Brave 10

September 22, 2012

If you ever need to do something big, something that you can’t do it all alone and by yourself, say, saving the world from falling into the hands of a megalomaniac, the first thing to do is to assemble a group of people and make a party, right? And I mean form a team not the kind that parties all night. After all, no man is an island, right? Just look at the Avengers. Even superheroes need to have a group to work together for the greater good of all despite having their egos clash. So as in the case of the anime series Brave 10, well, it’s something like that. Set during the Sengoku (Warring) Era, a warlord requires the assistance of 10 ninjas with their own unique abilities and starts gathering them.

However as I found out, the characters weren’t really plucked from thin air and though fictitious, they are based on some real life historical personalities and were possibly modelled after them. Heck, at least it’s much better than switching them to opposite genders, right? Brave 10 is one of the few Sengoku Era animes (others include Sengoku Basara and Samurai Deeper Kyo) to have its characters based on the novel that was written in the Edo era called Sanada Sandaiki. So if you’re looking for some ninja and samurai action during those feudal days of old Japan, you might enjoy this manga-adapted anime.

Episode 1
Saizou Kirigakure finds a priestess from Izumo, Isanami alone and messed up in the forest. She bugs him to save her. Yes, bug as in pester. But he’s not too interested seeing he doesn’t want to get into trouble. Too late. Her pursuers have arrived and are bent on eliminating all witnesses too. As the hero, Saizou carries Isanami over his shoulders and easily kills all the pursuers with his sword move, Ougi Tendagaeshi. Once it’s over, Isanami continues to bug him to protect her since he is strong and it won’t be a problem. Still, he’s not interested so she throws a tantrum that a real man would want to protect a lady. Saizou shoots back that he hasn’t heard a word of thanks from her and before he knows it, she isn’t listening to a word he says and wants him to come with her to Shinshu Ueda. Perfect timing, his stomach is growling and she’ll treat him to soba. I think she’s treating herself too because she ate lots of bowls! Big eater! After she thanks him, she knew he would be the one when he threw her over his shoulders. She felt safe and thinks he’s a good guy. Saizou leads her to Shinshu Ueda and is about to leave her there but she still needs further directions to Ueda Castle. Something he is reluctant to do. Suddenly they are being attacked by Sasuke Sarutobi of the Sanada ninja clan. He is surprised to see Isanami with the Iga assassin. In short, Saizou and Sasuke hate each other and try to rip each other’s guts out. The cool fight is interrupted when Isanami has had it with them both and stops them. She says she is here to see Yukimura Sanada. Inside Ueda Castle, Isanami manages to meet Yukimura as Saizou analyzes Yukimura’s terrible personality despite being a clever and eccentric lord. Isanami seems relieved to have found Yukimura and reveals her story. Her shrine was under attack. Everything burnt down and everyone was slaughtered. The shrine master forced her to escape but before he was killed by the assassin, he chanted some protective charms onto her head band, told her to seek Yukimura then and dropped her down the bridge. Isanami is at a loss on what to do and without Saizou’s help, she wouldn’t be here now. However Yukimura doesn’t want to get involve since she is being chased and can’t risk getting killed too. You’re on your own, girl. To show that he’s not a cold-hearted bastard, he allows her to stay here for the night. Saizou is about to leave but he couldn’t since Isanami is all over him emotionally breaking down. Pity…

So once Saizou is able to leave, he is dismayed that Isanami is following him. Well, she does feel safe around him, right? Even if she stayed, she doesn’t know what to do tomorrow and wants him to stay with her. He’s not convinced so Isanami just lies flat out on the ground, thinking she’ll make this area her camp. And if the wolves get her, she hopes he’ll come back to retrieve her bones. Huh? Saizou makes it clear that he isn’t that kind of guy and couldn’t give a sh*t what happens to her. Suddenly they’re chained by the assassins and it seems Yukimura has used them as bait to walk into their trap to find out what he’s up against. Saizou breaks out of his chains with his hidden blades and kills the ninjas with his Shunko move. Isanami is so distraught at the bloodshed that she falls into a trance. Her hair band activates and turns into a growing black ball. Anything it swallows will rot right away. Saizou is able to calm her down and return her back to normal before it grows bigger again. Yukimura agrees to look after Isanami so she hopes he can take Saizou in too because he is a samurai without a master. Then after learning Isanami treated him to soba, Yukimura and Sasuke mock him for owing the girl a favour. Now he can’t back out because as a man he’ll have to repay her and do physical labour. Yukimura discusses with his servant Rokurou Unno about Isanami’s power to destroy all living things. Those who control it will rule the world. Noting that a certain ‘racoon dog’ desires more than he deserves, he is going to teach him a lesson but needs to gather the number of men equivalent to the fingers he has on his hands (that’s 10 people for those who don’t know how to count). They know Saizou is eavesdropping so Rokurou uses a technique that gives him a great headache. Saizou returns to his room and though doesn’t trust Yukimura, he notes it’ll be interesting to see what he’s planning. Next morning, Saizou is shocked to see Isanami casually sleeping next to him. Worse, Sasuke treats them both differently with double standards. So nice to Isanami but couldn’t care less about Saizou. Is this girl worth all the trouble?

Episode 2
Ieyasu Tokugawa is growing impatient and by hook or by crook, he wants Hanzou Hattori to bring to him. Meanwhile Saizou can’t stand to choose Isanami’s dress for the harvest festival dance so he sneaks away. At the waterfall, he sees a familiar blonde and it turns out to be Anastasia AKA Ana, his childhood friend. Catching up on lost times, Saizou is surprised Ana is working under Yukimura. Seems she was supposed to assassinate him in his sleep but screwed up. He then offered her to work under him so she defected and tadah! And here she is today. Before Isanami could slap Saizou for being a womanizer (she’s so obviously jealous), Yukimura grabs her hand. Ana reports that there may be sightings of uwabami, large snakes that can devour humans. The festival comes first so he hopes Ana can take care of it. As the dance is on the way, Ana thinks Saizou is afraid of fighting for someone. People like him float away if they don’t have anything to hold them down. After the dance finishes, Isanami immediately heads where Saizou is going to. Yeah, she’s sticking to him like a leech. Ana leaves them alone. Isanami points out something eerie coming from a nearby forest. Checking it out, an uwabami attacks them. Oh, since Isanami is afraid of snakes, she faints. Just great. Now he has to carry her while evading the snake. Saizou notices runes in and uwabami’s eyes and knows it is being controlled by a puppeteer. When he stabs its eyes and kills it, the snake explodes since it was set to do so when it dies. Saizou and Isanami are buried alive. He wonders how she can remain optimistic at a time like this. She says he is her light in the darkness and felt warm. He disagrees since he is someone who takes and passes from darkness to darkness. Rescuing her was just a coincidence. Even so, to Isanami he is dazzling in her eyes. Isanami talks about her parents, in which she has none. As far as she was told, she was found abandoned at the Izumo shrine as a baby. Then they see the air flow and think there is a way out. But Saizou will need to open the hole bigger. However there is a risk that the ceiling will cave in and crush them. Don’t worry. Isanami believes in him. And what do you get when you put all your faith in this guy? He doesn’t disappoint and makes a hole big enough for them to get out. But then they see the castle under attack. Hanzou leads his men as he kills anybody who doesn’t answer his question about the whereabouts of Isanami.

