Kitakubu Katsudou Kiroku

April 5, 2014

What is your favourite subject at school? Maths? English? Science? Art? Geography? History? I’m sure everyone has their own favourite subject. Mine? Well, my most favourite subject was going home time. Haha! True! Not a joke! Can never wait for the last bells to ring and it is total freedom for that day! Oh wait. What about after school club activities? I’m sure many of us joined at least one, right? I know, I had my fair share of club activities but that was only because I had to join because it was compulsory or else you won’t be graded. Sheesh. As far as I remember, the clubs I have joined throughout my school days were taekwondo club, chess club and computer club. Even so, I was an inactive member. I wished I was a ghost member. Heck, I wished there was a going home club! Not so much of a club if you think about it because if it is so, all you need to do is just wait for everyone to gather and then disperse as soon as that happens. Goodbye. Going home now. Sighs…

So I thought Kitakubu Katsudou Kiroku (Chronicles of the Going Home Club) would somewhat bring nostalgic memories or at least make me fantasies what I should have done if there was such a club back then in my school and I was part of it. Unfortunately, names can be deceiving. Despite the club naming so, the members of it do everything else besides going home. That’s very misleading. So why the heck name it Going Home Club anyway? Why not Have Fun While We Can Club? This series is yet another one of those ubiquitous animes capitalizing on the cute girls doing nothing factor with no real plot whatsoever. I have watched a lot of these shows lately so much so I have lost count. Not all are bad and I’m only watching such genres because of the comedy factor. Let’s see if these girls have what it takes to make me laugh. Or bore me to death that I will just ‘go home’. With that, you must have guessed what this show is about. A group of cute girls having fun in their own ways.

Episode 1
Natsuki Andou just entered high school and like many freshies, the clubs go all out in recruiting them. And some weird ones like a person dressed in a seal outfit… Natsuki talks to her friend Ai Furuhashi about the clubs they will be joining. Natsuki isn’t interested and quips she wants to join the going home club instead. Karin Touno takes her seriously because she too wants to join it. To Natsuki’s horror, there is really such a club with their own clubroom! They are instantly accepted and introduced to the members that include Botan Oohagi (heir to some sword technique), Claire Kokonoe (daughter of a large conglomerate) and Sakura Doumyouji (the club’s president and basically a normal person). Natsuki really doesn’t want to join and just wants to go home but they are impressed with her going home spirit and call her the super rookie. And so Natsuki ends up joining it and is forced to come to the club every day. Karin reveals that when Natsuki bumped into the seal mascot on recruiting day, it was the Going Home Club then and it made her want to join. For that reason? Natsuki just wants to go home… That’s the spirit! Wondering what the club does, they ask Sakura and her reply is that they have fun. If you want that elaborated, it’s because youth only comes once to us and it will pass before your eyes. Thus they must enjoy themselves as much as possible to the max. There. Satisfied? Then they go feed pigeons at the park. Is this fun or what? Natsuki looks so bored…

Botan demonstrates how she cuts open a bottle top with her hand (why not just open it normally?). Then she gives a manga-like explanation how she uses the force, etc. She then proceeds to tell them about her Bear Tour last summer. It’s one of her many heroic exploits. She kept detailed records of it by sending emails back to her friends for every bear she defeated. Starting with the brown bear in Hokkaido, it led her to the Grizzly in Alaska (she had fun in USA before doing so) before the ultimate Polar Bear in the North Pole. She conquered them too easily but a month later she found out something unbeatable. It was her phone bill because she used it too much overseas. She realizes it’s not bears she’s supposed to fight but the rate system! Just change your lifestyle habit! The other girls went on to add the other types of beasts Botan slew like sharks, elephants and demon kings. Yeah… When everyone goes to patron the new crepe shop, Botan sees a guy in bear outfit handing out balloons. Oh no… Sakura catches Natsuki in the act when she tries to imitate Botan’s hand chopping movement in the toilet. Back in the clubroom, Karin is devastated she couldn’t buy any eraser because none had a pink case. Claire suggests going to a stationery shop and buy the entire store! This leads to a discussion on her extravagant money spending sense. So extravagant her movements too that the series breaks the fourth wall and turns this short moment into sketch frames used in its animation. Claire comes to this normal school because she wants to experience the normal life. Karin will teach her what normal people do. For starters, licking the cover of the ice cream where it is stuck is supposed to be the most delicious part. Isn’t that what kids think? Can Claire understand? Because ice cream to her comes in a fancy glass cup. And when everyone goes to buy ice cream, Claire buys a stick…

