Hyakko OVA

March 12, 2010

Wait a minute. How come I didn’t know that there was a Hyakko OVA released back in October 2009? Heh, don’t blame everything else except myself when I didn’t even bother to find out if there was one or not. So a case of ignorance isn’t bliss especially if you like a particular series and something more of it comes out. Actually this isn’t precisely an OVA and more of an extra special. If you have bought the Hyakko series DVD, you will get this single 10 minute clip bonus.
 
So what is it mainly about? I don’t know exactly except for Torako and Touma eating together at a cafe, ordering all those delicious and extravagantly-named-but hard-to-pronounce cakes. So why is Touma with Torako, of all the likely people she detests being with? Something about her favourite hangout bookstore cafe went bankrupt and closed down so she’s here based on Torako’s suggestion. Yeah, I’m sure that hyper active girl loves to help out. Or rather a particular store she’s dying to visit. I’m not sure if the opening poetic narration from Touma is in relation to the book that she is reading from or some real life indirect reference about something. So you can see some sort of a trend in this no-direction extra. They order a cake, eat it while talking about something and the process is repeated.
 
Cake: Banana Chiboust.
Conversation: After Torako feeds embarrassed Touma with her fork, Torako proceeds to lick that fork which furthers embarrass Touma as she soon drops the subject.
 
Cake: Vallee d’Auge.
Conversation: Noting that the top is apple flavour, Touma suggests to be gentle or else the top will crumble.
 
Cake: Sacher Torte.
Conversation: Because Torako is making machine sounds going "Wien… Wien…" while taking the cake, Touma thinks she’s making a pun since this cake is an exemplary model of a Wien (Vienna) cake. But does Torako know anything more than knowledgeable bookworm Touma than eating (like yours truly)?
 
Cake: Tarte au Fromage.
Conversation: Touma is getting worried that they’re ordering this much and is not going to pay for all this so Torako says everything is on her since she won a gift voucher worth 5,000 Yen via lottery. Actually it was Suzume who won it due to her amazing luck. Torako then gets alarmed that Touma ate the tart’s hard part and without it, the cake is merely a cheesecake so Touma apologizes "Sacher, sacher…".
 
CakeOpera.
Conversation: Before digging in, Torako goes into soprano mode before eating the piece.
 
Cake: Savarin au Fruits.
Conversation: Touma notes this place is close to the bookstore and pretty quiet, prompting Torako to say no other customers have come in yet. Touma quickly tells her to watch her words because it may offend the Master (still cleaning the glasses). Not sure if he heard and is ignoring it but the waitress is upset because she can’t seem to use magic on her whatever game she’s playing on her PSP.
 
Cake: Blanc Manger.
Conversation: Torako asks what Touma and her family is going to have for dinner despite still having finished their cake. Torako says her siblings will make curry whenever their parents are away at work. But they always fought on how spicy it should be. Seems Oniyuri has the final say and likes her curry to be super spicy.
 
Cake: Orangerie.
Conversation: Touma must be worried that this has to be their umpteenth plate so Torako says cakes go into the other stomach because they’re high school girls. So when Touma questions who brought up the idea that high school girls like cakes, Torako says if there is no cake, then pancakes will do. Touma fires back do one classify pancakes as bread (‘pan’ in Japanese for bread, so as in ‘pan’ of pancakes) or cake so Torako answers that they should just order the next cake.
 
Cake: Mousse aux Framboises.
Conversation: Now Touma is really worried how many cakes that they have ordered but Torako tells her not to worry because there are a few more to go. Yeah, she’s going to try all of them! "Yes. Sacher Torte!", says she. What the heck is that supposed to mean?
 
Cake: Cardinal Schnitten.
Conversation: What’s with that incredulous looks on their face? Ah well, don’t mind, don’t mind. Sacher Torte… I still don’t understand what that means. Unless they’re just simply saying the name of that cake.
 
Cake: Piemont, Gateau Chantilly and Framboiser.
Conversation: Yeah, after ordering a few cakes in succession, they have to be damn full by now. Touma feels her mouth is all sugary while Torako suggests that she should read after a meal. But she can’t anymore. At that time, Tatsuki passes by outside and Torako spots her. She tries to call and lead Tatsuki to where they are so Touma decides to continue reading her book with some poetic narrations.
 
