Absolute Duo

August 15, 2015

Just how long till you find your soul mate? Your lifetime partner? Your Absolute Duo? Apparently in this series, you are paired with a person that you are going to be working, playing, eating, sleeping and doing whatever things with as young as in high school already. Geez, it is like they are starting young on this matchmaking thing. You know what they say about two heads being better than one, right? Despite the pairing is meant for a security agency, what happens when a guy and a girl gets paired together? And I am not talking about forced pairing but teaming up on their own will. Yeah, that sums up pretty much what to expect from this series. Yes, don’t make me repeat myself again. This is what you should expect from this kind of anime.

Episode 1
Tooru Kokonoe and Imari Nagakura are freshmen heading to the opening ceremony of Kouryou Academy. It’s like a dream school. No tuition fees, 3 meals a day, all expenses paid for and what they do is train you to fight. But everyone is going to be in for a shock because this goth loli, Sakuya Tsukumo who is also the chair of the school board, tells them they need to take a qualifying test. They will fight the person seated next to them now! The winner will be accepted and the loser will have his/her Luciful taken back and kicked out. Everyone protests as they never heard about this (should they?) but this is how it works. If no winner is decided within 10 minutes, both are kicked out. Tooru requests to switch partners. Sorry, no can’t do. And they’ve just become friends… And so the place becomes a battlefield. Imari has something to accomplish so she has to defeat Tooru. He too has something to achieve and won’t give up (something about him being too weak that led to someone’s death). Tooru materializes his shield weapon and blocks her attacks. He powers up a punch to knock her away. A move that is unblockable. It is Imari’s lost. How convenient, it is also the end of regulation time. Imari is impressed nobody was physically hurt. Because when people summon Blaze, it is from their soul and the only thing it can wound is just that. Tooru wasn’t all out serious with her because his weapon isn’t Blaze and would have wounded her. She admits defeat and wishes him the best. Tooru sees his old friend Aoi Torasaki AKA Tora in the same class. The latter mentions this means they are both lab rats for Sakuya because they were administered Luciful to harness their Blaze powers. In class, there is this silver haired girl, Julie Sigtuna, beautiful enough for everyone to turn their heads and stare. She sits next to Tooru and starts staring at him. Whenever he tries to talk, she turns her head away. Rinse and repeat… Annoying?

This spunky lively bunny maid is their teacher, Rito Tsukimi. As childish as she looks… She explains the school system like their ID doubles as a credit card and how they will form pairs and live/eat/train together with that partner. Because once they graduate they will be assigned to the Dawn Agency Security Force so they’re starting the partnership early. This is what you call the Duo system. The official pairs will be decided this weekend but for now the temporary Duo pair will be the one sitting next to you. Tooru couldn’t be more troubled than this. Yeah. He has to live with Julie? Can he switch, pretty please? You mean he wants his bespectacled friend than this cutie?! What is he? Gay? Anyway, Tsukimi won’t allow him and thus making us viewers with the prospect of fanservice hijinks. And true enough, Tooru gets a shocker seeing Julie in her pyjamas which is only a shirt itself. She remembers his name because it reminds her of that Thor God in her northern European language, Gimle. Don’t be disappointed that Julie’s ambiguous actions that she is interested in him are actually in fact she is interested in the technique he used in the qualifying exam. She wants him to teach her that but he warns it puts a great strain on one’s body. Maybe next time. Because she starts feeling sleepy and he puts her to bed. Next morning, they look forward to working with each other till their official Duo is decided.

Episode 2
This was to be expected. Tooru is freaking surprised to find Julie sleeping next to him. With rumours about them going about, Tomoe Tachibana and Miyabi Hotaka talk to them to ask if there is anything indecent going on between them because it bothers them. Really? It bothers them? It doesn’t sound so convincing when Miyabi who is shy of men starts hiding behind Tomoe. Julie chooses the wrong words. She says Tooru was holding her in his arms and this is enough for Tomoe to get the wrong idea that he is a pervert. In class, Tsukimi teaches us about the basics of everything. Those compatible with Luciful and can use Blaze are called Exceeds. Only through more practice and training using Luciful can your body become exponentially stronger. Therefore this curriculum contains a lot of battle practices and if they don’t level up at least one level by the end of the year, they’ll get expelled! After Julie explains the misunderstanding to Tomoe, she goes to apologize to Tooru on her knees. That bad, huh? I don’t know what forces suddenly push them to each other and had each their face in the other’s crotch. Oh heck, enjoy the fanservice. Tooru must be gay since he is talking to Tora and wanting to team up with him for the official Duo. Only on a condition that if he is strong. What better way to find out than a battle practice. For a week, we see the gang train and practice with each other and Tooru even teaching Julie the finer points of Japanese (her mom was a translator so she learnt the basics).

Julie talks to Tooru that she plans to form a Duo with Tomoe. She notices they are watching the sakura petals just like on the opening ceremony. He realizes she was watching him then too. But she is glad they could watch it together this second time. Tooru is surprised that Julie crawled into his bed once again but this time he hears her calling her dad in her sleep. Knowing she is lonely, he holds her hand to soothe her. On the day of the official registration, Tooru and Tora head to the counter to get things done. They see Tomoe and Miyabi coming by. Tooru asks about Julie and Tomoe replies she asked her about it too but turned her down because she always had Miyabi in mind. Then Tooru starts to get worried… I suppose this is proof that he is not gay because he rather ditch registering with Tora to go find Julie. Specky guy expected this and lets him go. He searches everywhere and finds her at the clock tower. What is she doing here? Trying to see if she could see Gimle from here? I guess she’s sad enough not to think straight. So she got rejected. She didn’t want to tell him as not to bother him. Besides, there is nothing he could do. As expected, he suggests they officially become a Duo. Whatever issues are bugging her, Tooru has the right assuring answer. Because he wants to protect her. After saying all that, no girl would turn that down, would she? And so Tooru and Julie are now official Duo pairs. He should have expected Julie would continue to sleep with him. Because she used to sleep with her mom. He is not her mom! But Tooru is special. He gives off that father-like feeling… This is going to be a long night. Make that long nights.

