Dorms. One of those indications to signal that you are independent and living life on your own free will. Or it might just be a cheaper alternative in places where monthly rental is skyrocketing through the roof. But I’m not here to discuss about that. There are many animes with its characters staying in dorms and some revolving around the life and times of those dorm people. Today, we take a look and compare an old retro anime, Mahoraba – Heartful Days with a newer one, Bokura Wa Minna Kawaisou and weigh in the pros and cons if you are ever thinking about living in dorms. Just kidding. Okay, maybe part serious too because you certainly don’t want to end up with a neighbour from hell. Speaking of which, why do dorms always house weirdoes? Don’t they have some sort of mental institution around? Right, not mad enough to be admitted into one yet.

The new kid in town:
Who is also happens to be the main character and normal guy of the series.
Mahoraba: Ryuushi Shiratori.
Kawaisou: Kazunari Usa.

The dorm they’re going to live in:
Mahoraba: Narutakisou.
Kawaisou: Kawaisou.

Why moved here:
Mahoraba: To attend Sumeragi Design School in Tokyo to achieve his dream of becoming a children’s book artist.
Kawaisou: He made a deal with his parents that he could live anywhere they choose as long as he can leave home.

The landlady:
Mahoraba: Kozue Aoba.
Kawaisou: Sumiko Kawai.

Other occupants:
Mahoraba: Tamami Chanohata, Megumi Momono, Asami Kurosaki, Sayoko and Yukio “Johnny” Haibara.
Kawaisou: Ritsu Kawai, Shirosaki AKA Shiro, Mayumi Nishikino and Sayaka Watanabe.

Love interest:
I suppose it gives further motivation for the new guy to stay on. Otherwise they could have moved out.
Mahoraba: Shiratori for Kozue – They are second cousins.
Kawaisou: Usa for Ritsu – They are school classmates.

Only for her:
Mahoraba: Shiratori is believed to be the only one who can ‘cure’ Kozue of her multiple personalities.
Kawaisou: Usa wants to be the one to walk home with Ritsu and also get her email address.

It’s all in the family:
Mahoraba: Aside Shiratori and Kozue as second cousins, Asami is Sayoko’s daughter albeit adopted.
Kawaisou: Ritsu is the granddaughter of Sumiko.

The drunkard:
Every dorm needs to have one person who loves their alcohol and prone to get high.
Mahoraba: Momono.
Kawaisou: Mayumi.

Weak with alcohol:
Mahoraba: Saki.
Kawaisou: Ritsu.

The loli:
Mahoraba: Asami.
Kawaisou: Chinatsu.

Multiple personality:
Mahoraba: Kozue – She has 5 different personalities. Depending on the circumstances, a personality will appear and you can tell when she sports a totally different attitude and hairstyle or outlook. Also, can Haibara be considered to have one since he often talks via his hand puppet dog.
Kawaisou: Erm… Sayaka? She might not have split personality and more like putting on a double face. Because she can act cutesy and innocent in one moment but behind your back she turns into a nasty devil.

Scheming girl:
Cunningness runs in their blood.
Mahoraba: Tamami.
Kawaisou: Sayaka.

Shy girl:
Mahoraba: Natsume, one of Kozue’s personalities.
Kawaisou: Ritsu.

The inept:
Mahoraba: Sayoko – Big time useless klutz.
Kawaisou: Ritsu – At least socially inept because of her shy personality that makes her really awkward in expressing herself.

The pervert:
Mahoraba: Tsubasa Yamabuki.
Kawaisou: Shiro.

The masochist:
Mahoraba: Erika Vermillion.
Kawaisou: Shiro.

The cross-dresser:
Mahoraba: Shiratori is forced to cross-dress by one of Kozue’s personalities, Chiyuri. This leads to a mistaken identity that Tsubasa falls in love with. Who the heck is Reiko anyway?
Kawaisou: As a prank during the cultural festival, Usa is duped into wearing a maid outfit.

Period dressing:
Mahoraba: There is this storybook-like tale in this anime, the character Umeboshi Princess dresses like a typical, erm, princess.
Kawaisou: At Anekouji run by Sumiko’s friend, Tae Shinohara, the waiters of this café dress up as traditional apprentice outfit.

Occult lover:
Mahoraba: Erika.
Kawaisou: Hayashi when she was in middle school and Kurokawa AKA Saionji.

Depraved girl:
Mahoraba: Risona Aizawa – yaoi and yuri lover.
Kawaisou: Sayaka – BL lover.

Prone to depression:
Mahoraba: Sayoko – lack motivation and easily loses confidence.
Kawaisou: Mayumi – love problems.

Book related:
Mahoraba: Shiratori aspires to be a children’s book artist. Also, Johnny is a freelance writer. Not forgetting Satsuki Matsuba who always throws heavy books to her friend Michiyo Asagi to keep her in check.
Kawaisou: Ritsu is an avid bookworm and loves reading more than anything else.

Just want to be friends:
Mahoraba: Rich and snobby Michiyo may seemingly be acting unconcerned but all she really wants is just to be friends with Asami.
Kawaisou: Maemura shares the same reading interest with Ritsu and instantly become friends but she went too far distributing unauthorized pictures of the latter and inviting her to a group blind date in the disguise of ‘meeting guys with the same reading hobby’.

Dorm activity:
It isn’t a place just to sleep.
Mahoraba: There is this weird annual tradition of the residents playing a hide and seek game whereby the winner gets a ticket to order others around.
Kawaisou: They played water pistols, blowing bubbles and relay storytelling just for fun.

Dorm visit:
Mahoraba: There is an episode whereby coincidentally Shiratori and Asami’s friends all pay a visit on the same day.
Kawaisou: Sayaka’s high school friend, Miharu Tsuneda makes a surprise visit. Same case for Tagami because he is interested in Mayumi.

