Rail Wars

February 8, 2015

Did Mikoto Misaka end up in some brutal conflict and thus the somewhat sequel or spin-off called Rail Wars? Oh wait. That’s not right. It never happened. Actually Rail Wars is all about trains. At least its theme is supposed to be rail transport vehicle. Once again my assumption starts to work on its own. At first I thought with the theme of trains, there is going to be like different railway companies vying for customers with their cutthroat and ruthless competition pricing and wars. To the point of hiring thugs, mafia, gangsters and yakuza to sabotage each other. I mean, that is the reason why there is such a war on railways, right? Wrong. Had to think again. Nothing close. Although there are threats of terrorists and such on the national railways of Japan, this series chronicles a group of young trainees working in Japan’s national railways, in a parallel world where the entire railway networks are not privatized but nationalized by the governments, and how they keep the public and their passengers safe from any sort of disturbances.

There aren’t many train themed animes in the past so I guess what better way than to help ‘stimulate’ interest among current viewers with the grand and extensive railway networks of Japan. After all, the rail transport in Japan is one of the most busiest and sophisticated in the world. What more, it introduced to us the bullet train or also known as shinkansen and revolutionized the way we see and take trains. The only animes that I have heard (but not watched) using trains as its theme are Densha Otoko (technically this isn’t an anime but a TV serial and film based on the manga of the same name, but it was somewhat popular back in the mid-2000s), Miracle Train (where train lines are anthropomorphised as hot handsome bishonen… Ugh!) and Tetsuko No Tabi (based on a real life otaku whose dream is to visit every damn train station in Japan). So can this series do the trick and bring in the much needed interest to this department?

Episode 1
Naoto Takayama narrates how the government created a railway system that links the entire of Japan and thus it has become a dream for many to work in the national railway for a better life and tranquillity. He is one of those aspiring people as he first attends Japan National Railways Central Academy (JNRC) as a Student Railway OJT. To be a public safety crew, everyone is obligated to attend this training for a month. Hitomi Gonou is the head of the Tokyo Public Safety Riot Squad and will be their teacher. Takayama forms a group with Aoi Sakurai, Shou Iwaizumi and Haruka Koumi (who has got brains, beauty and boobs). Included in their training is gun practice because as railway public safety crew, they are allowed to possess an emergency handgun. Sakurai aces in this as she hits all her targets. Then there is the steam locomotive test whereby groups will have to power it up to at least 100kmph. Takayama and co at first can’t seem to get it moving and he realizes something about combustion efficiency. It isn’t about throwing as much coal into the furnace but throwing it into exact places. The final training will have them be on the actual site and the quartet are assigned to be at Tokyo station. Their old superior hopes they won’t give much trouble or do something stupid and their first ‘assignment’ is to trace some dog lost on a train. While Takayama helps Koumi find, she mentions that she joined this railway because she hoped to meet someone she admired. Scenes like this tend to ‘mess up’ on its own so Koumi falls onto him and they end up in a pretty ambiguous position. When the dog is found, they have to head back to the office as the old geezer is already complaining that they aren’t coming back. However along the way, they witness a pair of purse snatchers. They give chase but couldn’t make it as they boarded the train. Koumi has memorized the departure and arrival times of trains and even if they can get on the next train, they might not make it. Takayama remembers some special diagram and this Dr Yellow train which is some track inspection shinkansen train that is not available to public will allow to get them ahead. So they’re already there right before the thieves alight the train. Takayama tries some diplomacy but I guess it’s not going to work on those punks. He isn’t much of a fighter like Iwaizumi or Sakurai. Even Koumi got lucky slamming the kit in their faces. Despite the day is saved, the old geezer isn’t impressed and reported them to the higher ups for doing something reckless. I mean, what the f*ck is his problem? That was an emergency, right? But thankfully they are granted to become OJT and are welcomed to the Defence Four in Tokyo Railway Station.

