Marchen Awakens Romance

February 12, 2012

When we were young, I’m sure most of us guys dream to be the valiant hero fighting off a group of impending evil force bent on taking over the land. Be it taking up a sword or casting spells, our imagination just run wild as we hack and slash, blast and cast our way through hordes of evil swarms while reclaiming the land back to its rightful ruler. And perhaps getting the princess’ hand in marriage at the end. Well, that’s just limited to our minds. But what happens if you can really live out that dream? At least that’s what happened for Ginta in Marchen Awakens Romance or MAR for short.

In the real modern world, Ginta Toramizu isn’t the kind of guy who is good at anything. Weak in just about everything from studies to physical activities, his eyesight is poor and his constant daydreaming makes him the source and laughing stock for bullies alike at school. Yeah, he loves this fantasy dream so much that he actually kept count of how many times he dreamt the same dream! If I remember, it was around over a hundred times. WTF?! Doesn’t he get bored? Apparently not. He gets excited each time and the only friend who never teases him over his tales and eagerly listens to every adventure he had is Koyuki. Love interest? Certainly the duo don’t act in a way that indicates so. Maybe she’s really infatuated with his stories. Maybe he just really needs somebody to listen to.

So one day, something this unbelievable happened in class. Suddenly the classroom turns dark and a funny looking clown gate called Monban Pierrot summons him to enter the fantasy land he has always dreamt of. Too good to pass this chance, right? Besides, if he stays on Earth, he’ll only end up getting bullied. So what else to do? Take off on a new journey and say goodbye to those jerks. Koyuki wanted to tag along too but the number on the dice shows it has only 1 room for 1 person. So Koyuki has to stay back and wait until who knows when Ginta will return from his fantasy trip. And with 102 episodes to the anime, I’m sure it’s going to be a pretty long time and by the time Ginta returns, I guess he can write a novel that spans several volumes. Koyuki can listen to his stories till they grow old! Haha! Oh, did I mention Ginta’s mom is a fantasy book author? Maybe that’s how Ginta got these weird dreams.

So being one of those shonen anime genres, you’ll see how Ginta happily frolicking in the new land, learns of a reviving evil organization bent on taking over the land. So he meets allies, powers up, gets stronger, develops new moves, fights the baddies and ultimately saves the day. And who better than to do it but some kid from another world? Typical, isn’t it? Spikey hair, values friendship close to his heart but a little dumb and rash at times. But along the way, you’ll not only get lots of action but drama as well as there are enough episodes for flashbacks and scenes to flesh out the characters. As usual, my blog is just a simple and minimal blog when it involves long running animes. My favourite source for MAR info is Wikipedia and Marpedia and I’m sure there are many other fansites out there dedicated to this series.

Welcome to MAR Heaven
In this world, Ginta seems to be a super human. What do I mean? He is no longer the weak and feeble kid he was back on Earth. Now he has got enough strength to fight enemies. Well, at least low level ones. The first human he meets in MAR is Dorothy, a beautiful but seemingly scheming witch. He is introduced to the wonders of little ring-like accessories known as ARMs. And you’ll find that there are lots of different types and categories of ARMs in this land. Just think of them as little rings that can summon powerful creatures, weapons or items for battles or daily use. Convenient indeed. If you know how to use them well, that is. Dorothy is on a journey looking for rare ARMs and manages to persuade Ginta to help her look for a legendary ARM sealed in some cave. But it turns out to be a talking kendama? Eh? Babbo is his name and he isn’t thrilled to be awakened from his slumber. Yeah, this little iron moustache iron ball seems to think he’s some sort of gentleman and even if Ginta wants to have this weapon (because Dorothy didn’t want this arrogant talking piece of sh*t), you’ll often hear them arguing and bickering. No matter how much Babbo tries to run away, he’ll eventually come back to Ginta. Well, I guess the only way Babbo is going to accept him (even if he doesn’t admit it) is that he makes Ginta his servant. Like that kid will acknowledge that. So it’s like a love-hate relationship between the duo as quarrelling at the slightest seems to be part of their repertoire but when it comes down to cooperating to defeat enemies, they’re unrivalled. Oh, try to keep Babbo as close since there are many thieves who are out there who wants to steal this rare ARM and sell it for a high price.

In this introductory arc, we see how Ginta ‘gathers’ his allies. The first friend he got is the monkey-faced Jack, whom he saved from a pair of vegetarian wolf brothers. Yes, vegetarian wolves who has been harassing Jack and his widow mom by eating all their fruits and vegetables on their farm. As usual, teach those wolves a lesson real good and they won’t come back as mean parasites but one who will work hard for their share. Who says wolves always have to be the bad guys till the very end? Next is the handsome young hunk, Alviss (the one who summoned Ginta to this world) and his always-by-his-side fairy Belle. This is where Ginta learns of the impending evil that is to engulf the land once more. Six years ago, an evil organization called Chess No Koma (Chess Pieces) invaded MAR. Alviss was part of the counter force, Cross Guard who fought Chess 6 years ago. Though Cross Guard emerged victorious, there were many casualties. Now 6 years on, Chess is on the verge of revival because its leader, Phantom is close to resurrection simply because, he is a zombie, an undead. Wait a minute. If he is a person that can’t die, then don’t you think this war will happen again in the future even if the good guys win this one? What is more shocking is that Babbo was once Phantom’s ARM and massacred lots of people. Alviss wants Ginta to dispose Babbo (though he has no memories prior to his slumber) but Ginta is not going to give up that easily. How then? Fight lah. Though in the end Alviss changed his mind in not disposing off Babbo, he notes Ginta is weak and needs to get stronger if he is going to fight Chess.

Next on the encounter list for Ginta and Jack is Edward or Ed for short, a dog wearing a Santa Claus hat who is Princess Snow‘s custodian. Ed is desperate for help since Snow has frozen herself in a castle to avoid being captured by her evil stepmother bent on world domination. Now this is Ginta and Jack’s opportunity to go save a princess. To Ginta’s surprise, he sees how similar Snow is to Koyuki. Like a splitting mirror image. Well, it’s no surprise too that there is some sort of connection between these girls because from time to time, you’ll see how Koyuki will have dreams of Ginta’s progress in MAR and tells Ginta’s mom of the story. Oh, so nobody is frantic that Ginta went to the other world for real? In the castle, Ginta also meets his first Chess minions, Bishop class Loco and Ian who are ordered to capture Snow. Ian is interested in fighting Ginta but the latter is inexperienced and hasn’t fully learned how to use Babbo effectively. Ed knocks himself out and turns into the legendary Cross Guard hero, Alan. Apparently due to a curse, Alan and Ed are fused within the same body and whenever Ed sleeps thrice, Alan will appear and for Ed to surface, Alan only needs to sleep once. While Alan fights Ian, the distraction was enough for Ginta to free Snow from her icy captivity. Somehow at the angle she falls, their lips met. First kiss? Well, Dorothy’s one earlier on didn’t count because it wasn’t on his lips. The fight is interrupted when a higher ranked Knight Chess, Halloween (and a long ‘acquaintance’ of Alan) appears and orders the withdrawal of every Chess Pieces back for a new order has been issued.

With Phantom finally resurrected, in his flying Lestarva Castle, he is going to declare the second war on MAR. Meanwhile Alan tells the young ones (including Dorothy) more about the previous war. Their previous hero was also a guy from the other world whom they called Danna. He paid the ultimate price by sacrificing himself to kill Phantom and secure victory for the Cross Guards (though the match was a draw). Hmm… Danna looks suspiciously close to Ginta’s dad (whom by the way went missing 6 years when Ginta was still a kid). So Alan has the quartet (Ginta, Snow, Jack and Dorothy) enter his Training Gate to further hone their skills. Though it may be 3 days passed in MAR, it is a much longer time in this gate as 1 day = 60 days inside the gate (in my opinion is the more you use it, the older you’ll get because time runs longer here, right?). Ginta learns of Babbo’s use and with magic stones, he is able to transform Babbo into anything he wishes. Only the mind’s creativity is the limit. During the training period, Phantom has his Chess Pieces launch an all-out war throughout the continent, burning down cities and massacre innocent people. However only Ian seems to be disobeying Phantom’s orders because he wants to get his revenge on Ginta. He meets Alan and tries to make him reveals Ginta’s whereabouts. Alan can’t move from his spot and has to take the pain or else those in the Training Gate will be trapped in there forever should he do so. So when time is up and Ginta and co emerge safely from their training, now it’s Ginta’s turn to show the fruits of his labour and fights Ian with different versions of Babbo: A hammer, a dagger and a Bubble Launcher. How can Ginta not win after training and developing so hard? Well, Ian will give some healing ARM in exchange if they let them go.

According to what has been told to Snow, they need 7 members to defend MAR. Let’s see, Ginta, Jack, Dorothy, Alan and Snow herself. That leaves 2 more, right? Ed? He’s just a mascot, no good for fighting. Oops. Babbo? If you ask me, that kendama and kid are one. Their next member will be Nanashi, the leader of the Luberia thieves. This womanizer has a grudge against MAR because one of its members has massacred a great deal of his comrades. As for Ian, he is ready to accept his punishment for disobedience. But as Halloween notes, he is not going to get punished. But his pawn who accompanied him instead, Gido. Now this is more painful than undergoing the torture himself.