Desserts Anyone?
So yeah, did anything happen much? Oh heck, the only thing I was ever interested was the variety of delicious cakes. I WANT TO TRY THEM! SOMEBODY TAKE ME TO THE CAKE CAFE STORE, PLEASE!!! Oh man, I’m starting to salivate over those mouth watering sweet pastries. Even the R&B-like ending theme has a few of those cakes in between the credits. Yum! As young high school girls, aren’t they worried about their weight after eating so much? Maybe not. Which girl wouldn’t love to eat those delightful cakes and not gain weight? Anyway I’m surprised that Suzume didn’t join them. I remember that queer girl has a bottomless stomach so probably she’ll devour everything and the gift voucher won’t be even enough. So it’s basically just a Torako-Touma setting. Perhaps Torako’s way of breaking the ice with her? Here’s another tiger idiom I came up: A tiger too can eat sweets. Heck, I don’t know what that means. I’m not sure how many extra specials are there. I won’t know unless I buy the DVD. But I guess this is enough for me. Need to find and have some cake and eat it…
 

Hyakko

Hyakko

August 29, 2009

High school slapstick comedies. Ah yes. One of my favourite genres. So it is no surprise that I really had to put Hyakko on my must-watch list. I’m not saying that the comedy factor here is sky high and nonsensical so much so its absurdness can only be matched by those which are out of this world, but it is enough to bring in the laughs. Whether you are a fan of such genres or not. Besides, what more would you expect from a high school setting?
 
Basically this series mainly focuses on the interactions between the 4 girls who are first year high school freshies of Class 1-6. From first looks, viewers can guess that lively Torako Kageyama would be the troublemaker and main instigator of the pack. Which group would be complete and ‘fun’ without them? Think of Kana of Minami-ke, Miu of Ichigo Mashimaro and definitely Tomo of Azumanga Daioh. Then there is her childhood friend the quiet and queer Suzume Saotome. Quiet and queer here goes together hand in hand. Because of her quietness, her behaviour is queer itself. Plus, she is a glutton with a bottomless stomach and can go on endlessly chowing down bowls after bowls, plates after plates of whatever food without getting fat. Ah, girls would definitely want to have her kind of metabolism.
 
Next is Tatsuki Iizuka. Your typical sarcastic lady-like gal and hails from a rich family. A daughter of a huge electronics company to be exact. Probably the only one who can put her foot down and put annoying Torako in line. But you know that wild child is still a loose cannon even after much chiding. Finally to complete the group is the gentle but shy and naive Ayumi Nonomura. I find her the ‘weakest’ among the pack because I feel that she is ‘easy to bully’. You know the kind which apologizes most of the time. Sometimes I find her coming close to tears in stuff which shouldn’t. Let’s just say she’s almost like a girly girl. Maybe why she is popular among the boys in school (not to mention her well endowed figure).
 
In most episodes as mentioned, the interaction is mainly among the quartet but there are also interactions between other female classmates as well. There are episodes that dedicate and focus on that supporting female cast and thus each will have their turn of prominence. In short, you’ll get to see each of the character’s unique quirkiness. One of the main highlights of the series. Viewers will also notice that in each episode, a short appearance of a pair of lolis, Hitsugi Nikaidou and Yuki Yagi (reminds me of a Charlie Brown character…) who are always seen together and discussing some random topic. Other than that, some episodes are divided into 2 stories and some a single whole episode.
 
So we are introduced to Kamizono Academy, the school setting in which this anime takes place. This school houses a whopping 3000 students from elementary to high school and this explains the huge grounds of this private institution. Therefore it is no surprise that in episode 1, Ayumi is lost on her way to her next class. She bumps into Tatsuki and follows her but she too is lost. A classic case of blind leading the blind. Ironically, Tatsuki has been a student of this school since elementary days and she can still get lost, not knowing where to go. Can we really blame her? Or is it she really has a bad sense of direction. Of course her lady-like proudness prevents her from admitting it directly to Ayumi.
 
Things get really interesting when the duo spot a girl (Torako) jumping out from the window of the second floor! Is she serious? An angel? A saviour? What started as a cool stunt turned into a humiliating blooper because Torako sprained her ankle when she lands. But she was just fooling around because she got out of the way this instant when Suzume comes leaping down too. Don’t want to be where she lands, eh? So the quartet continue their lost journey as Ayumi and Tatsuki learn that the reason why Torako and Suzume leaped from the window was because everytime they spot their classroom is, they have to take a detour, upstairs and downstairs, left turns and right turns to get there but eventually they ended up losing their sense of direction. So the only way was to go there in a straight line. Even if it means going through windows. But I guess now it isn’t possible because they’re back to square one.
 
I don’t know why but Tatsuki came out with an idea that they won’t be able to reach their destinations because the other girls are right handed while she herself is a lefty. Some imbalance thingy I guess. Ayumi then remembers her handphone has GPS and it quickly leads them to a location in which they believe is behind a locked there (the GPS signal goes off by then). Leave it to Torako to open it because she intends to do so by using a brick! Wouldn’t that amount to vandalism? As Tatsuki tries to stop her, the brick accidentally flies off Torako’s hands, breaking a nearby window. A teacher, Kyouichirou Amagasa, spots this and you’d think the girls would come clean in apologizing and atoning for their mistakes (at least for Ayumi and Tatsuki). But who knows, Torako suddenly gives Amagasa a punch in his stomach! Knocking that poor chap out as Torako signals to the rest to escape. Now they’re all accomplices! The quartet manages to get to class but it isn’t the end of their misery yet. That’s because Amagasa is their homeroom teacher! What goes around, comes around. And after class, they get a good lecture from him and we can tell that his imagination of returning some super punch on Torako as retaliation but in reality he can’t do that because it will amount to harassment or abuse. And yeah, the start of a beautiful friendship. A weird one, that is.
 