Episode 3
With the new pairs decided, it is time for the awaited Blaze mock battle, New Blade Battle. To put it simply, it is a team battle royale. Tooru and Julie do more training and Julie took the liberty to name Tooru’s move. Tooru spots Miyabi running till she collapses. He carries her back as she explains the uselessness she is compared to everybody. She thought by increasing her physical stamina by running till she dropped. Well, keep trying. During the New Blade Battle, Tooru-Julie team own every other Duo that we don’t care about. Finally they have to face off with Tomoe-Miyabi pair. Tooru stops Miyabi’s thrust and although the girl laments her uselessness again, Tooru is in fact impressed that she could push him back that far. Keep up the good work. Julie sees through Tomoe’s attack from behind to seal the victory. I thought I heard some chicken scream but it turned out to be Tora! So this dude teamed up with that macho guy, Tatsu? So he decided to go gay? Hey wait a minute. Dragon and tiger combo?! Anyway the duo are out and the culprit is no other than Tsukimi who reveals it is her job to take out new recruits. She attacks Tooru and Julie but Tooru suddenly starts bleeding. Time for a couple of lessons for them. First of all, Blaze indeed can harm you if you have an intent to kill. Yup, it can kill. Secondly, what happens when you destroy the Blaze? As demonstrated on Tora, the excruciating pain proves that his spirit is damaged to the extent he’ll be incapacitated for an entire day. End of lesson. Now to kill them both. The duo cannot best Tsukimi as she is fast and powerful. Not even when she said the taboo word about weaklings dying, Tooru powered up to punch through the classroom and that still wasn’t enough. In the end, with the desire to protect each other and nice cooperation, all that training paid off as Tooru tricks Tsukimi and shatters her weapon. What a painful scream… The duo might have won but at the cost with lots of injuries. Tora and Tatsu are rescued while Tsukimi has been arrested. They are concerned what her job is. When Tomoe and Miyabi come to check on them, they see Julie on top of Tooru (she accidentally tripped and fell on him). I know what they’re thinking… Tooru still wakes up in the middle of the night from that horrifying nightmare. Julie overheard him talk in his sleep. Who is Otoha? Who is he going to kill someday? Is that why he needed Luciful and Blaze? He is reluctant to talk about it so Julie takes off her shirt and shows a horrendous scar across her back. She is the same like him. An avenger.

Episode 4
Beautiful naked blonde babe taking a bath in the river! DAMN YOU BRIGHT LIGHTS COVERING HER BOOBS! Looks like it is time for her to go meet that special someone. I can guess who that person is… In class, Tora and Tatsu are grateful to Tomoe and Miyabi who helped administer first aid to them. Tooru is shocked that Tora can actually bow down! They are concerned of Tsukimi’s goals but can be assured she won’t be around anymore. Suddenly, Tsukimi walks into her class and conducts her lesson like normal! WTF?! They confront her after class but were brought to Sakuya’s office for explanation. She reinstated Tsukimi as the school’s instructor because she managed to train well several students in a short period of time. But she tried to kill them! Well, they’re standing here alive, right? Sakuya admits that she only cares about the results and doesn’t care whatever method or curriculum is used because she wants to find the Absolute Duo. She will have the 6 of them take the Ritual of Sublimation to advance to Level 2. Back in class, this blonde babe, Lilith Bristol, a new transfer student from England walks right in and wants Tooru to come with her. But they’re right in the middle of class. Don’t make her repeat herself. She is special. She wants a nice quiet place to talk with him. So at some luxurious garden, she explains that she is an Exception. When she heard there was an irregular at Japan, she came all the way here just to be his partner. That’s right. Don’t make her repeat herself. She wants him to be her Duo. But he already has a partner. Doesn’t matter. She is special. She gets what she wants! So what will it be? Tooru has the best answer for her. There is no need to think about it. He declines her offer. WHAT?! Lilith looked so shocked. Don’t make him repeat himself. The answer is no. N-O. Right back at you b*tch! And if you are wondering why he is running 4km laps at night, it is Tsukimi’s punishment to him for skipping class. She can’t touch that English b*tch but she can sure hell take it out on him! Curses!

To avoid Julie’s question of sleeping with him tonight again, he manages to switch the topic to bring her out shopping next time. Tooru did ask Miyabi for places to go (although she thought he was asking her out). He invites her and Tomoe to come but she declines, citing they have something ‘busy’ to do. And so the duo are in town. So pretty Julie is that everyone can’t keep their eyes off her. So cute that the clothes store saleswoman purposely wants to let her try a few more clothes. Heck, she even gets swept away by kindergarten kids. And as expected, Tomoe and Miyabi are being stalkers watching from afar… Waiting for any indecent movements… Julie amazingly got drunk on a rum raisin ice cream. That is when several punks try to hit on Tomoe and Miyabi. They are not interested but they get physical. They want to teach those girls a lesson but Tooru comes to their aid and says they are with him. They are not convinced. Suddenly, Lilith shoots her rifle Blaze at them! What was that for?! Tooru thinks this is what she means of being an Exception. Later as Julie tries out bras with Tomoe and Miyabi, as expected, Tooru had to be the unfortunate soul who sees them in it. Guess what he is being branded as? No, Tooru! How can you say you are an unfortunate kid after seeing such lovely figures?! I don’t care about your reputation! You just saw ‘men’s paradise’!

