Satsuriku No Tenshi

March 3, 2019

Normally I would skip horror genres. Definitely not my cup of tea. So I was going to give Satsuriku No Tenshi the skip. Certainly I was like 99% of passing this. Until I reread the synopsis again. And then a change in heart. A change in guts. The mystery of a couple of characters stuck in a strange building trying to find their way out. Okay. So I thought this wouldn’t be as bad. After all, the twisted reason of one of the characters wanting to get out was so that he could kill the other as promised. Sick. But at that time it somewhat sounded interesting and different. And then…

Episode 1
Rachel Gardner wakes up in a strange facility. Cameras all around. A self-typing typewriter asks her several questions. We find out she is in this hospital for counselling after witnessing a few people die. After she enters the elevator, an announcement is sounded that she has been selected to be a sacrifice and all players on each floor to prepare for the play. She gets out when the elevator stops on this creepy floor that looks like an abandoned street. She tries to help an injured bird but it is killed by this maniac with a scythe, Isaac “Zack” Foster. She runs and manages to hide from him. She returns to the dead bird but notices it is a different one. She ‘fixes’ it up. Zack finds her as she runs for her life. She manages to ride the elevator up to the next floor in the nick of time. In this creepy hospital hallway, she encounters Daniel “Danny” Dickens who was the doctor who counselled her. Creepily, he tries to assure he is on her side and to look for a way out. Then he starts admiring Rachel’s beautiful eyes because one of his isn’t working. It’s his dream to have perfect eyes. Apparently Rachel has the same beautiful eyes when he saw his mother hanged herself. He has her find his fake eyes at the back while he acts even creepier before her. While he puts his fake eyes, Rachel believes the need to run. However he caught her. It gets creepier as he now seeks to have her eyes. He puts her on his operating table and hints her parents are dead. As he rants about her beautiful eyes, suddenly he gets stabbed by Zack. Somehow he chased her all the way here. But when he threatens to kill her, it seems Rachel doesn’t mind. No fun. He leaves. An announcement is made that a rule has been violated. Because other floor residents cannot attack another floor resident, this act is deemed as treachery and will also be selected as a sacrifice. Zack tries to leave when Rachel walks up to him and pleads for him to kill her.

Episode 2
Zack is not amused as he wants to get out of her so Rachel thinks if she can be useful to him, he will kill her. After helping to activate the elevator, Zack makes a deal with her (since she continues to bug him about dying) that he will kill her after she gets him out. Oh, and make a better face than this boring one too. On the next level, they see graves. There is one for her. One for him too. Rachel decides to look further and heads into the small crevice. She could hear a strange voice talking to her and letters left behind just for her. The perpetrator is interested in her and wants to give her a place… Meanwhile bored Zack smashes all the graves outside, unwittingly triggering doors inside for Rachel to move on. More letters and files on dead people. It’s got info on her and Zack too. She returns to Zack and tries to confirm with him his shady origins (something about being abused at a facility before running away and his whereabouts unknown since) but Zack isn’t impressed. Threats to kill her won’t work as she is not afraid. This reminds Zack of someone similar. A woman who lied she is a fan of his just to get away from him but he ultimately killed her. More Rachel bugging to be killed if she runs away. He warns her she will only get to die after she gets him out of here and then destroys her tombstone (which she told him not to). Zack reluctantly helps activate another trigger that opens another door for Rachel to head in deeper. He notices how she smiled and would have loved to kill that kind of face had she not had those dead eyes. As Zack waits, he is confronted by this floor’s psychopath, Edward “Eddie” Mason. Is he wearing a coconut over his head?

Episode 3
The duo argue they are the ones qualified to kill Rachel. Eddie doesn’t have time to play with him and goes to Rachel. He tries to coax her to let him kill her. After all, that is what she wants, right? He can make her death a more beautiful one. All she needs to do is say yes. Rachel is a little confused although she is still sticking to her promise to Zack. Because Zack swears to God how he will be the one who kill her, Rachel decides to side with him. Eddie is disappointed and retreats. Rachel is annoying Zack about this God thingy. Okay, okay. He gets it. He’ll kill you after they get out! In the next room, they confront Eddie who seeks an answer why she chose Zack. He is not pleased because of that God answer because that kind of freedom doesn’t exist here. Their only right is to kill others on their respective floors. He wanted to give Rachel a beautiful death but now he just wants to kill her. As the guys fight, Eddie uses his floor to his advantage as he turns off the lights. Rachel uses her mini torchlight to hide behind what is supposed to be her new grave. She jumps into it. Feeling like home? Eddie is just moments from killing her when Rachel blinds his face with her torchlight before swapping places with him. Zack then stabs him. Her coffin is now his. They take the elevator to the next floor as Rachel continues to bug and remind him to kill her if she continues to be useful. He did swear to God, right?

Episode 4
In this prison level, Catherine “Cathy” Ward believes herself as the judge and will judge them as she sees fit as sinners. Communicating via video, the duo must pass a test in the cell they are in until they find a mechanism that will allow them to head to the next cell. So they start off with the simplest one like taking their mugshots. Next cell is an execution room. Zack must be bored that he sat on the electric chair. Gotcha. Strap in for some electrifying times. Rachel needs to figure out a way to stop this or Cathy will electrocute him until he dies. So Rachel borrows his scythe and decapitates all the dolls’ head as its mechanism to free Zack. In the next room, Cathy is going to poison them with poison gas. But there is only one gas mask and if they take too long, and even more poisonous gas will seep through. The duo argue the other should wear the gas mask but eventually compromise to take turns. Rachel notices a corpse on the floor and with the clues given, she puts its severed right feet on a scale and finds some other stuffs to balance it out. She continues to find the mechanism while Cathy laughs her ass off in anticipation to see them writhe in agony.

Episode 5
To cut things short, Rachel finds a key card that would open the door. Too bad Zack doesn’t know how to use it and breaks it. With time’s up and Cathy releasing a strong poison gas, Rachel gets this brilliant idea to use the batteries of the remote because this gas is combustible. And just like that the iron door goes down. They take a rest and Zack remembers a dream. The husband and wife who ran the orphanage were sick of digging graves and burying dead kids so they used Zack to dig them. In the next cell, there is a dollhouse that strangely resembles Zack’s orphanage. The game is for Rachel to decipher a series of codes and then Zack must do accordingly. Wow. Rachel can do mental math to pinpoint words in a book. Those words hint what Zack should do or move the items in the dollhouse. Strangely they all move in a way according to his dream. Zack is holding in his anger but the last straw came when Rachel says to do as she says. Because that is what the orphanage told him and they even mock him as useful tool. Zack goes mad and destroys the dollhouse. I guess Cathy loved trolling him and lets them pass to the next room. There is a serum. One with vitamins and the other poison. Unless they inject themselves, the door won’t open. Rachel offers to inject both since Zack doesn’t want to die. But with Zack fine being her tool now, he injects both into himself. He starts feeling dizzy and has the urge to kill her. Because she is so ready to be killed by him who swore in God’s name, his self-control returns. I guess it’s no fun killing her yet at this stage. He thinks she is lying of wanting to die now and begs she won’t let him kill her just yet.

Episode 6
More Zack trauma flashback. After he has had it with doing the orphanage’s bidding, he saw this cheesy horror movie cliché: A couple so deep in making out that they failed to take notice of the killer and got killed! Zack got an idea to then kill them in their sleep. I’m sure the couple wasn’t into making out at that age. Now Zack has gone crazy trying to kill Rachel. So now she wants to live? Cornered in the final room, Rachel gives up. Now she wants to die? However Cathy fires her automatic guns at Zack. She throws Rachel a gun so she could should Zack. Although Rachel won’t do it, Zack since to be begging her to do so. She can’t miss at this range. Rachel knows he will not like it if he kills her now. Hence that sh*tty reason they are not tools and can choose how to die. Huh? Rachel gives him an impeccable smile. So addictive that he can’t hold in much longer and stabs himself. Cathy is so disappointed at the turn of these events and goes down to complain. She disrespects Zack’s body and Rachel threatens to fire. Cathy is not scared since she knows she can’t pull the trigger. Even if she could, it’s not loaded. As she continues abusing Zack, I guess something inside Rachel triggers. She pulls out her own real gun and shoots Cathy! Mad woman so crazy that it woke Zack up to slice her dead. They find the exit and after all they have been through, they can tell they are quite happy about it. Yeah, no crazy b*tch to b*tch about. Before they reach the next floor, Zack collapses from continued loss of blood.

Episode 7
Rachel goes alone on the next floor to seek help. However in this chapel-like floor, Rachel experiences a few strange things. Smell of sweet smoke and the constant changing rooms with strange words asking her to reveal her true self and confess her sins. She even sees visions of her dead parents wanting her to come to this side but she will stick with Zack and slices them. Eventually collecting their blood and splashing it all over an angel portrait, Rachel finally meets the priest, Gray. Knowing she needs something to treat Zack, there is none on this floor but there may be some on Danny’s floor. However he can guide and help her get there in exchange she undergoes some test. All he wants is to know who she truly is. Rachel needs time to think so she returns to Zack to check on him. He is still stubborn and trying to act tough but relents to leave it to her. In addition, he tells her if she is going back down, go back all the way to his floor and in his room, retrieve his knife. Rachel agrees to Gray’s terms as they both head back down. On Cathy’s floor, this is where she will begin her test. She needs to turn on the electricity that powers the elevator. Rachel goes ahead but encounters zombies! The best way to rid of them is to operate the automatic guns from the control room. Rachel notices Cathy’s body is no longer around but can’t be bothered with it as she flips the switch to fire at all the zombies. Rachel looks like a zombie shooting zombies?

Episode 8
The ghost of Cathy mocks Rachel for killing everyone just for her convenience. On Eddie’s floor, zombie hands grab her feet but she stomps them all despite their cries for help! Of course Eddie’s ghost comes to her. Feeling disappointed she did not care about how others feel and don’t see any other kind of happiness. That’s why all those around her like Zack will die suffering. Gray is not impressed Rachel used violence to quickly get to the next floor and in Danny’s floor, Rachel is briefly attacked by some green slime. She cannot find the cure so she tries to hurry back to Zack. Gray takes this as she doubts him. He hypothesizes that all that happened could have been her own doing. Meanwhile Zack dreams. After killing the orphanage parents, he killed a woman who was dumb enough to get out of her car just to check on the kid she accidentally splashed water. He killed her just to sleep in her car. The next morning, a blind guy finds him and brings him home for food. Asking why he is doing this, it’s because he is lonely. Zack felt some chill that night and thought killing the blind guy would ease it but couldn’t. So he goes to town and kills a drunkard. The chill is still there. He returns to the blind man and tells what he did but he isn’t surprised. One day he went out and left a note. Zack of course can’t read. But a blind guy can write a nice note? Zack got tired of waiting and goes to find him. He sees a commotion. A crowd gathers before a dead corpse. It isn’t long before Zack finds the murderers. Yeah, they took his stick and was camping nearby? Zack kills them and that is when he realizes he wants to kill such happy people because such people make monsters like him. Now, Zack is still sleeping but Danny has found him.

Episode 9
Luckily Zack has enough energy to get out of Danny’s way. I don’t know if this vest he is wearing protected Danny from Zack’s scythe, the reason he is still alive. I thought that was a deep pierce. Anyway, Danny isn’t thrilled to hear Rachel wants to be killed by Zack. He tries to make a deal with him. In exchange for medicine, please gorge out Rachel’s eyes. Of course he won’t do that even if he is the one to kill Rachel. Danny just leaves and Zack doesn’t have the strength to chase him. Rachel has found Zack’s room, takes his knife and then quickly returns to him. Zack is not there so Gray now confirms that everything that has happened is due to her doing (this includes why Danny started to act very strangely). As she is exerting negative influence, he will pass judgment on her. Rachel rants about Zack’s promise and his oath to God but Gray poses the question if God chose not to make his promise come true, what would she do then? Rachel is stunned as suddenly a giant white snake attacks her. Scared Rachel runs for her life and luckily stumbles into Zack. But could she be hallucinating because there is no snake. We get more Rachel-Zack drama talking about God and everything. Oh damn it, too boring to follow. Yeah, Rachel doesn’t know anything about Zack, so what? The mundaneness is interrupted when the snake appears for real and attacks them. I guess this is where Zack’s knife comes in hand to fight the snake since it is light. But eventually his scythe is the one that is able to slice it dead. Because Rachel is being so annoyingly concern that Zack will die from his wounds, he becomes pissed if she really wants to kill him or not. Damn that God swearing line she quotes again. Now he tells her off that there is no God. You shocked, Rachel? Yeah, she’s so confused. She’s even thinking if anybody else said that same line that Zack spouted, it won’t do. What? I don’t get it. He makes her smile. So ‘creepy’ that he gets to ‘sleep’. Better hurry up and go find the medicine. He gives her his knife. Hopes this would increase her usefulness.

Episode 10
Rachel follows a white rabbit and falls down a hole to… Wonderland! Nope. Just Eddie’s coffin. Then she gets electrocuted by Cathy’s chair and then stabs a bleeding mirror. Weird. Finally before Gray who proclaims he has met Danny and took possession of his medicine but will not give it to her easily. He questions her about the things she has done and if she truly believes in God. Otherwise why did she not give any answer? Gray initiates her witch trial and calls for witnesses to testify. Yup, the usual suspects. Feels like going to be some sort of twisted summary as they testify what Rachel is. Cathy goes first as she crazily explains Rachel being the most criminal of criminal and that her most criminal thing to do was robbing her of the role as judge. She wishes her a watery death. Next is Eddie. He views her as stubborn and selfish and that the biggest difference is that she doesn’t know what happiness is and ignores it all. He wishes her death by spikes. Finally it is Danny. It’s that obsession with her eyes again. He views her soul as beyond salvation and can never be saved simply because she steals from others. He reminds her that the real her is not a soul that should be stolen. With all the testimonies done, Gray will not hand down judgment to her. He proclaims her a witch and she will die via being burnt alive.

Episode 11
Rachel continues to deny everything. Since we’re on the topic of God, Gray tells her that her God doesn’t exist but his. Because he is God! Because Rachel doesn’t want to be killed by this priest who calls himself God, she sees a weird vision of Zack. Not sure how but after realizing that Zack is her God, she wakes up from all this illusion. Yeah, I figured that out when they entered this floor. Gray is surprised she woke up as she tells him what she made was a promise with her God and not a contract. She has him lead him to his room where he kept Danny’s medicine. She won’t kill him because he is not needed. Thus he warns her that God hates liars and those who are unclean. Rachel returns to Zack and applies the medicine and even sews up his wound. Then as they take the elevator to their next floor, she asks how he got those burnt marks on his skin. Apparently his mom’s boyfriend tried to burn him to death but he fought back. When they reach the next floor, Rachel realizes she cannot tell something to Zack because it will expose she is a liar and that he’ll hate him. Plus, her hands are already tainted. She remembers this is the floor where she was. She doesn’t want Zack to open that door but…

Episode 12
Rachel starts panicking and gets desperate for him to kill her now. Of course he won’t. I guess the stress got to her so she faints. Zack is then lured into some room and locked in by Danny. He tells him to explore this floor and know more about Rachel if he wants to get out. As Zack explores the other floors and rooms, dodging traps and killing enemies, Danny and Rachel are watching every move of Zack on the TV. Danny can’t wait the moment Zack finds out the truth about her and Rachel is like, please no, please no. Zack almost fell into a spike trap but the one who saved him is Gray. His explains his purpose to observe him. Something about people using religion for their own ends. Those who are placed on the lowest floor are no more than test subjects for observations. In order to test and judge them, he needs angels. He thought Zack was the purest and decided to make him an angel. But he violated the rules and attempted to get out. Not just himself but with Rachel. He now makes them both his observation and wanted to see what kind of actions they will take. Since Zack doesn’t get it all and is only interested to get to the next room, Gray gives some hints and after a few ‘easy puzzle solving’, Zack enters what is believed to be Rachel’s room. There is a TV that plays the news. Police arrived at Rachel’s home only to find her parents’ corpses that are riddled with bullet holes and knife wounds. Also, the bodies have been unnaturally sewn together with threads. Police found Rachel unharmed but in a state of confusion. Wow. Zack reacting in a shock manner in what he sees next?

Episode 13
Danny records Rachel’s confession. She found a puppy and wanted her parents’ advice. However they were too busy fighting and accusing each other. She returned to the puppy and although she can’t remember what happened next, it is hinted she killed it and ‘fixed’ it. Returning to her parents, she witnessed dad killing mom and he is going to do the same for her but she shot him. Because she wanted a perfect family, she sewed them together the way she wanted like how she did for the puppy. That’s why when the police took them away, she was sad. Nothing really worked out for her. It took Zack this long to smash the TV? Tired of the drama? Or rather Danny now harassing her? Zack returns to them for answers because apparently Rachel’s past wasn’t the answer he was looking for. Danny reveals Gray made this floor for her at his request. However she lost it after reading the bible. Something about she cannot be forgiven and since she is impure, the reason she wanted to be killed by Zack. Danny gives Zack a choice to die here or leave Rachel. When she asks if he will continue to be her God, he didn’t hesitate to say he is never her God. Rachel fires a warning shot to show her displeasure while Danny loves the eyes she is showing now. It becomes a slightly comical chase as Zack goes after Rachel and almost falls into her traps. Finally in her room where they square off and prepare to kill each other, just another troll by Rachel as she shoots the window? Just to tell us the outside scenery and moon is fake? Maybe Rachel is just disappointed to learn that there is no God and made Zack her substitute God. But even so, he insists he isn’t her God. When Danny holds Zack at gunpoint, he wants Rachel to end this drama. Yes, please do. She fires at Zack.

Episode 14
Guess what? She shot Danny instead! She killed him because she wanted to kill Zack herself. Eh? So why didn’t she shoot him in the first place?! More confusion because Zack is really going to kill her but Rachel is now pleading don’t kill me because I’m unclean. WTF?! MAKE UP YOUR MIND! Then this talk about Zack being Zack and not her God, blah, blah, blah. So if she really wants to die, swear only to be killed by him. Man, I didn’t know getting killed was this complicated. As they find the exit, Rachel remembers there are none leading up. She believes the real exit is one floor below. As there is no power, Rachel goes back to the room to turn it on but before her is Gray. So this talk about God again, huh? So Zack is no longer God or an angel. This means he can betray her. Whether Zack is telling the truth or not, they decide with their own hearts. She has already accepted he isn’t God. Gray’s final question for her is who she is. Rachel is Rachel. Duh. Are you sure? Duh. As she asks for the exit, he reveals it is behind the stained glass on his floor. Rachel says goodbye to her parents and stuffs on this floor as she will never come back here again. Before they proceed, Rachel realizes she needs to get her gun. Then they realize Danny’s body is not around. Yeah, that doctor is still alive somewhere. Lurking. He has also disabled her gun so it’s useless. Zack breaks the stained glass to reveal a very long stairway. He gives her his knife since it is better than nothing. The trek up seemed like forever when suddenly an announcement is heard. Building detonation is in sequence. Really?!

Episode 15
Only way is to run up. Oh dear. Metal bars. With the flames catching up, Zack is paralyzed by his trauma. Don’t worry. Rachel will figure a way out. By hitting the bars with the knife?! WTF. I guess this irritated Zack to overcome his trauma and now his scythe can cut through the bars?! Whatever. Running up, oh dear. A rock slab. Is this going to be a recurring thing? Thank goodness Zack’s scythe can slash through it but the price to pay is his scythe broke. When they finally reach the top, damn we got to drag this drama on because it’s the same thing again. Do you want to kill Rachel or not? Yeah, you’re free to do so. Or not. Yeah, yeah. We get it. Also about Zack hates lies. Can we move on already? This drama enables Danny to creep up on Rachel and shoot her. See?! He is the one who activate the alarm and now he won’t make them fulfil their promise. Rachel angers Danny that Zack is not a monster or God but a human. Danny is incensed that he gave her everything. Even a floor of her own. So what did Zack give her? This puny knife?! Rachel isn’t bothered if the promise can or cannot be fulfilled. Danny going crazy and shoot her one more time but short of killing her. Also putting a few bullets in Zack. Why didn’t he just kill them outright? Isn’t that his plan? And because of that, Gray shoots Danny. Yeah, didn’t kill him too. So while he tells Zack to get out and save Rachel, Danny has a chance to shoot back. This is just getting too draggy…

Episode 16
After letting Zack and Rachel escape, Gray confronts Danny. Final long talk between them? You bet. So Gray admits he was wrong thinking he was an angel because he was pure to only one thought even though that thought was killing others. But now he wields his blade for others, he has become human. More accurately, he was human all along. That is why Gray shoot Danny to atone for his sin. Huh? Danny is also partly to blame because he brought her here and tried to become her God. Danny thinks it is better than nothing. Otherwise he will have nothing and no one will accept him. In the end, all of them are just humans and it is humans who created God. So it’s time Gray stop playing God’s role. Yeah. Time to end it all with the wall slab dropping on them. At least Danny got to see a vision of his mom in his death. Zack carries Rachel out of the burning building. Lots of confused people starring. The police telling him to surrender. Surprisingly, Zack obliges because he believes in their promise. Once he puts his hands behind his head, the police swarm him with brutality like as though he is a serial killer. Oh wait. He is. Was. News of this become viral all over. We hear interviews from the police detective but he sounds indecisive and unsure about Zack being a serial killer for Rachel but overall decides he is one. You sure you know what you talking? And the counsellor talks like as though she knows what to do best for Rachel. So yeah, we see Rachel recuperating and taking counselling. But it’s obvious we see her mind so far somewhere else. Fail on your part, counsellor! And then the counsellor decides to break protocol and divulge some info on Zack that she shouldn’t just because Rachel feels so uneasy not knowing his fate. Yup, she tells her Zack is sentenced to death for his serial killings. I thought she wanted to cut her from things she fears? Fail! And then, one night Zack crashes into her room. Hey. Where did he get the scythe? Did he steal it from the discount mart on his way here? Anyway, he escaped from prison and the police are hot on his tail so better be quick Rachel. Do you still remember the promise? So now if she wants to be killed, stop crying and smile? Geez, why is dying so hard? Or is this some sort of weird coded way of saying I love you? Not!

Kill Me Baby: Death Becomes Her
And after a very draggy drama and plot… They leave us hanging on whether Rachel was killed by Zack or not???!!! WTF???!!! Are they saying they are leaving it to our imaginations?! I expected better than this! So the closure and conclusion is now solely based on what we think it is supposed to be? Hmm… Let’s see. Final scene shows blood on the broken window. Isaac’s knife on the floor. No bodies to be found anywhere. Oh, Isaac and Rachel eloped and went on to kill everybody else in town and became known as the new Bonnie and Clyde!!! Better than Rachel to be cooped up in another ‘facility’ while she slowly loses her mind, right? Better be wild and free! Sighs. Damn. Whatever the conclusion, I’m just couldn’t be glad that this series is finally over. Thank God for that. Hey. At least I’m not lying.

I got very bored with the plot quickly. I don’t think the entire premise is that confusing. Because of the draggy drama of the main characters reassuring us of each other’s promise, not only it enhances the confusion but it got a lot irritating. In almost every episode, we see the constant insecurities of both Rachel and Zack as they try to reassure the other to fulfil their promise of him getting her out and she getting killed by him in exchange. Like as though this was the biggest excuse to drag out this whole boring drama. And there is this insecurity of Rachel at first worried that Zack about not being her God. So does she want to get killed or not? Are they some sort of perfectionists? There are so many ways to die and even by Zack’s hands and she wants it like this and like that. Yeah, even for Zack. There are so many times and chances he could just kill her but she must fulfil that strict condition of having a better face. Uhm, doesn’t she have that face towards the end? Oh, but they’re not really out yet. Damn technicalities! I mean, just kill her already instead of dragging it out to 12 episodes. Oh wait. Make that 16 episodes! WTF?! It’s like they’re not serious about the killing at all.

It was just one big boring and draggy sh*t that I started worrying if the other mysteries that my mind has been asking would be answered. Like for example, what the heck is this facility in this first place? It looks like one big elaborate madhouse with totally sick people in it to play with each other. Is somebody watching or monitoring it all? Like the government? Hell, this underground labyrinth would be one big useless facility if it doesn’t serve a purpose in the bigger picture, right? Could it be some very rich guy watching all this for his amusement? Then what about those English words that pop up in the initial episode and sparsely after that. What are they supposed to be? Who wrote those? You see, all these mysteries sound so much more interesting if there was an answer to it but instead we are stuck with that repetitious Rachel-Zack drama of promise reassurance. Bummer.

I think they wanted to add some variety by putting in some sort of puzzle solving thriller like in Eddie and Cathy’s level but I don’t actually see the significance and relevance of it. Puzzles are supposed to make you think and get you enlightened when the answer is provided but this one feels even more mind boggling. It makes me think why the heck do we need to go through all that just for the elevator to the next floor? Why is it this simple but yet this complicated? Especially you start to wonder why the elevators cannot just go straight up to the top floor. There must be so many elevators then, huh? And so far apart from each other? Man, I thought IKEA making you walk everywhere was bad enough… Yeah, man. Why make it so complicated?! Maybe to make Rachel look like the genius because you know, she is the brains and Zack is the brawns. And the fight scenes are like mediocre. Just because we have to utilize Zack as a crazy killer so we see him simply swinging his scythe. I guess some people understand and feel better if they hit something.

I’m not a religious person but there seems to be quite a few conversations and debate about the faith to God. Maybe they are trying to stir up some thoughts and thinking about this topic but with religion being such a touchy subject these days, can we even get a normal discussion without resorting to violence? Yeah, reality is much worse with people ready to go in for the kill. Everyone should be arrested and put in this nuthouse and let the battle royale begin! Oh right. This entire world is a big giant madhouse complex already and we all think we are Gods in our own minds. No wonder Jesus won’t be coming down again to save us from our sins because we clearly let the first time he died go in vain.

It goes without saying that the characters feel like crap. Saying about Rachel and Zack’s relationship would make me sound like a broken tape recorder. Zack is made even more annoying because of his short temper and tendency to get mad and rough. And Rachel is like the total opposite, lack of feelings and doesn’t give a sh*t. They only tolerate each other because, wait for it, the initial promises they made. So this is their bond? Even till the end, I still cannot feel how closely they have bonded together because of all the boringness that had seeped in. I always thought Rachel would look better if she smiled. Looks like I got more than I bargained for because her smile looks creepy even if it is genuine! So not used to it. So please, go back to your mundane poker face. I regret it. I like it better when you have no emotions. The other annoying character is Danny. This guy is just so hard to kill like as though he cannot die yet so he can prolong our suffering as he pops up when we least expect it to rant about whatever twisted ideology he has or wished upon the rest. Yeah, more draggy drama coming your way. If you’re made even more confused (like yours truly) then it’s like a bonus point achievement for them.

This means the other characters also feel like tools to somewhat further and enhance the bonding of Rachel and Zack. However as I said I don’t see all that in the end and hence these characters feel as empty and shallow like mud puddle. Yes, each of them have their sad and twisted past and history and it would have been a lot better if we had a glimpse of that. Too bad they have become some sort of shallow one dimensional antagonist of the arc. Zack’s history is sad and twisted but as I have said, in the end it feels like it doesn’t matter because I just don’t feel the connection. And I thought Rachel would have hers and it would be the biggest twist. Turns out to be meh. Yeah, everybody has their own twisted problems. But I wonder if Gray is the master of this entire facility as he is the main observer everything and knows it all. He occupies the highest floor and can seemingly ‘teleport’ to other floors with ease. He just pops up. Like the final stairways to freedom, if there were bars blocking in the way and after Zack slashes it, how come he suddenly stands before them at the exit?! Is there another route there?! Did Gray lie? Zack hates lies, you know…

For the horror part, it only worked for the first episode for me. The jump scare of Zack being a crazy killer suddenly appearing and screaming trying to get Rachel’s head did shock me at first. But after that, everything else feels so bland and boring. Yup, blame the draggy drama for turning this horror series into one draggy drama instead. Even if the spooky atmosphere like Eddie’s graveyard level, Cathy’s prison and Gray’s weird hallucinations, thanks to the drama, it does not even feel a bit scary. With Zack being such an angry dude, after a while it gets old and you won’t be even moved whenever he yells his head off. This makes that other crappy horror series Ousama Game to be even better because that one was so cringe filled and bad that it was funny. This one is just plain boring. So boring that I could have fallen asleep and Freddy Krueger would give up killing me in my dreams. Yeah… Really.

Another disappointment is that there are just a few mad people in this facility. I was under the impression like there would be 100 of them! I don’t know why but I thought since the initial plot of that announcement saying Zack is to be targeted because he broke the rule, I was thinking that the other many floor guardians are eager to hunt them down. After all, everyone in this madhouse is craving for blood one way or another, right? So instead we only have like 6 people in this entire facility? Take away Rachel and Zack and that’s like only 4 opposition? Holy sh*t! Only 4?! It’s odd to think that Rachel and Zack will steadily progress to the next floor while the next floor resident waits for his/her turn. Bummer for the one at the highest floor assuming the ones at the lower levels didn’t kill off the main characters. What ever happened to this announcement anyway? It feels so redundant and a lame reason to give others a reason to fight Zack. I’m sure even if they didn’t violate the rules, they would still attack if they come to their floor. Remember, everybody is sick in the head so screw whatever rules.

The art and animation feel like they want to give some dark and spooky claustrophobic atmosphere but I was so bored at the drama that I didn’t even feel influenced by it. There are also a lot of blood especially Zack and Danny being the tough asses taking in some damage. So once you see blood splatter all across their shirt, it will stay there for the rest of the series. Yeah, looks like we’ve gotten immune to all the blood. Character designs, they look pretty normal. I thought they would look even more twisted, maybe like some inhuman monster or gay feminist dude but they mostly look normal. I don’t think Eddie wearing a pumpkin on his head is anything scary. Zack wearing a hoodie and having bandages all over, not scary. Danny having a fake eye? Surprising at first but gets old even with his long devil tongue. Animated by J.C. Staff who produced lots of other better titles out there like Shokugeki No Souma, Prison School, Bakuman, Shakugan No Shana, Saiki Kusuo-No Sai Nan, To Aru Kagaku No Railgun and DanMachi.

With a small cast, the voice acting isn’t anything that special. Nobuhiko Okamoto feels at home as Zack because of his previous roles as angry characters like To Aru Majutsu No Index’s Accelerator, Bakugou in Boku No Hero Academia, Ryou in Shokugeki No Souma and Kaname in Mahou Shoujo Site. Takahiro Sakurai tries to sound crazy as Danny but he is just passable. I only remember his other seemingly twisted character role as Bernard in Junketsu No Maria. The other casts are Haruka Chigusa as Rachel (Tsugumi in Soul Eater Not), Houchu Ohtsuka as Gray (Shiro in Arakawa Under The Bridge), Mariya Ise as Cathy (Levi in Fairy Tail) and Natsumi Fujiwara as Eddie (Chihiro in Shounen Maid). Feeling wasted is the awesome opening theme, Vital by Masaaki Endoh. This hard rock feels so out of place for this draggy drama but it is one of the things that I prefer a lot in the series. This song feels at home for those who are familiar with his style during his stint with JAM Project like One Punch Man’s opening. The ending theme, Pray by Haruka Chisuga as a slow rock isn’t also that bad but I prefer the opener a lot. Note, this might be my own speculation, but I guess the final episode felt like it couldn’t wait to end and hence they played the full entire 3 over minutes of the ending song just to fill in the gap…

Overall, the anime is crappy and a big disappointment if you are anticipating some sort of horror factor to spook the hell out of you. But to be fair, this series was adapted from a game so who knows it worked differently in that format. Although it was also adapted to manga, as far as the anime part is concerned, it is not good. I was mostly confused and bored to death with the draggy drama and the constant reminder of Rachel wanting to be killed by Zack. Sometimes you want to pray to God but this series makes you question your faith even if there is a God after all for letting such mediocre adaptation grace our screens. Okay, don’t blame God for bad production of us humans. Maybe the better way is to just forgive and move on. Or just scream and wreck everything. No wonder God has already abandoned us.

Oh boy. Do we all need another anime about somebody being mysteriously thrown and trapped in another world and then trying to adapt and find out what happened? Generally that is the starting premise of Re: Zero Kara Hajimaru Isekai Seikatsu. It isn’t any Sword Art Online or Log Horizon because this isn’t a game. Nothing like Overlord too because our main protagonist is powerless and useless. No super almighty cheat code from the start. This might sound a bit close to Hai To Gensou No Grimgar then but lacks all that ‘boring drama’. One big difference about this series compared to the aforementioned rest is that death is real. Yeah so? Those series also had deaths. But here is the catch: Life resets back to a certain point if he really dies. A chance to change the future or doomed to repeat history?

Episode 1
A one hour long episode to kick things off. Subaru Natsuki looks like your typical midnight gamer. On his trip to the convenience store, the moment he blinks, the next he knows he is in a different fantasy world. Obviously he thinks he has become a new hero of this world and tries to use his whatever super powers. Nothing happens. As shock as he is of his new surroundings, he tests around by trying to buy fruits from a fruit seller with his yen but his money is no good here. Besides, he gets shooed away because he has no money. And he learns a few things the hard way. So while bumming out at an alley thinking about his fate yet to come, a group of ruffians try to rob him. Then this thieving girl just zooms by him, leaving to his fate. Luckily Subaru has learnt martial arts and can fight. But there is only so much he can take before getting taken down. Then a girl with silver hair, Satella appears. She thinks they are the ones who stole something from her. No Subaru, she didn’t come to save you. Of course she can’t stand this injustice and demonstrates her magic as well as summoning her cat familiar, Puck to send them running away. She is kind enough to help heal him although she claims it is for her own benefit. Subaru can’t just accept her kindness for free and offers to return it by helping her find the thing she lost. They introduce themselves as Subaru learns a few things about this world like this country he is in is called Lugnica. Continuing their search, they help a lost girl reunite with her mother. Satella is shocked that Subaru is not surprised when he reveals she is half-elf. He doesn’t understand the connotation of it. Subaru then returns to the fruit seller for information. He’s still broke, though. But because that lost girl is his daughter, he gives some information of the thieving girl Subaru describes.

Looks like she might be living in the slums at the outskirts of the town. As night falls, Puck cannot retain his form and has to go ‘sleep’. Subaru knocks on the door of a bar belonging to Rom the giant. However nobody answers and when he enters, he sees corpses! Blood everywhere. Too bad the killer is still around and he gets cut in the gut. Satella walks in to satiate her curiosity over the commotion and instantly gets killed! Subaru is so determined to save her that before he knows it, he suddenly finds himself before the fruit seller. This is weird. Was that all a dream? Déjà vu again as the ruffians want to rob him but this time he takes them out. He heads for the slums and luckily Rom is still alive. He learns the thieving girl is Felt and will be bringing some loot to exchange. Subaru thinks he can negotiate to exchange that for his… Potato chips? Tastes good, right? Subaru waits till night fall for Felt to arrive. Because it is like he knows what she has and is going to do, she is suspicious if he is in cohorts. Rom appraises Felt’s insignia. If Subaru has something that can match its value then it’s a deal. Subaru demonstrates his ‘magical device’. Read: Handphone. It captures moments in time and stores them forever! Rom appraises this ‘metia’ to be higher than the insignia. It is worth 20 holy coins compared to the insignia’s 10 holy coins. Of course Felt will wait for the client to hear her side of the story. Oh, here she is, Elsa Granhiert. She also has 20 holy coins but as Rom values the metia higher, it is Subaru’s win. Elsa would have left quietly had not Subaru answered her question of what he is going to do with it: Return it to its owner. This makes Elsa think he is with them. Felt saves him from Elsa’s strike in the gut. Yeah, she’s the killer. Rom fights her but is no match and is killed. Angry Felt attacks to avenge the old man’s death but dies in vain. So does Subaru have the balls to stand up and fight? He thought he avoided her gut cut but too bad it cut him real deep. Dead again. When he opens his eyes, he is back before the fruit seller. What sh*t dream is this? He is so sick of this that the fruit seller helps him. When Subaru sees Satella passing by, he calls out her name. However she doesn’t know him and doesn’t appreciate calling her by that name.

Episode 2
Satella is not pleased he called her taboo nickname and leaves. As Subaru sits around in the alley, here comes those bozos again. But the ruffians killed him this time! Oh sh*t! Too fast! Back before the fruit seller again. Man, this has got to stop. Noticing his wounds are gone, he realizes his death must be resetting things. He is relieved that he has no more debts and favours in this case but realizes even so, Felt will still Satella’s insignia and Elsa will still kill them. I suppose he needs to fix this because he is the hero, right? While trying to put things together, here comes those ruffians. Oh no. This time Subaru screams like a girl for help. Well, it’s not Satella to his rescue this time but Reinhard Van Astrea. He has this status as a Sword Saint and a knight of the royal guard so you better not mess with him even though he is off duty. Subaru hopes if Reinhard sees Satella, he could help relay the message not to go near the loot house (Rom’s place). On his way to the slums, Subaru bumps into Elsa who has this déjà vu feeling that they’ll meet again. Then he has to escape from Felt trying to kill him as she thinks he is trying to steal something from her house. She is suspicious when he knows her name and even the insignia she stole. He would like to buy her insignia with his metia. Since she is not sure about the price, she would prefer to take it to Rom for evaluation. After getting its value, Felt wonders why he is in a hurry to get it because this insignia is definitely worth more than his metia and can try to get more out of it. He warns her about this dangerous thinking because her client cannot go more than 20 holy coins. It makes Subaru sound he is in cohorts although he claims he just wants to return it to its owner. Rom can tell Subaru is earnest and not lying. When somebody is at the door, Subaru fears Elsa is here. Death comes knocking again? Well thankfully it is Satella.

Episode 3
Satella somehow tracked her here. She demonstrates her magic and warns to return her insignia or else. At this time Elsa attacks but thanks to Puck’s quick reflexes, her gut is safe. I guess negotiations are closed. Puck’s magic keeps Elsa at bay. She gets stuck in his crystals but rips off her sole just to dodge a bigger attack! However time is out for Puck and he has to go sleep. Satella takes on Elsa but is wiped out. Rom joins in and clubs around. Felt thought she can help but the blade she throws, Elsa deflects it and it pierces Rom. Felt feels guilty over this. Subaru moves his feet to save her from death. Because she is the youngest, Subaru makes her run to safety while he takes on Elsa. Satella has recovered to help Subaru. But they are not enough and could have been done for had not Reinhard entered the scene. He was passing by and heard Felt’s cry for help. Reinhart knows Elsa as an infamous Bowel Hunter from the shape of her sword. Satella tries to heal Rom as Reinhart fights Elsa. However she is ‘insulted’ that he is unwilling to draw his sword to fight her because the time doesn’t call for it. He might have destroyed Elsa’s sword but she will continue to fight till her last ounce of life. Once Satella is done healing, she is able to lend some of her magic to Reinhart. Now that he is able to draw his sword, he is going to use his special magic. Man, his magic blows up the entire house! Everything seems pretty back to normal when Elsa rises up from the rubble. She dashes to slash Satella. Knowing she will aim for the guts, he uses Rom’s club to block. Reinhard warns her to stop. She pays heed and escapes. Subaru is posing like a hero after this (Saturday Night Fever pose?). All he wants as reward is to know Satella’s real name. Emilia. You didn’t think it was something dirty, did you? Subaru realizes too late there is a slash on his gut. Don’t worry, it’s not deep but it’s still a cut enough to make him bleed and faint. Emilia will take responsibility of Subaru and bring her back to her home. She learns Felt is alone and only has Rom has her family. When Felt returns the insignia, Reinhart cannot let this slip and arrests her. The gravity of this crime is grave and he cannot overlook it.

Episode 4
Subaru wakes up in a nice bedroom of a big mansion. Wounds healed. Thank goodness it isn’t a reset. He walks the long hallways and noticing it will not end, he opens the nearest door. Who is this Beatrice loli? Not fond of his intrusion, she zaps his guts (not again). Don’t worry, just taking a little mana. He wakes up back in bed again. Reset? But this time he notices 2 cute lovely maids berating him. Folks, meet sisters Ram and Rem. I’m sure nobody can resist having fantasies on maids, right?! Emilia is glad he is okay. So they talk about things and do morning exercise before the lord of the mansion calls them. So this gay clown, Roswaal L. Mathers is the lord? Believe it. With Subaru’s mysterious appearance in Lugnica, it makes it all suspicious because the king just died and the officials are in the process of selecting the next king. Noticed why Roswaal addresses Emilia as higher status than him? The insignia is a touchstone that signifies she is a candidate for the throne. Now you get it? Roswaal is connected to her as he is her sponsor. Because Subaru saved the insignia, he has a request: He wants to work in this mansion. So the maids guide him around the different rooms and it seems Subaru has a knack to find rooms where Beatrice is in. She isn’t Roswaal’s daughter but contracted to protect his library that contains forbidden magic. Roswaal is the greatest magician in the kingdom. Real hard work begins for Subaru. Didn’t know you have to do all those chores in a day, huh? Well, those cuts on the fingers prove he is working hard. At night, Roswaal has Ram report about Subaru’s potential as a spy. No matter how she sees it, the possibility is very slim. He is just so bad in everything. Could it be just an act? Subaru talks to Emilia about things and he is excited she agrees to go out on a ‘date’ with him. So excited that he can’t sleep. When he finally does and wakes up in the morning, are the maids going to do something naughty to him this early? They don’t understand what he is talking about. Then he realizes and fears the worst: The cuts on his fingers are gone. Oh sh*t. He didn’t die but the day reset?!

Episode 5
Obviously Subaru is upset because this means his promised date with Emilia is also reset. Accidentally he barges into Beatrice’s room but seeing her unchanging attitude, it makes him feel better. Making his day better is seeing Emilia who was worried when he ‘disappeared’ after waking up. Subaru decides to retrace and redo all his steps to end up in the same path as last time. However it didn’t go accordingly because instead of taking measurements for his suit, he straight away gets to work and then soaks in the bath with Roswaal. That night, Ram teaches him how to read and write their language so it will be easier to do errands. This means she and her sister will have less work to do! So the rest of the scenes we see Subaru helping the maids with Ram having lots of sarcasm. Subaru also helps out Rem with her errands and they talk about her sister. Since the maids are unavailable, Emilia helps Subaru study. I’m sure he is having trouble keeping his heart still. I suppose he can’t stand it anymore so he straight up asks her out on a date. At first she is reluctant but eventually finds it hard to decline him. Well, if it gives him motivation to work hard as reward, so be it. Naturally he is so excited that he can’t sleep. Or at least he doesn’t want to fall asleep thinking he might get reset again. But as he dozes off, he suddenly gets a rude awakening when he realizes something is poisoning or choking him. As he tries to get help, he is hit by a blast that costs his arm and bloodied the hallway. Looks like he is done for…

Episode 6
You know the drill. Rinse and repeat. But this time we see Subaru bugging Beatrice so she throws him out in annoyance, he lands on garden manure, Puck uses his whirlpool magic to wash him and Emilia laughs at the funny act Puck and Subaru did. With Roswaal home, Subaru decides to dedicate his time to find out his assailant. So he becomes a freeloader in the mansions. Oh, guest is a much more appropriate word. No such like in finding clues. He asks Beatrice about if there is any magic that weakens and kills someone like as though putting them to sleep. He learns it is a rare spell that a few can only do. Then there is the mana sucking spell which Subaru already experienced and that Beatrice has more powerful healing powers than Emilia as she can heal fatal wounds. Later Subaru talks with Ram about his world’s fairytale regarding the blue and red demon. Subaru notes the local legend regarding about a dragon and the witch. It is believed the dragon will protect the nation from far away beyond a great waterfall until its contract with the royalty is fulfilled. But didn’t the king just died? Well, nobody knows what the dragon wants. Subaru ends his stay and leaves. However he is just camping on a higher ground at a distance to keep watch on Emilia’s room. No, he is not a peeping tom. He also anticipates his assailant will target him in which came true. He almost got killed by the huge mace and had took precautions tying a rope to himself or else he would have fallen to his death. As he runs, he is cornered when he reaches a cliff and realizes he played into the assailant’s hands. Not sure if he is joking as he uses his jersey as a shield from the incoming mace! Didn’t work. But he grabbed onto the mace’s chain and calls out to the assailant. To his horror… Rem! Why must it be the cute maid?!

Episode 7
It seems Rem suspects Subaru and still distrusts him. He gets upset and tries to run only to have his leg cut off. However Rem won’t kill him easily as she wants to interrogate him. Although he declares his true love for Emilia, she thinks he is fooling around. She thinks he is from the Witch Cult. From what she is saying, it’s like she is jealous of him being with Ram and being associated with a cult that has cost Ram pain. Subaru starts crying and throwing a tantrum of how things turned out. He is about to say he loves the maids too, Rem slashes his throat. Of course he wakes up the next day with everything restarted like usual but this time he is fearful. When Emilia comes to check on him, he wants to tell her the truth about his reset but it seems some scary thing is squeezing his heart. Although in the end this is an illusion, the fear was too real so he chickens out and tells her to not have anything to do with him. For the next few days, he continues to have nightmares. Beatrice sees him and she could smell some witch stench on him. Subaru wants her to protect him till tomorrow morning. At first she is reluctant but after assuring he has no intentions of doing anything, she agrees and makes a contract. He spends his supposedly final day in her library. He leaves when the day is about to end and Emilia looks like she is worried. When she takes him along, he hears the screams of Ram. Rem is dead in her bed! He tries to touch her but Ram smacks him not to. Roswaal believes Rem died of a weakness of a curse. Because Subaru is acting like he is hiding something, Ram gets mad and threatens to kill him to spill what he knows. Beatrice comes to his protection and this doesn’t sit well with Roswaal. Master and loli face off. Worse, Subaru runs away as he could hear Ram screaming she’ll kill the hell out of him! He runs off to a cliff but being chicken, he can’t jump. He is surprised Beatrice is still here protecting him as she doesn’t recall a time duration for this protection. When Subaru remembers the maids holding his hands while he is having nightmares, that’s when he decides to use his life the way he wants. Ram has found him and is going to kill him. Subaru won’t let Beatrice protect him. He apologizes for all the grief he caused. He wants to learn more about the things he doesn’t know. He screams he loves both the maids and then jumps off the cliff. He swears he will save them.

