Kamisama No Memo-chou

May 27, 2012

Do you know what is a NEET? It is an acronym which stands for “Not in Employment, Education or Training”. In layman terms, it is what a useless unemployed bum is. That is how many would see an otaku who is also a shut-in, right? But here is the ironic thing. Ever heard about a NEET detective? That’s right. A NEET working as a detective. How ironic can you get as that. But I suppose that is what Kamisama No Memo-chou is. Interestingly, the cute quote of this series was what attracted me to watch this: “Because it is the NEET thing to do”. Neat, eh?

But you find a typical fat chubby bespectacled otaku as the NEET detective here. Why, it’s a little girl who looks like she is just 12 or 13 years old! Hiring a child as a detective can only mean that you are really desperate or insulting your intelligence, eh? However don’t ever judge a book by its cover. Though it may seem pretty odd that this girl who locks herself up in her room apartment for the most part of her life, the oddity of seeing computer monitors and servers beyond her stuffed animal toys, she is a pretty good hacker and if you really requests help from her, she’ll see to it that she’ll at least answers the questions that you are looking for and dig up words from the dead (dead people tell no lies, right?). All from the comfort of her bedroom. Who says you need to leave your comfort zone to solve cases?

Episode 1
Miku Kimura is in a love hotel and doing compensate dating with an old guy. The old geezer wonders if she can do stuff like her senpai, Shouko did. Suddenly, Satoshi Teraoka comes in to snap a picture of what’s happening. He assures him it isn’t money he wants. Meanwhile Narumi Fujishima just arrived in Tokyo. Due to his father’s job, he has always been changing schools. This is no different. Perhaps he feels he’s just like a tiny camera pixel. I guess he got his address mixed up and finds himself at the love hotel area. To his surprise, he sees a girl (Miku) jumping out from the window from the second floor. She landed on the garbage pile though she is knocked out. The old guy runs out but drops a bloodied crystal ashtray. Narumi could feel someone pointing a rifle at his back. Hitoshi “Major” Mukai thinks he is the suspect but was pointed out by Tetsuo “Tetsu” Ichinomiya that Satoshi is it. Tetsu is carrying a bloodied Satoshi over his shoulders.  Hiroaki “Hiro” Kuwabara is consoling Miku as he notes Narumi having a weak presence. Then off they go leaving Narumi puzzled and eating their dust trail. In class, Narumi meets his classmate Ayaka Shinozaki. She toys around with him because he doesn’t remember her. So what better way to plant fake memories like helping her change during gym class, eh? Of course that was a lie. Ayaka proceeds to force Narumi to join the gardening club in which she is the only member. Later Ayaka brings Narumi to the ramen shop she works part time, Hanamaru. Narumi sees the familiar faces of Tetsu and Major slurping on their ramen. His first reaction was to go away, not wanting to have anything to do with those suspicious people. But you know, Ayaka can be forceful sometimes. Seeing he is friends with Ayaka, they see no reason to be hostile. Hanamaru’s owner, Min-san tells Narumi not to get too close to these dropouts or else he will become a NEET like them (though the rest would like to differ that they voluntarily opt out, Min-san isn’t convinced). Tetsu wants to teach him to be a professional pachinko player while Major wants him to be a military man. Hiro comes by and shows his name card. This day couldn’t get worse for Narumi, eh? He is surrounded by NEETs. An ex-boxer addicted to gambling, a military freak and a gigolo. Suddenly they get a call from Alice to bring scallion ramen. The problem is who will bring it to her. Yeah, this Alice girl might be in some bad mood to order this kind of ramen. I don’t know what kind of game they played but Narumi ends up having to do the delivery. And he didn’t even know he was involved. He has been every since he met those weirdoes.

Inside Alice’s room, Narumi sees the room filled with monitor screens, computer units and stuffed toys. Alice was sarcastic enough to say if he is going to deliver the ramen since her long isn’t that long to reach it. Seeing Alice has a hard time breaking her chopsticks, Narumi offers to help but was being told off he is the kind of person who acts kindly for self satisfaction but relishes in seeing others fail in the end. In the end, Alice couldn’t break clean her chopsticks and tears well up in her eyes. She chides Narumi for having no decency to watch her eat. As ordered, he goes to get some canned drink in her fridge. It’s not the fact that her fridge is filled with that single Dokupe drink, but rather she knows his name. She even knows other details like his height and class. Seems Ayaka wouldn’t tell her about the new transfer student so she did a little research. All those fancy words she said mean that she’s a hacker. Or in a nicer way as she put it, a NEET detective. There is a huge difference between a normal detective and a NEET detective. While normal detectives go out to do their investigation and gather information, a NEET detective is opposite. You stay in a room, watches the world to gather all the evidence and truths. Sounds like a hikikomori (shut in), eh? Plus, their true role is to act as a speaker for the dead. Only so they may bring back lost words beyond the grave. In order to protect the honour of the dead, she will hurt the living. In order to console the living, she will shame the dead. Alice allows him to ask her questions but is surprised his first question he posed is the kind of ramen she eats. Is this her usual diet? All the monitor lights up and Alice demonstrates how she does her observations, trying to find her purpose in this world. She lets him know the rate of children dying in the world per second. She attributes that tragedy as her fault for not having not enough power to do something about it or at least the ability to manipulate them. There are only 2 occupations that can do something meaningful to those that have died or lost: A writer and a detective. Writers can bring them back to life in the world of dreams while detectives bring them back from beyond the grave and materialize it into information. But the information detectives dig up when all is said and done is no more than reality that was already recorded in God’s notebook. Alice replays a voice recording of the scene with Miku and the old man. Pausing at the point Satoshi came in, she mentions about receiving a request to investigate through a certain channel.  The perpetrator was quickly caught and admitted her crime. She is showing him this because he was there at the scene. There are several surveillance cameras set up at the place by Major. Continuing the recording, they hear Satoshi is blackmailing the old guy not for money but information about Shouko’s whereabouts. But the old guy panics and starts attacking them. That’s why Miku jumped off the balcony. Alice wants Narumi to call the trio to her room.

As Alice wonders about Satoshi and Miku’s connection other than the crime, this Shouko girl has both of them and the one who is really engaged in compensation dating. The duo will probably repeat their actions till Shouko is found. To solve this case, Shouko must be found at all cost but it won’t be as easy as it seems because Shouko may just be an alias as there is no other information except this name. Alice allocates duties to the trio so Narumi asks why they couldn’t just ask directly those involved. Sure, rub salt into the wounds, will you? Miku did compensation dating, leapt from the second floor, admitted to her crime and you want to go talk to her about it? I’m sure Narumi is feeling red faced. Obviously, he is somewhat down in school. Not putting your hearts into gardening? Ayaka thinks of Min-san’s special ice cream to cheer him up but he doesn’t want to go to that place anymore. Ayaka insists. He doesn’t. Who wins? Ayaka lah. Upon entering Alice’s room, Alice in her cute moe crying loli face is in a pinch. Her favourite teddy bear is ripped and wants Narumi to help fix it. Eh? Hiro drives Narumi to the place where this specialist sewing master known as The Fourth to fix this bear or else Alice can’t sleep. Well, Narumi certainly could tell this place isn’t a toy store. Looks like a yakuza clan! The head Souichirou Hinamura AKA Yondaime meets them and he isn’t your nice and polite guy. Mess with him or displease him, he’ll beat the sh*t out of you without batting an eyelid. Upon knowing what is inside the box, he shuts Narumi up from saying anything more and has his goons carefully take it for repair. He wants them never to peep inside or else it’s sh*t for them. Yes, NEVER! Then he as Narumi uses the computer to print out the suspects. It seems all the goons are like idiots, at awe at every click Narumi makes. They think he’s some computer genius. Duh… Yondaime isn’t thrilled that there is no details on Satoshi except his name. That’s because everything on him is rubbish and as they speak, Alice is trying to trace his handphone usage history. Hiro informs Alice’s request to stop the incidents and nothing was mentioned about turning the suspects in. Yondaime orders his goons to find Satoshi at all cost and doesn’t care if he gets hurt. Narumi is against the use of violence but Yondaime smashes the wall (OMG! It cracked!) and tells him to shut the f*ck up seeing he is not related to that kid. Or else he could bring him in himself.

Narumi meets and talks to Miku. She wonders why he hasn’t reported her to the school but that’s not his intention. Asking why she is doing those things, Miku relates the last time she chatted with Shouko. She accidentally saw a picture of Satoshi in her handphone as Shouko confirms they are dating. Shouko also admitted that they have gone that far and had sex. Miku couldn’t believe it because she always believed she’s a cute and smart student that everyone looks up to. Suddenly Shouko’s character change. She dreads that sentence very much and blows her top in the middle of the food joint. She has had enough of it and tells her off she isn’t the kind of person she thinks she is. That was the last time Miku saw her and she went missing ever since. Something must have happened. As for that Satoshi guy, Miku clears the air he is not her boyfriend. Till she finds Shouko, she doesn’t plan on stopping. Elsewhere, Satoshi is sitting dejectedly like a zombie in a dark place remembering his days with Shouko.