Vestory Arc
After learning of Chess’ invasion, our heroes rush down to the devastated coastal town of Vestory to help the people rebuild the land and chase away what’s left of the Chess Pieces who are still lingering around in some haunted cave. Ginta befriends a local named Tom (unknown to Ginta, he’s Phantom in disguise. Geddit? PhanTOM?). While Nanashi fights Bishop Oruko (a homicidal retard as many would call him) and easily beats him with his super strength and electric powers (and also uncovered the name of his Luberia mates’ killer: Peta), Ginta gets to fight another Bishop psycho, Giromu. Here, Ginta unleashes another version of Babbo, the gigantic and powerfully crazy Gargoyle to pummel Giromu into repentance. Okay, so he didn’t repent but got knocked out. Watching Tom is excited and could hardly wait to fight Ginta when the time comes. Seeing how strong Ginta is, he kills Oruko when that big guy comes begging for help. Chess Pieces can’t be this weak, right? In the cave, Ginta frees the ghosts and not only earns him a magic stone but a key. For what? Only time will tell. While Ginta and co continue to help the people of Vestory, they meet John Peach, who could be the 7th member of the group. But is he? This arrogant, loudmouth bastard seems to claim he is the hero of MAR after a fluke that disposes off a bunch of thieves stealing from Vestory. He challenges Ginta to a race but he blunders in almost anything that his hero status is in doubt. Even if he’s a jerk, he still has a heart because that rare spider ARM he got that sucked up the thieves, he is going to get sucked into it (because the ARM eats its user) till Ginta steps in to save his ass. He may not be the 7th member the gang are hoping for (thank God) but hopefully he has learnt his lesson. Hopefully.

War Games Arc
Just like 6 years ago, Chess have officially announced the start of the War Games. So it’s this simple. A team match. Chess vs everybody else. If Chess wins, MAR becomes theirs and if MAR wins, the land will be safe. All potential fighters are to gather at Reginrave Castle and those who wish to join the War Games have to undergo a preliminary test. Aside from Ginta and co, the people rejoice when they learn the old Cross Guards led by Gaira are also in on this. The preliminary has all participants fight lowly Pawns. Maybe the Cross Guards should retire because none of them except Alviss won. But how can powerful Gaira lose to mere Pawns? Well, there is a wildcard among the Pawns and Gaira was unlucky to have fought with a Chess Knight, Chimera. He could’ve died but came back alive and very much injured. As for Ginta, Jack, Snow, Dorothy and Nanashi, they pass with flying colours. And with Alviss to make it 6 people, are these kids the only hope for MAR? Come on you people, show some faith! Since this is a team match, a member can lose and advance to the next round so long your team wins. Plus, if the captain of the team loses, the entire team loses even if the others all win. So who is the captain of MAR? Ginta of course! Yeah, put all your trust in that carefree kid. The same reason why Luffy is probably the captain of the Straw Hats Pirates. The number of fighters and stage for each match are decided via the throw of the die and the matches are officiated by erm, I don’t what funny little creature is this, but everyone calls him Pozun. So let the War Games begin! On a trivial note, it’s funny for everyone on the entire continent watch the War Games via ‘screen’ through the Sun or Moon in the sky. Wouldn’t it burn their retina? Wouldn’t it be too small to see anything? Oh, and the emblem that Snow created for the MAR team? Though it looks like an outline of Babbo and his long nose, if you have a slightly perverted thought, you can imagine how lewd it looks.

First Battle: Stone Stage
Match 1: Alviss vs Leno Rodokin– With the first stage just in front of Reginrave Castle, Alviss steps in first to show Ginta what he is up against and what to expect. We learn Alviss has a curse called Zombie Tattoo on him and was placed by Phantom 6 years ago. If the tattoo covers his entire body, he’ll become an undead just like Phantom. And that time is very near. Alviss easily beats power-crazy Rook class Leno with his Totem Poles. MAR takes the first lead.
Match 2: Jack vs Pano Rodokin – Plant user Jack seems to have the upper hand and could have sealed the match when he got Rook class Pano trapped in his vines. It was mind boggling to see him climb over her (I still don’t understand why he did that till this day) so in Pano’s panic, she screams out the pervert he is and unleashes her iron ball to hit his crotch. So yeah, aside from that monkey’s reputation falling down to a pervert in the eyes of the people, now he has got his manhood taking a severe hit. Hope there is no long term damage. MAR and Chess are levelled at 1-1.
Match 3: Ginta vs Garon Rodokin – Bishop class daddy Garon sure has his body as hard as steel with the ARMs he is using but Ginta’s never give up will and his trump card of Gargoyle turns the table around and astounds everyone with his power move, friend or foe. Wah… Now everybody wants to fight him. So first victory to MAR!

Before the next battle, Ginta learns that Danna, the former head of Cross Guard is his father. Definitely it is him. See the resemblance in looks and character? Like father like son. Also, Jack has lost his dad in the previous War Games so both kids make a vow to avenge their dads. But at this level? Yup. More training for the duo as Gaira has them power up in his Training Gate. Meanwhile Ian confronts Phantom and wants to undergo some super power up training because he is determined to kill Ginta and Gido’s tormentor. Yeah, poor Gido has turned into a mindless vegetable.

Second Battle: Desert Field
Match 1: Snow vs Fuugi – With Ginta and Jack missing in action (they’re still in training lah), the other MAR members make their debut. In the desert field which seemingly is a stage that is at Snow’s disadvantage because she is an ice user while Rook class Fuugi is a wind user (which means he has geographical advantage), Snow gets her first victory by slamming her Guardian ARM, Yuki onto him. At first I thought it was a snowman with boobs till I realized it was its arms folded…
Match 2: Nanashi vs Loco – Now, how can a womanizer fight a loli? Loco may look like a loli but is actually an adult woman in her 30s. Due to a Darkness ARM that she uses, each time she uses its power, she will become younger and younger till she disappears. Something like The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, eh? Loco’s voodoo magic has Nanashi unable to move as she sticks painful nails into her giant straw voodoo doll to translate that excruciating pain to him. Though Loco is puzzled that Nanashi is able to withstand so many nailing, Nanashi fires his Electric Eye to destroy the doll and free himself. Though it is his lost but Loco isn’t happy that she achieved victory this way.
Match 3: Dorothy vs Maira – Maira plans on making Dorothy the first casualty in the War Games but looks like he himself became the first one when Dorothy unleashes her Rain Dog, Toto to devour his amoeba-like ARM and him. I wonder how does a Bishop class guy taste like? So once again it’s MAR’s victory 2-1. Hey, do I see a trend here like in the first battle?

With Ginta finishing his training, the night before the next match, Phantom plans to ‘improve’ Ginta as he lures Ginta out in his Tom disguise. Then he purposely lets Ginta witness himself get killed by Peta (Phantom’s Knight class right hand man) so Ginta is filled with rage and vows to go all out against Chess since he promised Tom he would protect him but failed.

Third Battle: Volcano Stage
Match 1: Alan vs Alibaba – Oh wait. How did Alan join the team if he didn’t participate in the preliminaries? With this round needing 5 members to fight, Nanashi and Dorothy seem unwilling to participate. Till Alan showed up (Ed must’ve slept enough times for him to appear). With the score between Alan and Halloween not settled (they fought to a draw in the last War Games), Phantom agrees to let him in. What about Gaira? They don’t need old geezers! Boo hoo! Anyway with the ragtag bunch of Chess Pieces unwilling to fight the legendary and powerful Alan, I guess Rook class Alibaba decides to go first and show them what he’s got. Unfortunately his genie guardian got smashed in a single hit! Then Alan drags him to the top of the volcano and drops him!!! WOAH!!! What a fiery death he got! Don’t play play with this guy… As always, MAR makes a great start with the first win.
Match 2: Jack vs Pano – Eh? Another rematch? Apparently if your team has lost but you won, only the winner is allowed to advance. So since Pano won the last match, it’s time get his revenge. And he does so with his hallucinating mushrooms. He is sending Pano into a frenzy and made her fall for him! Yeah, Jack looks like a handsome prince charming, doesn’t he? Yeah, she’s all over him and even gives up the match. For once, MAR leads 2-0. I’m not sure if the effects of the mushroom will be on her forever because from now on Pano seems to take a liking for Jack and doesn’t hesitate to hug him lovey-dovey style. Each time, brother Leno can only shake his head and worry for her…
Match 3: Snow vs Mr Hook – Snow is at a disadvantage here seeing the scorching heat is taking a toll on her ice powers. Well, technically the volcano has got to be hotter than the desert, right? Bishop class Mr Hook uses this to his advantage and defeats Snow. Don’t worry Snow, you did your best and besides, MAR still leads 2-1.
Match 4: Ginta vs Kannochi – Bishop class Kannochi puts a curse on Ginta. He will completely melt once the candle on Kannochi’s head burns out. To make things worse, Kannochi swallows his ARM before Ginta could destroy it and set him free. Ginta can’t afford to lose this match or else MAR loses! So how? Use Babbo’s new version, a Holy Guardian called Alice! Wow. He imagined Babbo to be some sexy lady? No wonder Babbo is reluctant to transform into this. Why a lady, I don’t know? Probably a picture of a macho man doesn’t really quit cut it. With that, Kannochi bears the brunt of his Darkness ARM himself as he melts away and wishes Ginta good luck. Well, that guy isn’t so bad after all. He’s just on Chess side because he wanted to feel the excitement of battle and could’ve been on Ginta’s side if he had met him first. MAR has an unassailable lead, 3-1.
Match 5: Alviss vs Rolan – The first Knight to make his appearance in the War Games and this redundant match is needed to confirm Rolan’s participation. Alviss learns that Rolan too has a Zombie Tattoo but Rolan is obsessed to be at Phantom’s side for eternity unlike Alviss who wants to free himself from this curse. Rolan’s power is too much for Alviss so the latter lost (Alviss ran out of magic power and had to give up) though Rolan’s 13 Totem Poles was able to defeat Rolan’s Magma Snake. So final score: MAR triumphs over Chess 3-2.

At the end of the battle, Phantom and his Zodiac Knights make a rare appearance as they are excited to face MAR in the upcoming battles. So no more Rooks and half-assed Bishops from now on. Ginta uses Alice to split Alan and Ed but it seems he cannot heal Alviss’ Zombie Tattoo. Looks like the only way is to defeat Phantom. And yes, more training for the MAR team but this time they’ll be fighting a shadow version of themselves. What better way to power up because like they say, you are your own worst enemy.