Episode 2
Nana Iida is the crew leader for Defence Four. Hey wait. Doesn’t that make 5 of them? Gonou and her disposal squad dispatch to Yokohama after receiving a terrorist threat. Takayama is more than happy to play house sitting of staying put in the station because he loves the peaceful life and at most just drive trains. But this doesn’t sit well for Sakurai who is more of the action type. During the lunch break, Iwaizumi’s quick reflexes push Takayama away before a bomb in a locker explodes in his face. Looks like the terrorist threat is actually here and Yokohama is just a diversion. That bomb was just a warning and the terrorist demands 10 million yen if they want to know the location of the next one which is quite devastating. 10 million is nothing much because the station makes 30 million yen per day and they can’t just close the station or the traffic in Tokyo will be thrown into chaos. It is suggested that they will prepare the money since the safety of the passengers comes first. Takayama suggests finding the bomb before Gonou returns so Iida sets a deadline for him to do so otherwise they’ll hand the money over. So… 3000 lockers. Where to start? And when it seems like they have been searching forever, they just finished only 368! Sakurai believes the bomb isn’t in a locker. It’s in a place you’d probably never expect. When the lost and found department calls Koumi about that lost dog starting to bark nonstop 30 minutes ago (the same time the supposed owner called), Iwaizumi’s hunch believes the bomb is there. Sakurai puts her head close to the doggie carriage and hears the faint ticking sound. She can hear that amidst the barking? As the rest cordon the area off, Takayama helps Sakurai in dismantling the bomb. Her father taught her how to although this is her first real experience. She’s doing pretty fine and it’s awkward for Takayama who at one time have to put his arm through her cleavage to hold up some wires. And then after all that cutting or rewiring, Sakurai notes from here on it is the creator’s domain. So whatever wire they cut is like taking a big gamble? She cuts the wrong one and the time hastens. She has Takayama hold on to it while she goes to get some deep freeze sprayer (liquid nitrogen it seems) from the kitchen (they have it there?!) to freeze the hell out of the bomb’s circuit board. 5 seconds it stopped at. Oh sh*t. I didn’t know such method could work! The director meets the terrorist. Before he can hand the money, Gonou’s men surprise and overpower him. She will take him in for questioning. Sakurai is so relieved that she collapses into Takayama’s arms and wants to stay like this for a little while. Is this some sort of reward? Later Takayama is surprised Iida appoints him as a substitute crew leader. Surprised?

Episode 3
Mari Sasshou is Takayama’s friend and she’s joining OJT from next week. She has a very keen sense of hearing too and loves the sounds of trains. I think this must be Takayama’s typical day. Seeing Sakurai bust some delinquent and a foreigner speaking him totally in English. He freezes like that bomb and only with Koumi’s proficiency in the language helping things out. Sasshou is working at the dining facility of the railway station and she gets to know his colleagues. While Takayama works on his computer, Koumi helps out but the cramp space means he got her boobs covered in his face. Faceboobs, literally. How can he see a thing like that? He gets several distress calls from Sasshou. Seems her friend Kaori went missing last night as she didn’t answer her numerous calls. She knows she was out recording sounds of trains but which station she doesn’t know. So I guess the best way to start is to look into all the reports that were reported last night in Tokyo area. Oh boy. That is one heck of stacks of reports. Time to sift through it one by one… I don’t know, Koumi feels like a robot the way she looks through each page so fast… When Sasshou heard a unique handphone ringtone sound that belongs to Kaori in the lost and found department, it is said that a child picked up but not sure where it was picked up from. Examining her phone contents and the last recorded sound, it seems Kaori got into a struggle with somebody before being abruptly cut off. Okay, now what? Sasshou puts on her headphones and thoroughly listens to the sounds. From the wheel screeches to the environmental sounds, she could guess where that place is. It is a station that is facing a canal as she heard waves hitting the quay. Also, she heard braking sounds which means they are doing brake tests and such tests are only done at reversing station. Only this station fits those descriptions. They search the place since they believe the kidnappers won’t go far after kidnapping a girl. Thyey find her tied up in a warehouse. As they untie her, the kidnappers are not happy they have been found out. Clashing time. I don’t know how Takayama is going to fight back but safe to say all ends well because those illegal drug dealers got arrested and it is revealed Kaori happened to be at the wrong place when the illegal exchange happened. Kaori is discharged from hospital and doing fine. Sasshou is grateful for Takayama and salutes to how cool he is.

Episode 4
Defence Four will be protecting Noa Kashima at a seaside concert which is also the opening of the national railway event there. Who is she? An idol. Thanks to her, the image of the national railways is improving. Upon arrival, an ‘ugly’ otaku fan wants to give her an equally ‘ugly’ doll. Her manager will take it on her behalf but he shoves her away causing her to bump into Takayama and his face got sandwiched between Noa and the manager’s boobs. In the changing room, Noa thought it would be safe to change since he is unconscious. As long as she thinks he is. Iida heard them talking about continuing with the concert despite some threat. Turns out some fan sent a death threat letter that this will be her last concert but Noa is adamant to carry on so as not to disappoint her fans. As Noa inspects the stage, suddenly the confetti turns into fire. Turns out to be flash paper. Although if burnt, it will completely burn away but safe enough not to burn you. This might be the perpetrator’s warning. Even so, Noa won’t cancel the concert. I guess Takayama was so concerned that he keeps following and bugging her about it that he didn’t realize he entered the women’s bath section. And he got a slap on his face when he accidentally picked up her panties. Did he just realize all that he has done? Noa feels better when she takes a bath and sings one of her songs. Noa performs like a pro on the actual concert day and also talks to Iida as part of the show’s programme about the national railways (it is their event anyway). Takayama realizes a concert crew is acting strangely and it dawned to him that the only ones who could set such confetti as threat would be a staff member. He is quick enough to jump on stage to protect Noa. So as not to panic the crowd, Iida quickly improvises that this is a big show and Noa plays along. The crowd just loves it. The perpetrator gets mad and takes out his knife to stab Takayama! The ladies are horrified as Sakurai takes down the culprit. Thankfully his vest is thick enough but he is saved thanks to the stamp note that Noa gave him earlier on. The crisis is averted and the crowd never suspected any real danger in the first place. Although Takayama laments his stamp note is ruined, he grateful it saved his life and thanks Noa, causing her to blush. On the way home, she can’t stop thinking about him and likes him for giving his all for others.