Narumi rushes back to Alice to tell her what he knows. Alice now has decent details on Shouko. She praises Narumi for a job well done. Major calls in to say he has found Satoshi at the convenience store. Upon knowing what he is buying, he wants Major and all his troops to abandon their tailing operation and return to base. Alice wants Hiro to prepare the car because she is going outside. I thought NEETs like her stay indoors? Well, she still is a detective, right? She has to go out sometimes. Man, her black dress looks ominous. Shouko confronts Miku who is just coming out from the shower of a love hotel to stop her from making any more foolish moves. Seems she knows where Shouko is. But first she asks if Miku realizes why Shouko is doing compensation dating. It is the high expectations from her parents and her friends’ innocent but sinful idealization that drove her to hurt herself and self destruction since she had no means of resistance. Miku still denies Shouko is that sort of person so Alice tells her Shouko has always been using her real name, Shouko Sakuma. Unlike Miku, whose real name is Miu Ikuto, Shouko didn’t falsify her real name to her clients to hurt herself. Alice says that Miku should’ve received a direct message and at the same data, data on her clients. That is, Shouko’s handphone. Everything she did was recorded there but by that time she went missing and only her handphone with clues was left. That’s why Miku and Satoshi came up with an idea together of calling Shouko’s clients for information on her whereabouts. But there is one thing Alice doesn’t understand. Why would Satoshi join her in these activities seeing he fully knows where Shouko is. Miku couldn’t believe Alice telling those lies and pins her down, wanting to know the real truth. As Alice explains, ever since Shouko’s disappearance, Satoshi has been going to the convenience store daily to buy large bags of ice. This can only mean one thing.

The news report Satoshi has been arrested and police has found the body of a dead girl (Shouko) with her wrist slashed in the bathtub. Satoshi was very calm during questioning and mentioned his actions were because he wanted to stay with her forever. In the aftermath, Narumi ponders that the Shouko Miku and Satoshi knew wasn’t a lie. They just knew half of her. When they both put the 2 pieces together, they understood the real Shouko for the first time. They realized that and chose to be together. Or perhaps as Alice puts it, Shouko herself wished for that. Also there was a will found in Satoshi’s room from Shouko apologizing he had only half of her and wished time had stopped. Even to her, she found them both irreplaceable. Suddenly Ayaka comes in and forces Alice to take a bath when she heard from Min-san she hadn’t take any for 2 days. She must be desperate enough to strip Alice in front of Narumi. Poor guy gets kicked out and label as a pervert. It’s like it was his fault in the first place. With Ayaka ‘gone’, Min-san enlists Narumi to do Ayaka’s delivery job. Since when he joined the NEET detective gang? Well, even if he didn’t, I’m sure he can’t get out nor stay uninvolved.

Episode 2
Narumi must be getting used to his life as Alice’s assistant, eh? Serving ramen and Dokupe. They get a customer in the form of a Thai girl known as Meo. “Sawatdee”. She knows this NEET detective agency due to the card Hiro gave (that gigolo used to live with the woman next door). Meo starts relating her problem. Recently she got a sudden call from her dad to take a bag in the safe now and run. She is not allowed to call him anymore and he hangs up. No word has been heard ever since. Alice has all the details on Meo’s dad, Masaya Kusakabe. From his job to his marriage to a Thai wife. Previously Kusakabe was a yakuza but decided to live an honest living. Alice warns Meo that if she intends to open the bag, there is no going back because it is often that information that kills people. To know is to die. Unless she is willing to know what happened to her father, Alice will not help. Unzipping the bag, they see lots of cash inside. Alice concludes he may be involved in some crime and out of fear from being found out, he fled. Meo thinks that is a lie and though Alice traced she did try to call daddy once via public phone, it is essential she stop if she wants Alice to continue help. Meo takes the bag and leave but after Narumi stops her to reconsider and Alice’s pledge as a NEET detective to scour every corner of the universe for her answer, Meo agrees. Alice contacts the usual trio for the job. So for the time being, she stays at Min-san’s place. Meo is quite the happy girl because she believes in family even if they’re not related by blood. Narumi and Ayaka walk home and they talk about each other’s family. Narumi only has an elder sister and a dad who rarely comes home while Ayaka’s parents are estranged.

Hiro has got a picture of Kusakabe in his hands and hands it over to Alice. But there is an error and she can’t send it so she has Narumi do his stuff. That is, going down to Yondaime’s office computer. He is disheartened to see the computer filled with porn error. I guess the goons really did go to porn sites. Yondaime has his underlings make 500 copies of the picture. Then he tells Narumi to stay out of this if he doesn’t want to get hurt because it involves a former yakuza that left his daughter with 200 million Yen and disappeared. However Narumi can’t do that because they promised to help her and that he is Alice’s assistant even if he has to lay his life on the line. Yondaime gets rough on him to scare him out of it but it’s not working. He notes they’ve got another dumbass working. Narumi gets a call from Tetsu. He’s in a pinch. Gambling with yakuzas?! Anyway they manage to ask one out for a drink, Kiichi Nemoto AKA Nemo. He once traded pledges with Kusakabe and needs some info. Tetsu puts his balls on the line for that. Liking his guts, Nemo lets them know Kusakabe was a money launderer for the Kishiwada Group. When he left, his punishment was to take over and finish the job rather than lose a finger. So he took around 300 million Yen and ran but back then he wasn’t that kind of man. He cared so much for his family. While Narumi is asleep, he gets an emergency call from Alice. He rushes down only to see Meo and Ayaka in bath towels. Double slap! Yup. Her pinch was them giving her a bath. But back to serious stuff, they discuss about the money he took. The problem is the missing 100 million. Is he dividing his risk? Instead of taking it all, did he took a smaller amount and hid it somewhere safe and gave the rest to Meo? Or was he using his daughter as decoy and never coming back seeing he never gave her a handphone to contact him. Alice has them follow the money trail to find the connection between Kusakabe and Kishiwada Group. Ayaka talks to Alice about Kusakabe’s return, in which she cannot confirm nor deny. Ayaka believes Kusakabe isn’t that kind of person or else he wouldn’t have told Meo that her mother was watching over her in heaven. Narumi asks Meo if she has heard anything from daddy lately and since she hasn’t, he tells her he has run and is never coming back. Meo gets distraught but wouldn’t believe that her father would abandon her because he promised her. Ayaka overheard their conversation and runs away. Narumi gets a call from Alice to bring Meo’s back to her immediately. Beneath the pile of money, there is a handphone with a picture of Meo’s family. She feels they should have taken Kusakabe’s words more sincerely and that Meo knew the truth instinctively. And looks like they have trouble outside because a group of yakuzas are trashing the place.

Episode 3
The punks mess up the place and harass Min-san for Meo’s whereabouts but she’s not giving in. Because Meo tried to call her dad, the yakuzas manage to trace the call to this place. Alice’s assistants are ordered to keep an eye on the situation and follow them afterwards. The yakuzas leave and their boss, Mikawa notes they need to get the 200 million back before the head of Kishiwada finds out. Narumi is called to clean up the mess in the store (I guess he really is this useful). He regrets making Meo cry and learns Min-san wanted to open her own ice cream parlour but inherited the ramen shop from her dad. She hated it and wanted to sell it off but couldn’t do so and eventually came to love this place. As for Meo, she believes if they are true family, nothing he says will change the fact that they are family: To rely and be relied upon, to exchange selfish affections. Next day, Min-sans’ store has been vandalized with graffiti and her arm is a little bandaged due to the scuffle though she doesn’t think it’s such a big deal. Narumi goes to wake Meo up but finds she has left a goodbye note, saying she will search for Kusakabe herself. Alice also feels she has failed on her part and wish to rebuke her selfishness. From the recording, Meo left 30 minutes ago and couldn’t go far. She also has information on Mikawa. He runs a financing business that acts as a front company for the Kishiwada Group for their money laundering. They know Meo will try to contact the yakuzas and true enough she did to make an exchange for the money for her dad. Alice tracks her call so Narumi rushes to the scene and not heeding her advice to wait for backup. Narumi finds her first and wants her to come back but the yakuzas corner them. Narumi gets beaten up but before Meo gets pushed into the car, Yondaime and his underlings crash into the party to pick up their friends. Narumi wakes up in bed with Meo by his side. Meo is in a dilemma for what she did because she is afraid they may kill her dad. She doesn’t want to lose any more people she loves. Narumi assures her that Alice and her people will do what it takes to save Kusakabe. Meo reveals her real name, Charunee and promises not to run without saying anything anymore. Narumi talks to Yondaime about helping those he considers his relatives and friends. Because of this, he wants to make a sake pledge of brotherhood with him (not to be mistaken as his intention to join his organization) for his own sake. He has hurt Meo and wants to be someone whom she can trust or else he won’t be able to forgive himself. Next day, Yondaime and Narumi enter the sake pledge procession with Alice and her assistants also watching.