In episode 2, the quartet tries out various clubs to see which one they will join. The school is so big that they have weird clubs like Magic Club. I wonder if they have shady ones too. Viewers can feel that Tatsuki is obviously pissed off as she is being ignored by Torako (she’s even keeping count!) but somehow she can’t really ‘leave’ the group and ends up being associated with them, no matter how much she doesn’t want to. So the first club they tried out is baseball. Unfortunately, Tatsuki bears the painful brunt from Torako. Like the baseball in Tatsuki’s hip. Deliberate or fluke? Whichever, it’s sure damn painful. Tatsuki can’t walk away after being challenged by Torako, can’t she? Next is tennis and the girls try it out in pairs. Again, Tatsuki is at the receiving end of Torako’s serves and even has a racquet into her face. Ouch. Deliberate or no skill? Then it is basketball and Tatsuki sees this as a chance to get her revenge on Torako by disrupting her shot by throwing a basketball to hit it away from the goal. Then when it is Tatsuki’s turn to shoot, Torako did the same thing. One bad deed deserves another. But Tatsuki receives another major pain in her stomach when Torako slams the basketball with her palm. Super ouch.
 
So the entire day sees this club testing turning into a personal battle to outdo each other between Torako and Tatsuki. From tea ceremony club to calligraphy club to flower arranging club. Yeah, they even resorted using poor Suzume and Ayumi too. Then the final battle is football. Tatsuki is going to score a penalty shot against Suzume the goalkeeper. However, Suzume’s stomach starts to growl and you know she can’t perform well on an empty stomach. But Torako lifts her spirits by bribing her with food. Tatsuki prepares to run up and kick the ball but Torako intercepts and does a very dangerous sliding tackle, hurting Tatsuki’s heel. Poor girl. Pain after pain. This must have crossed the line. And after lamenting her fate and such, Torako and Tatsuki are back to their arguing ways. I guess the pain of hurting her pride is much more than the physical pain. Isn’t it such a beautiful friendship after all? And so the next day as Torako suggests more clubs to join, Tatsuki isn’t anywhere near the group because she has already went home. Not willing to risk it, isn’t she? Better safe than sorry.
 
The first of the focus on the other supporting female classmates begins in episode 3. The class rep of Class 1-6, Nene Andou, informs Torako that she has been chosen as a disciplinary committee. Due to her job’s nature, Torako has to check the students’ attire the next morning as they enter school. Nene accompanies her and even though she isn’t in the disciplinary committee, her plan of overseeing this is to increase her chances of becoming the next student council president. So we see all the other supporting girls coming through the gate as they do their inspection. Like there’s this delinquent girl whom Nene and Torako are so afraid to go tell her of her dressing, they had to resort to rock-scissors-papers to decide. Also, weird Suzume comes in wearing her bloomers. Then when Ayumi comes in, Nene had the cheek to flip her skirt and look at her panties! Is she a lesbian? Nope. She proudly proclaims that she is bi-sexual! Another sicko alright.
 
The second part introduces bespectacled Chie Suzugazaki from the robotics club. Torako and Suzume encounter a weird looking robot in the hallway which belongs to her and in no time, the quartet are being invited by Chie to her club. When Chie learns that Tatsuki’s dad is the CEO of an electronics company, E-lectra Corporation, she feels very honoured of meeting her because she aspires to work under that company in the future. Torako then gets an idea when she learns that the robots Chie and her club members are making are able to mimic phrases. In class when Amagasa is taking attendance, he calls out Torako’s name only to hear an odd sound coming from Torako. It’s actually that weird robot with Torako’s wig and her uniform! OMG! Is Torako thinking that she can play truant by substituting herself with that robot and that Amagasa is that stupid?! Anybody can tell this isn’t the real Torako. Amagasa punches the robot to vent his frustration and soon the robot malfunctions. Yeah, the head went boom. The next day, Amagasa takes another roll call and he’s glad that Torako has learnt her lesson as she turns up in class. But this time when he calls Suzume’s name, it is that girl’s turn to play truant and replace another weird robot self in her place! Haha! This class can be so frustrating.
 
In episode 4, the quartet visits the cafeteria and Ayumi learns from Torako about some combo card in which one can obtain extra meal portions. Being the prankster she is, Torako selects a larger meal combo for Ayumi before she could make her selection. Poor girl. How can she finish such a big portion. Torako tries to do the same to Tatsuki but the latter manages to hold her off. Of course Torako and Suzume too has larger servings. But Torako isn’t too please about Tatsuki because her smaller portion and not only that, she is eating Italian spaghetti as opposed to their Japanese type ramen. With that, Torako causes a ruckus with her food. In the end, Tatsuki manages to finish hers but Ayumi couldn’t. Troublemaker Torako too can’t finish hers but thankfully there is Suzume to help them out so that it won’t go to waste. I wonder if those are even enough for her. Remember kids. Don’t waste food or play with them.
 