Episode 5
WTF scene: Takayama has built miniature tracks around his room. Why does it have to be at chest level? Because when Sakurai comes in, her boobs literally becomes the stopper that blocks and ultimate derails the train! WTF???!!! I think because of that, Sakurai forces Takayama to practice with her and she’s using every excuse to get tough with him, showing no mercy. Tsk, tsk. When Iida mentions that the Tokyo bomber had an accomplice, Sakurai jumps the gun and thinks she can get into some action. However Iida says this will be left under Gonou’s care and the rest can continue their peaceful patrol around the station. This sucks, right? Not for peace lover boy Takayama. And then this happened. Sakurai spots that bomber entering the station and drags Takayama into tailing this guy board a train. She is pretty adamant to arrest this guy despite Takayama keep reminding her it isn’t really their job. Heck, she is even thinking of using her gun. Takayama calls Iida to report about this but she is confident that he will make the right decision. Read: I don’t know, it’s your responsibility! Haha! So they’re trailing him in some train line till dark till a careless moment (when the train brakes) gave them away. The suspect flees by foot and Sakurai doesn’t hesitate to give chase. Apparently he is much a better fleer than the duo. She continues to chase but eventually loses him as Takayama tries to contact the local station authorities (I guess this place is so deep in the mountains, he can’t call back to base with his handphone. No signal). Sakurai is lost and stranded on some railway and she’s complaining about Takayama. Why didn’t she come after her? That sounded like a hidden meaning there. Then here he is, picking her up on some cargo line whatever.

So they take refuge at the station for the night since her clothes are partially drenched too. Next morning, feels like another WTF moment. When Sakurai wakes up and exits the hut, she sees the suspect across! It’s like they stopped their chase for the night and resume it next morning. Finally he drops the bag that contains a bomb on the tracks. Sakurai dives away in time but her arm is slightly injured from the explosion. The track is damaged and a train is coming. Sakura still wants to go after him but Takayama reminds her about their job. They need to warn the train. There are electric fences around as safety from falling rocks. If they cut it, the device will go off and send warning to the train. Sakurai for once will put her gun skills to good use but she can’t aim straight since her arm is injured. She uses his body to lean on and manages to shoot it. The train approaches around the corner. Can it stop in time because the duo are in shock and can’t jump away. Yeah. It stops metres before them. And as ‘reward’ for this, Sakurai rests on him. In the aftermath, the suspect is arrested by the local authorities. Takayama and Sakurai apologize to Iida for the incident. Iida gently reminds them that they are not the police and that the customers’ safety comes first. Sakurai wants permission to whip this wimp into shape but Koumi disagrees Takayama is gentle and not gutless. Wow. Girls arguing over him…

Episode 6
Takayama and Sakurai are under house confinement. The former receives a threatening letter. He tries to call Sakurai but she didn’t pick so Koumi is his next best choice to meet up and discuss about this. I don’t know why they’re running here and there in town to find some safe place to discuss but Takayama pulling Koumi’s hand reminds her of something very similar in the past. Takayama believes this death note could have been from the accomplice of that accomplice. Yeah. Another accomplice. Worried that Sakurai is targeted too, Koumi calls her. At that exact moment, the wind blew her skirt up so she starts screaming. What does it sound like at the end of the other line? Uh huh. Worse, she drops her phone and their line is cut off. As the duo run around, Sakurai went to buy a new phone and spots them across. Their actions of holding hands seem to indicate (in her eyes) like they’re a couple. I guess Sakurai got jealous enough to whip out her gun and tries to shoot him! Thanks to that bumbling railway penguin mascot that bumped into her, she accidentally fires a shot! Missed Takayama! He thinks a sniper is out so they run faster. Meanwhile a police woman starts chasing Sakurai for some mischief. Koumi and Takayama climb over a fence and it’s cue for them to fumble, tumble and fall onto each other. Then a flowerpot almost drops on them. Are they really being targeted? Actually just a random cat passing by causing that. Koumi believes his handphone may be the reason why they are being tracked so she tells it to leave it behind. Suddenly, they are attacked by cats! Did the FBI trained assassin cats to attack them?! Actually when they climbed over the fence and landed on boxes, it contained cat food. I have a feeling it is the start of some strip poker for Koumi. From the time she first accidentally rip her skirt, she tosses away her coat to let the cats deal with it. Then outside the transportation museum, more cats attack and she throws away her pinafore before entering the building which suspiciously is unlocked. Like as though the culprit wanted to lure them here. This place is like haven for Takayama so he becomes the tour guide and shows her around the place. I don’t think she is interested in all that. Because she goes up close to him and asks if he remembers what happens 8 years, 3 months and 15 days ago. Wow. So precise. Care to be more precise down to the hour and minute too? This romantic moment is ruined when a couple of suited lucha libra dores guys spots them. The chase is on.

