I want to play a game. However this isn’t some typical game show whereby you spin the wheel and guess letters of a sentence to figure out the word and earn big bucks in the process. This isn’t also some reality TV series like Survivor where you just get voted off. Nakanohito Genome [Jikkyouchuu] is a game whereby participants are mysteriously whisked away to a strange place and forced to play various games along with other participants if they are to return to their ordinary lives. The catch? They can die here for real if they are not too careful or fail! Gasp! What kind of game show would risk the lives of their participants?! Oh well. You do know the dog eat dog world of showbiz, right? It’s going to attract a lot of viewers so what’s a little risk, no? Like they say, no pain, no gain.

Episode 1
A few lucky people have been chosen to participate in Let’s Play game called Nakanohito Genome. Among them is Akatsuki Iride as the next thing he knows, he finds himself in a jungle along with Karin Sarayashiki. They have to run for it because a giant panda is coming their way. Kaikoku Onigasaki tells them to take out their eyes and it is easy. However Akatsuki climbs a tree and tries to befriend the panda. It worked! With this stage cleared, the host, Paka congratulates them for such an unusual solution. He lets them know a counter on their left arm known as the epidermal counter. The number represents the view count in real time. Their goal is to make that counter reach 100 million during this live stream. Paka has everyone introduce each other. All are well known streamers who are good in their respective filed like Akatsuki in escape games, Karin in horror games and Kaikoku in Japanese style and Sengoku games. The rest include Himiko Inaba (nurturing games), Anya Kudou (fighting games), Yuzu Roromori (puzzle games), Zakuro Oshigiri (stealth games) and Makino Aikawa (dating sim games). As Anya is uncooperative and wants out, Paka warns him those who are stubborn will be placed in some white room while their comrades go about achieving the goal. That person will wait and wait, not knowing any updates of the progress until he/she dies waiting… Also, death is real here. No resets or save points. In the next Ouija game, Akatsuki, Karin, Anya and Zakuro are selected. They do what the spirits ask like give water. Akatsuki volunteers to be the spirit’s friend. It gets weird when Akatsuki is suddenly pulled from behind and out of the window. Luckily the giant panda broke his fall. Akatsuki then points out somebody in the room. It’s that spirit. Now that she is visible, she thanks him for the water and wonders if he could still be her friend. Akatsuki agrees. But the spirit wants him to burn and die with her. She feels sad that he won’t and will soon be forgotten. Akatsuki confirms he wants to be her friend but cannot go with her now. Once everything is over then he will. You can count on it because he never breaks his promises. With the spirit at ease, the stage is cleared. Their viewership has risen to over 83,000 views.

Episode 2
Paka informs of floating cameras called Pakamera everywhere so that everyone will be able to view live their exploits. They can use the facilities in the city and tower as they wish but do not step into the 51st floor ever. Violators will be persecuted. In this next stage, they have to nurture an egg, raise her and make her get along well with a handsome teacher, Hikaru Genji. At least 4 people are needed for this stage so naturally simulation specialists, Himiko and Makino are in. Akatsuki volunteers and oddly Anya takes this one? With Himiko being serious in raising a character, we see them all hugging around the egg waiting for it to hatch. And the moment it hatches, woah, what this monstrosity?! Folks, meet Murasaki. She is the culmination of their thoughts. Panda face (Akatsuki) with afro (Makino) in a sailor high school uniform (Anya). As the quartet do their best to raise their ‘daughter’, meanwhile we see Yuzu and Karin taking a bath together. Yuzu trolling Karin of lesbianism and even hinting she is not a girl! But this proves that viewership is also evident outside play areas because their view counter just risen a lot! I think bath scenes are going to be a hit… Back to the panda nurturing game, now Murasaki has been enrolled in an all-girls’ high school. Genji is a very popular man among the girls so it is going to be tough. But one day Akatsuki and Makino investigate further into Genji and see him throwing away all the presents the girls gave him as he complains they should have given him better presents like wine. WTF?! Then when Murasaki comes in to give her cookies, after putting up a fake charade, he tramples on her cookies and as usual starts complaining. Murasaki catches him in the act but before he could do something about it, Makino hits him out with a bottle. Murasaki makes cupcakes for everyone while explaining how nice Genji is as a person. Cue that this stage is about to be cleared because damn, this scene of Murasaki disappearing like as though she’s been exorcised?! One last big hug from her ‘parents’. With the stage cleared, their viewership sharply rises to 3.5 million views. We see a secret behind Yuzu’s secret cabinet: Lots of posters on Akatsuki. This girl worships him?

Episode 3
Kaikoku and Zakuro report to the rest. While they were in the previous game, they did some exploring and research. This entire city is like a ghost town. There is nobody else but them. They also explored the 51st floor but the moment Paka showed up, they ran for it. But looks like now he is back to attack them. Due to this violation, he has mimicry man eating plants attacking the place and the entire is lockdown. They must defeat this monster to clear this extremely hard level. Akatsuki almost got devoured by one that mimicked Karin. But when the sun sets, it becomes inactive and even shrinks during night fall. The gang take refuge at the cellar’s storage room. Akatsuki learns Anya has some sort of sleeping problem due to his family’s inherited sleeping disorder. Kaikoku follows Yuzu to her room to take poison ampules that could literally kill the monster. He sees the posters but she hopes he can keep it a secret. They test the poison on the plants and it works like a charm. Yuzu then proposes some password test so that they could differentiate friend from foe. The guys are tasked to follow the roots and pinpoint the core. It leads them to 2 Makinos. Trying to figure out which is the real one, turns out both are imposters! That night, Karin needs to go to the toilet. So why wake up Akatsuki to accompany her? I know Yuzu might be a little cuckoo but shouldn’t she try Himiko? As Akatsuki waits, he too feels the need to use the toilet. But doing so, Yuzu approaches him and attacks him with a hammer! Though missed, Yuzu is very certain this Akatsuki is an imposter. She knows the real one is ambidextrous and this imposter used the wrong hand to protect himself! This imposter must be an intelligent and high level monster to be able to move around at night. Yuzu prides herself in observing Akatsuki her entire life. Actually she doesn’t care if he dies because she wants to dissect him and see what he is made of. He is also the reason why her research of him can never be incomplete. She is in a dilemma to kill this imposter but the moment it shows its fangs, she stabs the poison into him. The next day, Akatsuki doesn’t know why but Yuzu is clinging onto him, feeling a bit guilty but glad that he is okay. The stage is cleared and they gained 7.2 million viewers.

Episode 4
Akatsuki and Anya are fighting because the former tried to give him some sleeping pills he asked from Paka but the latter would not accept it and punched him. Kaikoku and Zakuro continue their investigation. Definitely the city is dead. The utensils are new but there is dust all over. Zakuro doesn’t want him to be reckless again and give them trouble. Because he is here for a reason and won’t quit till he achieves it. His goal is to find his lost twin sister. Paka leads the gang through a village holding some festivities. Because demons will come out to abduct their maidens, to clear the stage they must stop this and rescue all abducted maidens. Destroying all demons will give a true ending but it will be impossible for their level since the demons are on cheat code. The gang is further explained by the village elder, Kihachi and his granddaughter, Kikka. They argue about who should participate in this game (as usual, Akatsuki always volunteers) but the question in who should cross-dress as a maiden to bait the demon. Other than Akatsuki, Makino is selected since his eyes have this strange charm on others regardless of gender. As they wait for the demon to show up, turns out that Kihachi and Kikka are the demons themselves. All travellers who walk in will become their sacrifice. Kihachi doesn’t want those cross-dressing guys so Kikka picks out Karin. She wants to pick another one but Kihachi points out the dungeon is full and if they have to pick another, they must get rid of one. This is when Akatsuki volunteers himself on grounds he can get rid of him if he doesn’t like it. Also, he is doing it for Karin so she won’t be alone. Anya is very upset about this. He remembers Akatsuki talking to him about his bad physical stamina. If Anya collapsed, Akatsuki will not be able to carry him to safety. He wants to clear game this with everyone. I’m sure that struck something inside that hot tempered guy. But don’t despair. Yuzu has stuck a transmitter on Akatsuki and they can track him down.

Episode 5
Kaikoku and Zakuro are chosen to track down Akatsuki and Karen. Zakuro reminds their mission is to bring the duo back alive and not to engage any demons. Kaikoku wonders why he is telling him all this especially about his twin sister. Because the rest are earnestly playing the game and Kaikoku isn’t, it means he is most determined in getting home. The duo reach the base and stumble into Akatsuki. Somehow he managed to squeeze out of his cage. He takes them to see a bird’s eye view of the room. Kikka has turned Karin and the other prisoners into dolls so she can play them in this life sized dollhouse. They split up to find where the other girls are held. Lucky Akatsuki finds them and from the hints they say, the key to the door must be in Kikka’s room. But as he goes get them, he gets knocked out by Kihachi. Grandpa is ready to kill this kid but Paka warns him not to as he is indispensable. Doing so is equivalent to breaking the game system and if he insists, as the admin of this game he will have to reset everything. Does he not want to stay a little longer with his granddaughter? Kihachi gives in. Akatsuki believes Paka has always been alone here and hopes they can escape this place together. But Paka declines. He can’t leave because of a promise. Zakuro is in panic. He finds a tag containing his sister’s name, Sakura. It is revealed she played a beta version of Nakanohito 2 years ago and disappeared. Desperate to look for her, the only way Zakuro was ever going to trace her was to play this game himself. Meeting up with the rest, Zakuro wants the rest to leave first while he settles some unfinished business. He asks Kikka about a girl who looks like him that came here 2 years ago. She taunts him that she might have gotten rid of her. This makes Zakuro mad as he is ready to slash her but is stopped by Kaikoku. Cool his head and leave with the rest, he’ll handle things from here. Kikka was just toying with Zakuro because of his serious face as she can’t remember all her dolls. She calls grandpa to crush Kaikoku but he didn’t respond. Seems Kihachi treasures his time with her so he isn’t going to lift a finger. This leaves Kikka devastated so Kaikoku tells her not to be so selfish. Kikka can’t understand because no grandparents would hate their grandkids but Kaikoku begs to differ. Kikka might have the last laugh since she can tell Kaikoku’s family hates him. That’s why he envies her who is loved by grandpa. Kaikoku just leaves. Together they return and clear this mission. 18.7 million views now, huh?

Episode 6
Paka takes them to a desert tomb. This stage is relatively easy but only 2 can participate and must be a boy and a girl. The pair must head in and retrieve some chromosome but be warned. The only thing you can’t do is lie. Himiko and Anya are chosen from the lot. Akatsuki would have wanted to go but he broke his bones from the last time and is forced to sit out. There goes his perfect attendance record… Anya and Himiko don’t really get along well. Especially when Himiko starts asking some questions, he lies to get her off his back. Then the lights go out. Then mummies attack! Is this what happens when you lie? Eventually they fall down a chasm. We see Anya’s dream of why he cherished his helmet so much. It belonged to his eldest brother and he was killed in a motor accident. When they wake up, before them is an alpaca statue who is going to ask them 3 questions. Because Anya is short tempered and getting violent with it, the statue threatens to squash them with the ceiling. The first question relates to memories. Who was your first love. Anya has none while Himiko took a while to confess about some kid who lived across the street. Meanwhile Zakuro confronts Paka. If it is about his sister, Paka already told him he knows nothing. Zakuro wants to know what he did to Yuzu but Paka warns him about the white room. It isn’t only for those who aren’t uncooperative but who will disrupt the game balance. Don’t worry. The leading potential is Kaikoku. Zakuro wanted to attack Paka but luckily Makino brings him away. Back to the Sphinx’s question, the second question has them reveal 5 great qualities of this form this slime has taken shape. Since both of them see Akatsuki, while Himiko is quick to say them all, it took a while for Anya to drag it out from his mouth. The final confessional question has them say the greatest sin they have committed. Outside, Yuzu is ‘comforting’ Akatsuki who is worried the duo haven’t come back yet. He wonders if he should have gone in instead but Yuzu knows this game will definitely not be suitable for him. Speaking of the devil, Anya and Himiko have come out and cleared this stage. 25 million views now, huh? I am guessing because Himiko’s answer to the third question was she killed her older brother?

Episode 7
Anya and Himiko are arguing because the latter wants to keep this slime! Punitsuki?! Anya remembers Himiko explaining about killing her brother. She can’t remember her brother’s face as he put her up for adoption when she was young. This was to protect her. Soon after that he went missing. Legally if a person is missing for more than 7 years, that person is officially declared dead. Hence Himiko felt that is how she ‘killed’ her brother. Damn technicalities. Today’s game will be hide and seek. Not just your ordinary hide and seek but they’ll hide from these 3 lovely ghost ladies. Folks, meet Misery, Isabella and Carrie. The play area will be their dorm level. Every 15 minutes, the ghosts will come looking for them and they’ll play this for an hour. If the ghost comes into your hiding and finds you, that’s strike one, you’ll lose your vision. The second strike means your eyeballs will be gorged out! To clear this stage, all of them must not be cursed at the end of the game. Due to this difficulty, those who are cursed can be ‘rescued’ if being touched by those not cursed. In the first round, all the girls hiding in the same room got cursed. Also, Kaikoku and Zakuro. Losing sight means having an irremovable blindfold over your face… Akatsuki and Anya come to heal them. In the second round, Kaikoku is hiding in Yuzu’s room. He sees her secret Akatsuki worshipping area but what caught his eye is about some data on the users of this game. Akatsuki and Anya are already cursed once and it is a miracle they managed to hide from the ghost despite Akatsuki sneezing. I guess the ghost wasn’t thorough enough. For the third round, it seems all of them got cursed! Who is going to save them! Makino! He was sleeping in his room all along and somehow fell and stuck between the bed and well. Damn I tell you the ghosts aren’t even thorough! So thank goodness. In the final round, all of them hide in the same room. Akatsuki is confident the ghosts will no look in here. And in the end, all of them cleared this stage and viewership is no at 36 million.

Episode 8
Kaikoku goes through the data on each of them he found in Yuzu’s room. He notes that Yuzu and Akatsuki’s data are the only ones unavailable. With the players having their rest day, Paka suggests trying out the open bath. Akatsuki is bugging everyone to go but looks like this is on hold as they see Kaikoku having a serious talk with Yuzu. Why are they assigning colours to everybody? Curious Akatsuki asks. It’s the colour of their underwear! WTF?! The guys head to the open bath first. OMG. Paka bathing in his suit?! Will this contaminate the water? Because Akatsuki is the only one who will soak in with him, Paka tells a secret. No it’s not his weakness or how to clear this game. They are right next to the girl’s bath! As Paka leaves, he decides to play a prank. He switches the gender signs outside. So when the girls are heard coming in, the guys go into hiding behind the big rock. Then they hear Yuzu molesting Karin in the most ambiguous yuri way. With all the Pakamera lining up, Karin throws a single bucket and strikes all of them out! Woah! What kind of special move is that?! Now the guys are scared. They fear they will meet the same fate if Karin finds out so they discuss for a way to get out alive. Then they ponder some reverse psychology. The guys were here first and since the girls came in later, it’s like the girls were peeking on the guys so it’s not their fault, right? Yeah, try to make it look like an accident. The problem now is who goes first, second, etc. Since they’re arguing over it, Karin busts them. Time to run like hell! It gets even worse when Karin’s towel drops. Somehow this increases her special power. And so we have a bloodied bath and it ends with Himiko dropping her flash grenades. This is surely raking in the views. In the aftermath, Kaikoku continues to look at the data. He looks at his own and sees a note that grandpa is in critical condition. Immediately he takes the elevator to the top. Next morning, Zakuro informs the rest that Kaikoku is nowhere to be found. Indeed. It seems he is now in the white room. Viewership only at 41.8 million? Man, I thought this would have doubled and blast through 80 million!

Episode 9
It seems Kaikoku is accusing Paka of doing something to his grandpa but Paka maintains he did nothing. When Paka goes to see the other players, they aren’t pleased that their friend has been sent to the white room. Even Akatsuki is calling for a strike and won’t play the next game unless all of them are together. Wow. Paka panicking that his best player won’t play? Yuzu suggests calling off the games for the moment. Soon, Paka has everyone gathered. They are given a chance to rescue him within 72 hours. To find the 6 digit combination to enter the white room, the hint is in this 30,000 jigsaw pieces! Paka hints to Yuzu that he is doing this puzzle to remind her of her place. Yuzu being the puzzle expert relays some hints on how they can go about this like they don’t need to put together everything in order to figure out the final answer. Meanwhile Kaikoku finds a lose tile in the bathroom. It seems there is a path headed underground. As he crawls out, he stumbles into Nanami Omejima and Chihiro “Hiro” Akafuda. On pretence to make friends, Nanami tasers him out. When he wakes up, he thought he saw a female version of Zakuro. It’s Sakura! Nanami explains that they are the only people who are now underground and they are from different game editions. They might sound different but it is actually the same place and the name is updated when different people play. Nanami has been stuck here for 4 years. This place is a deserted island and from time to time, there will be helicopters bringing in the supplies. Paka makes sure they all don’t see this. Hiro panics when Sakura goes missing. Kaikoku easily finds her rummaging some stuffs so she explains her being ‘missing’ happens very often. I think Kaikoku realizes a weird love triangle going on here. Hiro -> Sakura -> Nanami. Then going through some watery parts of the underground, she mentions about some mermaid ghost. Oh, is it popping up now? Meanwhile Yuzu is under extreme stress. Based on her experience she knows this puzzle cannot be completed within the timeframe. Until Karin snaps her out from her nail biting habit. She promises to do anything she asks for so in the meantime, please hang in there. Yuzu then starts to realize something. Lots of complicated equations! Damn f*cking equations to get to the answer!!! Looks like Yuzu’s back in the groove.

Episode 10
That mermaid… Turns out to be a giant goldfish! It gets hostile but thanks to Nanami shooting at it, it backs off. Nanami recognizes creature as it was a target in one of their games then. Yuzu explains the Luhn algorithm on how to derive an answer from seemingly random numbers. In short, I don’t get it! She tells the rest to get some rest while she works on it herself. Kaikoku and the rest return to their hideout. Nanami offering Kaikoku to join them in case this is a ruse by Paka to capture them all in one fell swoop. Gee, Paka must be patient to recapture them in one go instead of one by one. Anyway, Kaikoku declines as this kind of team play isn’t his style. Though he agrees to exchange info. The strain has Yuzu collapsed. As Karin goes to get help from the rest, Paka seems to help solve a little of the puzzle and drops the important puzzle piece. This is to make her owe him one and to remember her place as his subordinate. The puzzle to the white room is solved and the rest head in. Hiro calls out to Kaikoku as there are people calling his name. Is there any merit that Nanami is trying to pretend to be Kaikoku and not letting the rest know that there are others? Anyway, Zakuro explains how Yuzu tackled this hard puzzle so hard for him that she passed out. That’s why he wants him to come back with them. Sakura then has Kaikoku promise not to reveal about her. Imagine the flood of emotions her brother will have. After the rest goes back into hiding, Kaikoku only opens the door, much to his friends’ delight. He apologizes to them for making them worry and heads home with them. Later he visits Yuzu in the infirmary and wants to know about the documents on the players he found in her room. Yuzu admits she is this game’s record keeper and on Paka’s side. Her job is to pass info to Paka and serves like a monitor inside the game. She took on this role out of curiosity but now feels she doesn’t want the game to continue on like that. Kaikoku doesn’t care for all that and only wants to know if she is friend or foe. Take your time with your answer but until then, he calls for a truce.

Episode 11
Paka trolling everyone by being afraid of them because they hate him?! Anyway, with the viewership reaching halfway point of 50 million, it’s time for the next game. In this VR game, looks like Kaikoku, Yuzu, Himiko and Makino are turned into little kids. The rest must nurture them until the plant on their head blossom. To clear the game, 3 of them must bloom. Otherwise they will be stuck as kids forever. Anya, try to be nice, okay? So we see them take care of the kids that make it look so easy. Heck, Kaikoku wants to go bath with the girls and Karin allows it because he is a kid and not the current Kaikoku?! Whatever. In the end, Kaikoku, Yuzu and Himiko bloom and the stage is cleared. However noticing that Makino has not even bloomed an inch, Paka again gives some leeway to get them clear the game before tomorrow morning. Don’t want to risk another boycott, eh? No matter how much they do fin things with him, his plant will not grow. We see Makino’s trauma. His parents are always fighting and ignoring him. He sometimes finds his solace with his neighbour onee-san, Sumire. However she only looked at him as a little brother. So leave it to Akatsuki to go have a heart to heart talk with him. Akatsuki doesn’t remember about his own past and his current mom isn’t his biological one. Sometimes the real one doesn’t see her but it’s fine because he knows he loves her. So does Makino have anybody he loves? Even if that love is not returned, can he not be happy with just that? Can he accept it and move on? Makino is about to shut himself out due to his broken heart, thinking his parents never bothered with him and Sumire loves somebody else but then his friends are here to bring him back! Wohoo! Power of friendship, no? Yeah, time to move on. With that (as well as Zakuro calling him by his first name), Makino’s plant blooms. Stage cleared with 67 over million viewers!

Episode 12
Akatsuki asks everyone if Makino has a girlfriend. Because when he and Himiko go wake him up, he accidentally hugged her and thanked Sumire. Asking the guy directly, he just blushed. They even vote on if his girlfriend is older or younger? Only Akatsuki thinks Sumire is older. As the next stage starts, so Paka saying this is where the real fun begins… You mean it’s just going to be a bonus stage?! Everyone is given a set of coins to play any games they want. They can win as many coins and at the end they can exchange it for prizes. Paka merchandises? Boring! But wait! There is one ticket that allows Paka to grant you any wish you want. The only condition is that it must be in the confines of Nakanohito. So we see them playing various (boring) games. Some try to make a killing by betting big but lost all their earnings. Heck, there is one room with suspicious green pipes in which if you drop in, brings you to a familiar underground with familiar blocks and coins… And when you come out, you sport a familiar moustache!!! Ring a bell?! Of course time for some drama as a game Akatsuki plays, he falls into a trap. Not sure what place he is but he is seeing strange visions of his family. I think. The rest are worried he hasn’t been out yet so Paka explains that although his life won’t be in danger, but if he isn’t back by the time limit, he will become a dropout. I guess the only way now is to exchange the coins for the magic ticket. But all of them have lucked out or exchanged them, right? Oh wait. There’s Makino. He’s killing it at the slots! He’s drowning in coins! But since they are only halfway, they can double that with a simple game that is all or nothing. This high-low card game has you guess your card’s value is higher or lower than the dealer’s. So what’s it going to be? Time is ticking… Then everyone remembers Akatsuki’s vote on Sumire’s age. Yup, definitely higher. And with that, Akatsuki returns! Tadaima. Meanwhile we take a detour back at Akatsuki’s household. Mom thinks it’s okay for her husband to go and off he goes with his groupies. For something. On the other hand, our players are getting ready for the next stage… Wow. The bonus stage netted them 70 million viewers?

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What a downer. Here I was expecting the final episode to be some cliff-hanger ending, it ended with somewhat a fun-like level instead. Boring. Heck, I’d be complaining if that cliff-hanger ending made the cut either. And that final scene whereby Akatsuki’s dad meeting up with a few other people, I am assuming they are parents of some of the other players. Because you know, that striking resemblance to their kids… It’s like they’re off to go rescue their kids after they’ve been missing for who knows how long. Anyway that scene feels redundant considering the way the series ‘ended’. Sure, worried parents try to go rescue their kids but I guess they’re not convinced seeing how much fun they’re having and the millions of viewers they are garnering. I wonder how many more don’t like seeing this. Hint, like yours truly! Oh heck, I must be one of those million viewers since I stayed and watched this series till the end.

I think a lot of people try to compare this with Danganronpa and because this one somewhat doesn’t live up to that standard, hence why many gave such excuses of finding this series a poor adaptation. I am guessing that why this series lacks any sort of excitement is because, wait for it, nobody dies!!! As we were told that people who participate in this game have a chance of losing their life for real, initially my perception is that the number of participants will eventually thin out towards the end as the game gets tougher and tougher and some will be risking their lives just to solve the stage and let the rest move on. I know. Blame me for being a bloodthirsty sadist but that is basically how you attract viewership, no? The basic human nature of wanting to see blood spill of others. Therefore with all of the participants here clearing the stages and being so happy in the end, it is a mind boggling matter of how their viewership count can increase dramatically by the end of each stage! Where’s the excitement in that?! Unless they are fans of the participants so it’s like they just hope and wish to see more of them in action rather than some casual viewer who is just out for blood. Too bad this isn’t a horror survival series then.

The other big problem of this series is the games that they play. I believe they do not want to focus on the games and instead of the interaction and bonding of the players. Many of the games that we see them play are just borderline boring. Like raising a child? WTF?! Go to a demon village and rescue captured maidens? Boring! No plot twist whatsoever after the stage is cleared. I know it is to appease to fans of different genres since we have participants from different abilities in the game. But really, the games are somewhat a tool and stepping for the characters to grow closer and bond. But they fail in that too. More on that later. So in terms of the games, I could basically sum it up as boring as f*ck. The closest a game was the most interesting was the hide and seek one with the ghost ladies. I admit it was interesting and as well suspenseful because you know, ghost ladies trying to hunt you down! But the biggest disappointment comes in that final round how all of them managed to win the game without being caught at all! They put all their eggs in the same basket! The worst part was they never explained it to us how Akatsuki deduced that this was the safe room! Yeah people, use your imagination on how they survived that. By that time I was downright losing it and from then on, I wasn’t just interested in whatever games they played anymore. Whatever. Just get it on and clear the stage.

On to the characters, I believe they are also a big miss and unfortunately as much as they try to keep the intrigue and mystery with some of them, ultimately I think that a dozen episodes weren’t enough to properly flesh all 8 of them out. Maybe they could have run for another cour but who knows if it would still be interesting. The biggest gripe I have is have the characters’ backgrounds feel superficial. They are just shown snippets of their past or whatever and then nothing else. You move on. I mean, all of the players I believe have some sort of past and a reason why they participate in this game, willingly or unwillingly. But to skim over them just to ‘alert’ us that hey, this is their past. Note that? Okay. Let’s move on. It just doesn’t make us feel we want to put our support behind them. Ironically we have players who are pros in their related fields. But where is one who is skilled in third person shooters? I guess Japanese people don’t play Overwatch, Fornite, PUBG or even Call Of Duty or Counter Strike.

Like Himiko, when she said she killed somebody, it sure hell made me interested to know more about it. And then it was just briefly explained about how she technically ‘killed’ somebody figuratively and not physically. It was really a disappointment. So that’s it for this shy chick, huh? The only reason why order is kept and the guys not fighting each other because of her flash grenades. It’s her only prominent point we’d mostly remember. Every group needs an angry guy. That’s you Anya. What about why he carries a helmet around to honour his dead brother? Then there is Makino who is always sleeping wherever and whenever he can. Yes, this guy can even sleep upside down on rock like as though he is defying the laws of nature and physics! They try to make this Makino guy having this enigmatic ambience. It makes us want to know who this guy. Every time you look into his eyes, you wanna fall in love with this hunk. And then a convenient episode just to give us his flashback… Uhm… I guess it’s okay? Once you know about that, it’s like, whatever.

The biggest mysterious players are Akatsuki and Yuzu themselves. It is hinted that they are more than just players and while Yuzu is revealed to be on Paka’s side, it didn’t really send any shockwaves. If this is supposed to be the biggest twist, then I guess it failed. Of course Akatsuki as the main character, how much do we know about him? He seems like an eager beaver wanting to join in every game. He is like the glue that sticks all the players together because otherwise nobody would be wanting to cooperate in the first place. His eternal smile and positivism I am guessing is hiding something even tragic. That is why he acts like an airhead to try and cover up whatever background he has. I may be wrong and Akatsuki might just be some natural airhead who loves to play games. That’s all. Last episode tries to hint something but it just didn’t really matter because once again you’d expect the power of friendship to get him out of whatever problem. That’s what friends are for, right? Another unanswered question is how the genome fits into all this. Every time they clear a stage, they receive some chromosome thingy. Are they taking samples of the players’ DNA to build a secret army? Or at least clone their gaming skills?

As you might have guessed, there are a few mind boggling questions that pop up in your head while watching this series. At least mine did. The mind boggling one goes to those secret underground kids. Don’t tell me Paka is that dumb and lets them run around and do as they wish? Nanami I assume is the ‘oldest’ because he has been stuck underground for 4 years! FOUR DAMN YEARS!!! So what is he planning to do? I’m sure it is to bust out and waiting for the right time. Keep waiting… So long those kids do not interfere with the current games, I guess Paka is willing to close an eye. I mean, Paka could have captured all of them as and when he likes and as the game master, he has the power and authority to do it. I know we see him kowtowing to Akatsuki’s demands but I’m sure he is just trolling for the sake of the game.

What about the viewership of the game? Are the rising numbers due to the same people watching (because some of us own multiple devices and online accounts) or are they truly unique viewers? Because it feels strange that the counter actually goes up by a few million after every stage is cleared. I mean, are there no viral cute cat videos out there?! Are people so bored or the marketing team of this game is so good that they attract others to get glued to their screen? Heck, even there are not many fanservice scenes and the numbers still increase proportionately. As the numbers do not go down, I am assuming once they start watching the stream, they’ll forever watch it till it finishes. No wonder at this rate they look like they have potential to hit a million viewers. It is just going to take a while… I mean, there’s no time limit to achieve that, right?

Of course Paka himself being the biggest mystery of all, you wonder what his intentions are in hosting these games. Conspiracy theories and speculations are rife from my side because one of mind is that he would need to achieve a certain number of viewership before he can leave the island. Or maybe he needs to host a number of editions before he can get his wish granted. Something like that. Or maybe he is the last of his Alpacan alien race and the only way to save his tribe is to extract the DNA of the best players? A bit of a stretch there… Paka doesn’t sound or look very threatening and quite accommodating to the players as most of the time you see him give some freedom to complete things. Like how he helped Yuzu complete her puzzle and give others a chance to save Makino. I’m sure those aren’t part of the rules but as the game master and host, he controls everything. I don’t think he even wants to kill them at all. Seeing how he prepared events for them to relax and have fun, this guy probably wants people to enjoy his giant amusement park. What’s a big Disneyland when you have no visitors to enjoy, huh?

Art and animation I think it tries to be as edgy as Danganronpa but overall it comes off as a bit bland, the visuals and the colour hues. The characters have this cute and kawaii looks to it like as though they are one step away from being a chibi version of themselves. Even Anya as the angsty character doesn’t look menacing. A lot of crude talk perhaps made us think he is so. This series is animated by Silver Link who has done Non Non Biyori, Strike The Blood, Masamune-kun No Revenge, Kokoro Connect and Imouto Sae Ireba Ii just to name a few.

For the voice acting, I only recognized Kenjiro Tsuda as Paka. Why do I have a feeling that this guy is going to be the Johnny Depp of voice acting since his eccentric low voice makes him suitable to voice weird characters like that pervy erotic novelist dad in Midara Na Ao-chan Wa Benkyou Ga Dekinai and Ogata in Golden Kamuy. The other casts are Daiki Yamashita as Akatsuki (Midoriya in Boku No Hero Academia), Akari Kitou as Karin (Kaho in Blend S), Kaori Nazuka as Yuzu (Tsukasa in Amagami SS), Tasuku Hatanaka as Anya (Kaminari in Boku No Hero Academia), Takuya Satou as Kaikoku (Sasajima in Nana Maru San Batsu), Kouki Uchiyama as Zakuro (Ichika in Infinite Stratos), Manaka Iwami as Himiko (Chiaki in Gamers) and Takuma Terashima as Makino (Stone River in Tantei Opera Milky Holmes). Bonus point: Mamiko Noto making her short cameo is Akatsuki’s mother!!! Or aunt. Whoever. I don’t care. Phew. So glad hearing her voice just made my day after finishing watching this series.

Not Game by Tasuku Tatanaka as the opening theme, uhm, feels a bit weird. I has this hip tune to it and although it is not bad, somehow I just feel it doesn’t fit the series. Because it gives off this feeling that everybody is having fun and that there is no danger at all to the players! Which is what it is actually. Then the ending theme, Boku Wo Mitsukete by Fhana feels equally weird at least in terms of the tune of the song. Not really to my liking. I don’t know if the ending credits animation is trying to do homage or copied after the first season of Durarara’s ending theme. It looks strikingly similar…

Overall, I wanted to like this series but unfortunately the boring games and weak character development, it only makes me dream if there was an alternate version whereby it was truly a horror survival game where the participants truly dies! But I guess I have to accept that this is a team game whereby everyone pitches in and helps each other out. Yeah, this feels like one big elaborated team building camp with the characters coming out nicely and happy. Everybody wins! Everybody gets a participation trophy! You’re a winner! He’s a winner! She’s a winner! Everybody’s a winner! Certainly, this isn’t the next Gangnam Style material that would break the counter of YouTube. What next after achieving a million views? I guess we are going back to watch those viral cute cat videos. That will surely rake up hundreds of millions of views in a short period of time.

WTF?! WHAT THE F*CK DID I JUST WATCH?! You know, I was interested to take a look at that Accelerator spinoff series and maybe get some cute hearto kyun~ seeing the weird relationship between Accelerator and Last Order. And boy, did I watch the wrong anime???!!! Because Uchi No Ko No Tame Naraba, Ore Wa Moshikashitara Maou Mo Taoseru Kamo Shirenai (Uchi No Musume if that’s a f*cking whole lot for you to pronounce – and it is!) feels like an alternate happy fantasy ever after version of To Aru Kagaku No Accelerator! Serious! But nope. It’s not the same anime. Totally different. You’ll notice that subtle similarity but it’s totally different, I guarantee. A lone adventurer guy finds a lost demon girl and decides to care for her. Lots of cute and adorable things happen along the way. Hmmm… SO CUTE!!! I LIKE IT!!! KAWAII SUGIRU!!!! ~KYUN <3!!!!!

Episode 1
After killing some monsters in the forest, Dale Reki rests up but a loli approaches him. He notices she is of a demon clan and is in a feeble state, Latina. He’s not the best communicating in her demon language but I guess he can go about enough for her to understand. As he feeds her his food (there, tamed her like a wild animal), he notices her broken horn. Normally demons with broken horns means they have committed a crime and banished. Latina then brings him to a corpse nearby. It is believed to be of her father’s. After burying her, can’t leave this loli all alone in the woods and invoke the wrath of lolicons so he brings her back to his town, Kreutz. Back in the bar run by his friend, Kenneth, he has Latina take a bath. She can’t wash herself hence an excuse to strip and wash her. Lolicons, you jealous? Some old clothes by Rita and ribbons to hide her horns. Dale and Rita try to find out anything on the news but nothing of this sort. Then Latina’s stomach growls. I guess it’s time to feed her. Dale ponders on his options to send Latina to the orphanage but it might not be a good idea since it is always underfunded. More loli goodness as Dale sleeps with her. But nothing happens thankfully. Until she has to bug him to go to the toilet. With Latina picking up some of their language, I suppose it is also right for Dale to bring her to the market and experience life. Dale continues to ponder. He doesn’t knows what is best for her and fighting monsters is what he is only good at. Sending her to the orphanage is out of the question too. So what’s the conclusion? Why, he is going adopt Latina to take care of her himself! Hooray! Today I got myself a loli!

Episode 2
Oh dear. Dale has to be gone for a job and he doesn’t want to leave Latina alone. Can’t bring her along too. Too dangerous. Damn, Latina is handling this calmer than you are! But in the care of Kenneth and Rita, I hope that calms his mind to get going. During that time, Latina somewhat helps with the bar. Wow. Everyone so impressed and anxious at the loli carrying the tray. Is she going to tip over with the tray? Nope. Phew. Thank goodness. Kawaii… Damn, all the macho men’s hearts are now stolen by Latina! Dale rushes back and is glad to see Latina. But not as glad she is to see him. As Latina spends more time in the bar, you can feel Dale is getting a bit jealous she is closer to others. When Kenneth goes out to do errands, Latina wants to come along. Normally Dale won’t allow her but he can’t say no to those puppy dog eyes. Unfortunately during the trip, Latina was so amazed by everything she got lost. Kenneth realizes too late and returns with the bad news. Time to hit the panic button. Yeah, everybody is going to do a massive search. Find our loli! Latina is found by a group of boys, Rudy, Marcel and Antony. They aren’t that rough but to Latina, they’re scary. They try to help her but she thinks they’re being rough. Luckily Chloe beats them up to remind them to be gentler. They are impressed when Latina uses healing magic on Marcel. With Latina’s smattering vocab, they figure out where she came from and escort her back there. Everybody is glad their cutie is back and safe as Latina goes around apologizing. But Dale is not around. Still out looking? Oh, he’ll be back… Speaking of the devil… Latina cries the moment she sees him as she fears he is mad. What?! Who the hell would be mad at such a cute loli?! They both reconcile as Latina never wants to be alone again. Yes, it’s you official confirmation she wants to be with him. Now there is a valid excuse for him to be with her instead of being called a lolicon! We’re going to stay together forever!

Episode 3
You know you’ve regressed into worse than a child when you think Latina is so cute that you don’t want to go to work that involves meeting with other old men! But Rita manages to ‘encourage’ him to go since he’ll get to buy souvenirs for her. Hence his deep thinking face that scares off his dragon chauffeur. Upon arriving, he meets up with his friend, Gregor and can’t shut up spamming how cute his Latina is. It’s a good thing Gregor has some high discipline not to cut down this cringe. On to business, with the rise of the Demon Lord’s presence, a plan is to ambush them in small units. Oh Dale, can you not think about Latina for like 5 minutes? That too long for you to concentrate on the mission? Meanwhile Latina makes shepherd’s pie. When the customers know about it, they realize how good it is and damn they become big fans of her cooking! Yeah, they don’t mind waiting long for it. That’s what they come here for! Chloe visits and talks to Latina about school. Since they are about the same age, she suggests going to the same school with them. We see Dale and Gregor’s team ambushing the Demon Lord’s minions. Uhm, this anime got blood and death?! Damn those minions got sliced and killed! When the mission is over, Dale can’t wait to get home and bring back all the presents rather than attending tonight’s banquet. Loli is more important than official state feast! And of course everybody knows when Dale is back because he literally lets the whole world know with his loud screaming of Latina’s name. Lolicon and loli reunite. Happiest reunion ever. Latina then brings out her shepherd’s pie for him to eat. He is so touched that he can’t eat it. WTF… Can we just get over this long day already?

Episode 4
So now you can’t praise Latina without going through Dale?! How jealous can this guy get?! Latina now attends school and apart from Chloe and co, she makes a new friend, Sylvia. However their teacher looks crazy… Indeed. Because one day she spots Latina’s horns and that’s when she snapped! OMFG! She mistreats her like a ragdoll?! WTF ranting about demons trying to infiltrate them, blah, blah, blah?! Sylvia stands up against her and despite the threat of being excommunicated, she dares the teacher. The students gang up against her. By banging against the table? Okay. Whatever. But clearly this affected Latina. Oh dear. Look at those traumatic eyes… So when she goes home, something is clearly wrong. So much so she breaks off her horn (thanks to some offensive magic Dale taught her earlier)! OMFG! She trying to be Hellboy?! Luckily Kenneth brings her in time to the nearby temple to heal. You bet Dale is going to rush all the way back. When she wakes up, she starts crying about never wanting to be alone again because since demons live longer than humans, eventually everyone will die first. Time for Dale’s special assurance and special thanks of meeting her. Even if Latina is human, Dale will still die first as he is older and the job he does is dangerous. With Latina feeling better, what a way for them to make up with a hug. Aww… So cute! Now Dale gets on to serious business as he meets the principal of the school. He gives her warning to hand down the maximum punishment on her. He has talked to the other students and also his connections allow him to demand the kind of info on that person. Despite having trauma of her family being killed by demons, that is still not a valid excuse to take it out on an innocent life. If they continue to cover for her, he will take this to the higher authority whereby the god of war, Ahmar reigns all over arbitration and judgment mercilessly. The principal agrees to fire and expel her. Chloe visits Latina and slaps her for endangering her own life. More heart strings to tug with lolis giving each other an emotional hug. Everyone celebrates Latina’s return with Dale buying everyone a drink. So don’t complain when they order the most expensive one! Latina’s cute apology will make up for it. Latina is so perfect in everything she does, is there nothing she can’t do? Oh damn, she’s tone deaf… But being imperfect also has its charm? Dale you lolicon…

Episode 5
Latina thinks of getting Dale a present so as she consult her friends, they are unsure what to get that guy. Dale feels he is left in the dark since Latina doesn’t want to tell him. And he can’t force it out of a loli’s mouth either. Yeah, this guy is sinking into depression thinking Latina doesn’t need him as she stops by Chloe’s house (brainstorming for present ideas) and even doing some work behind his back (nothing shady, mind you). Eventually his blues are blown away when Latina gives him a handmade bag for his birthday. Surprise! Flashback shows Latina consulted Kenneth that she needed money to buy something for Dale. So to earn her keep, she learns things under his apprenticeship. Now Dale is bragging to everyone in the bar how Latina made this bag for him. The next morning it snows and Latina gets her first experience. So was she living under the cave all this time? When a usual customer, Jilvester AKA Jil leaves the bar, Latina notices he forgot his wallet. She goes to return it to him. On her way back, a couple of shady guys try to ask her for directions. Smart Latina can tell they are bad guys because of that typical trademark bad guy face. She tries to run for it but the slippery ice made her slip. The baddies try to kidnap her but luckily Jil is here. They try to give excuses but nobody messes with Dale’s loli. Fortunately no blood will be spilt today as the lieutenant of the police is here. He seems to comprehend the situation and has those baddies arrested. Damn, it must be so bad luck to have that kind of face, huh? He warns about the recent black market in selling other races. He knows a lot about Latina because he is Sylvia’s father and heard a lot from his daughter. Dale thought he could replenish himself with Latina’s smile after another tough mission. He gets jealous seeing Latina with Jil. WTF is this?! But for today, Jil is Latina’s hero, okay?

Episode 6
Rita is pregnant?! Man, that escalated quickly. Hence thoughtful Dale thinks of moving out with Latina. But what’s this? They say Dale can leave but let Latina stay?! She has been an irreplaceable employee and has been saving up. She might have enough for her own dowry. I guess that joke has gone too far so it triggers Dale he won’t have any of that! Back to the serious side of this episode, Dale prepares to head to his hometown and he gave Latina the option to stay or follow. No prize to guess which she picked. Because she wants to bring a cooking knife along, Kenneth opines a multi-purpose knife should be better. Hence he takes her to Rudy’s father’s shop as he is a blacksmith. I guess pops has a hard time thinking this little girl is looking for a real knife than a toy knife. Rudy is surprised to see Latina here. Even more so that he learns she is going on a trip. Wow. This guy is panicking and he could be Dale number 2. It seems Latina didn’t tell her friends of this trip so Kenneth advises her to do so because it would be just as bad if her friends disappear without saying anything. Meanwhile Dale is shopping for a magic robe for his precious. He has the misfortune to stumble into a mage, Helmine. Despite knowing she is trouble, he has nobody to seek for help from this hot babe to help him pick out the right magic robe. In return, she hopes to one day meet Latina as a fellow spell caster. Dale and Latina soon begin their journey but before that, Latina wants to pass by her father’s grave to pay her respects. They encounter a few magic beasts but it is thanks to Latina’s intuition and ability to sense danger that gives Dale enough time to prepare. Latina tries to explain this providence or foresight ability she has but from what I understand, probably it’s just guts feeling. I could be wrong… Latina manages to go up to her father’s grave and it’s going to take a while since she has a lot of things to tell him. I didn’t know demons’ ritual for the dead is so like humans’.

Episode 7
Stopping by a town for the night, Latina keeps a diary of her journeys. No peeking, Dale! Then they put their beds together to sleep. Funny, I thought a bed is big enough for them both and they still have room. They reach the port town of Qualle. While dining in a fine restaurant, Latina notices the performer wearing the same armlet as hers. A few days later they arrange to talk to her, Glaros. Latina wastes no time to tell she is a demon with broken horns so Glaros also reveals she is also a demon and comes from the demon country of the first Demon Lord, Vassilios. Though it is a custom for demon mothers to raise their child, armlets are passed down by fathers to their offspring to celebrate the birth of their child because it is hard for demons to conceive. Glaros is certain Latina is born in Vassilios as it’s the only demon country to practice this as this is not a tradition in the third and sixth Demon Lord’s domain. Then there’s something about the first Demon Lord being killed by the second and perhaps currently there is no Demon Lord ruling over Vassilios right now. Also, unlike Vassilios that closes off its borders to the outside world, there are other calamitous Demon Lords who love to fight and kill like the second, fourth and seventh. Latina then asks the hardest question about Glaros meeting her human husband. Well, he had a good long life. They had no children because if it’s already hard for demons to conceive a child, what more with a human. A little lift from the gloom because Glaros has always been happy since she met her husband. Continuing their journey, Dale and Latina hold hands and then Dale feel the need to carry her. But of course.

Episode 8
Dale stops by at Joseph’s village. He is his relative and a furry. Joseph’s mom is Dale’s dad’s second cousin. Damn, sounds confusing… Joseph has his own family too, wife Ute and baby Maya. When you have a kid who looks like an animal, you wonder if the kid doubles as a pet too. Cute Latina + Cute Maya = Too much cuteness in this household! Dale notices Latina gets worried when they were talking about some prophecy thingy. He wonders if this is the reason why she was chased out from her village. When Maya starts crying uncontrollably, it is because she detected Latina’s sad feelings. Trying to put up a tough front? So with Ute telling her to let the tears flow, Latina starts crying. Damn, this house is noisy with 2 crying kids. Later Latina talks to Dale about the prophecy. She thinks it says she is a bad girl and the reason why her dad died. Dale gives his perspective on this prophecy thingy. Because it didn’t describe her in any specific way, she shouldn’t worry too much. When Dale and Latina leave, Maya puts up a tantrum. She doesn’t want Latina to go. Poor Joseph got a few baby kicks in the face just to hold her back. Better go now. We see Dale trying to outrun his pursuers as well as evading lots of traps. Turns out they are his family. Is this their sick way of greeting their son? We finally arrive at Dale’s hometown, Teathrow. Oddly this is not the village’s name but a reference to all those who live here. Huh? Nobody here has surnames and Dale’s surname is actually his job description in some language. Latina stamps her authority because I guess she doesn’t understand family sarcasm so she has Dale and granny be nice to each other. Wow. Latina so cute when she’s ‘mad’… Meeting the parents, Latina gets worried when hearing about the wedding. Turns out Dale’s brother, Yorck will be marrying the nearby village head’s daughter. Phew. So relieved. That night, Dale thought he heard Latina’s voice. He enters her room only to see her cowering at a corner. Once again, it’s that insecurity of not wanting to be alone. Of course he accompanies her to bed so you bet this is going to be some touchy topic when mom finds them sleeping together. Nothing naughty happened but I guess they’ve got something new to tease their son. It’s like as though they really want to make him out as a lolicon. Oh Latina, you’re the only one who can heal Dale’s hurt feelings now…

Episode 9
Latina writes home to update what is happening. Since her stay at Teathrow is long, she also takes some magic and cooking studies. Big bonus is that she gets to play with lots of pups too. And of course more of Dale and Latina sweet screen time and assurance that they’re happy with each other. One day, grandma decides to take Latina to the mountains to show a secret. When Dale notices this, he becomes suspicious and tails Latina. What’s this? Latina feeding some white winged wolf? Dale scolds her for trying to feed wild animals as this would make them depend on the food and it might carry some disease. However the wolf can speak and snarls at Dale! It is then Dale realizes this is a phantasmic beast. He is surprised because such intelligent creatures don’t live near human settlements. Latina then brings Dale to its entire family just nearby. As explained, these beasts have made a pact with the ancestors of Teathrow that they will co-exist together as neighbours without stepping into each other’s territory. Dale is surprised that Latina has become so friendly with them that she even gives their leader a belly rub! For your information, Latina is not human… At night, everyone prepares for Yorck’s wedding. Seeing this, Dale thinks he is definitely not going to let anyone marry his Latina and will break all his bones! OMFG! However the thought that Latina might hate him for rejecting her boyfriend is too much to bear! Oh dear! While the celebration goes on, why is Latina putting on a sad face? Ah, kids her age wants to grow up fast. Dale then rethinks back had he not take up this Reki job, he wouldn’t have left the village. Because Teathrow doesn’t belong to any nation, there are other lords that might want to take over this dominion. Hence they make some political pacts to stay safe. But to avoid outsiders from meddling, this Reki job is supposedly viewed as a divine gift and a hero. Dale took up this job in hopes of protecting Teathrow from outside. He was at a lost and not sure if he was doing anything to protect his village until he met Latina. Someone to protect. In a way, she saved him. Back to the party, I guess Dale got drunk announcing Latina belongs to him. Because everybody is family, I guess they didn’t see him hugging Latina as some sort of rape potential. Grandma is ever so nice to offer some advice if Latina ever wants to get married and beat up this idiotic grandson. Oh yeah. That’s what family is for. Uh huh. Let’s all laugh over it!

Episode 10
It is time to leave Teathrow and return to Kreutz. Time to say goodbye to everyone too. The winged wolves give them their magic feathers. It will help scare off lesser intelligent beasts when they travel home. Grandma gives Latina a gift. It’s not going to take up any space as that gift is a name. This signifies that she can come back here whenever she wants. Later Dale realizes why grandma put up Latina to meet the winged wolves. Because she helps brushed their feathers, they managed to get a whole bunch of their magic feathers that they will use to make protective clothes when they tend to the fields. Normally they would have to wait till they shed them but looks like Latina did a pretty good job. And so grandma also gives Latina a couple of ribbons made from those feathers. After leaving Teathrow, they stop by at Joseph’s place. Oh dear. We can see this coming. Maya throwing herself at Latina. Yeah, daddy so sad that Maya doesn’t want him anymore. Hence the plan is to leave early tomorrow morning while they’re asleep to avoid that ruckus. However somehow Maya crawled in to sleep next to Latina. Plan failed. And so it’s that déjà vu scene again with Maya giving off her legendary wailing and this time Dale and Latina have to leave fast. No long goodbyes now. Gotta go. Resting at Qualle, Latina wants to buy souvenirs for her friends. Then there is this bright coloured hair person known as Rose Princess passing by. Dale is amazed Latina knows that the glow is due to magical traits of her person. Although she was born in a place with people with high magical traits, Latina herself has low magical traits and is hereditary since her father too doesn’t have such high magic qualities. And now they’ve finally arrived back at Kreutz. Latina greets Kenneth and Rita. With Latina back, I guess it is double celebration for all the patrons. Their favourite server is back! So good to have her back, right?

Episode 11
Latina’s back and you bet her friends are happy to listen to her tales. Chloe has been keeping Latina’s broken horn as a charm. But wait. Why does Rudy have one too? We all know why but Latina believes his reason to keep it because it’s rare. But what’s this? Latina sighing? The customers think she is having romance issues but it turns out she wants to go to a cat’s gathering like her friends did. Phew, right? Dale has this sneaky plan to take her there as long as he accompanies her but Jil usurps him because he’ll go ask his neighbour, Shihesu Gojo a bachelor who lives with his cats. That name rings a bell for Dale because he was grandpa’s partner during his adventuring days. Dale and Latina visit Shihesu’s place. Poor Latina, the cats don’t like her? Except for one! Good enough. Meanwhile the adults talk about things. This includes Shihesu’s original homeland on a faraway island that has a high child mortality rate. So when a child reaches a certain age, they put some extravagant costume on them to celebrate. Sounds familiar… And of course we want to let Latina try that outfit. Yup, it’s a kimono. Looking over the top kawaii. Shihesu thinks this land should adopt this tradition. I can see the kind of influence Latina is going to have if this is accepted. Latina will become God! So I guess for that kind of investment, Dale willingly splurges on this kimono. Any money he spends on Latina is not a waste! Never an upper limit! And of course her attraction power increases dramatically back at the bar. Meanwhile a baby winged wolf wants to go see Latina but papa doesn’t allow it because it is too young. Offspring throws tantrum and threatens to tell mama… WTF.

Episode 12
Helmine visits the bar. Uh oh. Latina’s womanly guts are ringing like hell! Who this woman?! And to show that Latina ‘owns’ Dale, she hugs him and never lets go. Unfortunately Helmine will be staying here for a while. That’s because she and Dale will be paired up on some away mission. Damn. I think this situation is more dangerous! And when a woman says she is not mad, SHE IS MAD! Wow. Latina so young, already so like that. With Helmine hanging around the bar, you bet the other patrons are going to be confused with Latina’s ‘less than satisfying service’. But Helmine isn’t going to play the nice lady. She teases Latina about her small stature since Latina herself has been harbouring hopes of growing up fast. It doesn’t help at all since her classmates especially Rudy talking about her being compared to as a baby. Hence Latina talks to Kenneth about small. Not her stature, but her boobs! Erm, why not talk to Rita? No way. She’s flat! WTF?! And so the rumoured solution is to drink milk… One night, Helmine talks to Dale to advise him about how certain creatures live longer than humans. That’s why they don’t attach themselves to someone special. Otherwise you have to live with that pain. So if he cares about her, live as long as you can! As Latina’s grade will be graduating, her friends are going to walk different paths. Is this to shoehorn in some last moments with Rudy because he is going to join the reserved army? Don’t worry. Many visit Kenneth’s bar so you can still see her, right? Before Dale departs on his mission, he has Latina visit her father’s grave. He narrates he might not live as long as her but as long as he is alive, he will protect her. Dale’s goodbye to Latina could have been longer had not Helmine just tell him to get going. One more Latina hug for the road, please? And as Latina narrate about her being blessed and being grateful to those around her, Rita finally gives birth. Not sure if Kenneth’s bar is now a nursery because you have the baby, loli Latina and even Maya and the winged wolf pup coming to visit! Oh dear. I smell another rivalry coming up… And as expected, Dale returns from his mission safely and gets a big Latina hug.

Always Forever Daddy’s Girl!
Heh. I guess we’re not going to play along with Dale-Helmine being a pair. Because it would have really sucked and be a big time shocker if Latina were to actually blow her head off and go into some full blown jealousy rage. That would be so unthinkable! Hey. Even if she is just a young girl, she still has the guts and genes of a woman! Don’t underestimate woman! But thankfully, Dale has already clearly made his choice and Helmine is just like a cock teaser or something. I guess she is old mature enough to not be a family wrecker. Phew. Good for them. Good for us. Good for everybody. Now we can continue fawning over Dale x Latina’s relationship.

I’m in a dilemma whether to call this series ultimately boring or pleasantly calming. Because this is sure no Aria The Animation or its spiritual successor, Amanchu. But with all the violent and nonsensical slapstick comedies seasons in and seasons out, such calming and cute series is very much welcomed. So if you aren’t feeling nauseated by the time you finished watching this series, then congratulations! This series is for you! So feel free to continue fawning over the cuteness of Latina as she serves us in her trademark cutie smiles. Oh yeah. Definitely would bright up anyone’s day or cheer up anyone who has had a long day!

Due to the very calming nature of this series, it isn’t just peace and tranquillity of the cuteness factor all the way. Why, there are some ‘heart wrenching’ moments where Latina was tormented! Gasp! Latina being tormented?! WHO WOULD DARE???!!! Well, remember that crazy scene whereby that crazy fascist teacher pulled Latina by her horns? Oh man, that was harrowing! The most traumatic scene ever! I don’t know if I’m ever going to get over that! And then there is also the danger of shady people wanting to kidnap and sell Latina in the black market. Thankfully that never happened. But you see, all this could have made the series more interesting because it at least gives some story to tell. Maybe elevating Dale’s status to be Latina’s true hero each time he comes to rescue her. But I guess we don’t want Latina to turn into a loli in distress and are already going for that cute calmness and since that itself is already too much to take, we’re just going to sweep all those threats under the carpet like as though they never happened. Don’t want to watch Latina go through all that, do we? WE MUST PROTECT LATINA’S SMILE AT ALL COSTS!!!

It would have been slightly interesting if the lore and setting of this world is further explored. For instance the several Demon Lords mentioned here as well as the different types of beasts and races. And the Rose Princess thingy whom Dale knows? Yeah. So what of it? It felt redundant to have all this mentioned because it didn’t even matter at all. Like as though in case there is another season, maybe they could use this setting. Because as I’ve said previously, the black market thingy was just short-lived and never even came close to materializing. Hence Latina was never close to true danger. All so as not to take away the spotlight from Latina’s ever glowing cuteness. I guess we’re not ready to sacrifice all that for the sake of TV drama and suspense.

And having said all that, I guess all the characters are… Uhm… Boring… I mean, okay. We can’t keep fawning over whatever Latina does so I guess it doesn’t matter what others do, right? There are lots of conspiracy theories about Dale and Latina’s relationship once Latina reaches a certain age. Yup. Once she is legal of age, can Dale finally sexualize her? I mean she eventually has to grow up? But I am making this assumption that since demons live longer than humans, it would take a lot more years for Latina to become a teen and by the time she reaches that, Dale would have been an old man! So too bad, no f*cking a loli for the moment! Unless you tell me that demons grow up at the same normal rate like humans and only they stagnate when they reach adulthood? I don’t know. As long as Latina remains a loli, happiness is spread everywhere! Banzai Latina-chan! I don’t know whether to feel annoyed each time Dale fawns over Latina because you got to admit, she’s the cutest thing ever! And would it not be an insult if you do not fawn over something cute! Hey, look at all the grown men in Kenneth’s bar being mesmerized over Latina’s charms! We can certainly see why Kenneth’s bar is experiencing brisk business. But if you think about it, it is also a den filled with grown men… Potential loli rape… NOOO!!!! DON’T EVEN THINK OF THAT!!!!!!! I guess it is also not child exploitation as long as Latina is happy with her waitressing job and everybody loves her, huh?

And the rest of the other characters… Oh yeah, everybody loves Latina so much because she is such a cute and nice girl. What else to say? Humans like her, other creatures also like her. What else to say some more? We see she has a bunch of friends at school so that she is not alone for a little girl her age. Potential love interest with a certain boy but that is another story. Could be an interesting one… Dale or Rudy… Latina is now like family now that she has met Dale’s family and she certainly she has lots of godfathers, Jil and those rowdy guys at the bar. Don’t forget those winged wolves whom she ‘tamed’ by giving them a good belly rub. And nobody has turned into a fanatic BFF like Maya. Latina’s like her security blanket… Oh wow. Latina, you are so loved by everybody! No other demon clan character is this loved so much as her!!! Oh Latina, you are ironically truly blessed! Let’s just hope that when Latina grows up, everyone will still continue to love her like their little girl always. That’s when we see the true test if you’re just a lolicon or not…

One thing that boggles my mind is some of the chants that Dale said, it seems to be in some weird language. I thought it was German since you know, the town of Kreutz… Such a German name… Heh… But the more I listen to the gibberish he says, the more I wonder if it is some lesser known language. Google Translate didn’t help so I am confused if this is just made up language. Because you see, when he says the gibberish, they also translated this gibberish in the subtitles to let us know what he actually says. So I thought it must be an actual language. Maybe it isn’t any real one in the first place and they’re just making it up as they go along.

Art and animation are okay. Animated by Maho Film and this is their debut anime and so far their only series they have animated. Everything here looks bright and colourful, like as though this is a series aimed at younger audience. It could have totally been one had not for that few dark parts. Yeah, never do I want to see Latina break her horn again! Heck, there are a few parts in the earlier episodes where there are blood and death! This is more of when Dale goes adventuring and has to fight evil creatures and bad people. The cuteness of Latina seems to remind me that she looks like other cute lolis in other anime series. Namely, Asahi from Shichisei No Subaru. More Latina bonus because every episode’s mid-intermission eyecatch, you get to see Latina in different outfits. SO FREAKING KAWAII!!!!!!!!!! I WANT TO COSPLAY AND DRESS UP THIS LOLI!!!!

One reason why I said in my opening paragraph that this might be some weird spinoff of To Aru Kagaku No Accelerator is because Dale is voiced by Nobuhiko Okamoto. Yup, that guy with the crazy voice. Now pair him with a loli, doesn’t this make this pair look like Accelerator x Last Order? Hmm… Dale-ccelerator x Last-ina Order!!! Oh sh*t! Can’t unsee this now!!! Latina is voiced by Kanon Takao (Yuu in Anitore! EX) and well… As cute as she tries to sound, sometimes I feel like you can’t hide the fact that this is a grown woman trying to fake the sound of a loli. But since she sounds cute, I guess I’ll let that slide. The rest of the other casts are Tsuyoshi Koyama as Kenneth (Youhei in Zero Kara Hajimeru Mahou No Sho), Manami Numakura as Rita (Paula in Nisekoi), Tomomichi Nishimura as Jil (Anzai in Slam Dunk), Yuuki Kuwahara as Chloe (Tooru in Kobayashi-san Chi No Maid Dragon), Marika Kouno as Sylvia (Suzuka in Uma Musume: Pretty Derby), Mutsumi Tamura as Rudy (Sonya in Kill Me Baby), Mai Nakahara as Helmine (Mai in Mai-HiME) and Yui Fukuo as Maya (Linze in Isekai Wa Smartphone To Tomo Ni – on a personal note, I kinda hate her character Maya in constant crying mode. My ears can’t stop ringing…).

If you want more Latina goodness and cuteness, be glad to know that she sings the opening theme, I’m With You. Despite this rock outfit, I guess she still does make it sound cute. But the one that takes the cake is the ending theme. Nope, not Latina singing it but Dale! OMFG! It is with both cuteness and cringe when hearing this song. Because of the hip hop nature of this song, the ‘funny’ part is how Dale’s seiyuu sings it and like I said, it is both cute and cringe worthy. One moment you are fawning at how cute he sings it but the next your hairs could stand on ends at how cringe it is. Especially the final lines that has him go. “Chu chu chu chu chu chu chu”. Yeah… I don’t want to hear this song again but something is compelling me to listen to it again… OMG. I’m… Addicted… To it…

Overall, this isn’t a cute girls doing cute things genre but rather, CUTE LATINA DOING CUTE THINGS!!! Yes, all the colourful and sparkly cuteness from this demon loli steals the show at every turn and moment and possibly some of our hearts. The only real danger is turning some of us into lolicons. Good thing I’m still not! Really! So if you are looking for some good wholesome anime with decent characters (but a very cute main one) and a decent storyline (although everything revolves around everything Latina does oh so cutely), then this is definitely a must see. A good show to also tell us that even though you’re not related by blood, love all around still makes you family. Just make sure the cuteness doesn’t run out. Ever. Latina-chan hontou ni kawaii sugiru ~kyun…

Is your crotch itching right now? Studies show that men often think a lot more of sex per day on average. Even it shows so, that doesn’t mean that women do not think of the same. Thinking less about sex doesn’t mean that they don’t think at all. After all, we’re just humans and it is just plain human nature to think about sex, right? Yeah, we’re all just walking horny beasts. Anyway, when you’re that age hitting puberty, thoughts of sex especially about the opposite gender would most probably skyrocket. Hence Araburu Kisetsu No Otome-domo Yo is a story about a group of young high school girls curious on the topic of love and sex. Not to say they are horny and wet as f*ck, but there are some things that you just can’t (ironically) decently learn in school and textbooks. Navigating and fumbling their way through love and lust would probably lead to a lot of weird and bizarre situations and moments but nothing beats hands on experience learning, right? Sort of.

