Houkago No Pleiades

October 16, 2015

They really did it. After debuting as an ONA a few years ago, Houkago No Pleiades has now received a proper adaptation as a TV series albeit it is only 1 cour. Just like the vast space that is expanding at a fast rate (theoretically, that is), the TV series has also expanded from just approximately 4 episodes of 6 minutes each into a dozen episodes that lasts your usual 24 minutes of screen time each. I might not remember much since the last time I watched the ONA but reading back from my blog, there are some familiar elements that they have taken and expended the storyline. And yeah, I’m thinking of a possible reason why it took them so long to give this series a proper anime adaptation is because it is time to promote the Subaru cars that this anime was intended to in the first place. Car sales haven’t been good, eh? Oh, don’t expect to see Subaru car models around. It will be sending wrong and bad messages if you see underage girls driving in Subaru models. Really.

Episode 1
From the sounds of it, Subaru loves watching the stars. On her way to the observatory, before her is a sick boy, Minato. They talk about things like how Subaru wants to see a meteor shower tonight and wants to invite him but feels awkward an embarrassed. Her wish to see the meteor shower is dashed when it is raining. She didn’t see a cute blob next to her so she steps on it, causing it to bounce and somehow ‘steal’ her compass. She follows it to a classroom and when she opens the door, she is surprised to see 4 girls in white magical outfit. One of them is her friend, Aoi. They are also surprised that Subaru can see them and despite they think Subaru is the chosen saviour, Aoi dismisses this because it is common knowledge that Subaru is a slow retard. But this blob which is their president and from the Pleiades star believes she is the one (you can’t hear a thing this blob mumbles and is translated by Nanako). He gives Nanako a drive shaft (a sophisticated broom stick that sounds like a motorcar) and before she knows it, she is already flying with it in the sky and transforming into her own magical girl outfit. A large star (sea urchin?) is falling from the sky. The girls claim this is fragments of the engine they need to collect. I don’t know what Subaru and Aoi are arguing about leaving each other behind by transferring to another school but they failed their mission and bounced right back into the classroom. Turns out the girls have never successfully captured an engine before so how can they explain perfectly to Subaru what they should do? But with Subaru believing that everybody can do it, I guess it’s time to try again. As explained, this is part of the president’s engine when he crashed land on Earth 7 years ago. They’re trying to gather them so he can go back to his planet. They are going to do some magic barrier to stop it. Everything is working fine till a dark star zooms pasts them, breaking their formation. Although Subaru manages to get the shrunken fragment, the dark star continues to target her until it directly collides into her. Turns out to be a guy who blames Subaru to be clumsy. Then he flies away to the dark side of the moon. But everyone is happy that Subaru has successfully captured their first fragment and believe she is their saviour. A big bonus for Subaru is that now she is able to see the meteor shower. Well, they’re floating above the clouds so why not?

Episode 2
Is it a coincidence that Subaru and Aoi seem to be heading to school and doing things at the same spot? Even their seat in class. Yup, nobody remembers if this spot belongs to Subaru or Aoi. Why so complicated? Itsuki just brings in an extra table. There, settled. Later President explains about something to do with the intertwining destinies from his accident 7 years ago that caused all 5 of them to gather at the same spot. All of them are in the same world. To cut that complicated story short, if they collect all the fragments, their threads of fate will return to normal. The girls teach Subaru how to use her drive shaft but demonstrating won’t be enough. Aoi becomes her guide but I think Subaru needs a break since she’s getting a little sick for flying too fast. She remembers she needs to return the observatory key and again she sees Minato there. He returns to her the broken telescope filter she forgot to take the last time but she gives it to him since it is of no use to her. They talk about people changing so Minato suggests they should become friends. Subaru returns to Aoi and wants to continue her flying lessons while reconciling their friendship. Hikaru, Itsuki and Nanako spot a variable star in the distance and think they are fine collecting it on their own. Till that dark guy intervenes and it causes the star to split into 2 although the centrifugal force is making them spin. Subaru and Aoi now enter the fray and from what their friends explain, they need stop them both at the exact same time. Time to put what you learn to use. Remembering an old childhood song, they start singing it and their perfect synchronization has them capture the stars. But now the stars are being drawn to each other. Using speed and altitude, they manage to stop them from colliding. Then the dark guy snatches Subaru’s portion and claims these fragments are his. I guess he is cocky to believe that he can outwit and take the rest from them any time. Yeah, that’s enough for today. He’ll be back next time. Subaru blames herself for being a retard but Aoi consoles her and promises to protect her next time. More good news because while the duo was training, Hikaru and the rest have applied for a permanent clubroom. Under the guise of a cosplay research club with President as their, erm, president, they’ve got a place to call home. Hey, if nobody can see President or the girls (when they are transformed), how did they nominate President as the president? How the heck did it get approved anyway? President spits out a jar so they can put all the fragments they collected in it.