Elsewhere Sasuke is having his hands full against the uwabami puppeteer, Oukatsu. He gets poisoned and will soon lose his vision till Ana drops in to assist. Then they realize Oukatsu is just a decoy to stall them for time. Sasuke continues to fight her and since the forest is his domain whereby he can summon the animals to do his bidding, Oukatsu won’t get out of here alive. Saizou and Isanami return to the castle but instead of staying put as told, Isanami heads in further and meets the assassin who killed the shrine master: Hanzou. In the nick of time, Saizou drops in to do battle with him. However Hanzou too has got his set of tricks and manages to cut a little wound over Saizou’s forehead. As Yukimura and Rokurou have finished evacuating the people, they have no reason to hold back and unleash their powers to kill the low level ninjas. Hanzou deflects every move Saizou throws at him and mocks him the alleged prodigal ninja that everyone believed he is since nobody could cut him and hence his nickname Marici. Hanzou deals a devastating Ougi Kasho Zanmai blow to Saizou and before Isanami’s rotting powers could awaken, he knocks her out. Fortunately before he could take her back, Saizou stands back up and deceives him with a body substitution and thus successfully wounding Hanzou. With Ana and Sasuke coming into the picture, Hanzou has no choice but to postpone this battle and retreat.

Episode 3
Yukimura notes that some villagers died in the attack but thanks to Saizou, Isanami was prevented from falling into Ieyasu’s hands. He has a favour to ask of him and that is to take Isanami back to Izumo. Juuzou Kakei, another of Yukimura’s men has been investigating why Izumo was attacked. Ieyasu stayed there long after he burnt it to the ground. Though he destroyed everything, it felt he was desperate to find something and thus the reason he is after the sole survivor: Isanami. If they haven’t found it, they must still be there. Isanami is needed because she is familiar with the area but will she return there? If it’s a trip with Saizou, she’ll do it! There. Simple. Oh, Kakei is coming along with them too. But the most disappointed one is Isanami because she thought it would just be her travelling with Saizou! So excited that she couldn’t sleep last night and I guess it’s true what they say about three’s a crowd. On their journey, Kakei can’t stand how slutty Isanami is acting since she is so close with Saizou (he doesn’t give a sh*t) and the way she dressed. But she’s not listening… So close that Kakei thought Isanami is Saizou’s wife! Ironic for a girl to grow up in temple and knows no shame. Perhaps the shame of the outside world is what she is oblivious to? Kakei and Saizou talk about Yukimura hiring 10 heroes called Braves. So far he has recruited Sasuke, Rokurou, Ana, Kakei, Saizou and Isanami. Though he can understand why Saizou chose Saizou despite being disrespectful, he can’t fathom his choice for Isanami since she’s just an ordinary girl. But Kakei wasn’t there to witness that rotting power, right? Definitely not an ordinary girl. Continuing their journey, they meet a lady who hurt her foot. I guess they can’t abandon those in need but why Saizou has to do the job? They take her across the bridge and it seems Kakei can’t cross it due to fear of heights! Suddenly a gust of wind holds Saizou down and the lady turns out to be a thief, Kamanosuke Yuri. More precisely, a guy dressed in women’s clothing. His bandits appear and it’s obviously a trap to rob them. However all his bandits bite the dust when Kakei fires his rifle at them. Saizou is able to break out of the wind trap with his sword and briefly clash with Kamanosuke. The thief notes he won’t get to save this precious girl and cuts the ropes, letting Saizou fall down the valley. Don’t worry. There’s a stream below. And Kakei had to take the long way down just to pick him up and resume their trail to rescue Isanami.

Meanwhile Isanami is tied up and Kamanosuke reveals he wants a new toy to play with. He can’t wait to see Saizou’s face when he kills her before his eyes. Isanami gets sick upon hearing his ‘hobby’ of killing people and taking from others is his only pleasure. Isanami believes Saizou will come rescue her so Kamanosuke beats her up and mocks she is the kind of girl who relies men for everything and the least deserving of life. Saizou and Kakei see Isanami hanging on the tree on the edge of the cliff and know it’s a trap to lure them in. But the fastest for Saizou is to start climbing the cliffs. At the top, Kamanosuke plays dirty to knock him off but Saizou regains his footing and plays that dirty game. Kamanosuke loves that evil look in his eyes and feels he has killed more people and spilled more blood than him. He wants to have fun with him but his Otsumuji couldn’t beat Saizou’s Shunko and got cut. By this time, Kakei had taken the long way up and rescue Isanami down. Crazy Kamanosuke is thrilled at the developments and wants Saizou to kill him. He was about to when Isanami comes in between. One more inch and she could’ve been slice. She wants him to stop since he can’t fight anymore and that Saizou has achieved his goal to rescue her. What about the bad things he did onto her? She looks fine, right? Saizou puts away his sword and walks away. Kamanosuke is not happy and screams for him to finish the job. They let him be, screaming in his frustration. Meanwhile Yukimura receives a note and since Ieyasu’s tyranny is at its extreme, knows he won’t let this go. Rokurou wonders will Mitsunari Ishida move. Yukimura believes so since he must be at his limit to send this letter. He wants Rokurou to copy it as this information cannot get out. Rokurou uses his right eye to absorb all the words in the letter before Yukimura burns away the blank letter.

Episode 4
Tsunamoto chases his lord, the lord of Oushuu, Masamune Date to return to his castle. Masamune thinks that old man is useless because he can’t fathom why he would send the Izumo priestess he’s been hiding back to Izumo. He senses there is something more than meets the eye and thinks it is Kushimitama, a relic that houses the soul of the gods. He wants to acquire it and turn this world upside down. Saizou and co reach the burnt down temple at Izumo and start searching for anything they deem important. Isanami can’t help get emotional thinking back this place was filled with life and peace. Saizou comforts her that they can’t bring the dead back to life but at least she can figure why it did happen. After all, this is the most the living can do. So happy that she hugs him and is not letting go. Didn’t see this coming, eh? The search is futile but Saizou notices the shrine pillar is the only one not burnt down since it is made of bronze. Next to it on the ground is a funny symbol as he has a rough sketch of it too. Thinking they need to move the tiles to resemble it like the yinyang, Kakei tries his hand at it but it’s not budging. Isanami somewhat recognizes the symbol and her body naturally knows which tiles to move despite she having no knowledge on what it’s about. Once the symbol is perfectly constructed, it opens an underground passageway. Through the dark passage, they end up with a wall bearing Izumo script. Not that Isanami can read it. So it’s useless? But they won’t have time to decipher it since Hanzou and Oukatsu have followed them down here. Noting they have saved them the trouble of searching, Hanzou wants them to hand over Kushimitama. Isanami remembers the temple master gave her that hair band as her own protective charm that she must never remove. So that’s Kushimitama? She is overcome with guilt that it is her fault that everyone in this temple had to die.

