Gokujou Seitokai

October 25, 2009

In every anime that is school themed, I’m sure there is always that student council body. The kind of body run by students for students. So what if there is a school with a student council which holds even more power than the teaching staff itself? Don’t worry, once you get to know Gokujou Seitokai or also known as Best Student Council, this bunch of students aren’t the bad ass of society nor are they delinquents. Just a little quirky in their personality.
 
The all-girls Miyagami High School is a very large campus itself and when I first heard the name of its student council body which goes by the name of Miyagami Academy Maximum Authority Holders Highest Level Student Council, it was rather a mouthful. Hidden in those kanji words are of course what we know as Gokujou Seitokai. Viewers will be reminded of this at the start of every episode. (Un)fortunately for me, I skipped it every time so as not to be drilled into my head for negative effects. Don’t want to remember such narrations forever, eh?
 
As seen in episode 1, a new transfer student, Rino Randou, whose mom Chieri has recently passed away, arrives at Miyagami High School as a new transfer student as recommended by her mysterious pen pal, Mr Poppit. Now, Rino may be your typical naive, blur, cry-baby, klutzy, high-pitched moe little girl with adorable qualities like always wanting to help her friends but the thing which will raise an eyebrow or 2 is her hand puppet named Pucchan. In contrast of her personality, Pucchan is more sarcastic and knowledgeable about his surroundings and won’t hesitate to use some jabbing or punch lines. Thankfully, nothing as close as that evil Chucky doll. But the thing is, people may wonder who this Pucchan is or is Rino such a damn good ventriloquist. Considering their vast contrasting personality. It’s like she’s putting up a goody-two shoes face but on the other hand takes out her sarcasm on others via her puppet. Viewers may initially think so but as the series progresses, you may think this puppet has some sort of a life of his own. Notice how Rino also feeds him with meals? Notice how he does air punches sometimes? I wonder how Rino gets things done since she always has 1 of her hands being occupied to ‘animate’ Pucchan.
 
Unfortunately, Rino’s first day of arrival is greeted with much bad luck because her dorm she is supposed to stay is burnt down by an arsonist who is still at large at the moment. Her classmate whom she befriends fast, Ayumu Oume, tells her about Gokujou Seitokai in which members could stay at a dorm especially for them with meals taken off and their education fees totally waived! Wow! No wonder everyone wants to be part of the body. But it’s not like just anybody can join them. I guess Rino has to try because it beats sleeping in front of the school gates! To make things worse, Rino’s other classmate who is also part of the Gokujou Seitokai, Kaori Izumi, doesn’t like the former much. For starters, Kaori was confident that she would continue to be class rep but newbie Rino wins it instead. How’s that for upstaging your popularity in an instant? But it is revealed that this is to give Rino a chance to enter Gokujou Seitokai.
 
Before I move on, I’d like to introduce the members of the Gokujou Seitokai. The president Kanade Jinguuji is a very much respected and revered figure because of her gentle, polite, soft-spoken and understandable manner. The smart successor of the Jinguuji Conglomerate doesn’t force things upon her students and doesn’t restrict them as long as they are happy and do not cause trouble to others. Need I say more? The other uncanny thing about Gokujou Seitokai is that it is split into 2 main divisions, namely Assault Squad and Covert Squad. Assault Squad are those akin to the police of the real world and don’t worry since they aren’t Gestapos. They are in charge of removing potential threats risking the safety of the school. The vice president and leader of this squad is Nanaho Kinjou whose weapon of choice is a yo-yo. She may look tough and boyish but she likes collecting girly things. Better not let the rest find out. Who knows what they’ll think of her. Under her command are the bespectacled swordsman Sayuri Hida, card user Rein Tsunamoto and Kaori. One thing weird about monotonous-sounding Sayuri is that once her specs are blown off, she’ll be seen groping on the ground on the ground and rendered ‘useless’ while searching her specs. Sweet lover Rein is Sayuri’s childhood friend and tends to use different words of same meanings in her sentences. So if you want to know other words for moron…
 
The Covert Squad specializes in gathering information akin to an intelligence agency in the outside world. Sometimes there’s a fine line between surveillance and infringement of privacy… Led by the other vice president but head of this squad is Kuon Ginga and her assistant the ever-smiling but serious Seina Katsura. There are many other members of this division but their identities are kept secret due to their nature of their work. There are other members who do not fall under both these categories and are part of the executive line up just like Kanade. They include the accountant Mayura Ishikawa who is always stressed in calculating the body’s budget because of the members’ reckless use of money, and the driver to Kanade, Cyndi Manabe, who speaks limited vocab and even so most of them are in short English words. I’m always thinking if Gokujou Seitokai spends more than their budgeted amount every time, I wonder how they have enough funds for the next time or to cover the current costs. It’s either they have a really huge fortune or some rich wealthy family sponsor them… Then there’s the 11 year old landlady of the Gokujou Seitokai dorm who always have a broom in hand, Maachi Hisakawa. Why do they need a little girl to singlehandedly clean, cook and take care of the dorm? Mind boggling.
 
