Another short anime which caught my attention is Hani Hani Operation Sanctuary. Actually its real name is Tsuki Wa Higashi Ni Hi Wa Nishi Ni Operation Sanctuary. Phew. Now that is sure a mouthful. Literally it means The Moon In The East, The Sun In The West: Operation Sanctuary, so I’m not sure how it is shortened to that Hani title that I just mentioned.
 
Basically, this anime series another one of those ubiquitous genres in which it is based on the H-game of the same name. So how short is this anime? Not only it has 13 episodes but each episode is about 12 minutes of running time, including both the opening and ending themes. And since it is classified as a comedy-harem-drama-romance with sci-fi, you bet that such genre is ‘attractive’ enough for me to go watch. Even if the storyline isn’t all that exciting nor the anime itself has anything unique to offer.
 
So in episode 1, in a decimated abandoned world void of humans, we see some hooded guy trying to escape from some dark swarm when the ground caves in and he falls into it. Yeah, he’s saying something about finding some sanctuary in which they can be saved. Change of scene. Current day Japan. Our main male protagonist, Naoki Kuzumi, is your typical high school student. If you have seen too many of such animes, you’ll guess that he has to have a childhood friend to wake him up to go to school. Yeah, she is Honami Fujieda. What are the chances of any chemistry happening soon? Go figure. Also, since his parents have passed away, he lives in his uncle and aunt’s home. And guess what, he has no memories of what happened beyond 5 years ago. Isn’t it so typical?
 
So as they head to school, we’ll be introduced to other main characters in this series. Like Matsuri Shibugaki who is Naoki’s cousin and Kyouko Nishina, who is the school nurse. Because Naoki is running late for class, Naoki decides to take a shortcut by stepping over a bed of flowers. Of course a girl who is attending them, Chihiro Tachibana, manages to stop him in time. He apologizes and promises to be careful. In class, now this is the most amusing thing. Naoki’s homeroom teacher, Yui Nonohara, is such a short person! Like a midget! At first glance, you may even mistake her for a kindergarten kid! Wow. Some growth deficient, I’d say. I can’t help break into a smile each time I see her. So small lah. Other characters introduced are Naoki’s other male friend, Kouji Hirose, and the class rep, Fumio Akiyama.
 
During recess, as Naoki is taking a nap on the bench, he is awakened by a bright shining light and several feathers floating down. He then spots a girl with a pair of angelic wings above him. Her wings disappear and she drops on him. Talk about an angel falling out from the sky. She is Mikoto Amagasaki and she mistaken Naoki for her brother, Yuusuke. In her happiness, she hugs him but faints due to exhaustion. Mikoto is then the new transfer student in Naoki’s class as introduced by Yui. After class, Mikoto apologizes to Naoki for her earlier outburst. At the cafeteria, we learn that Matsuri is doing a waitressing job there and that Naoki is part of the astronomy club along with Kouji and Yui. It seems Naoki’s intention of bringing Mikoto along was to introduce her as a new club member. Though surprise at first, Mikoto gladly accepts. In exchange, she gets to eat almond bean curd every day.
 
Episode 2 starts off with that hooded guy again wondering where everyone has gone to. I guess Naoki was having that bad dream too when he wakes up to find nobody is at home and starts to panic. So when Honami rings the doorbell, Naoki is relieved to find her and hugs her. She must be wondering what’s wrong with this guy today. Later after Naoki buys some coffee beans for Kyouko, she invites him for a drink in her infirmary. Suspicious at first, Naoki then agrees since the treat is on her. While drinking, Naoki notices how sexy Kyouko is when she then invites him to go out with her to a place nobody else knows. Nope, it’s not what you think either. It’s actually a greenhouse and it’s in a mess. She wants him to help clean up the place. Of course Naoki thought the coffee was a treat but since Kyouko mentioned about the ‘treat’ for his eyes, I guess we all know what this means. Slick. After cleaning up, Matsuri comes in with Chihiro and the latter wants to join the gardening club. Kyouko approves and also appoints her as the president of the gardening club. Hey, she’s the only member. Chihiro is delighted when Matsuri mentions how Kouji is looking for Naoki and this prompts him to remember his astronomy club activities. Naoki apologizes for missing the setting up for the stargazing activity. Soon everyone arrives to watch the night sky and have a delicious picnic underneath the stars.
 