Narumi hands Meo her mother’s handphone and she is reduced to tears. He requests for her bag. As found out, the 200 million was supposed to be laundered by Kishiwada Group via Mikawa. However he embezzled 100 million out of the 300 million given by investing in his own company. Afraid of being caught, he planned to frame Kusakabe for the embezzlement and pocketed the remaining 200 million. When they don’t know where Meo or the money is, Mikawa couldn’t land a finger on Kusakabe so he will be asking for the money in exchange for his release. Narumi suggests using the money themselves. With Alice taking care of the minor roadblocks, we see the gang putting the money in envelopes and giving them away. Narumi accompanied with Yondaime and Tetsuo go see Mikawa. In the bag contains bank statements of the 200 million split into small portions. First thing on Monday morning, the funds will be transferred to Kishiwada Group’s account. Mikawa doesn’t believe his story because he needs the account holder’s permission to do so. Narumi claims he has professional hackers to hack the bank system. He warns Mikawa to hurry because the bank is closing soon.  After Narumi leaves, it is revealed he was just lying all the way. This is a ploy to get them to rush to the bank with Kusakabe to conduct all the necessary transactions. Mikawa couldn’t call the bank because Major had interfered with the phone lines. So once Mikawa and co arrive at the bank, Yondaime and his underlings start a big brawl outside the bank. Kusakabe was to be taken away but when he sees his daughter, he easily broke free from the yakuza’s grasp! That easy?! Probably the power of fatherly love. Narumi caught a glimpse of father and daughter reunited but was accidentally punched out by Tetsu. Friendly fire? In the aftermath, Alice is not happy Meo and Ayaka are using her room as a dressing room. Meo is happy she will be going out on a date with her father and is trying several outfits. That’s where Narumi comes in to chase them out. Can he? Should he?

Episode 4
While working at Hanamaru, Narumi notices a sunglasses dude leaves the place and paid for the ramen he barely touched. Because of that, Narumi is forced to work overtime with Min-san to make the perfect ramen. Seems this isn’t the first time. Each time he orders a different ramen, he will take a sip before leaving his payment and then leaving for good. The ramen is always untouched. So how long did Narumi work? Let’s say three days without proper sleep. One night, Narumi thinks he spots a thief in Hanamaru. He tried to stop him but got away. Min-san just came out from the bath and was told what happened. She didn’t think there was anything worth stealing till she realized her sarashi (cloth used to wrap around the chest) is missing. Major and Tetsuo heard this and straightaway want to get violent with the culprit. They view Hanamaru as the holy ground for NEETs (actually it’s a place they can run up the tabs) and won’t let this pass. Min-san isn’t willing to let them help out though Hiro guessed it’s the work of a stalker. Besides, she said yes to all the stalker-like signals (receiving silent phone calls, strange letters and feeling a presence behind her back). Alice is proud that Min-san finally seeks her help but Min-san ‘bullies’ her that only her attitude has grown big (see Min-san lift Alice up like a doll!). Back to serious business, they notice that whenever the sunglasses dude patrons, the thief always comes but Narumi dismisses the culprit as the same person because of their different size. This means there may be co-conspirators. To complicate things, Alice did not find anything on the surveillance cameras. Min-san still isn’t happy about requesting their help because it feels like they’re trying to ruin her ramen business. She walks off while Narumi tries to persuade her to seek their help. What made her change her mind? The culprit may be sniffing her sarashi and sleeping with it every night! That must be one scary thought! Instantly Min-san pleads for Alice’s help. Feeling needed again, Alice assigns tasks to the trio while Narumi will continue to remain doing the same thing. Because he was useless against the thief so he can’t probably help out. Haha. Was that an insult?

The sunglasses dude visits them again. Everyone watches closely as he sips his ramen. Same thing. He tosses his money on the table and leaves. Hiro tails him but loses him. Min-san gives Narumi taste her soup and in his honest opinion thinks the seaweed flavour is too strong so the ramen doesn’t taste like ramen. Min-san pours the entire pot down the sink and thinks that dude is here for her father’s recipe. Seeing nobody thought Min-san would inherit this place, she never asked for the recipe. Later Alice finds out a piece of information that Narumi forgot to tell her. When Major tried to replace an old front door lock for security, Min-san vehemently refused. Alice wants the lock to be left as it is, slacken their guard to let the intruder in. That night as Min-san showers (she’s the bait), true enough the thief comes in. Narumi stops him by throwing a blinding stun grenade from Major. The thief is rounded up and from his ID, he is Tomio Kimura, a design artist for women’s lingerie. His reason for stealing her sarashi? As an artist striving for perfection, he feels women should wear underwear that makes them shine and it’s his mission to produce ultimate beauty. So by distorting her boobs by wrapping the sarashi is like defiling God’s miracle! His passionate ranting may make him sound like a pervert because he can tell the exact measurements of a woman’s bust with only a glance! Min-san is G-cup if you’re interested. But all Min-san is interested is to beat the crap out of him. However Alice has one more question for him. About the man he witnessed breaking in to the place. Kimura entered the room because it was unlocked but Min-san insists it was always locked. Alice concludes that Kimura has been observing the house every day and happened to witness a certain someone unlocking the front door and entering. That’s how Kimura subsequently entered. Mentioning about Min-san not wanting to change her lock, she suddenly remembers her talk with Narumi that she is waiting for her father. If she goes down to the store, she will find the answer. Alice further explains they thought there was a co-conspirator but there are 2 culprits both acting independently. The sunglasses dude is Min-san’s father, Masaru Hanada. Min-san finds a box containing ramen recipes and a note from her dad to let her have a taste of her ice cream next time. This brings tears to her eyes. Major is telling his theory to Tetsu and Hiro, the sunglasses dude must be someone trained at a special facility seeing he can dodge all cameras, avoid passerby attention and slip inside in an instant. He might be stretching it too far when he mentions about altering his own shape and appearance. But how else would you explain Min-san not recognizing her own father? Min-san wonders a bra present left at Hanamaru. The trio realize it was a favour they asked from Kimura in exchange to let him off the hook. You know Kimura’s ability to guess correctly a woman’s bust size no matter how flat they are? Yup. It’s for Alice. Now they just need someone to deliver to her. Guess who the dumbass delivery guy is? Narumi gets proper shelling from upset Alice. She thinks it’s an insult for her to force her to eat Min-san’s ramen so that she could fit into this. I guess if she was stronger, she would’ve thrown all the servers at him.

Episode 5
Alice makes a fuss about washing her ‘friends’ (stuffed dolls). To convince Narumi that her teddy bear doesn’t stink, she forces him to smell it! But Yondaime seeks to ‘borrow’ Narumi to do advertising for an indie band gig. I guess you can’t expect to be profitable if you’re just running a group of hooligans. Ayaka volunteers to help out but Alice isn’t pleased because this means Narumi would spend less time as her ‘assistant’ in her office. Hiro ‘warns’ Alice about letting Narumi smell her stuff because since she touches it, it’s like making Narumi touch her bare naked body. Man, she believed it and throws a Dokupe at poor Narumi. Later downstairs, Yondaime tells Narumi something about the job that he couldn’t tell Alice. The job may be risky because the band had a previous promoter. They are the Yanagihara Group and had ties with the yakuza. The band cancelled their contract and came to Yondaime’s group instead but so far they haven’t make any overt moves yet. I don’t know how Alice is drowning herself washing her ‘friends’ but Narumi saved her. She’s doing it herself since she can’t risk him touching her skin. During her reprimanding, she accidentally tore her teddy bear. So looks like it’s up to Yondaime’s fingers to sew it again. Narumi and Ayaka go survey several places for the band gig. Yondaime gets word from his goons about someone asking about them persistently. Thing is, he is a kid and not from any yakuza. Yondaime warns Narumi to run if he senses trouble. While Narumi is surveying at a bar, he notices a guy, Renji Hirasaka nearly starting a brawl with a few punks. Narumi purposely splashes his drink on Renji’s shirt to take him away. At a safe place, Narumi reveals he did that to save those punks because he observed Renji was serious in fighting them. Narumi’s sharp observation he took off his sunglasses to head butt awes Renji and he mentions his promise not to use his fist when he gets mad. That’s why he uses his legs and head. I guess there’s always a way around it. Renji brings Narumi along to a shopping spree. Narumi is paying. Yeah, what better way to enjoy life by spending someone else’s money? At a cafe, Renji divulges about his bad attitude, leaving him no friends. He tried turning over a new leaf but isn’t confident. Narumi doesn’t think he is a hopeless case yet so Renji thinks of testing out their friendship. However Narumi feels being friends isn’t something one should test out. Renji spots some guys looking for him so he goes out to ‘greet’ them.