Fourth Battle: Ice Field
Match 1: Alviss vs Mr Hook – Alviss has improved from his training that he doesn’t even need to use any ARM to defeat Mr Hook! Wow. But there’s a twist for the losing Chess members. Crazy Knight class b*tch, Rapunzel (who is Giromu’s sister and thinks her ugly face is the prettiest in the world) plays a rock-scissors-paper with Mr Hook and if he loses, she kills him. That’s what happens to Mr Hook. He died with a single slash to the throat. Oooh.. Not something MAR would like…
Match 2: Jack vs Korrekio – Jack is in a pinch. His plants won’t grow because the land is covered in ice. Bishop class Korrekio shrinks Jack into thumb size with his hammer and tries to stomp on him. However Jack outwits him by growing his plants from inside Korrekio’s body!!! Straight out from the mouth! Victory to MAR but Korrekio met the same fate with Mr Hook when he lost the rock-scissor-paper to Rapunzel. Oh dear. She’s killing off members like that just because they lost?
Match 3: Dorothy vs Avrute – The fastest match ever!!! Freaking fast so much so you’d probably miss it if you blink! Dorothy swiftly slashes Avrute with her Ring Dagger but misses his vital points. So quick that he can’t do any counter attack with his ARM that destroys other ARMs. So much for using that, eh? But he isn’t given a sh*t salvation chance by Rapunzel and is quickly killed off since this piece of sh*t got defeated so fast.
Match 4: Nanashi vs Aqua – How the heck can a cute and shy loli end up being a Bishop class under Chess? I think should’ve been much better being a magical girl. Mind boggling indeed. In order to avoid the fate of her other comrades, she needs to beat Nanashi summoning her marine monster guardians. Though Nanashi obviously wins, he fakes he is out of strength and forces a draw. However Rapunzel isn’t blind and knows that she easily lost sh*t to Nanashi and won’t let her off the hook and has Aqua play the rock-scissors-paper game. Though Aqua won, Giromu kills her because he too was playing and Aqua’s hand means she lost. Ginta becomes very upset and jumps into the match.
Match 5: Ginta vs Giromu – Ginta is obviously full of rage so much so he is blinded by it, causing his concentration and synchronization. Babbo refuses to cooperate till he calms down and recollects himself. So once Ginta is back to his normal self, he uses Babbo’s new version, Cushion Jelly to free himself from the crushing abyss that Giromu sent him and finally turns the tables on that psycho by sending him flying into the sky.
Match 6: Dorothy vs Rapunzel – Oddly I don’t know why Alan didn’t want to join this round so based on the rules that if a side has not enough members for a round, only the winner can only have a second match. In this case, Dorothy takes on the insane Rapunzel who is going to kill Dorothy (for insulting her ‘beauty’) and Ginta (for beating up her brother). Ginta would’ve participated in this match but he is just fresh from his battle with Giromu and is tired. And since we haven’t since Dorothy much in action for this round, I guess it’s only right to see her strut her stuff and have our money’s worth of an entire episode worth of Dorothy in battle instead of lasting for 10 seconds. Rapunzel isn’t named so because she uses her Nature ARM that transforms her hardened hair as spikes and drills to fight against Dorothy (sometimes I feel she can’t help take a dig at her ugliness. Probably boiling her blood on purpose). I thought she was like Medusa. But of course Dorothy triumphs with her horrible singing guardian, Crazy Quilt and delivering the final blow with her Zephiroth Broom. Wow. MAR won 6-0!

With the War Games taking a short break, Dorothy returns to Caldea, the birthplace of ARMs with her MAR team tagging along. Dorothy is back to report to the elder that she has found her sister, Diana, whom she is supposed to kill (Diana broke a law of Caldea that is punishable by death but escaped not before stealing and taking a long with her a whole load of ARMS, the other reason Dorothy is on a globetrotting trip). Diana is also the Queen in Chess and Snow’s stepmother. Yes, it’s a little complicating. While the Elder makes new ARMs for the other MAR members, Phantom and his Rooks invade Caldea. Ginta has a short bout with Phantom and both their ideals clash. Though Phantom has the advantage and his powers surpassed those of Ginta’s current level, nevertheless Ginta manages to force a draw as happy Phantom and his Rooks withdraw.

Fifth Battle: Desert Field
Match 1: Snow vs Emokiss – Again the desert level? Now the level is up as MAR will be fighting against Knight class Chess Pieces and Bishops whose powers are close enough of making them a Knight. There are 3 of them and glutton and chubby Emokiss is one of them. Uh… She thinks she is beautiful and has a mirror to tell her so. But the mirror is obviously lying… Though Emokiss powers up each time she eats her candy house, Snow summons her new Guardian ARM, Undine to force her to surrender before the pool of water over her head drowns her. However Emokiss remains stubborn and would rather die than submit so they free her from the water mask as soon as she passes out. MAR makes a good start leading 1-0.
Match 2: Alviss vs Hamelin – The 2nd most powerful Bishop and his flute is causing confusion since he creates several clones of himself. However Alviss is reluctant to use his new ARM because he doesn’t want to use it on a Bishop and manages to defeat Hamelin by immobilizing him. MAR up 2-0.
Match 3: Jack vs Candice – Can’t stand MAR to get anymore victory, Knight class Candice steps in (she wanted to fight Ginta for hurting Phantom back in Caldea. Yes, she’s in looooove with Phantom). Stone user Candice seems to be a masochist because she enjoys the torment Jack is giving her. Okay, she’s a sadist as well since she also returns some pain to Jack. However the ARM she is using when it reaches its maximum point after taking all the pain, it allows her to accumulate enough power to summon a powerful guardian, Gorgon. Jack counters this with his new ARM, Mehitos and lands a draw.
Match 4: Ginta vs Ash – Knight class Ash seems to be a friendly and nice guy. So different from the other Chess members. He loves kids so it’s obviously an ironic situation that he is finding himself to fight Ginta. The reason he joined Chess is so that he could free the world of wars and thus a safe place for kids. But can he do it under Phantom? Can the children’s safety be guaranteed if Chess wins? So it’s a dilemma for the kids watching who wants Ash to win but at the same time, they don’t want Ginta to lose. In addition to his Split Parts (an ARM that allows him to split up his body parts. Think of him as MAR’s version of One Piece’s Buggy), Ash uses his Psycho Space (cuts the opponent’s magic power in half) to fight Ginta and tries to persuade him to surrender. But Ash’s Walking Bomb hits Ginta and Ash is pretty concerned. Don’t worry, Ginta got his Cushion Jelly as protection. In the end, Ginta manages to break his Psycho Space and ARM guardian Death and Ash gives up seeing that he doesn’t want to hurt kids.
Match 5: Nanashi vs Galian – The fated battle. Knight class Galian is revealed to be the previous Luberia boss. Apparently Nanashi had no memories because he placed a seal on it till they meet. So now does he remember? You bet. So flashback time as we see how Galian planned everything out by finding a replacement for himself. And that is Nanashi. That time he was wounded, close to death and had no memories of who he was so when he was taken in, he was given the name Nanashi as it means “No Name”. Galian grooms Nanashi to be the next Luberia boss before he suddenly disappears. Galian was lured by Peta to join Chess seeing that he craved for more power than what Luberia has to offer. So back to the battle, Galian’s Hiraiken is absorbing Nanashi’s electric powers. But with betrayal and revenge fuelling Nanashi, he uses his new ARM to summon a giant eel, Gymnote to destroy Galian’s giant stingray, Torpedine and fry that ex-Luberia boss for good. So MAR wins this battle with 4 wins and a draw. Hmm… They must be getting real good to not even lose now.

With the War Games taking another short break, we see Phantom going to punish Rapunzel for killing off comrades just like that. I thought being brutal was good? Anyway he gives her a chance to redeem herself if she beats Ian. Yes, that guy is just fresh out from some hellish training. She gets to keep her Knight status if she beats him otherwise their positions will be swapped. Rapunzel looks down on Ian and unleashes her attack on him. Just when she thought he is done for, Ian counter attacks and kills her! Thus Ian is now a Knight replacing Rapunzel. And we have a couple of filler episodes that sees Alviss saving Belle from a guy who uses fairy powers to power his ARM and Dorothy with Ginta and Jack go to find a rare ARM  but it turns out to be a trap set by a group of mobs.

Zonnens Arc
In need of more training, Alan once again sends the other MAR members into his Training Gate. This time they will do it in pairs. The ladies really want to pair up with Ginta but fate works in funny ways because they ended up with each other. So who ends up with Ginta? Jack. And Nanashi’s wish of getting paired with either Dorothy or Snow also didn’t come true because he got Alviss. Wow. Two hot guys together. No yaoi moments here… Anyway, there are a bunch of bloodthirsty group of Chess Pieces called Zonnens (each named after the planets in our Solar System) who wants to kill MAR because they’re fed up of Phantom’s leniency and the War Games. They want to fight and kill, something that they enjoy. So with the leader Saturn freezing and causing lots of discomfort to Alan (not again), the other Zonnens sneak inside the Training Gate to kill the other MAR members. Jack and Ginta face off with Mercury and Mars and emerge victorious by blowing them away to the stars with Gargoyle. Nanashi and Alviss got Venus and Jupiter and they combine their powers and intelligence by using the surroundings the turn the tables on the pair. Finally Snow and Dorothy had to deal with Uranus, Neptune and Pluto and though the 3 sisters manage to initially fool the heroines with one of them being able to morph shape, they are still no match when the ladies cooperate. With the gang done with theirs, it is Alan’s turn. He has them send them their magical powers for him to break free from Saturn’s spell, reverses the curse on Saturn and with everybody else appearing out of the gate, Saturn gets a combined clobbering from the powers of the MAR team. Yeah, and it took Ed and Belle so long to call Gaira for help. Can’t blame him, he’s being held back by Zonnen Pawns. But it took him that long? Maybe he’s really getting old…