It’s the physical examinations in episode 3 so Matsuri and Mikoto resort not to eat breakfast. Remember that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Mikoto finds out the hard way as she faints on her way to school, but it’s nothing fatal or serious. But even so, Mikoto and Matsuri pleaded to the teachers to have their measurements taken again. Not desirable, eh? Too bad. You only get one shot at this. Try again next year. Meanwhile Kyouko is taking Naoki’s measurements and sure enjoys teasing him. No, she didn’t measure there lah. Once the measurements are over, Mikoto and Matsuri has Naoki buy them tons of bread as they feast on it like nobody’s business. Yeah, they even finished it! Just as Naoki said, an act of desperation. In class, on Naoki’s proposal, Yui is trying to get volunteers for the committee members and since nobody volunteered, Yui starts to panic. Seeing the current conditions, Akiyama volunteers, much to everyone’s delight. Later as Naoki helps Chihiro with her greenhouse, he spots someone passing by and goes to investigate. That mysterious person shoves him down before running off. Though nothing serious, Chihiro soon helps him up as Matsuri comes by to walk home together with them. On the way home, Akiyama meets Naoki and thanks him for the proposal in class earlier on. Hmm… Her shy body reaction seems to indicate some feelings for Naoki. Soon she part ways with him and walks home with Chihiro while Naoki continue his with Matsuri.
 
The holidays are here in episode 4 and the gang plans to gather at Mikoto’s place. This means Mikoto has to clean it up first while Honami and the rest go shopping. However Honami and Naoki have some school dusty to attend to first. Once done, Naoki hands over the logbook to Yui and Kyouko, who in turn decides to ‘invite’ Naoki to be their ‘helper’ as they are going for a drive to the sea in the next town. Okay, so it wasn’t like an invitation. It’s like he’s forced to come. Don’t be late or else. Thing is, it coincides with his plans to gather at Matsuri’s place. I wonder why he doesn’t just tell them. I’m sure they’ll understand. So the next day, Naoki makes it in time to meet the duo and another amusing part is we see Yui behind the wheels of her beloved car that she affectionately calls Marupin. Can a midget drive? Oh sure. She’s such a safe driver that she’s causing a long jam behind her. Once arrived at the beach, Naoki finds out his helper job is to carry the many luggage they brought. Yeah, they need so many spare clothes in case they get wet. Meanwhile Naoki’s pals are wondering where that lazy bum has gone to and back on the beach, the teachers are interested to know what kind of girl Naoki likes. Well, he gave an honest answer. He himself isn’t sure. Hope he isn’t gay. Just kidding. Then the teachers find out about his other plans and so it’s Kyouko’s turn to be behind the wheel to fetch Naoki to the destined place. Like I said, if he just told them earlier. Can they make it in time? Anyway Kyouko’s driving is a total opposite of Yui’s. OMG! She’s a speed demon! Kids, remember not to drive like her! Cutting in and out and between trucks. Yeow. Hold on for the ride of your life! He manages to make it back in one piece and after a short lecture from Matsuri, they start their party. It’s amazing that the rest aren’t angry about his tardiness. See, you don’t have to be mad. Just be patient and understanding.
 
Mikoto’s birthday is coming up but is just right after the exams in episode 5. Thus Mikoto gets permission from a teacher to organize a group study at her dorm. He agrees so long as they don’t disturb the rest. When Matsuri finds out about it, she pesters Naoki to take her along with Chihiro. Thankfully the group study didn’t deviate into something else as everyone gets serious on their revision. As the gang takes a well deserved break, Honami goes to tell Naoki about Mikoto’s birthday and plans a surprise party for her. The exams come and go. As the gang buys stuff for the birthday bash, Mikoto is being called to help out Yui and Kyouko. Once the preparations are ready, the teachers escorted Mikoto to the cafeteria, in which everyone surprises her with their happy birthday surprise greeting. Mikoto is happy as the gang celebrates the usual stuff. Blowing candles on a birthday cake, receiving gifts. You know the usual stuff. Mikoto is glad to know that Naoki’s present to her is a photo frame. Everyone gathers for a photo shoot as Naoki timed the camera. He slipped when he rushes back so the photo came out with him in a very awkward slipping position. Luckily they had a retake which looks much better. Mikoto frames that photo up and thanks everyone for the memories together.
 