Narumi brings back Renji’s shirts he bought and decides to wash them. Alice is still sulking over everything. And when Narumi wants to leave early, she goes into a tantrum about him abandoning his duty of opening his Dokupe! She thinks he is shoving his obligations to Ayaka to slack off and that her phytoplasma is doing more work than him! That girl cracks me up! Well, it’s not that she officially hired him as her assistant but she tells him off to go to the employment centre instead. Narumi is asked by Min-san to retrieve her apron at a fabric store at Kita Senju. He sees Yondaime and that yakuza guy isn’t happy. He threatens Narumi never to reveal this place or else. Yondaime comes here for items he couldn’t find to fix Alice’s dolls. The storeowner, Yoshiki seems to be quite casual with Yondaime and has no fear in teasing that guy. Not to mention some embarrassing moments in Yondaime’s life (what is it with tough guys and crying?). Yondaime receives a call from the venue. Seems there is trouble. As explained by the staff, a group of men claiming to be from the Hirasaka Group insist they are let into the staff room. They force their way in to steal some spare t-shirts. Narumi contacts Alice for her help and manages to print footage of the surveillance cameras. Though the symbols on the shirt match, she doubts the suspects from the group. Major studies to lock and finds that it is not picked. Since Yondaime has the key and no spares, it means a super professional could only open it without damaging the lock. That means either Major or Yondaime. Screw that theory. And all of Yondaime’s goons are shirtless because since it got stolen, they pledge not to wear any till the thief is caught. Nobody wants to see your tan, buddy. Yondaime tells Narumi if something happens to him, he will be in charge of these boys. Great. Narumi returns to Alice and she is still sulking. However when he says he cares for her, she suddenly flusters over that surprise attack. She eases up and you could say forgives him when she mentions to at least tell her where he goes. Because Narumi is going to Ueno for his survey, Alice brightens up because she has something he wants him to do. Take pictures of capybaras at the zoo. Sometimes he just feels he wants to die. What will people think when they learn you are from the NEET detective agency? But at the zoo, he sees Renji.

Episode 6
What’s the first thing Renji asked when they meet? Where’s his shirt! Okay, he’s still happy to see Narumi. They talk about their lives as we learn Renji wandered around (he’s still a NEET now as admitted), raked up lots of debts and became homeless. Both his parents are dead. Renji is serious about them being friends and this isn’t just a test. They conduct some mock brotherhood drink ritual with the polar bear as their witness. Renji adds that the last time he was here, there was a guy he really hit it off with. He thought he’d never make another friend as close as him and wanted to make a ritual out of it. Then when Narumi gets a call from the concert’s venue, Renji doesn’t want him to go there. But he still did and saw the place on fire, albeit a small one. Suddenly Hiro’s call pulls up before him and Alice takes him in. She was worried sick because he didn’t answer his handphone and his GPS location is idle. She thought she had been burnt to crisp. But knowing that he’s alright, she makes an excuse that she was more worried about the capybara. He got her a stuff doll but it was the wrong one. Narumi gets a call from Yondaime. Noting he is okay, he wants Narumi to stay out from now on because he has found the thief who stole their t-shirts. But Yondaime isn’t amused Alice and Narumi came to his office. Though Yondaime did ask for Alice’s help it was just a mugshot of the culprit. Alice is here to ascertain if her information was accurate but was warned that the culprit has been beaten up to a pulp to a point she might not recognize. So how? Send Narumi in to check. Sure, that guy is badly beaten up but he’s gone crazy, talking nonsense like as though he is hiding something. Yondaime continues beating him up and though we didn’t get to see it, we know how terrible it is because his fists are covered with blood! Yondaime returns to Narumi and remembers something he didn’t tell him. He has a hunch of the person behind all this because he too had another set of key: Renji. Surprise to hear that name? Narumi hears more from Yondaime’s underling about how Renji and Yondaime met and teamed up, even stealing the turf from Gotouda Group and subsequently the formation of Hirasaka Group. The duo enter a sake pledge that neither was superior to the other and they exchanged something very important. But then they started butting heads. The underling pleads to Min-san to stop Yondaime and Renji before things get worse (Yondaime may take things into his own hands) but Min-san tells him off she’s running a ramen store and the most he could do is bring them here and she’ll listen to their problems and beat them to their senses.

Alice confronts Narumi and lets him know he is not obligated to answer. She wants to know what he was doing because he has been acting strange lately. He admits to meeting Renji and Yondaime telling him he was behind it. Narumi looks at Renji’s t-shirt and recognizes the butterfly shape embroidery which is similar to Hirasaka Group’s logo. Narumi admits to Yondaime about meeting Renji. He gets violent, strangling him for answers but Narumi pleads him to seek Alice’s help since they were friends and even held the sake ritual. Yondaime cools off so Narumi wonders what happened between them. He just said Renji broke a promise and nothing more. He shows him Renji’s shirt which is the unfinished design of the group. Something Renji said had sentimental value to him. Yondaime replies it isn’t anything concrete and the embroidery was done by a woman named Hison. He warns him not to go near Renji and if he contacts, let him know. Yondaime sends a couple of his underlings as Narumi and Ayaka’s bodyguard on their normal shopping day. They promise never to take their eyes off them but see how useless they are when they start sobbing and crying right after losing sight of them. Narumi and Ayaka run into trouble with several thugs wanting to hurt them real bad. If not for Tetsu’s return (he went horseracing at Niigata), they would’ve been toast. Thanks to Tetsu’s unrivalled boxing skills, he took them all out! Narumi feels bad that not only he went off on his own, he got Ayaka involved too. He doesn’t pick up Alice’s calls but answers one from Renji. He wants to meet and also to bring that t-shirt. Why couldn’t he just mail it? Otherwise there won’t be any reason for them to meet, right? Narumi catches Alice off guard once more telling her he is here to see her (the way he said it doesn’t sound like a joke but Alice sure reacts the usual). Alice lets him know the manager of a sporting goods store in Ikebukuro called Exeteria used to lead a gang of thieves. But they came into conflict with Yondaime and the gang was disbanded. Alice knows all this because Renji doesn’t know the existence of a certain NEET detective. Alice adds she knows how cruel and ruthless Renji is. He is a dangerous man who can unflinchingly do such things. Those working under him are largely the remains of teams crushed by Hirasaka Group. Only fear of him and Yondaime’s reputation kept them in line. Narumi shows him the t-shirt he is supposed to return. Alice chides him a fool for wanting to go, for wanting to insist on interfering at the cost of his own safety. She gives him her owl doll as safety charm so that he could give it back to her safely. But for now she wants him to sleep since he looks pale and that the sludge in Tokyo Bay has a healthier colour. Oh Alice… Before Narumi leaves next morning, he gives the t-shirt to Alice as keepsake. No, not as hostage but if he gives it back, he won’t have any more reason to meet Renji. Narumi meets Renji and he wants to talk.

Episode 7
Renji has only 2 things to say to him. First, thanks for being his friend despite how things turned out. Second, the next time he sees him, he will kill him because he is working with Hirasaka Group. Narumi isn’t satisfied with the answer and knows something more has happened. Using their sworn brotherhood thingy as an excuse, Renji mentions he and Yondaime used to live with Hison together. The guys always came back bruised but it didn’t matter to her. They made a promise that till one of them found a better woman than her, they will not make a move on Hison. However Renji wanted to protect her. He and Yondaime were making trouble with the Gotouda Group. Yondaime was believed to have used Hison as a shield and died. Hison’s existence was erased and Yondaime was paid to shut up about it seeing she was an illegal immigrant and a hostess of a club. Renji never saw her body and Yondaime even admitted to it. Narumi doesn’t believe it all because he believes there is still a bond between them. But Renji isn’t amused. He crushes his handphone with his fists to show how mad he is and reveals he is going to crush everything Yondaime created. Narumi returns to report to Alice about Renji’s grudge on Yondaime and is targeting the event. But Alice notes he didn’t attack the band directly. Only the concert staff, Narumi and Ayaka were attacked. Since she has not being formally being requested for help, there is nothing much she can do. Reminding him as detectives, they should not speak thoughts that others did not give form to because they only act as speakers and representatives of those unspoken thoughts. Narumi gets a call from Mika, the promoter for the event. She laments her boss is ready to cancel the job due to the incident but she vows to fight on since Yondaime came all the way to plead with them. This boosts Narumi’s morale. Later he goes to seek Yoshiki’s advice on the embroidery pattern and they chose the same pattern. Noticing he is always seated during his job (regular customers usually get the items themselves instead of calling Yoshiki to fetch it from the top shelves for them), Yoshiki reveals an old ache that doctors advised him not to work too much standing up. He also says when he first opened this place, Yondaime helped him out. Because he is stupidly strong and good looking, people just flock to him. Yoshiki quips Narumi and Yondaime should become a manzai comedy pair because the latter used to speak in Kansai dialect. Narumi realized something and calls Yondaime. Along with the sake ritual, Yondaime and Renji exchanged manners of speech too. Narumi is convinced neither of them has forgotten what’s important and there must be some misunderstanding somewhere. Otherwise their bond couldn’t have easily broken. He pleads him to seek Alice’s help but was told to stay out of his business.

