H2O ~Footprints In The Sand~

February 14, 2009

Another one of those adult visual novel and PC simulation game that has been adapted into an anime series. I know that the title H2O ~Footprints In The Sand~ may sound intriguing at first, like as though it is some scientific adventure, but it’s nothing of that sort. So why is it named H2O, as in the atom compound for water? Well, I guess the creators were just playing with the words because it stands for the 3 main female characters of the series. Two H and an O. Just guess which of the names fit that acronym, it’s up to you.
 
This is a 12 episode series and I think I can classify it as a comedy drama supernatural mystery thriller. Erm… Seems like a lot of genres. But I guess a little bit of everything (if not most things) should add up to something good. Oh, did I forget to mention that this is somewhat a harem series too? Yup, there are a little fanservice here for you ecchi harem lovers.
 
But unlike in most harem animes, the main male protagonist of this series, Takuma Hirose, is a little bit ‘special’. How special is he from other male harem guys? Is it his ‘hardware’? Hahaha! Just kidding. Most prominently, Takuma is blind. That’s right. Visually challenged. Not a trait in which something a harem series should have its main guy. How is he going to see all the beautiful bishoujos waiting for him? But never mind that. Due to his blindness of some unknown illness and the sudden death of his mom, Takuma has been sent from his suburban Tokyo to live with his uncle Hozumi at the countryside to recuperate from his blindness. I’m not sure how that will work but probably with the serene and natural surroundings, it makes healing much better.
 
Episode 1 starts off with some narration from a man in suffering of why God had abandoned him during his time of need. We also see 2 boys beating up a girl named Hayami Kohinata in the paddy fields during a rainy spell. I know that even if this is the countryside, I can’t believe those boys would land a fist on a girl! The scene changes to a bright sunny day and we see this Hayami girl walking to school when she heard a commotion. We see blind Takuma being taken by the hand by a bubbly girl named Otoha, running through the woods, being chased by a wild boar. Hayami pushes Takuma out of harms way and the next thing you know, she’s on top of him. Being the blind boy he is and wondering where Otoha has gone, he starts feeling Hayami’s… erm… chest, to make sure she is Otoha, even if his intentions were good. Of course, any girl would feel violated and instantly gives him a slap. No excuse even if he’s blind.
 
Next scene shows what I believe is the only school in this countryside, as we are introduced to several main and side characters of this series. We have Hinata Kagura who is the daughter of the village head (whom I shall refer to as Elder. By the way, he looks like a typical evil old man), Yui Tabata (one word summarizes this obnoxious self-aggrandizing girl. Annoying brat. So okay, that’s 2 words), Hamaji Yakumo (gotta love her dreamy ‘muffled’ voice and positive outlook), and Maki Kumon (poor girl has been labelled as a side character). Plus, we see that Yui has 2 male followers her age, conveniently named Follower A and B, and they are the ones who beat up Hayami in the opening sequence and would gladly do anything Yui asks them too. Anyway, the girls are all abuzz about a new transfer student to their school. Hinata meets Takuma for the first time on the wrong note. I mean, she was carrying a bunch of papers and expectedly fell. Takuma happen to come by and pokes around with his walking stick and accidentally pokes Hinata’s butt. Yeow!
 
After Takuma has been introduced to class, he is made to sit next to Hayami at the back of the classroom. She recognizes him from earlier this morning. However, there seems to be something going on between Hayami and the rest of the class. In fact, the rest of the village. It’s a feeling like the whole village against Hayami. Everybody in a way hates her and ostracizes her! From students to teachers to adults. So why is she in class? Somebody to pick on? Because so, Hayami too puts on a cold attitude and doesn’t care about everyone else. Newcomer Takuma of course doesn’t understand what’s going on and all that he is concern is making friends with her. Something which everyone else doesn’t seem to be quite fond of. Later on, the other girls try to get more acquainted with Takuma and another round of fanservice from Hinata. Yeah, Yui tries to enter with her typical grandiose style and would even consider Takuma to be her follower, when Hinata collides with Takuma. I don’t know how it happen but Hinata is sitting on top of Takuma’s face! Don’t breathe… Hold your breath… ‘Stimulating’, isn’t it? Imagine if Takuma wasn’t blind…
 
While Takuma recuperates in the infirmary, cheerful Otoha comes out of nowhere to hug him. You’ll notice that there is an air of mystery and supernatural surrounding Otoha. Even if she says straight in his face that she is the Spirit Of The Sounds Of Time, you can’t help feel that there is something more to that. Furthermore, she claims that Takuma is the Promised One and it seems only Takuma can see her. Everytime when Takuma tries to introduce Otoha to the rest, she’ll be gone. Other than that, she loves come rushing to hug or cling to Takuma and as the series progresses, you’ll learn that Takuma has become familiar with her ‘arrival’ and even evades her in his reflex!
 