Episode 2
Karin just learned about that cuckoo poem so the girls discuss how it can determine a person’s behaviour like how it was used on the war generals. Then they made up some examples and discuss what each will do if a cuckoo that is supposed to sing isn’t. Expect some crazy answers like try smiling or get a canary as replacement. Because Karin doesn’t know what a cuckoo looks like, the rest describe to her what a bird generally is. It has a beak, right? Wings too, no? I guess nobody knows what it looks like. Then Sakura just had to nail this lame pun that a cuckoo is a bird that has gone cuckoo. Later Karin brings her homemade cookies and this shocks everyone that she has feminine appeal. They can’t believe this is the Karin they know. Oh? How much do they know her? She is also good in sewing and shows them her handmade tissue cover. So overwhelmed by her feminine appeal that even Sakura’s visor detects her feminine appeal stats increasing over the thousands. Is this machine malfunctioning? Maybe her brain is malfunctioning. Rising so much that it explodes and for more exaggerating effect, Botan is blown into the wall while Claire loses her power! Karin doesn’t know what is going on but gives off a lovely smile. That would have finished them. When Karin brings up the social mixer topic, this prompts Claire to wonder what it is. Sakura explains it but seems she has mistaken it to be a choral mixer club that she was once part of. Learning what it really is, Sakura starts to cringe in embarrassment. This girl is that pure? Sakura then has them practice what it’s like to be in a mixer just in case. Treating it like a disaster? Botan and Claire will play the boys, Natsuki and Karin the girls while Sakura is the waitress-cum-referee. A referee in mixers? After they introduce themselves, they couldn’t find any interesting topics to prolong the conversation. It is Sakura that is driving the mixer with her random and crazy scores (I guess it’s based on her mood), pushing her octopus wasabi menu and coming up with random events. At the end of the session, Sakura declares Karin the winner as she has obtained an astronomical amount of points. So many digits that I don’t even know what this number is called. Natsuki is the only one stuck with -30. But Botan pulls off the winning move because she would rather date the waitress. Infinite points…

Episode 3
Botan helps open a bottle for Sakura like as though she’s opening champagne. At least she didn’t chop it off. This leads them to request her to teach them self defence technique. With Sakura acting as the perpetrator, Botan demonstrates how to handle one. She can’t proceed further because if so, you will explode! Definitely you can’t use that. Natsuki realizes the bottle cap stuck in the ceiling. Remember how Botan opened it earlier on? It’s still there and lots of cracks in the ceiling. When Sakura asks about Botan’s mental training, she mentions one of it is when people read her diary from middle school. She will be unfazed. But really? Botan has a diary? Sakura reads it and the next thing she knows, she is lying in her own pool of blood! Is it that devastating? Natsuki reads aloud to the rest but also succumbs to her own pool of blood. Something about Botan being a shattered glass that nobody can get near to. Botan continues from the diary and it seems she was so till she met the light in high school in the name of Sakura. Claire is spoiling Karin too much, so the others think. She’s peeling orange for her refill her mechanical pencil. Those are dangerous, right? She is even willing to take responsibility of taking care of her for the rest of her life. I think she really wants that to happen. Botan suggests Karin to discipline herself and that is by walking up a flight of stairs! Everyone except Natsuki is in the exaggerated flow that these stairs are too tough for her. Wasn’t she hoping on one leg with no problem up the stairs this morning? In the end, Karin’s I-can’t-do-it face is too cute for Botan to resist so she carries her up in her arms.

Botan wakes up early on Sunday to do her stance training. After lunch, she plays video games till night before looking at her social website. Her friends posted pictures (some weird) and she likes them. One of her old friend’s, Arare Kakio also posted online but when she sees her middle school class reunion, Botan is glad she didn’t attend it and thanks her mental training. In the clubroom, Karin learns Botan was always alone in middle school. Sakura is her first friend when she entered high school. Karin never knew Botan was that scary and it’s because thanks to her being friends with Sakura, she has a different outlook now than before. Less scary. Botan adds that due to her loneliness, she manages to ‘clone’ herself whenever she is unable to find a partner for gym. Yeah. It made her body stronger. If anybody hits her, she won’t get hurt. Sakura doesn’t believe and tries it out. After punching, kicking and even whacking her with a chair, Botan is all smiling! Don’t tell me she is a masochist! But Sakura has an idea using Karin’s feminine appeal to hurt her. Karin walks up to Botan and yells, “I hate you!”. Botan flies away and her face shatters like glass. That really hurt, didn’t it? Of course Karin later post in her social media an apology and that she really loves her.

Episode 4
Karin and Natsuki go to see the softball match between Sakura and Botan’s class against Claire’s class. Botan and Sakura try to give each other hand signals but Botan’s fingers just contorted in a freaky way. Then they try picturing Claire as an athlete. Even imagining her as a horse rider is tough. They need to win this game or else Claire will brag over them for a week. Unfortunately Claire knows what they’re thinking. Because they have been friends for a long time, she too shares that telepathic conversation so she heard everything. There goes their plan. Sakura has her members discuss what they would do in case of a fire. She seems serious in pointing out some of the places in school that fire could start easily. Like a bunch of delinquents smoking. How is that hazardous? Because when they blog about it, the comments section catches fire! Botan doesn’t know what PRD during fire emergency stands for so Karin cutely explains it is no pushing, no running and no dying. Actually, the last bit should be no discussing. Sakura notices how similar they are to handphones and wonders why didn’t they just shorten it to no handphones. Because it isn’t. But they all think they’re going to be fine and no fire will start since this is already the third episode. Later the girls notice Botan plotting her running trail for her training. She even does training while swimming. She’s meditating in the shower… She then explains there is a rival family out to crush hers. Not to mention other numerical groups that will come along the way, in which Botan is confident in crushing them all (she thinks 2 episodes for 2 villains would suffice). But as Natsuki points out, since it is tournament mode, wouldn’t that mean the enemies will wipe each other out via elimination round and Botan doesn’t have to fight them all herself. So what does this have to do with this anime? If they lose their popularity as a gag anime, they will have to turn it into a battle anime!