Back to the story. The Gokujou Seitokai are hot on the heels of a suspected arsonist and Kaori could’ve nearly caught him if not for Rino’s accidental klutz messing up the whole thing. Oh now she hates her even more. She also accidentally ‘interfered’ with Sayuri and Rein and the whole mission was a flop. Then another chase ensue but this time Pucchan saves the day by punching the arsonist and knocking him out! Rino passes out and I think everyone was amazed by what they saw. Hmm… Maybe not by the fact that Rino had a hand (literally) in capturing the arsonist, but the puppet. But Kanade seems to take a liking for Rino. Uh oh. Which means Kaori, who has always been admiring from the shadows, would now be sworn enemies for Rino. I mean how would you feel if a new comer suddenly arrives and steal the heart of the one person whom you’ve secretly admired? Rino wakes up on lying on Kanade’s lap and finds out that she is made Gokujou Seitokai’s secretary. Yay! She’s gotten in.
 
So in most episodes, you’ll get to see how Rino adjusts to her new surroundings and settles herself by making friends with Gokujou Seitokai and the rest with whatever adventures they’ll face. Even if she doesn’t really know how much Kaori hates her, this still doesn’t prevent her from being friendly to Kaori. You’ll get to know that because of Rino’s helpfulness even if things don’t seem to be plausible or go their way, the rest can’t help to offer their assistance after seeing her sympathetic expression or hearing her righteous but simple reasons. Can’t turn down a moe loli, eh? Besides, Rino has a mysterious ability which she isn’t aware of that allows her voice to reach out to the hearts of others. Of course, the fun part is watching Pucchan with his punch lines and sarcasm. That puppet really raises an eyebrow. Of course not every episode is focus on this odd pair as we will have episodes featuring other Gokujou Seitokai members and get to know their past.
 
Thus in episode 2, Rino is introduced to her dorm and meets Maachi. She finds out some super underground rollercoaster ride which propels students who are running late to school on time. Hey, the dorm is right on the opposite side of the island. Also, the Gokujou Seitokai are planning to hold a welcoming party for Rino and this doesn’t go down well with Mayura because the lavishness exceeds her budget and besides, Cyndi wrecked the car in the previous episode. During the party, Kanade’s supposed fiancee, Ryuuheita Iwazakura, turns up via big battleship along with his yes men asking for her hand in marriage. Kanade is troubled but her kind nature doesn’t make her chase that jerk away. So the Assault Squad utilizes some big cannon thingy (why does the school have such a thing?!) much to the ire of Mayura. Yeah, I wonder how much that costs. Money, money and more money. But Ryuuheita shows that he is a coward because he starts retreating just after seeing the cannon. Even if they plan to scare him away just like that, Rino’s bungling causes the cannon to be fired. Then it’s revealed that Ryuuheita’s battleship is just made of cardboard as they all row away in a little boat. Some big talk he is. Everyone then continues celebrating for Rino.
 
Though episode 3 starts off on how Rino first met Pucchan while Chieri was dying and how Pucchan consoled her when Chieri died (a weird scenario if you consider it’s her puppet which is doing so), in present time, Kanade and Rino has been spending so much time together and even seen spending time together in the latter’s room, that rumours of them being paya-paya are surfacing. Whatever that means. Something yuri? But it sure sounds funny. Anyway the newspaper, photography and paparazzi club are teaming up to expose what the duo are up to. Hey wait a minute. This school has a paparazzi club too?! Therefore members of Gokujou Seitokai do their best from preventing any dirt upon their beloved Kanade. This include separating Rino from Kanade and putting her in her own room (isn’t that kidnapping?) and setting traps. So the other club members got into those traps except for the head of the newspaper club as she finally sneak into the room to snap a pic of Kanade and Rino having nabe together. It’s revealed that Kanade and Rino are now roommates seeing a shortage of rooms in the dorm (hey, there aren’t many members of Gokujou Seitokai and the dorm looks roomy! Unless other Covert Squad members…). You know how Kaori’s feeling right now. Since the newspaper head is also a fan of Kanade, a simple bribe is enough to keep things quiet.
 
To add to Kaori’s dismay, in episode 4, she and Rino have been assigned together to solve a case whereby someone has destroyed the lead puppet for the puppet theatre club’s upcoming performance. Funny to see another of this club’s member like Rino-Pucchan but at least you can see her lips moving! Kaori has no choice but to do so because it’s an order (request actually) from the president herself. After their initial investigations, Kaori reveals the culprit to be a cat rather than one of its 4 members since the window was left open and that the lead puppet had scents of food in them (one of the members was eating while making the puppet). Kaori remembers how she was being met by kind Kanade who introduces to Gokujou Seitokai. Later Kaori confronts the president of the puppet theatre club alone and knows that it is her who rip that puppet out of jealousy. She slaps her and advices her to have fun because she doesn’t want her to destroy the dream of her club members who admire her. Kaori notes that even though she despises Rino, she won’t go that low as to make Kanade sad. However, Kaori spots Kanade and Rino close together again… Control, control…
 