Oukatsu fights Kakei and pins him down with her illusions while Saizou clashes swords with Hanzou once more. Both took some damage but Saizou receives even more when Hanzou uses his Ougi Kasho Zanmai. Isanami starts getting distraught though Saizou is back up on his feet. Before Hanzou could make his move, a gust of wind interrupts Hanzou and blasts through Oukatsu’s illusion. He is Kamanosuke and he is not going to let anyone play with his toy because he is the only one allowed to shed blood fighting to the death with. Since when did he decide on that? Anyway Hanzou is more skilled than him so Kamanosuke takes several cuts. Saizou needs his cooperation if they’re going to beat this guy. So how does he convince that pervert to agree? He’ll play with him till he cries once this is done. I guess that works. Kakei uses this chance to use his hidden rifle on her but he misses and she constricts him like a snake. Oukatsu didn’t expect Kakei to use his own rifle to shoot through his arm, thus the bullet went right through her chest. Saizou and Kamanosuke cooperate and end their fight by defeating Hanzou. Kamanosuke scorns his crappy fighting that made him waste energy so Saizou says his support equally sucks. Isanami treats the trio and still feels she is at fault that Izumo got attacked but Saizou says it is her hair band that is the source. Suddenly Masamune riding his horse snatches Isanami away. Didn’t anyone see that coming? Oh, they’re too weak, I guess. Too weak to pursue too. Masamune wants them to tell their master that Kushimitama is in hands.

Episode 5
Saizou remembers the only friend he had. He was strong and wanted to be like him. However when he went to serve his new master, he was killed and his body tossed into the river. It was like as though their lives were just tools. Ever since, Saizou kills to live and won’t expect anything from anyone. Saizou wakes up and thinks he is done doing this job since he has no obligation to finish it. Kakei tells him off that he didn’t want to report his screw up that he lost Isanami. Kakei will do the reporting to Yukimura. So once Yukimura receives message of Isanami’s capture, he orders Sasuke and Ana to bring back his comrades. Meanwhile Isanami is locked in Masamune room and she tries to put up a tough act. Masamune’s subject, Kojurou witnesses her rotting power so Masamune explains about the treasure that she has, Kushimitama. Long ago, humans received 4 powers to control the land in place of the gods and Kushimitama is one of them. Since Ieyasu’s influence is spreading but won’t take any action, he will use the power of the gods against them. It may start a war but he thinks it’s a good idea because his goal is to cause massive unrest that will turn the world upside down and rewrite the country’s history. Masamune isn’t too worried that although others are after her, not many can get near here (her rotting power). Sasuke and Ana sneak into Masamune’s castle. Sasuke is going to bust her out but Isanami doesn’t want to follow him back, thinking she is guilty for hurting everyone. Ana purposely got herself captured to buy Sasuke time but after learning Isanami won’t budge, she easily beats up her perverted captors and heads straight to Isanami’s room. Yeah, men are easily bought over with those boobs… Ana tells her off of trying to be the pitiful heroine and that by closing her eyes and ears are the easiest way to live. She asks if she wants to be protected forever and even though not physically strong, the courage to move forward too is a strength. That’s why Yukimura chose her as a brave warrior. With that, Isanami agrees to go with them. Sasuke adds that none of them are afraid of getting hurt so Isanami asserts she won’t too because she’s a brave warrior.

And just like that Isanami returns to Yukimura’s side. Woah?! That easy?! They even beat Kakei and co returning. But Saizou doesn’t seem relief to see Isanami back at their side and gives her the cold shoulder. Yukimura sees Kamanosuke and says Saizou is working under him and can’t have them fighting each other. Kamanosuke swiftly attacks Rokurou (he countered with a swift block) so Yukimura says he should not attack fast but build it up patiently. I think Kamanosuke likes that idea too. Yukimura allows him to stay. Saizou is still having clouded minds so Sasuke goes to fight with him and tell him a thing or two. Unlike him who works hard, Saizou already gave up. He might not like acting like a hero but that’s just an excuse he can’t do it. He can’t accept his weakness. He cannot admit it. That’s why he cannot do it. In an ironic twist, Sasuke then offers his hand to him and says they need him so he can be stronger for someone else. Yukimura praises Sasuke for such words and offers Saizou the choice to run away and live like a toothless dog or rise up from where he is. I guess you know the answer because Isanami is so happy that she rushed to hug him. Masamune is annoyed that Isanami has escaped. Yeah, I still wonder how the heck it happened. He eagerly wants to pay Yukimura a visit. Saizou and the rest report to Yukimura about the Izumo script they saw but couldn’t understand. Yukimura orders Saizou to look into Rokurou’s right eye and all his memories start flowing out into it! Rewriting the words down on paper, seems it isn’t anything much so Yukimura ushers them all out. However as we know, it is something more than that because Yukimura warns Rokurou not to let anyone touch his right eye since they are the only ones who knows about this. Whether he is following or fighting fate, he is placing his faith in Saizou.

Episode 6
Everyone thought Yukimura got kidnapped since he is missing and his room is in a mess. Turns out he went ahead with Rokurou to his private hotspring. Saizou takes a walk through town when he sees Kakei involved in a fight with a guy claiming to be Buddha’s servant, Miyoshi Seikai Nyuudo. This strong dude is enough to admit bluntly he has no money to pay for food (he claims Buddha servants eat for free) and he is on a holy mission (to search for his missing sister, that is). Kakei wants him to stay and work to pay for his food and damaged property but Seikai mentions Kakei should do it instead since he was the one who was sent blasting through the wall. Blame himself for being weak. Kakei can’t stand his insults and points his rifle at him but Seikai bends it with his bare hands! Now it’s broken. Kakei is also broken… So Saizou inevitably gets into a fight with the monk and soon Kamanosuke joins in the fun followed by Sasuke. Ana would have but she can’t handle this kind of men. Seikai accepts this as a challenge from God. Yukimura and Rokurou happen to pass by and they see how Saizou is acting naturally as the leader while they fight Seikai. Though Seikai is strong enough to deflect sharp weapons with his muscles, it ends with Saizou getting the better of him as he says his head is the only place that lacks any muscles. Maybe he should pray harder. Isanami, who has been eating like nobody’s business, won a giant plate of dango. When Seikai sees her, he immediately wants to hug his sister! Oh sh*t! That’s his sister?! However Isanami doesn’t recognize who he is and hides behind Saizou, upsetting Seikai. Saizou guesses he has siscon so he whispers an idea to Isanami who then manages to get this big guy under her control. As her brother, she should be ashamed of himself for acting like a thug and should stop attacking his friends. Plus, he should reflect upon himself and fix up this place. Yeah, he did just that without objections. Siscon… Later Seikai reveals to Yukimura that he and Isanami are not blood related but siblings of the Izumo shrine. When he was 8 years old, he found abandoned Isanami. By 15 years old, he left the shrine to travel the world and came to a conclusion that all gods are the same. He recognized Isanami because of her Kushimitama. She is the only priestess possessing it. But Isanami still doesn’t recognize him. He has trained hard on his journey so it’s no surprise that she doesn’t recognize his buffed physique. Showing her a sketch when he was 15 years old, Isanami instantly recognizes her brother. Should have shown that earlier. Yukimura offers Seikai to work for him and he whole-heartedly agrees. We know why lah…