But if Botan is the only one who could fight, that would render the rest unimportant and just normal civilians, no? Don’t worry, with their support, she can get 1up. 1 life = 4 friends. She plays too much game. Claire also mentions her own family politics and rivalry with different families trying to outdo each other for the top spot. Sakura disagrees with the battle theme retool. Because if they get unpopular, fanservice is the way to go! Yeah. Those scenes with Botan in swimsuit are already a sign… Because by the third episode, it is the yardstick that people use to gauge if they want to continue watching a late night anime. They also show the retooling editing the softball scenes, putting Sakura in swimsuit and Botan’s entire body mosaic out. Sakura wants Karin who has been silent ever since to end this with a punch line. Well, she did a pun about this anime and softball. What do they have in common? They keep getting thrown away! There is also something she wanted to correct them for a long time. This is actually the fourth episode and not the third. The rest panics and wonders if there is enough time to do tournament battle or stripping! Don’t be so hasty! Claire flexes her muscle by calling her guys to do a new ending. Lastly, Botan teases Natsuki when she eats doughnuts. Because her name almost sounds like that snack. Yum!

Episode 5
Sakura sings in German a song composed by Schubert. The idea? Because the composer has been dead for more than 50 years, they can use this song without paying any royalties! This leads to a discussion of the Demon King in the song that sounds weak. It isn’t the almighty Demon King they perceive. So weak that any move could easily kill the bugger. Like as though he only has that in name. So they re-imagine the Demon King to be more powerful and badass that he even kills the future hero. But the latter got resurrected like in RPG games… They want to continue reinventing the Demon King but after hearing the word ‘tokatonton’, Sakura loses motivation to carry on. Later they discuss the Kokoro novels by Souseki Natsume. It is what Sakura’s class is doing for modern literature and it is really popular to the extent they are quoting quotes from it. They also discuss other good literature textbooks but Karin somehow mixes up a story of a fox going to buy apples at a store. That one was actually a maths question than any literature. Also discussed is a literature about some guy turning into a tiger and scaring off people with his poetry. Don’t ask. Later the girls move on to folktales that they hardly remember such as Kintaro. They don’t remember what he did with his axe and they come up with all sorts of violent cliché theories and mish-mash like Aesop fables and the girl-running-to-school-with-bread-in-mouth cliché. As for Momotarou, it turned into some Star Wars parody. Tarou Urashima? Money solved everything? There are many other old folktales they don’t remember much but they all arrive at a conclusion: All of them are violent! Sure it isn’t their violent minds that are corrupting those folktales? Next day, nobody seems to have done research to ascertain those stories because they were sure the other would. Does it really matter? Well, everyone fails Natsuki for it. Lastly Claire and Karin discuss about Sakura’s hair which seems like made up of parts. Of course Sakura denies and takes the whole thing off. It’s a whole part and a helmet!

Episode 6
Everyone plays Kick The Can but Botan is too strong. Yeah. Sakura forced Natsuki to drink canned coffee so they could play. I wonder how many she already had… It all began when Sakura wanted to play video games. Because games only allow up to 4 players, she is about to kick out Natsuki but the other girls are already in their own world. Feeling left out, that’s when Sakura ditched this idea and wants to play a game that doesn’t use electricity (why is Botan looking so shocked?). And so this is how they end up playing Kick The Can but they have already lost so many cans (Natsuki must be bloated now) so Sakura gives Botan a handicap by handcuffing her hands and feet. Somehow she still manages to break free and win! Even chaining, blindfolding, locking in a box and exploding it, she can still escape and kick the can!!! How does she do it! Finally they tie her to a rocket bound for space. Want to bet she can somehow return? Back in the clubroom, suddenly Sakura collapses! Appearing on TV is a masked villain (Sakura?) called Guilty Judgment. She accuses them for committing a sin that is ignoring their club president while playing video games. She’s still holding on to that grudge? Anyway she threatens them the door is locked from the inside (doesn’t this mean it can be open from the inside too?) and they are strapped with invisible bombs that beautiful people cannot see (is this the reason why Sakura was ‘killed’ so she could not detect the bombs? I guess she wasn’t that pretty – plan backfired). Only Karin gullibly believes it. Guilty Judgment wants them to play musical chairs and the one not seated will explode. First round ends with Karin remaining standing. Is she going to die? Claire offers her lap so that counts, right? Obviously the video is not in sync because all of them are still alive. Removing another chair, the standing ones will sit on the laps of the seated ones. Finally down to the last chair, I don’t know how all of them managed to squeeze sitting on it. And Guilty Judgment obviously is oblivious to what is happening because she is ranting how the ‘survivor’ killed everyone and is condemned to a life of loneliness. Whatever. Everyone then goes out to some pancake restaurant. The ‘corpse’ is left behind. Nobody cares. So sad… Sakura picks herself up but she sees her friends waiting outside for her. That’s what friends are for, right?