Meanwhile Sakurai got away from the pesky officer and follows the trail of Koumi’s clothes till she bumps into Iida and Gonou out shopping together. Gonou gets a call there is a security breach at the transportation museum. Sakurai is dying for some action. They see Koumi’s pinafore lying outside and the duo being chased inside. I don’t know how this happened. Seriously I don’t know how. Because the next thing we know, Koumi loses her entire top! She isn’t even in her bra!!!!!!!!! Takayama secures her in some storeroom while he faces on the masked duo. Can he? Thankfully Iida and Gonou handle them while Sakurai beats up Takayama as the ‘third criminal’. Koumi remembers when she was young, she was trapped in a similar place and was very scared in this pitch dark place. A certain familiar voice calmed her down and brought her out. When Koumi comes out of her hiding and hugs Takayama for saving her again, Sakurai couldn’t hold it in and won’t listen to excuses and starts beating him up, misunderstanding his intention of stripping Koumi. Yeah. How would believe assassin cats anyway? He shows her the threatening letter. It says his life will end today. Flipping the next page, it is just a friendly reminder by the national railway life insurance to get some protection. Doh! Why didn’t he turn the next page in the first place???!!! Or else we wouldn’t have had quite the great Koumi fanservice adventure, wouldn’t we? Takayama is still baffled about the sniper so Sakurai feigns ignorance. Can’t admit it, can’t she? Koumi remembers after she was rescued the first time, Takayama told her not to start hating railways because of something like this. She’s fine now, thank you.

Episode 7
Iida suggests the gang to attend some retraining. Sakurai believes she can get more action by doing so and hops in. As for Takayama, the bait is that he gets to drive some locomotive. What about Iwaizumi? Don’t worry. There’s plenty of good food. Count him in. Koumi? As long as she is with Takayama everyone, she’ll be fine. Tetsuya Narita will be their trainer and this one puts JNRC to shame. Sasshou is also here so Sakurai teases Takayama as a lucky guy. The best reply he ever made: “Aren’t you part of my harem, too?”. Thankfully she didn’t have her gun… Because Sakurai is persistent in wanting to train up Takayama, he tells her his goal is not to become a public safety crew but a driver. The girls can’t help feel disappointed in this. So he had to explain. When he was young and lost in the mountains, he could have starved to death if not for a train driver who spotted him and brought him to safety. It has been his dream ever since to become a train driver. Takayama’s dream of riding this old train comes true. Traversing through the hilly terrains, it seems Sakurai is somewhat ‘challenging’ him. As she is at the rear, she is increasing the speed and this is dangerous because Takayama can’t slam on the brakes as this will put pressure in the middle carriages and cause the train to derail. But he has no choice. It’s all or nothing. He slams all the brakes and the train derails. Thank goodness this was just a very realistic simulator. It’s no surprise he feels a bit depressed so Sasshou hangs out with him and gives him some encouragement. She believes the uniform looks good on him and is a little cooler now. She suggests for them to go relax in the city and the rest can tag along too. Next day before they depart, Takayama gets a call from Iida to do a little errand for her. All he needs to do is go to some abandoned chapel nearby and pick up someone. He goes off himself and is surprised to see Sakurai there. She’s dressed up in a very girly dress. The real problem starts now because here Koumi is. She is really getting emo about this betrayal! Oh, those tears are for real! She thinks he left the group to secretly come here to meet Sakurai! He lied to her! Eh?! What?! And then out from the confession room comes… NOA!!!!! She too wants an explanation because she believed it would just be the 2 of them and here he is with another couple of babes! Oh sh*t! How the hell is he going to explain this???!!! I didn’t realize this show was descending into a harem fight this fast!!!