The gang take a dip in the hotspring as Saizou learns Kakei is on a travelling journey and also to fix his gun. Yukimura knows that guy knows how to take care of himself and is just working for him till he finds a master who can give him more. He adds a man is happiest when they are protecting their loved ones but Saizou thought it was just a cheesy line to keep his subordinates in line. Well, followers won’t always fall in love with you, right? Meanwhile Isanami thinks Ana is bragging about her big boobs and insulting her little ones because she mentions she would like to have small ones like Isanami’s. Yukimura pays them a visit and assures he isn’t interested with Isanami’s when Seikai drops in to ‘protect’ his sister. Ana got so pissed off that she freezes the entire hotspring. There goes the warm bath. Saizou leaves and meets Kamanosuke at the river. That idiot really bathed at the cold freezing waters? When Saizou pets his head, a fuzzy and warm feeling overcame Kamanosuke. He runs away while reminding him that he will kill him. Oh God! Don’t tell me he’s turning into a tsundere!!! He talks the problem of his feelings with Sasuke and from what he says, it’s true that Kamanosuke has developed some sort of feelings for Saizou even if he doesn’t know what it is. Yukimura gets an invitation from Ieyasu, a sign that he has already begun to move (perhaps to show off his power by gathering everyone) so he is going to the capital to see what this old guy can do.

Episode 7
Yukimura has Rokurou, Saizou and Isanami accompany him to the capital while the other stay put. Kamanosuke and Seikai not happy… Along the way, Saizou wonders who they’ll see in this tea ceremony. Yukimura thinks it will be primarily Maeda, Mori, Uesugi and the rest of the 5 elders. Mitsunari and Kanetsugu Naoe will be also there. Oh, don’t forget Masamune too. And he’s going to make a good first impression by wearing extravagant clothes. Yukimura and co meet a young boy who tells them the road ahead has been washed out by the rain and tells them an alternate route. Saizou smells something fishy about him because he smells gunpowder. Suddenly Yukimura’s entourage is being besieged by traps. Swift thinking prevented them from certain deaths but that wouldn’t be possible if Seikai and Kamanosuke didn’t show up to help deflect the other dangerous traps. Oh, so they followed them, huh? The boy reveals himself and is amazed at them for being the first people ever to avoid all his traps. He has been searching for a good master and wants to work under Yukimura since he is good in explosives and setting traps. To Saizou’s dismay, Yukimura agrees since he feels he has lot of guts and asks for his name. Rokurou Mochizuki is his name and since they can’t have another guy by that name, the boy agrees to change it since that Rokurou name sucks! An insult to the real Rokurou? Yukimura calls him Benmaru, which was once his childhood name since he admired his guts. As his first order, he wants Benmaru to stay put at the inn while they visit the tea ceremony in the capitol. No buts. As for Seikai and Kamanosuke, he wants them to return to Ueda but knowing they won’t, he allows them to do as they please. Yukimura and Rokurou leave for the ceremony so he leaves Saizou in charge to take care of the rest. I mean, the bunch fighting among each other is more worrying, right?

Yukimura and Rokurou meet Mitsunari on their way in. Mitsunari mentions about the secret message regarding Ieyasu’s behaviour but he did nothing. Now it seems Ieyasu is attempting to provoke him into a war. He hopes Yukimura won’t rush his decision and would establish his position first. Noting that this tea ceremony is just a public display of power, Kanetsugu joins the conversation and mocks how that ‘racoon dog’ was trying to speak. He can’t believe he has issued a weapons ban decree. Masamune is the last one to arrive late and the first thing he did before sitting next to Yukimura is to draw his sword at him. They thought he is defying the weapons ban by he claims he is merely putting on a show for his tardiness. Masamune needs a volunteer and guess who he picks? The swordplay begins and it may seem Masamune is dead serious in cutting Yukimura. The latter seemingly cool and playful but he is easing everything with precision. One wrong move and he’ll be sliced. It ends with Yukimura tripping but he uses his leg to deflect the sword which ended close enough to Ieyasu. Since everybody was laughing at Yukimura’s foolishness, I guess nobody saw it as a threat. As they leave, an informant tells Yukimura to make an immediate appearance at Fushimi Castle for that incident. Not doing so will have consequences. Mitsunari and Kanetsugu know this isn’t fair as he will not be able to talk his way out of this one. Of course Yukimura won’t be going. While Masamune discusses about the boldness in Yukimura’s eyes and his slippery footwork, his men come to report that they have sighted Isanami in town. That night as Ieyasu’s men try to arrest Yukimura, he and his entourage had already escape and are making their way back to Ueda.

Episode 8
Masamune didn’t think his plan would backfire as he speaks to Ieyasu who is angry that he has been embarrassed. So upset that he will not stop to anything to capture Yukimura and that means giving Masamune to kill him on the spot. Ieyasu’s men catch up to Yukimura and co fast but thankfully with Benmaru’s explosives, they are kept at bay. Yukimura orders Saizou and Kamanosuke to scout the road ahead and it seems all of them have been blocked. Continuing their path will only end up in Lake Biwa and it’ll be too cold to swim (was that a joke?). This is an obvious trap to kill them all in one swoop. Speaking of Masamune, here comes that dude and he is brought lots of men with him. Obviously the chase is to cover the fact he is here to retrieve his treasure. Yukimura mocks him that he can’t handle it and that his ambitions are too small. Masamune gets riled up and orders his men to attack. A big brawl ensues as Yukimura’s warriors show what they’ve got in terms of quality over quantity. They end up at the lake as Masamune’s ninjas confront Saizou. He draws his sword and they remember hearing legends about him being a stone cold killer but don’t give a sh*t and attack. Saizou fends them off as he tells them he is not an Iga ninja but Yukimura’s warrior. So, he’s finally accepted and admitted that, eh? Masamune is going to settle his bout with Yukimura when a large ship fires away causing Masamune and his men to retreat and curse Yukimura’s devil’s luck. Yukimura and co board the ship to safety and it seems they are reunited with Kakei onboard. Actually this is not his ship but the sworn brother and pirate Jinpachi Nezu (I thought he looked like a shaman). Seems Jinpachi thought Kamanosuke is a woman and wants ‘her’ to stay on his ship!!! He got disappointed to know he is a guy. Asserting that wine and woman are his pleasure and that he lives for fun, he isn’t happy with Kakei because he helped out only because he thought there were hot chicks but this bunch seems hardly worth it. Where’s that busty blonde bombshell? Anyway Isanami points out that she’s a girl so Jinpachi brushes her off that he is not interested in flat chests like her! Wait a minute. Wasn’t Kamanosuke ‘flat chest’ too? Seikai got upset he insulted Isanami and attacks him. However Jinpachi is able to stop his weapon with his bare hands and strike him down with electricity bolt.