Episode 1
The literature club girls are reading passages from an erotic novel. Sure this is not a sex club disguised as a pseudo literature club? The only popular girl in club among the boys is Niina Sugawara. President Rika Sonezaki seems like a stuck up b*tch, Hitoha Kongou gives off this mysterious aura while Kazusa Onodera and Momoko Sudou are just plain. Really plain. Kazusa has a neighbour and childhood friend, Izumi Norimoto whom is very popular among girls. Because of this relatively closeness, other jealous girls badmouth behind Kazusa’s back that she hogs Izumi. Kazusa continues to have trouble as she discovers new erotic meanings and terms used in sex. I guess now she knows what deflowering means… As the literature club girls discuss another new released book of an author, suddenly Niina announces she wants to have sex. I mean, she really wants sex. The D. True penetration! What’s the rush? You still have a long life ahead, no? What do you mean you don’t have much time left???!!! Kazusa seeks some explanation but she’s even pretty enigmatic about that. This greatly affects Rika a lot so when she overhears some girls talking about doing it with some boys, she blows her top. Naturally the bad girls dare fight her but the boys put an end to this. No use fighting over someone who isn’t pretty. This leaves Rika red faced. Until Shun Amagi says otherwise. He thinks she is pretty but everyone else thinks he is joking. This makes Rika wondering if he is making fun of her. Back to Kazusa, now she hears girls wanting to steal Izumi’s virginity. That evening, mom send her over to deliver some food to him. Nobody’s home? But the door is unlock. Ojama shimasu. Some light and weird noises coming out from Izumi’s room. The moment she opens the door… OMFG!!! Izumi watching porn!!! WITH HIS PANTS DOWN!!! Don’t panic. Coolly put your pants back on. Coolly turn off the video. Coolly say please keep this a secret… Unfortunately Kazusa goes berserk as she darts out of his home. I guess there is only so much she could take. She runs through town and sees every damn signboard as some sort of sexual innuendo! So what is it that she is so afraid? She thinks it won’t fit?! But she starts crying over this. She cannot bear the thought of sex taking over her life. Welcome to a man’s mind…

Episode 2
Kazusa spots a guy trying to hit on Niina. Niina then sends a message to her seeking her help. So this creep of course is trying to get in her pants when Niina introduces Kazusa as the biggest slut in the group. She acts according to script and yells out loud about her itching crotch! Sure scared the hell out of that guy. Later Niina explains that because she is naturally pretty, guys often look at her in a sexual way. Hence a friend in an acting troupe taught her ways on how to go about this. She still sounds enigmatic about why she would die young. Is she referring to her youthful looks? Back home, Kazusa wants to talk to dad about boys. Too bad dad is more interested in trying to order pizza! WTF?! Oh yeah. He’s a real man for sure… But Izumi is here and he wants to talk. No progress. He hopes she would forget what she saw. Meanwhile Hitoha is being told by her editor to write something erotica. Not porn. Something erotic. Otherwise he would look for other girls who would be dying to get in her shoes. This leaves Hitoha in a bitter taste. Rika has a mishap during gym as she knocks her crotch on the horse. Vault. This has everyone laughing at her she broke her hymen. She runs away embarrassed and while washing up herself, Amagi comes to talk to her. But she still finds it embarrassing when he finds her beautiful and all. Later Rika comes up with banned words that has sexual connotations. It looks more like some bad sex puns…And then the title of Suffering of Erotica Experience somehow shortened to… SEX! Damn, they’re naturally good? Kazusa sees a girl trying to confess to Izumi. Eavesdropping, it’s a good thing he turned her down but unfortunately he didn’t finish it off since he says he doesn’t have someone he likes so that girl uses this opportunity to have him think and change his mind whenever. So when Kazusa confronts him about this, a big argument ensues. She can’t say that sex word so he is unsure of what she’s accusing him of. More woes for the literature club as the principal and his vice march in to threaten to shut down the club. They received complaints about them reading vulgar material out loud. Hey, literature is art! But the worst offence is that they have no advisor. You mean not a decent teacher wants to be the advisor of the literature club? Kazusa is most affected as this club means everything to her. But Niina also knows another reason she is crying. She asks her if she wants to do it with Izumi. Not sure? She rephrases it if there was a person whom she must have sex with to save the world, who would it be? Without hesitation, she answers Izumi. That only means she is in love with him. Problem solved. Can I assume those are tears of joy?

Episode 3
When Hitoha sees a book released at the store, she storms out furious. She calls her editor about not telling her on going with another author. He claims her works are like total fantasy and unrealistic. Because of that, Hitoha is frustrated and feeling the need for experience, the person whom she has always been chatting online with, she wants to have sex with him. In real life! Izumi talks to Niina as she was the one who recorded his confession to that girl and wants her to delete that video. However she deflects the question and ask him about the person whom he would love to have sex with. He doesn’t give a definite answer so she tells him that girls also think about sex. Even Kazusa. Meanwhile the rest are going around asking teachers to be their advisor. You mean it is that bad that nobody really wants to be it? One day, Kazusa is tasked to bring something to Izumi’s house again. In his room, she notices an old kiddie video they used to watch together. Only… This time this is where he hides is porn Blu-ray disc!!! Hitoha goes to meet the supposed person. Hmm… Looks a bit familiar. Isn’t he that nerdy pathetic teacher in their school, Tomoaki Yamagishi? He runs away the moment he spots her and manages to give her the slip. Izumi realizes his favourite porn disc is missing. Oh no. Couldn’t it be… As the literature club is moments away from being disbandment, Hitoha then brings Yamagishi who agrees to be their advisor. Saved. Who’d knew blackmail would be such a great tactic. Yamagishi reluctantly attends the literature club’s activities but he also gives off decent analysis about the texts they read. He is after all a teacher of language arts. That night, Kazusa tries to sneak back the disc when nobody is home. Then she realizes the porn scene is on the bus than on a train. She remembers Izumi loves trains so much that he cares not to taint it. I’m not sure about this logic but yeah, whatever. Just when Kazusa is glad that he hasn’t changed, here comes Izumi. He tries to make it clear and admits despite he thinks about those stuffs, he never once thought of doing it with anybody. Anybody. Oh dear. Wrong word too. Because now Kazusa is sad thinking he never really wanted to have sex with her. Those aren’t tears of joy definitely. She runs away. He tries to catch her. They fall. Ambiguous position. Then it’s like she lost all vibe and just walks out like a zombie. Enough damage for today?

Episode 4
With Rika having a change in style and losing those glasses, damn the whole class takes note of how pretty she is! She’s like a twin of that famous model, Erika! Because Amagi was the one who proposed this, they think he likes her. This has Rika embarrassed enough to tell off everyone she won’t be falling for that fool. Later Amagi approaches her and confirms that he might be starting to fall for her. However she tells him to write a 50 page report why he likes her! With Kazusa still in a dilemma over Izumi, Momoko talks to Niina about love. Niina is fine with people borrowing feelings because this would lead to discovery of your own true feelings. Hitoha approaches Yamagishi being a young man with sexual fantasies and that’s a problem since he is a teacher. He assures he has no interest in high school girls and explains how crude and unrefined they are. As for the online thingy, he had the impression Hitoha was a middle aged man. This makes Hitoha mad. So she tries to get back at him by going on top of him? I’m sure it awakened some strange lust inside her. Momoko is invited by her classmates to go karaoke. She is not used to this and even more so when the guys start singing songs about f*cking!!! Hence Satoshi Sugimoto talks to her outside. It seems he is her childhood friend and moved away but never forgot about her. They exchange contacts for a start. Momoko relays this good news to Kazusa and the former is ecstatic like as though this is straight out from a shoujo manga. This has Momoko thinking that she want to try falling for him and maybe have sex with him too. Ganguro girl, Sonoe Juujou tries to befriend Rika but the latter is not amused. Later Amagi hands over his 50 page report to Rika! Yeah, he did it. Being a critic is easy… I wonder how she can go on further if she is already startled by a few lines of him describing her cuteness. How does he fill in the rest of the pages? Spam “Cute!”. The last page should be the clincher. It asks her to date him. That lust thingy may have screwed Hitoha’s brain because now she wants Yamagishi to teach her about real sex! Izumi needs to talk to Niina about something. Hence when Kazusa sees them together on the train, you bet her mind is going to explode. Remember what Niina said about sex before dying, right?

Episode 5
Izumi accidentally talks about trains so Niina to notes she is somewhat interested in them because it is like a box carrying lives. When she spots an old man walking out, she takes Izumi by the hand to come with her. Then she calls out to Hisahi Saegusa and says Izumi is her boyfriend. Saegusa looks like he doesn’t give a damn and walks off. Hitoha is being chauffeured by Yamagishi. She hides the moments she sees Kazusa and Momoko on the streets. Yamagishi notes her aspiration to become an erotic novelist but he doesn’t want to be shunned by society by engaging in this. But he has an idea. Niina tells Izumi about Saegusa. He is a famous playwright director of Soyokaze Troupe. She was one of the many young children taking lessons under him. Niina wasn’t particularly interested and even more shocking he made her his lead actress. When she tried ditching practice, he rubbed his face on her feet! If she doesn’t want a part in this then kick him! Is this guy some sort of lolicon masochist? Saegusa treated Niina well and this went on for many years until puberty hit her. She hinted about sex but Saegusa the moment he did that with her, she will cease to be a girl. He admits she has all the womanly charms that others would find attractive of. One day when she decides to fly the nest, he will venture out and find a new vestige of her. That will be their happy ending. Izumi is shocked when Niina says Kazusa has a crush on him because that never really occurred to him. When Kazusa and Izumi’s family go bowling together, the duo feel awkward but eventually childhood memories made it easier to break the ice. Izumi then mentions about Niina. She is more weird than cute. Momoko feels weird after her date with Sugimoto. It’s like he insist in paying his part for her meal. Later she realizes from his text that he was trying to be her father since she doesn’t have one. He assures her because he also has friends in the same situation. Weird. In school, Hitoha hides in a corner trying to flash her panties to Yamagishi. However she chickened out. Apparently this was his idea as an experiment and despite she is embarrassed, she also felt excited. Rika hands back Amagi’s report. Yeah, lots of grammatical mistakes. But don’t read it now? Stubborn Amagi does so and when she tries to stop him, the papers scatter everywhere. In their bid to recollect them, Amagi spots the last page. Rika somewhat answered his question that she would also like to date him. I guess he passed. Nothing makes a guy happier when a girl says yes. Rika despite being embarrassed, I take it that she is also quite happy.

Episode 6
A group of students hope the literature club can come up with some amazing love legend for the cultural festival. Apparently they are ‘amazed’ at last year’s Hitoha’s literature reading. Actually it was so boring that they found peace and fell asleep! Grrr!!! Surprisingly Rika agrees to do it in hopes of taking the club to a higher level. Later Hitoha tries to show Yamagishi her thong. She fails again since he doesn’t look like he is looking forward to it. Kazusa and Niina’s friendship is starting to get tense. The former worried about Niina and Izumi being ‘close’ and Kazusa is comparing her plain looks to Niina’s beautiful complexion. Kazusa is upset Niina and Izumi think each other as weird. She too wants to be thought of as weird? Meanwhile Rika doesn’t approve of Amagi telling everyone they are dating because others will start misunderstanding she might be obsessed in love than academics. So Amagi asks her a simple question if she wants to date him. Because she sounds sheepishly agreeing to that, he doesn’t seemed convinced. The literature club discuss ideas for that legendary legend. However no matter how many ideas they come up, Yamagishi shoots it down because there have already been complaints and cases and hence the committee already took steps to ban it. This leads to them going on a field trip to brainstorm. Where will they be staying? You can thank Yamagishi for that. Courtesy of Hitoha’s blackmailing again of course. During the train trip, the Kazusa-Niina tension rises further with Kazusa now disheartened Niina knows Izumi’s love for trains. And they had tea together?! Flashback when Momoko tried to warn Niina about this, Niina explained how girls often hated her for accusing her of stealing guys whom she was never interested to begin with. Kazusa sounded like she is no different. In order to help her, Niina intends to make things even worse! Reverse psychology? At the villa as they continue to brainstorm, no good ideas still. Kazusa who hasn’t said anything, snaps and gives the wildest idea before calming herself down. The rest are worried over her. During bath, her inferior complex of Niina rises some more when she notices her beautiful body. And boobs. Too much for her to take that she passes out. I think it’s from the heat rather.

Episode 7
Hitoha once more approaches Yamagishi. Claiming she is wearing the thinnest sumo loincloth, she wants him to sumo toss her onto bed? Yamagishi trolls her by trying to give her a kiss but pulls back. If she is already this scared for a kiss, what more that sumo toss. Rika is probably enjoying the texts Amagi sent her but as soon as Momoko walks back in, she quickly pretends to get to work! Momoko weirdly talks about the different of simplicity between boys and girls so Rika hands her a lotion? After Niina pulled Kazusa out of the bath, Kazusa starts thinking about how pretty Kazusa’s boobs are and thinks her own boobs are stupid. WTF. She starts crying and got more than she bargained for because she asks Niina a hypothetical question what if she likes Izumi. She regrets asking that because Niina really wants her to answer. This is put a stop by Rika because as part of the literature club, words will hurt. Too bad, Niina. She really intended to start a fight with Kazusa! How to resolve this? Have a pillow fight! Don’t worry. They wrote a letter for permission and even compensate for any broken pillows. And this moment where you can’t unsee or unhear Kazusa’s words about 10 boobs jiggling during the pillow fight… Yeah… This blows away the blues. This inspires Rika to come up with the love legend. During the bonfire, stand in your crush’s shadow and whisper “I love you” and they’ll be yours. Izumi and Kazusa ponder their own feelings for each other. Kazusa manages to get back on normal talking terms with him so she realizes she wants to confess to him. Hence for this love legend, she volunteers to play out her part with Niina. While things are now going fine with Kazusa, it is Niina who has doubts now. Hence she seeks Saegusa for advice. As she doesn’t understand her own heart, she wants him to kiss her. Hmm… Felt nothing. She continues to elaborate about a potential love triangle and this gets Saegusa interested. He wants to see that romance of hers. He tries to convince her about free love and no one human should be bound to another. He wants her not to become a boring woman!

Episode 8
Kazusa wonders when Izumi will come for her recital since she needs time to prepare (her heart). Momoko has been avoiding Sugimoto and she’s surprised he turned up with his friends. She gives an excuse that she is busy so you boys go have fun yourself. Izumi talks to Niina when she doesn’t refute after a few girls badmouth about her. She doesn’t mind as long as she doesn’t make it hard for herself. Ironically she puts her hand on his face. Isn’t she making it hard for them? Rika gets depressed because she saw Amagi talk to another girl. Oddly, she seeks Sonoe’s advice since she does have a boyfriend although from a different school. So they’ve done it? Before the recital begins, Momoko is dismayed Sugimoto and his friends are here to watch. She starts pouting and Sugimoto seems to take the hint and leaves. Kazusa sees Izumi sitting in front. Calm your heart. Niina sees Saegusa sitting next to Izumi. Calm your heart. The play goes on smoothly until Niina goes off track. She then goes up to Saegusa but surprisingly puts her hand on Izumi’s chest. With everyone in shock, Izumi takes Niina out to talk. Everyone else thinks the legend is true. Izumi thinks Niina wanted to make Saegusa jealous. Even though he still thinks that guy is a pedo, if she likes him that much, he can help set them up together. This surprises Niina because she thought he would be mad at her. Momoko hears out Kazusa’s lament. She is mad at herself because after all the encouragement that Niina has done for her, she kept acting like this was some sort of tragedy of her own. Though she was shock Izumi took her hand, come to think of it, if Izumi had to go out with another girl, she would have preferred Niina. Even so, she still wants to take this chance to confess to Izumi. During the bonfire dance, surprisingly it is Rika who gets the ball rolling as she confronts Amagi. After apologizing for everything, she confesses she likes him. What this guy do? He hugs her! Now everyone thinks the legend is really true and tries it out. At the same time, Izumi confronts Kazusa. Childhood memories talk. Then came the confession. Oh yeah. Finally. Kazusa in tears of joy. Niina is seen talking to Saegusa that she now realizes the feelings she had for him isn’t love. She thought he never understood others but realized she is the same. She just had he first love and first heartbreak. That’s why she is going to have another first and hopes she can hold on to it.

Episode 9
When you’re in love, everything looks so lovely! Good for you, Kazusa. But now the other girls are calling Rika a ‘traitor’ since she now has a boyfriend. Wasn’t she the one who was being the feminist kind? Rika explains how boys are like them, humans. Now they must rethink of their perceptions on boys! It looks like only Kazusa is on her side. Hitoha talks to Yamagishi and knows he likes a fellow teacher, Emi Tomita. But he views himself out of her league. I’m wondering if this guy likes fat women since I’m starting to think he often complains about high school girls being skinny and all bones. The way Yamagishi blushes makes Hitoha think he looks like a high school boy after a confession. Momoko talks to Niina and it seems the latter is planning to steal Izumi from Kazusa. Momoko doesn’t like that idea and warns if she is willing to lose friends over a guy. She is trying to convince Niina to stay at friends but Niina replies, you can’t have sex with friends! I guess she’s not into yuri then. Izumi invites Kazusa over. Now that they are dating, sitting close together makes them really conscious. They try holding hands but their minds start overthinking about making the next move. Will this lead to sex? Thankfully (or not) Izumi’s mom returns. Nothing to see here. Hitoha schemes by cancelling club activities. This is so she can be alone with Yamagishi and has wrote a book of confession. Because she views he has not touched her as the problem, she wants him to sleep with her once and she’ll give him up forever. Yamagishi tells her to meet him after school. Niina and Izumi ride the train together. She talks about the book Saegusa recommended her. About some prince and his rose. A fox came along and helped patched their relationship up. Izumi thinks Niina is like the fox. This shocks her because that was what Saegusa also told her. The fox secretly wanted to be with the prince forever but its advice eventually made the prince realize he loves the rose more. What happens to the fox is anybody’s guess because nothing was written more on it after that. That is how the story goes for those who aren’t chosen. When the train suddenly gets crowded, Niina claims somebody is molesting her butt. But it could be a ploy as she forces Izumi’s hand to grope hers under the guise of protecting her.

Episode 10
Kazusa looking at sexy underwear to buy… Hmm… Rika and Amagi spot Hitoha getting into Yamagishi’s car. Rika gets shocked seeing what Hitoha dumped in the garbage: Her panties. Izumi rejects Niina. This devastates her. Is she not attractive enough for him? It’s like she sounds desperate because she thinks he and Kazusa are inexperienced so she offers to practice with him. The resistance is strong so he rejects her again. Poor Niina leaves dejected. Hitoha can see what is going to happen. Yamagishi will not fall in love anyhow. So when he stops at the next traffic light, she will force his hand on her pussy and end it there. At least she will leave something unforgettable for him. However there are no traffic lights to stop! Straight into the love hotel! The cheapest one! Desperate situation calls for desperate measures. I don’t think the internet can tell what to do in this situation. Going all for broke now. She pushes him down and starts to unzip his pants. Then she gets disappointed? Because he didn’t get hard on her? This signals to Hitoha that he was never ever interested in her in the first place and starts comparing herself to Emi. I know they’re both women but there’s a whole lot of difference, right? Yamagishi reasons he is a coward, ending Hitoha bawling like a baby. Momoko is texted by Sugimoto to meet. He wants to talk about her strange attitude during the cultural festival. He somewhat threatens this act embarrassed him in front of his friends but if she apologizes now, he can pacify those angry friends of his. Momoko screws all this and doesn’t even want to see him again. When he grabs her hand, she screams. With everyone’s attention, Sugimoto backs off but calls her weird. Depressed Niina then gets a call by Momoko to meet. She claims the person she hates has touched a part of hers and needs her to cleanse it. In short, Momoko confesses she loves Niina. From depression to shock, Niina doesn’t know what to say. In lieu of that, Momoko now feels guilty she has ruined their friendship. Kazusa might be inclined to buy that sexy panties when suddenly Izumi calls! I just called to say I love you… Whatever. It makes Kazusa the happiest woman on the planet. Only, she can’t undo the online purchase she just made! Next day when they go to school together, Izumi doesn’t want to be too close to her in fear others might think badly of them. Uhm, okay? This only confuses Kazusa. Why the sudden change? Rika is puzzled to get a present from Sonoe. Then the teacher comes in with a serious announcement. Sonoe will be dropping out of school because she is pregnant!

Episode 11
With the entire school knowing about this, Rika seems to be very against people’s prejudice about Sonoe being knocked up because it was her choice. However this leads to a friction with Hitoha as she believes Sonoe was also a problematic child. Furthermore, Rika hints she saw Hitoha and Yamagishi entering a love hotel together. Momoko talks to Kazusa about that question, sex with who before the world ends. Because Kazusa says she’d rather do it with a man than a female, this disappoints Momoko. Then she warns her about Niina. Hitoha reflects on everything so far. She concludes she doesn’t want to give up yet because despite how pathetic she felt, she also felt good. Niina sees Saegusa and wants him to end her girlhood. He starts feeling her up and probably his ugly scary face freaked her out. Yeah, she slaps him and runs away. No you understand why girls close their eyes in porn?! Then Niina talks to Kazusa and confesses she likes Izumi. Kazusa’s worst fears come true but after a few deep breaths, she thanks Niina because without her, she wouldn’t have confessed to Izumi. In turn, Niina realizes her own immaturity and both girls give each other a big hug. Best friends forever! But ultimately Kazusa rues this because this wasn’t what she wanted to do. So she runs all the way to Izumi’s place just to ask for sex? Can’t let Niina beat her to it? He won’t and she suspects something happened with him and Niina. Though he reasons he treasures her and wants to take things slowly, I guess that isn’t the answer she is looking for. Sad girl leaves still a virgin. While Rika is talking to Amagi on the phone, suddenly her mom barges in very angry. In school, an emergency assembly is called. Everyone is shocked when it is now forbidden for both sexes to interact with each other. Worse, rumours of Rika and Amagi were seen outside the love hotel so they might be expelled. Hitoha realizes this is her fault and when she is going to confront the principal to tell the truth, Yamagishi is already there. He explains what happened but didn’t reveal Hitoha’s identity but as some woman whom he sees a potential to share a future. Even so, they aren’t going to rescind this and use this as an example. Drastic situations need drastic measures so Hitoha and the other literature girls hatch a plan… First, they kidnap Yamagishi!!! Holy cow! This guy must be really a wuss to get tackled by 4 girls. Izumi gets a call from Kazusa. Something feels wrong when he hears her talking about crossing to the other side. Late that night, the school staffs rush to school. Hitoha leads the other literature girls to demand 1) Overturn the interaction ban; 2) Rescind Rika’s expulsion; 3) Apologize to them. They’ll not leave till their demands are met because they have Yamagishi as hostage!

Episode 12
The girls threaten to drop him! But guess what? The staffs think that since tomorrow is Saturday and have no classes, yeah they’ll come back tomorrow and discuss this! WTF?! And with that, they leave. WTF?! Rika wants to talk to the girls but they refuse to let her in. As Izumi is heard coming over, this causes friction between Momoko and Niina since the latter wants to confess to him. After all, she got Kazusa’s ‘permission’. Ultimately their argument is overheard by Izumi. Momoko forces him to make his feelings clear. He admits he is in love with Kazusa but is sexually attracted to Niina. Ouch. Truth hurts. And now that everyone else has heard this, Izumi is chastised. Even more so Amagi since he has ‘experience’ with girls. Things are heating up on how to solve this. Are they going to (pillow) fight or talk things out. This is when Yamagishi suggests playing a colour tag game. The person who is it will mention a colour and the rest have to find that colour. For example, red and crimson are the same but not. The logic behind this is that they are trying to find new words for new feelings. So by adding descriptive modifiers to the colours, this will also reveal the colours of their heart. The game begins and it seems like everybody is just target a specific person. During the game, Izumi confronts Kazusa and explains what he meant. He might be sexually attractive to Niina but it’s not like he wants to have sex with her. Izumi really loves Kazusa and wants to be her but because he fears of the sudden changes, he wants to take things slowly. Kazusa also understands this feeling. They’re both so happy that they forgot they got too close to each other. And with Niina overhearing this, I guess she knows the answer… Rika still can’t believe about Amagi’s ‘experience’ so he shuts her up by kissing on her forehead. This already makes him excited so imagine one on the lips. Oh, one is coming up until the other girls smoke them out. Since boys aren’t helping, they kick them out. The girls then sit down, reconcile and think on their next action. Come morning, the staffs arrive. Yamagishi is released but to their surprise, the entire school is covered with huge canvases written in various colours on Rika’s innocence. Savage. In the aftermath, we see Rika going to college with Amagi. She receives a picture of Sonoe doing well with her baby. Hitoha is holding a secret folder of a secret performance for her wedding with Yamagishi?! Momoko and Niina together. And of course, Izumi and Kazusa a couple.

Sex And The High School Girls
Even if it looked like the girls have pretty much found the colour that they are looking for, well, don’t stop looking as there will be other colours they will come into as they go on in life. Imagine, the curiosity on the topic of sex had them go through all this. And it was a good experience for them. They are a bit wiser now in this department, having sorted out their love and friendship. And the best part is how they didn’t have to lose their virginity to learn it. But wait! Final episode scene, Kazusa mentioning an obscure metaphor of a train entering the tunnel… It fits! So they’ve done it?!

If you look at the overall story, it isn’t anything much and might even be considered as cliché and typical. Therefore what makes it interesting is how they execute the pacing and tell the stories of each of the girls. Although at first they might seem separate by they are all intertwined in the bigger picture. So unlike in some animes whereby they give an episode to focus on a particular character before moving on to the next, this one shows the progress and development of all the girls at one go and simultaneously. Those not used to this format might get a bit distracted and confused as the scene shifts to one literature girl to another and with all their stories happening at the same time, it might get a little confusing and some getting used to.

Because sex sells, I guess personally the story plays out interestingly as we see the girls trying to experience whatever love and sex are. The different approaches and types of love all at the same time seem to bond the girls but at the same time threaten their very friendship. Is this kind of love worth it? Only the girls can answer that. Hence we see Kazusa x Izumi as the typical childhood friend turned lovers kind of trope. Rika changing the most due to the effects of being in love as we see her from some strict plain b*tch to a smoking hot troubled girl in love. Unfortunately it isn’t going too well for the rest because Niina looks like she is into netorare and this gives the series the much needed love triangle and drama. The girl who is so hard to get for other guys now ironically finds herself hard to get the heart of the one boy she likes. Hitoha initially wanted to write a good erotic story finds herself attracted to an older man, especially one who is her teacher. And poor Momoko looks like she didn’t get off the ground. The guy whom she thinks had potential turned to be a control freak and with that romance quickly turning sour, she started resorting to lesbianism. Too bad for her, the rest of her friends are all straight. Sorry yuri fans. No yuri romance here. But that last scene makes me wonder if Momoko and Niina are now one because it looks like the losers in love without the guys only get each other. Damn. I hope this doesn’t send the wrong message.

Of all the guy characters, Amagi looks like he is the coolest. Not to say he is perfect as he too has his imperfections but compared to the rest, he doesn’t look like he is trouble. What I mean is that, as seen in Sugimoto’s case, he sounds like he wants to dominate over Momoko. Izumi is a typical guy and probably confused about his feelings because it is also hinted that he likes Niina for she scores a lot better in almost every department compared to Kazusa. Probably the childhood friend relationship is the only thing that is holding him back from jumping ship to Niina. Saegusa looks like a pedo but only because from the way we are shown his character. He looks like some avant-garde screenwriter and we let it pass because it’s all in the name of arts? He sounds like he is giving Niina a choice but what if he is seemingly doing so just to confuse her? During Niina’s time of need and confusion, it seemed like it is the moment he has been waiting for to finally take her virginity. Good thing that didn’t happen. And lastly, Yamagishi. Looks like one who can be pushed around and doing things just to accommodate Hitoha. Then again, he might be the coolest because he is willing to take responsibility for everything and protect the literature club girls. But then he became their hostage and his cool factor just like drastically drop to zero! Instantly! But that colour tag game helped redeemed some of his pride.

Japan still being a largely conservative country, sex isn’t really openly discussed (though ironically they have one the most creative porn out there!). Hence when the school banned interactions between the sexes, it doesn’t even feel like a short term solution. It is just one or two steps backwards. Might as well turn the school into single gender if they’re so concerned about the immorality. Therefore the literature girls going against this ban isn’t because they are horny or hard up in seeking romance. After all, they started that weird bonfire legend so I guess this is their way of taking responsibility and seeing this till the end. Just because one girl got pregnant and one girl was spotted outside a love hotel doesn’t mean a blanket ban is justified on everyone. The intentions of the ban might be good but it’s not practical. You’re not going to live the rest of your life just interacting with one gender only, right? Society doesn’t work like that. At least not in Japan. What the literature girls did by taking their teacher hostage isn’t particularly right either but how else do you get stubborn old authoritative men to listen to you? Hey, at least no lives and virginities were lost during this tense hostage situation!!!

At and animation feel pretty bland and light. In the sense somehow it reminds me of Asobi Asobase. I thought their school uniforms were similar but double checking it, I guess I’m having a case of Mandela effect on myself. Close and almost similar but not exactly the same. Despite the character designs look simple, some of them look weird especially Hitoha who looks like as though she is some alien bug race disguised as a human. Seriously. That’s the first thing that crossed my mind when I saw her character. Must be those very weird eyes… Same case for Niina. I thought she was some snow woman tribe disguised as a human being. Must be those very fair complexion and those mysterious eyes… Kazusa is supposed to be a plain girl but I can’t help stare at those thick eyebrows. Not many female anime characters have such thick eyebrows, you know. Oh, doesn’t Kazusa has this striking resemblance to Kimari of Sora Yori Mo Tooi Basho? This anime is produced by Lay-duce who animated Magi: Sinbad No Bouken, Release The Spyce and Classroom Crisis.

In the voice acting department, I only recognized Jun Fukuyama as Yamagishi, Haruka Tomatsu as Sonoe and Natsuki Hanae as Sugimoto. The rest feel pretty okay, sometimes trying to flex their voice acting talents with certain conversations that has them talk in dramatic and loud fashion. Sometimes it’s funny to hear them in a loud voice when they usually aren’t. They are after all in the literature club and reading in the boring monotonous voice all the time could be, well, boring. The other casts are Hiyori Kono as Kazusa (Asuka in Sounan Desu Ka), Chika Anzai as Niina (Reina in Hibike! Euphonium), Sumire Uesaka as Rika (Sanae in Chuunibyou Demo Koi Ga Shitai), Tomoyo Kurosawa as Hitoha (Kumiko in Hibike! Euphonium), Momo Asakura as Momoko (Rona in Endro), Shinba Tsuchiya as Izumi (Tatara Fujita in Ballroom E Youkoso), Yuuya Hirose as Amagi (Yuuta in SSSS.Gridman) and Shunsuke Sakuya as Saegusa (Nambuuko in Seisen Cerberus – Initially I thought Saegusa was voiced by Miki Shinichiro but I guess I was wrong). Something about the opening theme, Otome Domo Yo by Chico with Honeyworks invoking some sort of nostalgia in me. Not really sure if I heard the some somewhere but I guess it’s not bad. Yume Cinderella by Momo Asakura as the ending theme sounds okay as a generic anime pop.

Overall, this is quite an interesting series largely because the taboo topic of sex is shown in the way on the characters’ psychology rather than resorting to cheap sleazy visual ecchi fanservice. Surprise but not surprise, no sexualisation of the young girls here. The characters especially the literature girls have some emotional depth whom you would like to put your support behind with instead of writing them off as horny teens trying to lose their virginity. But don’t worry if you get screwed early or later on in life, because from the moment you were born, life has got us all f*cked up!!! Haha… Uhm… Oh… I mean, as Alfred Lord Tennyson said, “Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all”. I don’t think applies well to virginity but whatever. It’s the savage season for yo’ maidens!

I never liked or got into the game of baseball. Even with my stints with Princess Nine and Taishou Yakyuu Musume many years ago, here I am watching Hachigatsu No Cinderella Nine. Was it a slow anime season for me? Need to feel up my seasonal quota of animes to watch that I had to pick this? And yeah, I guess it’s because they got a team of cute girls as the main characters, huh? Must be it. Definitely. Oddly in that same season this anime premiered, we have another 2 established and popular baseball themed animes airing in the same season, Diamond No Ace: Act II and Mix: Meisei Story. Is it baseball season? But I guess you can tell what kind of people we are depending on which of these 3 baseball themed animes we watch. By saying all that, I already can tell before I start watching this one, the outcome and sentiments of this all-female baseball anime is going to be. Let’s play ball!

Episode 1
A new school term has started at Satogahama High School. Clubs are putting up demonstrations for potential newbies to join. Until Tsubasa Arihara does the unthinkable by going on stage and boldly seeks for new recruits for a baseball club. What’s wrong with that? The school doesn’t officially have one. Later, she apologizes the student council president, Shiho Noumi over this. Although her friend, Tomoe Kawakita also does the same since it was her idea that put her up to this. But don’t fret. There’s still hope. Teacher Momoko Kakehashi allows them to start off as an association till they have enough members. With the duo off to recruit members, in no time we can tell that Yuuki Nozaki and Akane Ukita who are somewhat interested but shy in wanting to join eventually tries it out. The quartet practise by the river bank. Don’t worry if Yuuki and Akane don’t have any baseball experience. Tsubasa and Tomoe have plenty. After a few catching practises, time for a little character drama as Akane mentions she is interested in playing baseball because of an old friend but she is no good in sports. However there were no girl baseball clubs she could try out. Likewise, Yuuki was from the basketball club and had this trauma of holding her teammates back. Hence she is somewhat afraid to try another club. Tsubasa manages to find a few other kids to join in and play some decent mini baseball game. Safe to say, it sparked their interest and more importantly self-confidence in the game. When they try to find the duo to officially join, they hear an argument coming from the student council room. It seems they are prohibited to practice in school.

Episode 2
The logic is that the school has no proper baseball facilities and letting them practice means they might break other stuffs and be a danger to others. They get stubborn and almost got into trouble. Thankfully nothing was broken. Before finding a place to play, they are at the baseball store to get some proper gear. Yeah, those gloves are really costly. Fellow classmate, Waka Suzuki is also here. The rest jump the gun thinking she is interested to join them! Desperate, huh? She’s just here to accompany her brother who plays baseball for his university. Wow. Real life celebrity! Thanks to that, Waka has a lot of knowledge on baseball despite not playing the game. This doesn’t stop the quartet to bug her for tips. Kakehashi has found a field for them to practice. Some kind owner decides to lend them instead of seeing it go to waste. Oh well, time to clean up this abandoned field first. You can tell their passion is as equal as baseball so cleaning up is such fun! Waka watches the girls play and seeing Akane play reminds of herself so much. Tsubasa invites her to play but she gives excuses she can’t. Flashback shows Waka’s talent was that she was able to pick out and spot oddities and this made her a valuable asset. As other people praised her, she began picking up baseball tactics and data. Thus she thinks she is better at this rather than playing. But you know what? Her brother knows she wants to play and lends her his glove. And so Waka joins in the play and realizes, hey, this is fun too! Yeah, her face might not show it but I believe her heart is saying something like that. And with Akane giving all she’s got and the rest having fun, safe to say that she’s going to join the club. And what luck, Kakehashi also decides to become their advisor as she doesn’t mind advising 2 clubs at once.

Episode 3
Things are getting better as they even have their own clubroom. Now to apply for funding… As they continue practising, this weird cheerleading girl, Yoshimi Iwaki starts cheering on them. She heard about their efforts and decides to cheer for them all the way. Heck, she even got their upcoming games? What games? They don’t even have enough members! Hence they would like her to help out with the recruitment. And quickly enough, she pulls in Aoi Asada. She is considered the best gambler in school and never lost. Uhm, is that legal? Well, as long as she sticks to rock-scissors-paper gambling! Yeah, Yoshimi has never won against her! And Aoi might feel Tsubasa is something special because she got a draw! With Aoi joining in, she also drags Yoshimi to join. Yay! More members. Later, Waka notices Ayaka Nakano has been stalking them. The only newspaper club member is trying to make her big scoop and thinks their club will be it since there aren’t many high school girls baseball clubs throughout the nation. Tsubasa believes this can also help in their recruitment. Then they hit the batting centre. Some are natural and some might need a little more practice. Maybe much more. Then they notice this sleek beauty coming in to bat. Ryou Shinonome looks like she is a pro! Well, I thought Tsubasa would go over to recruit her but she goes to bat alongside her. Both are amazing. However both know each other but Ryou isn’t impressed with Tsubasa and thinks she is just play pretending. Later the rest discover that the duo faced off in last year’s All Japan Senior Little League Championship’s semi-finals on opposing teams. Tsubasa’s side went on to win the title. Tsubasa is surprised she came to this school and before she could recruit her, Ryou declines her. She doesn’t want to waste time with a school club and intends to join a real club team. Because Tsubasa is having fun, Ryou thinks she is not taking the game seriously.

Episode 4
Flashback to that semi-final, Tsubasa’s team was losing at first. Nothing says motivation like Tsubasa telling her teammates to just enjoy the game. And the irony is that when they do that, they started winning and now Ryou’s team was the one feeling the pressure. Is it me or is Tsubasa and Ryou the only girls in their team? In the end, Tsubasa’s team came back for a win and the rest is history. However after that historic win, Tsubasa wasn’t too happy. For the next 6 months she didn’t play baseball as she quit the team. Not sure what their different goal was. Was Tsubasa just wanting to have fun while the guys were like we need to aim higher and win the world cup? She could have quit baseball for good had not Tomoe talked her out of it and rekindled her love for the game. And so here we are now. She’s trying to create a team so they can have fun playing baseball together. After hearing this nice story, Ayaka decides to join. Gee, that was easy. Is this the dream and drama she is looking for? Of course you’d think she would be going to recruit Ryou but nope. She’s just asking when her try out for the club team is. Because on that day, Tsubasa and the girls come to watch and cheer on Ryou. So we see the hopefuls against the regulars. Again, is Ryou the only girl in this try out? Because the newbies are like taking it easy, this pisses off Ryou as she snaps for them to get serious. Hey girl. Why so serious? If that wasn’t awkward enough, Tsubasa starts cheering Ryou’s name. She won’t stop because she doesn’t want her to give up baseball like she did. Seeing her try her best amazes her so that’s why she wants to see her keep playing her style of baseball. That’s the clincher for everybody to join in the chant. And now we can see everyone giving it all and playing better. In the aftermath as our baseball girls practice, Ryou marches in and lectures them on how to properly swing, bat, posture and everything. Who made her coach? Then they bug her for the try out result. She failed. Why everyone so surprised? But Ryou has no regrets because she gave her all. So I guess change of heart for Ryou? Yup. Now we have a complete all-girl baseball club! Even if you have dreams, you need to start from somewhere even if it is the most unlikely and unwanted of places.

Episode 5
Finally! They pull out the last weed from their field! Hooray! Accomplishment! Now they can practice for real. Better still. They want to play their first game. After setting up positions for each of them, they suddenly realize the vital thing they’ve been missing: Uniform! Unfortunately they cost a bomb and they have used up their funds on practice balls. Also, Kakehashi has managed to secure a team who will play them. It’s just a school in the next area, Seijo High School. And in 2 weeks, our Satogahama has their uniform design and even their uniforms ready! Power of parent sponsor… The match day is here. Sayaka Jinguji is the captain of Seijo’s baseball team. We see both side being noobs, clumsily handling the ball and striking out many times. So when Satogahama gets their first run and points, they think they could really win this. Might as well stay positive. And then the pace starts to change when Sayaka starts using some slider throw thingy. When Seijo starts scoring and leading, don’t tell me you girls are starting to get demoralized. And then this truth from Ryou. She realizes that Seijo has been fielding their players in positions they aren’t used to and now that they are switching them to their original roles, they’re going to have a hard time. Because they have a goal and different mind set, Satogahama have already lost before the game started. Well, you didn’t have to make it sound that bad, right? In the end Seijo thumped Satogahama. 12-1. Our girls so demoralized that they didn’t show up for practice? Self blame game begins. Like Akane blaming herself for making too many mistakes and especially Tsubasa blaming herself for trying to hype up everyone for their first game. Eventually everybody shows up. Then they start screaming out their mistakes (hope this isn’t going to be some sort of tradition) and you know they will move forward and get better. That’s how you grow, right? A group cheer to top it off.

Episode 6
Exam season is here so naturally Tsubasa wants to hold off practice until it’s over. But Tomoe can’t wait that long. She feels the need to get better now and hence when she stumbles upon Sayaka’s secret practice place behind the shrine, Tomoe pleads to be trained by her. She can’t ask Tsubasa since she can’t be strict with her. With Tomoe taking secret practices, you bet the rest is going to smell something fishy as Tomoe herself is starting to act a little strange. And then Yoshimi and Aoi spot this ‘unholy alliance’ and report to Tsubasa. Faster than the speed of light, Tsubasa comes down to the ground and is shocked to see this ‘unholy alliance’. The drama ramps up with Tsubasa confronting Tomoe and yelling she told her she would have practised with her once the exams are over. Tomoe yells back about Tsubasa unable to be strict with her. Is it because they’re best friends? In that case, she quits being her friend! Oh my. Oh dear. Hey, at least she didn’t quit the club! Haha! Oops, sorry… And so it gets awkward between everyone. Yup, even the other members are affected. Even Tsubasa has a talk with Sayaka but nothing conclusive since the latter doesn’t want to butt in to the affairs of others. As this awkwardness cannot go on, the rest setup for Tsubasa and Tomoe to meet. A little chat here and there. To cut cliché friendship drama short, they’re back again as friends. Especially when Tsubasa became so emotional about the thought that they aren’t best friends! Gimme a big hug with loads of tears! With everything back to normal, there is nothing left but for them to get better at their game.

Episode 7
Broken bat. Hole in the net. No money. Baseball maintenance is sure expensive and taking part time jobs is only a short term solution. The only way is to upgrade their association status to a club. Talking to Shiho about it, she sends Kana Tsukumo to evaluate. Meanwhile Yuuki stumbles into old elementary schoolmate who is also in Satogahama, Maiko Kurashiki and finds that she isn’t in any club yet. Care to join the baseball club? After all, Maiko has this penchant to help others in need even if she doesn’t admit it. Maiko tries out playing baseball as Kana who could have been their greatest asset since she is quite athletic but she is only here to observe. But Kana knows that Maiko is a troubled child and often has run-ins with the police. It gets a bit awkward when Kana and Maiko have some sort feud since Kana is brutally honest and saying it with a deadpan face. We see Maiko is having household problems. More like her parents are fighting and she is caught in the middle. She can’t stand this and runs away. Because of that, she ends up in a fight with drunkards in town and although the drunkards were the one who started the fight, Maiko is also taken in by the police?! WTF is wrong?! So when the baseball girls hear about this, you bet they get worried and start looking for her. Maiko and her mom are talking to teachers about this problem at school. Maiko then snaps because she cannot stand people talk about what’s best for her when it is only in their own best interest. She is mad they are going to take away her place. Of course Kana heard all that and goes to talk to Maiko. Ironically from a girl who has ‘facial muscle problem’, she wants Maiko to smile more often. She can tell Maiko is having fun with the baseball girls and Maiko is surprised because she thought nobody ever looked at her. In the end, Maiko only has to send in a written apology (no suspension or expulsion. Phew) and because Kana giving her heartfelt speech to the teachers how the baseball club gives Maiko a place to be, the association is now officially a club and yes, Maiko officially joins as a full-fledge member.

Episode 8
Hey. Kana has joined the baseball club? I guess sooner or later this is the question that all clubs need to answer: Do you want to participate in the Nationals? Oh yeah. Looking up at some of the online clips, we can see some really professional play from established high schools. Especially Kogetsu High School whose star player is Tsubaki Kousaka. Then they look at the tournament bracket. You mean they don’t have to go into preliminaries and can go straight into the Nationals? Hooray! The perks of not having many female baseball clubs at high school level. Then a short history on the on and off popularity of female in baseball. But here is their biggest problem yet: Money. If they win games, they have to cover transport and lodging costs on their own. Don’t worry, despite the student council has approved the club, all they need now is the school’s approval and Kakehashi will get it done. Unfortunately the senior teacher rejects her because of the unrealistic budget. Heck, this school doesn’t even have a boy’s baseball club and you know how expensive it is to run a baseball team? Besides, how is Kakehashi going to handle 2 clubs at the same time? Despite Kakehashi promising this and that, this is still not enough to convince her. So Kakehashi ‘lies’ to the girls that everything is going on fine. We know she doesn’t want to worry them but the girls are smart enough to know from her reaction that things are going smoothly. Just when Kakehashi is about to give up, she sees the girls help nurturing sunflower next to their practice field. I guess some water spray fun made her go kookie. Or it helped refreshed her outlook. Because now she is determined to see this through. With Ayaka writing supportive articles on the baseball club, the girls also get signatures from everyone to support them. I’m thinking with those thick sets of paper, heck they might even got the entire town! Once more Kakehashi sees the senior teacher. I guess after all the persistence, she relents. Even though this would still be a problem for her to handle both clubs, she hints Kakehashi can handle the baseball club while she takes over her kendo club. Oh wow. Super good news. We did it, girls! We’re going to play ball at the Nationals this year!

Episode 9
What to do when the tournament is around the corner? Training camp! My theory for them staying at the temple is not only because it’s cheap, maybe they’ll get divine intervention to help them win games!!! Haha! We see them practice and Ryou and Tsubasa are asking if Yuuki can be their pitcher since she is left-handed. She turns them down as she doesn’t have confident in herself and thinks she might hurt others with her throw. With some of the girls having a hard time finding their rhythm, it seems the tempo of the priest’s wooden block did the trick to synchronize their timing. More boring training scenes in between. Until the last day of their stay, Ryou then dismisses claims from the other girls that there was a head priest. That short guy who is always smiling? Never seen him. Oh sh*t… As proof, they review the videos that Ayaka has been recording. Nobody there! No such person at all! OH SH*T!!! Then a blackout happens. Meanwhile, only Yuuki is away washing the dishes so she probably didn’t hear about the ghost thingy since the head priest talks to her about her low self-confidence. He has her practice her pitching. What if her pitch hurts him? Just pretend that he is a ghost! He hopes she can keep smiling and relax because baseball is supposed to be fun. With that, Yuuki makes a successful pitch. Hey, where did the head priest go? Meanwhile it gets scarier for the other girls because they see a spirit ball coming towards them! HOLY SH*T!!! Turns out to be Kakehashi checking on them. What nice timing the lights come back on. Kakehashi even notes there is no old guy around and the current head priest who lives here is only 30 years old. But they think that old guy isn’t evil because he is always smiling. Later it is revealed that ex-head priest is the current one’s father and he was a baseball player. As the girls continue practising back home, they realize Tsubaki watching them. Scouting the enemy?

Episode 10
Tsubaki asks a few questions and then leaves. You mean nobody recognizes her? Only when they’re back in the room did they realize who she is. What’s that again she’s the number one pitcher in Japan? Here’s news from Kakehashi: Kogetsu wants to play a practice match with them. Why do only strong teams want to play with Satogahama? Is it morally boosting to bash a lowly opponent? You bet they’re going to accept this. Tsubasa allots the roles to her team. If it looks like Tomoe and Akane are left out, she lets them be the all important base coaches. Match day is here. It’s like the producers want to paint a bad picture of Tsubaki being a b*tch because she’s arrogant, refuses to shake hands with Tsubasa and claims this practice is for her third stringers. She’s just here to watch. Satogahama manages to take an early lead thanks to Ayaka’s data on these players. It’s like the producers want us to hate Tsubaki even further because she cracks the whip and lets the whole world know that if they don’t buck up, she’ll cut them off from the team! And there she was watching at the match as bored as f*ck. With this, Kogetsu is able to put up some fight. But there is some drama brewing on Satogahama side. It seems Akane has been running low on self-confidence. Any wrong calls, she takes it upon herself as fault of why they lost that run. It’s got to a point so low that it’s so freaking obvious that it’s time for Tsubasa to come weave her magic motivational talk. You know, how her motivation kept her going. Blah, blah, blah. And with a great pat on the back, you bet Akane is up and running. Now it is Satogahama’s turn to turn on the heat. When you want something done, do it yourself. Because now Tsubaki decides to get into the play. But alas a little too late as Satogahama wins this match by a narrow margin. Yeah, so happy that they’re crying. Never saw this coming, huh? Eat that, Tsubaki b*tch!

Episode 11
The Nationals are finally here! So guess who Satogahama will face in the first round? Seijo! The power of coincidence has them stay at the same place and even having BBQ together! Is this power bonding? Awkward but whatever. Let’s have a good game, right? And as always, Tsubasa thanking her girls for always sticking with her. With Satogahama and Seijo being the first match the kick off the Nationals, Satogahama has extra support in the form of their schoolmates as well as family members coming over to watch. Otherwise this is a very much empty stadium. To cut short this first match, we see Satogahama drawing first blood by scoring the first point. Gee, Seijo getting depressed and despite claiming they have improved a lot ever since, does this mean they were underestimating them in the first place? And then with Sayaka getting serious as the pitcher and batter, Seijo manages to earn a point and now draw with Satogahama. Gee, it’s still early in the game and the opponents just caught up, why Satogahama is looking depressed right now? I guess tensions are running high. Nobody wants to be the laughing stock to go out early in this game.

Episode 12
The game continues and as we see the running joke of Yoshimi who has never been able to bat a pitch, when she finally hits her first ball, she strikes homerun!!! Now who’s laughing?! This has Seijo call a timeout. Sayaka promises she’ll take it from here but one of the members tell her to stop. Some short snippets of how Sayaka singlehandedly revived Seijo’s baseball club after it was disbanded by the previous coach’s scandal. Amidst the praising it was her who built up this club and got them this far, she also says the problem of everyone relying on her. Therefore she doesn’t want Sayaka to carry the rest of the team by herself. Because, did she have fun? Did Tsubasa influence her? I guess so. Because she’ll let today be an exception. The game continues. Seijo looks like they’re playing better now. Yawn… Until Aoi sprains her ankle! Time to switch to Tomoe. Also, Maiko’s hand is going to break from all that pitching so she switches with Yuuki. Time to strut her stuff. More snippets until the game… Oh what’s this?! An article written how Satogahama lost in the second round???!!! Wait a minute!!! They fast forwarded too much!!! But thanks to their heroic efforts, there are more girls now interested to join their baseball club. Yeah, you can find them practising down at their sunflower field. Don’t be shy. Just play ball!

Life’s A Pitch!
Man… That kind of ending that felt so rushed that it felt just downright insulting! Not only did we not see how Seijo lost to Satogahama, however we didn’t even see how Satogahama lost in the next round! Heck, we don’t even know who they lost too! WTF?! It puts all the final episode drama on Seijo to waste. Uh huh. Oddly Seijo feels like they were the one in focus for the final episode. Sayaka was so adamant to not let Seijo’s story end here but from what we’ve seen, she must be crying all alone in her room. Poor Sayaka. She was already burdened with this responsibility and then this. Just only 2 months ago they beat Satogahama in a practice game but looks like they’ve improved a lot. Furthermore, she personally coached Tomoe and it’s like the student got better than the master. How cruel fate is. Nobody knows what happened to Sayaka and Seijo after that match but who cares because it is all smiles for Satogahama. Yup. We’re all still having fun playing baseball. Care to join us? Me? Nah. I’m good.

Sad to say that the story and plot itself is predictable, clichéd and not interesting at all to say the least. However this is because of the injustice of just having a dozen episodes and that itself is not enough to flesh out everything properly. We only have 12 episodes to flesh out everything and therefore everything feels so much pretty rushed although at some points it got a little draggy because you know, they need to put in some drama. Hence this series was somewhat doomed from the start when it was announced it will only have 12 episodes. I am not sure there will be future season but seeing the direction and the response to this series, it is mostly unlikely. Unlike its Diamond No Ace and Mix counterparts, this one never had a chance to shine at all. Those 2 animes already had an established fan base and have a lot of episodes prior to this. That is why even though I did not watch them, I can tell that they are doing much better than this one. Yeah, I read the internet comments on them too.

Worse still, the baseball game here isn’t exciting and I believe is not the main highlight. Especially the final episode which just felt like one long snippet that went on and on and on. I was thinking when the heck this is going to be over and move on to the next game. I am deducing that they want to bring in some character development and put the focus on the group of girls but personally I feel that fails too. You see, when you have a season that spends most of its time trying to recruit members and then trying to tackle the drama and issues that some of the characters are facing, where does the baseball game go? Heck, the Nationals don’t even start after 5/6 of the season is gone! The Nationals officially starts on the penultimate episode of the season!!! At this point, I am predicting the dark horse of Satogahama will lose early or they will leave a cliff-hanger if they manage to go on and surprise everyone and win their matches. It doesn’t help that baseball is not my favourite sport or the kind of sport that I would consider in my top 10, 20 or 50! Hence when I look at the girls play their practice and official match, they’re just boring and I’m so lost at what they’re doing. Just like how people who don’t like football see 22 grown men chasing a ball around the field, I view baseball as 18 people hitting and throwing a ball while running around the field.

If the story sucks and the baseball game itself sucks, what about the characters then? Oh, you already know the answer. They suck too. Like I have said, a dozen episodes is not enough to do justice and flesh out all the characters even in the same team. Due to this limit, we see them breezing through and it felt a bit rushed. That’s why with the initial team recruiting episodes, it felt like they need to quickly make up the numbers and hence pulled in other girls who are ‘interested’. Gee, that was fast. What a coincidence, we got enough members just in time for the Nationals. So what Tsubasa had some baseball experience and only wants to play baseball because of fun? So what Ryou wants to make it big but looks like her dreams are too big and ever since she officially began joining the team, she became a minor character. I thought she was the ace of the team but it felt like she didn’t even make any impact at all. I thought she would be Satogahama’s first pitcher or batter seeing that she is good but I don’t know what Tsubasa was thinking as she let others do the pitching and batting and Ryou is just playing in some other field. Is she okay with that? Well, if everyone is okay with it, fine by me. They seem to make a big deal out of Tsubasa’s goal to have fun playing baseball. You mean when one is aiming to be competitive, you can’t have fun? Why not have both? Has baseball become so competitive that if you want to be the best of the best, the top of your game, you can’t enjoy the game? Maybe when you’re an internationally famous big star raking in the big bucks, maybe. Who these girls, man???!!!

When you have a bunch of misfits in your group, that sort of variety in characterization and personality should be interesting to watch but unfortunately the same cannot be said here. It feels that the other girls in Satogahama have personality that is just superficial, enough just to distinguish everyone from each other. Is Yoshimi some sort of delinquent and banchou wannabe? Because that’s all I see in her aside that serial missed batting running joke. Not as troubled as Maiko but thank goodness her family troubles didn’t spill over and affect the baseball team, right? Should Ayaka be in journalism instead of playing baseball? I don’t know, her journalism seems to be her better skill but I guess they’re short of members and we need someone who can get outside data. Because Waka is only on technicalities of the game so Ayaka is still needed as the ‘spy’.

Kana the robo because of her poker face and no emotions and Aoi the, uhm, perm? She should have been giving Kaiji a run for his money as a gambler but I guess we all forgot that she is one. High school girl as a gambler?! Gasp! That would have been interesting to watch! Then we have Yuuki and Akane having low self-confidence so whenever plot conveniences is needed to drive up the drama, you bet they have something on this. Same thing for Tomoe. Best friends sometimes do fight, right? All in all, the Satogahama girls fail to make us want to support them as I don’t even feel that their bonds with each other is that close. The training camp, the practices and even Tsubasa’s heartfelt grateful speech for her comrades sticking through thick and thin with her feel shallow. Kakehashi feels irrelevant and showing her putting in the ‘hard work’ to get the school to approve the club to play in the Nationals felt like the greatest achievement for her. Just in time, baby. Really. Otherwise, getting them scheduled practice matches seem to be easy pie. I wonder if her kendo club she is also supervising felt neglected. Oh don’t you worry. Kakehashi is young and single so you bet she has the energy to do both!

I know this is just a story and fantasy, but it still feels unrealistic that a group of girls who aren’t really that good in baseball (with the exception of Tsubasa and Ryou of course) they manage to put up a decent game. Sure, they made improvements. But in that short amount of time? Wow. They must be so talented and do nothing but practice, practice and more practice. Like Tomoe getting her coaching from a rival school, yeah that seems legit to show why she can play good baseball with her teammates. Akane overcoming her low self-confidence, it’s like once that has been conquered, she’s going full speed ahead and her playing has soared! What about their practice field that is next to a sunflower patch? I guess they cleaned it up good so they are rewarded with exceptional practice sessions. I don’t know. Might be the spirit of the field’s way of thanking them for taking care of the place. Better than all those expensive baseball dedicated facilities, eh? Wow. Super realistic, girls. It’s a wonder why no talent agency has scouted them already. Oh right. They lost so I guess that’s that. Hey, at least we don’t have to put up with that Tsubaki b*tch whose appearance now felt even more redundant since the series ended.

Heck, come to think of it, I believe they even misnamed the title. Although 9 people are to play on a baseball field, because Satogahama has 11 members, shouldn’t it be Hachigatsu No Cinderella Eleven? I’m sure nobody is going to confuse that with Ocean’s Eleven or something. And I don’t think Cinderella is such a fitting term to use in baseball because nobody wears glass slippers to play baseball, right?! Do you see the Satogahama girls wearing glass slippers?! There was no magic in the first place so when it struck midnight, there was no magic that disappeared on them at the crucial time (I’m referring to their second round lost, just to be sure we’re on the same page).

Art and animation feel mediocre. There are many scenes in which the movement of the girls feel jerky and their facial expressions feel stiff. And it’s just weird that all the girls have this cute trademark on them that I believe is their glossy lips and big pretty anime eyes. Hmm… Kawaii… Me like. No wonder I was ‘attracted’ to watch this series. You can tell how ‘relevant’ the other baseball teams are by their baseball outfit. While Satogahama’s are pretty okay, those unimportant teams in the Nationals whom we will never know nor care are so f*cking plain and generic! Yeah… And they also try to differentiate the girls with different hairstyles and colours of the eyes and hair but the most outrageous designs are those who aren’t from the baseball club but other schoolmates. Do you not notice there is a girl with this outrageous pompadour hairstyle?! Then there is a tanned petite girl who somewhat reminds me of Love Hina’s Kaolla Su. Seriously. And she has a chibi as a pet squirrel? Oh, is that shy low self-confidence girl Nagato from Suzumiya Haruhi No Yuutsu? Is this another one of those animes she disappeared down the line? Damn, these girls would make it more interesting if they join the baseball club.

I guess differentiations in character designs are important because sometimes I might get confused with other characters. Because I thought Tsubasa + Ryou = Sayaka! Remember what I said about the girls’ expressions being rigid? Because for those who don’t really smile and have this serious look, I can foresee that if you just switch their hairstyles and hair and eye colour, they become that character! So if you switch Ryou with Kana, I guess they’re the same person! Same case for Tomoe and Ayaka. Same case for Waka and Shiho (by the way, doesn’t Shiho look like that stalker girl from Momokuri?). Damn, this is weird. Oddly, I thought Akane would forever where those cat ears and never take them off. Heck, she’s even got a baseball cap with that design. And that practice match with Kogetsu she wore a standard cap, I was like, who the heck is this character???!!! Yeah, those cat ears are so important to differentiate her now… But for some characters I suppose I can always 100% tell with certainty like Aoi because nobody has got a perm like hers. And why the heck does Tsubaki look like a meaner version of Da Capo’s Sakura?! This anime is done by TMS Entertainment who have done better sport anime titles like Megalo Box, Yowamushi Pedal, All Out and even, uhm, Baki? Unfortunately I didn’t see all of them.

Overall, this is a mediocre anime and serve to only ‘trick’ simpletons like yours truly into watching and thinking it is because it is cute girls doing cute things, baseball edition. And f*ck, no yuri at all! There are a hell lot of dedicated and better baseball series out there other than the aforementioned duo such as H2, Ookiku Furikabutte, One Outs and Major to name a few. Sad to say, although I cannot remember Princess Nine and Taishou Yakyuu Musume, my guts tell me they are still much better than this one. Stories of an underdog sports team are always welcomed and doesn’t grow old. However it is how the story and characters are executed and paced that becomes the challenge into whether making the series a hit or bomb. This series felt like it only had its 15 minutes of fame and then head back into the sleepy wilderness forever. Women in baseball itself is a novelty and not even as popular as their male counterparts not only in Japan but around the world and with this mediocrity, it is no wonder why not many females are going to pick up the sport and turn it into something more popular than what their male counterparts can do. I’m not saying that all sports, men dominate and play better. There are a few sports that we all still love to watch women play. Beach volleyball anyone?!

Tate No Yuusha No Nariagari

October 20, 2019

Naturally when one is to select a weapon, many would have opted to go for offensive melee weapons like swords, spears, lances, axes or ranged weapons like guns or bow and arrows. Not many would have picked shield as their primary weapon and would have only viewed it as some defence mechanism. Hence shields are not given as much prominence and does not receive its fair share of reputation, the most being relegated to fancy designs for coat of arms. But now we have an anime series to tell that shields can be as badass like any other weapons too. Herald, Tate No Yuusha No Nariagari. You know what they say that a good offence is a good defence. And our shield hero is going to show you why you shouldn’t underestimate the importance of shields. Oh, is this another isekai genre too?!

Episode 1
Naofumi Iwatani is your typical otaku. He has enjoying this lifestyle but all that comes crashing when he reads a strange fantasy novel at the library. You know, world in danger. Four heroes each holding a different weapon (sword, spear, bow and shield) are summoned to help save the world. The moment he turns to this strangely blank page he is suddenly summoned to another world. There are 3 other guys who were also summoned, Ren Amaki (why do I have a feeling he is taken after Kirito?), Motoyasu Kitamura and Itsuki Kawasumi. The summoners beg them to save their world after using some ancient ritual. However the other guys want to talk business and rewards before accepting any mission. They are brought to King Aultcray Melromarc XXII who explains destruction is about to beset this world in Waves. They already experienced the first one and underestimated it. They survived but at a great cost of casualty and damages. Unfortunately the heroes don’t start out strong. They must train and power up their weapons before the next Wave hits. The heroes retire to their rooms. To their surprise, they learn each come from a different alternate version of Japan. Naofumi feels he got the raw end of the stick because shield heroes are regarded as losers. Can only defend and not attack? Next day, the king has gathered brave warriors to join the heroes. So the warriors are the ones who get to choose which hero to join? Too bad for Naofumi, none joins him! Why do all the hot babes join Motoyasu? Sure he is hot guy but he’s such a cocky jerk… Because Naofumi keeps complaining, Myne Suphia from Motoyasu’s side decides to join him. She shows him around and brings him to Elhart who is a blacksmith to buy some gear. Too bad for Naofumi, he cannot wield any other weapon besides his shield bummer. He practises but the most he could do is destroy those weak orange ball monsters. Naofumi works hard to kill and sell monsters, enough to buy him a decent armour.