The second part is art sketching and the students are to take turns sketching each other in pairs. Tatsuki is paired with Suzume (woah! Suzume’s body can really stretch!) while Ayumi ends up with Torako. Because of the odd number of students, photography maniac, Koma Kobayashi (her headgear made her look like a gypsy woman), decides to join Torako. Ayumi becomes the model first but Koma decides to turn her into some model as she snaps pictures of her and even instructs her to remove some clothing! Then it is Torako’s turn to do sexy poses for the camera so much so bi-sexual Nene can’t control herself and starts pounding on Torako like a pervert. Koma starts snapping like mad, thinking that this would be good material for some scandalous scoop. Because of the commotion, Tatsuki puts her foot down and regains order in the classroom on behalf of the art teacher. In the end, Torako didn’t manage to complete her class assignment of the sketch but manages to sketch a devil picture of Tatsuki. Later, Koma sells does seductive Torako photos to Nene and makes a profit out of it. When there is demand, there is supply.
 
Yanagi Kyougoku is also another member of the photography club and selling lots of secretly taken photos of the school’s girls along with Koma. Paparazzi in the making? in episode 5, one of his friends, Shishimaru Sengoku spots a picture of Ayumi in it and wants to know more about this girl. Love at first sight, I suppose. So while Shishimaru is admiring the recently purchased photo of Ayumi, a gust of wind blows the pic of his hands and right out of the window. He tries to grab it but Ayumi who happen to pass by accidentally knocks him out the window. Luckily the bushes break his fall and Ayumi later apologizes profusely. This is when Shishimaru got the guts to grab her hand and confess his love for her. But the odd part is that when Ayumi relates all this to her other pals, we find out that the one Shishimaru actually likes is Torako! The Ayumi photo in which bought did have Torako in the side background. I guess it’s miscommunication in the first place. But the thing is, why on Earth did Shishimaru confess to Ayumi and not Torako herself? Yeah, that is what Ayumi too like to know. Panic? Unless he wants Ayumi to tell Torako his love for her on his behalf. Don’t make sense. Not manly enough to face her?
 
The second half sees Torako skipping class just to follow and hang out with the class delinquent Ushio Makunouchi. I guess Ushio couldn’t be bothered and just let Torako do what she pleases. Their day include doing a karaoke session in which we find both the girls tone deaf and horrible in singing. Awful. Their challenge turns into a brawl so much so the karaoke owner kicks them out. Then after buying some food at the convenient store, Torako finds Ushio’s love for pudding and sweet things. Oddly enough, Ushio has a soft spot for cats when a stray kitten comes by. At the end, the duo decide to go back to school because Torako feels that she isn’t a delinquent and that she likes school. Of course when they do return, they get their usual lecture from Amagasa. Yeah, class is already over and for the first time, they both realized that they’re classmates.
 
In episode 6, Tatsuki feels alienated from the quartet because the trio initially did things without her. And I thought she’s happy not to be associated with them but this fact is really bugging her. Well, she remembers how she don’t really have friends during her younger days and I suppose even if Torako is weird, she is HER weird friend. So when Tatsuki returns home, she gets the surprise of her life. Torako and the rest are seen waiting in her room. It won’t be complete if they don’t rummage through her personal stuff such as photo albums. Tatsuki is pissed off and wants Torako to leave but Torako uses a perfect ‘shield’ to soften Tatsuki’s heart and stand. The innocent moe face of Ayumi. Yeah, it worked alright. The gang learns that Tatsuki’s parents are always away working, thus leaving Tatsuki alone with a housemaid, who takes on the role of her mom. I don’t know why, Suzume seems to be fascinated when she took out a pair of Tatsuki’s adult panties from her drawer. I know Suzume prefers to wear animal ones and that she has no qualms if her slip is showing. Torako and pals further enjoy Tatsuki’s housemaid’s hospitality as they stay over for dinner. So sorry that Tatsuki has to endure this torment a little longer. But the housemaid notes how this is the first time Tatsuki has brought friends back to her home and Torako notes that the housemaid is a nice lady. When they leave, the housemaid even gives Torako and Suzume presents. Tatsuki notes that she had a good time with them as well. See, she’s already part of the circle. The end part is a little eyebrow raiser because it is like some sort of dramatic action cinematic trailer-cum-teaser. We see Torako and some of her classmates leading a rebellion against the school. Torako then encounters an obstacle in the form of Suzume and soon a guy named Kitsune (he has a safety pin as his earring!). It ends with a cliff-hanger but that’s about all you’re going to see from this confusing clip. Maybe just a random filler?
 