Sixth Battle: Mushroom Field
Match 1: Alan vs Chaton – I guess it’s about time he joined in the fray or else he’ll lose his edge. But Alan didn’t count something for this most powerful Bishop: Chaton is a cat. So what? Alan has a phobia for cats!!! Yikes! Being too long in Ed has made him so? Cute and annoying, Chaton doesn’t really have to unleash her full power to defeat Alan. Yeah, this legendary powerful guy lost to a cat girl. And it’s only his second match. How disappointing. MAR off to a losing start with Chess leading for the first time 1-0.
Match 2: Alviss vs Kouga – Something is amiss with Kouga. He has no magical powers but yet he is a Knight class. Then with repeated hits and experiments, Alviss deduces that he is one because of his monstrous strength. Each time he takes a hit, he gets up as though nothing happened. And Kouga has a grudge against Alviss simply because… He is handsome! WTF?! Alviss gives MAR their first victory for this when he finally uses his new ARM, A Baoa Qu, a guardian that envelops its opponents in a confined space and unleashes a powerful blast.
Match 3: Dorothy vs Pinocchion – Pinocchion turns out to be a doll given to Dorothy by Diana when she was young. Turns out to be an evil doll so I guess it’s up to her to stop it (seems Diana will turn him into a human if he defeats Dorothy). Pinocchion really sounds creepy with that voice… Anyway with 3 arms and a nose that grows longer into a powerful cannon each time he lies, ultimately Dorothy gets swallowed up by his giant monster whale, Fastitocalon. Pozun is in a dilemma to call the victory since he’s being pressured by the MAR guys to hold on a little longer. Inside the whale stomach, Dorothy meets Diana’s ex-servant, Poko (looks like a weird alien). He was a hard working servant till one day he stepped on Diana’s dress and was forever banished here. Fastitocalon’s stomach juice is very acidic and melts anything upon contact. So be careful. Plus, ARMs cannot be activated unless Poko wishes for it. He prefers this peaceful life inside the whale’s stomach though Dorothy tries her best to break out of the whale’s iron stomach but to no avail. Seeing her try so hard, he allows her to use Toto to break out of the whale and destroy Pinocchion.
Match 4: Snow vs Magical Roe – This magician turns out to be Snow’s babysitter when she was young. However after fighting with her (Snow besting Magical Roe’s Nightmare with her Undine), Magical Roe reveals his mission isn’t to defeat her but was sent by Diana to capture her. With that, Magical Roe forcefully seizes Snow and leaves the tournament. Oh no! So how? There’s this final match to go on so hang in there Ginta! Oh, Magical Roe is considered to have won this match. So it’s a tie at 2-2 and down the wire.
Match 5: Ginta vs Ian – With Ian now a full-fledged Knight, he is out for revenge and Ginta’s head. Ginta is impatient and blinded by the fact he wants to go save Snow but Ian won’t let him leave until they settle this grudge match. Ian uses a Darkness ARM, Demonic Bond to bind both of them and this causes them to have their magical powers drained in the form of blood. So whoever loses all his blood first will lose. Ian mentions his 3 reasons why he can’t forgive Ginta but Ginta couldn’t give a damn about his twisted reasons. In the end, Ginta wins and manages to convince Ian that this won’t save Gido at all. Ian tosses away his Knight status and continues to search for Gido’s perpetrator. And with a close match, MAR wins 3-2.

Tokyo Arc
With a week before the final match, Gaira has all MAR undergoing more training in his Training Gate. But something is amiss. Ginta and Babbo find themselves back in Tokyo! For real? Well maybe. Koyuki is there too so he must be back in Tokyo. But strange things seem to occur because his MAR buddies when they first met, seem to be acting strange. Like Jack is the head of the delinquents, Nanashi the leader of a rival biker group, Dorothy a kind maid to a rich mistress, Alan a private eye detective and Alviss a person who is taking care of a sick little girl called Koyomi in a hospital. None of them have memories prior to their arrival here and it seems a little piece of earring is the source that is impeding their memories. So once Ginta gradually gets his mates back, recover their memories and regroup, Alan deduces that they aren’t really back in Ginta’s world and are still inside the Training Gate. The mysterious lady who has been appearing on and off and disguising herself as other girls throughout the arc (such as Koyuki, Dorothy’s mistress and Koyomi) turns out to be Lillis. During the first War Games, Alan and Gaira’s Cross Guards were saved by Lillis’ tremendous power of her ARM, Plenu Ryunu. As the best ARM user in her village, they begged for her to join the Cross Guards to fight against Chess. She was reluctant though her family gave their blessings. Soon, her village was burnt down and she felt guilty that her absence was the cause her family and village perished. Soon, Lillis vanished from her own Training Gate and never resurfaced. As Lillis further vanish into a portal, Ginta, Dorothy and Alan go after her while the rest take on the undead knights Plenu Ryunu is keeping them busy with. Inside the portal, a seemingly calm and peaceful replica of Lillis village. The reason why she did this to Ginta and co was because she doesn’t want them to experience the pain of war and should’ve stayed in this peaceful place even though it’s fake. Eventually MAR gets to leave the place after they defeat Plenu Ryunu who has been guarding Lillis with whatever amount of magic power she has left.

Reginrave Castle Arc
Remember that Alibaba guy who perished so suddenly? Apparently he is alive because before he was going to be melted by the volcano’s magma, Phantom teleported him away. Yeah, Alibaba has got a new arm. Not an ARM, but a mechanical arm. What difference does it make? He’s only cockier and asserting his position as leader. Now he is under Phantom’s orders and leading a little group that comprises of Fuugi and Loco to retrieve a powerful Hero ARM believed to be hidden somewhere underneath Reginrave Castle. Reginrave Princess has no choice but to lead Alibaba deeper into the underground filled with traps because the useless knight Carl can’t really do anything. Okay, maybe I was a little harsh. You can’t do anything rash when your princess is held hostage. Ginta and Jack chase after them while Loco finds a new cursed ARM that turns its victims into animals. Guess what did Jack turned into? Uki, uki, uki… Ginta turned into a rabbit? But that ARM possession is only short lived. When the gang finally reaches the place where the hero ARM resides, Alibaba can’t use it and thinks it’s all a fake. That’s because he’s not a hero. So when Carl uses it, he turns into some knight hero to save the princess and get the gang out of the crumbling lair. Looks like this ARM is also good only for one use. And yeah, Alibaba may have perished for good this time. Good riddance.

Seventh Battle: Final Battle!
The mouth-watering final is here and will be held in front of Reginrave Castle. It’ll be MAR up against all the best and powerful knights of Chess. Plus, there will only be a match a day and not in succession.
Match 1: Jack vs Weasel – Hmm… Both are plant users. But Weasel is an old geezer with a tree growing on top of his bald head? Don’t let looks deceive you. Weasel was the one who fought Jack’s dad in the last War Games and killed him. So it’s revenge time but Jack’s moves are predictable because whatever he pulls off, Weasel has already seen it during his bout with daddy. Like father, like son. Weasel ultimately plants a large tree that feeds on the suffering of others, Yggdrasil and though Jack tries to draw strength and inspiration to fight on from his late dad, Weasel unleashes a Bird of Rotten Wood guardian that rots and withers any plants his opponents create. To overcome this, Jack summons his second new ARM, Kikazoku Fire (an Arabian midget?) to burn the hell out of that bird. He never used this before because it requires great amount of magical power. Finally he defeats Yggdrasil by destroying the tree on top of Weasel’s head since it’s the source of his powers. That easy? But nobody thought of it before? And to think that his power source was at such an obvious open spot. So you could say Jack’s actions now bore fruits, eh? Only a bald top left… MAR leads 1-0.

Match 2: Alviss vs Rolan – Get ready for round 2, the clash of the bishonens. Literally. Okay, so this match feels like another clash of ideals. Rolan wants Alviss to come on board the eternity undead thingy while Alviss would rather die than to live forever like a zombie. Both are stubborn. Both are good looking and both are determined. With Alviss using his Totem Poles moves as opposed to Rolan’s Stone Cubes and Ailes d’Angel (that allows him to fly and shoot sharp feathers), eventually emotion got the better of Rolan as Alviss coolly handles this one and defeats him. MAR extends their lead to 2-0.

Match 3: Dorothy vs Chimera – You think Chimera must be some kind of a pervert to rip Dorothy’s clothes. Distraction? Okay, maybe for us Dorothy fans but the truth is, Chimera isn’t really a guy. She’s a woman. This match isn’t a bed of roses for Dorothy because Chimera is using Ghost ARMS, the kind of ARMS that are forbidden and horrendous. At points they may look like aliens. As usual, a taste of Chimera’s past how she lost her humanity and turned into a twisted cold blooded Chess Piece member. She was in the midst of marrying the guy she loves although fully knowing he’s part of Chess. But the villagers (Chess victims and were on a witch hunt) took him away. He never returned no matter how long she waited. Then they return and decide to punish all those who are affiliated with Chess, innocent or not. She was held captive and tortured till she could no longer withstand the pain and ran away. She ultimately loses her humanity when she saw her badly scarred face. So that’s when she tells the world to screw it and Peta picks her up as recruitment. Do you think Dorothy cares about it all? Big yawn for her. Chimera also reveals she was the one who turned Gido into a vegetable, prompting angry Ian to interrupt the match. But he gets kicked by Dorothy and a ticking off that he can do anything he wants after she wins this match. In the climax of the powerful, Chimera fuses with her most powerful Ghost ARM, Chimaira and turns herself into a powerful monstrosity but Dorothy defeats her with Toto. Frustrated with everything that has happened, Chimera screws the world, screws Chess and flees. MAR is up 3-0. And oh, congratulations to Dorothy for winning all her War Game battles! Perfect victory!

Match 4: Alan vs Halloween – Another rematch and grudge match between very powerful characters. So we’ve got Alan’s Air Hammer against Halloween’s fire abilities. But shock is Alan upon finding out Halloween is his childhood friend. He never suspected it? Even way back 6 years ago when they fought to a draw? So yeah. Another flashback. Halloween, formerly known as Pump was the weakest boy in town. Always got bullied. Alan, the strongest kid in town, saves him. Strikes up a friendship. However Pump wanted to be strong and crave more power so he stole one of Alan’s ARMs and got chase by a pack of multi-headed dogs. Before the dogs could bite him to death, his fear unleashed some sort of fiery retribution and burnt the dogs. That was when Pump realized the thrill in stepping on the weak. Halloween was also the one who merged Alan and Ed together at the end of the draw in the previous War Games. Halloween got more ruthless over the years and is taking advantage of Alan’s heroic heart to harm the defenceless spectators so Alan has no choice but to defend them and take in some pain. After unleashing wave after wave of powerful ARMs on Alan, Halloween uses his ultimate Guardian ARM, Wakan Tanka (skeleton on wings?). But Alan counters this move with his new ARM, Saint Anger (a pair of giant hands?) to smash them up and sends Halloween flying into the sky. Up, up and away! With the 6 years of grudge settled, MAR has an unassailable 4-0 lead.