Narumi feels down nothing worked out and felt he had only pretended to understand them. But Alice cautions him not to view Yondaime as a cheap man because he’ll return anything he’s entrusted with without fail. Speaking of which, Yondaime is here to seek Alice’s help. He doesn’t care how but to bring Renji to him. Poke their noses where it doesn’t belong and he’ll beat them up. The trio assistants knew it would come to this and already did the liberty to prior setting up and investigations. Yeah, they have some leads on the case. As found out by Tetsu, Renji owes millions of yen in the black market and that debt is transferred to Yanagihara Group so Renji’s got their backing. But Narumi still feels gloomy because he heard straight from Yondaime’s mouth that Hison was stabbed in his placed and he received the money. Alice warns him again about attempting to form thoughts of another. Showing him a newspaper article about a club hostess attacked by Hirasaka Group 5 years ago, Hison was working there and the ones backing the club were Gotouda Group. If she investigates the money trail, the financial connection with Yondaime will become clearer. That’s because the flow of money speaks volumes about human nature. Alice ends the conversation and wants him to leave immediately or he may turn from moss into fungus. Oh Alice… Narumi sees Mika and the final design of the t-shirts are printed out. She gives him a t-shirt made from Yoshiki with the feel of embroidery in the prints. Returning to Alice, she has scooped up more information. Looking from Gotouda Group leader’s account, he transferred what she believes to be living expenses to Hison, his supposed lover. In the month she died, a very large expense transaction was recorded. Half went to a surgeon in Shinjuku and the other a real estate agent in Adachi who is an acquaintance of Yondaime. Confirming if this is what Renji thinks (someone from Gotouda Group broke into the apartment, mistakenly stabbed Hison whom Yondaime used as a shield and then received compensation), Alice has come to conclude as the same conclusion as Narumi (not because she based it on some ‘virtue’ like he did with Yondaime). Something is wrong with the picture. It may be a big cover up. They may have got their premise wrong because if it was so, why didn’t Gotouda Group kill Yondaime and only went as far as paying him off.

With Yondaime’s men station around town 24/7 so Renji and his men won’t have much freedom doing as they like, Narumi hears Hiro’s testimony he got from a woman living next door to Hison. From the recording, she mentioned remembering hearing a loud noise of a woman from Hison’s room. Subsequently the Gotouda Group came and carried away Hison who was stabbed in the stomach. There was also a man with blood flowing from his shoulder though she didn’t get to see his face. But that voice she heard didn’t belong to Hison but another woman. Narumi rushes back to Yondaime’s place and he tried to touch his tattoo on his shoulder which serves to hide a scar. Yondaime quickly restrains him as Narumi mentions Hison was the target all along and that they were never after him. Returning to Alice, she mentions if it was a right choice for him working here as a detective. Narumi apologizes for not being useful but she says at least it is better than doing nothing (well, he handled 5% of her burden). Back to the case, 5 years ago right after the incident, Gotouda Group leader divorced his wife, who happens to be the other woman’s voice described in the testimony. She is most likely the culprit and the madness that drove her to stab Hison in the abdomen could only mean Hison was pregnant. Case of ex-wife jealous with husband’s lover, eh? Touching the embroidery print t-shirt Narumi is wearing, Alice finally understood and wants him to find Renji at once to tell him the truth. However Narumi gets a call with bad news that Yondaime has been attacked.

Episode 8
Yondaime is in critical condition in hospital, unconscious and still unstable. Calling Alice about the situation, she notes this was all along Renji’s plan. With Yondaime diverting his men to guarding the place, he is left alone and was attacked by the group. Narumi visits Yondaime’s place to see it in a mess. He was in the midst of writing an email when the attack happened. Seems he was about to email materials related to the event to Narumi. He returns to Hanamaru only to be greeted by Yondaime’s underlings who are crying for revenge. They have found out his location and are about to head there to kill him. They don’t give a damn about the concert. This causes Narumi to blow his top that Yondaime has put a lot of effort into this event to take shape. If they cause a scene while wearing that symbol on their t-shirts, it would have been nothing. Besides, don’t you think it is pretty funny that they know Renji’s location now seeing the event is pretty near? Yup, it’s just a trap to lure them in. He reminds them he is Yondaime’s little brother and till he recovers, he will be in charge of the group. The goons apologize about soiling Yondaime’s name and put their trust in him. Later as Alice saw through his tactic, he just put on a show in the heat of the moment. She quips he should be a con man. Even the theory of why Renji let them know his location as a trap, he came up with that at that instant. Alice notes he is truly a mysterious young man because when he gets hot headed, for some reason he arrives at the truth via shortest possible route. She lets him know that Major’s surveillance at the supposed place Renji is, there are around 10 of his men waiting. So if Yondaime’s underlings were to barge in, they would’ve really walked into a trap and an inevitable unruly scene. Alice reminds him about Renji’s goal to destroy Hirasaka Group and came close to achieving that had not his miscalculation of Narumi. Seeing he has failed, it is most likely he will come after him himself. Why? Because they still have his t-shirt as ‘hostage’. But how do they call him out? Alice says to do his job. Straightaway, Narumi calls Mika and wishes to take over everything related to the concert.

On the day of the concert, Narumi and the guys act as security. They spot 3 of Renji’s men camouflaging as the audience but they are told not to engage unless they disrupt the safety of the other people. Narumi goes to the backstage and this is a bait for Renji to follow him. True enough, Renji comes in but he is upset that the lead vocalist is wearing his t-shirt on stage. He purposely took the bait to find out but as Narumi pointed out, it wasn’t him who called him out but Alice. She assures him the shirt is a replica and the original one is still with them. She points on the embroidery on Narumi’s t-shirt that uses a traditional Korean technique, similar to the one on Renji’s shirt. In short, it is made by the same person. On that day 5 years ago when Gotouda Group leader’s ex-wife stabbed Hison in a jealousy crime, Hison was transported to hospital by Gotouda Group and her life spared. However it cost her her womb and ovaries and lost her womanhood. Renji thought Yondaime had accepted the money but in reality it went towards renting a floor of a building in Kita Senju. There, Hison set up a small shop and cast away her womanhood and continued living with a new identity while sealing her emotions towards Renji and Yondaime. Yes. Hison = Yoshiki. Oh sh*t! Plus, Yondaime continues to shoulder the blame for not being able to protect Hison and did this because he doesn’t want Renji to know Hison was Gotouda Group leader’s lover or she was pregnant. She presents him with a choice: To reforge their bonds or let them remain shattered. Yondaime has pretty much stumbled his way to the backstage and didn’t like how everything is revealed. Ironically, Renji didn’t feel so much hate when he sees he face. So what can guys like them do to get back together? Trade punches… Maybe it takes away the pain from their heart… The even ended without incident as Mika treats all the staffs to a celebration. At Hanamaru, Renji notices Min-san has received an embroidery carpet from Yoshiki. Seems he also has forgotten to take his sunglasses. But he realizes the deeper meaning to it. Rushing to Alice to retrieve the t-shirt so he can see off Renji at the train station, Narumi says that even if he can only manage 5%, he’ll still do his best so that she’ll feel he deserves to stay by her side. Once more, Alice is flustered by that sudden attack and starts spewing ‘insults’ such as overdose of employment has unbalanced his brain for this natural-born NEET. Oh Alice… I love how you say things. She probably wanted to admit something but she tells him to hurry. Narumi catches Renji in time and hands him back his sunglasses. He finds out he is trying out his luck in Osaka and can’t stay in Tokyo to take responsibility for what has happened. Plus, seeing Narumi again is considered good for a no-good-person like him. Handing back his t-shirt, the embroidery is completed. He remembers the thing he forgot. Seeing the t-shirt is the only thing he had, each time they moved apartments, Hison will stitch on bit by bit. In the end it took 5 years to complete, eh?

Episode 9
Looks like Narumi is hooked playing online baseball with an incredible database of player stats at an arcade. Not that his team has any luck winning. There goes his money… On a side note, there is a fighting game in the background called… Guess? NEET Fighter!!!However a bunch of yakuzas barge in to stop operations. Narumi is surprised to see Nemo. Seems he wants to up the rental for this place or else it’s eviction. Major wouldn’t allow for it so Nemo decides to settle this with a contest. A baseball game. Not the ones you play in your computer. A real baseball game. Oh sh*t. NEETs and outdoor activities don’t go hand in hand, right? If they win, the rental stays or else Nemo will have the place immediately evicted. Because of that, Major seeks Alice’s help. I guess he’s really desperate. Nishimura (the owner of the arcade) asks about Ayaka’s brother who frequents the arcade but recently hasn’t seen him around. Ayaka doesn’t seem too happy to answer so Hiro chances the subject of players. Because they have not enough players, Yondaime and a couple of his goons join in. The rest making up the team are Min-san, Meo, Tetsu, Major, Hiro and Nishimura. Alice too has a role. She is the coach. Seriously? Serious. What about Narumi? The assistant coach and substitute. He’s always got the best position, eh? Yeah, he’s in charge of training the goons who know nothing about baseball. So the days pass as everyone trains hard. Alice shows Narumi data on Nemo. He is quite the athletic person during his school days and his school baseball team (believed to be a high ranking one) even went on winning the coveted Koushien and him the ace player. At the arcade, Nemo shows he still hasn’t lost touch of his baseball skills because the baseball he threw got stuck in the vending machine. Be very afraid. Narumi asks him about his past playing baseball but he mentions he just want to beat up kids who play baseball because they are treating it like just some game. He isn’t happy that even they won the Koushien, once summer ends, they became nobodies. This game is going to make him money that’s why he is pitching. On game day, Ayaka becomes the cheerleader for the NEET Teddy Bears. Yes, this is what their team name is. Embarrassing? Well, Alice is the coach. Besides, she will be coaching from Hiro’s car stuffed with all her dolls. Can she really breathe in there? The game goes on with both sides equally matched though Nemo’s team has the slim lead. Narumi remembers the additional information Alice told him. On the year Nemo’s team was defeated in the semi-finals, he soon dropped out of school. There were no written proofs so Alice believes Nemo was suspected of being involved with a yakuza baseball betting scheme. After all, everything happened 30 years ago and the truth shrouded in darkness. So it’s like everyone has probably forgotten.