Episode 8
Restart again. This time Subaru is happy and at least grateful to the maids although they think he is a creep. After he offers to work in the mansion, he learns from Puck the difference between magic users and those who use spiritual arts like Emilia. Puck detects Subaru to have magic potential. Guess what his attribute is? Nothing elemental. Shadow. Is that even cool? Puck demonstrates it on him and he panics when engulfed in total darkness and silence. He tries it out himself but because he cannot control his magic properly, his shadow attribute gush out like black smoke. Next he learns how curses are caused from Beatrice. It cannot be undone once activated. He also finds out about the only witch this world refers to known as the Jealous Witch: Satella. Sounds familiar? Legend says she cannot die and is sealed by a dragon, hero and sage. What if someone takes after that name? It could mean that person is just insane. Subaru deduces that by doing so, people would see this person as a mad person and wouldn’t be dragged into this royal selection mess. Subaru needs to earn the trust of the maids so he works hard. I mean, really hard. Also, in a very lively and idiotic way that it is painful to watch. At this rate he won’t last. Even he himself knows this and is tearing up inside. Emilia can’t bear to watch this and talks to him. Giving a free lap pillow service. Once he talks, he breaks down from the desperation of trying to make everything right. Sometimes it is good to just let it all out. While he feels embarrassed about bawling out before his beloved the next day, he finds out more from Beatrice how to detect curses. There is a pre-requisite rule that must be done if curses are placed. You must be in physical contact with your target. This leads Subaru to remember the time Rem died, they didn’t go to the village and the attacker targeted her. This means the one who placed the curse was from the village where he and Rem went shopping. Subaru gets back to work and isn’t desperate anymore. Must be the lap pillow that did the trick, huh? Even the maids know… At least they suspect him lesser. He hopes to go shopping with them today.

Episode 9
Subaru does radio exercise with the villagers and has everyone touch him even if it makes him look like some sort of pervert… He has also become close with the kids who let him play with their stray pet dog. When Subaru and the maids return, Roswaal has to leave for an appointment and won’t be back for the night. As this never happened before, this cements Subaru’s theory that acting as a decoy worked. Then he goes to see Beatrice to detect if there is any curse on him. Luckily he had the villagers touch on him on different body parts so he could identify who placed the curse. Hmm… Does it mean that dog is the one? Using Puck’s wellbeing as blackmail, he has Beatrice cure the curse (possible if not activated yet). Subaru wants to go back to the village to find the culprit but since Roswaal has orders for the maid to safeguard the mansion and Emilia, Ram has Rem accompany Subaru. When they arrive, they see the villagers looking for their missing children. They notice a barrier has been broken and the kids dragged into the forest by witchfiends (creatures created by the witch). Rem doesn’t see why Subaru wants to help the kids so he mentions how they told him about their dreams and promise to do radio exercise again. They find the children unconscious. As Rem heals them to alleviate their discomfort, Subaru notices one of them missing and decides to go find her. Rem is worried to lose him so he assures her she can track him down with his scent. After all, he has the scent of the witch. Rem is shocked he knows a lot so Subaru makes a promise they’ll talk a lot after this is done. Subaru finds the last girl and saves her despite an obvious trap. The hellhound pounces on him but he is able to fight and kill it. Now what do you do with hundreds of them? Thankfully Rem is here to help as she smashes them with her mace. As they run back to the village, Rem is injured and then saves him from a mudslide. Technically she didn’t die but it activated some demon in her as she goes crazy to kill all the witchfiends. To save her, Subaru pushes her away from the hellhounds and gets devoured himself. Rem returns to normal and is distraught to see him on the verge of dying.

Episode 10
Subaru wakes up in bed mostly healed. Puck explains Rem took the brunt of the damage but thanks to her demon side, she healed quickly. Emilia has stayed up all night to heal him so better let her sleep. Later Subaru returns to the village to see the villagers fine and Ram has fixed the barrier. Later Beatrice talks to Subaru and knows he will die soon. Apparently he has another curse deep inside of him due to the many attacks. The reason the witchfiends curse people is to find a source of food. Emilia is not told about this or else she would have done something unreasonable. When Subaru realizes Rem is not around, it is deduced she went back to the forest to kill every witchfiend. Ram heard this and wants to go rescue Rem. Subaru also wants to go but if he thinks Ram can fight like Rem, he is mistaking. Although twins, their power varies because Ram is a hornless demon. Before they leave for the forest, the villagers give Subaru a sword as thanks. As they trek, Subaru finds out more about hornless demons. As demons are born with 2 horns, it is split between twins. Customarily as such they are supposed to be disposed at birth but were somehow spared. The horns enhance their abilities. When Subaru wants to confess about his reset, he experiences that pain again. This is where the witchfiends attack. This is part of Subaru’s plan to become the bait. As he possesses the scent of a witch that draws witchfiends, and since Rem is hunting them, they will reunite with her. Too bad Ram was just talking big since she can’t fight and runs out of stamina. Subaru is forced to run away while carrying her. Cornered, luckily Rem enters the picture. However she has no control over demon form and attacks Subaru. Words do not reach her. Ram mentions to make a solid hit on her horn to return her to normal. Subaru has an idea and makes her promise she won’t get mad at this method. This involves throwing Ram at Rem and use this distracting to slice her horn. But he misses! With all the chaos, Subaru is sent flying in the air. He has another last chance to get this right.

Episode 11
Flashback reveals the village chief wanted to kill the twins to protect their demon clan. But when they display strong power just for a single horn, they decide to keep them alive. Ram is the one doing all the competent work while Rem is advised to follow her example. One day the village is under attack by some cult. Ram fights them off and in her bid to protect Rem, her horn was cut off. They were taken in by Roswaal as Rem vowed to work hard in Ram’s place. She views herself as her replacement. Now Rem feels guilty for being hesitant and that almost killed Subaru. He head butts her for being an idiot trying to settle things by herself. He allows himself to be bait for the witchfiends while the sisters escape. He uses his shadow element to fight the witchfiend boss and stab his sword. But that isn’t enough and could have been doomed had not Roswaal intervene. The maids apologize for all the trouble but he is impressed they have done well. He will reward Subaru for his actions. Rem becomes emotional as she hugs Subaru till he passes out. He wakes up back in his room with Rem by his side. He is told Roswaal destroyed all the witchfiends so there is no worry about his curse activating. She is still calling herself incompetent, inferior and a good for nothing. As expected, Subaru had to assure and cheer her up that she is kind, hardworking and always trying her best. Whether or not Ram was better off with a horn, he doesn’t know that kind of Ram. Rem might call herself as Ram’s replacement but there is no replacement for Rem. Subaru’s positive talk about the future has Rem giving off her most beautiful smile amidst the tears. Roswaal talks to Ram about the one controlling the witchfiends but it seems the tracks have been erased. He thinks there is another rival for the throne. He believes he must work harder now to win the throne at all cause to achieve his goal to kill the dragon. Emilia talks to Subaru that she was worried about him constantly getting hurt. She still thanks him for saving her and would like to reward him. Instantly he suggests to date him and she agrees. Everything up till now was indeed worth this moment.

Break Time

Break Time 1
Subaru argues with Emilia about how similar some of the names in this world to his. Just a slight difference in pronunciation. Like apples are called appas here. Emilia seems to dislike peppirs (green peppers) and he finds her expression cute although he himself doesn’t like a bunch of vegetables.

Break Time 2
Felt explains to Subaru how time works in this world. Each day is divided into daylight and daydark (morning and night in our world). As for telling the time, daylight is divided into wind time (green) and fire time (red) while day dark is divided into water time (blue) and earth time (yellow). Each division is worth 6 hours. Of course Subaru has to stop her explanation since this itself is already too much for him to absorb.

Break Time 3
Emilia and Puck discuss about Reinhard and his powers. One of them being the ability to separate salt and sugar? Or are you just a bad cook, Emilia? She also praises Subaru for his skill and how nice of him to ask her name as his only reward. Although they know he isn’t a bad guy, they still can’t help feel suspicious about him since his clothes are rather funny. Puck vows to protect Emilia from him if Subaru ever tries anything funny. Is getting rid of him going too far?

Break Time 4
Subaru is trying to learn the meaning behind the hand gestures the maids make. I guess that fox gesture means you’re happy. So what about this frog gesture Subaru made? That kind of reaction would tell us it could be offensive. However they were just trolling us because it means nothing. As Ram continues to call Subaru as Balse, Subaru wants to call her Ram-chan. They claim he is slowing them down in their work so he vows to work super hard. He high fives them as motivation but they sense sexual indecency from his touch.

Break Time 5
Subaru is in the bath with Roswaal. He notes his original face without all that makeup. Yeah, he is pretty good looking without it too. He tries to ask him a few questions include the bath water that is changed every time somebody dips in. This means one can expect clean and fresh water in the bath. Some perversion thoughts about drinking the bath water of a certain girl who just got out of a bath… Subaru asks more questions but Roswaal seems to be fooling around.

Break Time 6
Emilia feels she still hasn’t thank him properly and she acts like she is eager to give him what he wants… He just touches her hair. That’s it? That’s more than enough? She thinks touching her hair is the same as petting Puck’s fur. Surely head hair isn’t body hair. This has Puck mocking him for infidelity because he would rather touch somebody’s hair other than his fur. Puck revokes his petting rights and with Subaru still wanting both, the duo go on to act a silly infidelity act.

Break Time 7
Mostly Subaru talking to Beatrice and infuriating her in every way possible. From Roswaal to his forbidden library to her being a loli and giving her some cute nicknames. Regret forming a contract with him?

Break Time 8
With Subaru back to work looking more respectable, the maids tease the lap pillow did the job. Then they proceed to mock him and he goes on his knees seeking apology. But still more insults about him being a pervert. Emilia thought the maids said nice things to him so Subaru starts praising her with embarrassing words that make her run away. The maids discuss among themselves more about him as a sad individual. When he returns, more stinging comments he is back to make himself look dumb again. And this is them being nice?

Break Time 9
The maids mock Subaru for looking pathetic trying to carry heavy things. Rem easily gets the job done so Subaru complains about being bullied and the need for him being around. Ram explains wouldn’t it look bad on him if Emilia sees Rem lifting the heavy stuffs and Subaru just the light ones? Subaru couldn’t be more grateful than ever. Rem is suspicious that he is close to Ram. He is forced to apologize his ‘wrongdoing’. But Ram sarcastically jokes talking to him cures his disease that will kill him if he doesn’t talk to girls, Rem immediately notes how kind her sister is. They lead on him to do the rest of the work but ultimately mock him for not being able to do anything eventually.

Break Time 10
Subaru is having a hard time keeping up with Ram trekking in the forest. So she asks him why he came in the first place. It’s his promise to Rem that they’ll talk things out. Also, Rem also promised to cut his hair. He thought Rem hasn’t trust him yet because she is always watching him but it was rather she couldn’t stand his messy hair. Subaru feels pathetic for being the weakest compared with the maids. He thought he could be useful by finding Rem faster but trips.

Break Time 11
Emilia is talking about Subaru’s simple date reward so he tries to warn her not estimate his libido. That strange talk almost makes Emilia mad. She says she isn’t mad but her body language says otherwise. He apologizes anyway and she accepts it. Emilia couldn’t believe Puck didn’t tell her anything and he could have died. But since it is over, he thinks she should forgive him. She hopes on their date they get to take some flowers. They manage to watch the morning sunrise together.

Episode 12
An emissary, Felix “Ferris” Argyle visits Roswaal. It could be about the selection. So Subaru tries to butter up her butler, Wilhem Van Astrea for details but he is careful to what he has to say. In other words, nothing. Subaru begs Emilia to let him follow her to the capital. Sure, he wants to be there if it’s related to the royal selection but he would like to go round thanking some people too. With Rem supporting Subaru and Roswaal even arranging a healer in the capital for Subaru’s wounds, Emilia relents. But they’re holding hands not like lovers but like a mother holding on to a child’s hand instead. Because Subaru was so excited and acting like a monkey that she needs to keep her eyes on him. Embarrassing. Emilia meets Julius Euclius of the Imperial Knights. Because he kisses her hand, this sends jealous Subaru into rage. As Emilia enters the palace to attend business, Subaru sees a lady nearby being harassed by those ruffians. He goes to help but Priscilla Barielle doesn’t appreciate his help and thinks she can handle this herself. Subaru scares the ruffians away by mentioning Reinhard’s name and luckily Rom was passing by. Apparently Rom is looking for Felt and he hasn’t a clue what happened to her since. Subaru is further jealous that when Emilia returns, another man by her side?! Actually he is Pricilla’s knight, Al. Emilia was helping him finding Priscilla. Seems Emilia isn’t fond of Priscilla and when Subaru can’t answer when she asks how he met her and such, she drops the subject.

The next day, she doesn’t want Subaru to come along because she thinks he’ll do something that might endanger himself. As frustrated he is, he is forced to stay back to earn her trust. Of course that won’t last long. With Rem turning a blind eye, he makes his way to the capital. He hitchhikes but is picked up by Priscilla’s carriage. As they make their way inside the hall, Emilia is shocked to see him. Priscilla flirts with Subaru to further make her feel uneasy. The candidates take their place in the centre of the hall. Subaru stands with the other knights. He is glad to see Reinhard. He is shocked to learn Ferris is a guy!!! You ruined my image of cat girls!!! Oh, there’s Julius too. Time to make faces at him. After the old weird men committee arrives, the process begins with the leader of the Imperial Knights, Marcos initiating the proceedings. Because he is going to start off with some long history, some of the candidates cut him off about this boring subject and get straight to the point. They’re busy, you know. Anyway Marcos continues about today’s gathering of the qualified candidates. As per prophecy, out of the 5 candidates, one will be selected as priestess to enter a contract with the dragon to become the new ruler. But there are only 4 candidates. This is where Marcos calls out to Reinhard about the completion of his mission. He has found the final and fifth candidate. He ushers her into the hall. She is Felt.

Episode 13
Felt tries to beat up Reinhard. When that fails, she notices Subaru and kicks him! Reinhard shows the dragon gem as proof Felt is a chosen one but the nobles are displeased since she is from the slums. The selection begins with the candidates and their attendants stepping forward. We have Priscilla and Al, Crusch Karsten and Ferris, Anastasia Hoshin and Julius, Emilia and Roswaal, Felt and Reinhard. Because Felt doesn’t want to be part of this, the nobles make noise they have put up with this shenanigans far enough. They badmouth the slum rat and even Emilia as a half-elf. This is when Subaru angrily steps out to object to all that. Although Emilia nicely tells him to step down, Subaru continues to introduce himself as Emilia’s knight. Julius warns him about taking knightship so lightly and wonder if he has to resolve to see this through. Subaru becomes cocky and hell bent in making Emilia as the next ruler. It is obvious Subaru is only making a mockery of himself. The more he speaks, the more shameful he gets so Emilia has to throw him out of the hall. Subsequently, Rom barges in to kidnap Felt but the knights pin him down. Normally he is to be put to death and since Felt is no longer a candidate, her orders means nothing. Thus she reverses her decision and decides to become a candidate to save Rom. She makes everyone knows if she becomes ruler, she will destroy everything and bring fresh air to this kingdom. Later Julius challenges Subaru to a mock duel for mocking the knights. It becomes apparently one-sided with Julius beating the crap out of him. Was it so bad that a knight had to interrupt the selection process and tell what’s happening? This has Emilia running to stop the duel but stubborn Subaru unleashes his shadow magic only to be dealt the knockout blow. When he wakes up in bed, he is still alive and Emilia next to him. He explains himself about wanting to get back at Julius for trying to distance him with her. But Subaru is disheartened when she tells him he will continue to stay here to seek treatment while she returns to the mansion. When Subaru says he has been doing everything for her, she blows her top. He is doing it for himself. He has done nothing but break his promises. She wants to believe him but he didn’t give her a reason to. Subaru wants to tell the truth but that pain prevents him. In his desperation, he blurts out how he has saved her so many times that without him, things would have been different. She owes him a lot! Of course she doesn’t understand it and will end and repay all his debts right now. She is disappointed and had hopes for him that he wouldn’t give her any special treatment but he is like everyone else.

Episode 14
Subaru trains with Wilhem but it is obvious with what happened, he can’t concentrate. He is more bitter remembering Reinhard apologized on Julius’ behalf because that meaningless duel somewhat ruined Julius’ career too (it is believed he played the villain). His only comfort is Rem by his side but that isn’t much. In town, Subaru becomes agitated when he hears people calling it insanity when a half-elf became a candidate. He tries to tell them off not to discriminate Emilia just because the witch was one. He is told off it is because so that the people are scared. As long as the people see her that way, she is doomed to fail. Subaru is called by Crusch to talk. He learns all the candidates received numerous marriage proposals. She advises him to look positive and ahead instead of sulking. Subaru thought he would be getting back on his feet but soon Rem comes in relating some sort of trouble. She could feel some sort of troubling sense from Ram. It is believed some disturbance might have occurred back home. Subaru realizes everyone around Emilia is an enemy ever since Roswaal declared his support for her. Subaru wants to return home but Crusch warns him leaving this place would make him and Emilia her enemy as they are under contract to heal him. He must realize after the events that happened, he is powerless. Unfortunately Subaru remains very stubborn and this ‘advice’ only serves to go his own way. But the ride home will need to take a detour as a white fog is blocking its path and they could be killed entering it. Staying for the night at an inn, Subaru and Rem can’t sleep so they talk. Also, to show some Subaru x Rem and to hint that Rem has feelings for him by holding his back. Or maybe it’s just to heal him. But could it be a ploy to put him to bed? Because when morning comes, Subaru realizes Rem has ‘betrayed’ him when she leaves him behind. A note was left telling him to stay put and she will return to get him once she settles things. This only makes him madder as he thinks she also thinks he is useless. Subaru manages to get a ride back home but once they enter the vicinity, the driver Otto refuses to go further because his dragon is scared. Since he is nearby the village, Subaru makes his way via foot. He experiences several creepy cultists surrounding him before disappearing. Spooky. When he arrives at the village, he sees everyone massacred. Blood everywhere. To his dismay, there is Rem’s body.

Episode 15
Subaru is getting sick at this point. More corpses everywhere. Oh, there’s Ram’s body too. He follows the blood trail supposedly from Emilia’s flower into some frozen room. His body gets frozen and falls apart. First restart in a while, eh? Because now he is back in town. The moment he sees Rem, immediately he hugs her like as though he has never seen her in ages. But soon he falls into a vegetable state. Because of his emotional scar, not even Ferris can do anything about it. Rem takes Subaru home but when they enter the vicinity, she is attacked by the cultists. She goes berserk in attacking them while Subaru still in a vegetable state is kidnapped. He is taken to some cave whereby the Sin Archbishop of the Witch Cult, Betelgeuse Romanee Conti who is also the Archbishop of Sloth thinks Subaru is of Pride. We see this crazy guy talking and screaming about the Gospel and Ordeal, contorting in crazy ways while vegetable Subaru remains unresponsive. But Betelgeuse wonders if Subaru is just playing dumb and acting crazy because if so, it is like insult to real madness. Subaru did react although he is just crying and screaming like crazy. When Rem has found the hideout and attacks in full rage, Betelgeuse kills her off by contorting her limbs in unimaginable ways! At this point Subaru manages to eke out some reaction. Though, it is mostly screaming he’ll kill Betelgeuse. Betelgeuse blames Subaru as Rem’s killer because of his sloth ways, he let her die. Then he blames Rem’s unrequited love on sloth because she died without delivering her feelings. After the cultists have gone, Rem is barely alive as she crawls her way to Subaru to free him. She tells him to live and confesses she loves him before she dies. Subaru carries her back to the village where everyone is slaughtered. In the mansion’s garden, Ram’s body is found. A large monster emerges from the mansion and tells Subaru to sleep before decapitating him. Of course this resets back in town. This time there is more life to Subaru. Yeah, he wasted a life being a vegetable. Rem is concerned about his unpleasant scent growing stronger but he just holds her hand to ease that uneasiness. Rem is happy this looks like a date but Subaru is still teeming with anger within.

Episode 16
On their way to Crusch’s place, they see Russel Fellow, a shrewd treasurer of the kingdom just leaving. Subaru’s plan is to get Crusch to help them destroy the Witch Cult. What’s in it for them? Subaru is willing to be in her debt but is he willing to eliminate Emilia as a candidate? Apparently he is because it means nothing if she is dead. Even so, Crusch will not help him because that is a sign of desperation. This makes her question how he knows when the Witch Cult will attack. Does he has ties to them? With Subaru getting desperate and seething with anger that he will kill them all, Crusch now believes he is only using Emilia to get his revenge on the Witch Cult he hates so much. There is nothing more he can do. He leaves angrily. Just leave. Subaru and Rem discuss that they can’t go back to their mansion because he knows they can’t do anything. They’ll have to look for other help. This means Subaru going to seek Priscilla’s help. She wants him to lick her feet. He is willing to do that but she kicks him and becomes very upset. For him to throw away his pride and do this, it is neither loyalty nor devotion but just desires of a greedy pig. No help. An angry b*tch and an angrier Subaru. While walking in town, he bumps into a little cat girl, Mimi. Despite her looks, she is the second in command of Anastasia’s army! Could Anastasia be the one to help him? Talking at the bar as they talk, Subaru realizes too late that she was just using him to extract information. Of course he is pissed but there is nothing he can do. I guess a little advice about preparing beforehand for a negotiation isn’t going to help him calm down either. And that completes all the girls screwing over him. With Rem failing to evoke any action from the knight stations, they return to the mansion immediately in hopes they have time to evacuate everyone. Along the way they bump into Otto and his merchants camping. He wants to buy all their merchandise and transport (for evacuation purpose, not human trafficking). Look at the power of money because they’re going at full speed! Rem explains about the tall legendary Flugel Tree they will pass as a sign of entering Roswaal’s territory. When a merchant by his side goes missing, Otto denies anyone riding next to him. Subaru uses his handphone light to get a clearer picture. Yikes! A giant eye of a monster! Panic in 3… 2… 1…

Episode 17
They’re being chased by the White Whale. Rem’s only solution is to intercept it and let Subaru escape. Of course he won’t allow it so she knocks him out. When he comes to, he is not happy Otto abandoned her. Subaru wants to go back and rescue her but Otto is definitely not going to as he describes how terrifying it is. When Otto doesn’t remember who Rem is, this pisses Subaru off. Noticing the White Whale is only targeting them, Subaru thinks it is a witchfiend and that he is the source of why it is following him. Otto becomes selfish. To save his own ass, he pushes Subaru off. With broken bones and all, Subaru fears death but suddenly everything becomes calm. He sees Otto’s carriage but he isn’t around. He rides it to the village and to his relief sees everyone alive. He collapses and when he wakes up, he is in bed. He thought Rem was by his side and hugs her but it is Ram. She is not impressed. To make things worse, Ram doesn’t know who Rem is! Subaru is super mad as he tries to prove it. Too bad Rem’s room is empty. No such person ever lived in this mansion. Was it all a dream? Subaru refuses to believe it. He summons his courage to talk to Emilia. He wants her to leave this place but of course since he cannot explain well and what just happened, it is hard for her to believe him. Subaru is getting crazier and desperate by the second. Despite all he says, she can tell he is crying in pain. Subaru is going to reveal everything even if that pain kills him. When he does so, he feels something strange. It wasn’t so bad. However… Emilia is dead! OMG! NO!!! Beatrice comes to see him in total shock. He requests to be killed but she won’t do something so vulgar and throws him into a portal that leads to the woods. Want to die now? He’ll get his wish as the Witch Cult surrounds him. Betelgeuse is spouting his usual crazy stuff. Subaru dodges his shadowy hands. This makes Betelgeuse mad because nobody is supposed to see his Unseen Hands except himself. He attacks Subaru and is about to defile Emilia’s corps since he has been holding on to it so dearly. Luckily he is interrupted by mad Puck.

Episode 18
Puck kills all the cult members and when Betelgeuse tries to kill him with his Unseen Hands, Puck transforms into a giant monster to freeze him till his body breaks. Now Puck turns his attention to Subaru and tells him the 3 sins he has committed. 1) He broke his promise to Emilia; 2) He defied her wishes and return here; 3) He let her die. Because of that, Puck will destroy the world as per contract because she is the reason for his existence. Subaru’s body freezes up and breaks apart. Of course his life resets back in town with Rem. He takes her to run to some place and talk. Yes, this is what the rest of the entire episode is. He wants Rem to run away with him to another place. He realizes he can’t stay here because whatever he does, nothing will turn out right. It has been spelled out to him many times over about his uselessness but he refused to believe it. Rem might be confused about this but she can’t. They promised to laugh together instead of doing this sad thing. Rem has even thought ahead by suggesting he should go study first, then find a better place to live, start their own business and even family planning! But the thing that makes her not want to run away with him is because the Subaru she loves will be gone. This only serves to make Subaru mad as he blows his top. He has chosen to give up. He screams it wasn’t easy to give up after all that he has been through. He realizes he did nothing. Even before coming to this world. His rotten character is the result of what has happened. His life is a big lazy waste and a coward. He talks big, dreams big and hates himself. He can’t change anything and nothing has changed in him. With Subaru beating himself, Rem says some good things about him like how she likes his soft hands and the cute looks on his face when he sleeps. Still, Subaru is not impressed. This time Rem yells back all he talks about is his perception of himself. What about her perception of him? She likes him because he is her hero. Explaining the events of that witchfiend incident in that forest, Subaru did and said what she wanted to hear for a long time. He unfroze the time that her heart stopped and let it flow again. Oh Subaru. You’re still going on with this negative talk? Even after Rem hugs you and pecks you forehead? No one believes you? Nothing’s changed no matter how hard you try? Rem vows that this time it is her turn to make his time move again. They will start from zero. Thank goodness Subaru has gotten out of the dumps. He reveals he loves Emilia and wants to see her smile again. He needs Rem’s help for that. She agrees and he will show her the awesome man she has fallen for. His life now starts here from zero.

Episode 19
Subaru goes to negotiate with Crusch again to form an alliance. This time he is putting up mining rights in Roswaal’s domain as well as the information of the White Whale’s appearance as his trump card. He knows when it will appear because he saw the time on his handphone. Seems he also has Anastasia and Russell in on this deal and they wouldn’t very much want to miss it. Although Crusch still has her doubts and questions but can tell he is not lying and agrees to his deal. Wilhem then thanks Subaru from the bottom of his heart. He wants revenge against the White Whale as it took his wife’s life. Subaru sees the entire army of men looking forward to this hunt. He meets a few of them including Ricardo the mercenary leader of Anastasia’s Iron Fang, Hetaro who is Mimi’s sister who gives commands on behalf of his sister when she is too rash as well as a group of old retired knights under Crusch. Crusch rallies everyone by giving a little history speech about how the White Whale tormented everyone’s lives ever since the Jealous Witch created it 400 years ago and this time they shall crush it with their own hands. Subaru also picks his own land dragon and since it takes a liking for Subaru, could it be a start of a love rivalry between it and Rem?! As they make their journey, Subaru notices Ricardo’s own team logistics with their luggage. In addition to prepare for hunting the White Whale, they have to take precaution from other enemies that might show up. Subaru realizes he didn’t make provisions for Betelgeuse and his Witch Cult. The convoy camp at Flugel Tree as Subaru learns more about Wilhem’s wife. She was the previous Sword Saint and accepted her fate as one since the sword loved her. He married her and tried to take the title away from her but to no avail. So in this battle he hopes to find answers in his own sword and perhaps visit his wife’s grave again. The appointed time is near as everyone waits for the White Whale to show up. Subaru’s handphone rings as a signal but still nothing happens. And then they see it. Right up in the sky. As it hovers close to them, Rem unleashes her attack on it. Subaru speeds ahead using his witch scent as bait while the others hunt it down.

Episode 20
The full assault on the White Whale begins. Wilhem goes on a cutting spree. Hey, it can’t be that easy to defeat it, right? They realize this is one tough mother as all their powerful magic attacks didn’t ground it. Something about its hair can repel magic attacks. More attacks and Wilhem on another carving spree till he cuts out an eyeball! That is when things go downhill because the White Whale now unleashes a giant fog to hide its presence. In the confusion, screams are heard and when the troops reconvene, some platoons have lost members. It is then Subaru realizes the fog makes people vanish from existence along with any memories of them. A high scream pitch from the White Whale sends several men crazy trying to kill themselves. It is a mind attack although Subaru doesn’t feel anything. With Ferris’ healing power, she gets to calm them down. Subaru uses his witch scent to lure the White Whale. But it is like they’re going about blindly in the fog since the White Whale can just attack out from anywhere. Moments before Wilhem gets devoured, his life flashes back to his young self how he met his wife, she saved him from certain death and his vow to take away the Sword Saint role from her. More casualties when Ricardo saves Subaru’s ass from being devoured and he himself got eaten. Don’t go into shock now because the nightmare is about to get worse. Subaru sees numerous White Whales in the sky! Holy sh*t!

Episode 21
Everyone is in despair seeing additional White Whales. But Subaru continues to fight on and Rem in her demon mode to go all-out dealing more damage. After learning that Ricardo is still alive and cutting Wilhem out of the White Whale’s belly (though unconscious), Subaru has an idea what is going on. The White Whale cloned itself as he noticed the wounds are in similar places for all of them. They don’t need to take out all 3 of them but just the real one which is hovering in the sky. The clones do the attacking and the real one avoids getting killed. Subaru has a plan but it is a huge gamble. First, Crusch heads back to her team to rally them to continue fighting instead of wallowing in despair by using Subaru as an example. The weakest among them is fighting and would it not be shameful for them? With Crusch and her team fighting the clones, Rem throws Subaru up to the real one. He then drops down to bait it to attack. In right timing, Rem attacks it to incur its wrath. The big chase is on. And at the exact moment, the other teams blast the base of Flugel Tree to pin down the White Whale. Wilhem finishes it off. Finally. Now they can celebrate. In the aftermath, Subaru is worried that the success of this operation means Crusch’s reputation has gone up and thus jeopardizing Emilia’s chances for the throne. Crusch however has no intention to take all the glory herself. She reminds him in the future if they ever come to conflict, she will always still be friendly to him. She will respect and show him favour till the end. Subaru still has another mission and needs assistance. But with the toll on the injured greater than expected, there isn’t much option. Wilhem is greatly in Subaru’s debt and wants to be of assistance to fight the Witch Cult. Crusch will send Ferris and half her uninjured troops to aid Subaru. But Rem is not pleased since she is injured and has to return to the capital. She wants to be with Subaru in his time of need. Subaru assures her it is his turn to return his debt to her after she saved him many times. He is going to take his first step to be her hero. Subaru waits along with Ricardo and Mimi for some of their troops who were blocking off path to this area while the rest fought the White Whale. They will be joining them to fight the Witch Cult. Subaru is not pleased to see Julius is in this troop.

Episode 22
They both still hate each other, though. Subaru discuss their plan to attack the Witch Cult hiding in the forest before they could read their movements. He has also arranged for Anastasia and Russell to negotiate for transportation to evacuate the villagers and a messenger of Crusch will be sending a message to Emilia to inform her of their alliance. Subaru walks into the Witch Cult’s hideout and they let him in. He sees Betelgeuse who as usual goes into his twisted ranting about love. Subaru doesn’t recognize the Gospel he is holding so Betelgeuse gets suspicious. When Subaru lies that his own Gospel was accidentally thrown away, Betelgeuse attacks with his Unseen Hands but Subaru is able to dodge it. As he has bought enough time, Subaru’s side attack the hideout and Wilhem cutting Betelgeuse in half from behind. That easy? Betelgeuse is confirmed dead and it seems the rest are quite fearful of the Gospel, not wanting to touch or even see it. Subaru keeps it in hopes of translating it to find out more about the Witch Cult’s goal. Since Subaru is still sceptical about Betelgeuse’s death, they blow up his body just in case. Reuniting with the other troops, it seems they have route many of the other cult members. Suddenly Unseen Hands attack and kill a few of them. Subaru is dragged into the forest by it. A crazy Betelgeuse disciple rants about twisted love and Subaru as Pride. He goes crazy thinking a spirit is attacking him. Wilhem cuts him down. It is believed this dude is the real Sloth and Betelgeuse might be just a replica. In fact, all the disciples could be the Archbishop of Sloth. Subaru feels guilty that had he foreseen this, some deaths would have been prevented. Wilhem advises him to fight on and become stronger. The next plan is to head to the village to evacuate the villagers before the Witch Cult notices the irregularities. Upon Ferris advice to make up with Julius, Subaru sheepishly does so but before he could start, suddenly he finds himself alone. Another dimension? Work of Ram?

Episode 23
Subaru knows he is in an illusion. He manages to snap out of it. It seems everyone else also experienced the same and only he and Julius broke free. When Julius is trying to use his spell to bring everyone back, Ram kidnaps Subaru. However she is stopped by Wilhem. Ram explains herself and thinks Subaru is being ungrateful to Roswaal. He mentions this are reinforcements and that Emilia should have received a letter. Well, she received a blank letter (a metaphor of this world that means one has no intention of speaking to the recipient and a potential declaration of war). Subaru then goes to evacuate the village but the villagers are not pleased. They don’t believe him. Then they start blaming they are only targeted because Roswaal got involved with a half-elf. With Ram commanding them under the name of Roswaal, the villagers reluctantly obey. One of the kids tell Subaru that Emilia was here earlier to warn them but fell on deaf ears. Ferris seemingly flirts with Subaru and an elderly villager didn’t like it. A trap by Ferris to paralyze him. Ferris can tell he is a spy for the Witch Cult. As she tries to interrogate him, he self-destructs. By the time Subaru opens his eyes, the village is under attack by the Witch Cult members. It is utter chaos. Seems there was a spy in one of the merchants and the rest stowed away in the carriages. Subaru and Julius go around to destroy the disciples. When Wilhem is taken down, Subaru irks one of the disciples by showing the Gospel. He lures her to the woods to be eaten by witchfiends. Subaru is safe since he has Emilia’s barrier. With 1 remaining disciple left, it is time for Emilia to return from her long absence and remind us how kickass she is when she kills off the mad guy. With true victory finally in their hands, Subaru would love to reunite with Emilia but he feels something wrong with his body and runs away deep into the woods. When Ferris and Julius catch up, they realize he has been possessed by Betelgeuse. Subaru tries to fight him off from the inside but it is only a matter of time before he succumbs. Subaru wants Julius to kill him or else they have no chance to win. Since he won’t do it, it is all up to Ferris. Reluctantly she does so and Julius is forced to finish the job.

Episode 24
Subaru returns to the point where everyone just defeated the White Whale and are discussing about fighting the Witch Cult. He first asks about if the Sin Archbishop possessing others. Julius mentions about the possibility as he uses the disciples as spare bodies. If they kill all the disciples, his original soul will have no body left to possess. Subaru then asks the question if he himself could be possessed. I guess it sounded like a silly question because everyone is so dumbfounded. Emilia is still reeling from her failed warning to the villagers. That is when Wilhem comes in to confirm about the letter. She still has her reservations and worries (because Beatrice won’t leave the library) so Puck assures her to do what she wants. The villagers now listen to her to evacuate (because Subaru previously begged on his knees and this moved them to tears). But Emilia thinks the kids hate her not to ride with her. Subaru guised in a robe refutes all that and has the kids earnestly admit they don’t hate her because they know she is with Subaru. This eases Emilia a lot. Subaru then goes to catch the villager spy off guard. He realizes he has a communicator to relay everything back to base. He will use it to throw the Witch Cult off their plans by delaying their attack, enough time for the villagers to evacuate and the rest to prepare and crush them. Ricardo’s team has just come back from ambushing the Witch Cult’s secret base to shut down their communication network. Then Subaru goes to meet Betelgeuse and proclaims he is a devout fan. He is so happy he starts punishing himself. This makes Betelgeuse reveal his plans to test Emilia as a correct vessel for the witch to be reborn in this world. When Betelgeuse wants to see his Gospel, Subaru shows the communicator. A cue for him to start the surprise attack. He leads him to a place where Julius can fight him. Julius is able to see his Unseen Hands because he instilled a spirit in Subaru to share the same senses.

Episode 25
Betelgeuse gets madder each time. When Julius strikes him, Subaru tells him to disable the senses. Because Betelgeuse now possesses Subaru. He then tries to invoke that painful feeling as he tries to mention his ability to reset. However it is Betelgeuse who finds himself before the witch. He is happy and tries to touch her but couldn’t. The witch believes he is not the one and kicks him out. Betelgeuse is back in his own body, angry that he has done everything for her. Julius kills him off. It’s not over yet because they get an emergency call from Ferris. He noticed some magic stones are missing and detected to be on board Emilia’s carriage. Those stones are enough to blow away a small village. A land dragon isn’t enough to catch up with them at this point so Otto knows a way for a price. Subaru agrees with his deal and has the ride of his life. Because Otto is taking shortcuts through the forests and cliffs and breakneck speeds! Subaru then sees Betelgeuse in monster form trying to catch him. He is still demanding for the witch’s love so Subaru throws the Gospel as distraction to punch him in the face. Then he writes in his blood in the Gospel that it is over for him to vanquish Betelgeuse once and for all. By the time they catch up to the carriages, it is under attack by Witch Cult members, though Wilhem and the other guards are cutting them down. Emilia learns from the kids that Subaru was the one who planned all this. Emilia is confused why Subaru would go this far for her after all the pain she made him go through. Subaru manages to cut ahead of the pack and once they stop dead in their tracks, he jumps on board to break open the bottom. He steals the stones, confesses to Emilia he loves her and rides as fast as he could to throw it into the carcass of the White Whale. Then he runs as far as his land dragon could take him before the big explosion occurs. Did he die? Will it reset? Thankfully it didn’t. Because he wakes up lying on Emilia’s lap. They talk. Everything seems okay. Emilia asks why he always saves her. Because he loves her. He wants to be her strength. Despite describing her status as a half-witch that others detest, he doesn’t care for all that. He really loves her and wants to hold her hand. If she has 10 things to say bad about herself, he has 2000 things to say good about her. For the first time Emilia feels happy receiving such special treatment. Subaru will not rush her for an answer though he is confident of the outcome. She can take all the time in the world to slowly fall in love with him. She thanks him for saving her.

ReLIFE: Save Point Kara Tsudzukete Epic Adventure
That kind of ending… Why do I have a feeling it feels like DLC that is so prevalent in video games these days. The most annoying kind of DLC is whereby an entire story is supposed to be part of the game but for greedy reasons, the developers decide to cut it out and sell it as a different extra content. Yup. This is what I feel when the season ended. Because don’t you see, there are so much more interesting stories to tell and develop and yet we have this final episode which is trying to rush and cram in Subaru x Emilia romance which has been eluded the whole time in the series. As though as their finally blooming romance is the reward we get as the season ender. It’s definitely not going to cut it! While I am happy with how things worked out for Subaru at least as to where the season ended, I believe we could have got more out of this. Oh right. I’m not really an Emilia fan maybe because I was hoping Subaru x Rem and Ram ending… Whatever.

There are a few interesting plots and some potential ones including flashbacks and back stories. Each arc takes its time to craft out a proper story or should I rather say a proper and correct path. Therefore having more than 2 dozen episodes doesn’t feel fulfilling because it only tells just a small fraction of the overall tale. But I figure it is better than skipping lots of stuffs and condense it into an abridged version. After all, this world has so many stories and own unique lore to tell like the Jealous Witch, how Subaru got the witchfiend scent on himself and such. An epic tale cannot be confined to just a handful of episodes. Yeah, that’s why shows like One Piece and Naruto run forever… And they better not troll us that all this was just a big dream or Subaru playing a video game. It better not!

Somehow I feel that Subaru’s resetting from a certain point feels like a reminder that this is all a game. What I meant is that in games usually of the old usually have a linear path to follow. If you stray for it or get killed by the enemy, you have to restart from the beginning or where you last saved. In games with multiple endings, there are some bad endings if you take a certain path. Therefore with Subaru getting killed and restarting again, this reinforces this belief that Subaru must only take a certain path if a desired outcome is wanted. Yeah, it sounds like a big hint and spoiler because Subaru would know this isn’t the right way but at the expense of getting killed.

Maybe there are other multiple ways for him to achieve other good outcomes but given the limited number of episodes, it doesn’t feel plausible. And yes, despite Subaru didn’t hit any save button, it is good he restarts back at certain points instead of the whole thing again because we would be screaming and pulling our hair out if we have to sit through and watch him redo everything from scratch again. Remember that Endless Eight arc from Suzumiya Haruhi No Yuutsu? Yeah… And it also feels that with Subaru dying and restarting again is like as series given a reboot because the first ending was crap…

I want to classify this series an epic adventure but in order to achieve that, one of the main ingredients in making a series great are the characters. Especially if the setting is a fantasy world. With quirky laws and quirky surroundings, there must be quirky if not interesting characters. Therefore the character development department for this anime is of a hit and miss to me. As Subaru is the main star of this series, it is obvious that he gets the lion’s share of the limelight. But for the rest of the characters, it is like some take their turn to share the spotlight with him as well as develop alongside. That is the thing when you have too many characters. I’m not saying this show has so many characters to keep count but there are enough to make decent stories for everyone. And of course the limited number of episodes make it hard to do justice to them.

Let’s start off with Subaru as the main character. They cut the crap by suddenly teleporting him to an unknown world for some unknown reasons. Yeah, of all the unlucky gamers in the world, why him? Subaru is both a likeable and unlikeable character at the same time. As we have seen, he has come a long way since he got stuck in this world. You will love him for how he grows into somewhat a strong character who becomes cool in the eyes of others (I want to be him for making a maid naturally fall in love with him!!!). On the other hand you will loathe him for being arrogant and haughty that led to his downfall (shaming Emilia under the false pretence of trying to stand up for her). But only being in the bad personality category could Subaru learn and make up for his shameful acts. Literally this is as story of him from zero to hero. Sometimes I also pity this guy because from all that he has gone through, I worry he might have some sort of psychological trauma. Which isn’t far from the truth seeing we have seen numerous times his contorting crazy face whenever things go awry. So the price to pay for being a better person is that he is able to redo the wrongs but he can’t make it spoilers for everyone. I don’t know. Maybe he could try writing it down in a letter for others to read?

Rem has become a popular character of the series thanks to the attention the series gave her. I hope this got the maid fetish to be more popular in real life too ;p. And it only makes loser otaku guys like me really wishing I had one like her by my side… Ahem. Anyway she gets her own past revealed, we get to know her better and a prelude for Subaru to save the day to become her hero. When Emilia wasn’t around, she stayed by his side, cementing their strong bond and relationship after all they have gone through together. But too bad they feel she had too much time with Subaru and ‘tossed her aside’ in the final arc against the Witch Cult.

Some of the characters that feel like a miss include Felt. She was a good supporting character in the first arc but when that ended, she disappeared only to make her sudden appearance (plot twist?) in the middle since she is one of the candidates. Then she disappears again. This goes the same for Rom and Reinhard. Yeah, it’s like people associated with her don’t really get their deserved screen time for now. The same I feel for Roswaal, Beatrice, Puck, Elsa and the other candidates for the throne whom each have their own distinctive reason for wanting to ascend the throne. They become close to forgotten as though the final arc was a big build-up to allow Subaru to become cool again in the eyes of Emilia since she already has a long absence in the middle of the series. While Rem gets her due moment, Ram becomes side-lined. Too bad I would love to have Subaru to get both maids as his harem but I guess one is a good start.

Emilia also starts off as a strong character as she is trying to fight the prejudice against her. I thought she would be a main character who would be developed beside Subaru but after Subaru’s shame during the ceremony in the hall, she temporarily disappears too. She wants to understand Subaru and give him a chance but with circumstances surrounding them (it was really heart breaking to see the disappointment on her face when Subaru fell from grace), I feel this would be their biggest obstacle that would stand in their way of wedding bells. Oops, I mean friendship. Okay, romance. Like Subaru said, take your time to fall in love with him. If things don’t go well, then hopefully Subaru can just reset it to the last save point, am I right?

The action sequences are also decent and satisfying. I particularly like the White Whale hunting since it showcases the group going up against something that is considered as God-like status in the sense that it is deadly as well as it cannot be easily defeated. Also the fight with Elsa was exhilarating. Subaru himself might lack fighting abilities (his own martial arts background might not get him far in this world) so he relies on the magic and fighting abilities of others. Nice special effects and all make the action scenes an entertaining watch. Sometimes I feel the final long fight against the Witch Cult members is for the sake of cutting them down for the numbers. Because there are so many of them so you see Wilhem and other fighters slicing them down like as though they are enemy grunts from video games meant to be taken down by the easiest way.

Voice acting… Time to once again praise my favourite Mamiko Noto!!! OH YEAH!!! I really love her taking on a very devilish villainess as Elsa. She can cut my guts anytime! Although it is sad that her appearance is very limited and her character ‘disappeared’ never again to appear after that, at least I can take heart that they didn’t kill her off. Yeah, I was worried that silly trauma of mine would be activated again. If that ever happened, I would really prayed hard for Subaru to die and restart the whole damn thing. I can also take heart that despite a few restarts on Subaru’s side, Elsa’s character didn’t even die once although she did come close to it. Phew. Mamiko Noto banzai!!!

With a big number of characters, there are also quite a number of famous seiyuus lending their voice. A whole lot of them that I recognize are Takehito Koyasu as Roswaal, Yui Horie as Ferris, Yuuichi Nakamura as Reinhard, Yuka Iguchi as Crusch, Yukari Tamura as Priscilla, Kana Ueda as Anastasia, Keiji Fujiwara as Al, Satomi Arai as Beatrice and Yoshitsugu Matsuoka as Betelgeuse (kudos to him for really making the character sound so eerily crazy). The rest of the other casts are Yuusuke Kobayashi as Subaru (Tanukichi in Shimoneta), Rie Takahashi as Emilia (Megumin in Kono Subarashii Sekai Ni Shukufuku Wo), Inori Minase as Rem (Noel in Sora No Method), Rie Murakawa as Ram (Hotaru in Non Non Biyori), Takuya Eguchi as Julius (Hikigaya in Yahari Ore No Seishun Love Comedy Wa Machigatteiru), Kenyuu Horiuchi as Wilhem (Kinemon in One Piece), Yumi Uchiyama as Puck (Ruri in Nisekoi), Mugihito as Rom (Wombat in Binan Koukou Chikyuu Bouei-bu Love) and Chinatsu Akasaki as Felt (Yasuna in Kill Me Baby).