School cultural episode:
Mahoraba: Episode 20.
Kawaisou: Episode 13 (OVA).

Room raiders:
Mahoraba: Everyone loves to crash and party till they drop drunk in Shiratori’s room.
Kawaisou: Mayumi and Sayaka raid Usa’s room for ‘snacks’ to avoid having that guy let Ritsu alone into his room. Porn magazines and DVD, find any?

Musical talent:
Mahoraba: Sayoko can play the violin. Surprise! Well, she does come from a wealthy family. Also, Hiro Utsugi is the president of the school’s orchestra club that has only 3 members.
Kawaisou: Mayumi can play the guitar but it only brings back heart breaking memories of her breakup. Usually girls resort to drowning themselves in ice cream or chocolate. This one goes up to the roof and strums her pain away…

Animal phobia:
Mahoraba: Saki (one of Kozue’s personalities) fears butterflies. Also, Risona has a fear of goats (because they will eat her manga manuscript).
Kawaisou: Sayaka has fear of rabbits.

Other fears:
Mahoraba: All the girls in Narutakisou fears Chiyuri thanks to her tendency to dress them up in weird costumes.
Kawaisou: Ritsu is averse to ghost stories and horror films.

Bug:
YIKES!!!
Mahoraba: Although only for a short causal moment, a stray cat is seen with a cockroach in its mouth leading to a shocking moment and a change in Kozue’s personality.
Kawaisou: There is an episode trying to locate a stray centipede in the dorm!!!!!!! SCARY!!!!! Thank Sayaka the saviour!

Love not returned:
Mahoraba: Tsubasa will never know about Reiko’s true identity…
Kawaisou: Although Tagami is interested in Mayumi, once the latter found out he isn’t of legal age, she loses interest.

Forbidden love:
Mahoraba: Sayoko eloped with the family’s gardener, Kurosaki.
Kawaisou: Would you believe it? Chinatsu likes Shiro!!!!!!!!! The world is coming to an end!!!

Sculptures of art:
Mahoraba: Sayoko’s dad, Ushimitsu is a burly sculptor.
Kawaisou: Shiro made a bamboo contraption that turns out to be some flowing noodles. Shiro also helps Chinatsu make mud balls for her summer project but the latter soon gets captivated into making decorative bread in the end.

Punishment:
Mahoraba: Miyabi Shirogane, the teacher of Shiratori’s school has some sort of terrifying punishment waiting if you don’t hand in your assignment on time or being disobedient. Whatever goes on in that room makes you wonder… But you know you don’t want to experience it, that’s for sure!
Kawaisou: The dorm is split into male and female section. Males are forbidden to step into the latter’s side. Because if you do, like Usa accidentally found out the hard way, there are nasty batting weapons lying a few feet from each other in the corridor for the women’s convenient to beat you up of you overstep the boundary.

The maid:
Mahoraba: Tachibana, Sakura Utsugi and Mahiru Minazuki from Ushimitsu’s household.
Kawaisou: Usa spotted in one after being tricked into wearing it during the cultural festival.

Production studio:
Mahoraba: J.C. Staff.
Kawaisou: Brain’s Base.

Number of episodes:
Mahoraba: 26 episodes.
Kawaisou: 12 episodes + 1 OVA.

Year of release:
Mahoraba: 2005.
Kawaisou: 2014.

Conclusion:
In terms of aesthetics and looks, Kawaisou has got it hands down with characters looking like your standard conventional Japanese anime whereas Mahoraba is just looking cartoonish. However in terms of storyline and development, Mahoraba beats Kawaisou thanks to its various characters that include many others that do not reside in the dorm. The character development in the former feels better maybe because they had more episodes compared to the latter in which even watching the romance unfolding between the 2 main characters is painfully slow. Okay, some things do take time. The dorm residents of Mahoraba are also wackier and crazier compared to Kawaisou. Just like many newbies, they become familiar with the ‘customs’ and blend themselves in to become part of the weirdoes. At least they’re being family. Only, not blood related. Whatever place you live in, let’s hope that you can call it your home in your heart. More importantly, even the most annoying and bizarre residents of the dorm they are still human beings deep down. You just accept for who they are then can you only make peace with yourself. Like the saying, if you can’t beat them, join them.

Imagine living and being surrounded by weird people who also happen like to ‘get involve’ in your business. Okay, I guess most of us do. So most people’s reaction to this would either be, tell them off if one can’t stand it all, or just be tolerant and take it all as their ‘natural behaviour’. Be in one with them. Well, it’s something like the latter in this series, Mahoraba – Heartful Days.
 
At first I was confused with this anime with the one called Maburaho because the name of the title sounds closely similar to each other and even thought that they’re both related to each other in a way. Nope. They’re both different from each other and bear no relation whatsoever. Except that they’re both Japanese animes, that is.
 
With 26 episodes of wackiness, you could say that this is another one of those comedy genres. But it isn’t so out-of-this-world (like Excel Saga, my favourite threshold example to use for comedy genres) but it’s still wacky enough for some good laughs. Besides there’s a little drama and romance element here.
 
First off, we’re introduced to this 18 year old male protagonist, Ryuushi Shiratori, who aspires to be a children’s book artist. Because of that, he attends the Sumeragi Design School in Tokyo. Since he isn’t from that area, Shiratori needs a place to stay and manages to find an inn called Narutakisou. This inn is sure sticking out like a sore thumb. Why, among the midst of several skyscrappers, Narutakisou seems to be like those old traditional Japanese inns. A square plot with single storey buildings of with several rooms and there’s a beautiful garden with a natural pool in the middle with some blooming sakura trees. Picturesque.
 