In episode 7, Yanagi and Koma are up to their no good photo snapping ways when Kitsune decides to join them. When Yanagi’s next target is Ayumi and has problems finding a perfect shot for her, Kitsune decides to go up and play a prank on her, thinking that she is the ‘weak’ kind. And yes, he admits he is a sadist. What is the prank he is to pull? He casually lifts up her skirt! OMG! He then coolly walks away leaving Ayumi very much paralysed as Yanagi and Koma snap away like crazy. Then they are joined by Shishimaru who wants a photo of Torako but he himself thinks doing such act is despicable. Because they can’t take photos of Torako (who happen to be nearby) in secret, they decide to approach her and ask her permission for one. It is then that Torako spots Kitsune and you can tell from her body reaction that she’s having some sort of fear. In short, Kitsune is Torako’s brother! It’s a small world after all. Then when Ushio pointed out that Kitsune was the one who flipped Ayumi’s skirt, he apologizes and to make up for it, flips up Torako’s skirt to show everyone her panties! Real sadist alright! I guess this is the other person who can ‘stop’ Torako. And Nene is definitely a happy person today…
 
Torako relates to her friends how her brother was a big bully and if she ever tried to fight back, she’ll receive a much more worse retaliation. Plus, Suzume too knows of this but we know of her quiet behaviour, right? Because Kitsune always gave her snacks, you can say that it is enough for that queer girl to like him (not in lovey-dovey sense). And with the newfound discovery, Shishimaru wants to call Kitsune his brother but gets whacked instead. Then at the cafeteria, Kitsune plans to torment lone Torako further and has panicking Shishimaru accompanying him. After slightly distracting her to put something spicy in her ramen, Torako has her lips burn, causing Kitsune to laugh out loud before leaving the table. Yeah, he ‘abandoned’ paralyzed Shishimaru with Torako. Noticing that his ramen isn’t spicy, Shishimaru manages to swap his ramen with Torako. You could say that this could be considered a big achievement for that guy (who is semi-dead now). Kitsune watches all this from afar when he bumps into Ayumi, Tatsuki and Suzume but holds them back from joining Torako. So when Ayumi asks for a reason, he simply says to show him her panties again. Ayumi is totally embarrassed as he leaves. The end scene shows Kitsune meeting with a serious and seemingly expressionless girl named Oniyuri at the hallway. Kitsune greets her but she only responds when he says he had lunch with Torako. There’s something mysterious about her.
 
Inori Tsubomiya could be the next horror girl or Ju-on and we won’t blame you for thinking so. In episode 8, because of Inori’s scary and ghostly appearance (coupled in with her shy character), she has a hard time making friends. Nobody wants to get close to a scary looking girl, would they? Scary hair, scary smile. So when Torako accidentally bumps into her and has a short friendly chat with her, Inori goes to great lengths to try and make Torako her friend. Including that hilarious ‘harassment’ in the toilet whereby Inori panics and starts thinking hard of this God given chance to make Torako her pal. When Torako forgets her handkerchief, Inori decides to lend hers but since she is too shy to speak up, don’t blame Torako for freaking out and misconstruing what Inori says. Yeah, Torako heard handkerchief as haka (grave) and chi (blood). Torako is ‘saved’ by Suzume, who soon comes out of her cubicle, as she punches Inori in the stomach. Later outside, they resolve the misunderstanding as they exchange handphone numbers. Well, that’s a start. But Suzume is still wary of this zombie.
 
Then in class, in a quest to have Inori to make friends, Torako suggest a total makeover for Inori so that she could be friendly-looking. This include borrowing stuff from others (Chie’s glasses) and the end result is that Inori looks hot! Yeow! She has pretty eyes to begin with! OMG! She’s damn beautiful. So was it her long ghostly hair that is freaking out everybody? See with some makeover, she looks like a different person. But it isn’t Inori’s hairstyle that got changed, Torako and Koma go on a hairstyle changing spree and every girl in the class has a hairdo makeover. Including Amagasa. Looks like mission accomplished but the very next day, Inori is back to her scary outlook and she is sad because she doesn’t know how to dress and make-up herself. Now that is another problem. As everyone else is back to their normal hairstyle, Amagasa comes into class still with his new hairstyle. I guess he must love it that much, eh?
 
Sometimes being a good Samaritan doesn’t pay. In episode 9, Torako learns the hard way when she lends some money to a tanned classmate, Minato Ooba, who is searching for her lost coin at the vending machine. This Minato girl is very klutzy and is easily depressed. The next day, Minato decides to repay Torako’s kindness by asking to do this and that which soon turns out to be very irritating. Her pestering is very consistent and she does go to great lengths to return the favour. Then when Ushio comes in, she too gets surprised and tries to run away. Torako then learns that Ushio too helped Minato out and ever since, she has been harassing her to do every single little minor deed. So Torako along with Tatsuki, Ayumi and Ushio come out with a plan to keep Minato away but it all ends up in failure. Like trying to be mean to her but when she starts crying… When all else fails, the final plan is just to keep running. But Minato can actually keep up pace and follow them everywhere! The next day at the cafeteria, Minato requests to sit next to Torako when Suzume butts in. Jealous Minato isn’t too happy. Neither is Suzume, who isn’t pleased that there is somebody else sticking too close to Torako. You can smell some rivalry between the duo. Not wanting to give up, Minato and Suzume continue to follow Torako and outdo each other over the next few days and to almost everywhere. Including the toilet. Torako will never get her privacy! The final scene is another random eyebrow raiser because it shows Suzume walking along as many characters somehow decide to give her snacks. So Suzume gladly accepts and accumulates them all until she reaches back to class. She can never go hungry this way.
 