Episode 3
The dark guy just beat the girls to collect a fragment all by himself. All thanks to Subaru being nervous. So I guess the girls are in no mood for celebration back at their clubroom. Then there is this lecture by President about possible potentials that I don’t think rocket scientists can understand. Just STFU. Even more gloom for Subaru when she sees her dad assembling parts of some machine together. Although he mentions the power they produce if properly assembled, Subaru can’t help cry after thinking it is still defective no matter how many parts you put together. As Subaru is in her cleaning duties, she stumbles into the observatory and talks with Minato again. Relating the problem she is facing, he tells her he is free to decide and hesitate. She might be afraid but is she sure she is the only one afraid? The girls detect another fragment over the ocean. They are perfect in obtaining it but the dark guy usurps them and steals their hard work. Hikaru fights back and this causes the fragment to go missing. To take out their frustrations, Hikaru suggests going swimming and invites him. You think he wants to join them? Well, it seems Nanako detects the fragment at the bottom of the ocean so put on your swimsuits and dive in. I wonder how they can breathe… They need to be calm and not startle while collecting it. To their surprise, the dark guy joins them! But it wasn’t him that startled the fragment. A passing eel tickles their feet. It then becomes a giant waterspout that reaches far above the stratosphere. Itsuki finds she cannot go higher than a certain altitude. Adios, dark guy is going ahead. With tips from Subaru, Itsuki uses the wind and transforms her drive shaft into some vacuum cleaner and links the others to tag along. It is a race to grab the fragment and with teamwork, the girls win. With the waterspout dissipating, the girls are now floating in space. I wonder how they can breathe… Dark guy isn’t giving up yet but I don’t know what Subaru is ranting about in this heartfelt speech of hers. She wants to be with her friends, blah, blah, blah. I guess she was nervous that she accidentally bumps her butt in his face! He has had it and lets them off for today. So the girls admire space as they float down. I don’t give a damn what the blob is trying to say. When Aoi notes they are like Cinderellas gathered by a glass slipper, the rest tease her for having a cute side. Well, they admit they aren’t any different from her and feel happy. Lastly, Subaru remembers her father comforting her about people aren’t like manufactured parts and don’t have to settle by taking only 1 shape.

Episode 4
The girls are amazed that Hikaru can precisely identify the piano notes just by hearing them. President then detects a fragment orbiting the moon so the girls undergo training to fly at higher mach and also some g-force training. Wow. Magical girls doing it like a piece of cake. It is decided to retrieve the fragment on Thursday but Subaru notes there is a concert by Hikaru’s accomplished parents she wants to attend. However Hikaru points out on that day there is no concert. Seems they have discovered some planet and want to use that day to send piano music towards it. If they only knew there was an alien already here… Subaru goes back to class but stumbles into the observatory. She finds it hard to explain things to him but he believes she has never lied to him. That is why when she says she is going to the moon, he believes her. So the girls make their flight there. Of course, the dark guy too. During the fight, their magic barrier dissipates and Hikaru finds herself in a dream. She knows she is in one because the moon is made of cheese! And there is Subaru too being a retard. Hikaru talks about her little problem that she is a nobody. When a certain song is heard emitting from Earth, Hikaru becomes scared and covers her ears. She is returned to reality and Subaru recognizes this song as the one composed by Hikaru’s parents. Could they know she is at the moon? Well, she did left a note she was going there. Hikaru further reveals that when she was young, one day she was sick and she heard the sound of the piano from her father’s room. The piano tone sounded like it was troubled over something. Hikaru was surprised she could see a note and added it, knowing it was the note daddy was searching for. But later she started feeling scared that the note would cause him trouble. She couldn’t bear to hear it and has never heard the full song. Her parents achieved their dreams on their own and she didn’t want to interfere. Subaru can tell her father is playing like this to let her hear it and knows she was interfering then. As they go trap the fragment, somehow dark guy is drawn-cum-forced into helping them. Once the fragment is captured, he is blown away. Like no more need for him, eh? Hikaru’s parents are happy the song reached their daughter and the moon. They believe she is there because she has never lied to them. The girls are surprised to realize they are back in the clubroom. They are shocked to see tears from Hikaru although she tries to change the subject. Tears of joy?

Episode 5
Aoi is furious. Thank to the blob fooling around in class, a minor accident led to Aoi being casted to play the prince role in a theatre festival. Of course without a doubt the princess will be played by Itsuki by a near unanimous vote. The play they will be putting up is The Lady In The Tower whereby a princess of a certain nation has the power to materialize whatever she says. It was good at first till she summoned a lion and was locked away in the tower. A long time passed and a prince journeyed to come make her wish come true but she is gone. He heard her last words that she wanted to disappear. Aoi gets motivated to design a beautiful gown for a princess as they start their work in making the dress. As Subaru returns the log book, again she wanders into the observatory and sees Minato before her. She wonders if this is a dream because he is always there. He notes that if he is a resident of her dream, all she needs to do is wake up. But where would he end up then? Later Subaru talks to Itsuki as the latter reveals she has no wish or dream because it would only cause trouble for someone else. Long ago when she was more of a tomboy than anything, she fell off a tree and her parents blamed her brother for not stopping her. She thought this scar on her forehead was a punishment and warning (a reason why she kept the bangs). President finds another fragment and this time whisks them away to Jupiter. I love it how the girls describe the space bodies like as though they’re some desserts. Chocolate chip cookies, lemon sherbet, milk tea… Mmm… Makes me hungry… The fragment is hard to spot since it is in the midst of Saturn’s rocky rings. But looks like the dark guy is here too because somehow they pulled him over when they went into overdrive. So another competition to get the fragment begins. Itsuki has an idea to search for the fragment faster. I don’t know. Putting holes in the rings? When it is spotted, Itsuki and the dark dude make a final dash and I suppose Itsuki has a longer reach than him. Yeah, he is calling it foul for her playing rough! Nobody said anything about the rules, did they? Back on Earth, our girls are next in their play. The shocking part isn’t the ending rewritten that the prince saved the princess but rather Itsuki who always wanted to play the prince part is now casted as one. Aoi plays the princess and she doesn’t look comfortable in this girly role. Making Itsuki happier when she spots her brother watching.