Upon entering the inn, Shiratori finds out that the landlady, Kozue Aoba, is a 16 year old high school student. Plus, Shiratori and Aoba are second cousins. What do I mean? If their parents are cousins, that means the relationship of their offspring must be cousins too be in a second degree, right? Right. Of course, it’s love at first sight for Shiratori but since he’s a shy guy, he can’t quite say it at first. I mean, you don’t really walk up to a lady and say ‘I love you’ all of a sudden, right? He hardly knows her. If they’re second cousins, then they should’ve at least know each other, you say? You see, though he has met Kozue before while he’s younger, but his memory is a little hazy. In other words, he doesn’t remember much.
 
Shiratori’s arrival seems to be the buzz among the other occupants of Narutakisou. Yeah, they all so enthusiastic or rather ‘kay poh chee’ to find out who the new guy is. Let’s briefly go over the few weirdos of Narutakisou first. First up, the most interesting character, Tamami Chanohata, who’s Kozue’s schoolmate and close friend. This photo maniac is the slyest, cunning and scheming girl, though her intentions are good (okay, maybe not always). Since she values her friendship with Kozue a lot (and probably doesn’t mind getting into a yuri one), she doesn’t like it when somebody else gets to close to Kozue. And with Shiratori’s appearance, she’s not really to fond of him but she doesn’t hate him either because Kozue doesn’t. Thus, with her trademark evil genius smile, Tamami may sometimes be sarcastic, cold and manipulative to others except Kozue.
 
Next we have, Megumi Momono. The 20 year old university student actually attended some university for 1 year but found out it’s too expensive so she’s currently taking a break. Perhaps she’s lazy, no? Besides that, she likes to drink and guzzle down cans of beer and often gets drunk. Therefore, for some unknown reasons and probably any reasons, she and Haibara likes to gather and party inside Shiratori’s room with or without (usually the latter) Shiratori’s room and drink away. Currently in some long distance relationship with her boyfriend who’s overseas as she’s waiting for his return. So everytime she gets an airmail, she gets all excited and reads it to herself with much anticipation.
 
The only other male guy at Narutakisou is the sleepy-looking Yukio "Johnny" Haibara who’s some sort of a freelance writer. What’s so quirky about this guy? He’s got a puppet dog who does the talking. Yeah, a ventriloquist. But the way he says things is like as the the dog is the master, making the human self as an extra part. Throughout the series, we won’t see the real human Haibara speak. I guess, he’s quite a good ventriloquist as he can do so while smoking a cigarette too.
 
Then we have the poor mother-daughter pair. How poor are they? Well, their room has nothing but empty cardboxes only. The personalities of these 2 are so darn contrasting so much so it’ll make you think are they really related or not. While 12 years old Asami Kurosaki is your typical optmistic, hyper genki kid, her mom, Sayoko is a klutz. In other words as Tamami put it, a useless person. Cruel. But it’s true. Sayoko’s always looking gloomy, gets depressed and lose heart easily, not good in doing anything. Luckily, she’s got Asami to back her up and cheer things up but Sayoko’s still that same ol’ ‘zombie’ person. And what are those cardboxes for? Well, the duo does some part time job by putting together some flowers which comes in several boxes and they always have to beat the deadline to finish it. You probably guessed it, that Asami’s the one who ends up doing most of the job as Sayoko gets discouraged and usually falls asleep. Uh-huh, it’s so hard for her to even complete a flower. But at least, Asami notes that since they’ve got each other and happy, it’s all that that matters. Right…
 
Though the umeboshi loving (some sour Japanese snack) Kozue has a nice, gentle and kind personality, there’s a dark secret about her in which Shiratori will soon discover at the end of the first episode. Ohh… What is it? To cut things short, she has multiple personalities. If you think it’s not that bad, think again. Kozue has several different personalities and each of them are uniquely different from each other. Kozue changes into her other self when she is ‘shocked’. Meaning, you can’t really surprise this lady. If you do, you’ll hear those trademark bells on her hair ringing before she collapses. But throughout the series I find that even though some events are shocking, Kozue doesn’t goes into shock mode. Likewise, certain events which seems non-shocking would turn Kozue into one. Perhaps what constitutes to be a shock or not differs from each person. And when she comes to, she’ll be a different self. Not only each personality spots a different hairstyle and eye colour, when Kozue returns to her real self (usually after the other personality faints or go to sleeps), she has no recollection of what has happened. Furthermore, Kozue and the other personalities do not know each other. But the other residents of Narutakisou knows them and would just play along. Either they’re scared of the whatever backlash or totally enjoying it.
 
So Shiratori has his first experience of Kozue’s other personality as the brute, crude, rude and violent Saki. Saki thinks Shiratori’s a pervert because earlier on, Kozue tripped and fell on him when she brought some tea to his room. Poor Shiratori has to withstand some abuses before he finds out that Saki’s pretty weak when it comes to liquor. Why, just a mere smell of it would cause her to pass out. Safe. Pretty ironic for a tough lady, huh?
 
But that’s just the beginning. Before Shiratori could settle down at the end of episode 2, the next day, a gust of wind blows Kozue’s skirt up and she gets really embarrassed because Shiratori saw her… ahem ahem. Another shock mode from Kozue and poofs… another weird personality. Shiratori’s thinking it might be Saki again and is fearing the worst. Good news, it isn’t. Bad news, it’s Nanako this time. She’s a 6 year old personality who really acts like a kid. Not bad, you say? Believe me, it’s just as bad. Nanako’s clinging on to Shiratori as though he’s like her onii-chan as she wants him to play with her, draw with her and even read storybooks to her. But after all that, Nanako gets tired and sleep. Which means, the next time she wakes up, it’ll be back to ol’ Kozue.
 