Back in class, Yui seems to be in charge of lunch when she notices that some foodstuff is missing. She has calculated that everyone gets the exact portion and is real upset when it is short. WTF? Anyway she suspects Hayami to be the culprit and has her followers pin her down on her desk to spill the beans. Though Takuma doesn’t really know what is going on, he doesn’t agree violence being used against her. Of course Hayami says that this isn’t his problem and tells him to stay out. Hayami leaves and Takuma tries to follow her to some little room whereby she makes some cup ramen and compliments how delicious it is. Though Hayami is surprised, Follower A and B soon comes in to settle their score. Again, Hayami tells Takuma not to butt in as they settle their fight outside the building. Even so, Takuma tries to help but feels helpless. I mean, what can a blind person do, right? That night, Takuma has a dream whereby he is on a beach facing the ocean when Otoha comes by to talk to him. In short, she grants him the power of vision, albeit is just a temporary one. So the next day as Hayami walks to school and is overlooking the village on the hilltop, she is surprised to see Takuma there as he invites her to go to school together. Thing is, Takuma’s eyes are open and he can see! Wow! Must be the best gift ever.
 
Episode 2 begins with a scene showing Hayami with a pinwheel in hand on the hilltop. You’ll notice how this girl likes them. Takuma wakes up early (Hozumi is one uncle everyone love to have. Or not. Yeah, he’s so bent on waking up Takuma but to his dismay finds him gone) to ask Hayami to spend the day with him but she refuses and leaves. Not before Hayami remembers a little flashback of her being with a girl which looks so much like Hinata, giving her a sweet. Takuma is shown around the village courtesy of Hinata, Hamaji and Maki. The gang tells Takuma of Yui’s rice field, which is run by her family. Yeah, she’s really working it with Follower A and B. When Yui brags about how big her rice field area is, Hamaji points out how Hinata’s family has a much more bigger plot on the other side of the hill. In your face girl.
 
Part of the tour includes taking a stop at a convenient store from Hamaji’s family called Yakumo. Hamaji sure loves to dress in that maid outfit everytime she comes by here. Yeah, Hamaji’s giving them expired food… The tour resumes when they come across a wooden suspension bridge. Takuma is curious to know what lies beyond that but Hinata quickly tells him that he should never set foot there because a monster lives there. Uh huh. Like he is going to really believe that? Just like any curious cat, Takuma decides to find out himself what that monster is, or if there really is one, as he crosses the bridge later that day. To his surprise, he finds Hayami bathing naked at a waterfall! So since Takuma isn’t blind anymore, there really isn’t any excuse this time. Next thing he know, he is tied upside down and Hayami holding a knife in hand. Promise not to do it again, Takuma? Good thing, she uses it to cut him down and loose. Takuma soon finds out that Hayami lives here all alone by herself in 2 dilapidated tram-like houses. The duo chat over another cup of ramen as Takuma tells Hayami of his reason here while Hayami warns not to be friends with her as nothing good will come out of it. Like Takuma will listen, right? We all know he just wants to get along well with her and with the rest of the school going gang. So when Takuma goes back late that night, he bumps into Hinata who tells him not to cross the bridge again because Elder had earlier suspected that Takuma had already done so and warns his granddaughter.
 
The next day because Takuma is so eager to go see Hayami, he enters the tram house like as though it’s his own when Hayami was just waking up. No, she wasn’t in her undies or naked, but because she just woke up and wasn’t properly dressed, she slaps him. Slap number 2. Then at school, Takuma tries to get friendly with Hayami but the class as usual doesn’t like it. Once again, Yui and her followers decide to settle another score with her and tells Hayami to come out with them. Takuma pleads to the teacher to stop them, but she is feigning ignorance. So outside, Yui tells her henchboys to beat her up while continue to taunt her a cockroach. I’m thinking that Hayami just looks tough. Why didn’t she fight back? It’s like she’s just there to get hit. Hayami remembers a quick flashback when she was young, her home has been burnt down and indeed she was friends with Hinata. Something about how Hinata gave a sweet to lonely Hayami to cheer her up. Ah, the age of innocence. Not anymore. So what happened then? That’s the intriguing part. Takuma comes to protect Hayami and even dares to be labelled a cockroach by Yui. Just when Yui was about to classify Takuma the same level as Hayami, Hinata arrives and says that she will save Takuma from Hayami and swears it on her family’s name. Later that night, Takuma goes to Hayami’s place as the duo make some pinwheels despite her pleas not to associate with her anymore.
 
In episode 3, because Elder tells Hinata not to tarnish their family name and be a good girl, Hinata goes all out to woo Takuma, like as though she is his girlfriend. Attempts by Takuma to get close to Hayami are thwarted each time as Hinata intercepts to bring him away and change the topic. Like the girls are in some tug of war trying to get Takuma to go to school with them exclusively and it ended up all 3 of them reaching school together. At school, we see the class having an outdoor art assignment and that Yui’s drawing is totally hopeless. I mean, Picasso is so much better. And she even got the guts to say how damn good it was! Is she blind?! Later during lunch break, Hinata tries to feed Takuma like as though they’re a couple. I guess Takuma has no choice but to oblige. So when Takuma asks why is she being so nice to him, she tells him that he is the Destined One. Okay, first the Promised One, now this. What next? Fated One? Perhaps.
 