Jinpachi wants the rest to proof their worth to stay on his ship. But they’re not going to fight with swords but sake. Yukimura gladly agrees. Saizou isn’t happy that they have to finish drinking all the barrels but no one but him is complaining, right? Yeah, even Isanami and Benmaru would like to have a taste of it. Oh, Kamanosuke is already drunk… Before you know it, everybody is on good terms with each other. Saizou learns from Kakei that while during his travels, he heard of this pirate had imported some guns and made his way to his ship. Not willing to part with his guns, he was challenged to drink but by the second barrel, they became brothers. So fast? Jinpachi gave him a gun but it wasn’t for free so he’s on this ship working to pay his debt. That night, Yukimura and Jinpachi chat. Jinpachi thinks he was crazy as he was surrounded with no means of escape. Well, there was. Either heaven or hell. Yukimura says he believed in his warriors that’s why things worked out. Jinpachi continues people like him are always bound to someone and unlike him who doesn’t because he is free. His own man. Nothing but the endless sky, sea and ship. He doesn’t have to worry about paying taxes or fighting people’s war because a pirate’s life is to drink and have fun. Smooth Yukimura mentions about those who are bound wherever they go and those who are always free. Whoever one serves and wherever one lives, if it’s their own choice, then that can also be considered free. Jinpachi thought he paid his warriors but on the contrary, they chose to be with him on their own free will. Once they reach land, seems Jinpachi has joined Yukimura as he leaves his ship to his mates. Saizou feels Yukimura has used his trick to gain another weirdo. Must be that smooth speech last night. Or perhaps he’s too drunk and the same reason how Kakei became his sworn brother. Isanami is thrilled that they are gathering more and more people so Kakei notes that the bond between men is an interesting thing. With this, Yukimura has the 10 warriors he need.

Episode 9
Sasuke eagerly goes to welcome Yukimura home. He sees some new faces but gets very acquainted with Jinpachi’s pet panther, Veronica. Since Ana is out on patrol, Yukimura puts the gathering on hold till tomorrow since he has finally assembled all his 10 warriors. That night, Isanami relishes sleeping in her own futon when Ana drops in. Though she forgot to buy souvenirs, she makes it up by telling stories from her journey. Isanami is happy this family is growing bigger. Saizou sneaks into Yukimura’s room not because he has turned gay but rather he wants him to come clean with this assembly thingy. Yukimura draws a yinyang symbol and 8 circles around it. These are symbols of elements that make up the universe and keep it in balance. Each of the elements is represented by the warriors. Earth (Seikai), metal (Kakei – his gun), thunder (Jinpachi), fire (Benmaru – his explosives), wind (Kamanosuke), grass (Sasuke – the forest is his domain), ice (Ana) and water (Rokurou – remembering everything just as the water’s surface reflects all). Saizou thought he is darkness but Yukimura says he is light instead. So does this mean Isanami is darkness? Remember her powers? You can’t be serious. Meanwhile Ana tries to kill Rokurou in his sleep. More accurately, she wants his right eye that remembers everything. Rokurou fights hard to fend her attacks but is poisoned by her weapon. Instead of letting her gorge his eye out, he blinds it. Sasuke attacks Ana and is surprised to see her true colours. However he hesitated and got frozen. Kakei, Seikai and Benmaru hear a commotion and see what’s happening and go to get Yukimura. Saizou and Isanami catch Ana in the act. Ana downplays everything she said to Isanami that there is no such thing as a cosy place. What she calls home is a lie and this world is to kill or be killed. To prove her point, she stabs Sasuke. Yukimura treats Rokurou’s poison and the latter apologizes for his failure. But Yukimura is glad he kept his promise of not letting anyone touch his right eye. Saizou chases Ana as he realizes she is working for another master and thus a spy. Saizou is not in his usual mood. He has the eyes of the killer so Ana tries to make a run for it but he’s faster and stronger. Noting that Ana is just doing her job, he is going to do his. Man, he’s mad. Saizou manages to pin her down and is going to make her talk. Unfortunately there is a river nearby so she uses her technique to call forth a huge ice and escape in that distraction.

Sasuke, who is still alive albeit injured, feels guilty over his failure but Yukimura can’t have him wallow in depression and needs him to find out Ana’s true goal. Saizou returns to Yukimura since Ana has fled. They resume talk about Rokurou’s right eye which has been ruined. Jinpachi returns from his outing and wants to join in the conversation. Yukimura allows it since he is a newcomer, he may see the bigger picture. Letting him know that each warrior represents an element vital in balancing the universe by neutralizing each other’s effect, Jinpachi could guess they were brought to suppress Isanami’s power of darkness. Yukimura explains she was found abandoned at Izumo shrine and the temple master who raised her soon realized there was something strange about her. Each time she is sad, her sorrow summons the darkness. Each time that happens, a priestess goes missing like as though she has been swallowed by darkness. They search the shrine grounds and found darkness seeping out from under the yinyang tiles. According to legend, underneath likes the slope to the Underworld. When she cries, she is calling for the darkness from the Underworld. There is only a person who can do that. Izanami No Mikoto is the goddess of death who threatened to kill a thousand men in a day by drawing strength from the negative emotions of humans. Kushimitama keeps this power of destruction contained. In short, Isanami does not protect Kushimitama but rather Kushimitama protects the world from Isanami.

Episode 10
Ana returns to her master: Hanzou. With their other comrades, they discuss about the world is about to shift dramatically when Ieyasu and Toyotomi clash. It doesn’t matter which will win because they will be the ones ruling from the shadows. Their plan now is to capture Isanami and take Kushimitama but first they need to eliminate the warriors guarding her. Yukimura gets a surprise visit from Mitsunari and Kanetsugu. Since they have no time to talk at the capital and that Yukimura never responds to his letters, what a better way than to pay a personal visit. Besides, this backwater country is so well defended that it’s a perfect place for a secret meeting. Was that an insult or compliment? They discuss about Ieyasu’s outrageous tyrannical behaviour and his accusation of Uesugi plotting against him. Mitsunari says he has gathered his soldiers and that Uesugi has allied with them. He cannot forgive Ieyasu for offending Toyotomi and wished if they only had some earth-shaking power. Yukimura says he shouldn’t wish such things because such powers only would bring trouble. Saizou is watching Isanami from afar but notices someone targeting him so he runs far enough to face off with the culprit who is no other then Hanzou. He reveals his plans to Saizou as the latter realizes he is the one Ana is working for. Hanzou mentions this will be the start of the tragedy between the Iga 5 ninjas and the warriors. Sasuke and Kakei also realize they’ve been lured in. One of the Iga 5, Kaiou, the master of insects makes her appearance before them and though she has orders to kill all the warriors, she has a personal grudge to settle with them because they killed her sister Oukatsu. Meanwhile Seikai who is sitting under the waterfall suddenly reaches enlightenment. Realizing that all gods are the same and since Izanami No Mikoto is a god, he simply needs to have faith in his sister. What the heck is that screwed up thinking? Suddenly a heavy black ball is dropped on him. Another Iga 5, Byakugun attacks them and would’ve strangled Benmaru to death if Seikai didn’t burst out of the ball.