Not sure if this series has a little bit more story to tell or it doesn’t really like to animate its credits animation. Because they are quite far and few in between. So instead like a majority of anime series out there that obligatory show their opening and ending credits animation (of course to showcase their songs in which some are awesome), this series start off or continue its episode as the credits pop up on screen. Sometimes they do play the songs but it is just in the background and not its dedicated animation so as not to interrupt the flow of the episode. Not that it is anything serious but I also keep wondering why I myself is b*tching about it since I don’t often watch this segment.

Maybe that is because I really love the first ending theme, Styx Helix by Myth & Roid. I instantly took a liking for this very catchy techno-like music and don’t mind hearing it over and over again despite I can’t hear a damn thing they say (yeah, despite many of the words are in English – please pronounce your words clearer!). So when I was looking forward to hear and watch the song and find that they decided to skip this time, and then again and more often in the future, this suspicion of mine was raised. Because of this piece, no other songs could match it. Be it the rock based first opening theme, Redo by Konomi Suzuki, the weird cult-like second opening theme, Paradisus-Paradoxum by Myth & Rod or the slow rock second ending theme, Stay Alive by Rie Takahashi.

Art and animation are quite satisfying. As I love fantasy world settings so I give it a lot of points to see archetype fantasy world buildings like the medieval European structures in the main town. Character designs are also good and of course Subaru standing out like a sore thumb because of his boring jersey wear. And of course Rem and Ram as maids are the main draw for me. Thanks to them the internet now is flooded with maid pictures of them whenever I try to Google for more maid pictures to be added to my collection. I know it is good but too much of Rem (especially) and Ram can be detrimental in seeking for more variety of other maids. Anyway, back to the topic. Also be warned that there are some scenes too dark to see (maybe it is intentional) and things might get gory and bloody. At this point during the action scenes I do notice a dip in quality. This series is animated by White Fox who did Akame Ga Kill, Steins; Gate, Katanagatari, Tears To Tiara and Hataraku Maou-sama.

Overall, this series is interesting and enjoyable but limitations of its own prevent it to being some sort of a masterpiece like Fate/Zero or Shingeki No Kyojin. Lots of people will still remember this series for a lot of good stuffs (including a certain blue haired maid) despite the overused cliché of normal human boy becoming a hero in another world which could have been done to death at this point. From zero to hero so to speak. It’s just more tolerable because of maids ;p. Personally if I was in Subaru’s shoes, I would probably have died a million times doing the same thing over and over again with little improvements since I’m kind of a slow learner and blur head. Or maybe I’m just insane. You know, the definition of insanity as being doing the same things hoping for a different outcome. No amount of infinite lives could lead me down the correct path and God would probably give up and left me dead for good. Yup. Really returning to zero then.

Death Parade

September 19, 2015

Do you believe that when you die, you will be sent to a place to be judged for what you have done in your life before being sent to either heaven or hell? What if that place is a mysterious bar where you get to have drinks all you want before you pass out pissed drunk before passing on? Hah! Just joking! That would be indeed the ultimate heaven before you pass over, right? Indeed Death Parade seems to have the setting of 2 people who die at the same time to turn up in a mysterious bar run by equally mysterious and creepy bartenders who also act as arbiters. But there is a catch in deciding who goes up and who goes down. You play a game. Not just any ordinary game. A game with some sort of twist that will certainly bring out the darkness in you. Because nobody wants to go to hell, right? Either you do what it takes or whatever is right. And that itself is already enough to seal your fate for eternity. So you play games to decide your fate, huh? Couldn’t they do this an easier way?

Episode 1
Takeshi and Machiko find themselves in a weird bar, Quindecim. They cannot remember anything much except they were on honeymoon before arriving at this place. The bartender, Decim explains several rules like he cannot tell them where they are and that they must play a game that would have them stake their lives on. They thought this is a sick joke and try to leave but there are no exits. They refuse to take part so they are warned they may end up like something behind his bar: Corpses! Takeshi tells Machiko to go with the flow now for who knows what else this dude might pull. The game they will play will be decided via roulette and it seems they will be playing darts. Each will have 7 darts and the one with the lowest score wins. But this isn’t just an ordinary darts game. The board is filled with pictures of their body parts or organs. If they hit that part, their partner will feel pain in that region. Takeshi doesn’t believe and goes first but Machiko starts writhing in pain over her shoulder. Could it just be her imagination? When she goes next, it hits his lungs and he definitely feels it. But there is no physical surgery whatsoever. He confronts Decim about this because as he is a doctor he knows better. Decim reminds him about the game rules and also hints he doesn’t need to hit the target. The duo purposely miss their targets when Takeshi suddenly remembers the corpses! At this rate he will lose. I’m not sure if it is on purpose because his hand slipped and hit a target. And I’m not sure if Machiko also did the same thing on purpose or accident because Takeshi’s eyes are now in pain. Very sorry about it, she tells him not to hit the stomach. It is their child. She never said anything about it because she wanted to surprise him on their honeymoon. So when he throws his dart, he remembers overhearing Machiko’s friends saying that she married him like it was just a game and she won. The dart hits the stomach.

Takeshi then becomes merciless in revealing about the affair he heard during their wedding day. She tells him he got it all wrong but he doesn’t believe her. Takeshi then confirms with Decim with the dart rules. Nothing was said about throwing your opponent’s darts, right? He takes Machiko’s final dart. Machiko explains he heard wrongly. It wasn’t her they were talking about but a friend of theirs whose name was almost similar to hers. She too married a doctor. They struggle for the last dart and Machiko gets it. As she throws, she remembers their happier times. They were driving on their honeymoon and had a car crash. The dart hits Takeshi’s heart. Bull’s eye. Machiko is the winner but Takeshi wants another go. Machiko believes it is useless because they are already dead. This is when Decim reveals this place is where people are judged to be sent to heaven or hell. They are already dead and pairs that die at the same time will be invited her. Takeshi remembers he suspected Machiko having an affair. Her handphone was ringing but she didn’t pick up. He struggled to get it and that’s when the crash happened. Takeshi cannot believes this is happening and accuses Machiko that the child is not his but another man’s. Seeing how broken he is, Machiko admits she only married him for his money and never loved him. Everything was a lie. Takeshi lunges at her but Decim’s threads stop him. In the end, they are escorted to individual elevators. Shortly, Nona and Kurokami No Onna (literally black hair woman) appear before Decim. They were watching the spectacle. Kurokami didn’t pretty much like it. She asks where their souls went. Takeshi was sent for reincarnation and Machiko the void.

Episode 2
This episode chronicles the background events of the previous episode. What Nona and Kurokami were doing while Decim hosts the darts game. When Kurokami first woke up, she remembered nothing and was brought by Nona to Quindecim. She was explained that the bartenders are arbiters who will decide the fate of the recently deceased humans in a game. The best way to learn it is to watch it. So Nona brings Kurokami to the back of the bar where there are lots of puppets and mannequins hanging and lying about. She says this is Decim’s hobby. So of course when Decim showed this to Takeshi and Machiko, from their view it looked like corpses in the dark. Although the players are dead, dying comes as a shock so people don’t realize it. So they will have to give them an idea that they are staking their lives and thus provoking them. Once they reveal the darkness of their souls as much as possible, only then an arbiter can make their judgment. Taking Kurokami to a higher balcony to watch the darts game, she continues explaining how the players think by losing the game, they will get killed. As they play the game, their memories will slowly return. Arbiters may not know what they remember but it is usually something to do with their deaths. Those memories always get lost amid the trauma. At the end of the game, the winner is sent for reincarnation (heaven) and the loser’s soul will fall into the void (hell). At the end of the game after Takeshi and Machiko are sent on their way, Kurokami still has her doubts. Because when she observed Machiko making her final revelation, it was as though she was lying to save Takeshi (since he was already broken from killing their child). The way she said it had forlorn look in her eyes. Despite Machiko really did have an affair, she put her feelings above everything else and still loved Takeshi. Decim wonders if he had made the wrong decision so Nona tells him about people’s feelings that can manifest through the most subtle of expression. Just because he is an arbiter, do not brush them off. Nona leaves Kurokami as Decim’s assistant and she should just continue what she is doing. Nona believes Takeshi was a man who couldn’t trust anyone and thus would never have found happiness. At first she thought Kurokami did a decent job but takes it back. She still has a long way to go.

Episode 3
Decim wakes up Shigeru Miura who is sleeping on the couch. She joins a girl who couldn’t even remember her name at the bar. As they are being told the rules, as expected they don’t believe and try to leave. No exit. The girl thinks of playing the game in hopes she can remember something. The game is bowling. The one with the highest score wins and they will bowl a ball that contains the other’s heart! Don’t worry. They will feel no pain. Takeshi goes first and could feel the fast beating and warmth of her heart. No strike but a decent score. Then it is her turn. The more Shigeru looks at her, the more smitten he is but he tries not to get distracted. Shigeru makes a wager with her. If he wins, he will take her out on a date. When she bowls, she starts to remember bits of her memories. She worked in a bowling alley and Shigeru was there with his friends. Also, Shigeru was her childhood friend but she moved away. She remembers. They remember. She now remembers her name, Chisato Miyazaki. But Decim whispers to Kurokami something shocking that she is not allowed to scream. Decim believes they may not have a happy ending. Shigeru also remembers something similar at the bowling alley and he really likes her. His friends whisper something to him about Chisato. In the bus, he tried to talk to her but an accident happened. Now that they realized they are dead, Shigeru asks to date Chisato right now (since he also won the game). I don’t know Decim can joke with a poker face because he allows it for 5 minutes! Kurokami abuses him but he retracts that and says they can date to their hearts content. Not much to go and do here but they are happy. Ironically they’re glad to be dead because they wouldn’t have met this way. They depart happy. Flashback reveals Decim whispered to Kurokami that this is not the real Chisato and she might have mistaken her own identity. She is actually Mai Takada, his other childhood friend who had a crush on him but never being able to catch his eye. So she moved on by undergoing some plastic surgery. At the bowling alley, Shigeru’s friends tell him that cutie is Mai who underwent plastic surgery after school and they should know each other. Shigeru therefore knows she is Mai ever since he got his memories back because he remembered when Chisato moved away, Mai assured she will always stay by his side because she loved him.

Episode 4
Misaki Tachibana and Yousuke Tateishi are trying to get out of Quindecim. No luck. Then it hit Misaki. This may be a game show with hidden camera. You see, Misaki is a TV celebrity and thinks this is one of those reality TV thingy and wants him to play along and act naturally. They will be playing an arcade fighting game. The one who wins 2 rounds in this no-time-limit game will win. The only character they can pick is themselves and it mirrors their real life personality. After Yousuke wins the first round, Misaki starts remembering faintly. She got mixed up in bad company, married the wrong guy, got wife abused and the guy walked out of her life. Twice. Misaki tells Yousuke to lose the next round to make it more exciting. During the game, Decim uses some device to make Yousuke’s controller pop out! As Misaki wins the round, he remembers the loser otaku life he leads. His father divorced and remarried another woman. Misaki is shocked to learn there are no hidden cameras and because Decim cannot reveal much, she jumps to conclusion the loser will die. She becomes worried because Yousuke is clearly better than her. All Decim can say is return to the game. It is not over yet. Unfair, right? Life is never fair. As the third round continues, Decim uses his device to pop out Misaki’s controller. Kurokami has had enough of this and confiscates it. He says it is necessary to bring out the darkness in human’s soul to be judged. And it won’t take long for that because Misaki is hammering Yousuke’s head into the screen!!!!!!!!! Yousuke remembers his new mom tries to be kind to him but he ignored her. Misaki comes to her senses and wants an ambulance called but Decim tells her to continue the game. She returns to it and Yousuke wakes up after remembering more. Both sides fight till double KO. A draw. Yousuke remembers he killed himself by jumping out from the window after being bored with life. Misaki abused her manager for screwing up and in turn she strangled her. It hit them that they are dead. Misaki cannot accept this especially about this game which is supposed to be their judgment. All she felt was being deceived, which basically sums up her entire life. Before she knew it, she had 5 children and she needs to get back to them because she realized she was ready to be happy with them. Yousuke also regrets not doing much for his new mom. All Decim can do is hug them and said they have tried their best. Off to the elevators they go.

Episode 5
Jimmy is a happy kid. Then he spots a girl playing outside his house and instantly took a liking for her. Especially her smile. He called out to her and tried to go to her but fell through the snow. It was painful but her smile made the pain go away. Seems this is a strange dream that Kurokami always has. She notices Decim putting up a board with a character in her dream. When he receives memories of the next guests, he feels something is odd. A man and a boy walk into Quindecim as the man orders beer although he gets a feeling he might have seen him before or been here. Meanwhile Nona is playing billiards with an old guy named Oculus. The interesting about this game is how the balls are the planets of the Solar System! Despite Nona being manager for 82 years and they’ve been playing this game 170 times a year, Oculus can never beat her. Something about not letting her guard down and be bored. I’m not sure if she made a mistake to give him a chance. But he also screws up and Nona wins the game. How can he best her next time? Maybe he should ask God since he is considered close to Him. However he notes God has already left this place a long time ago. Back to Quindecim, the man suddenly remembers about dolls/corpses. He takes the boy hostage and threatens he won’t go through all that again. After Decim holds him back with his threads, the boy knocks out Kurokami. He manages to evade Decim’s threads for the first time but gets trapped the second time round.

The boy turns out to be a fellow arbiter, Ginti. He is not happy Decim is keeping that woman who is completely human here instead of passing judgment. Decim reveals that when he first met her, she had her memories intact and couldn’t convince her to play any games. He ended up having her memories erased and extended her judgment term. Ginti doesn’t like this a bit and attacks him. Threads versus water balls… The match is stopped when Nona beats up Ginti for going too far. Seems all this is just a memory test. Nona has him reiterate the rules of the game and when receiving guests. He should have sent something amiss when he never got memories of the boy at all. Even if they forget due to the shock of dying, latent memories do not disappear. Therefore he should have cancelled the game. As for that man, he is just a dummy implanted with fake memories and not human to begin with. She leaves and goes to see Castra who overseas deaths across the world. With the death rate at 7,000 per hour, you think this place is enough to keep up? Yeah, humans dying like flies… Ginti still doesn’t approve of Decim to keep Kurokami here because he believes arbiters and humans cannot coexist. Clavis the elevator operator tells him to let Decim handle this his way and it is not their place to interfere how he passes judgment. Besides, he will have his own guests coming soon. Decim puts Kurokami to bed as she continues that dream. Jimmy and the girl had fun together although he didn’t know her name. When he tells his mom about this, she tells him her name is Chavvot. He promised to let her know his feelings. Nona is seen reading that storybook.

Episode 6
This time we see how Ginti handles his guests. When spunky Mayu Arita arrives in this traditional Japanese setting, Ginti is such a grumpy guy. He doesn’t bother to explain things because she is late but she is super happy to learn she is going to play a game with Harada. He is from a popular idol unit, CHA. They’ll be playing Twister and it is seventh heaven for Mayu as she gets to be this close to him (she’s so happy she could die – which is a big irony) while Harada shows off his flexibility. All that idol training must have paid off, huh? However Harada hopes to end this because he doesn’t view Mayu as his type and wants to get back with Lisa, the girl he is currently having an affair with. When the duo are tired and request for a break, this is when Ginti changes the game play. Things are going to get more interesting now. Depending on their luck and where they step, if they’re unlucky, they’ll die. Because each colour spot now correspond an extreme element whether it is heat, wind or ice. Don’t take too long or you’ll be burnt or frozen. Suddenly the board disappears and all that is left are the spots their hands and feet are on. Below are sharp spikes. Ginti says they will stay this way till one of them falls off. They both panic as Harada starts having thoughts of pushing her off. Suddenly Mayu starts thanking him as he is the reason for coming this far. She doesn’t care if he is a womanizer but he always takes care of his fans. This makes him remember he had an affair with another fan, Kana. She was very sad that he nonchalantly broke up with her. She committed suicide the next day and it was all over the news. Mayu then jumps off but Harada grabs her hand. He doesn’t want her to play hero and instead is fans like her who made him go this far. He cannot hold on much longer as she slips down. Mayu remembers she was happily going to take a bath when she slipped on a soap and knocked her head. Yup, she died. When she reaches the bottom, the spikes turn out to be inflatable spikes. Harada is regretting he couldn’t save another. He remembers the morning after his affair with Lisa, she casually left him. He heard some ticking sound and when he looked, oh sh*t! A bomb! BOOM! Revenge for her sister, Kana! Ginti is surprised that Mayu jumped herself. After Mayu changes into a yukata and does away with all that artificial makeup, look at how beautiful she is! Now Harada feels this is his type of girl? He gives her a solo concert. Decim, Kurokami and Clavis are invited to join in. Ginti is the only unhappy one… Relax, brother.

Episode 7
Oculus narrates the few rules for arbiters: 1) They cannot give up passing judgment; 2) They cannot experience death for it will link them closely with humans; 3) They cannot have emotions as they are only puppets. When Kurokami finds that Chavvot book in the shelf, she asks Decim whose it is. He doesn’t know and thinks Quin left it here. Who? The previous arbiter. Flashback shows Nona led Decim and Ginti as new arbiters to Quindecim. As Decim is to replace Quin, the latter cannot be happier to get out from this job and move on to the Information Bureau. As they watch Quin’s final arbitration, Nona gave them a tool each to create extreme situations. However, Decim never used it and Nona questions him later after it all ends. He forgot to! He was distracted watching the game and trying to figure out their thoughts. Ginti thinks humans are foolish but Decim objects otherwise as he respects those who have led fulfilled lives. Although everyone is surprised with his answer, Nona tells him about the tool to create such situations to bring out the darkness in humans because it is better to have more than one way to judge. Whether it is foolish or respectable, it is up to him to decide. Kurokami wonders if there is anything Decim treasures so he shows her his mannequins. Isn’t this his hobby? Decim explains how arbiters’ minds are filled with the guests’ memories and because excess memories can interfere with their judgment, they are eliminated. Therefore at the end of each judgment, the guests turn into mannequins. They are supposed to be destroyed but Decim claims them instead. He makes them so as not to forget his guests. Kurokami wants to hear some of his guests’ stories but he can’t because they are already forgotten. Eh? Meanwhile Quin visits Nona at her place and looks like she is regretting being in the Information Bureau as she is busier than ever. She never knew condensing memories of the dead is hard work. I can see why, with so many people dying each second. Nona talks about the judging of the dead but the irony is that they are all just puppets who never lived or died. Therefore it is strange for them to judge the dead when they have not experienced death. She would like to see an arbiter with emotions handles judgment. I am not sure why Mayu is still hanging around at Ginti’s place but he doesn’t seem very happy. New assistant? Nona is surprised Oculus visits her. Feeling lonely? Why doesn’t she want him here? Trying to hide something? He spots that Chavvot book but doesn’t think much about it. He tells her to come visit him as she owes him a rematch. She thinks she has slipped up. Nona then goes to see Castra to request a special favour. She relents and wonders if Nona ins under pressure. No. There was never much time to begin with.

Episode 8
Decim feels weird over the next guests arriving. One of them is a murderer. He calls Nona to confirm and she tells him to carry on with the judgment despite he has no experience in dealing this since there are none others available. Don’t worry. Humans will be humans. They are no different. Tatsumi and Shimada like many others don’t believe the game they have to play and try to search for an exit. Shimada opens his bag to find a bloodied cleaver! He starts cowering in fear. Since there is no way out, Tatsumi who is a detective suggests going along with this game. In his line of work he can tell Decim is not lying and is also not a killer. They will play air hockey. The pucks have organ pictures on it and the first to reach 6 points wins. As they start, Shimada remembers his sister, Sae crying incessantly after their parents died. He promised to protect her. As they take a break, Tatsumi talks to him about the hardest part being a detective was dealing with the grief and pain suffered by the victim’s next of kin. Confronting those feelings takes a lot out from you. Tatsumi wants to continue the game in hopes of finding a clue to everything. Including Decim. This time, Tatsumi remembers he came home from work only to find his wife murdered! He goes to lie down for a while as Decim notes the pace is slower than usual. As he cannot influence the memories they recall, Kurokami suggests of wanting to take a peek into those memories too. Decim will put in a request for that later. Tatsumi further remembers his wife even remembers his birthday for him and the shoes he is wearing now was her present. Then there’s something about a criminal he put behind bars and when he is out on parole, Tatsumi becomes ‘obsessed’ in tracing him. He returns to the game more aggressive this time. Now it is Shimada’s turn to remember. He comes home one day to find Sae beaten up. Her face was really messed up. He is mad. There is something he needs to do even if it costs him his life. Since the time limit is up, Decim announces the change in rules. Each time they score a goal, they will suffer pain of that organ depicted on the puck. Tatsumi asks about Shimada’s predicament and he explains Sae has been stalked for a while. He went to the police but they couldn’t act on it. He won’t let him get away. Funnily, Tatsumi also feels the same. Since his wife is murdered, after he gets out from this place, he is going to kill somebody. Kurokami’s request is approved as she receives both their memories. Reeling from shock, she realizes both are murderers.

Episode 9
Once both guys realized they have killed, Tatsumi believes Shimada is not wrong from his personal opinion. They continue the game and when Shimada feels the pain, he remembers more. He went to the attacker’s house and they stab each other to death. However he remembers Sae told him there was one more who was watching and she wants them all dead. His revenge isn’t over yet. Now it’s Tatsumi’s turn to feel the pain and remember. He killed his wife’s murderer with cold blood and heard his wife’s voice thanking him. Shimada wants to forfeit his turn and give Tatsumi a chance to get his revenge seeing he is in a near broken state. But Tatsumi gets up and wants to continue with the game. He tries to convince Shimada to go get his revenge because if he lets that guy go, he is going to do the same thing again. Both become aggressive in their air hockey game. Shimada scores the winning goal. The pain has Tatsumi remember everything. He was on Sae’s case and visited the attacker’s apartment. He was shortly stabbed from behind. It was Shimada who stabbed him. After he killed that guy, he went to the toilet to vomit but heard somebody coming in. Thinking he is the accomplice, Shimada stabbed him from behind. When Decim explains his arbiter job he is doing, Tatsumi feels it is very similar to his. He also marks people and judges them. That attacker was on his mark and was just monitoring him. When Sae was being assaulted, she saw Tatsumi just standing there watching from behind the trees doing nothing. Shimada is mad that he didn’t do anything to stop his sister’s assault. But Tatsumi says had he done so, he couldn’t have killed him. Because for there to be judgment, there must be a victim. Shimada loses his cool and tries to attack him, blaming him he could have saved his sister. Tatsumi replies that even had he saved Sae, another woman would be targeted because the attacker was targeting several other women. He should be thankful Sae is still alive and he got his revenge so don’t bring him down any further.

Shimada is in full rage and wants to kill him. Decim allows him to do that since the judgment has not finished. Although the dead cannot die, he can inflict excruciating pain. Kurokami has had it with everything and wants all this to stop. She chides Decim about this passing judgment thing he is doing because all she is seeing is that he is doing the same thing as Tatsumi did. All he did was bring up people’s darkness and how could he understand the many emotions of others when he has never lived himself. This causes Decim to be in a great dilemma. Tatsumi adds fuel to the fire that after killing his wife’s murderer, it was like his calling to become the saviour to others because it led him to kill other filthy bastards. If you want to accomplish something, sacrifices must be made. Shimada is going to stab him but Kurokami begs for him to stop as she reveals about this reincarnation and void thingy. She tells him he can be reincarnated in another form to see his sister again but if he gets thrown into the void, he loses that chance. Doesn’t he care about his sister? Just when he calms down, Tatsumi opens his big mouth about their naivety of this cruel world. If you can’t protect someone, all you can do is kill the other. If you can’t change the world, then change yourself. Shimada loses it and stabs him. In the aftermath, Decim is still in shock mode and Kurokami still upset telling him that humans aren’t as complex as he thinks they are. They’re just simple beings who get sad or angry over simple things.

Episode 10
When Decim first woke up here, he had no memories of anything. Nona told him that he is an arbiter and laid down the rules of being one. Now Decim goes to see her as he feels he cannot carry on being one now because the way they judge isn’t right. It is not that they’re bringing out the darkness in humans but rather creating them. As he respects those who lived a fulfilled live, he cannot further judge. In that case, would it be time for Kurokami to be judge? Can he judge her? Or does he want her to do it? Anyway she is sending him a special guest. Because Kurokami’s term is coming to an end. That means, part of her skin is now peeling off! If she exceeds that time period, she’ll be turned into a mannequin. Grandma Sachiko Uemura is the guest who will be playing old maid with them. Due to the nature of this card game, Decim will also take part. The cards have odd designs on them. Actually, pictures that are related to their life. Like Sachiko who is a manga artist, she sees lots of her creations here. Sachiko is having fun remembering all the good memories while Decim remembers he went to talk to Ginti about his dilemma and as usual got ticked off about humans all will die one day which is the same reason why they judge: There’s no point thinking about it! Meanwhile Nona bugs Quin to go search for Kurokami’s memories and you know she is not too thrilled as she is already busy like hell. But nothing like a bit of liquor gift for motivation.

Sachiko wins the game and realizes she is in the aftermath. She knows so because she saw a manga character she has not created yet appearing on the card. That can only mean she’s dead, right? But she’s calm about it since she doesn’t know how she died. Yeah, old people can’t remember. But she wouldn’t like to know it either. When Kurokami picks up the Chavvot design card, Sachiko recognizes it because she read it somewhere. She further explains about the story of Jimmy wanting to tell Chavvot he loved her. But there’s a catch: Chavvot is deaf! So how do you do so? With a smile. This is when Kurokami remembers she loves this book a lot and has mom read it to her many times. She likes Chavvot’s smile. Yeah, trying to imitate that big smile of hers too. This is when Kurokami remembers her real name: Chiyuki. She gets the joker and loses the game. Sachiko leaves happy and thanks them. Chiyuki wonders how she died so Decim realizes they can’t do it by this way anymore. Meanwhile Oculus calls Clavis not because he needs a billiards partner but to peek into his memories of those regarding Nona. He finds her thoughts about arbiters and human emotions to be pointless. Decim believes people do not live to die but they die simply because they are alive. This goes the same for judgment as it must be performed with both life and death. So human emotions are necessary? He wants Chiyuki to tell him everyone? Eh, what? Did she remember?

Episode 11
Mayu is more than happy to see Harada but he is not moving. Ginti says his soul has not come back yet. You also need a soul to be casted into the void in its place. What happen if the soul doesn’t come back? You become a mannequin. Mayu is willing to take his place to be casted into the void but was told off she doesn’t know what kind of scary place it is. It is dark and empty where you fall forever while embracing your negative emotions like regret and despair. He shows her a picture of another guy. Either he or Harada gets thrown into the void. She must decide which. She seems reluctant and indecisive but from her reaction, Ginti knows she already has decided. Chiyuki returns to her room to retrieve a pair of skates. She returns to Quindecim now turned into a skating rink. Seems she is a figure skater in life. Decim remembers when she first came here, she already knew she is already dead but didn’t know how she died. Consulting with Nona, she thinks the Information Bureau messed up and will restart everything for her judgment again. Decim wanted to judge her although he doesn’t know why. But Nona wants to leave her with him for a little while as his assistant. So for a good 4 minutes, we see Chiyuki skate around the rink as she remembers her happy life from young and her achievements as a figure skater. Then in a competition, she had an accident and broke her knee. Similarly, now her knee gives way so she sits and talks to Decim what happened next. The doctor diagnosed she would never skate again. Although everyone cried and supported for her, the shock left Chiyuki emotionless. She never realized what was hard and important until it was too late. Everything that used to be important became so hollow. She felt like nothing. Then she started hating herself before taking her life. She feels cruel to realize that she is already dead. Decim is interested to know more about her. Although he has never lived or die, he is glad to have met her. Decim gives her a last drink. Memento mori signifies a reminder that one day you will die. After she takes a sip, she falls unconscious. Mayu takes Harada to the elevator as Ginti says it will be going to the place where his soul is. He asks what Harada is to her. He is her life. So what is she without him? She asks him back what about him and because he just does his job as an arbiter with no reason, she feels pity for him because unlike her who has chose to live her life in a certain way. As the elevator descends, their skin starts to peel off. Mayu is glad to see Harada come to life for that brief moment before they turn into mannequins and their soul casted down the void. Decim calls Quin to have some memories sent over. As Nona leaves her place, Oculus is before her and knows she has been doing something behind his back.

Episode 12
Oculus tries to read Nona’s memories but she evades. He is suspicious of her motives. She argues that they are not puppets like he perceives all of them to be (including himself) because arbiters can acquire human emotions and change. However he says arbiters will still be arbiters and whatever she is trying to pull won’t change anything. Decim takes Chiyuki down to the lowest level. When she wakes up, she finds herself in her own room. Decim says this is reality where 3 months have passed since her death. He sees the Jimmy and Chavvot dolls and she tells him it was made by her parents. She treasures them. As she walks around the house, she remembers the nostalgic memories. However she can only observe and cannot interact or touch the living, vice versa. So she can’t speak to her mom who is praying at Chiyuki’s altar. Decim gives her the device. Press it and she will come back to life but with her memories of Decim erased. Also, everyone who knows about her death will have their memories of it rewritten. The catch is that she will exchange her soul with another. Whose soul would that be? Well, 7 billion humans on this planet, what are the chances it will be the person she loves or knows. The more she sees her mother breaking down and lamenting, the more tempting Chiyuki becomes to press it. But when she is about to do it, she remembers all the other guests that she has co-judged. She can’t do it. Despite she has nothing to do with them, they have their own loved ones. She cannot live with the fact that she will be sacrificing one of them. This decision shocks Decim. His heart starts to hurt. Chiyuki is also emotionally breaking down. She wants to see and talk to her mom badly. Desperate, she tells Decim to press the button! When Decim starts crying and screaming, the world shatters. They are in the bottom floor where all mannequins are tossed. He apologizes for deceiving her. I’m not sure if it’s to judge her but he wants to know her better. There was no other way he could do it. Now he knows the pain of sorrow. It hurts. Chiyuki hugs him.

Nona and Oculus are watching this. He wonders what she has done to him. All she did was made an arbiter judge with a human by his side. But that means the arbiter would become more human and difficult in passing judgments. Nona argues humans cannot judge humans but even if the fact that judging humans may give rise to difficulties, it doesn’t mean they have the right to pass on any judgment on them. Therefore this world is theoretically unjust. As to why she made arbiters feel and suffer, what is the point of judgment that isn’t accompanied by suffering? That is what life is. Oculus reminds her that death is for those who are alive. If you are not alive, you cannot die. Even if the arbiters become human, they are still puppets. Nona disagrees. They live in the present. Decim sees off Chiyuki. She is happy that she has lived. Decim vows to have every guest who comes here to leave with that answer. She suggests doing something about his face. How about smiling? I don’t know if it is funny or creepy but his frown definitely suits him best. But remembering those times with her, he ekes out a pretty decent smile! Chiyuki gives him a big one. That’s how it’s done. Castra and Quin seem to be having more time relaxing with Nona because looks like more arbiters have been made. Nona isn’t going to do anything drastic for now because Oculus is having her eyes on her. As Nona narrates the rules for arbiters, Oculus adds a fourth one: Arbiters will not work hand in hand with life for it will ruin them. When Decim greets his next guests, at least he is smiling! A mannequin of Kurokami sits nearby.

Game Of Death
It is with mixed emotions for me after watching finish this series. On one hand it is interesting because you get to see different people with different characters and how they act in ‘dire’ situations. But that is so much about it. It gets repetitive for a while but the different characters and stories are still interesting on its own despite the overall concept is still the same. There is an air of mystery to Quindecim and this afterlife place even after they explain the workings of going to heaven or hell. It feels like a shady underground place because you have trains, elevators and bars, it doesn’t look like your typical place of judgment. Expecting the Pearly Gates, no?

For a dozen episodes, the episodes are mostly standalones and although you can watch them not in chronological order, it is advisable not so because there are bits and pieces of hints on Chiyuki whether it is something indicating about her life or she getting to know more about this grim judging game and thus affecting her stance on everything. Well, personally I feel her story isn’t a big deal either. Because just like every other guest character, they have a story and drama to tell. So her character was like to add a little mystery and an emotional way to end the series instead of another random story. Which doesn’t precisely amount to anything much either. Eventually she is just another guest who needs to be judged and move on. At least she made an impact on Decim before she goes. Also, I personally feel the Chavvot story did not really play much of an impact overall. It was just Chiyuki’s favourite story as a kid, that’s it. Maybe just a subtle reminder about to keep smiling always at all occasions. Because Chiyuki went off with a smile despite tears streaming down her eyes, right?

Although the concept of having people being judged by playing games is interesting, but I feel that there are so many questions and loopholes that would make you start questioning about everything. For instance this arbitrating job. Who are these arbiters actually? Even if they don’t have any origins, the thought of them judging others when they themselves have no emotions or have not experienced life and/or death is mind boggling. I mean, it is good that somebody neutral judges you so that you don’t have all that emotions to cloud your judgment. But then again, a person who has never experienced those, is he/she qualified to judge you? And even so, are those judgments correct? Besides, for many of the judgments, you’ll never know who gets sent for reincarnation or the void. Left to your decision? Maybe it is because what is important is the story behind their life and how they handle/accept the fact that they are already dead. Even Chiyuki’s fate in the end is not mentioned but we can accurately guess Decim’s decision after all that they have gone through together, right?

Another question burning in my head is that if there are so many people dying at that rate (whether or not Earth’s population is dwindling is another story), how come they do not have more arbiters to take on the judging job? At least initially when the rate of people dying seems to be increasing at a worrying rate. Besides, we don’t see the arbiters (at least in Decim’s case) to be in a rush. I know that there is no good when you rush a judgment so it seems like he is in no hurry and taking his time for the game to end before making his decision. If that is the case and with the lack of arbiters, isn’t the waiting line to be judged a long one? I wonder where those souls are waiting if that is the case. I wonder if they keep a record of those who are reincarnated. Is there anyone holding the record for being on a reincarnation streak? Which brings me to this question: If human souls are reincarnated, are new ones created too? Assuming human population is booming or remaining the same, there need to be souls replacing those thrown into the void. Thus, to be on a reincarnation streak you must be one damn lucky son of a gun, no? Your luck ends when you go down the void.

Also there is this rule that one soul will be reincarnated and the other being casted into the void. This is what I understood when it was being explained. Couldn’t there be a case of sending both to the void or reincarnation? I mean, what happens when you get 2 very nice people and they’re so freaking damn pleasant that they deserve a chance for reincarnation. Sending one of them to the void seems unfair, right? Or when you have 2 people who are the worst in humankind, fighting and playing dirty just to be tops, is it right to send the winner to heaven? So why does it have to be one goes up and the other goes down? Maybe I do not understand something here but I suppose that is the reason why they hold these games in the first place. To determine who goes where. Even so, in the case of a tie, why not just send them both to the same direction? I am not sure if there is some sort of quota they need to fill but as said with so many people dying at this rate, would it really matter?

Then there is this issue of all the mannequins that are lying down in that bottom basement. Every soul that has been judged, the mannequin that they temporarily borrowed will be tossed down here. I mean, isn’t that such a big waste? Shouldn’t they recycle the mannequins and reuse them for the next guests? Sure, they are broken and rundown after each use but then again, how in the first place are the mannequins made? Who makes them? Also, it is said that arbiters are also made from the same stuffs so couldn’t they just use the mannequins to create more arbiters or elevator operators or information processing staffs and the likes? I didn’t know judging can be such a tedious and complicated process. Why don’t just everybody go on strike and let the recently departed join them in their bar party? Those drinks flow forever, right? Don’t tell me somebody supplies them…

Although it is said that 2 people who die at the same time are being brought to the mysterious bar, isn’t the rate of people dying very overwhelming? You can see the overworked staffs in the other department. Yeah, dying is one stressful job. Although there are other bars (it would have been interesting to see them), I was wondering if more than 2 people can be judged to save time. You know, play a group game or like that reality TV, Survivor. So what happens when a bus load of people plunges down the ravine and nobody survives? You’re not telling me that all of them will be equally divided into pairs and sent to different bars for judgment, aren’t you? So what if there is an odd number and nobody else in the world died at that very same time? Maybe you go straight to the VIP room! Haha!

Perhaps this is something trivial but I thought some of the games they play are pretty mild. Because after the first one that is darts, I thought it would set the tone for the rest of the other games to follow this similar pattern. I mean, when you have bowling, an arcade game and even a card game without the experience of pain for the loser (they leave it quite late for the air hockey game), where is the motivation in that to drive the players to end the game or in the arbiter’s case, bring out their darkness to win it? Like for the bowling, they should have organs printed on it so not only you could feel them but when you strike or go down the gutter, you feel that organ’s pain. Or that fighting game on the video arcade. I thought it would be better if every hit you land on your opponent’s body, he/she should feel the pain on that hit part. So it just feels mild that you see them playing the game so nicely without penalty that it just defeats the fear factor that I was hoping for. But then again, maybe the games are just distractions (or rather, excuse) for the characters to reveal and unfold their memories and story at a reasonable rate. But I also suppose that you don’t need elaborated and sophisticated games to bring out the darkness in humans. After all, the dark side of human nature naturally would want to win even if it is just a simple children’s game.

With that said, it already feels odd that they use ordinary games with some having a little twist to make their judgment. What I am saying is that, shouldn’t there be a more effective way to judge a character? Using these games is like saying you are going to judge a person’s soul solely on the outcome of the game being played. Because I was thinking there should be a review of your entire life and what you did to determine your status. After all, the arbiter already receives the memories of the dead. Therefore theoretically if a bad person wins a game against a good person, does it mean baddie will go the heaven? But naturally this is all up to the arbiter in the end. It is like rendering what you did your entire life when you are alive as null. Of course this is just for the sake of discussion as you need to remember the theme and setting of this anime in the first place. Also bear in mind that despite the eccentricity of using simple games to judge, it is not the game itself that we should be focused on but what people do, the emotions they put in and the memories they remember while going about playing it.

Character wise, the main characters aren’t anything too deep. Decim is like a big irony as an arbiter because despite never having lived or die himself, he respects those who led fulfilled lives. Overall, he is just a confused arbiter so I am guessing the reason Nona brought Chiyuki to stay with him as his assistant is to help make him learn more about human emotions and the likes. So when he bursts into despair for the first time, it is like finding a four leaf clover. It exists but rare. Same case for Chiyuki. She is pretty much subdued and will only voice her opposition when she thinks Decim is doing something wrong. It is a good thing and a blessing Nona made her Decim’s assistant since Chiyuki has taught him a lot about human emotions. Simple yet complicated. Otherwise she’s just as confused about herself and her identity with everything else. Ginti brings more fiery passion and since he just hates everything about stupid humans (he seems to get mad or seething in anger by just about anything), he doesn’t hesitate to not mince his words and tell you straight in the face of what he thinks. Maybe I am missing something here because I am not sure how Mayu ended up temporarily in Ginti’s place before moving on. Unless they are not showing events in real time at Ginti’s place, it is a mystery after Harada puts on his solo performance for the gang, shouldn’t the duo move on after that? So what is she hanging around like a bimbo in his place? Let me guess. Ginti is trying to become something like Decim trying out to have an assistant but is too egoistic to admit?

I am not sure of Nona’s goals and visions in trying to bring change to this place or the way they do things. I mean, so what if she proves that arbiters can have feelings. Would they make better judgments? Perhaps. But will it change the bottom line and everything else? Maybe. You wouldn’t know if you don’t try. At least she is trying out something different. Therefore she isn’t just like any other dummies (pun not intended) who just do their boring job like a robot. Well, like I’ve said about the irony about those who have not lived judging those who have lived after death. Even more curious is Oculus because as he said God already left the place a long time ago and he is the one closest to being God. So I don’t know. Maybe he should just give his post to Nona seeing she has an idea that might change Quindecim for the better. But I doubt that old guy would like things to change. In the end, the same process continues. Here’s hoping that Decim does a better job from now on.

The art and drawing does bring out and gloomy atmosphere since for many of the scenes are quite dark and dull. Wait. Don’t bars have this sort of atmosphere too? Well, just without all that liveliness and music. So like in Quindecim, you get a reasonably spacious bar only occupied by mannequins but it feels just creepy enough to just sit down and enjoy your drinks. On the aspect of character designs, I thought the human beings look a bit surreal. Although the arbiters look okay, staring too long at their eyes that are designed with cross motives would give you the creeps. At least not as creepy as Oculus’ hair and beard! This old geezer looks like an eerie sex offender already and he has a flower bud on his head and chin? Creepy. The planets as billiard balls over the starry galaxy table are so far the most interesting visual concept of this series. Not Oculus’ flower hair and beard, mind you.

Voice acting sounds okay with not many scenes that requires lots of emotional outburst since the heavy drama is mostly subdued. Tomoaki Maeno plays Decim and he fits the character that is devoid of all emotion but yet curious enough to want to know more. This is a departure from the other livelier characters he voiced like Naotsugu in Log Horizon, Fujimoto in Kobato, Junichi in Amagami SS and Takeru in Maken-Ki. Asami Seto as Chiyuki/Kurokami (Chihaya in Chihayafuru, Shouko in Valvrave The Liberator), her character also lacks emotions unless when she feels something wrong is going on and stands up to voice back her disagreement. Therefore the character that has the most ‘emotions’ goes to Ginti who is played by Yoshimasa Hosoya (Wave in Akame Ga Kill, Shichika in Katanagatari) although that guy is just mostly filled with penned up angst. The rest of the ‘regular’ casts include Rumi Ookubo as Nona (Hibachi in Mushibugyou), Tesshou Genda as Oculus (Umibozu in City Hunter), Kouki Uchiyama as Clavis (Ichika in Infinite Stratos), Ryoko Shiraishi as Quin (Hayate in Hayate No Gotoku) and Ryoka Yuzuki as Castra (Ino in Naruto).

There are many other guest seiyuus making their cameo appearance thanks to the nature of this series such as Ayako Kawasumi as Machiko, Kazuya Nakai as Takashi, Mamoru Miyano as Harada, Keiji Fujiwara as Tatsumi, Takahiro Sakurai as Shimada and Masakazu Morita as Yousuke (that Ichigo guy in Bleach, remember?). Therefore the cameo cast list is quite extensive so I’m not going to list all since I couldn’t many of them recognize. The opening theme, Flyers by Bradio feels odd because this jazzy rock piece feels like it doesn’t fit into the gloomy and mainly depressing drama atmosphere of this series. Even funny is how we see the main casts doing some sort of group pose in addition to seeing them having fun (juggling, singing, dancing, riding swings?!). It just feels too weird. It is a complete opposite for the ending theme. Last Theatre by NoisyCell is a slow rock piece and sung totally in English. There is a feel of sadness and hopelessness while hearing it and it really has a little effect on you especially after watching the episode.

This series feels like there is something missing for me to consider it as epic but nevertheless overall it is still interesting especially with the topic of people’s dealing with death when they realized it and some that would do anything to extend just a second of their life. But that is just natural instincts for us humans. Some of their stories feel real enough that you can connect and to and sometimes it is hard to hold back your feelings (tears especially) when those heart wrenching and sad moments. Otherwise, a handful of mini stories bundled together into a series but without any sort of a conclusive or epic ending makes this series falling short of being totally amazing. But I can’t complain because if there is one other thing I have learnt from watching this, it is never to have regrets. And I assure you won’t if you watch this one.

Angel Beats OVA 2

August 21, 2015

Wait a minute. Hold on a second now. I thought they were done and dusted with this?! Almost 5 years after the TV series and only OVA came out and ended the damn thing, suddenly there is another OVA out. What are they trying to do? Play on our nostalgia factor? So when Angel Beats came out with a second OVA back in June 2015, it just sends mixed feelings to me. I wasn’t a big fan of the series since there were a lot of stuffs that I didn’t comprehend (and couldn’t remember) so I’m not sure. But there is no harm in checking it out, right? I believe this OVA takes place in between one of those early TV episodes because Iwasawa is still around and Yui hasn’t joined GirlDeMo yet.

Hell’s Kitchen
Yuri has gathered the guys for another operation. It isn’t your usual picnic in the mountains. Because she wants them to kill each other! The only catch is that they cannot use guns as Tenshi will confiscate them. The last one standing will become possessed by a demon. I don’t know what Yuri is planning but the guys think she’ll get something out of it so hell they’re okay in participating in this. Although the picnic is in a week’s time, they have a week to prepare traps to deceive each other. Of course, only Yuri and Yusa will not be participating as they will observe Tenshi’s actions. Who is the real demon here? Yuri goes to seek permission from Tenshi to hold this event and she approves it hoping things don’t get out of control. So our guys leave for the mountains. After setting up tent, Takamatsu suggests playing volleyball. Noda charges with all his might at the ball. It explodes, killing him. Seems Takamatsu rigged it with the guild’s help. Meanwhile Shiori has drafted (forced, rather) Miyuki’s help to kill Iwasawa. First they let her rant about her music days as they walk along. Then Iwasawa drops into a pit dug by them! But she climbs back out like as though nothing has happened! The ranting continues. Don’t worry. There are more pits up ahead…

As the guys play badminton, Ooyama smashes the shuttlecock at Takamatsu. The fiery impact kills him! Yeah, Ooyama had the science club help him with this trap. Then they decide to go fishing. Matsushita gets strangled by the vines before being torn apart! Fujimaki admits he got the theatre club’s help for this trap. While fishing, Fujimaki caught something big. However he is being pulled into the water where he drowns (in this shallow river?). They deduce this was Matsushita’s trap and he enlisted it from the synchronized swimming club. And then model Apache helicopters attack them! Hinata’s trap with assistance from radio communications club. Everybody runs for their lives as the helicopters spray oil on them. TK saves Ooyama and gets burnt but before he dies, he warns them to beware the manga club. Ooyama then gets reeled in by the fishing rod into the river and drowns. Otonashi and Hinata decide to go back but the latter gets caught in a net trap and being stabbed by knives. Actually they are the pen brush of the manga club. Otonashi is surprised that Tenshi is before him. She confirms that he is not the one who killed Hinata.

