein. It seems their previous meeting with their boss, Hans Andrei, their suggestion to find a solution to a bug in the DZ automata was rejected. Hence he will not allow a recall of those robots. The only choice now they have is to see Derrida’s father, Jacques who spent half his life creating DZ. But first, we got to celebrate the birthday of Mage, Nathan’s daughter. She is joined with her friend, Yuri Dietrich. At the end of the day, it seems Nathan wants Derrida to join in some experiment of his but he refuses. Mage even talks to him about his idea of time travelling and its possibilities. She seeks an answer why he won’t work with her father but he dodges the question. Next day when Derrida sees Jacques to point out his views and flaws, he is told not to delve into this deeper. This only makes Derrida angry and thinks he is in cohorts with Andrei. Derrida throws a fit that dad never acknowledged him and did everything only for his own gains. More woes as Nathan calls Derrida to tell that Mage is in coma. Although her condition is stable, it seems last night she tried to do an experiment by herself. Deep into the night, Derrida receives a distress call by Nathan. Both men pack their stuffs and run. Apparently Andrei has orders for them to be killed. You see, their worst fears of DZ has come true as it has been used as military weapons. I guess they know why Andrei was so reluctant for a recall, huh? And since they know about the bug, hence he wants them silenced forever. But when Derrida says he gave their access card to Mage after the party, you mean Nathan got so worried he tried to turn the car around that he overturned it?! Ah, cliché moment for Andrei and his goons to pop up before them. He is going to frame Derrida for killing Nathan before killing himself. Derrida sees a strange vision of Mage before the goons fire at the car. You mean the explosion only knocks Derrida off the cliff? Trekking through the forest, again he sees a vision of Mage but this time he falls through some shaft and into some deserted lab. If Derrida wanted to rest, of all things he could rest, why lie in the most suspicious chamber ever???!!! Because of that, it activates and he is frozen to sleep. Not sure how much time have passed but he wakes up. Yeah, somebody left a timepiece on his chamber. Derrida is shocked to see the world as destroyed and Terminator-like robots roaming the dystopia.

Episode 2
If the robots fire at you, they aren’t your friends. Wow. Derrida can run and hide faster! I suppose when your life depends on it. Luckily he is saved by this tough old dude, Vidaux Volker. Derrida learns 10 years have passed and this is all the result of the war from those DZs. At first everyone was excited but hell then occurred and the only ones benefiting from this is the one who sold it and became rich. Vidaux wants compensation if Derrida is going to make it out here alive. That’s the price of his life. Can’t say no, right? They return to Vidaux’s daughter, Mayuka and they make their escape in his Knight Rider knockoff, Graham. Mayuka tries to scan his chip but he has no ID whatsoever, shocking them as they think he is dead. Meanwhile Andrei is still the despicable boss and he gets shocked to learn Derrida’s survival is detected. Wow. So high tech. Back at Vidaux’s base, Derrida rues of being set up. He realizes something amiss. He passed the patch to Jacques to fix the DZ bug so why isn’t it fixed yet? Oh right. He didn’t. Jacques also got hit, right? Also, the key to that patch was given to Mage. It means everyone is still searching for this. He wants Vidaux to take him to Mage but he won’t do it unless compensated. Derrida says he will give that file for him to sell and make a fortune. They make their way to Nathan’s home. Destroyed. Again Derrida sees a vision of Mage but this time she speaks. She is not Mage but Ange. As he looks around, suddenly he is apprehended by a girl. He recognizes that voice as Yuri and thinks she won’t shoot as it is a toy gun. She fires. It’s real! Meanwhile Andrei has hired an assassin babe, Donna to kill Derrida. He wants his death swift and quiet. Nobody must even know about it! I guess he is desperate enough to pay her advance. Luckily Yuri’s shot missed. At first she finds it hard to believe he is Derrida since it has been 10 years. He asks about Mage’s whereabouts. Well, guess what? She’s dead.

Episode 3
Yuri shows the grave of Mage. Can’t believe it, right? You know, if Donna really wanted to kill them, she would have just shot them from afar instead of approaching them and making her presence known. Vidaux fights her before they escape in Graham. Before you can accuse of Donna trying to be flashy, she actually calls Andrei that she can’t kill Derrida quietly! Hence Donna using her military drone to blast Graham to smithereens until they lost her in some mini cave. Thank goodness there is some underground resupply station to fix Graham and looks like Vidaux is going to have to charge Derrida extra as a bodyguard from Donna. Then they head to town where all the survivors resettled to get some more supplies. I suppose Yuri know believes Derrida is the real deal so she brings him to where she and Mage once lived together. In this little apartment she explains that when war came, her parents left for abroad. You mean somehow they were convinced and allowed to let Yuri and Mage stay behind???!!! WTF???!!! As they stayed here, men kept visiting them asking about Derrida. Which is odd because the official news said he died. Yuri reveals the real truth: Mage is still alive. The grave she created was just a decoy as she knew men were after them. Mage went missing last autumn and Yuri was looking for her. You mean it took them 9 years to do something? As Derrida leaves the building, another annoying vision of Ange. Can’t speak this time but she hints something. Thinking Yuri is in danger, he returns only to see the building explode! Oh, Yuri hanging on the edge. Lucky for her, Derrida is there to catch her. Just in time to escape with the gang, huh? Donna calls Andrei and she doesn’t like him hiring others for her prey. She warns she will kill everybody who gets in her way. Derrida doesn’t want Yuri to get involved anymore and will look for Mage himself. However Yuri has decided to join the search even if it is dangerous. I mean, her home got blown and she has nowhere to go, right? So who is going to pay foot this extra cost for Vidaux? Put it all on Derrida’s tabs! Man, this guy better have deep pockets…

Episode 4
To make another patch, Derrida needs the necessary equipment. Something that only Rebuild (the company Derrida worked for and is now mass producing DZs) has. After the war, Rebuild has become the largest defence contractor of the country. And because Rebuild only has internet access, I guess that’s the excuse they need to sneak in. So what’s the use of the company only being connected but not the rest of the outside world? They sneak in via a creepy tunnel connected to the main building. There are lots of DZ robots too but since they are low on battery, try not to provoke them. You really think a car can go through the rubble without making noises? Yeah, eventually ramming through them is the best option. Remember, they are low on battery and can’t pursue further. With Derrida’s hacking skills, the guys easily sneak in. Yeah, security has not even changed for the last 10 years! Vidaux warns Derrida if he is here purely for revenge, he is out. Would his fee be waived then? Guess what? The passwords and workplace of Derrida and Nathan are still the same and unchanged?! WTF?! No wonder Derrida can even access the data! But first, your creepy Ange premonition again. What she’s saying about Mage waiting for him?! Can she be more specific?! Anyway, Derrida sees some horrifying info. They download and escape but looks like they’ve been discovered. Thank goodness it is human security so it took some time to alert. Uh huh. Enough for the guys to run out and rendezvous with Graham outside!!! WTF security???!!! Plus, can a few bullet shots stop a vault door from closing???!!! WTF security???!!! Back home when they plug in the data, Derrida realizes a horrifying thing. It seems the bug was planted in there intentionally. All higher ups and the government except Jacques ratified it. Thus the DZ rampage was engineered from the very start. I guess it makes sense why nobody is searching for the patch file. As Derrida doesn’t want to drag them deeper into this, he parts ways. Oh, he’ll somehow pay his dues. Somehow Vidaux doesn’t view this as revenge, he opts to stay in. No charge? I guess he’ll sell the patents once he clears his name. Later Derrida and Yuri talk about Mage’s birthday. He remembered he came early but Yuri said he came late and had video proof of it. Derrida wonders if he changed past with this time ride and experienced a different past.

Episode 5
Conveniently we have info on Mage’s whereabouts. She was last seen at the museum at Vanfort. Oh good. It’s conveniently close by. But first Vidaux stops by somewhere in Vidaux to take some of his stuff. A robo pup goes on alert but when it detects Vidaux, it goes into support mode. It seems Vidaux was once an officer and this was his support dog? At the museum, Derrida remembers strange memories of being here with Jacques. Was he here actually? I guess there is still power running so they get to see the beautiful planetarium stars. Of course Donna is here to hunt her prey so Vidaux holds her off while Derrida and Yuri go do the necessary. Derrida is guided by his weird memories to the main control room where they easily and conveniently download CCTV footage of Mage in the building. They would have left after they’ve done their business but those weird memories once again makes Derrida acting up. He remembers for real he was actually here with dad to view the launch of the first automata prototype. And damn that Ange now pops up. What the f*ck is she saying about 2 people’s timelines never overlapped? This damn excuse allows Derrida to go back in time when he met dad for the last time. Because he knows the future, he tries to warn him about Andrei’s intention and the bug. Actually, Jacques already knew everything. He wants Derrida to escape himself because he has a responsible to see through this DZ bug thingy. I guess time is up because now Derrida returns to reality. Save the regrets for later because Vidaux and Donna’s fight is getting more intense. Luckily robo pup saves them and with lady luck on their side, they manage to escape and Donna pinned under some rubbles. Don’t count on her staying there forever. Back in Graham, Vidaux shows a photo of his young ex-partner. His father was a cop and commissioned him to retrieve it as it is the only record left from when he was alive. Looking at the museum’s footage, they see Mage talking to a man. Such clear footage that Derrida could identify him as Cassiel.

Episode 6
Derrida tells us he is experimenting on time ride. Based on the Trout Theory, you can send your consciousness back to your past self. With Graham’s circuits blown, looks like it’s a job for father and daughter to find the parts in the next city. Since it will take all night, Derrida and Yuri have to find some place to hide for the moment. In an abandoned building, Derrida explains more about time ride and its requirements is to vividly recall certain memories. I guess now Derrida is an expert in using time ride as he just vividly remembers and whoosh! Back in time. However using time ride a few times, he doesn’t seem to be able to change anything. Firstly, he notices if he tries to do something really different from the original, he will be pushed back to reality. Secondly, even if he did change something, how could he tell? But something during one of those time rides has Yuri taking notes down so this gives Derrida an idea. He writes down the current status of Jacques, Nathan and Mage. If he uses time ride and their status changed, it would mean it worked. Derrida tries time ride for a few times but will not go back earlier to when he completed the key access as it will be no point. Unfortunately nothing seems to have changed. At least the dead are still dead and Mage is still missing. When Derrida remembers that night being late for Mage’s birthday, he realizes this is another set of memories. Because of him using time ride, the timeline branched out. So now he has 2 sets of memories? With nothing important changing, Derrida deduces if he changed his actions, naturally others would change theirs too. Late in the night, it seems Yuri has been hiding a grave secret. She was the one who accessed the key access and Mage found out about it. Hence she blames herself for people targeting Mage and not Derrida. I don’t know why she is running away but looks like she got kidnapped. Next morning, Mayuka is frantic looking for Yuri. Not around. I guess Derrida didn’t even realize it. Sleeping the whole night, eh? So makes them think she is gone? There. She dropped her precious camera.

Episode 7
Vidaux believes Yuri and the people who kidnapped her will be in Bruque as it is the nearest town. This is where they’re headed too so they could get Graham fixed by their old mechanic friend, Klaus Baden. So they went to get this monster trailer to haul Graham to Bruque? Derrida asks around about Yuri but nobody knows. Yeah, he just missed a spot because in that building, Yuri is being held and interrogated by Schmidt Maier of the Union Intelligence Bureau (UIB). He wants Derrida’s patch file. He was assumed dead and the file lost until someone accessing the patch file online was detected a year ago (Yuri accidentally accessing it). The UIB wants it to turn the tides of war in their favour. His predecessor was the one who bombed her apartment as they believed of killing those before the data falls into the enemies’ hands. He promises to not harm Derrida if he gives the file. With Derrida yielding no result, it seems Vidaux has done his own snooping. He noticed UIB men looking for Derrida and with Yuri as hostage, they’ll use it against him. There are also rumours about the government planning to use missiles to bomb the hell out of the rampaging DZs. Nothing beats wiping everything out on a clean slate. Normally Vidaux doesn’t care about it but realizing Mayuka would have no future, he isn’t going to allow it.

If you’re wondering why Derrida as a very wanted men is out drinking coffee in the open, it is part of Vidaux’s plan to set him to talk to Schmidt. He gets down to business to trade the file for Yuri. He brushes off his time ride theory as a dream as the world they live in is the end result of a series of decisions and actions. Also, Derrida is to bring Vidaux too. Derrida doesn’t have the patch file (they just think he has it) so he creates a fake one. At the site before the exchange, Derrida wants to take a photo because all government transactions must have documentation. Schmidt gets impatient and he should’ve brought more henchmen if he was planning to subdue them. Especially a tough guy like Vidaux. A signal is given during the struggle as hiding Mayuka throws a smokescreen for them to rescue Yuri and escape. Good thing the trade didn’t happen because Yuri reveals sneaky Schmidt would have killed them all instead. Great timing that Klaus has finished fixing up Graham and boosted it up as well. Because with Schmidt ordering to violently kill them (I guess he didn’t want the file) and even blows up the bridge, Graham turns amphibious! Wow! Amazing modification in a short time. After losing their pursuers, Yuri comes clean that she was the one who made Mage on the run since she accessed the file that day. She knows Mage still loves Derrida a lot and that’s why they have to find her. You don’t need to tell him what he has been planning to do all along. Finally we see Mage in the flesh and she is going to finish this and do something risky.

Episode 8
Before they enter the next city, a mysterious voice tapped into their communications to warn them there is a trap laid out. They are able to take a detour and avoid it. That trap was set by Donna and she has a hunch who was behind this. Yeah, Andrei the chicken thinks she’s out to get him now! In town, they rent a room to stay as Derrida feels that voice is familiar. Vidaux goes around looking for info on Mage but only picked up hints that Cassiel is in town and that Donna too is targeting him. Then that mysterious voice calls Derrida’s caller ID. Derrida now recognizes this voice as Cassiel and was the one who tried to warn him 10 years ago. Yeah, he remembered it like it was just yesterday. They make plans to meet up tomorrow. That night, Vidaux talks to Derrida about his time rides. What would have happened if the past got changed. Derrida is sure he would be alone right now and the time Vidaux saved him would be no more than a mere memory like thought it is a dream. At the break of dawn as they leave town, Donna is seen fast on their heels. She didn’t fall for the leaked info trap as this is all part of her plan to follow them to lead her to Cassiel so she can kill them all in one fell swoop. But thankfully this device Cassiel created could malfunction Donna’s mechanical arm. Thank goodness for plot convenience. After driving Graham into his stealth trailer, Cassiel explains he is doing this out of atonement. As part of Andrei’s engineers he helped hide the bug and altered the checking process. Out of guilty conscience he tried to warn Derrida and Nathan but I suppose he was too vague then.

He also reveals about coming into contact with Mage and had done several odd requests for her before she left for a quiet place. Speaking of her, it was Mage who unfroze Derrida from her sleep. She also secretly carried on the research of Trout Theory that Derrida abandoned after he realized it was too dangerous to be backed up without any substantial proof. We interrupt your talk as Donna attacks. Oddly, Vidaux gets injured protecting them but she didn’t kill him and went straight to target Derrida?! Conveniently, another time ride. This time to the point he was creating the patch when Cassiel’s warning call came. He tries not to be too enthusiastic to trust him and plays it cautious like as though he is a stranger to avoid returning to reality but there is only so far he could go. Did he alter the past? Well, at least he got that device conveniently in his hand to malfunction Donna’s arm! Conveniently the guys escape back to the trailer. Derrida realized the future has changed a lot with that recent time ride because there are other bounty hunters chasing them and there are continued bombing tests right about now. It’s only a matter of time the big mother load will destroy Earth. He thinks of redoing that time ride again but guess what? Ange tells him he can’t do it because he can only change history once. WTF????!!!! Hence he cannot travel back to that specific point in time anymore as he has 2 conflicting memories in his consciousness. WTF???!!!! YOU MEAN I CANNOT HAVE MORE THAN 2 ALTERNATE UNIVERSES IN HIS HEAD OR LIFE???!!! WHAT KIND OF CRAPPY SCI-FI EXPLANATION IS THAT????!!!! WORSE PLOT DEVICE EVER!!!!!!!!!!

Episode 9
Derrida believes Mage will be at Yetz Engineering College, his alma mater. But first, they have to get away from cars chasing them. While they manage to lose them, Vidaux’s wounds open. Thank goodness for this nice quiet spot for them to rest and treat his wounds, eh? So we hear Mayuka telling Yuri how Vidaux often goes away for business for a few days, leaving her alone. She fills that time by reading books. Her dream is to give her papa a good life. With Derrida deriding Vidaux for always bringing Mayuka along and putting her in danger, this prompts a flashback Vidaux doesn’t want to remember. His wife died in a hit and run accident and when the culprit was still at large, he lost faith in the law and equality as it failed to protect his wife. He became a vigilante to track down the culprit and when he did, killed him in a cold fashion way. However he realized too late he had a baby child. Rest time is over because now crazy DZs are approaching. I guess this slow episode needs some action so we see the guys blasting away all the dumb DZs. When Vidaux falls off Graham and is surrounded by DZs, why those dumb robots just stand there and not kill him?! Yeah, they really waited for Graham to turn around and Derrida firing back at all of them! HE MISSED NONE!!!! SO F*CKING BADASS???!!! WTF???!!! So now we get some peaceful moments as father and daughter bond together. Too bad bomber jets are seen in the vicinity. Derrida needs to time ride and change the past again but remembers Ange’s damn words. Then he realizes how reliable would his memories be. Is there a possibility he has not realized the loss of memories from using time ride? Hey, can’t remember what you forget, duh. We now see Mage meeting with Professor Marlene and wants to teach her about Trout Theory. Her goal is to jump back in time and despite the theory having so many flaws, she still needs to as there is something there needs to be done.

Episode 10
Angelica Klein was a researcher in an experiment that is trying to shape an automata’s personality based on dialogue. For the first few days, it goes well. But the more it carries on, the creepier the automata gets. You see, this automata is slowly trying to imitate and understand Angelica, though it claims it was programmed to do so. We also see Angelica changed and getting traumatic from it all as the automata tries to assume her identity! Obviously, the automata is trying to become Angelica and even suggesting Angelica rename herself as Donna. Because, it means donor. A personality transplant volunteer. Angelica goes crazy and attacks the robot! The other researchers try to cancel the research but Angelica insists this to be carried on. I guess she wasn’t prepared for this because the automata now 100% believes herself as the real deal and the human as Donna. A fight ensues and we can’t tell who is attacking who. But we see a lot of blood, so… And now Donna is going to kill Andrei with the reason of protecting this body. Too bad all this bodyguards can’t even touch her. You’re dead meat. Derrida is outside of Yetz. He is only let in because of Marlene whom he was a graduate of her programme. She tells him Mage was here but has left. Damn. Missed her again. Marlene begins explaining she first met Mage at Nathan’s funeral. She was asking for help about the Trout Theory but Marlene didn’t take her seriously then. 6 months ago, she came here claiming she had found a way to perfect it but needed to see the documents Derrida left.

Marlene continues about another dangerous experiment she did. The experiment of creating a DZ model with a personality that ended in tragedy. It would have brought a lot of potential had it been a success but as we know, DZ models went berserk. She distanced herself to preserve her position. Another organization took over her research and this was the one that Angelica participated. After that failed, it seems Angelica lived but burnt down the facility. Bodies were found except for Angelica and her DZ clone. Derrida is in despair thinking his researches on bring tragedies. As Donna is Angelica, this is the reason why she came after him as she is a victim of the research. Marlene says the only regret they have is not chasing their dreams but turning their backs on their research. She could have saved Angelica had she not abandoned the research to save herself. There are unexpected things produced from experiments whether it is for both good and bad. She hands him a jamming device that will block DZ sensors and avoid encounters. This is how Yetz managed to survive. The lesson of the day, don’t turn your back on what you believe in. Derrida goes through the documentations of his research. He stumbles onto the piece of Effelsberg electronic telescope, which is a quiet place.

Episode 11
Derrida believes Mage is continuing his experiment and restore things to the way it was before the war. There’s some explanation about if you control certain factors, you can still change things. Yeah, everyone is worried the world now they live in will change. For better or worse, let’s find out. Better hurry, because the world has begun their war of bombing the hell out of each other. But first we have to plough through those crazy field of DZs to get near Effelsberg. You know, I thought they should drive up a bit closer to the telescope before getting off. Because here comes Schmidt unleashing his improved DZs to capture them. Great. Now they got to fight their way through this crap? I guess this is for this plot convenience for Graham to turn back and do some final heroic stuffs. Oddly the car can somewhat believe in Derrida’s choice of a changed future and then thank everyone for the ride. Really. I don’t know if Graham could fly or if there’s a ramp because it ‘jumps’ into Schmidt’s craft and self-destructs!!! OMFG! That explosion can take down that craft?! I guess it’s better than ramming the DZs. Vidaux stays back to fend off the other DZs and as the rest trek on, they encounter more of Schmidt’s men. Obviously for some action bits but totally unbelievable because could you believe they miss shooting Yuri at that distance and she had to jump over a gap?! WTF?! They are easily taken out by Donna who won’t let them kill her prey. Out of the pan and into the fire? Donna blames and hates Derrida for creating such a monstrosity. Well, if you keep beating him up, how will he explain himself? If you’re wondering why Donna has a hard time finding against this wuss, she’s injured. Such convenience. Derrida knows this Donna is actually Angelica because the machine was not programmed to have feelings. So with her feeling all this hatred, it proves she is human. Donna still believes herself as a machine and that everyone else killed Angelica. She views such people doing such things for greed and ego. Derrida laments about the tragedy some experiments will bring but if they stop progressing, they will never have moved forward. With all the injuries, Donna shuts down. Or dies? Now before entering the structure, they still ponder about changing the future? Yeah, last chance before everything is changed. So Mayuka decides to go back to papa because if the world will indeed change, she wants to be with him till the very last moment.

Episode 12
We hear Mage waiting for Derrida to return to a certain place in time. So she’s been waiting there like forever? Anyway, back to current timeline, Yuri is still having that dilemma of not wanting to forget memories of this timeline even if the world changes due to the time ride. But this world has no future, right? What future is there to give? As they enter the facility, they see it is the exact replica of Mage’s old house. Derrida explains that to invoke time ride, such vivid memories is needed to enhance the time ride’s precision. In the next room, they see Mage lying in a chamber which is supposed to be a time ride hardware. Conveniently there is a video made by her for her future self. In case she loses her memories, this is to remind her that her mission is to find Derrida and send him to the past. She claims she has perfected time ride but in exchange lost a lot of memories. She can’t remember anything before she was 14. Her final message is for Ange to help Derrida. I guess now Derrida has connected the dots as he explains to us. But this is what I understand. Derrida thought he has been doing time ride by himself but he was wrong. Because part of Trout Theory states that some huge hardware is needed to facilitate that. In other words, Mage is the one making his time ride possible. This is why Derrida didn’t lose any memories. Or so he thought he can’t remember the memories he lost. It was Mage’s memories that were eaten instead. The reason Mage couldn’t go back in time herself was because her memories aren’t that vivid. Unlike Derrida who just woke up hence his memories of 10 years ago were like yesterday. Mage is now a little conscious but she thinks now as just after her birthday party. Schmidt interrupts to call for Derrida to surrender the data. Do it and he will allow him and his friends to a safe place because now the bombing will begin and everywhere will be on fire. Yeah, Derrida ignores this dude and makes his final time ride. Damn Ange, do you need to remind us again this is the last time?

So Derrida returns in time to after Mage’s birthday party whereby they talked about time travelling possibilities. This time he didn’t brush her off and respects and answers her question. He apologizes for all that and if this science makes people happy, he wants Nathan to pursue it in good faith. Originally, Mage tried an experiment and collapsed from it and Nathan took her to the hospital. But now she gives the access card to Nathan. Then Nathan receives an anonymous tip about Andrei’s scheme. He and Jacques expose him and Andrei is arrested. This major change in timeline means that a war was averted. Derrida observes these important changes as he finally asks who Ange is. In reality, she does not exist. In the original timeline, Derrida is supposed to have died with Nathan that night. Her appearance prevented that. Also, she says there is no single timeline but many timelines branching out like rivers. So by wishing hard enough, humans can choose which timeline to be? Gee, if it was that easy. Hence Mage wished for a world where Derrida and Nathan but barely managed to keep Derrida alive so it was up to him to save the world. Yeah, Mage saved him. He saved the world. Returning to this new timeline of peaceful times, nobody remembers that original war one. We see Vidaux as an inspector and is soon to be a father to his soon to be expectant wife. Mayuka grows up in a happy family. Even Graham is a cute waiter robot! Donna or rather Angelica looks so happy in whatever she is doing right now. Nathan and Jacques continue their time travelling research. Lastly, Yuri still remains friends to Derrida and Mage who are now a couple. I guess the age gap doesn’t matter now that they are of legal age.

REwriteD: Deriding Ride Back In Time
Passable. I guess slightly more understandable than Beatless. But still was confusing enough for me to understand in detail about all this time travelling stuff. Heh. It’s not like I really wanted to be a rocket scientist and delve deeper into this time travelling aspects, right? Even if I said this series was passable, overall it still felt mediocre since some of the pacing and sci-fi aspects felt a bit rush. They’re trying to put together a story and perhaps make us put on our thinking caps about this part of time travelling but this topic isn’t anything easy to understand if you’re trying to aim for the masses. And with this thriller and chasing around in the mix, it just dilutes and weakens the series even further.

I guess not everything you do will be a hit. As in this case whereby the director, Takuya Satou was acclaimed to have directed the critically hit time travelling anime series, Steins;Gate. I didn’t see that anime even though I heard a lot of mixed but mostly good reviews about it simply because I didn’t have a sci-fi-like thinking mind. Then there is the original character design by Yoshitoshi Abe who designed characters of old acclaimed sci-fi anime series like Serial Experiments Lain and Texhnolyze (again, both animes that I never would bring myself to watch now or in the near future thanks to all that sci-fi elements). I’m not saying that they are past their prime or in a slump but not everybody can have the Midas touch. Like even that legendary director Miyazaki had his misses too but fortunately a lot more hits that made him a memorable insurmountable legend. But for this case, sometimes gathering talents that worked on praiseworthy series may only work up the hype and when it comes down to the real deal, it totally lets down everything. See Chaos Dragon to know what I mean (they gathered so many talented guys with acclaimed achievements for a big project only for the adapted anime to be just mediocre).

I want to point out one of the sci-fi aspect that got me interested. In fact, it was the only interesting thing that I find throughout this series. It was the experimental part of Donna and Angelica. This side experiment that felt like a side distraction and somewhat almost unrelated to the overall story is by far the most interesting concept. It was interesting to see how humans tried to programme a robot to become so human-like. And then the opposite of what is intended happened. As the robot became more human-like, the human started breaking down after constant attacks that the robot is more human than the human herself. This gives a lot of food for thought that as humans our memories and emotions are simply easy to manipulate whereas for the AI, are they only as smart as we programmed them to be or could they overcome that limitations and live up to their name as artificial intelligence? I’m sure if this theory was the main story, it would have been one big interesting and exciting affair. Maybe in another timeline.

But then we had to deal with some of the certain no brainer inconsistent theories of this time travelling theme. I’m sure there are many flaws that I want to point out but I suppose when you are researching an imperfect theory, there are bound to be flaws and hence that is why it remains a theory and pipe dream that many of such theories sound more like fantasy and are unachievable. What I’m saying is that some of the time ride theories don’t make sense and the one I truly couldn’t understand was how Derrida cannot return to that same timeline anymore. It was totally BS. Like as though you can never time travel in the first place. Maybe there is a deeper explanation for it but as a casual (and dumb) viewer, you want to comprehend it all by the end of the episode or at least at the end of the series.

So for Derrida not being able to travel back to that specific point in time just contradicts Ange’s statement that there are lots of branching timelines. Yeah sir, you get to change history only once. Not twice but once. After that, you’re barred forever from going back there again. WTF?! So can I go back 0.01 seconds before that and start changing history from there? Hah! Didn’t see me exploiting that loophole, did you?! So all I can think of is that this part especially is for plot convenience. Imagine for the rest of the series is about Derrida using his time ride just to get to the exact moment to change the outcome until he gets it right. BORING!!! Uh huh. That way he doesn’t need to find Mage anymore. Which is what this entire series’ ‘plot’ revolves around. They should have renamed this series as RErideD: Derrida And The Search For Mage.

As for the characters, I’m still reeling from all that confusion and disappointment so I can’t really say if they’re good. But most likely ranging from mediocre to bad. Like Derrida who seems to be one clueless scientist fumbling his way in search of answers. It feels he gets it right only because the plot needs to advance. We don’t think him as so because of the setting that he came from the past and has no idea about the future so we forgive him for being such clueless. So when the plot calls for it to advance the story, hence he will start realizing some revelation or something to do with his theory that I don’t understand and supposedly bringing him one step closer to find Mage. I guess the biggest clue has got to be under his nose all the time. Yeah, that timepiece… Not that I could see why either so I guess if I was in Derrida’s shoes, I too won’t be able to figure it all out either ;p.

I have a hunch about why Derrida is oddly named so. It’s not your typical John or Michael, Kotarou or Yuusuke either. There was an Algerian-born French philosopher named Jacques Derrida. Ah, so you can see they named the father and son in this series so. Coincidence? I think not. (Although in the anime, Derrida pointed out that father named him so because of his obsession for time). Too bad I don’t really understand his works either. What semiotic analysis they’re talking about? Because of that, I am not sure if they are paying some sort of tribute to him in this anime.

And it still bugs me who Ange really is. I think logically she is just someone Mage created to help Derrida but why another name and not herself? Oooh. More dramatic mystery effect please. Yeah, it was really getting annoying with Ange popping up at random times but who knew it was Mage’s attempt to help him with his time ride. So, uhm, thank you? Yeah, it was a really pretty elaborated setup for Mage to keep Derrida alive by making him stumble into that abandoned lab and then have him sleep in that chamber! All so convenient! Unless she got it right at the first go, I wonder how many tries did she take and all the mistakes she made to get this timeline correct the way she wanted. Hah! What did Ange say again about not being able to go back to the exact same point in time?! Nonsense, I tell you!

The other characters in Derrida’s groupie… I guess we need some sort of macho tough action guy as his bodyguard. That’s you Vidaux. Make him an ex-officer too. That will be easy for him to fight and take down baddies. Tough guy has got a cute daughter? Definitely not blood related. See I told you so! I guess in many anime series, we need a cute loli to liven up things when things look bleak and gloomy even if her character doesn’t really do anything of significance. Sorry Mayuka, wasn’t paying attention to all those stories you read and made up. Good thing it was the dystopian future. Or you would have been sued for copyright infringement. Hey, if dumb corporate bosses can sell out killer machines to governments and make money while nobody else cares about the people dying, they’d be gunning for young girls infringing too if there’s money in it! Then I guess they really need another female character because I’m not sure what Yuri’s role is because it’s not like she too had anything significant except for being the ‘scapegoat’ for the plot as to why Mage had to run and hide in the first place. Lastly Graham… If you can’t get an animal mascot, a robot mascot will do like Star Wars. Graham feels like he exists for convenience so as to tell us that not all artificial intelligence are bad. We got this useful car that could almost do anything from a transport to a weapon. Besides, why is Graham the only vehicle that is capable of AI? Are there no other vehicles with this feature? I noticed Graham is the only talking vehicle around. How the f*ck did Vidaux get his hands on this futuristic car?! Did he kill a bunch of scientist secretly working on this and steal it?! Maybe in another timeline.