Episode 6
A band of light is visible in the sky. President explains that is actually his spaceship! They are running out of time and need as many engine fragments as possible. Then there is this mumbo-jumbo of his species trying to find a decent place to live but space was too far. Their technology allowed them to select their desired outcome and so they chose nothing (because by living means you have to make choices). Now they exist outside the laws of space as they are frozen in time on an endless journey. WTF?! Who writes this crap?! Anyway, the accident 7 years ago caused their ship to lose the ability to escape the laws of space and the ship is at risk of falling apart without the power source. The engine has split into 13 fragments. The tally right now is that they have 5 and the dark guy 3. Despite not having all the parts, President will do all he can to create the engine with the available fragments. It’ll be bad if the ship materializes. It can crash into the entire planet! When Subaru is left behind in the clubroom, she sees an earring belonging to Minato and a familiar fragment. Isn’t this the one that the dark guy has? She touches it and the trap activates. The entire school is now barricaded in a magic barrier. Seems he used his own fragment as bait. The other girls cannot enter and need Subaru to find a way to open from within. Dark guy is already inside searching for the fragments. But when Subaru bumps into him, she runs away as fast as her drive shaft could and ends up in the observatory. Because she is in panic, her scatterbrain words have Minato confused. He doesn’t understand about a thing about the fragments. When she shows his earring, he starts feeling pain. He points her the direction to get out and claims he will be fine. When dark guy comes into the observatory, he sees the earring but the moment he picks it up, it turns into poison gas. Subaru manages to open the observatory door and let her friends in. President wants the girls to keep him busy while he finishes the engine. However he has the entire school building floating in space. He shoots his magic to destroy it and wants the girls to hand over the fragment. They won’t but he easily takes them with his telekinesis power. President wants the girls to use their drive shafts as spark plugs to start the engine. However it is not powerful enough. Dark guy doesn’t care what happens to everything so long he has got the fragments. Subaru’s earnest feelings of whatsoever has the space light glow so bright that it blows him away and seal the ship. He is now in the observatory and being confronted by Minato who says he has to go now. President is happy that they got back their fragments including those that were in dark guy’s hands. But they have to continue finding the remaining fragments since this measure is only temporary. When Subaru returns to the observatory, it is dark and wilted. She takes the flower Minato left behind and hopes they’ll meet again.

Episode 7
Subaru is planting the flower and her friends wonder if she has joined the gardening club. But she looks so gloomy… Aoi goes to talk to her as Subaru explains about this Minato person she met but nothing more that she knows of. However this left Aoi upset because as her friend she never told her anything. Subaru stumbles upon Minato doing his gardening. Seems he is cold and indifferent to her. She tries to refresh his memories about the greenhouse-cum-observatory but he says the school has no such place. President detects another fragment but this one is acting like a comet and is going to crash into the sun. Well, you know what to do before it is too late. I wonder how roast octopus tastes like… And it seems that dark guy is also here to take the fragment. Predictable… As they being their operation, the friends can tell something has happened between Subaru and Aoi. Were they fighting? With a lot of flashbacks on their pasts, etc, it finally took the friends to scold them about hesitating after coming this far. Long story short with all that additional flashbacks, they patch up their relationship and finish the job. Yeah, they’re closer than ever like the fight never happened. I’ll always be with you, I want to protect you… That kind of stuff that friends say to each other. Later when Subaru and Aoi compare their necklace charm they gave each other, looks like the missing parts are also exactly the same. They realize they both received a treasure from a precious friend and were never left behind. Next time Subaru sees Minato, she sums up her courage to get his attention. He thinks she is mistaking him for somebody else but Subaru says even so, she learnt something from her friend. That Minato is still Minato. He is glad she has managed to find another way to open the door and Subaru welcomes him back.

