So you weeaboos think you know it all about Japan, do you? Think you can name a few anime, manga and video games, you’re a master of knowing all that is Japan, do you? Oh yeah? Think by saying the general knowledge history of Oda Nobunaga makes you the same as local Japanese, do you? Well, I’ve got some news for you buddy. You don’t know anything yet. Especially the Gunma prefecture of Japan. Gun-what? Not Gundam. Gunma. Strap onto your seatbelts because we’re going to tell you all you need to know about Gunma first. Now do you think you know everything about Japan? Heck, Omae Wa Mada Gunma Wo Shiranai!

Episode 1
Nori Kamitsuki is taking a train as he is moving to Gunma. He remembers his friend, Otoya Todoroki lives there as he texts him about it and is looking forward to be in the same school as him again. However he texts back to not come here as no one who comes to Gunma returns alive. Poor Kamitsuki got so scared that he starts seeing everything in a different light. The train is now creepily empty and the ‘devilish’ conductor forces him to the front coach where everyone is. Then he sees how everyone here talks and acts like gangsters and he fears this is the evil miasma from Gunma! He thinks of getting off and turning back on the next stop. However the doors doesn’t open despite the train stopping as it continues its journey! Hold on to your seatbelts for this one way ride to hell! As stated in the fact of this episode, the doors do not automatically open after a certain station and must be done so manually. Huh? Why the trouble?

Episode 2
As Kamitsuki introduces himself in class, suddenly the class gives him that evil stare when he says he is from Chiba. Kamitsuki tries not to be bothered with it until when it is time to start the class, he rises and bows. Immediately his classmates turn against him! WTF just happened?! It seems in Gunma you do not stand and bow. You stand, attention and then bow before sitting! Because of that they think he is a spy and tie him up with their stretchable udon. He is taken to the detention room as fearful Kamitsuki desperately tries to call out to Todoroki.

Episode 3
The students are discussing this spy issue like as though it’s a really serious matter. More serious than North Korea wanting to nuke US, I tell you! Kyou Shinooka reminds them their best way to flush out outsiders is their Jomo karuta. If you are a Gunma native, you will be able to recite all 44 cards without mistake! And this crane stance thingy too. Kamitsuki tries to eat his way out from his udon bind. Before him is Todoroki. However he is the class rep and he tells them to give him eat yaki manjuu.

Episode 4
As explained, yaki manjuu are buns with no fillings but covered with thick and very sweet coating. It is sold almost everywhere in Gunma and basically the prefecture’s soul food. Therefore those who are not from Gunma who taste it will reject this sweetness and sometimes it will result in death because their brain cannot handle it! OMG! Is this a true fact?! After the yaki manjuu is stuck into Kamitsuki’s mouth, this is the first time he is tasting it and he loves it!!! Typical anime food theme exaggeration animation scene with him breaking out of his binds and feeling the yaki manjuu merging with his body cells to be one! Everybody is relieved and now treats Kamitsuki as a friend as they think he is a local. Kamitsuki is grateful to Todoroki and thinks he gave him this fake yaki manjuu to fool them. However Todoroki isn’t aware of that. Both give each other that dumbfounded stare… You mean it wasn’t? Oh…

Episode 5
After a day, it seems Kamitsuki has gotten used to the local customs. Yeah, he blends in well. Shinooka then talks to him as she finds out he moved around the country often. As she has him talk more about himself, it is as though she is trying to catch him when saying certain words. Finally when she offers to be his special girl and he accepts, she then shows her true colours. She knows he doesn’t know a single one of Jomo karuta and used a honey trap to confirm he is an outsider. She is part of this JKJ group and will never accept him as a Gunmateer.

Episode 6
First, Todoroki explains the history of Jomo karuta. After the occupation of America after World War II, Jomo karuta was made to lift the people’s spirits. Many lives were sacrificed to compile this treasure as those Americans viewed it as violation and promotes dangerous ideas. As time goes by, locals learn to love it that this is literally drilled into children’s head (fact states they are forced to learn them). So we have lots of local championships of Jomo karuta and there is one interview with young Shinooka giving a passionately heavy and deep statement about the trophy she won has the weight of the blood and tears of Gunma’s history and those who don’t understand it are not fit to be human! So JKJ is Jomo Karte Jugend, an organization consisting of members who are champions of the prefectural tournament. This elite Jomo karuta group (basically just a bunch of people good at karuta to Kamitsuki) does not consider many who do not achieve this as true Gunmateers. Todoroki vows to protect him at all costs. As long it doesn’t bring danger to him. Kamitsuki knows better than to rely on him so he starts by learning more about Jomo karuta.