The villains in this series are a joke. Let’s start with Andrei. From the way he acts like a big shot you can tell he is totally a chicken when things get a little rough. This guy looks more like a clown than trying to be some big bad corporate bad guy. This guy is such a joker that I thought he was that character from Saiki Kusuo No Psi-nan, you know, Saiki’s father. I wouldn’t tell them apart if he turned into a full blown joker. Good thing he is dead in the original timeline and serving time in the new one. As for Donna, she sounded she had some sort of ferocious and perfect killing record and reputation. Until her prey is Derrida. It’s like she keeps failing because the plot says so. There goes her scary reputation. You might think she is stumbling because she holds Derrida responsible for whatever ill-fated experiment that befall on her and hence some emotions got in the way (and hence proving she is human after all) but in reality maybe it makes you think that all her targets were just wusses.

Schmidt feels like a pain in the ass for trying to be sneaky and get the better of Derrida. But you know how far can a government man do and go. You’re the second joker character after Andrei. As a man from the intelligence department, not so intelligent after all, eh? It felt like his UIB had some sort of important role and would be the ultimate antagonist Derrida would have to face off but I guess all that was unnecessary since the timeline was ultimately change to give us a happy ending. Good Schmidt-tens he doesn’t exist anywhere in this peaceful timeline. Probably stuck behind a desk job… And those DZ robots… Why do I have a feeling they’re trying to copy that Terminator story? With all those discount Terminator robots roaming the land, it is amazing that they didn’t continue to kill everybody. On energy saving mode, huh? Tell me again how some of them suddenly get a full blast of energy to attack you like a mad dog when you get near them? WTF do they think they are ghosts or zombies trying to attack you?!

So as not to bore you with the sci-fi bits and the so called ‘detective work’, I guess when you have a dystopian sci-fi setting and killer crazy robots, this calls for some action bits. Unfortunately they are a bit exaggerated and a bit farfetched. Just because for the sake for some robot ass kicking action, we see those sequences as sometimes unrealistic especially the part where Derrida was gunning down DZs like crazy from Graham. Yeah, looks like they forgot physics existed for that time period. Or did Mage do some time ride to temporarily stop all physics and logic? I’m not sure if it is a fun thing to see Graham plough through the DZ masses because this sometimes feel like a zombie flick. Heh. What did I tell you those DZ automata think they’re in some kind of zombie apocalypse world.

Art and drawing feel pretty standard and average. At least better than the promotional poster because those look hideous. As though somebody quickly used some crayons to sketch. The use of CGI mainly on DZ robots feel one kind. It’s not bad but it feels that it could have been done better. As for the character designs, the first time I saw Vidaux and Mayuka father-daughter pair, it reminded me… WHAT THE HECK IS COYOTE RAGTIME SHOW’S MISTER AND FRANCA DOING IN THIS ANIME???!!! OMG!!!! That anime was like over a decade ago and this pair of a tough macho dad and his cute loli daughter brings back memories when I was watching this show! Damn, did I just time ride back to that anime?! Ange for some reason, reminds me of that character in Boku Dake Ga Inai Machi. I thought Schmidt looked familiar and then upon realizing he is an antagonist, suddenly it hit me. What the heck is Bleach’s Aizen doing here???!!! And why does Nathan look like Satsuriku No Tenshi’s Danny? Is it because same seiyuu?! This anime is done by Geektoys and since is their first project and so far their only one, so forgive them for any inconsistencies? Not in an era where we have high expectations of our animes!

For the voice acting part, I only recognized Takahiro Sakurai as Nathan and Yuu Kobayashi as Donna/Angelica. For the latter, I was anticipating she would go into her typical crazy voice screaming trademark. Her character would have been so crazy had she done this voice but Donna overall sounds more mellow with a deep grudge still sleeping inside her… For the rest of the casts, they are Kensho Ono as Derrida (Slaine in Aldnoah.Zero), Mao Ichimichi as Mage (Bada in ClassicaLoid), Hiroo Sasaki as Vidaux (Hank Johnson in Ingress), Kaede Hondo as Mayuka (Koyume in Comic Girls), Himika Akaneya as Yuri (Yatsumura in Mahou Shoujo Site), Kazutomi Yamamoto as Graham (Yumoto in Binan Koukou Chikyuu Bouei-bu Love – now you know why he sounds so gay), Minoru Inaba as Andrei (Khajit in Overlord), Kazuyuki Okitsu as Schmidt (Andre in Prison School) and Kenichirou Matsuda as Jacques (Gordon in Black Clover). On a trivial note, I am not sure about the implication of mid-intermission that displays “clockwise” but at first it sounded creepy because I thought I heard “cock wise”! WTF?!

Paradox by Quadrangle as the rock opening tries to sound edgy for a sci-fi themed series. But it turns out somewhat messy especially those chaotic electric guitar power riffs whatever that makes everything sound so anarchic. Toki No Tsubasa as the ending theme sounds a bit weird too. This piece that has a Mage version, a Yuri a version and a duet version of the duo sounds out of place because it sounds like a spacey-like song (as in outer space kind of song). Perhaps due to the mediocrity of the anime, the slow-moderate pace of this song also makes me feel somewhat confused.

Overall, this series is forgettable because of its bad pacing, story and even characters. I guess we don’t even need to do a single time ride to totally forget about this trash. Just wait till the next season arrives! Yeah, that is what happened to all bad animes. As usual, the sci-fi and time travelling concept are interesting but they failed to make it appealing to casual (and dumb) audiences like yours truly. But I’ll still not paint it as the worst as many over the internet have over this series because of that Donna-Angelica experiment. That was the only interesting thing that got my attention and I’ll give them credit for that. Therefore if the possibility of infinite universes exist, perhaps this series was really outstanding, flawless and the best anime and even TV series of all time. Yeah. Maybe that happened in another timeline and now we’re stuck with this mediocre one instead. Somebody must have gone back in time to try and change it but screwed up. Thus the stupid limitation of can’t go back and change history another time to rewrite this anime… Perhaps that’s possible… In another timeline…

Yama No Susume S3

January 19, 2019

Why do I have a feeling that Yama No Susume S3 came out nearly after 4 years the second season aired was because it is to rival Yuru Camp? I guess we are going to have another cute girls doing cute things but with a new subgenre of outdoor lifestyle. Or maybe it is to coincide with Mountain Day on 11th August. Or maybe our characters haven’t conquered Mt Fuji fully yet and hence the need to remind us that another season is necessary. Well girls, take your time and only climb when you’re fully prepared. Because it’s not like Japan’s most beloved mountain is going anywhere, right?

Episode 1
Aoi wants to give a gift to Hinata so she wonders how she could combine mountain climbing and night scenery for it. So when she asks Hikari about it, she thinks she has got a boyfriend. Even the owner thinks so and gets worried? After hearing her out, Hikari suggests Mt Tsukuba as it has quite a night view. Aoi thinks it is a good surprise idea. Aoi brings unsuspecting Hinata to Mt Tsukuba who seems to just go along with the flow. When she tries to ask, Aoi averts the question. She’ll find out when she gets there. The night climb sure brings a different experience and when they get to the top, they are amazed by the night lights of the city below. Hinata is surprised but Aoi is most surprised herself at how beautiful it is. So is this a failure or success? As they sit and admire the scenery, Aoi renews her motivation to train and learn more to take on Mt Fuji again. When they take the ropeway down, they see a lot of romantic couples flirting. It blushes Aoi and it doesn’t help when Hinata comments they are a like a couple too. Hinata wants to stay for a while since the lights here are pretty too but Aoi cannot take all this anymore and wants to leave right away.

Episode 2
As advised by Kaede, climbing Mt Fuji now is dangerous because of all the snow. Guess they’ll have to wait till next spring. So for the time being, they go shop for some hiking shoes. Oh, bring 40,000 Yen too. Better not compromise on safety. At the shop, the knowledgeable salesman makes some recommendations. After getting Aoi’s feet measurements and the shoes, Aoi tries to practice climbing on a small miniature slope. She finds it hard to walk in. Kaede advises her to walk with her whole foot instead of just using her toes. Aoi doesn’t look satisfied as she still thinks she would like to have a cute pair since she is going to splurge that kind of money. And then it’s like this pair is signalling to her with this blinding light, “Pick me! Pick me!”. And so Aoi has found the shoes she wants. A few advice to inspect shoes before climb as Aoi also learns how to tie laces so it won’t come loose. They test their news shoes with a practice hike on Mt Tenran. Aoi feels at east walking in them and realizes why they are now heavy and stiff. Feeling you’re ready for Mt Fuji?

Episode 3
Aoi’s mom suggests Hanno Alps for her next hike. Did Aoi lie to mom because she knew Hinata can’t make it and didn’t tell her so as she would not stop her to go? You know how worried moms get when you go hiking alone, right? At the site, Aoi decides to take the easier route but soon gets a little tired. This track must be dead since nobody is around and she can’t help ask around for help. Finally a spot to rest. Much needed rest. Luckily soon after, Kokona comes by. Now she has a companion. Aoi is thinking of going home now but since Kokona wants to continue hiking, I guess she can’t lose out. The hike pays off as they get to take pictures of elands in their natural habitat. They arrive at a shrine with few deities and a giant pair of sandals. There’s some legend about the gods protecting your legs from injury if you pray sincerely but I wasn’t interested :(. They pray at the shrine and no prizes to guess Aoi’s wish to conquer Mt Fuji next time. With the breath taking view too, Aoi feels great that she has gained a little more confidence from this tough walk. So this is tough? Kokona was like no sweat.

Episode 4
We take a break from anything mountain climbing or hiking related as Aoi begins the new school term. As usual, she is nervous in making new friends in her own class. Some take an interest in her because they are amazed at her knitting skills. She is invited to hang out with them but this only makes Aoi more depress as she starts overthinking how she might not fit in. This must be more stressful than hiking. At the karaoke joint, Aoi is in her usual nervous mode. Her friends sing better than her and when it comes her turn, she thinks of using the toilet as an excuse but Hinata ‘cuts her off’. Aoi knows a song but fears this mountain song is so obscure she will be laughed at. Then Hinata starts singing it. It boosts Aoi’s confidence as she sings another less popular song (although she is still obviously nervous). Luckily her friends know it and soon they start singing along together. In the end, Aoi and friends had fun. Just a little more of this and she’ll be part of the gang in no time.

Episode 5
Aoi, Hinata and Kokona make their way to Gunma as Mt Tanigawa holds special place in their hearts. However they’re not climbing the mountain this time but to visit a special attraction there, Lockheart Castle, a very Scottish medieval-like castle. They meet up with Honoka who is also supposed to join them on this trip. We see the quartet having fun inside its many attractions as it lives up to his name with so many heart-like locks hanging everywhere. They also have a chance to dress up as a princess and do anything to their heart’s content. At the end of the day, Honoka’s brother is here to pick her up and the rest realize why she is reluctant to say anything about him. I’m not sure if trashy is the right word but you can hear his heavy dubstep beat from his car… Yeah… Honoka is very embarrassed and even more so when onii-chan doesn’t understand why she is acting so differently when she always swoons over him. Oh dear… As Honoka is a shy girl, no punch or beat down. Back home, Honoka enjoys the many photos they have taken together.

Episode 6
Aoi sees Hinata trying mountain coffee and thinking she would be teased for not being an adult, she decides to try one too. But first, Aoi practises making some and although it tastes bitter, her mom likes it. Yeah, you didn’t follow wrongly the instructions wrongly. Aoi at the coffee shop tries to look up for some beans. I believe there are brans she hasn’t heard off. Sausage? There, she meets Kaede and Yuuka and tells them what she is doing. Yuuka understands Aoi wants to be a cool person but it would be cooler if she likes what she likes. Aoi and Hinata then hike up Takayama Fudo-son as the former try to show off her coffee making skills. The coffee is bitter as usual as Aoi ponders if this is how adulthood is. You bet. And then Aoi witnesses this atrocity. Hinata putting milk in her coffee! Hey, it’s not like Hinata said she liked mountain coffee, right? Everything was just Aoi’s paranoia. Here, have some milk. Tastes good, right? So the lesson of the day is not to be an adult when you’re a kid. Take your time to become an adult. Oh, you’ll need it when the time comes…

Episode 7
Hinata wants to take Aoi to the planetarium tomorrow but apparently she has work so looks like she has to go herself. Out of habit, Hinata sometimes think Aoi is with her but realizes she is all by herself. It’s no fun being alone. Keep this up a few more times and maybe a few will take notice and think you’re a mad girl with an imaginary friend. Meanwhile Aoi is doing her best at the patisserie. A little girl who came in to buy a cake for her mom who just gave birth, she is short of money but the owner gives a discount seeing it is such a special day for her. Can’t ruin a customer’s smile, can you? Even after the store is closed, Kokona’s mom came in late to buy some cake as atonement. Unsure what to choose and the ones she wanted are out of stock, Hikari dispenses her knowledge on some of the cakes (which she learnt from Hikari who learnt from owner) for her to make her decision. Aoi goes home tired but her effort made it worth it. Yeah, a reminder that Japanese are the best in providing you the best service!

Episode 8
Honoka calls Aoi to invite her to Mt Akagi. At the same time Hinata called but since Aoi isn’t picking up and was on the other line, Hinata got ‘jealous’ of the other person she is talking to. So Aoi calls Kokona to invite her to Mt Akagi. Now, Aoi calls Hinata at this moment and of course she can’t pick up as she is talking to Kokona. Hence Aoi is ‘jealous’ that her best pal is talking to somebody. Geez, can’t these girls have other friends outside their groupie? Next day in school, both feel very awkward to ask each other. When Aoi finally has a chance to ask, somehow Hinata declines. And WTF she was hoping Aoi would continue to pester her into accepting?! Too bad it didn’t happen this time. Hence Hinata meets up with Kokona for their trip as well as Aoi and Honoka (is her brother going to play his dubstep music all the way?!) also heading there but from the other side. Honoka is quite knowledgeable about the town they pass through while Kokona knows her way through the tough hiking trail.

Episode 9
Continuing their trail up Mt Akagi, Aoi has no problems in climbing the numerous steep steps. All those mountain climbing must have really paid off. They arrive at a hotspring that Honoka wishes to try. Might as well since they are here. Aoi is reluctant but since Honoka is already getting naked, if you can’t beat them, join them. It is a good thing too because the water is warm and relaxing. But of course. Which Japanese hotspring is not enjoyable?! Meanwhile Hinata and Kokona have reached the peak and make this picturesque spot as their picnic area. If you think the weather is going to ruin their day, don’t worry, God loves lolis so he makes those ‘angel stairs’ phenomenon instead for them to be awed. Honoka and Aoi finish and head back. Oh dear. Honoka has to put up with more of her big brother’s embarrassment. Big brother wonders why she is quiet? IF YOU JUST TURN DOWN YOUR DUBSTEP!!! They arrive at a shrine and like any other Japanese shrine, you can write your wishes. No prizes to guess Aoi’s is to conquer Mt Fuji. Aoi parts ways and takes a train home. Coincidentally, Hinata and Kokona are on board this same train. They catch up on each other’s adventures.

Episode 10
Aoi and Hinata are invited by their friends to Ikebukuro. Hinata is unable to come as she will be out with her parents and Aoi is left in a lurch. She fears that Hinata would tease her for being unable to hang out with others without her. But back home Hinata finds out she mixed up the day with her parents and hence she has free time. It makes it awkward for her to join (fearing Aoi will tease her for the mix up) in but she worries about Aoi. So instead she hangs out with Kaede and Yuuka. Too bad Kaede dreads Yuuka the Spartan teacher because that is basically what this hangout is going to be. Hinata is awed after hearing Kaede’s ambition to go to college while still wanting to continue mountain climbing. Meanwhile on Aoi’s side, they all had fun. But one of the friends make it a point for Aoi to remember her. Yup, for the years that they were in the same class, Aoi never knew her! At least now Aoi is much more approachable than before. Hinata sees Aoi having a swell time with her friends and it’s that worried look on her face that she doesn’t need her anymore.

Episode 11
Hinata is still reeling from the fact that Aoi has new friends. Kaede invites them to hike Mt Mizugaki and Mt Kinpu. They’re going to climb the mountain and spend the night there so prepare your tents. Aoi and Kokona spend the night making food. Thankfully they didn’t doze off at the kitchen. However when morning comes, not even the alarm clock could wake them up. It took a while for Kokona to wake up but it’s going to take a lot more effort to wake up that heavy sleeper. Luckily they’re just in time. Just a second late and they could have missed the train. Because of that, Hinata is clearly upset as she lectures them about taking care of their health. Why so angry? What’s the deal, girl? They’re sorry, right? Even when they hike up the mountain and set up their tent, Hinata is still visibly mad. She makes careless moves that could have injured her. I’m sure the picturesque view of the mountain should blow away some of her blues. Hmm… Maybe it’s going to take a bit longer.

Episode 12
Watch some beautiful stars in the night sky before tomorrow’s climb on Mt Kinpu. Next morning as they begin their journey, it seems Hinata injures her knee but chooses not to say anything so as not to ruin the journey and worry her friends. Eventually she cannot go any further and tells her friends about this. She wants them to carry on while she makes her way back down. Of course Aoi will not leave her friend behind and will stay with her. So as not to waste this trip, Kaede and Kokona can go on ahead. So I guess this is necessary so the duo can amend their friendship and go back to how it always was like before. Yeah, believe in them to quickly reconcile because there’s no merit to drag out this drama, right? Okay, okay, we made more friends but they are still each other’s best friends. We get it. Can we move along now? Kaede and Kokona return and show them the nice pictures they take of the peak as they prepare to descend. Aoi accompanies Hinata home. Hinata raises her hopes when she says she has got a present for her but won’t tell her what it is. So we get to peek at it first? This weird owl flower thingy…

Episode 13
Aoi’s stamina has been steadily increasing as she prepares for that eventual date with Mt Fuji. Had not Kokona reminded her, she would have forgotten about Hinata’s birthday next week! It is suggested they do a surprise party for her. Kaede would have loved to join but not if Yuuka sensei has something to say about studying. Aoi is tasked to choose a gift since she is her best friend. Yeah… Technically not wrong. Unfortunately Aoi doesn’t have a clue what Hinata likes. Lots of ideas but eventually they’re unsuitable. Yeah, that means a baby sister isn’t possible. So why do we need to have flashbacks of Aoi’s sad unsociable life and the thought she could make it alone through high school until Hinata popped up? Oh, the memories. I guess Aoi is so stuck and acting weird that when Hinata asked, accidentally she spilled the beans about the surprise party. Oops. Hinata laughed hard but thanks her because it made her really happy. And then the secret thing Hinata wanted to tell her… I guess we’ll have to guess and wait as she whispers in her ear… More typical friendship banter from the duo. Life’s good. Soon they celebrate Hinata’s birthday and Honoka joins in via video conferencing style. Even her brother wants to join in?! And thankfully Kaede ditched studies just for today to celebrate this special occasion. So I guess the present they got for her is some makeup kit. Will Hinata look beautifully mature now? She looks like a clown… Oh well, a few more practice…

Yuru Climb
See you again? Sure. Hope it won’t be in another 4 years. Honestly I don’t find anything that special with this season. Is it because of the many years this series was ‘absent’ and hence my failing memories? As said in my previous blogs, I was never a mountain enthusiast and this series failed to spur any sort of mountain climbing interest or healthy outdoor lifestyle living. Otherwise how do you think I managed to complete and watch so many animes every season?! What I’m saying this that this season feels pretty drab to me and there was nothing really special that piqued my interest. I’m sure some of the mountains featured here are like mini advertisements in hopes of garnering some interest to not only climb the mountain but visit the other local attractions in the vicinity.

This season still has its share of mountain climbing and hiking but somehow I feel it is not as prominent as its previous seasons. Maybe I don’t remember much. So in place of that, we have this character development and as always, the ‘yuri’ relationship between Aoi and Hinata. Nothing new until the part where they start to ‘fight’. Yeah, I guess we needed some friendship drama because it’s getting boring with all the happy-happy and sparkling smiles of eagerness to climb mountains. And so they ramp up some drama of Aoi and Hinata with their friendship on the docks because they’ve been so best friends with each other for so long, seeing them mix with other groups is unthinkable. Yeah, I wonder how they came to a conclusion that means bye-bye to their friendship and move on to new friends. Remember, their friendship only blossomed recently and they were away from each other before that. And as expected, such friendships must be mended in the end because it shows some growth in characters of accepting the other has other circle of friends than themselves. Your friend is also my friend. Gee, what a happy carefree world.

Kaede and Kokona aren’t prominent in this season and so is Honoka. Kaede seems to be slowly turning into some reluctant studying slave while Kokona still remains her cute side. Honoka feels like an extra-extra character because if they feel they needed an extra character, they just bring her into the picture. Because she doesn’t really feel like she is part of the circle of the main quartet. The only amusing character is Honoka’s brother because of his penchant to play his dubstep 24/7. Does he ever turn off that thing? When you hear the dubstep, you know who is around. It’s interesting to see the other side of Honoka as she tries to hide her love for her brother but dense big brother can’t tell and continues to spill the biggest secret she wants to keep from her friends that she is a doting little sister. I guess all of us have sides that we don’t want to see. With Honoka hanging out more with her friends but still cannot not rely on her brother for transportation, I guess she’ll have to live with the embarrassment. Ah, they grow up so fast.

Art and drawing still maintain its quality and although it might not be so breath-taking that you want to pause your video and let tears roll down your eyes to appreciate the masterpiece background and sceneries, well, sorry if I was exaggerating but yeah, the background and sceneries still provide nice eye candy if you ever get tired of watching our loli drama. Heh. The opening theme just like in previous seasons is sung by the mountain climbing quartet. But with Yuka Iguchi as Aoi starting off the song, I don’t know, it makes the entire song sound so girly despite all the jazzy fanfare. Even more so when it reaches Yui Ogura’s turn (Kokona’s voice). It’s the Aoi-Hinata duo combo for the ending theme, Irochigai No Tsubasa which sounds a bit hip hop and a bit better than the opener. Can’t help wanting to go “Yo! Yo!~” at certain points. But overall this song has some dramatic elements that makes it feel it is also suitable for a visual novel game.

Overall, this season feels average since mountain climbing is given a lesser limelight and replaced with some power of loli friendship drama. Plus, Aoi didn’t get to conquer Mt Fuji yet and it still remains her (pipe?) dream so I suppose that gives another excuse to make another season if there is a need for it. Hence perhaps this is another reason why I didn’t find this season so appealing because instead of taking on the final boss of all mountains in Japan, they continue to attempt and conquer smaller ones. It’s not a bad thing but we’re mostly here to see little girls conquer the risky and treacherous mother of all Japanese mountains that the Japanese themselves revere and admire so much. Oh right. Kaede said it is dangerous to attempt Mt Fuji at this time of year. Oh well, I suppose until that adventure takes off again, looks like I’m going to wait and watch season 2 of Yuru Camp first! XD.

I thought Nanatsu No Taizai: Imashime No Fukkatsu OVA would actually be some sort of foreshadowing that there would be another sequel. Too bad I must have mistaken it with that Seisen No Shirushi OVAs because just like in the first season, the OVA was just a compilation of small random stories that don’t have any bearings on the overall storyline of the series.

What the pork?!
Hawk is in some flying manta beast version stealing food in town?! Hauser goes to stop him so displeased Hawk even transforms into a grey demon version to cause havoc. With Hauser hell bent on stopping this piggy at all cost, the fight lasts all day. In the end, Hawk returns to Boar Hat all skinny! OMG! Have you really seen a skinny pig?! So skinny that Meliodas bullies Hawk by blowing him around. Wow. Hawk is weightless to? I guess using up whatever magic cube from Merlin that transforms him uses up a lot of calories. Next day Hawk seeks another magic item from Merlin. I don’t think this one that turns Hawk into a human body but with a pig head will do. Then she gives him this giant fork. Despite all its grand names, I just see it as a normal fork… Hawk gets his revenge by sticking it in Hauser’s ass! But he feels warm… Sure it is not some kind of awakening? Hawk cannot imagine Elizabeth being violent. But here she is. Abusing poor little piggy. What gives?! Turns out to be some nightmare spell Gowther is putting on Hawk.

Sore loser princess
Guila practises with Veronica in a sword fight. Although the latter clearly loses, she plays cheat by striking back when Guila lets her guard down. Then it descends into a childish fight. Later Veronica takes Guila to bath with her. I guess we need some fanservice scenes from the duo who lack a lot of screen time in the second season. At first it sounds noble when Veronica talks about Guila drinking the red demon blood to protect her brother because she would have done the same to protect Elizabeth. Then Veronica stomps her superiority by pointing how her boobs is bigger than hers and it gives her a lot of encouragement. Don’t complain when Guila hits you.

The sin of greed
King is unsure the meaning of a race as Helbram and other fellow fairies race to see who is the fastest. Although Helbram is fastest, when King puts his mind into it, he is unbeatable. Even so, King is still unable to understand the implications of being first or being number one despite Helbram’s explanations. So he has King list down all of his priorities and things he likes and then rank them. King can’t because all of them are number one to him. It is only right because as the king, protecting all that are important and precious to him is number one.

Working holiday
During a time when the Sins are part of the kingdom’s Holy Knights, Meliodas announces that his merry band would take a vacation to the beach. While everyone rejoices, we see Meliodas having this devious look on his face. All going as planned… So while having fun at the beach, Kraken pops up. Sorry, no tentacle rape scene as Meliodas has his Sins destroy it so they can make delicious squid meat for dinner. The next day, they head to the mountains to destroy poisonous beetles. Once the holiday is over, we see Meliodas’ true intention. He is being rewarded by Zaratras for taking out Kraken and poisonous beetles and being praised for working even when he is on leave. But this scheme is sniffed out by Merlin who forces Meliodas to treat everyone to drinks. Originally Meliodas intended to buy Elizabeth a gift with the money but realizes he doesn’t know what she wants. Merlin notes he has given Elizabeth a lot but has not given something to her yet. Meliodas thinks she is drunk.

Thou Shalt Covet Another Season!
What else more can I say? The short random skits were fun and enjoyable to watch even though it had no real bearings in any way whatsoever. My favourite one being Hawk’s story because the annoying pig was so funny that I forgave him for being an annoying pet in the series. Yeah… So now I can only pray and hope that this series gets a third season so we can continue to see the epic battle between the Sins and the Ten Commandments. That’s right. The ironic confusion that the ones named based on the cardinal sins are the good guys and the ones named after God’s worship instructions are the bad guys. Yeah, they’re really trolling us and making us question if we are worshipping a false God. The power of trolling us is over 9000!!!!!!

Persona 5 The Animation

January 13, 2019

From my last Persona blog (heck, it was the only one), I stated that Persona 5 was one of the good games (although not entirely perfect) to have graced 2018 (even though I didn’t play it and heard it mostly from all the hearsay over the internet) and hence why I started my Persona adventure with Persona 4 so that I can watch Persona 5 The Animation. Because I was never familiar with the Persona series, I thought the plot were related but it seems this series is just like the Final Fantasy series and each instalment are not really related in terms of story and characters although the basic setting is somewhat the same. So did I waste time watching Persona 4? Well, I did have some fun watching that prequel and I would at least have an idea of some of the workings of this universe while watching this one.

Episode 1
Ren Amamiya makes his steal as a Phantom Thief. However when he escapes, he gets ambushed by the authorities waiting. He is arrested, drugged and beaten up to spill the beans. Sae Niijima takes over the case and tries to help Ren. She tries to make him remember the events that transpired. The other world and the stolen hearts. Flashback shows when he arrived in town, he noticed a strange app in his phone. Yeah, some strange fire demon! Delete the app. Sorry, it’s still there. His destination is a café run by Soujirou Sakura who leads him to the attic storeroom where he will be staying. It seems Ren ran into trouble with authorities and now has a criminal record. The court transferred him here and his parents agreed (like as though they got rid of a nuisance). Sakura took him in partly because of money and warns the slightest trouble, he will kick him out. He will stay here for a year under probation. That night, he dreams of being in prison. Actually as explained by Igor, this is the Velvet Room and it reflects his heart. This doesn’t bode well for his future and only ruin awaits. Next day he is taken to Shujin Academy where he will begin his schooling. Is it me or does the principal look like Kingpin? On that day there was a subway incident and the first call card from a Phantom Thief. Everyone thought it was a prank but it wasn’t so. The target was the school’s alumnus who was an Olympic medallist and now the school’s gym teacher, Suguru Kamoshida. Ren remembers waiting with Ann Takamaki as she was picked up by Kamoshida. Soon after, he and Ryuuji Sakamoto head to school but they thought they took a wrong turn and entered a strange Palace. Strange knights knock them out and they are imprisoned. They are shocked to see Kamoshida as the king. He didn’t like how Ryuuji insulted him and orders his execution. Ren is so scared that he could only watch helplessly Kamoshida beating up Ryuuji. Before he is killed, Ren’s a voice asks if his actions then were a mistake. Since it wasn’t, Ren now has the resolve. The painful transformation into a Phantom Thief leads to the summoning of his Persona, Arsene.

Episode 2
The duo manage to escape and return to reality. With them being late for school, worse still, Kamoshida starts badmouthing them and there’s nothing they could do about it because it’s partly true. Nobody becomes Ren’s friend due to his reputation and looks like only Ryuuji is his ‘pal’ as they are birds of the same feather. Ren hears rumours to stay away from Ryuuji as he could bring trouble. There are also rumours that Kamoshida uses physical violence on his volleyball club members so Ryuuji wants to use something like that Palace experience to bust him. Well, Ren can bring him there again. That is what that app is for. To go to that alternate Metaverse. Inside the Palace, they see prisoners being tortured. They also free a talking cat, Morgana who tells them more about this place as well as the alter ego of their rebellious side called Persona. They come face to face with Kamoshida but as Morgana explains, this is not the real him but his Shadow, an embodiment of his true dark desires. Kamoshida reveals the truth about Ryuuji’s past. Once in a track club, he used violence against Kamoshida who was supervising the club then and as a result of his actions, dragged his friends into it and caused the disbandment of the track club. Ryuuji accuses him of using violence on them just because he didn’t like them. Ryuuji falls into despair and feels there is no way out of this. Until Ren tells him to stand up and fight did Ryuuji feel something rebellious inside him bursting out. Yup, he has his own Persona too, the pirate Captain Kidd. Even Morgana has his own Persona, Zorro. Together they defeat the guards but when a sexy version of Ann appears, Ren makes the call to retreat. Can’t defeat the king of his Palace in this state? Ryuuji hears out the truth of Ren’s probation. He tried to stop a rape scene and ultimately hurt the rapist who is a top cop. Ren was arrested on false charges as revenge and it didn’t help the victim stayed silent. Ryuuji is touched by his story and his righteousness. They become good friends.