Episode 5
The friends are discussing Lilith’s rifle Blaze because it is a complex weaponry to materialize. During swimming lessons, everyone thought they’re about to see some Julie grace as she dives in. Turns out she can’t swim and sank like a hammer! Because Lilith has never attended class, our concerned Tooru goes to look for her at the garden. She has already finished her education and this place is just for her to kill time. Does she look like the type to make friends? Then she asks to go out on a date. You heard that right. Don’t make her repeat twice. And so skipping yet another class, it seems the date is an outing to a horror theme park. Lilith is so happy that she’s acting like a kid. Really. It must be tiring hanging out with her through all the rides… Then there’s the right mood, the right atmosphere, the right moment for Lilith to ask that very question after she replies him she showed him her Blaze in public was because it was only natural to show it to her partner. She’ll let this slip for once and say it again: Become her partner. We can’t hear what he said but we know it broke her heart. Ah well, at least the fireworks in the background of this fake horror Disneyland was worth it. So back in his room, he reveals to Julie about Lilith’s goal to make him her Duo but turned her down. Julie is alright since he had his reasons. I thought it was more of because he didn’t agree to it. Now we hear exactly what he said to Lilith. He already has a partner who is dear to him and swore to protect her. Those feelings never changed and thus he can’t team up with her. Since that already ruined everything, Lilith slapped him and won’t forget this humiliation of being rejected twice. And all the more reason why Julie is grateful and should start hugging him because he chose her, right? Soon, our first years will be having another inter-class battle with the second years, Dragon Bite Battle. Don’t underestimate the latter because despite only a handful of them will be selected for the battle against the entire first years, they are a few levels above and much stronger. Look at this as a big team battle. Suddenly Lilith waltzes into the arena and wants to take on all the second years herself. Is she joking? Don’t make her repeat twice. She’s special. She can do whatever she wants, right? She demonstrates by shooting them all out! No chance! Sakuya finds it bothersome that despite she is the best, she disrupted something she worked hard to put together. Don’t worry. Lilith will pay it back with a ‘dance party’. In short, a survival battle with her classmates. I guess she’s on a roll now that she wants to take on everybody herself. This is one pissed rejected woman…

Episode 6
The lowly classmates get owned. Hardly any challenge. Now Tooru is before her. Surprise, he apologizes for turning her down. Not that he changed his mind. He wants to fight her with full strength so that they can understand each other. Is this some sort of shonen ritual? The ambush tactic of letting Tatsu be the decoy to slice her so Lilith will jump and let Julie slice her didn’t work since she is faster. Shortly, Lilith then camouflages as a fallen classmate to take out Tatsu. Before Julie gets owned, Tomoe saves her but the duo sustain damage that render them unable to fight at their full ability. Tooru may have guessed something on Lilith’s Blaze when Julie talks to him as she is worried about him. He looks more worked up than usual. Nothing like a few nice words to assure and sooth her. It is interrupted when Lilith wants to let the game going. Tooru has got her where she wanted as he slams the ground. The floor collapses. She jumps. In midair, Tora and Julie attack but surprise, she is fast enough to shoot them without reloading her Blaze. Suddenly Julie gets back up and slashes the rifle off her hand. They have predicted Lilith always shoots at the heart so Julie was wearing a metal plate there (a reason why her movements were sluggish). But it’s not over yet. Before the fight can resume, Tooru is shot with real bullets. Several armoured troops come in and want Lilith to come with them. Lilith refuses as they were rude to intrude on her ‘dance party’. Till his blonde guy, K takes Tomoe hostage so Lilith agrees to go with them. So for the rest, now it is a mission to rescue her. I don’t know how Tooru was fast enough to be before them. He then takes in so many shots while powering up his ground slamming move. As everyone falls, Tora and Julie take out the soldiers while Tooru guiding Lilith’s hand shoot her rifle at K. Double whammy when a slab slams on him! With Lilith back, what else to do? Finish the match! They’re both injured so they’re even. In the aftermath, K reports his failure to his master but he is okay since what is important is the data that was gathered. Their true aim is the Blaze Witch, Blaze Diabolica. One of the injured soldiers pleads for help. He was shot. I’m not sure who won the battle but Tooru is in hospital all wrapped up in bandages. Lilith only with an arm cast comes in to visit. They’re friends, right? She apologizes for slapping him and also looking down on his friends. As for being her Duo, he turns her down but if he changes his mind, let her know. Oh, there is one more thing she wants to say. Listen closely because she won’t say it again. She kisses Tooru on the cheek and declares him her future husband! OMG! What will Tooru be branded now? She will definitely get him to return her feelings.