After all that reckless spending, Mayura informs that either the Assault or Covert will get their funds in episode 5. See lah. Spend some more lah. Chai sii… As suggested by Rino who is sleep talking in her dream at the meeting (?!), Kanade approves a curry battle for the right to the funds. While Kaori trains her mates to make curry dishes, Kuon and Seina gets the Curry Sisters to represent them at the battle. During match day, the challenges seem to favour Assault Squad due to the physical requirements. However luck seems to be on Covert’s side as every time some intervening force allows them to get the upper hand like Rein has to go back and get curry ingredients after she left it on the obstacle top whereas the Covert used a helicopter and Sayuri’s lost of her specs via gust of wind allows the other to win a hand to hand match. Then Nanaho somehow got an Indian lady who only says "Namaste" lines throughout her appearance (she has some sort of relationship with Pucchan?!). All that Indian lady did was pray and the ordinary curry turned extraordinary! Judges Kanade and Rino has a taste of it but in the end, Rino notes how both dishes are better when eaten together. In the end, it’s a draw and because of that, neither gets the funds because the money was spent for the operation for this competition. All for nothing…
 
Because Pucchan continues to mock everyone else, in episode 6, pissed off Nanaho and her Assault members confiscate Pucchan from Rino and is put in some cage. Hmm… Without Rino’s hand through Pucchan, that puppet is as lifeless. So can it be that Rino has been putting up a superb ventriloquist act? However the separation has Rino crying almost throughout this episode. Her pleas that Pucchan talks on his own falls on deaf ears. I don’t blame everyone else for their suspicions. But one night Pucchan escapes from his cage and is going around putting his curse on those who have put him away one by one, which is the entire Assault Squad. Gasp! He’s going around on his own? Better be wary! He’s stalking them all! Nanaho is the final victim but they manage to trap Pucchan and it seems on his other end is Cyndi! But she says she isn’t the culprit! We learn that whoever has her hands into Pucchan, Pucchan will come to life and start talking! So it’s indeed true! Teary Rino pleads for Pucchan to apologize so that puppet has no choice but to do so. But after doing so, cheeky Pucchan draws a black marker across Nanaho’s face. In her rage, she throws him out the window when a lightning strikes it. Emotional Rino has Pucchan in her arms as he says goodbye but all that dramatic fake death acting is revealed when Kanade says that he should stop acting. Anyway, how can a puppet die from lightning strike? Everything is restored back to normal as Pucchan says his identity will remain a secret. Yeah, we’d like to know more about this odd puppet.
 
That accountant Mayura is having a date?! She’s so nicely dressed?! Hard to believe? Yeah, in episode 7 that’s how it is but information from the Covert side reveals that boyfriend of hers has ill intentions and is your typical scum. So the other members of Gokujou Seitokai go to great lengths by trying to make this guy break up with Mayura and this includes ridiculously trying to seduce him! Flop of course. Not until it is Rino’s turn that her heartfelt emotional plea reaches out to him and that’s when the rest of the others surround him to give him a stern warning. As Mayura sees Kanade about this problem, we learn that Mayura knows he’s a good for nothing jerk and the reason she’s doing so is to help her friend to check him out. Should’ve said everything sooner to save everyone the worries. I think Mayura is ready to break up with that guy until he comes by and tells her that they can’t see each other because he is moving away. Notice how he is badly messed up? Yeah, problem solved for both sides. All’s well, ends well. At least for our heroines.
 
Rino isn’t doing well in her exams in episode 8 and if she keeps failing, she’ll be kicked out of Gokujou Seitokai! Oh dear! Don’t worry, Rino isn’t the only dumb one. She has Cyndi and Rein who proudly announces how they are the Baka Girls Trio of Gokujou Seitokai! Just like Azumanga Daioh’s Bonklers, eh? As expected, everyone lends a hand in helping the trio in their studies. While Cyndi and Rein show improvement, Rino hardly moves. Notice the systematic 1 point increase in each of her papers? After all that effort, just only 1 mark increase?! And they’re all just single marks, you know. Theoretically, it’ll take years before she even reaches passing mark. Thus, Rino feels depressed about her stupidity but Kanade comforts and encourages her. At the same time, Pucchan ‘resides’ with Kaori so that Rino could maximise the use of both her hands for the exams. Kaori learns that Rino may be trying to cope with her mom’s death. Kaori understands how Rino feels because she too lost both her parents and is currently finding the right balance taking care of her siblings while studying (she is the only Gokujou Seitokai who doesn’t live in the dorm). In the end, Gokujou Seitokai decides to hold a party for her instead of just forcing her to study because I guess it’ll be easier if you’re not stress and tense up. As a result, Rino barely passes. But it’s a good sign because she gets to stay on.
 
A girl named Yuuko Kimidzuka comes to Miyagami to challenge Sayuri for revenge in episode 9. Since it would be such a disrespect to just barge in and fight, they decide to settle things the next day. Rein was like covering up for Sayuri and didn’t want anything else to be exposed when Nanaho wanted Sayuri to explain. So leave it to the Covert to gather some intelligence and we learn that Sayuri comes from a martial arts background and their family has a long history of using some killer technique which of course they never used. When young Sayuri was sparring with Yuuko’s dad, Sayuri’s instinct unleashed that killer technique on him (even though she had not been taught or exposed to that skill) and injuring him gravely. Ever since, Yuuko holds a grudge towards her though it wasn’t Sayuri’s fault but she still felt guilty. Shortly Sayuri and Rein joined Gokujou Seitokai. But because of her love for sword, as Kanade mentions, she continues to wield it rather than abandon it. The next day, the fight begins in front of the school gates as the rest of them watches. Of course in the end, Sayuri still proves why she is the best swords(wo)man and back home, a badly beaten Yuuko is talking to her dad and it seems that it was just a test to see how much Sayuri has grown, in which they are satisfied. I guess if she tried to be straightforward, Sayuri won’t be able to unleash her true potential.
 