Episode 8
With Subaru spending more time with Minato, the rest wonder if their club is going to be disbanded. Furthermore, aren’t they looking quite close to each other that it gives out that po-warm feeling? Is that a new word? President detects another fragment but it is at the edge of the Solar System. Somehow the previous methods in reaching there won’t work and they will need to send one person there via the power of their drive shafts at the speed of 0.25 light years (equivalent to 3 months). Who can skip school for that long? Apparently Nanako volunteers. Since she is going to be gone, President disguises as Nanako’s substitute but with a preset of phrases, can they fool everyone? Nanako believes they can! So our friends see off Nanako as she begins her 3 month journey. The friends borrow Hikaru’s parents’ telescope to see where Nanako is at now. Nanako has finally past the final planet in our solar system. I guess all that loneliness has her think back about her past. She is always alone and adults are liars. Apparently her mom left with her brother to travel around the world. They said they’ll be back for her but they never did. That is why she believes no matter who you love or how much, you’ll be alone again. Naturally? But she can’t help think about Subaru and co despite arguing that being alone suits her best. Suddenly there is an unknown planet before her. She never knew a planet existed this far. Has it been sitting alone without anyone noticing? Oh sh*t! Nanako discovered a planet! She names it Apate, after the goddess of fraud and despair. She tries to communicate to her friends and bets they would love to see this. Subaru and co receive Nanako’s message and instantly teleport to where she is! Everyone is happily reunited. Nanako remembers she found a glowing stone, cracked it open and a shapeless light communicating with her telepathically. It took the cute octopus form we see because Nanako imagined it to be so as it was the alien her brother drew. Nanako realizes despite being alone, memories with everyone will never disappear. Time to grab the fragment but that dark guy is here. How the heck does he do it every time?! The struggle to get the fragment somewhat has it activate the planet’s sea of hydrogen. All that mumbo-jumbo from president means that this planet will be reborn into a star. So our sun won’t be lonely anymore? After grabbing the fragment, everyone suddenly finds themselves in the clubroom and on the day Nanako left. Apparently one of the ways to come back is for someone to wish hard enough to return to this moment. It might be Nanako because today is her birthday. Wow. They reverse a 3 month timeline just like that? Now they’ve got to take the test again…

Episode 9
The school’s cultural festival is here and the girls realize they don’t even know what their club does aside serving as a disguise to collect fragments. That is when Subaru remembers she is from the astronomy club! As President is worried the dark guy might show up to steal the fragments again, Subaru suggests letting her keep in her planetarium club since not many people have access to the room and is always locked. When Subaru wants to be excused to go help do a planetarium for her astronomy club, it starts ringing alarm bells for the rest. Is she rendezvousing with a boy?! Just in time. There is a best couple contest too… Although Minato is not from the astronomy club, he is helping her out as repayment for her help in his gardening. Little does Subaru know, Nanako has been secretly taking photos of them as in item! Subaru and Minato test their planetarium. Why experience an artificial one when you can have the real one! Yeah, Minato takes her through an amazing space journey. No Subaru, you’re not dreaming. Minato explains that sci-fi crap because of that not existing in the laws of space, it makes them able to be here but at the same time not here. WTF?! Save the crap. Let’s just call it magic. Meanwhile the friends are outside the planetarium and their minds running while thinking of that do-not-disturb sign outside. They’re tempted to see but Itsuki won’t allow them to interfere. She turns hypocrite as she wants to know or else she cannot sleep tonight. But when they open the door, nobody is there. The space trip continues as Minato shows her a cluster of blue Pleiades stars and her name bears the same meaning. Then a journey to a lively centre of stars. Everything is so bright that space doesn’t look dark. This has Subaru ponder the limits of space. He mentions they can enjoy this now because they won’t remember it all when they get back. Subaru recognizes this feeling. When she was young and used to visit grandma at hospital, one day she got lost and stumbled into a room. This young boy (Minato) showed her visuals of space and even lets her experience the real deal. He says it’s magic. They had fun learning and discovering space together but shortly after that, the boy was gone. She never knew his name and only remembered it just now. Eh, wait. Minato is crying? Subaru wonders if they don’t go back, does this mean they can remember all this? OMG! Did they kiss?! When he reveals he was that boy, they’re already back in the room and Subaru doesn’t know why she is crying. After they leave, Minato returns to get the key. The fragments hidden in the clock resonates with his earring and float around. He now remembers. Looks like it is time to say goodbye to Subaru.

Episode 10
Minato proclaims he is cursed and that his memories can only exist within himself. Subaru suddenly transforms. She returns to the room and sees Minato turned into that dark guy (which is hardly surprising). From what he says, Subaru realizes he doesn’t recognize her. By the time the other girls come, he has stolen all the fragments and blasts up to space and uses it to attract the 12th piece. The girls give chase but find they ran out of ‘fuel’. It seems the fragments enhanced their power but now that it’s gone, they need to combine their drive shafts and only has room for one. Guess who is going? As Minato floats in space, he remembers his times in the hospital. One day some superhero boy jumped into his window. He is shocked Minato could see him. He explains he is collecting crystals since their engine is broken and leaking energy to repair it. As he wants to be named, Minato calls him Elnath, the second star of Taurus. He also gives Minato some fancy prince outfit. I suppose this is to have magic effects? Every night they go out hunting for those crystals as Elnath explains about possible potentials that their spaceship is hovering in between. He also akin humans to this. Especially infants when they have a lot of potentials before their host taking shape. Once they do so, those other lost potentials become this crystal and disappear, amounting to nothing. Shortly, Subaru came into his room. Now she is here pleading him to return to fragments but Minato sounds bitter about that alien boy who was just a coward and abandoned those once he knew had no choice left that would save them. If this world won’t accept him, then he’ll abandon it.