One night Myne wants to drink and flirt with him but Naofumi decides to be a gentleman and turn her down. But when he wakes up the next morning, he realizes he has been robbed. Worse, the royal guards arrest him. Before the king, he realizes he has been set up as Myne accuses him of raping her. More salt to his wounds as his armour is now worn by Motoyasu whom he claims Myne gave it to him as present for rescuing her. With nobody believing in Naofumi, he screws everything and wants to return home. However it cannot be done until the Waves are over. So you’re all in for the ride. As he is one of the heroes, Naofumi cannot be executed but banished. With rumours of his crime spread, Naofumi leaves and has turned into a bitter and resentful man. At least he is no longer naïve and has wise up. Elhart almost believed the rumours but choose to show some sympathy and give him a meagre gear as parting gift. Naofumi channels his anger to kill those orange balls and sells them for money. Those who threaten to pull a fast one on him will get their just desserts. He tinkers with his shield’s branching abilities and also try his hand at making medicine. When ‘adventurers’ claim they want to join him but Naofumi sets harsh terms for them, turns out they are robbers but nothing could beat a man who has been bitten once. Even more bitter as Naofumi realizes he cannot farm his offensive ability as cannot attack. A slave dealer, Berocas sees potential in him and decides to show him some slaves. They cannot disobey their master and demi-humans are usually used due to discrimination. Hello there. What have we got here? A cute raccoon girl?

Episode 2
Raphtalia is the cheapest slave he can afford and he will use her to upgrade his shield. Berocas then conducts a ritual to make a mark on her that makes it hard for her to defy him. He goes back to Elhart to get her some gear and forces this scared and meek girl to kill. He tells her straight she will fight monsters for him and to recoup the cost of acquiring her. He did say he doesn’t see slaves as people but he still treats her decently to food and trains her. Raphtalia learns he is the shield hero and remembers her parents told her that the shield hero treated them good. She still reels from the nightmare when a monster killed her parents who bought time to save her. All Naofumi can do is hug and console her. These nightly screams are going to be routine? Better get used to it. One day during training, Naofumi is attacked by a vicious monster. He tells Raphtalia to kill it but she is scared of blood. More truths lectured into her about the Wave and the likes. If he dies, he cannot protect her. He needs someone to fight for her as he cannot attack. With that, Raphtalia makes her first bloody kill and vows to fight for him. In order to make fast money, they head to the mines to collect gems. Nobody goes there as monsters inhabit it after the first Wave. However a dog monster similar to the one who killed Raphtalia’s parents pop up. She is paralysed in fear. Naofumi tells her the truth her parents cannot come back but she can prevent other kids from sharing her same fate. If he dies, so will her. As she is still is still afraid, Naofumi changes his mind. He will buy time for her to run away. This has Raphtalia realizes it will be the same as then. She picks up her sword and stabs the monster to death. She hugs him and cries not to die or leave her alone. So that’s the deal between them. She attacks, he defends. Simple.

Episode 3
I don’t know how long it has been but Raphtalia has now matured into a hot raccoon babe! She even has guts to talk back to Naofumi especially when he doesn’t put his own health as priority. With the Wave drawing closer, oddly this must be some huge coincidence as all 4 heroes converge at the cathedral to see how much time left before the next Wave hits. This gathering only brings bitter memories for Naofumi. They’re all still cocky and Naofumi bites his tongue to stay quiet and tries to leave. Jerk ass Motoyasu trying to flirt with Raphtalia? Thankfully that raccoon girl stays loyal to Naofumi. Who feeds her, right? She is still grateful to him for giving her a second chance in life. The day of the Wave is here. Sky changes colour. Weird portals throwing down monsters. Naofumi tries to defend the abandoned Lute village. Not sure if he can do much by being the bait and lure all the zombie monsters to a burning tower and let it crash. His brave act has the villagers returning to help him but he doesn’t want them to waste their lives and die for nothing. It gets worse when the royal guards simply fire their artillery to take everything out in the village. Naofumi is not pleased they aren’t defending the people they are supposed to but that’s none of his business. He would have let them become monster feed but he can’t sink to their level and still defends them. While some cocky guards leave to assist other heroes, those who see Naofumi’s true character stay behind to help him defend the village. With all the monsters defeated, the sky reverts back to normal and the portals disappear. Woah. You mean it was that easy?! Maybe that was just the warm up. Next Wave should be harder… The villagers thank Naofumi from the bottom of their heart although he remains sceptical and brushes it off as nothing. At least he commends Raphtalia for doing a good job.

Episode 4
A lavish party is thrown. Naofumi attends only because of the reward. Otherwise he is like the wallflower. However Motoyasu still isn’t pleased. He challenges him to a duel thinking he is mistreating Raphtalia as a slave (despite slavery is legal here). Naofumi sees no reason to accept this until the king orders him to do so. Even if Raphtalia stands by Naofumi, they think she is brainwashed. Yeah, everyone continues to think badly of this shield hero. In this one on one duel, Naofumi relies on his tricks. Not to say they are underhanded but everyone else thinks otherwise. He supposedly had the upper hand until Myne interrupts and deals a serious blow, allowing Motoyasu to win. When Naofumi calls her out, no one in the crowd saw what happened. With everyone continuing to badmouth him, Naofumi realizes everything has been a setup since Myne is the king’s daughter. With Raphtalia freed from her curse, Naofumi thinks she has turned against him. He blames his shield and starts hating this world. So much hatred that he activated some curse series?! Raphtalia slaps Motoyasu for doing something she never asked. She explains how Naofumi took care of her and never abused her. Can Motoyasu do all that? Ren and Itsuki call out to Motoyasu that he actually lost that duel since they saw some wind magic interfering. Raphtalia goes talk to Naofumi. At this point, he is already at the peak of his depression and burning with hatred. Raphtalia reasons that his shield save others many times over and that she believes he did not rape. Even if the whole world is against him, she will always be by his side. After all, he gave her a purpose in life. That warm hug must have did the trick to make him open his eyes and ears to her again. Raphtalia evolves to an even hotter raccoon chick. I don’t see any difference but Motoyasu can’t recognize her? He sleeps on her lap till morning comes.

Episode 5
All the heroes are given their rewards. Naofumi gets his minimum but Aultcray deducts the expense for freeing Raphtalia so he gets nothing. However Itsuki and Ren vouch Naofumi should get something as he defended Lute and also fought an unfair duel. Naofumi takes his minimum and leaves. Raphtalia returns to Berocas so she can get the slave mark back on her chest. She regards this as a symbol of his faith in her. Berocas introduces Naofumi to some monster egg lottery. If you take care of the hatched monster, it can fetch a handsome price when it grows up. If you win the jackpot, you might get a dragon. Naofumi buys one. Thanks to his heroics, store owners give him freebies for saving their relatives at Lute. The egg hatches into a small bird known as filolial. Amazingly Filo grows up into some Chocobo spinoff in 2 days! Trouble comes when Myne declares Lute under Motoyasu’s domain as one of his rewards. They are going to impose some levy to help rebuild it. Of course the villagers oppose it and so does Naofumi. Myne would have resorted to blackmail had not messengers drop in with a message. Whatever it is, she challenges Naofumi to a race over Lute. Initially Naofumi refuses but the villagers vow to reward him. The winner gets Lute after a 3 lap race around the village. Naofumi teases Filo and gets kicked in the crotch! Ouch! During the course of the race, of course Myne has her subordinates use magic to cheat but whatever attempts they do, Naofumi manages to get back. In the end, Filo’s beak seals the win. Sore loser Myne calls Naofumi a cheat and all but with the messengers detecting magic properties that do not belong to Naofumi or Raphtalia, Myne and Motoyasu back off for now. Since Naofumi doesn’t want to take money, the villagers give him a carriage. Good timing since Filo evolves into a bigger bird! Naofumi is also give a traveller’s pass that exempts him from tolls and can traverse many other roads. They take a rest since Raphtalia has motion sickness. Next morning, who the heck is this naked loli sleeping next to Naofumi???!!!

Episode 6
So let me guess, this loli is Filo levelling up? Sounds pretty fishy but there’s an explanation about how filolial can disguise itself as human… Anyway, with Elhart convinced Naofumi is some lolicon, because Filo has this penchant to change between forms, she rips her clothes. Need to find clothes that don’t rip between transformations. Where is Bruce Banner when you need him? It is possible to make such magic clothes but special materials are required. So as they travel to the next village, it seems a peasant request an emergency delivery. Naofumi does so and realizes in addition to become merchants, providing transport can also fetch a handsome profit. He continues with this trade and one day as he transports a wealthy trader, bandits ambush. Of course Naofumi’s team easily defeats them. When they think of throwing lies of him if handed to authorities (because he is the shield hero), Naofumi decides to kill them. How does it feel to become filolial feed? Now they are begging for their lives? Okay. He spares them but in exchange loots them? Sorry, donate all their tributes! The grateful trader pays back by teaching him how to craft gems and also introduce some connections. Naofumi heard the exploits of other heroes. They are doing well on their own but he finds Itsuki’s story all over the place and less credible. Naofumi’s party enter some mine to get the special ingredient. They overcome aural illusions and fight off some badass monster (did Filo and Raphtalia did some Mortal Kombat X-ray move there?!) before getting the desired gem that is crucial in making Filo’s magic clothes. And when it’s done, damn she looks like an angel! So cute that Raphtalia is jealous Naofumi is staring a lot at her.

Episode 7
Arriving at a village ravaged by vines, as expected the desperate villagers plead for Naofumi to help them. Long story short, the village was facing famine when Motoyasu brought a sealed seed here. Without a doubt it solved their food problem for a while but the tree mutated and started growing vines and plant monsters that destroyed everything. Even some of the villagers are being infected by the parasitic plant. Since they will pay and perhaps some sort of score to settle with that spear jerk, Naofumi heals the infected and then goes off to destroy the core. Not sure what ability he has because it seems the vines have no effect on him as he could easily approach and poison it with his medicine. Because he learnt a new skill upgrade, he even did some genetic mutation to create a better plant that will only produce greater food yield. Wow. This guy is soaring to greater heights. After leaving the village, they stop by and rest at a hotspring area. This part feels like filler as Raphtalia feels insecure since Filo is clinging too much to Naofumi. Thoughts of trying to snag Naofumi for herself fail since Filo is always with him. That night, both have this same idea to get some rare egg. It started out as a race but they realize it is better to cooperate since a giant wild boar stands in their way. Unfortunately the rampaging boar destroys the egg. I guess the boar can even sense how mad these girls are. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned… Bringing back the dead meat boar to town, villagers want to pay them handsomely for it because it is used as offerings in their ritual. With the money, they buy an expensive metal crafting tool for Naofumi.

Episode 8
Entering a village where the people are dying of a disease, Naofumi treats their symptoms but didn’t cure them. As long as the root cause is around, the problem will go back to square one. It seems recently Ren slain a dragon on the mountain. This attracted visitors but they soon started dying because of the poison its rotting corpse emitted. Of course Naofumi will fix this for a fee. As they approach the dragon, it revives?! Zombie dragon?! Filo has a grudge against dragons and starts attacking it. Uhm, how do you kill a zombie anyway? Unfortunately, Filo gets eaten! Oh sh*t! Naofumi becomes so enraged that he unlocks his curse. Damn, he is so overpowered but evil! His trauma of betrayal fuelling that hatred. As he is about to dangerously go berserk, the voice of Raphtalia brings him to his senses. He realizes Raphtalia has been infected. He desperately tries to heal her but he needs that curse power to defeat the dragon. Don’t worry. Suddenly it dies. Filo bursts out from its stomach! She claims while eating through its stomach, she found a crystal that is supposedly its core. Yeah, she ate it too. Naofumi tries to use his reward money to get Raphtalia healed by the doctor doesn’t have enough materials nor power to stave off the curse. He lets him keep the money and perhaps the churches in bigger towns might help. Naofumi reflects on his actions. He realizes the difference between bravery and recklessness, caution and cowardice. As that cursed shield isn’t in his upgrade tree, had he continued to use it, he would have killed both of them. He realizes the need to protect them. The duo also share some of the blame for being reckless. Naofumi promises they’ll get stronger so he could protect those who believe in him. Raphtalia wants to him to accompany her tonight but he has Filo do it instead. Bummer.

Episode 9
Naofumi finds a girl frolicking with other filolial. She is Melty and because Filo can talk, they become friends! Wow. Naofumi now playing doctor? Because he is going to the capital tomorrow, Melty wants to hitch a ride. Isn’t it odd if she is part of the nobility, she got distracted playing with filolial and the guards left her behind???!!! Were they doing their job???!!! Along the way, one night they thought Filo ate her because her clothes are only left behind. Naofumi thinking of destroying evidence? Luckily, she was just sleeping in Filo’s feathers. So warm and fluffy… After Naofumi buys an expensive holy water from the church, a young soldier calls for him. Guts tell him to run but this has him bump into Motoyasu who immediately attacks him. What now? He claims he made a slave out of some blonde angelic loli and wants her freed! Damn, this guy a lolicon now?! Uh huh. His fetish is blonde angels. I don’t even… Motoyasu continues to attack, causing destruction around. The young soldier stops them because this is a public area but Myne uses her authority to turn this into an official duel. Only to be stopped by Melty! With all the guards bowing down, this girl must have some authority. You mean Melty is Myne’s younger sister???!!! Stop this or she’ll report to mom. Motoyasu tries to be nice to Filo but when he badmouths that fat chicken, I guess Filo has to show him again. Motoyasu realizes they’re both the same as Filo kicks him in the crotch again! No padded armour can save his crown jewels now… Later Melty explains to Naofumi that despite being the second daughter, she is the next in line to the throne since Myne has always been a problematic child. Before she could explain further, Naofumi will not listen anymore. He cannot trust her. Go away.

Episode 10
Melty is ushered away by her guards before she could tell the truth. Her mom the queen knew about the king’s mistreatment on Naofumi. She wanted to admonish him but from what I can see, she is on house arrest and sent Melty on her behalf. That young soldier brings back more of his friends. Inspired by him, they want to join Naofumi and fight alongside him when the next Wave hits. He wants them to bring 150 silver. That’s to build trust, right? With Raphtalia eligible for class upgrade, he tells her to pick a path instead of relying on him. Because once this mission is over, he will return to his world. This makes her worry. As they can only do upgrades near the hourglass, the nun charges a high price. When Naofumi is able to afford, they shift the goalpost that Aultcray has a decree to refuse any upgrades for the shield hero. Hence he goes to see Berocas for this service. He doesn’t offer such service but mentions a few nations that have that hourglass. Shieldfreeden or Siltvelt are most suitable as demi-humans there welcome humans but the journey is long and they won’t have time before the next Wave. Berocas suggests buying weapons for Filo. She gets talons and she tests it out on sewer monsters. Raphtalia talks to Naofumi about wanting to follow him back to his world once this is over. But is interrupted with Filo accuses her of trying to kiss him. End of conversation. Naofumi visits a dilapidated town in the north and the few people are starving. It seems it has gotten worse after Itsuki gathered revolution warriors to overthrow the despot king. Back in the capital, Naofumi sees Itsuki and Ren together. Both seem to think that somebody is impersonating them to get rewards because after they did the job, they couldn’t get it as the rewards is already paid. They accuse Naofumi as the impersonator but he tells them off their actions have caused the rescued towns to be worse off. Like that town Itsuki saved, the revolutionists increased their tax with the excuse to rebuild the country while that rotting dragon corpse Ren did, no reward was paid because the job was cancelled and he had to clean up the mess. If they don’t believe him, go see for themselves. Ren and Itsuki see no reason why Naofumi would lie. The young soldier and his friends have returned with the money. But Naofumi tells them to buy better gear with it so they can fight the next Wave. I guess they’re in.

Episode 11
With the next Wave here, Naofumi and his merry band defend the village from invaders. Who the heck is this granny giving kung fu kicks on the monsters?! She is one of those patients he saved so it makes me wonder if his drug is really that potent. Naofumi goes off to handle the big boss on this flying ghost ship. The other heroes are also there. However they are not cooperating and doing things their own way. Hence the deadlock in trying to spawn the Soul Eater since the enemies keep reviving. Eventually Naofumi spots an oddity in their shadows and strikes it to lure out the Soul Eater. With everyone pitching in to fight it, their attacks seemingly don’t have any effect. Hence Naofumi is going to unleash his cursed shield. He gets engulf in the flames of hatred and hears the voice of the zombie dragon vying for revenge. Naofumi turns into a wild beast to attack the Soul Eater. Filo also gets affected and follows suit. With the rest standing around and in shock at this transformation, Raphtalia chastises them for having so much power but yet they don’t use it to fight and help him. Though, she blames herself for being weak if not otherwise Naofumi won’t be in this situation. Luckily her voice still resonates within him as he returns to normal. Naofumi does an overkill on the Soul Eater with his Iron Maiden piercing ability. Just when the heroes thought everything is over, pops out another Soul Eater. However this one is easily destroyed by the heavenly zaps of Glass. This dark Japanese chick mocks the heroes as weaklings because they’re already having a hard time handling the small fries. She only calls Naofumi as the true hero and begins what is now the true battle of this Wave. So this is like the true hidden boss fight?

Episode 12
Nothing works up the other heroes more when Glass calls them Naofumi’s servants. No matter how much they power up, they couldn’t scratch her. Now it’s Naofumi’s turn to dance with her. He also throws everything he’s got and nothing affects her. So much so she teases him to use his trump card in which he unleashes his Iron Maiden. Still no effect! Is this dark babe on God mode?! Thankfully Naofumi lives up to his name as the shield hero and also withstands her attacks. Glass could have actually won had not she murmured something about the time limit. Yup, the Wave is ending soon. Hence Naofumi uses this last moment to escape. Glass uses her range attack but it is less effective. Time’s up. Glass returns and hopes he would be stronger next time. Otherwise he won’t survive. This signals the end of this round’s Wave. But soon, Naofumi against his will is brought to meet Aultcray who wants to know how he did it. But Naofumi plays hardball. You want to know? Bow and beg before me! This makes Aultcray mad as he threatens Naofumi who threatens back he can kill all of them right now. So leave him alone. If he dares threaten his party members, he will hunt them down and kill them all! After he leaves, Melty confronts her father and notes how things ended on a sour note. It seems he hints his grudge against the shield hero is because letting him and the demi-humans do as they please, he believes he will lose his family again. Myne as usual tries to be a b*tch and convince Melty to stand down. Melty replies back that this is none of her business. Myne trying hard not to let her angry b*tch face show… Naofumi thinks of visiting Shieldfreeden for his servants’ upgrade before the next Wave. So Elhart gives them a few weapons and accessories goodies for their journey. As they rest, Melty confronts them and hopes Naofumi can return to the capital to make amends with her father. Of course he rejects. Then the loli starts throwing a tantrum how stubborn the guys are. Does this run in the family? Like father like daughter? Naofumi suddenly has a bad feeling like as though all this was a setup. Then he spots a guard trying to stab Melty from the back. Luckily Naofumi is quick enough to shield her. Damn, is the guard that stupid to attack so obviously?

Episode 13
Other guards start attacking, claiming Naofumi has taken Melty hostage. But after a while, they retreat. Indeed, the footage that has been recorded and re-edited so as to make them look like bloodthirsty killers. No wonder the guards were acting so lame. This fake footage is then spread to other villages. Hence Naofumi’s party have to camp outside and cannot easily enter villages as they are also heavily guarded. Melty believes Myne is behind the attacks since her elimination would mean she would be the next in line to the throne. That’s why Naofumi suggests she come with them. If she goes back, she’ll get killed. Following him means the least he could do is protect her. Melty tells about her mom the queen and she has a higher authority since the country is matriarchal. They have to start running when guards are on their tail. This time the other heroes have also joined in. When cornered, Myne accuses Naofumi of brainwashing everybody, the reason why Melty and others so willingly follow him. He is ordered to hand over Melty but Naofumi hatches an escape plan. It falls apart but it gets more appalling as Myne tries to kill Melty giving an excuse she attacked first and if her brainwashing is this bad, she’ll have to die. Meanwhile Motoyasu is trying to rape Filo?! WTF?! Ren and Itsuki are in shock that Myne is trying to kill Melty but Myne was so engrossed in focusing on trying to kill Naofumi, she didn’t sense Raphtalia sneaking up and owning her. This allows Naofumi’s party to escape. Later they are approached by this ninja woman who is one of the espionage members called Shadow directly under the queen. She wants Naofumi to see the queen and he’ll get his answers. We slightly distracted with Melty throwing a tantrum at Naofumi until he calls her by her name. Weird. So weird that even Raphtalia feels weird out. Can we move on? Speaking of which, crazy Myne b*tch is now setting the forest on fire…

Episode 14
Has the word spread that Naofumi was the one who started the forest fire. We didn’t start the fire! They arrive in an area whom Melty knows the noble. Seyaette was a kind noble who treated his demi-humans well but he died in the first Wave and all those loyal to him were spread out across the kingdom. This place also brings back bad memories for Raphtalia as she was from this jurisdiction and after the first Wave, soldiers stormed the place and attacked them. Van Reichnott welcomes them and allows them to stay at his place. Though, Naofumi remains sceptical. Next day, they see Reichnott being taken away by guards. The lord of the neighbouring domain, Idol Rabier accused him of hiding them and marched his way in. As a maid hides them, Melty confronts Idol and claims Naofumi abandoned her here and escaped. She wants to return to the capital to talk to her father. After being taken away, Naofumi and co hatch a plan to go rescue her. That night when demi-humans are protesting outside Idol’s mansion, Naofumi uses this chance to sneak in. Meanwhile Idol is trying to force Melty to reveal where Naofumi is. Despite she maintains she doesn’t know, he then beats up Reichnott in hopes this will get psychological on her. When all fails, why the heck does he look like having that rape face and wanting to rape her?! Thankfully our shield hero crashes in to save the day. After Melty is secured, Raphtalia confronts him and even turns the table on him. With Idol begging for his life, Raphtalia is not amused because lots of demi-humans also begged for their lives like this. After all, she was part of the demi-humans whom he rounded up and sold as slaves.

Episode 15
Idol still begs for his life and Raphtalia ponders about killing him until Naofumi asks if doing so will have her closure. Has she not grown stronger only in terms of her sword? Raphtalia recollects herself and despite how much she hates him, will not kill him. Otherwise she is the same as him. Obviously being the typical baddie, he tries to kill her when she lets his guard down but she is fast to defend. Ah, the best way for scumbags to die is to trip and fall out the window. Good riddance. But Raphtalia still needs to confront her past. In the basement where the slaves were kept and tortured, she remembers being forcefully brought here with her other friend, Rafina. Together they suffered but kept each other alive until one day Raphtalia was sold to a slave merchant. Rescuing other demi-human slaves, Raphtalia recognizes another fellow friends, Keel. He doesn’t recognize her at first but after recounting a few incidents together, he remembers. But it is all tears for Raphtalia when she discovers Rafina is reduced to bones. She’s a corpse. Crying over her death, it’s that moment when Raphtalia begins to feel she is useless and weak. And it’s that moment where Naofumi reminds her how she was the one who gave him hope and trust. So in order to avoid others from going through the horrible things like them, they have to protect those who survived. And I guess this weird vision of Raphtalia and Rafina so they could find their closure and move on. When they resurface, it seems that fatty bastard is still alive. He has gone crazy and undone a seal that sealed a monster. So this T-rex is the monster? Fatty thinks he will be blessed by God if he destroys everything but looks like he’s got the devil’s curse. Because T-rex stomps on him. I’m pretty sure no one can survive that. Good riddance for real.

Episode 16
Chicken vs T-rex? The reason the monster is targeting Filo is because both have crystals inside that are resonating. Are they hinting something about T-rex are related to modern day chickens? Naofumi takes his team to lure the monster away from the city. They end up at a lake where they fight it but they’re not making any headway. Naofumi tries to use his cursed mode but a voice tells him not to rely on it. Then the place is surrounded by filolial and the one taking on the monster is the giant filolial queen. She makes it look so easy when she kills it! She transforms into her loli version since we all approve of this cute form that is better for conversations. Introducing herself as Fitoria, she takes them back to her base to talk. But first, Naofumi cooks for everyone. Can’t talk on an empty stomach. Yeah, he has to feed the entire filolial herd too! Damn, this looks like a KFC farm… Finally Naofumi and Fitoria can talk. She is against him relying on his cursed shield despite he views it as his only way to survive. It might give him power now but the consequences will be immense too. Fitoria came to Naofumi’s aid because she heard news of a potential filolial queen candidate. Fitoria might be powerful now but that won’t last forever. She is appalled that the heroes are bickering among each other and not fighting Waves in other countries. So you mean the heroes aren’t aware of this? She thinks the heroes should be talking their differences out as much as they don’t like it. Fitoria views her mission is to protect and save the world from Waves. Despite not liking humans and not caring for them, she is only doing so because the previous hero raised her. It is also the reason why Filo is growing differently from other filolial because of being raised by a hero. Because Naofumi is still stubborn not wanting to patch things up with other heroes, Fitoria has no choice but to kill them.

Episode 17
Fitoria takes Melty hostage in hopes Naofumi would change his mind to reconcile with other heroes. Nope. If she wants to kill him, feel free to do so but he won’t go down without a fight. Let’s see if he can do so when she locks his shield’s properties! Hence Fitoria challenges Filo to a fight. She will disregard all this if she defeats her. As expected, we see Filo getting owned left and right. Fitoria is so powerful that she can even take care of Naofumi trying to sneakily rescue Melty. She uses this to blame Filo as weak. Otherwise why resort to this? She continues to taunt her weak will to protect Naofumi. That’s the cue for Filo to turn stronger as she absorbs mana from the air until she breaks through Fitoria’s shield and just scratch her. Well, I guess she passed. So it is no surprise this was just a scheme to see if Filo is worthy to become her successor. And since she has proven that, here is a crown. And also being the next filolial queen means you grow an ahoge? Don’t mind that since she also gets a considerable stats increase. Fitoria also helps boost Naofumi’s shield attributes by unlocking more branches. Then they have a party to celebrate Filo becoming queen. So Naofumi has to cook more KFC? Damn did he get filolial raped? Later Fitoria talks to Naofumi seriously that she still would have killed him and the other heroes if they won’t continue to cooperate. Since they’re going to die at this rate, might as well kill them off and summon new heroes. She doesn’t know how many Waves will come but there will be a time when the world demands sacrifice from all life. The heroes then must choose what they fight for. Saving the world isn’t the same as saving its people. She casts a spell to help slow his shield’s corruption. You might have guessed Fitoria’s previous hero who raised her was also a shield hero and Naofumi is now sounding a lot like him. Sometimes a queen also needs a gentle pat on her head. Ren and Itsuki are in a cave supposedly housing the legendary weapons of the heroes. However it is empty and they realize too late it’s a trap. Boom!

Episode 18
Naofumi’s party nears the border. Fitoria previously sensed another hero nearby so Naofumi hopes he could talk to Ren or Itsuki to let them pass. Unfortunately it is Motoyasu. He looks mad, attacks Naofumi mercilessly and blames him for the killing Ren and Itsuki! Of course when Naofumi tries to explain, he won’t listen and even thinks his party members are still under his brainwashing. Myne forces both their sides to fight in an enclosed ring. No surprises that Naofumi’s side wins. Filo using all that she has learnt from Fitoria and Raphtalia doing some sneaky combo with Naofumi to get the better of them. Before Naofumi can further talk, Raphtalia senses something strange. All the soldiers that were surrounding them are now gone. Filo also senses something dangerous so she has Naofumi put up layers after layers of shield. And then some gigantic beam hits them. Everyone is okay. Just one big huge crater left behind except for the ground they stood. This kind of devastating power can only be from the pope, Bisca T. Balmus. He views them as sinners and will be purify them in God’s name. But he almost killed Myne who is of the royalty, right? He believes the script goes as they are killed by Naofumi’s side. And now they are just walking corpses. WTF?! Which sci-fi did he pluck that out from?! You know he is starting to be the bad guy when he claims the royalty is nothing but nuisance as the soldiers have already taken over the castle. They have already planned a system of government to take over the royalty. No one can rule the country but them! Is this all God’s will? He further explains the damage done by the heroes despite these weren’t intentional. They thought they were doing the world some good but they are just naïve. Balmus further hints he killed Ren and Itsuki for doing some unnecessary investigation. Oh Motoyasu, you sure look very shocked for a hero. Didn’t see this coming, eh? How could he after being blinded for so long? And now Balmus takes up his sword. Time to receive God’s punishment.

Episode 19
Naofumi manages to block the attack. And that was just a trial run? The sword then changes into a spear. Melty realizes this was a replica that was created and can transform into the 4 weapons. It was rumoured to be lost centuries ago but apparently the church created that lie. If it’s so powerful, why need to summon the heroes then? Because it really sucks up mana from believers. See that long line of believers stretching for miles? It’s draining and also takes time to gather. Motoyasu’s feeble attacks didn’t work but before Balmus could finish them off, Ren and Itsuki return to fight back. The duo were investigating this replica in secret but the church knew they were snooping around and sent them to a fake location to assassinate them. The assassination could have succeeded had Shadow not saved them and they barely escaped it from the skin of their teeth. Now that the church is the one to blame for taking their rewards, credit and framing of Naofumi, Naofumi sure isn’t looking impressed because he had that I-told-you-so look. The heroes want to unite to fight but Naofumi refuses to play along. He is confident his party can survive without their help like they’ve always been. Now the heroes start arguing and pointing fingers but ultimately it is Naofumi who has the last say as he reminds them of the mess they did and the cleaning he did after that. In short, they let their hero status get to their heads and didn’t spare a thought for anybody else, thinking their justice version is right. It won’t be surprising if the people got sick of heroes like them. So in his eyes, they are no different than the pope because they use and abuse people for their own gain. Worst of all, they tried to take things precious to him. Naofumi won’t forgive them but will only cooperate to take Balmus down and also to make good Fitoria’s promise. Are we ready to continue now? Because too much talking and infighting has Balmus licking his lips as he has gathered enough mana to summon the greatest magic power to finish them off.

Episode 20
Mirelia the queen dons her armour and decides to make her move. It’s about time. So decided to wait till the world is on the verge of destruction only to act, huh? Nothing our heroes do could put a scratch on Balmus. Balmus has his followers put in more mana because there is nothing greater than dying as a martyr. With the heroes at their wit’s end, Naofumi’s curse then unlocks. A voice telling him to unleash all his anger and in return he will be given the power to strike back. Naofumi tries to resist but ultimately with the spamming of all the humiliation and disrespect he has been through, he gives in. Only, now his party members manage to talk and calm his heart. Yeah, the journey we had together, blah, blah, blah. Thank you for taking care of me, yada, yada, yada. Because he keeps to himself and doesn’t open up, they have a hard time understanding him. This helps suppress Naofumi’s curse at the expense of them being blighted. With this, Naofumi is like a changed person. He apologizes to the other heroes and seeks their cooperation. Shocking but yeah, people can change. We see all of them pulling off their coordinated combos on Balmus. If you think that will be the end, too bad it isn’t. Because Balmus’ weapon is able to mimic their high level attacks and at this point he uses his high level power to cast a scary illusion on them all. A kaleidoscope of Balmus? That’s scary indeed! Is that all our heroes have to offer? Okay. Queenie, your cue to move in. She freezes Balmus to give the heroes the much needed chance to take this traitorous pope for good. As Naofumi chants his spell, shockingly it backfires as he starts bleeding all over. Balmus won’t have the last laugh because some monster pops up and devours him and breaks his prototype weapon. I guess that’s the end. Devil beats God. With Naofumi looking like he will bleed to death, Mirelia vows to save him. Yeah, couldn’t you have arrive a bit earlier?

Episode 21
With the best treatment from the royal clinic, it took a month for Naofumi to heal. Mirelia explains what has happened. She was on a journey to meet with other nations to discuss about each nation summoning a hero for the Wave. Unfortunately Aultcray went ahead to summon all of them and this angered the other nations. Mirelia has to do damage control, that’s why there was inaction from her for so long. For some reason, Aultcray hated the previous shield hero and the church knew about it and took advantage to manipulate him. In addition to reward him for his heroics, she will also help clear his name and thus tomorrow everyone will be gathered at the royal palace. That night, Naofumi dreams of Aultcray and Myne being executed via guillotine. He doesn’t care for those jerks who deserve what they got but something just doesn’t feel right. In the throne room, all the heroes are summoned before Mirelia. Aultcray and Myne are now criminals and therefore a public trial will be held. In order to make them tell the truth, a temporary slave mark is put on their chest. Not sure if Myne is stupid or just desperate because she continues to lie and deny even though the mark zaps her for lying. Even till the end Aultcray still hates Naofumi and believes he did the right thing trying to rid of him before he ruins the family. At the end of the trial, Mirelia sends them to death and will be executed now. The people are baying for their blood for deception as Naofumi’s weird dream comes true. Myne pleads for Motoyasu to save her but when he abandons her, now she turns to Naofumi. So Naofumi steps in. Killing them would be too easy. After mocking them for who they are, he hereby wants to change their name to Trash and Bitch/Slut and live with it for the rest of their lives. If they refuse, they can die now. And with their lives spared, the queen also abolished the church. Once this charade is over, Naofumi intends to head to Siltvelt instead of staying here. However he will still work with all the nations to fight the Wave. Naofumi’s party is given an honour guard as he leaves. Melty won’t be joining but she learns from mother that she had intended to take her own life to beg Naofumi to spare the executed had Naofumi didn’t stop the execution. Perhaps he saw through her and stopped it. One last big thank you from Melty to Naofumi for bringing her home and saving her family.

Episode 22
With the corrupted church gone, Naofumi is free to upgrade Raphtalia and Filo. However something is preventing them to choose their class. Talking to Mirelia about this, she thinks certain accessories may hinder the upgrade like in Filo’s case, it could be what Fitoria gave her. There is also a party held for the heroes. Actually this is for the heroes to sit down and discuss. Meanwhile Myne, oops I mean Bitch/Slut tries to poison the food but gets busted by Melty. She doesn’t give up, does she? Then a drunkard tries to piss off Raphtalia for her kind as well as badmouth the shield hero so it descends into a free for all. Mirelia tells the heroes of the activation of Cal Mira Archipelago. It only comes once a decade and on this island they can level up greatly before the next Wave. Hence this ‘conference’ is to exchange info. The heroes are reluctant to work together but after Mirelia points out that only Naofumi has a real chance of surviving the next Wave, they relent. Naofumi shockingly learns from them how they could easily power up and copy powerful weapons. Just touch and copy?! That easy? There are loads of other easy skills and this shocks Naofumi since he did it all the hard way. Well, at least you can say Naofumi levelled up because of his own hard effort. Eventually the heroes disagree on the important factor that makes a weapon great. Proficiency? Rarity? Refinement and stats? This farce has Naofumi abruptly leaving the room. Can’t deal with these idiots. Naofumi then tries out this new knowledge at Elhart’s store. Wow. It really works. Copy everything for free! Damn this guy is going out of business!!! I’m sure it’s reassuring he’ll pay him back one day. Before leaving for the archipelago, Raphtalia requests to stop by her village to pay her respects to her parents and fallen brethren. Of course, her insecurities of Naofumi leaving has her bringing up this loneliness issue. Naofumi assures he won’t leave. He can’t leave the world in the fate of those idiotic heroes. How reassuring. I’m sure Naofumi didn’t say to them that he won’t leave until they find their own happiness. Otherwise they won’t find other happiness other than being with him. As they leave on the ship, because it is crowded, they have to share rooms. Naofumi’s party ends up sharing a room with L’Arc Berg and Therese Alexanderite whom they’ve briefly met recently at Raphtalia’s village.

Episode 23
L’Arc doesn’t believe Naofumi is the shield hero because he believes that dude is a demon in human’s clothing. But looking at Naofumi, he isn’t that of a bad guy so he can’t be the shield demon, right? Don’t waste your energy refuting this guy… On the deck, Naofumi sees the other heroes… They’re all seasick?! At Cal Mira, the heroes start farming for XPs but since an island isn’t big enough for all of them to share and hunt, I guess Naofumi can’t be bothered to join in the argument and leaves for another island. Farming XPs must be so good that Naofumi decides to hunt more into the night and camp on the island. However L’Arc and Therese come looking for them and they were worried. Because the boatman didn’t see them return, they thought they were killed. Understanding Naofumi’s desire to level up, even so a good rest is needed. So they head back to the main island where they party with the other heroes. Next day, Naofumi agrees to join L’Arc to hunt together. Raphtalia has finished crafting some jewel item as per requested by Therese and she’s so happy with it. On this island, they start killing… Killer penguins! Therese uses her new jewel spell on Naofumi. It burns away the killer penguins but Naofumi is not even effected and he felt the burden of his curse even lifted from this spell. After defeating the penguin boss and splitting their shares, Naofumi thinks of asking them to join his group when this is over. As they take a break by the beach the next day, Filo discover an underwater ruins. Inside it is an hourglass. This means this place can be attacked by the Wave. Speaking of which, it is in the next 48 hours.

Episode 24
Naofumi returns to report to Mirelia and she wastes no time in gathering a huge army for this Wave. Uhm, wouldn’t the humans be at a disadvantage because you know, monster fish can sink the ships? Apparently there is only a huge swordfish shark monster that can do damage and the rest are, uhm, fish people? Yeah, one of them must be a lolicon and tries to kidnap Melty! She is however saved by L’Arc. Noticing how strong L’Arc is, Naofumi needs his help to defeat the big mother. After luring it out from the waters, L’Arc deals the finishing blow. The heroes are going to get the drop items but L’Arc attacks the other heroes whom he views as weak. His target is Naofumi. So what’s going on? It seems L’Arc and Therese are also heroes like them but of another world. Their world is also on the brink of destruction and that’s why they are fighting towards a goal. L’Arc and Naofumi begin their fight with each other but L’Arc has an ace up his sleeve because he has some attack that deals damage to Naofumi the higher his defence points are. Naofumi also has some tricks up his sleeves. Mind tricks and his team combo. With this fight taking too long (and didn’t you notice the Wave is still ongoing?), Glass then shows up. She is on L’Arc and Therese’s side. She notes Naofumi has gone stronger as he manages to deflect her powerful attack and deal a lot of damage to L’Arc without even resorting to that cursed shield. That’s why she is going to take him down with her own hands.

Episode 25
Noticing that Glass anxiety towards his Soul Eater shield, Naofumi decides to fight her alone while letting the rest of his party take on L’Arc and Therese. Naofumi learns that she is also a hero from her world. A fan hero. She claims she must kill Naofumi and destroy this world or risk hers destroyed. When Naofumi sees a short glimpse of her world fending off the Wave, this makes him question his own motives. Because Glass is fighting so hard to protect her own world, why is he fighting hard to protect a world that isn’t his? Does he care enough for this world to crush Glass’ hopes? In the dying minutes of the Wave, Glass powers up so Naofumi also uses his cursed shield. He views himself as an outsider but this world is all Raphtalia, Filo and Melty got so it is worth to protect. But before he can use his cursed shield, Mirelia has Lecia (from Itsuki’s party) to use her wind magic and splash rum all over? So apparently Glass is weak against this alcohol? Literally can’t hold her glass! Haha! Time is up so L’Arc admits their defeat and takes Glass to retreat. See you again next time. In the aftermath, it seems Lecia is trying to drown herself. She was kicked out by Itsuki’s party after being accused of breaking something she didn’t. Naofumi doesn’t think she is as useless as she claims to be because she helped him a lot during the Wave. Also, is she going to accept this accusation? He can help her grow stronger. So is this his way of letting her join his party? Returning to Melromarc, Mirelia still feels the need to reward Naofumi. Speaking of which… Naofumi soon takes Raphtalia back to her hometown. I guess she is the only one left in the dark because surprise! It’s being rebuilt. Under Mirelia’s orders, Naofumi shall become lord of this domain. Naofumi explains of making this place as his base and a symbol of resistance, recruit more people and build an army. However Raphtalia doesn’t want him to say anything more. She thinks he is doing all this because he is going to leave them. She doesn’t want to live in a world without him. Please don’t go. Please stay. Naofumi makes it clear that he once thought of going home. But thanks to meeting them, he wants to protect this world as a shield hero. Hence this will be their origin. Their starting point. Their home. He hopes she will keep fighting as his sword. Of course. Probably steamy kiss interrupted when they realize everyone is spying on them! Is this how their new story starts?

Do Not Fear But F.E.A.R.: Face Everything And Rise!

So uhm, Naofumi finally has a change of heart and decides to stay? I suppose it is more fun playing the shield hero than being some boring useless otaku back in his world. After all, in the most remote of chances if he ever returns, where would he put to use all the skills he has attained? What a waste. Might as well stay here and write a new story of his legendary heroic feats! All hail Naofumi the greatest shield hero ever! Yeah, at least this puts to rest Raphtalia’s insecurity of him leaving her forever. Happy ending for everybody. Hope he doesn’t bump into Myn- I mean Bitch/Slut. Uh huh. No more episodes for this series means no more having to put up with Bitch/Slut’s antics. It’s a trade-off we have to live with. So yeah, the ending is reasonable. A good happy ending that we probably need after a very rough and dark start for a main character, even if it’s a weak one. There are a few slow parts in the series and it somewhat got a bit draggy with Naofumi still being viewed as a baddie and the final arc of the season on Cal Mira felt a bit rushed but overall it has been a great story.

This series was in danger in falling into that much loathed isekai cliché and tropes when you have your main character being summoned from our world to another world. It was a good thing that they didn’t make Naofumi an overpowered character from the start and because they ostracized his character, this somewhat plays on our emotions that would eventually lead us to support him because he has been mistreated so badly by the people in power and betrayed by those whom he trusted. Therefore when Naofumi somewhat becomes powerful, it is only because through the sheer hard work and effort he put in to become where he is today.

To justify how skilful and powerful he has become today, that is why his character is made to become bitter and distrustful. Look at it this way, if he was still the nice and naïve guy even if the shield hero wasn’t prejudiced against, he wouldn’t have actually put in a lot of serious effort to level up. Only when a man has his back pushed to a corner, he will bite back and challenge his limits. That’s why Naofumi being a truly powerful shield hero is very much justified. And I think that is what makes this isekai series so different from the rest of those ubiquitous and similar titles in the genre. Even though Naofumi looks overpowered towards the end, I wouldn’t consider him as overpowered. Sure, his shield skill tree has so many branches and it looks like he has unlocked a lot of them but there are still certain fights that he struggles with especially during the Waves. So I figure with Glass being so much more powerful than him, it shows that there is still room for him to improve and to remind us that Naofumi isn’t overpowered as we would like to think he is.

Speaking about the Waves, there are still a lot of things about this phenomenon that I don’t really understand. Like as though it is some sort of excuse to setup the plot and the likes. Because if the Waves hit countries that have the hourglass, how many countries are there in this world? And can they actually summon more than just 4 heroes at the same time? Can they summon other classes too other than the usual four? How long has the Waves been going on because it’s not like it just happened two or three editions ago. Did it? And the recent Wave we saw happened over the seas. If the heroes didn’t come to fight it, I mean would it danger any country? Are they just going to kill the marine life if the heroes didn’t show up? Unless the monster fish and fish people start swimming to the nearest island. And how nice of the Waves to let people know the countdown of their next attack so they can prepare and take appropriate action. So everything feels like some sort of game.

With the recent hints of the guardians from the other world, I am theorizing that there is some overseer higher entity who is so bored with its existence that it is sending worlds to fight to the death in mortal combat called Waves. And the world who wins the Waves will eventually get spared. I guess you have more than one try because we see this fantasy world being attacked a few times and even though each time gets stronger, it isn’t over yet. Hence the world Glass and co are from as they mentioned it is on the brink of destruction, the more they fail, the more their world will be destroyed so it’s like they are running out of time to win this Wave and save their world. Yeah, maybe they need to win it once or 10 straight defeats would mean the end of them. Yeah, they could have just tweaked the storyline from Mortal Kombat anyway…

Also, it was never fully explained about the previous shield hero nor what happened to him. Maybe this is saved for later instalments or seasons but it just leaves a confusing taste in my mouth. Because I am ever so eager to know why in the world Aultcray, oops I mean Trash, hates the shield heron the first place? Was it something to do with the previous shield hero whom he blames for ruining his family? Which family? The royal one or before he got married into the royalty, assuming he has that because Melromarc is said to be matriarchal. Even during his trial, he never did fully expand on this grudge of his. But I guess they didn’t want us to sympathise with an old fart who has done our main character wrong. So they leave this part in the dark and let us speculate. After all, trying to take out his grudge on an innocent man who only holds the title he hated is still wrong.

I guess this series has some character development especially for Naofumi and his team but mostly on Naofumi. After all, there is the pitfall of making him a really overpowered character or a very weak ass character and both types do not sit well with viewers. There needs to be some sort of balance so that Naofumi is the kind of character we would support instead of loathed since he is the main character and star of this series. So like I’ve said, having him turned from a naïve otaku into one who has to suddenly grow up and face reality overnight, it might sound harsh but I guess most of us would love to see that kind of character because it gives room to grow and develop. After all, many main characters have some sort of tragic past or need to face some biggest trials in their life in order to get where they are. Eat or be eaten. It’s a dog eat dog world even in this new world. Thankfully even though Naofumi can be considered as aloof, he isn’t as bad as when he started. He could have turned into a villain during those dark days for all we know. We see him trusting his comrades a lot more and opening up when needed. But still he maintains his distance because it would be just a shocker if he suddenly ditches his badass attitude and becomes all nice and glossy. That would make him so wimpy and I think his badass is what attracts his harem. Is this really Naofumi then? But there is still a possibility that Naofumi might become a villain. The final episode scene with Berocas hinting Naofumi is his golden goose to bring him more patrons, I figure Naofumi might turn into a dictator and cause others to rise against him, hence those seeking slaves or selling them for revenge or profit, keeping Berocas’ livelihood pretty much going.

Then there is the case of his cursed shield that is still as mysterious as the Waves I just mentioned. All we know is that it is able to give Naofumi all the power he needs in exchange for his rage and anger, thus losing his mind and turning him into a mindless berserker. But alas, to show that he doesn’t need to be tempted to use this method, that is why the all-important bonds he made with his party members so as to tell us that he isn’t all that lost nor desperate. Like I said, he could have screwed everything and become a villain and destroyed everything but despite how bitter and resentful he has become, thankfully he still has not his humanity so I think that’s why he might not be the nicest or the most pleasant of sugar coated main characters but this also makes him likeable. So the cursed shield ability thingy feels for now it is just lying dormant, waiting for the moment they need to move the plot forward in the future.

Because of Naofumi’s attributes as the shield hero, hence the excuse and reason why he needs to form a party to let others do the offensive and attacking role. Why do they all have to be lolis? Some sort. Well, at least Raphtalia was a loli racoon at one point before they decide not to somewhat turn her mature so it won’t be so obvious the shield hero’s party is a loli party too. Of course Raphtalia has some moments focused on her too since it won’t be right for Naofumi to be hogging all the spotlight by himself. So yeah, Raphtalia coming from a long way as a demi-human, her suffering and fears. Naofumi giving her that second chance was all she needed to turn it around albeit she might take a little time. He could have picked another slave but it was her. Lucky racoon. Raphtalia becoming Naofumi’s sword makes her an indispensable asset to Naofumi. This also tries to set up some sort of romance but it’s just one-sided. Because you know, Naofumi the kind master who teaches her, protects her, how else to get closer and bring their current relationship to the next level but to become a couple? I don’t know when the Waves will end but Raphtalia’s current insecurity being left alone if Naofumi returns to his own world, you bet she is going to try to get closer and snag him to prevent that. And now she can do that without worrying him going home because he has already decided to stay.

Then there is Filo who naturally doesn’t have any back story since she was born while the series is running. That’s why the need for that meeting with the Fitoria so as Filo would have something going for her instead of just being a combat assistance and carriage puller. Now that she is the filolial queen successor, you better show some respect for this loli chicken. She and Raphtalia might be gunning for Naofumi’s love but I say their kind of love for their master are different as Filo feels more like the master-pet relationship. But still, love rivalries nonetheless. And of course so as not to make her as one of Naofumi’s loli party members, hence she is sometimes in her giant fowl form. Last but not least is Melty who feels like a fringe party of the group. Because she is great friends with Filo, it is somewhat an excuse that she considers herself to be part of Naofumi’s party. Although mostly the first part was to escort her back home. Melty completes the party as she has magic attacks albeit not very strong ones but it is better than nothing. With Lecia joining Naofumi’s party in the final episode, I guess I can’t completely say he only recruits lolis into his team. Maybe now he is into retard-cum-joker? Because that is the kind of feel Lecia gives off in the final couple of episodes. Is she supposed to be cute being like that? Kawaii!

The other heroes aren’t anything much. There isn’t much back story on them so as not to take away the focus on the shield hero. Therefore we don’t really put our support fully behind Ren, Itsuki or even Motoyasu for any kind of reason unless you are an obsessed fan of the weapon they are holding. Though their intentions are good, the mess they created that Naofumi had to fix only helps makes us feel the need to vouch for the shield hero. It’s not like they’re the bad guys but we prefer a lot characters who can keep their sh*t together as well as solving problems, right? I keep thinking if Ren was a rip-off from Kirito since they even employ the same seiyuu to be this sword hero. But he isn’t as friendly as you hope he would be like Kirito. Motoyasu is the obnoxious guy whom you would love to hate. Just because this guy thinks he is hot and popular, he thinks what he does is correct. Unfortunately to set him up as Naofumi’s initial main enemy and a character whom we wouldn’t like, I feel Motoyasu has more screen time than Ren and Itsuki. Ren and Itsuki are calmer and more rational unlike Motoyasu who jumps the gun without thinking since he was so bent that Naofumi is the bad guy and trying to add more hot chicks to his party by trying to steal raccoon girl and chicken loli. I guess other people’s girl are hotter than yours, huh? When the rivalry between Naofumi and Motoyasu is gone, Motoyasu is then relegated to the same unimportant focus like Ren and Itsuki.

But I think many would agree with me that the most spiteful character whom you would love to hate is Myne, oops I mean Bitch/Slut. I had my guts ringing like mad like Spider-sense when she first joined Naofumi’s side. There were tell-tale signs here and there that throws suspicions on her character. And true enough, the ultimate betrayal that has viewers alike loathing this b*tch. If that wasn’t enough, it felt like she was really trying to make herself as the number one most hated character in our personal top 10 list by trying to muscle her way around, pick a fight with Naofumi using dumb Motoyasu for her ends but usually end up paying the price for her backfired schemes. If she was really beheaded then, I think most of us wouldn’t have shed a tear and would have cheered instead. But of course to show that Naofumi is merciful (they gave an excuse that death is too easy a way out), that is why she continues to breathe. Too bad she doesn’t learn from her lessons and still tries to get back whenever she can. Like as though the pain from the slave mark gives her pleasure and is some sort of masochist. I mean, does she really think she can actually get away with it! Oh well, you at least have to praise her persistency.

Action wise, I think it is great although not as exhilarating as say, the recent third season of Shingeki No Kyojin. They have a variety of moves and combos in taking down the enemy but I guess it is better than using once and then never used at all. Yeah, I would have complained about that had they do it and now that they have a few varieties, I even complained that I can’t remember those moves or that they aren’t memorable to begin with. Naofumi’s shield skill tree has branched out so much that it feels like those we see him used in battle are just a fraction of it. I assume he has practised in using them all otherwise it feels like he is a pro when he could instantly bring out that specific shield properties. Filo who provides fighting support to Naofumi, it feels like this giant fowl can do almost everything. From flying to kung fu kicks and even recently, she can swim?! Man, she is like the all-purpose vehicle and weapon that everyone dreams of. Naofumi really won big time with that lottery, huh?

Art and animation are decent. Some drop in quality sometimes but nothing that would be of real concern. For a world that is facing gloom and doom, there are quite some livid colours especially the characters like the heroes who sometimes feel like colour coded heroes. Red = Motoyasu. Blue = Ren. Green = Itsuki. And uhm, darker green = Naofumi? Naofumi’s shield has a lot of weird designs seeing that he has levelled up and branched out his shield tremendously. Sometimes I feel it is like there was a design contest to see which of his shield’s design would make the cut. I mean, like how is that Iron Maiden even a type of shield???!!! On a trivial note, does Raphtalia’s design take after Horo from Spice And Wolf? Does this allow Naofumi to circumvent the rules and attack personally? This anime was done by Kinema Citrus who gave us Yuyushiki, Code: Breaker, Barakamon and Made In Abyss.

Voice acting, a few recognizable seiyuus lending their talents like Yoshitsugu Matsuoka as Ren, Jun Fukuyama as L’Arc, Saori Hayami as Therese, Hiroki Yasumoto as Elhart and Kikuko Inoue as Mirelia. The other casts include Kaito Ishikawa as Naofumi (Genos in One Punch Man), Asami Seto as Raphtalia (Chihaya in Chihayafuru), Rina Hidaka as Filo (Last Order in To Aru Majutsu No Index), Maaya Uchida as Melty (Rikka in Chuunibyou Demo Koi Ga Shitai), Sarah Emi Bridcutt as Myne, uhm, I mean Bitch/Slut (Yuzuru in Date A Live), Makoto Takahashi as Motoyasu (Kouta in Majimoji Rurumo), Yoshitaka Yamaya as Itsuki (Sugino in Ansatsu Kyoushitsu), Megumi Han as Glass (Akko in Little Witch Academia), Natsuko Hara as Lecia (Mei in Jashin-chan Dropkick), Sakura Tange as Fitoria (titular character in Card Captor Sakura), Takayuki Sugo as Balmus (Wanyuudou in Jigoku Shoujo), Yutaka Nakano as Aultcray (Ishikawa in Ghost In The Shell) and Kenichi Ogata as Berocas (Genma in Ranma 1/2).

The rock paced first opening theme, Rise by Madkid fits the series like a glove and should have maintained as the only opener. Not to say that the second one, Faith by Madkid sounds bad but adding some hip hop elements to the rock music somehow just doesn’t appeal to me. Both the ending themes are slow rock ballads and sung by Chiai Fujikawa, Kimi No Namae and Atashi Ga Tonari Ni Iru Uchi Ni respectively. Personally I prefer the latter. I didn’t notice the BGMs but when I tried to sample some of its soundtrack, it has over 2.5 hours of music! Of course I couldn’t wait that long to hear them all but from the random samplings I heard, they’re rather okay with a wide variety of styles from the usual medieval style music and orchestra strings to hard rock punk metal ones and creepy eerie/dramatic Gregorian style chanting voices.

Overall, not a bad series and one of the better isekai genres out there despite its dark theme. It’s not that we hate characters who are overpowered and can do everything right from the start, it’s just that we need a reason to justify why we want to support that main character. It’s not like we are sadists wanting to see him struggle and improve through all the sufferings but we can see it brings out the best and worst in a character during those trying times. Naofumi does it not because he is the one who has to wield the shield bur rather he has to. So it doesn’t matter who you are, where you came from or what you have, it is how you make the best and adapt with what you’ve got and this series shows us how to tackle internet trolls without stooping down to their low level and engage them directly! Just ignore them and do your own stuff! Is that not how it seems?! Don’t let them dominate and step over you. Otherwise you would just F.E.A.R. Forget Everything And Run! Or F.E.A.R. F*ck Everything And Regret!

Circlet Princess

October 6, 2019

Time for another made up futuristic sci-fi team sport. The last time I watched Ao No Kanata No Four Rhythm, I wasn’t really impressed. It was weird despite they tried to create something creative. But that series didn’t get any sort of follow up or sequel since its run back in 2016. And now we have yet another futuristic sci-fi team sport, Circlet Princess. In this world, we assume that VR technology has advanced so much that we are able to create this bizarre sport that only females seem to participate. And yeah, the typical story of a fallen powerhouse in the sport making a comeback because of a talented ace joining in. Yeah, the story is as cliché as you can get and not made up.

Episode 1
Oh yeah. Circlet Bout (CB) is all the rage now, right? Chikage Fujimura from Kurojishi Academy is the top dog with a 50 match winning streak. However as revealed in the backstage, everything has been a setup. You mean like WWE? Understandably Chikage is bored but as her manager puts it, she is free to go all out with the next rookie opponent she faces. It’s all part of the show anyway. Since there is still some time before the match, she goes out for a walk. Meanwhile, country bumpkin retard, Yuka Sasaki just arrived in the big city. Wow. Everything so futuristic! Plot cliché commands her to be awed by the awesome poster girl of CB who is no other than Chikage. She is supposed to meet up with someone but gets enthralled and followed signs that leads her to the CB stadium. Along the way, she meets Chikage in disguise. Blah, blah, blah. Outside the stadium, some stupid girl mistakes her to be the Candita (player) from St Union Academy and rushes to get her ready. Yeah, without checking anything, right? Because Yuka is a dumb retard, she accepts. Yeah, everything will work out somehow, no? In the ring, Chikage and Yuka see each other. Is this fate? You can tell Yuka has all the beginner’s luck as she blocks Chikage’s offence and dodges. Wow. This is getting exciting for you huh, Yuka? Chikage must be really frustrated thinking she isn’t as strong as a champion she thought she is, huh? The match end is cut off and we fast forward 2 years later. She is ecstatic to enrol at St Union, the school of her dreams. Meanwhile Miyuki Kasahara and Ayumu Aizawa are at their wits end to revive their club. I don’t think making a cheap video will somehow generate views. Will it?! Coincidentally they stumble upon a clip about that legendary CB match 2 years ago that put Chikage in a pinch. Then they see Yuka in the flesh having problems with the robot security. Why do they look like they’re trying to rape her if they’re just asking for her student ID she is unable to produce? Luckily the duo manage to help her out and hence their chance to ask her to join their club. But first, Yuka sees Reina Kuroda who is the student council president. She instantly gets shot down because there is no CB club at St Union. Oh sh*t! Say what?! Her dreams come crushing down but Yuka refuses to budge and continues bugging Reina?! WTF?! Yuka returns to her dorm and coincidentally this is also where Ayumu stays. Ayumu realizes she is that Yuka 2 years ago and believes this could be something big. Flashback 2 years ago again. The match ended abruptly because the power was cut. Due to system error, Chikage postponed their match. So next time, huh? What a way to set fate rolling.

Episode 2
Continuing from that episode, as Yuka leaves to the backstage, the strange announcer confronts her and claims she has potential, blah, blah, blah. So she gives her a bracelet that will certainly have her reunite with Chikage one day. Yeah, that’s good enough a promise and motivation for Yuka to totally get interested in this. Because if you think you can’t achieve something, try until you can! Yeah, I really love that quote… Now, Yuka continues to bug Reina. She’ll make a new club then. Rejected! Please don’t rape her if she rejects, Yuka! Later Yuka meets up with Miyuki and Ayumu and realize they are part of CB club. Unofficial club, that is. Oh yeah. Now she can play. But first, it’s Miyuki’s turn to go bug Reina to approve their club and they just need a couple of members. She hopes Reina can join since she used to play CB but of course, the b*tch declines. Ayumu shows Yuka that legendary clip. You mean she didn’t know it is online? Oh yeah, the rural areas don’t have internet. She plays dumb since she doesn’t want to be busted as that accidental player who was there. The trio practice CB. Ayumu the computer whiz cannot analyse Yuka’s strange circlet weapon. The practice is interrupted with Reina once again using her authority to stop all unauthorized activities. They just got a slap on the wrist with house arrest? The moment they are back, Yuka is seen trying to recruit new members via old fashion way: Handling out pamphlets. And she gets into Reina trouble again… I don’t think Yuka is going to stop bugging her to approve the CB club and even with Reina spewing all that procedure and formalities, suddenly her aide informs her of something important. So apparently Reina has to suspend her actions to stop the formation of the CB club because St Union got a request for a practice match with Takamori Academy. You mean that legendary video just went viral? Like, now?! Miyuki teases Reina that she is dying to play this game and hints about her older sister who was a CB champ. So why is Takamori really trying to achieve with this practice match? According to their captain, Hiyori Sugiura, it’s to motivate their players. Because Ayana Kuroda has a younger sister there and this should give great incentive for their regulars. While Yuka is eating with her friends, suddenly her bracelet talks! WTF????!!!

Episode 3
The bracelet is being some naggy coach, eh? Some top class battle AI, eh? And Yuka being a retard means this is going to take a while… Yuka wants to get stronger in all aspects but the bracelet rejects. No can do. I guess he isn’t some wonder drug. But he’ll do what he can. Phew. Safe. Yuka can continue with her fate to meet Chikage then. Don’t worry about wasting an episode to find a new member because Nina Avelin decides to test it out. Yes, she is half Russian. Uhm, since when did Reina join? Is she unofficially officially in? Whatever, now they have an official CB club! Yay! They practice and Miyuki owns Yuka big time. Bet she’ll improve during the real match? So the first match pits Miyuki and some unknown Takamori Candita. Damn, Miyuki lost? Next is Reina against another unknown. While Reina shows her experience, unfortunately because she has this losing mentality and does not expect to win, she loses. WTF?! More misfortune because this is best of 3, oh damn you mean Takamori wins it?! Thank goodness it’s practice match so nothing officially recorded. Just hurt pride. Because they can’t just go home with this easy win, I guess Takamori is eager to continue with the practice. Hence eager beaver Yuka gets to go next. She is facing Kasumi Iida who is one of the top players. This won’t look good… If she wasn’t the main character to begin with! Thus you can see Yuka putting up a decent fight against Iida that shocks everybody. Yeah, didn’t expect this retard to last that long, huh? Her bracelet has analysed her moves and gives some hints. In the end, a swift move from Yuka has her defeat Iida. Wow. This upset victory has got to be the most exciting match, huh? Yuka decides to call her bracelet, Siegfried or Sieg for short. I guess it’s better than G-kun. WTF… Sugiura isn’t sad but glad they might be witnessing the birth of a new legend. You don’t say, huh? Coincidentally Chikage is also watching this and is glad Yuka is back in the game.

Episode 4
Flashback shows Ayana totalling owning her opponent in a CB game. Wow. Young Reina so impressed and vowed to be like her. Wow. So young. So motivated. Too bad we won’t get to see the rest of the practice match but from what I understand, it looked like a 100 men sparring match and only Yuka won. Thanks to that, she has some fans back at school cheering for her. Yuka is briefed on the Princess Cup. Yeah, you know the most prestigious tournament that every sports genre must have. But currently, Kurojishi Sougou Academy has been holding on to that throne for a long time. That school is where Chikage goes. When the girls are being called by the director, they think it’s because Yuka won her practice match. Because Takamori is their sister school and they’re supposed to lose? Hence it’s all Yuka’s fault?! Good thing it’s not that. Sugiura thanks them for a wonderful match and welcomes St Union’s CB’s return. However b*tch Reina insists the club’s closure. I guess only now Yuka hears of Ayana and her exploits. Ever since she left for America, St Union lost its ace and started dwindling. This makes Yuka feel uneasy. No, it’s not your stomach growling! Sieg’s best reply: You overeat! Sugiura talks to Yuka and is scouting her to join Takamori since they have all the facilities to help her get into her game. She can then challenge Kurojishi. But what’s eating Yuka? She still not happy? After Ayumu lets her see clips of Ayana in action (in which Reina’s moves mirrors Ayana’s move although it lacks something), she’s all fired up to go bug Reina. Yeah, Reina just dissed another attempt by Miyuki. So Reina is out of the club just so she can close it down? Yuka confronts Reina in the toilet and talks about Ayana’s greatness. Reina explains St Union didn’t want to hold her back, that’s why they let her go to America as it has the latest technology. But look what it did to St Union? By the time Reina enrolled, the CB club is as good as dead. She rejects Yuka’s invitation to join. So desperate that Yuka decides to go see Chikage at Kurojishi? No wonder she gets kicked out. Then she challenges Reina. She accepts because if Reina wins, Yuka will join Takamori. Is that her way of getting rid of her? Yuka seems to be imitating Ayana’s move. And Reina seems to be having those flashbacks about her sister departing. Yeah, so devastated. In the end, we can tell Reina lost because she has to join the club now. Yay! They’re official now.