The insects are covering Kaiou’s tracks so Sasuke and Kakei are having a hard time sensing her and at the same time they have to deal with the bugs. Eventually it is too much for them to handle as Kaiou gives Sasuke a kiss of death and implants a bug that will eat away his heart while the ants paralyze Kakei. When both the guys are down, she summons her insects to eat their flesh. Elsewhere Seikai is evading the insanely strongly Byakugun who is throwing and kicking big rocks like as though she’s tossing a beach ball. She even can buff up her body so much so Seikai’s attacks are like tickles. Once he has finished his fill of punching her, it’s her turn to retaliate. The monk lost so can you say his faith wasn’t strong? As for Benmaru, the explosive he threw got deflected and exploded the rock pieces that knock him out. Isanami senses something wrong and rushes to Saizou. Well, with her in the picture, it’s like trouble coming after you. Hanzou ties her to the tree to make her watch their death duel. Her sadness starts awakening her powers so Hanzou finds it interesting to watch. He accelerates it by slashing Saizou all over and blames Isanami is the one at fault. If she had never met Saizou, this would never have happened to him or anybody else. Because of her, Saizou got hurt. She really believes this guy after all that they’ve been through? I know past trauma is one thing but this?

Episode 11
Isanami seems to have calmed down when Saizou gets back up on his feet, though Hanzou continues to blame Isanami that her friends are slowly being erased one by one. Kamanosuke is stretching his legs in town when he spots Sasuke’s ferret. It leads him to an alley whereby he suddenly steps into an illusion. The kind of world whereby he is a woman! A princess! And she’s got this handsome butler, Raizu who looks a lot like Saizou (or Kuroshitsuji’s Sebastian. Get it?). So in this world, the girly guy doesn’t want to go to the ball which is actually a marriage meeting but the butler tries his best to persuade him. At the ball, he doesn’t like the fact that everyone wants to get married desperately but stops to think if he would actually meet one too. Blur visions of Saizou flashes through his mind and this made Kamanosuke feel he has forgotten something important. Then he hears some girls badmouthing him so he returns to Raizu who has prepared the rose bath he wanted. Soaking in, he feels so comfortable that he doesn’t want to move. Raizu also wished he would stay like this forever. Then he suddenly realized he doesn’t like this kind of pleasure. He wants the smell of rust and blood. This sweet smell makes him puke. He wants that man with the terrifying gaze of a killer. The rush of killing another is his ultimate pleasure. He stabs Raizu and breaks free from his illusion. Kuchiba of the Iga 5 couldn’t believe someone broke through his illusion and gets slashed by Kamanosuke. But when he learns he prefers blood and pain, Kuchiba uses his technique to rain his blood over Kamanosuke and give him the pain he wanted. Got more than he bargained for, eh?

Jinpachi is fishing peacefully when the lake suddenly freezes over. Oh yeah. Finally he gets to meet the busty blonde that he heard so much from Kakei. But she notes it’s goodbye for him. So soon? As they fight, Jinpachi can still flirt around (“If you want to shut me up, I prefer you use your lips”). Ana puts on a cold exterior and fight till Jinpachi notices her face starts wavering. Short flashback reveals Ana was from a foreign royalty but they were killed and she tossed away. To take back her proof of royalty and return to her homeland, she made a deal with Hanzou and only lived to accomplish her own goals. She did what it took to achieve her dream in this cold world and never looked for warmth or comfort. But meeting Yukimura and his warriors may have a slightly adverse effect to that. She’s in a dilemma but eventually regains her composure and resumes her battle. Ana pins Jinpachi down and though to her it may seem he’s begging for his life, he doesn’t want to die here since the ocean (and plenty beautiful women) are waiting for him out there. She tells him to curse his fate but he disagrees because he lives freely. Ana believes the strong always controls the weak and that he has no freedom. But he throws it back right at her and this enrages her as he freezes him entirely. Yeah, now he shuts up. Uhm… Notice this trend? Each time Hanzou says something terrible, Isanami’s power starts to awake. Then it takes Saizou for the umpteenth time to tell her not to listen to this freak and in the process of that distraction gets hurt. Doesn’t she learn? Seeing Saizou getting up and fight again broke Isanami’s heart even further. She still believes she caused everyone pain and that she is useless and weak. An inner voice asks her if she wants power. And if so, all she has to do is remove her hair band. I don’t know she break through the ropes but be prepared for one helluva big sh*t power because Isanami just transformed into a helluva destruction goddess. So badass that she is causing an eclipse. Wow!

Episode 12
Rokurou wakes up and feels the need to head over to that growing black ball that Isanami has become. Though he lost his right eye, he still remembers the prophecy. Yukimura helps him there. Hanzou understands what’s going on and mocks Saizou that because he has learnt the meaning of friendship, it made him weak. Hanzou believes as a ninja that one can only count on his own ability. Yukimura thinks he is pathetic for only thinking about power but he says back Yukimura is a bigger fool for not attempting to use such power in his hands. Adding Yukimura is a weak man since Ana infiltrated his defence with ease (Yukimura claims he is generous) and that Ana is just a tool to him. Saizou gets upset and disagrees. She was never a tool because she was putting her life on the line for what she believed him. Hanzou isn’t going to waste any more time on him and lets them watch him control the darkness. With Kushimitama in hand, he jumps up to the black ball but it’s not responding. Then he suddenly knows the meaning of fear. It rejects Hanzou and swallows him alive! Good riddance. Rokurou heads towards it and mentions about the prophecy. The only way to stop it when darkness rises is to use the lives of the 9 other elements. Rokurou prepares to use his life but Saizou pushes him away before the darkness can absorb him. Yukimura says that thing isn’t Isanami anymore but Saizou objects. Besides a different form, everything else is the same because she acts without thinking and causes nothing but trouble. Oh so true. And the prophecy? Screw it! He’s going to cut open that darkness and bring her out his way. Saizou cuts the black ball and gets swallowed into it. He says because they’re united by their common identity as warriors, they can face any opponent and that is their true strength. He feels they’ve all rallied around her and without her, they’ll always be one short.