Episode 8
How apt. A heavy thunderstorm. The standoff between them continues but Noa dominates. Idol ranks higher, right? Yeah. Nobody can tell her what to do as she gets real close to Takayama. I hope there isn’t any sexual subtext when she tells him that she wants to ride the train he drives. The tension cools down when Sasshou and Iwaizumi come by to give them hot drinks. The harem fight ends when Takayama receives a real distress call. An avalanche causes a certain part of the tracks to be buried and thus one of the trains running on that line is suspended. They are to guide the passengers to safety. Although they did a good job, there is a woman who insists the train continues its journey. Because she is on her way to donate an organ transplant and if she doesn’t reach there in time, it will all go to waste. Is there a way instead of waiting for restoration works that will eat up at least 4 hours as well as all other lines are suspended? Takayama knows an old route that the avalanche didn’t bury. They can use an equally old train to get there. Yeah. They have to pedal for the battery power. See how thick the manual is? Don’t worry, leave it to Koumi to read through it all. However the battery hasn’t been recharged for a long time so Sakurai and the old guys give it a push start while Iwaizumi provides some brute power and Takayama concentrates on driving it. It might seem slow travelling on this thing but believe me, it’s for the best and their safety. Because it is going to get real dangerous once they start descending the steep slope! Hold on to your horses! Now this is what you call an adrenaline pumping roller coaster ride. They’re going too fast and they risk derailment. The regenerative brakes take time to activate and thus the only way for them to take such curves at dangerous speed levels is to use their body weight to change the centre of gravity. Sakurai and Iwaizumi could become good yacht sailors and sidecar racers. Before they enter the old tracks, they pass by a station whereby all the railway workers stand in line giving them a great salute and much needed encouragement. You’d be wondering if you’re riding some horror ride show because it’s going to be a bumpy ride (the kind that causes them to go airborne!) with tree roots sticking out form the tunnel’s ceiling!

Episode 9
Now that they are descending again, this time they can’t use their body weight because the turns are inside the tunnels. No space! Iwaizumi gets reckless by kicking the wall to push the train back on track. The price to pay is a little strained foot. They reach part of the old tracks whereby this old train has some ABT system and cog wheels underneath that allow them to take the corners smoothly if precisely matched to the tracks. Along the way, Sakurai almost falls off but Takayama catches and pulls her back in time before her head slams into the tunnel wall. I guess they needed a little romantic scene of them hugging together… Once they exit the last of the tunnels, the ABT system breaks. At least it lasted this long. Rejoining on the new tracks, Takayama thinks it will be smooth sailing from now on. Well, there is a reason why you can’t rest so early or say things like that. The regenerative brake blows. The only brake left is the hand brake but due to the continuous on and off use, it is less effective. It should work better if it rests so Takayama wants to save it till the last moment when they reach the station. All that is left standing in their way are 2 curves and it will be slightly dangerous since they haven’t slowed down. Takayama wants Iwaizumi to handle the driving since he wants him to use his strength to use the brake. Sakurai and Takayama go to the body weight stuff while traversing the first curve. How does it feel to do it for the first time? It seems the first curve felt like practice because the second one is steeper. The duo can’t handle so Koumi in her first time too helps out. Iwaizumi makes it four! Hey! Who is driving then?! They succeed and when it is cue for Iwaizumi to pull the brake, he pulls it to hard that the lever breaks off! Oh sh*t! Don’t worry. He still has a way. He jumps back and uses his feet as braking mechanism. Don’t worry what happens to his feet (I hope he is wearing shoes with very thick souls), because the back portion of the train comes off! Holy sh*t! This train is really falling apart! The only way is to jump off. Takayama jumps off with Koumi first since she is protecting the organ box. Sakurai jumps off moments before the train hits a thick barrier and comes to a dead halt. After they hand over the organ box to the relevant authorities, Takayama thanks his mates and hopes they’ll be with him from now on. But of course. Despite their heroic efforts, they barely pass the retraining. Narita notes Takayama has a long way to go till he can be a driver. So come back here again and he’ll work him harder when that time comes. Sakurai declares she still wants to be part of the public safety crew and since Takayama will be a driver, she hints she will have to protect the train he is driving.