Over the series, viewers will notice a cold distant and unfriendly classmate of Class 1-6 making cameo appearances. She is Touma Kazamatsuri and the reason why she doesn’t like Torako and the rest is because she finds them weird (has she looked in the mirror herself too?). Episode 10 is her prominent episode as Torako tries her best to strike up conversations and be friends with her but to no avail. Touma’s refuge at the rooftop is no longer a sanctuary as Torako comes to continue pestering her. I guess she too like Tatsuki doesn’t want to be associated with such a weirdo. As she journeys to school and meets other her classmates, Touma begins to think how they too are part of Torako’s weird circle. Whether it’s one way or another. Even Tatsuki. She really needs to look in the mirror. Then she meets Ayumi at the library and remembers why she doesn’t want to be associated with a troublemaker like Torako. When she was in the teacher’s room, she spot Torako playing with Amagasa’s new handphone and accidentally broke it, much to his dismay. That event still pisses her off. Touma learns that Ayumi likes Torako because she felt happy for befriending her when school starts seeing that she wasn’t good at making friends. Before Touma leaves, Ayumi requests if she could be friends with her. Her reply is that she’ll think about it.
 
At Touma hangs out on the rooftop, Torako comes with her usual pestering. Touma remembers how she first met Torako when she was visiting as a middle schooler. Torako lost her hair band in the wind so she lend hers. Torako’s short honest conversation seems to impress her and that’s when their ‘friendship’ began. Something about if they both entered this school, Torako suggested to be friends in which Touma replied she’ll think about it. So is she still thinking or decided? Then in present time, Torako invites Touma to have lunch together. More like self imposing. Touma seems to blend in well with them as Ayumi even made a bento for her (better hurry because Suzume lightning snatch is going to finish it all). As quintet cramp with each other on the bench enjoying lunch, to Touma’s horror she realizes that she has ‘converted’ and become part of their weird circle. Haha. It was just a matter of sooner or later. Nene spots Torako’s friendship and decides to do the same as she gathers Ushio, Chie, Koma, Inori and Minato for her circle. She inspects the lunch that each of them brought and isn’t happy with some like Minato’s all-snack menu. The final scene shows Torako redeeming herself for breaking Amagasa’s handphone by giving him a delicious bento. But it turned out to be a handmade bento from Inori.
 
In episode 11, because Segawa is worried about her sick child Yuki and decides to take an emergency leave, Amagasa has to substitute her English class, which is Class 1-6. Noting that the next period is PE, Amagasa decides to tell the class to change to their gym clothes. On the other hand, Yanagi, Shishimaru and Kitsune gets word from Koma about the girls at the gym and decide to take this opportunity to snap more pics. However Amagasa confiscates Yanagi’s camera so he has no choice but to use some hi-tech mini spy camera since he is desperate not to lose this once-in-a-lifetime chance. The game is dodgeball and the group is divided and decided into what they ate for breakfast. Rice or bread. Since Touma didn’t ate breakfast, she becomes the unenthusiastic score keeper while Amagasa the referee. So a battle royale (more like dangerous deathmatch) between Torako’s Rice Team and Nene’s Bread Team starts as the ‘casualties’ keep counting with Ayumi first (ball in the face!), then Chie and soon Tatsuki. Amagasa orders Yanagi and Shishimaru to act as medical personnel and bring the injured ones to the sideline. Inori couldn’t stand all this so she fainted and is out (the guys note how she really look like a corpse because she’s not moving while lying down).
 
With the injuries piling up, the remaining Rice Team members include Torako, Koma and Minato while Bread Team has Nene, Ushio and Suzume. So Torako suggests to settle it with a fight between the leaders. Nene is confident because she claims her team’s leader is the all-powerful Suzume. Torako also knows of Suzume’s potential and decides to substitute her leadership to Amagasa. That guy tries to shift it to Shishimaru, who starts going crazy about some opportunity to demonstrate his bravery fighting on behalf for Torako and thus in a dilemma. So I guess he is out, eh? With Torako’s constant pleas and promise to Amagasa that she won’t skip class, Amagasa also note the sly look in the other girls’ eyes which indicates this teacher is hopeless, Amagasa caves in to pressure and agrees to take on Suzume. Though we won’t get to see how the match went, we all know that Amagasa lost. Must be real bad because his cheek is covered with plaster. I guess Torako’s cheering up that he’s cool isn’t going to cut it. Feeling more than just dented pride, eh? To add salt to his wounds, Amagasa learns that when Segawa has returned, she happily brought her sick ‘child’ Yuki which turned out to be a puppy. All for nothing. The final scene shows Kitsune once again encountering Oniyuri and that girl displays no emotion or reaction whatsoever to Kitsune until he tells her that he watched Torako play during PE. She tells him to go back to class.
 