Though the other personalities don’t necessary appear in that order, let me just blog on the remaining ones first. In episode 9, Chiyuri makes her first appearance as a cosplay maniac. She’s quite an amusing gal because she thinks she’s a fashion police and with Tamami as her ‘partner’, the rest of the gals of Narutakisou fears her because Chiyuri will not hesitate to dress them up in all sorts of weird costumes whether they like it or not. Besides, Chiyuri likes to say ‘correcto’ and it’s quite funny to see she and Tamami talk when the the former calls the latter, she’ll go "~ my partner" and Tamami will go "Yes, my sweetheart". Hahaha. So funny the accent they’re both speaking in. Plus, Chiyuri can’t be too close to a male or she’ll get all flustered up so Shiratori has to dress as a girl to have a decent conversation. Well, I mean, it all started because Tamami and Momono decides to dress up Shiratori as a girl and calls him Ryuuko and take weird photos of him. So Shiratori has no choice but to flee… in that dress. And when he comes back, Kozue is already Chiyuri. So I guess, first impressions are really important.
 
The last of the personalities finally appears at the end of episode 14, a very shy introvert and gloomy looking girl, who’s the most mysterious personality and her name is unknown so much so that the other Narutakisou residents calls her ‘ano ko’ (that girl). So in episode 15, we see how nice and understanding guy Shiratori tries to break the ice by getting to know her more. Of course, leave it to Shiratori’s magic skills and she finally reveals her name as Natsume, who’s quite a skilfull magician and ends her sentences with "~kamo" (meaning maybe). One reason why Natsume opens up to Shiratori is because he doesn’t sees her as boring and dull, the reason why she’s reclusive in the first place.
 
So everytime there’s going to be a new multiple personality of Kozue, you’ll see some sort of a sketch-like story drawing as narrated by Shiratori with himself as the prince coming to visit and play with the Umeboshi Princess. Uh-huh. Something like the princess loves umeboshi so much and somehow other princesses pops out because they too want to eat that delicious umeboshi whether it’s her mirror refelction or her own shadow. This story happens in the beginning of the episode and as the series progresses the story will be further told and addded with that typical fairytale-like twist. Why not? Shiratori’s an aspiring children’s book artist, isn’t it. So it’s only logical that all this seems fitting.
 
With all the weird residents of Narutakisou, Shiratori’s life has been taking an interesting turn, don’t you think? But that’s not it. There are other weirdos apart from the Naratakisou residents. Take for instance those at Sumeragi Design School. Shiratori’s teacher, Miyabi Shirogane. I thought she’s related to Tamami because of her ever creepy and eerie smile, but this isn’t so. Though she may sound gentle on the outside, don’t ever do anything to make her unleash her ‘punishment’. Well, she’ll first bring that student into some room and then you’ll hear some ambiguous muffled grunt and groan as everybody wonders what’s going on. Though we’ll never really see what Miyabi actually does, but my mind’s running wild, if you know what I mean. But let’s just leave it there. And Shiratori got his first experience when he told Miyabi that he forgot to bring his homework. Scary.
 
Then Shiratori has her college buddies. His other male buddy, Tsubasa Yamabuki is your usual typical pervert loser. Yeah, he’s the kind who wants to have a girlfriend and those sort of stuffs and even fell in love with a cross-dressed Shiratori in episode 9 when he spots him/her wandering in the streets and nicknames this true love of his life Reiko! But he’ll never find out that they’re both the same person. Also, there’s the bespectacled Risona Aizawa who’s a manga freak and aspires to become a doujinshi artist and Mizuho Amane, your typical slightly tough gal and is always seen punishing Tsubasa for his womanizing ways.
 
Of course, Erika Vermillion has got to be the most interesting freaky character of the series. Why? As a schoolmate in Tamami’s school, Erika is the president of the occult club with Tamami as her other inactive member. Her voice is eerie yet so funny which fits her personality very well. She actually likes taking verbal insults! Especially when Tamami insults her with sentences like "Immoral cunning Satan-maniac" or "Pale-faced otaku zombie", Erika actually loves it and proceeds to ask Tamami to ‘abuse’ her more and more with her creepy voice. Though Tamami’s really not too fond of Erika, but I’m not sure why she ‘obliges’ her by saying those insults even though Erika loves it and is to get rid of her. There are other ‘slick’ insult sentences from Tamami, but I think these are the best ones.
 
Then Asami has her classmate pals as well such as the rich snobbish brat Michiyo Asagi who likes to pose with her paper fan. Actually all she wants is to be friends with Asami, though she never admits it. Then there’s Satsuki Matsuba, as she’s always try to control Michiyo’s arrogant attitude with heavy books.
 
So most of Shiratori’s adventures are somewhat like this during his stay in Tokyo. Like in episode 4 whereby Shiratori and his 3 friends bump into Kozue and Tamami on the streets as Shiratori introduces his buddies to Kozue and they’re impressed with her. Then the funny part is Tamami felt left out and proceeds to give her creepy lecture for ignoring her, thus instilling some ‘fear’ within those 3. Also in this episode, Kozue and Shiratori helped some hapless maid looking for some stamp card in the park. The search goes on till evening until that maid saw it in her bag when she decides to give them some food for their effort. Bummer.
 
In episode 5, Shiratori decides to help out Asami and Sayoko with their flower job so much so he’s neglecting his assignments and falling asleep in class. But Miyabi understands from the looks of it and doesn’t punish him. Tamami gets into one of her schemes in episode 6 by using Shiratori to do her bidding. Yeah, she’s blackmailing him with some embarrassing photo pic. So no choice Shiratori has to follow Tamami to her school and carry some ‘heavy’ bonsai plant back. Eventually Shiratori finds out that he’s being used all along when Tamami could actually carry that bonsai plant with ease.
 