Botan’s rival family clan, the Four Heavenly Kings meet in their weekly meeting to discuss. Four teenagers at a diner? They consist of The Leader, Seriryuu the Merciless; The Guardian, Byakko the Ruthless; The Lone Female, Suzaku the Relentless; and The Anime Lover, Genbu the Hopeless. Of course Genbu is not pleased with his title so the rest try suggesting other titles but all have the same meaning as hopeless. Then they discuss about Botan their eternal enemy and know she has juniors joining her club. They are mad that the juniors have matching straps but it seems they too have them so Genbu wonders if they are really in love with Botan instead. Even if they say she is their enemy, it doesn’t sound convincing. Botan and the rest walk into the diner and they greet each other. Friendly, aren’t they? When Botan’s friends ask about them, Botan replies they are her enemies. Saying that with a confident smile? Another week, the Four Heavenly Kings meet to discuss again. As usual, Genbu isn’t happy now his nickname has some light censor. The rest are confident that it will be removed in the DVDs. Talking about Botan, it seems they’ve got lots of matching items with her. Sure they aren’t in love with her? Genbu blows his top that they are not taking the enemy seriously when suddenly all his Botan matching items drop out from his shirt. Hah… In the clubroom, Natsuki suddenly collapses. Yeah. Now it’s her turn to play Guilty Judgment on the video. I suppose she’s right to have that grudge of being forced to drink coffee 7 times in a row! Black coffee! It doesn’t help when Sakura pours another can into her throat! Claire thinks she needs something sweet and suggests an éclair. This causes the ‘corpse’ to get back up and retort.

Episode 7
Sakura enters the clubroom only to see Natsuki. Botan and Claire accompanied Karin to hand in a forgotten assignment. To pass the time, Sakura suggests playing shiritori with a twist. Each will have a taboo card containing a word that cannot be said or else you will lose. So in addition to the usual shiritori rule and one minute limit per person, you have to avoid saying that taboo card while drawing your opponent to say your taboo word. If Natsuki wins, Sakura will give her something good. Otherwise she will have to eat spaghetti through her nose! As the game starts, Sakura goes on the offensive as Natsuki realizes she is trying to make her say ‘ru’ words. There are not many words starting with that letter. Natsuki counters that tactic by using a word that starts and ends with both ‘ru’. However her gut feeling tells her that the word ‘ruuru’ (rule) is Sakura’s taboo word and true enough it is. Natsuki tries other ‘ru’ words but Sakura can quickly counter it back to ‘ru’. With the clock ticking down and running out of those words, pressure is building on Natsuki. Just when Natsuki thinks she thought up a ‘ru…ru’ word, Sakura counters with another ‘ru…ru’ word. She expected this and has a handful of those just in case. But Natsuki hasn’t given up yet. She turns the play to her favour and making Sakura say ‘u’ words. Sakura has to be careful because many ‘u’ words were used up in the earlier play. Could it be that Natsuki’s taboo word begins with ‘u’? When Sakura mentions ‘umibouzu’ this happens to be Natsuki’s taboo word. Sakura’s loss! So what is it that she has to hand over? Her hair pins… Natsuki is forced to tie up her hairstyle in weird fashion. I guess she is the real loser here. Everybody plans to hold a surprise party for Natsuki tomorrow. Thing is, they discuss it with Natsuki around! How is that for a surprise? They suggest all the extravagant stuffs they want to throw at her (how come it sounds like shiritori?) and even have the cheek to ask her if she will be surprised by it. Of course not! Next thing as Natsuki makes her way to the clubroom in an unsurprising way, she sees a large cake inside the room! Surprised? If it’s bigger than the door, how did it get in? It was made in the room. Then she hears fireworks but since it’s daytime, she can’t see a thing. Surprised? After noticing the other extravagant stuffs, they have a final surprise for her: An airplane writing ‘Happy Birthday Natsuki’ in the sky. I think she is more embarrassed than surprised. Finally, Karin still feels hungry even after eating that giant birthday cake. Sakura and Botan think her stomach is possessed by some kind of spirit. But as Karin points out, there is always room for desserts. Before they know it, the red bean rice ball in Botan’s hand ends up in Karin’s mouth. Scary…