Episode 7
Miyabi is thinking about her uselessness during that hostage situation. More importantly, her mind is pretty occupied about Tooru. Wonder why… The class is taking a ship to an island. Julie is feeling a little queasy so she’s lying on Tooru’s lap. Miyabi thought of sitting next to Tooru but the ship shakes and she got a little too close to him. If you think this is going to be a first class cruise, think again. Tsukimi announces everyone must swim to the island in their uniform. Yeah, Sakuya must really want to test her guinea pigs, right? Lilith the cheater comes by helicopter but I suppose she wants to have some fun as she changes into her swimsuit to dive down to Tooru. If it’s bad enough he is already carrying Julie, now he’s got to carry her. So he is tired out once reaching shore and he could use less of Lilith’s tease kissing and Julie losing her panties to the wind and into the ocean. As everyone make their way to the training camp in the middle of the island, they are attacked by ninjas. More precisely, ninjas with Blaze. Julie and Lilith team up and you can see how formidable they are when they do that. Why, Julie’s sword spin is enough to cut down all the trees in the vicinity! Tomoe and Miyabi are also having a tough time but with Miyabi remembering how useless she is and Tooru’s words, she gets the strength to break out and fight to help her partner. When Tooru unmasks one of the ninjas, he is surprised to see Imari! Turns out this is a branch of Kouryou Academy and this is their way of welcoming them. Don’t be surprised. Remember the qualifying test during the entrance ceremony? As explained, those who failed were given a chance to study at this seaside branch and Imari didn’t waste time taking up that offer. So we see the gang having BBQ party. Julie eating Tooru’s sausage that is big and hot… Lilith wanting Tooru to feed her since her hands are full but Julie is the one doing it. Tooru goes to apologize to Sakuya as he thought she was a heartless person. Thanks for taking in Imari and the rest. She doesn’t want him to get the wrong idea. She was just gathering personnel for Dawn Agency and thus her goal of achieving Absolute Duo. Miyabi feels weird for being praised. But after talking to Tooru and remembering how he always gave her words of encouragement, she finally connects the dots of this feeling of love for him. Yeah, took you long enough to notice. Meanwhile, K talks to Equipment Smith about some mission he is being entrusted, Competitive Exhibition: Selection. He is sure not to report to the top brass and believes they too want results. After setting up the tents, Julie has learnt an important lesson. To keep her panties safe, she hands it to Tooru for safekeeping… I don’t know what to say…

Episode 8
Heaven: When you are dreaming of 2 naked girls sleeping by your side. Hell: When you wake up to really find 2 naked girls sleeping by your side. Tooru is in hell courtesy of Lilith and Julie… Guess who is jumping the gun to call him pervert again? And it is no surprise that Tomoe once again grovels and buries her head in the sand just to apologize to him after they explained what really happened. Tooru is invited to hang out with Miyabi and her friends at the beach. You don’t say… Is there anywhere else to hang out on this island? As expected, swimsuit fanservice in which our main character has to honestly comment on each of them but he blatantly ignores Tsukimi despite she threatening to beat up his ass. What else to expect? Miyabi huge boobs, some bikini tops coming off, Miyabi’s huge boobs, Julie and Lilith fighting over Tooru’s attention and oh, before I forget, Miyabi’s huge boobs. So much so it is the highlight during the hotspring scene with Tsukimi turning into a serial boob molester with Julie her accomplice. Because Miyabi has been acting weird (spacing out, that longing look), Imari can tell and even gets admittance from her that she likes Tooru. Well, if only Imari had been accepted into the main school, maybe things would have progressed differently but seeing things turned out like that, the reason why she wants to support Miyabi. What? Really? So you don’t want Tooru for yourself? When Miyabi sprains her foot, Tooru the man is no other than to carry her. Imari then signals to the other girls that they need to head back to cook (even if it’s not their turn tonight). Tsukimi wonders if Lilith is okay with this. Yes, everybody deserves a fair chance and it is not like she is going to lose. Highly confident, isn’t she? So we’ve got Tooru carrying Miyabi on their slow walk back. Talking about things. The right setting sun mood. The right atmosphere. The right time for Miyabi to confess she loves him. She wants to go out with him. Will that be okay? What is his reply? Then that stupid trauma of his had to influence his answer. He can’t. Because he is weak. Stupid Tooru. You just made Miyabi heartbroken. Look at her heartbroken face! No, it’s not okay! Lilith talks to Sakuya whose other identity is Blaze Diabolica. She is being targeted by Rein and suspects they will strike tonight. Thus the reason why she is on this island. But she is just a decoy and has been prepared a sacrifice just like the branch school students. That night, armoured troops skydiving down and start shooting at all the students!!! MASSACRE!!! As K says, they’re from God Slaying Corps, Libers and Exceed.

Episode 9
Everybody fights back but the toll is still no match. Just utter chaos. There are no casualties because this might be that old man’s way of Selection. Believing their target is the underground facility, Sakuya allows Tsukimi to release her limiter and display her full power without restraint. And there she goes, wild and berserk with another Blaze lesson for the kids. When you pass Level 4, you’ve got a secret Blaze power! I’m not sure what this hula hoop thingy she has but it’s dangerous and kills! K then enters the office to get Sakuya. The commotion outside was just a diversion to lure her out. Lilith protects Sakuya but K says she is not invited this time. After the explosion from the office, Tooru and Julie head to check out while the rest go find Miyabi who is missing ever since (she never came back from the beach). Tooru sees defeated Lilith who asks a favour of him to go rescue Sakuya. Well, they got on his ship just in time. Since they won’t take up his offer to jump into the ocean for their lives to be spared (Julie can’t swim anyway), I guess it’s time to fight. Despite taking the full force of Tooru’s punch, K is unscathed thanks to his new prototype armour. He beats them up and is about to kill Julie when Tooru comes to protect her. This seems to irk K. Especially like this protect thing is like a taboo word for him. He takes it all out on Tooru. Julie wakes up thanks to her trauma of remembering her dad being killed. She powers up and turns into some demon, so fast that K couldn’t see the slash across his chest. He gets slashed left and right. Julie probably can’t tell friend from foe and is about to attack Tooru when she collapses. K continues to mock Tooru he can’t protect Julie like that. Oh, it’s that taboo word again. He is weak. K gets a call from Smith that they have acquired what is necessary and that Sakuya is no longer needed. Seriously?! Plans must be made for the next ‘banquet’. All troops retreat now. K vows to Tooru that the next time they meet, he’ll kill him. Abandon ship! I don’t know if Tooru had to steer it all the way back but anyway they made it back to the island. When Lilith gets a call, her shock expression has Sakuya know that she has been invited to Rein Conference. Julie tells Tooru how her dad went to battle and got killed. He was kind to her till his last breath. The man who killed him also put that scar on her back. That is why she enrolled in this school to become stronger to kill him. Meanwhile Miyabi is seen with Smith and is being assured she can get stronger with this new prototype suit. Let me guess her logic. Stronger = Tooru will love her more? What are the odds?