In episode 6, Matsuri chides Naoki for not doing things right because he bought the wrong fertilizers for Chihiro’s gardening club. But she doesn’t mind and thinks he has been helpful all the while. As Chihiro and Naoki have a friendly chat, you can see Matsuri’s body reaction that she is indeed a little worried. Chihiro wants Naoki to teach her to cycle so that she can go shopping without having to trouble him. So the next day, Naoki and Matsuri teaches Chihiro how to cycle and you can expect a few falls. Then a fall which has Chihiro into the arms of Naoki and you can sense how Matsuri feel when she spots that. As a beginner, she’s making quite some improvements. Back in Matsuri’s room, she is obviously in a dilemma about her friendship with Chihiro. Blame it on love, girl. Next day in school, because the cafeteria is crowded, Naoki suggests eating at the rooftop. Matsuri remembers something urgent and tells them to go ahead without her. However Chihiro spots Matsuri eating alone at the steps. Then Chihiro realized when Naoki told her that Matsuri told him to help her in her place. Chihiro then cycles out of school looking for Matsuri, who is walking home alone. You know, at that speed obviously she crashes. A little bloody, I’d say. Thankfully it is nothing serious though she is recuperating in hospital. Though Matsuri suggests Naoki to accompany her, Chihiro says she wants Matsuri to be by her side. Once everyone leaves, Chihiro finds out that Matsuri has interpreted her. Seems that Chihiro always seen Naoki as a big brother and nothing else. So I guess the strain is off from their friendship. Once Chihiro is well, she gives a pot of white tulip to Naoki, in which Honami says that its significance means recollections of love. So I suppose Chihiro’s love for Naoki is different, eh?
 
In episode 7, Naoki wakes up from another nightmare about a place being overrun by weeds. As Matsuri tries to wake Naoki up, she pulls away his blanket and let’s just say his indecency is enough to freak her out. Matsuri tries to pound some responsibility sense into him like making him do some laundry but panics once more when she sees Naoki handling her undies. Yeah, she slaps him. He gets another one (coupled in with name callings like molester and pervert) when he accidentally walks in on her when she’s changing. This is just not his day. Next day at school, Matsuri gets advice from Chihiro and the way she says things, Matsuri takes it that she must be in love. Must be lah. So obvious. She even spaces out while talking to Naoki so she jumps into the pool without proper warm up and soon experiences leg cramp. Naoki dives in to save her. As Matsuri comes to at the infirmary, she overhears how Naoki is telling Honami that Matsuri is like a little sister to him although they are cousins. He wants to pay more attention or else they won’t be a real family because 5 years ago when he lost his memories, Matsuri’s family took him in and if he had been reserved, they would never become a real family. Matsuri is touched by his words. The next day once she has recovered, before she leaves home, she pecks sleeping Naoki. As Matsuri is leaving home, Honami comes in and the former tells the latter how she’s leaving the rest up to her. Honami wonders what she meant but we know that Matsuri is resigned to love Naoki just as his little sister. Uh huh. All hopes for a lovey-dovey relationship rests on Honami now.
 
The astronomy club is having another stargazing event in episode 8. However, it is also Matsuri’s birthday. Due to this, they agree to postpone the party to tomorrow. On the rooftop as the club is observing the stars, Naoki remembers the time he first met Mikoto. She then tells him about Yuusuke and is confident that she will meet him. The next day as Naoki and Honami go out shopping together, Kyouko is reporting to Rei Usami, the chairman of the school, that some level 3 symptoms is showing. And something about ‘that person’ as their only hope. At the street, Mikoto spots Naoki and calls for him but he didn’t reply. It seems Naoki and Honami were behind her instead of across. Then it hit her that he may be Yuusuke. She goes in search of him with Naoki, who leaves the rest of the shopping to Honami. Yeah, ditch the girl right there to help find someone who looks like himself. They search through the whole town but to no avail as Honami goes to Matsuri’s place. But it isn’t a celebration if Naoki isn’t around. As Naoki and Mikoto sat at a park bench, Mikoto tells him how there was an epidemic back in her homeland which a lot of people died including her parents. As a result, Yuusuke went missing. Mikoto starts to cry and Naoki tells her do cry her heart out. Matsuri notices Honami not her usual self and asks her if it is alright for this to go on. Well, maybe not because Honami did note how Mikoto is a little too close to him. Ah, those feelings…
 