Match 5: Nanashi vs Peta – Also another grudge match. At least for Nanashi who is out to avenge his comrades. Prior to the start of the match, Nanashi went back to Luberia to clear his mind but Galian is after him to prevent him from fighting Peta because he knows he will lose his life by fighting this powerfully crazy Chess’ strategist. Since when Galian cared about Nanashi? Maybe it’ll be too boring if he’s no longer around. It was odd to see them in a tag and hide-and-seek game. Catch me if you can! No way! Do you think he should give up just because MAR can afford to lose a match? Not a chance if the pride of Luberia is on the line. So as the match starts, Nanashi can’t lay a single hit on Peta. Actually he did. Just that with Peta’s Blood Body, his body is immune to any attacks as his body will regenerate. Also, all lightning based attacks are reflected back at him. Then Peta uses Blood Syringe to drain blood out from Nanashi, the way he uses to massacre his Luberia mates. Nanashi was prepared to die in this battle but that is if he takes Peta with him. Now it is close to impossible. Besides, don’t you want a kiss Dorothy promised to give you if you return alive? Nanashi could’ve been done for if he had not taken a Holy ARM Alviss gave him (which was originally from one of his close fallen comrades) that allows him to be completely healed and making this comeback to destroy the Blood Body ARM. Peta is pushed to a corner so he summons his Guardian ARM, Body Eye. But Nanashi fights back with Gymnote and finishes him off with his Griffin Lance. With MAR 5-0 and close to perfection, Phantom makes his personal appearance on stage and mourns the loss of his best friend. Hey, even baddies like him do shed a tear. Now there is no one else who will share his immortality dream. Rolan? Maybe he’s not that close. Oh, what about that promised kiss? Dorothy ‘forgot’ she ever said that. Haha! Looks like her lips are only for Ginta.

Match 6: Ginta vs Phantom – The much awaited finals! As the number one Knight, Phantom easily summons several guardians simultaneously for Ginta to have some warm up exercise, in which he easily disposes. Then Phantom traps Ginta in his Phantom Glass and gives him time to break out. If he does not do so once he is done with his storytelling, with a snap of his finger, Ginta will shatter along with the glass. Oh wait. Storytelling time? I guess this is inevitable. So what more shocking revelations can we learn from this flashback? Phantom is from Caldea. Shock! And nobody from Caldea recognized it was this bugger who initiated the War Games 6 years ago? So this was how he became twisted. When Phantom was young, he entered a forbidden room and saw some kind of orb. He was enthralled by it and made regular visits but when his rendezvous was found out, he was being made to put to death and by Caldea’s law, his parents are supposed to do it. However they couldn’t and perished themselves. Since Phantom has no other relatives, he was to be imprisoned for life. Till that day (10 years later, that is) when Diana busted him out and since they both share the same dream of world domination and utmost detest for weak humans. They took along with them almost 800 ARMs and that orb thingy (which could’ve been Babbo). Along their journey across MAR Heaven, they build up Chess, Phantom met Peta and fell in love with a girl named Alma (who says there isn’t romance for bad guys?), Diana became Queen of Lestarva and gave Phantom a Zombie Tattoo as her present so that he can’t die. Because Phantom and Alma’s view differ (the latter accepted the cycle of death and rebirth as opposed to Phantom’s eternity), they both went their separate ways with Phantom finding those who share his same beliefs. And if ever Phantom changed his mind, he should use the key he gave her to free himself. Back to the match proper, While Phantom reveals his monster arm that has lots of ARMs (pun not intended), Ginta manages to break out in time and uses his newest version of Babbo (a magic stone he received from Dorothy prior to the match). I guess everybody is eager to see him pull off what kind of new version he has in store. So are you ready everyone? Can you guess what it is? It is… Puss In Boots! WTF?! What’s so special? With a dried bonito in hand, he is an ARM who can use other ARMs. Uh… Dorothy not looking happy… Ginta manages to rip his monster arm and there is a suspicious keyhole on Phantom’s chest. Want to guess which key fits there? Then it’s the showdown of the strongest guardians. Phantom’s Remrace and Dead Dragon against Ginta’s Gargoyle. Remrace and Dead Dragon combine and coordinate their attacks to best Ginta’s Gargoyle. It’s 2 against 1. However it ends with all guardians destroying each other. With no more guardians left, Phantom and Ginta engage in a physical fistfight! Both sides are already tired. Finally Ginta knocks a good one into Phantom. He better not stand up because Ginta is already at his limit. Phantom is down but not getting up so Pozun is in a dilemma to make the call. Chess supporters threaten but Pozun being the fair judge announces the winner of the battle and War Games to MAR!!! Hooray!!! MAR won!!!

Rescue Snow Arc
As Candice brings Phantom back to the castle, he knows that Diana has already cast him away seeing that his lost has made him ‘useless’ to her. As for our MAR heroes, their next step is to rescue Snow being held at Lestarva Castle. They need an Andarta ARM to transport themselves there so Alan, Nanashi and Jack try to find Pozun. Ginta knew that guy is the only one from Chess who hasn’t left because if he does so, he’ll get clobbered by the Chess members. The trio head to Pozun’s village and learns from his sister Porin how Pozun became the referee for War Games again when his village is being held hostage by Chess. But after dispelling the traps and helping the village to walk on its feet again, Pozun thanks them and gives them his Andarta ring (good thing MAR won, eh?). Meanwhile Ginta, Dorothy and Alviss need to head back to Caldea to have Babbo fixed because since his match with Phantom, all those devastating blows are cracking him up (not a laughing matter, mind you). However they face obstruction from several old enemies: Giromu (revenge for big sister), Kouga (rematch for his ‘rival’) and Pinocchion (wants somebody new to play with since Diana abandoned him. Oh, looks at his upgraded version. He’s on wheels!). Dorothy has to take the long way back to Caldea since her Andarta ARM was destroyed by those pesky losers. I wonder if it’s uncomfortable flying too long on a witch’s broom. It was really odd how Giromu could freeze the entire ocean not only on the surface but the depth as well. But I guess this gives them some sort of ‘platform’ to fight on. Of course Ginta always wins and even if Giromu said he’d repent, he really didn’t.

With Ed’s flying carpet, MAR takes a faster trip to Caldea to repair Babbo. The elders initiate a delicate process to fix Babbo and at this very time, the trio losers once again cause havoc on Caldea. As for Ed, he seems to have this disgust for Caldea ever since learning Phantom was from this place. He thinks that Caldea’s strict laws were the source MAR Heaven went into war. Can you just forgive them? Besides, lashing out at old elders makes it feel that you’re just bullying the old. Like no respect. Like he’s got a big problem with it. He should’ve been better being a ‘useless’ mascot with his incessant worrying of Snow. But you can tell how this is going to end when Kouga gets bombed in Alviss’ A Baoa Qu again and Giromu knocked out by Ginta and a revived Babbo (just in time, eh?). Hope you learn your lesson, buddy. No, you can never get revenge for your sister. And thankfully Ed’s revulsion for Caldea subsides (may not be totally) after witnessing that the kids of this place are just as innocent as kids anywhere else in this kingdom. It’s not nice for dogs to stay stubborn anyway. Elsewhere, Ian is hot on Chimera’s trail. He wants her to break the spell on Gido but she is more interested in obtaining the ultimate Ghost ARM sealed away in some tower (the kind that makes you totally lose your humanity – no more feelings, no more memories). Well, though she temporarily possessed it, it didn’t last. So she goes back to Lestarva Castle to take Gido as hostage while challenging Ian to a duel. But it’s not any much of a match because Chimera was easily defeated. Realizing how she could be with her loved one in Heaven, Chimera breaks Gido’s spell. She even wished them the happiness she had lost. Goes to show that deep down she still has her humanity. Chimera (whose real name is now revealed: Eileen) dies as Ian and Gido head out of Lestarva Castle just as Ginta and co are coming in.

But joining MAR are the odd bedfellows of Chaton and Loco. While it’s easy to say that Chaton is totally infatuated with Alan (who by the way still has cat phobia as she clings to him at every moment possible), it’s weird to see her and Loco together. If boggles me that if Loco despises Chaton so much (because her acts always make Loco bear the brunt), why doesn’t she just leave her? I mean, they’ve been seen together since the final match and travelling together ever since. Each time Loco commenting how she’ll get back at that cat every time she does something irritating. At this rate, I don’t think her entire lifetime will be enough. I guess these 2 need more screen time because… They’re the only Chess Pieces that didn’t lose. Anyway with MAR barging into Lestarva Castle, they have to fight waves of low level Chess Pieces. Ginta, Alan and Ed arrive at a room where Snow is held but faces off with Magical Roe though they defeat him. However they can’t easily free Snow because she is in some Darkness ARM puzzle called Death Cube. One wrong move and Snow will be sent to the other dimension. Magical Roe realized the err of his ways offers to undo the puzzle. But since this is a Darkness ARM, whoever undoes the puzzle will be sent to the other dimension instead. Magical Roe accepts his fate since he got to see Snow smile one last time. And doesn’t it feel like deja vu because as Snow breaks free, she falls onto Ginta’s lips… And all that pecking from Dorothy does not count. Elsewhere Dorothy and Alviss are fighting off against Candice and Rolan respectively (round 3 for the handsome guys? Don’t they get tired of facing each other?). The loyal duo are preventing them from taking a step further into the chamber where Phantom is resting. Rolan may have got Alviss trapped in his cage and Candice using some illusion on Dorothy to turn her into some emotional wreck over Diana, but Belle’s help (with a cat?) breaks Alviss free and Dorothy’s Zephiroth Broom turns the tide on their respective enemies. Just as MAR regroups and is about to take their final step to banish Phantom once and for all, suddenly they are being transported away.