Episode 3
Ren and Ryuuji try to talk about the guys about the abuse but they all brush it off and call it part of training. They think of talking to the girls then so they approach Ann and her friend, Shiho Suzui. However Ann refuses to allow them and doesn’t want her friend further involved. Later Ren overheard Ann on the phone with Kamoshida. It seems he is threatening to cut Shiho from the volleyball team if she doesn’t go out with her. Ann realizes Ren is eavesdropping and although doesn’t like it, pours out her troubles. From her story, it is definitely Kamoshida using Ann with the excuse to get Shiho a place in the team. Hence the rumours about them dating are somewhat true. Ren and Ryuuji are shocked that Morgana can enter this real world but in the form of a real cat. A talking cat! He tells them to use the Palace to ‘reform’ Kamoshida. However there is a risk and they might end up killing the real Kamoshida. The guys might not like that guy but they don’t want him dead either. They try to find another way when suddenly Shiho jumps off the school building! Well, she survived. Though in coma. At this point, Ryuuji confronts Yuuki Mishima of the volleyball club because he was the one who was seen with Shiho, asking her to see Kamoshida. They confront the jerk but they have no evidence of his abuse. Worse, Kamoshida will have them all expelled soon. This calls for desperate measures. Time to head into the Palace. Morgana explains how the Palace connects to one’s heart. So if they make it disappear, Kamoshida will become a good guy and even confess to his sins because he cannot bear the weight of the guilt. Good news, he won’t remember them doing this. Bad news, if they rid of the wrong emotions or everything in its entirety, he will die. However the Palace is on alert as the real Ann strayed into it and got captured. Shadow Kamoshida threatens to kill her as Ann falls into despair upon learning she will take the blame if Shiho dies. Time for Ren to work his magical words. Is she giving up? Do you not want him to pay for Shiho? And with that, Ann revives. A Persona of her own, Carmen. Whipping woman destroys the Shadows although Shadow Kamoshida escapes again. The quartet return to reality as they form a team to solve this case and exchange contacts.

Episode 4
Call cards are placed all over school indicating Kamoshida will confess to his crimes. Sorry, Ryuuji. Nobody is appreciative of your designs. Of course that gym bastard isn’t happy with this and suspects our heroes. But he believes this will not get far as they will be expelled. The quartet make some preparations before storming into the Palace. It seems they must steal the treasure which is the core to be successful. It has a time limit so they must be fast. Infiltrating the Palace, they need t a key to stop the traps. So happen this guard has this weird key (makes it stand out?). The guard turns into a fairy. It seems nice to them until she realizes she isn’t part of Kamoshida and drifted in the sea of human hearts. From now on, Pixie decides to live inside them. More accurately, Ren. In the throne room, it is not easy to steal the crown treasure as Shadow Kamoshida has got it heavily guarded. He transforms into his monster form to fight them. Ren got knocked out by an attack. This takes him to the Velvet Room where Igor agrees to help him. Yup, he is given a new Persona. With this, Ren fights back and Ryuuji knocks off the Shadow’s crown. Weakened and cornered, the Shadow begs for mercy. He gives excuse he was pressured to live up to expectations but Ann is not impressed. He gave in to his selfish desires and took everyone’s dreams away. She wants to kill him now but this will not prove his crimes. She wants him to admit and atone them. With that, the Shadow admits his loss and will do as she says. Time to get out before the Palace crumbles. Back in reality, Kamoshida shockingly admits all the wrongdoings. He wants to atone by killing himself but Ann tells him not to run. There were so many things Shiho pretended not to see before she jumped. All of them have to live with that regret. Kamoshida obediently agrees and will surrender himself to the police. The friends are delighted this worked well and the best news of all, Shiho has woke up.

Episode 5
Goro Akechi is a famous high school detective. Yeah, he’s handsome to boot too. I guess that’s why girls are approaching him and some asking about the Phantom Thieves case popping up in their school. Meanwhile our Phantom Thieves trio are splurging at the buffet. Kamoshida’s treasure turned into some gold medal that they sold for quite a sum. Even if it’s fake. But at the buffet, they stumble into impatient people and those who quickly blame them despite not in the wrong. This has them think the world is filled with such adults. You only realize that now? Hence they get excited to form a group to cleanse them like how they did for Kamoshida. Yup, they’re calling themselves The Phantoms and Ren is their leader. They even have cool nicknames like Joker (Ren), Skull (Ryuuji) and Panther (Ann). Mishima has somewhat created a website for Phantom Thieves called Phansite as apology for his actions. There are lots of people putting encouraging words as well as those putting in requests. So they try to take up a request like this stalker case. Morgana leads them into Mementos. Consider this alternate dimension a public version of a Palace. So it’s like a subway? And Morgana can turn into a bus? Did they take inspiration of this from Totoro? They find their way to the stalker, Natsuhiko Nakanohara who is upset he is only being persecuted while the other party gets away. But after a while, Nakanohara gives up. Just like that? His change of heart allows new passages to open up in Mementos. Morgana explains he has no memories of his origins. Trying to investigate this made him lost in Kamoshida’s Palace. He believes solving this mystery would return him to his original human form. The gang gets motivated as they lay down more ground rules for how they should operate. Ren helps out at Sakura’s café. Sae and Akechi come in as customers. Later the Phantom trio have a feeling of being tailed. Could it be Akechi? Morgana warns them to be careful as they are now leading double lives. When they smoke out the culprit… Who the f*ck is this gloomy dude?

Episode 6
Yuusuke Kitagawa has been taken in by Ann’s beauty ever since he laid his eyes on her. As the pupil of art maestro Ichiryusai Madarame, he wants her to be his model. Expecting something else? They are given free tickets to his art exhibit this weekend. Madarame sounds like a nice and mature guy. Yuusuke shows Ann around but there is one artwork he tries to steer her away and even though she praises how good it is, he doesn’t seem happy. Later on the Phansite, there is a rumour circulating about a certain artist plagiarizing his student’s works and taking full credit for it. Also, he abuses them physically. They pay a visit to his shack to confirm with Yuusuke about the rumours but he vehemently protests. Even Madarame is polite and humble answering this and allows them in. In Yuusuke’s room, he shows them Madarame’s maiden art of Sayuri (why do I feel is the Japanese version of Mona Lisa?) that swayed him to take up arts. Also, Yuusuke had no relatives and Madarame took him in as his own. You could see why he is indebted to him. Our gang is about to drop this case thinking the rumour is a dud but then the app resonates. Could there be another Palace at this place? Might as well check it out. It is a huge museum and as Phantom sneak in, they see several portraits. One of them being Nakanohara. Conveniently they hear the monologue of Shadow Madarame that he really steals his students’ works. Because they flee, he breaks them so as they won’t defy him. As for the only student left, he will work him until he dies. They again confront Yuusuke about this and Yuusuke once again doesn’t like them accusing his master. Though, he did admit his master is in a slump and offered his works to help him out. So that isn’t plagiarism? He kicks them out and doesn’t want to see them again. Back home, Ren gets a message from Mishima that Nakanohara wants to meet a Phantom to help solve this problem of changing someone’s heart. Incognito, Ren meets Nakanohara who reveals he was a student of Madarame. Not only he stole their works but takes full credit for it. There was another student too but he committed suicide. He doesn’t want this to happen to the last student remaining. He asked if it was painful to stay with Madarame and was told he wanted to leave if he could. So it’s no surprise Phantom is going to set things straight.

Episode 7
So did Yuusuke allow Ann back in just because she agreed to do the nude? While investigating, they find a strange door inside the museum that had to be unlocked in the real world (which is inside Madarame’s house). This might contain Madarame’s dark secrets. And hence Ann ‘agreed’ to do the nude. No wonder she is wearing so many layers of clothes. This is to buy time for Morgana to pick the lock. Seriously, a cat’s paw trying to pick a lock? No wonder it’s going to take time. So when he is done, Madarame just got back. Inside are all Madarame’s paintings and the most shocking ones are duplicates of Sayuri. Madarame claims he went into a slump after the original one got lost and started painting copies in hopes of regaining his former self. But then they uncover the real one. Yuusuke can tell it is so because he studied the art very well and this was the painting that inspired him to walk this path. Madarame threatens to call security. Good timing for them to fall into the Metaverse. Yuusuke is in shock and refuses to believe at first until Shadow Madarame pops up and rants like a true villain of his evildoings. Yup, he created false rumours of Sayuri being stolen so he could sell copies to the rich. It’s all about money. The kicker has got to be when Madarame reveals he took Yuusuke in not because of the goodness of his heart but to nurture his talents and milk him like a cash cow. Yuusuke is so disillusioned that with this realization he summons his own Persona, Goemon. After a short fight, Shadow Madarame escapes. The rest don’t want to give chase because even if they defeat this Shadow, it will not change a thing. That will only happen when they steal his treasure. Back in reality, Yuusuke talks to them of his dilemma. He is now kicked out of Madarame’s house and has nowhere to go. Although this looks like the case of biting the hand that feeds you, now that Yuusuke’s eyes are opened, he wants to pursue the truth and expose Madarame’s wrongdoings. So let’s welcome the newest member of Phantom.

Episode 8
Calling cards are left everywhere to announce their steal. As Phantom prepares to steal the treasure, Shadow Madarame has it heavily guarded. Everywhere except from the top! Yeah, just do a Mission Impossible and run! Too bad this treasure is fake as Shadow Madarame smoked them out. But he made the fatal mistake of showing them the real treasure. The original picture of Sayuri. It is slightly different as the woman is holding the baby. Shadow Madarame’s blabber mouth has him reveal Yuusuke’s mom was his student and she was the original painter of this picture. The baby here is of course Yuusuke. His mom had a frail body and had a seizure before Madarame. He thought of stealing her works and let her die. Yuusuke’s talent was a blessing and that’s when it dawned to him it is better to rob future brats of their works who don’t talk back. He transforms into a monster that shoots ink that weakens you upon contact. Solution? Splash it back at him! The weakened Shadow pleads for his life as usual but Yuusuke won’t kill him and tells him to end all this and use his own art for once. In reality, Madarame makes a tearful confession of his wrongdoings all on camera. The public is abuzz not because of this confession but rather Phantom has struck again. As Yuusuke can’t stay in Madarame’s place or the dorms (because lack creativity), he wants to stay with Ann! WTF?! Did he decide on that himself?! Morgana suggests living at Sakura’s place. That old dude easily agrees because another troublemaker doesn’t make any difference. The friends celebrate with their own mini party. Yuusuke wants to know about their past since they know about his. Ryuuji tells of his dream to join a track scholarship to ease his single mom (dad left the family went he was young). Then the incident of using violence over Kamoshida. Mom was called and all the teachers were against her. She sat there quietly and Ryuuji cannot forget that look on her face when she apologized. As for Ren, I guess it is too long a story so we won’t hear it now. Everyone agrees all of them had it rough and perhaps that’s why they came together. They make a vow to bring corrupt adults to justice and go as far as they can. Next day, Yuusuke decides to leave and stay at the dorms as he realized what he needs is more human interaction. He leaves the Sayuri painting at the café as thanks.

Episode 9
Although Phantom has been gaining more popularity, there are some still sceptical of their motives. Ryuuji finds a tantalizing maid service poster in his box and has Ren and Mishima join in on this ‘maid research’ (it is to let loose some steam since they need to study to avoid their grades dropping and hence people suspecting them of being Phantom). I WANT IN TOO!!!! Because Ryuuji’s next door neighbour at the dorm has moved out, it is the perfect place to call for maid service. So when they do so, Ryuuji and Mishima chicken out and leave Ren to face with the cute maid calling. But Ren recognizes that voice. Isn’t Becky his homeroom teacher, Sadayo Kawakami? While she is being a cute maid (F*CK!!! I WANT TO SWITCH WITH YOU, REN!!!!), Ren manages to keep his face hidden. I guess Ren didn’t want any service (WTF????!!!) so Becky is about to leave and frustrated Ryuuji (you tell him!) almost screamed and Becky thought she heard a recognizable voice. That is when she sees Ren’s face. She admits the truth and thinks he heard this from their other teacher, Chouno. Since this will be bad for both of them, she hopes this incident will be forgotten. Ren later tells Morgana of this and of course the cat is surprised his teacher is moonlighting. They wonder if Kawakami has a bad relationship with Chouno. Seeing which, Chouno is reprimanding Kawakami about not attending meetings. Ren goes to ‘help’ her under pretence he needs some questions answered. Chouno immediately believes Kawakami has been avoiding meetings to help her students. Because Ryuuji still has problems with his fellow track members who are trying to form a new track team, Ren calls for that maid service again. This time at his place but only after Sakura closes his café. He tells her about Ryuuji’s case of why he punched Kamoshida as his mother was insulted. Now Kawakami understands Ryuuji’s case better. She informs the new track team’s advisor is to be Yamauchi who was close to Kamoshida. Ren goes to spy on Yamauchi who seems to be doing some shady stuffs like leaking info on students that Kamoshida told him before. Because of that, the track students gang up on a supposed traitor but Ryuuji steps in to quell all that by showing his forgiving side. He has put that Kamoshida’s past behind him because the worst part is not having a place to belong to but to lie to yourself and be a crappy person. He must be so confident that he offers to be punched to make them feel better. Yeah, he didn’t expect them to take up the offer. Did he specify how many punches per person? No hard feelings but they’re even now. Later as Ren and Kawakami talk, she updates him that the new advisor will be a former track coach coming back after the track members told this to Chouno who used her influence to stop Yamauchi from becoming the new advisor.

Episode 10
The class is invited as guests to a TV station where they watch Akechi being interviewed. He talks about Phantom needing to be put on trial because they are taking the law into their own hands (even though exposing the villain is another matter). Had they believe in real justice, they should not be doing what they’re doing now. But the issue at hand is how they change people’s hearts. Was it forcefully? If they have that ability, there is a possibility they might use it to commit crimes. Of course our Phantom friends continue to believe in their own justice and will do things their way. Meanwhile, Makoto Niijima, the student council president has been tasked to find the identities of Phantom by the principal. She is disillusioned since she was never told why and not to further question. However she targets Ren and his groupie as they are gathering suspiciously. She confronts them after thinking they have some trouble and she could hear them out. Ann distrusts her because of Shiho’s case in which the council didn’t do anything. Likewise, Makoto throws it back to her as Shiho’s closest friend, she didn’t do anything either. Their views on justice clash. But after school, Makoto summons Ren. Ren has no choice but to bring her to meet the other Phantom members. It seems she has a recording that proves their identities as Phantom. But she will not report them and wants to make a deal. In exchange for deleting this, she wants them to show the justice they speak of. She wants them to change the heart of a local yakuza leader who scams and blackmails people. He also uses his men to force students hanging out in the alleys of Shibuya to be drug mules. Makoto and Ren test this out and the rumours are true. Because Makoto won’t give a name, the rest think of a way to get so. The internet and media won’t help. They remember the journalist, Ichiko Ooya who was trying to snoop around Madarame’s case. Ren goes to meet her and in exchange for a name, she wants to interview students who were abused under Kamoshida’s reign of terror. After suggesting Mishima, the name he is looking for is Junya Kaneshiro. Now they’ve got a name, they need to look for his Palace. It’s ‘easy’ to find because that guy considers the entire Shibuya as his source of income. Yup, the entire Shibuya is his warped Palace. Not to mention that high tower mansion right smack in the middle.

Episode 11
Akechi wants to talk to Makoto about the Phantom Thieves but she is reluctant. Flashback shows her father was an upright officer but was targeted and killed in the line of duty. Hence it is a lot of stress for her sister, Sae who is working as a prosecutor. Because Makoto asks if their father would have sided with the Phantom Thieves as they make the bad confess their crimes, Sae snaps at her about being useless. Makoto goes to bug Phantom to see if there are any updates. Since useless is her taboo word and they find her pushy, she tries to prove a point by taking a risky action by meeting Kaneshiro’s goons and forcing them to bring her to them. Funny, they never check if she is using her handphone to record their conversation? Makoto meets Kaneshiro but is quickly outwitted when he knows what she is doing. It gets worse when Phantom come by. As they are in a bar, Kaneshiro takes a snapshot of them and threatens to send it to their school. If they threaten him or report to the police, he will ruin them and their families. Plus, he gives 3 million yen to his girl as excuse to relieve his stress and wants them to pay up or else. He lets them go as Makoto tells about her desperate case and situation. She realizes and admits she is useless. Morgana has an idea as they have become Kaneshiro’s ‘customers’, it is easier to access his Palace. They bring Makoto in so I guess it saves a lot of time explaining since she is a smart girl. Shadow Kaneshiro offers them to use their bodies to pay off their debt. Because he runs his mouth of wanting to make Sae his personal slave and then abandon her when he is done, this irks Makoto so much that she summons her Persona. Uhm, Johanna is a bike so that makes Makoto a hot badass biker girl?! A few kickass moments before they have to escape because security is tightening and now that they know how to access here, they’ll come back to steal his treasure next time. Back in reality, Makoto finds the irony of joining Phantom when she was supposed to investigate about them in the first place. It might look awkward between the sisters now since they are on opposing sides but she is confident normal investigations won’t reach this Metaverse.

Episode 12
in between trying to find the location of the treasure, we see Ann sincerely apologizing to Makoto for blaming her during the Kamoshida incident and they both call it even and become friends. Girl power when they both kick ass that it makes the guys shiver. Also, with Makoto being a bit socially awkward, Ren helps her to blow off some steam via hanging out. So when they have finally found the treasure, it has not materialized yet and must put forth the calling card so as to materialize it because the perpetrator will sense some danger to it and hence protect it. Phantom confront Shadow Kaneshiro as he turns into uhm, rapper fly monster?! Here’s his iron piggy vault. Cybertron? Piggytron?! Phantom cooperate to take down the Shadow and as usual, he confesses about all he wanted was a place of belonging and hence money was the only thing he has. But to take advantage of others? Looks like the place he will belong is the prison. However Kaneshiro warns them of another person who can enter Metaverse and taking advantage of it by doing what he wants. A person wearing a black mask who is more powerful than all of them. Back in reality, Phantom thought they have 30 million yen as reward from the treasure. Turns out to be fake money. Soon Kaneshiro calls Makoto to erase the debt and picture before turning himself to the authorities. Makoto presents her findings to the principal in which he is unhappy she finds Phantom as just. She resigns from this job. Back home, Makoto learns Sae isn’t happy despite Kaneshiro being caught. Because he confessed, nobody could take credit for his downfall and there goes her chance for promotion. Makoto thinks she has changed.

Episode 13
Some politicians have been arrested but it isn’t the work of Phantom. It is thanks to Akechi. Akechi visits Sakura’s café and talks to Ren. Again their opinions of Phantom clash as Akechi is still suspicious of Phantom’s methods. Yuusuke is in a slump so he seeks Ren’s help to find inspiration. He wants Ren to be his bodyguard as he finds his inspiration in Mementos. When he submits his work for competition, however Akio Kawanabe the director of the Japanese Art Support Foundation calls it mediocre and empty. But later he apologizes for his comments because he was hoping to give him some sort of motivation. Knowing Yuusuke is in a slump due to financial restraints, he is willing to provide materials and even a studio for his creativity to run wild. However Yuusuke realizes the catch that his art sells because of his good looks and this is not what he wants. Yuusuke will not allow this to taint his pride and the deal ends here. Later Ren is confronted by Akechi who has been doing some investigations after Madarame’s case. It seems Kawanabe is a shady person himself as he was friends with Madarame. After having young budding artists into a shady contract, he extorts them to cover costs of exhibits, etc. It would be a shame if Yuusuke falls into this trap again. But how is this related to Phantom? Because with such crimes, Phantom will no doubt move. As a detective he wants to nab this first and requires Ren’s help since he has no solid evidence. Ren agrees to help. So Ren finds himself juggling between helping Yuusuke finds his inspiration and Akechi solving the case but often hits a dead end as Akechi cannot trace where the money went. When Yuusuke hears the other Phantom members about their opinions on art, Yuusuke has his eyes open further. He realizes he will now draw to give hope to others. Next time when Ren sees Kawanabe and asks about several companies (supposedly where the money went), Kawanabe isn’t sure what he is talking about. The culprit turns out to be his secretary as Akechi nabs him before he could destroy the documents. Yuusuke enters another competition and wins it. Even Kawanabe admits he deserves to win. His provocation was to encourage Yuusuke. Admitting he was friends with Madarame, but they both had a fall out. Kawanabe offers to give him financial support with no strings but Yuusuke declines citing he has friends who will guide him if he is lost.

Episode 14
Now that Sae has heard what Ren says, it has become personal and believes in Phantom’s form of justice. We see Phantom change the heart of an online stalker. Although this episode sees how Mishima got screwed after meeting Ichiko in her drunk state (Ren’s answer to his grumbles: Off the handphone! Best function ever) and Yuusuke realizing it is hard to cut off Madarame totally even though he is scum because he is still family (for he raised him), the big bulk goes to Makoto still trying to find her place and expand her horizon as she hangs out more with Ren. In some shady parts of town, she inadvertently becomes friends with a fellow schoolmate who is moonlighting in this part of town, Eiko Takao. Makoto knows very well she is being scammed by her host club boyfriend, Tsukasa. Very much evident when she starts asking to borrow money. Makoto is bent on opening her eyes because it somewhat relates to her father’s death. He was investigating a syndicate preying on young girls when the accident happened. Despite the ‘proof’ Tsukasa only sees Eiko as an ATM as he cannot remember her name, Eiko still refuses to believe. And then Makoto slaps her to tell her she knows the truth but refuses to accept it. She complains she has nobody else. Only Tsukasa looks at her. With complaints about a certain host club guy scamming girls flooding Phansite, time for Phantom to move in as we cut to the chase to see them defeat Shadow Tsukasa. Eiko now finds her place with her friendship with Makoto. Makoto thanks Ren for everything as now she has finally decided how to live her life. She will become a police and help the weak like her father. Although the irony is that she is a Phantom Thief now. So uhm, she is going to catch herself?

Episode 15
An international hacker group, Medjed claims that Phantom is evil and want to bring them to justice. However they offer them to join their side and if they reject, the hammer of justice will find them. Of course Phantom is suspicious and unsure to take this seriously. Further info on Medjed shows they aren’t as just as they claim since they hack corporate info and use them as blackmail. In class, a strange phenomenon occurs. Everybody’s handphone except Ren’s start ringing for a short while. Back home, Ren gets a message from the perpetrator of this prank, Alibaba. Alibaba knows everything there is about Phantom and has a job for them. There is a certain person whose heart needs to be changed and in exchange, will do something about Medjed. Ren shows this to the rest and of course they are shocked. It is possible that Alibaba hacked their accounts since their chats are mostly online. Makoto advises to do important chats face to face. When Ren returns, there is a letter addressed to him. It is supposedly a calling card from Alibaba. However Alibaba seems not to be aware of the procedures and the things they need to know in order to steal hearts. First they require the target’s name. After thinking for a while, Alibaba says the target is Futaba Sakura. Alibaba wants them to do it now and threatens to expose them to public otherwise. As more info like keywords and Palace are needed, Alibaba thinks they are dodging the issue. After thinking, Alibaba decides to call off the case and will not expose them. Don’t pursue this any further. This leaves Phantom confused and unsatisfied. They ponder if Futaba is somewhat related to Sakura.

When Ren returns, he hears Sae threatening Sakura about some custody revoking thingy if he refuses to divulge some information. Something about abuse and domestic court and everything is in his favour if he just cooperates. Ren tries to ask but he is no mood to tell. The rest of Phantom is further puzzled because they think Futaba might be Sakura’s child and she is the one abusing him? Otherwise why change her heart? After all, they can’t imagine Sakura being an abuser. Moody and rude maybe but not an abuser. That night, entire Shibuya area has a blackout. Next day, Medjed claims responsibility on this. They claim Phantom has failed to respond and give them a last chance. Otherwise they will attack Japan via this method. It is possible that everyone will blame Phantom for this but as Ren notes if they give in, their justice will fail. Thinking if they could contact Alibaba again, Makoto reads again the chat. Could it be that Alibaba is Futaba? Needing more information, they head to Sakura’s house (since the café is closed). Good thing it is raining because it’s an excuse to barge into the seemingly dark house for refuge. Then the lights go out and they hear a scream. Makoto is most afraid as she clings on to Ren. Cheesy jump scare moment as Makoto meets eye with the ‘scary thing’. Don’t worry. Just Futaba. But so scared that they both screamed. Hilarious?

Episode 16
Futaba runs back to her hiding and Sakura just came back. Sakura feels it is time to explain things. Futaba is the daughter of an acquaintance. Her mom, Wakaba raised her as a single parent but is always busy with work. One day she killed herself before Futaba’s eyes and Sakura ended up taking custody of her. It was hard at first but slowly she opened up. However a few months back, she started getting scared and locked herself in, claiming she heard voices of mom looking at her. Investigating further, it is confirmed Futaba is indeed Alibaba and does have her own Palace. They try to talk to her outside her room (although, more like online chatting) but she believes her room is her tomb that she will die in. This is the keyword that takes them to her Palace. A huge Egyptian pyramid. It seems Phantom are not in their usual uniform since Futaba does not see them as the enemy. Inside, they see Shadow Futaba as the pharaoh queen. They also hear voices blaming Futaba as her mom’s killer. Shadow Futaba believes her mom is here and will die here. After she disappears, Phantom transforms into their uniform, a sign indicating she has considered them the enemy. Because of Futaba’s unstable state of mind, she leads Phantom deeper into the tomb and they almost get killed by traps. They see movies leading up to Wakaba’s death. Futaba blamed herself for wanting attention as she always had to eat alone but brushed her off citing work. In the final room where her treasure lies, Shadow Futaba says they need the real Futaba’s permission for it to open. Shadow Futaba appears before the real Futaba, asking her if she intends to blame and shut herself forever. Is she going to avert her eyes to the truth forever? If so, she will kill Phantom in the real world. Ren and co try to get permission to enter her room. They enter but she remains in hiding in her closet. After convincing her to trust them, she jumps out in awkward fashion, pleading them to steal her heart.

Episode 17
Apparently Futaba got the wrong idea about stealing her heart this way. Back into the closet. They leave their calling card before returning to the Metaverse. After Futaba reads it, it is like the permission Phantom need to proceed beyond the locked room. They face off with a sphinx with Wakaba’s face. As pointed out, this isn’t a Shadow but just Futaba’s cognition. Futaba cannot stand hearing those accusing voices as she barges out of the room and stumbles into the Metaverse and hence her Palace. With the accusations continuing, basically her Shadow is lecturing her that she knows the truth all along but continued to be in denial. She blames herself for existing, hence taking Wakaba’s precious time away from her research that would eventually result in her death. All the accusations are just excuses to justify why mom died. Once she has gotten over it, time for Futaba to get her own Persona. Uhm, tentacle rape into a UFO?! She creates cool weapons for Phantom to use against the sphinx until they defeat it. After it is over, the real Wakaba appears. The kind mother she has always been. They reconcile and Futaba moves on. As for her treasure, it is empty and Morgana deduces Futaba herself is the treasure. Back in reality, Futaba is fine but fast asleep. No major injuries. Just tired. Hey, this is commendable for a shut-in who just expended considerably a lot of energy! Sakura is so grateful he gives the gang tickets to Skytree. Enjoy yourself because today is also apparently the day Medjed will hack Japan. Nothing happens… When Ren returns, he sees Sae leaving. Sakura lets him know she is here to find out about Wakaba’s research. With a click of a button, Futaba hacks Medjed’s website and it’s all over the news! So easy?! Futaba explains she is the original founder of Medjed. Because she used her anonymity, others started using that moniker for themselves. She didn’t stop them because it was growing to be bothersome and let them be. She tossed away that name and now goes by Alibaba. In short, Medjed is probably a loose organization filled with weaklings. On to something more serious, Futaba believes her mom wasn’t killed in an accident but murdered. She wants Ren help bring the perpetrator to justice.

Episode 18
Futaba is invited to join Phantom and she doesn’t hesitate to say yes. Because Futaba’s social skills are still awkward, the friends take turn to hang out with her. Enough for her to ‘graduate’ to hang out at the beach. I guess it’s time we need our beach episode. At the end of the day, Futaba opens up more on her mom. She was into cognitive pscience. In short, she was researching a theory relating to the Metaverse about the other cognitive world that affects one’s behaviour in reality. Thinking she was trapped in that labyrinth and there was nothing she could do about it, that’s why she sought Phantom to steal her heart. Wakaba didn’t throw herself onto an oncoming car but rather she collapsed. Futaba tried to research and hacked online to find more about mom’s work but none was found. Like as though she never existed. Hence her reason to join Phantom is to find her mom’s killer rather than changing hearts. The rest don’t mind since she is one good hacker. Perhaps Futaba still has a long way to go to be independent socially. She thought she could hang out by herself at the mall but started to panic and freeze. If not for Ren and Ryuuji passing by, she could have cried until kingdom come. With Futaba joining them in Metaverse, it seems Mementos is growing bigger the more people love them. Their reputation skyrocketed after the Medjed incident. Sakura opens up to Ren about his regret that Wakaba told him she felt that she was going to die. Had he taken her more seriously, it wouldn’t have happened. Hence taking in Futaba was his form of redemption. But it looks like Futaba is not the only one having current problems. Ann got setup by a fellow model and her role usurped by her while Morgana starts having anxiety about being a cat. A cat has worries?! I guess this proves Morgana could be very much a human before.

Episode 19
Futaba gives Makoto a special USB that can bypass all passwords to copy whatever computer she inserts in. Thus Makoto uses it to download Sae’s investigation data. Meanwhile our gang is on a school trip to Hawaii! Aloha! Nothing really much going on here except them having fun like they should. An incident of Ren saving Hifumi Togo, a pro shogi player from American guys who want to flirt with her. Also, Ann got shut out of her own room so she had to sleep in Ren and Ryuuji’s room that makes it all so awkward. Meanwhile the principal is panicking as whoever is sponsoring him decides to cut ties. It doesn’t help when the media is trying to hound the school about Phantom ever since Kamoshida’s case. When the gang returns from Hawaii, they hear the principal has been killed in a street accident. We have seen that he has been hypnotized to the state of a mental shutdown that it made it look like he committed suicide. Of course no students sympathized with the principal’s death since it is an open secret he tried to cover up Kamoshida’s case. However the odd thing is that everyone now thinks this is Phantom’s doing and they are resorting to killing. Futaba reveals some of her findings of Sae’s investigation. Kunikazu Okumura, the CEO of Okumura Foods seems to be benefiting the most from the recent cases of scandals and competitors resigning. There are rumours that those around him have mental shutdown. Morgana and Ryuuji want to quickly take this guy down but the rest don’t want to rush in and do more investigations first. This leads to the group being split and oddly Morgana and Ryuuji getting into a heated debate. Morgana will take on this job himself. Too bad he fails. I guess no cat is an island. Meanwhile Sae and Akechi are in desperate need to turn around their reputations as the people still side with Phantom than them.