More flashbacks surrounding the time young Minato spent with Subaru. Minato had hope after meeting her. One night, Minato felt confident he could capture a fragment but his magic collapsed. Next thing he knows, he sees himself in ICU and on life support. He becomes sad that all that he experienced were just illusions. He becomes disillusioned of using the fragments to choose another potential from the past. Elnath warns him the engine is designed to move towards the future and if he denies his present self, his magic will become cursed. Minato turns Elnath into a rock when he tries to stop him. As hard as Minato tries to get the fragment, he loses his consciousness till he disappears. His other self in hospital fell asleep for who knows how long. While flowers bloom from the crystals, he knew the only thing that wasn’t an illusion when Subaru opened the door to the observatory. But if she doesn’t remember what happened and he continuing to curse himself, if he disappears, all this will just be an illusion. Therefore Minato is going to gather all the fragments to disappear from this world. Subaru doesn’t want him to do that and reverts to her normal form. Now you recognize her? After he pushes away, he gets stabbed by the fragment. He thinks she is also cursing herself like him because her wish might be to collect the fragments forever. Minato disappears and only the fragment remains. Subaru returns to her friends with all the fragments but she doesn’t look happy.

Episode 11
It seems Subaru has lost her magic and cannot see President. Her drive shaft is now a normal compass and more crap from President about lost potentials that will never return. But the girls cannot stay gloomy because the cultural festival is about to start. Everyone carry their duty well especially Subaru doing a great planetarium show. Father is so happy that he cried that he never realized she has changed this much. Oddly, this makes Subaru start crying. Did he say the wrong word? Why is ‘change’ such a taboo word? Subaru sees the unattended garden. Even Minato’s classmate doesn’t even remember Minato’s name anymore. Subaru is happy to find the flower and picks it up. President speaks to the other girls about the final fragment that is getting further and further away at the speed of light. They’re going to use some dark energy to leap and jump at the speed of light to catch it. Well, this method sounds more magical than sci-fi. The girls leap and leap and notice the lesser stars as they go further. President says they’re only getting farther from the fragment at this rate. They might not even obtain it. Then there is even this crap that if they don’t collect the final one, it means the laws of the universe forbade them. Currently it is operating slightly at their favour because of their earnest wish deep in their hearts. This is proven when their wishes, big or small have come true. This means if they cannot collect the last fragment, it means they didn’t wish for it. It means it was President’s mistake to turn them into magical girls. WTF???!!! Sounds more of fantasy than science. Of course the girls say that they really want to do this. That counts, right? Subaru is opening doors in hopes something familiar will pop out. Nothing. More flashbacks about her younger days with Minato. On one of their space journeys, she had a star decoration but felt sad she couldn’t hang it up. Where the heck can you hang it up?! In return, Minato gave her his tiny star fragment. The next door she opens, it is Minato in ICU. She is happy to see him holding on to her star decoration. That is when her star fragment lights up. She is whisked to where the real Minato is, in the deep depths of space. Hmm… Subaru and Minato swap outfit colours? He explains he didn’t avoid choosing but rather lost that ability to choose. He’ll gather all the fragments and disappear. In that case, she’ll open the door as many times as it takes. He flies off telling her to go where she wants to go. Her friends happened to warp by and are glad to reunite with her. President is amazed at this new magic Subaru has. Subaru has renewed confidence to go capture the last fragment.

Episode 12
In the final jump they make, they reach a strong gravitational lens and all that mumbo-jumbo President said can be easily summarise this phenomenon: It’s a black hole! The fragment is inside it and they feel it could be impossible to gather all the fragments in this universe. Don’t quit now that you’ve come this far. President gives each of them a couple of fragment pieces and they are going to use it to draw out the last one. Because President lacks the power like them, they need a final sixth member to pull this off. Immediately Subaru can only think of Minato. She sees him trying his luck inside the black hole and goes to catch him. Seems Minato doesn’t mind being swallowed and erased by the black hole if he fails. Although he betrayed her, Subaru doesn’t want to forget all the warmth she experienced with him. Because no matter how many universes she has been, there will always be one Minato to her. If he can’t make himself happy then she’ll do it. Hey wait a minute. Aren’t guys supposed to be the one to say this kind of lines? If that doesn’t convince him, this kiss will! OMG! THEY KISSED! Friends in shock! Why the heck is Itsuki covering Aoi’s eyes?! With Minato joining the girls, he turns to President and wonders when he turned into a blob. Apparently President was Elnath but you can’t blame him for not recognizing Minato because he has changed so much since. President’s giant spaceship appears. It is still broken and they’re going to use this chance to fix it. From what I gather, they’re going to fight fire with fire. Meaning, they’re going to use the engine fragments to draw out the last fragment by making another black hole. With all their might, they do the greatest pull ever in the universe. Literally. Now they find themselves in completely empty space. Did they fail? Actually they passed through the black hole and were able to barely get the final fragment that President used to fix his ship. Minato is confused that they possess the power to control probability but rejected the act of choice. President says it is only true in his universe. He points out their next destination, another universe. As long as there is hope they can continue their journey crossing whole universes. Minato realized he only cursed himself by looking at the past and got them involved. The girls realize Minato was trying to save those crystals, potential life that was never born into this world. President will continue this goal of his in the next universe. This is possible thanks to them going beyond the universe’s laws to gather the fragments. That itself is magic! I’m feeling the irony here. President likes to give them something as thanks.