Takuma then notices Hayami is drawing alone away from the rest on a hill and goes to cheer her up. Takuma goes on to tell her about how he didn’t have much friends when he was blind. This made Hayami remember her past with Hinata. When Hinata gave her a sweet, she told her that a sweet carries the taste of happiness. When you suck it, a flower will blossom in your mouth. Nice way of putting it. Just then, Hinata spots Takuma with Hayami and once again intercepts and gives him a sweet and says the exact sweet line that Hayami just said earlier on. After school, Takuma manages to evade another one of Otoha’s tackles. Because he’s feeling down, Otoha decides to do something to cheer him up, which is to tickle him! Weird but it works. Just when the other girls arrive and Takuma decides to introduce Otoha, once again she is nowhere to be seen. Though Takuma tries to ask Hinata about Otoha, the latter says she has never heard of her name before. Hinata walks back to her home with Takuma hand-in-hand. After a brief greeting with Elder, Hinata shows Takuma around her house. Then there is a room whereby Hinata’s younger sister, Hotaru, once lived. Sadly, she passed away. Wait a minute? Doesn’t she resemble so much like Otoha?
 
Takuma finds out that Hinata and Hayami were once close friends and wonders how they drifted apart. Hinata couldn’t give a direct answer but even after much pestering from Takuma, she says something which he doesn’t understand (so do I). So once more that flashback of burning down Hayami’s home. It seems Hinata didn’t want it to happen when the villagers burned down Hayami’s home and all she could do was run away when that happened. Something about their family are of different class and that they should not mix. Takuma knows that Hinata is in pain deep down inside even though she is denying. Though she went on to rant that good girls like herself mustn’t be friends with bad girls like Hayami, but I don’t think Takuma cares about all that because still thinks Hinata is a kind girl and drags Hinata to Hayami’s place so that they could make up. At the suspension bridge and just before crossing, Hinata is in a panic and after thoughts of her grandpa’s words haunting her head, in her haste, she pulls Takuma close to her and kisses him! If that surprise wasn’t enough, Hayami was just looking at them from the other end. Surprise?
 
Well, whatever happened at the end of the previous episode didn’t really matter in episode 4 because this is a beach episode. Yay. Swimsuits. Fanservice. All the girls with the exception of Hayami takes Takuma to a beach sponsored by Yui. Yeah, we could all thank her. But this trip has an additional member. She is Yukiji and is Hamaji’s little sister. Since Yukiji doesn’t like Takuma much because she thinks he is going to steal her beloved sister which belongs to her and only her, she devices various schemes to bring pain to him (or even kill him! Gasp!). But each time, Yui ends up at the receiving end. Poor girl. Why that little scheming loli devil. Finally Yukiji bluffs Takuma to wait at a faraway rock for somebody. Being the good boy he is, he goes but the other girls soon suspect that Takuma is missing and confronts Yukiji because they earlier saw her with him just before he disappeared. Yukiji panics and runs away. Meanwhile Takuma is still waiting when Otoha shows up (WTF?! Flashing her panties at him?!). But he had better know how to swim because it is high tide and the rock is now an isolated island. To make things worse, Yukiji went for a swim alone to cool herself down but got a leg cramp. Luckily Takuma spots her and dives in to save her, even though he nearly drowned himself. If not for Otoha, I think they’re goners. Back on the beach, Hamaji gives Takuma a mouth-to-mouth CPR. Oh how Hinata wish it could be her.
 
Now this is the shocking part. After Yukiji thanks Takuma for saving her and they go enjoy soaking themselves in the hotspring, Hamaji comes by to thank Takuma for saving her little sis. Just when Takuma realize that Hamaji is in the wrong section or is just in here purposely to give some fanservice and screw with him, it is revealed that HAMAJI IS A BOY!!!!!! OMG!!! She is a he!!! The duck theory doesn’t work here anymore. If it looks like a duck, sounds like a duck, acts like a duck, it must be a duck, right? Not here anymore. Holy sh*t! This is so mind blowing! No wonder the girls were so ‘one kind’ when Hamaji gave Takuma the CPR! Even so, it still boggles my mind that she/he has a feminine body when she put on her swimsuit. Even if Hamaji is a boy, I’d still refer to him as a her. I feel much better that way. Ugh. Anyway I think Takuma is just barely alive after that shocking discovery and we learn that probably why Yukiji is so protective over Hayami was probably because since they lost their mom, she may view her as one and Takuma in the equation means leaving her all alone (probably the reason why Hamaji cross-dresses). Don’t worry girl, Takuma isn’t a bad kid. Besides, you won’t see her anymore till the final episode, whereby she just make a 1 second appearance. The final scene shows Hayami taking a night swim at that same beach when Takuma happen to spot her. She asks him about his true feelings but you know, they got interrupted when Hinata comes by. So cliche, stepping on the twig to make that someone-has-arrived atmosphere.
 