Ghost Chess Arc
Well, something is wrong with Alviss. His Zombie Tattoo is hastening! It’s because of an ARM stuck to his heart called Rondo of Time that is accelerating this process. But if you think about it, he should have turned into one already since his body is almost covered with the tattoo. Unless it’s his strong will in fighting off the transformation. In this arc, we are introduced to the loyal and secret servants of Phantom, the Ghost Chess. Led by Kapelmeister (the one who transported MAR away), Sara Band, Pause, General and the Flat Sisters (no, not referring to their chests but the musical notes they represent: A, B and C). Phantom still wants to make Alviss his and has his final ace up his sleeve via Ghost Chess (he has Rolan and yet yearns for Alviss). MAR infiltrates the lone island city of Bartgain, the place where Phantom and his Ghost Chess are. Nanashi’s makeshift octopus craft (?!) is soon discovered and attack and disperses the MAR to various part of the island. With Ghost Chess initiating attack on MAR, Kapelmeister hypnotizes Alviss away from Snow back to Phantom before calling his underlings to retreat. But it seems Alviss has changed his stance on eternity and wants to join Phantom. But Rolan can’t trust him seeing that they fought so many times so he knows he just can’t let him go to Phantom. Jealous? Oddly after all the persuasion and finally when he wants to come in, Rolan shuts the door. Ironic, isn’t it? But it’s a plot to get close enough to Phantom to insert the key in his chest (Alviss previously asked Ginta for the key as he wanted to end this with his own hands). But Phantom saw this coming and prevented him from inserting the key into his chest. Well Alviss, if you didn’t shout and act so dramatic that you’re going to bring him down, probably Phantom would not have reacted so fast. At this point, Alviss is under the spell of the Zombie Tattoo and becomes a mindless fighting monster, beating up his MAR comrades without remorse. But he managed to eke out a little conscious to tell them to escape before succumbing to the beast. MAR have to retreat and do some planning to get Alviss back. And killing him isn’t part of the plan. With Nanashi and Alan captured, the only hope left is to get an ARM that will grant any wish that resides at Misty Castle, Clavier. Ginta and Dorothy enter the coliseum but the guardian Misty Hadju senses them as evil since Sara put a spell on the guardian to make them ‘blind’. The guardians continue to attack while the duo make a run. But they are saved when a ghost ship from Vestory appears. It is Alma to point out Misty Hadju’s misjudgement and being deceived (what is a ghost ship doing here? I felt Alma’s presence was just to notify Ginta and to save our heroes’ asses). Misty Hadju is free from Sara’s spell so she tells the duo how to get to Clavier (lighting up the torch and looking up at the sky).

So to get Alviss back, MAR fights and gets captured by Ghost Chess. Including Chaton and Loco. Chaton did a cheeky move by making Loco use her voodoo magic to swap bodies with General so that they can fool Pause and free beloved Alan and Nanashi (I can’t believe the Ghost ARM that was supposed to eat Alan and Nanashi’s heart were easily destroyed when Nanashi used the lightning on himself and Alan’s via Loco’s voodoo straw doll substitution. Shouldn’t Nanashi have done his in the beginning? Maybe he was hypnotized). Inside, they find a lab belonging to Kapelmeister as he is dabbling in forbidden Ghost ARMs so that he could make Phantom the perfect being. Then they fight Alviss again but this time Snow uses what she has learnt and train to precisely shoot her ice at Rondo of Time, temporarily stopping the accelerating process. With Alviss back with them, they head back to the coliseum. But they face off with Ghost Chess who are bent on preventing Alviss from reaching Clavier. The other MAR members keep the Ghost Chess members as Alviss alone heads up to Clavier. Loco could have got a head start to Clavier (she wanted the ARM to stop her de-aging curse) if she had not stopped to use her Darkness ARM to save Chaton from harm’s way. Because of that she turned into a baby for good. Poor Chaton felt so guilty that she took it upon herself to take care of baby Loco. Alan even takes pity on Chaton. What a surprise. Even still, the toddler finds her annoying.

As Alviss makes his way inside Clavier, he is bewildered to see another person inside (suspiciously looking like his young self). Since only one can get the ARM, Alviss gives way to this kid. However the kid gets disheartened to see it in a form of dagger and tosses it away. Then Alviss suddenly remembers that it was this dagger he used to summon Ginta to this world via Monban Pierrot after years of mastering it. What he wished for then was for peace on MAR Heaven. Funny how he doesn’t remember it but now. But as noted by Misty Hadju, though this place only can have a single person at a time, but different times intertwine so I guess this unexplainable happened. Meanwhile MAR are still fighting against Ghost Chess. Sara uses a move that eventually absorbs her life and kills her, leaving most of her comrades shock. Everyone doesn’t feel like fighting anymore but Kapellmeister sucks his comrades’ life to turn into the ultimate Ghost ARM and transforms himself into winged demon called Analyse. Of course with MAR cooperating, there is no way such heartless baddie could win. When Alviss return, they lament he couldn’t use that ARM but he notes he gained something more valuable instead (probably it’s his meeting with Ginta).

Heading back to the castle to face Phantom, it’s another round of Rolan-Alviss. Yeah, now he changed his mind and can’t let Alviss be near Phantom. Anyway Candice has taken Phantom and on the run. How far can they get? Though Rolan attacks Alviss, he laments that he is not acknowledged by Phantom and stabs himself with his own rose! Maybe this way he could meet Phantom again. So when MAR has got Phantom and Candice cornered, Phantom resigns to his fate of getting killed. He gives Alviss the green light to stick the key into him. But Alviss hesitates. Don’t tell me he’s feeling sorry for him now? Anyway Phantom is the one who guided Alviss’ hands to insert the key. Phantom becomes a mortal and this frees Alviss from his Zombie Tattoo. Alviss gives Phantom a decent burial by having Jack to bloom flowers all around just like his ideal dream world. Oh Candice, what are you to do now since the person you have been living for is gone?

MAR Heaven In Crisis Arc
Snow is suddenly acting strange. She wants to seal Babbo’s memories as part of Diana’s orders (something must have triggered her to go into this state). Though she soon becomes unconscious and Babbo freed from Snow’s icy prison, Ginta jumps into Snow’s mind via some ARM they found in the island’s lab. Here some shocking revelations of Snow are revealed. She is connected to Koyuki in the real world and thus why they both see each other in their dreams. Then this is all part of Diana and the mysterious King’s plan for something. Seems when Diana wasn’t the Queen of Lestarva yet, she implanted some magic stone into the pregnant Lestarva Queen. Thus Snow isn’t a person who is supposed to exist in this world. Huh? What? I’m confused. Well, Diana wants to open a portal between Earth and MAR Heaven and it seems she needs Snow’s power to do it. And for the research Alviss is doing, this process is something similar to human cloning. Anyway Ginta manages to get Snow back because she is who she is and believes she is a separate matter from Koyuki. Snow comes back, all’s well ends well? So when the gang are ready to depart for Lestarva Castle, they are shocked to find themselves falling from the sky. But don’t worry. They landed safely at Lestarva Castle, which is now safely on the ground. The king of Lestarva (Snow’s dad) is relieved to see them and that somehow he was freed from his captive as the King and Queen had suddenly vanished. So has peace finally reached MAR Heaven? As the gang celebrates, something sinister is about to happen, the mysterious King (in a knight’s armour. Can’t help staring at his weird butt armour piece) makes his move to control both worlds. First, mysterious monuments from Ginta’s world start falling into MAR Heaven. Isn’t that the statues from Easter Island? Isn’t that Eiffel Tower? Team MAR go around to look for clues but King approaches Alan and they fight. Alan is no match for his ferocious powers and was beaten. By the time everyone gets back, Alan is in his final last breath. He has an idea who King is but dies before he could say it. NOOO!!! ALAN DIED???!!! I can’t believe this!!! Imagine how heartbroken Chaton has become. Because of this, Chaton and Loco (reluctantly) go on a knight hunting spree and beat up anybody that looks like a knight in hopes of nailing the real culprit. She’s just turned into a vengeful vigilante, eh?

Ginta and Dorothy head back to Caldea to see the elder but find the floating castle is gone and the place under attack by monsters. After defeating the monster, they realize the elder is inside it and it seems King and Queen have hijacked their floating castle and made it as their new base. Meanwhile Jack, Alviss and Nanashi encounter Pano stealing food. Seems she and her family are planning to stow away and live on a faraway island since Chess has been disbanded and they fear they may receive the people’s wrath even if they have turned over a new leaf. But when Garon and Leno return, they are being attacked by King and are killed. Jack is also injured but not as bad as Snow who took a direct hit. Nanashi wants Alviss to take the rest to retreat while he fights off King. Unfortunately, his powers are too great as Nanashi succumbs to his injuries. Oh sh*t!!! Not another MAR member dead! But that statistic is going up again as Snow lies in her final breath in Ginta’s arms. She manages to confess she likes him and dies. F************CK!!!! Why are they killing off MAR members???!!! In the real world, Koyuki almost drowns in her school’s pool but manages to live on. From this point, she has stopped seeing visions of Snow and pays Ginta’s mom a visit. Ironically, Ginta’s mom also had visions of MAR Heaven all along, the reason why she got to write her novel. Perhaps she is the Queen and Diana’s counterpart? Bet she is. Ginta is obviously down but as MAR’s captain, he can’t let it go to his head. They meet Ian and Gido who are staying at a village Ash once governed. Though the adults hate Ash for being part of Chess, the children aren’t. Seems Ash is trying to help the villagers relocate as there are mysterious portals opening up over the place. Ash’s ARM, Eingang has this ability to seal the portal so he needs Ginta’s Gargoyle power to help seal the next one as each successful seal, the next rip becomes bigger and harder to seal. Ash also tells Ginta how King and Queen are behind this because when Diana announced Chess will be disbanded forever, King proceeded to absorb everyone (disgruntle turned to fear)! Only Ash managed to escape. Diana senses Ash’s Eingang will put a damper to their plans so King goes to stop him. Though Ian challenges King and gets beaten up, King avoids killing him because he has to rush to Ash and Ginta who are close in sealing a portal. Ash fights King so that Ginta could concentrate in closing the portal. Ultimately though the portal is closed, Ash loses his life but leaves Eingang in Ginta’s care.