Episode 10
The main branch leaves the island. There’s nothing they could do if they stayed back, right? So what if a student is missing? When Sakuya says return, you return. Tomoe may not show her emotions but deep down she is deeply hurt that her friend is missing. Though, to prevent the rest from worrying, they are thought to believe Miyabi is in hospital and recuperating from the attack instead of been missing for a few days now. And now Miyabi and K has become part of Tooru’s damn nightmare trauma. Give this kid a break, will you? Sakuya summons Tooru and wants to reward him for saving her from Libers. She gives him permission to take Ritual of Sublimation to Level 4. Tooru believes everyone else should have the same chance as it wasn’t just him saving the day. Sakuya doesn’t understand why this bothers him. Doesn’t he seek power? The power to become stronger to protect others? Can’t argue with that. He is also told about the conference that will be held in this academy. Smith who founded Libers will also be attending. The place is under heavy security as Tooru and Julie go talk to Lilith to ask something. No, it’s not her love for you. It is about Rein Conference and Smith. Oh. How disappointing? Listen closely. She’ll not repeat herself. Smith is a high ranking member of an underground military who established Libers for one goal: To attain Absolute Duo. It is the final domain when your soul’s power reaches its ultimate capacity. The conference is where a group of individuals gathered because of Absolute Duo. Sakuya is part of that group and with names like Grave Phantom, Tempest Judge, Dark Ray Disaster and Silent Diva, you guess what kind of characters they are. Be awed or laugh. Tooru realizes the travesty of why this school was formed, to find individuals with Luciful and to awaken that hidden power within their souls to create Exceed. You mean he never suspected it even when Tsukimi tried to kill him or all the guinea pig tests he went through? Smith suggests Sakuya join forces with him but she declines because they have very different desires and that means what lies for them at the end will be in different places as well. She continues to mock him like how he lost to her grandpa and was once kicked out of the agency. Smith doesn’t take that insult likely and suggests settling this via game. As the name suggests, Killing Game is about his Libers fighting her Exceeds at this academy. The winner is when one side eliminates the other. Challenge accepted. And right away those Libers guys skydive down to the academy grounds. Ready for battle? The friends thought Miyabi came back to them but that happiness turns to shock when they see her siding Libers and in that power suit. So, is she strong enough for you Tooru?

Episode 11
So Miyabi wants to show off the new power she got. More worrying, she looks like she has turned into yandere mode and love Tooru enough to kill him! So being strong gives her the right to badmouth her friends as weak? Everyone thought she has been brainwashed but Miyabi insists this is what she asked and wanted. What is worst is that the entire island was under surveillance. This means that confession drama was seen by those guys and that is how they recruited Miyabi into this. And you thought reality TV was bad enough. Even more proof of her yandere when she is mad Tooru looks at everyone else except her! K lets Miyabi to handle her friends while she goes to pay Sakuya a visit. Tomoe wants to handle Miyabi alone because this is her responsibility as her partner. The rest head along and put her trust in Tomoe. Tora and Lilith form a temporary alliance to take out the Libers guards to let Tooru and Julie advance. But K is waiting before them. His true goal is to avenge what happened that last time and knew Tooru would come after him if he said Sakuya’s name. Tomoe is going to have to do a lot more convincing than that to bring back Miyabi. She laments she doesn’t know much about her friend and even more heartbreaking that she hears Miyabi’s aspiration was only to want Tooru, the boy she likes to acknowledge her. After confirming she did confess and got rejected because he said she was weak, Tomoe makes a comeback. It is all the more reason why she doesn’t need this fake power. She is already strong enough. Something inside Miyabi resonates. Tomoe continues she is in fact stronger than she is and that she wants to support her all the way as her partner. Now, the only thing left to snap her out of it is a good face slap! That was even enough to break her suit! Woah! So this is how you welcome your friend back? K relishes in seeing Tooru’s distress face by over-killing Julie. Tooru uses his body to protect all the bullets from the Libers soldiers. When Julie wakes up, although she is horrified, but she keeps her emotions in check. Tooru’s iron will pisses off K that he is the one to show us his frustrated face. Bloodshot devil eyes? With Tora and Lilith providing backup, Tooru materializes summon super shield to block K’s attack (why didn’t he do this earlier?) and knock that guy out with his super punch. Victory for Sakuya’s team! Smith cannot believe he has lost. I cannot believe he hasn’t died from heart attack of this humiliating loss. Yeah, he lost to a little girl. Only gave her more ammo to mock him. So I guess the only thing guys like him can do is beat up K and insult his very existence to let loose steam. And probably that is what made K snapped and killed the crazy old fart before he could detonate and destroy the school. K summons his ultimate armament and now he has that crazy look to kill Tooru.