Then that weird annual Narutakisou hide and seek game in episode 7 whereby the winner gets a ticket which enables him/her to order others around. Shiratori needs it so that Momono and co can stop having late night parties in his room. Since Shiratori’s the new guy, he’s been selected as ‘it’. And if he fails to find the rest before sundown, those left uncaptured will win the ticket. Shiratori manages to find them all hiding in the most obvious or weird places, except for 1 that’s eluding him… Kozue. Where could she be hiding? To cut things short, Kozue won because Shiratori’s unable to find her disguising as… a pillar??!! Wow. Can she fit so ngam in there? So Kozue decides to use the ticket an orders Shiratori to come shopping with her next Sunday. I guess if it’s Kozue, Shiratori doesn’t have to worry.
 
So in episode 8 Shiratori and Kozue went shopping together to get a rice bowl for the former. But due to some ‘shocking’ moments, Saki appears and Shiratori has to once again endure her bruteness like playing at the arcade and such. We also find out that this tough gal is afraid of butterflies. When the butterfly merely lands on her forehead, she faints. Haih… At least Kozue’s back. In episode 10, Miyabi hands an art assignment of drawing somebody else. So Shiratori’s buddies end up deciding to do their assignment at Narutakisou. So the residents of Narutakisou took turns to be their model starting off with Momono and Sayoko striking up several natural or unnatural poses. Hmm… We see Shiratori’s work to be quite standard and normal, Mizuho’s to be a little comical and ‘out of balance’, Risona’s art is so manga like (makes you wonder whether a model is necessary or not), and Tsubasa’s… he’s drawing focus is the female breasts!!! Yeah, that pervert. No face or head, just that part below the neck. So later they decide to have a one on one model for their sketch with Shiratori getting Kozue, Mizuho getting Haibara, Risona having Asami (yeah, Risona’s all over her, thinking how cute Asami is, even hugging her), and Tsubasa… oh dear, he gets Tamami. And the funny part is when Tsubasa’s drawing Tamami, we see Tamami giving out her "Hmmmmmpph" groan as she watches him suspiciously. In the end, their art turned out pretty consistent with their earlier works. Uh-huh. Which means, Tsubasa drew only Tamami’s breasts!!! No further comments. And later accidentally Tamami spilled some orange juice on their art works except for Shiratori who drew a lovely pic of Kozue. The next day in school, those 3 buddies got their ‘punishment’ from Miyabi. Hehehe.
 
Your usual summer beach episode in episode 12 with the gang in their swimsuits having fun in the sun, sand and sea. Now that’s spending quality time. Or that treasure hunting episode 13 when Kozue discovers some old diary with a map of Narutakisou in it and the gang thinks that there’s a treasure hidden here. So they follow each of the instructions carefully but each time, ended up finding not what they want. But come to think of it, aren’t those scenic spots ‘treasures’ in a way? Finally, they find a treasure chest but upon opening it, to their disappointment, it’s only a few old photos of Narutakisou’s previous residents. Hey, they look so much like the current ones. Except Haibara’s got a real dog rather than a puppet. They also find out that if they’d continue reading the diary, all this could’ve been unnecessary. But if you also look at it from this point, isn’t the time they spent together searching a ‘priceless treasure’ too? Also some flashback of why this inn was left untouched amidst the rapid development as those past residents with that Shiratori look-a-like protecting the place from being sold to unscrupulous mobs. So the gang decides to take a group photo for posterity and probably have that sadistic idea of letting future Natutakisou residents of going through the same thing.
 
Episode 14 is the end of summer and half of this episode is told through Shiratori’s children storybook like story. Each of the Narutakisou residents are being portrayed as some characters here as Shiratori’s searching for inspiration from the Narutakisou’s residents. Weird. But I guess that’ll do for now. Something about a little talking plant girl (Kozue) meets a witch (Tamami. Haha probably it’s on purpose) who wants to dig her up for something but some dog (Momono) wants to dig her up to and the 2 face off. Then an ant and a grasshopper (Asami and Sayoko respectively) wants to eat the plant but she says she’ll grant them 3 wishes. The grasshopper immediately wishes for some foodstuff and a bed and the poor ant before she could say a word for the last wish, the cricket wished for a cool pudding. Bummer. Too slow. Then some fishing guy (Haibara) who fishes out that plant girl out of the pond. Finally Shiratori himself as a lonely person who lives in a cabin deep in the woods finds that plant girl and starts to care and nurse for her until one day that plant girl disappears just when he’s getting too close to comfort with that little thing.
 
Everyone somehow has that same idea of visiting Narutakisou in episode 16. From Asami’s classmates to Shiratori’s buddies and even Erika! Yes, this is my favourite part. Because Tamami knew Erika’s coming so she put some garlic as repellant outside the house which prevents that vampire girl from entering. Yeah, it seems quite effective. Erika then decides to unleash her summoning spells when Haibara comes in and remove the garlic. Because Haibara thinks Erika’s weird and proceeds to verbally abuse her, which causes overwhelming joy for the girl. Though there’s another garlic hanging outside the door entrance, Haibara goes into the kitchen and gives the garlic he found at the gates for Kozue’s cooking. With that, Tamami decides to check on her barrier and to her horror sees Erika there. Then the 2 ensue in some imaginary battle by summoning some imaginary beasts or heroes with Erika having a reluctant Haibara on her side and Tamami having a drunk Momono on hers. Yeah, everybody else’s watching the weirdness. But in the end, everyone gathers and have a lovely meal. And that Erika’s trying to finish up all that curry garlic meal. She must really like the ‘abuse’.
 
This episode also introduces a monotonous sounding girl called Mahiru Minazuki and her all-rounder maid Tachibana. Actually, Mahiru has appeared before in that beach episode. I suppose that she’s a prelude to something big later. Uh-huh, don’t mess with her because Mahiru just need to say "Tachibana…" and her maid will know exactly what do to. Wow. Can she really read minds? That’s what Michiyo found out the hard way because her arrogance got her hammered by Tachibana. Anyway, seeing Asami and Sayoko having difficulties finishing their job, Mahiru instructs Tachibana to help them put together the flowers. Now that’s bloody efficient. Yeah, I guess for the first time the seemingly endless job is finished. Though in the end Asami apologizes for having her to work, Mahiru just says nevermind and notes that she has enjoyed it as well.
 