Dorothy takes Ginta and Alviss to a cave to concentrate their magical powers on Eingang so they can teleport to where Diana is. Alviss takes a break outside but is confronted by King. He then reveals his true face. It is Danna! Say it isn’t so! Well, actually I had seen this coming (thanks to the spoilers in the opening. Thanks guys. That was a big ‘relief’. Read: Sarcasm) but hoped it wasn’t true. And he has Zombie Tattoo over him too! Is that how he survived? So Alviss starts going crazy and in denial about all the trust and bond they made back in the first War Games. Because of this, he couldn’t concentrate and was on the verge on giving up till he sees visions of Phantom and Rolan telling him to stand up and fight. Placing his trust in Ginta, Alviss holds down Danna and uses his A Baoa Qu to blast both of them together. King could’ve finished him off if Jack didn’t arrive (I think he could’ve killed them both if he wanted) so he escapes. Jack brings heavily wounded Alviss back to the cave whereby Alviss uses his last ounce of life to help open the portal (though Dorothy and Ginta managed to activate it, its power wasn’t enough to teleport them). Only Ginta, Babbo and Dorothy will head for the final battle as Jack offers to take care of Alviss. I was surprised to hear Dorothy promising to date Alviss when it’s over. I hope that’s true but that won’t be happening because after they have left, Alviss dies!!! NOOO!!! Not another MAR member! They’re really killing everybody off! In the castle, Ginta and Dorothy face off with Diana. Dorothy traps Ginta and Babbo seeing this is her battle. As both sides unleash powerful ARMs against each other, Diana reveals she wants to purify both worlds because she was sick of all the poverty, sickness and wars that humans had created. Dorothy didn’t give a damn about all that. She just wants the sister she knew back. In the end, Dorothy slashes Diana with her Ring Dagger. I guess when a person is dying, it makes them revert back to their good ol’ personality. Both sisters had a touching moment of sisterly reunion and reconciliation. Dorothy is saddened after Diana dies (well, even if she’s out to kill her, she is still her sister). Later as I found out, Diana’s revert in behaviour was probably due to the fact she was under King’s mind control all the while. But tragedy strikes twice because Danna fires a projection that kills Dorothy!!! NOOOOO!!! Not Dorothy too! Near complete MAR wipe-out! And as predicted, with her in her last breath, she manages to summon her courage to confess to Ginta that she loves him. What’s the use when you’re dead and gone?

Now it’s Ginta versus Danna. He is very shocked to see his dad but feels he isn’t his real father. Danna insists he is but throws a rock at him. He stops it with his powers. Ginta tells him whenever they got into an argument with mom, they always play catch to cool things down. Up till now, he has only playing catch with Babbo. What does this mean? Danna reveals that he is actually the Orb from Caldea and the Weapon ARM of Phantom during the first War Games. When Phantom was defeated and Danna died, Orb transferred his soul into Danna’s body. This explains a lot. It puts a rest to the eternal question of why he turned to the dark side. And because Ginta had always believed in his true father, seems Danna’s soul was residing in Babbo all the while. At that moment, Danna returns and temporarily takes over Babbo. Both father and son cooperate to beat Orb who needs Ginta’s power to open up a portal to Earth. Then Ginta uses Alice to transfer Danna’s soul back into his rightful body as the Orb escapes. Ginta and Babbo chase after Orb who has grown to an enormous size. Now he doesn’t need Ginta’s power to open up the portal. Ginta learns of Orb’s reason in doing all this. You see, Orb was born from Ginta’s world! How? Via all the negative emotions of humans from his world. Those negative emotions were so powerful that it seeped through to MAR Heaven. Caldea’s elder tried to contain this problem by sealing it all in an orb. Ironically as time passes, those negative emotions gained a mind of its own. Orb then showed Diana those devastating images, something that peaceful MAR Heaven lacks. She was convinced and took Orb and Phantom to run and the rest is history. Now Orb’s plan of destroying both worlds is coming close as he transforms into his true form, Tiamat and heads into the portal. Ginta rides Gargoyle to catch up with Orb. A powerful battle takes place but it devastates a big part of the city. Koyuki sees the spirit of Snow and the latter wants them to combine to become a magic stone to help Ginta. With an extra magical stone in his hand, Ginta wishes for all his friends help and power to defeat Orb. This means all the dead MAR members (minus Snow) are revived!!! Yes!!! Everyone in MAR Heaven lend their power to Ginta so that he could fire a devastating and brightest ray of light to finish Orb for good.

Aftermath
Peace returns to MAR Heaven and with the war over, it’s time for Ginta to return to his own world. Dorothy brings him back to the store he first shopped with Jack to find another Monban Pierrot. Before his departure, Ginta and Dorothy share a little moment together and she kisses him on his lips for real! Finally everyone sees off Ginta and Danna. Dorothy this time let out a loud cry that she loves Ginta. It probably would’ve been better if she had said it in front of him rather than to his back and before the portal closes. Ginta returns back to his classroom and Koyuki is relieved to see him. He promises her to tell her everything from the start but that won’t be necessary since she saw visions via Snow (saves us recap episodes, eh?). Koyuki hugs Ginta’s arms on the way home. Erm… I wonder if Ginta has his eyesight back to normal? Maybe his physical and mental strength has improved but I don’t remember him doing any eyesight training in MAR. Need glasses? Don’t see him doing so on his return. Danna also returns to Ginta’s mom and she is so happy her husband is back. After over 6 long freaking years, I wonder if she would yell her head off. Welcome back! The series ends with short clips of what the other MAR Heaven citizens are doing. Alan continues to leave with Chaton and taking care baby Loco. Has he gotten over his fear of cats? Also, Babbo is in their custody. Alviss and Belle continue to live together, Nanashi continues to flirt around with girls (Galian also back at Luberia), Jack continues his farm work and Pano makes regular visits (Garon and Leno giving them the thumbs up!), Ian and Gido continue to live at Ash’s village (children still flocking over Ash), Candice and Rolan paying a visit to Phantom’s grave, the odd pair trio of Giromu, Kouga and Pinocchion are bumming somewhere probably lost, Reginrave Princess marrying Carl much to Fuugi’s dismay (wait a minute, I didn’t know he had a thing for her! And wait too! Alibaba is still alive consoling that heartbroken guy?!), John Peach undergoing self intensive training and Dorothy flying away into the sky on her Zephiroth Broom while her other Caldea counterparts go all over the continent to retrieve other ARMs. Hmm… The last bit in showing those who got revived bugged me. I thought Ginta resurrected everyone but I guess it was for those who got killed by King/Orb. So this means Phantom and Diana didn’t revive. I thought Phantom was powerful enough for Ginta to request his help but I guess not. But Rolan? I thought he killed himself? Unless he didn’t. I was wondering about the other Chess Knights too. What happened to Weasel? He didn’t die, didn’t he? Chimera? She rejoined her lover in heaven for good. Halloween? He flew to the stars and never came back, eh?

The Excitement Has Ended…
Well, it was a nice series to follow and ended rather than continuing without any ending in sight unlike some long running series (I bet you can name a few). As the tournament part occupies half of the series, the good thing about the fights is that they are short and confined to a single episode. Better than lasting for 10 episodes with the match going nowhere. Unless the fights are important, they will last from 1.5 to 2 episodes. With the exception of Ginta-Phantom’s final fight lasting for a good 3 episodes. I’d love to make pre-match guesses on who will fight who (and in MAR team’s case, which members are going to participate). Mostly I am right mainly because of the spoilers in some of the ending credits (thanks guys, that really helped. Read: Sarcasm). But even during the fights, the downside is that they insert flashbacks and back story telling. Otherwise, the battle could have ended very fast. I know everyone especially the MAR team have a variety of their own unique ARMs and moves but using the same method can get tiring after a while. So that’s why the flashbacks and back story are necessary to ‘fill’ the gap between the battles. But the fillers aren’t just confined to within the battles itself. With over 100 episodes, I’m sure it’s not just tournament all the way. In between battles, those fillers serve to take a detour, which in my opinion puts a damper on the excitement of the tournament. For me, I would have preferred for it to go straight all the way without any interruption. One or two episodes are fine but to put in an entire mini arc like the Tokyo or Zonnens one is definitely not what I had in mind.

But overall the flow of the story from a simple tournament to save MAR Heaven turned into something darker and sinister plot like world destruction was gradual and smooth. The bits and pieces of information are steadily revealed throughout the series but with my kind of memory, I need lots of back referring to refresh my memories. Though some issues may raise an eyebrow or two. For example if MAR Heaven had never seen war before, how the heck did Diana got convinced of the need to purify the world? Unless she was totally under Orb’s brainwashing and perhaps the same reason why young Phantom was infatuated with the Orb so much so that he was able to give in to the dark side. The battle scenes especially the use of all types of ARMs, the animation is pretty much using CGI effects. Well, if you placed really high hopes of seeing anything jaw-dropping, you’d be sorely disappointed. The animation and movement of the effects are somewhat stiff so it’s like seeing a plastic toy or wooden product moving. And when they strike or blow, the impact doesn’t feel there. It’s like they are hitting air.