Episode 20
Morgana has a new Phantom Thief partner? Thanks to Futaba’s hacking, she manages to easily find keywords to access Okumura’s Palace. They see robots being worked to the bone and if they fail, they are thrown away. Then here pops up Morgana and his partner, uhm, Beauty Thief? At first they thought she is the culprit as she wears a black mask but after lots of bloopers between the cat and her, it looks more like one big goofy uncoordinated act. They have to flee when security arrives. Ren and co quickly deduce that Haru is the one behind Beauty Thief and she is Okumura’s daughter. It seems everybody has a lot to say about her father and hence she entered his Palace to find out the real him. That is when she stumbled into Morgana and they become a pair. When they offer to help her, she rejects them because they couldn’t even do anything to help Morgana. When Haru returns, it seems her father just finished making some calls that would allow him to enter the political foray. He wants her to get more acquainted with Sugimoto, the son of a politician whom she will marry just to advance his political goal. Yup, that’s what father shamelessly said. Phantom meets Morgana in the Metaverse in hopes of mending their relationship. It looks like everything is heading for the better until Ryuuji overdone it by saying that taboo word of useless. Back to square one. Sugimoto comes to pick up Haru (father approved putting GPS on her!). He doesn’t like her hanging around this parts and needs to teach her a lesson to avoid a scandal. But wouldn’t this cause a scandal? Morgana tries to bite him but got kicked. Ouch. Morgana’s cries must be so loud that Ren and co could actually hear and rush to the spot! Not wanting further commotion, he lets her go but will report this to her father. Back at Ren’s place, they nurse Morgana but the cat still wants to go his own way after viewing himself as a burden. When Haru asks why he wants to become human, Morgana says it is his reason to stay. Not being part of Phantom means having no place to belong. He wants to stay here forever. I’m sure the friends don’t need any reason for him to stay. And with more cheesy friendship assurance, Phantom is back as a whole. Haru also takes this chance to be honest as she blurts out how she hates that Sugimoto creep. And everyone has a good laugh. But more woes for Haru as her father has been indicted and he unofficially puts her in Sugimoto’s care.

Episode 21
Haru tells her friends about the forced marriage. As to why her father became ruthless and cold hearted, the trigger is believed to go way back to when grandpa was still the company’s president. However he still run small cafes and prioritized the customers’ smile. Sometimes he even gave free food. Because of that, the shop closed down after losing revenue and he passed away shortly. Her dad started prioritizing profits after he took over. They venture into the Palace to see Shadow Okumura. Uhm, a space alien robot Dracula? He blatantly gives Shadow Sugimoto the permission to do whatever he wants to Haru so long he gets his foothold in politics. Shadow Sugimoto transforms into a robot to fight them. I suppose this part is necessary because Haru needs to awaken her Persona, Milady to kick ass. Returning to reality, the friends ask one last time if she really wants to go ahead with this because once her dad changes heart, there will be lawsuits and she will be branded as a criminal’s daughter. She doesn’t mind all that. When Okumura receives a calling card, he is not cowed and instead goes to the police. Phantom enters the Palace to steal his treasure. Shadow Okumura gives Haru one last chance to join him and of course she won’t, Phantom as usual combine their Persona powers to take him down. Shadow Okumura becomes very remorseful for his wrongdoings. However he isn’t the one behind the mental shutdowns and merely requested to eliminate competitions. Before they can grill him further, the Palace crumbles. But it is a guy in black mask that kills off Shadow Okumura. In the aftermath, Okumura becomes withdrawn and shuts himself in his room. The friends celebrate this success at the amusement park. Originally the company booked it for its employees but cancelled due to the scandal. Since no refund, might as well enjoy themselves. Yeah, the whole park to themselves. Conveniently it is time for Okumura’s live press conference. He confesses abusing his workers and everything. But before he gets to the important part, suddenly he bleeds black ink and collapses?! WTF?! Oh sh*t! Meanwhile Sae has become more engrossed and obsessed in nabbing Phantom and she thinks the recent incidents will be her ticket to glory.

Episode 22
Okumura is dead. Doom and gloom. Ren and co are feeling sad but it gets worse. Just when they ponder if they are responsible for Okumura’s death, people are now turning against Phantom and posting that they are criminals. People’s allegiance are so fragile thanks to the internet. Meanwhile Sae has been entrusted with the position to solve this Phantom Thieves case by her senior. It is a big job and she goes into overdrive mode to work hard (despite she is already overworked herself) as she views this as her big promotion chance. The police even starts interrogating students from Shujin and Futaba’s hacking shows that somebody used the Medjed’s name to hack into the Phansite to make it Okumura as the top target for them. Hence, the culprit had planned to blame them from the start. They literally danced into his palm for the last couple of months. For now they must lie low. Mishima is displeased with all this so he shows Ren a photo of an up and coming actor. He is cocky so he hopes Phantom could do something about this dude and restore their reputation. Ren is such a good listener that a chance meeting with Hifumi has them becoming shogi friends. She hears out what he wants to say. So as not to be all doom and gloom, Shiho even thanks Ren for all the encouragement he and Ann gave her. When Phansite makes a big announcement that anyone who attacks Phantom will be punished, it’s time for Phantom to head into Mementos to confront Mishima’s Shadow because Ren can tell it is Mishima’s cry for help. In short, he is jealous he too wanted to be noticed and be a hero. He wants them to change his heart but Ren tells him not to quit and face himself. Yeah, they just left like that. In reality, Mishima feels so much better. He doesn’t want to shut down Phansite as long as there are voices crying out for their help. On a bright note, he has also started writing a documentary on Phantom to record all their doings. He will always support them.

Episode 23
For the school’s cultural festival, it seems the students voted unanimously for Akechi to be their special guest. They’re tired of the constant police surveillance and interrogation and want this princely detective to help out. At first Makoto thought they should lie low and not attract any attention but then decide if they are going to need police intel, might as well try to talk to him via this panel. Recently Akechi who was suspicious of Phantom now seems to be supporting them as if gives his interviews on TV. A day before his supposed appearance, he visits the school grounds just to check out. This ‘funny’ scene where he ate a spicy takoyaki and he became so comical! WTF?! Abort mission. Time to go home. At the panel, the students quickly ask if Phantom was behind the murder of their principal. Quickly, Akechi dismissed that Phantom would murder and in fact he knows their identity. A well timed phone call has him take a break. But this is part of his plan to call Ren and co to discuss. He knows they are Phantom as he has photo evidence of them ‘disappearing’ into Metaverse. He knows they are not the kind to murder. Because recently he managed to enter Metaverse and stumbled into the man in a black mask who tried to kill him. Desperate to live, Akechi summoned his own Persona to escape. Because the police has decided Phantom is the culprit, Akechi would like to strike a deal to help them. In exchange he will turn a blind eye to all they have done. Otherwise he will hand in this proof to the police. Sae is now pressured to solve Phantom’s case and is only given a month. Because of that, it is announced there is a 30 million yen bounty on them. Phantom has no choice but to work with Akechi. He gets straight to the point that he wants to change Sae’s heart as he has discovered her Palace. At this rate she will fabricate evidence and pin the blame on an unrelated culprit. Changing her heart would also protect her because if the real culprit finds out she is the one investigating all this, they will target her life and she is perfect to place the blame on Phantom. Changing her heart will also restore Phantom’s reputation and a warning not to mess with them. With them backing off, it will only be a matter of time Akechi catches the culprit. This also means this would be Phantom’s last mission. They ask why Akechi is so hard up in pursuing this justice. He admits it is a petty grudge and contempt for a certain someone. It is a reason why he came to them for help.

Episode 24
Sae’s Palace is a courthouse and a casino? Because she thinks going to court is a must win. Unless you’re the house, you will often lose at the casino… Shadow Sae (is she auditioning to be part of KISS?) pops up before them and even tells them where the treasure is as she believes in a fair fight. But to get to the top of the building, they need to earn a member card. Their reconnaissance ends for today and we get to see Akechi kickass with his Persona, Robin Hood. But there is another problem brewing. Sakura found a calling card in Futaba’s room. Man, Futaba is running away and avoiding Sakura at all cost! Although Sakura acts normal, the rest feel to avoid treading on this topic if it is not brought up by him. But it gets worse as Futaba’s uncle walks in and is asking for money or he threatens to take Futaba back. He is confident the court will be on his side as blood related has higher priority than legal guardian. With Futaba in depression, she can’t perform as usual in Metaverse as Phantom keeps losing their bets in the casino! Sakura later talks to Ren about Futaba’s case. After her mom died, she was tossed around between the relatives for a place to stay. Her uncle was the last to receive her and treated her like dirt. Sakura couldn’t stand it and decided to pay him off to take guardianship over her. With this problem coming to light, Akechi personally wants to help Futaba because he too knows what it feels like from being tossed from home to home as he was from the orphanage.

The next time uncle comes to ask for money again, Sakura declines both options to pay him or give Futaba. Nice timing for Akechi to come back with his investigations showing he lost money due to bad investments. Stupid uncle tripped himself but blames Ren for pushing him and is going to sue them. Soon, his lawyers come knocking on their door. They look like they have the upper hand since Sakura wasn’t exactly a good guardian either. You know, that time Futaba was being a shut-in and he didn’t do anything about it. But luckily for them, Morgana tells Futaba that Sakura is in trouble. So she runs all the way down to the café to say how she has been happy living here since. Even Ren answers them that he too has been happy ever since living here. The lawyers are happy to hear that seeing they received unfounded nasty reports on him but seeing this for themselves, they believe he has not caused any trouble. Now that this case is solved, Sakura wants an explanation about the calling card. Futaba tries to explain without giving away too much. However Sakura hints he knew all about it. I mean, a shut-in suddenly wanting to go after meeting Ren? What about Yuusuke who came and left a painting? He knew something was up. But rest assured, he will keep this a secret as he owes it to them too for taking care of Futaba. And now that Futaba’s uncle has officially dropped his case to get Futaba or the money, Futaba is on a roll again. Phantom is now able to win their games and earn enough for a member’s card to challenge Sae.

Episode 25
However even getting the card and even upgrading it, they need coins to access the next floor. So, fight more monsters to earn coins? That’s like RPG grinding, right? Of course with risky games means higher rewards and Ren was able to pull off one big fight by himself and earn the necessary. However despite all the hard work and getting enough coins for the next floor, the coin requirements to the final floor is astronomically high. Their trial would never end (somewhat a reflection of Japan’s court cases that the accused is often 99.9% found guilty). But thankfully Akechi had foresight and initially had the original card and used it to make bets. With them winning so many trials, I guess they don’t have to slog and have just enough to finally reach the treasure room. All that is left is to place the calling card. Akechi suggests placing the calling card in the last minute because Sae is a realist and she would be on guard. Last minute infiltration will most likely to get her materialize her treasure. It is decided to place the calling card 2 days before the investigation. Makoto awkwardly hands the calling card to Sae, claiming it is from the mail. Sae is of course not pleased she is now branded a criminal by them. This only makes her go into overdrive mode to catch them first. Conflicted Makoto can’t help but cry but assures she will always be on her side. When Phantom finally face off with Shadow Sae, she complains about the injustice that befell her father that put a lot of pressure on her. That is why she is so certain justice will always win. Well, depending on how you define justice. Phantom attack together as Makoto tries to open her eyes and convince her to remember the reason why she went into public prosecution in the first place. Eventually they defeat her and her treasure is her father’s investigation diary. However it seems somebody tipped off Phantom and the enemies have surrounded the Palace. Ren decides to distract them while the rest escapes.

Episode 26
Riot police storm into the Metaverse to capture Ren. For the next few days, the news is abuzz about the captured leader of Phantom although Ren’s identity is still kept in wraps. As the rest of Phantom gather (naturally the sullen and gloom mood), Akechi has used his connections to determine where Ren is. He believes that somebody leaked info to the riot police about the Metaverse (how the f*ck do they even enter?! Do they have the app?!) and that the guy in the black mask could just be a pawn for the true mastermind behind it all. It seems Sae has also been taken off the case and now the police is fully handing it. Akechi’s plan is to sneak in and take Ren away. It’s the only option. As too many of them might make things harder. Now that Sae has finished her interrogation with Ren, she tells him she can get him a lighter sentence if he confirms the name of his accomplices (wasn’t she paying attention to his long flashback?!). Nothing but silence. Not even if there are any other partners he is working with or if Akechi had a hand in this. All he says is that this is for justice, sticking to the right path. Even if that means not ratting out his friends. Sae’s time is up and she knows from the direction of this case, she won’t get credit. Ren asks if she is giving up on justice. Then he tells her to show some person the Smartphone. This part is very unclear because Ren was collaborating with Morgana and Futaba on this particular plan that only Ren can pull off and it has to be precise. With Ren playing the pronoun game, Sae seems to realize what he is saying and cannot fathom his goal. Too bad I don’t! TELL ME! After Sae leaves, she bumps into Akechi and it is his turn to interrogate Ren. She shows him Ren’s Smartphone but keeps it as it is proof of the investigation. When the guard lets Akechi in, Akechi steal his gun and shoots him! Then Akechi shows his true colours. He shoots Ren in the head and makes it as though both killed each other and walks away.

Behind The Mask: The Art Of Stealing Hearts
What the f*ck?! WHAT THE FFFFFUUUUUUUU??????!!!!! This has got to be one of the worst endings ever in the history of anime?! It can’t end like that can it?! Is this what we get after sitting through one of the longest ever flashbacks of anime?! You thought Hinamatsuri or Tenjou Tenge was bad but this takes the cake. Of course I knew this couldn’t be the real deal because Akechi being the traitor wouldn’t just quite cut it. I mean it would have been the biggest shocking twist and fans would have poured scorn all over it. So of course to satiate my curiosity, I went to do a bit of research and true enough, there is more to meets the eye than this betrayal. So it is all linked to some up and coming rising politician. Yeah, Ren isn’t really dead. Just some illusion and whatever f*cking cognition Metaverse thingy. I suppose those who played the game will only understand and know about this as this would be the next target and arc in this series. But as far as the anime goes, it ends here and I would say it would be pretty much unfair to have that kind of ‘shocking’ ending and leaving viewers in a lurch. If this is some sort of way to get people to buy the game and find out, well, I just read the details over the internet so it didn’t work.

Well, the story if you look at it overall is pretty much the same and if I should say, somewhat bland. Just like its predecessors, a bunch of kids who believe they can rid the corrupted adult world with their concept of justice and do so by entering another world. This is a formula that stays largely the same in every arc even for this season alone. They just present it to us in a different way, using different characters (by putting them in the limelight) and using different settings. But at least this season is not as crappy as in Persona 4 because when they started bringing in that God thingy, yeah, that was the straw that really broke the camel’s back. Hence Persona 5 is somewhat tolerable because they didn’t bring in this God-like factor and everything that has been done was the direct effect and consequences of our Phantom kids themselves.

Of course when you continue to compare the setting with Persona 4, Persona 5 has a lot of things to deal with and hence you can’t really make up sh*t. I mean, not to say that this season is so much better but when you consider the previous season takes place in a very sleepy town compared to this season’s metropolis Tokyo, there are a lot of other factors to take into account to keep the realism. Because the backwater town of Inaba with hardly anything exciting going on in the townspeople’s lives, hence those kids in Persona 4 were able to run around as they pleased like as though they own the town. Sure, the ones in Persona 5 too feel like that but Tokyo is such a big city and really, who gives a f*ck?

This is perhaps the reason why nobody really gives a f*ck when Phantom departs from reality to enter Metaverse. I mean, do you not notice when they head into the Metaverse, it is often during daylight and in crowded public places? With so many people around, do nobody even notice this?! Sure, they want to give a different setting of the other world instead of being thrown into TV by midnight. Heh. Who watches TV these days? I guess everyone is so glued to their Smartphones that they don’t even see Phantom entering Metaverse. Not that Phantom wore any disguise when they head in. Just their usual plain clothes. I suppose when you have a big sprawling city, everybody is minding their business and don’t want to get involved even if they witness a simple crime. Not my business. Yeah, that’s the sad reality of today. No wonder the world is so corrupted.

And even though the internet was filled with fervour of supporting Phantom, this no-action by those very same people who instigate over the internet are the reason why Phantom is able to get the job done without anyone coming close to finding out who they are. It’s just so right under their noses. I wonder if time in Metaverse flows differently because if Phantom spend a lot of time there (assuming they do a lot of requests), won’t people in real life wonder where they have gone? Oh right. I forgot people don’t care especially Ren and Ryuuji are like outcasts so nobody is really going to bother.

Because of that kind of ending, unlike Persona 4, this season feels unfinished and have so many loose strings, you might even get lost of keeping track of them. Of course many of the questions would be answered if you play the game but let’s keep this focused on the anime side. Like the man in the black mask that is supposed to be the primary antagonist or another pawn, his identity is never really known. Heck, we don’t even know if Morgana was a human or Shadow or just some mutated cat. Ren’s so called rehabilitation in the Velvet Room is also left hanging. Did he manage to break out of the prison in his heart because of good behaviour or not? And since there is no extra episode like they did in Persona 4 , I guess as far as Persona 5 is concerned, anime viewers will definitely be left having a bad aftertaste in their mouth. Having no closure (at least in the season proper) is one of the worst things for a viewer to experience. (Edit: Actually they did release a special. I hope the Dark Sun special released recently would help clarify things).

Character wise, despite the entire casts are new, they feel like recycled and reshuffled from Persona 4. Ren = Yuu (main leading male character), Ryuuji = Ryousuke (the rascal), Ann = Yukiko (beautiful babe), Makoto = Chie (tomboyish), Futaba = Rise (the otaku, just switch from idol to hacker – but their Personas in the battlefield are similar: To obtain info), Akechi = Naoto (detective prince), Morgana = Kuma (animal mascot), Sakura and Sae = Doujima (I guess they needed to split the father figure as well as the overworked one hot on the heels of our heroes). I guess by elimination would Yuusuke be the alter ego for Kanji? Just swap out gay sexuality for abuse. Besides, aren’t many artists gay? Or at least they look so. So sorry, no Nanako loli this season but at least we got Makoto as imouto (barely).

But I believe this season the characters don’t feel as much annoying and retarded as its predecessor. For example, Ren who might still be as quiet and taciturn as Yuu, at least he does not feel like a retard like the latter. Although Ren does feel a bit gay because you know, he is soft spoken and with that kind of sissy bespectacled looks, it does give off that kind of impression. There is also less annoyance in Morgana compared to Kuma whom we all remembered as some weird bear whose other main role is to try to be a lady killer. Though, Morgana’s character suffers the most compared to the others because there is a lack of back story of who Morgana really is. Just a mind boggling question about Morgana: Is it some sort of trigger that once you enter Metaverse you will be able to hear this cat talk in reality?! Basically the characters in Phantom have their moment of spotlight but once their problem is resolved, it is unlikely they become in focus again. But a few distractions especially in the later arcs like that pertaining to Futaba’s family (her jerk uncle trying to take her away) try to give a bit more of the spotlight to them but then again, it feels nothing more like just distractions.

Futaba as a hacker feels more like a convenient plot device. Because since she is just so good in her hacking and could even fend off Medjed even though they’re just fake bully pussies (I wonder if this is a subtle reference to today’s Antifa…), I’m surprised that she didn’t even hack into the Pentagon yet just for fun. Even if the anime portrays Akechi as somewhat a traitor in the end, because after all, him being part of Phantom and as the latest member feels a bit shady. He is the only one who met the guy with the black mask and with him having connections in the police force, it makes him the likely to betray. But I just want to point out here that at least this detective is a better one compared to his predecessor. That’s you, Naoto. Maybe we don’t see him working on how he gets his clues but at least it is better than Naoto who was annoying when she was in a pinch after hitting a dead end. If only there were clues. or hints…

Some of the other supporting characters outside Phantom feel wasted. For example that Hifumi girl. I was wondering why they introduced her since she had no really specific role in the series. I am not sure if she has a greater role in the game but in this anime she really felt wasted and unnecessary. It’s like as though Ren needed some more female companions and I suppose she is the only one who gets to play shogi with him. I thought she would be a new Phantom recruit because it also felt quite formulaic that after every major arc that Phantom changed the heart of their target, the one they helped will usually join them. So I guess Hifumi didn’t have her own problems big enough for that to happen. Mishima also feels the same. Even though he is an ardent fan of Phantom and manages to help manage Phansite, he just feels more like a mini informant. I suppose Ren and co are too busy checking in detail the website so it must be a good thing they have somebody around to point out the important stuffs.

Also Becky feels really wasted. Just when I found a nice maid character to like, looks like she has no problems too that would warrant Phantom to help out. Becky, can you please leave your number so I can call you for a much needed maid service? And there was that nurse who sporadically checks on Ren’s health. Like what the heck is it for? And that Ichiko journalist? Can be done without. Even that good politician who gives speeches that nobody listens except for Ren? That fortune teller girl? Don’t try to put in so many stuffs that don’t matter! What happened to Sugimoto? Was that short fight of this sub-boss in Okumura’s Palace it? It’s strange how Okumura’s death, Haru doesn’t have to marry this jerk, which is good since she prefers hanging out with Phantom than be kept as his trophy wife or something. Many of these characters look like minor but important characters. They could be or they could be not (at least in the game) but sometimes I wonder if they are necessary since the anime was going to end like that.

Probably why this season doesn’t feel as annoying as the previous one is because it lacks annoying running jokes as well as the lack of any romance. Persona 5 have their own small brand of weird jokes but it is nothing you’ll laugh out loud. Just maybe a little chuckle. I’m sure those who have watched Person 4 would remember that strange Chinese food delivery girl, Aika. There was this running joke she could delivery her beef bowls to you anywhere at any time without fail. And there is a super large serving of her beef bowl which is supposedly endless because nobody has ever finished it. Persona 5 has cut out that sort of nonsensical distractions and it is no wonder why I partly feel that this season is somewhat gloomier even though there was no mysterious fog. And of course no Kuma as a joker comical character to fool around, hence making it absolutely 100% no chance of ruining the scene with his fail flirting. Also, no other annoying characters like that slut teacher and proud ugly fatso in Persona 4…

I suppose with the kids being too focused on trying to change the hearts of corrupted adults, that is why there is no romance factor here. Not sure if it is refreshing but thankfully the plot was still interesting enough for me to not even notice there was none of the romance factor until the season ended! I can’t really imagine if Persona 5 really put in some romance factor because the one in Persona 4 was cheesy. There were some episodes there that subtly hinted the girls trying to vie for Yuu’s attention! I guess we didn’t want to remember how bold Rise was with her love for Yuu. Or that side love story of Ebihara girl for her Ichijou basketball dude (that Eiko one felt more like a friendship side story for Makoto). The closest the romance that I ever notice is Makoto for Ren. You’ll notice that a few scenes has them hanging out together and the final arc since Makoto was really torn about saving Sae but I might just be over reading things.

This season’s Velvet Room feels a lot lacking. It shows Ren being a prisoner as opposed to Persona 4 whereby it is a first person view in some limo. This Velvet Room also feels very disjointed to the story and I can’t help see how it supposedly connects Ren. But I suppose it is an excuse they need for him to get his Persona and proof himself. Yeah, so why the others don’t go through this same thing? Why does Ren get ‘special treatment’? And just when you could actually see Ren is doing well in his new life, he is still a prisoner in the Velvet Room. Like nothing has changed. So was he putting a mask to hide is true feelings all the while?

The fight scenes might be one of the staple elements in the Persona games but it is not a strong one in the series. I believe it is not really the focus here in this season too. Although you can see some of the visual elements of the battles borrowed and following the game closely, the fight scenes are just enough for Phantom to show us that single fight move their Persona does. Not that I can see the difference anyway. Besides, just like last season, it is never explained why Ren gets to have multiple Personas. I am not sure if it is a good thing but this season didn’t even explain at all. All of a sudden Ren shows off a new Persona which he never uses again. I know last season never explained it too but at least there was this moment to tell us he would be getting a new Persona. This time around, it suddenly appears. Not that I can see how important it is because as long as Phantom defeats their Shadows, it is all that matters. It is also a good thing that they replace glasses with masks because at least each has different designs unlike Persona 4’s same ol’ glasses that just makes them look nerdy and weird. It’s a nice reverse setting of instead of putting on glasses to see through the fog, you rip off your mask to unleash your full potential that your mask is holding you back. Cool.

For the art and animation, everything looks much gorgeous and better compared to Persona 4. The characters and backgrounds do look a lot better and with higher quality and as said, they borrowed some of the visuals from the game. Even the Persona and Shadow designs are much better. Although they still look ridiculous at some point, at least it is not as comical. At least they look badass and play their part to kick ass even if it is for a short moment. Persona’s 4 school uniform might look weird with those stitch lines so I can breathe easy that this season’s school uniform doesn’t look that weird. Okay, I take that back a bit because the pants or skirts have this plaids pattern and sometimes I thought they resemble more like pyjamas than school longs. Seriously. But is it me or does their school look like a prison facility because of the mesh wirings over the windows! Yeah, the school looks boring and gloom enough to even give off that feel. Kawakami’s clothes as a teacher is just weird. In the sense that she dresses so casual that it seems to ring this feeling that she doesn’t want to be here doing this teaching job. Yeah, I suppose she looks much better in a maid outfit! Huzzah for that!

I’m also glad that this season that they decide to use a real cat instead of a weird looking bear whenever the animal mascot comes to reality. I suppose everyone in a big city will eventually get suspicious if for example Morgana in reality takes the form of a very strange but cute looking cat. Sure, it would garner some fans but we saw how annoying Kuma was even in his handsome human boy form (I can’t complain then when Morgana transforms into some monster bus). So it is a good thing that Morgana remains a cat but I just have to live with the fact that a real cat is talking to the kids. Others might think weirdly of them because from an outsider’s perspective, it’s like as though this group worships the cat and ‘talks’ to it although others can only hear it purr. Although the other character designs are good with lots of bishonen and bishoujo, I have this odd feeling when I looked at Futaba. She looks oddly familiar… Aha! She looks a bit like that Inkling girl from Splatoon!!!! OMG! I’m serious! No wonder she is the most popular waifu among fans of Persona. Or maybe she is just so socially awkward and shy that it makes her irresistibly kawaii. On a side note, Ren’s bruises during his interrogation makes it look like he has some sort of incurable skin disease. Yucks. Looks awful (effect wise, that is). Really.

Probably the higher quality in animation is due to the fact that it is done by CloverWorks, a relatively new studio. Although Slow Start is the only work I have previously seen done by them, it seems they are trying to animate other anime series that no one expects will be having a sequel. At least not at this point. Because they are also doing the final season for Fairy Tail (although joined with A-1 Pictures and Bridge) as well as the second season of Gyakuten Saiban and the upcoming Fate/Grand Order. Persona 4 was animated by AIC A.S.T.A. and perhaps most of us then expected Persona 5 to be animated. Just not by this company.

For the voice acting part, when I say it feels like Persona 4, what I meant is that there are lots of seiyuus that I recognized! Persona 4 too had many famous seiyuus but that was way back in 2011-2012. In the current year I would have thought that there would be new ones taking over but apparently they decided to use veterans to please me. I am so delighted that I could really identify a big majority of the main characters like Jun Fukuyama as Ren, Mamoru Miyano as Ryuuji, Nana Mizuki as Ann, Tomokazu Sugita as Yuusuke, Rina Satou as Makoto, Daisuke Sakaguchi as Mishima, Yuuko Kaida as Sae and Jouji Nakata as Sakura. It is only Haruka Tomatsu as Haru that I failed to recognize as I haven’t been hearing a lot of her recently. So forgive me? Not! The only seiyuu who returned to this series is Aoi Yuuki. In Persona 4 she was Aika (who was of an anime only character) but now she upgraded into a main character role as Futaba. Lastly, Ikue Ohtani as Morgana. Ah, yes. It is good to finally hear her voice other than a yellow electric mouse or a tanuki. Oops, I mean tonakai. Although I have heard her voice in a few other series, but I guess she is only as memorable as Pikachu or Chopper. Hopefully Morgana would be added to this list because you know, a cat. The only other main character I didn’t recognize is Souichiro Hoshi as Akechi (Kei in Onegai Teacher, Goku in Saiyuki series, Nagi in Tenjou Tenge).

However there is one character whose voice that I seem not to find fitting or at least to my liking. That is Igor who is voiced by Masane Tsukayama (Gol D Roger in One Piece). The Igor in Persona 4 sounded mischievous despite his voice sounding very gay. And that’s not a bad thing. However in Persona 5, he has this very low and evil voice and even if they want to make him sound like a creepy character, it doesn’t. Because he still looks like that same ‘comical’ Igor. You see, Isamu Tanonaka who was the original voice of Igor passed away even before Persona 4 was animated. Hence his lines are fixed and that is why we needed Margaret to ‘explain and elaborate on his behalf’. Maybe that is why this season Igor doesn’t need any beautiful assistant this time and has 2 cute loli prison guards (which I just found out are voiced by Aki Toyosaki!) to keep Ren in check. Still, I didn’t really find this new voice for Igor fitting. Hmm… Doesn’t Sae look a bit like Margaret? Perhaps that was why when I first saw her I was confused and thought she was her.

The rest of the other casts are Mai Fuchigami as Kawakami/Becky (Nagisa in Ansatsu Kyoushitsu), Akemi Satou as Shiho (Shiori in Kanon), Yumi Uchiyama as Ichiko (Momiji in Binbougami Ga), Yuji Mitsuya as Kamoshida (Tofu in Ranma 1/2), Yukitoshi Hori as Madarame (Robert in Blue Gender), Hirohiko Kakegawa as Okumura (Mihawk in One Piece), Takahiro Fujimoto as Kaneshiro (Martinez in Oretachi Ni Tsubasa Wa Nai), Minako Arakawa as Wakaba (Judia in Ragnarok The Animation) and Tomomi Isomura (Shouko in Baka To Test To Shoukanjuu).

This time, all the songs are sung by Lyn. However they have this same feel like those sung in Persona 4. Many of the songs have this jazzy feel and beat to it whether it is fast or slow. It feels energetic but not enough for all that jazzy energy to burst out. Like as though in a way it is subdued. Also, the songs are all in English since the lyrics are written by Benjamin Franklin. No! Not the founding father of America coming back to life to give you words to the songs!!! Ah, such coincidences. Anyway, I prefer the first opening theme, Break In To Break Out compared to the second one, Dark Sun. Both are good but the former sounds cooler and fits the pace of the series much better compared to the latter which I feel suits better for a spy themed series rather than a phantom thief one. As for the ending theme, I also much prefer the first one, Infinity as it is more fun and catchier with those funky bass lines (although the synthesizers make some parts of the song sound a bit sissy) compared to the second one, Autonomy which just sounds too casual and relaxing. Some of the insert songs like this one, Life Will Change sounds more like a song fitting for your morning aerobics exercise and Last Surprise which is just too jazzy. Rivers In The Desert also feel it better suits a spy series or if you planning to do some workout than Personas fighting Shadows. They still sound good in their own right but I’m wondering if it is fitting to be put in battle scenes.

Overall, still a much better than Persona 4 and of course that dumb The Golden that comes after that. Although I did enjoy this season a lot despite some of the bland and same ol’ stuffs as well as things that were not fully explained, there were many comments I read over the internet that don’t seem to like it. It’s like the internet is split in liking this adapted series. I guess they played the game and found it way superior to the anime. Well, too bad for them. I know, this season is not perfect and there are a few other anime during that season that I liked better (Golden Kamuy, Hinamatsuri, Boku No Hero Academia S3, Shokugeki No Souma: Totsuki Ressha-hen, Overlord III, Jashin-chan Dropkick, Asobi Asobase, Angolmois: Genkou Kassenki and yes, even Back Street Girls: Gokudolls). Nice music, nice visuals and favourite seiyuus lending their talents can only go so far when the plot and characters are just so much just as average.