Episode 8
The girls learn Natsuki has a younger brother, Lloyd. They get excited and hound her with lots of questions (including silly ones: Is he a boy or girl). Natsuki tells them off that being single children, they do not know the reality of having a younger brother. In that case, they suggest to come visit her home and experience the reality! Oh no! Later, Sakura saw some guy selling poems in the street and feels the need for her club to write some. Using thank you as a theme, it seems everyone came up with negative ideas of society. Changing it to heart-warming, let’s say it sounds more like warming up other parts than the heart. After writing so many and that they can’ sell it, what do they do? Play Frisbee… On another day, the girls really did come to visit Natsuki’s home. It’s going to be a pain… Yeah. See the mini bags they’ve brought along. First and foremost, they want to meet Lloyd so Natsuki calls him down to let the girls see. They all start laughing so of course he starts retorting. Natsuki beats him up for not showing respect to his seniors. But Natsuki doesn’t do the same for Sakura, right? Then they visit her room. Sakura becomes a pest when she starts smelling her bed. Natsuki gives her a Boston Crab submission move. I guess having a brother means she can pull off such moves. Natsuki is further embarrassed when they get to know she sleeps with a teddy bear. She wants them to go home but they’ve already brought their sleeping kits. After she takes a bath, she sees her friends making themselves like home in her room. This is going to be a long night. The entire night they discuss about Natsuki’s ahoge. Because it has a life on its own. See it move? They make comparisons how the ahoge is the main body part compared to Natsuki, which pisses her off. Every example, she has some retort. So many retorts that she’s running out of breath! She tells them to stop teasing about it since she’s quite sensitive. Suggesting to cut it, Natsuki says it is impossible. She tried once but another sprang up in its place. Her heart warms when Sakura mentions she likes her ahoge because it makes her who she is. Because without it, they couldn’t think of her as Natsuki anymore. Insult? Claire suggests editing the picture to erase Natsuki’s ahoge. The outcome? Unforeseen programme error! Not only that. The room starts to darken and although Natsuki doesn’t have her ahoge anymore, everyone else does!!! HORROR!!! This is the true horror of her ahoge! In the clubroom, Karin toys around with Natsuki’s ahoge and accidentally pulls it out! The rest think the ahoge is Natsuki and she died! Botan even performs CPR on ‘Natsuki’!

Episode 9
Sakura wants the club to go for a summer camp but Natsuki disagrees. In the first place, the nature of this club doesn’t even warrant one. Sakura throws a tantrum but Natsuki tells her if she really wants to go, say it sincerely from the heart. And so the summer camp is on but now the big dilemma is where to go. This brings the topic of choices that many face in life. This includes many ridiculous examples and even that choice of marrying a childhood friend or a rich girl. The conversation turns into one with lots of censoring including ordinary words. Moving on to the next topic of choices, there are decisions that need to be made from consisting of more than 1 choice especially what food they would love to eat for an entire year. Hardly fares any different from the previous topic. Everyone has what they want to eat and Natsuki’s is omelette rice. Everyone thinks it’s cute and this embarrasses her. Now back to the question of where they want to go for summer camp. Although everyone has their idea, Sakura wants to go to Kagawa to annihilate udon. Eh? Feels it is like some culinary tour because we see the girls going to one udon shop to another. Sakura throws tantrum when her udon is too hot. So Botan accidentally pours cold water on it. Now it’s inedible. Back at the inn after a pillow fight, everyone gazes at the starry sky and comes up with their own creative imagination of the constellations. They blame it on ancient people on why the constellations have so much adult content because it’s their only source of entertainment. Or maybe their minds are just dirty. With the power of creative imagination, the girls turn into simple constellations themselves (stick people?). Or perhaps the producers got lazy in drawing them…

Back home, Natsuki gets a call from Sakura. She is invited to the pool. Seems Claire have booked the entire pool for her family so feel free to use it like your own. After having fun in the water, they rest while discussing about the competitive swimming called freestyle. If you go by its definition, there isn’t anything free and there are lots of rules to it. What is it that is accepted as freestyle swimming? Can Botan who is running on water be considered as one? Yes people. She’s really running on water! Their discussion continues with the topic of freedom. It might just be in name but there are many things in life that restricts you. Sakura did something scary that she watched the morning news and counted how many times the newscaster fumbled! She learnt nothing in this world is free and adults and companies always put restrictions on them. Freedom doesn’t exist in this world. Because this is getting gloomy, they end the episode. Finally, Natsuki’s ahoge joke continues. Botan and Karin hear her voice but couldn’t see Natsuki despite standing right next to them! When they do, they don’t even recognize her! A joke or insult? Or both? When the whatever snack that was replacing Natsuki’s ahoge came off and Botan throws her real ahoge back on her head, Natsuki ‘revives’ and they welcome back their friend. So ahoge is really what defines her?

Episode 10
When Natsuki enters the clubroom, she sees her friends in weird face paint or hair-raising hairstyles. Thank goodness it was just a dream. This leads them to discuss about change of image to signal the end of the summer vacation. Sakura tries to act like a tsundere but Claire and Botan are not impressed. Also discussed how colours affect one’s personality and the stereotypes associated with it. As for changing one’s appearance to suit one’s personality, Sakura starts wearing shoulder pads. Clair and Botan again aren’t amused and punish her. Writing tiny sutra lines on her fingernails?! One day, Botan and her friends visit the Four Heavenly Kings at their dojo. Byakko is not going to hold back on her in his training. Perhaps he is taking too long in his shadow technique explanation that he got owned by Botan. Natsuki notices Suzaku trying to ‘compete’ with her that she knows Botan longer than she is. Even mentioning a place where they went shopping together and Botan got a t-shirt for her. Later Natsuki asks Botan about this because she thought she said Sakura was the first friend she made. Indeed. She considered Suzaku as her enemy and as she wanted to go shopping with her then, she picked the weirdest piece of clothing and pushed her to buy it. Back at the clubroom, the girls are telling ghost stories. For every ghost story they tell, a candle is put out. Now they are at their last. What is going to happen when it goes out? Something scary… They will become easier to animate in the dark!