Episode 12
Our friends thought it is over. Till K pops up before them. For some reason, this made Tora’s blood boil. He charges angrily but gets his Blaze destroyed. I guess they want to put him out from the final fight. K is also faster than Lilith’s bullet and takes her out. I guess it’s the same for her. So it’s up to Tooru and Julie to take him down but with K being cocky that he is powerful, he feels like he has been given the right to destroy everything with his power. Uh huh. Don’t get hit by his blasts. It’s freaking devastating! Then he wants to destroy the entire school but luckily Tsukimi was there to slice the beams apart although this causes her to bleed everywhere but no cause for worries that she is dying or anything. I guess you have to make this bunny sensei look cool once in a while. This is probably the umpteenth time because when Tooru tries to protect Julie again, he gets stabbed. No sh*t. Happy now K? You get to see Julie’s anguished face. In turn, she goes out of control like before, turning into a killing demon. K must be sweating in his pants that Julie is stronger than him. The only thing he can do is take a beating. Now it is up to Tooru (this dude is still alive of course) to bring Julie to her senses. First he lets Julie slash him so he can get up close to hug her. She struggles. He whispers for her to come back. That heartfelt plea makes her come back to her senses. He now understands why his Blaze is a shield: To protect. Uh, I figured that out a long time ago too. Apparently K doesn’t like this scene. Because he too had something traumatic. Something about his brother. But we don’t care because he tried to destroy Tooru’s harem so he can die for all we care. The duo combine their strengths and will to form an impenetrable shield. K is in more shock of such awesome power they have. For the finishing blow, Tooru takes Julie’s sword and strikes him down. Game over.

In the aftermath as Tooru recuperates in hospital, Miyabi comes to apologize for causing this mess. You know he is not the one to hold grudges so he notes everyone has gone stronger. Something bizarre just happened. A group of mad fan girls are chasing after Tsukimi because she protected their dorm during K’s madness. Tsukimi hates it and is running for her life. At least this proves she isn’t into lesbianism. After Tooru is discharged, Lilith hands him the data on K. His real name is Kevin Wayfair. After shortly losing his brother and family, he strayed underworld where Smith brought him in and raised him as a soldier who used nothing but power to obtain results. This data is actually from Sakuya because she believes if Tooru understands the enemy’s feelings better, it might help him grow and in turn achieve her goal of Absolute Duo. Tooru meets up with Julie. She mentions she is more El Awake than Exceed because she wished for strength to exact revenge. The only difference with Exceed is that Exceed has their soul’s power awakened naturally. Julie reveals that she was unable to control that power and Dawn Agency rescued her. She had been lying to him because she feared if she knew about it, he would leave her. Seriously, she should know better by now. Above all, she feared this power would hurt him. And as always, Tooru’s statement of wanting to protect her, blah, blah, blah. You know they’re going to be together forever and ever. If it helps alleviates your anxiety, they renew their partnership vow again. Till death do us part. Doesn’t this sound like getting married?

Absolute Fanservice/Harem
This is actually a harem series. Don’t make me repeat myself. Yes, this is absolutely a harem genre being masked under whatever other genres you may find here. All you need is a decent main character guy and a bevy of babes around him. How they love him varies from being oblivious to obvious to not so obvious. After all, there is a reason why this bunch of girls would stick and hang out with him compared to the rest of the other girls in the academy. It would be a very bad thing if every chick in this academy starts falling for this guy because you’ll have a hard time remembering all their names, there will be great injustice for some of them to have very limited screen time or even put them all in one same screen, and Tooru’s reputation of being a total faggot will rise so steep that you will be knocked out unconscious by the g-force.

With a string of fanservice elements to keep you satisfied, you don’t need anything else to remember this show because I am sure the rest of the other factors are not so important nor as memorable as the fanservice (which isn’t that great either). Starting with Miyabi whose F-cup boobs (as admitted by her) are already the ‘big’ fanservice factor because it looks like they put in more effort to animate her bouncing and wobbling boobs more than anything else. At least they make it too obvious to divert our eyes to focus on that pair. Yeah, definitely the Absolute Duo for us! Haha! Then you have Julie’s penchant for sleeping naked, her wrong choice of words that makes it ambiguous to other girls when they hear it (and it proves they are dirty minded to jump to such conclusion) and certain scenes that has to do with her panties or something. Don’t forget Lilith’s bold flirting and Tomoe herself who also has a nice endowed body that sometimes becomes an indirect contribution for fanservice.

Which brings us to the romance department. Disappointing? Well, with guys like Tooru upfront, you can expect the kind of outcome we’ll get. Safe to say that everybody likes him. Lilith and Miyabi are more direct while Julie might be masking her love under this partnership thingy which is yet to be seen since she hardly shows any emotions. Don’t write off Tomoe and Imari too because girls who stay in the friend zone are very much likely to change and turn those feelings into such romance. Especially Imari who has been away for so long only to reappear halfway, bringing back old feelings when this guy showed up. Scenes like that messes with your feelings. No conclusive studies were done to find this but call it a gut feeling based evidence. Yup. Guts. Don’t be surprised that Tora too might be in the running for Tooru’s love! Hey, love comes in all forms. Despite he has got this mean look, there are very few subtle hints that might indicate Tora likes this Tooru guy. After all, they’ve been best friends for so long, right? Long enough for that friendship to turn into romance. Yeah, guts again. So would Tooru have accepted Miyabi’s confession had he not perceived himself to be weak? Will a cat fight then occur because Miyabi is the weakest and down the pecking order considering Lilith and Julie are the top contenders for Tooru’s attention.