Back to the drama in episode 5. Due to the previous night incident at the beach, Hinata seems more desperate in winning over Takuma by confessing that she loves him. Doesn’t that seem a little rash? Due to that too, Hayami seems to be ignoring Takuma. Back to those good ol’ days in the beginning, huh? And yeah, there’s a drawing of that love umbrella between Takuma and Hinata being married. After school, as they are leaving, Elder comes by in his car and insists that Takuma comes by for dinner at their place. As usual, Elder is imposing some sort of scary must-do and be-a-good-girl brain-washing reminder on Hinata about how Takuma comes from a good breed and that she has to make him her husband. Because Takuma still wants to find out what happened between Hayami and Hinata back then, he goes to talk with Hamaji at Yakumo.
 
I guess Hamaji has no obligation not to hold a secret so she confirms that Hinata and Hayami were best of friends back then. However, there was an uprising against the Kohinata family who were abusing their powers (ruling the village with an iron fist, that is) and the revolt was led by Elder. After burning down the house, Elder plays guilty mind games on a young Hinata’s mind to sever ties with her. Poor kid. Takuma is bent on resolving this once and for all as he once again drags Hinata against her will over to Hayami’s place. Yeah, she’s still saying about that monster who lives across but Takuma firmly believes that there is no monster. When they finally cross the bridge, Hinata has a first hand look at Hayami’s living conditions. It then hit her how she had mistreated her all the time. After she spots the pinwheel and Hayami made her appearance, Hinata finally manages to sum up her courage to emotionally apologize for all that she has done. Though I feel it is not her fault to being with, but I’m glad Hayami holds no grudge and accepts her apology. With that, both girls are back to being good friends now. Now, the problem is, how is this development of events are going to affect them, especially Elder and the rest of the villagers.
 
Yeah, everyone is sure confuse on why Hinata and Hayami are back to being pals in episode 6. Because of that, Yui isn’t too pleased that the cockroach influence has spread. What about Hinata’s earlier vow on her family’s name to save Takuma from Hayami? Didn’t matter anymore. Yui gets even more pissed when Hinata now defends Hayami. Though Takuma as usual wants Yui to get along with them, Hayami explains that her family was responsible for Yui’s grandpa’s death due to their power abusing ways. In order to let off some steam, Yui goes to town with Hamaji and Maki (why didn’t her followers follow her? Perhaps an all-girls outing?) but ends up going out together with Takuma, Hinata and Hayami, since she bumps into them along the way. So we can see that Yui and Hayami spend nearly the whole afternoon trying to outdo each other like eating a big bowl of ice cream the fastest (oh, brain freeze!) and playing a test of strength punching game in which Hayami sets a new record with her raw strength. Finally when the gang went shopping for clothes, because the others were paying more attention to Hayami than Yui, the latter gets frustrated and runs away.
 
Yui notices that she has dropped her wallet and decides to turn back to town by taking the shortest route, which is through the forest mountains. The gang notices Yui is missing but since it is already late and that they have to take the last bus service back or risk spending the night in town, Hayami tells the rest to go ahead first while she herself goes through the forest path to track Yui since she is familiar with the area. It is night time and the duo find each other at a burnt down ruin, which once belonged to the Kohinata’s family. Of course of all the people she could meet in the forest, Yui is still upset to find Hayami and goes on an emotional rage. We find out that back then, the Kohinatas had a stranglehold on the village on just about anything. Yui’s grandpa was dying and because they had no money to pay for medicine, he died, leaving Yui all heartbroken and filled with hatred. A tearful Yui demands Hayami bring back her dead grandpa and will not forgive her still. Though Hayami says that even if her home and family is gone, she has nothing left to give her and so the only thing she could do is accept Yui’s hatred towards her. Though Yui is still frustrated, but it made her realize that Hayami too has gone through torrid times. Not wanting Hayami to see that she’s a soft girl, she tells her to get out of her sight while taking out her frustrations on the ruins. We see Otoha eavesdropping behind a tree. The next day, Yui shows a more compassionate side to Hayami even if she still sounds arrogant by giving her a piece of tamagoyaki. Her followers must be real confused of her change in heart. After this, I kinda noticed Yui’s followers won’t be following everywhere she goes.
 