Seikai remembers how he had an argument with the temple master over different ideals so he left on a journey to find the true meaning of gods. When he returned enlightened, the temple was destroyed and that’s why he wanted to find her and teach her since she is waiting with a smile. Seikai is close to abandoning his faith but Benmaru says even if he doesn’t believe in the gods who had abandoned him, believe in his friends! He gives him a contraption for his fist so when Seikai gets up and punches Byakugun, it really packs an explosive punch! Boom! Not even the strongest person can withstand that. It’s revival time for our warriors. The darkness has confused the insects so Sasuke and Kakei are free. Kaiou gets tied up in vines and the poison is fast covering all over her. Kakei puts her out of her misery. Kuchiba thought he had defeated Kamanosuke but he didn’t know pain turned that pervert on. He relishes that feeling and in a flash returns that pain many times fold to him before killing him. That’s what he lived for, right? Ana tries to retrieve her sword but gets shocked by Jinpachi’s lightning. Not knowing his abilities made her careless as he breaks out of the ice easily. Ana collapses into his arm and he even quips they are even because he lost so much blood that he can’t even ‘stand it up’. Gosh.

Saizou is still alive inside the ball and Kushimitama guides him to Isanami. She is still spewing all those negative thoughts. For a guy who doesn’t care about anything, it’s ironic he has turned philosophical at this point. He tells her off everyone has some darkness in their hearts. Having pain in her head shows that she is human. He doesn’t care if she’s a human or some goddess of darkness, to him, she will always be Isanami and is one of the 10 warriors. So come out now this instant! Isanami frees herself and jumps into Saizou’s arm. This results in everything reverting back to normal. Ah, the bright sunlight. With Isanami free from black ball, Yukimura hugs her and is relieved she is alright. Saizou also thanks the rest for doing well their part. Ana laments that the royalty proof kept by Hanzou is fake. Jinpachi is willing to let her off the hook but she feels nobody would forgive her after what she did. Since her dream is gone, she has nothing left. But Jinpachi wants her to use this chance to join them and start things anew. Kanetsugu and Mitsunari learn about the dark power from Yukimura. They feel they should not seek such powers and must do something with the power they already have. As they leave, they say the next time they meet, it will be on the battlefield. So Yukimura has to join them too? Meanwhile Masamune learns that the real treasure was Isanami and not Kushimitama. Then he leaves because he wants to attack head on Mitsunari, Kanetsugu and the rest. He is going to start a war on a big scale.

With everything back to normal back at the Ueda Castle, Saizou asks Yukimura if he had gathered them knowing what would happen. He didn’t. Wow. That was such a big risky gamble that could’ve got them all killed! Even if he had told them earlier, could they have stopped it? Since more will come to seek its power, he is counting on his warriors to handle it. So they’re just like pawns? Well, at least he believes in them. He also notes he may be a pawn moved by an unseen power. For instance, civil war. Isanami comes by making a gigantic plate of manjuus for everyone. As usual, she and Saizou get into an argument. Then she delegates jobs to Benmaru (to heat the bath), Seikai (to do strong duties– that’s not even a job!) and Kakei (to make futons – WTF?!). But Kakei points out more importantly they need a captain for the 10 of them. Kakei declines since he is often away so Saizou thinks Sasuke would be perfect since he is a monkey familiar with this territory. And they both fight not because Sasuke was mad with his insult but to point out that is Saizou’s job. And Kamanosuke bugs Saizou to fight him. Okay. Just bring it on!

Ragtag 10
Hmm… Just when things are getting interesting enough and then it ended, I just thought how short this series was. Maybe it should’ve lasted another season? It seems there are some unfinished businesses the reason why I felt the ending is just okay. For instance, I was thinking Masamune is going to play somewhat a pivotal role towards the end seeing he is one of those crazy characters who live to fight and that war is his best friend. Or make that his bride. The way he was being portrayed and the directions of where things are going, at least to me seems that he is going to have an ultimate showdown with Yukimura and the little skirmish at Lake Biwa was just an ‘appetizer’. Where was all that in the end? If they did not include Masamune’s role and presence in the anime, I guess the flow will still work. That’s because, what initially started as Yukimura’s quest to gather 10 men to fight against Ieyasu, subsequently turned into a mini arc that reveals Isanami’s hidden dark powers and a little team of deadly ninjas that are bent on snatching it. And that impending war between Ieyasu and Toyotomi? It felt like just a setup for the next storyline if the producers ever wanted to make a sequel out of it. Yeah, that would be another story. So just like Masamune’s case, Mitsunari and Kanetsugu’s presence sure can be done without. It does nothing for the main plot that you see here in this dozen of episodes for this season. But that’s not entirely a bad thing, right?

So on to the characters. Basically our main protagonist Saizou has turned from someone who doesn’t care into someone who believes (albeit he doesn’t show it) in the power of teamwork and friendship. Thus that fateful encounter with Isanami in the forest you can call it coincidence, fate or destiny but it sure did Saizou a hell lot of good. He is totally different from Hanzou because though both are initially selfish and only fend for themselves, Saizou realizes that he can’t just be a one-man hero. He may not have realized all this on his own and thanks to other people he meet, certainly he came to realize his shortcomings and weakness. They say no man is an island, right? But still, I have yet to hear Saizou admit his weakness and shortcoming despite hearing him acknowledge he is no longer a loner but one of Yukimura’s warriors. Maybe that will be for later. Saizou may look serious and your no nonsense person but in his own way, he is also a weirdo like he always claims when Yukimura adds another person to the group. So he thinks he is normal or unique, no? Plus, you can bet Saizou is the one doing all the rebuking and tsukkomi when a comical incident arises. Now do you think he is not a weirdo? You know what they say about birds with the same feathers? For Isanami, in terms of fighting abilities, she is the weakest among the pack but once you unleash that deadly power, she’s equivalent to the devil. Isanami is made to look like a ditzy damsel in distress who can’t do anything for herself. Sometimes whiny too. But a good aspect of her is being cheerful and optimistic. Except for the last part whereby Hanzou played mind games by sowing guilt into her mind. It’s good that she has the support of the rest but ultimately it is up to her to banish her own inner demons. Literally. It is not clear whether she harbour any romantic feelings for Saizou because at first she clings on to him like a leech as she sees him as her light in her desperate time of need. Of course her body reactions seem to indicate so especially when she first came to know Ana. Then as the family grows bigger, this was less obvious as she spreads and puts her faith in the rest.

Ana being revealed as a spy was a little surprise to me and I thought she may just be putting up an act for some hidden motive. Though her betrayal is real, at least she has her reasons for doing so. Because she is part of the warriors, I guess she is the only one of Iga 5 who survived and have a chance to reunite with the rest. We don’t really see this at the end but I’m sure it will happen. After all, even if she did put up an act of being part of the warm family, what she experienced with them was real and not fake. So she deserves being giving a second chance. Sasuke as Yukimura’s loyal ninja has a quirky behaviour. He may not be the one who speaks much but when he does and finds out Yukimura has heard it, he becomes shy and scoots off. Funny… Kakei also has this complex for Yukimura and if anybody tries to disrespect him, he’ll tell them off. Same thing with Seikai for Isanami but in the monk’s case he is slightly more extreme. So I guess now he not only has to believe in god but in his comrades too. After all, praying and god can only get you there so much. Kamanosuke must be the most twisted character within the group because in addition to his love for killing, he really acts like a tsundere when he realized he couldn’t understand his feelings over Saizou. Perhaps wanting to fight and kill him is just an excuse to be with him and get his attention.