A more serious and drama-filled episode 12 starts off with Torako out in the streets at night unable to contact her pals. Next day in school, Ayumi finds Torako and Ushio dead tired and it’s revealed that Torako spent the night at Ushio’s place and played video games all night. Of course when Nene overheard about it, she isn’t too happy and starts interrogating Torako with her yuri ideas of they did this and that together or not. Then when Oniyuri appears and asks about Torako’s presence last night (among her other lecturing), Torako starts to feel scared. Nene points out that Oniyuri is Torako’s elder sister and is the current intelligent and hardworking student council president. I guess she knows her not because they share the same surname, but she did indicate it’s the post she wanted to take over. So over the next few scenes Torako feels gloomy (in a funny sense) and even posters Touma to let her stay at her place. Then at the hallway, she bumps into Oniyuri and Kitsune. Oh, the deadly combo. Oniyuri wants Torako to walk home with her but the latter refuses. As they argue, the rest of her buddies arrive and witness this real life sisterly drama. The climax is when Oniyuri said to go home to apologize to dad and that’s when Torako blurted out that they aren’t her real parents. This causes Oniyuri to slap her as Torako runs away.
 
Later Tatsuki and Ayumi learn from Kitsune that Torako and the 2 had the same father but different moms. Step siblings, I’d say. Torako’s real mom died and when daddy brought her to live with them, it is understandable that Kitsune and Oniyuri’s mom didn’t like it. Likewise Torako too didn’t like living with them and still haven’t come to terms with his parents. But Oniyuri came to accept her and treated her like her little sister, though the same can’t be said about the way she coldly ignores Kitsune. You could say she is overprotective over Torako but her way of doting is wrong. After understanding the situation, Tatsuki tells Ayumi to call Torako because they’re walking home together. Meanwhile Suzume confronts Oniyuri and I don’t know why, she didn’t say anything but puffer her cheeks and softly punch her back. But Oniyuri knew she had to apologize to Torako. At the same time, Torako finds comfort with an unlikely person. Touma. Yeah, she even teases that girl for doing so. Touma understands her because she has a sister and is always quarrelling. At the end of the day, Torako sees Oniyuri waiting for her. They both apologize and make up as Torako starts breaking down. As they’re walking out, they see all of Torako’s pals waiting to walk her home and Oniyuri allows her. A flashback of how a young Kitsune and Torako made clay persimmons to throw at some uncle’s home because he suspected Oniyuri of stealing his fruits. But when she found out about it, she advices nicely that this isn’t the way to go and that they should go apologize. She’s not such a scary sister after all.
 
Episode 12 goes back in time back to the start of the year. April 4th is the day whereby it’s the Kamizono Academy’s entrance ceremony and we see clips of several of class 1-6’s girls waking up and preparing themselves for school. Like how Minato is klutzy in putting on her tie and Inori having her sister comb her long hair. Except for Torako and Suzume who are seen waking up from their slumber at some bus stop in some prefecture. In short, it has been 4 days since they’ve ran away from home. You could say that they are broke and if they didn’t bought some food previously, they would’ve been starving in this sleepy countryside. At school, Nene is all excited that she has enrolled in this school (you know why lah), Yanagi gets hyped up to continue his paparazzi ways while Ayumi still lacks confidence. We see Amagasa has been ‘chosen’ to give some speech and the ‘faceless’ principal of Kamizono Academy Taiga Nishizono (hope he has no relation to Torako or whatsoever to) trying to pick out some colourful clothes in his wardrobe to wear for the ceremony. As Torako confides in Suzume about her family problems, she mentions how she doesn’t mind to give her first night to Suzume and even probably her first kiss. That is when Suzume promptly kisses Torako on her lips! Yikes! Enough to freak her out. Regretting it?
 
Before the entrance ceremony starts, Amagasa introduces himself as the homeroom teacher for class 1-6 and notices several of his students missing. Besides Torako and Suzume, the other missing student is Tatsuki because she being chauffeured while stuck in a traffic jam. As the entrance ceremony begins, Torako tells Suzume that she decides to do away with her childishness and attend school. Then she realizes that today is the day of the ceremony and starts to panic. She needs to get back. But they’re in the middle of nowhere, right? She remembers the reason why they’re here in the first place was because of the hotsprings so the duo makes a dash on foot. Later they are seen trying to hitchhike for a ride but nobody is stopping even if they tried seductive tactics. Definitely will miss the ceremony because the principal is already at his closing speech, congratulating and welcoming the new students. Lastly, we see Hitsugi sleeping on her homework.
 