It’s the pool in episode 10. While some really want to see Kanade in her swimsuit, Nanaho fears that there will be horny guys who want to take a peep not only at the president but the other members as well. Yeah, the guys even have some unofficial ranking who is tops on their list. You know who is number 1 lah (Nanaho upset that she is ranked same as Rino!). They can’t just drop the whole thing because Kanade still wants to proceed with it. So they suggested a decoy which includes a life-like but mechanical Kanade (its parts are falling off so it’s a no go – oh dear, there goes the budget). Kaori suggests herself to be the decoy but panics when she learns that she has to put on a bikini. Also, Kanade buys Rino an old fashion swimsuit. Those are still around? The night before the pool outing, we can see those desperate guys camping out in front of the school gates! Luckily they’re being chased away by Nanaho (Sayuri losing herself in some model pose as requested by them?). Day breaks and news reaches everyone that the pool lesson is cancelled but it’s just a diversion. Later the actual pool lesson is held on a private luxury liner (I wonder how much that will cost). Since Kaori is too embarrassed to wear that skimpy bikini, she opts for that lame old fashioned one, same with Rino. Upset Pucchan is blindfolded for the duration and even if he’s a puppet, he’s still a guy, right? The moment they’ve all been waiting for as Kanade makes her appearance… in that old fashion swimsuit too! Everyone notes how lame it looks!
 
Because the entire school’s futsal team is out with a cold, in episode 11, Gokujou Seitokai has to replace them in a match against their traditional rivals, Kenran High School. Reika Ryuuouin, Kanade’s counterpart in terms of student council president, seems stuck up and arrogant. The members of Gokujou Seitokai must not lose this match because Kanade expresses (coupled in with that eerie snickering) she’ll be viewed as an arrogant and snobbish woman, as quoted by Reika. As usual, the Gokujou Seitokai members aren’t futsal material and knows nuts about it. A bunch of oddballs, I’d say. Can they turn the odds around? Well, their training sucks but thankfully they have a glimmer of hope after enlisting their sports teacher, Yukimi Itami, who claims that she was part of Japan’s national football team (a lie obviously but it’s to motivate them). Twelve hard hours of hard training! No rest! Yeah, and it’s the match day soon. However the match is one-sided because the referee issues red card to Miyagami players because he doesn’t like their faces! Miyagami is losing badly with their players deliberately being injured and taken out and Kanade is in danger of being labelled that arrogant and snobbish woman. Kenran even unleash some huge Amazon woman on their side. Is she really a student of Kenran? When Mayura goes out, only Rino is left standing. That is when the Covert puts forth their secret plan as they substitute Maachi in. And it seems Maachi’s skill is so much superior to her display during practice! Power shots! Not even Kenran can stop her! Though Miyagami wins in the end, but I find the score line 100-26 too much and ridiculous. As everyone congratulates Maachi, it seems Kanade knows that this impersonator isn’t the real Maachi, but a Covert member named Kotoha Kutsugi. Wow. The next day, the lacrosse team has fallen ill… Uh oh… Favours, girls?
 
A flashback episode 12 tells us about how Kanade and Nanaho first met. Kanade goes off to meet the head of the Jinguuji family while Nanaho waits and meets one of her older brother, Shirou, whose job is protecting one of the Jinguuji members. We learn that it has been a tradition for Nanaho’s family to be the Jinguuji’s bodyguard. Back then Nanaho hated Kanade very much because she had to be her attendant which took away her freedom as a normal girl. However Kanade surprised her by releasing Nanaho from her duty. One day when Nanaho was passing by, she saw crying Kanade making a fuss and running away from home. She is sick with all those whatever traditions there is. The duo run away together and took refuge at a shrine. As they chat and reconcile, Nanaho’s 1st elder brother (whom I’ll refer to Ichi-nii) comes by to take them home and tells them that they should try changing things from within instead of running away. A year later, Miyagami is formed. A place where people like them can live their dream without restrictions. In present time when the meeting is over, Kanade and Nanaho head back and to their utmost shock, the entire dorm is destroyed! Rino is in a mess too and she is saying how all this started because of that girl: Minamo Katsura.
 