I feel Rokurou, Benmaru and Jinpachi didn’t do much in the sense that their screen time were lacking. Though for Jinpachi’s case is because he came into the picture after 2/3 of the show, Rokurou who has been following Yukimura like his personal bodyguard feels like he is just a side character. Besides his powerful memory right eye, the only skill we see him in combat is some supersonic wave that makes his enemies have a major headache. Ever since Jinpachi joined as the final member, he doesn’t really hang out with the rest and prefers to be by himself alone but nearby. Oh, what was his pet Veronica’s role supposed to be here? A mascot? Don’t we have Sasuke’s animals for that already? Just like Rokurou’s ability, we don’t get to see much of Benmaru in action either. Throwing a few explosives here and there when needed, that’s all. The big leader of them all Yukimura may seem like a laidback and casual fellow but don’t be fooled by his looks because he not only has the brains and the tactics (okay, sometimes he just had none) but the caring attitude that makes him respected and the warriors following him. Well, where is the fun in such head if he is always so serious and not fun to chat with? Yukimura’s character allows him to mingle and be at grassroots level with his warriors, subjects and people. That’s why in his own way he is successful and Japan would flourish if he becomes its ruler. Or not.

The action is quite satisfactory and though you see the characters pulling off their unique moves, at least it feels that they don’t overdo it despite having some exaggerations. Like Ana’s ice freezing powers, Kamanosuke’s wind power, Oukatsu’s snake summoning and Kaiou’s insect master. Due to the short duration of the series, I guess it is both a good and bad thing that you don’t see fights that last and drag on for episodes. Thus it’s nice to see the different mix of abilities from each of the warriors (based from the elements that they are based on) such as Sasuke using the animals to aid in his fight, Kakei and his rifle, Benmaru with his explosives and Seikai’s incredible brute strength. Saizou isn’t too shabby either with his swordsmanship. Living up to his legendary rumour wasn’t just hearsay because if you make him mad enough, he’ll cut you down in a blink of an eye. There are some things that I would really like to know about his sword because it’s like whenever he uses it, scriptures appear over the blade when he powers up. As said, the number of episodes in this series does not permit us to have further insights on the past of some characters. It would be refreshing to also know how Saizou came to be and ended up so albeit his short narration of how he decided to walk this bloody path was enough to give us an idea on what he went through. In those days unless you’re the royalty, everybody has his or her own tough time. There are a few scenes that are bloody but nothing graphic enough that will make you puke. But still bear in mind that since this is an action samurai/ninja genre, you have to expect some of that.

Besides the action, it is a surprise that there are a few comical moments too. Not the exaggerative kind whereby the anvil drops on your head. No, not that. Mostly the comedy part comes from the witty lines of some of the characters. Like I have mentioned, Saizou’s punch lines. Jinpachi too has his own amusing lines that will make you smirk. Of course Yukimura sometimes act like a big joker and clown but probably that is to hide anything that would alarm and worry the rest. Still talking about comedy, this leads me to the next episode preview. Yes, this is the funniest section like as though this segment is reserved for spewing a little nonsense. For instance, we hear Saizou and Sasuke insulting each other, Rokurou would love to help Yukimura’s insomnia problems but he prefers the breasts of a woman, Veronica licking Saizou and then biting him (Jinpachi’s concern is that Veronica would get stomach ache!), Hanzou faking his death because he was tired working for the morons (to explain his long absence in between the episode) and Saizou narrating that he’ll avenge the death of his fellow comrades by saving Isanami when they haven’t actually been killed off yet. Of course some of the dialogues are of philosophical of nature (okay, maybe heroic is the right term too) so it would be quite pleasant to hear them once in a while.

Daisuke Ono as the voice of Saizou is still recognizable but he isn’t playing the kind of character that is full of manners and polite like Kuroshitsuji’s Sebastian or laidback ones as in Satou of A Channel but something similar to those with angst like Shizuo in Durarara and Yondaime in Kamisama No Memo-chou. Maybe I haven’t been hearing Rina Satou’s voice so much lately so I didn’t guess it was her behind Isanami. Well, if she made her voice like To Aru Kagaku No Railgun’s biri-biri Misaka or Kaoru from Amagami SS, then perhaps there is a chance but I just couldn’t here for her case. Other casts include Toshiyuki Morikawa as Yukimura (Naraku in Inu Yasha), Hiroshi Kamiya as Rokurou (Mephisto in Ao No Exorcist), Tetsuya Kakihara as Sasuke (Natsu in Fairy Tail), Yuu Asakawa as Ana (Motoko in Love Hina), Ryotaro Okiayu as Kakei (Houou in Katanagatari), Motoki Takagi as Kamanosuke (Renji in ef ~A Tale of Memories), Kazunari Tanaka as Seikai (Bachi Guu in Green Green), Izumi Kitta as Benmaru (Cordelia in Tantei Opera Milky Holmes), Kazuya Nakai as Jinpachi (Hijikata in Gintama), Takahiro Sakurai as Hanzou (Jenos in Black Cat), Takehito Koyasu as Masamune (Kururu in Keroro Gunsou), Hikaru Midorikawa as Mitsunari (Rukawa in Slam Dunk), Shinichiro Miki as Kanetsugu (Urahara in Bleach) and Kikuko Inoue as Oukatsu (Chitose in Chobits). The opening theme by the duet of Daisuke Ono and Tetsuya Kakihara, Shouryou Hirai sounds like a rock piece. If you ask me, Daisuke Ono shouldn’t be singing… Furthermore, his voice was in the lead and ‘covering up’ Tetsuya Kakihara’s voice so much so I couldn’t hear the latter singing unless I strain my ears. The ending theme, En Otoko -Adiós- by Adapter sings the entire length with a synthesizer voice… I don’t know. Some parts in me feel it isn’t suitable but another part of me agrees since the rock beat is somewhat suitable for an action genre like this.

As we can see the importance of comrades and teamwork portrayed in this anime. Since nobody is perfect, we use each other’s abilities to make up for each other’s shortcomings. Sure, being selfish, egoistic and thinking of yourself to gain ultimate power may grant you so but not only will it make you lonely at the top, can you even handle such great deal of power? Yukimura assembling his motley crew of 10 warriors with their own peculiar behaviour shows that you don’t need to be perfect like Superman to be a hero. No matter who you are in this world, be it the emperor or a common peasant, you are still a human being. Ah, humans. So many problems for one species and even among ourselves. So, true to the balance of the universe and yinyang, when there is darkness, there’ll always be light and vice versa. If there are power-hungry people out there, there are also certainly righteous people who will put a stop to that tyranny. So to quote Benmaru again, if you don’t believe in God, at least believe in your friends or comrades because they haven’t at least abandoned you yet. Well, you know what they say about fortune favouring the brave, right? But don’t be as bold as brass, okay?

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