So what else can I say about the characters? They are your typical shonen type so it’s not surprising to see the characters grow especially Ginta. He may still be the same kid at the start in the sense he has a strong sense of belief in friendship and justice, but he grows stronger each moment and learns to cool down and not rush into a fight when his emotions get the better of him. When heroic guys like Ginta give their heroic speech, I know it’s a turn off but it beats To Aru Majutsu No Index’s Touma. There are always 2 sides of a coin so you may be right but the doings of the other party may also be right if you strictly look at it from their point of view. Like purifying the human world. Twisted it may be, but it is how Orb sees it to rid of anymore pain and suffering. Maybe there is no other way either but even with all that, Ginta still loves this world despite its many shortcomings so don’t simply go messing and destroying his world as you wish, okay? But other than that, it is the relationship and bond between Ginta and the rest that are the main highlight in turning MAR into a close-knit team. I wish MAR team could stay together forever but I guess with no evil across the land, their existence is meaningless in a way. Everyone accepts Ginta not because he is the one, the saviour of MAR Heaven, but for who he is. Even Alviss finally accepted him as his true comrade. Not to mention Babbo. He may be acknowledging Ginta as his best servant but we know he meant it as his best partner and friend. This may be trivial but I always prefer Dorothy to end up with Ginta (laugh all you want) instead of Snow/Koyuki. I know, she’s my favourite MAR member because of her rose-with-a-hundred-thorns personality (also I find her very pretty :)). Something about Babbo bugs me. If that talkative ARM can really eat like a glutton, where the heck does all the food go?! Where is his stomach? Because from what we can see, he is just a round ball. Don’t tell me his stomach is located in some other dimension. And if Babbo is so heavy, how can he hop around himself seeing that he is weak in water and instantly sinks. Couldn’t he just ‘hop’ away and out of the water?

I need to mention something about the Chess Pieces. Especially those low ranking Rooks and Pawns that aren’t given much individuality. Don’t you notice that a big majority of them wear some sort of mask and dress in a way that gives us an impression that they are clowns or jokers? I feel that they are too. Some never even taking off their mask (like Fuugi and Leno) so it bugs me how they really live by having something covered every part of their face just leaving little holes for their eyes. Speaking of the Chess rankings, I don’t really feel the difference between Knights, Bishops and Rooks. Though each of them have their own ARM to demonstrate during battles, I feel the intensity of it and their skills don’t make any difference. Sure, they may give our heroes a hard time but once they figure out the trick behind it, beating them is easy. So really, I don’t see how different a Knight, Bishop and Rook powers are and how they got ranked. Halfway through the series, I was confident Phantom was the King. Yes, I really thought that. Why? If the first War Games ended up with MAR in victory, doesn’t it show that Phantom is the final boss and thus the King? Plus, the case of Zodiac Knights, there should be only 12 of them, right? If Phantom is a Knight, shouldn’t that be 13 and not really a Zodiac anymore? Besides, Phantom may be cruel but I feel he hasn’t lost his human heart despite being a zombie. You see, if this War Games was really war, why the heck is he kind enough to give the participants a few days’ break (aside from the fillers excuse)? And when you say war, there are no rules so there should be violence and destruction raging throughout the world. Yet the War Games are exactly like what its other name half suggest: It is just a game. So was Phantom really serious in conquering MAR Heaven or not? And do Orb and Diana really need that long a period to open up a portal to Earth? Yeah, War Games were just an excuse to hide their true goals, if I should say. Another point of Phantom’s ‘kindness’ or rather righteousness to ponder is when he punished Rapunzel for simply killing off comrades. If Chess was a big bad organization, shouldn’t Rapunzel’s act be praised among them? I mean, from a baddie’s perspective, killing off weaklings is punishment if you fail to live up to expectations. However Phantom may be a hypocrite since he killed Oruko himself for being weak.

Somewhere halfway through the series, at the end of every episode, there is a segment called MAR Heaven’s Information Network hosted by Belle and Ed. I guess with these 2 mascot characters doing nothing that would make an important impact throughout the series (aside being annoying and for comic relief), I suppose this segment is where they get some screen time. In this part, we see them ranting basically about what has happened in the episode. Like a very short recap. Also it is to provide more short comic relief with their ‘jokes’. For instance, they may be jabbing or insulting each other but at the end of it, one of them will come up with a comeback line or punch line that will have them both laughing. Other than that, the segment is a total worship altar to let their heart out on all the good stuff for Alviss (Belle) and Snow (Ed). Yeah, praise them for all they want like the idols they picture them in their heads. Even if those stuff never happened. Deluded mascots… As if Belle wasn’t annoying enough in the series already. She gets jealous each time Alviss gets close with some other girl. And worse still, she might think he is gay if he gets too close to Nanashi or any other guy! Since when was Alviss her property? Ed was also annoying throughout the show because he is so useless that the only thing he can do is cry out loud with tears coming out from any hole in his face to his beloved hime-sama when things go wrong or bad.

Throughout the series, the mid-intermission is also another fairly amusing section. The first couple of seasons, it wasn’t anything much because it’s just about Ginta and Babbo before one about Babbo randomly transforming into one of his many known versions. The next type is interesting because it shows a trading card-like picture of the characters and their known ARMs and moves with each character having their own short motto. For the last type, it is a random pose of the characters saying “Waku-waku ga tomaranai” (The excitement never stops – which is the catchphrase of the series). I guess every main and supporting character has their fair share in saying it. Some even having said it several times. Another trivia which I found out is the comparison of Nanashi to Flame of Recca’s Joker. MAR and Flame of Recca are created by the same author so there has been speculations that both characters are the same. Besides, how do you explain Nanashi’s super strength in this world? It’s just like Ginta when he first arrived, right? Their characters are also similar and there is a hint that Nanashi may be from another world, that is he was probably that Joker. Though I watched Flame of Recca anime series but did not read the manga, I am not very sure on this so I can’t really say much. During the sponsor screens, viewers can glimpse a real version of an ARM. Won’t it be cool to have those silver ornaments as collector’s item or accessories?

For the first time (at least to me), a main character in the series has switched voice actors. Ginta was initially handled by Motoko Kumai (Koganei in Flame of Recca, Banba in Kuragehime) but that was for the first 90 episodes. For some unknown reason (which I could not find no matter how much I search), the balance of Ginta’s role was voiced by Kumiko Higa (Irina Woods in Mai-Otome). Though she sounds close but there was an obvious difference. I felt something amiss when I heard Ginta suddenly sounding a little different than usual, then I checked this up and found out about this. I didn’t like it. I would prefer the same seiyuu to stick to the same role till the end because my perception on how Ginta sounds like has been established and all of a sudden, somebody else voiced him. It takes the fun and excitement out of it. Really, I’m not kidding. With an extensive cast in this anime, I guess the best voice acting would go to Rapunzel by Yuko Sasaki (Hitomi Nomura in Piano) because she sounds like a crazy cold-hearted b*tch and Nao Nagasawa as Pinocchion (Majorika in Ojamajo Doremi) because she sounds really creepy wood puppet. As for the rest, they’re rather okay and after listening to them for so long, you’d get settled into the way they sound. The other casts include Ai Shimizu as Snow and Koyuki (Mikoto in Mai-HiME), Banjou Ginga as Babbo (Zaha in Bakuretsu Hunters), Daisuke Sakaguchi as Jack (Shinpachi in Gintama), Saki Nakajima as Dorothy (Chizuru in Bleach, Saki in Hayate No Gotoku), Souichirou Hoshi as Alviss (Kaoru in Ai Yori Aoshi, Son Goku in Saiyuki series), Juurouta Kosugi as Alan (Arlong in One Piece), Koichi Sakaguchi as Ed (Jack the Ripper in Soul Eater), Masaya Onosaka as Nanashi (Haruka in Lovely Complex, Momoshiro in Prince of Tennis), Rei Kugimiya as Belle (Shana in Shakugan No Shana), Mitsuki Saiga as Phantom (Kosaka in Genshiken), Toshihiko Seki as Danna (Mousse in Ranma 1/2), Michiko Neya as Diana (Agnese in Zero No Tsukaima), Ryuuzaburou Outomo as Orb (Crocodile in One Piece), Shinji Kawada as Ian (Shino in Naruto), Miyu Matsuki as Chaton (Yoshinoya in Hidamari Sketch), Sawa Ishige as Loco (Haruna in Negima series), Katsuki Konishi as Ash (Kamina in Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann), Susumu Chiba as Rolan (Kondou in Gintama), Kumi Sakuma as Candice (Seina in Gokujou Seitokai), Hiroshi Matsu as Halloween (Henry in Karin), Mie Sonozaki as Chimera (Hazuki in Happy Lesson), Tomoyuki Sakurai as Gaira (Takuro Nakai in Bakuman), Hiroyuki Yoshino as Giromu (Saruyama in To Love-Ru series), Kouichi Toochika as Peta (Neji in Naruto) and Yuko Sasamoto as Pano (Kasumi in Super GALS). Phew. I think I’m already tired.

Some of the opening and ending themes are to my liking. For all the rock opening themes, they are sung by Garnet Crow and her low and muffled voice makes it feel like that there is something stuck in her throat and her voice trying really hard to come out. Oops. I don’t know, that’s what I feel but I guess it is something different and unique as opposed to the many squeaky high pitch vocals I am hearing these days. My favourite ones from her are Kimi No Omoi Egaita Yume Atsumeru Heaven (1st opening) that sets the pace and rhythm for the series, the flute-driven rock piece Yume Hanabi (3rd opening), the samba-like beat of Kaze To Rainbow (4th opening) and Koyoi Katasumi No Eden De (4th ending). Haredokei (2nd opening) and the slower beat Kono Te Wo Nobaseba (8th ending) didn’t appeal much to me. The other ending themes are I Just Wanna Hold You Tight by Miho Komatsu (1st ending), Fukigen Ni Naru Watashi by Sayuri Iwata (2nd ending), Mainichi Adventure by Sparkling Point (3rd ending), the very slow ballad and piano-driven Miracle by Rina Aiuchi (5th ending) and Mou Kokoro Yuretari Shinaide by Aiko Kitahara (7th ending).

With Ginta back to his own world, I hope he won’t get bullied or be the butt of jokes anymore. Not likely because he’s learnt a lot and gained lots of experience from MAR Heaven. Now nobody is going to mess with him. So it goes to show that even if you’re a weak kid, with proper guidance you can still become someone worthy and respectable. Ginta’s case is similar to the story of the Ugly Duckling. I’m sure he had his fill of adventure for the time being so it’s back to his normal school life. But the excitement will never stop as long he has a creative and active mind. That’s where the adventure will continue. But for me, the excitement far from over so it’s time to find my own new romance and adventure.