Episode 5
Miyuki is voted as the captain of their CB club. Yeah, she’s the only one who volunteered. So starts off with their plan for Princess Cup. The usual line-up: Miyuki, Reina and then Yuka. Nina and Ayumu serve as backup. They attend the draw and it seems for the first round, St Union will be up against Hoshinoumi Academy. Yup, another good CB school. Typically, Hoshinoumi has this rich b*tch girl, Christie Yamauchi who has some sort of rivalry with Miyuki. As expected, she badmouths her about running away from her track club and as well as her current CB. You gonna let that fly, Miyuki. Oh damn. Looks like Christie’s words got to her. Because of that, she can’t concentrate in practice and her friends know something is wrong. With Yuka in her typical retard to assure her, Reina knows it is something that Christie said. Time to get it off her chest by telling her past. As her family makes shoes, naturally she loves running and was a good athlete, putting in all the effort. However many think she is successful because she had money and access to facilities. This made her depressed and at the crossroads. That was when she saw Ayana in a CB bout and decided to quit track and join this weird sport. Had she not quit her track, she would have ended up at Hoshinoumi since they also produce good athletes. Princess Cup starts. Because Miyuki is still having low self-confidence, she switches place with Yuka. Yuka easily wins her match and you thought Reina would be enough to seal the deal. But she lost! Turns out it was an ‘elaborate’ setup so as to get Miyuki to face Christie in the decisive match and put this thorny issue to rest. Of course Miyuki still has doubts and is weak. We hear a bit of Christie’s grudge against her because she looked up to Miyuki but before she could face her in a competition, she quit. Yeah… Since Miyuki continues to be pathetic, Reina scolds to remind her that her true ability is running. Is it allowed to have time to talk like that in the middle of the match? Anyway, this gives Miyuki the much needed confidence to turn the tables and defeat Christie. Wow. So easy. Just run around and make Christie tired. Yeah… She better train her body more before running her mouth… Miyuki admits she may have run away but now she won’t look back and will continue to run forward.

Episode 6
Because Reina has some student council duties, Nina replaces her in the first CB match but she basically got easily owned. But thanks to Miyuki and Yuka, St Union won this round. We see her let loose some steam on her online shooter game and it tells us a lot that she is a good sniper. Musashino Kyuoh Academy is their next opponent and they are the top 4 favourites for the Princess Cup. But of course. In order to help Nina become a strong attacker, they go shopping for her weapon. Just when she picked out this rifle one she likes, so sorry, we’re on a budget. WTF?! And also, no money means limited amount of bullets they can buy. You mean ammo isn’t infinite in this digital technology game?! So I guess she goes with a spear. During a practice match with Yuka, she lost badly. No prizes to guess why she suddenly becomes so dejected. So much so Yuka stalks her?! So to find out what is bugging her, she goes to bug her?! WTF?! Since Nina is not the kind to talk, I guess the next plan is have all of them clean the pool. However some blooper has Nina spraying water hard on Yuka. This means she is down with a cold and will not recover in time for the next match. Damn, this girl is weak! I guess this means Nina has to cover for her. Later Ayumu talks to Nina. Ayumu reveals she is the online shooter game partner whom she interacts often with. Surprise! She also explains the cleaning job was to get some funds to buy Nina her desired weapon. Wow. The pool cleaning job must really pay, huh? More pleasant surprise in store for Nina as they got the rifle weapon for her. With their match with Musashino on the way, Miyuki goes first and lost since she couldn’t see the enemy’s weapon coming. Next is Nina. Can she survive with only 2 bullets? She has Ayumu be her eyes on the field as the stage is littered with ruins. Her first shot misses and when the opponent charges close up, WTF she hears Yuka’s voice to duck and doing so, she is now point blank with the opponent and makes her final shot count. I guess Yuka couldn’t stay in bed and dragged herself out to cheer on Nina. Needless to say, Reina wins it for St Union. Nina thanks her friends for doing all this for her. Correction. We did this together for our CB club.

Episode 7
St Union is pretty much a rising star now, so much so Yuka is nicknamed the Overclock Princess. Sorry, it’s not Order Croquette Princess, Yuka! Don’t think with your stomach! As Yuka practises with Reina, the rest note they don’t know much about Yuka to begin with. Especially who gave her Sieg. To help boost their morale for the semi-final match with Kurojishi, they hang out together. In the streets, they are famous enough that everyone gives them freebies! Are they all passing off with that Overclock brand name? Then they go karaoke in which Yuka and Miyuki fight over the right to sing. I guess better than tone deaf Reina… And is Nina just on an eating spree? Ayumu then talks about MR being a by-product of the CB system. That’s why they are very influential in so many technologies and facilities today. They are also the reason why Ayumu became interested in CB because of its concept. With Ayumu getting technical, I guess the rest can’t follow (especially Yuka of course) and they even joke she could be a spy! Flashback shows Ayumu’s dad was a researcher and she was fascinated with some 3D princess knight model he rendered. And of course, Ayumu watching Yuka practice alone, suddenly she sees all her moves so similar to that princess knight. Talking to her, because Yuka is willing to do anything to improve herself and face Chikage again, Ayumu wants Yuka to battle her. Why do Miyuki and Reina feel so shocked? Sure, she is the support but this is just to collect data, right? Her research about CB didn’t yield the data she wanted so could Yuka be the missing link to her father as well? Since Ayumu hacked her weapon’s script, it is obviously overpowered. Yuka is made to run like hell but all her movements are again similar to that princess knight. Even the way she countered and charged through her eventual victory. Yeah, Ayumu’s weapon broke! Sure, Yuka is fast but is she that powerful? Then we see Ayumu using her connections to get into the backstage of Kurojishi just to see Chikage. She wants to know more about Yuka, especially what happened on that fateful day. Something about the overheating factor too.

Episode 8
Officially, the reports said Chikage’s attack caused the overheating factor. However, Ayumu believes Yuka is the key. From what I understand, Yuka seems fast only because the system cannot process her moves fast enough. Hence some sort of ‘shortcut’. This is an ability she has although she herself is unaware she could use it. Chikage too has this ability. When both used this, that is why the system crashed and blackout for a while. That is the real overheating factor. Ayumu hopes this answer would lead her to her father’s whereabouts. The semi-finals are here and St Union is up against Takamori. Revenge match, right? Reina goes first and wins. Miyuki faces Sugiura next but we all know that to prolong the drama, she has to lose. After all, Takamori has studied St Union’s matches like a bible. And now for the expected grudge match between Yuka and Iida. We know Yuka is having some worries because of the b*tch talk Iida had with her in the toilet as well the night before, Sieg told her not to rely on him and think for herself. Uh oh. Sounds like some death flag trouble. You can say that Takamori’s studying pays off since Iida is now able to predict Yuka’s moves. Uh huh. Don’t really on your sight. Use foresight. And you know what they say about the best offence is the best defence? Yup. Iida was just blocking most of the time. WTF weapon fatigue that Yuka’s weapon broke?! I guess that’s it. St Union lost. Yuka is already depressed and made even more so when Sieg doesn’t respond to her. Damn, like as though he is dead. Is this thing out of battery? Oops, sorry. The rest try to leave her alone but when Yuka doesn’t come out of her room for too long, they go in and check on her only to see her room empty. A note. I’m sorry. Yeah, that sure really says a lot. For somewhat who talks a lot, she sure kept it brief. Heh. Looks like they’ve got to go after her back at her home. Yes, her home back in the mountains.

Episode 9
Buckle up. It’s going to be a long train trip to Wakayama. I don’t think the shinkansen goes there either. Yuka practises in her old shed. Her old CB practice programme still working? Yeah, she’s so powerful, her stats are off the charts! As he bums around and feeling sorry for running away, surprise! Her friends pop up and tell her she should say that in person. However, Yuka being Yuka, she thinks they are ghosts and are back to haunt her for that loss!!! WTF?! Damn, Yuka is a fast runner! When cornered, they explain about this double elimination rule. There is still a chance to come back if you lose once. WTF?! Does this rule only apply to them or the rest? But Yuka still feels uneasy because Sieg is ‘dead’. They talk more over the hotspring, giving more assurance to Yuka that she’s not useless as she thinks she is, blah, blah, blah. Then over dinner, they hear how Yuka got into St Union via scholarship. This has Ayumu asking Yuka where she got Sieg. A pervert gave it to her. Ayumu realizes that person is her father, Makoto. She analyses the bracelet. It looks completely dead and all files missing. Funny, Yuka was able to summon her weapon in yesterday’s practice. Demonstrating her moves in the shed, Ayumu concludes that the file must be hidden. She believes all this is CB DKX, a battle development kit. It is only something her father possessed. As an engineer of MR system, the idea of VR led him to develop this CB game. During that point where CB wasn’t sure of taking off, Chikage was cultivated as an unrivalled player. Despite the success, the project was shelved. Makoto parted ways with his team and disappeared. Makoto only left behind this terminal in which Ayumu thought where all the answers like but it seems it could be in the bracelet. So why did he entrusted it to Yuka? Despite Yuka becoming stronger, she has been shackled with that playstyle. Hence the reason Sieg ‘died’. She cannot win if she continues to play like this. Hence a challenge by Makoto. With renewed confidence and motivation, the girls head for home. Meanwhile Takamori loses to Kurojishi. Thanks to that double elimination rule, I guess the losers are going to battle each other to face Kurojishi. Damn, this is confusing.

Episode 10
Nina defeats her Musashino opponent because she’s cocky, talkative and underestimating. That’s what you deserve. So apparently the loser’s match only has 1 match, huh? And of course this means they will fight Takamori for the right to face you-know-who. Ayumu thinks Yuka needs a new weapon but first she needs to analyse her data and Sieg. Meanwhile Reina uses her influence to seek resource donation from others. Well, if she’s bowing down like that, can’t say no, eh? Even Miyuki goes to town to ask for donation. After passing off that Overclock brand, you better pay back something. And in no time all the resources come flowing in! As Ayumu has trouble figuring out Sieg, not sure what happened when she touched that princess knight render and suddenly everything becomes unlocked! WTF?! On the other side, Takamori has their own issues. It seems Sugiura won’t participate in this loser’s match against St Union and this causes some friction among the members. She knows Yuka will be chosen and hence she wants Iida to take on her. Some psychological strategy too, I guess. But after some deliberation and talking, let’s move Takamori’s CB forward, okay? Chikage will also be watching this important match and it is confirmed the announcer is Makoto. The best way to dispel suspicions of your missing whereabouts is to turn into a drag queen? Makoto has Chikage analyse the odds of the match. Sugiura dominates in every aspect but Yuka is not one who is not confined to regular analysis. The loser’s match between Yuka and Sugiura begins. Yuka starts off aggressive but eventually Sugiura makes a comeback. So much so she breaks Yuka’s weapon! But don’t fear. Because it’s evolution time! The fragments now form into new weapons. Holy sh*t! Yuka just got herself 2 new swords? And this is supposed to be Sieg’s gift? With that, Yuka uses this and goes in for the kill- I mean, victory. On to the finals. Makoto is pleased with the outcome because this is essential for his greatest masterpiece to advance to the next stage.

Episode 11
Don’t feel bad Takamori. There’s always next year. So continue to work hard! Yeah! Ganbatte! Before the finals, Yuka and Chikage meet. Because Yuka already knows the bracelet was given by Makoto, Chikage wonders if she will continue to be manipulated by him. Yuka being Yuka who isn’t too smart on the technical stuffs is only playing because CB is fun. That’s your answer. So the finals begin with Reina going first. It’s a close match but she eventually loses. So as to show respect, her opponent even calls her worthy and asks her name. You mean she wasn’t paying attention to the announcer or the screen? Next up is Miyuki. Cut things short, a tricky move allows Miyuki to defeat her opponent. No surprise because we need the rubber match of Yuka versus Chikage. How many years has it been for their grudge match to resume? But as we can see, Chikage has more experience than Yuka so it’s natural that she dominates. So much so her double swords break! Oh no. Yuka don’t you go into depression again. But before Chikage could checkmate her, something strange happens. Oh, it’s Sieg going through another evolution! This time Yuka gets a pair of gloves! One punch in the gut! Now that Yuka is fighting back and stronger, Chikage getting scared she’ll lose? At the same time she is happy that she has finally found a strong opponent. Now Yuka destroys Chikage’s weapon. Game over, right? Not yet! Because Chikage too goes through some evolution! Oh my. I hope her darker uniform isn’t just for aesthetics.

Episode 12
Yuka takes a beating while Chikage sounds like she has turned to the dark side since she is enjoying every moment of this sadistic beat down. Guess what? Apparently Yuka’s uniform also transforms! Is this her final form? Yeah, thanks to all the people in her life that make her feel she’s not fighting alone. Yuka now has a fighting chance as we hear Makoto narrate more crap about emotions and evolving based on intuition and adapting rather than just blindly following orders. Woah! People start to give their resources in mid-match?! Is this even legal?! Things are going great and then uh oh. Yuka is at her limit. Is she going to lose for real? Time out. Weird conversation with Siegfried as he comes back ‘alive’ to scold Yuka and make her remember her original reason why she wants to fight against Chikage. And this allows Yuka’s uniform to evolve to another final form. A more princess-like form. And if Siegfried says she is the Princess, I guess she is the princess. Uh huh. No prize to guess who wins the Princess Cup. In the aftermath, we see St Union CB members bumming around with nothing to do. Shouldn’t they be practising? Because from what Reina said, due to the overheating factor again, this causes CB to undergo major overhaul in its rules and format. Because of that, St Union failed to adapt well like their other rivals and are on a losing streak. Yup. Rock bottom again. It is also rumoured they hired a hot overseas coach to help them. Ayumu didn’t see her dad once in the flesh. That wasn’t her real goal apparently. Knowing that he is still around and Makoto giving her all the data on MR system secrets, I guess she’s fine. If you’re wondering why Yuka isn’t with them, it’s because she is seeing off Chikage who is going overseas to hone her skills. You know the drill. They both hope they’ll get stronger by that time and fight again. Yuka’s pals come by to pick her up and continue to tease her because it’s nice once in a while to tease a retard.

Sure Crap Princess
Yawn… Oh… Thank goodness is over. I don’t know how the NPCs in this anime can get overly excited and hyped over this boring virtual made up sport. No wonder they are NPCs… Heh… Thank goodness it ended and there are no other major trophies for them to compete because the season could have ended in such a way that hints there might be another tournament for them to try again to be the best but I guess for this kind of sports, Princess Cup is the only major CB tournament. So major that we didn’t even get to see Yuka landing the finishing blow on Chikage. I suppose they want to leave it to our imaginations that there might be another overheating factor and Yuka winning on some technicalities. Imagine having this sort of error at a major event finals. Everything so great, everything so evolutionary but your system can’t handle it?! Fail! Back to the drawing board to redesign the system again!

I believe that the CB game itself is not given any sort of prominence. I feel that it is an unimportant factor here. While it looks like this CB game has its sets of rules and the likes, do you not feel that it is not really given any more depth than what we have seen? It feels like everything is just so made up on a whim so that they could have some sort of fighting sequence whatsoever. Hence the CB sport is probably one of the worst and ill-conceived futuristic sports that I have known to date. The basic premise of the sport is that you enter some VR, conjure up whatever weapon you think you are good at, beat the sh*t out of your opponent until she can no longer move. Yup. That’s as original as they can get for this CB game. It’s just sounds so boring. Even that weird water sport Keijo is way much better than this crap. I know, fanservice but still, it beats CB flat. I’d spend my money to go watch that ass game than this asinine one.

Making CB even worse is its format. Now, I understand that it is a team game and even if they want to make it a one on one match, don’t you think having just 3 matches total per game is a little too short? I mean, why the heck do you always have 5 members entering their standby platform then? Backup? I don’t see any substitutions during the game here. That’s why I earlier said they didn’t really thought out about this sport well. I think my suggestion if the format was a team deathmatch type, it would have been more exciting and better. Even if they don’t have all 5 on 5, at least 3 on 3 in this team battle royale format would at least give us some thrills. Though, this was largely hinted in the new shake up of the format but it comes rather too late. St Union won’t be there at the major stages any time soon even if they have their ace Yuka. Yeah, it goes to show that they aren’t really good CB team players to begin with… Therefore for this individual format, no real strategy except hit your opponent until she can go no more and maybe a few tricks to lead up to that. Stages are for aesthetics, uniforms are for aesthetics, weapons are mostly for aesthetics. Now we are reduced to just predicting who wins or loses instead of a real team battle to guess which one gets taken out first. And if the weapons break, does it mean your programming of its toughness is not enough?! It’s all digital, right?! To put the overall CB battles in short, just boring and uninspiring. No wonder there is ‘time’ for players to chat or mock each other during the game. Hey, we pay to see you fight, not to chitchat!

If they didn’t put much emphasis on the CB game, you’d think the characters make up for it, right? Wrong! Not at all. The characters also feel as boring and as cliché as you would expect a team sports anime to be. Each has their own quirky personalities but nothing that interesting that would make you really want to like them and you only do so because they are the main characters. I guess the formula of dark horses, no hopers or former powerhouses regain their glory again and rising up through the ashes is what a lot of people prefer. This way, it gives more drama, story and characters to build on rather than starting off with the featured characters as overpowered powerhouse. And now with the new rules, St Union is back to being no hopers and dark horses again. So it gives a chance for them to rise up like a phoenix once more. If they ever get that far, that is. Like I said, this formula isn’t bad despite being done to death and so cliché. But this series didn’t do it well so here I am b*tching about it as an excuse.

So like Yuka being the ace and the poster girl of the group. As usual she is of the my pace and retarded kind. I guess this is to show that she isn’t really a perfect character. Because if she was really smart and elegant like we wanted her, she would now seem like a perfect and overpowered character. Something that we viewers don’t really like. Ah, I see we are such hard audiences to please. Therefore with Yuka being a retard (whose stomach probably thinks more than her head), this gives her more room to do as she pleases and not give a damn about the technical parts. It’s the reason why she excels in CB so well. She doesn’t give a hoot about all the technicalities and what it takes to be an ultimate player in the game. All she wants is to have fun and her goal is to fight Chikage again. How simple can you get than that? And also to show you she has some more imperfections, hence that depression period when she lost. You thought people like her don’t care about wins or losses but it seems it really got to her then. Yeah, even retards have got emotions too, you know? Hence, your excuse for an additional episode for her friends to bring her back because we need the much needed friendship bonding this series lacks. It’s a team sport, so go figure. I suppose they want to show something that binds the group together, hence this running joke of Yuka letting her teammates eat her sour umeboshi. Don’t worry, you’ll get used to it…

And the rest of the other CB players in St Union, well, I’m not really impressed either. Reina starts off as the b*tch who opposed everything just because of her past and then once she somewhat got over it (I guess that is why sometimes it is good to have stubborn retards like Yuka who doesn’t know the meaning of giving up), suddenly she joins the team. However I do not feel like she is really into it like the rest of them. Probably because of her poker face. I have got this feeling that Reina is just in it to make up for the numbers although her enthusiasm for the game improves as they advance further. I mean, when your team has gotten to the semi-finals and then the finals, it would be just really bad sportsmanship to not give a f*ck and not give it all. Having a sister who is a good CB player feels like just to give her character some sort of depth and hence the possibility that she will be more inclined to return to her CB roots than continuing to be a bitter student council president b*tch. If there is anybody who tops being the most stubborn and persistent, it’ll be Yuka. Yeah, that retard again… Bugging people until they literally change or give in. See, people? Consistency is key!

Nina serves as the backup of the team and sometimes when you need some sort of variation (because seeing Reina, Miyuki and Yuka order gets boring sometimes), Nina is slotted in to provide that alternative. It felt like some sort of excuse for her to suddenly join the CB club so that we don’t have to waste on an additional episode for the girls to go search for that elusive final member. Uh huh. I guess Reina already did that so don’t wanna waste more time on that. Then you have Miyuki as the club captain as well as Ayumu providing the technical support. Somehow I feel with Ayumu being the tech wizard feels wasted. At least in terms of the CB game. Like I’ve said, CB could have been better if it was a team match of 5. Because Ayumu doesn’t participate in real CB matches, it just feels wasted. So as to remind her she is of the brains kind and not of the fighting kind, that’s why she wears that oversized lab coat. All these girls have their own past and problems to deal with but nothing that an episode in focus could solve it and have them get over it and move on. If only really life is that simple. And as for the other girls from other teams, I guess they’re so forgettable that I don’t even know their names.

Even Chikage falls under this pitfall since we only see her as the most powerful in the game thanks to the media’s exposure. In this case, because the anime told us so. Otherwise being the most powerful player feels like an understatement because if this was only in Japan, what about overseas like America whose technology is said to be even better? So is Chikage just a local village camp in this sense? And why is Makoto doing all this thing in a roundabout way? He had to disappear and leave his daughter worried about his whereabouts just to evolve the game to the next level? Is this some sort of placebo effect? I mean if he announces he is going to do this and that, either everyone won’t take him seriously or people will start getting unrealistic expectations. Hence he only observes from the shadows as it is best to see people in their natural form. That’s why Yuka is his best bet. So what’s the next step in his evolution? So like Ayana, will he take his research to the next level by going overseas? I heard CB is pretty popular overseas too in this anime but if you can’t conquer Japan, you aren’t ready for the world yet! Haha!

The art and animation are pretty okay. Just average if you ask me. The futuristic designs don’t really feel futuristic at all because nothing says about the era being futuristic when you spam live holograms everywhere! Yeah. So futuristic. And even if this is a VR game, why do the Candita have to wear sexy leotards during the CB game? Sex appeal still a thing here? The weapon designs also don’t feel exciting. It’s like the staffs wanted to design something quick and hence you see each players wielding different weapons for variety. After all, it’s not like they’re going to really have the weapon and perform some really jaw dropping moves, right? On a trivial note, I noticed that Takamori’s school uniform is designed like a male! Girl schools have all the pretty different designs so much so you can tell them apart from one anime from another. Guys don’t really have that much variety. So seeing Takamori girls in that kind of outfit, just weird!

For the voice acting, Juri Nagatsuma (Satone in Chuunibyou Demo Koi Ga Shitai) did a really perfect job in making Yuka sound like a retard. Ryo Horikawa as Sieg and Makoto sounds like your weird pervy uncle and if he sounds like one only because he was the voice of Dragonball’s Vegeta. Yup, that’s the guy. The rest of the casts feel pretty average. They are Hitomi Nabatame as Reina (Yukiji in Hayate No Gotoku), Saki Nakajima as Miyuki (Dorothy in MAR), Kaori Mizuhashi as Ayumu (Ai in Aria The Animation), Mai Goto as Nina (Mika in Nogizaka Haruka No Himitsu), Atsumi Tanezaki as Chikage (Miu in Blend S), Yuna Taniguchi as Sugiura and Megumi Tateishi as Iida. The rock paced opening theme isn’t that bad, Heat: Moment by Miyuki Hashimoto fits the pacing and genre of the series well. Only had the series lived up to this, this song that is also a bit techno would have been so much better. The ending theme flows to a more light hearted pace despite a generic anime pop music. Circle-Lets Friends is actually a collaboration among veteran singers like Miyuki Hashimoto, CooRie, Yozuca, Sayaka Sasaki, Aki Misato and Minami. With so many of them, at least this song sounds a bit better. I suppose it’s better than having the St Union CB quintet handling it. Just concentrate on your game, girls.

Overall, this is largely a disappointing series. Lacking any sort of real story, unappealing characters and a sport that doesn’t even have much depth to it, it already says a lot on why this won’t likely be getting any sort of continuation. Maybe that is why there is not even any OVA for some quick cash grab even if they put in 100% fanservice that has nothing to do with CB. So if in reality our VR reality reach that advanced stage, I hope CB will not be one of those futuristic games that they will try and adapt in real life. Hence with the disappointment of the anime, I’m sure anybody can see why this sport will not even take off, let alone be famous any time soon. You want a futuristic fantasy fight? Lots of fighting games can satiate that fixation. I’ll still bet my money that Keijo would be a more probable sport to watch and enjoy. No VR technology needed. Just boobs and butts! Sometimes going back to basics is the best ;p.

After that rather tepid and lukewarm alternative spinoff story that was Gun Gale Online, I guess Sword Art Online (SAO) fans can now be happy that the next season of SAO would be continuing and adapting one of the more popular and important arcs of the series, Sword Art Online: Alicization. Yes, having an SAO series without the main character Kirito seems so off and weird. Even weirder for me was that I was having a hard time trying to pronounce or remember Alicization. I don’t know how, but I keep initially remembering and pronouncing it as alkalization. Heh. I thought with all the toxic acidity of online players in VR, maybe some sort of neutralization and alkalization is needed to bring things back to order. Damn, I’m getting side-tracked here…

Episode 1
In this 1 hour special, we start off seeing a young Kirito and Eugeo taking turns trying to chop down a tough cedar tree with their axe. Not making much progress. And this is all the mark that Eugeo’s 6 generations of chopping have left! They take a break when Alice comes by to give them her lunch. Because Kirito suggests getting some ice so their food can last longer, they believe the End Mountains hosts the coolest ice. However there is talk about breaking the Taboo Index in which the Integrity Knight of Axiom Church will whisk you away. Then there’s this legend of this hero, Bercouli who entered the End Mountains and faced off with a huge white dragon guarding treasures in the cave. He defeated it with a sword. Next day, the trio make their way into End Mountains. They stumble into a cave and find that the legend was indeed true. Dragon bones, treasures and a sword too heavy for the kids to lift. They aren’t here to steal loots and got the ice they want but realize they forgot which exit they came from. I guess it’s not down to guts, huh? Too bad it’s wrong as it leads them to Dark Territory. They see an Integrity Knight defeating a Dark Knight. The latter somewhat hypnotizes Alice to cross over to the Dark Territory. Although her fingers only touched the Dark Territory, this violation is detected. The trio return home without realizing the consequences they will be facing. Because tomorrow, an Integrity Knight flies into town and arrests Alice. She will be questioned before being executed. Kirito wants to save her but is of course no match. Eugeo is paralyzed in fear while the villagers hold down Kirito and they can only helplessly see Alice being whisked away. Kirito wakes up from this simulation world but doesn’t know why he is crying.

We now see Kirito and his harem trying to take down a group of formidable PK players in GGO. They manage to give our heroes the slip and escape with minimal casualties. Later Asada talks to Kirito about entering the next BoB tournament so they can face off with the legendary Subtilizer. With Asuna joining them, the topic changes to Kirito’s part time job as a tester of some virtual game. Asuna is worried because it is taking a toll on his health. This job that Kirito is doing is a new next generation full dive system developed by Rath. The thing is, to keep the secrecy and anonymity, any memories created in the VR world will be erased. Though he is certain it doesn’t put the stress on the brain like previous models. Then they talk about where the soul of a human’s body resides. Not really getting into all these terms now but that’s what Fluctlight sounds like. Hence the Soul Translator (STL) from Rath supposedly reads that Fluctlight. Yeah, it’s getting heavy so I’ll skip this. Anyway, Kirito’s experience was that he couldn’t tell he was in the VR world. Like as though it is a realistic dream. The only thing Kirito was told that the project is called Underworld. Like the one from Alice In Wonderland? As they part, Kirito tells Asuna he plans to go to America where the technology for full dive is more advanced. He wants her to come with him. But of course. And yes she will. Oddly, they kiss in the streets. Nobody watching? Soon they are confronted with a guy who is the last surviving member of Laughing Coffin. The guys go at each other and both are struck down. However Kirito was injected with a strange serum.

Episode 2
Kirito wakes up in this familiar VR world. Strange. Can’t log out. He also retains his memories of the real world. He then sees Eugeo trying to chop down the tree. Kirito makes up a story that he has amnesia so Eugeo thinks he is a Vecta, those who got abducted as a prank by demons and then released. Whatever. Kirito tries to test if Eugeo is an NPC but nothing conclusive as he might be a test player with restricted memories. Eugeo will accompany him to town but he needs to finish his job of chopping this tree. Kirito hangs out with him and learns he has a childhood friend named Alice taken away for stepping into the Dark Territory. He believes she is still alive in the central city. With the other terms like Taboo Index, Kirito can’t help feel they sound familiar. After learning how to draw out the interface, he also learns Eugeo’s Calling (fate) to chop down this demonic tree because as long as it stands, they can never expand their wheat fields. And they’ve been doing it for 300 years and 7 generations! Chipping it bit by bit every day! Kirito tries to help out with his sword skill but as expected, no significant impact. At the end of the day, Eugeo brings him back but is confronted by this arrogant Zink who thinks he is going to be the best swordsman as per his Calling. Because he badmouths Eugeo’s pathetic Calling, Kirito shows his swordsman skills to shut him up. Kirito temporarily lives in a church run by Sister Azalia and he gets acquainted with one of the young nuns, Selka. Kirito ponders about the people of this world. Like as though they were born and raised here from the start. Are they copies of souls of newborns who were raised in virtual worlds? The only explanation is that they could be artificial Fluctlights.

Episode 3
Kirito’s goal is to go to central city but with no money, he believes he needs Eugeo’s help. So he hangs out with him and learns Selka is Alice’s younger sister and some high level sacred art that could stop life from decreasing. Of course this means you have to be a lot powerful like those high priests in Axiom Church. Eugeo then drags this heavy Blue Rose Sword from the legend to show it to Kirito. That Bercouli legend again. It is believed this sword is made from divine intervention. With Eugeo still regretting he couldn’t save Alice, Kirito tries to help using this sword to strike the tree. Will it make a difference? Just lost 1 HP… Maybe he strike at the wrong place so Eugeo believes if he masters this sword, he can cut down this tree faster. But for now, back to the old fashion axe chopping. Later Kirito talks to Selka since she is now learning the sacred arts in place of her sister. He thinks she likes Eugeo as she is sad he hardly smiles ever since Alice was taken away. Selka was never told the reason Alice was taken away so Kirito tells her. Next day, Azalia wonders if Kirito has seen Selka since it is unusual for her not to be around. Then when talking to Eugeo about this, it dawned to him she might have gone to End Mountains since Kirito said too much. They have to bring her back before Integrity Knight does. Kirito will take responsibility and take Selka to run away from the town since Integrity Knight will only fly in the next day. Then they hear Selka’s scream. In that cave, they see unconscious Selka being kidnapped by goblins. Sure they’re not going to rape her?! Eugeo was so worried he gave away their position. Now the goblins notice them, their big boss tell them to kill those white boys because they cannot be sold. So do they rape young girls first before selling them? Eugeo is paralyzed with fear.

Episode 4
Kirito quickly devices a plan to fight the goblins. He gets the big boss while Eugeo gets the small fries. Thank goodness for his grass light that keeps them at bay. Kirito heavily damages the boss but takes some serious damage too. This makes Eugeo feel the need to save him or it will be just like Alice’s case. So he recklessly swings his sword and gets a fatal strike in his guts. Ouch. Oddly, Eugeo somewhat remembers the promise made with Alice and Kirito during their younger days about dying together. Mad Kirito now turns into Goblin Slayer to decapitate the boss. The other goblins flee. Kirito frees Selka and wants her to heal Eugeo. She is unconfident and comparing herself she isn’t Alice. Can we just try? Selka and Kirito transfer some of their life force to save him. Kirito then hears Alice voice telling him she will be waiting for them at the central cathedral. In the aftermath, Eugeo felt strange about that promise since Kirito only just came, right? But it felt like he was there before with them. Kirito uses Blue Rose Sword on the tree since his skill levelled up after defeating the goblin boss. Damn, the tree takes a massive damage!!! Eugeo pleads to Kirito to teach him swordsmanship as he wants to go to central city to save Alice. He has been regretting that for every day that he didn’t do anything. He wants to be strong so as not to repeat those mistakes again. Under Kirito’s guidance, Eugeo finally cuts down the tree! The village holds a party and because Eugeo completed his task, he has the right to choose a new Calling. Without a doubt, he wants to become a swordsman. Later he talks to Selka about his goal to bring back Alice with Kirito. She wishes him well but promises all of them must come back alive. Kirito and Eugeo soon leave the village. It’s going to be a long walk…

Episode 5
Before we forget this simulation is real, we return to reality. After Kirito was attacked, Asuna sent him to hospital and he has been in comatose state ever since. Although his condition stabilized, he might have suffered brain damage when his heart stopped for a few minutes. He needs to be transferred to a facility with better equipment. That was also when Kikuoka popped up to suggest this facility where Kirito could get the proper treatment. However when Asuna visited, they were told Kirito was to have no visitors and the supposed ambulance that brought him here never actually arrived. Asuna and the girls discuss about Rath and STL and Asuna with Yui’s help detect the last known location of Kirito’s heart monitor. The trace stopped at a port warehouse. Heading there, Yui even checked the security cameras that a helicopter took off on that day. There is a possibility that Kirito was taken overseas. Remember how Kirito went all out to save her? Now it’s her turn to save him. Trying to remember what Kirito said that may have been related to his job. Hmm… Medicuboid… Rinko… Shigemura Lab… University in California… Speaking of Rinko, she receives an email from Kikuoka that needs her participation in a project. She also receives email from Asuna. Rinko and her assistant, Mayumi Reynolds arrive on a pyramid-cum-oil-rig platform dubbed Ocean Turtle. Heading inside the command centre, here is Kikuoka. He welcomes them to Rath and is happy the last of the 3 indispensable people for this project has arrived. The other being Takeru Higa of Shigemura Lab who is devoted to continue Kayaba’s work. When Kikuoka refuses to disclose the other indispensable person, that is when Reynolds reveals herself to be Asuka! Surprise! Did Kikuoka not feel suspicious why Rinko accepted his invitation so easily? Asuna found her email on Kirito’s PC and sought her help. She has a friend who could hack things and that’s why she easily passed all the background checks. Asuna demands to know where Kirito is now.

Episode 6
Kikuoka claims Rath is the only place with the technology to heal Kirito. Something about using STL and Fluctlight and generate new neural network. The purpose of this experiment is to create a bottom-up multi-purpose AI. All AI are created via top-down approach. You programme it and it learns from there. However its drawback is that they are unable to handle situations that they have not learnt. So by using bottom-up approach, they try to copy a human soul and store into this Lightcube as medium for a human brain. Despite successfully copying a human soul, it seems they missed something. He has Higa show them a clone of himself. The clone is panicking and thinking he is the real Higa and wants out of this dark space. In the end, the programme crashes. They have tried copying 10 souls but none of them could bear the thought they are just a copy. Hence the next answer is to raise them from the start. Thanks to virtual worlds and the Seed, they managed to create a small world and start out a small civilization using Rath staffs. Using acceleration, in 3 weeks, 300 years passed in the virtual world and its inhabitants grew to a massive 80,000 population. A governing body called Axiom Church created laws known as Taboo Index. All inhabitants obey the laws without question. This is when Asuna realizes the project is to create AI designed to kill. Asuna knows Kikuoka didn’t say this to Kirito because he wouldn’t have participated in this project. Even AI have rights? Sure, they lack physical bodies but they are the same as living things. Kikuoka understands her concerns but to him, 100,000 AI lives are worth far less than an actual soldier’s.

As for why he needed Kirito, he needed someone who has years of experience in moving in virtual worlds. There was a girl influenced by Kirito who broke the Taboo Index. Ironically she is named Alice, the same name as this project. She is a highly adaptive AI known as Artificial Labile Intelligence Cybernated Existence AKA ALICE. Their goal is to convert a Fluctlight into Alice. Welcome to Project Alicization. Asuna manages to see Kirito lying in the machine. She is surprised he has a personal nurse: Natsuki. Unlike Kikuoka who ‘deceives’, Natsuki is a real nurse. Just that she graduated from the SDF nursing school. Later Rinko confesses to Asuna about the atrocities she did to all former SAO players. Although Kayaba planted a bomb in her chest to force her to collaborate with that project, it was fake. If Rinko was ever caught, she would not be implicated. Flashback shows Rinko started liking this nerdy and scrawny Kayaba. Oddly they dated and it’s not like he was ever interested in her but never pushed her away either. When Kayaba became a murder suspect for that SAO incident, she went to his lodge to kill him but couldn’t. Asuna doesn’t bear any grudges towards Kayaba or her. She is grateful that she managed to spend time living with Kirito in that world. It’s one of her best days of her life. Even though Kayaba’s crimes are unforgiveable nor if amends could be made, they have to continue to face what they’ve done.

Episode 7
Back to the virtual world. 2 years have passed since Kirito and Eugeo entered the city of Zakkaria. They honed their sword skills, entered a sword tournament, won and are now part of the garrison. Under the tutelage of Sortiliena “Liena” Serlut, their skills are further honed. Kirito narrates he has learnt the mechanisms of this world. In short, if you are filled with confidence, this could be enough to give you some power boost enough to rewrite the laws of the world. Kirito spars with Liena and loses. He has never won against her. Even if she is this good, she has never won against the top student, Volo Levantein. She also believes Kirito couldn’t beat her is because he is hiding some sword techniques. As she will be graduating soon, Kirito promises to show her his greatest skill as her graduation gift. Later Eugeo feels worried because if Kirito’s memories returns, he might return to his world. Kirito assures him he will not go home even if that happens because they made a vow to become an Integrity Knight. They are only here now because of each other. Kirito sees a blacksmith, Sadore to get some special sword done. It is going to be costly but will give it to free if he could swing it. Of course he flawlessly wields it and gets it FOC. While he is practising with it, he falters and attracts the attention of Volo. Normally it is forbidden to train on rest days but he will overlook this because he too is guilty of doing that. But he won’t let him go because somehow he got a puny dirt on his shirt. So they’re going to settle this via duel with real swords. Stop-short matches aren’t Volo’s style but he gives Kirito the choice. In turn, he throws that decision back to him because he is the one being punished.

Episode 8
Liena warns Kirito that Volo’s family tradition means his sword absorbs the blood of his enemies. He plans to convert Kirito’s sword strength into his and feed on it. Kirito believes Volo also has the power of imagination. As they fight, Kirito sees his entire family giving him strength. Sure, Kirito has his too. His friends and harem. But the killer support is the cedar tree! Yeah, his imagination must be so strong that his sword grows bigger! Enough to withstand Volo’s strike. Kirito could have faltered had not Azurika (the dorm supervisor) stopped the match. Liena holds a mini celebration for Kirito in her room. She reveals that Volo’s family sword skills originally belonged to her family. But a distant family displeased the emperor and they were forbidden to pass it down. So they develop other weird sword styles but Liena is nonetheless proud to master them. She believes Kirito’s style is different because he doesn’t feel inferior compared to those trained in traditional styles. That night, a couple of noble bullies who aren’t fond with Kirito’s win, Raios Antinous and Humbert Zizek destroyed his little garden. Kirito is sad because those flowers don’t bloom here and he is trying hard to bloom them in foreign soil via his imagination. The flowers are also a great significance to him as it symbolizes Kirito trying hard in a foreign land, not knowing if he could ever return. Then a mysterious voice gives him hope to ‘feel’ the meaning of magic. What do you know? They revive! Wow. Truly the power of imagination. On the final exam day, Liena faces off with Volo in the finals and beats him. Did the power of imagination do its tricks again? She graduates as the officially top ranked student of the academy. Kirito and Eugeo became ranked 5 and 6 respectively after their advancement exam and are promoted to elite disciples. Yeah, they’ve got a couple of cute trainees of their own, Tiese Shtolienen and Ronie Arabel.

Episode 9
As Kirito mentions, you can infuse your sword with some sort of pride of feelings to make it stronger. So what goes for Eugeo? Alice. But of course. Eugeo continues his training and his mocked by Raios and Humbert. They offer him to teach him and Eugeo shocks them by accepting a lesson from Humbert. Eugeo uses his unconventional skills to dodge his attacks and Raios is forced to end the match with a draw. Raios offers his lesson next time but gets irked when Eugeo replies he doesn’t mind it now. Eugeo tells this to Kirito who thinks that they may be acting arrogantly because they are reluctantly obeying the laws of Axiom Church. As long as the Taboo Index is not violated, you can do anything you want. When Tiese and Ronie complain to their mentors about their friend, Frenica Cesky being made to do inappropriate chores by her mentor, damn it’s that Humbert name again. Then they talk about noble’s pride in which nobles must use the power and privilege they have to protect the weak. That pride is more important than any law or regulation. So the guys confront Raios and Humbert. Of course they play dumb over Eugeo’s accusations. So it seems Humbert who was reeling from the draw tried to train more. This means having his muscles sore and hence having Frenica to massage him during bath. Eugeo is so mad he wanted to strike them but thankfully he didn’t bring his sword. He manages to keep his cool but warns them if there is no improvement, they’ll consider asking the instructors to investigate. Raios dares him to do as he please. Later Kirito warns Eugeo that they may be targeting him. Because had he lost his cool and done something wrong, they may use it as an excuse as impropriety and punish him with maximum penalty. So stay cool always. Then Eugeo tells Tiese the actions he has taken. He also wants to apologize to Frenica since this incident stems from that duel. However Tiese isn’t in favour in setting them up to meet. Instead, she tells how she will take over as head of her family after she graduates. Then she will marry to a guy with similar rank or a rank above her. She fears her future husband will be cruel. Can we see where this is going when she asks Eugeo for a favour while being THIS close to him? She is confident he will represent their academy at the Swordsmanship Tournament and compete in the Four Empires Unification Tournament and get a high ranking. She didn’t say it but I’m guessing she wants him to marry her when he achieves that tall order. I hope he didn’t get the wrong idea by accepting this.

Episode 10
Kirito realizes their disciples are late for cleaning. Suspecting something amiss, he goes to check on them. As Eugeo waits, Frenica comes in to tell that she confided in Tiese and Ronie about yet another inappropriate order. They went to talk to him on her behalf and have never returned. Eugeo realizes they were the target and not him. He rushes to their room and demands their whereabouts. They lead him to their room in which they are tied up on their bed. Raios claims because they have acted inappropriately, something they can use the higher Taboo Index judiciary to punish them as their family noble rank ranks higher than theirs. Hence they are going to rape them before Eugeo’s eyes! Eugeo is paralysed due to the Taboo Index he is bound to. But seeing the poor girls scream and pleading for help, I guess something activated in his eye that ultimately explodes? This allows Eugeo to move enough to cut off Humbert’s arm. Raios now uses this excuse to execute Eugeo. Before he can decapitate him, here comes our Kirito to clash swords with him. So great their clash that the windows shatter! Eventually Kirito cuts off both Raios’ arms. The scumbag panics as he loses blood. Strangely, he experiences some weird digital glitch before dying. Our heroes rescue their disciples but some strange system admin detects, traces and reports this incident. Next day, Azurica heals Eugeo’s eye (you mean he didn’t get treatment after that?). However she is here to hand them over to the Integrity Knight. In a way, she gives them encouragement because Eugeo was able to break a seal that she was never able to break. Now he is able to go where she was unable to go. The duo are shocked to see the Integrity Knight picking them up. Alice?! Alice Synthesis Thirty to be precise.

Episode 11
When Eugeo tries to touch her, she beats him up! Do that again and you’ll die! With Eugeo very certain she is Alice, Kirito suggests playing along so they can get into the central cathedral. Before they depart, Tiese and Ronie are kind enough to give them their swords? Of course confiscated by Alice. She is kind enough to let them speak for a minute? At least they say their final goodbyes. We take a break and return to Ocean Turtle. Asuna is surprised a robot is moving around on its own. Ichiemon is created by Higa and fine-tuned by Rinko. From what I understand, they are trying to make an AI robot auto-balance like a human’s body to create a near perfect humanoid body. We return to the central cathedral. Kirito and Eugeo are imprisoned in an underground cell. Kirito wonders if this Alice was the real one, what was that cave incident Alice spirit whisper thingy all about? Could there be a spell that manipulates memories? They use the chains to destroy each other because they’re both the same high level, using them against each other is like wearing down the other’s life! It works! Video game logic! I guess they can escape easily because nobody escapes here before so no guards or even if there are, they’re sleeping. Making their way through the labyrinth garden, Eugeo who is still bent and determined on bringing Alice back hopes that bringing her back to their hometown would blow away the fake memories. This gives Kirito an idea on how he could retrieve his lost memories. They are confronted by an Integrity Knight, Eldrie Synthesis Thirty One who claims Alice is her mentor. She had foresight that they would escape and had him stationed here for the night. He will send them back to their prison but first he is going to exact punishment.

Episode 12
Eldrie is formidable with his whip as Kirito and Eugeo cooperate to fight on the same footing. When Eugeo finally recognizes him as Eldrie Woolsburg, the winner of the Four Empires Unification Tournament, Eldrie panics and denies it all. He believes he was summoned by Administrator from the heavens as an Integrity Knight. As Eugeo discloses more info about him to revive his memories, Eldrie then ‘stops working’. This funny prism in his forehead must be impeding his memories. Before they can do anything further, an archer Integrity Knight starts sniping at them. The duo make a run for it. A voice in Kirito guides them safely into a portal. She is Cardinal and the sole librarian of this great library. There are records of everything here from the start of this world’s creation. But the records here are all fabricated by the pontifex of Axiom Church. All to preserve their rule over the people. This makes Kirito realize that Cardinal is a system supervisor and that she is actually the Cardinal System. She might be the system supervisor but the one who holds all the admin privileges is no other than Administrator who is also her elder twin sister. Otherwise she would not be stuck in here. Time for some history. When this world was created 450 years ago when humans descended on this world (employees of Rath), these Gods taught their children how to live before logging out. But one of them was filled with malice and selfishness that gave rise to nobles and Axiom Church. When the first political marriage was done centuries ago, Quinella was born. She tinkered with the sacred arts that include killing cute forest critters and healing the people’s wounds. With the people awed by her godly powers, Quinella started to rule over them and as time as the city grow, so did the tower they built to worship her that she resided. To continue her rule so that no one would be above her, she wrote laws that became the Taboo Index. However she grew older and fragile but just before her death, she somehow managed to open a list that contains every command (it is rumoured she may have help from outside admins). This allowed her to restore her youth and be ageless. Quinella went a step further as she doesn’t want the Cardinal System to have equal authority with her. However she ended up fusing her soul with it. That is the reason for the existence of this system as if there is any slight irregularities that skews the balance, it will be soon detected. Hence the constant observation of ‘players’. Now that Quinella is no longer human, she seeks to continue ruling and preserving this real forever as both supervisor and rule, the pontifex of Axiom Church.

Episode 13
After 70 years of rule, Quinella realizes her soul’s capacity to preserve her memories had reached its limit. She thought of copying hers onto by overwriting a child’s Fluctlight. That child is Cardinal. But doing so means Quinella had made a mistake. Now there are 2 Gods wielding same level of authority. Both started fighting (more like redefining object structures). But with Quinella holding the upper hand, Cardinal fled. Only 2 places were beyond the reach of the Administrator: Dark Territory and this great library. She isolated herself and has been waiting for a chance to strike back. Quinella anticipated her ambush and assembled loyal and powerful followers known as Integrity Knights. The first one being Bercouli. Cardinal continued to observe the world but couldn’t figure things out and that’s why she wanted a human collaborator. She has pondered why would the real Gods (Rath) let this fake God (Administrator) rule? Her conclusion is that Rath doesn’t wish for people of this world to lead happy lives. They are observing how people will resist them and slowly tightening their load. Eventually the greatest trial will arrive. In short, the monsters in Dark Territory will come slaughter all humans and that day isn’t too far off. Quinella has underestimated them and thinks she and her Integrity Knights would be enough to stop them. Cardinal has resigned to the fact that Dark Territory will besiege this world. Hence her conclusion is that since she doesn’t accept Rath, her only way is to turn everything in this world into nothingness. She needs Kirito’s help to eliminate Administrator and regain all her authority. In exchange, he gets to name a few Fluctlights he wants to save and she will archive them before he returns to his own world.

Kirito wonders if she is a copy of Quinella, shouldn’t she have that selfish and greedy trait? In her senses, eliminating Administrator and normalizing the world is her desire. But there is something she has wanted to know for the last 200 years. So she just wants a hug? Oh yeah. She feels so satisfied that she’s crying. Weird. Kirito accepts to cooperate but will still find a way to save this world. Cardinal doesn’t know if this Integrity Knight Alice is the same as Eugeo’s childhood friend but she knows a way to stop this Synthesis Ritual. Just take out that prism, Piety Module. As you have guessed, it seals their original memories and makes you obedient to Administrator. Of course this means you need to get the original memories back to fill that void. It won’t be easy as it is locked in the highest tower of central cathedral. Eugeo worries to fight Alice because killing her would defeat the purpose of his goal. Hence Cardinal gives them a mini dagger. When stabbed, it links an irremovable connection to her and she will use her sacred arts to put her into sleep mode to buy them time to remove the Synthesis Ritual. She can also help get their swords back in the armoury but that won’t be enough to stop the Integrity Knights’ terrifying amplifying technique. She has them think of their sword and then comes up with a list of commands to remember? Whatever. Now she has told and given them everything she could, it’s time to step back into the real virtual world.

Episode 14
After getting their weapons, Kirito realizes Administrator doesn’t intend to create an army but kept all their weapons here. It could be the pontifex is the one with the least faith in the church’s authority. They are attacked by that archer Integrity Knight. Kirito uses all the defence he’s got to defend against his flames. Once Kirito is out, Eugeo strikes a couple of lethal blows to defeat him. After archer dude learns about their excellent skills, he tells them there are other Integrity Knights waiting for them with orders to kill him. He knows he will be stripped of his knighthood and frozen for failing his mission. To avoid that humiliation, he wants them to kill him. However when Eugeo learns his name as Deusolbert Synthesis Seven, the Integrity Knight who took Alice away, he becomes engulfed in rage. He would’ve killed him had Kirito not stopped him. Let’s not be ugly in killing a man who doesn’t resist. Kirito believes Deusolbert doesn’t even have memories of taking Alice away. He theorizes he got promoted for bringing Alice. But to maintain his fealty as an Integrity Knight, those memories are also sealed because it would be weird if the sinner he brought in showed up as an Integrity Knight. Kirito has him remember if there is a memory that no sacred arts could manipulate. There is one but he can’t really remember much. They let him be as they make their way up and plan how to counter the other Integrity Knights. Then they spot a couple of cute loli chicks watching at them. Hello girls. Want to come out and say hi?

Episode 15
Fizel and Linel are sisters in training. Since Kirito isn’t good with kids, he lets Eugeo handle this. They’re quite nice and cute until they get up close and stab them with their poison daggers! Damn, they’re Integrity Knights?! As they drag them up the stairs, they explain that they are born inside here and their mission was to help Administrator in an experiment with resurrection sacred art. Hence they kill each other. However many other experiment candidates either explode or become monsters after being resurrected. After many failed attempts, the experiment is called off and since the duo are the only survivors, they were promoted to Integrity Knights. But they are confined to only studying sacred arts so they got bored and wanted their own dragons and Divine Objects. They heard about the escapees and thought it would be a good idea to prove themselves. In the top floor consists of top Integrity Knights and their vice commander, Fanatio Synthesis Two. They plan to decapitate the boys so the witnesses can report to Administrator of their great feat. Suddenly Kirito stands up and stabs them with their own dagger. He was suspicious the moment they popped up and knew they couldn’t be just sisters in training due to their dagger gear. Hence he recited some poison dissolving art while Eugeo was attending to them. He won’t kill them but will let them see how strong real Integrity Knights are. Kirito faces off with Fanatio and while the latter brags about her sword made from sunlight, Kirito strikes off her helmet, revealing her female face. She gets agitated thinking Kirito is shocked to discover that she is a woman and won’t fight at his full strength. Just like many others. However Kirito mocks her that she is the one being conscious of being a woman. He had his fair share of losing to female fighters and won’t hold back. Fanatio gets desperate as she summons some dangerous sacrificing move. Cue for Eugeo freed from his poison to summon his sacred art to frozenly bind her. But will it be enough? As he gets pessimistic about his chances, Kirito reminds him that hate will not defeat her. It is love! His love for Alice and those feelings aren’t in any way inferior to her justice.

Episode 16
In short, Kirito defeats Fanatio. After Eugeo uses some of his life force to heal him, Kirito still wants to save Fanatio. If she is erased, everything is for naught. Kirito gets desperate to scream for help. When no one replies, he uses the dagger on her. Cardinal takes Fanatio into her care. Now that they are free to make their way up, damn this cathedral even has a lift operator? She has been operating it for 107 years?! Oh Eugeo, it puts your previous Calling to shame. At the highest floor the operator could go, in this garden, Alice is seen resting. WTF she wants them to give her some time to bask in the sunlight? Probably an excuse so the boys could plot how to take her down. So when she is ready to fight, they have to improvise quick because her sword seems to be in perfect condition. They get blown away and even this is just a warning strike from her. Kirito challenges her to a duel as he asks her about her immense power that originates from a small tree. Something about how her sword was grown from a single Osmanthus tree when the Gods were building this nation. Hence as the oldest creation, its attribute is everlasting eternity. Kirito plays a little cheat as he restrains her so that Eugeo can freeze her. Unfortunately that is not enough as she manages to break out from it. Kirito tries to give another chance to Eugeo and strikes back. However the force is too great that the wall is blown open. The vacuum sucks out Kirito and Alice. Before Eugeo can go after them, the wall builds itself back.

Episode 17
Don’t worry. Kirito and Alice are hanging by their swords. Alice wants him to let go so he lectures her about Eugeo is going to go up and kill Administrator. Isn’t it her job to protect the pontifex? That’s why she must survive. In that case, why don’t Kirito let go? He mentions his mission is not to destroy Axiom Church but protect human territory from Dark Territory’s invasion. They talk about the arbitrary rules and laws set. For now they call a truce but once they enter the tower, she will slay him. As the walls are created with infinite regenerative abilities, looks like they’re going up. Using a chain to chain themselves together, Kirito then uses his skill to create wedges to climb up. Damn, this guy must be real strong and have a really good balance. Because Alice feels ashamed to do the same, WTF she has Kirito pull her from underneath. Is this her pride as an Integrity Knight?! Their goal is to make it to the 95th floor since there will be an open garden. Looks like this is going to take a while. We take a brief detour to Ocean Turtle. Asuna and Rinko notice a destroyer moving further. An agent is perplexed because it’s supposed to escort them. He calls Kikuoka about it. Back to the VR world, looks like they’re still a long way to go and it is going to be night fall. Noticing a ledge a few metres above, they can rest there. However, statues turn into monsters and start attacking them. Can they fight with their balance on the edge? Worse, Alice is scared?! WTF?! Mind boggling moment when Kirito uses all his strength to swing Alice up to the ledge. She then does the same to him. Now they can fight the monsters and easily slay them. Alice is baffled because these monsters are from Dark Territory and created by evil dark art users as soulless familiars called minions. How are these lined up on the most sacred walls of the human empire and how did they get past the detection of Integrity Knights? Could it be someone of high authority within the church placed them here? Because minion blood brings you sickness, Alice lends her handkerchief to wipe it off Kirito’s face. Have it clean and return to her before she slays him. Gee, how kind. Another excuse to delay slaying him immediately? Meanwhile Eugeo has reached the hot bath level. Don’t worry. Not sexy hot naked chicks. But a burly muscular guy with scars. Have fun…

Episode 18
It is no surprise he is the leader of the Integrity Knights and that legendary hero, Bercouli. Eugeo tries to take him on is blown away by his mysterious slash. Don’t worry. Bercouli won’t kill him since he didn’t kill Fanatio or any of the other Integrity Knights. He reveals his sword didn’t slash air but slashed the future! WTF?! Okay, more explanation how it was made by the Divine Object of a clock that existed since the start of this world. Eugeo prepares for his next attack as Bercouli guesses he is going for long distance attacks now. That’s what all his opponents think after seeing that move. Of course Eugeo thinks out of the box. He freezes everything and throws away his sword. This shock stuns Bercouli as Eugeo physically tackles him before getting his sword back to checkmate him. With everything slowly freezing, Eugeo’s plan is also to take themselves out because his blooming ice roses are sucking their life force. Eugeo then gets upset because Integrity Knights like him don’t remember their past and serve blindly to Axiom Church. Hey, you want to blame an amnesiac person for not remembering? Well, before Bercouli starts having a feeling those stories about him, then comes in this clown. Chudelkin the prime senator accuses Bercouli for treason because he did not use his other time ability that would have instantly killed Eugeo. Bercouli denies this and claims he has given everything he’s got while accusing the jester back he has deceived him. Chudelkin deep freezes him so that he would be reprocessed. However he feels Bercouli will not be needed anymore as Eugeo will be a better pawn. We take a detour to the awkward moment of Kirito and Alice spending the night together on the ledge. Kirito tells her about her sister. Starting to remember something? Yeah, keep denying. Despite he assures her everything he said is true, of course she doubles down and will slay him if there is a hint of deceit. She’s a really good tsundere, isn’t she?

Episode 18.5
Recap episode! What a better way to spend the night on the ledge and let time pass as Kirito tells Alice everything from start to finish. Although the visuals are 100% copy and paste (no new scenes, sadly) but at least there are some parts that Kirito narrates like a more summarized version of what has happened so far in their quest to bring back Alice. So now you believe? We’ll just have to wait and see.

Episode 19
Wait. Kirito narrating a quick recap on what happened to Alice? Yeah, I guess it’s for those who skipped that recap episode. Alice wonders why he is doing this and of course as we know, it is to protect this world from Dark Territory. He asks her back about the Integrity Knights’ chance in defeating Dark Territory and she remembers even Bercouli has his doubts but Chudelkin admonished him to think of a way. Despite nobles being corrupted, Kirito has an idea for the people to protect this world. With the large stash of weapons in the armoury, the Integrity Knights can help dispense their knowledge and skill to the people to have a fighting chance. They can at least be ready in a year. And it looks like Alice seems to have been taken in by Kirito’s words because she wants to see Selka and Kirito even promising to let her see her sister back at her village before she regains her memories. I guess she somewhat remembers since she is crying. When she decides to forsake her role as an Integrity Knight, her right eye starts to act up. She is in pain as Kirito finds a barcode in it. He believes if she tries to think differently and defy the church, this barrier will be activated. Empty your mind! Or your eye will explode! However there are things she needs to do and continues to defy. Meanwhile Eugeo finds himself possibly at the top floor of the cathedral. Who this sleeping beauty? A voice tells him to run away but too late, Administrator wakes up. She claims Eugeo wants to be loved and although he denies, the way she words everything makes him start to doubt. Like his mother who didn’t truly love him alone because she shared her love among her brothers. That’s why he hates them. Then there is that Tiese’s case where she was almost raped. He killed Raios because he hates him, right? But does Tiese loves only him? Alice? Yeah, she shows a past clip whereby Kirito and Alice are seemingly close to each other behind Eugeo’s back. With Eugeo in shock, Administrator goes in for the kill. She is willing to love only him. So… Sex = love? The deeper your love, the more she’ll bring him ultimate pleasure. Confused Eugeo hears to voice of Tiese, Alice and Kirito but are all soon blocked out. With Eugeo fully enchanted by her, she goes down on her. That’s right. Come into me! Deep inside me! Into eternal stasis! Damn, this could be good hentai dialogue!

Episode 20
Kirito and Alice manage to climb up to the balcony. Because Eugeo is not around, Kirito uses his System Call to locate Eugeo’s sword. Still below them. Entering the bath level, Kirito can tell the frozenness is Eugeo’s doing. Alice is sad to see Bercouli turned into stone but he is strong enough to break free at least his eyes and mouth to speak to her about some conspiracy and Eugeo being taken away by Chudelkin. As they move to the next level, Kirito asks about the senators’ role. Apparently they oversee the Taboo Index. If anybody breaks them, they send an Integrity Knight to deal with it. Kirito finds it odd since Administrator is giving lots of power to them to act as her proxy. Then they enter the room where all the senators are. Them inside chambers and monitoring everything. This is sure some freaky sci-fi. Then they hear Chudelkin screaming in agony in his room. Something didn’t go as planned? Alice confronts him and after he runs his mouth about her going to betray Axiom Church, he continues to reveal the sweet moment before Alice was synthesized. She was begging and crying and all. He revels just thinking about that. Alice then stabs him but it didn’t kill this fatty and instead he explodes into some red smoke to escape. Trying to chase him to the next floor, shockingly an Integrity Knight arrives to face them. Eugeo?! Alice finds it odd that the ritual can be done so quickly. Kirito is close to losing himself seeing his best friend in this state and ironically it is Alice reminding him that they need to stay calm and find another way to restore him or they will forever lose him. Kirito asks Eugeo if he remembers him. Nope. He doesn’t even want Alice or want to know anything about it. Administrator gave him what he wants and nothing else matters. I guess talk time is over. Time to see if the student can defeat the master.

Episode 21
Kirito and Eugeo clash with all they’ve got. No harm trying to awaken Eugeo’s memories by mentioning the important people in his lives. But did it work? Because Eugeo got a little sloppy. But then again, he could be trolling because after Kirito lets his guard down, he freezes them. He returns to Administrator who wants to give him his reward but first, she tries to adjust his Piety Module. Because she allows him to freely move, this chance allows Eugeo to completely break free and tries to stab her with the dagger. Too bad Administrator’s barrier is thick. She gives him a chance to redeem himself and forgive his sins if he destroys the dagger. Because her view of eternal love means eternal control, he mocks her as the pity one who has never been loved. Because Eugeo’s view of love isn’t something like a transaction or reward but something given continuously. With that, Administrator finds it a shame she’ll have to do force Synthesis on him just like how she it to Alice many years ago. Hearing that makes Eugeo mad. He charges at her and of course her protection is still intact. This is interrupted when Chudelkin comes running in for help. He thought of finishing off Kirito and Alice but he realized Eugeo fooled him and now they’re after his ass! Yeah, dumb joker just brought them back to this room. Eugeo is happy to see Kirito and Alice again but apologizes for giving in to Administrator’s temptation. Hence he thought he tried to atone for this himself. Don’t be silly. Kirito knew what he was thinking all along. Yeah, you sure had us all fooled. Maybe. Because Administrator senses something wrong with Alice’s logic circuits, she gives her a chance to say anything without any risk of reprimand. Alice explains how she has been disillusioned by everything, especially Administrator’s conflicting actions that would eventually bring harm to the human empire. This has Administrator thinking there is no error in the logic circuit and her Piety Module is still functioning. Could it mean she disabled Code 871 (the seal in her right eye) on her own? She then gives Chudelkin to redeem his honour by disposing off them. Chudelkin will gladly do it but pleads, to put it bluntly and crudely, he wants to f*ck her! Administrator agrees for a one night stand offer if he fulfils his mission. And we can see the power of boners makes a horny guy power up as Chudelkin summons a fire genie to burn them all!

Episode 22
While Alice distracts the genie, Kirito powers up and pierces Chudelkin. Well, that’s that. Easy. This spectacled allowed Administrator to collect some data and realizes that Kirito is a human from the other world. Kirito warns her about the impending invasion from Dark Territory while Alice derides her for planting false memories. Administrator knew of all the pain and suffering her Integrity Knights went through. That’s why she erased them all. It doesn’t matter what Alice feels, once she is synthesized, she will no longer remember or feel. Kirito then warns her about the other humans on the other side who holds absolute authority and they can eliminate everything just by the push of a button. But that is that same reason that Administrator reasons why Kirito has no reason to criticise the methods she uses. As she will not grovel before them or beg for her existence to continue, the only proof she needs is the control she exerts. Her feet exists to trample upon others. Hence she is going to show them the ultimate weapon that she needs to fight Dark Territory. One that is not even human. She combines all the divine weapons and turns into a killing machine named Sword Golem. All it needs to do is endlessly massacre its enemies. And it will taste its first blood as it stabs Alice. Being mad won’t do you any good because Kirito also gets stabbed. A voice tells Eugeo to stab the floating platform while Cardinal’s spider tries to hold it off. The spider dies but holds it off in time for Cardinal to pop out from her library and blast Sword Golem away. Damn, she has time to heal the wounded and even mourn the death of her favourite pet? Administrator must be real confident… So is Cardinal going to lecture this hollow fool about love?