After the ship blasts off, the gang sees multiple threads believed to be possibilities of their world. Of course no matter what kind of possible futures there are, it all boils down to a single source and that is where they are going. So they’re going back in time where Earth was just created? OMG! The first humans on the planet were them! The ‘gift’ granted by President is that they can start over at any point in time as they wish. All the friends make a wish they would like to have the good traits that they each have but importantly they were there because they helped each other a lot and they want to become themselves. So our girls say their goodbye in this final bag of drama and emotions till they are all finally separated. Minato is surprised that he is with Subaru. Remember about her promise that she will make him happy? Oh great. So he is stuck with her forever? Haha! They sit together watching the sunset till she falls asleep. Subaru wakes up back in her home and she remembers about the meteor shower tonight. As she heads off, she sees Aoi alighting from the bus. They talk and Aoi admits she decided to take an exam to enrol in this school because she liked the uniform but was too shy to say it. Subaru hands her a flyer for the meteor shower watching. As she distributes the flyer at school, a group of interested people that includes Hikaru, Itsuki and Nanako gather to seek more information. Minato is seen in his ICU although I’m not sure if he is sleeping or in comatose state. Subaru narrates about the stars in the sky, the long time they spent passing each other, repeating the lonely sadness and joy of meeting each other. Each time she looks up, it makes her think of the people she has still yet to meet somewhere and those who look up and think the same and the stars that watch over them all from up there.

Reach For The Stars
I may not remember much from my initial watching of the ONA series but when I look back at my blog for reference, my sentiments for most of what has been done in the TV series are mostly the same. For example, I still find the bright shining stars of space to be still awesome and magnificent. This I find is the biggest draw for me in the series. Though, I am not sure if they are real images or hand drawn. They’re fascinating nevertheless. Also, not forgetting the funny and amusing gibberish way that President talks (you might want to argue it is alien language that he is speaking, thus our ears cannot understand) and instantly being translated by Nanako. Therefore, the TV series I feel is somewhat a ‘proper’ expansion of the ONA version.

Of course there are some things which I found a bit silly and not enjoyable (from my own personal views, of course). Mainly it is the sci-fi gibberish when President/Nanako starts explaining to them. Maybe it is partly my fault in thinking that this is just going to be a simple magical girl plot and perhaps it is. But they put in sci-fi explanations that some even sounds like magic. Like as though they pluck it out from the air but put it in a way that it sounds convincing enough to sound like sci-fi. Each time President starts ranting about that, my mind just automatically turn off and I would just smile and be amused at the fast way he is yapping. Yeah, then I can say “You’re talking too fast, I don’t know what you’re saying!”. But it is also interesting to note that if feels like they are weaving together sci-fi and magic. But that is just about it. Because thinking about mixing both genres reminds me of that nightmarish To Aru Majutsu No Index. Uh huh. Science and magic clash… One big confusion!

Therefore it is both interesting and yet confusing to hear about the possible overlapping possibilities that affect everything that exists in the universe. So if you don’t want to be bound by the laws of space, just exist outside it! Simple, no? With Minato having this thinking of going back to the past and finding another possible future that suits him feels like in a video game where you go back to an earlier save point and redoing things differently again. So if he keeps doing this again and again, doesn’t this mean that he was never meant to have a possible future? Oh heck. Why so confusing? Just exist outside the laws of space and everything will be fine! I think.

The other silly thing which I find is whenever the girls manage to detect and find a fragment, the evil version of Minato will be there. All the time! Like as though he knew the girls would be after this piece and hence always pops up slightly later than them just to annoy them and then challenge to get the fragment. Sometimes it feels like as though he has a spy camera put in the clubroom and listening to the girls’ talk, which is why he somehow knows when and where to be there. Always. I mean, there are other fragments spread out throughout the Solar System and they have to bump into each other for that same targeted piece. Coincidence? Yeah, big coincidence alright. A big coincidence to have some magical girl action bits.

The other thing is President’s ability to warp the girls if he has discovered a fragment that is in outer space. I believe they want to put some variety in the way the girls travel to space to reach that fragment. It would be boring if they use the same method every time, right? Besides, I am sure they’re trying to hint about this idiom about the journey instead of the destination. You won’t get to see the magnificent space if you take the short cut of just warping there. Yeah, there is some sort of sci-fi explanation from President about the method to use to get there but you know, it sounds so confusing that I wasn’t listening anymore. I just know they’ll get there.

Then there is how President speaks via Nanako’s translation. I noticed their mouths move at the same time. Logically speaking, if you are going to translate or even exactly say the words that someone tells you through the phone or whatever receiver, there is going to be some sort of time lag. But in this case, it is almost instant like as though 2 mouths are speaking at the exact same time! This isn’t actually a big deal but I thought it makes this Pleiades translation thingy a bit unrealistic since it is being done exactly at the same time. Like as though Nanako’s words are to drown out the muffled chipmunk voice that President spews. Because if you wait for President to finish and then hear Nanako translate, it’s like wasting time, isn’t it? Cut the chatter and let’s go find the fragments! Heh. If only President’s sci-fi explanations weren’t that confusing. Maybe it sounds so because it has to be put in human tongue. Besides, I am not sure if Nanako herself is the one putting up a dramatic act or acting out as per President’s emotions because sometimes she does get dramatic during the speeches.