Episode 10
Defence Four is to escort-cum-protect a royalty going around to sister cities to conduct ceremonies via train, Prince Bernina. Seems Bernina is also knowledgeable and has interest in trains so you could say this kid clicks with Takayama. Bernina’s Japanese is good thanks to Koumi who taught him as they were once classmates studying in England. I don’t know why Koumi was so panicky in trying to tell Takayama that. It’s like she thought he might get the wrong idea of something. When the train is about to depart, Sakurai spots a suspicious person and goes after him instead of boarding the train. I suppose any guy in shades and suit is deemed suspicious. When Takayama realizes Bernina is not in his room, he realizes he may have been kidnapped. Turns out he was just going sightseeing on his own. And I don’t know why he was crawling around the kitchen because I suppose it’s a cue to accidentally flip up Sasshou’s skirt. Bernina must be having a blast running up and down while Takayama tries to keep up. Can’t a royalty have fun once in a while? So once things are settled, Takayama tells him about his driver dream while Bernina mentions he is fifth in line to the throne so there is no chance of becoming ruler unless something major happens. When you say something like that… And then he tells Takayama not to peep when he goes to bath. I can pretty guess much why. Takayama sees on the news that some of Bernina’s family members got involved in an accident in the Mediterranean and feels the need to tell him. He got the wrong room at first and stumbled upon Koumi bathing. When he got the right one, he heard Bernina collapsed and breaks down the door. Once the steam is cleared he is freaking surprised to learn Bernina is a girl! Why am I not surprised? He has to clean her body to avoid pneumonia or something. When she regains consciousness, she explains she fell into a daze after learning her family’s predicament (it is unusual in Japanese culture to bring handphones into their bathroom while bathing). Since Takayama saw her true body, don’t worry, she won’t ask him to take responsibility. She hopes to keep this a secret. This secret only the royal family knows and not even Koumi knows about it. While dining in the dining cart, a big bald suspicious guy comes in. With a taser. I know what is coming. Iwaizumi fights him but another guy comes. Takayama gets Bernina away and tries to hide her but that guy taser him. It’s pretty amazing he is still conscious after all that zapping. Thanks to Sakurai’s training? Bernina tries to protect him but is going to get zapped too when Sakurai comes in with her flying knee kick. How did she catch up? Some faster travelling train I suppose.

Episode 11
The persistent attacks continue. It ends when Iwaizumi taser out that guy since he had earlier dispose the other one. After tying them up, Takayama gets a call from Sakurai. Actually it is another of the terrorist using her handphone. He has Koumi as hostage and wants to make an exchange. Sakurai won’t negotiate but Takayama is very concerned for Koumi. They are warned not to try and find them or else the hostage will be deflowered. Takayama calls Iida for advice. Her usual answer: She is confident at the decisions he will make. I think she herself doesn’t know. Takayama and Sakurai’s argument over Koumi being able to defend herself could have escalated if Sasshou had not calmed things down. Takayama then comes up with a plan. He will impersonate the Bernina. While switching uniforms, Bernina suspects that the successors down the line may have hired thugs to take out the royalty. But all that doesn’t matter to Takayama because Bernina is his passenger and it is his job to protect and ensure they enjoy their travelling time. When the exchange is about to take place, Takayama sees Koumi tied up in the cockpit and rushes in. He gets a gun point in his face. The terrorist realize this is not the prince. Sakurai shoots the gun off his hand before Iwaizumi takes him out with the stick. Koumi collapses in emotional fashion in Takyama’s arms when he rescues her. But there is another baddie shooting in the front cockpit (there are 2 locomotives pulling the coaches). While Iwaizumi acts as the decoy, Sakurai shoots the fuse to let out steam. This blinds the terrorist as Sakurai kicks him unconscious. Now they need to stop the train but all braking attempts do not work. So many brakes and none of them are working? The only way left is to detach the locomotives from the coaches since their priority is the passengers’ safety. Takayama and Sakurai stay in the front locomotives to detach it. But before they could jump off, Sakurai mentions the fight with the terrorist has sprained her leg. Takayama won’t leave her alone and so there the duo go in the runaway train. I suppose this moment is necessary for some close up and romantic moments between them. What seemed like a confession coming from Sakurai, suddenly a train pulls up beside them. Gonou is riding this one and she is going to use this triple locomotive to stop theirs. Just brace for impact. Once the locomotives are dead in their tracks, Takayama carries Sakurai off like a princess. Hey, he is in a prince outfit, right? And he is like her prince, right? How befitting?