As the club relay event draws near, Sakura suggests their club can participate since they have 5 members. Initially she wanted to be the anchor but after thinking how Botan may break her hand when passing the baton, she decides to let her be the anchor. They need to practice but the football club is using the field. Sakura goes to negotiate. She got a challenge in return. Worse, it is in the football club’s favour and on their terms. They’ll let them use half the field if the win. But if they lose, Karin will become their manager! Horror! See how Claire and Botan turn into the ferocious hulk! Nobody and nobody will touch their beloved Karin. Certainly not insects or weak people! Sakura is going to die if Karin really becomes their manager. I’m sure she can’t rely on her gut instinct of friendship power, can’t she? Back at the clubroom, they discuss the basic rules of football. Seems enough for them to get by. When the match is about to start, the boys seem confident Karin is already in the bag. But not on Claire and Botan’s watch. They’re willing to even kill if any of those guys lay their hands on her!!! When it begins, Botan kicks and suddenly it’s like she put all her strength into it. So fast and powerful the ball that it whizzes past the boys. The wind cuts their skin, their clothes get blown away and the goalpost destroyed! Instantly the boys surrender. They can use the field. Yeah. They wet themselves. With Karin safely remaining at their side, Natsuki is wise not to ask Claire what is going on because she is seen contacting her men to pull out the snipers! On race day, Botan as the anchor zooms pass everyone to take home the win. But Natsuki senses something amiss. If Karin was at the stands cheering on them, who was the fifth participant? Don’t tell me… Lastly, Natsuki thought she could help ease what is bothering Claire. Till she learns that it is Karin’s cuteness that she couldn’t get enough of. Regret asking?

Episode 11
We start off with Sakura’s flashback. She spent her life in middle school boring. So when she entered high school, she thought of making it interesting by joining a club. Likewise, Botan has trouble mixing around and is resolved to turn things around in her high school debut. However in class, she is unable to introduce and say the things she wanted. Only Sakura is interested in her due to her unusual name and aura. As the days pass, Botan finds herself an outcast because the other girls don’t really enjoy talking to her. Sakura on the other hand is doing well. She wants to talk to Botan but their seats are far way and the opportunity just doesn’t arise. One day when Botan leaves school alone, Sakura finally catches up and asks if they could be friends. Because their names are taken after flowers, they are like two of a kind. That’s when their friendship began. Sakura suggests starting a club together. A club that they could do anything they want that is fun and interesting. The rest is history. Sakura is going to play bowling in the hallway and her friends could have worried about bigger problems like expulsion instead of whether there is no gutter or not. Before she could swing the ball, she suddenly stops dead in her tracks. It is the presence of the student council president, Reina Takamado. Botan suddenly goes into defensive mode and warns about this president whose nickname is Kousoku. Seems when you step into her zone, you will be unable to break the school rules. Therefore, at the speed of light (kousoku), she binds you (kousoku) with all the rules (kousoku)! Yeah. Botan has an alias too: Midnight Murder. Even Sakura: Grenade Rager. Who the heck gave them these nicknames?! I don’t understand by some twisted thinking, Reina agrees to let Sakura bowl. She is sure they’ll meet again but Sakura says it isn’t possible. Because this is the last episode! Gasp! Horror!

So this has the girls in a brainstorming session on what to do for the final episode. Let’s say they are all desperate in doing what they want. Like Botan wanting to fight the bear… A stage performance is out because Karin’s tambourine, Natsuki’s triangle and Botan making the bear scream isn’t exactly what we have in mind as a band. A dream sequence won’t do too since we are shown a sad story of Natsuki in coma for 3 years! And what about Claire’s sci-fi wish of starting a new Garden of Eden, Eve and Eve with Karin? Not quite possible. In the end, Karin’s wish is more plausible. She wants to chat and eat snacks with them. Because that’s what they always do. So the girls are having a toast at the restaurant. They’re having a good time till Karin points out all that is left to do is the next episode preview. Meaning… This isn’t the last episode! Yeah. Sakura screwed up again. I know people make mistakes. But only idiots make them twice and fail to learn from them. Everybody was convinced it was the last since Sakura was so damn convincing. And so everybody is in a frantic on what to do for the final episode. Lots of ideas thrown in but Sakura wants to ride it with lots of short gags.