Well, it goes to show that with the power of the internet, it isn’t very easy to change the heart and even opinions of the public. Everyone has a different version of justice. Doesn’t it make you feel like wanting to go post on Phansite and just request Phantom to change the hearts of weeabo whiners?! All masking anonymously behind their keyboards… Like as though this show is doing them a favour by not living up to their standards. Where is the justice, man?! Me, I’d be a lot happy to have some little Becky maid service… YOU CAN’T CHANGE MY HEART FOR MY LOVE OF JAPANESE ANIME MAIDS!!!

Island

January 12, 2019

It feels like a long time since I have watched a sci-fi mystery romance harem visual novel adapted into anime. Actually that was just about over a year ago when I watched Rewrite. Now it’s time to get back into that visual novel mood with Island. Main character with no memories of his own, basically a typical amnesiac, check. A small bevy of beauties for his harem, check. They have issues that need to be solved that could be related to the lore and legend of the setting, check. Deep dark secrets about the land, or in this case the island, check. Includes some sci-fi time travelling thingy, check. Oh well, this isn’t going to be your average Fantasy Island.

Episode 1
Karen Kurutsu is running along a beach until she trips. Her face lands in the crotch of a naked boy who is washed up ashore! DAMN! At the police box, he doesn’t remember anything else except for he is a time traveller and the need to kill someone. Not joking? A call from the mayor wants this boy to be expelled from the island immediately. The police is supposed to take him to the harbour where he will be sent to the mainland when the mayor calls again because his daughter is missing and to go look for her. As the boy hides in a yacht, he finds Karen hiding there. She is the mayor’s daughter and she is not pleased he found her because now she cannot get off this island. With the mayor finding her and she continues to run, I guess the boy is left to his own devices. As he wanders on the beach at night, he hears Rinne Ohara sing a beautiful melody. He seems to know her but not really. She also thinks she knows him but not really. Rinne makes up a story that he is Setsuna Sanzenkai and supposed to be the new maid she hired from the mainland. Rinne wonders if he is really a time traveller since she too doesn’t have memories prior to 5 years ago when she arrived here. Rinne introduces him to her mom, Kuon who holes up in her room and only ‘communicates’ via leaving notes. Setsuna sleeps and dreams of somebody promising to kill Setsuna. Next morning, Sara Garandou from the shrine takes Setsuna to her place. She believes he came from the future to change the past. Setsuna thinks he knows her too but not really. Maybe she is flat instead of busty? So he remembers her boobs? Anyway Sara believes his memories were intentionally sealed. His time travel and Rinne’s disappearance coincide. After all that mumbo-jumbo, Sara tries to kill him but fails spectacularly. As her job is to protect this island, she happily reveals her plan to kill him. Uhm, I don’t think that is how it’s supposed to work. He returns home to work but stumbles upon the book that tells the legend of this island, Urashima. Inside he finds a note that says Setsuna must die. That night at the beach, Setsuna has Rinne sing that song again. So beautiful he cried? Even Rinne too. Then a weird dream of Sara being burnt and her final words for him to take care of this world. Next morning as he wants to draw open the curtains, Rinne stops him. She fears the sunlight will kill her.

Episode 2
Rinne has soot blight syndrome. Sunlight kills her. This is why she wakes up and wanders at night. Setsuna continues his maid job and then finds Sara praying at the shrine. Praying for a successful kill? She hides him when the mayor is trying to find Karen. This is when she explains to him the legend of Urashima. All the 3 main girls are named after the legendary daughters of the island. It says Setsuna and Rinne are siblings but started loving each other more than that. At the same time Karen also loves Setsuna but got jealous. She asked a black shrine maiden to change Rinne into a monster and killed herself in despair. Setsuna went back to the maiden. At an unknown date in the future, Rinne will be revived and if they meet, the curse would be lifted. Setsuna slept, waiting for that day to come. Sara wants to sleep with him but thankfully he declines. She is glad too because she isn’t ready. When he returns, what is Karen doing here? Apparently there is an ad looking for a maid so she is here to try out for the job. Rinne wants to fire Setsuna after getting the wrong idea he slept with Sara (the incense in her room) so Karen tries to be considerate and leave. But Setsuna doesn’t want her to return to her father and have regrets and has her try it out. Rinne has the final say and hires her. Next day, Setsuna hears Karen’s reason to work even if she comes from a wealthy family. Her mom left the island 5 years ago and she is saving up to head to the mainland to find her. As they take a break, the old woman at the store collapses. They take her medicine and Setsuna is surprised to read it as soot blight syndrome. From the doctor’s explanation, it looks like in extreme cases your body will be inflamed if gets touched by the sunlight. There is no cure. As the island believes the syndrome comes from the legendary families, Karen believes it is just an excuse to maintain authority. Sara believes the island needs this legend or else it will be done for. Later Setsuna asks Kuon about the syndrome and she replies Rinne doesn’t have it but believes she does. She fears it as it might be related to why she disappeared 5 years ago and lost her memory and think of herself as the Rinne in the legend. So when Setsuna tells Rinne they are not the people in the legend, it makes her very sad. Is a slap justified? He wants to invite her to the beach. The morning one. But she is happy to stay as herself. And Setsuna will always remain her Setsuna.

Episode 3
Beach episode? Karen and Sara in their swimsuit. Basically this is part of Setsuna’s plan to lure Rinne out. But their lines sound so lame and ambiguous that Rinne might be thinking she is hearing things. Too bad Rinne overthinks that Setsuna is having his way with the girls so time to put on her sexy bikini and straighten them out? Well, she wore her full astronaut suit! Clumsy. Her helmet falls off. She looks okay. Not dead. So she knew she somewhat doesn’t have soot blight syndrome and they were just trying to get her out. He assures they can take things slowly one step at a time. Later they find a locked shack in the cave. Before they could break open, Rinne screams not to and then faints. She is okay but needs to rest. Setsuna shows the rest about the diary he keeps ever since he was stranded here. He hopes to learn something from his memories but has only recorded weird things like the syndrome and the legend while popping up more questions than answers. He feels it is all connected but unsure how. He even questions himself as Setsuna. Later Rinne talks to Setsuna that she remembers meeting a boy named Setsuna at the shack. Nobody knew about this and Rinne doesn’t remember how that boy looked like. After Setsuna tutors Karen, he walks her home as she reveals more about her weird mom. Often shutting herself in her room to do some experiment, Karen was never paid any attention to. Dad eventually kicked her out so she went to the mainland. At the doorstep, her father is waiting. Ranting about how her duty is to marry and carry on the family line. News to Setsuna. Later Setsuna meets Sara to ask why Karen’s dad is so adamant of her staying here. Her family can pass the line only through female descendants. As for Karen trying to leave the island, she thinks she is just rebelling and not serious as there are so many other ways to do so. Even if she leaves, will she be happy? She wonders if Karen has given enough thought to what happens if she leaves. One day, Karen didn’t come to school. He finds her in the mansion and before he could tell her off, suddenly she pushes him onto her bed and wants him to mess her up. You mean f*ck her? Wait. WHAT?!

Episode 4
Of course Setsuna declines but that’s not what she meant. She has a plan to leave this island and wants him to help mess up her wedding. Since her dad is always about appearances, she will get kicked out. So looks like almost everybody is in cohorts with her wedding including the groom. As the ceremony begins, Setsuna arrives in an alien mask! He is here to steal her. Dad of course opposes but that is when Karen has had it and decides to leave with him. Dad would have gone after her if not for her brother, Subaru telling him to let go. Karen is so happy with her newfound freedom and Setsuna celebrating with her that they keep their eyes ahead and crash the scooter into the sea. As they set sail, the captain explains how Subaru helped out because he felt Karen was always so mad at the world and couldn’t do anything about it. She blamed everything for it. So when she decided, he wanted to support her. Now on the mainland, Karen is like a typical country bumpkin. But how does Setsuna know how to work the trains if he is amnesiac? Anyway as they make their way to supposed Karen’s mom’s place, they see nothing but a grave. Oh dear. Karen breaks down and cannot accept this. But a girl, Momoka Yamabuki is thrilled to see Karen and starts molesting her because she looks like her professor. She was told by Subaru she would be coming today. Momoka is the assistant of Karen’s mom, Natsumi who went under the penname of Sueharu Nakamiya when she wrote her books. She was offered professorship 5 years ago as a geologist and used that penname. Unfortunately she died in an accident a year ago. Momoka hints about her research regarding ancient texts around the world but the rest is confidential. Before Karen leaves, she asks if mom was happy. All the time. Especially when the results of her research showed. But her only regret is Karen. She always worried about her. That’s why if something happened to her, she requested her grave to be put near the sea. Karen is satisfied that mom didn’t run away and always cared for her. Karen returns to the island. Subaru welcomes her back and vows to change the island. Not sure how long they have been gone because Sara is now hired as a maid at Rinne’s mansion. But Sara laments unlike the rest, she herself has not changed. Only if she had her powers back, she could do something about the illness. But time is not on her side.

Episode 5
Setsuna dreams of Sara sacrificing herself to save him to save the world. Too bad he only noted her boobs… He gets a shock when he wakes up because Sara is sleeping next to him! Rinne is not impressed with this shady business but luckily Sara explains herself. Something about learning about her family’s legend so she came here to tell Setsuna but since he is asleep, she waited and also fell asleep. She then takes them to the beach so as to harvest to venom of a sea snake to help find a cure for the soot blight syndrome. But she can’t swim. Don’t worry. Setsuna will do it! Oh, the sea snake’s venom can kill you… She is confident he won’t! Before Sara could explain to Rinne about her theory of Rinne crossing time to save her and how she must get something done before her 17th birthday in 2 days, Setsuna is in trouble because he got bitten! Oh no! Luckily the doctor diagnosed it as jellyfish sting. Phew. Sara so relieved. Later Setsuna and Rinne ponder about Sara because there seems to be sadness behind her smile. Next day, Sara gives Kuon her best massage. It’s to help ward off soot blight syndrome by pressing certain vital points. Then Setsuna gets a clinical test but it doesn’t end well… Now Setsuna has to cycle her to 20 over old folks’ houses so she could give her massage. At the end of the day, Sara reveals that she believes Setsuna is her destiny. She is destined to go back in time to give birth before her 17th birthday. She shows a picture of a mom nursing her. If mom looks like her it is because it is her! OMG! So Sara is her own mom from the future?! Sci-fi time paradox sh*t! To prove it, both have that same scar on the chest. Hence when she tried to ‘kill’ Rinne was to ascertain if he is from the time patrol trying to stop her from changing the past. Hence she gambled. If destiny picked her, she would be able to go back to the past. In her relief she explains she was called the Child of God. Every year, dozens of babies were born with soot blight syndrome. Ever since Sara was born, there hadn’t been any. But after a fire incident, the affliction came back. She lost that power and she wants to prevent that fire and save the people. Without it, she views herself as useless.

Setsuna draws a really complicated time flow chart on Sara’s situation. Rinne understands it?! As she has read the family’s dark secret journal, she realizes this is nothing more than a horrific practice that was sealed away. It all started with Sara’s grandpa claiming Sara as the Child of God and will save the island. The people believed him when the syndrome stopped appearing. But this is actual the doing of grandpa. When babies were born, they will be exposed to sunlight to see of any lustre in their eyes that would assure the symptoms by age three. Such babies are told they died in stillborn and then locked and abandoned in a secret place. All this is just a scheme to restore the family’s authority. With Sara overhearing that, she becomes sad knowing the truth and runs back to the shrine. Oh look. It’s on fire! Who set it?! And was it set long ago because it’s so big. Luckily Setsuna saves her who is so willing to die to end her family lineage. Sara wakes up in hospital and it has been 2 days since her birthday. Sara can’t believe everything so it means all her theories are wrong. As for the scar, it is like branding. All in the family got one burnt after being one. Her parents rather die than continue this cruel tradition but couldn’t kill Sara. But she still feels useless and have of no use. Setsuna tells her to look around. A thousand crane origami folded by the old people in hopes she regains consciousness. Thanks for the massage. Now she has a reason to live. Happy belated birthday. Cue to cry all out now.

Episode 6
Disregard Sara’s naughty advice to have sex as part of the measure to regain lost memories. Setsuna ponders of ways to retrieve his lost memories when Rinne lies beside him. Is the atmosphere getting good? Well, good enough for them to go out on a date (they term it as going out somewhere). What else can you do on this island? Bowling. Sara and Karen eventually get so worried if the duo end up having sex that they try to barge into the mansion. Good timing. They’re back from their date. Sara asks straight up if they had sex (among all the other synonyms and slangs she thrown in). They deny. Phew. Sara explains how it is wrong for a guy from the future to impregnate a girl in the past. Yeah, that time paradox confusing sh*t thingy. Rinne challenges Setsuna to a game where the loser must do as the winner says. And her wish is for him to kiss her. Why, don’t want to kiss a cute girl? Thank goodness she is only joking, right? When Setsuna and Karen visit the police guy, they are told that there are different versions of the legend as the families have their different version. A version involves Setsuna and Rinne getting married but she later learnt of his existence and fell into despair. She killed herself by jumping into the sea. It is possible Rinne knows this story as it was her father who tried to gather the legends. Setsuna rushes back to find Rinne. Not a home cliché. Oh, she’s standing at the beach, near the water cliché. What’s with the long face? Need to tell the truth? At the shack, she tells him she lied about it. When she fainted, she knew he wasn’t the real Setsuna. She still can’t remember how the real one looks but sensed a different Setsuna at this shack. After breaking open the door, a bed and some books all over the floor. Pretty tidy place assuming it has been abandoned for a long time. Rinne explains she used to come here to meet Setsuna but one night the tide blocked her path home. Suddenly her father found her. He blamed Setsuna for this and threw him into the ocean. With sunrise, her father writhed in pain as he had soot blight syndrome. Rinne dived in to save Setsuna but only found herself alone in hospital. Since then she has shut herself to the night world but this Setsuna saved her and gave her a place to be. So for now all that matters is she is Rinne and he is Setsuna. That’s all.

Episode 7
Setsuna and Rinne spend more time together. Probably it got Karen jealous enough to rush over to kick Setsuna. What’s that all about?! When they decided to go have some shaved ice, the old woman closes the store as she is out of medicine. Setsuna offers to get it so please make some. The old woman remembers seeing Setsuna and Rinne many years ago although they come out only at night. This is when Rinne starts to feel uneasy a she remembers. At the clinic, the policeman shows Setsuna an old newspaper article when Rinne went missing 5 years ago. Oddly she was 23 then but now she is 17?! Rumours flew that she was a hidden child and Rinne’s sister but further investigations showed she was the real deal. But the biggest mystery was Rinne when found was wearing the same clothes the day she went missing. This has Setsuna really start questioning if she came from the past and himself from the future. He rushes back to the store but Rinne has left. Old woman says she turned pale after talking about him. Setsuna believes that was not him back then. He finds Rinne at the pier. She rejects him but he holds on to her. She elaborates about her returned memories. That night when she and the original Setsuna fell into the sea, both washed up on the deserted island, Boryujima. Setsuna was bleeding so Rinne offered to help as they survive on the island by themselves. Pretty decent. But Setsuna became restless as he wanted to bring Rinne back. One night, he said he found a boat but it has only room for one. He wanted her to go. The next thing Rinne knew, she is back on Urashima and 5 years have passed. She regrets leaving him behind to die. So she wants to go to him? Setsuna tries to be realistic about living in fear but Rinne won’t listen and wants to be left alone. Tension interrupted with Sara asking what they’re doing getting wet together. WTF???!!! Rinne collapses. I think it wasn’t the sexual innuendo. Back at her shrine she theorizes that with many different timelines, Setsuna may be searching for the right one and redoing it over and over again. His visions and memories might be its side effect. The storm that will soon arrive on Urashima may be some sort of singularity cause that opens a rift between the islands. It could explain why Rinne didn’t age when she got back here. Rinne heard this and now has weird ideas to return to the original Setsuna. Gee, Rinne is sure fast in running away in the storm and stealing a boat into the choppy waters.

Episode 8
Just in time. Setsuna saves Rinne after she falls off her boat. She is adamant of going back to her original Setsuna. He agrees with her and will help but they need to plan. Plan quickly because here comes the tsunami! Next thing they know, they’re on Boryujima and it’s such a fine weather. Exploring the land further, no sign of her original beloved. Until Setsuna explores a deeper cave and sees his bones. Gee, the skeleton is too clean, if I should say. He reads his diary. It seems he found a strange coffin. More spamming of wanting to save Rinne. As he failed to make a raft, his desperation tells him that that this coffin is a boat to save her. So when she is sleeping, he put her in it. Setsuna shows Rinne this. Sad at first but he tells her he looks happy. Really? I thought all skeletons are naturally ‘smiling’. They decide to live on this island for a while and what a swell time they have together. Until suddenly Setsuna wakes up back in Rinne’s mansion. What’s this?! A wake is held for Rinne?! OMG! Rinne’s dead?! So that was all just a dream?! As Kuon explains, it seems the people found Setsuna body washed ashore but 5 days later a very unrecognizable corpse of Rinne. Setsuna cannot believe this. He remembers holding on tightly to her hand. But remember further. It was Rinne who let go. She wants him to live because once she reincarnates, she will be waiting for her. He falls into despair thinking she saved him. But no time to waste on that as Momoka and Kuon bring him to the mainland to Natsumi’s lab. There is that ancient coffin. Flashback shows Natsumi and Momoka often travelled the world to find so called ancient but hi-tech artefacts. Evidence shows they all originated from Urashima. After her death, Momoka went to see Kuon who took her to Boryujima to show that coffin where Rinne was sleeping. That was how she was actually found and contrary to the official story she was found on a beach. You see, they believe this is a time travelling device and anybody who sleeps in it doesn’t age as time stops. This explains Rinne’s age. Also, this matches up to Urashima’s legend of Setsuna sleeping eternally. They believe this coffin was brought from the future trying to intervene in the past. Setsuna lights up upon hearing the idea they can save Rinne. Yes, he is going to sleep in this coffin to go back in time and doesn’t care how long as it takes even if the chances of succeeding are low.

Episode 9
Hey! Wait a minute! Am I watching a new series?! A futuristic European dystopia of the series?! We even got a new opening theme and the series even changed its name to Never Island! We see Setsuna and Rinne together. Not sure if they are siblings or lovers but they are close. As they line up to get food while being preached by Sara the priestess, suddenly Karen and her minions throw a smokescreen to steal the food. Damn the guards are so adamant in eliminating them that they fire indiscriminately and run over Sara. Setsuna rescues Sara and takes cover inside the church. But there is Karen and co escaping too. She attacks him but his hand accidentally touch her boobs. Kick in the crotch! That’s that. It is narrated that people like Karen are called untagged. Kids who are born without permission and hence abandoned. They’re supposed to be killed and that is why they are in hiding. Back home, it seems Rinne loves tinkering with some sort of time capsule. She has blueprints from her ancestors so, uhm, don’t worry? When she has Setsuna test it, inside he suddenly felt strange as though time has stopped. When he exists, Rinne said the moment she flipped the switch, the fuse broke. It definitely felt longer inside. When they go see Sara, it seems she has them help out to deliver food to the untagged taking refuge underneath the island’s stratum. Yeah, lots of abandoned kids. Setsuna tries to feed one but gets knocked out. He dreams of arriving in this winter place in a capsule and Rinne found him. So I guess they become family. When he comes to, Karen is trying to seduce him for info on Sara, thinking he is her bodyguard. Why not ask her herself? She hates the church even if she feeds her. Trust no one. You see, Karen is the leader of the anti-church and she believes the church is trying to kill all untagged. Speaking of the church, the guards have found them. But soon the entire island faces a blackout. Elevator not working. There’s the stairs… Hiding in Rinne’s place, Sara talks about the expedition 5 years ago in which a group set to find Avalon, a utopia. The official story is that they never came back but the dark truth is that some did and were killed by the church so as to give people a false hope there is somewhere else habitable on this snowy island. Suddenly Setsuna remembers about the other Rinne and her death. He realizes he is here to save something and is going to do it.

Episode 10
There are wanted posters of Karen. Also, it states all her comrades are captured and will be executed. Time for a rescue mission. Minus Rinne, they sneak into the church but what awaits them are all corpses of the untagged. It was like the guards were waiting for them. Yup, clearly a trap. When a priestess tries to tell the guards not to use violence, they shoot her! They won’t shoot the rest yet as they have a role for them. They are brought to the church where Sara’s father the cardinal is giving a sermon. Suddenly he is shot. Sara and co rush to his side only for the archbishop to suddenly blame them as the terrorists for killing the cardinal. Everyone with mob mentality calls for their deaths. They are burnt at the stake like witches but thankfully here comes Rinne giving a fake warning that more of their comrades are coming and have brought bombs. Yeah, nice fireworks. With the people running away (where the f*ck are the guards?), Rinne is able to save them. The gang then trek outside the island, supposedly to a place where a lost technology lies. Unfortunately Sara dies from her wounds. Inside this cave is one heck of a computer system. Yeah, it’s working. Rinne tinkers with it while the rest bum around. Until Karen starts getting sick. Immediately Setsuna could identify this is soot blight syndrome (too much exposure to the sun) so by the time he brings her to the doctor, she is already dead. Woah! Rinne’s harem dropping like flies! As he rues he cannot save them, Rinne believes he can. Based on everything she has done and researched, this capsule is actually a time machine. This is what her ancestors have passed down. To save the world. He can go back in time to save them. Suddenly Setsuna remembers everything. He came to the future to go back to the past and save it. Sounds a bit confusing… Rinne hears about the other Rinne he wanted to save. She looks worried if they are lovers. Setsuna says she is also a special girl to him. I hope he doesn’t say that to all the girls named Rinne. With that, they believe Setsuna coming here is part of destiny to change history. Because Setsuna is going back alone, so they pretend to have a mock marriage and then have sex???!!! Oh well, one for the road! I’m sure that will be the best memories ever.

Episode 11
We’re back on Urashima. Because Setsuna has retained all his memories, don’t worry if this episode is going to replay everything in exact order again. Because thankfully it would be just weird if Karen falls and plants her face on his dick again. This time she just sees him naked. Thanks to his retained memories, Setsuna proudly boasts what is going to happen and knows about Karen’s background. Later he talks to her friends about the time she tried to hide in the yacht. Thus before Karen could stowaway, her friends are already waiting and want to hear out her reasons. Setsuna then waits for Rinne at the beach. He tries to be friendly with her but his failed pickup lines make her laugh a lot. He becomes her maid and surprisingly Kuon knows who he is. Next day, Setsuna knows all about Sara trying to kill him, her scar and her past. Woah. So true! Now she worships him? When Setsuna hangs out the laundry, he messes with her pantsu just to get her to run out into the sun. See? No soot blight syndrome. At this point, Karen and her friends leave the mainland to discover the truth about Natsumi. When she returns, all of them celebrates Sara’s birthday. Now that Rinne is ready, Setsuna brings her to the shack and then Boryujima to put a rest to her original Setsuna issues. They return to Urashima just in time for the fireworks festival. The usual best fun ever until time for the cliché moment when the rain hits. Perhaps there is some sexiness and romance for getting it on in the rain. It is clear that Rinne has totally fallen for him. If not for the stupid thunder and lightning to ruin the mood. I guess this isn’t so sexy after all. Setsuna visits Sara who shows her an old album. A photo shows a young Kuon who looks a lot like Rinne (shouldn’t be a surprise because we did see how she looked like at the funeral) as she holds baby Rinne in her arms. He starts feeling uneasy. Meanwhile Kuon tinkers with a time capsule in her room.

Episode 12
Setsuna thinks of asking Rinne but backs out after thinking he needs to be sure of things first. Later as he talks to Rinne, he learns Kuon used to wear an engagement ring from her father but stopped wearing it after Setsuna arrived. Feeling suspicious, he calls Momoka to confirm something about Kuon that she is different than what others would think of her. Like as though she is a different person and younger than she looks. Then it hit him. Kuon is that future Rinne!!! OMG! Is that a time capsule in Kuon’s bedroom?! Setsuna goes to the mansion’s library to do more investigation. Oh, keen eye observation that a diary of Rinne’s father is missing. The year she was born. Oh, convenient this locked drawer means some secret is hiding in here. Break open. There’s the lost diary. The year Rinne was born, Kuon died. And as also narrated by Kuon, it seems she woke up on Urashima 24 years ago and met the master of this mansion. Conveniently she had no memories then and only remembered her name: Rinne. She was hired as a maid. Soon she realized she was pregnant. At first the master disallowed it but after the doctor diagnosing his wife unable to bear a child, he thought of this idea to use the maid’s child as the successor. She also liked the idea but after the daughter was born, she was taken away. However the baby pinned for the maid instead of the mistress. Later the mistress died and the maid assumed Kuon’s name. The baby was named Rinne as she didn’t need that name anymore. Hence here is Setsuna’s revelation to Rinne: I am your father!!! Holy sh*t!!! So all those instances why he can’t get any further being romantic with her, yup, this is the reason. And you thought he was just a dense main character. Oh poor Rinne, so confused and sad. Can’t blame her for not accepting all this crap.

Setsuna then explains it to the other girls about how he is from the future and hence knew how to solve their problems. But conveniently Momoka is here to point out a hole in his theory. Oh yeah, something she conveniently FORGOT TO TELL HIM! That time capsule doesn’t travel through time. It just stops time. So how did Setsuna go back in time? Like now? Actually the world seems to be repeating itself and the events happening again. Like the rise and fall in civilization? Hence the same past is repeating in the future. HOLY SH*T!!! I’M SO F*CKING CONFUSED!!! Momoka has proof with that carbon dating thing. Whatever. Flashback shows Never Land Rinne regretted and didn’t want to die alone. So she went back to that cave and slept in the other capsule. Rinne now confronts Kuon. She explains she regained her memories slowly over time and felt sad she would not be able to meet the person she loved and would be content in just raising his child. Then he popped up. So she blamed him for not recognizing her at first? You kidding me?! YOU WERE HIDING IN YOUR ROOM AND COMMUNICATING VIA NOTES!!!!!! Time for the plot to move forward as Rinne who heard most of their talk, thanks mom for raising her. She is happy to have received their happiness. So by returning her name means she returns mom to him? Geez, this is confusing if I keep now refer to Kuon as Rinne so I’ll remain. Setsuna and Rinne are now free to reassure their love again. Oh yeah. Let the old flame and tears flow. But no sex this time. Soon, both get married and live the happiest family life. Oh yeah, they even have a honeymoon trip. After aeons, I think they deserve it.

Total Drama Mystery Island
You could literally say that their legendary love continues to live on and that their love has actually lasted for ages and survived the rise and fall of mankind and civilization! Woah! That’s the power of love transcending time for you! Just the mind boggling factor that the time capsule didn’t deteriorate or anything and remained in working condition. Yeah, even if Armageddon happened, the time capsule seemingly stayed in perfect condition. So well hidden that I guess nobody actually found it because they might have done something if they see a sleeping human inside and tried to pry hi/her out. No siree. Nobody knows how to even operate this damn thing and I wonder how it lets one out. Was there a timer to say when the freezing stops? Yeah, after 10 cycles of the fall of civilization. Thank goodness the great universe is still intact.

One of the many problems that adapted visual novels suffer is that it loses a lot of material when being translated to the TV series medium. People who played the game would have had hours and hours of experience, thus giving them a better grasp and understand of the entirety of the story as well as the characters. As I did not play the game itself, it is hard for me to do comparisons but based on my ‘experience’ of watching so many adapted visual novels, adapting to a different media format means losing a lot. Especially when you don’t get to choose a certain route or go back to choose another one. Therefore this adapted series’ plot suffers a lot and there are moments when it feels rushed. After all, they have to fit like 50 hours of gameplay into just a dozen episodes. It is bad enough this is only a single cour unlike some like Little Busters got more episodes (hence fleshing things out better) and even Rewrite got those little extra episodes. But with the anime series ended like that, do you really want to redo it all again for another route? I don’t think I want to stay for that even if it takes another million years!

But for Island, the story does start off fascinating and interesting only because we are new and unfamiliar with the premise. That novelty soon wears off and I have to admit that it sometimes was a drag to watch because I don’t really fully understand what is going on and with the dragging out of Setsuna’s mysterious amnesia thingy, I was more inclined to feel that I want to get over this anime as soon as possible. But I’ll give them credit for that ‘shocking’ Never Island arc because they did it in a fashion like as though it was another new series but just reusing the characters and it actually caught me off guard. I never expected it. Even if the plot of this arc was still ‘not that interesting’, suddenly jumping to a different setting and era was something I would never guessed. But with only 2 episodes on this arc, yeah it feels a bit rushed here. Even that sex scene… Like as though they don’t want to put it in but need to because what are visual novels without the sex part, right?

Thanks to all this, the characters also suffer. Especially Karen and Sara. Guts and experience dictate that Rinne is the favourite girl whom Setsuna would end up with and it is understandable that a lot of scenes and moments are focused on her (technically Kuon is the original Rinne so I guess this technically counts). This would unfortunately mean reducing Karen and Sara to the most minimal of roles that sometimes I feel that they are only here just to fill in the harem requirements. You see, Karen and Sara do have their moments but they happen so early on in the series and only had an episode of focus since their issues are solved very quickly! It is as though they want to get these 2 out of the way and focus solely on Rinne. Remember, we only have a dozen episodes to get it all out. I believe that Karen and Sara could have been written off entirely and be done without and the story would still carry on as usual. Just with much shorter episodes. On a curious note, I wonder if they were teasing something because during the snippets of Setsuna and Kuon’s marriage scene, if you are sharp enough, you can spot Sara’s busty mom hiding behind a tree watching everything. So did Sara’s mom did not really die and also found another time capsule? Yikes. Don’t want to open up another can of worms. At least the girls fare better. I don’t even know why the heck Subaru even exists… After Karen’s case is solved, he is never heard of again. Convenient plot tool. Maybe his character doesn’t exist anymore in the future…

Talking about Setsuna and Rinne as the main characters, they try to keep us intrigued with Setsuna’s real identity. Because of his convenient amnesia, it adds to the mystery factor as you would want to know if he is the real deal or an imposter. The legend of Urashima is also a ‘partner in crime’ because you will keep wondering if the characters who suspiciously share the same names with the legend are actually coincidences or reincarnations. But all that fizzled out with the supposed twist of time travelling thingy. I believe this is where my interest quickly waned since it got a little confusing too. Going to the future and then back to the past to save Rinne? Oh. How so unoriginal. How bland. And it irks me that when Setsuna returns to Urashima for the second time, why does he not lose his memories? Sara’s theory could be wrong that the side effects of time travelling could mess with his memories but why is this time so different? Is it because he made love to Rinne? Wow. The power of boners help retain your memories! And if that is the case, what about the first time Setsuna arrive on Urashima at the start of the series? Assuming he has been jumping back and forth a lot, how many times and how long has he been doing this? Did he not make love to Rinne all the while? Man, it would be just mind blowing to think each time he time travels, either Rinne dies or he bones her. Oh Setsuna, theoretically you could have boned Rinne from all time eras!

Conveniently this is all somewhat solved with just a single timeline. No time paradox confusion. Just one big heck of a coincidence of everything repeating again exactly. Wow. It’s like God was really fascinated to play around with this, huh? But I have to admit this single timeline thingy and that Kuon is the original Rinne was something I did not foresee and was my shock factor. Yeah, they did a good job trolling me into thinking they were actually going back and forth in time. But it got me to think that if Setsuna arrived in a timeline in the same manner all the time, how many times have he slept in the time capsule? Because from the first episode, it at least proves it wasn’t the first time he tried this trick. Hence the very unfortunate game of lovers trying to sleep and wake up in the closest timeline together as possible and hoping luck and coincidence would bring them together instead of missing each other again of ages. I guess God got tired of it already, huh?