Episode 7 has another shocking discovery. No, not another girl is a boy. But rather someone is of a different person. What do I mean? Remember Hinata’s late sister, Hotaru? Now to get this. To cut things short, the Hinata that we know up till now is actually Hotaru and the dead Hotaru is actually the real Hinata. Confuse? So was I. So this is how it all started. Without reversing the names and maintaining them as we know up till now, you see, Hotaru has been looked up by lots of people at a very young age due to her politeness and such while Hinata was at the other end of the polar, a no good for nothing girl. So when Hotaru unexpectedly died during a drowning incident, Elder decides to cover this up and make Hinata replace her so that no one would be shock that the nice girl but the useless one had died instead. So of course when Hinata can’t take anymore of all this and tries to go back to her original self, she is met with much resistance from her grandpa who is against of her reverting back to Hotaru after all these years. I can’t believe he got rough on her by pulling her hand while that poor girl screams in defiance. I guess this explains why Elder is always trying to tell her to be a good girl and such. Thus, Elder locks Hinata up in her room to cool of her head and even forbids her to go to school.
 
So this flashback sees how Hotaru before her demise tries to cheer up Hinata and that the latter had drawn a sketchbook about a story of a spirit named Otoha and making the Promised One, blend into the village and make peace among the villagers. Sounds familiar? Yeah, this story feels like as though that Hotaru girl is playing as that Otoha spirit and reliving this unfinished story. There are even lines which Otoha said to Takuma being taken from here. All too familiar. Anyway Hotaru was being supportive of Hinata’s sketchbook. In the end after much thinking about her beloved little sister, for once Hinata decides to stand up on her own 2 feet and defy her grandpa’s words when she realizes how her friends still care for her after receiving class notes from them for all those missed classes. She’s going to tell everyone who she is. On her way to school, Hinata doesn’t respond when Takuma and Hayami they call her name. That’s because back in class, not only we see the classmates getting along pretty well with Hayami, when Hinata says how her real name is Hotaru, it’s like everyone instantly accepted it and starts calling her so. So I think to be on the safe side, I will refer to Hinata as Hotaru for the remainder of this blog. So it seems like everything is going right on track. Happy days to come. Or is it? I think Elder has something up his sleeves.
 
But all that drama suddenly turns into comedy mahou shoujo (magical girl) style in episode 8. Not only that, Takuma wakes up 1 morning to find that he’s got Hotaru and Hayami as his lovey-dovey fanservice sisters! To make things worse, Hozumi is his mom in an awfully hideous make-up! I guess anybody won’t hesitate to punch that weird uncle. Then on the way to school, he bumps into Otoha and gets another panties-in-his-face fanservice like the one he got with Hotaru in the 1st episode. It seems Otoha is a new transfer student in their school and initially Yui tries to make a grand entrance but got hit away when Otoha arrives. Furthermore, the teacher says that Otoha is Takuma’s fiancee! With that, Otoha instantly gets all lovey-dovey with Takuma, sending jealousy waves to Hotaru and Hayami. Things get even more crazy when Yui turns the whole school into some farm the next day. I don’t know why Yui is in a mahou shoujo getup, but I guess it’s a cue for Otoha to turn into one as well (complete with her own theme song!) to send Yui flying away. This will happen a few times. Then more fanservice and even more fanservice. You’ll know when Takuma gets a nosebleed when Otoha comes into the bathroom to bath with him.
 
In order to prevent the world from going even more crazy, Otoha tells Takuma that he has to take charge by correcting everyone’s strange behaviour. It’s going to be a long tiresome day, though. Then 1 night, Otoha decides to end her fun as she sends Takuma into some kind of dream world. Then Takuma finds magical girl Otoha has been beaten to a pulp and some evil lord claims he has take over the Spirit World. Otoha transfers her powers to Takuma so that he could defeat the evil lord. Then we find out that inside the evil lord is… Otoha?! Then they are transported to that beach scene whereby Takuma and Otoha had a chat about stuff. But Takuma knew it was Otoha all along because of that sketchbook story of staying by the Promised One till the end. Though Takuma says that Otoha is Hinata, she didn’t give a definitive answer as she says someone who has gone over to the other world mustn’t be bound by this world forever. Otoha thanks him for finding her and is happy that she was able to see what she wanted to see. She kisses Takuma and disappears after saying that Takuma can do anything. With that, the world returns to normal as Takuma heads to school with Hayami and Hotaru. Too bad, Otoha won’t be making frequent appearances after this. Hey, isn’t her appearance just random and brief in each episode anyway?
 