Characters feel weak and pretty much like stereotypes you’d find in any other similar shows. Tooru the main character, nice guy with a traumatic past he needs to overcome. Has an unusual power that makes him different from the rest of the generic characters. Makes friends (although a majority of them are girls) and will not hesitate to help them if they’re in trouble. What else is there to be said? Then you have an emotionless girl, a foreigner-cum-transfer student, a slow girl, her friend whose role seems to be memorable as one to accuse Tooru of being a pervert, and a returning ‘old’ friend. Julie’s tragic past for revenge was briefly mentioned but it didn’t make much of an impact for this season. Like it didn’t really matter overall. The same about Tooru’s trauma or the past/expects of other characters. It wasn’t really explored further which frustrates us who are looking something deeper to connect the characters with the plot and storyline. Because like for the final episode, everyone else is casted aside so we could see Tooru and Julie work and bond closely together. And you wonder why those strange people of Rein Conference even bother to be introduced when they didn’t do anything in particular. What a waste.

The plot seems to be building up towards making Miyabi a ‘temporary antagonist’. Because you thought that a slow weak girl won’t have pretty much to do with the plot whatsoever and maybe something of Julie’s past or Lilith’s circumstances are the ones that are going to take this season somewhere. Who knows it was this girl that got things rolling leading up to where we are now. Ironically for a shy girl who is always scared of men, Tooru is the first guy she falls in love and confesses to. Pretty much powered up in that sense, right? She is only weak because she herself believes she is so. Otherwise, Miyabi has the most brute strength compared to any of the other characters in this series (even more than that Tatsu guy). Thanks to friends like them especially Tomoe, she gets back on the right track. So now you know each other better? I thought it was rather odd that they ‘killed off’ Imari after the first episode. Like as though they want to surprise us by making her look good enough to be a supporting main character. Then she went away and reappeared halfway through the series. Who knows when she’ll be back again? Will there be a chance for Imari to transfer to the main branch to conveniently let this friendship/harem/romance thingy take off?

Lilith suddenly comes barging into the scene and automatically becomes part of Tooru’s harem with a flimsy excuse that he is an irregular like her. To say that English chicks will gladly become your bride if you are different from the rest? I don’t know, I feel that Lilith’s penchant to say “Don’t make me repeat myself again” seems annoying infectious and could turn into some internet meme if people ever wish to pursue it. I am sure they can make lots of jokes out of it. On the same topic, Julie too has this penchant to say “Ja” (yes) and “Nei” (no) a lot that it might sound annoying. Okay, it might sound unfair to say that since she is a foreigner and this stands way out compared to your typical “Hai” and “Iya/Chigau”. Ever since Lilith has decided Tooru to become her future husband, she seems to constantly remind us about this. Think that guy will forget? Guess what? That guy didn’t promise you anything! It’s already so obvious that he already chose Julie when he made that pact vow twice. Twice! Oh, one more minor thing seems to bug me. I wonder why her butler, Sarah is dressed as a butler instead of a maid! Does Lilith have a thing for butlers? Too bad, she too doesn’t make any great impact in the series save for loyally serving her master.

Tsukimi and Sakuya are the shadiest and mysterious characters of the series. Because of that I think they are much more interesting than the main ones. Because like for Tsukimi, you keep wondering what side she is on. One second, she puts on her cute energetic bunny display enough to melt our hearts (for those who love such moe types anyway) and suddenly the next second, she dramatically changes and has got this evil look and grin enough to scare the sh*t out of you. Then there is Sakuya who doesn’t show a shred of emotion like Julie (so much so I think they could be sisters separated at birth) and might just be playing the villain with her seemingly cold hearted approach. I thought Smith was a cool old geezer till he lost it when he failed to get the better of Sakuya. He looks so pathetic then. I don’t know what is Tatsu’s actual role in this anime besides being just a side character to distract you while he flexes his muscles and macho style. Where was he in the final attack on the school? Other than that, it is to give us a yaoi possibility so that the Tora guy won’t feel lonely and left out after his best friend ‘dumped’ him for a cutie. So to oddly have this ‘dragon’ and ‘tiger’ combo not making a big majestic impact, it feels pretty weak their roles just thinking about it.

Action wise, somehow it feels mediocre. Personally I feel that they are just a distraction for the harem and fanservice drama that we are all here for. We are here for that, aren’t we? Because when they fight, it doesn’t feel convincing enough that they are fighting for real. Plus, with the characters armed with only a single type of Blaze, their move set has hardly any variation so you’ll see more or less the same thing. Especially Tooru who only has a shield to block attack and a non-Blaze move punch that is set to blow you away upon contact with all that energy packed in it. Lilith is just shooting her rifle which is hardly anything exciting while Tomoe swings her chain-sickle weapon and Miyabi just thrusting her lance with all her might. Heck, even holding up and thrusting it is already a challenge to her.