So episode 13 tells us what happened then when Kanade and Nanaho left. While the rest are playing games, Rino lost and had to go buy snacks. On her way, she meets Minamo who is infatuated with Pucchan and wants her to give it to her. That argument lasted 2 hours and because of that, Minamo collapsed. Rino with her instinct brings her back to the dorm but doesn’t want the rest to find out. Rino wanted to get their school nurse, Wakana Hirata for help but she’s too drunk. As she gets some medicine and returns, Minamo is no longer in bed. So what that Minamo brat did was she entered people’s room without permission and rummage through their stuff (don’t know how she stole the access cards from Maachi) and causing lots of other trouble. Especially Nanaho’s favourite pink teddy bear which she doesn’t want anybody to know. Eventually the rest finds out and they start searching for her. I don’t know if Minamo is that lucky or the rest are just bad luck because Minamo somehow uses the super rollercoaster to eject the rest to school. Now this is another eyebrow raising part. Rino finds out that there is a self destruction button in the dorm (WTF?! Why do they need such a button?!) and indeed finds Minamo playing around there. She wanted to slap Minamo of her selfishness and to her surprise, Minamo says go ahead. Unable to do so, Rino slams her fist on the button instead. Self destruction button. Yeah, that’s when the dorm goes boom. So it’s Rino’s fault, eh? Finally everyone learns that Minamo is Seina’s little sister and she is a new transfer student to Miyagami. Not only that, this selfish brat on announces that she is joining Gokujou Seitokai for fun. Having fun, are we?
 
I understand that everyone doesn’t want Minamo in but what to do since Kanade approves it in episode 14. While the dorm is being repaired, everyone lives temporarily at school. To add further to their misery, in order to generate further income (their budget all goes to fixing the dorm and even their meals have been ‘downgraded’) Minamo has written a lame play about some space alien and friends saving the world. The Gokujou Seitokai has to take part. No choice. Rino goes looking for Minamo only to find Seina giving unconscious Minamo a piggy-back ride. Rino soon faints (hope she didn’t get this from Minamo). When she comes to, she learns that Minamo is born with a weak heart and the reason why she’s selfish and do whatever she pleases is because she doesn’t want people to pity her. With everyone else eavesdropping, at least they’re determined to carry on with the play. The Space E.T. Alien play begins and looks like it’s a sell out. The play is so lame that I don’t want to describe it. Even the costume. I wonder how all these to the hall rental would cost their inflating budget. During that, Minamo nearly collapsed but she gets her strength back when everyone cheers her on. In the end, everyone was stunned and the hall filled with silence. And if you think they’re amazed, think again because everyone thinks how boring it is and want their money back! Haha! Not only Gokujou Seitokai is in danger of their precarious budget, but they’ve fallen into the debt trap as well.
 
The dorm is repaired in episode 15 but Minamo shows the rest a picture of Kuon with an unknown man and Kuon shocks everyone by saying that he is her boyfriend. Kuon later goes to meet this boyfriend of hers and we learn that Kuon is actually a spy working for this guy in some shady intelligence organization, Natrice. Kuon’s mission is to find out Kanade’s ability, in which that guy is frustrated because reports from her have yielded the same results. However Kotoha is suspicious and follows her. Kotoha confronts Kuon when she is rummaging through Kanade’s stuff in her room. Kuon flees and though Kotoha wants to pursue, Seina stops her as she had knew Kuon was a spy all along but decided to let her stay. Kuon has come to like Miyagami and the reason why she kept delaying her mission. But Kotoha is unable to accept and will do anything to protect Kanade. When Kotoha is about to confront Kuon, surprisingly Kanade appears to meet Kuon. Kanade too knows Kuon’s secret but didn’t make a big deal out of it. Kuon is like feeling guilty and such and is prepared to leave Miyagami and requests for Kanade to tell her secret. However Kanade refuses so Kuon will continue at Miyagami to investigate her. Slick, eh? But Kotoha still refuses to accept even if Nanaho tells her to back down. Then Rino and Minamo appear to introduce themselves as Kotoha’s assistants.
 
It was Seina’s request that Minamo and Rino help out Kotoha. In episode 16 though Kotoha refuses their help, Minamo threatens to expose her as a member of the Covert, leaving no choice for Kotoha. The trio are to spy on a new transfer student named Mayumi Minegashi, who has a suspicious background. Of course doing stakeout work means long boring hours and that is what Rino and Minamo experienced. No amount of games they bought could relief them of their boredom. Soon they spot that man in Kuon’s photo, Koukyuu Fujisawa, entering Mayumi’s dorm and Kotoha recognizes him as a member of Natrice. Rino and Minamo is thinking of some forbidden love thingy as Kotoha moves closer to eavesdrop. Mayumi is also a spy of Natrice and she is here to replace Kuon who was disappointing in her mission. Kotoha also learns that Kuon’s family is being supported by Natrice. When Kotoha returns, she tells Minamo and Rino that the man is just Mayumi’s relative. That night when Mayumi and Fujisawa are out, they are confronted by Shirou and being told to stay away from Kanade. With their identity busted, they fought back but Shirou and Kotoha are too much to handle. Kotoha then realized why Seina had sent Minamo and Rino to help her: To protect innocent smiles. Lastly Kotoha goes to chat with Kuon personally at the hotspring. Though she feels that she won’t be taking orders directly from her anymore, but at least she showed signs of forgiveness. And for the first time, we see Kotoha blush and smile when Kuon says how she had fun with Minamo and Rino.
 