Episode 12
This episode chronicles Takayama and Iida’s trip from the north back to Tokyo after some duty. I guess it’s time for Iida to have some screen time with Iida. As they switch trains, Iida wakes him up and his face bumps into her boobs. They will be riding a very old train series that Takayama loves a lot. Of course it’s not going to be smooth sailing because Takayama heard a weird noise and feels the need to investigate it despite Iida advising that they should just leave it to the train’s staff as they are passengers today. Takayama talks to the driver-cum-captain but I guess his pride of years riding this baby tells this young kiddo off that he knows every inch of this train better than he is. Not satisfied, he calls Sasshou (right in the bath) in hopes she can decipher this sound. Through all that interference? Not really. Then he got his arm burnt for trying to remove some engine part while the train is running. From Koumi’s research, some heat absorbing fan belt may have worn out. Iida doesn’t think an amateur like him can replace it but he gets an idea. At least something flexible and stretchable. Like her panty hose. Yeah. It did the trick. Shorty, they notice that the air-conditioning isn’t working and the passengers are fanning themselves. Koumi’s research shows this old series is prone to breaking down on its service power control. The breaker for the air-conditioning is tripped. Each time they flip it, it breaks. Iida uses her chopsticks to hold the switch in place. However the air-conditioning isn’t restored and at this rate the train will turn into a giant sauna. I don’t know how but with Koumi’s research, they manage to fix it. Wow. They can be air-conditioning service repairman. It’s late at night by the time they arrive at Tokyo and for his hard work, Iida allows him to take the next day off to fully rest. I don’t think he can. Because outside of his house is Noa who makes him carry her shopping stuffs. And there’s Sasshou too. Oh no. I can foresee what is going to happen. Sakurai and Koumi waiting in his room… It’s going to be the start of Harem Wars! Iwaizumi in the corner is ignorable… And since everyone has got the day off tomorrow, Noa suggests to finally clear things up. Oh yeah. Definitely the start of Harem Wars! And it already has begun when Sakurai seemingly tries to make the first move! Oh, everyone toasts to Takayama the womanizer. And the possible sequel of Harem Wars! Just kidding. Maybe.

Almost Derailed And Went Off Track
After all that so called troubles on the train and stations, the lukewarm final episode somewhat gives this series an anti-climax feeling. There was nothing serious enough to be warranted as threatening because as long as resourceful Takayama is around (is he trying to be MacGyver in the last episode?), you can be sure he’ll find a way to resolve things. I mean, even Iida did mention that she was willing to sit through the inconvenience (a reminder of that ‘tidak apa’ attitude from where I come from) but as long as Takayama is around, he won’t have any of such inconveniences on his watch. Yeah well. Thanks for making the ride as comfortable as possible? Because of the way it ‘ended’, I always can’t help to think that the next sequel will be Takayama’s harem wars and this will be more interesting than all the terrorist thwarting and trouble foiling attempts they have done so far.

Character wise, I guess there is nothing to be said in the development department for our main quartet because you could feel that they are the same people from when they entered training, left it and when they start working in Defence Four. It feels like there is a lot more to be desired from. I don’t know if Takayama makes a good substitute leader because at very serious times, he tries to consult Iida who always leaves it to his discretion. Otherwise, small matters he is able to handle. So much so just as Iida quipped, some goddess of trouble keeps following him because if you notice wherever he goes, trouble is bound to follow whether big or small. Not only train troubles, but woman woes too! Haha! More on this part later. So is this a blessing in disguise or curse? Well, he can only get better by learning from experience.

Sakurai feels like the tough girl who can’t wait to get into the thick of the action (maybe she should have just joined the police force) and possibly leaning towards the tsundere type compared to the sweet and gentle nature of Koumi. Iwaizumi seems to be relegated to the strong muscle man of the group and the only other thing you’ll notice about him is his penchant of wanting to eat. I guess with all that hard work and labour, a good meal is a must, no? Then there is also the sweet and lovely Iida who at most of the time has that sweet smile stuck on her face and she doesn’t panic that much during tense situations. Is this calm demeanour something we all should follow or is it hinting like that ‘tidak apa’ attitude I said earlier on? I mean, Takayama is the substitute leader, right? If any sh*t happens, who takes the responsibility? Yup. But I don’t think Iida is such a person that will allow that to happen to him.

I have a feeling Sasshou should just be part of the Defence Four because it’s like wherever our team goes, there she will be as part of her training assignment. It is just strange to think about it, doesn’t it? Her role could have been expanded but as far as this season is concerned, it is already quite minimal and thus lacking impact (except for the episode that had her friend kidnapped). Lastly there is Noa. It is mind boggling that such a popular idol is seen hanging around Takayama and co lately and so casually. I know she is like the public face of the national railways and I am sure as an idol, she is sure to have her own legion of fans. And then hanging around Takayama and even hinting some sort of crush on him. What will her hardcore fans think? Therefore the only role I can think of she has in this anime is to be part Takayama’s harem, nothing else.

I have come to noticed that there are quite a handful of subtle fanservice scenes and moments. It won’t be outright obvious to make you go “Hah! Fanservice!”, but subtle and suggestive enough for some to take note. Notice how certain camera angles focus or close in on the boobs and especially the ladies’ butts? And even if you have them showing their ass, notice how curvaceous it is? Very hinting, right? And here we are not expecting any fanservice for this series and here they are in every episode. Okay, I admit. I enjoyed seeing those… Even the end card for every episode has a fanservice-y feel with different people sketching different illustrations.