If you notice that Kozue’s multiple personalities appear one personality for one episode, then in episode 18, all of her 4 personalities took turn appearing because of some stray cats appearing here and there. Which means, shocking Kozue or her other personalities one way or another like the cat having a cockroach in its mouth or the cat causing some kitchen utensil to fall on her head. Since the others are out shopping, only Shiratori and Kozue are in as they try to entertain the cats (probably because of Kozue’s other personalities) and making a lost cat poster so that its owner can come claim them. I like the funny part whereby everybody returns carrying heavy plastic bags filled to the brim with the things they’ve bought and Haibara… he’s carrying Sayoko. Hahaha. Talk about being a deadweight. So it ends with the real owner shows up and reclaims her kitties.
 
Episode 19 is quite interesting because it shows a day in life of the Narutakisou residents from each of their perspective and in the end how it’s all being put together. It’s like a jigsaw puzzle. You may notice that some characters have a cameo appearance earlier on will appear later and it shows how it came to be. From Sayoko’s intention to bring Asami an umbrella but got lost in the city instead, to Shiratori’s class, Asami feeding a stray cat with her bento, to Momono watching some DVDs alone and then fell asleep at the park till it rains, to Kozue and Tamami doing some after school shopping with Tamami bashing up some gangsters after they try to pick on them (yeah, something about her Heaven’s Wrath move). But in the end, we see that it’s a video tape collection from Tachibana as Mahiru watches them. Hmm… I wonder why she’s so interested. If you’re wondering where Haibara is, Mahiru’s got her other maid, Sakura to do it. But that bungling girl fell asleep on the job as Mahiro fast forwards the tape until Haibara who’s sitting and fishing the whole day there (he’s like a rock) notices a camera and somehow points at Sakura sleeping shock shock underneath a tree. Busted. With that Mahiro leaves it to Tachibana to give Sakura her punishment. Hey, doesn’t those ambiguous muffled groans sound like the one from Miyabi? I still wonder what it is… Not only that, when Mahiru saw the footage of Asami, she goes "onee-sama…". Oh the twist in the plot. Oh the suspense. Oh the cliffhanger at the episode’s end.
 
Hehe… But before I explain all those stuffs, let me leave you with a little suspense first. That’s because the entire series isn’t just about Shiratori’s misadventures (okay, he has to be involve one way or another). There are some episodes which focuses a little more on certain characters. Like episode 11 is more on Momono. She’s feeling lonely and reminiscing about her boyfriend overseas. So much so she asks Shiratori out on a date. Hmm… Momono looks a little pretty when she’s dressed up a little. At the end of their date, Shiratori finds out that this is just a test from Momono as she wanted to see if she still had feelings for her boyfriend, which she did, and apologizes. Of course nice guy Shiratori understands but ultimately, they both had fun together.
 
Episode 17 is how Tamami came to be close friends with Kozue. Besides that short hilarious moment where Erika wants Kozue to join her club as a ghost member (ironically, a ghost member can also mean an inactive member), Tamami steps in to protect her from the devil but Erika disposes her off easily. Wah. I can’t believe Tamami lost just like that. Kozue agrees because she wants to be in the same club as Tamami is. Well, Tamami couldn’t be more happier than that as Erika drags Tamami away for some ritual. So in the flashback we see how a young genki and optimistic Kozue impresses Tamami with her unusual ways (and that umeboshi thingy too) and ever since then, the 2 has become buddies. And Tamami looks more cute than scheming at that time.
 
In episode 20, the Narutakisou residents pay a visit to Kozue and Tamami’s school festival. So the usual fun stuff like Tamami manage to score 5 bullseye in 1 go, goldfish catching from Asami, Haibara’s reading some book in the literally club (boring) and Momono watching some lame Z-Grade movie (okay, maybe I’m being too derogatory since it’s a hand-made movie by the students). Of course my favourite part when Sayoko gets her fortune being told by Erika! I’m not sure whether it’s the creepy and dark surroundings or what Erika’s blabbing about as Sayoko’s cowering underneath the table. But the turning point of the series is at the end whereby the president of the 3 member orchestra club, Hiro Utsugi, is asking for help because her other 2 members who play the piano and violin has their hands in bandages. Since Hiro’s the conductor, she needs replacements or else her show’s a failure. Momono decides to help out as she has took piano lessons before and Sayoko… Oh no. She’s thinking of playing the violin. Can she do it? My other half says otherwise. The show starts and as everybody’s watching I was anticipating some blunder. But then… WOW!!! Sayoko’s amazing violin skills really caught me by surprise! First I thought it was some recording to cover her, but nope! It’s the real thing! This Sayoko after all this time, even though she’s a klutz at least there’s something good that she can do. My perception of Sayoko seems a little more favourable. Asami’s really impressed with her mommy and so is everyone else. Then, we see some old fearsome guy, supposedly Mahiru’s dad because Tachibana’s there as he goes over the video recordings Mahiru watched earlier on and isn’t to fond of it as he asks whether Mahiru has met Sayoko or not.
 
Thus episodes 21-22 focuses more on Asami and Sayoko. We see Mahiru and Tachibana taking those 2 (more like abducting) from Narutakisou, despite being protests by the other residents there. To cut things short, Sayoko is actually Mahiru’s elder sister! I wouldn’t have guessed it. Which means Mahiru’s Asami’s aunt. Er… isn’t she too young to look the part? We see that Sayoko comes from a wealthy filthy rich family and the mansion is bloody huge. And it seems Sayoko’s dad, Ushimitsu, a muscular sculptor with an eyepatch, doesn’t like Sayoko too much. Though he’s fierce, luckily their mom, Yuu (who looks too young to be one. I guess she could take that as a compliment) to control his temper or if he’s being rude. It seems that while Sayoko’s still schooling, she fell in love with their gardener, Kurosaki. Ah, the forbidden love. But he didn’t get her pregnant. They just eloped. Furthermore, Asami’s Kurosaki’s adopted daughter and though adopted, he treats her as his real one. Now this explains the contrasting difference between those 2. Unfortunately, Kurosaki died several years ago, leaving Sayoko and Asami to fend for themselves.
 