I guess such a series without any serious plot, such an end would deem to be okay. At least in my opinion. Besides some of it’s funny moments. It is nice to see how the ladies interact with each other although there is nothing extraordinary to shout about. I suppose it’s pretty decent seeing that the characters are given their fare share of screen time. So Torako didn’t turn out to be a major troublemaker like those mentioned earlier on in this blog and as the series goes by, she toned down her mischief quite a lot, though she still is that cheeky girl. Suzume is still as mysterious as ever but we can count on that she will always be by Torako’s side. Likewise, Ayumi has gained her self-confidence ever since ‘associating’ with Torako while Tatsuki acknowledges Torako and the rest as her friend.
 
One question still bugs me, though. I wonder what is Hitsugi’s role and purpose in this anime seeing that this loli has never encountered or come into contact with anyone from Class 1-6. I saw the opening credits and seeing that she’s ‘part of the group’, there had to be some connection whatsoever during the show. Nil. Don’t tell me she has something to do with Torako too. Romance-wise, nothing more developed besides the fact that Shishimaru’s crush on Torako remains just that guy’s dream. Too scared to take the first step still? Nene’s bi-sexual is her personal preference in which I don’t think I should be commenting about and Suzume is so close to Torako that I think if the producers ever wanted to make a yuri version between the 2, they could just hit it off. Just kidding. Don’t want that to happen either.
 
As for the voice acting, Fumiko Orikasa does a fine job for Torako. She is famous for roles such as Rukia in Bleach and Miu in Ichigo Mashimaro. I must be able to recognize Aya Hirano who voices Ayumi because I’ve recently heard her doing such character roles like Mahiro in Busou Renkin and Minato in Akane-iro Ni Somaru Saka. Other casts include Michiko Neya as Tatsuki (Agnes in Zero No Tsukaima series), Yurika Ochiai as Suzume (Konomi of ToHeart2), Yui Horie as Chie (Eri in School Rumble, Kotori in Da Capo), Yuko Kaida as Ushio (Riza in Kaibutsu Oujo), Houko Kuwashima as Touma (Tomoyo in Clannad), Asuka Nanase as Minato (Itsuki of I"s Pure), Hiroko Igarashi as Koma, Fujita Masayo as Nene, Keiji Fujiwara as Amagasa (Sven in Black Cat), Mitsuhiro Ichiki as Kitsune and Hiroko Kasahara as Oniyuri. Initially I thought Mamiko Noto did the voice for Inori but it turned out that Satomi Satou (Yuzuki in Jigoku Shoujo Mitsuganae) took on the role instead. She sound so close and almost had me fooled for a moment there.
 
I read somewhere that the quartet along with the supporting female characters of Class 1-6 and Hitsugi, they somewhat represent the 12 animals of the Chinese Zodiac. They have the animals they represent in their names. Those who have little Japanese knowledge would know that Torako’s name would mean tiger. Then the rest include Tatsuki (dragon), Ushio (cow), Touma (horse), Hitsugi (sheep) and Nene (mouse – as in nezumi, I think) which are obvious. Then the least obvious such as Suzume (rooster – her name means sparrow so I think that’s the closest bird you’ll find in the zodiac), Ayumi (snake – huh? Definitely not matching her character), Koma (dog), Inori (pig), Chie (monkey) and Minato (rabbit) which had me think and think till my head spin just to figure out how the animal was assigned to them. Some of the other characters too have reference to animal names like Kitsune (fox) and Shishimaru (lion). Are they trying to imply that there’s a zoo here? Well, with the weird personalities of the characters, you could say so.
 
On a trivial note, I noticed that each episode title has the word ‘tiger’ in it. Or at least Torako’s name. The way they name the title make it as though it sounded like some simile or idiom. For instance episode 2’s "You cannot catch a tiger cub without entering a tiger’s den", episode 5’s "You need to fight with a tiger to learn about the tiger", episode 8’s "I sketched a tiger but it turned out to be a cat", episode 9’s "A sympathy is not meant for a tiger" and episode 13’s "Four people can become a tiger". Does the creator of this series like that orange striped beast so much? On another trivial note, I noticed the academy has a statue in its courtyard which resembles 3 penguins (or is it some other bird?) and its motto is "Boys Be Ambitious". This is a co-ed school, right? So what about girls? I wonder what is the real meaning behind it.
 
High school days are over for me and unfortunately I didn’t make much of an impact during my final years. Not to say my school is as big as this one, but just average like what many will typically find all over my country. Even if one’s high school years won’t last more than 3 years, the value of friendship and memories that one made during those time is enough to last for a lifetime. And remember, DO NOT EVER jump out of a window. Even Superman does not do that. (He flies, silly!). And yes. DO NOT EVER PUNCH YOUR TEACHER IN THE STOMACH!
 

Hyakko