I guess sleeping so long messed with your true love feelings and it might take some time to ‘defrost’. Otherwise it would have been so easy when Kuon saw Setsuna again but decided to play up some drama and mystery just to drag it all out for a dozen episodes and let everyone go on a wild goose chase. Yeah, nice piece of work there, Kuon. Somehow you started this mess. Even if you later came out from your room and spoke to Setsuna and he still didn’t recognize you, that’s because you didn’t say anything to override the obvious. Rinne, his daughter looked like a mirror image of his lover, therefore it’s not going to cross his mind that it is anybody else. All eyes are on this cutie Rinne other than a typical young mom that only anime can produce who shuts herself inside. Besides, how the heck did she drag the capsule into her room? She must have had a lot of time to dismantle and assemble it, I suppose.

So if Setsuna boned Rinne in Never Island and hence the second return to the island Rinne is their daughter, then who the f*ck is Rinne in the first time around?! What about that other original Setsuna that was supposed to be Rinne’s first love? Please don’t tell me it is all a dream. Man, I’m so confused now. They tried to put up a great twist and even parody that iconic Star Wars moment, I take back what I said about this shock factor blowing my mind away. I’m so confused that I’m annoyed now. I can now understand how Rinne felt about Setsuna. Just when she just warmed up to him and getting all cosy, ready to truly fall in love, WTF is this I-am-your-father twist crap???!!! I’d rather accept you say I am not kawaii enough for you to be f*cked! Haha! Oops…

Sometimes I feel that some of the so called mysteries are just red herrings. In addition to that Urashima legend itself, even the soot blight syndrome feels like one. It doesn’t really play a major role anyhow and it is something that you would be keeping at the back of your head from time to time. Even when it is explained about something being exposed to sunlight or something, you’ll wonder what the heck it really is and how relevant it is to the story. So Rinne thinking she had this disease sometimes feels like she is just having a mini Munchausen’s syndrome. Because Sara loves coming up with outrageous theories that sound so grand and many of them fall flat or debunked, it is a reason why we are all so confused because at the end of the day, they don’t really amount to nothing. Remember the first episode whereby Setsuna muttered he needed to kill somebody? No? Me neither. Almost. Yeah, that felt like it was to throw us off. Like almost everything else.

The art and animation looks pretty decent. I did some lazy Google and find that the art style for the anime closely resembles the visual novel. I suppose at this day and age, technology and talent has progressed a lot so that there are no extensive gap between the art styles of the original and the adapted. As the setting takes place on an island, I like the backdrops and sceneries as they personally look nice. Especially the beach and the starry night sky.

As for the character designs, the first time I looked at Setsuna, I was wondering what the heck is the discount version of Cowboy Bebop’s Spike doing here. Like as though Spike has time travelled so much that he returned being a teenager. Heh. Just kidding. Sara is the most ‘eye catching’ one thanks to her fluffy afro-like hairstyle. It makes me think she came out from the old Monchichi cartoon. Seriously. Okay, sorry. Not meant to offend her that she is a monkey. Otherwise, Sara sometimes look like one of those characters from that mobile game, Hunie Pop. And Karen having twintails, looks like it is the stereotype for bratty girls to have this kind of hairstyle. This anime was produced by Feel who animated a number of visual novels such as Yosuga No Sora, Fortune Arterial, Ushinawareta Mirai Wo Motomete, Otome Wa Boku Ni Koishiteru and the Da Capo series.

It has been a long time since I have heard Yukari Tamura in a leading role. As Rinne, it’s nice to hear her trademark cute high pitched squeaky voice again. Also refreshing to hear is Kana Asumi as Karen as I haven’t been hearing her in a while and even more so in a leading supporting role. The other seiyuu I recognized was Rina Satou as Kuon. It was hard to identify her since she doesn’t speak much and even so only soft spoken. But I could not do the same for Eri Kitamura as Natsumi since her cameo was limited and she was always in a serious mode. The other casts are Tatsuhisa Suzuki as Setsuna (Ban in Nanatsu No Taizai), Hibiku Yamamura as Sara (Eia in Dorei-ku The Animation), Ai Kakuma as Momoka Miyako in Imouto Sae Ireba Ii) and Kengo Kawanishi as Subaru (Rei in 3-gatsu No Lion).

Yukari Tamura sings the opening theme, Eien No Hitotsu. Lively and generic enough to be so suitable for an adapted visual novel. Same sentiments for the ending theme, Eternal Star by Asaka. For the Never Island arc, Yukari Tamura now sings a slow but lovely pop rock ballad of the opening theme, Closing Tears. Asaka also sings for the Never Island arc’s ending theme, Marine Snow, a slow rock. There are a few insert songs and they’re not bad. Like the one Rinne often hums during her night walk on the beach or alone, Lasting Memories sounds much better in its full original form. Karen’s Purest Summer feels a bit too fast but overall sounds like a generic song for a visual novel. Sara’s Tennen Kinen Girl Janai Yo in a way makes me feel this is a nice song for a beach outing. The weirdest song goes to the duet of Rinne and Setsuna, Quiet Sea. The song isn’t so bad and in fact the little retro feel of its beat reminds me of another song I liked, Kogarashi Sentiment from the Monogatari series. The weird thing is how Yukari Tamura sounds fine, cute and lovely as always but for Tatsuhisa Suzuki singing his part, I just feel that his voice isn’t suitable for singing. No offence but when they are both singing their lines, his voice stands out as a little weird.

Overall, it is unfortunate that this series did not impressed and was a let-down. What started out as intriguing quickly lost steam because of the rushed scenes. The nice visuals and personally the opening and ending themes are its good points but those alone cannot save the entire series that just feels bland and weak in the stories and characters, the 2 most important aspects for a visual novel. And like I have always said, if you want to truly appreciate this series, might as well go play the game. Even though I won’t be planning to even play it. The anime as most would agree with me is best left stranded and lost forever on an island off the map that no one will ever come close to ever. Not even a magical storm or the GPS coordinates of a time travel capsule will even bring you to this island. They can play Love Island for eternity for all we care.

Hashiri Tsuzukete Yokattatte

January 11, 2019

You might be forgiven if you think that Hashiri Tsuzukete Yokattatte (I’m Glad I Could Keep Running) sounded like a title for an anime about running or marathon. Nope. Not even close to anything running. If you want anything running related in this particular season, please move on to Kaze Ga Tsuyoku Fuite Iru. Otherwise if you wish to continue down this one, then you’ll notice it is about voice acting. Okay. It’s not like we have a voice acting themed anime every season (unlike that cute girls doing cute things genre). If Girlish Number was too dark and b*tch-like while Sore Ga Seiyuu doesn’t feel realistic because of its moe elements, this one might fit the bill. Sort of. Because it has only 4 episodes! 15 minutes each! Ah, what kind of troubles our budding seiyuus will encounter in just 4 freaking episodes…

Episode 1
Minato Suyama looks uninterested when his friend invited him to a voice acting recital. The moment it starts, he became enthralled. And so, now it becomes Minato’s dream to become a seiyuu as he moves into his new apartment and plans to graduate from this famous voice acting academy. It seems this apartment’s previous tenant left a message for her next tenant. Her dream is to become a seiyuu too and she hopes the next tenant would be able to follow his. Minato and other budding seiyuus are quickly tested by the teacher to see their capabilities. For Minato, looks like he needs to breathe some life into his characters. So to say he sounds like a robot? Later as they have a karaoke session (an excuse to sing and hence improve their voice acting), Minato takes a break and notices a girl nervously reciting her lines in the next room. The mind boggling thing is not he recognized it as the voice message in his room but how the f*ck could he hear that distinctive voice if she was reciting in that room?! You know how well padded the walls of the karaoke rooms so as not to leak out sound, right?! Minato learns from his senior, Ryouta Nakata that she is Chikako Oomori. He hands him a flyer that he and Chikako are going to perform in soon. Minato continues his voice acting studying and the teacher concludes he lacks soul. He should put himself in the shoes of his characters to breathe life in it. So now he sounds like a zombie? Later Minato checks out the café place of the recital and meets Kei Ikoma. She is not a seiyuu but an illustrator. Minato notices Chikako outside and this time her face obviously even more troubled. Snippets show her teacher didn’t think she was good enough and this clearly zapped her zest. She doesn’t think she can do it but looks like it is her time to go on stage. Minato can see how scared she is on stage like as though she is an abandoned puppy. Like a different person altogether.

Episode 2
The crowd is baffled at Chikako’s silence at first but as she gets started, it’s nervous all the way. Hey, at least she tried. Later outside, Minato approaches her and has heard her recite. He recites exactly the lines of her voice message. Shocking fate, right? How could he recognize her voice? Because it sounds distinct. I think I’ll need to hear her a lot more times before I can recognize her as unique. Chikako reveals about her nervousness and she was afraid to make mistakes as it will bring ruin to the character she is playing. As they speak more about the positive light one being a seiyuu and the change they want to bring to others, they start acting themselves lines from the script. Not bad. Like as though it sounded so real. Minato continues learning the basics of voice acting and soon there will be this autumn festival in which they will be presenting what they have learnt so far throughout the year. Minato and his friends heard Ryouta got a role in an anime although it is just a very minor character with a single line. Actually, just a screaming line. They have him act it out and they’re so impressed with his professionalism although Ryouta thinks they’re making fun of him. Ryouta invites Minato to the café as it would help develop and benefit his skills too. Oh, Chikako will be there too. Minato notices there aren’t many people around. Chikako notes that this time of year, many quit to focus on other prospective. It’s Chikako’s turn to go on stage but that damn trauma has her nervous again. But thankfully remembering Minato’s words calm her down and she is able to say her lines smoothly now and with confidence.

Episode 3
It has been 4 months since Minato enrolled and he feels he still isn’t up to it. But there will be a script recital to select the most skilled seiyuu for the main role. Minato works hard and his confidence is booming and on the night of his recital, everything went fine. It was the best performance he had. So on the day the results of the roles are announced, it seems Minato just got a side childhood friend character role. The main character role went to his friend, Nobuyuki Tamaru. Minato is in shock so he talks to the teacher to find what he was lacking. Man, he sounds really desperate. Like as though he thought he was going to get the role. The teacher points out he has improved a lot. However he is not the only one to have improved. There is something else he is lacking. He must ask his own heart if he truly wants to breathe life into the characters. Of course he is confused and doesn’t understand what it all means. He still thinks he did everything perfectly. Chikako hears him out but the best way to see what’s troubling him is to do some impromptu voice acting now. He isn’t in the mood but with her being stubborn, he plays along. Hope he finds what he is looking for. Back home, he reads the script of his character again and begins to see the similarities in his real life. The character cannot be as good as the main character no matter how hard he tried. Thus he realizes the need to convey and convey this frustration, words and feelings into that character.

Episode 4
Minato learns that Chikako will be helming a main role at the recital. It might sound like a no brainer but I guess from time to time they need to remind themselves how much they need to breathe life into the characters they play. Because both are going into overdrive mode to practice, they note they might not have time to meet up like this as often as before. All for the dream, right? Just when Minato has really breathed some life into his character and is doing excellent, guess what the teacher says? He is putting in too much emotions! Woah! Don’t want to overdo it there. One night as Minato thought of paying Chikako a visit, he heard from Ryouta that she is out sick and skipped practice. But he finds her bumming out by herself and buys her a honey lemon drink to calm her down. It seems she still has the jitters and stage fright after all this time. Minato looks at it in a positive light. Worrying about her characters is good as it gives her better understanding of a lot of different characters. Chikako is so touched that she cried? She must be having a hard time. Well, can’t stay down forever. Time to move on and achieve her dreams. So the festival is here and we see (hear) Chikako excelling in her role that it gives inspiration to a listener, Shiori Gushiken whom you could tell is going to walk the seiyuu dream. Because the funny thing is that 2 years later Shiori now moves into that same room Minato stays after he has moved out. Yup. Same dreams too. Minato is now casted to play a role in an anime and he is pleasantly surprised to see Chikako around to help as a stand in.

Life In Words
Oh well. Nothing really special. Really. If that is what I have to summarize in one short sentence what this short anime is. Just like in any industry or job that you do, there are drawbacks that would make one nervous. Hence this series making our up and coming main characters having the jitters as they achieve their dream might sound pretty normal but nothing extraordinary. There are actually no dangers of them losing their path and failing to achieve their dream. Nothing that would outright stop them from attaining their goal except themselves. They really would have to screw up big time if they fail to land their dream but thankfully that didn’t happen. That is I said that there is nothing really special about it all. It’s like focusing the mini struggles of some ordinary person. Just pretty normal. Nothing special, I guess. Oh dear. So normal that I sound like a broken recorded. It isn’t that this series is bad but it lacks anything exciting that would be make an impact or be memorable in the long run. I know this is a short series but heck, I have a feeling that porn seiyuu, Koe De Oshigoto would be even more memorable than this one! Yeah, I still remember that one…

If you’re looking for inspiration in the characters to be a seiyuu, well, I don’t think this one cuts it. As said, we see them facing some sort of problems that are just minor stumbling blocks to their dream to be a seiyuu. It’s not a very high obstacle either but when you’re a rookie and newbie, that mini wall could look like a towering one. Hence this is the only ‘drama’ we will mostly see as Minato and Chikako try to find out themselves on how to become a better seiyuu while supporting each other. I guess this way it’s good so they don’t get lost or stray too far from the path as the other will help guide the other back. So you can see when it started off, Chikako was having self-confidence problems. And when she is on the recovery path, it is Minato’s turn to face his own inner demons. So yeah, both helped and supported each other in many ways. It’s a shame that some sort of romance didn’t hit off between the duo. I can understand it didn’t happen (at least on screen) due to the lack of screen time. But if this series was expanded to a full season cour, I am sure they will play this issue up. After all, love and romance in the voice acting industry, I don’t think we have that yet as an anime series.

I know Ryouta’s character plays a supporting role to give Minato and Chikako some motivation since he is their senior and technically has more experience but I don’t even fathom why Kei’s character was even created. Blame the short duration again for not fleshing out her character well enough. Her character can actually be done without as she isn’t even a seiyuu. I am sure behind the scenes she have supported our main duo in many ways but I feel it is a wasted potential. On a trivial note, I find it funny that the same room is rented to budding seiyuu. Because in a certain way, doesn’t it look like a curse?! I guess this curse isn’t so bad. Must be a damn coincidence for the people trying their hands in the same profession to start living in that same particular room. It’s like the owner only rents this particular room out to certain people. Keep this up and we’ll call it a tradition! It’s like history repeating itself, don’t you think? I wonder if this is a subtle way of telling you this is one of the ways how dreams are passed down. Cool.

Art and animation feel pretty normal. It is clean and clear and nothing too messy. After all, this isn’t action driven so no rigorous animation to animate. Though I noticed that the backgrounds have this sketch-like appearance but since our focus are on the characters, you tend not to notice it or get distracted by it. This series is animated by Signal.MD whose only other work that I watched is Net-juu No Susume.

Talking about the voice acting department, I was surprised to learn that Jun Fukuyama was behind Minato’s voice. I didn’t identify him right away since he didn’t sound like his trademark voice that I often hear to recognize him. He sounds pretty normal. Normal as in a way that rookies like me won’t be able to identify if he sounds different than usual. But I guess this means he is doing a great job as a seiyuu. He has to. He is already a veteran in this area. For the other casts, they are Iori Noguchi as Chikako (this is her debut role so it somewhat befits her character role), Kousuke Toriumi as Ryouta (Chopin in ClassicaLoid) and Mai Fuchigami as Kei (Nagisa in Ansatsu No Kyoushitsu). Hearing the very energetic and lively opening theme, Yume Fanfare by Lip x Lip sounded so familiar. That style of exuberance somehow reminded me of Itsudatte Bokura No Koi Wa 10cm Datta. Guess what? Lip x Lip also sang that opener. No wonder. Aikatsu Happy End by =Love also has this feel and lives up to its name.

Overall, this is one of those series where you want something that is not too heavy and doesn’t take up much of your time. But it has become ‘too light’ to constitute to anything special that it makes you wonder if you have wasted your precious little time in watching that something that doesn’t make an everlasting impact or even give you some sort of motivation. Because if you are like those characters here who suddenly get inspired just by hearing the recital, then my friend you haven’t watched any anime in your life or hear character drama CDs. Imagine just that single moment was enough to give you inspiration on your life dreams. Just saw a doujin, now I wanna be a mangaka! Just played an awesome JRPG demo, now I wanna be a game developer! I saw that amazing porn now I wanna be a porn star! Haha! Oops! Get the logic? Speaking of logic, don’t you think this series would be better off titled as Hanashi Tsuzukete Yokattatte (I’m Glad I Could Keep Speaking)? What a missed opportunity…

Angolmois: Genkou Kassenki

January 6, 2019

Remember a time when the Mongols were once one of the greatest, if not the greatest and deadliest empires in the world? So great and deadly that even the historians studied and analysed that with so many people killed under their history, they actually helped in conserving the world environment by eliminating all those carbon and letting the land to return to its original forest roots. And that was when the world wasn’t even billions of people yet. And now, we go back in history to see one of their exploits. A time when they first invaded Japan. Angolmois: Genkou Kassenki is based on that first invasion back in 1274. Historical animes aren’t my cup of tea but if they’re going way back before all that Tokugawa and Meiji era setting that most probably has been done to death in so many other period and historical animes, this sounds like a refreshing idea.

Episode 1
A boat is carrying a group of exiled men. Among them is Jinzaburou Kuchii who was once a retainer for the Kamakura Shogunate. Several disgruntled men complain about being tied up as the sea is rough. They want to be set free because where else could they run? But upon releasing some of them, they rebel and kill the authorities off. They didn’t stop there, though. They try to dispose the other prisoners but Jinzaburou slices them apart. Also on board is Onitakemaru, a former pirate who was captured by Jinzaburou. He is made to steer the ship until it reaches Tsushima, supposedly an island at the edge of Japan. Upon arrival, they are welcomed by the beautiful princess, Teruhi. Is this some sort of dream come true as they are treated to a banquet. Suspicious Jinzaburou questions the point of all this as Teruhi claims they will all fight and lay down their lives for Tsushima. Rumours have it that the Mukuri (Mongolians) are going to invade Japan and are gathering at Goryeo (Korea). If so, Tsushima is the first place they will invade. She claims she has officially enlisted them for this and technically she saved their lives. The prisoners protest that this is no different than a death wish. Those who oppose, swift death comes upon them. This doesn’t come as a surprise to Jinzaburou because exiling is not what he is supposed to get for the things he has done. Teruhi might have sounded brave but in actually fact she was just putting up a brave front and dislikes the idea of war as she hates to see people dying. With some prisoners asking about Tsushima, former wealthy merchant, Zhang Mingfu could easily explain about Tsushima and Goryeo. This island serves as the gateway to Japan and it is only right if foreigners were to invade from Goryeo, Tsushima would be their first stop.

Deep into the night, a small group of bandits kidnap Teruhi. Uhm, that kind of ‘futuristic’ mask, is he like from the future? With the disorganized guards all abuzz trying to save Teruhi, the prisoners easily break out from their prison. Jinzaburou believes they have a better chance of survival if they stay to fight the Mongols rather than steal a flimsy fisherman’s boat back to the mainland. But some part ways into the mountains. Jinzaburou kills some time by burning the entire prison down. Despite the bandits being few in numbers, they are skilled enough to kill many of Teruhi’s guards. I guess Jinzaburou got bored so he decides to join in and slices the baddies with his Gikei style sword technique. Facing off with the bandit boss who seems to hint he is a foreigner with blonde hair, I can’t believe he could jump so far and high back to his own ship to escape. I know this is fantasy in some ways but this feels too much. Next morning, Teruhi hopes to give all those who died a decent burial. Jinzaburou lectures her that this doesn’t even cut it as war as the real deal is a brutal nightmare. Inadvertently he inspires her to vow and protect the people of this land. That’s why he is going to work hard for her. Teruhi’s servant, Kano returns to relay the bad news. The Mongols have begun their invasion as their 900 strong warships have left Goryeo for Tsushima.

Episode 2
As narrated, the Mongols conquered all of Eurasia and became something of what Nostradamus predicted them as Angolmois, the place where the king who destroys the world will be born. Jinzaburou is invited to attend a war strategy meeting conducted by Teruhi’s father, Sukekuni Sou and his adopted son, Yajirou Abiru. Sounds more like a storytelling party. Getting down to business, it seems they have ‘credible’ information that the Mongols will not attack Tsushima and go straight to the mainland. What is this about past alliance and this place breeds strong warriors? Jinzaburou brushes it off that this isn’t some pirate attack and the enemy army won’t just pass by an important base. He is thrown out of the meeting. In the streets, he has the villagers describe Tsushima and he finds it a lot bigger than it is. Enough to be its own country than an island. A monk is interested in this ‘3D map’ Jinzaburou created and wants it copied. But he knows Jinzaburou. Kagesuke Shouni also served the Kamakura Shogunate as a high ranking general. He is here to find out more about the Mongols. He has decided to send 3000 strong men as reinforcements. However they will only arrive in 7 days and he hopes Jinzaburou can hold out by then. He gives him a short blade supposedly belonging to Yoshitsune whom the Gikei style originated. Teruhi fears Jinzaburou leaving with Shouni so she acts out a cheesy nervous flirting for him just so he could promise and stay by her side. But Jinzaburou is worried that he is now forced to rely on Shouni, something he knows he can’t count on.

The Mongols will soon arrive on Tsushima. Sukekuni rallies the men to go fight them and they will hike for days and nights across the mountain to face battle. Teruhi wants to join in but is slapped by Sukekuni to know her place and bloodline. Jinzaburou thinks this indicates that Teruhi isn’t his real daughter or part of his clan. Upon reaching the bay, it must be a shocker to see the numerous invading fleet anchored there. Jinzaburou offers his advice on how to tackle but they will not hear a word of it. Especially Sukekuni who still feels he had been embarrassed during the meeting and should have killed him. But he made him remember his passion for fighting and his past glories are no more than just that. He orders him to the rear to protect Teruhi and is given an armour supposedly worn by their clan’s founder. He battle begins as Jinzaburou observes the battle tactics of the Mongols. He is impressed by the archer’s tactics of just shooting their arrow into the air because they don’t need to be highly trained and it also shows that all the men are from different places. Then the inevitable melee combat. Sukekuni and Yajirou do well enough to slay many guards and even a high ranking general to break through their ranks. However the tide will soon turn when they reach the bay. They see the coastal villages massacred and their corpses piled up. The Mongols then start using the mini trebuchet to throw bombs from their warship! With casualties running high, Yajirou is forced to sound for retreat. Unfortunately Sukekuni gets surrounded and killed by the enemy. No regrets.

Episode 3
Jinzaburou takes command of the fleeing soldiers and he tells them to fight back as the Mongols have decided to pursue them, their resources wear thin. The locals are split and some agree to fight with Jinzaburou while others especially under Yajirou’s command decide not to and continue retreating. Jinzaburou takes the Mongols head on and turns the battlefield bloody. He is aided by other fellow prisoners, Saburou Obusuma, Kazuhisa Shiraishi and Hitari. When Jinzaburou spots the main base of the Mongols, he takes a gamble and rides into it. Meanwhile Teruhi has come to the frontlines to tend to the wounded. She silences all those who oppose her and will take command in her father’s stead. Jinzaburou and his little merry men return and they surprised the rest with their victory. Jinzaburou returns with some package and wants Teruhi to identify. It is not the head of the enemy general but Sukekuni and his son! Jinzaburou risked getting them before they are put up on the enemy’s spear tomorrow as it would really demoralize them. Even though Jinzaburou calls Sukekuni’s attempts at victory as failure, he died a proud death. At night when they are resting, Jinzaburou devises a plan to attack the Mongols while they are sleeping. This is the best strategy to attack a large army with few numbers since they are not familiar with the land. All he needs is a guide. Some of them volunteer like Ginshichi so Jinzaburou has them eat and rest until the moon is at its peak before their night raid. Teruhi is not impressed with all this. As she even thinks of killing him for fear he will drag everyone to hell in his fight. Hey, you’re the one who brought him in to fight! Of course she can’t and it is hinted she did something shady to him while he sleeps. I believe it is a kiss… When it is time to raid, it looks like Yajirou’s faction has decided not to fight and return to the capital to regroup. Thanks to the excellent night vision of fellow prisoner, Amushi, Jinzaburou is able to strategize more. This includes how the Mongols’ goal is Kyushu and they don’t want to spend months fighting on this island. Hence everyone will hide deep in the island where they can’t reach them. Upon reaching the camp, a skeleton Mongol crew is keeping watch. Suddenly a few of the guides start running towards the enemy camp and shouting. Betrayal? Ginshichi is about to strike Jinzaburou from behind but Teruhi spots this and when she tries to warn him, she gets slashed.

Episode 4
Jinzaburou kills Ginshichi as he believes his family was held hostage by the Mongols. The Mongols are now on alert as they shoot fire arrows into the forest. After seeing dead villagers and some killed as examples, Jinzaburou can’t pull out from this now. They barge straight in to attack. Onitakemaru didn’t’ want to fight but after the arrows destroyed his sake, it’s bludgeoning time. When a Mongol commander reports to Kin Houkei, the high inspector of the army, he is not pleased he got scared by a few Japanese and used this reason to flee. He uses his own hearing and sounds from the battle to deduce their actual numbers. Houkei is surprised with the arrival of Ryuu Fukukou, the vice marshal of the Mongol army. He heard there is a wolf on this island who slew one of their mingghan commander and wants to hunt him down. Jinzaburou gives the signal to retreat as their mission is just to show their might. However they here screams. Women and children of the village are being transported to the Mongol ship. Some want to save them but Jinzaburou orders the retreat or else they will be surrounded. Thankfully they are helped by a group called Toibarai who were originally sent to protect Japan from invaders. With their help slaying the Mongols, Jinzaburou and his men are able to save the women and children before retreating. Jinzaburou is then met with the commander of Toibarai, Hangan Nagamine. He tells him they are going to leave now and will not risk losing any more of his men. They didn’t volunteer for this job but a noble requested them. If he is worthy, one day he will meet them. Ryuu stumbles into Onitakemaru. They fight and he finds this pirate a worthy foe. Onitakemaru loses but before he gets killed, Jinzaburou intervenes. They clash swords for a while and Ryuu realizes he is the wolf. Jinzaburou retreats and despite Ryuu would love to chase him, he has orders by the marshal, Hindun to return. The big man hears from his priest the auspicious date to set sail for Hakata and that will be in 7 days. Jinzaburou and his men take a break as they retreat to the capital. Teruhi can’t stop blushing at him but she might turn into a tsundere after Jinzaburou crudely puts some of his traditional grass medicine on her wound. Some of the men mistreat Sasamaru, the child of Ginshichi who was rescued. They view that dead man a traitor. Jinzaburou steps in. He admits he killed his father and gives him a chance to avenge him. Sasamaru is scared but after Jinzaburou explains how Ginshichi was a brave man challenging somebody stronger to save his family, Sasamaru is motivated to become stronger to kill him one day.

Episode 5
When they arrive at the capital, they see it being burnt to the ground. Some of the survivors have fled into the forest. Among them is Yajirou’s group. It seems the Mongols attacked this morning. Yajirou becomes pessimistic with this demoralization so Jinzaburou mocks him for being a pussy. Argument put on hold when reports come in that the Mongols are coming. Hiding behind the bushes, they spot several Mongol scouts. Teruhi is so enraged the Mongols took everything from her, she starts shooting her arrows at them. In no time the rest follow suit and kill all the scouts. The only place left for them now is to retreat to the bay. In order to give the villagers time to escape, Jinzaburou strategizes to build a fort right here on this narrow path. With the Mongols coming around the blind corner, Jinzaburou and go can easily take them out while the archers provide backup from the sides. Some of the men hiding below the valley can pierce the Mongols if they fall off. The strategy is working but Yajirou is still not impressed. He wonders why a guy like Jinzaburou is willing to fight and die for this island. Flashback time. Jinzaburou often visited an acquaintance of his father, Tokiaki Nagoe. The latter warned him not to visit so often as he doesn’t want to give the slightest provocation to other clans. But a few days later, they are attacked by Yorisue Ookura, a servant from the Hojou clan who is close to the shogun. They accuse Tokiaki for rebelling despite without any proof. Jinzaburou intervenes to fight. He got distracted by Tokiaki’s son being a coward while his father was going to be decapitated. Tokiaki’s last words to Jinzaburou was to think of him as his own father since Jinzaburou doesn’t remember much about his own. The moral of the story is that if you throw away your sword and you have one pointing at your throat, you lose everything. Hence learning the hard way, this is how he fights. The Mongols are now using bombs. This causes a little havoc but with Yajirou’s side having experience in dealing them, they manage to surround the Mongols in a valley and kill all of them. Yajirou decides to put his trust in Jinzaburou and wants him to look forward while he protects his back.

Episode 6
Hitari and Teruhi try to take out the commander of this troop, Uriyan Edei. But thanks to his sharp soldiers, he is well protected from behind. Uriyan sees fleeing Teruhi and is captivated by her beauty. He orders his men not to kill her. With another set of Mongol armies seen marching, Jinzaburou believes it is time to abandon their fort. The Mongols at the narrow path fires a gun via gunpowder. It hits Yajirou directly in the guts. Mad Jinzaburou slices them all down. Hey, it will take some time to reload the weapon, right? Yajirou and Jinzaburou exchange final words. The latter promises his death will not be in vain. With Amushi reporting another set of Mongols coming in, this might sound they will be pincered but Jinzaburou believes this is to their advantage. As he noticed both Mongol armies have different uniforms, this means different commanders. If they clash, this will give them more time to run. So as they retreat, it might look despicable that Onitakemaru had looted from the fleeing farmers their items and treasures. But when both Mongol armies arrive, he fights them for a while before running away and leaving his stolen goods behind. The Mongol factions then start to fight each other over the loot. That night as Jinzaburou sleeps, he dreams of all the traumas especially the one on his family. He wakes up only to see Teruhi’s face so close. Nobody panicking. Just checking to see if he is alive. Why does she sound so disappointed? Whatever she was about to steal, was it worse than the stolen loot? An old man appears before Jinzaburou. Reluctantly he invites him to meet the emperor. Man, this old fart can run fast! Jinzaburou chases after him but and it must be a long run because by the time Jinzaburou catches up to him at the top of the mountain peak, this old man is a retainer of the emperor, Tokihito AKA Emperor Antoku. You mean this petite creepy looking fairy is the emperor of Japan?