Meanwhile, Shiori and Miyuki must be starting to panic because pit after pit, Iwasawa continues to climb out and continue her boring story!!! There is nothing to stop her! Is her love for music that great? They are approaching the final trap… A flashback 3 days ago, Shiori and Miyuki mixed some raw liver trap in a bucket. Then they bribe Shiina to help them out. Hisako, who has been lost for a while, sees her fellow bandmates. Seeing how messed up Iwasawa is, she gets mad thinking it was Shiori and Miyuki’s ploy. As she charges, she falls into a pit. But she climbs out! Shiina waiting to pour the raw liver screws up and spills the bucket over Hisako. This causes her to become mad as she turns into a demon to pound Shiori (because she turned tail and ran away)!!! OMG! She makes Shiori eat the raw liver until she dies!!! Tenshi and Otonashi see this and the former is going to do something to kill this demon. Seems this is all part of Yuri’s elaborate plan. Because there is a demon that no one here can handle, this will force Tenshi to call upon God. But to her surprise, Tenshi doesn’t call God and attacks Hisako. Guess what? Tenshi lost!!! OMFG! We’re all doomed! All the other resurrected guys who unknowingly waltz into the scene got violently killed off again as Hisako stuffs the raw liver in their mouths. The survivors better run for their lives. This isn’t a demon. This is just a rampaging monster!!! In the aftermath, all this is actually a history lesson as told by Shiori to Yui and the rest on how GirlDeMo got their name. I can see why now… Then Shiori excuses herself to the toilet and I think she will experience eternal retribution because the raw liver has been giving her relentless diarrhoea ever since! It won’t stop! The biggest loser…

Survival Hell…
Rather okay, I suppose. Here I thought this was going to be a cheesy cooking show based on the title of this OVA but I must say that they surprised me with this so called survival theme. So I suppose the only Hell’s Kitchen would be most appropriate for is Shiori as she got what she deserved most in the end. Yuri once again shows she is a sneaky operations leader by using the clueless dumb loyal guys at her disposal just for her goals. Well, try again. And also, a silly and coincidental reason why the all-girl band was named so. Maybe. Overall, this second OVA isn’t that bad but it won’t evoke any nostalgic manner for me for this series but it is still a fun watch after all these years. But thanks for evoking my suspicions in even eating well cooked liver…

I was pretty much delighted when Kamisama No Inai Nichiyoubi OVA came out. I loved the fantasy-like setting and the little adventures Ai and her gang go through in this abandoned world. So I thought even though there isn’t any second season so far, perhaps the OVA would be suffice for the time being. At least answer some questions that I had in mind during the TV series. Let’s say that it wasn’t what I expected. This OVA is divided into 3 short sections that don’t really further the plot or add much to what we already know…

Part 1: Hotspring
Alis and Dee are part of the travelling troupe. Because they have been on the road for who knows how long, Dee suggests taking a break and knows there is a nearby hotspring. Ai’s eyes brighten up and she is really eager to dip into one. Since everybody else agrees with this, I suppose majority wins and Yuri is forced to take a detour. Seriously, a ghost like Dee can soak in the hotspring? Anyway this is your fanservice section. Ah yes, if only those hair and steam didn’t get in the way… Ai notices Scar’s great boobs and sexy curvaceous body. Well, she herself never noticed it since she was ‘born’ this way. Ai also notices Dee’s nice body. I guess this means Ai is at the bottom of the pack, eh? However Dee notes that even though she does have a nice figure, she laments nobody else can touch it except herself. So who else does she wants to let touch? Can I be the one? Ai hopes to grow up like them but they don’t seem to have much confidence in that and think she is best the way she is. You got to satisfy some lolicons out there… Meanwhile at the guys’ section, Yuri is flexing his muscles. He’s trying to hint to us that he is Mr Universe worthy. Alis isn’t so much interested because he says his body has stopped growing.

Part 2: Meeting
Alis recaps the Class 3-4 arc whereby things were forever in loop and he had to kill all his classmates. He hated it. While he is bumming out in the streets, he narrates what God did for the week:

Monday: He created the world.
Tuesday:  He drew the line between order and chaos.
Wednesday: He aligned all kinds of numbers.
Thursday: He set time afloat.
Friday: He observed every corner of the world.
Saturday: He took a rest.
Sunday: He… Guess what happened?

Hampnie comes into the picture and it seems they have met before. He mentions God has granted his wish and something called mutual trouble. Alis knows what he has done (the act of killing his friends) is wrong but his crimes cannot be reversed. Not even foolishness can be cured by death. Alis wonders if he is ready to become a monster but Hampnie views he isn’t needed here. Alis pulls out a gun, points it at him and regrets he wants to trust all of what he sees as his present self. Hampnie throws his cigarette to distract him. He runs up to his side to kick away his gun but Alis draws out another one. Now they’re pointing at each other, face to face. A gunshot is heard. Who fired? Who got shot? Alis wakes up from this dream. He wonders if he was able to die. He must have looked like a real fool from his eyes by getting hooked by immortality time and time again. He thinks Hampnie might have wanted him to say “I’ll be back here again someday”.

Part 3: Fate
Hampnie walks wherever his feet bring him without any goal. He narrates the day God abandoned the world without warning. There were no signs of it. There was no word about it. So people started saying lots of things after that. This is his theory: God must be an idiot. Because He wanted to fulfil everyone’s last wish. On that day when he turned 17, he felt his sickly body becoming stable and this continued till today. The laws of the world have been ignored and this artificialness he wished for must be taking form. Reminding us what God for the week, he thinks God must have loved this world because there were lots of amazing diversity and values spread explosively until the world was at its ideal expanse. Countless years, lights and spaces passed… Then come Sunday… Hampnie reaches a waterfall and he sees Hana (Alfa?) bathing. Want to come in? Perhaps this is another one of his wishes that God fulfilled. Too bad Hampnie wakes up from that beautiful dream when cheeky Ai wakes him up after getting ‘too tired in seeing that smile of his’. Is that a bad thing? Maybe she doesn’t want to be left out from all the fun.

It’s More Fun To Live
Sadly, I find this OVA a little mediocre. It doesn’t answer anything and perhaps adds a little more to the things that I never understand. Like the meeting with Alis and Hampnie. I didn’t really understand what’s going on unless this was part of Hampnie’s journey to find a way to die since he is immortal. Couldn’t he just find a Gravekeeper? Also, Hampnie’s meeting with Hana also didn’t do much. So what that the detour he took led him to meet her? So? I know. Because of that, Ai was born. We partly already know his theory of God wanting to grant wishes because that was already stated in the TV series. So why bother to repeat again? To remind us? It would be handy if it brought us anywhere but it didn’t. Besides, I think this OVA was just to make Hampnie the main star as I personally felt that he was quite a cool guy and died after the first arc. Ai was reduced to an extra character that was probably made to make us smile a little whenever she goes into her cute loli mode. You can’t hate that, can’t you? Yuri and Scar felt so lacking that it didn’t even matter.

I know the TV series had no fanservice or very little so you thought that with the OVA, we might have a little naughty glimpse. Disappointed? Well, I wasn’t expecting it but for those who did, you might feel ripped off because you know, when you buy BDs with your hard earned cash (or from your father’s), you expect a little more ‘exposure’ in this area. Instead, the fanservice felt like teasers as we don’t get to see real tits. Not that I’m complaining about this part. So I hope there would be another season or if not another OVA so this series would redeem itself instead of being buried forever in the sea of animes. Maybe it won’t become some sort of living legend like One Piece and Naruto. Yeah, those animes seem to ‘live’ forever. Speaking of living, the moral of the story is that it is better being alive than dead because despite all the pain and misery, you know there’ll be happy and pleasant times that can only be experienced when you’re alive. Those moments are times when it really makes you feel good to be alive. You don’t hear the dead coming back to tell how awesome it is on the other side, right?

Kamisama No Inai Nichiyoubi

February 9, 2014

Have you ever thought that the day would come when God would abandon men? No, I’m not talking about those men from different sides fighting each other to the death in some meaningless war and the one on the losing side screams to the Heavens that God has abandoned him. There would be no Judgment Day or Apocalypse to come too. It is just the plain Almighty leaving us for good and we are free to be left to our own devices. We cannot die and we cannot produce children for the next generation either. It is quite a pretty interesting concept in Kamisama No Inai Nichiyoubi (Sunday Without God) and in this fantasy world setting, God has seemingly done that. At first it might seem cool because as the saying goes, when the cat is away, the mouse is out to play. But when the cat never comes back, you start feeling something is wrong. Really wrong. Sure, it’s cool that you can’t die and head over to the afterlife in this ‘new world’. Bet you never knew the pain of living forever, don’t you? Don’t worry, before God left, he granted us a little ‘respite’. Gravekeepers as they are called are the only beings that allow us to seek death if you get ceremoniously buried by them. And you thought dying was easy, huh? A little girl named Ai is one of those but she will soon realize that the world isn’t just confined to her little village in the mountains and she will go on a journey that will discover the truth about this world and ultimately herself.

Valley Of Death Arc

Episode 1
As narrated, God created the world on Monday, etc. But come Sunday, God abandoned it after He realized the other side is full. Thus, nobody is able to die despite all the injuries or things that could kill. That makes us like zombies, right? But God granted us a respite. The restless souls can seek peace if being buried by a Gravekeeper. Ai is a 12 year old Gravekeeper and has taken over this duty ever since her mom, Alfa died. Nobody in her village died ever since. She takes pride in her job although she is tempted to be spoiled by the villagers’ treats. Can’t resist a candy, can’t you? Her foster parents, Youki and Anna took her in after Alfa’s death and it is mentioned Ai’s real dad, Hampnie Hambart is out there in this world. Ai is told she would one day reunite with him. One day after digging enough graves for the villagers, she returns to town only to find it empty. Then she bumps into this handsome guy who asks her if she knows of a woman dead or alive called Hana or with certain traits and such. Ai doesn’t know. I guess Ai is taken in by his handsome face so she asks about him. He pulls a fast one that he is Hampnie Hambart. She really believes him! Coincidence that he shares the name as her real father? Oh wait. Couldn’t he be her father?! I guess this guy’s teasing backfired. How can that even be a real name? How can she even mistake this guy as her dad when she had always envisioned him as someone tough? Think Rambo. But Hampnie (let’s refer this handsome guy as such) has a request of her. A job that Gravekeepers can only do.

Ai is devastated to see everyone in town dead! Only her uncle Yuuto is alive but even so, half his head is gone! Yeah, he can’t remember the threat in this village and his zombie-like acting is scaring Ai. Hampnie warns Yuuto he has 3 seconds to do whatever he wants before he blows his brains out. Yuuto jumps to protect Ai. He is shot in the head. Hampnie says he made sure everyone else is dead by taking out their brains but somehow got careless on Yuuto. Ai becomes upset and accuses him of killing everyone. On the contrary, he says he only immobilized them and only a Gravekeeper can kill. Angry Ai attacks him but is kicked unconscious. It’s just heartbreaking to see a loli fighting with a handsome guy… When she wakes up, she is of course still mad and says he isn’t her father. Isn’t that what he had been telling her? After Ai buries them all, Hampnie tells Ai that she isn’t a Gravekeeper. Because Gravekeepers do not have parents. They just pop up like flies. Hampnie wonders what the villagers are up to when they made Ai believe she is a Gravekeeper. Because she is clearly human. And she’s got parents. Did she ever consider they were lying all the while? What proof did they have to convince her she was a Gravekeeper? When Alfa told her about her dad, the name Hampnie Hambart comes from a fairytale of toy that moves for eternity without a spring. Just like her, he simply borrowed that name. Still don’t believe? Hampnie continues that Gravekeepers will never have hatred feelings, will never strike a human and if you want to see what a real Gravekeeper looks like, there’s one right now popping up.

Episode 2
This Gravekeeper looks quite pretty and calls herself Scar. She had many other names but never had a first name. He inquires about the woman he is seeking for. Although Hana had 8 possible matches, there are none that matches those traits. He wants her to bury the villagers but Scar mentions they have already been ceremoniously been buried. Does this mean Ai is really a Gravekeeper?! Seems like it. After Scar leaves, Hampnie asks Ai her future plans. Because she wants to continue as a Gravekeeper, he punches her and points his gun. He warns her the cruelty this world has and wants her to forget she is a Gravekeeper. She will not survive long with such mentality. She doesn’t want to die but that isn’t a good reason for him not to kill her. It should have been she wanted to live. Suddenly Hampnie is shot in the chest. A man with a rifle quickly takes Ai away. Hampnie recognizes him as Yuri Sakuma Dmitrievich the hunter and his friend. Yuri recognizes Hampnie as the Eternal One (which means he can’t die) and his enemy. Yuri holds him responsible for killing his wife 6 years ago. Hampnie explains his family is dead and were living in the deep mountains. He hates the dead and can’t stand the way they’re carrying on living even if they are happy with their ways. He knows Yuri is here so that he can be killed by him and revenge is just an excuse. Hampnie knows he has a daughter. He has been living peacefully with her for 6 years and all of a sudden out of the blue, he is seeking revenge? She must have died, right? In short, having lost his reason to live, he came to die by his hands and with a reason that he died while trying to avenge his wife. Yuri then takes Ai hostage! Yuri will grant him his wish but it will be a meaningless death. If he still wishes to fight him, then face him at the town square tomorrow at dawn.

That night, Ai sees Hampnie leaving town. Clearly he is bailing on the duel as he doesn’t want to kill Yuri. This is just a head start since it won’t be long Yuri will be tailing them. Ai follows him since she wants to be a Gravekeeper and help those who need her. During their journey, Ai trips but is embarrassed Hampnie is willing to give her a piggy-back ride. Who is going to watch? When she does, he jumps off the bridge! Piggy-back ride of her life! As they rest, Ai is suspicious of him. First he wanted to kill her but saved her. If he wanted to get away from Yuri, he would have left her behind. When Hampnie learns her age, he realizes why she is a Gravekeeper. When God abandoned the world 15 years ago, those left behind couldn’t reproduce too. Thus there can’t be humans around Ai’s age. This means Ai must be conceived between a human and a Gravekeeper. Hampnie talks about how he and Yuri were once friends and went to the same school and then the words God said on the night when He abandoned the world. Thing is, those words were only said after He well abandoned it. No one actually noticed that day came. Hampnie has a theory. He probably lost interest in our world despite having all the laws, order without contradiction, it must have lacked something interesting. So in the end He decided to grant our wish and that is not to die. He isn’t sure how humans stopped reproducing, though. Of course when you become an immortal, you would have that desire to ultimately die. And so He granted Gravekeepers. He might not be doing a good job but at least He is trying to grant people’s wish. Hampnie adds about himself as an albino and weak from the sun. Around 17 years old, his body started to stabilize and made a wish how this day would last forever. That would probably be the reason he can’t die. After that, the epidemic of Half Dead Fever swept the world and the living had to put up with the undead. Although those who just died won’t have their personality changed, over time they will mentally and physically change and their survival instincts take over. Once that happens, it goes downhill. That’s why he had to kill Yuri’s wife. But why Ai’s villagers? Even if he doesn’t answer her, she’ll find that answer on her own one day. That includes the secret that was sealed within that village.

Episode 3
Alfa once told Ai she wanted to make this village look like Heaven so that this place would serve as a beacon of hope. Ai wanted to help but was told to look for her own calling. Ai continues her journey with Hampnie as he searches for Hana, the woman he loved and spent a short time with before she mysteriously disappeared at the height of the chaos 10 years ago. He is also searching for something else: A way to die. Because he likes people, he doesn’t want to be the last person left on this planet. You can see him shaking in fear just at the thought of that. Ai understands that’s the reason why he wants to become a monster. Suddenly a projectile is shot in the sky. Hampnie thinks he has screwed up and pushes Ai off the bridge and down into the river. When she wakes up, Yuri is by her side and the first thing she wants is to teach that jerk a lesson. Yuri tells her Hampnie saved her because after she was thrown off, the place became a warzone. He talks about Hampnie, despite being heartless he doesn’t like meaningless violence. Back in those days he was much tolerable. Yuri shows the picture of his love and it turns out to be Alfa. So Hana is Alfa? Ai is convinced he is her father. Currently he is being captured by a group of people whose only way to defeat him is to capture him alive. Because if he dies, he’ll come back alive as good as new (Hampnie used a grenade then). Ai wants to save him before his mind warps and turns into a monster, which of course she knows he isn’t. Yuri will also help since despite everything he has done, Hampnie called him his friend. They also meet Scar. Meanwhile Hampnie is being held captive by a group of freaks led by Hiko who proclaims to be his number one fan. He wants to be like him. But the immortal part was tough. That’s why his group even gave up their lives just to catch him.

Hiko goes crazy when Hampnie mentions that he doesn’t want to just die. He wants to die content. Someone by his side when he passes away, those left behind will grieve of him and there is a sense of regret lingering. Hiko doesn’t like his normal death route but Hampnie’s wish now is to live a happy life and die happy. Hiko is not happy over this betrayal and is going to kill him when Scar breaks down the door. She has come to bury them. Ai explains her mother’s traits to him (couldn’t she recall them when he said them the first time?). That’s why they are not strangers. Hampnie realizes Hana is Ai’s mom and his daughter really is a halfie. Born between a human father and a Gravekeeper mother. Ai understands the secret of her village. They were dead for a long time but never wanted to give up on their Heaven. They acted like they were alive and she was too naive to see the truth then. Hiko breaks up this touching moment and is going to kill Ai, thinking torturing her will make Hampnie happy. Yuri’s bullet strikes away his gun. It descends into a big brawl. Ai and her comrades against Hiko’s freaks. Hampnie has time to reflect how Hana did everything without telling him. Left him without telling him. Bore a kid without telling him. Died without telling him. After they free him, Hampnie tells Ai something he never told anyone. His real name is Kizuna Astin and that makes her Ai Astin. He can’t contain his conscious and dies. But he wakes up again as a deceased and for that one day, father and daughter spend the day together like there was no tomorrow. It was as though he wanted her to have some memories to look back on. Ai wanted this moment to last forever but somehow couldn’t ask for it. After that, Ai breaks down uncontrollable after burying him. Yuri asks Ai about her plans. She wants to continue being a Gravekeeper. Even if God has abandoned this world, she will save it.

Ortus Arc

Episode 4
Ai now gets to travel the world! Courtesy to Yuri’s van. She’s really awed at how big the world is. Really. But Scar points out what they’re supposed to do with the boy sleeping at the back of the van. Boy?! He wakes up, then falls back asleep again while spewing a long list of nonsensical words that might probably be his name. Maybe not. He thought Ai looks like the princess. As they continue travelling, Yuri mentions that kid has been drugged, most probably by bandits. Then he warns her not to tell others she is a Gravekeeper because many of the deceased in this world still do not want to go to the next and will kill her. When he wakes up, he introduces himself as Kiriko Zubreska, an apprentice in a government office of Ortus. That place doesn’t bring good memories to Yuri. Kiriko can tell the odd bedfellows these travellers are. Yuri and Ai are definitely not blood related and Scar is a Gravekeeper. Because Yuri is giving him a suspicious stare, he shuts his mouth. Yuri will only drop Kiriko at the gates of Ortus and not go in, much to Ai’s dismay. She really wants to see the city. Why can’t they go in? As soon as they arrive, they see a large hectare of graves. Ortus is the world’s largest city of the living dead. The citizens hate Gravekeepers and want to live on forever. The graves belong to Gravekeepers who are tempted to enter and bury the dead but they got killed instead. Speaking of which, Scar is feeling the need to bury them. Not one, ten or hundred. But a million of them! Oh sh*t! Outside the gates, Kiriko explains a huge statue overlooking the graves. She is Koroshiohake, the guardian goddess of Ortus. As Ortus has a history of oppression, everyone yearned for her because everything about her is death. She is the only one that became a guardian for the deceased.

Kiriko is greeted by this… Uhm… Halfie? Half man, half woman? Pox the castle’s lieutenant of guards and Wreck the Ortus gate’s Minister of Special Foreign Affairs. They are happy to see Kiriko and glad he is back. They are grateful to Ai and even more when she considers them not a monster because a human is still a human. Don’t you just love her and want to cuddle her? To show their appreciation, they will grant her anything. Anything? How about letting them inside Ortus? Yuri reminds Ai about everything again but even so, she wants to see the city where the dead lives. The city that her mom dreamt of making. She’ll somehow think of a way not to let them discover she is a Gravekeeper. Yuri agrees to it since this journey belongs to Ai from the start and will do as she wishes. Plus, the van needs to be fixed. As for Scar, she could hear a voice calling to her and is drawn to it and thus wants to stay. And so as they enter, Ai is thrilled to see the dead thriving with life. Oh, the irony… Next morning (noon actually) she wakes up but sees Scar uncomfortable. Is she sick? She’s been like this since hearing that voice. As Yuri has already gone out for a long time to seek arrangements for the van’s repair, Ai has been told not to leave the building. What a bummer. She mixes around with the inn’s caretaker, Kera and since she really wants to go outside, all she needs to do is put on a mask like everyone else. And so our little Gravekeeper frolics around town with delight. Awwoooo… Child going wild? She sees someone distributing flyers of a play between Koroshiohake and the princess of the deceased when somebody snatches the flyer from her. She follows him, Szaddo Varus to an alley whereby he tells her to get out of Ortus because she doesn’t know the darkness Ortus harbours. Meanwhile Kiriko sees the princess, all wrapped up like as though this is some dangerous mental asylum. He notes she is the only one who can save the world. Her presence itself does that.

Episode 5
Ai meets up with Kiriko and the latter notices her enjoying herself. Why shouldn’t she? It looked so much fun despite everybody being dead. Besides, she was raised by deceased people. She then tells him she is a half Gravekeeper because she likes his smile. Noting how the deceased acts differently from her village, Kiriko briefly explains the system and the science of keeping their bodies dry and such. Kiriko admits he is also one of the deceased. Long ago, a group of 5 people were very close together. They talked about marriage and having children but the latter never came to be because God abandoned the world. So they seek a witch’s help. She can grant that wish but in a twisted way. She took different parts of their body and created a child. Kiriko is that child and the sixth person of the group. Ai has already met Pox and Wreck. The rest are Diva, Orias and Veruela. The 6 of them are known as Lapstar the Lacking Pentagram Star. Ai thinks he is born among the living but he disagrees. Created 13 years ago, he should have aged but didn’t. Learning that Scar is sick, Kiriko knows the perfect doctor who would treat her without any discriminating and keep her secret. Pox is the doctor? No, it’s Diva. Wait a minute. Wasn’t she attached to Wreck yesterday? Ah, never mind. Diva is the castle’s physician and places great importance on health and hygiene. There’s a difference being unhealthy dead and a healthy dead? Yes. Otherwise you’d see people become mindless zombies walking around, lacking life. It’s her job to prevent that. Diva diagnoses Scar that she has imaginary pregnancy. She is not pregnant but showing symptoms of it maybe because she yearns for a child. She thinks the voice she hears from time to time might be related to it. After the diagnosis, Diva continues to fawn over Ai’s cuteness. She thanks her for being friends with Kiriko and suggests to be friends with the princess too.

Kiriko takes Ai to see Princess Ulla Eulesse Hecmatika. She speaks via Kiriko or writes on her notepad. Despite Kiriko being strict about wanting Ai to mind her manners with her, Ulla seems to be very casual with her. Just like how girl friends should be. Ai returns home and tells Yuri the new friend she made today. He says the van is nearly fixed and should be living the city. Ai is sad that the living and dead cannot coexist in Ortus. Yuri explains how the dead suffered discrimination at the hands of the living and worked hard to achieve Ortus as an independent nation. That’s why the living are not welcomed here. When Ai talked to Ulla, it hit her that all she could do to stay is to become the dead. Yuri adds he once tried to live here with his family since his wife was dead. However it never worked out because he couldn’t force her to give up her life. Suddenly they hear the bells ringing. Kiriko says Ortus is under martial law. All gates are blocked and all foreign visitors are under house arrest. Yuri knows there will be a ceremony called Admission of the Living. As Kiriko puts it, a group of 105 living people have lost the means to support themselves and have decided to immigrate to Ortus. They will be bestowed peaceful deaths. In short, they’re going to be killed. Ai feels confused. She thought how the dead needed a happy end but after seeing the people in Ortus, they don’t need one since they’re already perfectly happy. However does it mean it is right? All Yuri can say is that the choice is for them to make. Ai feels Ulla doesn’t know this because she is of the living. She needs to tell her and rushes to the castle. But it seems Ulla is about to begin the ceremony.

Episode 6
Ai watches how Ulla taking off her masks and everything and with just a single gaze, all the immigrants drop dead before coming back to life. As Ulla is about to look at Ai’s direction, Yuri swiftly takes her away. Szaddo says Ulla is Ortus’ darkness because she is Koroshiohake. Anybody she looks at, hears her voice or touches will die. Szaddo knows it because he was alive till a year ago. Children before the age of 15 have a choice to stay alive or dead. He chose the former. Because it’s his dream to become a mask craftsman in this city, he went through this ceremony. Even if Ai and Ulla had quite a time together, it still doesn’t dismiss the fact that she is Koroshiohake. But Ai wonders if Ulla knows her power and that she is surrounded by the dead. She believes Ulla would if somebody would just tell her. Kiriko comes into the scene, aware that Ai has figured out everything. Ai feels Ulla is the same as her because they grew up surrounded by the dead. Kiriko disagrees because his lies are different. Because one day all the living will die, Ulla will lose the meaning of her existence. He lies to protect her so she wouldn’t get hurt. But what happens when that time really comes? She is the only one left standing because the dead don’t age and she’ll realize she will be all alone. That might be so but Kiriko will still protect her as he has been in charge of her education and has been deceiving her since young (as per the elders’ request). Kiriko admits he loves Ulla and therefore will protect her. If Ai was in his shoes and had a chance to protect this innocent girl from the world’s cruelty, would she do it? Can she stand by her without lying? After all that, Ai goes to talk to Ulla. She reveals her true identity and the village she was raised in. Then she tells her the people she thinks who are alive are actually dead. Anybody coming into contact with her power will die. Although Kiriko has been lying to her, it was to protect her. Kiriko laments that is the truth and understands if she hates and won’t forgive him.

But Ulla wonders why they have sad looks on their faces. She loves them both and not to be sad. Because she knew it before Ai told her. At least half of them. She always knew her power had some effect on people but not sure what it was and didn’t know how she was doing it. She didn’t tell anything because she was okay with it. If people don’t want her to know, she’s fine with that. She has seen people joining Ortus and some leaving. All of them she noticed have that relieved expression like as though they have been freed of something. She notes Ai travelling to make sense of what she doesn’t understand. Although they’re the same, they are still different in the sense that Ai is a bird flying free in the sky. Ulla on the other hand loves this cage called Ortus. And she has gentle Kiriko to protect her. However she has 2 regrets. One, she can’t see Ai and second, she can’t hug her. So she has Kiriko be her proxy. The next day, Kiriko and Ulla bring the gang to a room. There is an infant named Celika sleeping in a capsule. She is Ulla’s twin sister. Ulla’s mom hated everything when the world changed. What she hated most were the twins in her womb. When she was giving birth (and died after that), she cursed and cursed that all humans would die. Ulla listened to that wished but Celika went against it. Celika somehow stopped her own time to wait for someone but Ulla understands what it means now. This infant is the voice that Scar hears. Scar considers Celika her daughter and as the gang leave Ortus, Ulla hopes Scar will take care of her. Meanwhile a boy named Alis Color and his ghost friend watches Ai and co leave and is impressed there is someone else seeking the same dream as him.

Gola Academy Arc

Episode 7
Ai meets Alis in a clock tower. We go a little back in time when Yuri asked Ai if she wanted to go to school. There won’t be any chance in a few years’ time since there won’t be any more kids. There is a last middle school left Ai can attend and a friend he wants to see but as he goes to make a call, a couple of guys kidnapped Ai. Yuri fears those guys from Gola Academy. In that school, Ai is strictly welcomed by the teacher-cum-dorm supervisor, Magiita Houzento. Ai seems to be okay with this since she gets to wear fresh clothes. School uniform… She makes a few friends but when is told those who enter Gola Academy can never leave, Ai thinks they’re joking because she needs to leave this place or else she can’t save the world. Before Magiita puts a bullet in her head, her friends take Ai away to the bath. Ai learns that this isolated institution houses kids with special abilities. Like Volrath, she has super strength. Twins Mimi and Meme are actually their third sister Momo who was buried by a Gravekeeper. Confused? In short, Momo lives inside them. Multiple personalities? Run can breathe underwater while Tanya is blind so she ‘sees’ objects in the form of sound. Suddenly a loud crash is heard. A hole emerges. And popping out is… Alis! Is this guy a peeping tom? The girls start throwing stuff and he is knocked out by Volrath’s might. He and the other guys, Hardy and Gigi are roped in. Accusing them of trying to peep on them, they are going to punish them for this and won’t hear any excuse even if they say it’s a misunderstanding.

When Alis finally gets their attention, he reveals they were digging a path to the sewers that would have them escape from here. Thanks to Hardy’s power of eating up inorganic stuffs (he devours the earth they dug). Alis wanted to complete the tunnel with a big explosion but his calculation was off. The girls wonder why Alis wanted to leave since he was only transferred here last week. Because he doesn’t like it here, duh! Ai wonders why the school is doing this so Tanya explains because with people stopped dying, children stopped being born and this causes a decrease in number of students. The government has a policy that pays a hefty amount to the school per student. So now you know why they want to increase the number of students? I don’t think the government is that stupid considering the situation now… Alis blames the ghost for this mess up, Dee Entzie Stratmitos. She makes herself appear (freaking out some of them because she walks through walls!) and reveals she thought the girls should also know about this plan, that’s why he led him to blow a hole in the bath. She explains she can appear anywhere irrespective of place and time while lacking a physical body. She can do lots of things like whisper trivial or important information to people and can even take control of them. In a way, she is like granting people’s wishes. She is here because she is currently possessing Alis. Dee was the one who whispered to Ai to come to the clock tower by Ai asserts she never heard her voice and went there out of curiosity. Dee doesn’t believe her. She also mentions she has been observing Ai since she came to Ortus and that the meeting between them and Alis was fated to happen.

Episode 8
Ai is really excited to start the meeting on their escape. What’s there to discuss? They’re already in the final stages. The question is, who wants to tag along. It seems Tanya and the twins do not want to leave as they have family problems. Ai thinks what they want is to live with their parents and it’s like their dream. She encourages them to do what it takes to reach them or create a new one. Nice words but Tanya is still not convinced. Later Ai personally talks to Tanya. She is still stubborn. Unlike Ai who has her fellow travellers to return to and are worried about, Tanya herself doesn’t. She was born blind and always heard her parents in sadness. Even if they accepted her sound sight gift, the villagers did not. She came here on her own accord. Ai then tells her story of the village she grew up and the Gravekeeper she is. She buried everyone in her village. That’s why she knows Tanya will also be fine. Alis has finally broken the metal cages that will lead to their freedom. All that is needed is to escape at 3am where Magiita is asleep and the security is low. The twins have changed their mind and want to escape with them. All that is left is Tanya. Ai wants to postpone the plan to tomorrow. They agree since it is better for the entire class to escape. Ai tries to talk to Tanya but she locks herself in her room. Ai leaves but tells her the time of the escape and hopes she’ll be there. Ai meets Alis at the clock tower. No, she’s not here to confess his love. She is in a dilemma about saving the world. She wanted to when she left her village but at Ortus, someone told her it was impossible. Alis mentions his dream is also to save the world but his concept is different than hers because he wants to destroy it.

He explains by hypothesizing 2 worlds. One world without ‘observers’. A universe that can go on by itself without humans. Another is with ‘observers’. And by that he means people like them. For some reason they cannot accept the world as it is. In short, people see the world as what their brain interprets. Basically it’s one’s point of view. Just like how Ai once viewed her small village as her world, Tanya probably viewed her parents as her world. Most people would think of their immediate surroundings as their world. Thus he concludes this world can be saved by destroying it. To answer that further, I guess Ai will have to wait another time. The time to escape is here. Tanya doesn’t show up so the rest goes ahead. But Ai wants to stay back as she doesn’t want to leave her behind. Good thing she doesn’t have too because here comes Tanya. Changed her mind? Who wouldn’t after hearing Ai’s encouraging words? As they make it out of the gates, suddenly the main gates open and Magiita gives them one last chance to return or else. Since nobody is budging, she draws her gun and fires. But Alis is swift enough to draw his and precisely hits all her bullets! Magiita notes his Buzzer Beater power, the power of ultimate accuracy and precision. I guess that’s why in the opening of this episode, we see him shoot basketball shots in every angle and every shot went in! Magiita then turns back and gives up. What? Just like that? Yuri arrives in time to pick up the kids and continue their journey. Ai notices Scar is not around and as Yuri puts it, she’s away learning how to raise babies. Wait a minute. A Gravekeeper raising a kid?

Story Circle Arc

Episode 9
Alis talks to Ai that his world is just a cooperative body and thus his dream to destroy the world to save it. He wants Ai’s help and she agrees. But first they need to find Scar for that. As the gang continues their journey, Ai writes her usual letter back to Ulla and Kiriko about her recent adventure. It seems Alis and Dee only remained to travel with them as the rest stayed back at Tanya’s village to walk their own path. Scar disappeared while she was at Gola and they are using Celika as a guide since she was attracted to her back in Ortus. Baby pointing the way? Sure, she’s just not playing around? Yuri has his doubts if they should find Scar because as a Gravekeeper, it’s her job to track down the dead. Even so, Ai wants to hear it from her mouth and wants to see her. Yuri laments he should have looked out for Scar more often. She was unstable then. One moment, happily with Celika, the next she would abandon her and start trembling or get upset. When they pass by a signboard with a cake, Dee suddenly screams! What gives?! She remembers it is Alis’ birthday! Actually it was yesterday. And Ai is making such a big fuss to celebrate it. Not even her birthday… Alis doesn’t have time to do such trivial things because saving the world is more important. However Ai doesn’t want him to be like that. Just like how her father once acted. And so eventually they celebrate his Alis’ belated birthday. Not the best looking cake Yuri made but hey, you can’t complain.

As they continue their journey the next day, they enter a valley of desert. Yuri slams the brakes and it seems there are lots of craters and crystals. They almost got hit by a lightning as they witness the phenomenal birth of a Gravekeeper. Lightning hits crystal. Crystal gets warped. Crater on ground is formed and there is your Gravekeeper. But now, there are like 2 or 3, no wait. Hundreds or thousands of identical Gravekeepers being born! Yuri and Alis recognize this place as Story Circle, the place where Gravekeepers are born. Ai wonders if Scar wanted to return to her birthplace. Celika seems to be pointing the way ahead but Dee feels it is a bad idea to go on. See the big storm coming? She wants to leave but Ai hopes she would since they’ve travelled together. Dee slaps her. Did she feel a thing? Guess not. Her ghostly hand just went through her face. Hah. Is that a joke? Dee then flies off into the sky. The rest trudge forward and vision is getting harder as the mist thickens. Suddenly Ai sees visions of her father. Likewise Yuri sees his wife and Alis… A window? Ai seems to be blaming her dad for destroying her mom’s dream till she remembers mommy’s words about her dream and job as one and daddy’s words to live. She snaps out of it and reunites with the rest. They see Scar sitting in a crater. I think she is in a dilemma of wanting to continue her job as a Gravekeeper. Ai doesn’t want to force her (oh, like how she ‘forced’ Tanya to come along?) but Yuri gets strict with Scar. He asks her what she is going to do about Celika. She doesn’t want the baby and should be doing her job as a Gravekeeper. Before a lightning strikes her, Yuri saves her and then vows to protect her. Scar cries in his arms. He notes Gravekeepers don’t cry. The kids cheer the old man for his ‘brave confession’. Yeah, he’ll protect them too. With Scar back with the travelling gang, Ai remembers Alis telling her his friends from class 3-4 being held captive in the city called Ostia.

Class 3-4 Arc

Episode 10
Class 3-4 seems pretty upset that Alis has burnt down the entire town! But suddenly everything returns to normal. Alis mentions how the situation backtracks and resets itself. It’s the same with humans. He takes out a gun and starts shooting everyone! Only Dee is left. Maybe he ran out of bullets. But there is only blood on the floor. Where are the bodies? The next time he looks back, the blood is gone, the place back to normal and he sees his friends entering the school gate, waving at him as though nothing happened. Alis and the gang arrive in Ostia. Scar doesn’t sense any living or dead. Alis leads them to where class 3-4 is. Only it isn’t really class 3-4. Get it? There seems to be a black barrier into this class. From what I understand, the world of class 3-4 is sealed here and it’s like a separate world once you go through it. He warns them that those not from class 3-4 cannot get out of here till the phenomenon is solved. Now he tells them. Oh well. They’ve gotten this far so no use to back out now. As they step in, they enter another world. The kind where Ostia is still thriving with life under this snowy environment. He brings them back to his place and they are surprised to see Dee (in human form) and she is glad to see them too. As the rest notice that time stopped 14 years ago, they want Alis to explain but he won’t. He wants to know their feelings first and then will explain everything once it is settled because he doesn’t want them to have misconceptions. So while Yuri and Scar spend quality time together with Celika (they’re like a family now, aren’t they?), Ai joins class 3-4 and becomes pretty popular. Which cute little girl wouldn’t? Dee hopes Ai could join her baking club but she has other stuffs to do. Dee knows she is concerned of what Alis say but is confident she will grow to like this place because it’s a good place.

Ai observes the place and then tells Alis that this is a world probably created by someone’s wish. Jackpot. And so Alis explains this world indeed was created by the powerful wish of class 3-4. A fictional world that binds everyone here and a world fabricated with lies. 14 years ago, this place has been stuck in a one-year loop. Actually less than that. Every time it reaches July 28, the time resets back to April. Thus the reason the seasons here and outside do not match and everyone has been reliving the year over and over again. Nobody apart from Alis and Dee remembers perhaps it’s part of the wish. Metaphorically speaking, this world is a cage made by class 3-4 who are the prisoners, wardens and cage themselves. After going through the loop twice, he stumbled upon the world’s truth and at that time it only had people from class 3-4. He and Dee desperately tried to find a way out and when they did, somehow Dee didn’t have a physical body and became a ghost outside. Ever since, Alis has been searching for ways to free class 3-4. He tries to overload it by bringing lots of people but he discovered many things. The dead cannot cross over and thus only the living can be brought here. Likewise, people with special abilities cannot cross over. He has brought 35,695 people into here!!! He also learns if bringing anything that isn’t supposed to be here, the place becomes unstable but then stabilizes itself over time and the loop begins again, including the people who came from outside. Alis doesn’t want to be stuck in the same age forever because it’s illogical. Besides, they just celebrated his birthday, right? He also mentions in this world he has an enemy: Dee. Seems Dee was changing curtains and slipped and fell out the window.

Episode 11
As explained by Alis, before the reset happens, he left clues of what happened in various places in the library. However Ai won’t find them because Dee has burnt them all. All 35,695 have failed and Ai as the 35,596th person is no exception. She will make her stay. And soon a month passes and Ai celebrates her birthday. Ai and Alis talk and she notes she is happy that she sometimes forgets she is a Gravekeeper. Alis hopes she won’t change wherever she goes. He hopes saving his world isn’t her wish. He views wishes as something meant not to be fulfilled. Because they don’t get fulfilled, people work hard and move forward. Once it is so, there is nothing left to work for. That’s why he doesn’t want her to say saving his class as her wish. At least say it’s a stepping stone for something. The reason Dee became her enemy was because she changed. When they first found a way out, they were always together and she helped him out but she soon changed and started thinking this confined space is better. Alis still regrets killing his friends once despite knowing it will reset because there are things humans can’t do. In class when they vote for what to do for the cultural festival, because of Ai’s vote, the world seems to becoming a little unstable. As mentioned by Alis, the difference between Ai and the other 35,695 people is that she became part of class 3-4. As the choice is always tied and they ended up doing the play in the usual loop, Ai’s vote changed that and the world is trying to come up with an excuse to return to its original way. It will struggle to control factors that weren’t here originally. We see Alis putting clues in the library. This is followed by Dee taking them away so when Ai reaches there, the clues aren’t in place. However there is one spot Dee misses and Ai reads the clue. 14 years ago on the day before the cultural festival, a student died and 17 others went missing. Guess who is that student?

Dee catches Ai in the act and explains. When she first appeared in her ghost form, she wandered around with Alis unsure of her existence. Slowly as she finds clues together with him to save class 3-4, she finally understood. Her memories came back. She was changing curtains not realizing the window was open, she slipped and fell to her death. At that time the class was horrified and wished how it never happened and things to stay like they were forever. That’s how the world was created. That’s how she came back alive. That’s why she is against Alis in destroying this world because it would mean destroying her. Back at Gola Academy, Alis mentioned about saving this world by destroying it. Truth is, she doesn’t care about the outside as long as she has this one. That’s why she became a ghost that whispered to others to destroy in hopes that world would fall apart. She’s doing this for Alis’ sake. She’s been watching him and hardly spoke to him. He is always helpful and loved basketball though he wasn’t good. He tried so hard despite knowing he’ll never get into the team. Just seeing him smile made her day. In short, she’s in love with him, right? Ai doesn’t want her to give up and believes this class can be truly saved even if it’s destroyed. So let’s find a way to save the class, save her. But Dee knows Alis will make sure she will disappear just to save the class and this means he doesn’t need her. She is scared of that. She doesn’t mind if she doesn’t end up being his special person or if she just sits in one corner, as long as she is in his world, she’s fine. She once killed Alis with her hands before. Because he looked so painful in trying to save his class, she put a bullet through his head. Of course the world reset. She begs Ai to help her instead of Alis. Of course Ai didn’t promise her anything nor did she say anything to Alis. Dee remembers how Alis got his Buzzer Beater one day and scored an important victory for his basketball team in the dying seconds. He felt he lost the most important thing to him. It isn’t fun anymore after having his wish fulfilled. Dee thought she understood Alis better than anyone but apparently it seems Ai beat her in playing basketball with Alis today. They look happy talking together. Starting to feel the hate? Ai asks if he would sacrifice somebody just to save his class. It doesn’t matter because he will save everyone from class 3-4 even if it means sacrificing anything for that cause. That’s basically a yes, right?

Episode 12
Seeing them both so close makes her feel like there is no space for her in that world. That’s why Dee decides to create a new one by ending everything else. Later when Dee talks to Ai, she wants to reveal everything to Alis. But she wants Ai to hear it to and be by her side when she says it to him. Something is wrong when Dee didn’t turn up. That’s because she heads into class 3-4, fires her gun at one of them. The rest are shocked but not as shocked when they see him getting back up and not remembering he was being shot. Dee is going to tell them everything. Actually they have forgotten about it and will just refresh their memory. And so they remember the day Dee died. So much blood. It must be a lie. They wanted to forget about it. They made a wish for that never to happen. Dee notes that they wished for an eternal loop and could have just wished for her to return back to life. As they are still in this loop, she suggests that they redo everything again from the beginning. The world begins the change and because of too many contradictions, it is beginning to reset itself. Alis knows this is Dee’s doing and rushes to the classroom. Everyone is in the midst of replaying the moment Dee is about to die. Well, looks like bad acting. Can you blame them since they know the outcome? Dee falls out of the window hoping the start everything all over again but to her horror sees Alis’ dead body below. She is pulled back up by Alis but he slips. Thankfully he is saved by Ai and the rest of class 3-4. The mist that is to reset the world recedes.

Ai now knows the truth. It wasn’t Dee who died then but Alis. He tried to save her but fell down in her stead. Alis apologizes that he had not realized she mistakenly thought that she herself had died. He assures her she won’t disappear and will return to the real world. This is still not good for Dee and wants everyone to reset it again. Alis disagrees with this because if she does so, all the things they have done together including the travelling outside will never have happened. He wants everyone to return to the real world outside and age properly. Hopefully they will remember him even if it’s just a small part. Ai wants to find a way to save him but as Dee points out it is impossible. He’s the kind of person who’ll work hard for the sake of others despite knowing he himself will disappear. Alis is glad that he got to travel with Dee. Just about any door or window becomes a portal to the outside. Everyone makes their way into it as the world crumbles. Ai is the last one left with him and calls him an awful person. She feels he brought her to this world just to make him disappear. She knows he wants to be with everyone and don’t want to disappear. Alis mentions his grave is in the other world and already buried by a Gravekeeper. Still, Ai wants to save his world even if the world rejects it. One last hug before Alis pushes Ai through the portal. Everyone is out and safe. The last scene sees Ai and Alis’ grave. I’m not sure if she buried him again or something else and he is ‘not happy’ because he didn’t ask to be saved.

Life After Death
I really thought the show as something quite engaging and very interesting to watch. The only ‘big problem’ that I have is some of the unexplained that somewhat leaves pondering and asking more. It left me quite dissatisfied not only at the end of the series, but by the end of the arcs too. I thought there would be a final episode that explains it all or at least for the most of it but it was not to be. It’s like as though such unexplained events are not important and trivial and viewers are forced to accept them without questioning. Take for instance the half bodies of Pox, Wreck and Diva. As we are told they were put together in this twisted form by a witch. We first see them as Pox-Wreck and suddenly another day it is Pox-Diva. How did this happen? Maybe it is not important to the storyline but I really would like to know because it would feel complete so that the witch story won’t feel completely far-fetched. It feels like when Kiriko explained that Pentagram nickname thingy, it’s like plucking the story out of thin air. Heck, if you are having dead people walking around, might as well add some magic and witches too. So really, how do they switch between the people? Is it by free will or there is some sort of time or condition? Another case is Gola Academy when the kids escape. When Magiita confronted them and made a short final showdown, she lost and gave up so easily? It makes me wonder if this scene is even necessary. Or just to showcase Alis’ unusual power. Nobody escaped before and it was made to sound like it’s some inescapable fort. And when the kids do really escape, she gives up without trying hard and it makes it feel she wasn’t that desperate to keep them after all. Hence there wasn’t so much mystery about Gola Academy that I was hoping there would.