And now for the romance and harem parts! Throughout the series, there are a handful of scenes hinting about the romance between Takayama and his harem girls. Like Sakurai has this penchant to use Takayama as her resting board after overcoming very difficult trials. Earlier episodes also hint Koumi may have a thing for him from the way she says things. Then they always talk about him with Sakurai being more the tsundere type compared to Koumi’s gentle nature. I didn’t really expect to see that harem standoff at the abandoned chapel so in a way it caught me by surprise and I started thinking the series was going to turn into a different direction, albeit whether it was for better or for worse I won’t know. But we know that Sakurai, Koumi, Sasshou and Noa are particularly in the ‘race’. I wanted to count Iida in but she has this poker face and it doesn’t feel that she harbours any sort of romantic feelings and it could be just because he is her junior under her wing. I wanted to consider Bernina too but after the sudden end of her arc, she is nowhere to be seen or heard (hah! That’s only 1 episode after her arc, right?). Sure, nobody knows about her true gender so I guess that is why they can add a seemingly trap to his harem. Then it would be interesting to know who ranks hire in a harem war: An idol or a royalty?

Although the action parts are just okay, it wasn’t the terrorist handling and chasing part that was interesting. In fact it was that train ride using the old train down the slopes that was the most interesting and exhilarating part. This is I suppose the biggest saving grace of the series. This is the best part of the entire series. This is what this show should have been mostly about but I guess if they are going to put this in every episode, it would have lost its magic touch. Seeing the quartet ride down the steep slopes and using all the resources they have is pretty exciting and heart stopping at certain moments. Certainly if I am going to remember this anime, it would be for this magnificent part that is nicely executed and well done.

As part of the train themed series, there are various points in which you can get some pretty good insights and knowledge on the trains or railways as per explained by Takayama and Koumi in the anime. But since I’m a noob, all I just do is listen in one ear and all that talking exits at the other end. It’s like I never learnt anything to begin with. I guess train enthusiasts will only appreciate all that. Also, the next episode preview is another good place for Takayama or other characters to enlighten a bit more on this but somehow I feel there is a running joke that before they can finish their ranting, they are made to hurry up and mostly abruptly cut off (Takayama especially) before quickly narrating what comes up next in the subsequent episode.

The art and drawing are pretty fine. But that is only confined to the trains. I suppose if you don’t put detail on your subjects of trains, it would be just meaningless, right? Also, towards the end of the series, there is noticeably a drop in animation quality in terms of the characters. It is rather obvious if a guy like me could comment about this. Also, I read over the internet there are quite a handful of animation mistakes made in some episodes. You know, stuffs like a character wasn’t supposed to be wearing something but in the next scene, they are shown wearing it. My eyes weren’t that sharp so I didn’t spot them. Of course when I replayed it again, ah, there it is. I wonder if they’ll fix this in the BDs. Hopefully. Not that I am going to watch this series again save for that train ride delivery part.

Voice acting is rather okay with some of the seiyuus are recognizable such as Jun Fukuyama as Takayama, Yui Horie as Iida, Mai Nakahara as Gonou and Minori Chihara as Noa. Others that I didn’t really recognize (sorry) are Manami Numakura as Sakurai (Riko in Love Lab), Maaya Uchida as Koumi (Rikka in Chuunibyou Demo Koi Ga Shitai), Satoshi Hino as Iwaizumi (Saito in Zero No Tsukaima), Hitomi Igarashi as Sasshou (Hina in Papa No Iukoto Wo Kikinasai) and Hiromi Konno as Bernina (Sae in Amagami SS).

The opening theme is Mukaikaze Ni Uta Renagara by Minori Chihara. The hard rock piece sounds rather okay but not to my liking. The ending theme, Overdriver by ZAQ isn’t bad actually. At first I brushed off this rap-like techno dance mix whatever this piece because such genres aren’t to my liking and taste. But the more I hear it, the more I start to feel that this actually sounds good overall. I am not sure if this song complements with the theme of the series entirely but I think it having this song as the ending theme is quite cool.

Despite a few unrealistic settings (Koumi’s speed reading is unbelievable no matter how smart you paint her) and moments (what the hell was that lucha libra dores all about?) or even the story flow (all that running around from what they thought were being targets of terrorists blown up into gigantic exaggerated proportions and Koumi losing almost all her clothes along the way was just ridiculous – all because Takayama didn’t read properly his ‘death letter’), to a certain extent this series is still worth the entertaining watch. Of course if you really want to know more about trains and especially your local train and railway system and network, there are other better alternatives and methods for you to do so. As to whether or not this show would actually stimulate some interest in this topic, well, I think it went a little off the rails.

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