As the game is near its end, Yondaime is reaching his limit. Since he just got discharged from hospital, he is in no condition to play baseball. Why the heck did they let him play in the first place? I know his ego is one thing but they should’ve known about his medical condition, right? Not enough players? They can always pick 1 more goon, right? Alice has observed Nemo’s playing style and laments if only she had his past records. Even so, that is 30 years old and how reliable that would be. Narumi realizes something and dashes back to the arcade to get some data. It is a huge gamble he is taking because he believes there is someone who remembers. When Narumi returns, he sees Yondaime being escorted off the pitch and his ribs bleeding. Tetsu makes a bet with Hiro that he can hit Nemo’s throw. He does hit but his bat breaks! Yondaime wants Narumi to be the pinch hitter but Narumi is not confident. Suddenly Alice steps out and will be the pinch hitter. Is this a joke? Not. As Major notes, due to her small stature, the strike zone is shrunk. I don’t understand baseball so this part had me stumped. Seems Alice purposely missed several shots and on the final one, she tells them they had their eyes looking somewhere else and coolly walks over to the next plate. Nemo realizes he has been had and rushes to the plate but Alice already saves it. Alice passes the bat to Narumi. After several fouls, Narumi strikes a stance that made Nemo seems to recognize. Once Nemo pitches, Narumi hits a home run (I think) and NEET Teddy Bears makes a comeback and wins by the skin of their teeth. Is lady luck shining on Narumi? I think Tetsu is pushing it when he wants him to hit the auctions too. Nemo wants to know how Narumi knew his finishing pitch was the forkball. He read his records from the game. Nemo didn’t think that anybody would remember his stats but as Narumi put it, even if he hates the game, there are people who have remembered him and inputted that data. He is sure there was somebody by his side 30 years ago watched him pitched and committed that memories to heart. Nemo is graceful in his loss and maintains the rental of the arcade. In the aftermath, Major experiences his rare defeat. His tenth defeat in a row! Narumi notices the cute teddy bear uniform of the other team and realizes that it isn’t just them who got addicted to online baseball. Yeah, I guess Alice can be a baseball star considering it is confined to computers. Ayaka thinks of playing it too when Nishimura mentions her brother has returned.

Episode 10
They see Toshi playing the pinball. Tetsu plays a fighting game with him. And lost. It’s been some time they’ve last seen him and he doesn’t look like in good shape as he is coughing on and off. However he doesn’t want his concerned sister to touch him. Narumi follows him outside to see if he’s okay. Toshi starts acting like a strange person and badmouths his sister as stupid, annoying and always trying to drag him back. He mentions about Ayaka being the one skipping class and being worried about him is just to make herself feel better. Toshi feels Narumi is like his replacement. He begins coughing again but takes pops several pills with ‘AF’ inscription. The only thing Narumi knew is that it’s called Angel Fix. Toshi stumbles like a drunkard, not caring about the traffic lights. It’s amazing the cars didn’t hit him. Narumi sees an older guy picking him up across the street. Ayaka calls Narumi but Tetsu hijacks the phone. Learning he swallowed a pill and began behaving strangely, Tetsu believes Toshi is doing drugs again. He doesn’t want him to say a word to Ayaka. Ayaka pesters Narumi for information on what the guys said. Narumi can’t play poker because his straight face tells him that he is hiding something. Toshi calls Ayaka to warn her about not telling others more than she has to. Narumi overheard the conversation that Toshi is with Shirou Hakamizaka, a graduate student doing botanical research whom Ayaka has only met twice or thrice. Next day as Narumi goes to serve Alice her noodles, he sees a WTF moment. Why is Ayaka trying to wrap Alice’s hair?! Anyway Ayaka is kicked out and Alice ‘saved’ when Yondaime comes in to request for help. Because there are people dying, he doesn’t want Narumi to be involved. However seeing he is his sworn little brother, he has no choice. Yondaime wants to know how a new drug has been circulating around the neighbourhood. Remember about Narumi’s face about being poker? Yeah, they can guess from his reaction he knew something about Angel Fix too. With the usual trio assistants in the picture, they conclude Toshi may have either bought it from the source (which they have no info on) or a dealer due to the large amounts he has. They need to catch him and make him talk. But for Narumi, his job is to make sure Ayaka doesn’t find out about this. Again Ayaka tries to bug Narumi for what they talk about. She has a hunch it involves her brother. Narumi is reluctant to say and this causes Ayaka to feel that he is like the same as Toshi, always running off without a word. Narumi wonders if he is Toshi’s replacement since she didn’t quite work out with her brother. Those words hurt her but it’s too late to retract them. Narumi tries to apologize to her but the misunderstanding turns a little for the worse with him accidentally ripping her gardening club committee armband.

Over the next few days, he works hard trying to bring back Ayaka’s smile. One evening, they chance each other and apologized at the same time. With that as an ice breaker, Narumi gives her a newly sewn armband of the club with its own logo. He had Yoshiki help out too. With Ayaka being to her happy self, Narumi tells her what Toshi said the other day about her skipping class. She admits it is true because she is not good mixing with people. She loves hanging out on the rooftop alone till she saw Narumi. She wanted to talk to him but had no courage. She bought planters on purpose so she could come to the roof on pretence of club activities. She assures Narumi he is not a replacement and that Narumi is Narumi. The trio assistants are reading up on books on how the drug is made. Not making any sense, eh? Plus, they have no leads on Toshi. They thought Ayaka was coming and quickly hide the books but it was Narumi. He warns them Ayaka will be here soon as Alice calls Narumi and Hiro for yet another broken stuff doll ‘assignment’. Major chats with Tetsu about Hiro getting involved with this stuff, not knowing Ayaka is eavesdropping nearby. Wow. She must be fast seeing Narumi first said she’ll be late followed by she’ll be here soon. At Yondaime’s place, Hiro receives a list of people who were hospitalized in the area for the past month. Narumi returns to Hanamaru to get a taste of Min-san’s new tiramisu ice cream. He and Ayaka walk home as they chat about the cultural festival in which their teacher wanted to use the roof so they had to clean up the planters. Narumi thinks of notifying the teacher they can’t do so in such a short notice seeing the gardening club is their place. He got embarrassed when he realized what he said and says it was only meant as a figure of speech as he is part of the gardening club for what it’s worth. As they part, it’ll be the last time Narumi would see her smile because Ayaka jumps down from the school building in an apparent suicide. The bed of flowers below isn’t going to cushion her fall… Ayaka!!! NOOOOOO!!!!

Episode 11
Ayaka is still alive but lying in coma in hospital. Her condition is so bad that the doctor has placed no hope in her recovering. Only a miracle can save her. Narumi wallows in guilt and depression that he hasn’t set foot to Hanamaru since then and even skipped school. But he can’t stay like this forever like his sister said. One night he goes to Hanamaru and sees Tetsu. He wants him to teach him boxing. I’m not sure if he’s using this as an excuse to take out his frustrations. Once he feels better, he runs into Alice’s room. As usual, the cool reprimanding lines but Narumi is here seriously seeking her help. Why did Ayaka ended up like that? She warns him that by digging up the truth Ayaka wanted to hide, it will destroy his tranquillity maintained by his ignorance. Might as well since his tranquillity has already been shattered. Alice already knows what he wants to know: The reason Ayaka wants to die but that’s not what she wanted to know. Rather, why did she leap from a school roof which is a low level building compared to others and why the school? She didn’t left any suicide note so the police are investigating as an impulse act or accident. Alice gets emotional and blames herself that she too didn’t get to stop Alice. Narumi promises he will stay by her side and face the truth even at most he can only shoulder 5% of her burden. With that, Alice officially makes him her assistant. Every part of his body to the last drop of his blood belongs to her. Erm… Doesn’t that sound more like a slave? Narumi is to continue as he is, observing places Ayaka spent her time. Alice calls him at school and guides him to the greenhouse but he is surprised to see Yondaime there. He thinks the school has something to do with Angel Fix since he is here investigating but he tells him not to get involved anymore. Narumi returns the greenhouse keys to the teacher who is asking about the pretty bluish violet flowers Ayaka planted. However Narumi didn’t see any of those in the greenhouse. She mentions Ayaka growing a rare new flower breed from seeds her brother gave her. Then it hit Narumi what is happening. He rushes back to Alice to see documents Major put together but she wants him to see something first. A profile of Hakamizaka reveals he is an excellent student in the field of biological chemistry in a pharmacy university. Narumi recognizes this guy as the one picking up Toshi. Hakamizaka is researching and mutate breeding a flower that provides an active ingredient in Angel Fix. By mutating the flower’s DNA, he is creating a breed with a more powerful narcotic effect. Popping up on screen is a list of people who have had contact with Hakamizaka. Among them is Toshi. Seems he is aggressively recruiting help to grow, manufacture the drug but since he is an amateur, he didn’t get much foothold. Toshi was in a position to receive the drug directly from he and he used Ayaka to help grow the raw ingredients. Drugs after all corrupt people from the inside out. She wants Narumi to hand over this data she copied into her USB drive to Yondaime. Meanwhile Yondaime is rallying his underlings to string in those bastards and teach them a good lesson for messing with his turf. Narumi confronts Yondaime on what is he to do when he finds Toshi. Though he can’t forgive him, there is still something he wants to ask Toshi. But Yondaime will put an end to this and he being Ayaka’s brother is of no concern anymore.