Episode 23
Administrator claims Sword Golem isn’t just made out of weapons, they are actually humans. Hence Cardinal can’t technically kill them since they aren’t monsters. Administrator claims this is just a prototype. Once completed, she’ll use about 800,000 human lives to complete a perfect one and thinks it is enough to repel Dark Territory’s invasion. The source is the Piety Modules and all those crystals on the ceiling’s mural are actually it. Cardinal agrees to be defeated by her in exchange the lives of the trio is spared. Administrator blasts her several times. Gotta have some fun first, right? And then she is so kind so as to let them say their final goodbyes. Because Eugeo realizes what needs to be done. What he needs to do. From what I can see, he wants to be turned into a sword to fight Administrator because he realizes that she is resistant to metal weapons, the reason why his dagger cannot pierce through. Somehow Eugeo takes Alice’s Piety Module and then begins his transformation process. See, Administrator? Had you taken action earlier, this wouldn’t have happened. Too late as Alice staves her off until the process is complete. Eugeo the sword is able to destroy Sword Golem and gravely wound Administrator (because of the sword’s silver properties). But it comes with a price. Eugeo is left broken. Yes, his real body is split in half! Kirito falls into depression as Administrator heals herself. Fun time is over. Time to kill the last remaining brat. As she is about to slay him, suddenly Alice jumps in front to protect him. Damn, this awakens Kirito that he might repeat the same mistake so he gets even faster to draw his sword and protect Alice. Was Administrator that slow? With Alice passing out from exhaustion, it’s time for the final boss fight.

Episode 24
So for nostalgia’s sake, Kirito transforms into his trademark SAO uniform to fight. But Administrator knows how to counter all his sword techniques. Then time out. Because conveniently time for Kirito and Eugeo to talk things out and give the former motivation. Damn, do they have to make it look yaoi? Anyway, Kirito is now dual wielding with Eugeo’s sword. The fight continues. Administrator still b*tching she is the ruler of this world and how control = love. That’s why she loves everything. Can’t argue with that. Their swords are glowing red so this might as well turn into a lightsabre duel. In the end, they cut an arm of each other. Kirito still has an arm but Administrator no arms left! So how? Why, she uses her hair to strangle him! Damn, why didn’t she use this for multiple weapons? Was covering her modesty more important?! Anyway, Kirito dealt a fatal damage to her core. She’s all cracking up. Literally. She tries a tactical escape and hints she is bringing the fight to his world. But as she escapes, Chudelkin clings onto her, hoping to take her with him. She tries to shoo him away but he turns into a flaming ghost and burns everything. Damn! Is this how Administrator is taken down?! It’s like saying porn virus destroyed the main super computer!!! HAHAHA!!! With Administrator gone, Eugeo still isn’t dead. You mean he is still alive after being cut in half for so long? I guess this is good excuse so as to why Kirito can cry hard. Friendship talk thingy, blah, blah, blah. That scene whereby Kirito and Alice are supposed to be flirting behind Eugeo’s back? Actually they made a wooden sword for his birthday. See the power of context? Final goodbye. Time to walk their own path. Eugeo’s dead for good. You can tell when his body disappears. Kirito hacks into the PC and calls out to Kikuoka. Before he could blame the scientist, he hears a commotion in the back. Looks like military men are trying to storm into the place! With no time, Kikuoka tells Kirito to find Alice, take her to the World’s End Altar. Unfortunately the soldiers are trying to cut the power line. The Lightcube may be protected but the surge will hit Kirito’s STL. He’ll be fried. Kirito is confused when he hears Asuna’s name. Why is she here? Too late. The power cut. Kirito dying? WTF is this angel Asuna floating down to rescue him?! What a dramatic and confusing end…

Debugging Art Online
As we all can see and already know beforehand, there is going to be another season. Hence the final episode that ended in such a chaotic and dramatic way didn’t come off as surprising or disappointing. Well, maybe when the last episode suddenly ends. But after all, this arc is so far the longest arc and story in the original light novel series and since the anime is going to fully adapt its entire arc and being faithful to it, they are going to need a lot of cours. I suppose it is good that they decided to take a break after back to back twin cours since if they continued (it is rumoured that the total episodes for this Alicization arc itself is to be around 50 episodes), it could feel like a one long draggy affair. I mean, I have to say that the SAO series isn’t just for everyone. Not even for yours truly. Even if you’re a masochist and can binge watch the entire series, it is still good to go outside and stretch your legs, take a breather before resuming. Heh. Now I can see and understand why a few animes employ this tactic although sometimes my guts tell me it is for economic reasons.

Anyway, I’m not saying that this Alicization story is really interesting because you know like I’ve said, the SAO franchise isn’t for every Tom, Dick and Harry. For those who have reached this far into the original light novels, you have got to already be some sort of elevated status of a fan. I have been watching SAO since it was first adapted back in 2012 and I continued to watch all its TV series (but somehow skipped the movie, Ordinal Scale) in hopes I could understand something. But you know me. I didn’t really get a lot of the technical terms. This season’s Fluctlight and other technical terms I am still struggling to understand even as I type this blog. I feel that artificial soul is the best I could understand for what it means for Fluctlight but I am also pretty sure that isn’t as accurate as what the producers intended its definition to be. Then there are other commands inside the VR game like System Call and the likes which I am still blur in and going “What the heck are those again?”. Every time a character says those commands to open or change some options, it feels more like some sort of magical spell. You know, those charm lines you say when magicians and wizards cast a spell but only this time they sound like programming terms. The story for this season might seem long and dragging out but the way they flesh out the characters and other development, it is all not a waste of time.

Sometimes when I think about this whole Alicization story, it could have been actually another spinoff or an entirely different story not related to SAO whatsoever. It could have been a totally new story, make and change Kirito to another new character and voila, we’ve got ourselves a totally new series and anime. It doesn’t feel so much like an SAO series as the plot delves around 2 young boys trying to rescue a long lost childhood friend and at the same time trying to rid of the big ruler who rules over everything before the ultimate tragedy of the other side invades and destroys everything for good. And add some programming terms into their lingua. So if we substitute those programming jargons with classic magical ones, this could again be passed off as entirely another series. But of course it can’t be a totally new story altogether since Reki Kawahara, the creator of this series wrote this arc. But I guess it is better than those isekai animes of the main character being killed in the real world and reborn again as an overpowered one in another magical fantasy world! Uhm, can VR be considered isekai?

Just like how I said SAO felt weird without Kirito, it also feels weird without Asuna. Naturally as we can see from the flow of the story, Asuna is now reduced to a very concerned girlfriend waiting for Kirito outside while Kirito himself is probably having an adventure of a lifetime as he lays in coma. Hence the dynamic relationship now isn’t Kirito x Asuna but that of Kirito x Eugeo. It is a good thing that the series didn’t really show it in a way that makes it look like their friendship is going beyond just good friends and potential to be gay partners (f*ck the PC culture!). But just pure and hardcore friendship among the boys as swordsman. Perhaps the final episode was the closest into seeing that suggestive yaoi scene but it might just be our dirty minds. Kirito doesn’t feel so much as the sole star of this series as Eugeo too has his fair share of the limelight. Hence both of them being given enough time to develop and being fleshed out, by the end of this season, you’ll come to at least want to support them as a team instead of one over the other. Perhaps to a point that it would be weird if Kirito is without Eugeo and vice versa. Yeah, f*ck Asuna! At least for this season. So hardcore and amazing their friendship that you can see them in sync during the opening credits animation. Especially they have this weird sync of hand gestures. So weird but so cool.

With Kirito and Eugeo developing their (virtual) friendship, so much so that I never once think that they would end up in some weird romantic love triangle with Alice. Hah. It’s not that kind of series but you know me, I’m inclined to somehow think of that. I never thought of this until the series ended and it only makes Alice looks like as though she is a third wheel! Alice despite being the boys’ main reason and motivation to do what they do, she feels mostly like a side character and not really doing much. Partly because she has been brainwashed for most of the part as an Integrity Knight and even when she somewhat started to question her loyalty and then witnessed Administrator’s hypocritical actions, it’s not like there is a whole lot that she could do, right? After all, Kirito and Eugeo still continue to dominate as stars of this story. So sorry folks, no Kirito’s cheesy harem moments to get in the way of hardcore male bonding friendship here. Not sure if the next season will feature Eugeo since he is seen riding off into the sunset with loli Alice. Eugeo turning himself into a shota so that it won’t look like some pedo thingy might be the ending Eugeo and Alice need. Because that Integrity Knight Alice has may just be a vessel and several hints she may be a separate manner than the original loli Alice. But we’ll see when the next season rolls in.

The thought of Administrator playing God although she is just some programming entity, maybe her character doesn’t get me thinking a lot about her twisted thinking and personality but rather about the sentient life called reality. What if this simulation is actually what is happening in our lives in reality too? There have been debates about whether or not this reality is just a simulation and the things that occur after death that are beyond our imaginations. And what if there are higher beings than the one and only Almighty God we know? A lot of things about this simulated VR game can be drawn parallel to reality. Like God could just be another being because He has more access to shortcuts and other debugging stuffs that the rest of us don’t. Hence, administrator privileges. And God bringing Revelation and Doomsday to the world? That’s like you delete this game forever! Coming back to Administrator’s character, but think about it, can you blame her twisted thinking and definition of love because she is programmed that way? In a sense, it’s like as though she is written and setup to be an antagonist, don’t you think? And it was pretty ironic that a pervert took her down completely…

I wouldn’t say the action and sword fighting scenes are a masterpiece but the action bits are enough to satiate those who want to see some sword clashing battles. It feels like Kirito doesn’t have a lot of options what he can do here despite his Aincrad style somehow being carried into this world. His and Eugeo’s sword have their own unique properties and sometimes they seem like they pull off all the stops for that one exaggerated over the top moves but I guess it’s necessary just to show us how far they have come along and improved on their skills. And if you can’t hack your way through via programming, just hack and slash your way with a sword! I never expected to use both meanings of hacking here…

One of the superior elements in this season is that the art and animation are very good. If I should say, it is comparable to the standard that we see in Fate/Zero and Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works TV series. There are lots of high quality put into the visuals and it doesn’t disappoint. After all, A-1 Pictures have animated all its previous adaptations (except that alternate GGO spinoff) and it pays off here with an important arc like this one. Can’t disappoint fans of the series, can they? With a lot of hype that went about, it’s too big to fail! Thank goodness. So if the story is hard to follow, at least the high quality visuals may be something to give you the wow factor. There is also some CGI employed and it doesn’t feel disjointed. It feels seamlessly woven into the superior quality of the animation.

The first time when I laid eyes on Alice as an Integrity Knight, I thought she looked familiar. Isn’t that a more serious and zero perverted version of KonoSuba’s Darkness? Well, almost. Must be the golden armour. And more suspiciously, same seiyuu… Anyway, Administrator being a character who is mostly in the nude, I wonder if it is a lazy way out so as not to design some sort of fancy garb for her. After all, all of the Integrity Knights have their armour so shining and colourful that you wonder if they are a liability in battle. But as we’ve seen, they’re not so it looks like they look as good and nice as they are in their skills. But Administrator being naked all the time especially in the final stretch makes me feel weird. Imagine battling a naked last boss. Isn’t that distracting? Yeah, no backlash since Administrator is a smoking hot babe. Because remember that video game uproar for a naked final boss fight in Bioshock? Yeah, nobody wants to see a naked macho man monster boss… Isn’t it no wonder why Chudelkin brought Administrator down with him? Who could’ve resisted such beautiful pure naked body? Something to literally die for… And so it goes to show that something she deemed perfect became her undoing.

Voice acting is pretty fine too with new casts joining the line-up including Nobunaga Shimazaki as Eugeo (Yuno in Black Clover), Ai Kayano as Alice (Darkness in KonoSuba), Maaya Sakamoto as Administrator/Quinella (Ciel in Kuroshitsuji), Sakura Tange as Cardinal (Angela in Melty Lancer), Hitomi Nabatame as Fanatio (Reina in Circlet Princess), Kaori Ishihara as Tiese (Azusa in Hentai Ouji To Warawanai Neko), Reina Kondou as Ronie (Hana in Slow Start), Wataru Takagi as Chudelkin (Alaindelon in Beelzebub), Megumi Han as Liena (titular character in Mushibugyou), Hikaru Hanada as Deusolbert (Akihiko in Junjou Romantica), Ryuuichi Kijima as Humbert (Lenka in God Eater), Shuuhei Iwase as Raios (Yasutaka in Sankarea), Takeaki Masuyama as Eldrie (Ida in Nora To Oujo To Noraneko Heart) and Kaori Maeda as Selka (Mari in Back Street Girls: Gokudolls). The only new cast I recognized is Junichi Suwabe as Bercouli.

The first opening theme, Adamas by Lisa feels a bit chaotic. The frenzied pace of this rock piece tries to sound epic but to me it comes off as noisy. Except for the last bit which has a funky bass solo. That’s the only part I like. The second ending theme, Resister by Asca is also a rock outfit but it is toned down I think this one suits the pacing of the series better. The ending themes are slow rock with Iris by Eir Aoi being the first one and Forget Me Not by Reona as the second. I still prefer the former, though. There is a special ending theme for episode 19, Niji No Kanata Ni by Reona and this is quite a slow lovely ballad. Feels a bit disjointed from the series but I think this song is the one I like the most. I want to note that some of the sound effects are, how do I put it, deafening. Like when there is an epic magic sword clash or something, it’s like the bass and effect goes really loud and one kind. Are they trying to test my sound system or something?

Overall, not a bad season. An SAO series that isn’t your typical SAO, it feels both weird and refreshing at the same time. Infusing sword fighting with some computer programming setting? Strange indeed. After all, my experience with the first 2 seasons of SAO had this similar pattern in which the first big chunk of the series started off great but towards the end with its lesser arc, it disappoints. Remember that mediocre ALO that reduced Asuna into a damsel in distress for the first season and then the WTF Calibur and trying-to-prop-up-the-feels Mother’s Rosario in the second season? Yeah… Thankfully for this season, it is Alicization all the way and no disappointing small side stories to be distracted with. So huzzah for long story arcs? I promise I won’t complain about this story being draggy! Unfortunately no System Call or any delete button to erase those disappointing arcs. That’s why here’s to hoping the next continuation of this story would be a lot better to erase those dissatisfying ones. You can’t change the past but at least we can programme and create the future to be better. And no, delete and format everything isn’t the answer!

Canaan

September 29, 2019

I thought it was about time to complete my trilogy of girls with guns. After my stint with Noir and Madlax many years back, El Cazador De La Bruja was supposed to be next. For some unknown reason, I kept delaying wanting to watch that one. A signal that maybe I wasn’t so interested after all? And when I somewhat did, I thought it was strange. That Spanish sounding name definitely didn’t sound like the other two. They were just single named titles. WTF. And this somehow led me to Canaan. Not one of the original trilogy but still falling under the category of girls with guns. Sorry Mexico. Not going there this time. But Shanghai. Funny how some decisions make you go and end up where you are now?

Episode 1
While the streets of Shanghai is having its festivities, Canaan finished her sniping job. A monologue reminds Canaan despite being a victim of war, she mustn’t fight hate with hate. This will also not rid the world of hate. When she returns, Yuri Natsume who is her employer and informant tells of another job she has to do. A truck protecting an Unbloom was destroyed by Snake. Her job is to retrieve any survivors. If there are no survivors, it is likely the attacker are Unblooms themselves. Meanwhile, Minoru “Mino” Minorikawa is a journalist of a small magazine and is in Shanghai for an assignment. He hopes to make it big with a big scoop here. His assistant, Maria Oosawa seems to yearn to reunite with Canaan. Hence he goes off to get this old guy whom he thinks is some important figure in disguise. This leaves Maria by her own as she frolics in the festivities. There are a group of people wearing weird headgears. When it is removed, they go crazy and in a violent trance before dying. The people around think it is part of the festivities and don’t care. Maria has the misfortune to stumble into one of them as she realizes the mark on their bodies. She is about to be killed by masked guys but Canaan rescues her and takes her to safety in the back alley. No time for a reunion yet as Canaan ties her up with a wool yarn (a symbol of their friendship that she cannot break) and returns to her mission. Mino realizes his target was false alarm. Then he sees Canaan running around and real bullets flying about. With the people still frolicking, he realizes the people have closed their eyes not to accept this reality and think this is all part of the revelry. Canaan uses her super magic sight to sniff out the masked people and shoot them. Meanwhile, a truck with soldiers escorting a young girl, Alphard who is supposed to be the head of Snake is ambushed.

Episode 2
It’s Liang Qi and Cummings to the rescue! All American soldiers slaughtered and even Alphard takes out some of them before she escapes. Liang Qi informs that girl is back in Shanghai and can’t wait to kill her. However Alphard ignores her little sister and wants Cummings to hand over the report for some anti-terror summit in New York. There are things that must be done in order first. Mino goes through his film’s negatives and notices some of the weird marks on the corpses. Flashback shows his boss told him about the deadly Ua virus. Derived from the Swahili word that both means flower and death (hence the mark looks like a flower), its mortality rate is 100%. Maria was a victim of a virus attack in Shibuya a few years ago and only survived because her dad was a researcher and administered an anti-viral drug. Because of the shock, she has a little amnesia and doesn’t remember about the incident. Ironically, Maria came looking for a job in their company and Mino was tasked to look after her. At the restaurant, Mino wants to ask Maria more about Canaan. However they are ambushed. Isn’t that the old guy? He looks like a bloodthirsty mad killer now. Maria manages to hail a taxi driver (I nickname him Taximan for ease of reference) to escape. Taximan is equally crazy as he drives them to escape the trigger happy old guy’s hail of bullets. Maybe he needs some sort of thrill in addition to his mundane taxi life? So crazy that he drives his cab off an unfinished bridge! I don’t know how they survive and his cab still okay! Luckily Canaan is here. With the target now switch to her, the old man chases and fights her atop a bus. Smarter Canaan has him jump in the air so he gets electrocuted by the wires. One tangled fried old geezer coming up. Mino and Maria return to their hotel only to see it trashed with red paint. The only thing missing are their negatives. So spending the night outside isn’t fun. But are they seeing things because who this hot sexy cat girl babe???!!! Meow!!!

Episode 3
I don’t think Maria is going to believe Mino that following this cat girl, Hakko to her workplace where there are other cat women is going to lead him to the biggest scoop. Since Hakko can’t communicate well, Mino makes signs to interview her. Guess what? She shows her boobs! Best lost in translation ever? However Mino sees the mark but before he could ask further, the bartender, Santana kicks him out. He would have preferred him to touch her body but not her heart. Strange. So being a typical pervert is okay? Yeah, curiosity kills the cat. The duo stay in a different hotel but Canaan is able to find Maria thanks to her ‘different colour’. Mino wants to interview her but Canaan wants to hang out with Maria. With the girls having fun, Mino hangs out by himself. He sees Hakko again but this time in her normal clothes. Must be off duty. He tries to talk to her but since she doesn’t respond, he thinks she is a mute and shares his bread. Meanwhile Canaan and Maria are in some underground tram when suddenly it stops. Maria senses something amiss and rushes ahead. She should have known better than to leave Maria alone since the culprit is a young kid in the tram. Once Canaan realizes the trap is just a decoy, Maria has already been taken hostage. The kid believes Maria will come to her as he explains some complex synthesis of her senses blah, blah, blah, whatever. By the time Canaan arrives, a bomb is on Maria’s head and she can’t rip it off or else it will explode. The kid explains he is also from a village that was experimenting the Ua virus. And some gene mutation the virus did. Long story short, the kid accuses Canaan of killing his older brother. That old dude. The mutation caused him to be strong and agile but he aged fast. Canaan is able to sniff out the kid. Looks like his body can contort and hide in tightest of places. Yup, gene mutation thingy too. The effects caused his body to not grow. As time is running out, the kid swallows the diffuser. Flashback shows the kid is betting that Canaan will shoot him since he doesn’t intend to kill Maria. Maria can’t reveal that or he’ll kill her. To Maria’s shock, Canaan shoots the kid. Bomb still ticking. When the timer is over, the bomb is just some jack in the box. Canaan feels nothing but Maria is clearly shocked and shaken from what she has seen. Canaan notices she is beginning to show colours of rejection.

Episode 4
Maria is still depressed. She always thought Canaan was a normal girl. That moment wasn’t it. Canaan on the other hand wonders if she will lose it again. Flashback shows she was the only survivor in a decimated village. A soldier, Siam picked her up out of pity and trained her to be a mercenary. Canaan loves guns because they give off no colour. She hates blue as it is the colour of hatred and that’s why she is able to pinpoint her enemies. Remembering Siam’s words about not fighting hatred with hatred, Canaan knows it but she desperately doesn’t want to lose it again. It seems Siam was killed by Alphard and that was the first time Canaan lost something precious. Alphard attends a party of Daedala whom she is a majority stockholder of and the company will be hosting the upcoming anti-terrorist conference. She is sure turning heads with that stunning dress. Of course Canaan is also staking out at that party, waiting for her perfect chance. Mino gets more information about the mark. It is actually bulging veins that overlap each other. Maria is running around looking for Canaan. She needs to apologize to her. She realizes Canaan has always saved her from dangerous moments. It’s the reason why she is able to hold a camera. All because she met Canaan. She wanted to understand her but instead she blamed her and ran away from the guilt. She almost got into trouble with some backstreet ruffians but thankfully she got rescued by Yunyun. Not Canaan this time. Maria desperate to make a new friend that she wants to get to know her too? Alphard knows Canaan will ambush her in the toilet. She claims Canaan has fallen into the same place that she was. As they shortly fight, Alphard is clearly superior and can even restrain Canaan while keeping her dress clean! It must be hatred that has made Canaan sloppier. Alphard was once like that but escaped it. But Alphard won’t kill her yet since she still can have fun. Canaan is left to lick her wounds as she escapes, Alphard’s words still haunting her every move.

Episode 5
Maria is treated to Yunyun’s hospitality on her sampan. But Yunyun soon has to leave. It seems she is also an agent employed by Liang Qi. She has a special job for her. As the Japanese vice minister is visiting, her only job is to infect him with the Ua virus. Liang Qi will set up everything else. Yunyun is worried Canaan will pop up and kill her. In that case, just die. They have no other use for her. Not so funny now, huh? Yunyun goes to Santana’s bar to set up. She meets that Hakko. They know each other and Yunyun doesn’t want her to further get involved in what she’s doing. Just live the rest of your life happily. When the Japanese vice minister enters, Yunyun and Hakko serve them. Yunyun tries to spike his drink but this guy rather have the sexy Hakko serve him. After Mino tells Maria about the mark and the veins, thus they head down to Santana’s bar to get some answers. Yunyun runs out upon seeing them. At the back alley, she is shocked to see Canaan next to her. Fumbling to use her gun? Don’t worry. Canaan teaches you! With the guys insulting each other, Maria leaves only to see Canaan threatening Yunyun for info in which she doesn’t know. With Maria protecting Yunyun, Canaan sees the sadness in her eyes and leaves. She’s just a killer in her eyes now. Thank goodness Maria is here or she would have really killed Yunyun. Oh Yunyun. You’re such a lucky girl!

Yunyun then gets a call from Liang Qi who knows she has failed. She gives her a last chance to use Maria and die with Canaan. Hence this desperate joker uses Maria as a hostage to lure Canaan out. Yup, she’s strapped herself with dynamites! Going to blow themselves up together? Yeah, tumble into the river together. Yunyun tries to hold her down and drown together. When Canaan thinks of slicing her to break free, she remembers Maria’s sad face. Canaan drags them out to the side. It’s not that she doesn’t want to kill her, it’s just she doesn’t want to make Maria sad. When Mino returns to his room, Maria beats him up thinking he is trying to rape Yunyun?! Actually he spots a mark on her butt. She claims she is a Borner ever since that incident at that village disappeared. Her ‘special power’ is having 2 appendixes. It doesn’t have any kind of power. She knows nothing more about Snake and feels useless. Maria disagrees. Because she manages to help reconcile her friendship with Canaan, she is now their friend. Mino can help her financially to break free from Snake but in return she is to be their special correspondent since she blends well by having experience in multiple jobs. The Japanese vice minister is done in by Cummings while he is taking a massage service. Cummings wonders if Liang Qi intends to get Yunyun go. She is confident she will come back because she cannot live without the drugs. Otherwise she has chosen death.

Episode 6
Mino thinks his journalism effort has been recognized since he receives a reporter pass to the anti-terrorism press conference. But he’ll let Maria cover that as he goes to talk to Hakko for more details. As he questions her, the moment she speaks, his head starts to hurt. The conference begins and as Maria snaps pictures, Alphard approaches her. She is unsure if Maria is playing dumb not to recognize her. The US president is really making a weird speech about love and peace (this guys should be a comedian) and it is probably cue for Liang Qi to set off the bombs. The place is in panic but the bombs have cordoned off all exits. After Mino recovers, he barges back to Santana’s bar to question Hakko if that is her special power. But here is live on TV that the press conference is under attack. Time to call Taximan and make his way there. Maria is brought to the control centre where Alphard and Liang Qi are waiting. Liang Qi calls Canaan (it must be a long way running towards the convention centre via sewers) and tries to rile her by threatening Maria. Instead, it is Liang Qi who gets riled up as Canaan and Maria ignore her to reassure each other. Liang Qi is at boiling point and wants to kill Maria but is stopped when Alphard fires a warning shot. She warns her about letting her hatred get the better of her and those with such hatred should be disposed. What is it that Liang Qi wants? Love. Love of her nee-sama of course. Alphard tells Liang Qi to end her games and get to work. Then she tells Maria that her role is to live. In the underground shelter where all the politicians are taking shelter, the Japanese vice minister starts to feel sick. The Ua virus begins to take effect as he dies a bloody death.

Episode 7
OMFG! Canaan is so fast dodging the bullets that the soldiers shoot each other?! Liang Qi wants to go handle Canaan but with Alphard warning how mistakes will arise when one doesn’t listen, Liang Qi throws a childish tantrum and storms off. The White House staffs deliberate on how to save the situation. An option is to get the vaccine in which Kenji (Maria’s father) administers. Unfortunately the moment he leaves his building, his car explodes! So much for that. Time for Plan B. Alphard then speaks to the politicians holing up in the safe room. She informs that all of them are infected with the Ua virus and in no time will die. However America has decided to make sure they go out in style and they have ordered the stealth bombers to bomb the hell out of this place! When Maria doesn’t remember a thing, Alphard beats her up and tells a back story of a soldier who trained a couple of kids to become mercenaries. Both shared the same name. Alphard’s real name was Canaan but she tossed it away a long time ago. Alphard takes her men to leave once it’s time. Canaan then comes in to rescue Maria but is told of the situation. Yuri sees Santana since he has a secret room with hacking devices. Wow. Those still work? She contacts Canaan and tells her intentions to hack some American satellite. Kenji is seen dropping into the convention centre. Actual footage shows that explosion was fake and edited just to bamboozle USA into using this bombing order. With the stealth bombers already dropping a bomb, Canaan’s ability now goes digital? I don’t know what she sees but eventually she sees it. The bomb explodes. However everybody is still alive. Something about Canaan and Yuri managing to change the GPS coordinates of the bomb. Yeah, it didn’t hit the convention centre but I hope there were no people at the spot it exploded. The stealth bombers abort mission, the White House are left guilt-ridden and red faced due to their ‘incomplete mission’ and Yuri lecturing Santana about forgiveness will not be waiting for you at the end of running away. Canaan starts to feel weird. She now cannot see colours. At least the colours she has been accustomed to be seeing.

Episode 8
Mino has connections to Kenji as he asks about Ua virus. Kenji believes there can be no survivors because before any mutation can take place, you would already have been dead. But with Mino believing there are survivors lurking, could it be related to the disappeared village? It could be possible that Snake has a vaccine and taken in such people. Alphard calls the White House and even offers America to keep their power among the third world countries under the guise of protection but in exchange for some arms deals. As long as they need a conflict somewhere, feel free to call Snake. Alphard then orders Cummings to destroy the factory that Liang Qi left behind. Hakko is reeling from her past whereby she didn’t know her voice was destructive. She tried to calm a boy who lost his mother but little did she know the more she spoke, the more pain he felt until he exploded!!! Maria takes Canaan out. The latter feels weird and is not used to this normal sight as she cannot see colours. Nearby, there is a street concert put up by this idol, Nene. Taximan is a big fan of hers. Hakko is also there too. Unconsciously she starts singing along and this affects everyone. Luckily she realizes it and stops but ultimately feels sad. Mino now confronts Santana. He thinks he is forced to work under Snake in exchange for medicine. He wonders if he a member of Snake supervising Hakko. Because Hakko wants to go to the disappeared village, road trip! Mino and Santana make horrible road trip singers… We also hear Maria expressing to Canaan she always felt empty until she met her. Yeah, another big thanks to her somewhat. In turn, Canaan was worried when she couldn’t see colours but always knew Maria was a kind person even if she can’t see her colours. That night as they sleep, Hakko tries to strangle Canaan. Of course she fails and escapes. You mean nobody was awakened by this commotion? The guys do but that’s only after Canaan went after Hakko. Santana mentioning how Hakko has not forgiven him as he was the one who destroyed her village. Canaan doesn’t intend to kill Hakko but find out why she is hated. Of course she can’t speak but Canaan ultimately could read her lips. It seems a sad Hakko blames her that it’s her fault. The road trip continues and they see a manjuu seller out in this isolated place. Yunyun?!

Episode 9
Yunyun pretends not to know them but I guess she has no more strength to peddle. Hop on. We’re going to the same place, right? Cummings reports Liang Qi at the factory. He is shocked when Alphard orders him to kill her. Yunyun explains she is heading to that village because if she’s going to die, might as well where she came from. As for the medicine, you can’t get it from anywhere else since it is tailored specifically to that person’s symptoms. And then Maria starts punching Yunyun because she doesn’t want her to die? I think she will at this rate! Awkwardness interrupted when a strange masked guy starts firing his machine gun at them. Canaan has a hard time approaching since she lost her ability. Hakko then screams out not to kill him. After temporary dizziness in every one, the strange just explodes and dies! Some of them recognize him as one of the locals. Santana points out to him as an Unbloom. Arriving at the village, Santana tells Mino what really happened. Santana used to work with Langley from the CIA. Under the pretence of disinfecting the town of some virus, they were the ones who spread it. They also test out the vaccine’s effectiveness on them. The result was the entire town turned into a hellish monstrous nightmare. Santana discovered the truth later and quit. Subsequently he stumbled upon into Yuri and they both shared the same goal to blackmail the CIA into revealing the truth. He further explains about Borners (those affected and were given special bodies as side effect) Unblooms (those who couldn’t become Borners and Snake keeps them to find out why they failed). Crazy Liang Qi flies in trying to kill Canaan. However Alphard also flies in trying to kill Liang Qi. Cummings tries to shoot Alphard but his gun is fake. Alphard lets him say a last word before she kills him. She shoots him with a fake gun. Liang Qi retreats. Alphard then finds Canaan lying in the ruins. She thinks Canaan lost her ability since she didn’t see her coming. Alphard reminds her about that desert train mission in which Siam died. Canaan claimed her tattoo is prove she has family. Siam was her light. But now she has a new light. That’s why Alphard wants her to live. Canaan’s power might be coming back because she sees strange colours on Alphard. It is the same as Siam. When the rest gather, Santana is ready to shoot her but Alphard advises against it. She tells him her next plan is to destroy the factory so no more corrupted flowers will bloom again. She also leaves a message: Canaan’s real name is Despair.

Episode 10
Santana’s plan is to expose CIA’s cohorts with Snake. Then the government cannot continue to cover this up. This way there would be free flow of the medicine. The factory is disguised as an abandoned village. Inside, looks like somebody had thoughts of Resident Evil so several zombie Unblooms are released. Don’t worry. You won’t turn into one of them when they bite. But this scene activates Hakko’s trauma. She runs away into a room whereby a video of Liang Qi wants her to join her to kill Canaan. She reveals this factory was built so that a second Canaan is created. After all the sympathetic words, Hakko isn’t moved. Canaan may have started all this but it was Liang Qi who dragged everyone else into this mess. She will not join her. Further flashback reveals Santana pleaded to Alphard to take Hakko with him. She agreed as long as he forgets this place and play by their rules. Though, Liang Qi was against it since Hakko is a valuable Borner. Hakko enters Liang Qi’s room and starts ranting about her pitiful state. To her shock, it is actually captured Santana who is strapped onto the seat. Hakko is left in despair while Liang Qi (in another video) laughs her ass off. Santana doesn’t blame Hakko. Because he knows he isn’t going to make it, he wants Hakko to say she loves him in her voice. Uhm, you want to say that louder? I don’t think he heard you. She keeps repeating it until he dies! Liang Qi then activates the entire factory. Something about cancelling out normal noises. While this means everyone is resistant to Hakko’s voice, only Canaan will be affected as she processes her senses differently. Hence Canaan starts experiencing a massive headache since a despaired Hakko continues to be a broken recorder. Mino tries to approach her since Santana has him promised to wake her up from this dream if something happens to him. Luckily Hakko is a bad shot. He still took some bullets before managing to hug her. Meanwhile Maria and Yunyun stumble into an underground lair. To their shock, is that Canaan stuck in some ice? Yuri is also here and she sounds like she doesn’t want witnesses over this secret.

Episode 11
There won’t be dead girls for now since Alphard wants Maria and Yunyun to return to Canaan. Yuri thinks this is a big mistake but Alphard knows she only cares about the data. Alphard no longer has interests in this disgusting experiment and hands over the Borner data to her. After that she burns everything in this lair to the ground. Not sure how Mino survived all that but Canaan managed to drag him out. After all that he just got an arm injury? Reuniting with Maria and Yunyun, Canaan decides to go back in to rescue Hakko. She has to move fast as she sees American special forces moving in to raid the place. Liang Qi is on the verge of madness. Then Alphard pops up. She gives Cummings a chance to show his love. Cummings tries to convince Liang Qi to return but she beats the sh*t out of him. With that, Alphard tries to kill Liang Qi who is now a super masochist, enjoying every pain nee-sama brings to her. But when she wants to be killed by her, Alphard leaves it to Cummings. Then they see on the footage, Canaan slaughtering the special forces and this makes Liang Qi super mad again. So mad that she swallows some experimental drugs that of course drastically changes her body. She is now frail and old. Alphard reveals that she has known this letter that was written by Siam addressed to her is fake. She knew it was Liang Qi’s ploy to let her be captured by the Americans so that she can come rescue her. She knew the letter is false right away because Siam never addressed her as Alphard. It is then Liang Qi hears Alphard’s real name as Canaan. Now she has gone full blown crazy. Seeing her frail self in the mirror, she thinks she sees Canaan and wants her dead. She is so psychotic that she will do anything, including returning Cummings’ love, just for Canaan to be killed. So tearful Cummings shoots her. Finally this crazy drama is over. Alphard observes how love is such a troublesome thing. Canaan finds Hakko. She’s making out with Santana’s corpse? Long story short, Hakko can’t go with her and gives the medicine so she won’t return empty handed. Cue for the place to collapse so Canaan can get her ass out. Canaan returns to Maria. After she takes a photo of her, they just give each other a long hug.

Episode 12
Canaan is still reeling from despair. But with Maria around, she breathes a little better. Canaan, Maria and Yunyun take a train trip. When the train suddenly stops as the guards at the checkpoint do their inspection, this triggers Canaan’s trauma. She rushes to the front and sees Siam sitting there. Could be just her hallucination as she also sees other dead people whom she killed. They’re all blaming her. Siam tells her not to over rely on her senses. Because it warps her senses and makes her overthink. This also makes her lose her sense of truth. He wants her to see things as the way they are. Meanwhile Alphard approaches Maria and Yunyun. It seems she wants Maria to live up to her duty to awaken Canaan’s true power as she is still living in the stone age. Maria agrees to do that but in exchange wants to take a photo of her. She realizes she can’t walk alongside Canaan anymore. The moment she does that, Alphard shoots and wounds her. When Canaan realizes the light she needs to protect now, she rushes back. She only sees Alphard. She can see Maria’s blood trails as Alphard tells her she locked up the duo in the back of the train. Oh, there’s a bomb too. So if Canaan wants to save her, let’s keep their playtime to a minimum. Both start shooting each other in this narrow carriage. Both having different interpretations of Siam’s teachings. From what I understand, Alphard points out that Canaan was the one who killed Siam. Because had she not been there, Siam would not have been killed. Hence Alphard doesn’t intend to kill Canaan but rather shoot through the ghost of Siam. Yunyun tries to find a way to free themselves. However Maria knows she cannot make it and tells her to go it alone. Yunyun manages to climb out of the window and derail the last coach. Maria doing her monologue of Canaan as her light but because she is being loved and protected by her, this light also casted a shadow on her heart.

Episode 13
What’s this? Alphard is starting to feel scared of Canaan? Because her eyes are looking different now. She is now seeing the way things are. So scared that she can’t even shoot straight? Damn, role reversal and Canaan is the cool cat now. Alphard tries to escape but Canaan chases after her. She believes Maria is still alive. She might not be able to see her colour but she can sense her kindness. Indeed Maria is still alive because Yunyun changed her mind and ran all the way back to grab her out before the bomb explodes. Alphard laughs when Canaan claims Maria isn’t her light but her friend. Alphard then realizes Siam called her once by this name. It was before his death. He told her the meaning of that new name is solitude. She tries to kill herself by dropping off the train but Canaan grabs her hand. Canaan relating the day Siam died, she moved on and met new people. Hence Alphard can’t die because she is already dead? Huh? Wow. Canaan so philosophical now because she means her heart died the day Siam died. That’s why Canaan wants her to live and won’t let her die. Alphard is left to reminisce Liang Qi’s words about being stuck in the past. It was Alphard and not Canaan who is still trapped in the past. To free herself from this haunting, Alphard shoots off her own arm! Long way down the ravine… We see Maria together with Canaan despite just a dream. It’s like a goodbye because Canaan says they can’t be together anymore. Maria wakes up in hospital (sorry girl, not heaven) and Mino updates her Yunyun carried her most of the way back until he picked them up. He tried to contact Canaan but she ‘vanished’. Maria feels sad Canaan won’t let her stand by her side till the end. But Mino believes this is what Canaan had wanted. To protect her. Even if they are 2 different persons, Maria can still get closer to her via her heart. After all, it’s her kindness that bonds them together. Mino is thinking about a career change. He visits Santana’s bar one last time. Damn he is going to miss this place. And Hakko’s ass. Taximan picks them up to the airport as Maria praises how amazing Canaan is. We get it for the umpteenth time. It’s goodbye, right? Better have some closure than none. In the aftermath, we see Yunyun doing odd jobs, Cummings is now a monk (?!), Alphard hinted to be alive because there isn’t a one arm woman in Shanghai but her and Maria back in Japan organizes a photo exhibition of her exploits in Shanghai. Finally, Yuri still hires Canaan for certain jobs. This time her target is a certain one armed woman.

The Holy Land Of Deadly Virus, Raining Bullets & Past Ghost
This sure looks like a bittersweet ending. Our main female leads didn’t get to end up together. Not that I am expecting something yuri to turn out from that short reunion but I guess it is better this way that they lead their separate lives. As said, they are from both different worlds and from the looks of it, the entire time their reunion sometimes felt like they’re trying to get into each other’s way. You know, Maria just wanting to be Canaan’s equal and Canaan just wanting to protect her. So to say, had Maria not returned to Shanghai, all this trouble would not have surfaced? I don’t think Maria will be going back to Shanghai anytime soon. There’s no reason to. That’s what that final episode ‘goodbye’ was all about, right? Then there’s the curious case of Alphard. She got an arm blown off and miraculously survived that long ravine drop (thank goodness there’s a river below) and is her business with Canaan considered finished? I mean, I thought she wanted Canaan to display her true powers but looks like it wasn’t what she desired. Alphard’s a survivor so don’t write her off yet but how relevant is she after this? What will be of Snake? What about that terrorism business partnership with America? Nothing to do with Canaan so don’t really care at this point.

Despite being just a single cour series, I find it hard to understand the general story and what is going on in the overall picture. Maybe that’s why I didn’t understand? Too short? But if they somehow managed to drag it out to another cour, will there be a guarantee that I would understand better or just be even more confused? It might look like some terrorism via biological warfare on the surface. But eventually it is something much deeper than that especially the connection between the 3 main female leads of Canaan, Maria and Alphard. I think. So basically the story and plot itself is intriguing. However due to many parts that I couldn’t understand, it somewhat hinders me to enjoy this series as a whole. After all, this series was conceptualized by co-founders of Type-Moon for a visual novel game, 428: Shibuya Scramble. Since I didn’t play that game nor even heard of it until I was watching this anime and doing my lazy Google research, I’m not sure how much both series are related to each other. The Ua virus, Snake’s factory for manufacturing all this, I feel they are just touching the surface and didn’t go in too deeply to be fleshed out. It feels like as though you need some sort of background knowledge before watching this series. Because at the end of the day, I still don’t really get the difference between Borners and Unblooms. Are they the same but just different in desired outcome? And in the end, they don’t really matter because if Alphard has lost interest in them and could easily throw them all away, should we care too?

The action is the main draw of the series though I would pretty say it is just pretty much standard. But it is not swift gun totting all the way as they have to make room and weave some character development in it. Therefore the action scenes I feel are rather okay. Exhilarating for that short burst of adrenaline but compare it to animes like Shingeki No Kyojin, yeah it’s just average. Sorry. Looks like my standards have really gone up in this category. And perhaps I have come to expect something when I skim through the reviews about this anime being action filled. Good action, yeah, okay. Masterpiece top 10 action of all time? Nah, not really. But I have to admit that some action scenes are quite enjoyable to watch especially Canaan and Alphard trading lead with each other in fast paced mortal combat. What do you expect when you pit the best among each other?

Other than the action, the character development especially among the main trio is also important but like I’ve said, there are some aspects that I already do not understand and therefore couldn’t go forward when bits of their past and history are further revealed. So to condense it all to a point that I understand, both Canaans are trying to get over the ghost of their past and that link is Siam. Alphard being the calm and composed antagonist, Canaan is her obsession because of her need to prove her own hatred is the only way to conquer her past. It’s a reason why she pushes Canaan to her limits and do not kill her outright. Canaan on the other hand is also cool, composed and lacking any emotion. Except whenever Alphard is in the picture. Then she gets her emotions overwhelmed and Alphard usually owns her at the end of the day. So it’s like the battle of the one with the calmer head wins? It is evident like we see in the final episode where the tables were turned.

Maria might feel like the weaker link among the trio and making it hard for me to appreciate her character is how her back story was never really fleshed out. It was just merely pinpointed that she was a survivor of the Ua virus during a viral attack on Shibuya. Also her initial friendship on how she became friends with Canaan felt like it was merely skimmed through. The series does a decent job in portraying and developing the relationship between them but that is only what we see on screen and currently when they reunite once more in Shanghai. Maria and Canaan as 2 females giving each other the strength to live, it’s nothing really new or ground breaking in terms of storytelling and character development but as far as this series is concerned, better to see the colour of life than the colour of death!

On a side note, I wonder if Maria’s character was cheekily named so. I’m not sure if the creators were aware of this but Maria Oosawa definitely sounds too close to Maria Ozawa! You know… The famous porn star!!! I know the different kanji writing but still too close to call. Yeah, the first time I heard Maria’s name, I had to do a double take so as to confirm my ears weren’t playing any tricks on my simpleton pervy brain. Coincidentally this series was released back in 2009, the same period where the said porn star reached the pinnacle of her popularity! Is this why there is this running joke in the series that this photographer Maria is always teased for her small bust size? As opposed to the porn star who has somewhat a voluptuous figure? Strange… Too much to be called a coincidence but I’ll give the benefit of the doubt to the creators.

Yunyun I feel her character is primarily written as a comic relief. A joker of the series. Almost every move she makes. Almost every word she says. Almost every reaction she reacts. It’s like she is born to look and sound this funny no matter the situation. She would have been a natural clown had she not get involved in all this mess. Seriously. Heck, even her Borner ability is a joke. The thing about Yunyun being this joker character is both good and bad. During times of conflict and high tension, Yunyun’s presence can mostly take some of that pressure off thanks to her comical actions whether she intended to be funny or not. I mean, taking Maria hostage to lure Canaan out and then trying to blow herself up? And failed spectacularly? While making it all look like a joke? Only Yunyun can pull that off! While Yunyun is welcomed as this sort of comic relief, sometimes it really makes her out of place. In such serious and tense moments, and now here is one of Yunyun’s antics. It just feels so weird. It’s like, girl, WTF? I don’t think it’s the drugs she’s taking. So yeah, Yunyun, keep calm and carrying on being you. Sometimes too much Canaan-Maria melancholy colour drama can be bad for the soul. We need to see a different (comedy) colour, you know.

Then there is this Liang Qi character who is written as a psychotic b*tch. Her obsession is no other than her nee-sama Alphard and it would have been a lot better if we could see how she and Alphard first came to be instead of just skimming through a brief flashback. It makes it feel insignificant. Anyway, with Liang Qi being a crazy psycho b*tch, in some ways it draws out the drama because a Canaan-Alphard showdown would be too quick without this woman. Hence with Canaan still breathing, it gives Liang Qi all the more excuse to show her crazy b*tch side just to get on the good side of Alphard’s love. We know this one sided love will never be fulfilled but it never hurts to try, right? Yeah, love is weird. Oh well, till death do us part. Sorry, didn’t feel a single sympathy for Liang Qi’s last moments. Just, good riddance. The annoyance’s gone. Despite having to dedicate 1 whole episode just to kill her off. Also, this Cummings guy who is definitely a big masochist since he loves to get shot by Liang Qi’s airsoft bullets. Yeah, he orgasms each time he gets shot. Even his name feels so ambiguous… Caught between the absolute big boss and the crazy mistress he is in love with, this guy sure had it rough… And he probably likes it that way ;p. The biggest shocking change of becoming a monk. Because it’s like subtly hinting to us to throw away all our depraved porn and lead a clean life! Is this even possible?! Cummings showed us he could… This guy is so zen right now…

The other characters somehow don’t feel significant. Like Mino who is trying to make his big break but this case changed him in some ways that he didn’t care about it anymore. He is only here because otherwise why would there be a reason for Maria to return to Shanghai? Yuri being the sneaky operative, nothing much is known about her but CIA operatives are like that. She could be the real ‘snake’, a double agent since she has her own agenda. Santana and Hakko also feel unnecessary but to prop up some bits of drama and plot convenience. Since Hakko is the one who keeps blaming Canaan for whatever and Santana is trying to make amends and atone for his sins. I know he is smart enough not to put his hope this will absolve him of his sins, but maybe he just wanted someone to love. He got that in his death wish, right? Oh well, till death do us part.

This is one of the few animes in which the setting isn’t set in Japan but overseas. And no, I don’t mean fantasy settings either but settings of real world locations. Sure, that tragic experimental village might be fictional but other than that, China is real. Shanghai is real. What I want to point out is the use of foreign languages especially Chinese and English. Firstly, the Chinese spoken sound so odd. Is it their accent? Because I couldn’t properly catch them. Yeah, it’s like your Japanese trying to speak Engrish and now they try to speak Mandarin and it’s like fail too. For the English part, these are mostly when the American military give their commands. Sounds authentic enough so I’m not really complaining… In view of this, the oddest part is that if there are English dialogues in this series despite only in very limited scenes, remember the American president who is giving his speech? Damn guy speaking in flawless Japanese!!! I just find this odd, honestly. Even if he speaks in English about his crap speech about love and peace, it would still sound funny but at least not as bad. Imagine American soldiers giving standard orders in English for some realism but the most powerful man in the world speaking Japanese? Just feel weird… Even weirder the White House staffs deliberating in Japanese and Alphard calling the vice all speaking in Japanese… Should have went with Japanese all the way then…

The art and animation are pretty good. At least for an anime that is released back in 2009. Some scenes are gorgeous and some scenes are just grim just to highlight the plight of the Ua virus. This series is of course animated by P.A. Works and to me they’re known for drawing some of the prettiest and beautiful character designs. Unfortunately, not this one, though. Maybe no cute high school girls like I expect to see in Glasslip, True Tears, Hanasaku Iroha and Tari Tari. Hence the character designs feel a bit like Type-Moon characters (duh) such as the Fate series and Shingetsutan Tsukihime. Therefore sometimes when I look at Canaan, I could see shades of Arcueid in her. Yeah, Alphard so badass that I thought she was the reincarnation of Black Lagoon’s Levy.

Attracting my attention to watch this series is because of the star studded casts. Well, at least I recognize some of them like Miyuki Sawashiro as Canaan, Haruka Tomatsu as Yunyun, Hiroaki Hirata as Santana and Jouji Nakata as Taximan. And that was Rie Tanaka behind Liang Qi? Never would have guessed it. Of course it would be one my greatest delight to hear Mamiko Noto as Hakko. Her voice is still so amazing then and that’s why when her character speaks, it causes all our brain cells in our heads to fry! Haha! How fitting for the most beautiful voice in the world. Oh wait… What’s that… F*CKING HELL THEY KILLED OFF HER CHARACTER AGAIN!!!!!!!! OMFG!!!!! TRAUMA! TRAUMA!! YOU MEAN EVEN WAY BACK IN 2009 HER CHARACTERS ARE ALSO MET WITH THIS TREATMENT!!!!! WHY JAPAN, WHY????!!! WHY DO YOU OFTEN KILL OFF CHARACTERS WHO IS VOICED BY THE MOST BEAUTIFULLY VOICED SEIYUU OF ALL TIME????!!!!! NOOOOOOOOOO???!!!!!!

And the rest of the other casts include Yoshino Nanjou as Maria (Kokoro in Tantei Opera Milky Holmes), Maaya Sakamoto as Alphard (Ciel in Kuroshitsuji), Kenji Hamada as Mino (Jouji in Paradise Kiss), Junko Minagawa as Yuri (Ryouma in Prince Of Tennis), Akio Ohtsuka as Siam (titular character in Black Jack) and Toru Ohkawa as Cummings (Roy in Fullmetal Alchemist). If you are familiar with Faylan’s style of rock music, you can feel at home here with the rock paced opening theme of Mind As Judgment. From all that high octane rock music, suddenly the ending theme, My Heaven by Annabel drops down to be some soul-like lounge music. I’m not saying the song is bad but it feels out of place considering the action pace of the series. Maybe after all that action, some soul searching is needed with this song? That is what it feels like listening to this one. Just close your eyes, let the music envelope all around you! There are a few insert songs here all sung by Ayahi Takagi (voice of Nene). China Kibun De High Tension is your typical genki pop idol anime that gets your feet shuffling while Inochi Nan Da Yo is a pop ballad. Life too is a slow and calming ballad but this sounds like it could be a Christian song. Just saying… Also, some parts feel like it could fit for an epic Hollywood emotional dramatic scene.

Overall, even if Canaan isn’t the promised land for anime for me, it is enjoyable. If only I could understand the bigger plot, appreciate better the character development and not be too greedy wanting to see more action scenes like Canaan just raking up the body count of her enemies. If only I had the ability to see this anime as it is instead of relying on my past stereotypic biasness to label this series as just slightly above average, I could have seen the truth better as it is and appreciate this series a little bit more. But alas, I relied too much on that cliché judgment of mind and that clouded and impeded some of that enjoyment. And don’t fight hatred with hatred? Sure, fine. IF YOU STOP KILLING OFF MAMIKO NOTO CHARACTERS!!!!!!!!!!

Shoumetsu Toshi

September 22, 2019

Why do I have this tingling sense that yet another sci-fi anime series is going to bomb? But yet I am interested to catch what it is all about? Shoumetsu Toshi somehow brings to mind that failure in RErideD: Tokigoe No Derrida. But at least this one doesn’t involve time travelling. So the intriguing thing that had me wanting to find out more was thanks to the synopsis that didn’t reveal much. An unfortunate incident that caused a big chunk of Tokyo to disappear and life to be extinguished, a young girl was the only survivor. Many years later, her father who was thought to have perished in that phenomenon, a message was somewhat received for him. A guy is tasked to deliver her into that black hole to decipher the truth. And of course, there is always that hidden conspiracy behind it that makes moving one step closer to the truth hard and life difficult for everybody.

Episode 1
While the popular idol group, SPR5 is performing, a sudden phenomenon of the place being engulfed in some black hole occurs. Fast forward many years later, Yuki seems to be an experiment subject in a facility run by the Agency but Takuya easily takes out those personnel and kidnaps her. Takuya claims he was hired to deliver her and the contract ends once he does that. Riding fast on his Vespa, WTF strange spiritual monk starts standing on his hands to stop him from steering his bike?! More WTF as I don’t know what Yuki did to release some spirit balls to knock him away. With others in hot pursuit, they are then picked up into a truck. Hopped in, rather. Unbelievable manoeuvrability. And with that the pursuers lost them?! Fail! Scientists Eiji and Kikyou examine Yuki and she seems stabilized. They want to know what the Agency has been doing to her. They also narrate about that black hole incident 3 years ago called Lost. Rumours say it was manmade as many victims lost their lives. Yuki is a lone survivor of Lost. Something about those spirits being called Tamashi. Huh? Anyway, Eiji wants Takuya to do another job and that is to head to Lost. The place is quarantined by the government, no progress whatsoever ever since and all forms of communications within the area are blocked. Oh, did he mention that nobody alive has ever returned from entering there? So why hire him?! It seems they received an encrypted code that is from Yuki’s father saying that he is waiting at Lost. Hence Eiji wants Takuya to take Yuki to Lost to ascertain if her father is still alive. Better pay him good.

Takuya seeks the help of his geeky friend, the aptly named Geek to fix his bike. Yeah, he is a big SPR5 fan. Geek thinks it is dangerous to go to Lost but Takuya’s policy is to finish his job. Because he sees Yuki as a package instead of a human, I guess Yuki felt hurt and left on her own. How the f*ck can these guys lose a girl like that?! Did she wander that far?! As Takuya goes to find her, he also calls Yumiko to help find the quickest route to Lost. Eventually Takuya finds Yuki. She doesn’t have to believe in him. Believe in your father! Yeah. Enough for her to get on the ride with him. Unbelievable manoeuvrability as Takuya dodges debris and even that damn monk! This guy is taking all the damage but his bike is still functioning?! Yuki feels bad and wants to give up (flashback of her happy family moments – because dad and brother are now victims of Lost). After Takuya lectures her about not giving up again, WTF moment for Yuki as she somehow manages to summon her former bodyguard, Akira! WTF?! Gun slinging Akira shoots down the monk! With submachine guns!!! Although Takuya and Yuki are safe, the people from Agency crash them. It seems they know where they are because Yumiko betrayed him. She works for the Agency too. She wants to do the honours to kill Takuya.

Episode 2
Yumiko shoots the agent instead. Betraying the Agency, huh? She and Kouta decide to help them. With the area now under intense lockdown, they hide in Yumiko’s secret place. If Yumiko is going to help him, he also needs her to work with Geek as he knows how to fix his bike. So the easiest way to bait him is to use SPR5 on the chatrooms? It worked. Later as Takuya talks to Yuki, he learns about Akira who was her father’s bodyguard but died during Lost while trying to protect her. She isn’t sure if that Tamashi she summoned was actually him. The gang take the subway as the fastest way to get into Lost. Of course the Agency guys led by Suzuna are waiting for them. Conveniently a door to another room. Yumiko lets the rest proceed while she deals with Suzuna. I think Suzuna is just toying with Yumiko. She could have really shoot and killed her but yet they talk about their different ideals on freedom. On Kouta’s side, they manage to dispatch the stupid Agency henchmen. Until Kouta gets a knife stabbed in a back by this Tamashi knife dude! Takuya takes and forces Yuki to escape instead of mourning over Kouta. Oh no. Don’t lose heart again. No time for that as knife dude is hot on their tail. Convenient so convenient because here comes Geek in his truck to bring them away. Oh man, knife dude is fly and chasing them. Takuya sounds like he wants to sacrifice himself to stop this bastard but Yuki comes along with him. Hey, don’t lecture her about decisions. She decides this one by herself. I’m amazed his bike can make such great moves without any damage. So what Takuya figured out this knife dude’s trick that he can pop up to where he throws his knife? Because at the end of the day, Yuki just needs to summon Akira and blow him away! Yeah, should have used the submachine gun instead of your pea shooter in the first place. In the aftermath, Takuya and Yuki agree to help each other. But first they need to pick up Yumiko and Kouta. I wonder if Suzuna has done the job. And poor Kouta looks like he bite the dust…

Episode 3
Yeah well, Yumiko is amazingly alive albeit bleeding all over. The place where Kouta died, looks like his body is missing… Geek and Takuya realize something amiss. They have been going around in circles. Even weird, they witness SPR5 arguing outside the concert hall they are supposed to be performing shortly? Something about group leader, Yua unhappy that she heard SPR5 will be disbanded. Geek realizes they have gone back to a certain point in time. As they try to move along, they come back to the same place and see the same argument taking place again. I guess this makes Geek he needs to take action to prevent SPR5 to perform in that doomed concert. He finds Yua and talks to her. Not that she believes him. As a big fan, he can tell her character and some hit close to heart. This concert that Yua is supposed to perform in, she didn’t actually perform and was stated as sick although many fans believed she wasn’t and there was a conspiracy behind it. Just when she starts to believe him, she disappears. Takuya and Yuki try to get out but again end up in the same place. Same SPR5 argument. This has Yuki believe Yua is responsible for this space pocket and wonder if those Tamashi are controlled by others. This time Yuki goes to find Yua, talk to her about the need to do something or nothing happens. Otherwise she’ll end up like her. Damn that worked. Meanwhile Takuya tries to find SPR5’s manager, Seiji but to no avail. Yua makes up with the rest of SPR5 and they go on to perform together. With that, Takuya and co manage to get out of this time loop. But when Geek checks for change in history, it is still the same. Yua did not perform at that concert and SPR5 was still a victim of Lost. With fatty feeling down, Yuki thinks she understands about Tamashi. With so many people getting caught in Lost then, they have regrets and unfulfilled wishes. Hence Tamashi is a person’s will taking shape. Yua’s regret was strong that she created that time loop world. Even though they couldn’t change the past, she doesn’t think their efforts were futile. Oh look another Tamashi crashing their bike. Oh sh*t, is that Souma? Yuki’s brother? Well, Yuki doesn’t seem all too surprise to know he is alive. Because he is trying to kill Takuya and claims Yuki should come back with him. They’re family and need to support each other. Yuki won’t accept this. Because of that, did she try summoning so hard that it becomes a huge explosion? Crater size explosion!

Episode 4
Takuya is wheeled into ICU and Geek blames Eiji for putting him up to this. It’s partly Yuki’s fault too, right? Eiji offers everyone his home as a place to hide for now. When they leave, they are confronted by police officers, Ryouko Negishi and Shunpei Aoyama try to press Yuki for answers since a CCTV caught Yuki and Takuya within the restricted area. Luckily Eiji has got his answers prepared so they can’t prod further. Wow. Eiji’s place is a mansion?! I guess when he meant it was a good place to hide, it meant luxurious. Yumiko stays by Takuya’s side. She is shocked when Suzuna is here. Don’t worry, she won’t kill him but to offer her info. Ryouko goes to see freelance detective, Keigo Hidaka to find out more info on Takuya since she has a hunch he used to be in this same profession as him. Takuya wakes up and is updated by Yumiko. He asks about Seiji but is told he just died in an accident. Ryouko tries her luck and talks to Yuki again. She talks about her own father who was an officer whom she looked up to. But when he became a victim of Lost, she became frustrated rather than sad. That’s why she became an officer and still believes he is still alive. This reignites hope in Yuki for hers. A little PR goes a long way because now Yuki opens up on what the Agency had done to her. Ryouko tries to investigate a lab belonging to Lacuna. She should know better she can’t search around without a warrant and is of course turned away. Ryouko gets scolded by her superior for snooping where her nose doesn’t belong but if her instincts tell her, it is only because she is getting close to the truth. Keigo has found an old picture of Takuya. Ryouko looks at some old real estate files and finds a contract of Lacuna trying to buy a certain factory for their second research facility. Although they won the bid, they retracted soon after. As the date shows the day before Lost, it only confirms they knew Lost was going to happen. Suddenly Shunpei stabs her! Yup, this guy is from the Agency. So he doesn’t make sure she’s dead?! Yumiko talks to Yuki about Suzuna’s info. Souma is still alive. As long as she heads toward Lost, he will appear again. Is she is not resolved to do not, please don’t involve Takuya. Yuki’s answer? She wants to save Souma. I guess we’re going.

Episode 5
Yuuji reports to Keigo that Aoyama’s body is found floating at the port. Ryouko’s division has been shut and the chief transferred out. Though they are frustrated with this, it seems Keigo has another plan. A plan that involves the famous magician, Yoshiaki. He goes to see Takuya and knows about Phantom Thief Brigade X that Takuya and Yumiko once tried to catch but failed. The team’s leader, Tsubasa is Yoshiaki’s older brother whom he hasn’t seen in 10 years. He hopes to make a deal so he can see him again. Yuki notices an Artefact known as Tsuki’s Tears is on display at a museum. Because Souma had something similar. Eiji explains research showed it had mystic powers and it is believed to give wielders powers. Now, Yoshiaki believes Hoshi’s Tears that Brigade is holding is its pair and hence they will target Tsuki’s Tears. Takuya and Yumiko are suspicious. Because Hoshi’s Tears is in the Agency’s hands. Could it be Brigade and Agency are connected? If so, this could be a trap. Takuya’s side are heading towards the museum but they are intercepted by Brigade. So putting out Eiji’s van is enough? Flashback shows Tsubasa tried to ambush when Taiyou the boss of the Agency was trying to make some deal. However his secretary, Tsuki protected him and received a huge slash on her back. It left a hideous scar. Was Tsubasa in despair that he got killed? When Brigade prepares to steal Tsuki’s Tears, they are shocked to see Souma and in possession of the real Hoshi’s Tears. Flashback shows they tried to prove to Tsubasa they can also steal something without him but unfortunately the Hoshi’s Tears they stole was fake. Souma wastes no time to pulverize them. Meanwhile Takuya’s side realizes Hoshi’s Tears is not in its display. I believe they aren’t so dumb to leave it unguarded, right? Besides, where’s security in this place?! Then they go join in the fight. Takuya and Brigade’s side accuse the other of working with Souma. But Souma is not happy to see Takuya alive and tries to kill him. Oh just in time for Akira to pop up to protect him! Apparently Souma also has bad blood with Akira. When mom died, Souma blamed him for not protecting her despite being their bodyguard.