Episode 7
When Antoku was young, he was saved by Yoshitsune. But instead of following him back to the capital, he gave him a short blade. Now he is glad to see it with Jinzaburou. Slowpoke Teruhi arrives. Long time no see great grandpa. He gives her a message to be given to Nagamine. Orders to protect the people. On the way down, Teruhi explains how her ancestors saved the emperor and brought him to this island, making their clan was part of the Heike when the emperor presented his granddaughter to marry her father. That was how she was born. They reach the bay and since Jinzaburou has a good look of it, he noticed the maze-like inlets that make it hard for the Mongols to navigate. Don’t say now but a small group on a boat is chasing down a group of women on a raft! Before they could do anything, when the Mongols get too close, the women dive into the waters before the hidden Toibarai slaughter them all. Those who dive into the sea are then slaughtered by the woman divers. On land as they rest, Jinzaburou once again notices the different attire of this Mongol army. This unit uses poison arrows but don’t worry, those who got hit are treated by future doctor, Douen. Nagamine meets Teruhi and is given the letter. With his orders, he welcomes all of them and brings them to his huge hideout that was made hundreds of years ago by their Toibarai predecessors. After all, they are the ones who have been fighting to defend Japan. Amushi ‘befriends’ a local girl, Sana as he explores the long run of the wall. It’s like the mini version of China’s Great Wall. Jinzaburou feels this is a flaw and checks it out. Everyone is treated with great hospitality inside this base. They sing praises of their deeds until Jinzaburou becomes the wet blanket that has his detractors pointing their blades at his neck. He mentions how their big castle is a liability. Because of its size, there are not enough guards to protect it and if the Mongols invade, they’ll be overrun in no time.

Episode 8
Nagamine replies that Toibarai will fight to the death here without abandoning it, causing Jinzaburou to believe the reason he protects this place not because the emperor told him so but to recruit more men. Jinzaburou is told he is free to leave. Even if he escapes from the Mongols, can he survive the harsh winter? Outside, a few guards spar with Jinzaburou in an attempt to mock him but he overwhelms them. He as them take off their helmet and tell their names because if they’re fighting the Mongols, can they trust their lives to people whose faces and names you don’t know? Jinzaburou changes his thinking. He thought it was okay to abandon a place to protect the people. But now he believes both can be protected. He wants to help strengthen the walls if he is to stay and protect this place. Obusuma calls Shiraishi to speak to him alone. He hints of fighting for the Mongols. You see, after the first battle at the beach, he fled and tried to ransack some villagers but got caught. That is when a small Mongol group invaded and killed the villagers. Nergui saw potential in him and gave him his Mongol pass to come see him. Speaking of Nergui, he speaks to Uriyan who is about to give up looking for the Japanese since they don’t know where they are hiding. Nergui has been planting spies all around the island and they need just one guy to come forth. Hence Obusuma suggests Shiraishi defect with him as they will be greatly rewarded and return to their glory times. But Shiraishi won’t lose his soul and refuses. Too bad Obusuma tries to cut him down but Shiraishi is faster. When a woman comes by and learns how Shiraishi took care of the traitor and wants to go tell others, Shiraishi kills her and makes it look like she killed Obusuma for trying to rape her.

Jinzaburou has second thoughts about Shouni’s promise. It is that promise that is keeping everyone’s spirits high but he doubts the army giving up the advantage of the terrain in Kyushu they know so well. On the positive note, if they do come, they can do more. Nagamine and co examine the slain bodies but he believes something is wrong. Jinzaburou also smells something wrong with Shiraishi not seen since afternoon. Plus, it is just fishy that a skilled samurai like Obusuma is easily killed by a diver woman. Shiraishi goes to see Uriyan. Nergui is suspicious as this isn’t the person he gave the pass to. Shiraishi tells of the base’s weaknesses and when asked if there are treasures and live slaves, Shiraishi regrets this betrayal but cannot turn back. Uriyan relishes seeing his despair face. Because of that, he is willing to trust him and bring him into his ranks. How does it sound to have the title of the first Japanese to defect to them? Night falls as Nagamine tells Jinzaburou about the strange death of Obusuma. For the little dagger the diver woman had, it is impossible for her to make a clean cut across his collar bone. As suspicions on Shiraishi’s whereabouts grow, the man returns. His excuse? He went hunting for some wild boar meat. Next morning, a report is received that the Mongols are coming to attack this base at full force.

Episode 9
Jinzaburou draws a map of the base. From where the Mongols are coming, it looks like they will be coming up from the south. With their main forces here, Shiraishi offers to guard the west side. Jinzaburou? He’ll be outside. And by that he means doing a skirmish on the vanguard just to make them panic before running back behind the walls. With the Mongols now focusing all their efforts on the south gate, a full assault begins. To keep the Mongols from inching closer, behind the walls are stone catapults used to keep them at bay. Shiraishi tries to have the few men return to the south while he patrols here alone. For those who stayed, the Mongols who have snuck in, killed them. This is part of Uriyan’s plan to concentrate the fighting on the south while they quietly sneak in at other points. Nagamine and Jinzaburou could pick up that the Mongols are not really advancing despite their numbers increased. Like as though they don’t want to take this base. Like as though this is just a distraction. Suddenly the main citadel is on fire. Have the Mongols invaded? Actually, it is their own men who made a fire trap to burn the sneaky Mongols. So when one of Uriyan’s commanders dies from this, he becomes angry and orders a full scale attack on the base as revenge and ignores pleas to retreat and not lose any more men since their main goal is to invade Kyushu. Jinzaburou rides out with his few men for another skirmish to panic the Mongols before heading back. This time Jinzaburou fires an arrow directly at Uriyan. Thanks to his guard’s damn good reflex at blocking it with a shield, he survives but is in total shock. That is when he realizes even if they conquer this place, they have to deal with people like him. Considering it depressing, he calls off the attack. In the aftermath, soldiers who abandoned the west gate explained Shiraishi offered to guard it himself. This has the rest suspicious if he is a traitor. The best way is to go there and see if his corpse is lying there or he has fled with the Mongols. Jinzaburou arrives to see a dejected Shiraishi sitting alone. He asks if he had not retreated with the Mongols. That is when Shiraishi draws his sword at him. If he does not present Jinzaburou’s head to the Mongols, he cannot return.

Episode 10
Shiraishi explains how he was framed by a close one and lost everything and driven away. So he is fighting to get back his clan and lands. As they fight, Shiraishi loses to his Gikei style. He offers to be killed as Jinzaburou gives his last sermon how the last time they fought together was genuine. They were fighting their own wars. After he decapitates him, he passes his head to Teruhi who wish to make an example out of this. That night as Jinzaburou is sleeping, Teruhi again is going to ‘ambush’ him. But she sees Sasamaru wanting to kill him in his sleep. She tells him to not do something so cowardly and become stronger to challenge him. I want to tell the same thing to her. Once he is gone, she does the ‘cowardly’ act of stealing his lips but realizes Sasamaru is watching. That death stare warns him never to tell this or else! Oh, Jinzaburou is awake. Whatcha doing? But they hear a commotion from the south. A large number of deer and wild boars. It seems they have been driven by their land and this only indicates the size of the Mongols coming to crush this place. The Toibarai elder prays to God for a path to success. Probably God showed him a prank because some ominous thing happened and he died on the spot! However Nagamine interprets this as the worst is over as the elder sacrificed himself for the bad omen to pass. WTF. I hope he didn’t read it wrongly just to boost some false morale.

Meanwhile Zhang shows the other prisoners a boat he found near the coast and has packed it with stuff and is seaworthy to the mainland. At first nobody seems interested to defect with him but with the winds in their favour, Onitakemaru is considering. Amushi too but upon noticing Sana is watching, he changes his mind. In the end, only Onitakemaru goes with him. The Mongols kill the Toibarai scouts in the forest. As show of strength, they light up and you can see them covering the entire mountain range. It is probably a scare tactic to make them retreat before they fight. But with Nagamine determined to stay put and fight, Jinzaburou wants to make a compromise. Temporarily retreat until reinforcements come. They can survive in the mountains till they come. With Teruhi reminding about Antoku’s words to survive, Nagamine gives the orders to retreat. But a report soon arrive that what it looks like a large fleet coming from the sea. Are these the reinforcements Jinzaburou is talking about? Meanwhile Shouni is about to finish preparing his men for Tsushima. However his father did not hear of this expedition and cancels it. He believes the Mongols are not their only enemy. When the war is over, there will be clans who will try to claim glory for it and it will change who runs Kyushu. Shouni tries to convince him that Tsushima is under their protection but ultimately the patriarch’s words are final. Hence the large fleet our Tsushima people are seeing isn’t that of Japan but the Mongols. As they are arriving from the north, this means they are surrounded and trapped like rats.

Episode 11
With the final battle at hand, I guess they really need the rally from Jinzaburou as of why he is fighting for Tsushima. The Mongols’ attack this time is deadlier since their commander has put up a competition to see who can steal the most loot. Those who failed will be punished! With the Mongols overwhelming on the east gate, Nagamine sends Jinzaburou to help out there. Good thing, right? Because Teruhi can now be saved by him. Although Nagamine destroys the watchtower at the south gate to buy time for everyone to escape, do we have time for a cheesy romance between Nagamine and Tatsu? Had she not bug to stay with him and probably stutter to say what I think she wants to stay, she wouldn’t have died from the bomb shrapnel when the Mongols bombed the gate. Then Nagamine becomes a mad man and kills as many Mongols he can before he too succumbs to fate. With the Mongols now ambushing from within, Amushi reports that the south gate has fallen and everyone defending there is dead. He then takes his leaves and escapes with Sana along with the other women. Jinzaburou and the others also flee but with the Mongols hot on their tail, Jinzaburou will buy time while Teruhi and her villagers head up to the peak. Kano had to forcefully take Teruhi away. Yeah, like as though she won’t see her man ever again. Jinzaburou is about to fall too but Onitakemaru returns and ‘saves’ him. His excuse is he remembered a score they’re supposed to settle. However he notes Jinzaburou has changed and doesn’t like this face now. But Jinzaburou tells him that it is his own heart change if he has seen others differently. Onitakemaru offers to stay here and fight to let Jinzaburou regroup with the rest. I suppose Onitakemaru wants a rematch with Ryuu. Meanwhile Douen is treating injured people left behind. He will not leave them for he views this as repentance for killing many in the past. He even protects them when the Mongols fire their gun. Hitari manages to easily take those gun wielding Mongols with his bow and arrow but is no match for those with his similar weapon. He too falls. With the Mongols making more ground and breaking through, we see more of Teruhi’s people die trying to defend their ground. Teruhi then hears Jinzaburou’s voice. Yeah, it’s like the voice of God. He is trying to lead them to where he is. Why does it look like Teruhi is running the fastest to go greet him? He is still fighting some Mongols, isn’t he? But then, damn the Mongol bomb blasts Jinzaburou out as he falls off the cliff into the sea. There goes your reunion.

Episode 12
Teruhi falls into despair seeing her men die one by one. But just knowing the fact that Jinzaburou is not confirmed dead as he fell into the sea, gives her the much needed motivation to press on. But soon she’ll be in despair with more Mongols up ahead. While the last of her men fight, Kano devises this twisted idea to strangle Teruhi to death. At least she won’t die by the Mongols’ hands. And all Teruhi could think of is to meet Jinzaburou. Man, she has fallen real hard for him, huh? Kano distracts the Mongols but eventually got raped and killed. Amushi and the women have been surrounding by Mongols. Amushi uses the bomb he earlier stole as distraction. Too bad he got stabbed and Kana’s efforts to save him were all in vain. Jinzaburou continues sinking. Time to go back to his past where he still had his title, land and family. He reprimanded his daughter for trying to plant a tree but because she is so adamant she will protect it, he makes her stay at that spot to prove her point. And so she did. But that night, intruders come in and luckily Jinzaburou defeated them all. The reason he doesn’t want trees on his land is because it makes a great place for intruders to hide. He relaxes on his rules a bit and lets his daughter take care of the tree. Time passed and it is growing well and he could see the beaming smile on her face that she did her best. This wakes him up from his slumber but as he tries to reach the surface, he is exhausted. Hence the need for this whale shark god to save him?!

He finds himself washed ashore. Knowing he is still alive, he can still fight. As he walks through the forest, he sees corpses from both sides. But only Sasamaru lives. He was hiding among the corpses? But all Sasamaru can think of is getting his revenge. Too bad he doesn’t know how to use a sword and can’t even cut him. Jinzaburou is going to show him how it is done. Yeah, those few Mongols behind looting became Jinzaburou’s victim while Sasamaru frees the captured women and children. He is then confronted by Ryuu who is eager to fight him. But first he throws down the broken weapon of Onitakemaru, a sign he had died in his fight. Ryuu wants to see if there is still the wolf spirit in him and mocks him that he has no one left to fight for. Is this petty revenge he is gunning for? But don’t underestimate a mad dog because Jinzaburou gets the better of him. When his guards defend him, Jinzaburou gives off this death stare that scares them! So much so they open a path to Ryuu! WTF?! The Mongols are afraid of him?! Jinzaburou answers him that he fights for himself before walking away. That’s it?! He doesn’t kill him? I guess it won’t be worth it because the Mongols might just kill him where they stand. At the end of the day, Tsushima has fallen. Hindun celebrates their victory although it took a bit longer than expected. Now setting sights on Kyushu, Uriyan is not happy to think there may be more madmen like Jinzaburou on the mainland. As expected, Kano didn’t make sure Teruhi is dead so here she wakes up from ‘death’. After all, how can she kill her own princess? She walks through the forest and sees corpses. Until she sees Jinzaburou before her eyes. It’s really him. The kind of reunion you want now that everybody is dead? She notes she is the only survivor but Jinzaburou is glad because to survive is to win. Sasamaru and the other rescued villagers are also glad she is alive. With this, they take it is a sign that they can still fight and Tsushima isn’t done yet. Too bad this series is :’(.

Battlefield: Mongol Warfare
As history dictates, it would be a sad end for the people of Tsushima since they will eventually lose to the Mongols who will march on to score on a few more decisive battle victories before their withdrawal and eventual annihilation in 1281. And that was due to the weather factor. Oops. Forgot to warn you spoiler alert. But as far as this anime is concerned, although I loved every second of this series, I can’t help feel that there is no conclusion despite knowing that eventually they will lose. Jinzaburou, Teruhi and what is left of the remaining survivors trying to fight more Mongols? It is like playing a game of endurance survival. Therefore with the way they ended this series like as though they want to give us (false) hope, personally this feels worse than if it had ended on a truly tragic note whereby everybody lost and died. I might not like the latter ending either but at least there is closure. With Jinzaburou still alive and having the strength to fight on doesn’t bode well if you’re talking about ending an anime season. It’s not like there will be a second season and Jinzaburou would continue and take his fight to Kyushu, right?!

At first when I started watching this series, I was thinking that everything, if not like 99% of everything here was based on true events. But as I watched the series, it dawned to me it was just historical fiction. For one, I Google and cannot find the characters’ names to pop up anywhere near the real thing. So do they really exist or not? Save for a few characters like Sukekuni. Maybe I don’t know how to Google or because the series is recent and hence pops up at the top of recent searches. Sure, the series is based on this first Mongol invasion event but not on what happened. See the difference? I guess it is easy to be deceived when we hear movies and series based on real historical events. Based, people. Based. Meaning, inspiration is drawn from there and it is not retelling of actual events. After all, when you are producing a movie, you want to make it as interesting as possible and there would be some weird and impossible stuffs that would happen in the reel life rather than real life. In this case, the war. I mean, you see so many people cleanly cut in half like as though their swords are lightsabers! But thankfully, still some realism because no over the top exaggerated moves like throwing fireballs. Yeah…

The best parts of this anime are of course the action sequences. There is no short of it in every episode. And if you like your anime series bloodied to the bone, barbarically violent and people dying like flies, this is your cup of tea. Even if most of the action is hack and slash, it doesn’t feel boring nor repetitious. Perhaps it is shown in a way that the few Japanese people are desperate and like cornered rats, they fight to the teeth and nail with all they’ve got. Because so, we can’t help root for them each time they face off with the indomitable Mongols. We want to see them pull through and survive another day. Of course some minimal strategies are also involved but when it comes to melee combat, nothing beats trying to poke a sharp object into your enemy’s body first. It’s either you or him. I am not sure if this kind of TV violence is okay but it does send you the signal about the atrocities of war and no one, young or old, women or children will be spared from it. But I guess back then, that is the mentality of the people. The strong shall conquer and the weak will either submit or die. But as far as this series is concerned, the few people on Tsushima against the large horde of Mongol army, it is like the Japanese version of 300! Everything so manly! Everything so GAR!!!

Having said that, the other segments of the series aren’t really that much interesting. Already it is based on history so even with this plot to work along, there is only so much you can stray if you want to be as faithful to the real thing. One of the cheesy parts I find is the seemingly romance factor they try to insert in when they are not fighting. Especially Teruhi’s annoying crush on Jinzaburou. Japanese girls are really good being tsundere even for one back then. She gives excuses of needing him to be alive and the likes but in real life she just wants to be with this dude. I don’t blame her since it is women’s dream of falling for a strong and capable men. It’s only natural. But still, this cheesiness of her trying to steal a kiss (which is never properly shown if their lips ever met), it feels very disjointed from the whole war and action theme of the series. I know you can’t be fighting all the time but do we have time for all this? Maybe when you’re living every day like the last. Even so, Teruhi should just straight up tell it to his face she loves him. Or maybe that would make the rest see her in a different light. After all, she is a princess and still has her own responsibility and burden to shoulder. She isn’t particularly a damsel in distress as she showed her mettle in archery with some head shots to her count but too bad I’ll remember her mostly for this cheesy tsundere act more than anything else. In the final stages of the series, they try to put in more cheesy romance in Nagamine x Tatsu and Amushi x Sana. Too bad all ended in tragedy and I am wondering why the need to even have this. Feels so weird.

The characters themselves aren’t interesting either. Even with Jinzaburou as the main character, he is interesting because of the different way he thinks when he is on the battlefield. But if you want to know more about him, his past seems to be very much shrouded in mystery even if that final episode sheds some light, it still doesn’t tell us why he got exiled in the first place. What kind of atrocities did he do to get him here in the first place. Maybe it is that incident at Tokiaki’s residence but nothing of that was confirmed. Perhaps if this series had another cour to run, it would flesh out Jinzaburou’s character. Then again, the reason why this series is exciting is because of the fast action and to slow it down with multiple character flashbacks and develop them would have diluted the interest and worth. So it is a catch-22 situation. Fast and furious action or better character development. I’m glad it was the former.

So it sounds like I am going to complain more about the other characters especially those who are of the same exiled party as Jinzaburou. They do play their small roles and each has their own characteristics you could remember them by like Hitari’s skilled hunting arrow skills, Amushi’s great vision and Onitakemaru’s strength (damn we didn’t get to see this guy get killed – only to speculate that he might not be really dead). But ultimately to solve everything, everybody got killed off. Therefore like the character Douen, I am wondering why they need this character around since he has no fighting abilities and his only worth is to help heal others with his medicinal knowledge. I’m sure it is to assure that the injured villagers have someone in capable hands to deal with their wounds but aren’t there any other decent doctors around on Tsushima?

The only mystery I am wondering is to what happen to Zhang. Is he dead? Because Onitakemaru only returned on his own. I doubt this midget could sail away passed the Mongol fleets by himself so I am assuming he got killed too since he can’t fight and you only remember him as a sneaky merchant. If he is that memorable in the first place. I thought Kano was going to be a handful helping out in the frontline of the battles. But he kunoichi-like dressing makes it deceiving as she is seen most of the time escorting and protecting Teruhi until her final moments.

If there was something that changed many of the characters in this series in generally, it would be the advancing Mongols that united the people of Tsushima to fight against the invaders. At first you see the arrogance of the locals especially those of higher status and lineage. They don’t accept the exiled prisoners’ help and often look down on them. When things get really bad and they manage to scrap one survival after another, titles and status no longer play a vital role anymore. As long as they are Japanese and love this land, that is the only qualification they need to band together and fight. War really brings out the best and the worst in mankind.

It would have been interesting had we seen the perception from the Mongol side as they too have quite a few commanders and top generals of high calibre. Too bad they are just briefly introduced, participated in a few battles and that’s it. Because it would be nice to hear some explanations or be enlightened by a few things from their side. For example, the different Mongol outfits for different Mongol armies. Jinzaburou may have speculated they come from different places but this part could have been explained in detail a bit more. Instead, with the barrage of different uniformed Mongols, it feels like as though they want to put in some variety of different low level baddies because you’ll perhaps get sick of watching the same yellow dotted ones from Goryeo. Imagine in a beat’em up game where you fight the same looking enemies until you reach the end level boss. Boring! Kublai Khan might not be on this expedition to invade Japan but I wish they would have shown more on Hindun instead of showing his face just to let us know he is the big boss of this expedition. And what’s with that foreigner ninja who served under him? What wasted potential that Jinzaburou clashed with him so early and never again.

Noticing the art and animation, although it seems pretty standard and decent, I can’t help notice that the entire series feels like it is drawn on some old scroll. At least you can see those crumpled lines and shades all over the screen. Although it gives a sketch-like and sometimes water colour feel, at times I just find it annoying as the animation doesn’t seem smooth and this kind of art is distracting you especially in slower moments. But it does give the series its unique feel. Although the animation during action bits are decent, sometimes the animation quality during non-battle scenes take a dip and it is noticeable. Maybe they put all their budget in the fight scenes but some of them too feel like there is drop in standard. I mean, how many Mongols are you going to animate on screen and then let them get killed?

As for the character designs, some of the characters do look weird. Like Antoku I thought he is some sort of ghost or something. Maybe great grandpa is close to going to the next world? Oops, sorry. Some Mongols look weird too. Although many generic ones like the soldiers spot the generic Mongolian look (slant squint eyes, that thin moustache), the commanders are given a distinct look. Sometimes they look more like sub-bosses in a video game. Because many of them are like, uhm, fat. Oh right. Mongols are supposed to be stout. But the oddest looking one is Ryuu whom I feel looks so out of place because he looks like an American punk to me. Seriously. Is it me or does Jinzaburou look almost similar to the titular protagonist of Hajime No Ippo? I suppose he is one of the few main characters who doesn’t have that typical handsome bishonen look. It would so anime-like fantasy weird if he is a pretty boy that has awesome killer skills. This series is animated by NAZ who did the Hamatora series, Hajimete No Gal and Dramatical Murder.

The opening theme is Braver by Straightener. While the piece is generally not bad, the song overall sounds a bit drowsy. Perhaps it is the way the singer sings it in such a manner, preventing it from being a total hard rock outfit which would have totally suited the anime like a glove. The same sentiments for the ending theme, Upside Down by She’s. Again, the singer’s voice sounds drowsy to give this slow-moderate rock piece that feel. Only difference his voice sounds a bit more gay. Yeah… But hearing this piece does invoke some feels because of all the bloody bloodshed and deaths that happened in the episode.

Overall, this is a very highly interesting series and packed with lots of action, blood and gore and had me wanting more. It could have done better in other departments such as the characters and explaining certain parts that were not clearly clarified but as far as for this historical fiction. But on a general level, the historical backdrop and how an exiled samurai is fighting this war to redeem himself is indeed interesting and fascinating. War-centric series like this reminds us of the brutality of war and why we should be thankful living in a time and world where peace mostly reigns. Well, almost. But then again, when you see human stupidity and greed all over again rife in this new digital age, do you sometimes wish the great Mongol army and the great Angolmois would revive and reduce the population for a better future and sustainability? I mean, who does a better genocide than the Mongols? Not even Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Leopold II, Ismail Enver, Pol Pot, Mao Zedong and Hideki Tojo combined could match the slaughtering might of the Mongols. Can they do it? Yes, they Kahn!

Overlord III

January 5, 2019

It sure really felt like an eternity. Although it only took a cour break. Alas, like so many other anticipated and interesting animes that I have seen, Overlord III came and go just like that. There must be some sort of devious scheme trying to split a double cour series like that. Because recently I noticed that a few of the other interesting anime sequels that I have watched are also using this trick. From the third season of Shokugeki No Souma and to the third season of Shingeki No Kyojin. Does absence really make the heart grow fonder even if it is only a single cour? Maybe it is that gap that makes us want to worship Ains even more and see how far he can achieve his exploits.

Episode 1
Ains summons all the floor guardians as he rewards them for their work well done. Like allowing Sebas to go on a date with Tuare. Cixous as a maid in charge of taking care of Ains today. Ains has prepared some leisure activities for his male and female guardians. On the females’ side, they summon some demonic horse, Bicorn. They agree to let it be Albedo’s pet. As she rides it, it kicks her off. Her weight isn’t the issue and further discovery shows pure maidens are not allowed to ride on its back. Does this give Albedo an excuse to f*ck Ains?! Ains is practising trying to pose coolly when Mare comes to see him. He is even admiring the way Ains sits?! Ains praises him so much that it makes Mare cry?! This awakens Albedo’s horniness as she tries to rape Ains. Not even some spider assassins could defeat a succubus who is in heat. Later as Ains and the male guardians take a bath, the unruly side comes from the females’ side as Albedo is turning into a pervert and trying to peep. And with some golem activated on their side and attacking, I guess Ains has to order the guys to enter the women’s side to fight it.

Episode 2
Ains actually has no clue on what is happening so he uses Demiurge to explain and update the rest what is happening. I suppose Ains himself is so shocked that he never knew his guardians take all his actions as part of world domination! Demiurge also further suggests that as part of their world conquest, they must turn Nazarick into an independent country instead of being part of another country. We know go back to Carne as we see the humans coexisting peacefully with the goblins. Although all the goblins have a crush on Enri and shamelessly declare their love for her, they all know Nphirea is the guy for her. But he is too obsessed in making potions so Jugem offers to teach him how to be manly. The goblins also teach the villagers how to fight and be archers. A goblin returns with report that something strange is happening in the forest. Enri is worried as she plans to go to the forest to collect rare herbs that only appears at this time of the year. Jugem picks his goblins to guard Enri and Nphirea as they go harvest the herbs. They stumble into an injured goblin kid, Agu running away from a barghest. They manage to kill the wolf beast and then tend to Agu’s injuries. He explains he was attacked by minions of the Giant of the East who has allied with the Demon Snake of the West.

Episode 3
As Agu is brought back to the village, looks like Lupusregina decides to pay a visit. Agu further explains after the Great Beast of the South went missing (that’s Hamusuke), the forest went out of balance and a terrifying guy appeared. He controls the undead and is known as the King of Ruin. That is why the Giant of the East and Demon Snake of the West are cooperating to fight him and they want to use goblins as foot soldiers. Some refused and ran. The ones chasing him may come to Carne. Lupusregina offers to tell Ains about this but they would rather fight themselves. Nphirea gives her a potion to be handed to Ains. That night, a few ogres defected so the goblins use Enri and prop her up as the strongest in the village to instil some fear in them. She agrees to take them in but in exchange they will work for them. Nphirea is supposed to accompany Enri to E-Rantel to seek help from the adventurers’ guild but he has to stay back and heal Agu so it’s all up to Enri. Too bad she got stopped at the gates as the mage suspects her of possessing a high magic item (the horn given by Ains). She is to be arrested when luckily Momon drops in. He sees the situation and whispers something and the mage drops her case and allow the guards to let her in. Enri finds it hard to request for help because of the lack of money. Yup, this case requires very highly skilled adventurers and the cost is just unbelievable. Later as she waits and laments her fate, suddenly the receptionist is very interested to know all the details about the help she requested. When they return, more woes for Enri. She wants time to think alone so Lupusregina hears her out. When she was away, everyone decided to make her the head village. Lupusregina doesn’t have an answer. Hey, she was only listening. But she advises that whoever is helming the post, they will make mistakes so it is foolish to worry about it. Enri gets her morale boosted when Nphirea talks to her how she fits the job because she cares about the villagers and the goblins. Enri is ready to accept her new job. When Lupusregina returns to Yuri, she explains how she is delighted with the new leader of Carne. She cannot wait to see their devastated face of despair once she violently crushes them like insects. How she can’t wait for the village to perish!

Episode 4
Ains summons Lupusregina and chastises her for not reporting about the ally between the Giant and Snake, thinking she is keeping it to herself (although it is to teach her about communication). Tremble with fear! But upon learning she thinks the village is just a toy and experiment to him, he somewhat forgives her. He explains Nphirea is creating potions for him that doesn’t spoil or dependent on ingredients from Yggdrasil. He lets him be at Carne so as to chain him down with this gratitude. The other important people in Carne are Enri and Lizzy (as they further chain him down to his dedication). Everyone else is disposable. She must protect the trio with her life and now that she knows of his plan, failure is not allowed. Ains and Aura go visit the Giant, Guu (who is actually more of a troll) and the Snake, Ryraryus Spenia Ai Inadarun (who is actually more of a naga). Guu looks down on Ains as weak because he thinks those with long names are so. Ains wants to negotiate and have them serve him. Guu of course refuses and further mocks him. Ains then suggests a duel between them. Guu strikes as many times but none of his attacks seem to connect. Ains is just effortless. Like swiping a brush to inflict heavy damage on Guu. Thanks to the troll’s ability to heal, he cannot die but the pain is real. Ains ends it by putting them all to sleep. Ryraryus immediately pledges his loyalty to him and his first order is to bring all his subordinates. Ains receives a report from Lupusregina and gives her permission to engage in battle as well as to protect the most valued trio.

Episode 5
Ogres and barghests attack Carne. Thanks to the training and some military tactic, they manage to kill a lot of the creatures. Then here comes the big boss, Guu. Meanwhile Nphirea and Enri are confirming the villagers have evacuated when a troll creeps in. To avoid their side being sandwiched at the battlefront and this troll from the back (you mean 1 stinking troll is enough to derail their plan?), they take turns buying time by confusing the troll and giving it the run around. The troll eventually picks up their human scent (they were camouflaging themselves with ogre scent) and Nphirea wants Enri to go request for backup while he holds off the troll. I guess it’s time for him to confess he wants to look cool before the eyes of the girl he loves. Nphirea takes a lethal blow from the troll while trying to buy time. Just when he is about to be finished, here comes Lupusregina to save him. It’s about time. Where the hell were you? Weren’t you supposed to protect him with your life? Enri is so relieved that she doesn’t hesitate to hug Nphirea. Lupusregina tells Nphirea that Ains has invited him to Nazarick as reward for creating the potion. With Carne winning the battle, now they can breathe easy with Nphirea and Enri get to ascertain their love for each other. Next morning, Jugem tells Nphirea the strange thing when they fought Guu. He did not heal and it was as though he was already dead. Like fighting a corpse. At Nazarick, Nemu is so thrilled at how superb this place is, she praises Ains and makes him happy, so much so he decides to give her a house tour. Ah, the age of innocence. And there is this extravagant menu that Ains will have them dine. Yeah, the menu sounds like chanting magic spells. With everything so great, Nphirea feels small that as a man he is no match for Ains. But don’t worry. Enri assures him that he is the one she loves. Is marriage on the cards next?

Episode 6
Jircniv Rune Farlord El Nix, the current ruler of Baharuth talks about the recent incident whereby Momon defeated Demiurge pretending to be a demon. And since that kingdom is using all its resources to look for that missing demon, he views there is no need to wage their annual war against them this year. He orders his imperial court wizard, Fluder Paradyne to continue his investigations on Momon and Ains. As Zanac speaks to his father of the information regarding that demon, his older brother, Barbro (as in, barbaric brother? Certainly suits his nature) barges in to demand attacking Baharuth since those blokes have led their guard down by not attacking them this time of the year so now it’s the time to strike. Foresight is a group of workers consisting of Roberdyck Goltron, Imina, Arche Eeb Rile Furt and is led by Hekkeran Termite. They talk about a request of Count Femel who wants them to explore a certain ancient tomb. They have been paid highly upfront and there will be more rewards depending on what they find so you bet they want to take this job no matter how dangerous it is. As he has hired other worker teams, the competition is tough. Foresight is also taking this job to help Arche who is struggling with her family debts. She goes home only to see her dumb father used up their meagre savings to buy something useless as he thinks this is what nobles should do. Yeah, they WERE nobles. Arche has had it and will take her sisters and leave this place. Foresight arrives and true enough, they see other hired worker teams. The servant gathers them and tells them what they need to know. He assures them that Femel has even hired adamantite class adventurers to guard their belongings. They are Momon and Narberal. First, Momon asks why they are doing this. It’s the money. More than enough to even risk their lives for. Momon apologizes asking a worthless question.