Thus I think it wasn’t really so much about the mysteries and events of the arc that Ai encounters during her journey. I didn’t feel it was so much about discovering about the world and its truth either. Each arc feels like a standalone story on its own. They are simple and without any sort of complicated twist and in this aspect, it keeps the story interesting but like I said, the unexplained stuff just took some of the fun away. Especially the final arc with that twist of Alis who died instead of Dee. I thought they were screwing with my head because I find it hard to understand trying to put the pieces of what happened before and the revelation. At first it didn’t make sense. But nobody ever said it was Dee who died and it was made to make us greatly assume that Dee had died. But why is it that only Alis and Dee are the ones who retain their memories unlike their classmates? Since Dee is part of the class, she may not have wished the same and slightly differently. But even so, I still can’t understand why she is the one who can go outside of the world as a ghost. As for Alis, maybe he is dead, the reason his memories didn’t affected. But as he said the dead can’t pass through, how did he then? Unless it’s part of the eternal loop wish of his friends. And if he’s dead and buried by a Gravekeeper, how can he still walk around like normal in the outside world? Well, that really screwed up my mind again. Thinking too much about it hurts. I want to stop thinking about this but I can’t because I’m so curious but it ended like that and it just felt like big downer. And it is more confusing of what Ai did at the end. Did he really save him? Unless you tell me he wasn’t properly buried by a real Gravekeeper and assumed (or lied) he was. In that case, shouldn’t he have gone over to the next world? What is he doing standing next to her? Is there a way to bring back the dead? Don’t tell me Ai has this special feature. I’ll scream and pull my hair out.

Another thing that is bugging me is about the deaths in the world after God has abandoned. Well, the premise and God himself said that the other side is full, right? I don’t know how big the other side is but with that statement, it shows there is space limitation. Even when mankind stopped reproducing, shouldn’t God be able to at least take in the last of the few billions (assuming there are this much humans in this world) of humans left? Unless you tell me that God really did not calculate and foresee this, which is ridiculous, right? So having the excuse of the other side is full also sounds fishy. Because if that is the case, where do dead Gravekeepers and those they have buried go? Is there another dimension or other worlds? If that is the case, shouldn’t God have put them there? Unless you tell me that those buried by Gravekeepers do not really go to the other side but cease to exist. Meaning, it is like totally be erased. And the dead Gravekeepers? My only theory is that they have no soul as they have no emotions but as seen in Scar’s case, I speculate some may grow to have feelings and soul when they spend too much time travelling instead of burying.

So, enough of the mind boggling parts already. Otherwise I would really give this anime double thumbs up for its fascinating storyline. But for all that has seen happened here, it makes me wonder even if the premise of God has abandoned this world is really true. I believe there is something more than meets the eyes to this. Maybe that it just a statement to lead us astray and to believe-cum-assume God has really left. But there are things you just notice like wish granting mechanism. Even after He left, wishes are still sort of being granted and just like Hampnie’s theory, maybe He is just watching us because it is more interesting that way. So, the question is did God really forsaken us despite we do not hear any respond or answer from Him or the fact we can’t die normally? I mean, God painstakingly (it could be just a piece of cake for Him, but let’s just say this for argument’s sake) created the world only to leave behind one of his finest creations. That doesn’t make sense, right? And even if he didn’t want this world anymore, he could have just erased it and nobody in this world would even realize they existed or died. No trace of such world ever. That’s why don’t you think that it smells fishy that God just abandoned the world? Therefore, I theorize it was just an excuse humans came up later so that our puny brains can understand the mysterious phenomena that is occurring.

I don’t really know how Ai is going to save the world seeing that she herself have no clue on how to do it. I suppose it’s the case of crossing the bridge when you get there. Besides, the story arcs you see her in don’t really see her in trying to do stuffs to save the world, right? Or at least it doesn’t seem to be on a big scale. She just handles the current issues faced and it’s sufficient for the time being. Ai as the protagonist is really cute and at the same naive but caring. The rest of the world may not seem to care anymore but she takes to heart the little bits of joy in life even if it is trivial like Alis’ birthday. I guess if she looked like a very serious loli trying to rescue the world, she wouldn’t seem as fun as she is now. It’s a good thing that she starts travelling because the world is just more than the borders of her village. There is so much to see and learn and sometimes she may be like fish out of water. I’m sure there will be lots of eye openers and things Ai could learn even if the world continues to remain stagnant or on a slow rotting path to destruction. It was a surprise that Hampnie died for real. I was really hoping he would end up travelling with Ai and co because I really think he is a cool character despite being cold at times (that can’t be helped since the world is like that). Alas, destiny wasn’t mean to go that way so it’s a sad thing father and daughter couldn’t end up longer together. In a way, it forces Ai to grow and make her own decisions.

Travelling companions, Yuri, Scar and Celika feel redundant especially in the final arc. It’s like the final story could have been done without them. Whether they stepped into the other world with Ai or not doesn’t really matter. They’re just shown from time to time like a family so that we don’t forget about them. It makes me wonder if Gravekeepers after travelling or being too long in this world would change. All of the main Gravekeepers we know are somewhat ‘unique’. First there is Alfa who really has this dream of making a place call home for the dead. Not really Gravekeeper-like if you want to follow the traits that Hampnie said, right? After Scar met Celika, she developed some kind of motherhood symptom. But why go back to her birthplace? Torn between becoming human or Gravekeeper if I am not mistaken this is where her character is going. Even so, is it possible for Gravekeepers to give up their role and become human? Is Scar still a Gravekeeper? Because I noticed after she along with Ai buried Hampnie and the psychopaths, she didn’t bury anybody else despite having the urge and then till she came to Story Circle. Ai is understandable because she is conceived between a human and a Gravekeeper. Speaking of which, how can this even happen if all sorts of reproduction is ceased after God abandoned the world? Even if there is going to be an offspring between man and beast, the current condition of the world just won’t allow that, right? Yeah. Blame it on the wish thingy. Maybe Hana or Hampnie really wanted to have a child whatsoever and Ai was born. Unless… A sudden revelation Ai is not their child and something else! Stop! Don’t think too far about this.

Despite the fantasy theme, it isn’t your typical fantasy world with floating islands or magic filled dungeons. Instead, we have a desolated world on the verge of decaying into nothing. There are certain areas where there are lush greens but those are because there are a few humans (or deceased) living in the area. Otherwise, there is this bleak outlook in decimated towns and dilapidated buildings lying to waste as there were signs that it was once full of life. Also, the names of some characters are really unconventional. The short ones that is only one word long are okay but there are those long ones too. It’s like as though someone just simply typed precariously or casually uttered gibberish and then strung them together. I know it’s not that bad but still, I never find it easy for tongue twisting fantasy names to stick in my head. What was Dee’s full name again? Because of the romanization of the Japanese words, there is no standard spelling for some of the characters especially for Yuri and Alis. The official English version put them as Julie and Alice respectively. I don’t know. It makes those guys sound so feminine. So I stick with the direct original romanized form just so it would ‘look and sound’ better :).

Aki Toyosaki is perfectly casted as Ai and because of her voice, it makes Ai really cute and sweet. And I mean in a different kind of cute and sweet unlike airhead characters like Yui from K-ON! In addition to that, her other emotions especially when she is unsure or sad, it makes Ai sound like a vulnerable person. Hats off to her. My favourite Mamiko Noto is casted as Scar but her roles are somewhat limited so I don’t really get to hear her as often as I wish I could :\. The other casts include Keiji Fujiwara as Yuri (Sven in Black Cat), Kouki Uchiyama as Alis (Ichika in Infinite Stratos), Eri Kitamura as Dee (Cana in Fairy Tail), Mikako Komatsu as Ulla (Neko in K), Tetsuya Kakihara as Kiriko (Natsu in Fairy Tail), Daisuke Namikawa as Hampnie/Kizuna (Waver in Fate/Zero) and Rina Satou as Hana/Alfa (Misaka in To Aru Kagaku No Railgun). I couldn’t recognize it was Eri Kitamura singing the opening theme, Birth. Because with all the church choir voices in the background that is partly distracting me and I suppose to some, they have separate voices for singing and voice acting. The ending theme, Owaranai Melody Wo Utaidashimashita by Mikako Komatsu is a calm and very beautiful piece. I can’t help feel sad while listening to it right after each episode ends. It makes you appreciate life. On a trivial note, I personally feel this is the better song sung by Mikako Komatsu compared to those I heard in K’s ending song and Mouretsu Pirates’ special ending themes.

There isn’t much difference in life on this world even after God walked out on it. It is only different because the people viewed it differently due to the slight ‘modifications’. Those who were once alive never felt more ‘alive’ after they have died. Those who are alive are clinging on to their remaining years that will eventually run out. So what is life or death? As said, the world depends on that person’s views and stereotypes so it varies. It is how you make out of life that counts. Not your life status or how many more days you have left before you turn into a zombie. Thus the moral of the story is to appreciate the little (and sometimes big) things in life. You’ll find wonders in such little happiness. It takes away the worrying and anxiety on the topic of death, etc. Maybe God giving up this world is a blessing in disguise because those left behind can show Him how they can manage on their own. But I don’t want the biggest shocking revelation to turn out like this: This entire world is just a big elaborated fabrication and dream of some ditzy high school girl who just woke up and heads off to school nonchalantly! Everything we saw was fake. No way! No to lazy writing! JUST NO WAY!!!

Shikabane Hime

July 7, 2013

If you are going to fight a bunch of ghosts, spirits, zombies or the undead, what better way than to use an equivalent corpse to do just that, right? But wait. If both sides are already dead, how do you kill them off for good? Just destroy the brains! And so one reason why I decided to watch Shikabane Hime was because I was attracted to the fact that there is this female protagonist who whips out a pair of Uzis and shoot her way through her enemies. Yeah. Girls with guns each in her hands are always cool and kick butt. Lara Croft. “Two Hand” Revy. Aria Kanzaki. Jo. Scanty. Ah yeah. Bang! Bang!

Before I get carried away, the basic premise of this series is about a dead girl. Well, more accurately, she has been brought back to life to fight evil corpses or people who turn into one with a priest partner. You see, when we die, we have regrets and it is this lingering attachment that causes us to turn into one upon our death. So only corpses can kill corpses and this is where she comes in to play a role in turning back those corpses to what they really are. Dead and never to move ever again. She has to kill 108 of them in order for her to ascend to Heaven. Why such a number? Couldn’t they just round it to a hundred? Well, that is the number of sins or defilements in the Buddhism. I’m sure 108 isn’t a hard number to achieve if you diligently do you duty to kill one every day or two. Hey, people die every day, right? It’s not like you have to kill a million just to reach Heaven. That would totally be a total de-motivation. Of course it would be boring if you would just see her shoot down corpses called Shikabane. Along the way, she learns of the ones who killed her and goes on a quest for vengeance. And you thought being the undead was just mindless zombies, eh?

Shikabane Hime: Aka

Episode 1
A mysterious cat enters the temple-cum-orphanage, Dairinkan where Ouri Kagami is sleeping. I suppose he was awakened by the cat’s voice and decides to take a midnight leak or something. He passes by a room and to his shock, sees a corpse of a girl. He hides behind the Buddha statue when he hears people coming in. Among them is his brother, Keisei Tagami and several other Buddhist Priests. The cat seems to be telepathically telling Ouri that he is being shown a Shikabane. Though Keisei is injured, he starts his ritual on the corpse while scoffing off fellow priest that she is not an object. Keisei hugs her and the next thing we know, she comes back alive. Elsewhere the police raid an apartment belonging to Hagino. They have found 7 female bodies in his residence. Hagino tells them he was just getting rid of them because they disobeyed orders. He shocks the cops by leaping out of the window. Keisei may be a priest but he doesn’t seem to be setting a good example by stealing the orphans’ breakfast! The caretaker of the place, Riko puts him in order and let the kids share his food. Today is also the day that Ouri will be moving out to live on his own. Something that the other kids aren’t happy about. Riko thinks this started when Ouri saw Keisei injured that night. He always disappeared and came back with wounds. Riko may have gotten used to it but perhaps it was too much for Ouri. In class, Ouri’s classmate, Mizuki Inuhiko warns him about the harem criminal case. That guy seems to be lurking around the area and to be extra careful since Ouri is moving to his new place. Keisei is seen discussing with Makina Hoshimura about Hagino’s case. Apparently he leapt from the twentieth floor and survived. It’s because he is a Shikabane and revived. He is a Shikabane that kills and one that is a felon usually acquires strange powers. Makina will help do the investigation. When she finds him, she will kill him.

Makino infiltrates a building where Hagino is believed to be. She sees him sucking the blood of 4 of his harem women. He thinks he is a vampire, an immortal. But Makina knows that he is just a Shikabane. However she wonders if the other women were infected in becoming a Shikabane. She whips out her double Uzis and fires away but Hagino turns into his true demonic form, grabs all the women (including Makina) and flies away. Makina struggles to break free and when she does, she falls straight down to the ground. Ouri happen to walk pass and sees a corpse nearby. He is shocked to see it’s that same corpse he saw the other night. He thinks of doing what Keisei did to bring her back alive. Makina wakes up from a nightmare from being devoured by demons. Though she doesn’t know who he is, Ouri seems not to be afraid of her despite knowing her heart isn’t beating. She slaps him to get away and rendezvous with Keisei on his scooter. Keisei tells her that a Shikabane cannot infect others. The other women may have been hypnotized under his spell. Therefore, she can’t touch and hurt those women. Makina faces Hagino at the building top and narrates how a Shikabane Hime was created to annihilate other evil Shikabane. Makina has it tough with the harem women coming in between her but thanks to Keisei’s help, she is able to dive straight and attack Hagino. She blasts her Uzis away and Ouri happen to be right below when the building debris start falling. Makina becomes dangerously reckless as she continues shooting Hagino. She’s got nothing to fear, right? She’s dead. Knowing a way to kill a Shikabane is to destroy its brain, it’s game over for Hagino when she fires at point blank. Finally Ouri reaches his new place by night fall. He is surprised to see his friends asleep. I guess they wanted to throw a surprise welcome party and waited too long.

Episode 2
Ouri continues to visit Dairinkan. He learns that one of the girls who used to come by often, Hikaru was killed in an accident. One of the orphans who is close to her, Shouta seems to be a little devastated. He can’t go to her funeral because she is the daughter of some big shot and there will be media everywhere. He feels sorry for Hikaru of the others knew she hung out with orphans like them. But during the funeral, Hikaru revives and climbs out of her coffin!!! Shocking, no? Ouri works part time in a bar run by Sadahiro Mibu. Sadahiro explains to another part time worker, Akira Touka that Ouri is Keisei’s little brother. They aren’t blood related because Keisei took him in when he was young. Ouri wasn’t given the Tagami name so his fate wouldn’t have the burden of the Kougon Cult. For now, his job is to look after him. Ouri on his way home passes by a hospital. He sees a commotion and the black cat leads him in. Then he sees Makina sneaking through the window. She is going to destroy Hikaru who is now a Shikabane but got distracted by a decoy and got deeply stabbed. The hideous Shikabane transforms into cute Hikaru when Ouri comes in and pleads for help. He takes her away and Makina is too weak to follow up. Her wounds soon heal and she tracks them down. Keisei calls her and informs that there are other 2 kids too that turned into Shikabane. Makina assures she will finish her part and not to worry.

Hikaru brings Ouri to the playground. He realizes something is wrong when he sees the 2 other dead kids playing there. He doesn’t want Hikaru to go but she throws him back. Makina is on scene as she explains the goal of Shikabane of bringing death to humans and herself as the Shikabane Hime to exterminate those undead. Yes, she’s a monster like them. Probably she could have ended it faster if she did not stop and tell the Shikabane she was going to kill it! She got beaten up as the 3 Shikabane combine into one giant monster to further toy around with Makina. Ouri gets sick when he sees a dismembered human nearby. He calls out Hikaru’s name as he wants to give her something and this causes the monster to go berserk. Is it reacting to his voice? Makina shoots it as it breaks up. While Makina destroys one, fellow Shikabane Hime, Minai Ruo gets another. Hikaru lies in the arms of Ouri. Reluctantly he gives Hikaru to Makina as she shoots it dead. Ouri then hands over the drawing of Dairinkan family to Makina, the thing he wanted to give to Hikaru. After Ouri leaves, Minai’s contractor, Shuuji Isaki wants her to keep an eye on him because he has witnessed too much. Keisei says it is unnecessary because he is his brother. When Makina wonders why Ouri told her the same thing after she disposed the corpse, he explains because Makina drew her gun, he was able to let go of Hikaru. If she didn’t, he wouldn’t have done so even knowing if Hikaru is a monster. Since she killed it, it’s his way of saying thanks. Ouri breaks down when he returns to his home.

Episode 3
A young couple walks through a dark path when they hear a baby’s cry. They look back and see a hideous Shikabane! Run! Luckily Makina is on scene but by the time she confronts the Shikabane, it is already gone and there has been a victim claimed. On another day, Makina swiftly goes into action in a similar case but once more she only finds the victim’s corpse and no Shikabane around. Keisei and the other priests are discussing the possibility of an invisible Shikabane. They realize all victims were young women who have visited a particular gynaecologist. One of them was pregnant and could it be her baby was stillborn at birth and turned into a Shikabane? Keisei dismisses that since a being with no attachment in this world can’t turn into a Shikabane. Ouri is sick and stays home. But the cat pays him a visit and tells him he is being called. He follows it to outside a clinic where he collapses. The doctor takes him in. Next morning he is feeling better but is surprised to see Makina pulling a bluff on the doctor that she is pregnant and her boyfriend left her. After the doctor leaves, Makina confronts Ouri. She is not amused that this is the third time he has appeared in her Shikabane hunt and wonders who sent him. But she has no time to play with him as she starts looking around. They wander into a room with a baby whom she believes is a Shikabane because a baby’s voice is heard each time a young woman died. Ouri doesn’t think so. She adds this baby is too old to be kept in this place and believes the doctor is being used by a Shikabane. As Ouri tries to stop her, he smelled her rotting flesh. She wants him to smell the baby too. Smells like milk? The doctor comes in and tells her the baby is not a Shikabane. Makina doesn’t listen to him and takes the baby with her. However she is attacked by a Shikabane who knocks her out while leaving the baby unharmed. The doctor knocks Ouri out from behind.

Keisei is doing his research with Rika Aragami. They find out cells that can give birth to a Shikabane in the victim’s body. So did somebody planted parts of Shikabane into human to turn them into one? Keisei deduces somebody is trying to increase the number of Shikabane or doing some experiment. Makina and Ouri wake up, tied up in a room. The doctor explains the baby belongs to this Shikabane mother who died while giving birth. She turned into a Shikabane and because nobody else looked after her baby but him, that is why she obeys him. The doctor is also doing experiments to bring back the dead as heard from rumours. He takes a skin sample from the Shikabane and mixes it in a potion. He was the one who did this to all the woman victims. He injects a sample into her but nothing happens and wonders if the dosage was enough. He’ll keep trying till he succeeds. Learning Makina’s name, he remembers a family in that name died when their house burnt down. Makina manages to break free and turn the tables on the doctor. She admits she is from that family. But she says the fire didn’t kill her. She died once so a corpse’s flesh won’t do anything to her. Since she has become one, she thought it would be better to lose all her humanity. She destroys the Shikabane while stating that trying to become human again isn’t any different from being a monster. And him helping humans turn into Shikabane, he is already one. Makina is about to kill the doctor for turning humans into Shikabane. Ouri tries to stop her that he is human. Well, she doesn’t consider herself as one. Keisei then barges in but Ouri’s head goes heavy and passes out. He wakes up back in Dairinkan and learns the doctor was arrested. As for the mother and baby, Keisei dismisses he was just imagining things. Later Makina asks Keisei why Ouri is always around when she’s on the case. He cheekily replies he is stalking her. She is worried he’ll find out about him but he assures that’s why he won’t fire her. Keisei goes to the hospital to talk to the doctor who is by his ailing wife’s side. He knows he is conducting experiments using a Shikabane’s cell to prolong his wife’s life. Somebody with vast knowledge on Shikabane must have put him up to this and wants a name. However, the doctor is already dead as a dagger is seen stabbed in his chest.

Episode 4
Kun Osaki is an idol. Not just an ordinary idol because she can still play her piano while a bloodied corpse is hanging on the ceiling! Yup, she’s a Shikabane and she wants to sing. Her song is much more important so if you want to live, you better listen to her. Her manager who is connected with the yakuza has arranged her to perform in a concert. He gets a call from a mysterious guy, Akasha Shishou who warns her that Shikabane Hime is targeting them. Ouri is at the library trying to look for articles about a fire incident 10 years ago that killed the Hoshimura family when his friend, Hiroshige Ushijima comes in to invite him to Kun’s concert. Keisei is listening to Kun’s music and gets kicked by Makina for being disgusting. There’s a reason he is doing this. Kun is going to release her second album this week. But that’s not possible because she’s already dead. He heard she had health problems and collapsed. The hospital didn’t say anything because her manager has connections with the yakuza and is hiding the fact she is a Shikabane. Though Kun is making a comeback, several people have gone missing. She has never made an appearance since her launch of her new album and suddenly she wants to hold a concert. They need to get to her and dispose of her quickly. Makina disguises as a pizza delivery to enter Kun’s room. But she blows her away with her supersonic voice. The yakuza surround her. Though she threatens them with her Uzis, she can’t harm the living. She fires her shots at Kun but she disintegrates her bullets with her voice. Battered and cornered, Makina dives out the building and escapes.

Riko tells Ouri what she has found out about the Hoshimura. They were connected to the Kougon cult and Makina did come over to say hello shortly after her father died. Makina is Keisei’s senior but Riko has heard nothing about their house being burnt down. Ouri follows the cat to a temple and sees the entire place charred. He gets a call from Ushijima that something big has happened at Kun’s concert. Seems she was attacked by the yakuza as believed and one of them is a girl. The police are there arresting the yakuza members. Ouri sees the grave of the Hoshimura family and Makina’s name is on it. Makina happens to be there and confirms it. She reveals her family was murdered and her house burnt down. However only she was resurrected as Shikabane Hime. Ouri wants to know more about her but she won’t have him come closer because they are already dead. Makina gets a call from Keisei. Keisei’s hears Ouri’s voice in the background and is shocked. Makina hangs up. Ouri can’t leave her alone since she is hurt. He wants to help her. Kun is angry that she can’t sing and throws a tantrum when Makina and Ouri burst in. She can sing in hell for all she likes. Kun transforms into her demonic form and attacks Makina but Kun is too strong for her and takes a beating. Ouri notices her wounds heavier than before. Keisei enters the scene to explain that as Shikabane Hime, she is connected to a specific person. If that person is close to her, she can absorb his life energy, restore her body and gain new skills or knowledge. Such a person is called Contracted Priest and Keisei is Makina’s Contracted Priest. He hugs her and heals all her damage. Makina returns to fight Kun as Keisei plays a song from her CD. Kun turns crazy as Keisei lectures her that even though she wanted to sing, she can’t because she threw away her humanity. She can’t touch people’s hearts anymore and now her song is a sad song filled with death. He sticks a plant grown in holy water in her before Makina finishes her off.

Episode 5
Makina walks off on her own while Keisei returns to Ouri’s place to explain. He asks if he ever wonders what happens after death. Since there is meaning to everyone’s death, one should not have attachment to this world. Those who do and not accept their death will become Shikabane. Much research is done but the answer remains elusive on why this occurs. Therefore the purpose of Kougon Cult is to save the living from their pangs of death and revert Shikabane to what they are in the first place: Corpses. Ouri is upset that Keisei is saying he has nothing to do with this. Now that he knows his injuries are mainly from this, he can’t help worry. What if he really dies? What will happen to Dairinkan? What would happen to all those left behind? Keisei can’t quit and Makina is the reason why he became a Contracted Priest. Several kids sneak into an unlicensed car rental’s SUV to go for a night drive. Rumours have it you can ride it for free and just leave the cash in the compartment. Of course they won’t do that and are going to drive it for free. Suddenly the SUV starts moving on its own. Before they know it, the passengers all start drying. The SUV returns to the car wash where Akasha collects their blood. Ouri’s class receives a new classmate. A cutie, Itsuki Yamagami. It’s suddenly Kun’s demise was gotten over with for those fans of hers… But when she starts waving at Ouri, the guys become jealous. Why him? On the other hand, the girls are more infatuated with a new PE teacher, Takamasa Sougi. He’s wearing a lab coat doing archery? Meanwhile Keisei gets a call from his father and fellow Contracted Priest, Bishop Sougen Takamine. Because he has let Ouri know about Shikabane Hime, he must be eliminated. It was the deal that no other family members must know this. Until this case settles, Keisei is suspended. It seems Inspector Honda was the one who reported this because he believes teachings against the Kougon Cult must not be tolerated. He seems not to like it when Keisei treats Makina more than a tool. Since Keisei is suspended, Sougen hopes no Shikabane will appear in his area. His Shikabane Hime, Kamika Todoroki offers to go but Honda doesn’t want to send their strongest Shikabane Hime to get hurt. Besides, he has already sent one.

Makina has already done her research on the unlicensed car rental and knows that all those who rented with them never came back. Knowing it is a Shikabane’s trap, Keisei is told not to take action. Well, nobody said Makina couldn’t, right? Itsuki manages to use her charms to persuade Ouri to come join her for the free SUV ride. Ouri was undecided till the cat showed up and told him that he is already involved too deep and it does concern him. So when he meets up with Itsuki, there is also Makina. Itsuki starts driving. I don’t know if she has a valid licence or not. Seems Ouri tagged along because he had a hunch Makina would turn up. Makina tells him about Keisei’s suspension. Just when Itsuki’s driving is getting bad, she points out the SUV is moving on its own. Then an onscreen message tells them this SUV can only fit 1 passenger and to reduce the other numbers. Weapons come out from its compartment. Itsuki becomes scared and takes the gun. She doesn’t want to die like this. Makina tells her to come down and takes out her Uzis and starts shooting the SUV. This vehicle is definitely a Shikabane. After blasting the door off, Makina kicks Ouri out. She then realizes Itsuki is missing. After the SUV crashes, Makina and the SUV get involved in a Mexican showdown. Ouri is awakened by the cat. It starts to snarl when Akasha pops up. Then it flees. He refers to himself as betrayer monk as what other calls him because he is disobeying the Kougon Cult. He is trying to destroy all dolls that they created. Because Ouri say he met a good Shikabane Hime, he tells him all Shikabane Himes have a contract. They must kill 108 Shikabanes to enter Heaven. They are no different from Shikabane and don’t know how to die so the Kougon Cult uses them. Before he can say more, Itsuki fires her warning shot and accuses him of trying to make new Shikabanes. He admits that is his first step in his plan. I guess Itsuki is a Shikabane Hime too and coming to her aid is her Contracted Priest… Takamasa!

Episode 6
Honda and Rinsen Shirae are at Sadahiro’s bar. They talk about several things and Sadahiro knows they’ve been keeping an eye on Ouri as he was spotted too many times with a Shikabane Hime. They fear he may have connections with Akasha. Sadahiro will eliminate Ouri and Keisei if they are found to be connected with Akasha since he is his prey. Besides, Sadahiro’s Shikabane Hime, Akira is the only one who can kill humans. Ouri is told to get out of here since he is only in the way. Maybe Itsuki hurt his heart too in addition to his face. Itsuki questions Akasha, Kougon Cult’s former first ranked priest on why he killed his own Shikabane Hime. He doesn’t answer her and knows she can’t kill him. But they can hurt him, right? Because he doesn’t like her touching him, he punishes her by using his powerful Zadan technique via the box of blood of the victims he collected. Ouri is so upset that he is useless, he runs into Makina’s fight with the SUV. He even wants answers if his existence is in the way of Keisei’s work. She puts it this way. Some grow stronger when they protect others. Then there are those who get killed just because they stand in their way. Is Ouri the latter? He knows about her mission to go to Heaven and views that as selfish. What good would Heaven do then? If she wants to die, then die alone and not involve Keisei. I guess their talk was long enough for the SUV to grab Makina as it tries to devour her. In great timing, Keisei enters the scene. No choice, in order to free Makina from being devoured, he cuts off her hand. Ouri doesn’t want Keisei to endure such things because it won’t bring him any good but he says he made a promise. When Makina died, she had 2 choices. Become a Shikabane and kill humans or turn into a Shikabane Hime and kill those monsters. Either way both are hell. She chose. And he promised to always be by her side. Makina manages to find the SUV’s brain when it transforms into its true monster form. She fires at it and kills it for good.

When Ouri mentions about the betrayer priest, Keisei make haste to where he is. Ouri wants Keisei to promise he won’t die. Sorry brother, he can’t do that. Upon meeting Akasha, it seems he and Keisei know each other. Akasha is using Itsuki’s body for the Zadan technique that is believed to summon some power of the stars and Gods. Well, they look like Shikabanes to me. Akasha says he and Sadahiro were the first ones to discover this 5 years ago. Akasha is using those who died in the SUV and their attachment to this world as a weapon. He doesn’t view Kougon Cult very much different than what he is doing. Just that, he maintains their heart and use their force to bring less suffering to them. Keisei dismisses it because he murdered them twice. Once when they kill each other to be created Shikabanes and then again as ingredients for his Zadan. Akasha mocks Keisei he loves his doll so much that he might even love it. Makina gets upset and shoots the monster to free Itsuki. Why was Akasha just standing there doing nothing? Sure, the monster protects him. So? When the Shikabane Himes fire enough to reveal the blood box, Keisei grabs it. But because it contains 108 Shikabanes inside, Keisei is starting to lose consciousness. Akasha says he should know this because he had attachments for his doll. Keisei throws him back that same line because wasn’t it him who loved his Shikabane Hime the most? Was it the reason he betrayed Kougon Cult. Akasha relies it was the other way. They betrayed him. Akasha is about to strike him when Keisei uses the box as shield. They thought he was paralyzed but prior to this, he drank Kougon Cult’s painkiller. There is risk of them dying if they get spiritually damage if the blood of 108 Shikabane covers them. The box bursts and covers the duo in blood. Keisei starts reacting to it. A long range snipes almost hits Akasha. He knows it is Sadahiro and Akira and that bullet contains Zadan. He makes his escape and hopes Keisei could one day see his Shikabane destroy Kougon Cult. Keisei’s act has proven he is not a betrayer priest so Sougen reinstates his position. Makina rushes to Keisei’s side. With tears streaming down her eyes, she says she won’t let him die and protect him. She’ll have Ouri take his place instead.

Episode 7
Some guy called Mitsuyoshi observes a bunch of delinquents causing trouble on the train. After they get off on the next station, he confronts them. Because they get cocky and think they can beat this guy, they attack. However Mitsuyoshi has a Shikabane protecting him. Their punch deflected and he throws one of them into the path of an oncoming train. What a way to die. Meanwhile Takamasa sees Rika and is told Keisei s recuperating. He wants her to strengthen his bow weapon and plans on using Zadan. He blames his weakness as the cause of Keisei and Itsuki getting hurt. Sadahiro explains to Akira about Akasha’s past. He was one of the priests in an expedition to rid a powerful Shikabane running rampage. Sadahiro was the backup priest and when he arrived on site, he saw everyone dead except for Akasha. He was holding his Shikabane Hime in his arms and his eyes were bloodshot. A week later, he infiltrated Kougon Cult’s headquarters, stole the sutra and killed his own Shikabane Hime. Ouri’s friend, Sumitori shows him a blog that belonged to his senior, Mitsuyoshi. They were once in the kendo club. His blog used to be about video games but it recently turned into an ominous diary as his mission as a hero of justice, birth, death and torment. Sumitori also mentions that recently a fellow kendo club member died in a train accident. Coincidence? He tried to contact Mitsuyoshi but couldn’t get through. He is telling Ouri this because Mizuki did warn them about those Shikabane rumours. Ouri quickly brushes them off and lies he doesn’t know about it. Later he goes to see Makina. She corrects his belief that she wants to go to Heaven. Her goal is to find the Shikabanes responsible for her family’s murder and kill them. That’s why she doesn’t want him to misunderstand and that they are no hero of justice. If he continues to stay with them, Keisei might die. When Ouri asks if they were lovers, she starts flustering and beats him up. Hey, at least she knows how to feel embarrassed.

Isaki and Minai are going around looking for clues on Mitsuyoshi. Isaki doesn’t hesitate to abuse Minai if she’s not doing her job the way he expects it. He thinks with Keisei out of the picture, it is their chance to get promoted. He force kisses her but finds it horrible. She’s a corpse, remember? Ouri manages to contact and meet up with Mitsuyoshi. Despite getting beaten up, he tries to persuade him that Sumitori is worried and that if he is a hero, he should find another way of doing things. This causes Mitsuyoshi to go berserk and transform into his hideous Shikabane form. Isaki and Minai happen to pass by and recognize Ouri whom the temple head is still suspicious of. He thinks this is great opportunity. Minai saves Ouri from being minced meat but she goes into shock when Mitsuyoshi calls her the evil one instead. Isaki abuses her to get the job done much to Ouri’s dismay. He explains some Shikabanes are powerful that they obtain special ability. In this case, the curse enables Mitsuyoshi to have telekinesis. He chides Ouri for getting in the way and orders Minai to stop ‘sleeping’ and get the job done. Minai only runs from Mitsuyoshi so Isaki butts in by stabbing its hand. He got hurt instead. Ouri realizes Mitsuyoshi can reflect the damage he got on the same place of his opponent’s body. Ouri then pushes Mitsuyoshi off the cliff. Minai dives in to save him. Resting in the cave, Ouri isn’t happy she obeys that heartless Isaki. Because he is her Contracted Priest, duh. She says she killed a man and was supposed to die together with him. However she didn’t and she became a Shikabane Hime as penalty. That’s why she felt there were some truths when Mitsuyoshi accused her of being evil. Ouri disagrees because she saved him. Mitsuyoshi revives and attacks. Minai is too weak and before Ouri could use his body to protect her, Makina comes into the picture firing at the Shikabane with her Uzi (remember, she still has a hand missing). She notes it didn’t receive any damage when he attacked the right arm. She is glad she lost hers.

Episode 8
Makina is about to land the finishing blow on Mitsuyoshi. However Isaki wants Minai to do it because it will be an insult for a regenerating Shikabane Hime to help her. Besides, he’ll get scolded by the head priest. He warns Makina it is illegal to distance herself from her Contracted Priest and fight alone. She backs off to let Minai do the honours but Mitsuyoshi stabs his neck to transfer that wound to hers. Ouri calls Sumitori and puts his voice on the loud speaker. He is worried about Mitsuyoshi and this causes the guy to stop dead in his tracks and reminisce that someone cared for him. With that, Minai finishes him off. Isaki is still not happy and orders Minai to leave. She is glad she doesn’t consider these wounds as punishment anymore. Because she is not human, as Shikabane Hime she can continue fighting and get wounded to protect them. Rika and her Shikabane Hime, Saki Amase sees Keisei. Seems he is doing fine because for some perverted reason, he wants to lick Rika’s feet!!! Minai sees Ouri in his school. Because he used his handphone to access Mitsuyoshi’s blog, it is evidence relating to him so she must confiscate it. As compensation she will accompany him to buy a new one and bear the cost. After that when they trade numbers, she realizes 20 miss calls from Isaki. Man, that priest is going to be mad. However he won’t get to because he has been taken by a couple of punks he earlier beat up into the alley. Suddenly Minai goes into shock. What’s wrong? Word goes around that Isaki has been stabbed to death in the alley. The other priests arrive to pick up his body. Saki bolts out of the door with her giant hammer. Keisei explains that a Shikabane Hime and her Contracted Priest have a very strong link and bond. That is what keeps a Shikabane Hime human. If she outlives her Contracted Priest, she becomes just another Shikabane. That’s why sometimes another Shikabane Hime has to kill another of her kind. Makina goes off to watch how a Shikabane is being killed. I guess this is for educational purpose instead of being blood thirsty or whatsoever.

Minai becomes edgy, filled with regret and is losing her humanity. She is attacked by Saki. Ouri wanted to help but Itsuki restrains him. Saki lectures her about just becoming another corpse after her Contracted Priest died. She strikes but Minai is able to block. She doesn’t want to die and live because she has been thanked (by Ouri). Aren’t they already dead? Though Minai gets hammered, Saki was hesitant in killing her. This allowed Minai to retaliate as Ouri takes her and run. Sadahiro and Akira discuss about Isaki and his Shikabane Hime’s case. He doesn’t want to get involved too much as much as possible since it doesn’t concern him. Then Ouri comes in and hopes he could hide Minai temporarily while he goes to distract the rest. I guess he has to get involved after all. Later Makina confronts Ouri and wants him to tell her where he is hiding Minai. He won’t say. She chides him that Minai wanting to protect and fight for justice is the same as having attachment in this world which makes her no difference than a Shikabane. Although there is no wrong in her part in wanting justice. I find it odd that Makina says if Shikabane can sense each other, then why ask him in the first place? Sadahiro tells Minai that there is a secret procedure that can reverse her process. She has to break her link with Isaki and make another contract immediately. The tough part is finding a suitable one as she already has established a strong connection with Isaki. He thinks Ouri is suitable but Akira disagrees since he isn’t a priest. Ouri passes by a crowd that includes his friends. The police have taken custody of the punks who stabbed Isaki. When his friends tell him about it, Ouri goes crazy, screaming out his frustration like a mad man. Is he trying to kill those punks?! Of course his friends hold him back. Unfortunately, Minai is already shot dead in Sadahiro’s bar. She didn’t want Ouri to be subjected to such fate and allowed herself to be killed. Honda and Rinsen are there to pick up her body. Ouri calls Sadahiro but he is not picking up.

Episode 9
Nozomi Kasuga is among a group of students entering an abandoned building as part of the ghost spotting site. It is believed that robbers were trapped here before one of them set the place on fire. It spread so quickly that innocent people got engulfed. After that, people who entered the building never came out. This building soon became known as the man-devouring building. Nozomi thought she spot a corpse but it turns out to be one made of paper money. But when it starts moving and accusing them of stealing its money, you know it’s a ghost or rather Shikabane for real. Makina is also part of the group and tells them to scram while she gets into action. Nozomi is too scared to run so Makina helps her. However Makina got hit and loses an arm. Nozomi is shocked that she is dead. She tries to run but gets paper cut. Before the Shikabane could kill her, Makina revives and pumps her bullets to kill the Shikabane. It is then that Nozomi saw the beauty of death in her. She tries to search for her but to no avail. Till she sees her coming out from Dairinkan with Ouri. Ouri wants answers about Minai and doesn’t buy Makina’s answer that she has gone away or something. Ouri and Sumitori are somewhat depressed. Ushijima tries to cheer them up by showing them some boobs. Real boobs of their classmate. Hey… Isn’t that Nozomi? She remembers him. Hey… Aren’t they classmates? Shouldn’t she have recognized him when she first saw him then? To Ushijima’s dismay, Nozomi wants him to set up a meeting with Ouri. Why do girls only flock to him? Nozomi lights up in delight upon knowing Makina’s name but Ouri thinks she better stays away from her. The cat is taunting Ouri that he attracts Shikabane Hime as he is drawn to death as it climbs around Nozomi. It tells Ouri that only he can see it and that the cat is him. Ouri tries to get the feline but ends up grabbing Nozomi’s boobs! I wonder how many times he got slapped. Or wasn’t that just the replay? Nozomi tells him off he doesn’t even know Makina and that she will protect her from him.

Makina talks to Keisei on who Ouri is because she knows he isn’t any ordinary human as he wasn’t afraid of her being dead when they first met and also he treated Minai like a human being despite knowing she’s dead. Keisei explains he first found him when Ouri was 3 years old. He had no social skills and doesn’t even know how to feed or put on clothes himself. So much so the other kids stayed away from him. One day he brought back a cat and although he sucked in taking care of it, for someone who showed no interest in others and began taking care of a living thing, that’s quite an achievement. Unfortunately the cat died in an accident. Ouri stood there staring at it before taking it to the river bank, the place where he first picked it up. He thought it would cry again as it would but Keisei starts burying it. He tells Ouri the only thing they can do for the dead is to remember their death and cry. Priests aren’t here for the dead but for the living who are drowning in sadness. That’s why he must cry. For the first time, Ouri felt feelings and cried his heart out. As people easily forget about death, it isn’t so for Ouri. He thinks it’s something that can’t be forgotten. Nozomi meets Makina outside Dairinkan. Though she is happy to see her, Makina wants her to forget everything she saw on that day including her for her own sake. Nozomi gets desperate. She says Ouri knows nothing about her or her death, something that she views as eternal and beautiful. Makina replies death is just death. She questions her back how much she knows about Ouri because he understands death much more than her. This breaks he heart so Nozomi runs away in tears. Ouri happen to be around so he thought he was the source of their misunderstanding. To his surprise, Makina can see the cat and she thinks it’s the one with him from time to time. Ouri wants to know more about Minai since he knows nothing about her. Since the only thing to do for the dead is to remember them and cry, if he doesn’t know anything on her, he can’t remember her well.

Episode 10
Keisei is making a fuss in hospital. He is serious. He learns about what happened to Minai and is surprised that the auditor has rid of Minai’s body. Not even Sougen can stop him. Despite Ouri wasn’t hurt, Keisei knows his feelings were and if Sougen doesn’t know, he’ll ask somebody who does. He barges into the Kougon Cult and it may seem he is disrespectful trying to get some answers from Bishop Gon, the second highest in command in the cult. He won’t say anything. Then Bishop Geika walks in. You know he is the one on the highest order when everyone bows down to him. He has also heard what happened and hopes Keisei will continue to serve them. Nozomi wants Ouri to come with him (reducing Ushijima into a jealous asshole). She shows him a magazine whereby a mysterious cult has recently attracted some attention because the cult leader believes in attaining immortality after stepping through fire. Shikabane? Why is she showing him this? Nozomi thinks she could become like Makina if she joins this cult and hopes Ouri will join too. He’ll pass. She notes that they can be dead anytime so Ouri makes this comment that she’s too cute to die. What? Seriously? He said that? But Ouri thinks of checking this out to learn if there is a way to save Shikabane Hime. Keisei is seen talking to Takamasa. The latter thinks of retiring to some mountain with monks. Keisei shows him several sutras he had stolen from Sougen’s place because he thinks it’s the time to learn Zadan technique. He believes the betrayer monk will return as the mass outbreak of Shikabane is his first step. Keisei plans to go to Ouri’s part time job. He smells something fishy because it is the only place he could hide Minai as this is the only place he knows in town. Yet how could the auditor have gotten there? Keeping an eye on him?

Ouri is in the midst of screening how great this cult leader is. Yeah, the couple of elderly ladies flanking him are in full praise and even persuades Ouri to join. See how his sweat turns to gold? Well, at least he knows it’s a sham. Why wouldn’t such a great leader come out in the open himself? On his way out, he sees a weird girl, Hokuto who soon goes off. Speaking of the cult leader, he is being confronted by several Shichisei (Seven Stars) members, Hazama, Ena and Kowaku. They want to end his show but he puts on a little flashy show just to warn them he has powers. Oh, did he just mention he is also a Shikabane and wants to con the living out of their wealth? Well, he had always been a liar and deceiver when he was alive. Then when they display their overwhelming power, he realizes they are also Shikabanes. Before he could escape, Hokuto appears before him and kills him. Keisei is outside Sadahiro’s bar. He won’t let him in but Keisei recognizes his voice. He thought he was working for an information bureau overseas. Before he goes away, he tells Sadahiro about his 2 goals: To fight together with his Shikabane Hime and not get Ouri involved. Sadahiro wants Akira to pack up this instant. They’re going into hiding for a while since no Contracted Priest must know about them. They’re also going to track down the betrayer monk and hunt down the target. What about Ouri? So sorry he had to work for free this month. Yeah. And today is payday… Akasha meets Shichisei and wants to cooperate to erase Shikabane Himes in this world. They view it as a common goal to destroy Kougon Cult. Hazama introduces Hokuto as the strongest Shikabane around as she represents all the world’s evil. That’s why she is their leader. Keisei gets word from his colleague about the cult leader’s death. The security camera footage catches Shichisei in the picture. He thinks they have begun to move. And yeah, Shichisei was the one responsible in murdering Makina and her family.

Episode 11
Sougen discusses with Rika the appearance of Shichisei, a group of Shikabanes working together for a common girl to massacre the living. Akasha lets Shichisei know that Kougon Cult is now split into 2 factions. The one headed by Gon, Shuhouha is against the way Shikabanes are used now. Put this faction out of the picture, the other side, Shujouha takes over and Shikabane Hime will ceased to be used. That’s why they must make Contracted Priest and Shikabane Himes their target and damage Shuhouha. Because Akasha is still human they want him to proof he is serious and throw away his human heart completely. Ouri visits Dairinkan and thinks the kids hate him since they’re avoiding him. But Riko hints that they are secretly preparing his surprise birthday party tomorrow. Keisei shows the improvised robe with sutras underneath it for his Zadan technique. They get down to business and the moment Shichisei’s pictures are taken out, Makina becomes agitated. Their next job? She can’t wait to have her revenge. So when Makina learns Ouri had seen one of the members, she gets rough with him to spill the details and what he was doing at that phony cult. He thought he’d find another way to help Kougon Cult as he thinks she became a Shikabane Hime without a choice and it’s like punishment. She dismisses it and says she wanted to become one. Later Keisei comes to explain to Ouri. Since he lost his parents when he was young, the one who took care of him was the priest of the Hoshimura family and grew up with Makina. One day he left to train at Honzan and hardly came back. He stumbled upon Dairinkan and met Riko. Since it was in a mess, he was employed and they took their time and lots of money to restore it. Ten years later, he heard the Hoshimura family being burnt down by a group of Shikabane called Shichisei. He arrived on scene and was being told by Sougen to be Makina’s Contracted Priest. He must do it now to avoid her from becoming a Shikabane. He is the only one who can do so as they share a bond. Makina told him to make a contract with her because she wanted to become a Shikabane Hime to hunt her family’s murderers.

Ouri is on his way back and he returns the lost ball to a kid, not knowing she is Ena. She touches his hand as part of her plan to create a connection. Then she vanishes. That night, everyone in Dairinkan turns in early. Not because they’re tired but a Shikabane curse, a heavy fog is set upon the place. Except for Keisei and Makina as they know their enemies are coming. They prepare sealing the place with talisman. Ouri is about to leave his room when he notices the bruise on his arm. Suddenly that arm gains a mind of his own and starts strangling himself. Looks like he has become Ena’s puppet. Keisei and Makina wait for their enemies to show up. Guess who? Akasha and Kowaku. Keisei wants to know what happened to Akasha on that day because they along with Sadahiro used to train together. He admits all that and has no grudge against him. Because he trusted him and looked up to him, when he learnt the ugly truth on that day, he couldn’t handle it anymore. Therefore killing him here is necessary for him to be reborn. Makina fights Kowaku as Keisei notices Akasha still using the blood box as his medium but it’s not as powerful since it doesn’t contain 108 souls. Akasha teases him why would the enemy come to a place that they would have advantage of? Akasha then runs off and Keisei rushes back to the room where the others are sleeping to check on them. The seals have not been broken. Then he is surprised to see Ouri. What is he doing here? Can’t sleep? Next thing he knows, Ouri (under Ena’s hypnotism) stabs Keisei.