Despite the expansion of this anime, somehow I just feel the characters are not that very in-depth. Just scratching the surface. Sure, they have one episode to focus on a character and their past issue but that itself doesn’t amount to anything much. Because at the end of it all, the usual lesson of friendship and togetherness is the lesson of the day. Like Hikaru’s trauma when hearing a certain piece of her parents’ music, Nanako’s penchant to think that everybody will be eventually alone and thus an excuse to give herself to be isolated from the rest and Itsuki’s ‘I-have-no-dreams’ just because that way it will satisfy everyone by not bringing up trouble.

Aoi is like a bag of emotions but at least she is being true and honest to them. Somehow she always ends up as Minato’s saviour and perhaps it is the laws of the universe that dictates so. Yeah, I think this is an easier way of putting it. Whereas Minato isn’t exactly the antagonist of the series despite seemingly starting out as one and is just a confused boy who only wanted a place to belong. And he can always count on being by Subaru’s side as the place he will always belong to. Laws of the universe? Yeah, just put the blame and excuse on this. How convenient. And I suppose that is the exact same reason why in the final parting scene, President was able to speak with his own bloody mouth instead of using Nanako as a translator. Now we can’t always blame him for speaking gibberish, can we? And he was also able to switch between his blob form and Elnath boy form with ease. Or is this just in the eyes of the beholder, the girls seeing him as a blob and Minato sees him as a boy?

If this series is in collaboration with Subaru, where are the car models you ask? Well, they might not appear visually in the anime but at least they’re being heard. Noticed the drive shafts that the girls ride on? Don’t they sound like the engine of a car whenever they accelerate? Yup. As I found out, those are actual recordings from real Subaru vehicles. That is how a Subaru vehicle sounds like. Personally, I can’t tell the difference with other brands so it doesn’t really matter. Besides, doesn’t it sound odd to have magical brooms sounding like car engines? Yeah, you will be wondering where is would the carburettor, pistons, crankshaft or spark plugs located inside this thin stick. Unless they just have a chip inside to produce that kind of sound just for effects.

The art and drawing remains constant with the ONA. Nice cute looking magical girls in equally cute white magical outfits (but each with different hat types for differentiation?). Other than the majestic space, the other thing nice is the special magic effects you see when the girls release their magic. Not as spectacular as space but it provides eye candy with ooohhhs and aaaahhhhs. In addition to that, the mi-intermission provides cute water colour paintings of the characters in the series. There are a few scenes that utilize CG but this is minimal.

All the casts who lend their voice for the ONA are retained for the TV adaptation. They are Natsumi Takamori as Subaru (Misaki in Sakurasou No Pet Na Kanojo), Houko Kuwashima as Minato (Sango in Inu Yasha), Ayuru Oohashi as Aoi (Ayumu in Hoshizora E Kakaru Hashi), Saki Fujita doubling as Nanako and President (Ao in Yozakura Quartet series), Yui Makino as Hikaru (Sakura in Tsubasa Chronicle) and Kanako Tateno as Itsuki (Kiyomi in Iriya No Sora, UFO No Natsu). There are a couple of new casts of course and some of them are recognizable like Yui Horie as Elnath and Yuuki Kaji as Minori’s classmate. The opening theme is Stella-rium by Kano and the ending theme is Koko Kara, Kanata Kara by Fragment.

Overall, this isn’t a bad anime but there is nothing unique that will make it stand out maybe except for the starry stars of space. The laws of space in the works? Those who have watched the ONA previously should see this one to get a complete picture of the series. If you’re still interested in the series, that is. It is still nevertheless a simple magical girl tale of friendship and togetherness. Helping their alien friend out to return to his universe and in the mean time having loads of fun discovering the mysteries of space that scientists and astronomers have been working hard and being left stumped over the centuries. Yeah. Don’t play-play. These girls discovered a new planet and even travelled to the far edges of space! They make it sound so simple with magic. Don’t go blaming it on the laws of space again.

Houkago No Pleiades

June 10, 2011

I’m still not into those magical girls kind of series. So I guess if you really want me to watch such genres, make it a short OVA with a handful of episodes so that yours truly can go check it out. Just like Houkago No Pleiades (Afterschool Pleiades). No harm, right? Since it’s short. I was wondering if this was supposed to be some promotional stint by that Japanese car maker, Subaru (yes, you read that right) since it collaborated with Gainax to make this 4 episode ONA (original net animation). Well, let’s just say that you won’t be seeing any Subaru car models. Just your typical magical girl show.

Episode 1
We start off with our main heroine, Subaru, watching the starry night sky as it turns into a spectrum of colourful light show. Well, at least that is how it looked to me. In school, Subaru goes up to the observatory but sees a guy (or is it a girl?), Minato. They both chat as Minato talks about hidden beauty, darkness and places that no one can come into. As it is time to leave, Subaru wonders if she could come again so Minato replies if the stars guide her than perhaps.

In a room, a group of girls in white magical girl outfits: Aoi, Nanako, Hikaru and Itsuki, are discussing about quickly finding a fifth member. As Subaru walks down the stairways, she accidentally trips on a blob that steals her compass. She chases it to a room and upon opening its door, she is surprised to see her friend Aoi. She too is surprised to see Subaru.