Episode 7
Gunma is also famed for its strong winds. Kamitsuki enjoys riding his bicycle as the wind pushes him. But be careful not to be pushed off into the fields. He passes by a kid heading in the opposite direction. He has had it in going anywhere because of the strong winds and is going to stay where he is. When he laments about the harsh life in Gunma, Kamitsuki agrees and flashbacks to all the ‘hardships’ he has been through. Yeah, he hates Gunma too. But when he gets back, mom treats him to tasty potatoes dried from the wind and Todoroki inviting him to a group hanami. Kamitsuki has forgotten all the hardships and now loves Gunma. Gunma banzai!

Episode 8
Mom has Kamitsuki go borrow some videos from his old friend, Minoru. He tries to remember the kind of friend he is. Because Gunma has no coastline, the prefecture doesn’t have any beaches. Hence when Kamitsuki once brought him to a beach, he becomes overly excited. Then he couldn’t stop ranting about how unfair it is for Gunma who loves the sea but ironically the sea hates Gunma as he further quotes statistics that there are more swimming related accidents from Gunma than any other prefecture and how the locals appreciate sashimi and tuna more than others with its massive annual consumption. Wow. This guy is really from Gunma.

Episode 9
Kamitsuki visits Minoru at his school’s sports festival. He learns that the teams are not named by their colour but their surrounding mountains. Yeah, it feels like teams are out to kill each other for blood! Also there is Ieti from JKJ but she is harmless as he explains that Shinooka isn’t all that bad as she seems. When Minoru has Kamitsuki join in a scavenger hunt, it seems Shinooka is also in this game but on the opposing team. She quickly declares a mock battle between Gunma and outsiders and will bring him down to his knees by JKJ to make him an example to others.

Episode 10
In this scavenger hunt, Shinooka has to get some jelly. It isn’t Gunma native but its biggest factory is based here. As for Kamitsuki, getting some local sweet snack is hard so as he tries to change his item, some guy passes him some shimonita green onion. This freaks out Kamitsuki at first because it sounds like some perverted vegetable (shimoneta) and how often does one associate leeks and buttholes, right? He needs to take it to the finish line but Shinooka stands in his way. In his bid to make Gunma accept him, he charges straight at her and then slides through between her legs. The onion’s leaf tickles her, uhm, let’s say sensitive area. It is no surprise Kamitsuki gets slapped. You were expecting some sort of romantic twist?

Episode 11
Kamitsuki is in a shop that has lots of vending machines. Before he knows it, this guy forces him to watch a video of its history. Apparently Gunma has the highest concentration of vending machines and inside shops nevertheless. It all goes back to the Cold War. Fearing Agent Orange might spread to Japan, precautions were taken to have buildings constructed with minimal walls to be converted for military use if necessary. Vending machines were installed as convenient entertainment as they are harder to steal. Hence such buildings were built based on military strategies and national security! It is said that if Gunma falls, Japan will fall! Defend Gunma at all costs! Since when is Kamitsuki drafted into the Gunma military?

Episode 12
As the gang is driving up Mt Myogi to visit its shrine, suddenly they are met with an accident. They find themselves in heaven and overheard angels talking about their death was premature. Knowing God will never promote them if their deaths are a mistake, they agree to send them back and ask where they come from. They proudly say they are from Gunma and were currently at the Myogi Shrine. But they find themselves in this strange creepy land. We are told birch trees might resemble bones but how come there are demons in the sky?! WTF?! This is the punch line: The angels are baffled why the gang wanted to go to Planet Myogi Shrine! Yes people, there is a planet discovered and named after this in 1988! Todoroki believes they don’t know Gunma yet but Kamitsuki knows better. They’re not in Gunma at all!!! Yeah, maybe true Gunmateers can only see 2 suns in the sky…

You Don’t Know Japan At All!
Oh well. I’ve got to admit it. After watching this series, I still don’t know anything about Gunma! Haha! Because more like in one ear, out the other! But I do know that the last episode features a lot more BS and crap even though it is trying to nail a point that those seemingly sci-fi stuffs are true. And yes, I believe it is also crap that if you die in Gunma, you would go to heaven and meet bungling angels who are more concerned of being promoted rather than sending back the souls to the correct place. Sure, the universe is such a big place but did they not check where their souls are harvested from? Oh well, if they say Myogi, then it must be Myogi because there is only one Myogi place in the entire universe the angels know. Damn you angels, you don’t even know Gunma!!! I’m sure the locals will even kick angels’ ass for this. Yeah, no wonder the misconception of Gunmateers being scary…