Cyndi’s mom, Sandy is dropping by for a short visit in episode 17 but the big problem is that Cyndi wrote in her letters big lies. How big? Howzabout Nanaho as her boyfriend. Not to mention Rein and Kaori are fighting over her love. But the biggest lie has got to be that Kanade is her maid! Oh the horror! Everyone decides to play along so that Sandy won’t get suspicious. And they even managed to get the whole school to cooperate. Everybody just needs to hold it in… Another eyebrow raiser is that Sandy tends to use foul language so casually so much so you’d wonder she knows the meaning of how to use it or is just her purposely obnoxious attitude. Yeah, everybody, control your anger… Another thing is, Cyndi and Sandy speak in some caveman language in which only Pucchan can understand and translate! WTF?! In the end, Sandy slaps Cyndi not because she knew her lies all along, but rather she wasn’t true to her feelings. What does that mean? It means Cyndi is actually in love with Pucchan! WTF?! So Sandy leaves in her hurry the next day and since Pucchan didn’t oppose, it’s like an odd couple, Cyndi and a hand puppet walking together to school while embarrassed Rino tags along behind. Erm…
 
In episode 18, Yukimi is over the moon when she is engaged to a handsome man, Hiroshi Sato. Note how every time they introduce him, they long-windedly mention his name, age, occupation and that there’s no better possibility than this. However Wakana is upset because she feels Yukimi have broken their promise by going down the path of happiness first and leaving her behind. Another reason to get drunk? One day Sato comes by Miyagami and recognizes Wakana who was his senior. They chat and Sato confesses that he has a crush on her back then. With good timing, Yukimi just happen to walk in and heard it. Thankfully Yukimi isn’t the kind who would get upset over that misunderstanding. Then they learn Sato’s mom is dying of cancer and the reason he’s at Miyagami is to tell Yukimi that he can’t attend the omiai (marriage interview). Thus the reason why he agreed to initially attend the omiai was to make his dying mom happy. Wakana decides to help Sato out and uses her connections and even performs the lead surgery to save his mom’s life. Wow. Though Yukimi and Sato’s engagement is called off, Yukimi is now devastated to learn that Wakana has got a proposal from a handsome doctor. Now the roles are reversed, eh?
 
Kaori picks up another hand puppet closely resembling Pucchan from the streets in episode 19. You know what? It came to life! He is Lance and seems to be Pucchan’s long lost friend. Oh great. Now they’ve got 2 talking hand puppets to deal with. I wonder how Rino is going to use her hands seeing that both of them now occupies it. Not only that, Lance is quite the lady charmer he is. Lance meets Kanade but is suspicious of her seeing that she’s from the Jinguuji. Kotoha too is suspicious about the powers the hand puppets possessed but it seems Seina knows something and tells her to keep it a secret. That night, Lance talks to Pucchan and we learn that Lance was quite close to Chieri before her demise but that time Rino was too young to remember him. Lance knows that Kanade is eavesdropping and we learn that she was the one who invited Rino to this school. Meaning, she is that mysterious Mr Poppit! Now it makes sense why we see all those letters from Rino (also in future episodes) in Kanade’s room. Kanade’s reason for bringing Rino here is to hide her from the Jinguuji and wishes for Lance to trust her, hoping that Rino’s latent ability will not awake. The next day, a couple of guys are harassing several female students so Pucchan and Lance team up to do some super winning combo over them. How embarrassing to lose to mere puppets. Later Lance has a private chat with Kanade and we learn that Chieri was once part of the Jinguuji but ran away seeing that she can’t stand their strict ways. Soon after she gave birth to Rino. Lance says his time is running out and soon ‘dies’ in Kanade’s arms. That night Kanade tells Rino that Lance has left overseas but Rino bawled so much tears in her sadness and if Pucchan was a real human, I’d say he’d shed tears too. Kanade comforts her by saying that they’ll meet again someday.
 
Ayumu becomes that next rising idol in episode 20 after being spotted by a talent agency. Because of that, she has to juggle between school work and recording stuff. Thus Ayumu is dead tired in school. However Ayumu’s popularity has caught the attention of her clan’s head as he sends Urato (Ayumu’s twin brother) to punish her for betraying the clan. Rino learns that Ayumu is part of the Covert and the reason she came to Miyagami is because she hates her ninja clan ways as she wants to experience life as a normal girl. Before they know it, Urato challenges Ayumu to a fight. But in the end it is Pucchan who stops them and Rino’s usual lecturing to realize them because siblings shouldn’t be fighting. The siblings reconcile and it seems Urato too have a dream of meeting some busty bikini idol, Yuri. So with Ayumu pledging to work hard and be famous, in return she’ll introduce him to Yuri. On the day of her debut, Ayumu is horrified to learn that her idol role is actually some ninja. She couldn’t take it anymore and runs away. Oh the trauma. So much for getting famous. And Urato’s hope of meeting Yuri dashed…
 
The gang finds an abandoned baby in front of the dorm in episode 21. Rein seems to be quite attached to it because of her own past whereby her gambling father, Haruo, abandoned and left her all alone. So everyone chips in to go in search for the baby’s mother but to no avail. Meanwhile Kotoha stumbles upon an information that Haruo is in town after a hotel registry shows his name. As everyone continues to search, the baby’s real mom is regretting abandoning her baby and bumps into Haruo, who tells her to pick a card in which if she picks an ace of heart, she’ll continue forward with what she’s looking for or else, go back where she came from. Finally Rino’s feelings and voice reaches out to the masses and soon mommy is reunited with her baby. Mommy is very apologetic but relieved and Rein notices the ace of hearts card she is holding and thinks her dad is nearby but chose not to pursue because she thinks he has done something good and believe they will meet one day. It is revealed that both cards he had then was the same. The next day as everything goes back to normal, Kanade laments that Rino’s ability is awakening and hopes for her to stay the same.
 