The festival is just around the corner in episode 9 and when Takuma finds a bell with red beads in his uncle’s house, this prompts him to remember a similar one of his late mom. Of course Hozumi knows the implication of bringing that bell around town so he wishes Takuma good luck. So at school, the girls are pretty surprised to see Takuma with that bell. To cut things short, it is this village’s tradition that when a guy gives a girl this bell, it is to signify that he likes her (something like a confession) and probably marry her. Oh Takuma, you don’t know the misunderstandings you’re going to cause. Yeah, Yui is so perasan and thinks Takuma is going to give it to her subtly. Tsundere, isn’t she? She even hinted of waiting somewhere after school just to receive it but she waited all day and Takuma didn’t turn up. Poor girl. Oh the heartbreak. Anyway Hayami got the bell because she thinks it’s her fault for accidentally breaking it earlier on. Meanwhile, some of the adults in the village are still not too fond of Hayami so that night several of them cross the bridge to burn down Hayami’s tram house while she and Hotaru were bathing together at the waterfall (nothing yuri). With her home gone, Takuma invites Hayami to come live at Hozumi’s place. I think Hozumi is glad to have a girl like her living under his roof, regardless of her background. Then at the town meeting, some of those villagers are talking about banishing Hayami forever but it seems the Elder shrugs it off and focuses on the upcoming festival. It seems that Elder has an ulterior motive even if his initial answer of not taking any action against Hayami itself is suspicious.
 
That night, Hayami seems to notice that at times Takuma is depressed and pesters him for an answer. Finally Takuma gives in and tells that his mother committed suicide and left him behind. Regret asking? On the day of the festival, Hayami talks to Hotaru about how she has hurt him by forcing him to say something which he doesn’t want to. But Hotaru tells her that because so, she managed to touch his heart and wants Hayami to go to him who is waiting on the hilltop for her. Hayami realized things and rushes there to see him waiting. So as expected, it turns out that it is going to be Takuma-Hayami when the boy confesses to the girl to stay by his side and get to know her better. Hayami gives him back the repaired bell as they hug and kiss under the moonlit night. Wow, what a turn of events. So is Hotaru accepting the fact that Hayami is more suitable for Takuma? Looks like it. Best friends should know better.
 
Officially a couple in episode 10, but it’s not like they’re going to live happily ever after yet. While their pals pester them about juicy details about what happened during the festival (Hamaji and Maki saying how they won’t allow them to go ahead with their happiness and leaving them behind), Elder starts his final plan in motion. Elder confronts Takuma and Hayami and tells the boy that it was Hayami’s family which drove his mom to suicide. Thinking that it was just a ploy, however Hozumi confirms that it is true. Gasp! So can he live with a girl whose family has killed her mom? So it’s something like this. Takuma’s mom was supposed to be married with a guy from the Kohinata’s side but instead fell in love with Hozumi’s mom. By that time, she was pregnant with Takuma. However the Kohinatas never stopped pressuring her when she eloped and since she can’t take this anymore, this drove her to insanity and ultimately suicide. Also, a storm is coming the village’s way so the villagers quickly put up sand barriers to protect the village.
 
Even though Takuma tries to act calm and says that Hayami is not at fault, his actions seems to indicate otherwise. Takuma is having hallucinations of his mom and Hayami is taking her away from him. So much so, Takuma unknowingly takes out his frustrations on her. I understand Hayami is having a hard time trying to calm Takuma down and has been patient all the while. There is only so much a girl can take. So I guess this just proves that Takuma isn’t ready to be with the daughter of a killer family. To make things worse, Takuma’s vision is starting to blur and he may be reverting to his blind self. Hotaru confronts her grandpa and suspects that it is his doing but he didn’t say anything. The storm is approaching as Hayami leaves the home and arrives at the bridge where the sand barriers are placed. Hayami too is frustrated and starts ripping and tearing the barriers. Follower A and B spots what Hayami is doing and thinks she is going to destroy the town and that being friendly with them all the while was just a facade and have been deceiving them. Hayami affirms it so the duo beats her up in their rage (the opening scene in episode 1). Real stormy weather ahead.
 
At the start of episode 11, Hayami is being rescued by an unlikely source, Yui. Her underlings must be confused of why she’s doing this but I think Yui is more level-headed at this point. But Hayami gets up and leave, saying that she didn’t request for her help. Takuma goes in search of Hayami and when he finds her, she tells him to vent his anger and frustrations on her. I guess Takuma has been ‘blinded’ by his past and even obliges Hayami by beating her up! Oh no. After Hayami passes out, Takuma follows suit. Takuma is in a dream world whereby he is chasing down his mother but it always come to a horrified end, his mom being knock over by a crossing train. And the dream keeps repeating itself. Otoha narrates how he has to accept everything. If he cannot forgive and forget, he will lose his vision. So when Takuma wakes up in his home, he is totally blind. Furthermore, the doctor tells Hozumi and the rest that Takuma has never regained sight before and because he was so desperate to see, all those visions may have been created in his mind. Takuma tries to convince Hozumi that he has his vision restored before by showing the group photo at the beach (his eyes were closed), the notes he had written at school (all scribbles and doodles) and even the art that he drew (you can’t call that messy water colour spilling an art. It’s an abomination!). Hozumi didn’t say anything so as not to upset him. But Takuma feels not like seeing anybody that day. So poor Yui who has brought a heavy fresh pumpkins for him, tells Hamaji and Maki to bring it back so as not to waste it.
 