It seems that Ushimitsu’s purpose to bring Sayoko back is to let her choose a suitor for herself. Because of Sakura’s bungling nature, Tachibana has issued some sort of a job and warning to her. That is, not to allow Sayoko and Asami to see each other while their stay at the mansion or else… You know what this means when Tachibana slides her thumb across her throat. Yeah, Sakura gets pretty scared by it. And ever since then, everytime Asami comes in asking for her mom, Sakura would so obviously shiver in fear and give some excuse that her mom’s not here. So bloody funny. So much so even Asami’s presence would just make her go into panic mode even if she didn’t say anything. Now that’s a conditioned response.
 
In the end, Sayoko rejects her dad’s proposal for a new suitor. Sayoko’s saying something about how she still love Kurosaki even after his demise. If Sayoko had died first, she too had wanted him to remember and love her forever, at least the memories part. And though Asami isn’t her real daughter nor is their life a bed of roses, at least they’re together as a family, through thick and thin… *Sob sob*. Oh my, now I really have renewed respect for Sayoko. Asami and the other maids who’re eavesdropping barges in and hugs Sayoko with her eyes filled with tears. Sayoko decides that she’s till going to stay with Asami no matter what, which prompts Ushimitsu to tell her to get out of the house… but she could always come back to visit anytime. Looks like he accepted his daugther’s decision. With that Sayoko and Asami thanks Mahiru and the maids and set foot back to Narutakisou. And it seems everybody’s glad that they’ve come home as they rush out to hug them. This is quite a heartwarming episode and it’s quite well done. Don’t worry, Sayoko’s still her klutzy self. Some things never change.
 
Episode 23 is like a filler episode before the final arc. It’s about the Narutakisou residents taking a day trip to have some picnic and fun at some park by train. After a tiring day as the rest of the gang sleeps on the train on their way back, Kozue can’t help wonder how long will they be able to stay like this as everyone will have to leave one day. Shiratori reassures her that there’s still plenty of time. Have your ever heard time flies when you’re having fun? But for the time being, Shiratori wants to make many happy memories with her and the rest. Then back at the inn we see an airmail letter in the postbox and an incoming fax addressed to Haibara saying that he’s being picked for some writing competition. Is this the start of things to come (or leave)?
 
Episode 24 gets a little grim. It seems that Haibara is contemplating to leave for that competition and Momono’s letter states her boyfriend would love her to come join him overseas. Besides Shiratori taking up a part time job at the vegetable seller market, the other gang decides to search Shiratori’s room for anything unsual because they’re wondering why he got a part time job. To their disappointment, they found nothing but Kozue notices a circled date on the calendar in Shiratori’s room to be her birthday. That night while happily making some onigiris, and some blushing thoughts on Shiratori, the phone soon rings as Kozue picks up and hears a devastating news. It’s the police and they’re informing Kozue that Shiratori’s in an accident. In an instant, Kozue feels a sense of guilt and regret overwhelming her as she’s saying that it’s her fault to send him there in the first place as Kozue faints into unconsciousness. That must be the most shocking thing to have ever happen to her.
 
Back at the police station we see Shiratori fine and the other Narukitasou residents there. Looks like his accident is exaggerated by that vegetable store owner. Something about a truck coming his way when Shirtori tripped. Because of that, the truck driver slammed hard on the brakes, stopping in time. Phew. Back at Narukitasou, everyone’s by Kozue’s side. It’s not so much whose fault is it in the first place but how are they gonna revive Kozue back. Because they’re being too noisy, Tamami stomps her foot down and tells them to keep it down or take their debate outside.
 
We see some flashback as told by the other residents of Narutakisou about how Kozue became an orphan. It seems when she was young both her parents left on some trip to Hawaii in which Kozue won as a prize and wanted for them to go badly as she couldn’t go herself because she has school then. Unfortunately, the plane crashed killing her parents. Ever since, Kozue blames herself for sending them to their deaths. Thus the bells on her head serves as a reminder of her parents. Thus her multiple personalities are somewhat of a reflection of her hidden feelings. After hearing all this, Shiratori becomes desparate and tries to wake up Kozue. A little ruckus ensues before Shiratori accidentally touches one of the bells which causes Kozue to open her eyes. But something’s amiss. It’s not Kozue but one of her personalities. Umm… Which one? Is it Saki or Nanako? Wait a minute. They’re rapidly changing not the usual way. Oh oh. It’s gone haywire.
 
Even the sketchy storyline seems to turn a little gloomy as there are now 5 Umeboshi Princesses but since there’s a thunderstorm and tidal wave, all 5 princesses collapsed like in some sort of eternal sleep (coma in short). So while the other story characters get carried away by some whale as drawn by the prince’s magic crayons, they ride back to the castle. However, only 4 of the Umeboshi Princesses manage to be awaken and the 5th and original stay asleep. No matter what the others did, she just wouldn’t wake up.
 
So in episode 25, it seems that Kozue’s other personalities are continuing to take turns appearing. And they don’t even have to faint to appear. Kozue sure has really gone haywired. Speaking of which, only the real Kozue sel hasn’t appeared since. Everyone notices this and thinks they’re in real deep sh*t because previously Kozue always returns to her normal self after 1 personality. But it isn’t the case here. With Shiratori skipping classes, he’s at Narutakisou trying to understand the situation more so that he could help Kozue’s identity crisis. After some talk with Haibara, Shiratori is confronted by Tamami then. Something like Tamami’s been with Kozue since young, she’s her best pal in the world, she loves Kozue more than anyone else, that’s why she hates him so much, so she asks if Shiratori does in the same way, but Shiratori says he’s not sure if he truly loves Kozue but he knows he wants her to be happy.
 