Narumi sees the trio assistants who can’t do anything more. He lets them hear his theory how Ayaka found out. She probably saw Major’s documents. Narumi isn’t blaming Major but himself because he was the one who gave away clues about Yondaime’s request and Toshi. With photos of the flowers and documents on the drugs, she realized she had been growing narcotics. But it’s not what drove her to suicide. After she found out Toshi betrayed her, she probably thought of wanting to help him too. He is not sure if they met that night. But what he needs to know are words Ayaka were unable to tell him. Seeing him at a lost but with determination, Tetsu suggests asking for their help. Narumi instructs them to find Toshi is soon as possible. The trio get down to work at lightning speed and surprisingly got all the necessary info. As mentioned by Alice, they could’ve obtained this information sooner as this is what they are capable of. It was Narumi who gave their capabilities a direction. Deep down, those 3 always wanted to help Toshi but knew what would happen if they found him. They were poor in acting tough and unable to act on their own will. After Narumi visits Ayaka, he gets a surprise call from Ayaka’s handphone. It is Toshi on the line and he sounds crazy. He is ‘complimenting’ the good job he and Alice had done in putting up wanted posters of him and Hakamizaka. Toshi isn’t going to tell his whereabouts and Narumi knew he was with Ayaka that night. Suddenly Toshi gets a mood swing. He starts emotionally crying he didn’t want it to happen to her. He can’t run away now. There’s no more hope for him. He wants help. All of a sudden, Narumi hears him getting beaten up. It is Hakamizaka. Realizing he isn’t Alice, he wants him to relay a message to her, “Find me if you can. Catch me if you can. If you don’t, I might just fly away”. He doesn’t want to waste his breath explaining why he is doing this because commoners like him won’t understand his ideals. Only the chosen ones get to knock on Heaven’s door. In other words, those who sport the pink wings he has created. Asking if Narumi would like to sprout wings and fly just like that girl, he hangs up. Oh dear, could it be?

Episode 12
Narumi rushes back to Alice to inform what happened. This confirms Ayaka has made contact with Toshi prior to her jump. Alice has located Ayaka’s handphone GPS location and it turns out to be a disco owned by Hirasaka Group. However Yondaime is beating up a small fry in possession of Angel Fix. After retrieving Ayaka’s handphone, Narumi asks the guy about Hakamizaka’s location but that guy is so high that he can only see an angel. Narumi wanted to beat him up but was stopped by Yondaime that he was sent to provoke and fool them, that’s why Ayaka’s handphone was given to him. He doesn’t know a thing about Toshi or Hakamizaka. Yondaime wants Major to analyze the drug and has Narumi leave with him. Because after this, Yondaime is going to get violent with that small fry and have him spill everything out. Back at Alice, they confirm that those who took Angel Fix have the same ‘conversation’ of seeing an angel. The analysis of the pill has lower concentration than usual which means demand is exceeding supply. But if demand has become so pervasive, why hasn’t the merchant been identified? Narumi suddenly realizes something and requests for a pen, blacking out the packet of the pill, a mark of angel wings is seen (previously Narumi thought he saw something strange flickering on the packet when light went over it). Seems the drug heightens visual perception and it’s not a hallucination. They conclude dealers wait for people who are already high to find them and sell the drug (usually it’s the other way round). As Alice puts it, it’s an experiment to test how effective the drug was as well as whether he could create believers keen enough to seek out the wings of an angel. In order to find the dealer, Narumi volunteers to take Angel Fix. Though the rest disagree with this dangerous method, Alice feels if this is the only option left, by all means do so. Narumi visits Ayaka and also sees his teacher there. She tells him the cultural festival will continue but the rooftop will no longer be used. She also says to come to class because his classmates are also worried and care for him.

The operation begins with Narumi taking the drug. He finds it hard to maintain his sanity. Alice is giving him directions while Tetsu and Hiro are close by to take care of anything deemed necessary and not let Narumi hurt himself. The effect of the drug is getting too strong for Narumi to handle. He can’t find himself to obey Alice’s words anymore and finds it irritating. He suddenly sees a vision of Ayaka with angel wings. He chases after her. Next thing he knows, he is in contact with a woman but Tetsu was there to ‘retrieve’ Narumi. When the woman leaves, Hiro tails her while Tetsu tries to hold resisting Narumi. He wants to go to his ‘angel’. Narumi wakes up in Alice’s room with his sanity intact though a bit drowsy. She mentions the case is coming to a close. Pointing to the bruises under his eyes, they are a result of a strong immune reaction to one of the components of Angel Fix. So what he and Ayaka experienced was simply a bad trip. Narcotics exaggerate various mental processes so the thinnest sliver of regret or guilt of knowing that in raising those flowers, she had aided a crime. Tetsu comes in and isn’t pleased Alice has contacted Yondaime. She mentions he is also a client in this case and since they don’t know the enemy well, they may require Hirasaka Group’s strength one way or another. Anyway she has Hiro ready the car as they head to the final scene. Outside a shop, Yondaime and his underlings have surrounded the place. Securing all the floors, they make their way to the basement and see a drug lab with lots of people high on the drug. Among them is Hakamizaka. On a high, he considers his experiment a success and believes is going to His Kingdom in Heaven. Alice asks if Ayaka’s case was a success as well, he replies he had no choice when she discovered the truth behind the flowers and threatened to go to the police so he forced her to take the drug. Initially he wanted to thank her with cash but she wanted the poppy flowers instead. Noting an angel came for her, he wonders if one will come for him too. Alice decides to give him this parting gift. Asking what she looks like to him (an angel, of course), she says she has seen what is written in God’s notebook but among the 144,000 registered names, his was not to be found anywhere. He hasn’t been admitted to the Kingdom as this dim and stuffy room will where he’ll be spending the rest of his time. Hakamizaka panics and turns into a person full of despair. What Alice did was just to toy with his junkie delusions so that he doesn’t remain blissfully high. As for Toshi, Yondaime was going to get rough on him but Tetsu warned him so he gives Narumi the permission to do what he likes. Toshi is still high and wanting more of the good stuff. Narumi is so filled with hatred and anger that he punches him repetitively like a punching bag. Those boxing lessons sure came in handy, eh? See his bloodied fists? If Tetsu didn’t restrain him, it could’ve gotten worse.

In the aftermath, Hakamizaka’s drug ring is busted, the pill disappeared from the city but as the seasons pass, Ayaka remained comatose. Narumi continued to visit her and tell her tales, not knowing if she is listening but this is the least he could do to atone for his failure to notice Ayaka’s warning signs. On his way back, he meets Alice who wanted to check something at his school’s rooftop. Alice tells him NEETs aren’t useless people who can’t do anything or don’t try to do anything. Because of the different rules, others can’t play the game the same way. They get confused and rush to categorize and isolate them so they can regain their peace of mind. But NEET is not a label. It’s a way of life. As for Ayaka’s reason to jump off the building top, it is to seal this place off. When the cultural festival was supposed to be planned here, the school has no choice but to close down the roof for safety reasons seeing an accident had occurred. That way, nobody could intrude upon the sacred ground she shared with Narumi. As the sun rises, they see a beautiful poppy flower field covering the rooftop and what’s more, the pattern forms the logo of the gardening club. Though Ayaka is crushed by the influence of the drug, at the very end, she remembered this. She wanted to protect this place and was thinking of him. Narumi narrates the 2 jobs in the world Alice said can be meaningful to which that has been lost, a writer and a detective. That’s why Narumi decides to tell this story so that he could bring back to life in the world of dreams the words that were written in God’s notebook for he believes it is something meaningful he can do for what has already been lost. And the final miracle: Ayaka opens her eyes!