Therefore the Duo system, the Blaze and Luciful terms may sound interesting and although they are briefly explained, it hardly makes any difference or impact of where this season is going as far as viewers are concerned. It is just like they are being used as a reason for the setting of this series and then if you don’t remember them or what it is about, it is okay. There is so much about it that we don’t know or fully understand. Like how Julie suddenly throws us a new term of El Awake in the final scenes that make us go, “What the heck. Since when did this northern European chick turned Latin?”. Because certainly like I have said, this anime is more about harem and fanservice. Oh shucks. I just repeated myself there again. I don’t know about this Absolute Duo thingy because from where I stand, it looks like the characters are fighting solo when they reached that higher level. Like Miyabi who may just be some prototype but if she succeeds, wouldn’t that make her alone as Absolute Solo? Why need a partner when you are already this strong?

Also, we often see Duo pairs fighting alongside each other but this is hardly the case. Because we are conveniently shown so since they are close to each other. Because I am sure that everyone can fight as well as they are when they are alone as when they are with their partner. For example, the Libers’ attack on the island branch. When Tooru was away with Miyabi when the attack happened, Julie is holding her ground just fine. Remember Sakuya wanting to level up just Tooru alone to Level 4? Didn’t say the same for his partner Julie, right? Besides, you don’t need to be officially a Duo with somebody else because teamwork with others also works as in the case of Tora and Lilith. So you see the official Duo pairs fighting together only because, well, they are close to each other in the vicinity. So do you really need a partner for this Duo system? Having groom a student individually instead as a pair also works. I don’t know. It’s because I am not sure of how the system works, that’s why I’m saying this.

Nothing to shout about in the drawing and art department because it is your typical conventional Japanese anime style. Though, I noticed that during certain scenes the quality drops especially during the fight sequences. Like as though they thought if they could save on this part and nobody would notice it all during that fast action pace. Unfortunately I did. As for character designs, some of the characters remind me of other anime characters like Sakuya’s goth loli outfit, when I first looked at her I thought if Kuroneko from OreImo has found a new anime to continue her existence. Then there is Tsukimi who suspiciously reminds me of Infinite Stratos’ Tabane. I know, the bunny ears and the childish personality. Even more suspicious is how they are both voiced by the same seiyuu. Oh, and that Smith old dude, I thought Colonel Sanders gave up making KFC and turned into making highly powered suits now! I am sure that I have seen the other characters from somewhere else but I am just too lazy to remember them.

CGI is also employed and mainly when the Blaze weapon is materialized or that army of Libers soldiers. Anyhow, I can’t say that it is good. That includes the special effects whatsoever. On a trivial note, the next episode preview has the characters in chibi form. When you have the art this way, it means funny and comical moments, right? Alas that is not the case in some of them as they are grim and serious. Thus it gives off this mixed feeling while watching this segment. It’s supposed to be light hearted but it’s not. Like when Tooru is doing his monologue about discovering the truth of the academy’s establishment or when Miyabi lamenting about how strong she would love to become. So, is it supposed to be funny or not?

In the voice acting department, I suppose only a couple of veterans stand out. Yukari Tamura is delightful as Tsukimi as she goes back and forth between her cute squeaky trademark voice as well as her darker and lower one. Yui Horie on the other hand as Sakuya reminds me of her Miss Monochrome character. Only take away that computerized voice effect. I am starting to think Yoshitsugu Matsuoka is beginning to voice very similar male characters recently. As Tooru, it feels similar to Yuu in Juuou Mujin No Fafnir, Arata in Trinity Seven and Godou in Campione. The other casts include Nozomi Yamamoto as Julie (Yukimura in Boku Wa Tomodachi Ga Sukunai), Haruka Yamazaki as Lilith (Ruka in Hayate No Gotoku series), Ayaka Suwa as Tomoe (Tokaku in Akuma No Riddle), Ayaka Imamura as Miyabi (debut role as a main/supporting character), Haruka Tomatsu as Imari (Asuna in Sword Art Online), Natsuki Hanae as Tora (Inaho in Aldnoah.Zero), Takahiro Sakurai as K (Suzaku in Code Geass) and Tomomichi Nishimura as Smith (Anzai in Slam Dunk). The person who voiced Tatsu must have the easiest lines ever. Heck, no lines even! This guy doesn’t have a proper dialogue and the most you’ll ever hear from him are his grunts and groans. Oh, he is voiced by Yoshihisa Kawahara (Yasu in NANA).

The rock based opening theme is Absolute Soul by Konomi Suzuki. The ‘amusing’ thing about the opening credits animation is this dance sequence between Tooru and Julie. It looks pretty neat the way they spin, twist and turn. I am not sure what type of dancing this is (although it does seem to incorporate figure skating in certain parts) but it could have been cool to watch had not been for the horrendous animation quality. Eye cancer. Did they think that nobody actually watches the opening animation? Well, one reason why I won’t now (at least for this series only). The ending themes feel like character songs because they are tailored to a particular girl. Therefore you have Julie singing BelievexBelieve as the first ending theme. Then you have Julie doing a duet with Lilith for the second ending theme, Apple Tea No Aji and finally 2/2, another duet but by Tomoe and Miyabi as the third ending theme. No Imari ending theme? I guess that sums it up about her prospects in this harem ;p.

Overall, this series is absolutely mediocre. Please don’t let me repeat that line again. Because with weak characters and the plot that hardly goes anywhere (sad to say Julie didn’t even start anywhere on her revenge nor Tooru settling or getting over about his traumatic past), constant reminders from the main character to always protect, might as well just tune in for the fanservice (which is in a way disappointing too if you think about it). That itself at least gives some motivation to the soul to sit through and watch through a dozen episodes of nothingness. Maybe if they put in some more ‘meat’ inside the next time, I’ll come back for more. Geez, sounds ambiguous and embarrassing enough. Don’t make me say that again!