In episode 9, Naoki hasn’t seen Honami around lately. He tried calling her home but nobody picked up the phone. It seems Honami is thinking of inviting Naoki to a shrine but since he isn’t home, Matsuri tries to call his handphone. He forgot to bring it with him. Ah, a case of both sides missing each other. Then as Naoki has a picnic with Mikoto, Kouji and Akiyama on the rooftop, Naoki suddenly remembers the promise he made with Honami a month ago to go watch the fireworks there at Hasumi Shrine. He is in a dilemma to go or not but decides to when Mikoto tells him to run there. Though the fireworks are over, he manages to meet Honami there. He apologizes but she doesn’t mind since he did remember the promise (just barely). She then brings him to the spot whereby he lost his memories 5 years ago in an accident. Meanwhile, a guy which looks like Naoki (has to be Yuusuke) is screaming in pain in some room while Kyouko experiments on an antidote. Back at Naoki and Honami, he tells her how she has taken care of him all these years and hopes she will be by his side from now on. Is he settling for her? Anyway Naoki starts to experience pain as he collapsed on the ground. Honami could do nothing but watch in horror.
 
Naoki seems to be fine in episode 10 but this episode starts off with Chihiro freaking out in her greenhouse because some mysterious person is seen smashing the windows. In school, Kouji and Akiyama questions Naoki’s whereabouts last night, in which he replied, home. Of course he gets a little edgy when they say how Chihiro spot him smashing the greenhouse windows. Did he? Naoki spaces out in class and suddenly experiences a weird dream whereby he is suddenly alone in a decimated classroom before collapsing. Rei and Kyouko are having another discussion about the trial medicine and that the dreams ‘that person’ is having may be linked to one of the students. So basically what she means is that what ‘he’ sees, that other student also sees. Make a good guess who. Naoki wakes up fine in the infirmary so Kyouko asks him several questions. He tells her about his dreams which recently caused him to have lack of sleep. That night, he dreams of himself smashing windows at school and cycles there, only to find that the windows are really smashed. As he discusses this with the rest the next day, then it only hit them it may be Yuusuke. Took them long enough to realize it. Mikoto then says how Yuusuke is confused and suffering from an illness which makes him violent. Yeah, didn’t notice this in the first place, didn’t she? That night as Naoki, Mikoto and Honami goes to search for Yuusuke in the school grounds, Yui is horrified to find Kyouko unconscious and her lab in tatters. Then Naoki starts to experience pain once more. Mikoto then spots Yuusuke and chases him up to the rooftop. Mikoto tries to get some answers from him when Naoki and Honami arrive. Yeah, they’re pretty appalled how closely this Yuusuke resembles. So close that I can’t tell which is which! Suddenly the look-a-likes start to feel pain and Yuusuke decides to jump off the roof because he’s tired of all this and wants a long sleep. He says it’s time for the dream to end? This isn’t the Matrix, I presume.
 
In episode 11, Mikoto manages to stop Yuusuke from jumping in time but the pain still persists. Naoki and Yuusuke are unconscious in bed and are being observed. Okay, now this is the part which the mystery is revealed. Rei reveals to Honami that she, Kyouko and Yui are from 100 years in the future. Woah! How far fetch can they get? In the future, a deadly virus called Marubasu is plaguing the land so much so that many of the researchers and medical personnel lost their lives against it. Kyouko is one of the few remaining researchers alive so they time travel back in time to find a cure. We also learn that Yuusuke personally volunteered to be a test subject and wanted the evacuation of Mikoto then. Thanks to Chihiro’s flowers, he is on the road to recovery. We also learn how Naoki lost his memories 5 years ago. It seems that during that day when the future people are doing some time travel evacuation, the coordinates were a little off and it was unfortunate that it happened at Hasumi Shrine. A bright light appeared above them and Naoki lost more than his memories, his parents too.
 
But this part I don’t understand because Kyouko says how Yuusuke and Naoki’s DNA are a perfect match, which means they are the same person. Uh huh. They split during when that accident occurred. That’s the reason why they both see the same dreams. So is Yuusuke from the future or not? But Mikoto did mention that Yuusuke isn’t her real brother and that she and her family found him barely alive, adopted that memory deficient kid and named him Yuusuke. All that happened 5 years ago too on that same day. Coincidence or what. But Kyouko says since that both of them are existing at the same time, they are starting to fuse (the symptoms being the pain). If they leave the duo alone, this will lead to mental breakdown and ultimately death. The question is, if they both fused, which of the 2 will prevail or will a new personality emerged. Tough choice. Mikoto goes to talk to Yuusuke and it seems he is prepared to fuse with Naoki. Mikoto thinks he is going to disappear from her again but he thinks that way, he could live inside Naoki and never be separated from her again. Likewise, Honami goes to apologize to Naoki saying that if she had never invited him to that shrine, all this would never have happened. But Naoki promises her that he will never forget the memories he had with her for the last 5 years.
 