Later Elder goes to chat with Hozumi and tries to blame it all on Hayami as he had informed Takuma’s dad. Uh huh, he’s trying to say how many more people she’s going to devour until she is satisfied. So now he thinks he is all so high and mighty. That night, Hayami decides to leave the village for good. Takuma tries to go after her but Hozumi stops him. While Hozumi goes to find Hayami, Hotaru comes by to tell Takuma that he is the only one who can stop her. Due to his pessimism, Hotaru slaps some sense into him. As Hayami is walking out of the village, she is being confronted with 2 villagers and Elder. They are going to make sure that Hayami won’t return because one of them is holding a rifle in hand. Now my question is, why only now did they decide to silence her once and for all and not back then when they wipe out the whole Kohinata family? Probably need someone to step on? But when Elder orders that guy to shoot her, he is shivering and can’t do it. Yeah, this shows even though how much they hate her, they aren’t killers. If you want a job done, then do it yourself. Elder decides to finish it himself as he takes the rifle and fires at Hayami. But when Hayami opens her eyes, she is surprise to see Takuma deflecting the rifle away into the air. Takuma then says that he is the one who is going to protect his mother.
 
Episode 12 continues off with Hotaru and Hozumi arriving in time before anything nasty happens. Hotaru says she has called the police and plans to reveal everything and tells him straight in the face that he doesn’t own the village. Deja vu, huh? Soon the police arrive and arrests him for attempted murder. Good riddens. That’s the last you’ll see of him. However, it seems Takuma has reverted back to a child-like state and thinks Hayami is his mom. No choice and under the doctor’s orders, Hayami has to play along. In order to cushion the effects, Takuma and Hayami are sent to live back at their Tokyo apartment, the place where Takuma lived with his late mom before moving here. Why not Takuma’s other family member’s place? Well, they did mention how they did not want to get involve. Some family members they are. So as the duo leaves for the trip, we see Follower A and B apologizing to Hayami but that girl holds no grudge against them. And the previous night we see Hayami and Hotaru talking real close like as though parting is very painful. Life seems to go on normal for the ‘mother and son’ as Hayami writes back to keep the country folks updated about their progress. Well, Takuma is still the little kid he is. Hayami takes up a part time job delivering newspapers to supplement income. Hayami learns that Takuma has a strange dream about a girl named Hayami and is glad that she is not ‘forgotten’.
 
Then 1 day Hayami decides to make Takuma realize the truth of how his mother really died. As they are walking back from shopping one day, Hayami rushes to save a boy who has wandered into the rail tracks. As she lets go of his hand, those fearful memories came rushing back and Takuma tries hard to see this time so much so he finally regains his vision. We learn that Takuma’s mom didn’t commit suicide, but she tried to save a boy from an oncoming train. Same thing is going to happen here. It did! OMG! Did Hayami perish? It can’t be?! NOOO!!! Why did Hayami have to go?! I can’t believe it ended this way even though it was her last ditch attempt to ‘open’ Takuma’s eyes once more.
 
Some time has passed and before Hayami’s passing, we see that she has left a note back in her burned down tram house in which the girls went to collect. It’s like a poetic note which states how Takuma had thought her everything and ‘opened’ her eyes when she had given up and abandoned it, how he was always there pulling her hand tightly, never giving up. So she wrote down her true feelings here and thanks Takuma for the world. Then that narration about a man asking why God had abandoned him during his time of need but God replied that He was always there carrying him on His back while walking. He is grateful and thanks Him. The next scene shows a grown up Yui arguing with Hotaru about some water supply. Looks like Hotaru is the new village head and Yui is running a farm of her own. Then Maki comes by with a baby in hand. She quips how she looks like her dad, which is Hamaji! Oh dear! So those 2 got hitched, huh? Yeah, he’s still dressing in a maid outfit as she is being reprimanded by a grown up Yukiji for dressing like that still. Some things never change. Hope the baby won’t become like the father, if you know what I mean. Finally, a more mature Takuma (with his vision fully restored) and Hozumi building a large wooden pinwheel over the hill as a tribute to Hayami because Takuma thinks she loves them.
 
Then Takuma hears a familiar voice coming his way. Hey, isn’t that a little Otoha being chased by a wild boar?! Is she reincarnated? She bumps into Takuma and looks like she still maintains her cheekiness. Yeah, pulling Takuma’s cheek. She tells him that it was hard to convince the Spirit Council about this and tells him to better look after her from now before leaving. What does she mean? OMG! It’s… It’s… It’s HAYAMI!!! She’s back!!! I don’t know how and I don’t care why! But I’m so glad that she is back alive as she comes by to say how beautiful the wind is. Erm… What about that poor boy Hayami saved backed then? What happened to him? I don’t know. I don’t care either. All I’m concerned is that Hayami has returned.
 