A trading card game with Gokujou Seitokai members is becoming an instant hit in episode 22. Created and designed by Minamo, the card’s power reflects the real life abilities of the members. Some embarrassing ones like Sayuri when her glasses are off and Nanaho’s weakness to teddy bear which will change the perception of those who thought of her as a tough girl. Also there are rare and powerful ones like Kanade. Of course the worse one is Rino because her card is basically useless! Because of this, some of the members aren’t too happy and want all the cards to be recalled. But some are okay with it because it made them look cooler and for Mayura, this serves as supplement income. So in order to decide the fate of the cards, Kanade suggests a card battle. Minamo represents those who is all for it while Rino stands for those against. I think there are some Yugioh parodies here but anyway Minamo seems to counter all of Rino’s cards till the latter’s health points is only at 1! All hopes seem lost when Rino has 5 of her own cards in hand! What a totally useless situation! However Minamo panics because based on her rules if there are 5 Rino cards, all her hopelessness will allow other members to pity her so much so the opponent can’t do anything to fight back! WTF?! With that, Minamo’s strength completely drains to zero and Rino’s team wins a dramatic comeback victory! Wow! Minamo agrees to recall the card but those who oppose it initially now thinks it’s a fun game. Nanaho has no choice but to agree but later regrets that she should’ve object to it when she heard several girls thinking of her cute image…
 
Rino and Pucchan are pondering Maachi’s real identity in episode 23 so they along with some of the other Gokujou Seitokai girls go to investigate and initially think that she’s a magical girl due to a wand they found in her room. Later it is revealed that it belongs to one of Nanaho’s teddy bears. They then decide to follow her to at least know where she’s heading so that whenever she’s in trouble, they could come to her assistance. But every time they look elsewhere and back, in a split second they’ve lost track of her. Hmm… It’s like she’s disappeared. In the end, it’s revealed that Maachi is taking care of Kaori’s siblings while Kaori is out doing her part time job. Everyone of course is eavesdropping and learns of Kaori’s plight and they could’ve been busted if they hadn’t hushed emotional Rino. The next day, everyone takes turn to help Kaori look after her siblings. But I feel that this doesn’t answer their initial question of who Maachi is. I mean, how can she disappear so fast like that?
 
Sports day is looming in episode 24 but an unfortunate event befalls the Jinguuji family. The head has died of heart failure and this is affecting Kanade as she tries to keep it silent from the rest, apart from Seina and Kotoha. Kanade shows up less often and on sports day itself, Kanade comes in late to announce how she is voluntarily quitting school, shocking everyone. Later Nanaho tries to get some answers from Kanade and learns that she is appointed the next Jinguuji successor and will be going back to take care of things. Nanaho objects to it all as it defeats her dream of freeing her. However Kanade says that there is another her in Miyagami and I think she is hinting Rino. After Kanade leaves, the other Gokujou Seitokai members meet up and they can’t accept that Kanade is leaving them without a valid reason. Thus the next day everyone meets up and decides to go see Kanade and tell her their feelings. Though Kuon expels herself since her spying mission is no longer valid, but count on her to show up because deep down in her heart, Kanade is still her friend and perhaps even more.
 
They arrive at the Jinguuji’s estate in episode 25 and this episode is like a gathering of all other side characters such as the newspaper club, Ryuuheita and his yes men, Kenran’s Reika and her girls (not forgetting that Amazon woman too), Yuuko, Sandy and even Haruo show up to give all those Jinguuji MIBs a hard time. The part which I find it hard to believe is that those MIBs all lost to a bunch of girls! Is this the quality of those who protect the Jinguuji? Unbelievable. Downright embarrassing. Yeah, another embarrassing one are those who lost to Pucchan. First girls, now a hand puppet? Useless. The only one who got beaten up is Ryuuheita and his men. Even useless. Seina leads some of them through a secret underground while others fight as a diversion. Some revelations revealed such as Seina and Minamo were once part of the Jinguuji but since they had no special powers, they’re being discarded by the Jinguuji and even had their name changed. Others include, Maachi is part of the Covert as she fights well and Cyndi can speak fluent Japanese and the reason she doesn’t because Sandy told her that wasn’t right (some mother she is). Ichi-nii prepares to evacuate Kanade from the encroaching intruders when Shirou stops them and wants Kanade to rethink her actions because her pals are here to see them. Kanade remembers her promise to Chieri to look after Rino. Finally as Rino searches for Kanade, Kanade uses some telepathic-voice-reaching-out ability to Rino, in which she does the same. Her powerful voice seems to greatly pierce everyone. Kanade says how they both have the same ability and that Rino’s one which has awakened here has surpassed hers and is the greatest power ability in the Jinguuji. As they both chat, the other Gokujou Seitokai members reunite as Kanade lets them hear her ‘voice’ and they reply how much they love her.
 