Episode 6
I guess who shoots better projection wins and looks like Souma is having the upper hand. It took a while for Akira to use his submachine guns but that’s still not good enough. Yoshiaki tries to be a hero and intervene but fails. However this distraction allows Akira to shoot and destroy Hoshi’s Tears. Don’t be happy yet. Souma has another trick up his sleeve. Yup, he has Tsuki’s Tears. He summons Tsubasa from it and has him blast Akira with his magic icicles. Cue for short flashback showing how his subordinates followed him because he’s a nice chap? I guess Akira holding out this long means Yuki’s determination is strong, right? Well, she can’t hold out longer. It’s really killing her. After Akira is destroyed, Souma orders Tsubasa to kill Yoshiaki. We can see Tsubasa reluctant and purposely missing his icicles. I guess we never learn because with Souma being mad and distracted, the Brigade guys manage to make him drop Tsuki’s Tears from his hand. Yoshiaki picks it up and feels some connection to Tsubasa. He uses his power to make it disappear. Now Souma is the one panicking as he loses power. Yoshiaki now access Tsubasa’s memories. The memories he never knew. As they were part of an orphanage for disabled kids, it seems the kids also underwent experiments. Tsubasa made a fuss with his ability to make things disappear. This was so that the attention can now be brought upon him. With the focus on him, he vowed to destroy all Artefacts before Yoshiaki’s power awakens. Only then he can be truly free. Tsubasa formed his little Brigade and subsequently got caught up during Lost because he received a distress call from Yoshiaki, thinking Taiyou did something to him. The brothers say their last goodbyes before Tsubasa is gone forever. Now that the Brigade wants to cut up Souma, Yuki won’t let them yet. She tries to save Souma but he accuses her of always thinking she is always right. I guess he can’t jump to his death because big sister’s hug saves the day. Tsuki blames Suzuna for this failed plan because now Souma is in the enemy’s hands. She should have seen this coming. Even so, Suzuna notes this is what Taiyou wanted. Souma is unconscious and ‘safe’ at Eiji’s place. They need to do something before Agency comes for him. Takuya and Yoshiaki meet Keigo who wants them to head to the orphanage.

Episode 7
The moment they step into the orphanage, they are transported back in time. Looks like some Tamashi still has regrets. And Takuya believes it is Hinako, one of the caretakers of the orphanage. It all began when Takuya tried to save Geek when he raked up debts in some bar. Of course the punks can’t ‘joke’ so before they deal with him, Kaibara stepped in to warn them and they back off. Takuya was then invited to join Kaibara’s detective agency and introduced to Yumiko. Takuya continued training and before you know it, he became their ace. So to show appreciation, Kaibara gave him his scooter? Gee, thanks. One day, Kaibara wanted Takuya to investigate the orphanage as they are being suspected of child abuse. Hence Takuya went undercover as a caretaker. He noticed there is a certain line of thought that runs through the orphanage and free thinking like Takuya isn’t welcomed. It is obvious that the more Hinako interacts with Takuya, the more she wavers in her beliefs. Takuya’s regret was never pressing her about the children who were chosen that were taken away from the orphanage. The reason given was they were to meet prospective parents but we know the real reason was that they were sent to the lab. However Takuya had a hunch what was going on but before he could do anything, Kaibara pulls him out of the investigation and drops the case. Takuya even saw Kaibara talking to the orphanage’s principal and should’ve continued investigating after being taken off the case. On the day Hinako invited him to go watch the circus with the kids, he declined with reason he tendered his resignation. Yes, that day was Lost. The current Takuya regretted not stopping her and now tries to do so. Hinako tells him her wish is to tell the kids the truth when they get back and thanks Takuya for changing their line of thought. With the regrets taken care of, Takuya and co return to normal time. Shortly after that incident, Takuya quit the detective agency but kept the scooter as he wanted to continue believing in Kaibara. Keigo thought he wasted time looking through the documents in the safe but it’s all trash. But Takuya knows where Hinako kept the documents. In the birdhouse, there is a ledger of financial records that links the orphanage to Lacuna. With this damning evidence, Yoshiaki is willing to risk everything to testify as live witness. When they return, Yuki sees the orphanage’s group photo and recognizes the principal as she has seen him many times in the facility. Takuya and Yumiko are surprised because they thought the Agency disposed of him.

Episode 8
Yoshiaki puts up the greatest magician show. Making it look like he is going to randomly make a building disappear, that building is Lacuna! With that, people and reporters flock outside Lacuna hoping to glimpse this magic. I hope he isn’t pulling off a Lost style disappearance. With this commotion, Takuya, Yuki and Geek manage to get in via their fake IDs and Geek streams the inside live. They confront the principal who has been promoted to some director but he calls the Agents to beat them up. We didn’t see how but Takuya manages to beat the sh*t out of them! These guys need more training! The principal somewhat confesses he did it all for the money to run the orphanage. So in a way, he’s still thinking about the kids, right?! Meanwhile Yoshiaki turns this magic show into some big revelation as he reveals he was an experiment subject at Lacuna. With the public now hounding for answers, the police take action to take Taiyou and Tsuki in for questioning. Taiyou surprisingly agrees. After Takuya and co leave Lacuna, they are being told Souma is starting to act strange. Damn, this kid is shooting light beams now?! Taiyou’s interrogation won’t last long as the commissioner is his lapdog and apologizes for all this and sets him free. It seems all this is part of Taiyou’s plan to test Souma. He considers him a failure as he can’t control himself without an Artefact. As he didn’t go berserk after losing Tsuki’s Tears, that is because Yuki was nearby and served as his Artefact. Now she’s away… Yup, he is displaying symptoms of Lost. It’s like an excuse that he has to die for Lost to be triggered because this allows the city to be evacuated. Of course Yuki won’t let this go. Once again, Takuya delivers her as far as he can but when his scooter can go no more, damn is Yuki flying????!!! Oh, it’s Akira. I wonder how his machine guns can fight against the light beams. Nope. Lost. But he did bring Yuki closer to Souma who is now a big ugly blob. She hears him hate everything, fear everything, don’t come close, don’t want to die. Then she hugs him. He explodes but not Lost v2. Yuki sad her brother’s gone. Taiyou disappointed Lost didn’t happen.

Episode 9
Daichi along with Taiyou and Tsuki were researchers at Lacuna. One day, Ryouko’s dad came to investigate Daichi because a person who died 50 years ago somehow had the same dental records as him. So what? Murder for stolen identity? In time, the trio quickly rise up to the top thanks to Taiyou and Tsuki systematically disposing the higher ups. With them in control of the lab, it is revealed that they are from another universe. There were many other volunteers too but it is not known what happened to them and the 3 of them are left. That’s why Taiyou wants Daichi to concentrate in creating a portal to save millions in their own decaying universe. This is called Project Noah. So theoretically to open that portal, an immense amount of info is needed and it will open a big hole in Tokyo, hence the more people, the better. While Daichi was working on the portal, Taiyou and Tsuki were handling the bioengineering. They were testing kids with abilities and trying to filter out those who aren’t affected by the surge particle because people must move freely through the portal without losing their memories. However Daichi soon gets romantically involved (an awkward one, that is) with the nice cafeteria lady, Mifuyu. He sympathizes that some people hate her because her bus driver dad killed many. The real story goes when she was sick, he worked extra hours to cover the medical expenses but that backfired. She liked his idea and theory of a parallel world because she wished there was one where she never existed and her dad could do his job happily. With Daichi’s work affected, Taiyou warns him not to prioritize a single life over millions. But you know, they both fell in love and had their first child named Yuki. That was when Taiyou blew his top because he thought a being that is not fully from either universe has been born. Daichi believed she has both and her existence is not a contradictory. Daichi warns if they touch his family, he will kill them. Though Daichi claims the portal will soon be ready, Taiyou warns back to run tests and no more slowdowns are allowed. Or else. Many years later as he has completed some safety device and is going to run tests to ensure it won’t be used for evil (yeah, they always think that), somehow WTF how in the world did those agents hack and disable the safety features?! That is when Lost happened. Daichi realizes he has failed to protect the ones he loves but believes there is still a chance. Whatever encryption he left behind was picked up by Eiji, his researcher partner.

Episode 10
Surprise! Kouta is still alive! Apparently Kaibara saved him. Takuya is in disbelief because he thinks that guy is now on the Agency’s side but Kouta claims he is the one who is misunderstanding Kaibara. While Takuya’s scooter is being fixed, we see Kikyou talking to depressed Yuki, Eiji trying to lay off Takuya from his delivery job as well as Taiyou explaining to Tsuki and Suzuna. Just to let us know that now everybody knows the truth. It seems the Lost created by Souma isn’t over yet and is slowly expanding. Albeit it will take decades. The reason being could be Daichi doing something to suppress its expansion. Because Taiyou tried to send messages there but none was received, only that single message from Daichi was received. It could be the reason why Yuki is heading there. Hence Taiyou thought let Yuki run free or Souma go berserk. But the answer is simpler: Eliminate Daichi. He is going to do so by entering Lost. What about the surge particle thingy? That’s what the experiments are for. Of course so far all have failed as the test subjects at the minimum limit turn into vegetative state or in worst case, die. So we see the gang hang out and kill some time. Yeah, Takuya’s scooter must be the most important factor. For some reason, Yumiko called Kouta to ask Takuya to get some tomatoes. This leads him to a farm whereby he sees Kaibara being a happy tomato farmer! A few words of advice. Including his life is how he sees fit to live it. I guess that’s enough to make Takuya’s day. Taiyou’s experiments continue to fail. He then starts thinking maybe they themselves can’t be affected since they’re from the other universe. Tsuki can’t take any more of this so she offers to be the test subject. Everything goes well and she still remembers her memories. Then Taiyou decides to up everything to the max! Oh sh*t! Looking scared now, huh?! But it did confirm Taiyou’s hypothesis… Meanwhile, a weird conversation between Takuya and Yuki. They’re talking about the kind of normal life and house they want to live in. Is this a sign they want to date after all this? Once Takuya’s scooter is ready, it’s time to ride to hell. Hold on to your seatbelts. In Yuki’s case, hold on tight to him.

Episode 11
Takuya and Yuki continue their journey. They see Taiyou’s team and realize he is already making his move to Lost. Better hurry. Yoshiaki and Brigade hand them a transmitter so they can stay connected with the rest while in Lost. Wait. Nobody knows anything in Lost so how do they even know this technology can work?! Meanwhile, the rest are trying to hack and storm into Lacuna facilities. I see that’s why they need to hack the antenna so they can constantly stay connected to Takuya and Yuki. Don’t worry. It’ll be easy. Those agents are dumb. But Geek is having a hard time trying to hack and decrypt the password security. Until a member of Brigade (hacker loli, rather) helps by hooking him up to some super computer so everything is okay. Taiyou is at the fringes of Lost as he relieves Suzuna of her duties. Suzuna then points her gun at him. It seems her real intention is to get revenge on him for all the people he sacrificed for his test. By the time Takuya and Yuki arrive, Suzuna is close to death. Shot by her former employer. She tells them Taiyou has gone into Lost by himself and apologizes to Yuki for making her go through a lot. Too late, but I guess it’s better than never. Takuya and Yuki dive into Lost. Do they even need to ride the scooter? Whatever. They experience weird flashbacks. Is this some sort of pseudo summary of important things that have happened to them? Anyway, those flashbacks also feel like regrets that they could have done something. As the duo are like living zombie since Lost is taking a toll on them, Taiyou is still cool and sinking deeper. He finally enters an area where Daichi is. The latter only existing in digital format. We return to the memories of the duo. This time, Takuya is losing his recognition of Yuki. Who this girl? And somehow the moment they touch, they get their memories back and resume their ride deeper into Lost. I suppose that is why others keep telling us in that hopeless situation when they lost contact of the duo in Lost (pun not intended), only their strong bonds allow their memories to stay intact as long as they continue supporting each other. How convenient. Breaking through, they see Taiyou trying to kill digital Daichi. How do strangle something made out of 1’s and 0’s? Yuki is distraught and summons Akira for his submachine gun overkill! Sure she won’t hit her father like that?!

Episode 12
At least Akira did something good by blocking Taiyou’s super blast. Taiyou thinks the reason Daichi is trying to prevent Lost is Yuki. He wants to eliminate her but he starts to feel the effects. The medicine effects wearing off? Daichi then tells him it is because he is alone. One’s existence is maintained from continual mutual confirmation. With Tsuki being the last one who believes in him, I guess Taiyou can’t be God anymore. Daichi reveals the reason he brought Yuki here is because she can choose worlds. As an observer, she has the ability to do everything over. We are shown scenes of Yuki living a happy and normal family life. Taiyou and Tsuki are sentenced to prison over their exploitation of the orphanage’s kids. Ryouko’s dad has been credited in bringing them down although Takuya’s infiltration was also a large part to play in that. Yoshiaki and Tsubasa continue to remain together. SPR5 continues to perform. This is what the future should have been and Daichi wants Yuki to choose. However she won’t. WHAT?! Despite the tragedy of Lost, everyone lived on so desperately. Choosing one means to deny the existence of the other. Also, this is to show that they are not as weak as he thinks. WTF?! SINCE WHEN YOU A MASOCHIST, YUKI?! Oh, father must be so heartbroken that he did this all for her only to be wasted. Because Taiyou returns to crush this dude! Yuki, see what you’ve done?! However Taiyou (not looking a lot like some last boss demon monster) starts to grow weak. It seems there is some shard embedded in his heart. He remembers when Suzuna shot him, part of her bullet managed to get stuck there. Suzuna’s ability is to predict the future. All paths ended in failure except for this outcome that technically didn’t spell success outright, but it wasn’t a failure. Good thing Akira left his gun because now Takuya can guide Yuki to shot one in Taiyou. Daichi then holds Taiyou back and tells the duo to get out on the scooter. Vroom! But it seems Brigade only finds Yuki lying unconscious. In the aftermath, we see Yoshiaki still a small time magician, Keigo still a small time detective, Kouta is Kaibara’s tomato farmer assistant, Eiji, Kikyou and Geek forming a new Lost committee to recruit talents to help solve this Lost problem and Yuki living a pretty normal high school life. Unfortunately she has no memories of Takuya. You mean only him? Despite no news of Takuya’s whereabouts, either they’re doing a bad job or just straight out lying to protect him (for whatever reasons). Because we see him riding his trademark yellow scooter (can’t miss it)… STALKING YUKI?! I guess he didn’t want to call out to her so he leaves her familiar ribbon on the post. Recall something?

Still Lost And Never Found Ever After
WTF?! What the heck is this weak and unsatisfying ending?! Yuki not remembering Takuya anymore feels like a sad ending. But since it isn’t confirmed that ribbon would spark her memories back, I guess it is up to us to interpret if we want to or not. But it doesn’t matter. Because unlike Yuki, we don’t have the ability to choose worlds! WTF?! I still can’t believe Yuki chose the status quo path which has everyone continuing their suffering. I guess she lost too much (pun intended) that she has gone crazy so there is no difference at all with the outcome staying the same. It could have been utopia and paradise but nope. She didn’t want that. No siree. She’s so kind so as not to deny the other existence whom we’d all probably won’t give a f*ck nor remember had she chosen that. Uh huh. Screw the other people from the other universe. Oh Yuki, your actions have killed the future of millions! You’ve also wasted daddy’s efforts because if this is what Yuki chose, is there any reason for him to delay Lost? Besides, the final episode also feel so rushed and had a few things shoehorned in especially Taiyou conveniently being defeated. I guess he didn’t see things that far ahead, huh? Suzuna’s character being written just for this convenient role and some other stuffs that prevents Taiyou from being Almighty, oh well, that’s the path we’ve chosen. Also, it’s not clear whether Taiyou perished along with Daichi or they remained trapped in that hell hole for eternity. But whatever. And how was only Yuki found unconscious after escaping Lost? My guts tell me Takuya rode out and left her there. That’s why you don’t see him around. Hey, mission accomplished. Delivered her to and back. Not like he’s getting extra paid.

I believe the story has been a train wreck from the start. Rather, a scooter that has taken on so much damage and continue to limp its way to the finish line. Feels a lot like that. I think they want to keep up with the intrigue and the mysteries surrounding Lost and hence they added in all those elements to ramp up the captivation level but it got messy and beating around the bush that I felt it was just an ultimate fail. Thus the only ‘interesting’ episode was the flashback on Taiyou and Daichi, their true goals and intentions. The mystery behind Lost somewhat solved. But it still didn’t take away the bad pacing and storytelling of the rest of the other episodes like how they deviate and meander with that SPR5 time looping déjà vu crap and Yoshiaki and Tsubasa’s past. It’s not that we understand anything much about this Tamashi thingy. Just an excuse that serves as Yuki’s ‘weapon’ because Takuya’s scooter can only do so much. We also have Takuya’s flashback doing his infiltration cover at the kindergarten job and something about Ryouko’s dad and while all those and more seem like they add something to connect it all to the bigger picture, ultimately Lost is just one big incomplete portal trying to be connected to the other universe. And the whole roundabout thingy of having sacrificial test subjects was because they fear of losing their memories while going through the portal. Yeah, it’s that simple. And the simplest way to counter that is to have f*cking strong bonds! Bonds, people! Bonds!!!

It made me wonder if Takuya and Yuki are that close. Sure, they seem to have gotten to know each other since Takuya took on this job and they’ve spent most of the subsequent moments together. I mean, it’s not like I could see them becoming an item. Could they? Not likely. At least, not from what I can see. He was just a delivery boy. She was just a test subject to be delivered. That is all. Excuses to deliver or postpone this mission only serve to drag out the plot convenience and make it seem like as though they have some sort of bond. Not that I can see that they are THAT close. No wonder that cheesy moment of them together talking about the normal life and what kind of house decorations they would like! Sheesh. Because they didn’t mention how many kids they would like, I guess that is why we aren’t confirmed they were an item or not. Even if they did, we’d be pointing fingers of this cheap and forced romance drama part. Heh. No way out of this checkmate. If that is the level of bond needed to prevent memory loss while traversing through Lost, I guess it’s pretty easy. All those high technology and researching were just a waste of time. But I suppose as a researcher you need some concrete proof of science rather than relying on guts and emotions.

I don’t feel like making a long commentary on the characters because they’re just as bad as the plot. Takuya and Yuki as the main characters, you know the drill. Then you have the other supporting characters whom you aren’t likely to remember, just because. You know they play some part in providing support to our main duo but whatever. The plot has got to move forward, right? Like the aptly named Geek who is a computer whizz, an idol crazed nerd as well as the only mechanic in town who can fix Takuya’s bike. I guess Takuya doesn’t trust those other shady overcharging mechanics to fix and juice up his precious two wheeler. Then you have Yumiko, Takuya’s former colleague whom, oh I don’t know what her role is. Eiji and Kikyou trying to get to the bottom of this Lost message. They don’t really seem prominent or of significant. Except maybe for that brief period Eiji providing his luxurious mansion as respite. How the f*ck does a workaholic scientist manage to afford such a big house and land?! Was it inheritance? Keigo, some small time detective doing whatever ground work that needs to be done. Nothing that I would remember. And is Yuuji is dog helper or something? Yoshiaki, victim of the orphanage. Another really insignificant role. Now he has Tsubasa’s groupies. Like that would change anything. Kouta, why the f*ck do they have to bring this guy back and not let him stay dead like Ryouko? It’s not like an extra pair of arms can do anything, right? And Kaibara… Probably the ‘best’ character because he is happily being a tomato farmer not giving a f*ck not to get involved with the rest. You do you. By the way, I don’t like tomatoes…

I always wondered why Suzuna always have that poker face and I suppose it is to hide her real intentions. No wonder when she had so many chances to finish off the good guys, instead she dawdles and gives excuses. So she’s like a double agent, being close to Taiyou, waiting for the right moment to kill him? Why now? Why not earlier and prevent him from doing all this madness? So, the more people sacrificed, the more hatred she will build up in her heart, the more then it will justify she should kill him? Too late. She got what she deserved. Now we can’t totally think badly of her because she tried to do the good thing. Oh right, I almost forgot that soothsaying ability. How convenient. I guess lots still have to die just to reach this outcome. Mission accomplished. Now she can die happy. Same thing for Souma. Little jerk brother of Yuki has some sort of issues to pick on her big sister. Tries to come off as a strong antagonist of the series but sputters out because deep down he is still her little brother. Oh well, it was good while it lasted. And Taiyou being the baddest of the baddest, yeah, probably the producers write him that way. Killing off his subordinates with no mercy just to show us how heartless he is so that when he gets his just desserts, we won’t feel a thing for him. Don’t worry. I didn’t feel anything for the other characters too!

I probably want to say that the hidden star of this series goes to Takuya’s bike! Uh huh. I think this scooter is no doubt the highlight and poster child of this series. Maybe that is one of the reasons that intrigued me to watch. Not that I am a bike crazy fan or anything but seeing the poster of Takuya and Yuki on this bike, well, why do I have a feeling that this bike is also the star? And you can see why because as early as in the first episode, it did a lot of bat sh*t crazy stunts and survived! This bike withstood all the energy projection attacks from Tamashi and is still able to continue moving! Is this freaking awesome or not?! Just a little tweaking and maintenance and this bike is as good as always. Damn, I wonder what it is made of anyway. And they gave that cheesy flashback that Kaibara gave it to him so as to convince us why Takuya is so attached to this bike rather than getting a new one. After how it did the impossible, I can see why he won’t sell or trade this for a better one. And even in the final push, Takuya brings his scooter into Lost itself! I bet his bond with his bike is stronger! Haha! Hey, it got them out of Lost, didn’t it?! In the event if they lose their memories, maybe the bike won’t. What if the bike is Takuya’s Tamashi?! Holy sh*t!!!

This is supposed to be an action sci-fi, right? Fail too! Firstly, those stupid mindless agent clones from the Agency are comparable to all other useless goons you see in other shows and genres. Their numbers might look threatening but it is easy to take them out. I can understand if they are lifeless clones but I don’t think so because if they are normal humans like you and me, it would be a great shame and should be sent back to training. As bad as these cheesy action to fight off easy agents, the battles with Tamashi is over the top absurd! First we got a heavy monk and then some knife throwing hoodie. Whatever happened to them? I guess we don’t care. Even more absurd is Yuki’s ability to summon Akira for his firing power overkill. I think that was the one that broke my camel’s back. Because I can’t contain my laughter anymore and started cracking up. So are they saying that Yuki’s bond to Akira is a lot stronger than Souma or her father? Otherwise, why can’t she summon her dad as he might bombard his enemies with his digital projection! 0101 data coming your way! It all seems like a loose and poor execution to why this Akira character even exist. Like I said about those Agency’s goons, they’re incompetent so Daichi just needs to hire one gun totting bodyguard in case Taiyou decides to move on his family.

The animation is also poor that it makes you wonder if this is the same Madhouse staff that produced other animes like One Punch Man, No Game No Life, Highschool Of The Dead, Overlord, Black Lagoon and even Death Note. If I should say, the animation and even the characters look and feel sloppy. With the Lost area being cordoned off and abandoned for a long time, they want to give off this dystopian feel but with such bad quality, it feels like this anime is the one that is being affected by Lost! And the oddest character design goes to Yuki. No, not how she looks but rather the way she dresses. Even when everyone else is somewhat casually dressed, it is mind boggling for Yuki to wear a sleeveless white dress wherever she goes. Yeah, you might want to cover up a little considering the harsh environment she is getting into. Especially when she rides with Takuya? And doesn’t her white dress get dirty? Damn, she stands out like a sore thumb because her dress is like so bright compared to the rest! Even Kouta dressing sharply in his suit and Tsubasa’s Brigade dressing like cosplay weirdoes aren’t so bad.

This series has got a few famous seiyuus voicing its main characters. Particularly, Tomokazu Sugita as Takuya and Kana Hanazawa as Yuki and Mifuyu. All I can say is that their talents are wasted on this poorly written story and characters they play. It’s not their fault they can’t bring the best of their characters out, it’s because of this poor limitation that they are unable to fully release their potential. The other recognizable seiyuus having their wasted talents here include Ayane Sakura as Suzuna, Kenjiro Tsuda as Daichi, Yoshitsugu Matsuoka as Yoshiaki, Yuuichi Nakamura as Akira and Mamoru Miyano as Seiji. The rest of the other casts are Hidenoari Takahashi as Taiyou (Waka in Amnesia), Taisuke Nishimura as Geek, Ayaka Asai as Souma (Hazuki in Hibike! Euphonium), Tarusuke Shingaki as Eiji (Kariya in Fate/Zero), Mitsuki Nakae as Yumiko (Tsubaki in Hagane Orchestra), Masaki Terasoma as Keigo (Kiroranke in Golden Kamuy), Asami Imai as Tsuki (Ikaruga in Senran Kagura), Nobunaga Shimazaki as Tsubasa (Itsuka in Date A Live), Aimi Terakawa as Kikyou (Kasumi in BanG Dream), Makoto Takahashi as Kouta (Kouta in Majimoji Rurumo), Tomoyo Kurosawa as Ryouko (Kumiko in Hibike! Euphonium).

Something that doesn’t suck: The opening theme, Kotae by Mao Abe. This energetic hard rock outfit would have been really awesome had the series itself at least being decent. Now I feel that this song is a waste to be put into such mediocre series because this song isn’t that bad. It’s edgy as well as it’s badass to say the least. And then from hero to zero. Because the ending theme is like so out of place and WTF. With Your Breath by SPR5 is such a lively typical idol music that doesn’t fit the setting of this series. You know how mostly gloom and despair the episodes are. Suddenly they have this happy fanfare blasting at the start of the ending song which really makes you go “Huh?! WTF?!”. Really. I suppose this is the only way SPR5 can get its fair share of limelight. What a way to make your debut. Yeah, they got zapped by Lost and killed off! I prefer the special ending theme, Hello Again ~Mukashi Kara Aru Basho~ by Kana Hanazawa (I almost mistake its name to be some alternate cover on Adele’s Hello). Though a generic pop music and still lively, but at least I get to hear Kana Hanazawa’s cute voice while singing it. There are also some other BGM which are dramatic electronic music but they aren’t that memorable.

Overall, this is one big disaster that it seems Lost did not only affect the people and the plot of this anime but it also bombed for all of us who were unfortunate enough to have watched it. Yeah, you could say they really lost the plot and we all lost it with this crap! Haha! Pun intended! Poor storyline pacing and execution as well as uninteresting characters did not help in improving the intrigue of this series especially when some of the action scenes are just downright mediocre or ridiculous. Sometimes we feel we want to walk through the Lost portal and lose our memories of this series but that won’t do because it would mean we might repeat the same mistake and go watch it again. Maybe better to summon a Rambo Tamashi and shoot this series to bits! Haha! Oops. Hopefully, the mobile game that it was adapted on would fare better but since as usual I didn’t play it (nor have I heard of it until I watched this anime), I wouldn’t know. I suppose that is why they also call this series as Afterlost. Because it’s supposed to stay lost after that. Where I End and You Begin? It ended even before it began to lift off! This is also where I end trash talking this series and begin watching another one. I’m such a lost sheep of sci-fi animes after all…

W’z

August 3, 2019

This is so wack, my man. I never really thought Hand Shakers would get a sequel and I never really thought W’z (pronounced as Wise and not Wiz as I thought) was that sequel. When I first read the synopsis, I never really gave much thought about it as it says something about a genius DJ prodigy kid. Nothing hinted of any sorts it was related to Hand Shakers. I thought this would be some music themed anime and even so, it was strange for me to get interested in the DJ genre. DJ and those techno club music aren’t my tea so naturally I would have given this a pass. Something didn’t mesh apparently so I ended up checking it out. Until I watched through the first episode that I started realizing there are pretty familiar things. Oh dear. Too late. Really, this is just so wack, my man…

Episode 1
It is 10 years later from the events that ended in Hand Shakers. There is a young boy going viral on the internet. Dubbed as W’z, this genius DJ who is getting many hooked with his music is actually Yukiya Araki. He is on his way to start his new term of middle high school and because he isn’t concentrating, the mere touch of an innocent by-stander causes her to temporarily enter Ziggurat. Though, she loses her memories of her time in Ziggurat when she returns. Yukiya wants to take up music at Kita Asuka Academy. However his father opposes it very much and it looks like Yukiya is going heed his advice. Along the way, he meets Masaru who takes an interest in him and suggests meeting Koyori who is a teacher at that school. Masaru leaves when Yukiya’s childhood friend, Haruka Tosabori arrives to accompany him to school. Yukiya thinks he has no talent since his video wasn’t that well received. Haruka disagrees and to prove he has much more talent than that, she suggests doing whatever crazy thing he has on his mind. That night in the crowded streets, the duo set up the DJ equipment right smack in the crowd. Yeah, nobody cares. When they hold hands, they enter Ziggurat. They don a mask as he streams live his DJ talent. Some people are stumped because they are watching this video right in this spot and they can’t see this dude anywhere. Yukiya realizes they are under attack and goes to protect Haruka. Not just 1 but 2 pairs of enemies, Hana Mihara-Senri Teshima and Gai Kishiwada-Masataka Sakai. They are here to steal his power. Yukiya manages to deflect their attacks with his Nimrod sword.

Episode 2
Because the enemies are busy trying to outdo each other, this allowed Yukiya and Haruka to escape. At school, Yukiya sees Koyori. He experiences some weird flashback/trance when she touches him. Koyori can tell he is W’z (did Yukiya seriously think that mask was enough to hide is identity?!) and although he has seen many of his videos, she wants to ask the recent one where he entered Ziggurat. It seems Yukiya has this ability to enter Ziggurat by holding anyone’s hands. The caveat is that they cannot summon Nimrod and they lose their memories when they leave. But Koyori touches him again and nothing happens. She cannot enter Ziggurat anymore and she has a request of him since there are people she wants to find trapped in there. It is believed that Nagaoka and Mayumi met God. However they went missing after that and Koyori has never seen them since. With Yukiya’s ability to enter Ziggurat anywhere, she hopes he can help find them. She also notes the dangers that will follow him as there will be people targeting him. She wants to protect him and the best people to do so are those ex-Hand Shakers. We hear the wishes of the other parties. Gai and Masataka want to stay in Ziggurat forever while Hana and Senri want to get rid of this power and hold hands like normal. Yukiya returns home. He needs to face his father who is still opposed to the school of his choice. It seems his parents, Reijirou and Yukine are ex- Hand Shakers whom we knew as Break and Bind respectively.

Episode 3
Yukiya tells Haruka that he deleted his recent video after receiving lots of comments. He is still unsure what to do so Haruka believes he is afraid because he is unsure what the right thing to do is. The ex-Hand Shakers of Chizuru, Hayate, Koyori, Lily and Masaru converge at the former’s restaurant. However Reijirou crashes in and picks a fight with Masaru whom he believes is the one influencing his son. Masaru claims removing him from the problem will not solve anything as he will eventually face off with other Hand Shakers. After cooling down with a cuppa, they discuss about Yukiya already deleting the original but you know the internet, what is uploaded will always stay there forever. Yeah, clones of his videos everywhere. Further revelation shows that Yukiya isn’t really Reijirou and Yukine’s son. He is their adopted son, though he doesn’t know that now. Flashback shows some shady characters gave baby Yukiya to them to be raised and grown in Ziggurat, free of combat and strife. The main point of discussion is Yukiya isn’t just able to bring anyone into Ziggurat, he was able to bring in something huge like his entire DJ equipment. If this is so, can he bring something out of Ziggurat too? This is dangerous as there are people who want to use this power for criminal activities. All of them despite not being able to summon their Nimrods, want to protect and advise Yukiya. After all this, Reijirou still refuses. He is tired of dealing with Hand Shakers and the likes. Of course his wife talks to him about respecting what Yukiya wants to do. And when that happens, all they can do is simply watch over him. Yukiya finally arrives at the restaurant and he feels awkward with Koyori being close to him. Does this guy like her?

Episode 4
Hayate and Yukiya enter Ziggurat to start looking. It’s a boring conversation until Hayate mentions about Tazuna being Koyori’s partner. But he had to travel around the country to do some business. And this made Yukiya mad because he ‘abandoned’ her?! Sure, complain what a jerk he is to Haruka. She plays along and to calm him down, she gives him tickets to Western King Fest musical event whereby his favourite DJ, Nielsen Fumiyuki will be playing there. Next time, Yukiya pairs up with Chizuru for the search. She talks about how great Tazuna was. Because they met God, Koyori is now able to live normally and not always hold Tazuna’s hands to exist. But Yukiya still seething he ‘abandoned’ her? When they return, Haruka gets the wrong idea of Yukiya ‘dating’ a ‘loli’. Yeah, it’s that taboo word but to prove Chizuru is an adult, she doesn’t blow her top. Chizuru tries to set up Yukiya and Haruka as a date. But that has to be put on hold since Gai and Masataka are here. Back to Ziggurat to fight. Worse, Hana and Senri are here too. Chizuru and Senri are shocked to see each other since Senri works at Chizuru’s place as a part timer. This is awkward. Soon they start fighting but this time the enemies make a pact to cooperate against Yukiya. But whoever defeats him first wins. Chizuru realizes that without a goal or desire to protect someone, Yukiya cannot win. Thanks to Yukiya’s irregular power, Chizuru is able to draw her Nimrod. She clones themselves to escape back to reality. Even so, the enemies still want to fight and Yukiya is tired and injured during that battle. Don’t worry. Finally Tazuna shows up for help. Holding Yukiya’s hands to go back into Ziggurat, the enemies are now certain about his abilities to have different partners to enter Ziggurat. Remember Tazuna’s Nimrod of gears? Welcome back.

Episode 5
Tazuna easily defeats them and suggests they pull back. Wise choice. They can’t defeat him as they are now. In school, Tazuna discovers a transmitter underneath Yukiya’s belt. That’s why they knew where he is. Tazuna has a heart to heart talk with Yukiya inside Ziggurat. He explains they are the same because of their ability to summon Nimrods as they like. Tazuna understands his worries as when he became a Hand Shaker for the first time, he was also targeted. But with his feelings to protect Koyori strong, he overcame all that. Of course with a few slip ups. Yukiya’s Nimrod that he names Disk is the core of his heart so when he is lost, take a look at yourself. Senri now can’t return to Chizuru’s restaurant. So she’s going to ignore all her messages? The girls get their details of W’z from this mysterious informer known only as Composer. He sounds shady but they have no choice but to trust his info as that’s all the lead they’ve got. With them reminding us how they want to rid of this power, time to see flashback snippets of their close relationship together since kindergarten. Yeah, Senri got bullied and Hana came to her rescue. Lots of handholding until they’re grownup. Is it because they hold hands too much that one day they find themselves in Ziggurat? In school, Yukiya is shocked that he and Haruka enter Ziggurat despite not touching each other. So now close proximity can also trigger this? And you bet Hana and Senri are on the offensive. They are much stronger than before because thanks to their flashback bonding. I don’t know why Yukiya is standing there just defending and protecting Haruka and getting injured. I know Haruka is also hurt so shouldn’t they hide in some structure? I’m sure the girls only target Yukiya so if he runs elsewhere, they won’t bother with Haruka. I don’t think taking hostage is their style. Because of this, cue for flashback of Yukiya and Haruka’s childhood moments. Yeah, they’re close, right? I suppose the power of yuri makes Hana and Senri even more powerful. Hell yeah, their handphone charged right up to 150%!!! If only my battery can last that long! But WTF, banzai to the power of yuri!!!

Episode 6
Will the power of yuri penetrate through Yukiya? Not if Haruka helps power up and cuts through them first! Now Senri and Hana are at Chizuru’s restaurant and siding with them? They believe Composer has lied to them and only using them. Because now they have officially lost, he blocked them from his contacts. Also, Senri and Hana lost means they are unable to go into Ziggurat. Something they have wanted all along and was as simple as just losing. The gang discusses about Composer and how he leaked info to mislead others. Because Yukiya’s position was also known despite the transmitter was destroyed, it could either be him or those other guys. The only sensible thing is to confront them. Yukiya wants to come along since this is his fight. Gai and Masataka thought they were going to meet up with Senri and Hana to fight Yukiya but realize they have flipped sides. It is confirmed the transmitter was from them and since they refuse to destroy its records, they’re going to fight. This time Yukiya is paired with Masaru to handle the duo. I guess it’s due for their flashback. When they were kids and on some camping trip with Nagaoka and Makihara, that was when they learnt about Hand Shakers for the first time. Through the years, Gai developed interest in hiking the mountains and stargazing. Other friends didn’t share the same ‘boring’ hobby except for Masataka. Okay, he looked uninterested too but he plays along. That’s when they made their dream to go into Ziggurat if they can’t go into space. During the battle, Gai falls into Masaru’s trap cards, immobilizing him. This allows Yukiya to go after Masataka. Meanwhile Tazuna and Koyori bump into Nielsen. Koyori remembers him at her father’s lab a long time ago. Nielsen wants to talk to Yukiya since Midori Okuike of Okuike Group is making his move. Yeah, that’s the company that sponsored Koyori’s father’s research. Are things starting to come around?

Episode 7
With Masataka in danger, Gai forcefully breaks himself out even if it means hurting himself. But with Yukiya right in Masataka’s aim, he shoots at Gai. Is that on purpose? Flashback shows Masataka was a nervous wreck when he first entered Ziggurat and he hated shooting people. So Gai told him if he finds it hard to shoot anyone, shoot him. Then the game will end. With Gai down, Yukiya cuts down Masataka. Now that they’re defeated, are they like friends? As promised, they delete the data. Haruka learns Yukiya has submitted a music application not as W’z but as himself. Why does this make her feel inferior, praising he has a lot more talent than her? Cue for flashback to see how they met. Haruka took up a musical instrument just because he was good in music. Now she feels she can’t keep lying to him. Tazuna and Yukiya oddly hang out with each other. They’re getting along just fine. Yukiya didn’t expect Koyori to join in. I suppose Tazuna forgot to tell him. At the karaoke, Yukiya is tone deaf. But Koyori continues to support him… Real partners stick through thick and thin, right? When Yukiya brings Tazuna back to his home, it looks like Reijirou wants to fight him but it’s his crude way of greeting this dude. They’re friends, huh? Talk about old times, they’re so modest and humble in their victory and defeat then. Although Reijirou noted Tazuna and Koyori met God, the problem is they couldn’t remember what happened after. Now they shift their attention to Yukiya. What are his ambitions? Still not sure but he wants to help Koyori find her sister with his power. At first he was afraid and scared of it because he once dragged Haruka into Ziggurat and she ended up injured. He hated it. Then he was targeted by others and caused problem for others. He knew he was lying to himself but in fact all he wanted was not to be rejected. Reijirou gives his blessing to do whatever he wants.

Episode 8
Koyori calls Haruka out late just to tell her about Yukiya lying and that Haruka has something to say to him? Oh dear. What did you do? Now you making Haruka cry harder as she blames herself for dragging him down because she isn’t good enough. She fears he will leave her and she doesn’t want that even if it means Yukiya ending up hating her. Koyori relays her experience with Tazuna. So the bottom line is to stop lying. Easier said than done. Tazuna tells Chizuru and Hayate that Midori is Composer and the one pulling the strings. Of course this info wasn’t for free and he made a deal with Nielson. It seems that DJ is still an active Hand Shaker despite never meeting God and his goal is to watch over Ziggurat and those connected to it. The school cultural festival is here. Nielsen brings his busty and sexy assistant, Tamari so they could watch W’z AKA Yukiya who is to perform here. Safe to say that everyone else is here too to see him perform. Yukiya is nervous but once he starts getting into the groove, everyone is stunned at his awesome talent. So good that even Reijirou cried. Yeah… This gives Haruka the motivation that she wants to tell him something when this is done. What a coincidence. Yukiya too. After Haruka’s band is done with their awesome gig too, the band members congratulate themselves. Then they talk about Yukiya who is pretty weird (but in a good way) and despite this makes Haruka awkward, I don’t understand why she gets worried when she realizes Yukiya was hearing this. She realizes she has lied again. Wait a minute. WTF did she say? Did she say anything?! Hence the melancholy of Haruka continues…

Episode 9
Haruka isn’t answering Yukiya’s calls. Yukiya receives a call from Seba Suchan who is calling on behalf of Midori to meet. He is hesitant until he mentions this is regarding Hand Shakers. Yukiya tells this to the rest and Tazuna will accompany him. Both meet Midori for the first time. He cuts straight to the point that ever since mankind is eating up resources in the name of development, he wants to use Yukiya’s power to bring things in and out of Ziggurat. As time moves differently there, Hand Shakers can create copies of the same world as many times despite the Ziggurat crumbles after their battle. So as we can see, Midori is able to enter Ziggurat with Seba and has duplicated loads of silver bars. So he is going to use this concept to solve resources and energy problems plaguing the world. He doesn’t call this exploitation and merely wants his assistance. Unlike other Hand Shakers with their own desires, Yukiya will become God himself and move humanity forward. Tazuna opines this will destroy the world balance. But what does Yukiya think? Since he doesn’t approve of the Hand Shakers fighting each other like those recently, Midori believes their thinking is not aligned and will talk again in the future when they are of clearer mind. Now Seba calls Haruka and brings her to meet Midori. It seems the lie she has been hiding from Yukiya is that she remembers everything that happened in Ziggurat. Though she doesn’t want Yukiya’s powers to be exploited, Midori puts it in a nice way that he is a nice kid but others will take advantage of him and at the same time he doesn’t want to force his ideals on Yukiya. He believes if Haruka can become Yukiya’s partner and act in his place, he will use all his power to protect her. They share the same path and he can help her. The clincher: We’re doing it for Yukiya. Nielsen finds out that Midori has made his move. No time to be fooling around. Time to go busting. Yukiya soon learns that Haruka transferred to another school and moved out. Wow. She really told nobody. Not even the school bothered to announce to her classmates. Feeling worried now? He goes talk to her mother and she tells him she suddenly wanted to transfer to Okuike University and living in their dorm. Wow. Things really move fast when you have the money and influence. Oh Yukiya, you now have something to tell Haruka? Something about your feelings?

Episode 10
Nielson confronts Reijirou. He was the one who handed baby Yukiya to him 10 years ago. Now he is mad that Reijirou broke his promise and let Yukiya be a Hand Shaker. He could have taken Yukiya’s powers any time but didn’t because he believed in him. Now Nielson is going to crush that boy. I guess this stems from his trauma when he was an active Hand Shaker. He lost his then partner, Jessica. Reijirou then finds Yukiya and can tell he is having trouble. So Yukiya tells him what he knows about Midori and Haruka being taken away just because he refused. But it could be that Haruka went on her own volition rather than being forced. Father is going to give him a ride to the dorms to settle his business. Along the way, he reveals the truth about Yukiya being adopted. Even though not his own child, he loves him as his own. Why say so when he knows this isn’t an appropriate time? But thankfully Yukiya didn’t freak out. He somewhat knows. There were no pictures of him in his younger days. He wasn’t entirely sure but with this revelation, he is now. Entering Ziggurat, they are confronted with Seba. Damn, what a waste of the bike as he cuts it in half! He wants them to leave. No can do. If Haruka doesn’t want to see Yukiya, why is she here?! Seba and Reijirou face off. The latter might be a bit rusty and gets beat down. But nothing like a father’s love to turn the tables and turn it into some head butting fight? Whoever has the hardest head wins. Meanwhile Yukiya and Haruka have no choice but to fight since they’re stubborn. Haruka condemning herself as a liar unworthy of him. He shocks her that he too is a liar. Smooth operator in session as he commends her very being who is always by his side cheering him up. Hostility turning into awkwardness when both confess they love each other. That’s not a lie, right? And Yukiya saying he wants her as his partner, is that in Hand Shaker terms? Seba won’t allow this and tries to attack Yukiya. With Reijirou pinning him down, Yukiya and Haruka combine their Nimrod to kick him out from Ziggurat. Yukiya and Haruka are back on good terms. But they can’t get out from Ziggurat. Because Nielsen and Tamari are going to defeat them.

Episode 11
Yukiya is happy to see Nielsen since he is a big fan of his. I’m sure Nielsen will give him his autograph after this but now it is Hand Shakers business first. In order to wipe out Yukiya’s power, Nielsen summons Tazuna and Koyori into Ziggurat. This is his irregular power. The offer to Tazuna was to join forces and take down Yukiya’s power. Koyori is fine if Yukiya loses that power and she can’t look for her sister anymore but Yukiya will not have that. All that is left is to battle it out. With Tazuna being formidable, I’m not sure how Yukiya and Haruka now gets it as they, uhm, summon some pog or something, attach it to their Nimrod and summon Reijirou and Yukine here?! WTF?! Whatever. Reijirou and Yukine keep Tazuna and Koyori busy so that Yukiya and Haruka could duke it out with Nielsen and Tamari. During the fight, I guess Nielsen felt Yukiya’s vibes that he truly wants to use his power to search for people. So Nielsen stops the fight and has Yukiya meet up at a certain place later. Nielsen commends Yukiya as the first irregular Hand Shaker he didn’t defeat because irregulars can cause some imbalance and that is why others show up to manipulate their powers. Not sure where in this Ziggurat, Nielsen leads Yukiya and Haruka to where Nagaoka and Mayumi are staying. Yukiya crying at the sight of seeing them? Must be so touching, huh? They explain why they choose to remain here. Nagaoka has an incurable disease that no current medicine could help. But his wish was for Mayumi and Koyori to lead normal lives and Mayumi’s wish was to stop Nagaoka’s illness. So did God heard it and granted them? Apparently stopping time in this Ziggurat is the only answer. You mean God just didn’t make Nagaoka’s illness disappear? Lame! Yukiya gets this great idea. Lend his handphone to call Koyori and let Mayumi talk to her! Damn, did they not bring any phone around here? It must be one long talk since there’s a lot to catch up for the sisters. Maybe Yukiya should leave his phone here? After they leave, it is revealed that Yukiya is the son of Nagaoka and Mayumi. Because time stopped here, the moment he was brought back to reality, that is when time came flowing back all of a sudden and he grew up many years all at once. Just weird… So I guess you can’t slow down your aging if you head back to reality.

Episode 12
Yukiya and Haruka see Midori directly. They’re here not to fight him but believe can grant his wish. Because their powers include summoning others including ex-Hand Shakers into Ziggurat, they can set up many sham victories until one is able to meet God. Now I’m confused. I thought you stopped being a Hand Shaker and lose all that power when you’re defeated? Anyway, Midori rejects this as he no longer has a wish to ask God. He shows them a giant crystal embedded in his chest. It seems Midori has also met God. What he said about saving the world was just an excuse. His true desire is to exploit the system of Hand Shakers, God and irregulars. Flashback reveals his father pushed Akutagawa and his team to hasten their research on Ziggurat. He wanted to become like Columbus discovering America, a new world. He even allowed them to use his son as experiments. However Akutagawa went missing and the only reason Midori stayed relevant was because he was a Hand Shaker. To regain his value, he met God and granted his dad’s wish. He brought out some gem from Ziggurat. He had to cut his own flesh since it was embedded into it. Father was happy and the experiment continued and it made Midori close to death. Doctors even had to operate deep into him to dig out the crystals. Seba couldn’t stand it all and shot the doctors and his father to death. When dad pleads for help from Midori, he pulled the trigger many times and killed him. Overkill! That’s for all the loveless exploitation! Now Midori will fight Yukiya and Haruka not to defeat them. But to torment them. It is clear that Midori is way more powerful so Yukiya and Haruka retreat. Midori won’t give chase as he knows well this tactic of theirs to bait them. Back in reality, the rest of the gang are lying safe in one of Nielsen’s place. It is a good thing since Midori’s men have started targeting the families of Yukiya and Haruka’s home. They can’t stay here forever and need to fight back. Yukiya is going to need some reinforcements then. Midori realizes Yukiya’s side has also taken action and got away from his men. The negotiations weren’t to buy time and believed Yukiya really wanted to help out. Although they ran away, Midori believes the outcome will still be the same. He has his men take control of Nielsen’s club and predicts the Hand Shakers will attack via Ziggurat.

Episode 13
Inside Ziggurat, Yukiya-Haruka faces off with Midori-Seba. However the former aren’t alone as they temporarily summon their ex-Hand Shaker friends into the fray to deal some damage to the latter. To allow their battle to continue and not interrupted, Reijirou, Yukine, Nielsen and Tamari are fighting other Hand Shakers. You mean there are tons of them?! Don’t worry. They’re so insignificant that we don’t really care. Meanwhile we take a detour, Mayumi explaining her wish to want a son to be born between them then. So she’s like Virgin Mary? She wanted a son who is strong and never lose. You mean a son like God? So is Yukiya like Jesus Christ???!!! WTF???!!! We now return to the Ziggurat battle. Yukiya calms himself down and strikes Midori. That was fast. Midori retreats but vows to return and make him kneel. Yukiya then summons Tazuna, Koyori, Nagaoka and Mayumi. From what I understand, they all have powers qualified enough to see God. We have 2 pairs who have met God. On the other hand, Yukiya just defeated someone who met God. Hence Yukiya is qualified to meet God. Damn, does that even mesh?! Did Yukiya realize Nagaoka is his real dad? In the aftermath, it seems Yukiya has lost his powers and he is happy with it. We hear Nielsen and Makihara talking about the shocking wish Yukiya made that nobody expected: Getting rid of all the unwanted wishes granted by God before losing his own powers. Oh, how selfless. Because of his unselfish wish, Midori is now free from his curse. No more crystal embedded in his chest. In a dilemma over his role and existence, he ponders if he should go after Yukiya to seek revenge for saving him. My man, you trying to be some twisted second class villain here? Seba isn’t sure but he mentions that he knows someone who was once saved from death. That’s himself. Midori made him his butler instead of letting him die. Just to show Midori isn’t some cold hearted jerk, Seba carries him like a princess and he starts getting emotional and cries. Probably Yukiya’s greatest wish, the one not granted by God, is to become a DJ under Nielsen’s tutelage. He’s already a talented DJ. Need I say more?

OVA
We delve into the past of Reijirou and Yukine before the events of the Hand Shakers TV series. He was a delinquent dropout. She was an elite high school girl. Also the stalker type. And a masochist. Scold me more, Reijirou! Creepy… Reijirou had a hard time manning several part time jobs and it’s bad enough that Yukine often breaks into his room without his permission just to be with him. Then it all gets worse when he gets fired from all his jobs. Even the restaurant job he worked, the owner, Kozaki accused him of stealing stuffs when it was he himself who gave it all to his fatty customer, Oyama whom he is sucking up to. Even Yukine doesn’t approve of her father trying to break them up. Flashback reveals they were childhood friends and always close together. However Reijirou changed when his mom died. She realized she is the only one by his side and only knows his true and warm aspects. Yukine tries to be smart and goes to slap Kozaki and Oyama for being unfair. Of course they retaliate by trying to rape her. Good thing she texted Reijirou about what she was going to do and here he comes to save her. After pushing those guys away, the moment Reijirou and Yukine’s hands touch, they enter Ziggurat. So now they are Hand Shakers? So was Reijirou’s whatever wish that strong to qualify them for that? Apparently Kozaki and Oyama are also Hand Shakers. They relentlessly attack the newbies. Reijirou realizes that chain dream wasn’t just a dream. Yeah, Yukine had that dream too. And with renewed determination, Reijirou uses his chain powers to fight back. Partly it is Yukine’s masochism that wants him to bind her harder but also it enhances his powers. Reijirou is able to turn the tables on them and now they are the ones cowering in fear and begging for mercy. Reijirou gets cocky as he tells them off. He is about to mercilessly crush them but Yukine stops him. She has a conscious? Actually, she wants him to save all his rage for her. But of course. After defeating them, the duo realize they need to make their wish come true so they go to crowded areas to find more teams to defeat. Well, we all know what happened next. The rest is history.

Wack’… ZZzzZZzzz…
Ah well… It really all doesn’t mesh. I don’t know whether the TV series actually ended the entire series itself and the OVA feels very disjointed because it has nothing to do with W’z and more of a prelude to the Hand Shakers prequel. No characters from W’z whatsoever and heck it should have been actually called Hand Shakers OVA 2. Technically, which is also correct in a way since this season’s OVA is indeed the second OVA overall after Hand Shakers very first season’s OVA. Yeah, really wack, my man. Making it even more wack for me is that this OVA looked even more interesting than this season. Yeah, pretty odd I should say. Probably it’s because of Yukine’s character that I wasn’t totally expecting her to be like that sort of character before… Maybe they’ll make another OVA. This time about Jessica. You know, Nielsen’s previous partner. Because is it me or do I feel that this plot was unnecessary or the producers totally forgot about it. Yeah, I guess this doesn’t really matter. Won’t mesh anyway.

I didn’t really get the overall plot of this season at all. Yukiya as an irregular Hand Shaker and people who are after his power. Okay, I get that. But they want to make it look like some sort of massive power was behind the scene that was after Yukiya’s power. It really felt weird. While the Okuike Group might be a huge conglomerate, I don’t really feel its impact and presence in the story. It felt like Midori was just a single guy trying to get what he wants and his power and influence on the group was just fringe and marginal. In between, we have Yukiya being worried and conflicted about his own power. Therefore the much needed drama to help build Yukiya’s character from a loser into a slightly better, uhm, loser. Technically. Because he might have lost all those great powers but at least he has his life. And girl. And they bring back many of the original Hand Shaker characters just so to let us know that the power of friendship is a reason why Yukiya is able to change and become a better person. I guess that’s not a bad thing and it is better off than starting off as an overpowered character.

While the flimsy plot is one thing, it got me pondering how this whole system and mechanism of Hand Shakers works. Because from the looks of it, God must be a dick and a sadist. Like Nagaoka’s illness. You mean the Almighty can’t just wish for his dreaded disease to go away? With a snap of a finger? Maybe Nagaoka who doesn’t talk much wasn’t being specific but I mean, this is God. The one and only God. Shouldn’t He understood all that and cured him instantly instead of making time stop and stuck inside Ziggurat like forever? WTF, dude?! Initially I was under the impression that the Hand Shakers fight in some battle royale and the last one standing gets to meet God. But apparently you fight and defeat enough Hand Shakers, obtain their powers enough to qualify to make you meet God. Isn’t this insane? Like Yukiya’s suggestion for sham victories, if this really worked then God didn’t really thought out this very well. I thought it was a sacred honour-cum-privilege to see God and understandably only one, the best of the best could do so. But having so many meeting Him, damn this feels more like an exclusive club or something.

The other problem being the creation of Hand Shakers themselves. So apparently I was also under the misconception that this Hand Shakers thing was just a one time battle. From what I see here, it looks like there is no starting and ending point. As long as you rake up enough victories, you get to meet God. Which brings me to this point as of how many Hand Shakers are there really? How many are there right now? In the final episode we see Reijirou and Nielsen bashing up other Hand Shakers so it must mean that there is some Hand Shaker battle still going on. How does one become a Hand Shaker? The narration in the beginning of some episodes I assume is from God. Sounds like a young Japanese adult guy. At least that ossan at the end of last season whom I thought was God was actually Nielsen. The terms to become a Hand Shaker sounds vague. You have a wish? Then join hands and fight your way to see me. Yeah, pretty shady if you ask me. And I suppose if you wish hard enough, God may somehow give you those Hand Shaker powers. Go forth! And entertain me! Haha!

With that, this also brings me to the next point that is also related to the plot of the series. With Yukiya as an irregular Hand Shaker and many coveting his power, I was under the impression that there would be hundreds targeting him! Damn there were only 2 groups!!! WTF???!!! Even if they had like 5 pairs of Hand Shakers, I guess that would be acceptable. But damn, just 2 pairs?! Oh yeah. Big deal indeed. It doesn’t really mesh. I guess we need the cliché tropes so that when Yukiya defeats them, they become somewhat his allies. So if there were like 100 of them, how to fit them all in the final battle? Oh yeah. You really got me. So just 2 freaking groups who just target Yukiya’s power. And they’re not even scary.

Hana and Senri are just cute and provide some female eye candy and possibly some boobs fanservice since Senri is a cow tits monster. I guess she replaces Lily as she doesn’t make much appearance here. I said female eye candy because I have a hunch this series caters more to male bishonen as seen in the opening credits. That group pose… All guys! At least hot guys. Gai and Masataka are another bunch of weirdoes. Masataka being the quiet one and Gai being the lively one whose catchphrase is “Sugoi…”. Like as though he has a limited vocabulary or something. Yukiya and Haruka are supposed to be the Tazuna and Koyori of this season. Both their problems are not having an honest heart. They claim they lie to each other but once they get that out of the way, they’re just unstoppable. So cliché. Good thing Yukiya doesn’t continue to pursue his crush on Koyori (thank goodness for Haruka). Because it would have been freaking weird to have fallen in love with his aunty!!! And his wish to undo unwanted wishes? What are the chances that God isn’t being a dick and undo some wishes that were really wanted? Hey, can’t say. It’s not like God knows what we really want in our hearts, right? This series’ God is so dumb. I don’t like this idea either but I feel Yukiya should just become God and take His place and make the world a better place.

Finally with Midori being the antagonist of the series, I thought it was going to be a running joke that he and Seba would never appear. Hence their only chance is in the next episode preview where they talk some nonsense whatever. I thought this is all they would amount to. Their proper and formal appearance would be after 3/4 of the season and it already felt too late. It is hard for me to support or even hate Midori as the so called villain because his character is written in a mediocre way. Hard to sympathise with this dude despite his tragic background because I just couldn’t connect how it turned him into a Hand Shaker. Hard to hate this dude because he is one of those hot looking bishonen guys and his actions aren’t really despicable albeit twisted. This guy just wants a reason to exist. I guess being alive isn’t good enough because he is so rich and have everything, that’s just boring. Uh huh. What a boring villain.

Previous Hand Shaker characters make their cameo enough to make this season look like a sequel. They usual provide some support to Yukiya and Haruka and don’t do much so as not to take away the spotlight from them. Like Chizuru and Hayate, why are they still around? So it is as though the gang have a fixed place to gather and discuss their Hand Shakers related problems. Otherwise they could have been done without like some other characters. Like Makihara whose absence is so obvious. It is stated that he went on some journey to try to find a cure for Nagaoka. In the final episode it is hinted he has made some progress. WTF???!!! If God couldn’t find a cure, you mean this siew mai lover could???!!! This doesn’t mesh!!!

But I couldn’t be more grateful that Kodama and Hibiki didn’t show up here. If they did, it would have been a complete alumni of last season’s Hand Shakers. It is also because Kodama was really annoying with her celebrity quotes. Thank goodness. I guess she is too busy with her singing and acting career to even care about this. Good for her. Good for us. Phew. Isn’t it odd that Nagaoka and Mayumi had been missing for so long and thanks to plot convenience, they are finally found? Like WTF?! Thanks to the OVA, we get a shocking glimpse of how different Yukine’s character is. It’s like she’s a totally different person and can we say that motherhood changed her into a decent person and ‘freed’ her from that masochism? Reijirou still has that rage and short temper with him like forever, but Yukine is like a cool cat now. Yeah, parenting does change some people. Imagine how freaky if Yukiya sees his foster mom as some masochistic slut. Totally wack!

Action scenes are rather okay. Nothing really spectacular. Using CGI for Nimrods and some pretty abstract scenes in Ziggurat as excuse that you are in a different world. Yukiya’s irregular power sometimes feel like a convenience to the plot and action because otherwise how could he overcome more powerful and determined Hand Shakers? Ah, I see that is what it means to be an irregular. Since GoHands animate this sequel, it goes without saying that their trademark weird colour hues permeate every scene we see. I did say that this series feels like a guy anime because the guys look slightly better than the girls. Do you not see the female characters look a bit one kind? They’re like… Weird dolls… Like Tamari, WTF is this hippy hipster doll look? Same case for Yukine. She looks like a bisque doll or something.

Unfortunately music isn’t the main theme here. You can feel the same jazzy and bubbly vibe it has in the prequel. Not to say that they are bad but it is not as attractive as I would find them in K. And W’z seemingly only have hit song on his DJ music… Whatever. I hope he doesn’t become a one hit wonder. Opening theme, Reason by Ryohei Takenaka sounds like it is trying too hard while Kamisama Wa Kitto by Fuki as the ending theme sounds ill-fitting as a slow ballad. Yes, it’s calming in a way but it feels like in the aftermath of seeing God whatsoever. With the old Hand Shakers cast retained, lots of new ones joined this season that none I recognized. That bad, huh? They include Katsumi Fukuhara as Yukiya (Touya in Isekai Wa Smartphone To Tomo Ni), Akane Fujita as Haruka (Sagiri in Eromanga-sensei), Daisuke Namikawa as Nielsen (Rock in Black Lagoon), Atsumi Tanezaki as Hana (Miu in Blend S), Inori Minase as Senri (Chino in Gochuumon Wa Usagi Desu Ka), Takuya Eguchi as Gai (Koikawa in Mushibugyou), Yoshinosuke Yamagami as Masataka, Toshiki Masuda as Midori (Kirishima in Boku No Hero Academia), Shunsuke Takeuchi as Seba (Yamato in Nanbaka) and Minami Takahashi as Tamari (Megumi in Shokugeki No Souma).

Overall, the sequel is still as disappointing as the prequel. The producers tried to make an original anime out of the Hand Shakers but I guess it is very certain that God didn’t grant their wish and turn this into a hit masterpiece. Boring plot and characters is more than enough to turn anyone off and drop this series like a rock. It must be amazing for me to stick through till the end thanks to all the thick skin of stubbornness that I have accumulated in watching animes like this over the years. Oh well, if they decided to surprise us and do a third season, then I have to admire their perseverance and aversion to failure. Because like Robert F. Kennedy once said, “Only those who dare fail greatly can ever achieve greatly”. “The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing”, said Henry Ford. “Failure is good as long as it doesn’t become a habit”, said Michael Elsner. But still, it doesn’t take away the fact that this season is really wack and doesn’t mesh…

Main race is over. Some win, some lose. But if you aren’t satiated by the thrill of horse girls racing, be glad to know there are special extra episodes, Uma Musume: Pretty Derby – BNW No Chikai for you to bet extra money and quench that gambling thirst. Oops, I mean fulfil the excitement of watching these horse girls locked in close battle derbies. As its name implies, Team Spica isn’t going to be the main stars of these special episodes but a group of horse girls remembering their promise to run together always. That promise is put to the test when they have a fall out. Nothing like a little drama to put that friendship back together again via a big race, eh? Oh the power of (horse) friendship!

Special 1
Team Spica continue their usual training. Special Week is aiming to run at Summer Dream Trophy because she made a fool out of herself at the Winter Dream Trophy. Before the race started, she was talking to her rival and before you know it, they flag off and she was stranded. Trainer comes in with good news for his girls. They will be supervisors for the cultural festival! Uhm, actually doesn’t that mean he drew to short end of the stick? We see Team Spica going around to supervise, partially I feel it’s an excuse to introduce some of the other horse girls that will not make their cameo any more. But the focus is on Biwa Hayahide, Narita Taishin and Winning Ticket (the trio collectively known as BNW). They notice their strained relationship. When they go talk to Rudolf about it, she shows them a clip from the Japan Derby. A very close race between BNW that was eventually won by Ticket. It solidified their friendship-cum-rivalry. But now what? She is organizing a relay race between them. Team Spica isn’t particularly interested until Rudolf mentions the winning team gets free sweets for the whole year! You bet they’re going on a recruitment spree! While Hayahide accepts, Taishin and Ticket are not interested. I know some of Team Spica is desperate but resorting to dumb tricks that only make a fool out of themselves? Definitely not working. Timely reminder that Suzuka is currently away overseas so she calls Special Week to keep in touch. Hearing about this problem, this reminds them about the time Trainer lectured them about their rivalry during their training camp’s mock race. It gave them a lot of motivation. Now Special Week knows what to do. And that is to say the same exact lines from Trainer to Ticket! Word for word! So what happens when she finishes? Ticket not impressed… Oh sh*t… Better think fast… Because this is so comical, Ticket starts laughing. So it’s revealed perhaps their strained relationship originated from a race where Hayahide and Ticket was running. They were supposed to win but lost. Yeah. That. Taishin was out on an injury. Anyway, Special Week now in her own words mentions about her unfulfilled promise to Suzuka but she still loves her and hopes to fulfil that. Can the same be said for Ticket? With that, the next day Ticket joins them to help recruit members for the relay race.