Episode 12
Sakura is asleep in class. She just woke up when the teacher tells her to read to passage. She composes a haiku instead. Karin dreams of being chased by the demon king. She is saved by the heroic tapir. Also turns out she is sleeping in class. Kids, don’t ever do this in class. The rest of this episode is divided into very short skits. Karin complaining about the bugs she hates; Sakura pondering about the toilet flush setting of small and big; Claire handing Natsuki big money to buy pencil lead. It’s like as though she’s buying the entire store and didn’t know pencil lead is very cheap; Natsuki is called to the roof by Furuhashi just to witness her comedy act with Karin. The duo are called Aikarin! The act is lame and Natsuki is not amused and fires back her criticisms. The try to do another giving birth act but it’s more surreal than funny; The football club and baseball club are at odds again so the vice president of the student council, Kouhei Iizuka is sent to quell things. His ability is Perfect Equal and like its name suggests, is able to split things equally. Like lunch. Which is pretty much useless; The girls talk about sounds animal make but bring up animals whose sound they don’t know. Screw what does the fox sounds like. What sound does a tapir make?; The girls are lost on their way to the sundry shop so they buy a map. But it’s a map of the universe!; Claire finally has a taste of the ice cream stuck on the cover. Ah, the taste of commoners; Botan mentions she was shot in the heart when she was young by an assassin. She survived because she had something underneath her clothes to deflect the bullet. It’s her ribcage! You can’t deflect bullets with that!; Botan is about to face off with the strongest bear but it turns out to be Karin in disguise. Botan loses when Karin does her cute poses; The gang wants to hear Sakura sign Die Moldau in German as this song was commonly sung in middle school despite the lyrics in Japanese. However she forgot (or rather she never sang it) and sings that demon king song; Natsuki has her drawing song but they only drew her ahoge. That is what defines her, right?; Sakura does a drawing song on herself but she rants so much on the necessity that the footage is fast forward, including the part on how to draw her; Is there a hidden pit where people who retort practice all day and night? No way! Now that’s a retort; Sakura mentions about a cat giving birth to kittens at school. They want to go see it but she notes they have 60 seconds before the show ends! The girls panic on what to do and Natsuki can’t come up with her punch line. Of all times, why now? Suddenly Furuhashi calls her just to tell her she joined the volleyball club. Who cares?! Time wasted. End of show. Lastly, they lament they should have done more skits at a faster rate but seriously, Natsuki’s retort can’t keep up with such a speed. I can imagine her breaking down… Karin sees the first evening star but it turns out to be an airplane…

Home Is Where The Heart Is
I guess this show is pretty decent and the jokes were spontaneous enough to make me laugh from time to time. In short, this anime isn’t that bad and didn’t fall into the boring trap like some shows of this similar genre. I suppose it is because of the main fact that Natsuki’s main role and destiny in this show as the person to retort everything. And the way she retorts them, she says them with a passion. Yeah. You can say like as though she is born for that role. So much so that nobody else does it better than her and even if they did, it won’t be as much impact if Natsuki was the one doing it. So can you see why Natsuki never left the club? It’s not like they do not allow her, it is because it is much more fun hanging out with these girls and retorting their silly antics from time to time. If not, every time. Therefore, Natsuki enjoys retorting. It gives somewhat a purpose in life (and role in this anime). Her retorting makes everyone look like idiots (including herself) but in a funny way. Or maybe they are acting like that so Natsuki could have a chance to retort. It’s more fun that way, right?

Also another funny factor is how they often break the fourth wall especially bringing up the ending theme early (although it is played up a handful of times, it doesn’t feel bored. Maybe it is the way Natsuki retorts them) and the last episode slip up. Some of the skits are also pretty well executed like the shiritori instalment. It was pretty funny, exciting and interesting in a lot of ways. It wouldn’t be right for a comedy anime too to not take advantage of making parody out of a few anime and cultural references. I won’t say that every skit is filled with lots of such trivia but there are some and enough to make you spot them (if you know them, that is). From Pokemon and Evangelion to Japanese navy warships and even a combination of the world’s most famous footballer, a certain Portuguese and Argentine football superstars.

The other girls have their own quirky personality which breathes some life into the characters although sometimes it feels their character types may be a little cliché. For example Karin is always the moe and gullible-cum-naive girl of the group exuding lots of feminine appeal that nobody but gays can resist. Then there is ultra-rich girl Claire who never experienced anything commoners do till she came to this club. And all her monetary dealings are in astronomical figures! I even think she even bathes in money. Botan the muscle brain and super strong female of the group although she plays too much video games and her mind starts thinking like one. Sakura the president may be just a normal girl considering the rest around her are ‘super’ types. Super cute, super rich and super strong. Oh, maybe I can classify Sakura as super energetic because that’s what she is. And her love for those wasabi octopus balls too. Not forgetting about Natsuki and her super retorts but I have already covered her in the previous paragraph. Other minor characters like Reina and Furuhashi are so minimal that to think their appearance is only for that little joke in their appearance. For instance, Reina’s introduction was probably as a joke for a new character in the last episode (which actually turned out to be the second last episode) and Furuhashi’s long absence in between the series only to make her appearance in the final episode feels like she is the big retort to Natsuki to end it all. The Four Heavenly Kings? Uhm… Do you feel pitiful that Genbu is usually made the butt of jokes? Just like Natsuki, he is the retort specialist of the group but they don’t really pay attention to him.