All I can say is because of how the way everything has ended, I really loved this series. If Hayami had really died that unjustified death, it would’ve left a bad aftertaste in my mouth and I would be cursing and swearing. I’m so happy that Hayami and Takuma are back together again and that everything in the village has returned back to normal. The twists and turns in the plot was interesting enough and the last episode did move my heart. Yeah, I nearly cried.
 
So we see how a village with a tragic past has been ‘saved’ by an outsider but Takuma himself too has his own set of problems, trying to cope with the death of his beloved mom. And with the strength and bond of his friends, they all manage to pull through. So Takuma is really the Promised One and the Destined One, huh? But he did leave footprints in everyone’s heart. It is a good thing to see how Hayami has changed from a cold unreceptive person to a more opened one. Yui has turned from an annoying brat to well, let’s say she’s less irritable now. Yeah, we have 2 tsundere girls in this series. Hotaru on the other hand, decides to live her own destiny and be her own girl rather than living and be in the dead shadows of her sister. And Hamaji? She’s still as bubbly as ever. Can’t get that scene out of my head still. As for Otoha, so she’s just as she said she was, a spirit. Haih… I was hoping that there was something more to that but I guess hoping for it partly makes up for the suspense. Elder is a character in which viewers will love to hate. His hatred towards the Kohinatas doesn’t make him different from them.
 
Initially, I couldn’t really recognize the voice behind Takuma as he is being voiced by Ami Koshimizu (Tenma in School Rumble, Yuumi in Kimikiss Pure Rouge). She really did quite a splendid job voicing a young boy. My favourite voice is still Hamaji who is voiced by Yui Sakikabara (Haruhi of Happiness!) because of her dreamy ‘muffled’ voice. The other casts include Harumi Sakurai as Hayami, Ryoko Tanaka as Hinata/Hotaru, Mia Naruse as Otoha, Mio Yasuda as Yui, and Youko Honda as Maki, all of which doesn’t seem to have a long list of voice acting to their resume. Katsumi Chou who does Elder too doesn’t have any other prominent roles in other animes as I researched they are mainly minor roles, likewise with Yasuhiko Kawazu who voices Hozumi. Emiri Katou is the voice behind Yukiji and you can recognize her as the voice of Kagami in Lucky Star.
 
The opening theme by Yui Sakikabara is called Katayoku No Icarus and is quite upbeat whereas the ending theme is Kazahana by Haruka Shimotsuki and is a slower piece. I just want to note that though the ending animation is just between Otoha, Hayami and Hotaru, the thing which amazes me is that the beautiful starry night sky of the Milky Way in the background. Just wow. However, I kinda find that both themes have that ‘England medieval’ feel in it. Is it the way the flute and the strings are played? Perhaps. Even the mid-intermission screen has that feel, although the instrument is a harpsichord. But the final theme for the final episode doesn’t have that feel. Just a feel good ending song. Entitled Footprints In The Sand and is performed by Monet.
 
Though the drawing is catered to bishoujo standards in the sense that the characters are wide-eyed (sometimes I get the feeling that their hair may be a little too ‘high’ than normal), I like the parts which made the characters go chibi. This is usually done at the next episode preview. It’s like they are ranting about things which doesn’t relate to the next episode and most of them are comical. My favourite ones are the one where Hayami plays the ‘bad girl’ by asking viewers to go *censored* themselves and the part whereby she ate all of Yui’s fish (note the protruding belly!). Except for the last 2 next episode previews, which has a more gloomy and depressing tone, the chibiness is still maintained. The mid-intermission drawing is also in chibi form and it’s darn hilarious as well. It really makes you want to laugh and forget the thickening drama of the series.
 
There is another trivial thing which I noticed. Each of the titles are named after the main characters of the series, be it their first names or surnames. By naming so, you can guess that the particular episode focuses more on that character. Except for Maki of course. Haha, she’s only a side character. Another amusing thing is the sponsor screen after the opening credits and after the next episode preview. In the first half of the episode, you can see several people in horse head masks in some asylum doing some weird dance of their own, jumping up and down! I really love this part and can’t enough of it and watched it several times, although it’s just a short one. Then the second half of the episode, they replaced it with some traditional Japanese art. Hey, I want those dancing horse people back!
 
So the point to ponder is that even though many of us have eyesight and vision, but we often to not ‘open and see’ the true picture as we are shrouded and ‘blinded’ by our own stereotypical views and perceptions. You won’t know how to appreciate things until you have lost them. We can also learn that by just saying a simple sorry, a lot of things can be resolved. Words are like a double edged sword. They can hurt as they can also heal. There is a great deal to learn and enjoy from this excellent series. So I really do recommend not only anime buffs to watch this. It’s something for everyone. Okay, so do mind a few fanservice. The next time you see a blind person (or those less than perfect), do have a heart… It could be you. And there is no Spirit Council to lend you a hand, okay.
 

H2O ~Footprints In The Sand~