Episode 12
Kougon Cult’s headquarters is being surrounded by a barrier created by Hazama and Isaka. They know it’s a weak barrier but it’s just to buy time. I guess it’s also partly to show other Shikabane Himes to strut their stuff. Like Saki hammering around (like a clown) and Kamika why she is the strongest Shikabane Hime, living up to her nickname as Tsurugi Hime. Twin blades of awesome fire power! Keisei is still strong enough to use his own blood to push Ena’s control out of Ouri for good. Ouri is devastated he stabbed his brother. Akasha then attacks Ouri before knocking Keisei out. This is so that he could extract his left eye filled with despair believed to be 10 times more powerful than the dead. Makina is having a tough time handling Kowaku because he has no solid body and can turn into inflammable gas. I guess Akasha let his guard down and wanted to help finish Makina off. Keisei restrains him from behind. Then he jumps to Makina’s aid in and spits some holy leaves around. The poison causes Kowaku’s body to solidify. However, this also causes his own body to be poisoned. Keisei uses the sutra to do damage on Shikabane but in return also damages his own. Akasha panics and sees the eyes of a man who has accepted death. Keisei prepares to deal the finishing blow. Akasha becomes terrified. Is he not afraid of death? Doesn’t he want to live to know the truth? Keisei tells him if it is the kind of truth that will make him kill his own Shikabane Hime, then he doesn’t want to know at all! He blows Akasha and Kowaku outside the building. The cat worsens Ouri’s psychological state, blaming him for everything. But Makina tells Ouri off that it is not his fault because Keisei protected his family and beliefs. Keisei has a request of Ouri. He wants him to save Makina and the rest in his place. What does this mean? He wants to pass the contract to him. He knows he can’t make it in this state. Makina disagrees. She only wants him. How did Keisei get Ouri to accept the contract? Remember Minai? Know what happened to her? It’ll be the same for Makina too if they don’t do anything about it.

Ouri falls unconscious after Keisei passes the contract. The ritual is over once he wakes up. He Makina to bring Ouri to a safe place at that time and begs her to be with him and not drag this wounded ex-Contracted Priest to a hospital. He wants to see her smiling face one last time and proof he saved her from this living hell. Makina agrees to show it because she doesn’t want him to have attachment to this world and turn into a Shikabane. With that, Keisei leaves this world with a peaceful expression on his face. Kowaku forces Akasha to give him more power and it turns him into a hideous monster. He is mad and going to kill that Shikabane Hime b*tch. But not as mad as Makina is. Because now she is on a rampage and so mad this girl is, she got the strength to beat the crap out of this Shichisei dude. However she is overdoing it and is causing bruises all over Ouri as he takes in all her wounds. Akasha fears this curse makes her stronger than a Shikabane Hime can really be. Because Ouri has no training, the way Makina is being reckless extracting strength from her new Contracted Priest will kill Ouri. In the end, Makina kills Kowaku. Pretty ironic for a corpse pleading for his life and wanting to live, eh? Yeah, what right has he got to beg for mercy when he didn’t show Makina the same several years ago? As Akasha leaves the scene, he remembers Keisei wanted to run an orphanage and introduced Ouri to him. Keisei’s goal was to see this kid smile. Akasha uses his talisman to completely heal Ouri of his wounds. He notes this is his last attachment to this boy. Ouri sees Makina screaming and crying her heart over the horizon. So on his sixteenth birthday, becoming a Contracted Priest must be the worst present anyone could get, eh? What’s more, he lost a figure he admired as a father, brother and friend…

Episode 13
A funeral for Keisei is being held. Everyone at Dairinkan is deeply affected by his loss. Ouri meets Rinsen and learns he is the Kougon’s Cult auditor for this area. They are those who support all fighting priests and also arrange their funeral. He confirms Keisei’s death which means he went straight to Heaven instead of becoming a Shikabane. Then he takes Ouri to Sougen who feels the need to explain things to him. Take it as basic FAQs of what this series is about. The meaning of Shikabane, Shikabane Hime, Contracted Priests, death and attachment that could turn one into a Shikabane. Because Shikabane Himes are lingering between life and death, they need to eliminate 108 Shikabanes in order to go to Heaven. It is only then they are freed so it is not like Kougon Cult is using them as they please. We also learn additional stuffs like traits that identify a Shikabane. Two major traits: 1) Regeneration ability that makes them immortal and change them into a monstrous form; 2) They believe they are still human and alive but at the same time harbour hatred against the living. Others include En (bond that connects Shikabane to her Contracted Priest to stay human while continue fighting), Shugo (Contracted Priest of an area – approximately over 100 over the country and Keisei was the Shugo of this area) and the hierarchy of Kougon Cult. Dai Soujo ranks the highest followed by Shiou Gon Dai Soujo. Under him are 6 Priests in which Sougen is one of them.  As there are a few more classes below that, Keisei was the lowest priest but his death in duty promoted him to a higher rank of Gon Soujo. Sougen was Keisei’s former mentor and thus he considers Keisei like a son. Now that Ouri has a better understanding of the whole thing, at least he doesn’t think the society treated Shikabane Himes in a bad way.

Later Rinsen tells Ouri that they would find a new Contracted Priest for Makina. Ouri wants to remain as her Contracted Priest since it was something that Keisei passed down to him. But Rinsen notes that he is not a trained priest and at this rate, he will die. He almost did when Makina zapped his life energy. He will gain nothing if he continues to be her Contracted Priest. Speaking of her, she is staying at their head temple for now as all those tainted cannot attend the funeral. Ouri realizes that’s why all the other Shikabane Himes were waiting outside the temple. Now it’s time for Ouri to do a little reminiscing flashback. Take it as a very short summary of how he met Keisei and got involved in this Shikabane Hime business. Ouri had no memories of being taken in by Keisei and only remembered the cat’s death. Ever since, his mind is only filled with death. He can’t fear death and sometimes feels very close to it. His life changed 2 years ago when Keisei returned home always with bruises because he became Makina’s Contracted Priest. Even if Shikabanes are dead, they look like normal girls to him. He thought Makina was just Keisei’s soldier. But when he died, he realized he was someone very special to her. They both lost someone irreplaceable that day. Then we have short flashbacks of all the fun, irritating, teasing, annoying times and serious moments Ouri had with Keisei. I guess when there’s no big brother to bug or take care of you, you really feel the emptiness. When Sadahiro comes by the night wake, Ouri learns he is a Contracted Priest and Akira his Shikabane Hime. He knows Keisei because they trained together. Ouri wants to train and become a worthy priest and won’t give Makina to anyone else. Sadahiro reluctantly tells him the mountains called Goryouzan. It’s a place where all the priests had their training.

Shikabane Hime: Kuro

I do not understand why they had to split this into 2 seasons since the anime ran continuously back to back without any break of a season or more between them. It had the same opening theme and there was an obvious next episode preview at the end of the last episode. So much so you may not even think that this is the second season. Maybe it is just the naming sense. After red, it turns black. What do I mean? After spilling lots of blood, it is time for the corpse to rot and decay. So now that Makina has identified her true enemy and her family’s murderers, the hunt is on to take down the Shichisei no matter what it takes. She’s been to hell and back, right? Now she’s going to bring hell to them.

Episode 1
Six months down the road, Honda meets with Sadahiro and Akira. He wants them to take out sick Makina who is still quarantined whom Sougen is reluctant to do so. Akasha is in an argument with Shichisei because they want to go see Makina. After all, they created her as a Shikabane, right? Hokuto sees tears from his eyes and gets curious. But just as he is about to touch her, she swiftly breaks his arm. Hizuchi tells him Hokuto was born as a sacrifice and died without committing any sins. Everything in this world is a foreign substance so everything that touches her is like a blade trying to take her life. Rika and Saki go to see Makina at the quarantine but the priest appointed to guard her, Kurai won’t allow her. Till Saki tells him off of being afraid to get tainted by a cursed Shikabane Hime as it will affect his enlightenment. When they head in, they see evil spirits around her. Apparently those who can’t turn into Shikabane will turn into this. The spirits are trying to eat Makina and trying to form a body. Kamika saves everyone in time as Sougen puts a seal on the door. He explains the spirits were feeding of Makina’s Run. Life energy that flows through Shikabane Himes and gives them strength. It is given by the Contracted Priest and is purity itself. However if it settles too long it will rot. Old Runs will rot and attract spirits. Since Makina unconsciously kept Keisei’s Run as part of her attachment to him, it was left to rot. Even if Ouri is her new Contracted Priest, as long she is not willing to accept it, it changes nothing. At this rate all her Run will be eaten and she will die. Close by, a Shikabane, Flesh Backbone spies on them and learns about this juicy bit. Nozomi visits Ouri’s apartment but as usual notices he has never come back since he left for a journey after his brother’s death 6 months ago.

Ouri is training in the mountains. Wait… Did he just lose to a rabbit?! Takamasa is also there training him with Kanechika Umehara. He might look sloppy and a worse pervert than Keisei, but he is quite a good teacher. Umehara teaches Ouri how to bond with the rabbit and find its light. Takamasa wonders if Ouri will be better since there has no improvement for the last 6 months. Umehara puts it this way. This boy was so blessed that he doesn’t even need the light. Ouri chases the rabbit but bumps into Flesh, Umehara’s Shikabane. She’s an otaku pervert and gets into some silly otaku argument with Umehara. I guess this is what happens when you contract with a Shikabane who died at Akihabara! She threatens to tell Touma if he continues to be mean. Touma who? Umehara’s other Shikabane Hime. This guy has two? As Takamasa explains, this means double the Run. For Umehara to do so shows he is well trained. Yeah, Ouri almost died when Makina zapped his, right? Of course, Flesh has information about Makina. Night fall, Akasha ambushes the quarantine area and kills all the priest including Kurai. He turns into a Shikabane. I guess he needed more training if he transformed this easy. However Akasha is stopped by Sadahiro and Akira as their suspicions of him siding with Shichisei are confirmed. Sadahiro wants to know why he is doing this since Hazama was the one who killed his Shikabane Hime. Akasha asserts he killed her himself. Kurai breaks into the quarantine to attack Makina. Luckily Ouri is back and to restrain him. Kurai’s attachment stems from hi fear of being impure and wants to rid of Makina. Just to attain his own enlightenment, that’s plain selfish, right? Ouri braves through the spirits to hug Makina. Their bond was created when they first met. They can’t forget someone important to them and it became their regret. If this means she is impure, then he is impure too. Makina accepts him. His Run runs through him as she breaks free and kills Kurai in one strike. She then apologizes for not being able to protect Keisei.

Episode 2
Makina slaps Ouri after learning what he is doing. She didn’t like the idea he became her Contracted Priest because Keisei told him to. The Honda and the other priests come in and misinterpret they have killed Kurai. Sadahiro and Akira continue their fight with Akasha. However he summons a horde of Shikabane to swallow them. Soon after, Shichisei (personally, I think they should rename themselves to Rokusei – Six Stars after the loss of a member) makes their appearance. Sadahiro emerges from the ground to counter attack but Isaka teleports them away. Makina is restrained and Honda wants to dispose of her. They don’t believe Ouri’s words that Kurai turned into a Shikabane since all Kougon Cult priests have thrown away their attachments and regrets and train towards enlightenment. Thus they won’t turn into Shikabane. Ouri thinks he plans to make this look like it never happened. Itsuki and Takamasa enter the scene and they hope Honda could free his disciple. Suddenly they are thrown into Isaka’s barrier except for Itsuki and Takamasa who are kept out. Now that Makina has come face to face with Shichisei, she starts charging at them. Unfortunately her blind rage means she gets trapped within Hazama’s centipedes. He thinks her attachment for revenge is a weak one and it won’t be enough to kill them. Even though Shichisei are Shikabanes, they become one not because of attachment but nature. As attachments are feelings of regret slightly before death, nature is one that is born with and grows in time. Humans live by suppressing and rejecting their true nature. Since Shichisei is able to live by their true nature, they consider themselves as true human beings. Ouri won’t let them touch Makina and will protect her. Hazama finds it interesting that he has feelings for a Shikabane and will fight for her with no reason. He thinks it is his instinct and therefore his nature. He suggests if he would like to be a Shikabane with that nature of his.

Sougen senses Shichisei nearby the quarantine and wants to head there but Gon tells him there is no need because they need to be here to protect Geika. Suddenly Umehara and Flesh make their flashy entry by doing something perverted on Kamika! WTF?! Flesh claims she was made to do this or else Umehara will force her to eat frogs. WTF?! On to serious business, he is here to see Shichisei but wants to borrow something first. Something about some Choufuku guy that Geika sealed once (I think it’s a sword). Gon refuses but Umehara says he is the only who can use it anyway. Makina, after thinking back about Keisei (and lots of it), she breaks free from her trap and surprises Hazama with some unpredictable movement. He is saved from death at close range when Hokuto comes to play with her. Makina is no match for her strength and tossed around like a ball. The other Shichisei guys comment this is her way of interacting with others and getting to know things. Hokuto sees Makina as a broken mirror and continues to ‘play’ with it. But play time is over when Umehara breaks through the barrier. And with the other Contracted Priests and their Shikabane Hime in the picture, Akasha knows they have no chance if they to fight the powerful bunch. While the rest are surprised in seeing Sadahiro (they’re not supposed to know he exist), Akasha and Shichisei make their teleport escape. Hazama leaves some parting words for Makina. Shichisei acknowledges her as their worthy enemy. However this is also part of their plan (including her existence). Makina couldn’t care about all that because all she cares is that she will kill them all as a Shikabane Hime.

Episode 3
Sougen and the other priests are in some meeting. They are blaming him for letting impurities into the shrine and Shichisei getting away. As they debate about Shikabane Hime, Geika intervenes about Makina’s case. Whether she returns to Kougon Cult or strengthen her bond with her current Contracted Priest, he has tasked Umehara to confirm that. If so, he will acknowledge Ouri as Kougon Cult’s Contracted Priest. Meanwhile Ena has been given the green light to fight Makina first. Akasha thinks she shouldn’t just go alone as Makina is viewed as their greatest enemy. They remind him about their nature and that Ena’s is beauty. She will stop at nothing for beauty. That’s why they don’t care if she dies. They’re just following their nature. If Akasha thinks of interfering, they will kill him. Hazama wants Akasha to lure Makina out. Akasha agrees and will use a special Shikabane he kept for this. Ouri continues his training under Takamasa while Makina undergoes a different one. She is to perform Enkiri, a ritual to cut off her previous ties with Keisei. Because Ouri is her current Contracted Priest, other connections may become a hindrance. But the severing of Keisei ties doesn’t mean she will totally forget about him. Inside a cave, Makina begins Enkiri and she is confronted with an illusion of herself. Her illusion tries to convince her not to sever her ties with Keisei because he is everything to her. Makina realizes it is not the world or Shichisei that she hates but herself. At the end of the ritual, it looks like it wasn’t a success. Makina is still attached to him. Saki and Rika try to stop her but she’s too powerful. Saki got a little wounded as she was hesitant in taking out Makina. She is also worried that she might end up like Makina if Rika dies first.

Itsuki talks to Flesh on how she as a normal high school girl died in an accident. Her regret was probably she never did anything. No boyfriends, never went on field trip with friends, never did anything girly. So when she first became a Shikabane Hime, she was scared and requested to contract with the strongest priest. Takamasa is the successor of the title of Genpaku as the strongest fighter. She made a pact with him but is shocked to hear soon after that he doesn’t even know what Shikabane Hime and Contracted Priest. Bummer. I guess his father never said anything to him when he got that title. He was just a normal high school student who had never even fought once. Ouri talks to Takamasa. Even though he knows he can never be near like Keisei, when he heard Makina will undergo Enkiri, somewhere in his heart he felt relived. Takamasa says he is forgetting something important. He must understand Shikabane Hime is no longer human but an abnormality used to kill Shikabanes. He speaks from his personal experience and shows the scar over his body. It is price he paid for not knowing this. He lost many important things before he noticed Shikabane Himes are abnormalities and obtain their powers through death. It also means they became a non-human abnormality. He needs to throw what he has in his heart now if he is to gain the power of his Shikabane Hime. Takamasa leaves to save Umehara getting cornered in one of his perverted schemes. The cat appears before Ouri and teases him further that he should quickly remember what he truly is. Then comes in Makina. She wants him to quit being her Contracted Priest because he is weak. The only one for her is Keisei. Ouri can prove he can fight but she says he is only in the way. Because he won’t give up, Makina is going to kill him. Ouri is saved when Rika and Saki put the brakes on her. She is then restrained inside the building. As long as she remains cursed, she’ll be useless. Takamasa gets a call from Rinsen and several other priests in a pinch against a Shikabane. He takes Ouri along. Ouri wants to stay by Makina’s side but Takamasa tells him he already saw Makina’s abnormality. He reveals his ability to recognize a Shikabane Hime’s abnormality and is going to fight to prove it.

Episode 4
Makina is out of her confinement only because she agreed that killing everyone would just make Keisei sad and will cooperate. However her freedom is short-lived as Honda and the other priests come in to put Makina under quarantine again as ordered by Gon. Takamasa relates his flashback story to Ouri. Itsuki lamented she thought she could go to Heaven faster if she contracted with the strongest Genpaku but unfortunately got a raw kid who knew nothing. It was also because there wasn’t enough time to find her another Contracted Priest. So when they were tossed into battle with a Shikabane for the first time, Takamasa got wounded. Takamasa learnt about Itsuki’s death and regret after she became a Shikabane Hime. Itsuki felt sorry for dragging him into this fight of hers and went to finish off the Shikabane. She could have died if not for Takamasa summing up his courage to help her. Even though she is dead, he couldn’t let her die because to him, he looked like a normal girl. Soon Itsuki is transferred into his class and her reason was so that she could be close to her Contracted Priest and strengthen their En. Takamasa underwent lots of training as they became a formidable team taking down Shikabanes and living together (Itsuki as a freeloader of course). Itsuki ironically felt that though she wanted to go to Heaven quick, now she feels she wants to stay on Earth by his side a little longer. It might look like a simple love story but that is when tragedy starts to unfold. As Takamasa was training under Umehara’s guidance in the mountains, the master told him to stop treating Itsuki as a human because she is a Shikabane Hime. Takamasa didn’t listen because to him, Itsuki is a normal girl.

Takamasa’s best friend, Tomoharu Kishibe (self proclaimed romance master) even gives him the push to confess to Itsuki and some other positive words like how Itsuki only had eyes on him since the day she transferred in. That was the last time Takamasa would see his best friend. His family died in a car accident on their way back to their homeland. Their bodies were found beyond recognition. Back to present, Takamasa meets up with Rinsen. This Shikabane is the same one 4 years ago and is able to control cars. Guess what? That Shikabane is Tomoharu. When he turned into one 4 years ago, he killed youngsters by making their car go out of control or crashing into each other for fun. His regret was that his family were killed by reckless illegal street racers. His father swerved the car out of the way and they end up falling off the cliff. So he killed anybody associated with street racing including those who watch. Itsuki wanted Takamasa to give her the orders like he usually do. The one that has her kill Shikabanes. However he couldn’t bring himself to do it because he couldn’t send his lover to kill his best friend. In that dilemma, Tomoharu tries to kill them but Itsuki pushes Takamasa out of harm’s way. As a result, Itsuki got injured and turned into her true violent and hideous form. She attacked Takamasa and left a deep wound and now a scar on his body. He has learnt from his lesson since and is able to give the orders to Itsuki to kill Tomoharu. Honda and the priests who are transporting Makina back stop dead in their tracks because they see Keisei standing before them! Is this a dream?!

Episode 5
Nozomi makes her way to Goryouzan. It’s not Ouri she has on her mind but Makina and the beauty of death. Tomoharu holds Itsuki hostage and throws Takamasa several questions. Since Itsuki and Tomoharu died in a car accident, why didn’t he get to be a Shikabane Hime? Duh, you’re not a girl. What about Shikabane Ouji then? Well, as Takamasa puts it, they only know a spell to turn girls of certain age group into one. Tomoharu goes on ranting about his heart’s nature and just responding to it. By killing people? He has more right to judge others since is closer to human (he claims Takamasa like the rest hides his desires). Takamasa replies he too had strong desires. He wanted to be with Itsuki but he suppressed those feelings. There were so many times he wanted to do what his heart told him but he lived on and hid it. That is what he meant by living. Now that Tomoharu has lost his nature, he is no longer human. Takamasa gives another order to Itsuki to kill him and she manages to make that corpse stay as one this time. Rika and Saki rush into the scene to inform Ouri that Makina has been taken back to the main temple. But that’s not it. There is sighting of Keisei too. Takamasa advises Ouri one last time that Makina isn’t human anymore. The priests have been knocked out as Keisei claims he is here to rescue her. Makina doesn’t believe it is him and runs. Despite knowing he isn’t the real Keisei, she can’t bring herself to harm him. She becomes confused when he says he came back due to his regret that he wanted to see her. He loves her. Don’t give her that crap. Ouri arrives on scene only to see Sadahiro and Akira. Sadahiro gives him one last chance to give up Makina and return to his normal life. Even if he can’t forget about it, he has too because people go through life with one or two hardships. Rika and Saki stall them so Ouri can go to Makina. Sadahiro learns from Rika that Gon is trying to gain all authority by getting rid of all Shikabane Himes. Rather than doing that directly, he is secretly using a Shikabane Hime to kill humans. Their fight is cut short when balloons are floating in the air. It’s a Shichisei curse because touching it means it will attach to you and grows by absorbing your pleasure. You die after that.

I guess Nozomi is lost. So she is happy when she sees Ouri running past but he had no time to even notice her and ran straight deep into the woods. Keisei and Makina are playing hide and seek? Makina is turning herself psycho that this isn’t the real Keisei. When Keisei finds her, he’s about to kill her but is stabbed by Ouri. Keisei trudges away with his wound to a lake. Then he switches bodies and spawns into several Keisei clones. Makina thought he is still trying to be her Contracted Priest and tells him that before Keisei died, she felt his regret. Had she not smiled for him, he would have turned into a Shikabane. Therefore she killed him (for not letting even live as a Shikabane). Ouri is fine with that because it shows she likes Keisei a lot. She admits she loves Keisei even now. That’s why she couldn’t forgive herself if she were to forget him by taking on a new Contracted Priest. Ouri replies she won’t forget. He was told one can’t live without their desires and to live is to hide their true desires. He wants her to make a contract with him and keep her ties with Keisei. He won’t tell anyone and hide her heart. So sorry that Sadahiro had to disrupt and say it’s impossible because the corrupted Run in her body if she doesn’t cut her ties soon. It will be a curse and cause her torment. Ouri disagrees it is a curse because it is a bond between them. It is their strength. He believes they can use this to defeat Shichisei. Keisei comes into the picture as Sadahiro explains this is Ena in disguise. It’s her power to switch bodies as she believes in evolving beautifully like that. Ouri wants to handles this case. After all, he stabbed his brother before, right? Wasn’t that under Ena’s control? He can’t stand somebody sharing the same face with Keisei and doesn’t want Makina and Sadahiro to feel this horrible feeling. Since he likes Keisei’s face so much, here are more of them. He can pick which brother he likes best.

Episode 6
Ouri is able to cancel out Keisei’s power and stab him in the throat. Seems he used Zadan technique and as explained it isn’t how much he trained or the strength a priest has. Rather, a priest borrows Buddha’s strength and is protected. Since there are many Keisei clones, the rest hurry to dispose of them till the last one. Keisei calls for Touya’s help in which Ena returns to her original form. Makina seems to have acknowledged Ouri as her Contracted Priest and will take it from here. She clashes with Ena but is at risk of having her fingers and wrist shaved off by her bell spinning in high revolution. This recklessness is also causing her to drain Run from Ouri. I guess he needs more training. Ena notices this isn’t slowing down Makina and realizes her curse may be super regeneration. Makina uses both her hands to stop the revolution and destroy the bell. Ena loses control of herself. Flashback reveals that in order to attain perfect beauty, she tossed away her own body and took somebody else’s. While Ena drowns in this remorse, Makina borrows Akira’s rifle and blows her away. That’s another Shichisei down for the count. Just when Nozomi has found Ouri, he sees her collapsing into Makina’s arms. She becomes devastated. Then Touya appears before her and senses they both share the same view about death, beauty and ultimate happiness. He gives her a balloon which wraps around her neck. Ouri has been admitted into Kougon Cult and is in a meeting with other priests before Geika and Gon. Gon announces the need to prepare for battle against Shichisei and it may be a good thing or bad because Ouri the new kid stands up and asks questions as he feels Shichisei isn’t just targeting Kougon Cult. Though he isn’t sure what their objective is, he agrees that they must be destroyed because it is their wish. Later Rika gives Ouri the improvised robe Keisei laced with sutras. Not that Rika has gotten over Keisei, but if Ouri is going to learn Zadan techniques, he needs proper equipment. He also learns that Geika is the closest to God and thus he is the only one who can create Shikabane Himes. Nozomi returns to school and everyone can’t take their eyes off her. Has she changed? Indeed she did but she changed so much that Ushijima smells something fishy. It’s not like the Nozomi he knows. In school, Nozomi tries to pass on her ‘happiness’ to the other students by giving them balloons. It causes them to experience happiness and at its peak, they die and become balloons. Woah. Like some sort of evil drugs, don’t you think? After Ouri drops Makina off back at her place, he returns to his own after a long absence. To his surprise, Nozomi is there and pushes herself on top of him. She wants him to kill her.

Episode 7
Ouri pushes away as Nozomi states she just wants to be happy. Holes start appearing in his apartment and with the help of the cat, Ouri is able to see a big balloon attached to Nozomi’s neck. It contains her happiness. The bigger, the happier. That’s why she wants him to make her feel more happiness. Mizuki waltzes in to slap her. She tries to bring her to her senses because of what she did in school, everyone is in a panic. Nozomi makes her escape as Mizuki explains Nozomi was always worried about him when he was gone. Ouri dismisses they had nothing going on but soon realizes the similarity of Nozomi’s one sided love with Makina’s. He goes after her. Makina gets a call from Takamasa about a Shichisei spotted at school. Makina heads there alone but doesn’t need reinforcements. Kamika agrees to that since they need all the personnel they can get protecting the head temple as other Shichisei members may attack anytime. Meanwhile Akasha and Hazama talk. Seems Shichisei killed the Hoshimura family to obtain a book on how to create Shikabane Hime. The other reason was to create a Shikabane Hime out of Makina to give Hokuto an enemy. Makina sees Nozomi outside the school gates. Nozomi prises Makina’s beauty and wants to be like her. Dead. She thinks it’s the reason why Ouri likes her. She then attaches a balloon over Makina’s neck. Ouri arrives and although he wants to help Makina, she wants him to go after Nozomi. Ouri tries to wake Nozomi up from her delusion but she’s too caught up in her happiness. Ouri sees his friends knocked out. In their own world of happiness? He sees her balloon at its biggest and tries to smash it but Nozomi’s scream stops him. Suddenly she doesn’t want to die. Why? Because she’s so happy being with him. She wants to be with him forever and doesn’t want to die.

Makina faces off with Touya instead. He shows her the other students with balloons in the midst of their happiness. Makina can’t break them free because if she destroys the balloon, their happiness in it will turn into a monster and devour them. Touya also notices Makina’s balloon getting bigger and wants her to grow her happy monster. Touya is about to go see Nozomi sensing her ‘happiness’ has weakened. However Makina won’t let him go and shoots her own balloon. The monster turns into herself as a little girl. Touya thinks she can play all she wants like before without worrying a thing. That’s her happiness, right? Wrong. She’ll be happy when she kills Shichisei! Makina leaps and is about to destroy Touya. To her surprise, her true form is a little girl. She asks if happiness is the same as death. Hizuchi explains Touya was born in a very poor family who didn’t even have enough to eat. One day her parents brought her to the amusement park. She was very happy and had lots of fun. At the peak of their happiness, all of them died in the Ferris wheel (I suppose the family committed suicide by poisoning themselves). Touya died happier than she was and didn’t even realize she was dead. Makina disagrees death is happiness but Hizuchi tells her off she can fight them because she became a Shikabane Hime. That’s her happiness, right? Makina got distracted by Touya’s balloon so Hizuchi stabs her. He wants Touya to bring her back to Hazama while he cleans up this mess. Nozomi starts crying, thinking she could be with Ouri if she turns into a Shikabane Hime. She thought he might pay attention to her if she died. Of course now she realizes she doesn’t want to. Her balloon bursts and the monster is going to eat her. Ouri tries to use Zadan to stop it but it was futile. Hizuchi easily destroys it and mocks Ouri he can’t do it because he is a child of a Shikabane. Since the balloon is destroyed, Nozomi’s last words were to make her into a Shikabane Hime. He couldn’t. She’s gone. Ouri goes hysterical.

Episode 8
Ouri becomes devastated when Rika confirms Nozomi has died and has no qualities in becoming a Shikabane Hime. Makina wakes up at Shichisei’s base. As pointed out by Hazama, the important thing isn’t what they have in mind because she should take this chance to kill them without hesitation. But of course. She might not get this chance again. Makina sees Hokuto and charges straight at her. However Hokuto is equally strong and keeps seeing Makina as a shining light and wonders who the hell she is. Hazama thinks Akasha has failed to decipher the scripture but he replies there is nothing stated in it about turning an aged Shikabane like Hokuto into a Shikabane Hime. Is there anything to gain for a greater being like Hokuto to fight a mere Shikabane Hime? Hazama scoffs off Makina as ordinary because her blood is stained black. Ouri is reeling from Makina’s curse. He wants to go to her aid but Gon won’t allow it. He has always viewed him as impure and wants him to perform Enkiri. Is he a Shikabane? Actually, he was given birth by a Shikabane. Gasp! You heard that right. Ever since he was born, Kougon Cult never decided to get rid of him but now that the battle with Shichisei is coming closer, they will rid of any dangerous elements and will have Ouri sever his ties with Makina. Gon leaves the job to Takamasa. But on the way out, Takamasa and Itsuki defect and help Ouri to escape. They are stopped by Rika and Saki. Their reason being if Ouri could find the answer of whether a human and Shikabane understand each other. Something that they didn’t know. Their fight is comically stopped by Flesh’s comical ninja attack. Umehara feels disappointed that Takamasa made the Shikabane Himes fight each other inside the main temple. Geika says that Ouri wasn’t among their numbers to begin with and is just a small matter. Umehara hands Takamasa a special mission. They are going all-out to destroy Shichisei.

Hazama puts his plan into motion and gives Hizuchi the green light to kill Ouri. With Makina losing her Contracted Priest, she will lose her mind and become a corpse that fights. A corpse worthy of Hokuto. Part of their plan includes defiling this city with Shikabanes and this will awaken Hokuto to run through Kougon Cult’s main temple until it is destroyed. It will be the beginning of the dead massacring the living. Akasha suddenly feels he can’t help worry about Hokuto. Makina’s raw power battle with Hokuto continues. She thinks Hokuto wants to know about herself so she declares herself as her enemy. Ouri is back at Dairinkan and gets smacked by Riko. That’s for returning from training and not stopping by here. He is back to look for something that Keisei might have left behind. He wants to know why he was brought here. Riko may not know the details but around that time, there were cases of children went missing. The suspect was never found so Keisei never said anything about it. She feels it is strange because normally he would have taken Ouri back to his parents. Suddenly news that one of the orphanage kids got kidnapped. Ouri rushes out and sees the cat. It says their brother is calling them. At the river bank, Ouri sees several kids around Hizuchi. Calling Ouri his brother, he thought he would remember something if he did something similar back then. The time when they were all killed by Ouri’s mother. Visions of many dead children around a Shikabane. Hizuchi is mad that everyone died except him.

Episode 9
Hizuchi starts throwing and piling cars, equipment and everything in his rage to make Ouri remember. And yes he does remember his mother, a Shikabane. As explained, Keisei, Sadahiro and Akasha defeated Ouri’s mom and Keisei found him the only survivor among the dead children. Even if Ouri was born from a Shikabane, he wasn’t one. His mom was 9 months pregnant with him and died in an accident. When she turned into a Shikabane, she couldn’t understand Ouri. Her regret was that she couldn’t hold her own child in her arms. She went on a kidnapping spree but no matter how many children she kidnapped, she couldn’t find her son. All the kidnapped children died without food. However there was one among the dead kids who became a Shikabane: Hizuchi. He was so hungry that he ate everything. From rodents to insects and those dead children. Eating became his regret and nature. Hizuchi says that he isn’t the only one who returned as a Shikabane. Those murdered children too. They came back as a mass of souls and followed him around. It’s the cat. That’s what its real form is. Hizuchi throws the cat at Ouri so that it could devour his body. But he isn’t going to let him die so easily and will make him experience the same hell he went through. Meanwhile Makina finds it hard to believe she can’t win against super powerful Hokuto. Akasha was kind enough to explain the reason. As Hokuto has no regret or nature, Hokuto unlike other people who lived and experienced life and a variety of emotion, she was bred to be a human sacrifice. When she died, she became free and killed everybody in the village. It was her first ‘touching’ experience. In short, Hokuto is death herself and is the top of all Shikabanes. Makina can somehow see visions of her memories. Why is this so? Hazama explains the mother of all revelations. The family that carried out the sacrifice and found out the method in creating Shikabane Hime and eventually became the Kougon Cult was no other than Hoshimura.

In other words, Hokuto and Makina are blood related. That is why Hokuto became her enemy. A meaning was finally given to her. She became Kougon Cult’s enemy and with her strength she will destroy it. Hazama’s plan to use Makina was so that he could control her strength. Now he has no use for her. Hokuto is about to deal the finishing blow but Makina is so weak that she just tossed her away into the pool. Makina is running low on self esteem. Can she really win? Until thoughts of Ouri crept into her mind. She suddenly receives an enormous amount of strength and returns the favour to Hokuto. It’s payback time. The wall collapses and the priests from Kougon Cult are here. Seems Makina became their bait so they could find Shichisei’s base. The priests go after fleeing Shichisei but Makina won’t join them. She’s going to Ouri. Hizuchi forces the monster in Ouri to devour the children. But Ouri fights back and tells the monster to eat him instead. They agree and turn against Hizuchi. They vow to always protect Ouri because they’re always with him. They always watched to see if he would become a human or corpse. Hizuchi blames Ouri for their deaths but they say they are siblings and are crying because they wanted to be loved. Hizuchi disagrees with it all and tears the monster apart. But here comes Makina into the scene. She asks if this is Ouri’s true form. He doesn’t know. In that case, she’ll tell him. She throws his robes as the monster absorbs into it and Ouri reverts back to his human form. She reminds him he is her Contracted Priest. Hizuchi still disagrees that he is supposed to be a corpse just like him. Even so, Ouri will continue to live as a human. Ouri and Makina cooperate to kill off Hizuchi. When it’s over, Makina sounded a little like a tsundere because she tells Ouri not to die without her permission as she needs him. Suddenly a commercial plane crashes into the oil refinery. A couple more follow suit. It is part of Shichisei’s plan in motion. Guess how many Shikabanes can be made out of that? Tens of thousands…

Episode 10
All the priests and Shikabane Himes converge back at the Kougon Cult headquarters. The city is now like a zombie movie. Moving corpses all around. But Fresh seems to be happy about it. Because there are enough Shikabanes to kill and send them all free to Heaven. Geika gives the order to wipe out the Shikabanes even if it means leaving the headquarters vulnerable to attacks because as Kougon Cult, their mission is to return Shikabanes into their original state. Ouri and Makina make their first stop at Dairinkan, disposing off the zombies Shikabanes trying to eat the brains get the kids. After Riko and the kids are driven away to safety, Makina senses Hokuto heading towards the mountains where she was quarantined, Joubu. Ouri wants to head there but what about the Shikabanes in the city? Not their problem says he? Shichisei is an enemy that they and their brethren must defeat. Gon and Honda are inside Joubu. They seem to be in cohorts as they explain this place is the most impure of all Kougon Cult’s abodes since it discards impurities of Shikabane Himes. But there is also a secret reason why Joubu exists. Ah… A secret underground passageway… Hokuto, Hazama and Akasha are on their way to Joubu but are ambushed by Sadahiro and Akira. Hazama bears the most brunt of their attack. Akasha mentions Sadahiro is not his enemy by Kougon Cult. He knows Sadahiro has saw what happened on that day to his Shikabane Hime, Hibiki Shijou. He knew it was a trap as more than hundred abnormal Shikabanes gathered. Despite Hibiki was strong, she kept on fighting Shikabanes and Hazama’s bugs until she defeated more than 108 of them. He knows Sadahiro and Akira understand this too. Sadahiro hints that’s why they were allowed to kill humans.

Ironically when Shichisei passed them to enter Joubu, Sadahiro and Akira are faced with Makina and Ouri. They won’t let them pass but allowed Shichisei? They had orders not to let anyone in and will go after them once the duo are defeated. Sadahiro tries to convince them to leave as he explains they haven’t been killing just Shikabanes but humans who tried to unveil what Shikabanes are. They had to otherwise they would’ve gone insane. Makina tells them off that they are not the only ones who experienced hell. Makina herself have gone through hell so many times and hasn’t given up yet. Akira fires at her but Ouri’s Zadan technique stops it. He then knocks Sadahiro out and follows Makina in. Akasha and co confront Gon and Honda deep underneath Joubu. Gon creates a purity barrier that purifies and kills all those who enter it. Hokuto just jumps through and nothing happens. She stabs Gon. Honda sees her wearing the most sacred and important sutras of Kougon Cult that once belonged to from the Hoshimura family. She’s like wearing the purest shield and nobody can stop her. Hokuto breaks the coffin before her and when the corpse awakens, all the Shikabane Himes start to become weak. They feel they are losing their En connecting them to their Contracted Priest.

Episode 11
Akasha explains the reason why only young girls can become Shikabane Hime. Kougon Cult’s founder discovered a method to bring back his dead daughter and inscribed it as such. Not only that, Kougon Cult has also kept the Shikabane Hime created by him thereby using her spiritual power to connect Contracted Priests and their Shikabane Himes. Now that this catalyst has been destroyed, the Shikabane Himes will lose their En. Akasha views this that they have been released and Kougon Cult won’t use them as a tool anymore. There is also another reason why he is down here. A sutra owned by Hoshimura was a mere copy. This place lies the original. Akasha wraps that around Hokuto and uses his blood box to turn Hokuto into his Shikabane Hime. Then he orders her to kill Hazama. He killed his own Shikabane Hime so why this? It’s his atonement. Makina and Ouri enter the area and they square off with Hokuto. Akasha is impressed with his progress in using Zadan technique. It’s the power he got from all those that Akasha killed. When Ouri says he won’t understand it since he killed his own Shikabane Hime, this prompts Akasha to explain the truth. Hibiki was his lover and loved her very much. They were very close together since young and had only each other to support since they had no other relatives. Naturally they fall in love but she died due to a terminal illness. On her death bed, she wanted him to make her his Shikabane Hime. Akasha desperately begged to Geika and he allowed it seeing Hibiki had a gift and if she didn’t become Akasha’s Shikabane Hime, somebody else might use her. So the pair became a formidable team and was even believed to be stronger than Sougen-Kamika pair. Then that fateful day came. Akasha and a handful of other priests walked into a trap set by Hazama. Although taking care of the Shikabanes was easy, just as Akasha confronted Hazama, Hibiki counted she had already killed 108 Shikabanes. So did she go to Heaven? She turned crazy, injured Akasha and killed all the other priests and Shikabane Himes. Akasha couldn’t bear to see this and killed her.

In short, Shikabane Himes who have killed 108 corpses will ascend to Heaven is just a lie. They will turn into a Shikabane who only wishes to kill. When Akasha was grieving at Hibiki’s body at Joubu, he was told by Gon and Honda about this lie. That’s why they have observers who secretly bring Shikabane Himes like her down to Joubu and tell their Contracted Priest they have ascended to Heaven. Otherwise Shikabane Himes wouldn’t have fought so diligently for their Contract Priest. Now that Hibiki has reached this state, she is known as Breaker. She cannot be killed at this stage and will live for eternity. To prevent that, she will have her En cut and sealed in this place which contains all those Shikabane Himes turned into Breakers. The founder’s power keeps them sealed within. Akasha becomes upset about the truth of the eternal hell Hibiki will go through forever. He becomes disappointed and disillusioned with the Kougon Cult whom he had devoted. Gon uses his blood and sacrifice his life to blow up the place and let his fellow comrades escape. Too bad it’s in vain because Hokuto and Akasha are unscathed due to the former’s protection. Honda understands if Ouri and Makina hate him. But that is the reason why Gon had always been trying to avoid using Shikabane Himes as much as possible. Not only they become mindless killing corpses but wander in sadness through eternal hell. Even if Kougon Cult has manipulated them, this doesn’t discount the fact that Akasha killed Keisei. Hokuto attacks but Makina protects Ouri. But to Akasha’s surprise, her wounds start healing. Didn’t their En get cut off? Likewise with all the other fighting Shikabane Himes in the city, they still have the strength to fight back. They don’t need some catalyst to depend for power. They are friends before Contractor Priest-Shikabane Hime relationship and as long their hearts and mind are connected, they can produce as many En they want. That is their true bond.

Episode 12
The other Shikabane Himes realize their precious memories with their Contracted Priests, blah, blah, blah. Cut the chatter and finish off Isaka and Touya. Touya starts pondering about her happiness and death and can’t go any further. The Shikabane Himes realize that after their death, they realize and found happiness. Touya’s own balloon becomes a monster and devours her. The Contracted Priests destroy it. While Isaka laments he wants to continue existing, the Shikabane Himes blast him with all they’ve got. Makina and Hokuto clash once more. Hokuto remains stronger. Akira fires warning shots at them. Akira notes her regret is to kill more bad guys like the one who killed her. That’s why despite knowing the fate of Shikabane Himes, they’ve decided to kill humans. Akira destroys Joubu to reveal an area of coffins that Breakers lie. Akasha becomes emotional when he sees the coffin of Hibiki. He starts reminiscing the past as he realizes he she is the only one for her. Hokuto is even worried about him? She is easier to ‘beat up’ now that Akasha is all over Hibiki. Like yesterday once more. I guess Hokuto got jealous and kills him. Rejected… She reverts back to a Shikabane. Surprisingly that Hazama guy isn’t dead. He whisks Hokuto away. In the aftermath, the Shikabanes in the city are greatly reduced. With Shichisei gone, the remaining Shikabanes will soon lose their power. Honda and Sadahiro make an announcement that since Gon has died, Sadahiro will take over his place and look after Shikabane Himes who have killed 108 corpses and assist in their ascension to Heaven. The rest are to assume that Makina and Ouri went ‘missing’.

Seems now that the truth is out, Makina has no reason to continue killing but has no place to go. Ouri brings her Dairinkan and hopes she will continue to live here as a normal girl. They are surprised to see Ouri’s friends there. They are worried about him ever since the incident at school. Which reminds them about Nozomi’s case. Ouri will explain it all to them later. This prompts Makina to leave because she remembers to do something. Because Nozomi viewed beauty in death and wanted to die, she realizes she was about to do that. She doesn’t want that and wants to live on. When she was alive, she didn’t know about her reason for living and only realized it when she fought with Keisei against other Shikabanes. As for Hokuto, she is not death itself but a corpse. She just forgot about it and will have her remember what it means to live and die. Although humans cannot escape the clutches of death, they can struggle against it. She wants to fight against death because that’s the reason they live. She wants Ouri to come along with her. Makina is able to locate where Hokuto and Hazama are hiding because Hazama is holding a blood box that contains a part of Keisei. Hokuto also senses her and excitedly goes to greet her. As Ouri and Makina make their way into the building, Ouri borrows Keisei’s lines about priests being here for those grieving instead of the dead. He views Makina as alive and not dead because she is truly trying to live. That’s why she is alive. Hokuto ambushes them and the power fight begins. If her Uzis don’t work, Makina uses her fists to punch her. She will beat it into her to make her come to her senses on what it means to be human. Feel the pain! Feel the sadness! Feel that they are alive!

Episode 13 (OVA)
What’s this? A back story on Minai and Isaki? Why go all the way back to tell a story on characters that are long gone? It begins with Minai killing her boyfriend. I guess he was abusive. He even spelled it out right in her face that this will continue till the day she dies. Good thing he died first. Minai stabbed him. Then she committed suicide by jumping down the building. However she wakes up to find herself sprawling in her own blood. Her arm is broken but no pain? Keisei is called by Sougen and the other priests to see Minai. What has he got to do with her? Kamika found a name card bearing his name and she works in a cosplay club. Was Keisei misusing the name of the temple? Sougen thinks it is high time Keisei get his own Shikabane Hime to fight effectively but he doesn’t want to. I guess this leaves them no choice but to kill Minai. However Isaki says to make Minai his. Does he have a bond? He once met her in the streets and she confided in him about her problems. Minai undergoes a ceremony to become Isaki’s Shikabane Hime. Isaki wants her to pick a weapon seeing she needs them to fight Shikabanes. Since she took boxing before, she is confident in her punches. Isaki wants her to demonstrate. She punches him! He flies back! Oh sh*t! How is that for demonstration? On her first job fighting a Shikabane, she hesitated since she still thinks a Shikabane as human. The Shikabane attacks Isaki and he could have died if Keisei and the other priests didn’t come to his rescue. Isaki continues to look down and use Minai as a tool. Keisei tries to explain about En and Run to Minai but Isaki scoffs her off as dumb. Besides, she is already dead, does she need food although her stomach is growling? Meanwhile Honda and Sadahiro discuss about Minai. Honda does not feel any En between Minai and Isaki. There is only one possibility: Minai is not a Shikabane Hime and just a mere Shikabane, a quiet corpse that’s hanging around Isaki. One night, Minai senses a Shikabane and Isaki orders her to go after it. When she finally corners it, the Shikabane turns out to be Akira in disguise. She has just proven that Minai is just a Shikabane because her injuries do not heal even if her Contracted Priest is close by. She is about to take her out to prevent her from turning into a Shikabane when Isaki comes looking for her. Minai’s wound suddenly heals. This catches Akira off guard so she backs out and would like to hold her termination for a while.