In episode 12, the fusion begins and Naoki has a flashback of the time whereby he was brought by his uncle and aunty to live with them and Honami. Likewise, Yuusuke too had a flashback of how he came to live with Mikoto. Then they were being separated by their parents by some quarantine staff in which their parents later died and Yuusuke fell ill. I think the reason why Yuusuke became violent then was because he was a test subject for the cure and his violent behaviour was some kind of side effect. Then both Yuusuke and Naoki had a chat and it seems Yuusuke plans to fuse into Naoki. We then see a young Honami and Yuusuke at the hilltop at Hasumi Shrine. As Naoki went to help his parents, some bright light appeared to suck them up. Honami is horrified and rushes over. This part I don’t understand. We see the spirits of Naoki and Yuusuke and the former is asking the latter to help him save Honami. How? They both fused. I’m not sure whether this really happened back then or not or just some sub-conscious thingy during the operation. Naoki blocks Honami from advancing further. Back in present time, the fusion is successful as Yui breaks down while Rei comforts her. As Kyouko drives unconscious Naoki to hospital, Honami requests to stop by that Hasumi Shrine area. There, I guess Honami’s emotional speech was enough to wake Naoki up (he’s practically alright the way he stood up without showing signs of fatigue) and say how Yuusuke made him remember that he has always loved her ever since he was a kid and even now. They both soon kissed. Five years later, we see the teachers and Mikoto experimenting with some time travelling coordinates but it seems Mikoto’s coordination somehow shifted and not exactly where they intended to be. Just like how the first time she fell down from the sky with wings. Also, Naoki and Honami got married at a chapel and Naoki saying how they’re starting over from here again under this sky.
 
Episode 13 feels like a filler episode and if you don’t watch it, it’s fine. This episode replays several important scenes of the series and while they’re doing so, viewers can read the information of the main girls scrolling across the screen (mainly Honami, Matsuri, Chihiro, Yui, Kyouko and Mikoto). Data include their birthday, horoscope, favourite food, hobbies, their good and bad personalities and even an opinion of what other people think about them. Also, we get to see several short never-seen-before clips but it’s nothing much.
 
Okay, so the ending was pretty much a happy ending but I didn’t understand the whole thing in the big picture. So did they really discover the vaccine for the Marubasu virus? And about that time travelling thing, that was the most confusing one. If the teachers had Yuusuke in their care all the while and that when Mikoto first made her appearance coming down as an angel back in the first episode, how come the teachers didn’t say or do anything about Mikoto’s arrival? Another thing is, if Yuusuke and Naoki are the same person, how can Yuusuke be Mikoto’s brother in the future? So was that decimated place that Yuusuke and Naoki envision was just an illusion? Ah, so many questions. But it’s not like I want to know the answer more. Afraid that I may get confused.
 
I’m still curious about certain stuff like does Akiyama really have a crush on Naoki. Her body language seems to indicate it in that episode but after that, nothing much happens. Probably just the spur of the moment? Or just a side character? As expected, Honami has become the obvious choice in this harem anime and they even went on to get married. Matsuri’s just a little sister to him while Chihiro regards Naoki as her big brother and Mikoto, she’s more for Yuusuke, though he’s now fused as one with Naoki. Yui is still the most amusing character because of her little size but don’t put her down because she has a big heart as well. Another thing I’m wondering about is the scar on Naoki’s back that Mikoto spot during the school’s pool period. What does it mean? Also, why did Mikoto sort of say goodbye to the gang just after they celebrate their birthday? All too confusing.
 
The opening theme, Amulet, by Iizuka Mayumi sounds like your typical generic anime pop song. However, the ending theme is an instrumental and it only lasts around 20 seconds! How short can you get? So why bother putting up one. There are a few nice background music for the series, though I don’t find them memorable in the long run. The drawing and art too are your typical Japanese bishoujo type with the characters having wide-eyes look. Hmm… Sometimes I feel that they look quite similar to each other. So what is the Operation Sanctuary anyway? I guess it’s about teleporting people from the epidemic future to the past. It’s so ironic. We who are living in the present always look forward to live in the future while those in the future seem to want to try going back to the past. Yeah well, the grass is always greener on the other (time) side. Speaking of which, there is this A(H1N1) flu going about. Is this a sign?
 

Hani Hani Operation Sanctuary