After all that talk of realization, Tamami begins to understand what Kozue sees in Shiratori. Though Shiratori’s still not sure on how to cure Kozue, he wants Tamami to help him think of a way. Tamami gives him Kozue’s bell and tells him to do what he has to. Later as Tamami is sitting alone in the dark, she is approached by Momono. Tamami’s saying how she lost to Shiratori and it’s quite odd to see Tamami cry as she’s being embraced by Momono. Yeah, no matter how scheming and sly she is, tears don’t really suit her. While Shiratori’s in his room thinking, he spots his sketchbook and his drawing of the Umeboshi Princess. Shiratori has an idea to make Kozue and her personalities happy.
 
So the final episode 26 sees how Shiratori tells his Umeboshi Princess sketch story to all the Kozue’s personalities. Yup, it seems that they’re so eager and enthusiastic to know what’s going on in the story. With Shiratori’s eloquence and talent as a future children storybook artist, he manage to maintain the interest of all the personalities, keeping them in suspense and awe. What’s this? Tamami getting drunk over an orange juice? Or is it just that she’s really really sad that she’s unable to do anything for her best pal.
 
While Shiratori’s telling his story, he notices that he’s not just telling to 1 perosnality but in fact all of them together. Is that a hallucination or what? And those other Narutakisou residents are hearing the whole story from behind the bush. Shiratori’s story telling continues and since it’s a typical children fairytale, it ends on a happy note with the prince kissing the sleeping Umeboshi Princess on the cheek thus waking her up. Then all those 4 princesses transformed to be somewhat of a reflection of the other Kozue’s personalities like Saki the warrior and Chiyuri the dancer. Once the story ends with everybody having a bite of umeboshi, soon the real Kozue finally opened her eyes. Hooray! Kozue’s back! Then the funny part is before Shiratori could hug Kozue, Tamami faster than the speed of light beats him to it with her leg acting as some stopper across Shiratori’s chin. Haha.
 
After all that, every character who has made their appearance in this series makes a 1 big reunion at Narutakisou for Kozue’s birthday bash. From Erika to the Minazuki household to those market sellers downtown and even those kitten owners. Well, except for Reiko, which Tsubasa’s still yearning for her. You know why lah. Also to tie things up, Momono decides not to follow her beau overseas but instead will wait for him to come back to her and Haibara saying that the writing competition company went bust. Momono notices 5 names on the cake when Tamami replies that today’s the birthday of 5 special people. You know who. So has Kozue been cured of her multiple personality disorders? Well, when Shiratori bumps into her while she’s taking out a jar of umeboshi, spilling everything, Kozue’s still Kozue. Maybe that’s not shocking enough. But it ends when everybody takes an umeboshi bite and their faces grimaces to that sour satisfaction. Mmmm… SUPPAI!!!
 
Overall, I really did enjoy this anime. The way they combine the elements in the storyline especially with all the interesting and wacky characters makes it even more fun. It’s a good blend of comedy and drama. Since the drawing and art isn’t your typical bishie kinda drawing, it may look like it’s targeted for younger audience. But I’m sure this series is certainly for anybody and everybody, young or old.
 
As for the voice acting, I must say that it’s quite well done and my favourite characters are still Tamami and Erika mainly because of their voices which influences the way the speak and such. Voiced by Yui Horie and Shizuka Itou respectively, they really give their characters a fitting and suitable personality. Kozue’s voice actress, Satomi Arai, did quite a good job with the various multiple personalities to give each one a distinct and unique characterisitc.
 
The series too has a soundtrack (which anime these days doesn’t) and I kinda find that most of the background musics to be fun and cute, though there are a variety of them. Of course there are those slower and more solem ones to fit the mood of the scene but overall, they all sound pretty okay.
 
I want to mention that in most episodes, you’ll see some sort of a comic slide panel. Usually shown when the characters are doing something like searching for things, each slide lasts for a few seconds before the next slide slides into place as it’s accompanied by a fun background music, usually a solo electric guitar picking. This is usually for comical purpose and probably to cut a long story/task short. Whereas in the next episode preview, we see Tamami in butterfly suit and Momono in a with that professor hat (forgot what it’s called) blabbing with expression on certain things like what has happened so far in this episode before they really go on to the next. Okay, maybe sometimes they don’t. Yeah, Erika made her appearance once there too. And in the end credits you’ll notice a new Kozue personality everytime you see another Umeboshi Princess appearing. Count ’em.
 
As usual, the beginning of each episode has that warning notice not to sit to close to the tv while watching the show. With some of them telling you what would happen if you don’t, like some weird purple ugly monster popping out from the tv screen and devouring you and some with just Kozue’s gentle persuasion. Even she herself apologizes that there’s no punch line but Tamami butts in and say it doesn’t matter because Kozue’s so cool and stuff. Funny right from the start.
 
Probably there’s a hidden psychological lesson in all this. Perhaps when one is greatly traumatised, we see how one changes his/her character and shuns himslef/herself from the rest. This is especially when young children who witness undesirable events at a tender young age. Of course the other lesson is never give up, togetherness, understanding, tolerance and always be happy with what you have and cherish them because it may not last forever. In a way, you could say that Shiratori’s the prince who woke up Kozue the princess in the end just like in fairytales.
 
So next time if you really do have weird people around you, just think that it may all be a blessing in disguise. They may turn out ‘better’ than you think… Or not. Therefore, weirdness is only defined as per the individual him/herself perceives to be. Erm… Does this mean I’m weird too?