I NEET A Hero!
I consider the ending to be quite heart-warming. If Ayaka had not regained consciousness in the end, it would definitely have left a bitter taste in my mouth (I’m sure many viewers would also feel that way). So it goes to show that there is still hope no matter how tiny it is. The flow of the story is quite okay and because they are split into short story arcs and most cases are somewhat related to the main characters in the series, I thought I would be seeing one that delves deeper into Alice’s past or at least how she ended up as a NEET detective. I also thought we would have a glimpse of the past of her trio assistants but I suppose the short nature of the series doesn’t allow it so maybe if they were to make another season, they might throw in such stuff. I mean, it isn’t really just coincidence that a bunch of unemployed guys come to work under Alice, right? Say, I wonder how much they are getting paid. Maybe it is not in monetary terms we’re talking about. Perhaps the satisfaction in helping out others, those who lack the power to stand up against the circumstances.

Alice is by far the most amusing character in the series. She is serious, mysterious, cute and funny. Let’s look on the serious side first. For a girl her age, she exudes lots of professionalism in the cases she takes up. Maybe it’s her monotonous speeches but you can’t say that she’s emotionless because that’s where her cute and funny side comes in. But being serious, she doesn’t let emotions control her that’s why she is able to think straight and come up with conclusions that would be pivotal in solving most of her cases. I won’t go as far as saying that her vocabulary is of a high standard but rather the choice of words she uses in her dialogues are not what ordinary girls her age would use. Sometimes it’s enlightening as well as fun to pay heed to what she says. Either you’ll be in awe or just laugh. Especially those reprimanding words that she has to say to Narumi. Man, I could say she is that ‘creative’ in coming up with them. For the mysterious part, how much do we know about Alice and her past? None, right? Heck, you don’t even know if Alice is her real name or not. Now on to her cute and funny side. Because she’s still a girl, she has quirky habits like her stuffed dolls and her obsession for the Dokupe can drinks. I wonder if those fizzy drinks are good for her health. She looks quite frail so it seems anybody could easily overpower her if they wanted to. That’s why she’s no match for even Ayaka when it comes to bath time or anything that needs her to get physical (nothing yuri lah). So her tongue and fingers are her mighty sword, eh? Alice doesn’t just sit in her bedroom-cum-office all the time and when the time calls for it, she’ll go out on scene whenever needed. So you can’t say she’s all cooked up in her room all the time, right? However Alice herself isn’t perfect because at times she blames herself for not having the power to stop occurrences she thinks could have been avoided.

At first, Narumi didn’t quite like being associated with NEETs and the detective jobs they do. But slowly, he finds himself getting involved not because he is turning into a NEET too but because of his desire to truly help others. Okay, stay too long and he will become one. But he really can’t technically since he is under education, still schooling. I guess he is one of those nice guys who can’t turn down an offer to help others even if it means putting his life on the risk or getting reprimanded from Alice. That’s why he is thick-headed in wanting to become sworn brothers with Yondaime. Any normal kid would’ve been turned off by the threats that yakuza head would’ve made. But Narumi is stubborn, his desire and ideal to protect others stood firmly above anything else no matter how many times Yondaime warned, threatened and told him to stay out. But partly his ignorance is to blame. If he had done his research beforehand, he wouldn’t have become a dumb mule to take things the trio assistants that they themselves do not want to bring to Alice, right? If he had been more sensitive and conscious, Ayaka would never have become a victim of the drug. However it is precisely because of that Narumi learns from his mistakes and grows up stronger and becomes mature. So now he doesn’t mind being by Alice’s side and her assistant, eh? Even if he is just doing 5%, I’m sure he is doing quite a fine job. After all, what good is an assistant if he can’t even open a can of Dokupe. Haha! If you’re expecting to see any romance or chemistry building up, don’t get your hopes high up. Alice’s blushing and flustering is just her spontaneous reaction towards Narumi’s words she never expected. But then again, if she didn’t read his caring lines as anything deeper, she wouldn’t have reacted so, right? So no matter how great this NEET detective girl is, she’s still a girl after all. Does she really harbour any romantic feelings for him? Don’t really know. But I feel Narumi’s care for her isn’t the romantic type either.

Tetsu, Hiro and Major provide good assistance and backup to the NEET team and it is safe to say that you can rely on them and place your trust in them to a job for you. It just makes me wonder how they carry on living their lives without proper jobs. Surely being the NEET detective team isn’t the only way to make a living? Or it could be for them. They get ‘free’ ramen from Min-san? Hiro probably could live off from all the girls who would gladly sleep with him. Tetsu may get by with his gambling luck and since he is a boxer, you want to think twice before messing around with him. What about Major? I guess everyone else who doesn’t know this military freak well will always mistake this university-going guy as a school kid due to his diminutive stature. If he’s setup surveillance devices here and there, don’t you think the entire Tokyo is filled with spy cameras? Where is the privacy in that anymore? No wonder Alice sees and knows everything. Yondaime is quite a cool guy too. But he’s not the kind to shower you with love or show you his loving side. That won’t do if you’re heading a yakuza, right? He might be rough, rough and violent but beneath his actions he really does care. That is his way of love I suppose. His underlings, well I would say they are a bunch of loyal jokers. Especially when it comes to computers, they really see Narumi as their ‘God’. They’ve never seen someone working with their fingers that efficient, eh? I can’t believe that some of them don’t even know baseball considering this sport is quite popular in Japan. Plus, they have never seen the stuffed dolls Alice brings in a box. Because they are being told to handle with utmost care by Yondaime, they really go through all the trouble to make sure they deliver it with care even if they don’t know what’s inside. I can only smile seeing them do this because we know inside the box is nothing but a broken doll waiting to be fixed but to them, they’re thinking it must be one heck of something precious. The most intriguing side character has to be Min-san’s estranged father. Today it still bugs me if Major’s theory on that guy is true. I mean, if I understood it in another way, he would be a ghost! So that short story arc on Min-san really baffled me. Why couldn’t she recognize or at least sense him. And he has been patronizing Hanamaru many times. She could have guessed but never even came close. Was she in denial?

The aspect that this anime explores is the darker side of humans. Being evil is only human nature. Because of characteristics like greed, anguish, selfishness, melancholy, breakdown, betrayal and abandonment (you can find more of these in the ending credits animation which I plucked some from, filled with those words that perfectly describe the dark nature of human beings), it brings out the worse in us just for our own gains at the expense of others. Humans would do anything vile and despicable and going more than far enough just to get what they want. So for a bunch of NEET detective team made up by a bunch of kids, you can say them dealing with yakuzas and drugs is quite an achievement. So where the heck are the police officers?! Hmm… Maybe corruption got them. So just like Santa, you better be nice and not naughty because God is keeping a watch on you and jotting them down in His notebook. Hey, would that be the good ol’ paper notebook or electronic notebook?

Yui Ogura as the voice of Alice is most fitting of her role. She really fits the character. I like her when she starts throwing her tantrums. She makes funny sounds. Makes me laugh. Alice sounds like an authentic little girl rather than a grownup trying to squeak out a shrieky voice because Yui Ogura was only 16 years old when she voiced the character. Her other little girl character roles include Hinata of Ro-Kyu-Bu and Mint in Yumeiro Patissiere. Other casts include Yoshitsugu Matsuoka as Narumi (Riku Seya in Hourou Musuko), Ai Kayano as Ayaka (Hibino on Kamisama Dolls), Masaya Matsukaze as Tetsu (Ren in Jigoku Shoujo), Takahiro Sakurai as Hiro (Jenos in Black Cat), Kouki Miyata as Major (Kouta in Baka To Test To Shoukanjuu), Daisuke Ono as Yondaime (Sebastian in Kuroshitsuji), Hitomi Nabatame as Min-san (Margery Daw in Shakugan No Shana), Kenichi Suzumura as Renji (Sougo in Gintama), Akira Ishida as Yoshiki (Chrno in Chrno Crusade), Satoshi Hino as Hakamizaka (Saito in Zero No Tsukaima series), Shinnosuke Tachibana as Toshi (Minato in Sekirei) and newbie Saki Ogasawara as Meo. Initially I thought the ending theme Colorado Bulldog by the American rock supergroup, Mr Big is going to be the main ending theme. But I guess it’s just a special ending for the first special episode in which its duration is twice the length of its subsequent episodes (48 minutes compared to the usual 24 minutes). But I guess the main ending theme, Asunaro by Kenichi Suzumura is quite pleasing too because of its rock tune. But the end of the ending credits animation, it left me wondering why the heck is Narumi handing a Dokupe to Alice stranded in the middle of an empty major road junction. The opening theme, Kawaru Mirai by Choucho beats to your typical anime pop.

This show may not change the perception of NEETs but it is partly true what Alice said NEET is a way of life and only the norms of society have labelled them as something utterly negative. I wonder if people who does volunteer job around the world would fit under this bill. Perhaps it is under employment? You may not get paid like a normal office job and in the sense you are ’employed’ by an organization to do charitable work in your area or internationally. Just because you’re a NEET doesn’t mean you have no other talents. Yeah, a talent at doing nothing. Haha! I may not be a NEET (because I’m still under employment, mind you), but that doesn’t make me different or less than a crazy anime otaku addict. Some people may consider the love of watching anime to be childish but it is what I love and enjoy doing. Why? Because it’s the NEET thing to do.