When Minai tells Isaki about Akira, he tells her that what Akira said was a lie. Then she starts questioning if they have ever really met because she doesn’t remember meeting him. Isaki hints that he made up that story and wants her to keep quiet about it. Because if the higher ups know about this, they will be separated. In view of this, he needs her help. They sneak into a house whom Isaki believes a Shikabane stops by the Kougon Cult’s temple and takes the form of one of the head priests. There is no one inside the supposed room but when a guy comes out from the toilet behind, Isaki panics! That’s his brother?! He’s scared of big bro? Later Isaki explains that he wanted her to kill him. He considers his brother a trash because the only thing he cares about is sucking up to their parents and get more money. The last straw came when they gave all the inheritance to him. After their dad died, he decided to create a silly temple for Kougon Cult. In order to silence Isaki, he used his contacts and forced him into becoming a priest in Kougon Cult. So he thought he would just claim him as a Shikabane and use Minai to kill him. Therefore, they had no En and never knew each other before she turned into a Shikabane. However at that time he needed one. He wanted to climb the ranks of Kougon Cult and beat his brother. He realized it was impossible with her so he thought he would just at least do in his brother. He tells her to go away and do anything she wishes as she was never his Shikabane Hime to begin with. But she won’t because she is still not done with her punishment. She murdered someone. Then she sees his aura lighting so brightly in the dark and could feel them coming into her. Is this En? She says since she is allowed to go wherever she wants, she wants to be beside him because he too is a sinner like her. Back home, Minai is thrilled that he knows how to make her favourite okonomiyaki food. Honda tells Keisei about Sadahiro’s investigation on Isaki. Because he used to fight a lot with his brother when they’re young, their parents often put Isaki under Sadahiro’s care to separate them. Isaki learnt how the make okonomiyaki from Sadahiro’s bar then. At that time, Minai was also living around the area and as her parents were often busy working, she came by here frequently to have okonomiyaki, in which Isaki cooked for her. Since it happened so long ago, they wouldn’t remember but this is definitely their En and what connects them. Their destiny has been entwined since childhood. Minai and Isaki become a pair as they go around fighting taking out other Shikabanes and Minai is confident to proclaim herself as Isaki’s Shikabane Hime.

A Good Corpse Is A Dead Corpse!
Oh dear. Not one of those crappy endings again. So Makina couldn’t finish off every single one of Shichisei and ends up having a fist fight with Hokuto. Is that a good way to end things? To me, it isn’t. Personally, if they had killed off the remaining Shichisei duo, I would have felt that the ending didn’t suck as much. Why the need to bring Hazama back from the dead (okay, so he is already dead from a technical point of view)? Had he not done so, Makina probably would have finished Hokuto right where she was standing as she was at the transition of her weakest point. My guess is that it is so that Makina would still have some sort of mission to carry on and reason to live. I mean, if all the Shichisei members are dead, where else would she go, right? Her goal fulfilled and she can already go to Heaven. Oh wait. That’s not possible in her case either. So from the way I see it, she will not kill Hokuto and keeps on punching her to keep her realize what it means to be a human being. I thought that too would be futile seeing she is already dead. With Hazama too weak to do anything, I think it is safe to say that Shichisei won’t become a major threat to Kougon Cult in the future. Now that there are only a couple of them left, I think they should consider renaming themselves to Futasei (Twin Stars).

The revelation of the truth about killing 108 corpses to ascend to Heaven brings about more questions than answers. I knew there was going to be some twist somewhere in the series since killing 108 corpses itself sounds very fishy. Thus when it is revealed that Shikabane Himes who achieved this feat do not go to Heaven and turn into a berserk Shikabane itself, it made me think that Shikabane Himes would have it better if they just turned into a Shikabane before that and get killed. Besides, becoming a Breaker means becoming immortal. That’s like becoming God, no? I’m not sure but I feel that this is why many Shikabane Himes die before reaching this number. You may ask if this is the cruel fate of Shikabane Hime, why not do away with this Contracted Priest and Shikabane Hime combo? I somewhat agree too because before making a contract and turning them into corpse killers, just blow their brains and return them to their maker like what they do with ordinary Shikabanes. Doesn’t that solve the problem? Ah, you may think that they need some undead to fight and protect the priest from other rampaging Shikabanes. After all, Shikabane Himes are always at the front lines and taking in whatever damage. So if it was the ordinary priest instead, he would have died. But still, I think turning such girls into Shikabane Hime and do the dirty fighting is still a much crueller deed. I mean, killing every Shikabane is the same, right? Just like zombies, destroy their brains! That can’t be too hard, no? Unless their brains are somewhere hidden in their monstrous deformity. Yeah. Like they would sit still and let you whack their brains, eh? Considering that if this 108 corpses kill lie becomes known, what would become of the existing Shikabane Himes in contract? Would they go on vacation? There is no more motivation to kill anymore. There is no point in racking up the body count if they know what they’re going to end up as. As long as their Contracted Priest is by their side, they’ll retain their humanity. Another mind boggling thing is if Ouri was born from a Shikabane, how come he doesn’t look at all like a toddler? He was 3 years old when Keisei found him and just fresh from putting an end to his mother’s kidnapping spree. Assuming she gave birth to him and died soon after, how did Ouri survived those 3 years then? It can’t be since it’s already mentioned that Ouri was born right after her death.

Each of the Shikabane Himes that we know is unique in their own characteristic and behaviour. Some of them are fun. Like Flesh. Naturally she is an otaku Shikabane Hime so she is always with that carefree attitude even during times of danger. Saki is cheeky, bratty and she loves teasing Rika. Whenever she’s not in action or talking, she can be seen eating tremendous amount of snacks. I’m not sure if she is hungry or just likes to stuff f her mouth. Saki sometimes can be scornful but hesitates to live up to whatever she said. Especially about the part she was talking big about putting Minai out of her misery. Then she hesitated and lost. What does this show? She talks big for a little girl. Oops… Akira is also amusing because of her cynical behaviour. As the only Shikabane Hime allowed to kill humans, I think she is the only one who would punish her master if he steps out of line. Kamika’s seriousness and no-nonsense attitude shows that she is the strongest Shikabane Hime around and not to be messed with. Her few scenes in action are enough to just show us how cool she was. Say, if she really is the strongest one out there, does this mean she will also be the strongest Breaker? I shiver to think about it.

Over the series, we get to see the main relationship between Keisei, Makina and Ouri. Keisei is perhaps the most sporting character because even as a priest, he knows when to be serious and has a comical side. Ouri is lucky to have someone like him being his big brother although the little annoyance of having to put up with porn magazines and posters he offers. Keisei’s pervertness is only second to Umehara. There is this very deep bond and trust between Makina and Keisei. So it is natural when the latter died, Makina finds it hard to trust anyone else. It is no doubt that nobody could ever replace Keisei because Keisei is Keisei for who himself. But Makina found it hard to accept Ouri was perhaps she was afraid that if she did make a new contract with him, she would totally forget about Keisei. This is what makes her stuck in her past and unable to move forward. Once that is gotten over with, everything else just falls into place. Ouri the reluctant kid to have got into it all finally decides not to turn a blind eye and run. He may not be perfect and he has a long way to go in his training but at least he makes an effort in doing his best.

The other side characters are rather okay and I can’t comment on them much either. Like Isaki is somebody you would love to hate for treating Minai like a tool. But he is not that all bad because that is perhaps is his way he shows he cares for her (notice how often he keeps looking for her?). What’s the use of hanging around him if you don’t live up to your usefulness? Sougen, Takamasa and Umehara don’t play very much role but they provide essential support to their organization and the protagonists when needed. I heard Umehara had another Shikabane Hime. Touma was her name, right? Where was she? I read she was on vacation… I guess corpses even need to take some time off. I thought Honda and Gon were conspiring and like some shows, the real bad guys are the ones at the top. Fortunately, they were just trying to protect a secret even though it may make them seem like they are lying, think about when if the truth goes out, havoc will reign because you might have some Shikabane Himes going crazy thinking about the prospect of becoming a Breaker forever and some who wouldn’t give a damn and abandon everything since there is nothing in it for them anymore. Who will be there to assist the priests in fighting Shikabanes then? Akasha became an antagonist because of his method of wanting to free the Shikabane Himes from their curse. Would there have been a better alternative? What else would you have done if you ran out of options? The black cat’s mysterious appearance serves as a teaser to make viewers keep guessing who the hell is this feline and how is it connected to Ouri. Once its true form is revealed, you’ll never see it ever again. What happened to it? They didn’t move on to Heaven, right? From what I understand and saw, they absorbed themselves into Ouri (or his robes) but after that, I don’t see them playing any sort of role or make a whisker of appearance anymore.

One of my little complaints is that the action sometimes doesn’t feel convincing. It looked a little lame. Especially when Makina fires her pair of Uzis away, it felt as though she is firing a paper gun. I am not sure if Uzis are light but the way she wastes bullets on her enemies is like she doesn’t need to expend any effort. And also it feels like she activated some sort of cheat code because her bullets are unlimited and keep flowing forever.  Oddly, I feel that if she had just fired directly at the brains instead of everywhere else over the body (perhaps to weaken the Shikabane, I guess), she wouldn’t have took so long to dispose of one. But of course, if she knows where the brains are in the first place. This shouldn’t be too hard for Shikabanes taking a human form. Otherwise the action is rather decent but there are lots of blood and gory effects. Since you’re dealing with corpses, expect to see some limbs coming off. There are quite a number of deaths too whether unimportant extra characters or some of the supporting characters. Like Keisei’s shocking death is the pivotal one to Isaki’s ‘pathetic’ murder (it’s a shame this guy got easily killed by gangsters rather than die in the line of duty) to poor Nozomi who never got her wished fulfilled (now considering the real truth behind the Shikabane Himes, I think she got lucky going out straight with death) and other personalities that turned into Shikabanes for the first half of the series to give us an idea what we’re going to expect out from this anime. It’s like they’re trying to hint that death is inevitable and part of life’s cycle, which is true. Some of the Shikabanes in their true form are hideous and it gives off that horror feeling. Also when the black cat was around, it’s mysterious presence and subsequently the appearance of eyes all over its body did give me the creeps. Even the next episode preview is narrated by the black cat. So creepy and teasing that I feel if I let my guard down I would be frightened out of my daylights. Thankfully, I didn’t.

Being mainly an action and horror genre, I guess there is no time for some romance. If you are hoping for Makina and Ouri to become a couple in the end, then you better stop dreaming. Don’t even dream. I know love transcends age, race, nationality, etc. But loving the undead? Don’t brush it off yet because even if it is not obviously stated, you can just feel that Ouri may have feelings for Makina. Otherwise why is he so concerned with her? It can’t be just because she was Keisei’s Shikabane Hime and wants to take responsibility for her for partly causing his death. But if Ouri does turn out to like a dead corpse, then I won’t be surprised. After all, I have already seen it all in Sankarea… You thought that with Nozomi admitting her feelings for Ouri, it would go somewhere but too bad she died. I may be paranoid starting to think that Mizuki may harbour feelings for Ouri. But that is totally unwarranted for. They’re just classmates and best friends. That’s it. Perhaps the closest love romance came in the form of Itsuki and Takamasa. Their little flashback was a nice little distraction from our main protagonists. Akasha too loved his Shikabane Hime very much but his flashback was so fast and too short that I only felt his disillusion. So that dude only realized his wrong after he sees her real body? In that case he should’ve kept her corpse with him all the time. I guess his wasn’t a happy ending because when he died, he won’t be reunited with her in Heaven. She’s not there. She’s a cursed immortal. Though comedy isn’t a main factor, it is very minimal just to break the gloominess whether it is Keisei’s perversion, Umehara and Flesh in some useless argument or Saki’s teasing.

The art and drawing are rather okay too. Not that good but it isn’t that bad either. Maybe it is because I have seen too many animes, I thought I started seeing shades of other anime characters in some of them here. For instance, when I first looked at Keisei, I thought he was the more casual version of Bleach’s Ichigo Kurosaki! No kidding! At a certain angle, he really looks like one. Just that he doesn’t go into angst mode. For Ouri, I thought he was a feebler version of Kateikyoushi Hitman Reborn’s Tsuna! Not joking either! At least Tsuna shows more emotions because he panics most of the time but Ouri is short of that. He only blows his top when Keisei forces his perverted materials on him or when the orphanage kids mispronounce and tease his name. Another thing I want to point out is some of the other priests in Kougon Cult especially those bald headed ones. I don’t know, they all look the same to me! I mean, I couldn’t really tell the difference between Gon and Isaki or some other baldy priests except for their voice or some marking on their face (probably this was also done to differentiate them). That’s why I thought characters with hair on their head like Keisei, Sougen, Sadahiro and even Rinsen are identifiable because of the hair on their head. I guess this goes to show the importance of having a hairstyle. Hehehe…

I think I am also paranoid because sometimes I noticed that Makina doesn’t wear any pantsu! Is there any reason for a corpse to be wearing one? Is ‘down there’ rotten? Haha! Just joking. But she does wear bra… What I’m saying is that there are times when the wind precariously blows up her skirt and if you are quick enough, you can see her butt line… What does this tell us? She’s not wearing underneath, right? Even there are a few comments about it that she doesn’t wear any pantsu. Just watch the opening credits animation and spot several of this instances. Because Shikabane Himes look like normal girls, it’s such a waste if you don’t have some fanservice. Whether it is Minai’s tight body suit or the Shikabane Hime’s clothes getting torn during the midst of a fight. Even Rika despite not a Shikabane Hime is here to give us some fanservice. I notice that she is the only female to appear in Kougon Cult and I’m not sure if her lab coat is too tight that it makes her unable to button her dress and leaves her baring her big boobs. I know she’s the medical division but can she walk around like that in such a holy place? Well, maybe the priests here have casted away all their desires… I feel the ending credits animations is also a place for Shikabane Hime fanservice. No wonder Minai who has been gone for so long is even featured here.

I also have a little bit of grouse on the voice acting. I find that Makina and Ouri sound pretty much like dead. Sure, Makina with her character as a corpse but knowing that she isn’t void of emotions, sometimes I feel her speeches lack the emotions to fit that scene. Same case with Ouri. Sure, he was born out from a Shikabane and void of emotions in his early part of his life till get to know death. In both characters, they sounded quite flat in their speeches. Maybe it is because both their seiyuus Nana Akiyama (voice of Makina) and Tatsuya Hasome (Ouri) do not have much voice acting experience or roles. Nana Akiyama’s only other anime role is Ageha in Viper Creed and for Tatsuya Hasome it is only Jou Yokosuka in Rainbow – Nisha Rokubou No Shichirin. I thought Mamiko Noto was the voice behind Minai. They sound close and had this feeling that this wasn’t my favourite seiyuu. Minai is voiced by Yuka Hirata who also doesn’t have a long list of anime roles to her name. The only other anime role I heard her was as Masamune Date in Sengoku Otome Momoiro Paradox. It was really amusing to hear and spot Yui Horie voicing 3 different characters! Yes, 3 of them. As the black cat, she sounded very creepy (kudos to especially how she narrated the next episode preview using this eerie voice). As Kamika she was in serious and no-nonsense mode. As Riko she was the caring big sister. Other casts include Keiji Fujiwara as Keisei (Sven in Black Cat), Chise Nakamura as Itsuki (Megumi in Dragonaut The Resonance), Tokuyoshi Kawashima as Takamasa (William Jones in Emma: A Victorian Romance), Junichi Suwabe as Sadahiro (Atobe in Prince Of Tennis), Mika Kikuchi as Saki (Mokona in Tsubasa Chronicle), Saeko Chiba as Rika (Natsuki in Mai-HiME), Aoi Yuuki as Saki (Madoka in Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica), Aya Endou as Flesh (Lisara in Dakara Boku Wa H Ga Dekinai), Masaki Terasoma as Umehara (Kanbei in Samurai 7), Tomokazu Sugita as Isaki (Gintoki in Gintama), Hidetoshi Nakamura as Sougen (Gid in To Love-Ru), Mitsuru Miyamoto as Akasha (Ayame in Fruits Basket), Chika Fujimura as Hokuto (Sora in Oh Edo Rocket), Miki Maruyama as Nozomi (Miki in Lemon Angel Project) and Toru Ohkawa as Hazama (Roy Mustang in Fullmetal Alchemist).

All the opening and ending themes are sung by Angela. The only opening theme that starts off like a Halloween song, Beautiful Fighter is a rock outfit that befits the action and horror pace of this anime. There are several ending themes. My Story by Angela is the main ending theme for the first half of the season and this moderate rock piece doesn’t sound all too bad. For the second half of the anime, it is Hikari, Sagase Naku Tomo and resembles more of a slow rock. Beginning is a slow piece and has this sad and ominous feel in it and is only played for a couple of episodes in the middle of the series. The only song that is not sung by Angela is The Pale Sands of the Sleeping Star which is sung by Mayumi Iizuka who is the voice of Kun. Also another slow piece filled with sadness in its tune, this is the special ending song for episode 4 of the first season to reflect the sad end that befell on her unfortunate character.

Ironically from this anime’s view, a Shikabane Hime is more alive when she is revived after death than when she was alive. Unfortunately that is only temporary because now we know what really happens when they kill 108 corpses. In that case, why not be like Akira and kill humans too? I mean, humans are the worst sort of creature around, right? Sometimes even worse than Shikabane. Oh, I remember, they can’t kill humans as per their contract. Ever consider changing the contract terms? Besides, maybe Akira herself isn’t excluded from this condition in the first place. Instead of killing Shikabanes, she went round killing humans so this keeps her Shikabane count really low despite being around as a Shikabane Hime for quite some time.

At this rate with the human population already breaching the 7 billion barrier and is expected to rise rapidly in the coming years, I fear that with the technological advances, modern conveniences and materialistic wealth would only cause more Shikabanes to emerge. People these days too tend to be short tempered, greedy and apathetic to others so if the human race was massacred, it will spawn a new huge wave of Shikabanes. Even though that already is the end of humanity itself. The way I see it, to prevent humans from turning into one, there are only 2 options: 1) Throw away all your worldly desires and live life to the fullest without regret; 2) Live forever. I guess both are impossible to do, eh? That’s why for now I want to watch as many animes as I want before leaving this world so as not to have any sort of otaku regret. But just in case a Shikabane comes knocking on my door and I have no hot Shikabane Hime to rescue me, I am thinking of practising playing Resident Evil games to blow off zombies’ brain. I have also taken the liberty to prepare a garlic garland, a sharp wooden stake, a cross, some silver bullets and holy water. Oh… I think those are weaknesses for vampires. Oh shiiiii…!!!

Shigofumi

November 27, 2011

There are certain things that we can’t say face to face to someone when we are alive. I’m sure everyone has gone through this dilemma before. So we keep those words right in our hearts till the day we die sadly without letting our intended person ever know the truth. That’s why we have letters from the departed called Shigofumi. Derived from the word “shigo” (language/words of the dead) and “fumi” (writings/letters), Basically it isn’t an ordinary letter because one can only receive it after you somebody (the sender of the letter) passes away. The best and beautiful part of all Shigofumis is that they are truthful and honest of what the sender really wanted to say. So sometimes we may not understand why we need to take so long and only until death we could say things but I guess with Shigofumi around, the deceased will have a final chance to say what they want and the receiver will finally understand what was to be said.

However Shigofumis like any other letters and postcards don’t get mailed by themselves. They need a carrier to deliver them. Enter one of the mail carriers of the afterlife, Fumika and her talking staff, Kanaka. Her job is to deliver Shigofumis to receivers and her designated area is Kamome city in Japan. Think of her character as a cross between Shinigami No Ballad and Letter Bee. She does her job with utmost dedication without complaining or fail. Whether the receiver is in the midst of big trouble or has issues accepting them, it’s not her problem because all she has to do is to deliver the mail. She sends them. You take them. End of story. What you do with it is up to you. Sighs… If we only have such dedicated postmen in real life. But that’s beside the point. So while Fumika goes round delivering her Shigofumis, she’ll meet lots and different types of people as we slowly learn her tragic and shocking past. If you like your animes that deal with the depressing and dark side of human beings, then this show should be on your watch list. I read that this series is deemed an original anime. Meaning, it is not based on any manga. However oddly enough it was serialized as a light novel a couple of years before its release as a TV anime. Yes, the novel was adapted from the TV series. Odd. Just like the show. But interesting.

Episode 1
The series gets the ball rolling with the introduction of high school kid, Shouta Machiya. He is obsessed with making his experimental rocket and the only person who takes interest in it is Asuna Ayase, who is also the girl he secretly has a crush on. Asuna then receives a call that her father is dead. Murdered. Hey, people die every day, right? One day as Shouta goes to his experimental hideout, he meets Fumika and Kanaka. Who wouldn’t be surprised to see a talking staff? Fumika has a Shigofumi from Asuna’s dad but the addressee is Asuna’s lover. Plus, if you’re hearing some mumbo-jumbo on letters from the afterlife, would you believe it? Though Kanaka puts away the Shigofumi and thinks she has mistaken Shouta as Asuna’s lover, Shouta stops her. He wants her to hold on to that letter till he officially becomes Asuna’s boyfriend. He tries calling Asuna who is in the middle of packing up with her little sister Miku. He can’t bring himself to say it except that he wants her to come watch his rocket when it is finished. Obviously a longshot but if he can finish it within that period, it’ll be okay, right? Fumika waits patiently as Shouta finishes his rocket. So why the sudden belief in Shigofumi for this kid? Apparently nobody believed him about his rocket except for Asuna. Nobody but her believed in him that his rocket will take off one day. When Shouta returns to his room, he sees the Shigofumi lying on the floor and as the curious kid, he picks it up to read it. Fumika realizes that Shigofumi is missing and fears the worst. She rushes to Shouta who is seemingly upset. He cannot believe the Shigofumi is accusing Asuna as the culprit who killed her own dad! How could a docile girl like her be killing her own father? Hard to believe! Shigofumi was one think but Asuna the killer? No way, man. That night Shouta meets Asuna at the park bench. She mentions about dropping out from school to find work to support Miku. Shouta tells her his rocket has been completed and if it successfully takes off, he wants her to go out with him. Finally a confession, eh? But she says she can’t and that’s when Fumika appears. Shouta gets pissed at the sight of her and tells Fumika off for accusing Asuna. Then as he is about to take Asuna’s hand and go away, Asuna suddenly stabs him in the heart!! OMG!!! OMFG!!! So it’s F*CKING TRUE!!! See how her face turned into an evil killer? Scary! As Shouta lies dead in his own pool of blood, Asuna slowly walks towards Fumika and Kanaka. Though Kanaka is panicky and wanting to escape, Fumika is playing it cool and mentions how living humans tend to lie.

Episode 2
Fumika asks Asuna if Shouta is her boyfriend. Her reply is that she’s been with many guys. Fumika then disappears with Kanaka. Kanaka is curious about why Asuna killed her death and the dark side of human beings but Fumika notes that it is not their job to know that nor are they here to judge others. Yeah, just deliver the Shigofumis, that’s all. Everything else is not of their concern. Asuna is seen trying to dig a hole to bury Shouta’s body. Wait a minute. She’s not serious in digging with a knife, isn’t she? Yes, she is. Desperate. Amazingly, I think she manages to dig a hole big enough to dump his body inside. However, because of Shouta’s disappearance, the local inspector Tatsumi Nojima is hot on tracking the killer’s trail. While Asuna and Miku continue to live in an orphanage, Asuna’s flashback reveals why she killed her father. Let’s say he’s a despicable person who has no shame about letting her daughter getting photograph naked by lots of men for some porn activity in exchange for scraps of paper called money. She was alright with her dull, mundane and meaningless life till daddy decided to use Miku as well because he pretty got much a good deal out of it. That’s when she snapped and stabbed him. I know we all would say he deserved it, but hey, who are we to judge others? With the inspectors hot on her tracks, Asuna decides to run away and has an image change by cutting her hair short. Inside the train, Asuna is surprised to see Fumika. She has a Shigofumi from Shouta. But Asuna sees this as an opportunity to kill her. But Fumika is quick to use Kanaka to knock Asuna over. Then Fumika pulls out her gun and tells her about dying and regrets. It was enough to wake Asuna up and receive the Shigofumi. Upon reading it, she rushes out of the train and back to Shouta’s experimental shed. In the Shigofumi, even though Shouta was killed by her, he apologized instead for never realizing her feelings and felt he was a selfish person thinking nothing but his rocket. Asuna didn’t think so because when she first say his rocket lifted off in the sky, she felt the endless sky she had never seen before unlike the bed she was forced to do sleazy activities with. A boring colourless wall. And it wasn’t the rocket that she believed in, but rather their future (something symbolic if the rocket takes off). Asuna makes preparations for the rocket blast-off following carefully the instructions left behind in Shouta’s manual. When she starts the final countdown, Nojima confronts her. Then a canvas covers the rocket and threatens to ruin the lift off so she rushes straight to cut it away with her knife. However, Nojima’s panicky rookie partner sees this as a threat and shoots her! Now it’s Asuna’s turn to lie in her own pool of blood but she’s happy because the blast-off is a success. In the aftermath, Fumika delivers a Shigofumi (from Asuna) to Miku saying that it contains the most beautiful and purest feelings in the world.

Episode 3
Tooru Kotake has this weird thinking about death. Yeah, he is asking his friends Kaname and Senkawa what it would be like to jump in front of a train. Of course you die lah! They continue this discussion but each don’t seem to take this death thing seriously. I mean, who in their sane mind would think of dying. That night when Tooru is bored playing his video game, he receives call from Kaname that Senkawa is dead. You heard that right. D-E-A-D. He committed suicide by jumping off a building. Everyone is in shock over Senkawa’s death because he never looks stressed or worried and always carefree. The reporters start hounding the school for questions and their reputation is going to take a big hit if it goes out of hand. Tooru is even called to the teacher’s room to discuss what may actually have happened since they’ve hang out together often but he too doesn’t know. He starts wondering if they’re really friends because all they every do is just hang out with each other and not knowing much about the other. Then one day suddenly Senkawa’s father enters the classroom and takes everyone hostage as he barricades the classroom. He believes that his son committed suicide from bullying (as he told the media) though he just wants to know the reason for his son’s death. Police surround outside the school as Nojima comes rushing to the scene. Particularly, his son is one of the hostages: Kaname. The class is terrified when Senkawa’s dad starts questioning and so he shifts his attention to the guy who spends the most time with Senkawa: Tooru. He mentions about the death topic they discussed the other day so dad wants him to name to culprit responsible for Senkawa’s death but Tooru himself wants to know. Suddenly the door bursts open and coming in are Fumika and Kanaka. She hands a Shigofumi from Senkawa addressed to Tooru. Daddy becomes frantic because he wants to read his son’s letter but Fumika warns him as she points her silver revolver at him. So he requests Tooru to read it out loud. In the letter, Senkawa mentioned there was no reason at all for his death. He thought about Tooru’s words and wondered what would happened if he jumped (of course you die lah! But that’s what most of us would think). Though he had no reason to die, he had no particular reason to live either. So this was just taking a different path from the usual (what the hell is so different about the path like jumping off the tracks into the train’s path as thought? Naturally death only awaits, right? You’re no Superman, no?). Daddy thinks the letter is fake but Tooru insists it is true. Just then, the SWAT team throw a flash grenade inside. The blinding light paralyzes everyone as they take Senkawa’s dad into custody, still refuse to believe everything. Tooru knew it was from Senkawa because he was his friend and wonders if he could be his friend too. A little too late, aren’t we? While Fumika is about to leave on the rooftop, Kaname stops her. He recognizes that gun she pointed out. He knows her as Fumika Mikawa, the girl who shot her father. Must be something to do with a girl lying in a comatose state with a book written by Kirameki Mikawa.

Episode 4
Fumika does another Shigofumi deliver. A thick one. Wow. What could be in it? This time to popular tennis high school girl Ran Yahiro. However she isn’t willing to receive the Shigofumi even if it was from Naoko Kaitenshi. The disturbed look on Ran’s face indicates that she must have some trouble with this person. You see, Ran lives alone with her divorced dad and the reason why a popular girl like her has no boyfriend is that, well, she’s pretty close to the club captain, Nanae Yotsugi. So close that you can smell yuri each time they’re close together. Her tennis club members are to leave for a training camp in the woods. This means the delivery area is out of Fumika’s reach. But distance and location aren’t going to stop Fumika from doing her job. Yeah, tag along. Despite attempts to hand over the Shigofumi, Ran vehemently refuses. Then we meet any Shigofumi mail carrier, Chiaki and her talking staff, Tomato. Oops sorry. It’s Matoma. Easier to remember that vegetable name, eh? By the way, this is Chiaki’s delivery area and she’s taken a keen interest in Fumika because all Shigofumi couriers do not age and Fumika is the only exception. Ran is having so much on her mind so Nanae goes to talk to her. It is revealed that her mom, Naoko left with another man when she was young, the reason why she hated every inch of her. So when she found out that she was trick, she felt she deserved what she got. Ran finally accepts the Shigofumi when Fumika pays another nightly visit. However she throws it away. Is it okay? Well, once Fumika has done her job passing the letter, it’s up to the recipient to do whatever she wants. Aren’t you curious to know what’s written in it? That’s not their job scope. Simple. But her mind is still distracted with these thoughts so much so Ran sprained her ankle during the next morning’s training session. Nanae helps nurse her but admits that she was eavesdropping back then when she received her Shigofumi. She urges her to read the Shigofumi to put an end to this issue and promises to always be by her side. While everyone is away training, the dorm catches fire. I don’t know, was the sunlight that hot? By the time the teammates spot the fire, they rush to the scene. Ran isn’t going to be some damsel in distress as she limps her way out of the fiery inferno while clutching the Shigofumi in her hands. She manages to reach to safety outside and just as the Goddess of Luck is smiling down on them, a heavy downpour soon puts out the fire. Was it Fumika? No, she notes it wasn’t her doing. In the aftermath Ran read her Shigofumi and it seems Naoko apologizes for everything and is proud of all her achievements (she secretly went to watch her tennis matches – so the Shigofumi is filled with all her winning photos and everything). With that, she buries the hatchet with her late mom.

Episode 5
Kirameki is being interviewed. Being the pretty guy he is, he loves everything beautiful and when the interviewer has the cheek to ask for any solution to cure his ugliness, he tells him “Go and die”. WTF?! Fumika and Chiaki are chasing after the same cat, Schrodinger all over the place to deliver their Shigofumi. Seems its elderly owners passed away at the same time. Isn’t that coincidence or bliss? Because of that, our courier girls are having a hard time catching it. Harder for Fumika since she’s afraid of cats. Could this be the first job that she’ll falter? No way! So how to attract it? Buy catnip! But since they don’t have real money, Chiaki actually thinks of turning invisible and stealing it! Of course Fumika isn’t going to allow it. Then a couple of sleazy guys try to hit on them but they fire back calling them unsightly names. They should learn a lesson not trying to use violence to solve matters. The girls easily overpower them and while begging for mercy, they leave their wallets as repentance. Hey, now we can buy catnip. So as they cook the catnip at the park, they attracted every cat except the one they’re looking for. Chiaki gets cheeky and blows the smell of the catnip towards Fumika till she passes out. Meanwhile Kaname continues to research on Fumika and calls all his previous classmates who know her. This leads to Natsuka Kasai. From the looks of it she once had a crush on him. Still has, though. She wonders if he still likes Fumika though Kaname says that he was rejected. Kaname learns that Fumika is hospitalized. Fumika wakes up on Chiaki’s lap and their catnip plan failed. Suddenly they see Schrodinger so it’s back to the good ol’ chase but they both got into each other’s way each time they are closing in on the cat. Fumika chases the cat outside the hospital. She becomes shocked upon seeing the comatose girl, supposedly the real Fumika. She crashes into a tree and lands on Kaname, who happened to walk by to pay a visit to the real Fumika. Funny part is that Chiaki tries to cover his eyes so that he can’t so who landed on him. It gets worse when Schrodinger lands on her so she gives Kaname to worse chiropractic massage that will last his entire lifetime. Chiaki follows Schrodinger into a building in process of being demolished. She manages to catch the cat but can she make it out in time? Apparently Fumika did some ghost-scaring tactic by taking control of the demolition machine so the poor workers think the place is haunted! In the aftermath, they realize this building is where Schrodinger’s owners once lived. Inside the Shigofumi is a key to the room. So the cat travelled back 2 hours just to be back at a place called home? Well, that’s why it’s call a home, right? Yeah, they’re like family. Schrodinger makes itself at home. Chiaki asks Fumika about her family but she just says that they’ve already ended. Kaname sees the comatose Fumika and his dad is also there. He says she has been lying there for 3 years without ever waking up. This causes Kaname to wonder who that girl he met at the rooftop was.

Episode 6
Shunsuke Morishita surfs an online message board when he chances upon a guy who calls himself Half Dead because of the incessant bullying. This bullying thing must be becoming a trend since there is a bully victim in his class too. He is Kouichi Kikukawa and is always being the target of the 3 bullies in his class. It’s bad enough that nobody stands up for him, they also become ‘accomplices’ when the bullies tell them to do stuff like throw rubbish in his bag. Morishita then realizes that this Half Dead guy is Kikukawa because of the posts he made were strikingly similar to the one that just happened today. Then he bumps into Kikukawa outside while cleaning and his suspicions are confirmed when he responses to his online moniker. Kikukawa begs for help but Morishita doesn’t want to get involve. On his way back, the bullies think Morishita is Kikukawa’s friend and wonders if he’s willing to trade places. Though Morishita denies that they’re friends, they want him to prove it by helping them out. That night, Kikukawa gets a call from Morishita to meet at the school rooftop as part of his help. However it is a trap set up by the bullies so that they could play some sick game of making him cross an iron beam between the buildings. Luckily the death game didn’t go on since the security guard was patrolling so they have to call it off and pretend that they’re from the astronomy club. Morishita thinks this case is settled but the next day, the teacher informs that Kikukawa has committed suicide! Yeah, this school’s reputation is really at stake after another student suicide. The students are given a gag order. But unlike Senkawa’s case, nobody give a damn about Kikukawa. And because of his demise, Morishita becomes the next target of the bullies. Yeah, it’s a vicious cycle. Now does he understand what it feels like to be bullied? He becomes Half Dead 2. He endures all the bullying but it becomes no fun for the bullies. Then he finds himself in a deja vu situation because the bullies now want him to walk the iron beam. At this time, Fumika appears to overwhelm the bullies because her job comes first. The Shigofumi to Morishita is from Kikukawa. But the letter is full of hatred and telling him to go die. When the bullies regain their footing, Fumika is gone. Morishita starts to panic when the bullies continue their ganging up. He spots a screwdriver and stabs one of them. The rest flee while Morishita lets loose a crazy madman scream. Fumika and Kanaka note how he has become a criminal for a scumbag even if he did it in self-defence. As humans are social creatures, they die socially but lived like animals. In the aftermath, the bully didn’t die from the stab but remains in critical condition and Morishita is picked up for questioning.

Episode 7
Haruno Kasai is made to be Kirameki’s editor and she’s pretty happy since she’s a long time big fan of his. Yes, she is Natsuka’s elder sister and she teases the latter about a particular boy she likes. Meanwhile Chiaki notices Fumika troubled. That’s because her next Shigofumi is to Kirameki, the person she shot. Fumika stops by the hospital to visit the comatose girl and reveals to Kanaka that this is her other half. Split personality? Then how come? Kaname visits Natsuka to find out more about Fumika, though it’s not about confessing to her. Disappointed? What he wants to know is the reason Fumika shot her dad and why she is lying in hospital. Their conversation is interrupted when Haruno calls to request to scan and send a map to Kirameki’s place. Kaname thinks of going there too because it would be better if he asks Kirameki directly about his daughter. Unfortunately it’s going to take some time since they got lost deciphering the map. Haruno arrives at Kirameki’s odd glass house as the eccentric author starts welcoming and showing her around the place. He mentions how he likes beautiful things. Before Haruno could pass her manuscript, Kirameki gets obsessed with her wrist and starts writing on it! However he realizes that she isn’t the one. Then Haruno requests to see his workplace but he refuses to show it to her citing excuses that it is dirty. For a guy who likes beauty, having a dirty room seems pretty ironic, eh? Kirameki turns into a child as he takes Haruno’s hand and they go dancing in the sun shower. I hope confused Haruno can still keep her sanity at the end. After Haruno takes a shower and is given a dress to wear, Fumika shows up and delivers the Shigofumi, the shocking thing is how Kirameki tosses it away without a care after reading it. That letter seems to be from a fan who killed herself after she was taken in reading Kirameki’s works. Something about the world of death, how it’s devoid of anything thus making it clean. I guess crazy people could understand each other. If not why would she jump off from a building then? More shockingly, Kirameki decides to burn this ugly letter with his beautiful lighter. This upsets Fumika as she says he has not changed at all. For the first time, we see her emotions getting the better of her as she continues to chide him for being selfish and not thinking about everyone else, the reason why his wife left, his daughter or rather daughters left. But Kirameki continues his usual screwball character as he finally recognizes Fumika. She points her gun at him. She wants him to remember how she shot him. That time, Kaname and Natsuka finally found the place and barges in. Kaname restrains Fumika from pulling the trigger, causing her to drop the gun. Though she explains that she only intended to scare Kirameki, that crazy father picks up her gun and shoots her! Oh sh*t! Is shooting a family member part of their family tradition?

Episode 8
Kaname full of rage punches Kirameki. I wonder what he has to say about his bruised face now. They lock him up in a room filled with creepy stuffed dolls. The rest are worried that Fumika is dying but thankfully being a Shigofumi courier means you’re already dead, right? Yeah, the bullet expels itself out of her body. Like no damage done, eh? Fumika starts explaining her past. When she was born, her mom a famous actress, Kirei Aizawa divorced Kirameki immediately and left for overseas and has remarried since. He was left to raise her all alone though he did it with pride and like what fathers would do. He was kind and caring, the kind that would make Fumika the happiest and proudest daughter of her father. Then one day, daddy told her it was art time (probably after he saw her horrible rendition of her loving sketch of him). That’s when the nightmare began. Kirameki used Fumika’s pure skin and body as a paper draft to write gather his ideas! Freaking crazy! I don’t know what kind of brush he used but each time he uses the strokes, Fumika was very much in pain. It’s like he’s taking out his frustrations and betrayal of her because he saw visions of Kirei in Fumika. He hated her so much and told her to disappear that this trauma caused Fumika to split into her other personality. So to avoid confusion, we’ll refer to the original shy one as Fumi (also the one in hospital) and her alter ego as Mika (the now Shigofumi courier as we know). They were each other’s friends and only friend since Fumika was never allowed outside the house till junior high. So meeting a crowd of people was a scary affair. So when Kaname confessed to Fumika then, it wasn’t that she hated him, rather she was surprised.

The flashback is interrupted when they heard a small explosion. Yes, Kirameki has gotten himself out of the room. He hid bullets inside the stuffed dolls and took out its powder to blow up the door. See how crazy and dangerous this guy is! He passes by a corridor filled with swords on one wall and guns on the other. He notices one missing and starts remembering how he was shot by Fumika. He’s going to punish her. Now Mika enters the room as the door behind her closes. She wonders if he has remembered. Kirameki becomes afraid of her and tries to throw swords and shoot guns but Mika is able to close the distance and land him a punch in his face. Looks like he will need surgery if he wants his beautiful face back. Mika chides some sense into him by saying Fumi had always loved him no matter what but it was Mika who shot him. However Fumi always felt guilt that she was the one who pulled the trigger and in her shock, fell into coma. Mika is going to kill Kirameki but the rest barges in to stop her. Haruno calms Mika down and says that they need to make Kirameki work to pay for his daughter’s medical bill (Kirameki has not released any work since Fumi’s coma but this has been covered up by the publishers and the fact that they have undergone many editors to release works in his name and place). Well, he is going to have to manage somehow even if he says he can’t do it without Fumika because Haruno will be making sure he does so. Later Kanaka hopes Fumika will not keep any secrets from her since they’re partners. Fumika visits her other self still in hospital and will wait for her when she wakes up. Kaname and Natsuka also do the same because they like her.

Episode 9
Fumika talks to her other self hoping that this therapy as suggested by Kaname would wake her up after hearing her voice. Natsuka wonders if the person Kaname confessed was to Mika since she wants to do all the things normal high school students do. Chiaki visits them and that’s when she realized Fumika’s aging phenomenon due to the fact that she’s not really dead yet. So how the heck did she get picked to be a Shigofumi courier if only dead people are qualified? Anyway Chiaki suggests taking a vacation to the southern islands. Yeah, time for some fun in the sun. But hey, don’t expect any swimsuit fanservice. Hmm… Funny, workaholic Fumika agrees. Actually, more like a working vacation as she has to deliver it there. Though their destination is an uninhabited island nearby, they stay at an inn for the night on the main island. They meet another girl, Touko Shirakawa and learn she is here to clean her ancestor’s grave situated on that uninhabited island. However she is also taking up a challenge (after watching some TV programme, I guess). She hopes by doing this, she can confess to the boy she likes. This leads to Chiaki turning into her cheek self as she pesters for the girls to express who they like. What is a girl’s night out without such confession? The funny one is Fumika because she mentions how much she likes Fumi so it’s like as though she likes herself! Narcissist!

The next day as they head to their private beach, I mean uninhabited island, Chiaki and Fumika see Shirakawa praying and cleaning at the grave. Chiaki learns that her grandpa is Saizou Kiyosumi and then it hit her. He was the guy whom Chiaki liked as seen in the beginning of this episode. However she died when their truck collided head-on with an oncoming vehicle. That was 50 years ago. Chiaki is filled with nostalgia, thinking Saizou has remarried and thus when she suggested going for a vacation, it was because she recently visited the town she grew up with but couldn’t recognize everything because it has changed. The things and people she knew were no longer around. Only she remained the same. Then she spots a Shigofumi stamp on the grave and next to Saizou’s name is Chiaki’s. Fumika reveals Saizou as the sender of the Shigofumi. But Shirakawa doesn’t recognize Chiaki’s name because Saizou never got married and that her mom was adopted by him when she lost her parents. Chiaki starts remembering the fond memories on she first met Saizou (he rescued a cat out from a tree, thus why Chiaki likes cats as opposed to Fumika) and fell in love at first sight. They started going out with each other and on that fateful night on their way back, before he could confess, tragedy struck. Tears now well up in Chiaki’s eyes because she ‘scolds’ him that he should’ve find someone else. Besides, shouldn’t he propose to a girl with a ring instead of a tombstone? Creepy but unique, eh? Hope this trend doesn’t catch on. Chiaki accepts his proposal and a ring forms on her finger. On the way back home, Shirakawa now gets the confidence to confess to the boy she likes. Don’t worry, he’s not anybody in this series we know. That will complicate matters only.

Episode 10
We have another Fumika. No, she’s not another Shigofumi courier. A young little curious girl poking a dead sparrow on the street. While her mom pays a visit to her sister and other Desperate Housewives (what else to do but gossip?), little Fumika meets her cousin Takehiko who doesn’t know what to draw. She suggests going outside. After the ladies left the house in charge to him, Takehiko takes Fumika out for something to eat since her stomach is growling. We learn that Takehiko works as a game designer but suddenly quit recently. Then after taking her to the video game arcade, he takes Fumika to the movies (it was weird the audience laughing along with the hero in the end), Takehiko reflects his current depressive state: The diagnosed him with an incurable cancer. Outside, they bump into a couple of ruffians. But it’s partly Takehiko’s fault for challenging them so he gets beaten up and realizes the weakling he is. Though the security chases them off, they arrest him thinking that he is kidnapping the child. He is taken for interrogation as Fumika waits outside playing her handheld console. She hears a woman crying and follows it. Well Fumika, meet Fumika. The little one thought the courier girl was being the baddie (she was just delivering the usual Shigofumi) but after learning they share the same name, she casts away her doubt. The inspector manages to confirm Takehiko isn’t some abductor when he calls his game publishing company. Takehiko’s colleague wants to speak to him and about his sudden resignation but he couldn’t say anything so he is disappointed (because it put a damper on a game project they’ve been working on) and hangs up.

After being released, he calls his mom who thinks of getting him a normal job and lied about his unemployment status to dad. Takehiko gets upset that the views of society are more important and that all she ever wanted was a normal child to do normal things in a normal society and disliked the game and drawing otaku he is. As Takehiko drives Fumika back, the car goes out of battery. I don’t know what he’s thinking but he plans to leave Fumika to wait all alone in the car while he walks to get help. Of course Fumika hates being alone and follows him. Remember, you should never leave a child alone in the car! Then Fumika takes out her handheld console and Takehiko recognizes this is the game he helped designed. This leads him to remember the happy days of how he loved drawing and joined the game industry because he wanted to draw. All he wanted was to make people happy with his drawings and for his parents to be happy with what he drew. Then suddenly an oncoming truck threatens to smash into Fumika. Takehiko quickly dives to push her out of harm’s way and gets rammed instead. I don’t know why the heck the truck is speeding on a deserted road but shouldn’t Takehiko and Fumika at least know that a vehicle is approaching. They could and should’ve tell, right? Unless they’re too deep in their thoughts. In the aftermath, everyone attends Takehiko’s funeral and they realize the kind and gentle person he is (they realize he was suffering from cancer). Fumika also attends the funeral but doesn’t understand the magnitude of Takehiko’s demise and thinks he’s sleeping. She even pokes his face in the casket! Then outside she continues playing her handheld console and that’s when Shigofumi Fumika appears. She hands little Fumika a Shigofumi from Takehiko as it reveals to be a sketch of her. She asks what it means to be dead so the reply she got was being dead just means that. Elsewhere, the comatose Fumi finally opens her eyes.