Episode 7
The worker teams raid the tomb. The first tomb looks easy with lots of treasures and an unknown crest. They prepare to raid the next tomb and unknown to them this is the tomb of Nazarick. One group decides to let the rest head in first as guinea pig and will return to raid tomorrow. As the rest enter, they laugh at the low level skeleton guards defending the place and easily destroy them. Meanwhile Ains will return to Nazarick and will have Pandora take his place. He is going to slaughter all who have intrude into Nazarick. A welcoming party for them is already prepared. Like the group who left early, they stumble into Pleiades. However they will not kill them directly and use the undead with magic weapons to massacre them all. The other worker teams inside are all running for their lives. One team has the bad luck of being eaten alive by the roaches of Kyouhukou and the other one has got it much worst, being sexually probed by this gay ugly monster, Neuronist!!! And there is one who fought Hamusuke and lost. Don’t look down on this hamster. Finally Foresight. They are transported to an arena where they will face off with Ains!

Episode 8
Hekkeran tries to talk his way out and even claims he had permission to raid Nazarick. But Ains will not believe his lies as he shows us his rage! No use talking. Time to fight. It might seem that Foresight is fighting on par with Ains but that is only because Ains is stooping low to their level. I guess he is done with their teamwork since this is going nowhere. The moment he takes off his ring, Arche starts vomiting from the immense power she sensed from him. Death is imminent. Hekkeran saves Imina from death but as a result he got some paralysis spell on him. The rest force Arche to flee since she has her sisters. Ains is impressed with their honour but will still show no mercy for them thieves. He orders Shalltear to show her despair before killing her painlessly. Imina and Roberdyck fall into the paralysis spell. Ains orders Hekkeran and Imina to some nesting room while he will use Roberdyck as experiment since he is a magic caster. He wants to see if there are other gods and to find new ways to make himself stronger. He believes he isn’t the only chosen one in this world. When Arche realizes she cannot escape this tomb, Shalltear kills her. A sad fate as Arche’s young sisters continue to wait hopefully for their sister’s return. Word reaches Jircniv that all the capable workers have died. He now has an idea of Ains’ strength and needs to make proper preparations. Suddenly a dragon lands in the courtyard. Aura and Mare alight from it and announce that since this kingdom have sent workers to raid Nazarick, Ains is displeased. If no one comes to apologize, they’ll massacre everyone in the kingdom. For starters, they kill everyone here.

Episode 9
Jircniv decides to head to Nazarick and make peace. Heading there with his entourage, Jircniv discusses about his future but seems reluctant about finding an official queen. Renner and the queen of the Dragon Kingdom might be the greatest prospects but he knows of their twisted behaviour. Upon arrival, they are greeted with great hospitality by Yuri and Lupusregina. As display of power, they change the weather from gloomy to clear! Legendary Death Knights are even used as mere servants as the Baharuth side is treated to some great juice while Ains readies himself. Fluder is so awed and fearful by it all that he suggests Jircniv to escape. Not that he can at this point. Meeting Ains face to face, Demiurge doesn’t deem them suitable to talk on the same level with Ains and puts a subservient spell on them. But Ains will not have his guests mistreated so the spell is retracted. Jircniv presents a corpse’s head as apology in which Ains easily turns it into a Death Knight. Considering Demiurge’s rudeness, Ains considers them on equal footing and they don’t have to apologize anymore. Ains hints that trouble will be coming for them so Jircniv suggests an alliance and even suggesting ruling this land as their king. Jircniv is further stunned that Ains does not demand subservience from them and just merely looks forward to working with them. Both sides exchange an aide for better contact. Jircniv leaves his secretary, Loune Vermillion while Ains gives Demiurge.

After they leave, Shalltear wonders why Ains is making an alliance with them. Ains reason it is easy to rule over others with fear and power but that will only lead to more enemies. Demiurge further elaborates on Ains’ true plan (something which Ains himself doesn’t know) in which is what Jircniv will have come to realize. It seems Jircniv has realized Fluder has betrayed them. As a magic caster, he would have stayed back and wanted to learn everything but he did nothing. This means he knew of Ains’ power from the start. After all, he was the one who discovered the tomb and suggested sending workers there. Jircniv proposes of killing him in some ways but his aides warn there are considerable consequences from the public and other nations. Jircniv comes to a conclusion they need to form an alliance with other nations while pretending to join forces with Nazarick. But they cannot be the one to suggest to other nations for an alliance otherwise if this gets out, they will be crushed first. They also need to find someone capable of defeating Ains and he is under impression that one of his subordinates will betray him. As suggested by Demiurge, all the floor guardians suggest a title for Ains to be used. Ains decides to go with Cocytus of Sorcerer King as he will be ruling over many via magic. Flashback shows Fluder was told that Momon wanted to see him. Fluder instantly became awed by his immense magic aura. He begged to become his student and will offer everything that he has.

Episode 10
A message is sent from Baharuth to Re-Estize to promptly return the land of E-Rantel to its rightful owner (Ains) or risk war. Many of the nobles laugh at this idea and even more so at Gazef who suggests doing so to avoid war at all costs. But the king disagrees with him. As a ruler, he cannot hand over his land without a fight. Hence it is decided they will go to war. Barbro wants to be in the frontlines and his father allows it. Back home, Raeven is having a headache over that meeting. He noticed the nobles were merely quarrelling over power and land, not realizing the kingdom is in real danger. Plus, he knows Marquis Blumrush is the one secretly providing info to Baharuth for money. This is why he wants Zanac to inherit the throne quickly to crush all power struggle. Now we see Raeven in his most unlikely fatherly act as he really dotes on his young son, Lee. A few days later in another strategy meeting, Raeven reveals the declaration of their battle place: the foggy Katze Plains. His scout has seen the enemy units all bearing different coats of arms and it is most likely Ains will be down there to fight. Marquis Boullope suggests gathering info from Carne and would like Barbro to do it. Barbro opposes it but his father allows it. The secret fact is that since he is the next in line to the throne, they don’t want to see him killed in battle. Boullope suggests himself to head all the different units into war but the king appoints Raeven instead. Later Gazef meets up with Brain and Climb. I guess these men need some sort of bonding before the battlefield. Gazef suggests Climb change his armour colour because he stands out but he has to decline as this was the colour Renner suggested he wear and if he is victorious, Renner’s reputation would increase. Gazef knows Brain can fight against the Imperial Knights of Baharuth but warns if he fights Ains first, he is finished. Meanwhile Ains meets General Carvain of Baharuth’s Imperial Army as well as Nimble Arc Dale Anoch who will be his guide. Ains summons his army that will fight alongside theirs. Is victory assured with these Death Knights?

Episode 11
Barbro thinks of recruiting the Carne villagers as his army. If Ains kills them as betrayal, it would only look bad on him. A thousand apologies for Jugem as he has to interrupt Nphirea and Enri’s flirting time because Barbro’s army is at the gates. Lupusregina reports to Ains that Enri is trying to buy time by not letting them in to hide the ogres and goblins. Barbro becomes impatient and orders his men to burn down the watch tower as declaration of war. As the villagers will not betray Ains, they decide to fight back but only the men. Jugem strategizes to concentrate fighting here so that the army will bring all their units to attack here while they let the women and children flee to the forest at the back. He requests Enri and Nphirea to guide them. Enri wanted to stay but everything is already decided. First, the ogres pummel the soldiers at the gates. This has Barbro summon all his units back to the front. But as the women and children escape, there are some units remaining. Desperate, Enri blows the horn. Suddenly appearing out of nowhere is a strong goblin army! Woah! It’s like they have everything! From foot soldiers to beast riders to magic casters to assassins and even a marching band! Even Ains is surprised at the capability of this horn. Barbro will not allow his men to retreat and continue to fight. Too bad they continue to lose so he is forced to give the retreat order. It is by only Enri’s grace that they are left off with their life because there won’t be much room for negotiation if they’re dead. However just when Barbro’s men are licking their wounds, Lupusregina pops up. She is here to massacre all of them since they are not important to Ains’ plans.

Episode 12
Part of Jircniv’s plan for this allied attack with Ains’ army is to show how fearsome they are to others. It is also their chance to see how others will fight Ains and find out his weakness. The Re-Estize army laughs at the paltry numbers of Baharuth. Victory is assured, right? Well, not if they take into account Ains who now enters the battlefield. Some like Raeven could sense his immense power and realize the need for them to run. Ains begins by instantly collapsing the 70,000 strong troops of Re-Estize! They just drop dead like that! If Nimble thinks that was just fearsome, he hasn’t even begun yet. The next phase has Ains cover the dead with some dark goo. This materializes a few mouth monsters that Ains calls, uhm, goats? These goats then start to trample the fleeing Re-Estize army. Damn, those poor souls don’t stand a chance! Can you even outrun such behemoths?! And the final touch to this spell is for Ains to have everyone applaud! What? APPLAUD! Applaud his supremacy! Yeah. You better praise and hail Ains if you know what is good for you! Part of the battle plan was for Baharuth’s army to enter the fray and attack after Ains initiates his magic. But they’re all too scared and run away. Ains doesn’t blame them and will do the cleaning up himself. Meanwhile the king of Re-Estize is told to run away. Yeah, why the long chatter with Climb and Brain if time is of essence? Is it so that they could struck a deal that Climb will marry Renner when they return? Ah, the excuse needed so that Climb won’t die. You think Gazef can even scratch those goats? Yeah, it’s amazing he didn’t get killed after being flung like that. With Climb and Brain joining him, they come face to face with Ains. They realize he is not human and the undead. Ains wants Gazef to be his subordinate. First he makes the goats pause their rampage. If Gazef refuses, the massacre will continue. Gazef refuses his offer. As he is the king’s sword, he cannot turn his back on the one who saved his life. Even if it means many other lives will be lost. Ains finds it ironic as he was the one who put his life on the line to save Carne and now he has no qualms to let many die. Gazef has but one request of Ains: Fight him in a duel.

Episode 13
Even if death is imminent, Gazef still wants to fight him. Brain wants to fight with him but Gazef refuses his warrior pride to be tainted. He wants both of them to witness this. Duel. First, Ains requests to look at Gazef’s sword. He finds it very weak in power but it can still physically harm and kill him. He wishes to have it should Gazef dies but he declines seeing this is the kingdom’s treasure. As soon as Climb gives the signal to start, Ains stops time and then chants a death spell on Gazef. Gazef instantly dies when time resumes and the duo have no clue what just happened. Ains leaves a message to hand over E-Rantel to him in a few days and he will stop his rampaging goats. He will also show mercy to those obedient to him. Jircniv is in shock when he learns Ains decimated the entire army of Re-Estize. Better come up with another plan. With Re-Estize’s king undergoing depression (it’s amazing he didn’t die from the depression), the panicky nobles and royals have unanimously voted to give E-Rantel to Ains. Small price to pay, right? Meanwhile, Brain is sad that Gazef died by himself. He wanted to fight alongside him and die with him but was denied that. Climb deduces Gazef chose death and wanted them to watch was so that they could witness Ains’ power and return with this info to plan their defence. It was for their future. Brain changes his mind on his promise to Gazef and will become stronger to surpass him. Ains’ undead troops march into E-Rantel as the people watch in fear behind closed doors. A ‘brave’ kid starts throwing rocks, howling at Ains to give back his father. Albedo would have killed him had not Momon dropping in. We think this is Ains in disguise but look! The real Ains pops up! Oh no! We can’t say it’s fake, can we?! As requested by Ains, Albedo proposes Momon to join them and watch the humans. Ains claims he doesn’t want to rule by fear and oppression but if Momon is like his head police, isn’t that the same? If Momon refuses, he will be killed right now. Momon accepts but warns them if they hurt the innocent people, he will come for their heads. Of course this is all part of the bigger act to keep the humans’ fear at bay. This will also have them unite under him and collect info for him. All the guardians bow before Ains as he declares today as the founding of the Sorcerer Kingdom Ains Ooal Gown!

Over?! Lord, No!!!
What do you mean the story continues?! Aren’t you contradicting yourself?! Because if the story is supposed to carry on, then why does it end here???!!!! It makes no sense!!! Give me more of my Overlord!!! ARGH!!!! Ahem. Just like last season, the final episode leaves us hanging and wanting more but the only difference is that the next season is announced yet so it isn’t certain yet if this series would really continue. It would be tad sad if this series just ends like that forever since one of the biggest characters, Gazef is dead. I suspect he might be revived in the future but notwithstanding all the other supporting characters, Gazef is one of the important characters and to have him die like that just feels sad. And that Momon-Ains appearance at the same time just to confuse and troll us? My guts tells me it was Pandora acting as Ains. Otherwise why would Albedo need to speak on Ains’ behalf since the Overlord himself is capable and would be much more comfortable dealing with the human himself.

While this season is still as interesting as its predecessors, once again it is that conflicted feeling that nothing has really been resolved yet that is stopping me from putting this season on a high pedestal. Yes, it is still great but with so much more developments going on and even more potential ones, it seems that by the time if we get our future sequels and have some sort of conclusion and closure, I fear that the high expectations and waiting would have diminished the excitement. I am sure that a series so great such as this one will manage to blow away those kind of blues that simpletons like yours truly often worry with no basis. But it’s that sceptical feeling inside me that fears the possibility that it could happen. After all, I have watched so many animes and some with such great potential only to fizzle out not only in the sequel (if they ever get one) but at the end of that very same season. It is great that this series has built up a lot of developments and potentials from the 3 seasons the anime has adapted but there is this danger that with so many on one’s plate, there is a potential to also fail big. Too big to fail? We better believe Ains is too big to even let failure happen!

One of the biggest highlights of this season that has many viewers divided is when Ains mercilessly slaughtered the workers. I guess this part was too hot for some to handle. I too was shocked but not to the point that I disliked it. After all, I always knew that Ains was the villain. The big bad guy. Just because we show him doing un-bad-guy-like things like saving this village or saving this certain group of people, we start thinking he is the good guy and throw out support behind him. Even if Ains isn’t aware of this entire plan for world domination and is just playing along with Demiurge’s plan, it still doesn’t hide the fact that he and his subordinates have this evil aura, don’t you think? You can tell me about not judging a book by its cover but remember, this is supposed to be a DMMORPG game and hence it is pretty cliché to have Ains and his floor guardians designed to look like baddies. Which of course they are. This isn’t the first series to have its main character as the villain and for majority of viewers to support him. From the highly acclaimed Death Note to the comical Sekai Seifuku: Bouryaku No Zvezda, I suppose people didn’t see this coming when Ains decided to finally do what true villains are supposed to do. After all, from time to time, Ains do remind us that despite being stuck in this world, he feels less and less affinity for humans and only cares for those who can further his goals. And for those who still continue to support Ains (like yours truly), is this what you really call Stockholm Syndrome?!

It is only a pity that I initially wondered why they gave that Foresight worker group some sort of personality if they are all going to be killed off in the first place. Okay, all of them being dead is inaccurate since Arche is the only one dead and the rest enslaved for experimental purposes. But still, why the need to give these soon-to-be-finished-off characters some background of their own? It might not be in very much detail but at least they aren’t some nameless extras. I suppose by giving these characters some sort of personality, it only serves to enhance Ains’ reputation and goal. You see, if we weren’t introduced to Foresight and instead some random nameless group of workers, the impact wouldn’t be there and we wouldn’t really care or give much thought to the workers he slaughtered. Case in point like the other workers who were slaughtered by the other creatures in Nazarick. We don’t really care about them, right? Now that you know Foresight, their names and even their goals, this serves to makes us feel conflicted of who is truly the bad guy here. That is why some flipped during this workers massacre episode. I mean, Ains couldn’t be really doing this in cold blooded fashion, right? It really paints Ains in a bad light but then again, remember that Ains’ character is supposed to be the villain all along.

My other beef with this season is similar to last season. Too many characters and with the limited number of episodes, many are forgotten. I still remember at the start of the second season where they introduced a flurry of new characters. Many of them never appeared again. Even more so, just a forgettable short cameo or not at all in this season. That is why it is so frustrating for this series to have so many seasons and while it is great trying to build up the plot, scenario, setting and characters, the only way all this will work out if this adaption gets seen through all the way to the end. Don’t leave us hanging for the next few years and decades or even never as we fans ponder in the back of our heads if we are going to see the end of this series. Heh. For those who have been watching One Piece since its inception, you know what I mean. I believe this series won’t turn into such long running drag like that pirate anime but as far as this third season is concerned, the unsatisfactory of being introduced to so many characters and then for many to be forgotten is just heinous.

For example, those lizardmen who were prominent in the first half of the second season are now reduced to just freaking minor roles. If they do not appear, that is also fine because they don’t make an impact to this season’s story anyway. Hence this season we are going back to the first season to Carne Village as they are now the prominent focus of this season. I am just wondering about Nphirea’s case because I clearly remember that due to the events at the end of the first season, this guy has been rendered blind. Clearly Ains could have saved him but he did not so as not to let his identity slip. Did I miss something or did somebody forgot about this? Sure, we can say Ains probably changed his mind behind the scenes and healed this dude but it feels a bit disjointed because it is as though Nphirea’s case was restarted more for plot convenience. I thought Jircniv would be this season’s antagonist but I guess it is better than suffering the fate of Eight Fingers last season. Yeah, that was a disappointment. But still, rather than being foolish and go up against Ains head on, for now Jircniv will have to bow his head and lay low until he gets that remote chance.

And those are just the characters outside Nazarick. What about those who serve underneath Ains? Well, I am glad that Pleiades maids still get some share of the screen time albeit a short one. Though, Lupusregina got the bulk for this season (Narberal for the first, Solution and Entoma for the second). Sebas and Tuare got their limelight last season so they are fully rested and side-lined here. I guess one of the most disappointing for the Nazarick floor guardians would be Victim. We were finally introduced to this little blob last season and I thought it will be a mainstay for this season like the rest of the other floor guardians but it is sorely missing like as though it never existed in the first place. I suppose this means there is no show for Gargantua either. Sorry, no room for the smallest and largest floor guardians to even hold an audience with Ains. And to think that there are even more weird creatures that is worthy to be their own floor guardians in Nazarick. Man, this place is getting creepier and scarier by the moment. I bet many would rethink again of raiding Nazarick if they knew what they are facing up with. With Demiurge behind this plan and Ains just playing along, it increases my suspicions that Demiurge could be the real bad guy and manipulating Ains after all. I won’t be shocked if this twist comes true! Did Jircniv foreshadow this?!

The action scenes are still entertaining and mostly we see Ains this time unleashing his magic and show everyone the true meaning of fear. It is both good and bad thing to have a protagonist this overpowered. While we are in awe of this invincibility spectacle, it also raises the question if there is anyone else out there who could beat him. Most likely there are but at this point nobody knows yet. After all, Ains has just begun to move. The danger of seeing Ains and his floor guardians being overpowered is nice partly because we support them and thankfully they are likeable enough in our books. But if this carries on, it will look like so effortless and too easy. Where is the fun in that? I know puny humans cannot stand up to those non-humans. That is why the final arc of having Ains unleashing his goats and trample thousands of hapless soldiers feel like we can only get our kicks if we see death in large numbers. Because seeing Ains use his super level tiered magic against one or two human warriors won’t be enough anymore. Yeah, we’ve come to expect even much greater things for Ains.

I want to comment on this season’s art and animation, more accurately the CGI used. Although the past few seasons have also employed this and even though obviously obvious but not as obvious as this season that I need to point it out (as they used more CGI this season). Because you see, somehow I feel that when they employ this style especially on the platoon or armies, they look lifeless. They feel more like marionettes and automata if you ask me. I’m not saying that the CGI is bad but it isn’t good either. Because like in those soldiers’ cases, it feels like since there are too many of them to draw in a single scene and they only appear for a while (although repeated and recycled in many other scenes because, who the hell cares if you can tell one foot soldier from another), it looks easier and faster just to copy and paste them. And what better way than to do it via CGI. The undead soldiers are already undead and that befits them. But still, having them with CGI sometimes makes them look weirdly animated. And for the past 2 seasons, I have been mentioning the He-man factor. I didn’t find any but since Arche reminds me of Clementine (just less crazy) and her hairstyle almost resembles Prince Adam, I guess there is my He-man reference for this season. And also, why is it that I can’t help think Boullope as Man-At-Arms despite both looking so different?

OxT and MYTH&ROID once again do the opening and ending theme this season but now they switch places. MYTH&ROID now sings the opener, Voracity and it maintains that devilishly naughty rock music that suits the series as well as Ains himself very well. Maybe this should be Ains’ personal theme song. OxT now does the ending theme, Silent Solitude. More of a slow rock but still edgy in its own right. Though, Clattanoia still tops my list as the best song in this series.

Overall, the Overlord series is still going strong and one of the very few anime series that continues to maintain its interesting allure despite the flaw of slow build-up of too many developments and too many characters introduced and underutilized. I hope this series really gets another season and many more seeing that one more wouldn’t be enough. It would be ironic and rare to see a villain finally achieving the happy ending (bad ending to the rest) of obtaining what he wants. Because you know, bad guys never achieve their goals because of plot conveniences of heroes taking them down and the cliché of good triumphs over evil. Can we finally have an evil protagonist whom we can bow down to and proclaim as our true Overlord? For the Sorcerer King, it’s not impossible. All he needs is just another season.

Anime With Chinese Zodiac

January 4, 2019

HAPPY BELATED NEW YEAR 2019! Oh wow. Time really flies when you’re having fun. Another eventful year for me in regards to anime. Some ups and some downs. You know the usual. So what else a better way to start the new year with a new blog about the Chinese zodiac. Speaking of which, it is the year of the pig. Or the year of the boar if that sounds ‘offensive’ to you. This year is the final animal in the zodiac before the next 12 year cycle begins again.

Aren’t we all enchanted with the eastern zodiac? That is, the Chinese zodiac in particular? No? Then it is just me then. Long ago when I was young, I used to be fascinated with the 12 animals that made up the Chinese zodiac. Over the years the fascination slowly started wearing thin and although throughout my anime years, a few Chinese zodiac anime series that I have watched did rekindle some of that nostalgia but it wasn’t enough to make me feel that same mesmerisation when I was a kid. So what a better way than to ‘pay a tribute’ to that nostalgia with a list of them. Listed below are the animes that employs the use of Chinese zodiac in them in no particular order:

Anime: Fruits Basket.
Zodiac relation: The curse of the Souma family has the members turning into a zodiac animal if being hugged by the opposite sex.
Zodiac characters: Yuki (rat), Haru (ox), Kisa (tiger), Momiji (rabbit), Hatori (dragon), Ayame (snake), Rin (horse), Hiro (sheep), Ritsu (monkey), Kureno (rooster), Shigure (dog) and Kagura (boar).
13th zodiac character: Kyo (cat).
Non-zodiac character: Tohru Honda (girl who gets involved and tries to break the family curse) and Akito (Souma family head and ‘god of the zodiac).
Thoughts: First anime I watched using the zodiac theme. Being an amateur in anime during those early years of mine, it still brings some emotional affect if I think a little more about it. Though, can’t remember for the most part of the anime. It was a shame that the horse and rooster character didn’t appear in the anime, confusing the hell out of me then.

Anime: Juuni Taisen.
Zodiac relation: Participants representing a zodiac animal (hence the house/clan they represent) partake in a deadly battle royale tournament in which the last one standing is declared the winner and will be granted any wish he/she desires.
Zodiac characters: Nezumi (rat), Ushii (ox), Tora (tiger), Usagi (rabbit), Tatsumi Aniki (dragon), Tatsumi Otoutou (snake), Uuma (horse), Hitsujii (sheep), Sharyuu (monkey), Niwatori (rooster), Dotsuku (dog), Inounoshishi (boar)
Non-zodiac character: Duodecuple (tournament referee-cum-host).
Thoughts: The most recent entry in the Chinese zodiac them I have watched (hence, the most returned search results on Google). Of course naturally, by far the most interesting use of this zodiac theme. It is probably the only one in the list where the characters die. Blood and deaths make it so interesting. Though, the ‘disappointment’ is how predictable the deaths are if you know your zodiac order. Nevertheless, everybody clap your hands!

Anime: Etotama.
Zodiac relation: In order for the cat to join the official zodiac, she must defeat all the 12 zodiac members, the Eto Shin.
Zodiac characters: Chu (rat), Moo (ox), Shima (tiger), Usa (rabbit), Dora (dragon), Shaa (snake), Uma (horse), Mei (sheep), Kii (monkey), Piyo (chicken), Inu (dog) and Uri (boar).
13th zodiac character: Nya (cat).
Non-zodiac character: Takeru Amato (high school kid who gives off Sol/Lull that serves as the main energy source for Eto Musume that Nya needs since she is not part of Eto Shin).
Thoughts: If you like your zodiac characters in cute, kawaii and moe form, look no further. This is probably the one anime where the greatest rivalry between the cat and the rat is also the greatest friendship because they saved each other’s life and heck, reincarnated! A mouse’s love for a feline is the main cause for the latter to reborn!

Anime: Hyakko.
Zodiac relation: The characters’ names have the kanji writings of the zodiac animals.
Zodiac characters: Nene Andou (rat), Ushio Makunouchi (cow), Torako Kageyama (tiger), Minato Ooba (rabbit), Tatsuki Iizuka (dragon), Ayumi Nonomura (snake), Touma Kazamatsuri (horse), Hitsugi Nikaidou (sheep), Chie Suzugazaki (monkey), Suzume Saotome (rooster), Koma Kobayashi (dog) and Inori Tsubomiya (pig).
13th zodiac character: Taiga Nishizono (tiger, sort of).
Non-zodiac character: Since there are many, I’ll just name the ones with animals in their names, namely Kitsune Kageyama (fox), Shishimaru Sengoku (lion) and Kyouichirou Amagasa (wolf).
Thoughts: This is the most vaguely used zodiac theme of them all and it is easy to see why nobody would think of this series as zodiac related. Unless you know the characters’ name very well, you are going to be confused of which animal they represent since there are lots of other characters too in this high school slapstick comedy.

Anime: Sumomomo Momomo.
Zodiac relation: In the martial arts world where the clans are depicted and represented as zodiac animals, there is a war brewing that could split the feuding clans. In order to bring peace, the children of the most powerful clan on each side will enter an arranged marriage decided by their fathers.
Zodiac characters: Tenka Koganei (tiger), Alice Uzuki (rabbit), Momoko Kuzuryuu (dragon), Iroha Minamoto (snake), Hanzou (snake), Sane Nakajima (horse) and Koushi Inuzuka (dog).
13th zodiac character: Inaho Kameda (turtle, sort of).
Non-zodiac character: Katsuyuki Saigo (school’s delinquent boss).
Thoughts: The only anime where it doesn’t utilize all the animals in the zodiac. Arranged marriages, love triangles and obstacles to love sure keep the flames of love and hate burning strong. Also, most perverted and ecchi zodiac for this theme.

Anime: Digimon Tamers.
Zodiac relation: The Devas are the Ultimate Holy Beasts and are the antagonists of the series.
Zodiac characters: Kumbhiramon (rat), Vajramon (tiger), Mihiramon (tiger), Antylamon (rabbit), Majiramon (dragon), Sandiramon (snake), Indramon (horse), Pajiramon (sheep), Makuramon (monkey), Sinduramon (rooster), Caturamon (dog) and Vikaralamon (boar).
13th zodiac character: Antylamon became Lopmon after turning to the good side.
Non-zodiac characters: Uhm, too many to list so I’ll just generalize them as the main Tamers kids.
Thoughts: I only saw a few initial episodes of this series and even so, had forgotten all of it. Thus I can’t say much when they got into the arc that battled the Devas. And that was in the early half of the series.

Anime: Hunter x Hunter.
Zodiac relation: Known as Zodiacs, they serve as the chairman’s counsellors for the Hunter Association.
Zodiac characters: Kurapika (rat), Mizaistom Nana (ox), Kanzai (tiger), Pyon (rabbit), Botobai Gigante (dragon), Gel (snake), Saccho Kobayakawa (horse), Ginta (sheep), Saiyu (monkey), Cluck (rooster), Cheadle Yorkshire (dog) and Leorio Paradinight (boar).
Former zodiac characters: Pariston Hill (rat) and Ging Freecss (boar).
Thoughts: Didn’t see this anime at all. At least not the main series. Hence have no idea about anything. Sorry if it looks like copy and paste. My only amusement was while researching this and came across Pariston Hill’s parody name. I wonder if Paris Hilton was still famous and relevant back in 2011.

Anime: Juuni Senshi Bakuretsu Eto Rangers.
Zodiac relation: The anthropomorphic Eto Rangers travel the worlds on their flying machine to fight the evil and free their land of their corruption.
Zodiac characters: Bakumaru (rat), Hols (ox), Gao (tiger), Cream (rabbit), Drago (dragon), Nyorori (snake), Pakaracchi (horse), Souffle (sheep), Monk (monkey), Tart (rooster), Pochirou (dog) and Urii (boar).
13th zodiac character: Nyanma (cat) and her fellow coloured cat henchmen who were disqualified from being part of the zodiac and are the series’ main antagonists.
Non-zodiac characters: Princess Aura (Eto Rangers mentor), Kirinda (Pegasus transport) and Jarei God Bagi (ultimate villain of the series).
Thoughts: I totally didn’t see this one at all. Don’t remember even hearing of it. At least Digimon Tamers and Hunter x Hunter I have watched some part of it or its spin-offs. This one not at all. This could be the oldest and the first anime using the zodiac theme as it aired way back in 1996. Wow. So long ago…

Anime: Binbougami Ga.
Zodiac relation: Ichiko Sakura can use her Soumin Shourai to summon the zodiac animals that manifest her good luck.
Thoughts: Okay, so this is a little cheat as this is only a very minor part in the series. The zodiac animals do not play an overall significant role or make many appearances in the overall series and perhaps it is one of those moments where they want to pull your cute heartstrings.

Your Fortune Readings For Today…
Not sure if there are any more anime series out there using the Chinese zodiac animals. Even if there are, they would be obscure or quite negligible in the series’ plot. Though not many, the cat is often used as the animal who seeks to join the official zodiac line-up. After all, it is such a common household animal like the dog and yet it doesn’t get a spot. Even more so, since this is the Chinese zodiac, the beloved panda doesn’t even make the cut. So rare that even the zodiac doesn’t include it? Heck, the dragon is so mythical that it is even in the list. If the yearly eastern zodiac seems too long to wait each time your animal year comes around, there is the western zodiac that is monthly for those who can’t wait. Which gives me the idea of hoping to see an anime which pits the eastern zodiac against the western zodiac in an ultimate 12 versus 12 battle royale! I’m sure if that happens, all the stars would be bloody and death.