Episode 2
Aoi is reluctant to tell Subaru anything as she has nothing to do with it. Subaru wonders why she is treating her like this lately and her answer is that she is clumsy (hey, she’s a good friend telling her straight the truth). Subaru learns the blob is their President and is an alien race known as Pleiades. Nanako senses a great force from Subaru and wants her to help them out. Subaru is happy to assist them but Aoi insists she is slow, clumsy and doesn’t know anything (oh, what a ‘nice’ way of putting it).

Subaru sees the bowl of stars shaking and begins to hear something, surprising the girls. Hikaru peeps outside the window and notes that the shooting stars have appeared. She tosses a magical cane to Subaru and with President’s magic, Subaru transforms into a magical girl. Off the girls go riding on their wands into the sky above. Why does to revving sound like cars? Do Subaru cars sound like that?

After a short introduction, they let Subaru know that they are collecting for these kinds of stars known as Engine Fragments so that they can return President to his original star. I don’t really understand the mumbo-jumbo they explain about compression wheel and synchronizing the interference wave (what? Please repeat that again). The Engine starts stabilizing (since there is 5 of them) when an evil dude in a black mantle appears before them.

Episode 3
He is their enemy and is also collecting Engine Fragments though his intentions of doing so are unknown. Both sides fight but since Subaru isn’t able to concentrate, the enemy gets the Engine. Since this is the last of the fragments, he wants them to hand over theirs. Of course they won’t. He will take it from them by force in 3 days time on the night of the full moon.

Back in the room, the girls discuss about this as President explains (via translation from Nanako of course) that the Engine Fragments were broken into pieces from his intergalactic spaceship in an accident 2 years ago during his travel. If its powers are used wrongly, disaster will befall on a planet. Subaru is eager to continue helping them since she thinks it is fun but Aoi thinks otherwise as it is impossible for her to do so. She chides her once more that she is, well, clumsy, dull and slow. Didn’t see that one coming, eh? Subaru ponders over Aoi’s words and the next day as she enters the observatory, she finds the plants wilted and cries her heart out.

On a rainy day, Subaru meets Aoi at a bus stop. She mentions that she has improved and though she irritates her a lot, she still loves her and don’t want to give up. Subaru takes Aoi’s hands and make a run for it since the weather has cleared up. Their other ‘spying’ friends are happy that they made up. On the third night, the baddie shows himself up outside their school as the girls prepare for battle.

Episode 4
A short flashback seeing Minato watching the stars when the sky starts displaying a chaotic light show. One of them pierces through him and that’s when he thought he became a star then. Back in reality, the villain uses his fragment powers to turn the place into some space-dimension rift and revealing the girls’ Engines. Nanako, Hikaru and Itsuki attack him while Aoi protects the Engines. The baddie fires a giant fireball at Aoi’s direction. Subaru uses her body to protect her and this place she considers important.

Calling out Minato’s name, she absorbs the fireball and mentions that she also noticed the stars and him. Subaru flies up to Minato (the enemy as it is clearly revealed now) and hugs him. She remembers seeing those stars and knew that he was there and not an illusion. An evil aura seems to be dispersing from his earring. But Minato pushes Subaru away and says that he can’t go with her yet. He tosses her his sweater so Subaru promises to find him again. The scenery reverts back to normal as Subaru reunites with her other friends. Subaru heads back to the observatory and sees a little flower sprouting and expresses to wait for her.

Wish Upon A Pleiades Star…
Well, what more could I say since this is a simple magical girl show though it may be nothing much. What are you expecting? Huge battles, lolicon fanservice or even nonsensical comedy? I guess in this short ONA, they’re trying to tell us about friendship and forgiveness as seen between Aoi and Subaru. What could be a better way to end this short show with both friends being good with each other again. I felt that this ONA is to ‘test the market’ because if they ever wanted to expand the series and turn it into a proper TV series, maybe those unfinished plots like Minato’s reasons to collect Engines and President’s past could be explored.

Speaking of the President, I find that his lines are the most amusing and hilarious ones! In fact, President don’t really have any proper dialogue but the way that little cyan blob speaks is like though you fast forward somebody speaking on a tape recorder. Or a person being gagged trying desperately to talk! Or onomatopoeia of gibberish words of someone you’d call a chicken backside! I think I can do some nonsensical voice acting like that too! Nanako’s mysterious character to really decipher what it says makes it even funnier. The ending credits show different sketches of the characters illustrated by different people with their different styles and also rough designs and sketches of the characters and items during its production. Neat.

The drawing of the outer space background is quite nice but you know, I’ve always been overwhelmed by those photo shots of the galaxy and stars. Those magical and light sequences may be flashy but I can say that there are flashier ones (and even more outrageous ones) out there. At first I thought how similar the girls’ magical girl outfits were to Aria The Animation’s perhaps because of the long white dress but upon closer inspection, they’re not. I’m thinking if an advanced life form can make a spaceship to travel light years away from its home, why do they need the power of magical girls to help it gather and assemble its parts back? Maybe I should watch more magical girls to understand this.

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