Special 2
Scarlet goes around to interview the teams. Ticket’s team is doing fine. Even got the motto for motivation: Sweets into our mouth! Hayahide’s team are very technical. In a serious strategy meeting now, huh? Taishin’s team… Yeah, everybody is all over the place. Even if they put up some fake delusional spirit, it’s more of style than substance. And with special effects! The clincher: They don’t even know where Taishin is and think this is okay to get them running for the relay race! Scarlet wants to report this to Rudolf but seeing she has already given a good impression to the press, oh yeah, everything is going perfect! Scarlet finds Taishin who is just being a zombie to her Smartphone. Talking to her, looks like she’s not interested. Yeah, some trauma flashback. Whatever. Taishin still won’t enter and is considering retiring. Scarlet then tells Narita Brian about this and in turn she talks to Hayahide and Ticket. Yeah, remember those good times together? Later Brian talks to Taishin. Still won’t change her mind? Brian mentions about her own devastating lost that made her think deep she wanted to quit. She gives Taishin a charm and hopes she’ll come. Everyone’s waiting. Race day is here and Taishin is nowhere to be seen! Scarlet getting close to panicking. Better set out and look for that girl. Don’t want to fail spectacularly in Rudolf’s eyes. After all, she promised her she’ll see to it this race’s success till the end. And yeah, Broye is also attending this event. Don’t screw up now. How not to because Hayahide and Ticket are even cool about making Sun Visor as Taishin’s substitute! They think this is really going to fool everyone, huh? The relay race begins and I guess that’s why it’s a relay. So we have time for some drama and for a certain someone to make it… Anyway, this race isn’t confined to the stadium but across town. That’s why it’s just weird that they have to run through a train crossing?! It feels like Special Week got the raw end of the stick and needs to wait for the train to pass???!!! Some call it unfair, some call it strategy… Of course the anchors of the teams are BNW. They are interviewed about their chances so they hijack the mic to tell Taishin to come run. This is her place to run. Everyone’s waiting for you here! Yeah, enough to change her mind and start running back. Good thing she’s watching the TV, eh? And meanwhile another race is going on: Oguri Cap trying to finish 1000 bowls of ramen???!!! Damn, she’s eating faster than the ramen can be replenished!!!

Special 3
Thank goodness it must be a short train since Special Week is able to make up time. Because it won’t be fun if they turn it into a 2 horse race. As the interviewer interviews the leaders, Hayahide and Ticket try to change the topic. However she tries to interview ‘Taishin’ and is stumped she is staying silent. She is even going so far as to unhood her. It’ll be over if Sun Visor is busted. But thankfully Taishin arrives in time. I’m sure everybody is confused about Taishin not being at her starting position but what the heck, the real deal is here so let’s continue with the race. However there is another emergency. Hayahide suddenly becomes sick. Probably searching for that charm during the rain was the culprit. Oh Taishin, too late to blame yourself and trying to take responsibility. It’s already done. With Hayahide unable to run, Rudolf makes an announcement that the race will end when the relay reaches the anchors. That will be the finish line. Everyone is disappointed. But don’t worry. We’re not here to cheat your money. Because Brian will step in to replace Hayahide. She is after all her sister. Technically her name still covers for her team. So we see a very close race between the trio that has Taishin winning, Ticket in second and Brian coming in third. However! The judges start deliberating. Because Gold Ship went off course and accidentally took a short cut, hence Taishin’s team is disqualified. So does this mean the win goes to Ticket? Nope. When Special Week missed passing her sash to Vodka, Vodka took something else to replace it. Disqualified! So it’s Brian’s win? Also nope. Because McQueen is accused of blocking her opponent’s path. So… Nobody wins?! Yeah, Rudolf confirms it. Damn, is this the most disappointing race? But don’t worry. Even though BNW was unable to make their full proper appearance here, be happy to know they will be racing in the upcoming Osaka Hai race! I guess everybody can overlook this farce and look forward to this one. Probably Oguri Cap is the only legit winner after finishing her thousand bowls. Yeah, she looks like super pregnant… Finally we get to see BNW race together at Osaka Hai. Another close fight between the trio that has Hayahide winning. Great race. Won’t lose next time. But of course.

Run Of The Mill But Keep Running
Luckily I didn’t bet any money on any one of the teams so I didn’t lose. Haha! Anyway, these extra episodes don’t really add anything much to the main storyline as seen in the TV series. Because with Suzuka away overseas, it’s like the rivalry between her and Special Week is put on hiatus until the former returns. With that, they focus on BNW and if you’re a casual viewer like me, you’re wondering why the heck? Who the heck are they? Well, not like it is going to make any difference if they focus on other horse girls. Because again there are loads of other horse girls introduced here that don’t matter that it makes you wonder if it is actually relevant or not. I don’t remember if they are introduced in the TV series and even if they were, they’re just insignificant at least as far as this series go. My conspiracy theory is that there are many great race horses throughout the years in the Japanese horse racing derby. So in order not to have a few being left out, hence their cameo here just for some sort of tribute. There, here is the name of your favourite horse personified as a horse girl in this anime. Happy? Now, be gone!

Back to the main BNW trio themselves, I fail to see anything that would have made these special episodes, uhm, special. Sure, they have some sort of failure in the past. Hey, you can’t win every damn race you enter, right? One failure was enough to give Taishin some trauma and then it strained their relationship. Then plot convenience commands that they should get back together for the greater good because there are lots of fans who are still supporting her and them. Also probably lots of other people betting lots of money on her! Haha! So Taishin, you’re still young and healthy, don’t you even think of retiring after one moral zapping race lost! If I had to bet on one of the team, I would have chosen Ticket, because you know, it’s in her name, baby! With a name like that, how could you lose?! Oh wait. She didn’t win… Thank goodness I’m not addicted to gambling in any forms. Especially horse racing. On a trivial note, initially I saw the title as BMW! It would have been weird if those horse girls had that automaker’s speed and power for a race… Too weird.

Overall, fans of the series as well as the game should appreciate these extra episodes better. Casual viewers like me won’t find anything special and wonder what the fuss is all about. We’re probably here just to see the novelty of so many different horse girls and the strange racing cosplay because it is mind boggling how Hayahide, the one whose outfit looks so heavily dressed is the one who won the Osaka Hai race. I still believe if the horse girls wear appropriate attire like human female athletes, they would have run much faster. And Hayahide might have won by a few centimetres instead of a close photo finish. Just saying. Well, I also sometimes believe that even if you win, you still have to go out and win in style. Same for those who lose. Hey, at least you lose in style. Everybody wins. Horse girls win because they get to race with each other again. The fans win because they are entertained by all the horse girl racing action. Sponsors win because it brings in more revenue. Punters win because they made money from all the bets. Uhm, except maybe those who bet on the wrong horse and lost heavily. BNW: Bet, Nit, Wager…

RDG: Red Data Girl

July 21, 2019

Every day, we stray further and further away from God and His path of light. With today’s era of modern society, it seems people have become less and less religious. Blame technology? Blame the changing of societal norms? Blame us being typically humans. Well, I’m not here to lecture and preach to everybody on how everyone should go back being religious because yours truly is also as guilty as hell in not doing any hourly/daily/weekly/monthly/yearly prayers. So it’s not like I felt guilty or empty or something that I decided to go watch this somewhat spiritually associated RDG: Red Data Girl. Heck, I thought it was something to do with the internet or IT. You know, some sort of hacker girl thingy. How wrong I was. Instead… Girl with spiritual powers. A vessel for a powerful goddess. People targeting her. Boy-cum-childhood friend tasked to protect her. Will love come in between? And I’m not talking about the love for God kind.

Episode 1
Izumiko Suzuhara wants a change. So she just slightly cuts her bangs and the whole sleepy village notices and is in shock. Yeah. Those nasty boys at school even mock her that the ‘shrine has got a new roof’. During computer lessons, Izumiko decides to try and use one. Previously anything electronic she touches go haywire. Will this time be different? Suddenly she manages to do a video conference with her dad, Daisei? Wow. The internet must be damn good at that time for them to speak so smoothly in real time. It seems Izumiko is against going to Houjou Academy in Tokyo and she doesn’t want him to decide her life if he can’t even attend her PTA today (I guess he got swamped with work in good ol’ America). Then he notices her bangs. Things get weirder and trippy. Izumiko panics to cut off the power. Suddenly the entire school faces a blackout. Hope you saved your work. Izumiko starts crying, blaming herself for this outage. Even more shocking that Yukimasa Sagara, an acquaintance of Daisei flies in with his helicopter to pick Izumiko up. You mean dad made this emergency call???!!! Yukimasa explains that her hair may have spiritual powers and she doesn’t have to worry if everything around her has changed. It hasn’t. Only her. Because she cut her bangs, right? Damn, Izumiko is taken to a hospital for a full scan and check-up. This must be really a big deal.

When she returns, she meets Yukimasa’s son, Miyuki. But he is not too pleased to meet this plain Jane bespectacled braided ‘goddess’. You can say he hates her. He isn’t also happy that he is the backup plan for all this. Yeah, they haven’t seen each other for 10 years. Yukimasa assures he won’t marry them off. Their status will not allow it. The most he would become is he manservant and that he will be by her side until he dies. Originally the plan was for her to meet up with them at Tokyo but since she didn’t want that, they will follow with her plan to go to a local high school. Izumiko’s fate is to be raised protected from the world. Whether or not she knows about it doesn’t matter, this is their matter to handle. Miyuki will not accept all this and leaves. But after Yukimasa brings him back, he is all messed up and bruised from a fall. The damning thing is how Miyuki is a changed guy! He has regretted the err of his ways and will transfer here. Later that night, Izumiko talks to Miyuki and knows he didn’t want to do this. Certainly. Miyuki only agreed since Yukimasa threatened to kill him. That guy is crazy. Telling others won’t do any good as he is the one calling the shots. Miyuki adds how much he hates people like Izumiko since she is unable to think for herself. She tries to deny and some flashback of how Miyuki ‘bullied’ her to make her strong but she remained a weakling cry-baby. Izumiko doesn’t think she is special too and that is the only thing that Miyuki agrees with her. Next day, Miyuki introduces himself as a new transfer student in Izumiko’s class.

Episode 2
The school will be having a field trip to Tokyo and Izumiko is uneasy about it. Because, crowds. The only guy in school whom Izumiko feels comfortable with, Satoru Wamiya shares the same sentiments with her that he doesn’t like Miyuki. He hopes they can go to the local high school together. Izumiko receives a handphone gift from her mom, Yukariko. Hope the reception here is good. Miyuki doesn’t like Izumiko bugging him but with Yukariko’s letter, he thinks this is the only person whom Yukimasa will listen to. It seems mom wants to meet up with her at Tokyo. But she lacks confidence and wants him to do it on her behalf. He snaps back what if Yukariko doesn’t want to speak to him? In that case, she’ll go. But he has to come along. Can he say no? Izumiko has a bad feeling during the flight and upon touchdown at the airport. She looks pale and sick. It is believed the dark shadows are bad people and there could be some targeting her. They can’t chicken out now as they have to meet Yukariko at the designated place. But as they wait, she didn’t show up. A message comes in saying she can’t make it as she has been spotted. Possibly the people who are after her. She suggests that they come to her house since there is a barrier. As they make haste, weird things seem to happen like as though it is trying to stop them. Like the turnstile suddenly stop functioning and the trains too. Oh dear. Japan’s trains are going to be late! Even the taxi brings them to the wrong street. Yeah, it’s raining heavier. With the electricity around them being cut off, Miyuki too can’t help feel paranoid. Izumiko now really feels scared as something ominous is approaching her. She doesn’t want him to chant an exorcism but to hold her hand. But as the ominous shadow approaches… Yukimasa???!!! Miyuki doesn’t believe he is the real deal but Yukimasa points out Izumiko recognized him and her fear of him proves he is the real deal! WTF???!!! No wonder Miyuki is mad. Izumiko insists she felt something bad. That’s not Yukimasa and probably those bad people who are targeting her. He adds they won’t find Yukariko at home but she provided her place for them to rest safely.

In her house as Izumiko rests, Yukimasa explains about Yukariko always away and working hard to draw attention away from Izumiko. Miyuki still accuses Yukimasa of doing something fishy to Izumiko and perhaps he is the reason why Yukariko stayed away thanks to his presence. Yukimasa doesn’t blame her as it is their nature. There are many people who want to use such powers for their own benefit. Even mountain monks like them. Through ancient times, mountain monks have received powers via training but they have always been women. Miyuki felt nothing from Izumiko as her powers aren’t awaken yet. Miyuki doesn’t think he is up to the job. If he wants to protect Izumiko, by all means do it himself. Suddenly Izumiko appears before them in a kimono. However it is not her. It is Himegami possessing her. Immediately Yukimasa bows before her. It seems Izumiko’s body is to be her vessel but it feels too uncomfortable to inhabit her now. She just came down to check things out after feeling some change. Himegami warns that Izumiko will be her last vessel as she could no longer move forward. Himegami withdraws and Izumiko returns to normal, unaware of what just happened. Yukimasa assures her that her memories will return in time. Miyuki realizes Izumiko is part of a lineage of living vessels. Yukimasa agrees that this burden is too big for Miyuki to handle. He gives him the option to get out and even transfer out from school. Miyuki not happy? Isn’t this what he wanted?

Episode 3
Izumiko explains during her time being possessed. It felt strange like as though she is watching herself. Miyuki now realizes why Yukimasa did all this with great importance and that his real goal is Himegami and not Izumiko. Izumiko’s friends must be considerate. Realizing that Wamiya didn’t come on the field trip, they bought souvenirs for him but have Izumiko give it to him. She does so but Wamiya notices she has changed. He regrets she went to a filthy place like Tokyo. He reminds her she can’t leave here and noting that she now doesn’t hate Miyuki as much as before, he will eliminate him. Hence a few guys go pick a fight with him. It seems they are under Wamiya’s control and they’re really about to get dangerous when they pull out a knife. Luckily, Shingo Nonomura, Izumiko’s driver safely knocks them out and has Miyuki come with them. Miyuki tells Izumiko that there is no such classmate as Wamiya. An ominous presence starts chasing them as Izumiko realizes that it could be partly her fault that Wamiya is doing this. The shadow catches up and crashes the car. Thankfully all survive but Nonomura is stuck. Wamiya shows his face and for the first time Miyuki sees him. Just a normal middle school student. He admits so. As long as Izumiko wishes. As Wamiya has existed in the mountains for a long time without a form, she could only see him after cutting her bangs. He is born out of her wishes. A friend who would understand her. And since she created him, he will not allow her to easily abandon him. Nonomura wants Miyuki to use his staff in the trunk but he is unconfident since he lacks experience. Wamiya wants Izumiko to go to the local high school and she doesn’t have a choice. Otherwise he will kill her. Miyuki wants Izumiko to do just that. Better than dying. However she won’t do that. This isn’t like him. So she confronts Wamiya that if he is from he wishes, obey her. Stop being selfish or she’ll hate him and leave the mountains for good. With that, Wamiya disappears.

In hospital, Nonomura explains Wamiya could be a familiar of a goddess. He had enough powers to go berserk once she realized his form but luckily she managed to control him before it was too late. He assures Wamiya isn’t destroyed but is waiting for a chance to meet again. Izumiko decides to go to Houjou. Miyuki promises to hone his powers there since that place gathers people like them. He will transfer there and tell her what it’s like. Wamiya pops up again but this time he seeks to be dissolved. Since Izumiko first summoned him via mountain top dance that she thought it was some exercise, that same ritual will dissolve him. Izumiko dons her miko outfit as she realizes the reason why she summoned him in the first place. She wanted someone to understand the real her. She was afraid of others looking at her and embarrassed at them seeing her as she is since she can’t accept herself. She starts off her dance and this captivates Miyuki. For once she doesn’t think she is that useless. Wamiya is satisfied and disappears into the wind. 6 months down the road, Izumiko arrives at Houjou and is greeted by Miyuki. He advises her to keep her powers a secret since she is one of the few who got accepted without taking any entrance exam. Izumiko meets her roommate, Mayura Souda who instantly takes a liking for this cute girl.

Episode 4
Mayura introduces Izumiko to her twin brother, Manatsu. His passion is horses but thanks to him, Mayura manages to get into Houjou without sitting for an exam. Mayura further explains that they aren’t exactly twins but triplets. There was a third one but died when they were young. Izumiko gets anxious around the top student and student council candidate, Ichijou Takayanagi. It’s because he looks very similar to Wamiya. However he gives off this creepy feeling and sounds like an arrogant jerk. Izumiko is in a separate class from Mayura. She is in the same class with Manatsu, though. Izumiko has that anxious feeling again as she could see those ominous shadows. Today she is on contacts and only know she remembers why her mom gave her glasses? To protect her from seeing things? Anyway, Izumiko is afraid as she points out to Manatsu about that shadow sitting at the back of the class. Since he can’t see, he points that person out as Ricardo, the Brazilian transfer student. A couple of girls give Izumiko a website that is made by Takayanagi. They give her a password to access it and the site supposedly has some fortune telling readings. Izumiko has the misfortune to make eye contact with Ricardo. He approaches her and wants to meet at the AV room. She agrees just to make him go away. It got so bad that Izumiko ran all the way to Miyuki’s class for help. He hears her out and wants her to see through that promise. You know, Japanese people are good in keeping the promise they make, right?

Izumiko enters the AV room. Why the hell was Ricardo sitting there in the dark? The first thing he asks her if she is human. Suddenly Takayanagi performs a few quick exorcisms on Izumiko. He is glad she is human. Miyuki sees this and calls it bullying. Then he fires his spiritual arrow at Ricardo and instantly turns him into dust. With this, Takayanagi knows their identities. A mountain aesthetic and a spirit vessel. He claims he is not even in his league. After he leaves, Mayura pops out from hiding and she has watched the whole thing. She deduces that Takayanagi is a spirit user and Ricardo must be his spirit agent. She claims she has the same mountain monk training as Miyuki but can’t control spirits the way Takayanagi does. She believes there is some sort of importance for Takayanagi to be the school’s top student. Izumiko remembers the website so they go check it out. The moment she keys in the password, a curse explodes in their face! Though, Mayura bore most of the brunt. But thankfully she still lives and just got away with her left eye needing some bandage. Izumiko blames herself for this so Mayura lightens up the mood by teasing her that it could be Takayanagi’s way of saying that Miyuki and Izumiko are a couple because in the past, mountain monks and miko priestesses often marry. Manatsu comes in and scolds Mayura for being reckless. This makes her cry as she was scared. Izumiko thinks for herself that she never did this as she never pushed herself before. With Miyuki also here, it seems the guys want to settle this tonight. The twins do say some prayers before they go meet Masumi.

Episode 5
Masumi is their dead triplet actually. Though, he materializes as a cross-dresser? With him around, this means Takayanagi has to show up. Indeed. He doesn’t think that was a curse and was just some sort of influence that repels malice at him back at her. Takayanagi uses some binding spell on Manatsu but he easily breaks out. He has Ricardo fight him but Manatsu easily frees the souls that bind into Ricardo. Takayanagi becomes scared that the spirits will haunt him but Manatsu doesn’t care. Takayanagi realizes he isn’t human. Turns out to be Masumi in disguise. With Takayanagi scared sh*t, Masumi gives him a few soft slaps as warnings. In the aftermath, Takayanagi took down the website and gave up on the elections to be the student council president. To cover for Ricardo’s disappearance, it is officially stated he went back to Brazil. Izumiko feels glad to have come here and meet many people who are more special than her. Things seem to be going good between Izumiko and Miyuki when Yukimasa has to pop up. It seems he is now a part time teacher at Houjou. Damn, Miyuki in a bad mood again. But all the other girls swooning over this new hot teacher. In order to avoid being associated with him, Miyuki avoids Izumiko too. She feels sad about it although she realizes that this is to be expected. She has always been alone in the first place and didn’t really lose anything. Later Izumiko talks to Yukimasa about his transfer here. It seems he is doing an experiment to see which students gathered here are to be saved for humanity’s future. You see, there is a decline in humans who have spiritual powers and once this endangered species becomes extinct, Earth will no longer tolerate humanity. This experiment is to avoid that.

Miyuki wants to join the student council executive body and Izumiko won’t have any problems with that. Just that he asked Mayura for help and they seemed so friendly with each other. Sad girl feels so sad that she runs away somewhere alone to hang out. As she sings to calm herself down, she attracts the attention of the current student council president, Jean Honoka Kisaragi. She is practising traditional Japanese arts and brings her to see Hodaka Murakami who is supposedly the school’s first student council president. Meanwhile the former student council president, Mikoto Kanzaki asks Miyuki about Izumiko. Because it seems the shadow student council president has taken an interest in her. Because in reality the true student council president has not changed. Hodaka wants Izumiko to show her dancing but she feels shy. He puts makeup on her and says it is some sort of spell to show her true nature. Even so, she is still reluctant. Luckily Miyuki barges in to stop this farce. Izumiko is confused because he was keeping his distance and now he is concerned for her? Yes, but this doesn’t mean she could hang out with just anybody and should’ve just went straight to Yukimasa had she needed help. Yeah, they sound like lovers quarrelling. When Izumiko realizes she wanted to tell Miyuki something, that is when Himegami takes over. She claims to have seen Hodaka before hundreds of years ago. She warns him he cannot be the judge but Izumiko is the one to choose. She then has Miyuki take her hand. She has a task for him: Prevent her from being created and Izumiko must not become a goddess. Otherwise humans will perish at her hands. By the time Izumiko wakes up, Miyuki and Hodaka just finished making a pact in keeping this a secret. Hodaka welcomes her here if she ever needs advice but please come alone. Miyuki tries to play down his worth and not to expect much from him. Sure. She might not know what the future lies for her but is glad he came for her.

Episode 6
The friends are on the way back to Mayura’s house for the holidays. Izumiko learns from Mayura about Masumi’s death anniversary around the corner. Apparently he slept and never woke up. After the funeral, when the family moved from Togakushi to Nagano, his name became taboo. Since their mom is a normal person, she can’t see Masumi. While having BBQ at night, Izumiko got drunk because there is liquor in the fruit punch. Wait a minute. There are kids here and they put liquor in the fruit punch bowl? Wow. Izumiko so happy. Like on drugs. Until she passes out. When she wakes up, everyone is asleep. She thinks this is a dream when she answers Masumi’s call. Izumiko floating down like a ghost?! Man, this might be a dream. He asks if they can date and Izumiko (still feeling the effects of being drunk) wonders he knows what that means. He believes she’ll find out when she gets to Togakushi. It seems that Izumiko is also part of the student council body as an executive. Mayura organizes a trip for the body at Togakushi to discuss things. However Rena Akinokawa accuses Mayura of having ulterior motives. Because near Togakushi, the history club is also having their camp and it is no secret the club is a big fan club of Mayura. She thinks Mayura is trying to get them to join the body. Mayura doesn’t intend this so Kisaragi puts it nicely that they don’t want any power struggles within the body since the student council is supposed to be neutral judges.

Later Izumiko asks Mayura about her reasons for fighting Takayanagi. She explains she dislikes sorcerers and ninjas because her ancestors were temple priests and Togakushi was a ninja village. She knew about her fan club but chose not to do anything. What is important the student council maintaining their neutrality. Since she knew Izumiko met Hodaka, Takayanagi might have also met him. At first she thought Houjou will have 2 factions battling for supremacy at the cultural festival but there will now be a third force, a vacuum zone. There might be people who are testing Takayanagi’s abilities. It seems the winner of this whatever battle gets to be a candidate for World Heritage. It has lots of benefits for the winner and those around. Because Izumiko isn’t in the loop of this, Mayura talks to Miyuki if he intends to surpass Takayanagi in terms of his spiritual powers. Because those who can foil his tricks can only surpass him in grades. He claims he doesn’t want the top spot and joined the body just to be neutral. This is why he invited them to join too. As for the partner programme that seemingly only them who are using, Mayura believes it was created to favour Takayanagi and his spirit agent. That’s why she wants to know if Miyuki will participate in the battle or not. As she would like Izumiko as her ally, she must settle her case with him first before she goes after Takayanagi. She is going to test his powers now as she summons several tengu spirits.

Episode 7
Miyuki must guess which one of them is Masumi and break out from this special layer. The tengu start attacking and since Izumiko can’t bear to see this anymore, she tells him Masumi is the one standing next to him and not Manatsu. Yeah, Miyuki seemed like a wuss fending off the attacks. Then they realize Izumiko is missing. Luckily Masumi finds her and it seems she is scared not because she could see him but couldn’t see herself. She feels bad for not expecting much from Miyuki and yet talk lowly of him before Mayura. She thinks Miyuki would have been completely normal if not for her. Izumiko returns to the group. She learns the tengu are just the history club guys playing along with Mayura’s plans. Though she put them up to this, they are unaware of Masumi. On the way back, Manatsu gets a devastating call that Tabi, an old horse whom he is fond of is dying. He needs to return but Mayura doesn’t share the same sentiments. She can’t let him go back alone as she cannot leave this camp she organized. Manatsu insists he will return alone (Tabi > this tabi (trip) Haha! Oops…) and will have Masumi take his place. Yeah, Masumi looks like a little kid experiencing his first field trip. So fun! Back at the inn and after dinner, Kisaragi and Akinokawa put up a song and dance. It seems Kisaragi sensed an unusual spirit possessing one of them and this dance is to protect them and expel the spirit. A short blackout occurs before the lights come back on. However everyone notices ‘Manatsu’ and Miyuki missing. Oh, they’re just hiding. Gotcha! Did that scare you? Later Izumiko talks to Miyuki and confirms that Masumi was indeed expelled from the room. He went with him so as he would not be alone. However he finds it weird as Masumi is supposed to be stronger here.

With Mayura getting worried about Manatsu and Tabi’s time is drawing closer, Masumi suggests she go there and tell what she disagrees with and get it over with. However Mayura takes this as Masumi siding with Manatsu as he doesn’t care about her feelings. He points out if they come to think of him differently, he won’t be able to stay as he is. Because their wills are as one, Masumi is who he is. Izumiko and Miyuki offer to go bring Manatsu back. Upon reaching the stable, they learn that Tabi has died this morning. They see Manatsu cleaning Tabi’s stable. It seems he didn’t die a natural death and Manatsu put him to sleep via lethal injection. As Tabi couldn’t get up anymore, its own weight will crush its own organs and cause a lot of pain. Perhaps that’s why he didn’t want to call Mayura and worry her. During this time, Manatsu has thought a lot. Especially how humans have the power to end things instead of waiting for nature to take its course. This brings to the issue of Mayura doesn’t understand that she cannot forever live with him and Masumi. Hence he feels the time has come to end it while he has the power to decide. Surprisingly, Mayura pops up. She isn’t happy about his plan to end things. She knows he is sad and when so, it is natural she will go to him. But he disagrees he isn’t sad that Tabi is gone. He is sad that with Tabi not around, he has to face himself. They can’t keep regarding each other as the most important person in their lives. And then Manatsu runs away riding on Tabi’s spirit?! WTF???!!! Later Mayura gets a message from Manatsu that he will become like Masumi. That way he will forever stay with her. Mayura is distraught as she calls dad about Masumi taking Manatsu away.

Episode 8
Mayura’s father talks to Miyuki and Izumiko. However they have no idea of what Masumi did so father mentions that he too can’t see Masumi and because the twins can only summon Masumi, their mom hates it when they call his name as it goes against a mother’s intuition. Later Mayura talks to Izumiko about Manatsu having the same heart defect that caused Masumi’s abrupt death. That’s why mom refuses to remember Masumi. She knew Manatsu is closer to Masumi than her but never thought he would leave her to be with him. She wanted to become the top student so Manatsu can live longer. Izumiko then talks to Miyuki if he could summon Himegami. As she can’t talk to her in that state, only he can do it. There are risks and they’re afraid but if they don’t do anything, Manatsu will disappear for real. So I guess it isn’t as simple as undoing her braids. Nothing happens. Maybe bad reception? So summoning a goddess is like a handphone? As Izumiko moves, suddenly she enters into a different dimension. She sees Masumi who thinks it is better for Mayura to cry now than later. Because the longer they stay together, the more she will grieve when they are gone. He thinks Mayura would choose Manatsu over Masumi and if that’s the case, it’s better to be one. Izumiko has Masumi lead him to where Manatsu is. He is currently trapped behind a celestial rock. She tries to talk to him but unless he wills it, nothing will reach him. Hence Izumiko decides to dance to expel him, getting the idea from Kisaragi’s dance. As she does so and tells how much everyone will be so happy if she comes back, suddenly Manatsu tells her not to do it. Wait. So this Masumi is actually Manatsu? He warns her if she opens the rock, Masumi will come through and will be different. It was his plant to break the celestial rock and escape. Miyuki and Mayura find them. Mayura hugs her brother seeing she is too tired to punch him.

However they have to run seeing the rock is breaking. Couldn’t have Manatsu realized a bit sooner that he and Masumi are different and shouldn’t become one? Too late. This giant fish god is breaking out. Miyuki defends clumsy Izumiko as he sprouts black angelic wings?! However he knows he can’t fight this thing and Himegami agrees. She is not possessing Izumiko and her own entity. She says a few chants to have this fish god go back to slumber. Izumiko asks if Himegami can remain separate from her so they can talk. However Himegami claims she knows nothing and should ask her mother. When they return to reality, Yukariko is before them. It was her that Himegami possessed her. Izumiko understands why they can’t meet often as Himegami is always with her. Yukariko believes they will face a real trial in the future and although Izumiko believes herself as still weak, that is why Yukariko remains strong to protect her. However this cannot last forever. Manatsu returns to his family and the case is solved. Back in their hometown, Miyuki wants Izumiko to summon Wamiya. She couldn’t. It is believed her getting distorted by Masumi made it impossible. During the camp, a talking raven came into his room. It is believed to be Wamiya and hence Kisaragi’s dance expelling him then and also those black wings he sprouted. Miyuki believes if they are going to follow her, they need to join forces. Then he asks why Wamiya look like Takayanagi. Is it because she likes boys who look like that?! WTF???!!! What was he trying to say???!!! That sure escalated quickly!!!

Episode 9
The student council decides the theme for the cultural festival will be a Sengoku one. And something about the need to have a few models dressing up as that. I can guess who… Later Izumiko is being approached by Takayanagi. He wants her and Miyuki to join his side instead of Mayura. During the festival, the school’s barrier will be down and there will be lots of ‘outsiders’ visiting. He gives her time to think but Izumiko passes out when she hears strange voices calling for her. She is safe in the infirmary thanks to Yukimasa being such a qualified nurse too. He mentions about the upcoming experiment so she wonders if he is referring to her or Himegami. She doesn’t think so since they’re both different. Yukimasa replies that she may be the one to be unveiled as Himegami and probably the last goddess. This has Izumiko think that Miyuki probably wanted to accept her as a normal girl but seeing he is dedicated to serving Himegami, that will never happen. Later Miyuki talks to Izumiko about being part of the backstage crew. Although it is some normal dress, it seems she still has to undo her braids. She is confident from Togakushi that Himegami won’t appear just because they are undone. Hence Miyuki teachers her a simple spell for self-protection. Izumiko sees Hodaka in disguise. He is here to see the preparations and believes the scales might be tip to Mayura’s favour seeing how she treats Izumiko. With one of the models having urgent business, this means Izumiko is now roped in to be her replacement. Mayura warns her that Takayanagi’s supporters might be doing this although there is no concrete proof. As she gets dressed, she has to undo her braids and this has her thinking if this is a ploy to make it easier to draw out Himegami. The models take the stage as everyone is fascinated with the Sengoku costume and snaps away. Izumiko feeling a bit queasy but I guess that angry look on Miyuki’s face that he didn’t expect this to happen tells it all.

Later as Miyuki nags to Izumiko about doing something risky, he didn’t realize that Himegami has possessed her! Even with her braids still intact! Himegami is very satisfied she can move in this body freely. When Miyuki warns her not to appear whenever she wants, she warns him back if he doesn’t treat her kindly, there will be divine punishment. That shut him up. Miyuki accompanies her for the rest of the day. He asks about the state of Izumiko but Himegami doesn’t care. She also tells him to drop talking about another woman as she doesn’t like it. Don’t ruin her vibe. How does she like it if she talks about Yukimasa? Well, she has a point. At the mountain shrines, Himegami talks about how there is nothing here but a vengeful spirit that is herself. She had regrets. After all, she singlehandedly exterminated humanity. When she lost her body, she travelled back in time and wanted help. Someone who could understand her. Not for destruction but for the future. When she returned from an experiment over a thousand years ago, she was declared a World Heritage but the future didn’t change. This is the third time she is going through this experiment and each time her body gets frail and she is gradually forgetting who she is. She might not be able to make it to the fourth time. Her power was so great that in the second experiment, she was killed and stored as a specimen. Her powers put her in conflict with humans as her allegiance is to the planet. She is searching for people who can stop her. That is what Yukimasa and Yukariko are working towards. Miyuki wants time to think so Himegami points out he is like Wamiya. Because of that Togakushi incident, Wamiya resides inside him. Himegami summons him out just to prove. Miyuki wants her to leave Izumiko’s body. Can he force her out? After a few chants, he hugs her and pouring his heart into his feelings for her to come back. Is this impromptu?

Episode 10
Izumiko cries in Mayura’s arms. She is lost on what to do after discovering about Himegami being some destructive force and even Miyuki was scared. She fears she may stop being herself. As the festival gets underway, the model who ditched the job on Izumiko, she approaches her again with her friends. Their reason for that was because whoever does so will be cursed. Since nothing happened to Izumiko, they hope she can be their model for the parade again. They would have taken her away had not Miyuki tell them off. Just hold the parade without a model. Then he lectures Izumiko about being pushed around by younger people. She hits back that he too was doing the same to Himegami. Though he claims he was desperate to bring her back. He explains Himegami doesn’t descent to cause disasters and appears because she wants to avoid them. She just needs someone to talk to. Izumiko wonders if he prefers to spend more time with Himegami than her. Because Izumiko also doesn’t like him talking about other women, that one line has Miyuki thinking both of them are the same?! There’s an incident where several people collapsed after the visit to the haunted house. Isn’t that a success? They are resting in the infirmary, though. Oh never mind. Miyuki and Izumiko investigate just in case. As Izumiko wanders around, we can see ghosts following her. Until they really pop up before her and want to take her away. She manages to run to Miyuki. He asks about not using the self-protection charm. Because she pities them?

Then they visit the infirmary. Wow. A long line of women. Is it that bad? Yup. They’re here to get ‘examined’ by Yukimasa. Damn that guy… Yukimasa talks to Izumiko as she explains the ghosts she saw. Yukimasa seems to want to blame Miyuki for being useless but Izumiko tries not to. So he advises her not to have careless sympathy. He puts a better spell on her. Miyuki blows his top at him that he gets away with everything in the name of Himegami. Yukimasa brushes him off for not making use of the chances. They are shocked to hear Izumiko will be put on several layers after the festival and Miyuki can only talk to her directly while in school. That wasn’t the original plan but Himegami can change her mind. Although Miyuki is not entirely mad at this, he knows Yukimasa has an ulterior motive. Yukimasa might not know Izumiko well but he certainly knows his son. Kisaragi knows that fellow student council member, Yoshiki Hayakawa is making bets for the popularity contest. He wants to have fun and make money while he can. Hayakawa then talks to Mayura and Izumiko. Since Takayanagi will be on the offensive team for tomorrow’s big battle, it is only logic that Mayura will be on the defending team. Mayura feels he has an ulterior motive so Hayakawa says he has the ability to predict the future. Mayura then sees the point of all this. She realizes he is an ally to her as he is from Togakushi. All Hayakawa can do now is set the table. He warns Takayanagi has set something up in school so be careful. Izumiko sees Masumi and it seems he can still hang around without his siblings summoning him. They talk about love but Masumi has a different version of it. Like when he sees a lonely ghost, he eats it to be as one with it. That’s love, right? Well… He leaves her hanging as he mentions he felt some magic in school. But nothing that couldn’t be taken care of.

Episode 11
The friends look around to see if Takayanagi had planted anything suspicious. So far nothing. But when the thought that he might use something not human, Izumiko feels there are strange beings hiding so the guys check it out and find a vial. They believe this is Takayanagi’s doing since he is from the chemistry club. On the last day of the festival, Miyuki gives Izumiko her handphone that he has been keeping all this while. Hope she doesn’t break it. They realize Takayanagi has upped them with a floating balloon from the chemistry club. As they head to their respective posts for the battle, Izumiko has the misfortune to run into Takayanagi and his ‘friends’. Yeah, he summoned a few new spirit agents. He tries to accuse Masumi as the crueller one as he was the one who ‘killed’ Ricardo and that Mayura’s views of the world are narrow. He also tells her about the increase in foreigners at Houjou because of the belief in this era that the west and east need to bridge together and build a common ideology. Izumiko feels scared at first but then finds him not as scary as he thought it would be. Meanwhile Miyuki is rushing towards Izumiko. He realizes there is a spell casted because he cannot reach her. He summons Wamiya to take care of this but he claims that this spell is made by Izumiko. She told him not to come, right? Izumiko finds herself watching one of the battles going on. Once it’s over, this foreigner girl brings her to see Takayanagi as she explains how much she loves Japanese culture and hence why she likes Takayanagi. Izumiko is horrified to see lots of ghosts among the crowd although she is assured they will bring no harm.

Mayura finds Miyuki thinking hard. He believes Takayanagi has set something up and if Izumiko switches side, it will be bad for them. Mayura reminds him about their most important people. She proposes he pretends to be her fiancé. Acquaintances of her family are here to see them and they expect her to be married. In reality she can’t. It’s the same for Miyuki and Izumiko. They can’t be a couple. Because Izumiko said they can’t be together as she would be troubling him, that is why he can’t tell his true feelings to her. Hence they both need an official front. For now, they attend to pressing matters. As the defence side is losing, Mayura has Masumi cover for her and thanks to him, he blows away whatever spell that was suppressing their luck. Izumiko is in the company of Takayanagi and co. They talk about layers and phases. Especially Takayanagi who proclaims he is doing this because they need to seal away dangerous things and set up this world as a place humans can control. As he has known her a bit, he hopes he could study her. What if she refuses? He believes she is now their ally. Izumiko felt confused a calm for a while but when Takayanagi mentions Miyuki’s name, that is when Izumiko remembers him. How could she have forgotten him? She does the chant to break the spell. Must be a great spell since a storm is kicking up. With Izumiko being assertive that she won’t be controlled, Takayanagi tries to calm her down (though, he still wants to persuade her to join his side). She accuses him of using non-humans for his own purposes and won’t stand for this. With the spirit agents blown away, Izumiko realizes she has blown her cover and remembers the warning to keep a low profile. She worries she will now be targeted. It’s that fear of others looking at her again. A small earthquake shakes the place.

Episode 12
Mayura could also felt that Masumi disappeared. All electronic devices go dead after the earthquake. Miyuki is surprised to see Nonomura here. He warns him that Himegami as foreshadowed, Izumiko will awaken today. He passes him a staff. Miyuki and Manatsu head to where Izumiko supposedly is. They find the porch looking strange. Saying a few prayers, they enter another layer to see Takayanagi’s lackeys. And Takayanagi himself turned into a dog! Cute? Yeah, divine punishment from Izumiko for using ghosts! However Izumiko has ventured into another layer and as Wamiya says, she might not want to come back. Manatsu also realizes Masumi is over in the other layer. He has changed the most among the triplets. Because now there is someone whom he loves more than his siblings: Izumiko. Meanwhile we see Izumiko alone, contemplating of never returning to the human world again. Masumi talks to her and he is fine that Mayura has Manatsu. With Izumiko claiming she is no longer human, Masumi disagrees otherwise and humans like her are almost extinct. In short, he confesses he likes her. Miyuki will go get Izumiko but wants Manatsu to stay with Mayura in fear that she will fall apart if Manatsu disappears. But Takayanagi must come with Miyuki so as to apologize and bring her back. In the next layer, they must fight through hordes of ghosts to get to the next layer. But as Wamiya points out, there are many more to come. The problem is not the ghosts and the number of layers but if he has the strong will to get through each layer. Otherwise he can be doing this forever and still not each her. But if he gives up, he can easily return to reality. Manatsu returns to Mayura to tell what has happened. She gets worried since she hasn’t settled things with Takayanagi. Manatsu tells her to stop competing. At this rate they’ll drag and hurt others like Izumiko. Miyuki remembers his reply to Mayura. He doesn’t mind being her fiancé but thinks they shouldn’t do it as it would hurt others close to them no matter how successful the plan is.

Masumi hopes Izumiko can give him a chance to make her happy but she is somewhat hesitant and confused. As Miyuki fights the hordes of ghosts to get to the next layer, I guess it’s time to think out of the box. He calls Izumiko via handphone. Yeah, there’s reception here! Izumiko picks up and he tells her to call for him. She does so and what pops out from her handphone is Wamiya. The familiar says Masumi has lost and don’t be too greedy. Now scram. Then he turns into Miyuki. She admits she was afraid because she found out she is Himegami and didn’t want people to see her. Hence she was hiding. But after Miyuki and Wamiya came for her, she felt better. Miyuki wants her to tell him if she needs anything. Being a goddess is too much of a burden to bear and he’ll help her become one who won’t destroy humanity. However she fears doing so would mean the end so Miyuki hugs her. Takayanagi makes a sincere apology and admits that balloon stunt had some hallucinatory spells. Izumiko is unsure if he can turn him back but Wamiya points out the powers she has that she is unaware of. In reality, everyone is shocked to see ghosts streaming by. Masumi returns to Mayura and vows to protect her. Well, he got rejected so I guess that’s that. Izumiko starts her dance to purify the spells. In the aftermath, we see Hodaka reporting that Izumiko has become the top student and hence a candidate for World Heritage. Izumiko can’t give Miyuki an answer yet but will forever remember how he came for her when she was about to lose herself. She is shocked when he touches her but he just passed out from exhaustion.

Red Data Retention: Spiritual Data Overload!
So I guess mankind gets to live a little longer? Was Himegami’s prediction off? Not surprising as she said she was losing herself so it wouldn’t be surprising if Izumiko didn’t awaken as her at the end of the festival. So is this called a successful failure? Not really sure about the future but as far as the end of the anime is concerned, Izumiko returns to herself with Miyuki by her side. Therefore looking on the bright side of things, all is well, ends well. For now.

As I’m not really into the spiritual theme of things, hence I find it a bit hard to follow some of the storyline and subplots which this series seems to try and cram in a few. The bigger picture looks like if humanity deserves another second chance to exist and hence the smaller subplots include seeing Izumiko taking on a journey if she would be awakened as Himegami’s vessel. It’s rather okay about these subplots of subjugating Wamiya as her familiar, that problem with Masumi and that rivalry with Takayanagi but like I said, these feels like distraction to the bigger plot of Himegami’s awakening. Thus at the end, I was a bit confused to it all. Sure, the festival ended without anything disastrous or untoward but from a long shot, everything is still far by over. Especially when there are other greedy people who harbour such intentions to own that kind of power Izumiko has for their own. I thought that would be a storyline somewhere here but it ended in this Houjou festival thingy. But I suppose that is the story for next time. Next season. Not likely. It’s been years since…

I find it interesting that special people with spiritual powers are now considered endangered species in this anime. So they’re treating such humans as animals now? Hence at the start of each episode you’ll be notified about the Red Data Book/List which is the IUCN’s list of endangered species in the world. Hence the oddly named title of this series as I was wondering at the start. Therefore if Jesus Christ was going to come down a second time to save mankind, in this anime at least it will be in the form of this World Heritage thingy. With people getting more and more hooked to their electronic technological devices, we’re losing that spiritual touch with nature and God. So next time you’re fapping to that porn video you’re watching, bear in mind that there might be many angry spirits watching over your unholy activity… ;p.

It’s hard to say that Izumiko is a useless girl since she is caught in something that is far bigger than what she can understand. She is sheltered and protected from a very young age and when thrust into a different light, she takes some time to stand up on her own two feet. So you can’t really fault her for being gullible and being pushed around because if you are in her shoes, what would you have done? And then she finds out that she is a vessel or could be the big goddess herself, for any normal mortal beings, that is scary enough. Thankfully she has Miyuki to help her bring her back to the right path if she goes astray and the same can be said about him. It feels like this guy is born moody and grumpy and that it sounds like an excuse he is living in the shadows of his great father. He looks like an amateur and unconfident with his abilities because when you’re entrusted with a task that has the big goddess involved, do you not panic and fear you might fail?

Having said that, all Izumiko and Miyuki want is just to be normal high school kids but their fate and circumstances don’t allow them to do so. Hence that wall-cum-barrier-cum-excuse-cum-convenience that makes it a big roundabout way for them not to fall in love with each other. We know and hope they really end up as an item but because the notion of Izumiko is a goddess and Miyuki is her manservant, not so straightforward. Hence she is always insecure and afraid while he is always mad and moody. If the spiritual fate thingy didn’t get in between them, this would have been some sort of generic romance drama. But as we see them rely on each other in the final arc, we can safely say that they are a bit closer to each other than they were at the start. A lot more of these situations should really improve their relationship. Hopefully. It would have been interesting to see if the duo would put their love for each other first than saving mankind. Or perhaps they can do both. But for now, we have to put up with their hot and cold relationship which could be annoying to watch sometimes.

Himegami although feels superior and divine, sometimes I wonder if she is just like any other ordinary woman. After all, just like many other women, she doesn’t like her man to talk about other woman. First sign and hint from your girlfriend that you better pay all the attention to her! I would have been nice to see all the experiments and whatever trials and tribulation she went through to bring about this final journey she is on but I suppose there is not enough time and duration to tell it all in a single cour. After all, they need to keep the mystery of Himegami as her charm. Knowing her a little too well might change our perspective of her and that’s not good seeing she is of a goddess status.

Other characters feel like a distraction like Manatsu and Mayura who don’t really have anything to do with Izumiko and Miyuki’s case and as I have pointed out a few paragraphs earlier, having Masumi around seems like a detour and distraction so as to ‘reassure’ that Izumiko and Miyuki belong to each other. Otherwise, this competition with Takayanagi is still something I don’t get because I don’t really see how this experiment makes one the candidate for World Heritage. Speaking of Takayanagi, that guy really feels like a loser. He looks arrogant and might be suave but eventually in the end he is just a wuss. Heck, he lost not once but twice! You thought he had given up after losing to Masumi and got his spirit agent crushed. But then he returned as sneakier than before and what does he get? Turned into a dog! Hope he learnt his lesson but I doubt it. Then Wamiya is like a familiar for both Izumiko and Miyuki but the way he expresses himself, he sounds not too enthusiastic to serve his masters. It’s like, well, he is doing it because he has to and if so, I mean, what else can he do about it? It’s your call.

Not sure what Yukimasa is doing behind the scenes all the time but I figure it is something important. So important that he had to leave his son with the important task of being with Izumiko AKA Himegami. Didn’t he call Miyuki as his backup plan? So I’m wondering if this multi-talented guy who could do no wrong is just doing all this to piss off Miyuki or in a twisted way, give him some sort of motivation to be like him. I don’t think the latter works seeing how Miyuki doesn’t like him. I mean, you tell when he calls his father by his first name! I’m very sure they are blood related and they are actually biologically father and son but you never know. Anime love to spring surprises about families not really being blood related as plot twist or convenience. Some characters like Hodaka feels like a red herring. I thought he would play some sort of important role but after his debut that makes him feel like as though he is an important character, he falls back into the shadows as background character. Maybe he pulls the strings behind the scenes like Yukimasa but we’ll never know.

The other reason why I watched this series is because it is done by P.A. Works. You know, the anime studio that has brought us a lot of good looking characters and visuals. Like Hanasaku Iroha, Glasslip, Tari Tari, True Tears, Sakura Quest and the recent Irozuku Sekai No Ashita Kara. Oh yeah. Cute kawaii bishoujo galore. You can bet Izumiko is looking damn cute in her braids because I don’t know why many people view girls with braids as plain Janes. This means you can also see the trademark bishoujo and bishonen character designs very similar to their other anime series aforementioned. Like you know, how Miyuki have this main character look but just put him in constant moody mode. Other than the characters, the background and sceneries are also a sight to behold. It is nice to know that P.A. Works have been constant in their anime quality throughout the years as this series came out back in 2013. So continue to keep up the good work and bring me more kawaii bishoujo to gawk at. And to add to my personal top 10 bishoujo yearend list!

Voice acting is fine as I recognized a few seiyuus such as Saori Hayami as Izumiko, Jun Fukuyama as Yukimasa, Akira Ishida as Hodaka, Romi Paku as Yukariko and Mamoru Miyano as Hayakawa. Not surprising but still surprising is Rie Kugimiya as Wamiya because she isn’t nowhere near her tsundere trademark style and is one of those few boyish roles like Al of Fullmetal Alchemist, Hasuta in Haiyore! Nyaruko-san and Shunpei from Oh! Edo Rocket. Only, add more monotony to her voice. I guess she can’t forever be Shana, Taiga, Louise, Nagi… It’s been a long time since I have head Rie Tanaka so I didn’t recognize her when she took over as Himegami. The other casts are Kouki Uchiyama as Miyuki (Shigaraki in Boku No Hero Academia), Madoka Yonezawa as Mayura (Ui in K-ON!), Kaito Ishikawa as Manatsu (Iida in Boku No Hero Academia), Ryohei Kimura as Masumi (Kodaka in Boku Wa Tomodachi Ga Sukunai), Hiofumi Nakajima as Takayanagi (Akatsuki in Aria The Animation), Sarah Emi Bridcutt as Kisaragi (Yuzuru in Date A Live) and Kenji Nomura as Nonomura (Shishigou in Fate/Stay Apocrypha).

The opening theme, Small Worldrop by Annabel feels rather okay as her soft voice feels familiar to Nagi Yanagi. Hence making this song sound a bit like those the latter sings. The ending theme, Yokan has some traditional feel to it. But Masumi Ito singing it feels a bit ‘creepy’ and like as though I have heard her singing somewhere before. Oh right. Just like how she sang in a similar fashions in anime ending themes like Zettai Shonen, Scrapped Princess and Umi Monogatari. The song isn’t that bad but I sometimes get the chills hearing her ‘ghostly’ voice. And sometimes too I think that she is an alternate version of Nano Ripe…

Overall, this isn’t a bad series but it isn’t a good one either. It had some potential with its theme but lost its way. Other than the pretty visuals, the characters and plots may leave you scratching your head and wondering if there is more to it. Certainly there is because from what we’ve seen, they’ve presented with so much but yet we don’t have enough data storage memory to absorb it all! Yeah, it’s hard to think of it this way that Izumiko is just a 64GB USB pendrive but Himegami is a 2TB data to download!!! Not enough storage space that’s for sure! Well, there’s a flash drive to accommodate that today but I wonder having so would make it unstable. With people with special spiritual powers on the decline and on the verge of extinction, corrupted pervy otaku misfits are on the rise. A dime a dozen, spreading like a plague. No wonder there are so many sh*tty shows these days. Is there a religious anime that could bring us salvation? Looking for religious themed animes online… Aha, Bible Black. Or Crimson Climax. Or Sins Of The Flesh. Oh wait, no… Oh sh*t!!!

N/B: Is it ironic that we somehow have a lot of hard drive space when we download porn?

Kakegurui XX

July 20, 2019

It wasn’t me. I had no money to bet there would be another reason and was just silently praying to God for it and boom! Here it was! Kakegurui XX was unexpected and I supposed somebody made a bet and won over the producers for another season. Or maybe God really worked his miracle. Thank you. God or whoever you are anonymous gambler for giving another season for this great psychological gambling game that had too many interesting potentials and developments that would be a shame had it not get another sequel. Now I can enjoy the second season without betting or risking anything XD. Or do I?

Episode 1
Yumeko, Ikishima and Erimi Mushibami are in a high stakes gambling. In this game, each will take turns to cut a string. One of the strings is connected to the guillotine that will definitely chop off their finger. Of course the first to pull out loses in this extreme game of chicken. The game is supervised by Inaho Yamato of the election committee whose duty is to be the neutral judge. Erimi is not afraid of the outcome. She knows there is a safety plate that would stop the blade from going down all the way. She is relishing to see the chance of her opponents squirm and panic in fear. However as the game passes and they cut fake strings, Erimi is puzzled that they are getting more and more excited. They’re basically orgasming and hope that the next string they cut is the real deal! She tries to play psychology to see how long they will last as she explains her family is in the business of torture and that’s why she has this mini guillotine. But when Yumeko checks with Inaho if she had checked and removed it and Inaho confirms it, Erimi starts to panic. Wait a minute. You mean there is no safety plate?! Prior to the game, for fairness, all the participants waited out of the room as Inaho checked the guillotine and shuffled the strings. Oh dear. Now it’s Inaho to get scared. She’s sweating a lot. Must be the heavy gothic dress, huh? NOT! And Ikishima and Yumeko are only getting crazier as the strings reduced. Yeah, the chances of the guillotine dropping could be any time soon… And there are only 3 strings left… Oh sh*t! And then Erimi starts crying inconsolably… WTF… What the f*ck?! WHAT THE F*CK???!!! Yumeko not looking happy. B*tch, did you just kill my vibe?! Flashback to when Kirari announced after a string of defeats the student council suffered at the hands of Yumeko, she is dissolving the student council and hold an election. Some are opposed to this because it will mean Kirari relinquishing her power. Kirari explains Hyakkaou is a garden she created beautifully based on the law of the survival of the fittest. But someone came to disrupt that beauty. If left alone, the distortion will grow. Hence she wants to stir things up even more. Kirari ushers in and introduces a new bunch of weirdoes. Terano and Yumi Totobami, Sumika Warakubami, Miroslava Honebami, Nozomi Komabami, Rin and Ibara Obami, Miri Yobami, Miyo Inbami and Erimi. All these are the relatives and branches of the Momobami clan. They have recently transferred here to represent their families as candidates for the presidential election. There is also Rei Batsubami but she isn’t gambling and serves as their butler.

Episode 2
Thanks to Kirari’s sudden announcement, the adults panic and sent their kids here since the winner will also become the head of the Momobami clan. Terano accuses Kirari of loving to see all the families panic over this. She hates her for easily taken what she wants and then relinquishes it with ease. While some of the existing student council protest this, Kirari notes that if they want to maintain status quo, all they have to do is win. Everyone has a fair chance with this election. This means the other students too. Everyone will be given a chip that represents their vote. You gamble and win votes of others. The person with the most votes after 30 days wins. Yumeko was happy with this but rued since Manyuda transferred all his money to her, looks like she can’t use it as bets in this election. Mary is wary of this election and wants to stay out (no Yumeko-Mary lesbian combo, I guess). She suspects they could be distant relatives of Yumeko since they all have that Bami name. Meanwhile Terano is the unofficial leader of the branches. She has everyone remember their pact to topple Kirari and until then they will not face each other. As for Yumeko, she must be a fringe family of the clan and they are free to fight or ignore her. Hence Erimi gets this idea to take her out. Rei then goes to get Yumeko who is delighted that somebody has issued a challenge to her. She wasn’t thrilled that Ikishima also got the invitation but soon gets excited after Erimi introduces her game. And that is where we all now. Erimi is struck by her own fear and terror but with those crazy b*tches egging her to go all the way, I guess Erimi has also lost it and just picks up the scissors to cut. A miss! Damn, the tension is running high! Ikishima is so f*cking excited that she cuts both strings at once! Here comes the guillotine!!!!!! Eh? The safety plate is still intact? Because Erimi pulled out first, she loses. Because Ikishima cut 2 strings, she is disqualified. Hence Yumeko is the winner. But Yumeko is very mad at Ikishima for killing the tension. Never show your face before me again! As for why the safety plate is still there, actually when Yumeko hinted to Inaho, it was because she noticed the table the guillotine sits on was unstable. Hence she removed the pads from the table’s feet to add stability. Yumeko praises Erimi for her pride and conviction of staying true till the end. Wow. Erimi really got psyched on this one. Meanwhile Kirari and Terano talk about the latter bringing in Rei here. Her house was expelled from the clan and he won’t do good as insurance. Terano insists she is just a joker whose actions will be unpredictable.

Episode 3
Nishinotouin loses to Miyo and Miri. Yumeko is now delighted to play against them. While Miri is cold and distant, Miyo tries to put up a polite and friendly façade for Yumeko. Runa supervises this nim zero game that Suzui wants to enter too. He thinks he can help Yumeko? Okay. This game has cards labelled from 0 to 3. Each will be given 4 cards and the goal is not to exceed the total 9. The one who surpasses that loses. They will play this for 3 rounds. Because Suzui only has 1 chip, he is offered a service chip. Each chip means 24 hours of service to the student council. Is he willing to take that risk? You bet! In the first round, Yumeko ups the ante by raising 30 chips! The rest follow. Yeah, Suzui follows to and that means 700 over hours of service if he loses… The round completes with Miyo busting her hand. Suzui is puzzled because she had a bad hand so why did she risk this? Suddenly Yumeko collapses. Meanwhile Mary is confronted by Ririka and is forced to play a simple gamble with her. Guess which hand has a chip and all these chips will be hers. If Mary wins, she will follow her around. If Ririka wins, Mary will team up with her to fight. However Mary takes off her mask, reducing her self-confidence drastically. Mary will not be cowed into this and refuses to play. Then she gets a call from Suzui. Help! Yumeko is poisoned and he is told to bring someone with lots of chips. Mary understands where this is going so she picks the correct hand of Ririka. Rushing to Yumeko’s side, she hears Suzui accusing Miyo and Miri of poisoning Yumeko. Their families might be in the pharmaceutical business but he has no proof. Even more so, Runa is perfectly sure there was no foul play during the game. This means it could happened before the game starts, outside Runa’s jurisdiction. Yup, the time Miyo hugged Yumeko during their introduction. With Mary replacing Yumeko, Miyo adds the serum as the wager. She also adds one cannot fold or else you have to press your finger against this nail coated with the same poison. Deep down inside Miyo, she relishes seeing these friends crumble in their noble bid to save Yumeko. The next round begins and Mary wants Suzui to show his hand! Well, that’s not against the rules. Suzui remembers Yumeko’s words to do all that Mary says. Hence he is going to believe in her. That is his bet! After seeing the weak cards he has, she is sure she can win this and raises the ante to 100 chips.

Episode 4
Miyo and Miri have developed some sort of telepathic way to communicate with themselves. Actually they ‘speak’ with their eyes. Whatever. Miyo wants Suzui not to listen to Mary. She will give the antidote to Yumeko and they should join forces to take her down as Mary is only trying to sacrifice him. Suzui rejects her deal because this is not what Yumeko would’ve wanted. The round ends with Miri losing. For the last round, the same thing as Mary has Suzui shows his cards. When Miyo raises the ante to 300 chips, Mary raises it to 10,000 chips! Miyo thinks she is trying to make them fold and is bluffing. They call on her and the game begins. Miyo and Miri realizes despite having good hands, they are the ones under threat. Yeah, Mary is smiling and enjoying the game. Miyo then notices that this could be Runa’s fault. It seems Mary has also noticed Runa’s Gilbreath shuffling style. From what I understand, no matter how you shuffle and cut the deck, every 4 cards will contain 1 from each suit (in this case, numbers) despite being random. So with 16 cards among them and each containing precisely 4 suits, that is why Mary had Suzui show his cards. This means she can tell what the cards Miyo and Miri have. With the limited choices they could make, it makes them easier to predict. Miyo accuses Runa of not adhering to neutrality. However Runa fires back that she has always been shuffling this way. It’s her fault not to take notice. Even so, as a dealer she sets the rules. It is her principle to make sure everyone has a fair shot at winning even if you are dead! The poison takes effect on Miri. Miyo then tells Miri to lose for her. She claims herself as superior. Miri does that and collapses. Miyo takes her away and vows to kill Mary next time. Yumeko is recuperating with Rei’s help administering the serum. Suzui thanks Mary and even Rei. He is glad that Rei is a kind person despite coming from a scary clan. But this makes Rei feel sad. As the gambling rages on, Kirari feels bored with her easy wins. Like as though nobody is serious in taking her out. Rin and Sumika join in and Kirari finally thinks she could at least have some fun. Mary whispers a secret only to Yumeko. Not sure if she can hear but Mary says she is going to be the next student council president.

Episode 5
The total votes so far after a week. The top 10 from lowest to highest: Yumeko, Miroslava, Miyo, Sumika, Sumeragi, Rin, Mary, Yumemi, Terano and of course in a runaway lead, Kirari. After Ikishima criticizes Yumemi as a talentless idol, this makes her go into a rage. Yumemi’s goal isn’t to become the student council president but if she has to influence on the next president, she must convince others she was the one putting them in power. As she has taken all the votes from her fans, the only way to get more votes is to get more fans. Rin thinks back about his match with Kirari. Because she bet all in, Rin folded. He realized it was her way to get them to go into some sudden death match and that has nothing to do with poker skills. Hence Rin and Sumika decided not to continue. The disappointment on Kirari’s face was priceless. Yumemi begs Yumeko to team up as an idol and garner more votes. Then everyone is abuzz with the world’s famous Hollywood actress here, Natari Kawaru. Yumeko is a big fan of hers. What is she doing here? To take part in the election. Eh? Natari’s real name is Sumika! She ignores Yumemi and wants to gamble with Yumeko. However Yumeko won’t be ignored and also challenges her. Natari agrees the dream girls team up against her in a singing performance. Of course Yumemi doesn’t care about winning or losing. It is her dream to perform with an actress she admires very much. However it would be much better if she beats that b*tch. Meanwhile Mary chides Ririka for following her around like a stalker. She claims that promise thingy but Mary will not acknowledge her as her partner unless she gambles and proves her worth. We see Yumeko and Yumemi belting out a typical kawaii idol song. When it is Natari’s turn, she stuns the crowd with her amazing voice while singing Amazing Grace! Holy sh*t! So beautiful that it blew everyone away?! Yumemi starting to look scared. And at the same time so awed that she also cried. Yumemi is not worried because she bribed her fans to vote for her. So here is the result of the first round. Natari thumping the duo 92-8 votes!!! Yumemi starting to look REALLY scared now.

Episode 6
Yumemi realizes the only way Natari could have won was that she too bribed others. But this was how she did it. She gave it to Rei to tell people to vote however they want. In the next match, they must eat 3 macarons. One of them is super spicy. The winner is one who can guess which macaron their opponent ate is the spicy one. Yumemi might look like she hit it with the first one but good acting. Because Natari points out it was the second one. She knows because Yumemi broke her finger just to hide the grimace. Yumeko could correctly guess Natari’s by counting the times she chewed! She took longer for the first one because she was delaying it, fascinated by Yumemi’s acting. But it was just pure gambling and guessing with the remaining ones. When Yumemi realizes she can never beat Natari no matter what, Yumeko becomes mad. B*tch, you just killed my vibe. She only helped because she was going to win but now that she has moved the goalpost, she hates her. In this last game, players pick up a card and set it face down. They can declare its actual value or lie. However they cannot exceed the value of 63. One may pass but this makes you out of the game. When 1 player is left, if the actual total value is below 63, she wins. Over, she loses. With Yumeko being lifeless and not cooperating with Yumemi, the idol thinks hard about her predicament. Indeed she wanted to lose but then she hears her fan scream not to give up. She remembers all those times being an idol and wants Yumeko to pass with her. Yumeko is surprised that she was acting all the time. She gets her groove back again but Yumemi dismisses it and that she wanted to lose and be praised by Natari for trying despite being talentless. Yumemi never wanted to be an idol but an actress. But being an idol made her realize this role is fun and she has been to places she could never have imagined. She doesn’t know if there is any meaning in beating her but she will find that meaning if she continues to look for it. With the dream girls pulling out, Runa counts the cards and it goes over. The dream girls win and Natari hopes to battle with Yumemi the next time. In Hollywood.