I have to say that even if this series is interesting in its own mini way, this is still one big blatant advertising for the prefecture. Although I am not sure how effective it is, I can say that this series has a better chance in promoting Gunma than, say, Urawa No Usagi-san (which is supposed to promote the city of Urawa in Saitama prefecture). You can tell some of the promotions they do at the end of each episode, a segment called Straight From The Farm! Gunma Love. From their food and strange culture that is featured in the anime, it shows and further proves that they didn’t really make up those stuffs. Nothing says like seeing is believing. They even had the mayor and governor in person say a few words. So I guess they are really trying to promote the place. Or maybe desperate because the mayor and governor’s textbook answer of inviting people to come visit Gunma.

If Gunma is considered weird, you haven’t seen the rest of Japan yet. It will get even weirder the deeper you discover. You will find that even among Japanese themselves, there are some cultures that are so alien, you will even wonder if they are Japanese to begin with. Hence Gunma being uniquely weird and at the same time being as Japanese they can get is the same with everywhere else in the world. It is a big world out there after all. Hence if you want to know even more and deeper about a country’s culture, you can’t rely on the generalized tourism brochure to get your details. What makes a better tourist guide than a local who has lived his/her entire life in that area.

Back to the series itself, well uhm, nothing really much else I could talk about. The plot is basically a tool to advertise Gunma. The characters… Kamitsuki feels like a personification of an outsider making his stay at Gunma. Hence all the culture shock that this poor dude will feel just because he isn’t from Gunma. I don’t know if that constitutes to racism since Gunma people as seen by JKJ do not welcome outsiders well. Safeguarding culture is one thing but how can others appreciate your culture if you keep it so locked up? Might as well close off Gunma to the rest of the world and form your own country! Hope this won’t happen.

Todoroki is forgettable. I thought he would play somewhat of a role to help Kamitsuki or at least something that would justify his existence. It feels like he could be a nameless friend for Kamitsuki and the series would still carry on as usual. Perhaps Todoroki doesn’t want to stand out as much as he is not a true Gunmateer and by being flashy, there is a chance that you might ‘offend’ locals by not portraying their expected expectations. So better to keep a low profile. As for Shinooka, if she is what normal Gunma people are like, she’s doing a good job scaring others from her prefecture. I thought JKJ was going to be somewhat of the antagonist because they sure seemed so with their pure Gunma only ways. But I guess they don’t want to distract us from such ‘extremists’ and focus more on the wonders of Gunma.

Something tells me they want to set up some short romance between Kamitsuki and Shinooka. The episode in which she baited him wasn’t it. It is that challenge during Minoru’s school sports festival that I started having this feeling. She may be giving an excuse to show what a true Gunmateer is but it could just be a distraction and way to get his attention. No matter where you come from or what culture you are brought up in, love is love! No barriers. Not even prefectures. Ieti also feels redundant because clearly the series could have been done without her as she played no important role.

Art and animation are pretty standard. They don’t put much effort into the details because it’s just promotion, right? If you want to see the real deal, come down to Gunma yourself! But Kamitsuki looks like a tired guy. Could it be he tried to fit into the Gunma culture and the result of burning the midnight oil made him look like that? Hopefully trying to become a Gunmateer won’t kill him first. I don’t know, for some reason, Shinooka reminds me of Nel from Bleach. Even more so when her JKJ group dons plan white mask.

Voice acting we have the bare minimum. Gakuto Kajiwara as Kamitsuki (Asta in Black Clover), Jun Kasama as Todoroki (Heracles in High School DxD Hero), Aya Uchida as Shinooka (Kotori in Love Live) and Yui Ogura doubling as Minoru and Ieti (Tomarin in Teekyuu). One thing I like is the ending theme of this series, So Happy by Aya Uchida. It is cute and catchy. Could be Gunma’s theme song if you ask me! The ending credits animation showcases more of the popular tourist attractions and landmarks in Gunma.

Overall, this isn’t the best series to promote Gunma at all. I did say it is better than a certain Urawa series but that doesn’t make it good. This series is still some sort of advertising and perhaps its anime format is to try and pique the interests of otaku viewers. Though, if you are really interested and serious in touring Gunma, you would have done other and better research before getting down to it. Otherwise this series if you think too much about it, it feels like trying to make a mockery of Gunma and outsiders because of the clash in culture and lack of understanding. In other words… Culture appropriation!!! Damn, you really don’t know Gunma yet for sure! Say the people who don’t even live in Gunma or Japan. :/

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