Episode 11
She is rather confused and in a daze as she comes into Kaname and Natsuka, who are shocked to see her awake. As they talk to her, they realize that she hasn’t gotten her memories back yet (like her abusive dad or Kaname’s confession). Chiaki talks to Mika about Fumi’s awakening so Mika plans to give her gun as Shigofumi to her so that she can shoot her. Say what? She knows she can’t die, right? Well, this is a test to see if Fumi accepts her. If not, Mika dies. Chiaki goes to warn the rest about Mika’s intention and thinks she’s doing it to atone for her sins of putting Fumi into deep sleep. Mika later visits the hospital is surprised to see Fumi not in her bed so Kaname lies by saying that she has been transferred elsewhere for some tests and will be back in a week. In reality, she is temporarily staying at Natsuka’s house as her family welcomes her with open arms. This is part of their plan to prevent both of them from meeting though they’re just delaying the inevitable. Natsuka wonders what would happen to Mika so Haruno thinks they will become as one. One inside the other, that is. Next day, Kaname and Natsuka continue to jog Fumi’s memories especially about a time Kaname came rushing to rescue her from a menacing dog but she chased it away herself instead. Kaname describes she has a face of a victorious boy. As Mika continues her Shigofumi duties, Kanaka tries to persuade her to continue as a Shigofumi courier and would love to continue as her partner but Mika thinks this is necessary as her punishment. Later when Fumi is alone, she spots a book from Kirameki and that’s when all the horrible memories start flowing back. She goes crazy and runs out of the house. So when Natsuka finds out about it from Kanaka, she goes all out to find her. Meanwhile Chiaki visits a woman, Lisala in hopes of finding a law and ruling that will save and accept Fumika’s existence. Fumi arrives at the shrine and sees Mika and recognizes her. Fumi becomes more shock when Mika reveals she was the one who actually shoot Kirameki. She hands over her gun for her to shoot. What can you conclude after hearing a single gunshot? Shortly, Natsuka finds Fumi as the latter lies about not meeting anyone and just going for a walk while hiding the gun behind her back. Lastly, Fumi meets Nojima and wishes to make an accusation towards her father. She says she’s going to shoot this time.

Episode 12
Fumi spills everything about her father’s abuse. Natsuka learns she is doing this because if she didn’t, she can’t move forward. Soon Fumi is enrolled in Kaname’s class but everyone starts whispering and taking sneaky shots of her (because she’s the daughter of a famous author) and this spooks her out very much. While Kanaka is having a hard time getting a new partner, Matoma also claims Chiaki is burnt out since she has found a way to save Mika but now she’s gone. The media frenzy over Kirameki’s abuse daughter gets out of hand as they hound Natsuka’s household for answers. Kirameki has to stay secretly and temporarily at a hotel as Haruno watches him. The publishers are thinking of a way to deal with this problem so when they decide to ditch him, Haruno says that she will have Kirameki publish his book. That’s because she feels they are ‘accomplices’ during his ‘absence’ they made money out of it too. You can’t just abandon ship when everything’s going bad, right? While waiting for Fumi, Natsuka talks to Kaname and thinks that he likes Mika, the reason he’s being kind to Fumi. He denies so Natsuka finally manages to sum up her courage to tell him that she likes him. Fumi of course eavesdropping right at the corner and walking away by herself. Back home when Natsuka asks Fumi about meeting Mika at the shrine, she knew she is blatantly lying when Fumi believes it is her imagination. Several days later, Fumi accompanied by Nojima meets Kirei who just arrived from Italy at the airport. They are happy to see each other as Kirei thinks she can surpass Kirameki and be more beautiful. However Kirei doesn’t want to claim responsibility for Fumi. She wants to be a woman, not a mother. Fumi is devastated to hear this and all the more, Kirei acts as though she has no care in all the world for her and goes frolic with her lover. So she got married just to experience the so called woman’s joy?! She’s as irresponsible as Kirameki. Fumi goes crazy upon hearing camera clicks (those people like as though it’s a big deal seeing a famous actress and her daughter reuniting) and runs away.

Nojima calls Kaname to tell him what happened so he goes over to Natsuka’s house. Since Fumi is not there, he can only conclude that she is at her dad’s place. Natsuka refuses to come along seeing how Fumi lied to her but after getting a pep talk from Kanaka, it doesn’t matter anymore because she’s her friend. Fumi is right at Kirameki’s house and plans to shoot herself with the gun. However Mika comes in and is disappointed she did not change and is still weak. Flashback reveals that Fumi didn’t pull the trigger but Mika helped her do so. Mika feels that Fumi is trying to run away again so before Fumi can slap her, Mika punches her! Oww! Not just 1 punch, but many punches! Fumi gets upset that Mika always steal her chances and never waited for her till she gets her courage to do something. She gives the gun back to Mika and challenges her to shoot her so they can both disappear. Since she can’t, Fumi further accuses that despite all that hypocrisy of wanting to atone her sins, she is the one who wants to make friends and do other normal stuffs. A shouting match begins with Mika admitting she wanted to do all that too. Mika also thinks how she herself is similar to Shigofumi. Something that cannot exist and be sent in reality. She thanks Fumi for creating her or else she was like a personality that didn’t exist. Both girls start crying loudly but it’s a good sign that they’ve made up. Yeah, they should smile often like that. Kaname, Natsuka, Kanaka and Chiaki arrive but are relieved that they need not do anything because the issue has been resolved. As we see a montage of the characters going on with their daily lives, Mika and Kanaka continue to go about their Shigofumi job and Fumi continuing her school days. Fumi vows never to let Mika to return into her body.

Episode 13 (OVA)
There is an OVA episode dubbed the 13th episode that you can get on the DVD. It takes place after the TV series ended. It begins with a desperate father trying to rob a bank to pay for her daughter’s surgery. But when Mika arrives to hand him a Shigofumi from her just departed daughter, he breaks down and gives himself up. Sad, but that’s life. Back in school, Kaname and Natsuka are pondering about the recent curse of Kikukawa. It’s like that kid is back with a vengeance and there are multiple Shigofumis sent. They think this is fake and not possible but when something big like curse writings on the world and field appear, do you think the students can maintain their rationale? Fumi continues to suffer as a bully victim though. Like getting injured with tacks in her shoes. However a girl named Suzune Shinozaki helps her out despite warnings from her pals not to get involved with her. Then those bullies who bullied Kikukawa and Morishita get a taste of their own medicine as one of them receives a Shigofumi. Though scared, they plan to meet up as instructed in it to confirm if it’s a prank. The odd part was that the Shigofumi is computer printed. Shouldn’t it be handwritten? Kaname overheard this and tells this to his pals. He, Natsuka and Fumi visit Morishita working in some office. Morishita recognizes Fumi as they talk about Shigofumis. He mentions that Kikukawa’s sister had come to see him before after his death but he lied about the contents of the Shigofumi since it was filled with hatred. To Fumi’s surprise, Kikukawa’s sister is Suzune. Small world, eh? They had a different surname because their parents are divorced.

Back home, Suzune recalls about her parent’s bitter divorce because daddy couldn’t tolerate mommy for having an affair and giving birth to a child that wasn’t his. Due to circumstances, Suzune couldn’t live together with her brother and after learning of her brother’s death, she became furious and started sending multiple fake Shigofumis. The bullies arrive at the rooftop but they are jumpy at just the slightest sound. Till Matoma appears, they really freak out and run for their lives. Suzune waits at another part of the building to trap the bullies but she was greeted by a Shigofumi courier. She hands over a Shigofumi to Suzune from Kikukawa and its contents warn her not to do anything stupid. Suzune reflects on her actions that won’t make her brother proud when Fumika and Kanaka appear. Urm… Two Shigofumi couriers? Well, as Kanaka pointed out, one of them is fake. The earlier one turns out to be Fumi in disguise. The reason why she did this was because she didn’t want to go through the same burden as she did. When Fumi started her revenge against her father and reported him, instead her plan backfired and bit her back. That’s why now she is repenting in a prison called school. Thus she did this to save her from all this trouble. As for Mika, she’s here because Chiaki has requested her to retrieve her clothes. Yeah, she’s so drunk and out (seems she likes to hang out in the hotel room where Fumi is currently staying on her own). Otherwise, how would Fumi have gotten those cool Shigofumi courier clothes? Of course, Kanaka knows that Mika has another reason why she came. Make a good guess. As for the bullies, they are truly scared and repentant, believing that Kikukawa really did curse them. I guess they learned their lesson after all. In the aftermath, Fumi and Suzune continue to be great friends.

Dead People Don’t Talk…
I’m glad I made the right choice in watching this series. The overall feel of the show has that gloomy and depressing feeling though the ending can be said to be satisfying because both the Fumikas have made up. I just felt that the show should have more other side stories of other characters receiving the Shigofumi because I personally feel that it would be better if we get to see a variety of different stories and backgrounds. Thus I feel that with this series being already too short, after a few stories that introduce us the concept of Shigofumi, the story shifts to that of Fumika’s dark past and how she is to deal with it if she is to continue existing. The concept of Shigofumi is interesting seeing that it is a tool that is neither bad nor good but just a communication tool to tell what one really wants to say before he/she goes away forever. It is how we humans use it whether it is for positive or negative purposes, it all boils down to the truthful words that we want to say. Even if you can’t put them in words, pictures would suffice. See how flexible it is? But I’m just thinking why they are just restricted to 1 Shigofumi and to only 1 person. What happens if you have more than 1 loved ones to say? Perhaps it’s a way to make you think hard on to whom you want to reach those words so that you won’t waste your only valuable chance.

The most interesting characters have got to be the interaction between Fumika (the courier girl) and Kanaka. There is never a dull moment when these 2 are together even if things get tense. While Fumika puts on a deadpan serious voice and expression in 95% of the scenes (oh by the way, Fumika has her cute side too: When she is afraid of cats), Kanaka is totally the opposite as she is a lively cheeky staff always thinking that she wants to be human. But the ironic part is that even if this staff (and all others) are actually non-living organisms, why the need to become human even if they badmouth homo sapiens about their dark habits? As I remember Kanaka once said, “So that I can lie too!”. Oh yes. You got to love some of the lines and words she says. Another oddity about the staffs being treated as humans is that during the vacation trip at the southern islands, the guys and girls room are separated. So it’s kinda odd to see Kaname and Matoma sleeping together with nothing happening. True, they should treat their staffs with utmost care and like humans since they are their partners but at times, Fumika just loves using Kanaka as a weapon hitting things, much to Kanaka’s dismay. But it isn’t just Kanaka who is cracking all the wise lines and sometimes surprisingly from Fumika too, though in her usual deadpan voice. For instance, she and Chiaki were talking about Shigofumi couriers never aging. So Fumika said that because of her unique ability to age, she gets to grow into a beautiful sexy body while Chiaki will be stuck in her flat-chest one forever. Haha! Beside the little chatter, it’s also nice to pay heed to the words they say about us humans. Honest, true, in-your-face comments that make you go think that we are indeed the lowest and worse kind of creatures to walk the face of the planet. But that is what makes us humans. The ugly side of human nature tend to make us lie and our selfish thoughts sometimes not only hurt others but ourselves as well.

Kirameki is one creepy character. You can never understand the way he thinks. He is just crazy and sometimes you just think that he deserves to get shot. But he isn’t as bad as Kirei who boldly exerts that she doesn’t want to shoulder responsibility at all. One day, this will all bite back to her but that’s another story. Even if Kirameki has a few (okay, maybe lots of) screws loose in his head, he isn’t that totally bad. At least for the early part in Fumika’s life, he does take care of her well and for the part of being bumming around experiencing writer’s block, all he needs is someone to put his/her foot down so that he can start to get cracking. Haruno is a good person for that job. As for Kaname and Natsuka, I wonder if he would answer to her feelings since there is nothing more after her confession. Or is he still gunning for Fumika? Chiaki is also another amusing girl. But that’s only when she turns on her cheeky mode. Sometimes it’s ironic to see her drink liquor because although she looks like a child, she is actually over 50 years old. The part she went to request for Lisala’s help made the latter’s role rather redundant. I thought she would play an important role as the series reaches a climax but unfortunately she was forgettable enough to annoy me to think what the hell the producers put her there for if she’s not going to make any significant impact.

There are some parts which I didn’t comprehend after thinking too much. Maybe it’s because of just that. But I would like to know more about it if possible. For example, if Shigofumi couriers can only be of those who are dead, how the heck did Fumika become one if she isn’t fully dead? Does being half dead count? I’m sure the council at the Shigo world aren’t that dumb. What happens to the Shigofumi when it goes undelivered? What happens if the courier fails to deliver it to the recipient? Then there’s that field in the Shigo world filled with staffs sticking out like as though it’s some kind of maize field. Is this the place a Shigofumi courier can come and pick any staff he/she likes and dump it back if it is found not to one’s liking? Then about Chiaki’s lover. If she received the Shigofumi means he just departed from this world, right? But the way it feels and played out seems like he has died quite some time. But then again, I could be wrong. And what about the ruling that Chiaki has found out that allowed Fumika’s existence? It could be interesting if we are told what it is but since we’re not, again it felt like this part of her going through the trouble of researching all so useless. It’s as good as leaving this part out. That’s because if every split personality is allowed to co-exist in reality, imagine how many imaginary friends will come to being if such a case happens. That’s why it is odd when Mika loves Fumi which is so much like loving herself in the eyes of others.

When I first heard the opening theme, I went “Oh God, don’t tell me this is Ali Project”. Yes, it is them alright. You can’t run away from their trademark naughty gothic tunes so much so I thought they may have reused the same tune in the other songs I have heard them sung in other animes as well. So if you like their kind of music, be sure to check out Kotodama as the opening theme for this series. The ending theme is a slow ballad called Chain by Snow. The lyrics are filled with sadness with the fact that the singer could no longer feel and touch her lover one day but at the same time filled with hope that she would be able to do so. Kana Ueda was unrecognizable when she as she did the voice of Mika. Probably I was so used to her role as Mikan in Gakuen Alice and Rin in Fate/Stay Night that it didn’t occur to me that it was her in this role. Okay, so I don’t hear her voice very often. Yuki Matsuoka (Orihime in Bleach) definitely suits her role as the lively Kanaka. One thing for sure, I won’t mind if this staff doesn’t stop blabbing! Other seiyuus include Eri Sendai as Fumi (Kuan in Happy Seven), Masumi Asano as Chiaki (Hakufu in Ikkitousen series), Masayuki Katou as Matoma (Kiyomasa Senji in Deadman Wonderland), Takuma Terashima as Kaname (Teppei in Princess Lover), Saeko Chiba as Natsuka (Natsuki in Mai-HiME), Rikiya Koyama as Kirameki (Kogarashi in Kamen No Maid Guy) and Fumiko Orikasa as Haruno (Rukia in Bleach).

One of the good things about this series is that we see the true side of human beings. You can learn a lot from our shocking behaviour. Mostly we tend to hide our true feelings behind a facade so that’s why when you find out a person isn’t supposed to be what he/she is, it is truly a shocking and eye opening experience. Different people have different reaction to the same thing. Notice how Fumika always repeat the same lines while delivering the Shigofumi to the recipient? Some express gratitude while some scoff it off as some garbage. The Shigofumi may not be exactly like a life or death thingy but it brings out the best and worst in humans. It got me thinking what I should put down if I were ever to write a Shigofumi. To whom should I address it to? Can’t say it now. I guess there are some things that you would only know after you die.

Highschool Of The Dead

June 25, 2011

Imagine one morning when you wake up, you suddenly find a great portion of society have turned into flesh-eating zombies. What would be your first reaction? What would you do? I may not fancy horror series but can you actually mix the horror genre with fanservice? At least that is possible in Highschool Of The Dead. Don’t get the wrong idea. You’re not going to see the undead with panty shots or bouncy boobs. That would totally be horrible. So it goes to show that fanservice is best done on the beautiful and living. Oh wait. What am I talking about again?

Basically in this series, you’re going to see a small group of high school students fighting and smashing their way across hordes of ex-humans-turned-zombies while trying their best to survive this sudden destruction of their boring daily tranquil everyday lives. Sounds fun? Unless you are the characters in the series having to think fast on their feet for survival and having sleepless nights about it or else you’d be zombie food in no time. So be prepared for some fanservice along the way as well as the excessive blood and gore. Hey, there are plenty of zombies to kill. It’s like somebody unleash a cheat code of an endless wave of them. Yeah, not fun if you’re them.

Episode 1
Take our main protagonist, Takashi Komuro. Right at the start, he is having a bad day. His girlfriend, Rei Miyamoto once promised to marry him when they were young, has dumped him for his indecisiveness and is now going out with their best friend, Hisashi Igou. That’s just great. He gets an earful from genius childhood friend, Saya Takagi for being heartbroken, depressed and being stupid. Yeah, how bad can his day turn? Much worse as he’ll soon find out. I guess he was ‘lucky’ to skip class as he witness a weird bloodied guy comes dragging his feet to the school gates. The teachers think he is trying to be funny and gets rough with him. Before he knows it, he gets painfully bitten. Worse, he turns into a zombie and proceeds to bite the rest and that is how the ‘infection’ starts. Takashi has a bad premonition so he barges back into class to take Rei (after slapping her, that is) and Hisashi to flee. Things start to intensify when Rei calls her police dad but he doesn’t pick up. Then the announcement from the PA system that everybody needs to evacuate before the announcer is attacked by the zombies. This causes the entire school to fall into pandemonium as everyone panics and starts running away in a hysterical stampede. As the trio make their way to the top roof, Hisashi gets bitten by the zombie principal. Up on the roof, the see military helicopters zooming by and the nearby town in chaos. In no time, a big majority of the local citizens have fallen victim to an unknown outbreak. Just like vampires, when you are bitten by a zombie, you turn into one. And man, believe it when you see a big chunk of the school has turned into the undead in just a blink of an eye! With a temporary barricade, the trio seek refuge at the top but Hisashi knows he is going to turn into a zombie and wants Takashi to kill him before that happens. Too bad Hisashi turned into one so Takashi has no choice but to butcher his head, the only way to kill a zombie. Rei is upset over Takashi’s act and she even thought of getting bitten to be turned into one seeing Hisashi is no longer around! She starts blaming Takashi that he enjoys doing it out of jealousy that they’re dating. Takashi tells her that he is going away since she doesn’t need him. At that moment Rei realizes he is serious about facing the zombies and going to his death so she pleads for him to stay. You can’t blame her for being fickle minded, considering everything that has happened today. They both embrace for the first time, on a day when everything has ended. Yeah, what a way to steal your best friend’s girl after killing him.

Episode 2
We see other survivors like chubby otaku Kouta Hirano escaping together with Saya. If not for Saya’s foresight and intelligence, Hirano could’ve been a long goner. But somewhere in Saya’s heart, you can tell she’s a tsundere because she did mention she’d prefer to be stuck with Takashi rather than this fatty. Takashi and Rei sit around in a daze as Rei tries to contact her dad. Although she was connected, it seems that there is panic at the other end of the line. She is cut off. Busty school nurse Shizuka Marikawa is such an airhead that when zombies crash into the infirmary, an unfortunate student got bitten in her place. If not for the skilful head of the kendo club, Saeko Busujima, she could’ve been the bustiest zombie. Saeko also takes out that poor kid before he turns into one of them. At least he died a human. Saya should learn to thank her lucky stars that she’s with Hirano. He’s not just an otaku, but someone who is obsessed with guns. He improvises some of the lab equipment to make his own gun and manages to kill several zombies. Looks like he enjoys his newfound calling. On Takashi and Rei’s end, they use the water hose to temporarily blast away the zombies who are breaking through before charging their way down. Don’t worry. Rei won’t be playing t a damsel in distress role. She is from the spear club so she can fight as well as Takashi. Saya does a little experiment. Seems the zombies are sound sensitive (they lunge towards the nearest loudest sound) but do not have any feelings (they do not react when things are thrown at them). Hirano’s ammo is running low and Saya’s b*tching and complaining did nothing but to attract the zombies. She is cornered when Takashi-Rei and Saeko-Shizuka group arrive in time to smash the nearby zombies. As the rest introduce themselves, Saya becomes distraught and hysterical after all those bloody sight and after seeing her own self covered in them, she breaks down uncontrollably. While taking refuge in the teacher’s room, Takashi thinks that they need to make sure that their families are alright.  They can try and get out via Shizuka’s mini bus. Then they turn on the TV to see horrifying sights of the pandemic and the camera crew being attacked. Looks like the whole damn world is done for.

Episode 3
The gang discuss what this possible outbreak is. Remember the Spanish Flu and London’s Black Death? But you know, people don’t turn to zombies and infect others. So this has got to be some new phenomenon. They need to stick together and cooperate if they’re going to survive. As they make their way to the mini bus and being careful not to make loud sounds, they stumble upon a small group of surviving students being cornered and go to their aid. The hall is their only exit and is filled with mindless wandering zombies. To prove Saya’s theory, Takashi decides to use himself as bait by standing in the midst of the zombie sea. It is working as he throws a shoe away as distraction. As the zombies move towards the sound, the rest silently make their move. However one of the guy’s metal weapon accidentally hit the stair railings. The loud sound echoes throughout the hall as the zombies’ attention shifts. Now they have to make a dash for it. Then that guy got caught by the zombie so I guess his girlfriend would rather die with him than live without him as she rushes to his side and gets bitten. Everyone gets into the mini bus and is prepared to go when they hear sounds of other survivors rushing towards them. Let by the sadistic teacher, Kouichi Shidou, you can tell this guy is a villain. Looking like a cross between Kuroshitsuji’s Sebastian and Claude, he lets one of his student gets bitten by the zombie after he sprained his ankle! Oh sh*t! Rei isn’t happy that Takashi picked up this guy and warns he will regret it. Shizuka powers her bus as they escape from school. On the bus, some delinquent kid didn’t like Takashi and fights him but gets beaten up. This allows Shidou to propose that the group needs a leader to survive and proposes himself. Those who are with him are taken in awe of his smooth speech but Takashi and co aren’t convinced of his cult-like nature. Look at how the other students’ eyes are so fixated on him as though they’re under his hypnotism spell. Rei couldn’t stand him anymore and decides to leave the bus. Takashi goes after her but a bus filled with zombies nearly crashes into them. Rei and Takashi are trapped in a tunnel and separated from the rest. Takashi tells them to meet up at the police station at the east section before both sides go their own way. Seems the fire burned out the zombies in the bus. Takashi and Rei fight and subdue a biker zombie before taking his bike and riding through the eerily quiet streets.

Episode 4
What’s this?! Already a recap episode?! What are they trying to pull?! Anyone it isn’t a detailed one and just a brief one from how it all started to where they are. The story proper resumes in the second half of the episode. Takashi and Rei stumble upon a dead police patrol car and take their guns and ammo. They stop at a petrol station to refuel but have no matter so as Takashi try to break the register for cash, a hoodlum guy takes Rei hostage. He’s human but has gone crazy. Yeah, after bludgeoning his entire family including his little sister, how can he stay sane? He proceeds to caress Rei’s boobs and thinks of making her his woman and threatens Takashi to refuel the bike or he’ll kill her. Takashi does so but as that guy begins one of his crazy yelling, Takashi whips out the police gun and shoots his shoulder point blank. Their ruckus have already attracted the zombies so Takashi and Rei zoom off on the bike and leave that braces guy to get bitten. Pitiful to let another human die but in such circumstances, would you do the same thing too?

Episode 5
Rika Minami, one of the 2 expert snipers sniping out zombies on the runway and clearing the way for the airplane of VIPs to take off. Meanwhile Shidou continues his annoying cult preaching so Shizuka and the rest thinks of getting off this bus and away from this weirdo. I agree they should because I think he’s much scarier than those zombies. Shidou agrees to let them go but wants Shizuka to stay as she is a medic. Hirano fires a warning shot at him that he can kill living people too. Shizuka and co successfully alight from the bus. Takashi and Rei zoom pass a chaotic section as humans attack them for no reason. Yup, everything is going out of control. The bridge is jam packed as the police are preventing people from crossing over. The duo try another bridge but it is also blocked. They hear familiar shots and find Shizuka and co cornered by zombies. They dive in to help as Takashi throws Hirano his police gun so the fatty has a field day taking out the zombies. The day is getting dark, they can’t cross the river but need a place to stay. Shizuka mentions her friend’s place (Rika) close by as she has the keys to her place. Upon arrival, I’m sure everyone could sleep in peace since the place has a high fence and there is even a humvee too! But the place is filled with zombies inside. I guess they have no qualms in taking the offensive and slaughter the entire place.

Episode 6
After all that blood and gore, I guess we need a little refreshing view with some bath time fanservice. I hope the girls’ loud bathing folly won’t attract the zombies. As for the guys, they check out the owner’s closet and to Hirano’s happiness, it is filled with lots of guns! He sure knows his stuff well. They ponder what kind of person Shizuka’s friend is for her to be living in such a posh place and having all these guns. It’s a good thing Shizuka has this kind of person as her friend, eh? As they watch the TV, they see the chaos unfolding on the bridge. If the police isn’t having their hands full barricading it, there are a bunch of troublemakers sympathizing with the zombies staging a protest, blaming all this as some cover up thingy. The police chief warns the leader to back off but he continues to mock them. He then pulls out his gun and shoots him dead! It’s getting crazier by the second! Even back in the apartment too. With the girls’ clothes left to dry, they are left to wear sexy outfits for the time being. Saeko in a naked apron? Why is Shizuka and Rei acting like drunken people? Are they going through some menopause stage with their emotional state of being? Must be the recent events. Rei talks to Takashi about Hisashi so he gets pissed off for bringing up the past and comparing his faults with him. As they calm down, they get intimate with each other. That is interrupted when they hear a puppy barking below. They go outside to see their place swamped by zombies. Back at the bridge, the police order the bulldozer to bulldoze through the zombies. Then the chief shoots himself in the head.

Episode 7
As they watch from above how the surviving humans get bitten, Saeko suggests that they dim the lights so as not to attract other survivors. She assures them she is just telling them the facts of reality and hasn’t sunken that far. Then they witness a father and her daughter, Alice Maresato trying to take refuge in a house. The occupants are reluctant to take them in. When the father threatens to break the door down, they relent but it was just a ploy to stab him. Alice is shocked as she sees her father dying in his own pool of blood. Poor kid, she’s going to be very traumatic. This also attracts the zombies. Hirano snipes them while Takashi plans to rescue her on his bike. Takashi dashes his way across as Hirano provides the much needed cover. Finally he arrives and takes out the zombies closing in on Alice. The other girls prepare to load the necessary stuff into the humvee and get ready to leave. Can’t stay here forever, right? Takashi gives Alice and the dog, Zeke, a piggyback ride as they carefully trudge their way on the wall. One mistake and they’ll fall into the sea of hungry zombies. Suddenly Alice has to go to the toilet. Of all times, now? He allows her to let it go on him. What choice has he got? Better keep your footing and balance. Though the humvee cavalry is arriving, it seems like an eternity for them to get through the zombie horde. Saeko must be pretty confident standing on top while the vehicle barges its way through. Takashi and Alice hop on as the gang make their journey to find a way across the river.

Episode 8
We see that even onboard Air Force One, the American president is having a dilemma to unleash some attack. Too bad the First Lady and some of the crew are already zombies. Better hurry. Meanwhile as the humvee makes its way across the river, Hirano and Alice have gotten pretty close to each other. Hope he isn’t a lolicon. Alice sings her cute rendition of Row Your Boat while Hirano his bloody version. “Shoot, shoot, shoot your gun, kill them all now!” WTF?! Rei gets a little jealous to see Saeko sleeping closely to Takashi. What’s more, she’s drooling over his pants! When they reach the other side, the girls change into their clothes while Hirano teaches Takashi how to use a gun. They continue their journey and it seems there is nobody around. Not even zombies. How peaceful. All that comes crashing down when they see the undead in the next corner. Shizuka makes sudden turns at any corner to avoid the zombies. So much so she loses control after it slides on some blood and crashes into some barb wires. The Rei is thrown off and the humvee cannot start. Oh no. Zombies closing in. Takashi tries to fire his weapon but as an amateur misses. With Hirano’s guidance, he gets by. The numbers are going to overwhelm them so I don’t know how Takashi got this idea as he uses Rei’s boobs as recoil cushion when he fires his gun! Isn’t that painful? What’s more, her boobs are shaking like jelly! Saeko’s acrobatic moves are another mind blowing act. We see her gracefully in action as Takashi’s bullets zooms by just inches between her legs or boobs! WOW! Saya decides to help out and not be just a useless lip service whiner and goes crazy with the gun. But the numbers aren’t decreasing. Takashi and Saeko barge through the zombie wave intending to draw their attention away from the rest. However even after at a safe distance and no matter how loud noises they make, the zombies aren’t attracted to them and continue their march towards the humvee. Hirano plans to release only Alice to safety but she doesn’t want to be alone as his face brings back memories of a similar one when her dad died. In the nick of time, firemen from opposite the barb wire rescue them as it turns out that one of them is Saya’s mom. She happily reunites with her while Takashi and Saeko continue their run through the town to meet up with them.

Episode 9
Takashi and Saeko turn back to a bike shop to take an amphibious vehicle. They did a little experiment and find out that the zombies are not good when it comes to slopes or stairs. Plus, they seem to not cross the river and ‘lost interest’ in chasing them. They take refuge at a sandbank in the middle of it. Saeko got wet from that experiment and changes her clothes. She mentions about him looking at her as a woman and he asks if she has anyone she loves. Her reply is that she does. After a little rest, they resume their journey deep into the town. Takashi crashes the vehicle into the little fountain pond and makes the vehicle go round in circles as a ploy to distract the zombies. The duo get off as Saeko starts smacking her way through. She seems to be having lots of fun striking the zombies till she sees a kid zombie. She is frozen and paralyzed at its sight and could’ve been another victim if Takashi didn’t swiftly take it out with his gun. Seeking shelter at a shrine, Takashi tries to cheer gloomy Saeko up and successfully manages to break her into laughter. Portable toilet? Saeko starts telling her past. She had a guy she liked but never got a chance to confess to him as she thinks she isn’t good enough. Apparently she mentions about killing someone before. Long ago, some guy wanted to make a move on her but because she had her bokuto (wooden sword) with her, she broke his bones. However the point wasn’t the fact she violently defended herself from being raped. It was she didn’t hold herself back and enjoyed beating the crap out of him. That is the real her and was this way long before the zombies showed up. The reason why she froze back then was she remembered this and realized she hasn’t changed but gotten worse. Takashi holds her palm as they soon kiss. Next morning, it’s bright and sunny. Only the sight of those incoming zombies is spoiling the atmosphere. Looks like they need to make another run. Saeko is still feeling miserable so Takashi forcefully grabs her boobs. If she needs a reason, she’ll give her one but even how tainted she is, he’ll admire her as the best woman for as long as he lives and wants her to live with her sins as her true self. Erm… Is he serious about that admiring part? Well Takashi, looks like you’ve got to take responsibility for that now. Saeko thanks him and returns to her vicious self, coolly taking out all the zombies and enjoying every bit of it. Finally the duo manage to reunite with the rest at Saya’s huge mansion.

Episode 10
Rei is undergoing Shizuka’s painful ointment treatment. No thanks to that Takashi who used her boobs as recoiling cushion. Ouch. I hope she doesn’t need to go for breast surgery or further implants. Just kidding. Saya is fresh from her argument with mommy. Soon they learn they may have to leave this place because it won’t be long before electricity and water supply will be cut off. And it’ll be hard to maintain for a large mansion like this. The reason those supplies were available was because the army was sent (that helicopter incident) to defend those plants and the people there continued to work freely from zombies. But how long can they hold out? They have families too. Saya assembles her pals and throws them a decision they need to make: To join or split from this bigger and stronger group. Takashi commends how Saya’s parents are doing everything they can to help but Saya gets pissed off and snaps. She goes on ranting about their success in a sarcastic way so much so Takashi couldn’t take much more of her b*tching and grabs her by her collar and shakes her! He chides her that she is the only one who knows her family are safe. They then see Saya’s dad, Souichirou, the current family head and former lord of the Tokonosu, demonstrating to the other survivors about the tough reality of survival. One of his retainers got bitten while trying to rescue another. Though a noble effort, he isn’t a human now. Souichirou will fulfil his duty to his retainer and slices his head off. Hirano isn’t convinced since a sword can break when it hits the bone but Saeko counters with other factors which makes a sword ‘strong’. Upset Hirano chides Takashi for not being able to use a gun properly and runs away. Hirano is caught by the adults as they want him to give up the guns he is hoarding. He refuses and clings on tightly to them. Souichirou comes by and learns what is happening and Hirano reiterates he won’t hand them over no matter what since he has found something he is good at. He is unable to answer when Souichirou asks him the thing he is good at. That’s when Takashi steps in to say Hirano is good at protecting his daughter. All his other friends stood by him and praise his bravery. He even gets Saya’s approval as she mentions from her own mouth she was being protected by him unlike her dad (she has something against her parents?). Lastly, we still see that Shidou guy still around. He receives a report from his ‘follower’ about a chance of being taken in to the mansion. Despicable Shidou seems to have absolute control over his students, taking pictures of them in an orgy. What the?! And I was hoping he would’ve turned into a zombie now.

Episode 11
Can you believe it? Shidou still continues his dramatic speech to his mesmerized students while he lets that ‘follower’ get chewed by the zombies outside the bus (apparently his punishment for talking back). Meanwhile Saya gets into an argument with a group of adults who refuse to believe about this zombie thingy and are against the use of violence. So does getting loud and going crazy count? Saya discusses with Takashi and Hirano about people in denial and change and then acknowledges Takashi as their leader, surprising him. Souichirou is having a talk with Saeko. He gives her his sword and thinks Takashi has grown into a fine man though he is still hesitant. Then Takashi’s turn to talk to Rei (did she put camera straps to support her boobs?). The way Rei said things was like she now really loves him and wants to be by his side even if he loves other girls. What a total change of heart. I guess Takashi isn’t that all a jerk now when he first smashed Hisashi’s head, eh? Women, can’t understand them. Oops. Sorry. Later Takashi talks to Souichirou that he plans to go out to search for his parents and Rei’s. However Souichirou’s party will be moving out tomorrow so if he doesn’t return, Takashi says to assume that he’ll be staying put there. Saeko is ready to go on another journey with them (what’s with all the sexy clothes she always wear? “Do you always try to seduce everybody”?).  Suddenly Rei bursts into an angry rage. It seems Shidou and his students have legitimately entered the mansion. We see a brief history that Shidou is the son of a senator but to him his dad is just a noisy bastard that drove his mom to suicide. That’s when Shidou decided to leave the family and became a teacher. Then his dad ordered him to hold back Rei a year in school just because he had unpleasant ties with Rei’s dad. Rei lunges the bayonet at Shidou’s face. She blames him for making her dad suffer and the guilt he held. She had to hold it all in as she knew it was him who altered her grades and if the investigations went well, Shidou and his dad could’ve been arrested. She is going to kill him. Souichirou encourages her to do what she has to do so Shidou dares her. But Rei puts her bayonet away and claims he isn’t worth killing, upsetting Shidou very much. Have you ever seen his face contort that much before? Souichirou has Shidou and his students leave his estate immediately. Meanwhile a bunch of submarine guys pray to God for mercy as they receive orders to fire warheads. And from Nasa’s view from space, it’s like several countries firing missiles, destroying each other and bringing Armageddon. Hey, we don’t need Judgment Day to come, don’t we?

Episode 12
The missile war begins so much so we can see that familiar mushroom bomb smoke from outer space. Shizuka finally remembers Rika’s number and calls her. She is relieved her Special Assault Team friend is still alive but their joy is cut short when a sudden bright light engulfs the sky and cuts out all communications and anything that is electronic. So which means if you are driving a car powered by electronic, the brakes won’t be working. Like how Shidou’s bus crashes into the barricade and letting all the zombies through. Calm Saya explains the electromagnetic wave effect that fries anything that has a computer chip inside it. Souichirou commends her for being able to stay calm during this time of panic. Just then a swarm of zombies converge at the main gates. The workers close it, trying to hold them back but their numbers are overwhelming so much so the gate breaks. Let the hungry fest begin! Soon the zombie count increases as our heroes and other survivors defend themselves from the endless nightmare. Souichirou gets word that their neighbouring house hasn’t been attacked so he suggests that the survivors break through to that place. He tells Takashi to walk his own path and leaves his daughter in Hirano’s care. Saya know what this means but she gets a little slap from mommy that this decision hurts them too, it is what they want and that they have their own roles to play. Souichirou and his men start the offensive as Takashi’s head towards the garage to escape via another humvee. Though it is electromagnetic wave-proof, the mechanic is trying to repair it seeing that it is a little damaged. For the time being, the rest will have to defend the place. Once the humvee is up and running, the gang busts out and heads straight over the horizon. Souichirou and his wife’s fate are left hanging. But what are the chances when you’re being surrounded by zombies? Yeah, no regrets. Salute. Saya probably knew this was going to happen as she tries her best to remain her composure. Takashi and co continue their travel, with the usual zombie killing till their humvee can’t go on further. They reach outside a shopping mall.

OVA
There was an OVA episode released back in May 2011. Somehow it felt like a relaxed version because it lacks all those flesh-eating zombies. So if it doesn’t have that, what does it have then? Why, fanservice of course! Lasting approximately 16 minutes or so, we see Takashi’s narration of fighting and escaping zombies in the opening but he too gets distracted and fallen into the fanservice trap when he thinks about those erm, fanservice moments about the girls. So during their escape from the zombies, the gang ended up on a secluded little island with no other life forms in sight via little boat. Oddly there is a beach house filled with water supplies though no one is around. And yes, there are swimsuits too. Guys included. Get out of your tight clothes and let your bodies breathe! Disgustingly, Hirano put on a female school swimsuit. With the lack of food, the girls ‘force’ the guys to go hunting. Or else Shizuka’s boobs will shrink, according to her. Nope. Not her stomach. Takashi comes back empty handed while surprisingly Hirano has his net full of seafood catch. If it’s any consolation for Takashi, he and Zeke brought back some leafs to start fire. As they cook the fish, they suddenly smell something funny and as Shizuka point out, the leafs are actually hydrangea, supposedly gives hallucination when inhaled. Too late. I don’t know but how come every busty girl who hallucinates must get horny? Yeah, Shizuka and Rei start seducing Takashi. Even Saya. Something hot is raging inside her body! Saeko seems not to be affected by the smoke yet and takes Takashi to safety. But at a distance, I’m not sure if it’s her hallucination or her real desire because she wants to be his woman.

Meanwhile Shizuka and Saya start hugging each other because they see each other as Rika and mommy respectively. They proceed to do lots of skinship on each other. Back to Saeko, she starts kissing Takashi. But that’s not the end of it, Takashi pushes her down and, let’s say it really gets steamy from here. Morning comes, Saya realizes she is totally naked with Shizuka! Then to her horror, she spots Hirano doing something pleasant with a broomstick. Let’s say it was between his legs and moving in a systematic motion. The worse one has got to be Saeko. She’s not making out with Takashi actually. It’s Rei!!! HOLY SH*T! So once the gang realize their embarrassing folly, I’m sure it’s natural that they’re just sitting there in shock, reflecting if all this was just a bad nightmare. It isn’t. They really did it on each other. Suddenly Alice runs up to them saying that Takashi is in deep trouble. The disturbing part wasn’t the fact he is amazingly keeping 4 zombikini (zombie in bikini) babes from biting his flesh with all his limbs, but rather is still daydreaming that Rei, Saya, Saeko and Shizuka are doing something so perverted on him that he is going to cum!!!! I’m not sure if they want to let the zombies eat him or wake him up from his unsightly dream. I’m not sure if there is another OVA because as Alice presents in a slideshow form in the end, she’s saying how they discovered a tunnel that links to the mainland and that their fight will continue. Hey, where was she when the rest were engaging in such unholy act?

“The Zombies Are Coming…”
That’s it?! That is how it ended? Doesn’t feel like an ending! I can’t believe it was left hanging like this! It’s not over yet, really. It could have been quite a good series in my opinion if not for that half-assed ending that left a bad aftertaste in my mouth. Just like how the end quote perfectly summarizes the way the series ended: “This is the way the world ends. Not with a bang but with a whimper”. That’s right. What a wimpy ending. Anyway that quote was taken from a poem from T.S. Eliot, Hollow Men. Not that I have read it before or any of his works probably there’s a hidden meaning to it to say about us humans. Later I found out that the comic that this series is based on is currently ongoing. So I guess it’s better to end it there instead of putting in mindless fillers like a long running show that has everyone all vexed up.

For a horror genre, I was always on the edge of my seat for the entire duration of this series. It is not that I was scared out of my wits, but rather each time the zombies attack, it was nail-biting to see how the gang survives each fight. Of course we all know that our heroes will always make it through in the end but each of the assault from the zombies gave that dangerous feeling that they could be bitten the very next second. They may seem dull and like clones but they do give off that eerie feel. The subliminal message that this series is trying to say is probably the survival nature of humans. When faced with such a situation, we can see the true colours of our kind emerging. Some true leaders are born and some will turn to their dark side to do just about anything to survive. Then there are some that are willing to brave for changes and some unable to accept reality and shroud in their own world of denial. But even as we are now, are we no better than being mindless zombies? It makes us think of the many possibilities of the extinction of the human race and whether or not our own foolish doing is the cause of apocalypse. I wonder if those greenhouse and pollution effect has anything do with it.

You can’t help but root for Takashi and his gang. They may not be perfect but they rely on each other as they try and survive. Each of the characters has their own personalities, making the group quite fun. However because the series is too short, there isn’t enough time to appropriately flesh out the characters and how they will change as they further survive the carnage and pending apocalypse. We have short glimpses of Saeko’s past and Saya’s family but that doesn’t do much justice. Takashi has turned from someone who is indecisive into someone capable and reliable leader. I felt that Takashi and Rei’s relationship takes a back seat after halfway through. I felt that Rei didn’t really ‘stand out’ nor do anything significant other than her scorn for Shidou after reaching Saya’s mansion. Then again like I said, this series is too short for anything. Maybe I was having a wishful thinking hoping there will be some love polygon seeing that there were little hints of some budding romance. Uh, maybe this whole zombie thingy has got me crazy too. I have a feeling about Hirano’s character. I felt that as though the producers are telling us that otakus aren’t as useless as they seem. Saya may not be good at taking offensive but her intelligence proves vital. She isn’t a rich spoilt brat no more. But I couldn’t say the same for Shizuka because she’s still the busty airhead from start to finish. Hey, every group needs a bimbo like her. Who else provides a ‘good’ driver than her? Remember, everybody else is underage so they have no driving licence. Heck, you don’t need one now in this world. Come to think of it, don’t they look just like an RPG party? Takashi, Rei and Saeko for melee combat, Hirano the long range fighter, Shizuka the medic and Saya and Alice as supporting backup class such as mage and priestess. Don’t forget about Zeke as the mascot. Shidou is the creepiest non-zombie character and I’m not sure about his fate in the end when he crashed his bus. Did he get eaten or did he escape? I prefer and hope it is the former.

The characteristics of the zombie sometimes puzzle me. For instance their sensitivity to be attracted by sound. When Zeke was barking like mad against the hordes of zombies during its first appearance to protect Alice, why didn’t the zombies bite the puppy? Does it mean that they only bite humans? Then around the time Takashi and Saeko tried to distract the zombies from the rest and banged on the railing as loud as he could but the zombies continue their slogging towards the restless one. So this had me thinking that if you accidentally make a loud noise but slowly get away from the spot without panicking or being noisy, would you be able to evade the zombies? Just how come they know when to bite the human flesh if they lack all other senses? So if you play dead, are your chances of getting bitten lower? And why is it zombies can’t cross water? How can they tell when as mentioned they lack senses? Will they sink to the bottom? Yeah, might as well start living in the sea if you’re going to live a life free of zombies. Baffling but I guess that is what being a zombie means. Don’t try to understand them. Just kill them all! Bang, bang, bang, bang! Oops, sorry. Got carried away with Hirano’s modified overkill version.

The action of smashing zombies is definitely violent. But sometimes the action especially those involving riding vehicles can really be absurd. Take for instance the final escape scene from Saya’s estate. I’m not sure if Shizuka is that skilful in handling the humvee but can you believe it when she actually is able to tilt it and squeeze through the tiny opening of the barricade and zoom past it without error?! Wow. I’m speechless. And about Saeko’s ‘bullet time’ ability? I have no qualms about her excellent kendo skill and am confident that with her around, the gang will be in safe hands. But during the scene whereby she gracefully dodges her comrade’s bullets and continue her swinging like as though this is some sort of sophisticated art made my jaw dropped. Why not? This whole outbreak thingy was unexplainable in the first place so why not go all the way with the fanservice and violence. Yeah, who cares for the fanservice when you have zombies to fight. Probably to ‘relieve tension’ for viewers in between the bloody carnage? So perhaps that is why the girls still continue to choose to wear short skirts rather than long pants that may or may not be baggy and restrict their movements during fights. On a trivial note, each of the episode title has the word ‘dead’ in it. Dead on. Plus, it is a little creative to see how the title is being displayed as the episode starts after the opening credits, like being written with blood or on a signpost. Why do we need to be reminded of the episode title again right at the end just before the ending credits? This time in a more standard font. The next episode preview sounds like a cacophony of people speaking and shouting. It’s crazy. Besides, when everybody is talking, nobody is listening, right?

I don’t really have any qualms with the voice acting. Except for Takashi’s who is voiced by Junichi Suwabe (Atobe in Prince Of Tennis, Undertaker in Kuroshitsuji). Somehow I find his voice unsuitable as a high school student as he sounds more like a young adult. Noboyuki Hiyama as Hirano (Ikkaku in Bleach) proves to be quite fun when he gets loud or excited. Other casts include Marina Inoue as Rei (Kyoko in Skip Beat), Eri Kitamura as Saya (Ami in Toradora), Miyuki Sawashiro as Saeko (Shinku in Rozen Maiden), Yukari Fukui as Shizuka (Nia in Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann), Ayana Taketatsu as Alice (Azusa in K-ON!, Ako in KissxSis) and Kishou Taniyama as Shidou (Saten in Needless, Takeya in DearS). The voice acting of the other minor characters are also convincing as they portray the people in panic as they scream just seconds before they are devoured or the fear they faced when they are so close to the undead or being bitten. Truly scary. The opening theme, which is the same name as the series is a total hard rock piece sung by Kisida Kyodan & The Akebosi Rockets. The tune and lyrics are definitely befitting the pace of this series. However each of the ending themes is different though they are all sung by Maon Kurosaki. They may range from slow ballads to fast rock to pop beats, and even one totally in English. I may not be right but I feel that many of its lyrics have this lingering feeling of what has happened to the world whether it’s ‘wanting to be with you’ or ‘if time would stop like this’.

It’s just frightening and terrifying to think that if all six over billion of us humans are turned into zombies. And that number is to hit seven in no time. It’s just a daunting task for the survivors to put a bullet in each head or smack it off. I don’t think the world has produced that much ammo. This is one case where disrespecting the dead is okay. But will be being the dead really be better off? So if it does happen, what would I really do? What can we do? Blowing up the entire world with nuclear bombs may be a way to ‘clean up’ the world and start anew but that would be just the easy way out, don’t you think? As for me, erm… Maybe I better start playing and practising those Resident Evil games just in case.

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