Another thing I want to mention about Natsuki is her ahoge. It is what defines her. Really. You can’t have Natsuki without an ahoge (like you can’t have Gintama’s Shinpachi without his spectacles) and there are a few jokes and references to it too. Just like some anime characters whose ahoge has a life on its own (think of Tsumiki of Acchi Kocchi, Araragi of Bakemonogatari, Himeko from Pani Poni Dash and Nyaruko from Haiyore! Nyaruko-san), Natsuki’s ahoge too moves around like as though it is some form of alien life form on her head. I notice it can stretch quite long and could be a head’s length at times. In fact, notice how it is the one that is focused on when she is making the retorts? Instead of showing her retorting face, we get to see her ahoge who is like doing the retorting. Now do you think that Natsuki’s ahoge is the most important part of her body? Protect it at all cost!

Compared to other shows like Yuyushiki or Kiniro Mosaic, the girls here look much better for your average high school students. If Yuyushiki girls are plain and cute, Kiniro Mosaic’s girls borderline cute and pretty, then the ones here are more towards the bishoujo type. Of course the final segment at the end of every episode (the first for the last one) called Going Home Club Mini Theatre has the girls in chibi form but the animation is computer generated. So can you blame Claire and Botan for fawning over Karin? She has the kind of looks that every guy would want to have her as their waifu. If only they can get pass her ‘guardians’. Claire is so obsessed of Karin that you can evidently see it when her eyes go ‘dead’. It’s a danger sign that she may do something extreme just to protect Karin’s cuteness. And what’s with all those signboards that say “Kawaii (cute)” each time they want to express how cute Karin’s antics are? There are times Natsuki is cute too when she is not retorting. Times when she gets embarrassed when her embarrassing likes are revealed. Adding to the cute factor is the little white seal whom I believe is the pet mascot of the club and the series. You can see it bumming around anywhere and everywhere from the clubroom to the mid-intermissions. Can’t get enough of cute girls? Now you have a cute seal to steal your heart. Say… What sound does a seal make?

If I had to point out the ‘best’ one, it would be Ibuki Kido as Natsuki because of the way she passionately does her retorts. Just imagine her like Akiko of OniAi turning her brother complex into retorting passion. Seems the rest of the seiyuu casts are newcomers and this show marks their debut in anime voice acting. No complaints from me that they sound too amateurish whatsoever. They are Mitsuki Yuuna as Karin, Miharu Kobayashi as Sakura, Sae Aiuchi as Botan, Ayaka Senbongi as Claire and Rui Tanabe as Furuhashi. The seal is voiced by Mao Ichimichi (Ikeda in Gin No Saji). The only seiyuu with a ‘longer’ voice acting record is Sachika Misawa who voiced Reina. She was the voice behind Black Snow Princess in Accel World and Kagami in Fantasista Doll.

The opening theme, 2 Gakki Debut Daisakusen by Otome Shintou is quite energetic and lively to match the robust feel of the series despite sounding a lot like some typical J-pop song. Uhm… Maybe it’s because Otome Shintou is indeed a J-Pop idol unit. I suppose one way to keep the series fresh is to put up new ending themes. After 3 or 4 episodes (except for the penultimate episode in which the new ending song only lasts for that particular episode), there will be a new one for us viewers to enjoy. If you ask me, there isn’t anything spectacular. Just sounding generic like they do. They are all sung by the seiyuus of the Going Home Club or a combination of them (yes, including the seiyuu who voiced the seal). The ending themes are (in order of appearance), Wakuwaku Days, Hanabi, Kimi Ni Tsuite Ieru Koto and Best Friend.

It still bugs me that this club is called Going Home Club when what everybody does is goof around all day like as though they have nothing else better to do. Is this their idea of fun? Well, to each her own. Even so, how in the first place did this club get their name approved? The person who approved it probably didn’t care and thought much about it, didn’t he? Besides, I don’t see any supervisor for this club. I only see the fire supervisor’s name on the club’s plate outside otherwise I don’t see the supervisor in person. Yeah. Maybe the supervisor already went home and the kids are left to their own device. And it is pretty ironic too that for a club that is supposed to go home, they have their own clubroom and stay in it most of the time talking and have fun. Maybe home isn’t referring to something physical. It’s a place where you return to relax and feel comfortable. And as long as your heart feels that, you can call that place wherever you are home. Perhaps that is what ‘going home’ means. To unwind and enjoy life after hours of study. If those girls did do some serious studying in the first place. Heh.

So for me, school days are already behind me. Nothing that memorable, unfortunately. So far behind those days that I’m starting to feel old. Now that I am in the working force, I suppose I can still apply the going home concept. Yeah. Get off work right on the dot. My favourite time of the day. Too bad I’m not working in a government agency or as a civil servant. Too bad it is not easy saying no to your superiors when they require me to stay back for overtime. Bummer. At least I don’t have such girls to play silly antics and fool around and that I don’t have to play the tsukkomi part. Hmm… Maybe that is why life around is so mundane and boring… How I wish I was home…