Continuing in episode 26, a bodyguard comes in and shoots Rino! Thankfully that was a dramatic story made up by Minamo. Everyone from Gokujou Seitokai is left off the hook from Jinguuji thanks to Kanade but she is in an interrogation with the V Committee, the real power holders of the Jinguuji and Kanade being the head is just a title and a puppet. Gasp! They aren’t going to let Kanade go just like that. However Seina comes in and assumes herself as a V Committee member too. She releases Kanade as the head and replaces that position with Pucchan! Yeah, not even the V Committee could believe it’s a puppet. Pucchan reveals that his real name is Tetsuya and is Chieri’s real son who died long ago. Which means Pucchan is Rino’s brother! Now that he is head of the Jinguuji, he’s going to do whatever he pleases. It’s going to be embarrassing if the outside finds out… On their way back, Kanade worries that Seina is now part of the Jinguuji but Seina doesn’t mind as she regards this as her penance. She and Ichi-nii are supportive of Kanade’s ideals. Back at Miyagami, Rino’s inner voice reaches out to everyone and wishes to be with Kanade and true enough, Kanade comes back as everyone rushes out to greet her. Soon graduation comes and Kanade gives her farewell speech. Then the new year and entrance ceremony for new students. Nanaho has become president of Gokujou Seitokai. While Kuon remains as vice president, Kaori is promoted to vice president as well. Kanade is the school’s principal while Seina becomes a teaching staff. Feels like the same ol’ bunch, eh? As Nanaho gives her speech, Sayuri informs that there’s an intruder. Guess who? It’s Ryuuheita and his yes men proclaiming his eternal love for Kanade. Since she is troubled, you know what that means. Gokujou Seitokai moves in to beat up those guys again. How embarrassing. They never learn. Ryuuheita tries to make his escape but encounters Rino. He gets a taste of Pucchan’s dynamic punch.
 
I must say that I’m quite satisfied with the way things ended because our main heroines get to continue their lives together. In the end, it made me wonder what kind of atrocities do the Jinguuji family has. I mean, even if they are a huge conglomerate worldwide company, the way they keep their strict traditions on its members truly baffles me. Is their special ability something to be fearful off? Well I think Kanade and Rino’s ability are wonderful and in fact could be useful and beneficial even if their enemies got to know what it is. It is also a good thing how the series tied up a few questions that I initially had in mind. For instance, Pucchan’s real identity. It may not be much but at least it gives a little insight. Though the reason why he still moves as a puppet via someone’s hands still remains a mystery. Maybe that’s his special ability.
 
The other characters are quirky enough and are lovable in their own ways. Each of them are grateful to Kanade and in a way their loyalty is a sign of their gratitude towards her. Though Rino may not excel academically or physically, at least she values friendship and I suppose she tops in this area which compensates for those shortcomings. Seeing that nobody is perfect, I guess it is best that they rely and support each other like they always do. I like some of the funny moments such as Ryuuheita’s yes men who echoes every I-love-you-and-not-for-the-money lines. Anybody would feel embarrassed even if his feelings are sincere. Then of course the odd one whereby Pucchan and Lance were talking to each other while Rino is asleep. It looked so weird that Rino has her arms raised while the puppets do their talking. Then there’s the part whereby Pucchan was telling off a puppet theatre club member why she is speaking through her puppet. Yeah, he’s the one to say.
 
My favourite seiyuu goes to Yukari Tamura who did dual roles as Rino and Pucchan. As Rino, she sounds like your typical high-pitched klutzy girl and as Pucchan, a rough-voiced cheeky boy. I don’t mean to sound like a sadist but I kinda find Rino cute when she starts her high-pitched crying. You can recognize her other anime roles like Nanoha in Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha and Ink in Moetan. Other casts include Hitomi Nabatame as Kanade (Mikoto in School Rumble), Kaori Shimizu as Kuon (Hazuki in Nogizaka Haruka No Himitsu), Junko Noda as Nanaho (Kitsune of Love Hina), Miyuki Sawashiro as Mayura (Shinku of Rozen Maiden), Ayako Kawasumi as Sayuri (Hime in Kaibutsu Oujo), Yuki Matsuoka as Rein (Orihime of Bleach), Chiwa Saito as Kaori (Kirie in Girls Bravo), Kumi Sakuma as Seina (Nao in Soul Link), Ayumu Tsuji as Minamo (Guchuko in Potemayo), Kimiko Koyama as Maachi (Uzuki in Happy Lesson), Kana Ueda as Kotoha (Mikan of Gakuen Alice) and Tomoko Kawakami as Cyndi (Fuyuki in Keroro Gunsou). There are a few background music ranging from dramatic to fast action to sad ones which fit the scenario.
 
After watching the series, it is only then that I found out that this show is considered and categorised as a yuri series. I actually never thought of looking at that point of view. Well, Kanade and Rino’s close relationship and intimacy may give rise to that idea but I find nothing racy. Besides, the Miyagami in-focus is an all-girls school, right? So the next time I see somebody with a hand puppet, I know what my first thoughts are. Pucchan is such an interesting character that I thought he should have a spin-off series on his own. At least I liked hearing to his sarcasms. I know it’s weird to see one talking to a hand puppet but it beats talking to yourself. Hey, didn’t a ventriloquist win the reality TV series America’s Got Talent some time back? Now if only that hand puppet was Pucchan…
 

Gokujou Seitokai