Episode 7
Yumeko sees Terano and wants to gamble. Finally Manyuda wakes up but he doesn’t care about his own life anymore. Even when Sumeragi tears up his Life Programme, he still doesn’t mind becoming her slave. Reverse psychology backfired. Here comes Yumeko to talk to them for a favour. Ibara and Miroslava are summoned by Terano. It seems she is in agreement with Yumeko’s plan. As Kirari is running away with the votes, soon none will have enough to challenge her and hence this plan is to pool their votes together to the winner. However Terano will not be joining in due to her promise not to fight her brethren. Rumia Uru oversees this game. Each will be given 5 coins to put in either a personal deposit box or a tax box. Coins in the personal box will be counted to their overall total. But coins deposited in the tax box will be doubled and distributed equally to all players including those who didn’t contribute. This will last for 5 rounds and the winner will get the votes which are from Terano’s. However if they fail to get 40 coins, they will give their votes to her. Before each round, they have time to discuss strategy and can eliminate a player if 3 of them agree. As Sumeragi heads to deposit first, Manyuda asks Yumeko about her passion for gambling. But does she feel remorse for those lives she ruined? None. However this makes Rei very mad and only backed down when Terano instructed her. When the first round ends, it seems they are a few coins short and this means there is a traitor among them who didn’t deposit in the tax box. With accusations flying, Yumeko comes up with an idea by having everyone pick randomly a paper with a number to indicate how much they must deposit in the tax box. While the traitor may get away with 1 or 2 coins, at least this avoids a big betrayal. But by the end of the second round, even lesser coins were deposit so much so that there is at least 2 traitors in the midst for this to happen. Ibara gets mad believing Yumeko is the traitor since she expected this outcome too. With Sumeragi accusing Ibara and Miroslava as in cohorts, Manyuda surprisingly gives his evaluation on who the traitor is. Judging from the circumstances, he points to Yumeko.

Episode 8
Manyuda explains about Yumeko and Terano conspiring together to assure they could profit from this. This makes Sumeragi sad that he has gone senile. In the next round, it’s the same as the last. Yumeko then orgasms that they they’re going to lose. WTF she seducing Manyuda and that activates his desire to bring everybody down now?! So both of them declare they won’t pay any taxes and hence making everyone to do the same. However everyone paid them in full. Manyuda now reveals the true traitors are Miroslava and Sumeragi. You see, it isn’t against the rules to leave your coins for others. Hence Sumeragi left hers for Miroslava whose turn is after her. Even if Miroslava had no reason to trust her, what if the note says to bank in her coins into her own deposit box? Not bad seeing there are no risks and all she need to do is get rid of the evidence. Manyuda calculates the coins received from this and Miroslava is in a massive lead. Hence the majority agrees to remove her from the final round. Miroslava realizes she has been played by Sumeragi but doesn’t hold a grudge against her since they were both allies in betrayal. But she does note she likes Manyuda because she set this up in a way for him to win. After the final round, Sumeragi wins the game. Although the votes are redistributed and Sumeragi is to receive 100 votes, however Rei announces a third party betting. Prior to this, Sumeragi and Terano made a bet if Manyuda would win or lost and achieve 40 coins. Sumeragi betted he couldn’t and must now pay her 150 votes. Manyuda is mad she did this but for Sumeragi, either way it is a win for her. Had Manyuda lost, Sumeragi would win a huge amount of votes. Had Manyuda won, she loses her votes but knew he didn’t go senile and still had it in him. She is happy with either way. Hence this game wasn’t about him interested in finding out what other people think but what is in his own heart. Sumeragi doesn’t see this as saving him. He is her accomplice and now her gamble is now left in her hands. With that, Sumeragi is no longer in the running for the student council president. Sayaka is getting worried that Terano is obtaining more votes and will do anything like threats and expulsion just to protect Kirari. However Kirari will not have any of that. She wants Yumeko to stir things up further. Oh Sayaka. You looking so sad. Is she going to get a heart attack?

Episode 9
Update on the rankings of the election. The top 10 from lowest to highest: Suzui (surprise!), Nozomi, Miyo, Ibara, Yumeko, Rin, Mary, Yumemi, Terano and Kirari. When Yumeko declares to challenge Kirari right now, this is when b*tch Sayaka steps in to berate her and even wants Kirari to throw her out right now. Of course no can do. This has Sayaka wondering if Kirari will look at her more favourably if she beats Yumeko at gambling. Well, if she can. This has Sayaka challenging Yumeko to a gamble. But it will be separate from the election and not votes. They will bet their lives. As shocking this may sound, Yumeko declines. Because that would be too boring. In order for Sayaka to really bet everything, she must risk her relationship and memories with Kirari. That is her ultimate bet. If Yumeko loses, she will never gamble again. With Kirari looking forward to this and wants to be their dealer, it’s do or die for Sayaka. In this tower game, the aim is to move from the fifth floor down to the first floor to pick a flower and then back up to the fifth floor again. The fastest to do so wins. However there are doors and hatches that brings you up or down different levels. Only the central staircase brings you directly to the bottom and top floor. Each will have 5 minutes as they take turns to choose a door to open but each door has a puzzle they must solve. However a word of caution, even if they get the answer correct, it may not be the solution. With Sayaka still thinking about her important ties with Kirari, Kirari ups the ante for her. Let the loser jump off the highest floor and die. So if Sayaka losers, she will die an utter stranger to her. The game begins, Yumeko goes first. I don’t really get the puzzles to the doors that keep changing but it has something to do with hexadecimal and decimal values. Although Yumeko got it right, behind the door is a wall. Sayaka’s turn, she chooses her hatch and her answer allows her to go down to another floor. But reaching the 4th floor, she realizes the other hatch goes down a few more floors. She thought of praying to God for Yumeko not to choose that hatch but screw that. She is going to believe in her decisions and Kirari! Yumeko’s turn, she chooses a door. Not sure if she is making out with the door because she considers this tower as her opponent and wants to get to know more about it. Every inch, nook and corner. Because rather than living in ignorance, better to know everything and die!

Episode 10
Flashback shows Sayaka as a meek girl who met Kirari and wanted to be a secretary. She was enthralled with her gambling style and wanted to be close to her to learn more. Sayaka feared she said too much but surprisingly, Kirari took a liking for her rationality and accepted. As she makes her way to the first floor, she is shocked that Yumeko hasn’t arrived. She cannot have left since her flower is still here. She starts to think what might have happened and on her next turn, tries the central staircase. Brick wall. It is then Yumeko shows up. Sayaka starts laughing and is now confident to beat her. She climbs her way back up, certain that she will win but wait… Yumeko has arrived! Sayaka in shock! Face it. She lost. Yumeko explains about her choice. The puzzles displayed are actually angles. When she opened the door, she just wanted to look at the moon. However there was nothing. It then dawned to her that this entire tower itself is rotating. That is why they sometimes hit the brick wall. So using this calculation, Yumeko was able to use the central staircase and head right back up. Sayaka is still in disbelief. Why would Kirari design a tower that doesn’t not fully utilize gambling? That’s the thing. That’s part of the gamble. Dead fish Sayaka realizes she lost because of logic. Saddened by her fate she couldn’t understand the person she loves, she prepares to jump to her death. After doing so, she is shocked to see Sayaka jumping after her! It isn’t the flower fields that broke their fall. Yeah, safety mats. Kirari explains this is her tower so she wanted to also be the first person to jump off. However Sayaka chose the correct door because other doors would have led to her death. Hence despite not thinking, her mind is still seeking logic. After all this time, she still finds her fascinating. Now that they are strangers, she offers her to become her secretary. She might not understand her but that’s okay. Can we say today is the day Sayaka died and reborn again?

Episode 11
A few received an invitation for the 100 vote auction. But not all those who were invited came. Those who turn up are Yumeko, Suzui, Mary, Ririka, Nishinotouin and Ikishima (totally ignored by Yumeko). The auctioneer is Rei and Inaho invigilates this gamble. Rei cannot disclose the sponsor for the 100 votes up for grabs and explains the rules. They will be using their votes to bid and whoever places the highest bid will win the 100 vote lot. The catch is that they will not know who bids. Also, if you don’t win the lot, you lose everything you bid. I’m not very clear about the rest because if they are limited by the number of votes they have, will that limit their play? Anyway, Mary is confident she can win this as she warns the others this is just a ploy to compete among themselves as the one who actually wins is the sponsor. But with others bidding, Mary is forced to bid higher and wins the first round. In the next round, Mary says the same thing but this time Nishinotouin wins the bid. Before the next round, Mary announces she will bid 99 to prevent anyone from bidding hire (because if they bid 100, they will trade it with the 100 votes they win). But she lied and bid 10. Then somebody raises it to 20. This only confirms her suspicions that Rei is also playing this game to deliberately raise the price. This will go on until the sponsor made a profit. Rei admits she is playing but vows not to participate further. Mary thought the next round would be smooth sailing but somebody is still trying to outbid her. This is when Yumeko realizes that there is another participant somewhere and that they can see them. True enough the other Bami members are watching from a different room and the one who just bid was Ibara. With Yumeko turned on, she points out that Rei is the sponsor and organizer of this gamble. She then brings in 3 billion yen (from her win from Manyuda) and wants to use this to win this round’s 100 votes (apparently she talked to Inaho about some rule amending thingy and it was approved with all those present consented). She wants to gamble with the real Rei, bid this 3 billion and win everything that belongs to her. With Rei admitting that, she throws away her ‘mask’ and reveals her true ‘face’.

Episode 12
We delve into Rei’s past as one of those Bami members who was raised as a livestock ever since. Her role was to only serve others until one day Yumeko’s sister told her the mark on her hands doesn’t mean it is engraved in her heart forever. Her heart is hers alone. This made Rei happy. She continued her role but every time Yumeko’s sister visited, she would be happy. But each time she looks even more and more weak. Until one day she too got devoured and lost in a gamble among the clan’s conflict. Ever since, Rei vowed revenge and take back what is hers. Hence Rei announces she will win this election and become the next clan head as revenge. With the auction continuing, the other Bami members realized this wasn’t an act by Terano that they assumed. They’ve been had. As for how Rei amassed her votes, there was a large gamble recently where one would vote whether Rei could win this. All the girls who were swept off their feet gave their votes to her and hence she has enough votes to compete. The Bami members want to quit but they realize they will lose more if they quit as there is the risk of Rei getting all the votes so they are forced to stay in. The auction continues in the same fashion. Like as though Rei is going to win anyhow. Suddenly Yumeko quickly posts a few 101 starting bids. And then a few subsequent delayed ones. The Bami realizes this delay is that she is looking for an answer so when the next bid starts, the Bami side quickly cast their 101 bid.

But after that, Yumeko then bids 1. As Mary notes she can’t just profit them all, Yumeko suggests they should join in. Hence everyone takes turns in bidding 1 and win the 100 lot to finally ruin Rei. Rei accuses them of collusion which is forbidden by the rules. However Yumeko explains it isn’t so. It is that they clearly understand each other! Hence they manage to understand the need to profit by not competing with each other (the 101 useless bids were just trolls for this understanding). With Rei having no votes left, she thinks she is done for but Yumeko points out that she still has something to wager: Her 3 billion yen. This is her everything. Don’t gamble for the sake of revenge or others. Gamble for yourself! It is your own heart! Rei accepts this final big gamble in which Yumeko wagers her own name. If she loses, she will take on Rei’s forsaken surname. It all boils down to a single coin toss… In the aftermath, it seems Rei has been freed by her imaginary chains and is encouraged by Kirari to write her new Bami surname. So this means Yumeko won the coin toss and is now gambling it all away! Oh dear. Easy come, easy go? Sumeragi stops her before she bankrupts herself out of this election. Then a smoking hot never seen before babe passes by. Oh gosh! Rei is so feminine and beautiful! Yumeko is happy because today is the first day of her very own life. Terano thinks that the joker wasn’t Rei all along but Yumeko.

Luck Not Needed, Only Madness…
Oh God… I think I’m addicted to it… I think this needs another season… Another season real bad… I mean, it can’t just end here like this, can it?! I need more! I need more right now! How to go on without any more money???!!! I guess I’m broke. This means all that is left is to complain and b*tch about this unsatisfying ending. So I guess the real character in focus this season is Rei. With her being finally liberated from her imaginary chains, is this considered a happy ending? Perhaps for Rei. Because certainly Yumeko would also be happy because there would be another one of her kind who would gamble for their own sake and reach that kind of level of insanity. The kind of orgasmic thrills that such extreme gambler could feel when they are on the edge. But that’s another story.

This season is still as interesting and tense as its first. Although there are some points like the mechanisms and the workings of the gamble in play that I don’t really understand no matter how many times I go back and listen to the rules. That still didn’t diminish my overall enjoyment of the series although it could have been a lot more enjoyable had I really understood how the gamble works. For instance the final gamble of this season, the 100 votes auction felt like anybody could just bid any number. Because I thought they are limited to the number of votes they have and this puts those with low number of votes at a disadvantage. Maybe I am missing something here but trying to follow through the scheming but not understanding the system of how it works feels somewhat frustrating.

The psychological tensions are still interesting to watch as we get to see how such precarious situations bring out the best and the worst in all of us. Of course those who are already as crazy as Yumeko, there is nothing more to say. But those who stand to lose a lot and fear in losing all that power, money, fame, status, etc, have a higher chance of showing their true colours and make a blunder. Good example as in Erimi’s case. She wanted to show off but underestimated her opponents and in the end found herself in a position that should have been experienced by her enemies.

Many of the games are simple but with just a slight twist to the rules. Some are elaborate like Kirari’s tower that aren’t anything much ado but are for aesthetics. While they are interesting in their own right, I feel that because of the drama, sly manoeuvrings, deceptions, delusions and psychological tensions being played during the games, this somewhat lengthens and stretches out the games by 2 or 3 episodes. The game would have seriously end very quickly had they not do all this stuffs. But then again, where would all the fun be had it been cut out? Viewers won’t get a satisfied explanation on what is going on and like myself as I have said don’t really understand some of the rules to begin with, will get even more confused if the game ended too fast. Like Yumeko always said, one must truly enjoy a good gamble.

With Kirari being unpredictable and forcing this student election gamble, hence the introduction of a few characters from the other Bami families in a bid to overthrow her. It feels unfortunate that with only a single cour in this season, it doesn’t do any much justice to the existing and new characters. While Yumeko is still the central main character and involved in almost every gamble we see here, in some instances she doesn’t feel like the main character. How should I put it? For instance the Yumemi and Natari’s battle, the focus is mainly on them and while Yumeko maintains her presence, she feels more like a sideshow. After all, Yumeko’s ultimate goal is to enjoy high stakes gamble and not be some typical cliché main character.

Characters from Yumeko’s camp also don’t fare any better. Feels like they have their turn and moments but those were short. Like Suzui seems really forgettable here and he is mostly an observer in many of the gambles. Except for that card game with the Chinese duo in which he participated but it feels like he is more of a puppet than anything else. Mary also feels very much like a side character. The card game to substitute Yumeko felt like some sort of ploy to give her some screen time and remind us that she is still sly in her own right. Then after Ririka weirdly becomes some sort of her ally and accomplice, she doesn’t stand out too much. Even that final auction game even though shows like as though she is trying to take control but I just don’t really feel the impact. What it feels like a last chance for Sumeragi to be relevant and go out with style and respect, is that the reason why they also brought back Manyuda? I don’t think it will be the last I see of them but after making amends and realizing the important stuffs, does the student council election matter anymore to them? Some weird romance they played out here…

I thought this season Sayaka was going to be side-lined since many of the other student council members too were somewhat thrown off the limelight. Nishinotouin and Ikishima going out early (poor Ikishima being treated as non-existent by Yumeko and anybody who talks to her before Yumeko’s presence gets chastised of who the f*cks are you talking to?!), Manyuda in coma (until that revival for that tax game) and Ririka turning into Mary’s subordinate, where would that make Kirari’s right hand woman? It’s a good thing we don’t have to see her getting jealous and b*tch about her precious Kirari but I suppose that gamble with Yumeko once and for all settles this. So let’s hope that with their renewed bond, Sayaka would be a more respectable character than before. Not like it matters anymore considering the direction of the plot. Kirari as the big boss seems like she is just biding her time until somebody crazy and worthy enough pops up to challenge her. I bet it would be worth the wait for her. So aside her, the only other successful original student council member is Yumemi. Even if she can’t become the student council president (she might be one of the top running candidates but I’m not betting on her to win it… Unless…), she still has something bigger to aim and strive for.

The Bami family members are equally as quirky and even as cruel due to each of their families specializing in some sort of specialty (like the Chinese duo in poison and Erimi in torturing). It would have been very cliché and linear if the story would be Yumeko going on to defeat all the Bami family one by one until the final boss but that would have been absolutely boring. After all, if Yumeko’s real goal was that, she would have challenged them all to one huge gamble. Small bets aren’t her style. It is unfortunate that the single cour has limited the fleshing out of these extremely interesting characters and while some have their limelight, others do not (like Nozomi – because I want to know how relevant her dog is). It looks like Terano is the unofficial leader leading the other Bami families to overthrow Kirari but considering this backstabbing family where power is absolute, there might be plot twists to more than meets the eye. After all when in a game of high stakes, you don’t really trust anybody. And it might seem this unofficial alliance is only intact because of Terano but who knows, anything can happen when so much is on the line. Heck, all this might just be a show and for all you know, Terano is actually conspiring with Kirari all along. At the end of the day, I suppose the last one standing definitely has the right to be called the biggest snake. Isn’t that what uwabami is?

I suppose the hidden and ‘star’ of this season is the character Rei. Serving as the butler to the entire academy as well as the Bami family, many things that she does gives off this suspicious aura. That kind of submissive and servitude feels like she is putting on some kind of mask to hide her true feelings. Not to mention that she has some sort of charisma and all the girls start swooning whenever she passes by. All that somewhat paid off with all of them willingly giving their votes to let Rei run for presidency, huh? Rei’s gender is never explicitly mentioned although she acts and dresses like a man but I know better… With Rei finally showing her true colours, it certainly looks to rattle the entire Bami clan but it went out with a sputter after that simple but gigantic loss to Yumeko. But then again, Rei didn’t particularly ‘lose’. She just ‘lost’ her past and gained her new freedom. You could say she won the lottery of this sense.

The other reason why I said she is the ‘star’ of this show is because that is why the second season is somewhat named after her, no? You see, ‘X’ in Japan is pronounced as ‘batsu’, which is Rei’s surname. Hence double X, double whammy? Uh huh. Thanks to that, I have a slightly hard time trying to find more legitimate info about this series. Because it leads me to those damn porn sites!!! I think there’s a reason why they didn’t call this season Kakegurui XXX… Yeah… A whole new gamble here…

Art and animation remain constant with last season. The trademark of this show is those devilish eyes. When the characters get serious or fall into their delirium, you will see a zoom in and close up of their eye. Yumeko is the main offender as her eyes will glow red like as though she is the devil reincarnate. Even Terminator would run towards his mummy. Heh. And oddly, I know Yumeko gets her thrills from gambling, but sometimes thinking about where the gamble is going also makes her orgasmic. Hence your weird fanservice of Yumeko doing sexy orgasmic poses that looks more like WTF than anything stimulating. Sorry folks, no Yumeko-Mary yuri fanservice this season. On a trivial note, why do I have this feeling that Natari’s character is modelled after Audrey Hepburn? She is considered by many to be one of the best actresses in Hollywood history.

This season’s opening theme doesn’t have that playful and naughty bubbly madness as it did in last season. Kono Yubi Tomare by Junna feels just pretty generic although a bit dramatic. Even its visuals in the opening credits aren’t as crazy. The same can be said for the ending theme, Alegria by D-selections. Last season we were treated to some crazy psychedelic delusions of Yumeko. This season we have Yumeko hinting some yuri action with Kirari in the forest. WTF?! You mean the natural forest?! Ah, the rules of the jungle and natural selection. The survival of the strongest and fittest. And yeah, it ends with some weird psychedelic lights thingy too, indicating that Yumeko might be high on some sort drugs. Whatever.

For the voice acting segment, recognizable joining the line-up include Romi Paku as Rei, Ayana Taketatsu as Erimi and Akira Ishida as Rin. Of course Mamiko Noto making her cameo as Yumeko’s sister! Hmm… Once I considered them as clones due to the similarity of their voice and now they are sisters here… How strange. The other new casts are Megumi Han as Terano (Akko in Little Witch Academia), Mitsuki Saiga as Miroslava (Phantom in MAR), Yoshimasa Hosoya as Ibara (Reiner in Shingeki No Kyojin), Ayahi Takagaki as Natari/Sumika (Chris in Senki Zesshou Symphogear), Yumi Uchiyama as Miyo (Hameline in Radiant), Rumi Okubo as Miri (Hibachi in Mushibugyou), Sayaka Kitahara as Nozomi (Mary in Busou Shoujo Machiavellism), Haruno Inoue as Yumi (Kaoru in Nobunagun) and Nanami Yamashita as Inaho (Nanami in Wake Up Girls).

Overall, absolutely interesting and intriguing second season only to be cut short because it is just a single cour. Not enough time to flesh out properly all the other characters, old and new. Some of the games are a bit hard to comprehend for a simpleton like me but that doesn’t greatly impact and diminish the overall enjoyment I had. So back to praying to God that this gets another season. And soon. Don’t want to wait 5 years or 10 years for it to get another season (like a few third season anime series lately like To Aru No Majutsu Index, Date A Live and Chihayafuru being aired after a long hiatus from their second season) so here is leaving to luck and chance! I’m betting that I have a better chance of getting a third season than winning the lottery :’(.

Gyakuten Saiban S2

June 15, 2019

Matta!!! Wait a minute!!! You mean after that cheesy and mediocre first season, nobody said “Igi ari!!!” for another season?! Nobody objected to it?! Maybe somebody did but objection was overruled. I guess not because Gyakuten Saiban S2 went on air in late 2018. I suppose the game that this series is based on is still popular as this second season adapts the third chapter of the game. Oh well. Time to find more contradictions and truths. And how cheesy and mediocre they go about it. Can’t argue with that. It’s the court of law we’re talking about.

Episode 1
Naruhodo is about to review his case for his trial when he is knocked out. When he wakes up, officer Mako Suzuki pins her hope on him to set her free. However, Naruhodo has lost his memories! In the courtroom, Mako is accused of killing a fellow officer who is also her boyfriend at the park. Yeah, the case must be coming as a shock to Naruhodo as he learns everything on the spot! Not bad for a guy who just had amnesia. With Itonokogiri giving his witness testimony, Naruhodo is guided by his instincts to cross-examine. Even if his brain doesn’t remember, his body does. So he notices the discrepancy in the evidence like how her boyfriend spelt out her name wrongly and using his right hand when he is a left hander. This would have set her free if not for the prosecution calling another witness, Moroheiya Takamasa. Hmm… Isn’t this guy the one who knocked out Naruhodo? He claims to have witnessed Mako killing her boyfriend. However it soon proves his sight is in doubt as he can’t see well without his glasses. Earlier on, he lost his handphone but Mako was the one who picked it up and agreed to wait and give him back so he must have misheard her name. Even if Takamasa’s glasses were found on site, what motive did he have to kill her boyfriend? Before Takamasa walks free, here comes Mayoi with evidence. A name list of conmen that Naruhodo told her to put together. Yeah, he can’t remember all that. Because Takamasa’s handphone contains info of other fellow conmen, when he saw Mako, he thought she called the cops (her boyfriend was still in uniform) and panicked. Takamasa claims his handphone is still with him and it is just coincidence it looks like the same model as Naruhodo’s. Just then, Naruhodo conveniently gets his memories back and remembers him knocking him out to take back his handphone. So he has Mayoi call his number and the handphone in Takamasa’s hand rings. With that Takamasa is found guilty and arrested while Mako is declared innocent. You know, Takamasa must be so dumb. He killed a cop but couldn’t do the same to a lawyer and at least give him some time to run and avoid this mess? Yeah, his own carelessness that’s what got his ass caught. Not Naruhodo’s skill. Oh Naruhodo, you’re the one who has all the luck, not Mako who claims herself as the goddess of luck.

Episode 2
A phantom thief named Kamen Mask has been stealing rare artefacts. One of them being the urn from Kurain Village which is being exhibit at a local exhibition. You bet Mayoi and Harumi want Naruhodo to turn detective and get this important urn back. At the exhibition, Kirio is working to manage the place. She reveals she did receive a calling card 10 days ago that a priceless exhibit will be stolen. She never thought it would be the urn because the appraiser appraised it at zero value! Then comes in the supposedly world famous ace detective, Aiga Hoshiidake whom Kirio also hired. He rants about being Kamen’s arch rival and even confronted him last night when he was here to steal the urn but let him get away to lure him into a false sense of victory. A call just come in. Kamen has turned himself in?! This guy, Yuusaku Amasugi is pathetic, weak and lame?! And what’s this? He claims he lost the urn?! WTF?! Plus, he has a wife, Mareka?! She claims her husband is a big fan of Kamen. Because of his timid nature, he looks up to such ‘heroes’. She knows he is being framed and hopes Naruhodo can defend him. This doesn’t sit well with the sisters as they claim they are the victims. They think Mareka is lying but Naruhodo believes she might not. So they go their separate ways to investigate. The sisters try to believe in Mareka and head to her house to investigate. Meanwhile Naruhodo visits Aiga’s office but he isn’t in. So why let himself in and despite knowing it is against the law to go through his belongings, he is going to do that???!!! But Aiga returns. Knowing Naruhodo will defend Yuusaku, he tells him he will also be taking the witness stand and put an end to Naruhodo whom he thinks is Kamen’s accomplice. Because you see, the prosecutor is a prosecutor whom Mitsurugi acknowledged as the best in the country, Godot.

Episode 3
Is Godot being disrespectful drinking coffee and even questioning the judge? Yeah, he claims he hasn’t lost a trial but this is his first trial! Technicalities. The trial begins with Yuusaku taking the stand and he wants to be proclaimed guilty! However Naruhodo is here to proof he isn’t Kamen. That is where Mayoi comes in to bring Yahari as a witness. He is working as a security guard and can proof that Yuusaku was also an ex-worker of the security firm, KB Security. Based from the access card, Yuusaku went to his previous employer’s building the night the urn was stolen due to a blackmail letter Mayoi found at his place. With the KB Security being 30 minutes away from his home, hence Yuusaku cannot be at the exhibit at that time. Even with Godot admitting that, now Naruhodo thinks the only person who can steal it is Aiga. He is called in as a witness as Naruhodo accuses him of being Kamen. Wait a minute. He did that without any evidence?! And he admits it too?! Thank goodness for Mareka bringing in the urn supposedly from Aiga’s office. However can she prove it was from there? Naruhodo believes he can. His own fingerprints are on it. Because Kirio cleaned the urn to make it look valuable, Naruhodo might not have looked inside the bag that contained the urn but he did touch it. Before the judge could ask the bailiff to dust for fingerprints, Aiga starts laughing like a madman. He also admits he is Kamen and doing this to find a worthy rival. I guess you can’t rival that sort of genius by creating one yourself. With Yuusaku declared innocent, however real sh*t is just about to begin. Because Godot comes in and claims the CEO of KB Security, Kurobei Busujima is murdered at the same time Yuusaku went there. Yuusaku is detained again on grounds of murder. Everyone is left in shock as Naruhodo could sense some sort of calm and deep hatred from Godot.

Episode 4
Although the urn is back, Mayoi noticed the writing on it has returned to its original position. Harumi will take it back to Kurain Village to ask her aunt. Then Kirio comes in to confess that she was the one who broke the urn. She tripped on some paint and tried to put it back afterwards. She moved a statue to cover the paint but on the day Naruhodo came to investigate, the statue was moved. The only person who could move it was Aiga but why did he did it? They head down to KB Security to investigate. Itonokogiri points out Busujima’s body was found in the safe. There is also a button on it that would send an emergency buzzer to the security room but that night no buzzer was heard. Apparently Busujima dabbled in some shady job of selling info too, probably why some want him dead. Heading to the security room that Yahari was supposed to be on duty, on that night he snuck out to go hit some chicks. Checking the log again, there was indeed a buzzer that went off on the night of the murder. Yahari is so getting fired… Next they visit Yuusaku to get his statement. He claims after getting the blackmail letter, he went there. I am surprised an ex-employee still has the access card. But upon entering the room, someone knocked him out and the next thing he knows, Busujima’s body is lying there. He hid it due to his panic and turned himself in hoping the theft incident would be his alibi. Yuusaku admits that all other Kamen incidents were his doing. However after his first job, somebody must have spotted him and continued to send him blackmail letters. Those letters also tell him his next raid and you could say the heists are all planned. After he deposits the heist, he waits for the money to be delivered. Yuusaku did all this for the money as Mareka loves to spend. With that kind of wage he earns, stealing is the better option. He once told her he is Kamen but she didn’t believe him. But definitely he didn’t kill Busujima. Next they talk to Mareka. They learn she fell in love with Yuusaku at first sight. She was working at the bank when a robbery happened. Weak Yuusaku who was a security guard somewhat (pathetically) saved her. With Harumi returning, Naruhodo seems to have pieced the puzzle together. But tomorrow’s trial is a battle of speed as Aiga is facing his own trial next door. He must drag Aiga here before his verdict is handed down.

Episode 5
Godot explains Yuusaku’s motives. In order to get money for his wife, he stole confidential data from KB Security. He was caught and fired by the CEO. Hence he murdered him. Yuusaku maintains he was knocked out upon entering the room. Everyone hears for the first time he was in Kamen’s disguise during that night. How could he forget such important detail? Naruhodo argues that only because Yuusaku/Kamen was out cold, he could not have heard the very loud buzzer. Because he would have run away instead of placing Busujima’s body in the safe. All to frame Yuusaku. Naruhodo believes the killer is Aiga. If he is accused and found guilty of theft, he cannot be charged with murder. The key is to drag him here before his verdict is passed. Aiga is summoned to this trial as Naruhodo shows the picture proof of Kamen stealing the urn that night. However this was taken a few nights before the incident. The picture shows the time but not the date. Furthermore, when Kirio moved the statue to cover the paint, Aiga panicked and moved it back so as to line up with his alibi. Even so, Naruhodo cannot prove he is at KB Security that night. Oh my. Is Aiga going to walk free and be charged with a lesser crime? I guess Naruhodo must be praying hard for a miracle. That miracle is Chihiro! Time for his ghostly mentor to motivate him to think harder. She hints Aiga said too much that proved his downfall. Because Aiga praised Yuusaku as Kamen’s biggest fan and even went to meet him on that night, Naruhodo points out that nobody knew Yuusaku was in Kamen’s outfit until today. Aiga praises this brilliant deduction and as a reward, we now need to know the whole story. I don’t know why Aiga was hiding in the dumpster when Yuusaku did his first gig as Kamen because Yuusaku went to the back alley to toss away his outfit. Aiga then devised a brilliant plan to blackmail him. Part of his bigger plan for an ace detective to fight a phantom thief and captivate the world. One night he got a bit careless and stole a ring from Busujiuma. The CEO discovered it and blackmailed him. Hence Aiga decided to use Yuusaku and frame him with Busuhjima’s blackmail letter. Once Aiga is done bragging, it’s the slammers of despair for him. With Yuusaku not guilty, he might be a free man but laments he has lost everything. Don’t worry. Mareka forgives him. She finds him brave for admitting to his crimes unlike that detective who was a coward and being sneaky. All’s well, ends well. Until Harumi thought Naruhodo was trying to flirt with Mareka. Loli power knocks out a lawyer!

Episode 6
Naruhodo and Mayoi are trying to do an ad for their firm. Lame… Samurai lawyer?! WTF?! Anyway, this is a flashback episode on Mitsurugi. 3 years after his father’s death, he is now living under Karuma’s household. Mei was more of a cute loli than a sadistic b*tch. With Mitsurugi unsure of following his father’s footsteps, Karuma is contemplating of sending him to an orphanage home! I guess he doesn’t need a useless adopted son. But after watching a few of Karuma’s victories in court, Mitsurugi did find some inspiration albeit not enough to make it his life’s ambition. One day at the shopping mall, his dog simply ran off. Mitsurugi listens to his radio for some hints. It seems his dog chased another bitc-, I mean female dog. Then this fat cow woman claims this lost dog is hers. However it is growling at her. Mitsurugi doubts she is the owner but she mentions about some of its traits. With no further evidence, Mitsurugi releases it to her. Of course we could tell this sneaky b*tch just wants to claim the reward for the lost dog. But she made a mistake by humming a song from Signal Samurai. Mitsurugi questions where she heard that song. Because it was just recently played over the radio. If she claims she has no kids, how did she know it was from a children’s TV show? Because Signal Samurai ended 3 years ago! And if she is the owner, she should pay him the reward as he was the one who found it. Fatty is mad and wants to get violent but thankfully Karuma is here. Do you want to settle this in court? Think not. This event made Mitsurugi firmly want to be a prosecutor. Karuma cancels that orphanage plan and realizes when he took him in 3 years ago, it wasn’t just out of guilt. It was to see what path this would lead to. Mayoi uploads the lame video online. Yeah, Americans think Japanese lawyers are crazy! However the video has only 1 like! It is hinted Mitsurugi saw it and liked it. So this dude is in USA now?

Episode 7
Itonokogiri barges into Naruhodo’s office to claim a phony has been using his name to defend clients and lost! It’s right here in the magazine?! It happened a month ago! WTF?! Nobody verified this for so long?! Not even Naruhodo knew about it?! They go see the accused and to their surprise it is Mako! At first she is mad at him for his amateurish defending but soon realize how different the phony was. You mean she never realized it then?! Anyway she relates her story. After quitting the force, she worked as a waitress at a café. There was a table with2 customers. She saw one of them lacing a cup of coffee with poison that killed the other. She was so shocked that she fainted. However everyone testified that there was only 1 customer at that table and that the poison was found in Mako’s apron. Mako is sure there were 2 of them as she served them. Naruhodo will get her a retrial. First they visit the café in which the gay French chef, Kaoru Hondobou. His testament is the same except for the fact he forgot to mention a medication bag of the victim in the previous trial! As the retrial begins, the victim, Takao Oka is a programmer and it is believed he was hearing a radio that announced the lottery ticket’s winning numbers. Hence Mako is accused of killing him to steal the ticket that was found in her possession. Also, Godot has examined the medication to be applied as cream and not eaten. Because the day before he got into a fight and busted his left ear. The judge doesn’t see any reason to prolong this trial but Itonokogiri won’t give up (because he’s in love) and has arranged a witness to be cross examined by Naruhodo. Shouhei Igarashi was the only other customer there and testifies the same. However Naruhodo believes he is an unreliable witness because he claims Oka used his left ear to listen to his earphone and left hand to drink from the cup (evidence shows he used his right thanks to the coffee lip stains). Even more so when he couldn’t describe Mako from the front and only from her back, which is very ambiguous. He also can’t identify the ketchup stained apron Mako was wearing that day. The judge postpones his verdict for both sides to find more evidence. As they leave, Naruhodo notices a messed up scooter. Then this hooligan threatens him not to touch it and takes off with it. So this guy is the phony Naruhodo?!

Episode 8
Checking the café again, in the kitchen there seems to be bottles of aromatherapy. But one of them stinks so Itonokogiri will take it back for testing. Naruhodo hears Hondobou talking to Urami Shikabane outside. From what is deduced, it looks like she is from a loan shark company and he borrowed money from her. Then at the park, they see Igarashi sitting around. Since he was pretty annoyed at the retrial, time for Chihiro to pop up and make this pervert talk again. He maintains what he said and also when the murder happened, Hondobou told him to call the cops. So he left the café and looked around for a phone for about 10 minutes. He also knows Hondobou has borrowed money from a loan shark. Naruhodo and Mayoi head there and are greeted by Urami. As they wait, they rummage through the stuffs. No warrants whatsoever. They find a CD and an invoice by the Shikabane Group worth 1.5 million Yen. Also there is this suit that looks like Naruhodo and it is confirmed this phony is the one, Toranosuke Shibakuzou. He is quite the ruffian but is very lovey-dovey with Urami who claims he saved her from a car accident and she owed his life to him. They are forced to leave. Returning to Itonokogiri, he reveals Urami is the only granddaughter of Gonta, the head of Shikabane Group who controls the black market in Japan. Also, Oka had also taken loan under them and as a programmer if he can’t pay back that loan, he would have used his skills as repayment. The CD contained a virus. Going back to Mako, now she reveals there was another customer other than Igarashi: Urami. They go ask her stuffs and even though she claimed Shibakuzou paid her operation in full out of love, Naruhodo can tell he was only doing it because he cannot defy Gonta. His messed up scooter proves he was the one who banged into the car and the expensive invoice, most of it was ‘compensation’. Urami sadly admits she knew it all but wanted to believe it was truly love. Because a person’s life is hanging on this case, she gives Naruhodo a medical papers. As they leave, Shibakuzou returns. He wants to pick a fight with them when conveniently Itonokogiri tackles him. He will handle this ruffian and wants Naruhodo to go save Mako.

Episode 9
Itonokogiri returns with the lab results. The bottle is the ear cream medicine but has unknown fingerprints on it. Trial resumes with Hondobou being called to the stands. As he testifies, Naruhodo calls his bluff. Because of the lottery radio programme Oka was listening it couldn’t possibly ended so soon. Because Igarashi wouldn’t have witnessed the crime then as he was not in the café yet. Naruhodo claims that Mako and Igarashi’s contradicting statements are both true because they both witnessed different events. This means Igarashi witnessed a re-enacted scene. Hondobou admits he helped hide the body but did not kill Oka. However he will not name his employer or he will be finished. Naruhodo believes it is Shibakuzou since Hondobou took out a loan with his company. Shibakuzou is called to the stands and is shown the medical papers. Behind it is written his appointment time with Oka. After Oka was killed, Mako fainted. Oka’s real body was hidden as Shibakuzou pretended to be Oka while Urami pretended to be Mako just to re-enact the scene to Igarashi before putting everything back in order. All this elaborated setup just to frame Mako. Godot argues if Oka had won the lottery, there is no reason for Shibakuzou to kill him as his winnings is more than enough to cover his loan. But Naruhodo points out that it isn’t the money Shibakuzou is after but the virus programme. You see, he also owes Urami’s medical bills that amounts to millions. If Oka won, this means his debts are cleared but this will leave Shibakuzou in a lurch. Had Oka lost, he would have given his virus CD as collateral and this is worth millions! Thus he poisoned Oka and stole his CD. To cover this, he pretended to be a lawyer to frame Mako. But even if Itonokogiri returns with fingerprint evidence it belongs to Shibakuzou, it doesn’t prove his anything because they are supposed to meet and hence the fingerprints are given. But when Naruhodo tries to explain the poison bottle containing his fingerprints, Shibakuzou foolishly denies the one in hand and describes the bottle. How does he know what bottle the poison was in? Even if he claims he saw it in the last trial, this forces him to admit he pretended to be Naruhodo. This stupidity brings an end to the trial and Mako is declared a free woman. Shibakuzou is taken away. He wonders why Urami betrayed him. As a Shikabane, they always get their payback.

Episode 10
I guess they wanted to make a spoof of the Murder On The Orient Express. Naruhodo, Mayoi, Itonokogiri and the judge are invited to ride Silver Star. It is a luxury private train made by Avery Richman from Goldstruck Republic, the typical foreigner who loves Japan that he bought up their railways and made his dream come true. Naruhodo and Mayoi are served by Rick Steam as he explains all the workers on this train are from Richman’s country. The train departs. Mayoi and Itonokogiri are on the same childish level to play some bomb squad game with their toy communicator. Is this allowed? Oh well, dinner time. A blizzard builds up and the train suddenly stops in its tracks. Itonokogiri sees a fireball and is shocked to think it is some human soul. The train starts moving again and it seems they have picked up Richman himself. All the employees now brandish machine guns to take away any communication devices from the passengers. Some are confined to their rooms and those in the dining hall have the ‘honour’ to meet Richman himself as he explains things. You see, he was convicted for murder in an American trial a year ago and is sentenced to death. Gee, how did they go ahead with this Silver Star thingy then without knowing this?! Anyway, Richman conveniently just naturalized as a Japanese and was hence being transported but managed to escape with the help of his people. What he wants is a retrial as all the evidence against him during that trial were false. You mean right here on this train instead of a proper court? Yeah, this train even has a court room! That is why he invited all those related to his case for this ride. He heard of Naruhodo’s heroics and he will be his defence attorney. The prosecutor is Yusaburou Saiga, an American prosecutor. This retrial will be broadcasted to a certain place and in the event if Richman is still found guilty, he will accept the verdict. Mayoi excuses herself to the toilet to contact Itonokogiri who is being grounded in his compartment. After learning everything, he tries to get to the courtroom but a clumsy employee shoots and a stray bullet grazes his arm. When he tries to get to the dining coach, it is missing.

Episode 11
Saiga fills in the details of the trial. Yendol Kanesky was the secretary general of America’s trade federation and was killed on stage while giving his speech at the yearend ceremony. It is believed Richman shot him since Kanesky saw Goldstruck Republic as a threat to America’s economy and wanted to kick him out. When police restrained him, they found the pistol with him. Richman insists he did not have a gun then and although the murder weapon was registered to his name, he claims someone had stolen it. Other witnesses mention a waiter with bandages on his right hand dropping an ashtray before the gunshot was heard. Before that, he also spilled champagne on an old lady in wheelchair. Suspiciously, he followed Richman to get the cloth to clean. That waiter is Gale Gaelic and before they could call him to the stand, a fire breaks out in one of the rooms. After putting it out, to their shock, Gale’s dead body lying there! Meanwhile Itonokogiri is being treated by Regina Locomoti who apologizes for accidentally shooting him (Richman gave specific orders not to harm anyone). He needs her help to contact to the outside world and gives his word he will not tip off the Japanese police who are looking for Richman. Hence he sends a message to Mitsurugi. Saiga insists in preserving the crime scene but lets Richman in since he needs to identify the witness. Upon opening the door, the body is gone! Is the retrial going to be postponed? Naruhodo and Saiga talk. Saiga might be a prosecutor but he prepares cases for indictment and doesn’t stand in court. Learning that Mitsurugi is Naruhodo’s rival, this brings back memories how Mitsurugi was the only one who could defeat him during his law college days. Because of that he ran away to America?! He only came back for a vacation but got this invitation. Mitsurugi is researching the records of Richman’s initial trial when suddenly agents tell him to come with them to see the chief prosecutor. Mitsurugi can see that there are malpractices of Richman’s trial including strange cross examinations and unnatural evidences. So if they claim America’s justice system is perfect, why summon him here when he is just looking up the records? Actually it is to show the live broadcast of the retrial. Meanwhile as Itonokogiri waits for Mitsurugi’s reply, he hears a thud outside. It is Gale’s body!

Episode 12
Itonokogiri connects to the trial room and shows Gale’s corpse. Teleportation? When he mentions about that fireball soul, Naruhodo and Mayoi remember seeing something like that. When the train went dark, it was to celebrate granny’s birthday. However one of the candles fell and burnt the cloth but was luckily put out. That was probably the fireball. Itonokogiri could only see it because they were at a path where there were several tracks. It was at that moment the coaches changed positions and hence the dining coach is not missing but went to the back. Saiga calls all this pointless but Naruhodo points out he is able to pinpoint Gale’s murderer. It is Saiga. The one they saw in the room is fake and somebody was just pretending to be Gale. When the fire broke out, Saiga went to inspect it first. When they re-examined it later and the corpse gone, the perpetrator was hiding behind the door while everyone was in shock before sneaking. The only person who appeared after that was Rick. With Naruhodo calling out Rick, he apologizes for this betrayal and admitted he was cooperating with the American law enforcement. He was asked to buy a gun with Richman’s fingerprints on it. The killer who shot Kanesky was indeed Gale and he did near Richman to frame him. Even the cops were in on it as they planted evidence in Richman when frisking him. Rick was once again put up to do this as he was threatened by Saiga or else he will expose his betrayal. Although Naruhodo believes Saiga killed Gale during dinner time when nobody was at the passenger coach, what evidence does he have to show Saiga’s motive for killing him?

This is where Mitsurugi comes in. He shows the report that Saiga’s name in charge of building this case. Gale was a key witnessed but during the American trial, he was cancelled by Saiga as an unimportant witness. This is to hide the proof that he was at the centre of the conspiracy. Even America’s chief prosecutor is disappointed at Saiga for dragging their good name through the mud. Even if Saiga says he did as the top brass ordered him to, that is precisely the reason why he will be severely punished. You see, Gale was an assassin hired by the federation. Hence there is no justice in this but only blood money. Cornered, Saiga is forced to tell the truth. When he was invited for this ride, he didn’t expect to see Gale too. They talked and it seems Gale had this idea of turning this into some blackmail stint. However Saiga didn’t want to himself to be exposed and quickly hatched a plan to kill Gale in another coach and hid his body. Gee, this assassin must be pretty rusty to be killed by a lawyer. Because Saiga didn’t foresee this retrial and others would be suspicious of Gale’s disappearance, that was why he wanted some time to prepare and that was to blackmail Rick into partaking in this plan of his to pretend to be the fake corpse. Now that Saiga is apprehended and Richman is pronounced innocent, it’s not over yet because Richman has put bombs on this coach! He has everyone evacuate but will go die himself in this explosion. This is why he rearranged the dining coach to be the last. He is resolved to do this no matter what the verdict was. Although this retrial proves his innocence, he thinks it will change nothing. However the chief prosecutor apologizes for the mistake and vows to give him a fair retrial. Oh my. Another retrial? At least this one is official. And with that, Richman realizes he needs to live and evacuates with the rest. With Itonokogiri is now a train driver and speeds up before the dining coach explodes! I guess we have had enough twists and drama for today.

Episode 13
This 1 hour special tells how Naruhodo became a lawyer. Yeah, he was accused of murder when he was a university student. Kikuzou Nonda warned Naruhodo about the girl he is dating, Chinami Miyanagi. Yeah, she’s Kikuzou’s ex. An argument broke out and Kikuzou ended up dead. Chihiro was tasked to defend Naruhodo and ironically she’s pretty nervous while Naruhodo being quite the chirpy lad. Amazingly, Chihiro devastatingly lost a case a year ago and never set foot in court until today. Man, she sure took a long time to recover. Naruhodo is accused of killing Kikuzou by way of shoving since the latter was holding his cough medicine (Naruhodo is currently sick). But can a fall kill a man? Turns out actually he was killed via electrocution by a nearby broken cable and this is supported by the university lab losing power at that time. Since this doesn’t prove Naruhodo’s intent to kill, the prosecutor then calls Chinami who witnessed the event. I guess she’s so cute that any guys would not hesitate to believe her. Anyway Chihiro finds flaws in her testimony. Because she said everything happened so fast, there is a discrepancy in the time of Kikuzou’s death (since amazingly his watch stopped at the same time). Hence there is a 10 minute gap from the electrocution and time of the stopped watch. Chihiro further accuses Chinami of wanting to frame Naruhodo. Apparently this isn’t their first meeting and Chihiro met her before. Plus, half a year ago, Chinami was in a trial that accused her of poisoning a lawyer. However she was set free as the supposedly poison was not found anywhere. But dumb Naruhodo interjects. He remembers that trial was the day they first met and he fell in love with her. She even gave him a weird pendant. Yeah, this guy wouldn’t shut up about his love and that’s where Chihiro has got Chinami cornered. Chinami poisoned the lawyer and then gave the poison in the form of a pendant to Naruhodo. Because as one who is not related to the case, he was not searched at all. Dumb Naruhodo objects to it all as he can’t believe his love cannot do all this. Especially obtaining very specially made poison. Oh yes she can. Her ex was a pharmacology student and hence had access to all sorts of poison. Dummy lover boy can’t believe it that he runs away!!!! WTF?! Can he do that in court?! Of course the bailiffs brought him back.

Chihiro wants the pendant handed over to be analysed. Guess what? Lover boy swallowed it!!! WTF?! WHAT THE FFFFUUUUU???!!! However, Chinami is b*tch laughing because since he is still alive, this proves it isn’t poison. So did the poison lose its potency after 6 months? Chihiro now desperately telling Naruhodo to tell the truth. So I guess no more evidence so taking his word as the truth? Naruhodo feels bad for acting this way when Chihiro has gone out of her way to defend him. Hence he is going to tell the truth, something he has not told the courts. I see only now his conscious prevails over his boner. When Kikuzou told him to stay away from Chinami, he warned him about some poison she stole. And last night he found some poison stolen too. Naruhodo didn’t believe this and shoved him. He ran away soon after but got worried and returned. He saw Chinami by his body and she told him to keep this a secret. With this, Chihiro puts together the pieces. Because Naruhodo did not want to give her the pendant back, she planned to poison and kill him. It’s the reason why she dated him. To get close to him and poison him. Chinami in b*tch mode now admits she is the killer but without evidence, she cannot be thrown into the slammer. That is when Chihiro shows the definitive evidence of the cough medicine bottle. This is where the poison is. Chinami’s testimony as witness for the 2 guys was a lie. She was the one who cut the cable. It took her some time to move the body and this explains the time discrepancy. She was about to put in the bottle that she stole earlier from Naruhodo but that dummy came back. No choice but to hide the evidence, she left it in Kikuzou’s hand. If she is so certain that there is no poison in here, drink it. At that moment, Chihiro is about to turn into some evil vengeful spirit???!!! But she goes back to her nice girl mode and admits her defeat. She is taken away but warns this isn’t the last she will see of her. Naruhodo is declared innocent and although sad about his love live, he has to move on and is motivated to become a lawyer to help a friend. Chihiro pays a visit to her senior lawyer in coma in hospital. She is glad she has finally avenged his poison case.

Episode 14
Oh no. Not again. This time Harumi broke a giant conch seashell that Mayoi gave her. So she pleads for Naruhodo to help her find this special seashell that seems to be available only at this certain beach and not tell Mayoi. Flashback shows that Harumi and many other women of Kurain Village are forbidden to step outside of the village. Harumi saw a photo of the sea and wanted to see the real deal. Even when Kimiko warned Mayoi not to do it, she secretly took Harumi there. Of course Kimiko found out and was reprimanded, giving Kimiko more reason to badmouth her mom and Chihiro who did the same thing and look what misfortune it brought to the village. Harumi regretted causing her trouble but Mayoi didn’t mind and gave her the seashell to remember this day. As Naruhodo and Mayoi continue to search, they stumble upon a little shrine. Oh look, it’s Mayoi taking a break from whatever ceremony. She relates how her first view of the sea was also here when Chihiro brought her here. Yes, this seashell was from Chihiro to her to commemorate that day. This only makes Harumi feel guilty. So they let the loli run off like that? As they eat ramen, Naruhodo realizes the uniqueness of the seashell is because it is actually a bowl! Hence they buy this bowl and give it to Harumi. However she prefers this old broken one since it holds lots of memories. Cue for cousins to emotional reassure their sisterly love. I wonder if they can get a refund for the bowl. More flashbacks after Chihiro gave Mayoi this seashell. Yeah, she was clumsy and dropped it. Although it was only broken in half. After that Chihiro told Mayoi that she wanted to leave the village and become a lawyer to find the truth about their mom. With a heavy heart, this means she had to throw the village head’s responsibilities to her but Mayoi accepted and will support her.

Episode 15
Going back more in time to witness Chihiro’s first trial. She’s nervous as hell as rookie and it doesn’t help her senior, Souryuu Kaminogi (definitely Godot) leaves teasing hints for her to think through. Anyway, Chihiro is to defend an escaped convict, Michiru Onamida. He is on death row for killing a girl (Chinami?) by throwing her off a bridge into the rapids 5 years ago. He claims he was framed but the policewoman who arrested him then, Yuki Miyanagi testified so. A few days ago, there was an accident transporting the convict. He escaped and wrote a note to Yuki to meet and cleared things up. However she is instead killed. The meeting place was at the same bridge where the murder took place. With Mitsurugi as the prosecutor, Chihiro has a hard time but manages to decently hold her ground. She argues Yuki who was stabbed in the back and bundled into the car wasn’t wearing a white scarf as per instructed so as Onamida could identify her. But Mitsurugi points out a damning photo of them meeting on the bridge and she is wearing a white scarf indeed. He calls the witness who took this photo. Chinami? However she goes by the name Satoko Mukui. Chihiro argues from her point of view, she wouldn’t have known Onamida put the body in the trunk. Hence she accuses her of being the murderer. Because Onamida says he drove off and had no time to put the body in the trunk, this only means that Satoko killed Yuki beforehand and planted her body in the trunk. She was also impersonating as Yuki as in the photo (the camera was on timer) as Onamida could not recognize Yuki and that’s why he wanted her to wear a white scarf as identification. If Onamida had killed her, why not just dump the body in the rapids below? So much easier. This is Satoko’s plan to frame him. Satoko uses her girly innocence to score some points. But what motive does she have to frame Onamida? Kaminogi then points out the girl he killed 5 years ago, Chinami was Yuki’s sister. However her corpse was never found and if she was alive today, she would be around Satoko’s age.

Episode 16
From what Satoko says, it sounds like as though she knows what the memo between Onamida and Yuki states. Because the memo also pinpoints Chinami’s name and to go public with the truth, Chihiro is fully certain that Satoko is Chinami. Chihiro requests Onamida to testify and tell the whole truth. 5 years ago when he kidnapped Chinami, it was actually a setup staged by the sisters. Onamida was Chinami’s tutor and was very much in love with her. As Chinami’s family had an expensive jewel, they thought of staging this kidnapping. The plan was for Yuki to make the transfer but she betrayed him. After Yuki shoots at Onamida’s arm, Chinami herself dives off the bridge with the jewel. Onamida passed out from the shock. He was then tried and sentenced to death thanks to Yuki’s lies. Onamida spent these years wanting to know why she betrayed him. That’s why he broke out to find the truth before he dies. He insists he didn’t kill her. Hence Chihiro points out that Chinami too had a motive to kill Yuki because they were going to go public with the truth. So with her silencing Yuki, it is a trap to frame Onamida and keep the jewel to herself. For the past 5 years, this guilty conscience must have weighed heavily on Yuki’s mind too. So right after Onamida called, she panicked and called Chinami. This had Chinami came out with another devilish plan that sealed Yuki’s fate. Chinami laughs it all off. He calls Onamida’s testimony a lie and that she changed her name because as a kidnapped victim once, she went into hiding. At this point, Chihiro has no evidence to prove the kidnapping was staged. Kaminogi hints to her even if there is no evidence, someone’s testimony can be used. Hence Chihiro needs Onamida to tell the whole truth. First he asks if Chinami betrayed him. Chinami says this only to him: Her life is in his hands. With that, Onamida testifies the person he met on the bridge was Yuki. As for why he came 30 minutes earlier, it was to go to a special place. He and Chinami made a promise 5 years ago and she brought a memento to represent their vow. He went there to get it. At this point, Onamida starts coughing blood. He has swallowed the poison from the memento. How the f*ck did he even bring this into court?! The promise was to trust each other till death. If not, drink the poison. Onamida fears he cannot keep the promise and might kill Chinami. Onamida’s death left a deep scar in Chihiro’s heart. It was a day nobody won nor lost. Maybe for Chinami because she gets to strike again…

Episode 17
Naruhodo accompanies Mayoi and Harumi to the mountains to Hazakura Temple where the latter duo will undergo training to boost their spiritual power. They meet the head nun, Bikini (yes, that’s her name) as well as another trainee, Elise Tenryusai. She is a fortune teller who is also a famous children’s picture book writer. Harumi is a big fan of hers so she is delighted to do stuffs with her. Elise has an apprentice, Mathis who is out painting. Naruhodo and Mayoi then check out the area. Hmm… The bridge looks like a familiar suspicious crime scene… At the inner temple, they stumble into another meek nun, Ayame. Naruhodo is puzzled that she knows him. Mayoi then notices a hanging scroll and is shocked to see her mom’s image. Wait. If she says she recognized it because of the Kurain symbol, what makes she think that’s her mom since she herself said she couldn’t recognize her? Then they meet Mathis. Yahari?! So he dislikes himself and is trying to find a new personality via painting? That night, Naruhodo bumps into Ayame again. He requests she take off her hood. OMG! Chinami???!!! It could be just coincidence since Chinami is still serving time. She gives him her hood as good luck. Naruhodo has a feeling that she definitely knows him and will ask her more tomorrow. However in the middle of the night, a scream is heard. Naruhodo rushes out only to see Elise stabbed by a sword in the back. Thankfully Bikini isn’t another corpse. Just passed out from the shock. She tells him to call the cops. A landline phone near the bridge? But the bridge is on fire. He believes Mayoi is stuck across due to her training. He runs across but the wood gives way. He falls down into the river. Don’t worry, he is still alive and somehow in hospital. Just caught a cold. I don’t know why but he has been looking at Chihiro’s case of this. It seems Ayame has been arrested for murder. But surprise! Mitsurugi returns! Yahari called him and told him (and everyone) that he is dead. Naruhodo wants Mitsurugi to defend Ayame on his behalf. The prosecutor now playing the defence? Mitsurugi sees her in detention. She maintains she has never met all of them before as she has never left Hazakura. She explains she saw Bikini and Elise together after dinner. After that, Ayame didn’t leave her room until the incident happened. Mitsurugi still believes she knows Naruhodo because he acts strange whenever her name comes up in their conversation. Ayame tells the truth that she deceived him 5 years ago and is doing this nunnery as repentance. She might not want to see him again but Mitsurugi points out he is still hurting. Until she tells him the truth. She promises to tell him the truth and Mitsurugi agrees to defend her.

Episode 18
Mitsurugi visits the site and with Itonokogiri’s assistance, he learns the bridge caught on fire because lightning struck it. Elise’s body had bruises, consistent from the fall from her room. Then interviewing Bikini, her statements are in line with Naruhodo. At first she was accompanying Mayoi but because of her bad back, Ayame brought her back to the main temple to rest. When she came back out, she saw the murder incident. Next, Mitsurugi interviews Yahari. However this painter is obviously hiding something and won’t tell. So he runs away. WTF. Also, Harumi has been missing and was last seen in Elise’s room. The trial starts and Mei is the prosecutor. Because a prosecutor can’t be a defence lawyer, hence they changed the judge. WTF?! Can they easily fool him like that?! Isn’t Mitsurugi famous?! Yeah, just say it’s your imagination. WTF???!!! Bikini gives her witness testimony but is quickly overruled by Mitsurugi since it contradicts about Ayame not leaving her room after 10pm and hence never been to the inner temple. Bikini is very sure she saw Ayame because of her usual getup. Again overruled because she gave her hood to Naruhodo. With a warning to tell the truth, Bikini explains at about 11pm she saw hoodless Ayame stabbing Elise from the back. While this might sound like a guilty verdict for Ayame, Mitsurugi objects. If Ayame truly stabbed Elise with the sword, the entire sword would be covered with blood instead of just the tip. This could mean the sword wasn’t the murder weapon and despite Ayame’s fingerprints on it, doesn’t prove her as the murderer. Although Bikini believes in what she saw, she didn’t actually see the murder being committed. She already saw the sword was already in Elise. As for the real murder weapon, Mei argues that there were snowmobile tracks near the river and it could have been thrown in here. The rapid currents make it hard to retrieve. Bikini testifies that only Ayame had the keys to the snowmobile. Because Ayame will not confirm, her silence is confession. But before the judge can hand down the guilty verdict, here comes Yahari to object! He is going to save his beloved Ayame. WTF?! Can he do that?!

Episode 19
Yahari says the snowmobile wasn’t to commit murder but to inform everyone about dinner. Mitsurugi notices a 45 minute gap when the lightning struck the bridge and Yahari calling the police. So Yahari was so inspired by the bridge on fire that he was sketching it?! Yahari reluctantly shows them what he was drawing. The bridge on flames and somebody flying over it?! That’s supposed to be Ayame?! That’s why she didn’t need a snowmobile?! Unbelievable! Yahari also picked up a crystal believed to be from Ayame’s hood at the foot of the bridge. It has bloodstains on it and he thinks Ayame fell and injured herself. Mitsurugi objects to his testimony. Because his drawing indicates Ayame was wearing her hood, unfortunately she gave it to Naruhodo. Also, the crystal is too big to fit on her hood and proof shows it was from Elise’s staff. Mei argues Elise didn’t leave her room that night so Mitsurugi points out the possibility that the murder didn’t take place at Hazakura. She was killed somewhere else, her body brought back to the temple to make it look she was killed there. Sure, it might take 10 minutes from the bridge to the temple but that’s what the snowmobile is for… With this deadlock, this is what Mitsurugi has been aiming for. Due to the inconclusiveness of the case, the judge has to adjourn this session and order a new investigation. With Mitsurugi’s job over, he passes over the baton to Naruhodo. Is this guy okay to do the job? Mitsurugi updates him about the case while he goes investigate Ayame. He felt he has seen her somewhere before. With the bridge fixed, Naruhodo and Itonokogiri head across. Naruhodo finds a new lock at the inner temple. And then Harumi pops up. She feels guilty for what happened and then runs away again?! WTF?! Naruhodo notices curry on the hanging scroll. If that is not bad enough, Godot returns since he will be facing him as the prosecutor. He explains the trick lock can only be open by the person who set it and that was Ayame. Godot then explains how he died once but it took a lot of effort to bring him back. Read: Hospitalization. He hints that without his mask, he cannot see. Investigating the stone lantern, there is no snow around the base and it is believed this is the murder scene. With Mayoi still missing and possibly stuck inside the inner temple that temperatures could reach below freezing levels, Godot accuses he will send another woman to her death. He accuses him of killing Chihiro. Despite the baddie was prosecuted, this will not bring Chihiro back. Godot believes Naruhodo who was there was the only one who can protect her. He hates it when he calls Chihiro his mentor but he robbed his life. That is why he will never accept Naruhodo. Oh Naruhodo, not the time to be in despair now. Then he sees Mayoi’s name on the stone lantern.

Episode 20
Itonokogiri explains because Mayoi’s name was written backwards, it could mean it was written from the victim’s point of view. Hence the police believes Mayoi is the killer. More discoveries as Naruhodo picks up Elise’s pendant and realizes the mark of Kurain on it. Also, an almost burnt note that spells out this crime in detail! Talking to Bikini, he notices her strange way of addressing Elise. Bikini reveals that Elise is actually Maiko! She came here a week ago because she was worried about the bloodline of the main family is dying and was here to stop it. Because only the main family can become the head, there are assassination plots from branch families. Like last year’s case that involved Kimiko. With this revelation, here is another one: Ayame is also Kimiko’s daughter! Not shocking enough? Ayame is the younger twin of Chinami! Damn, it feels like they’re making this up. When Kimiko’s husband realizes they cannot become the family head, he took the twins and left but decided to give one up to look after Hazakura. A short earthquake occurs. Worried Naruhodo heads to the inner temple only to see more locks! Ayame decides to try and unlock them but it will take some time. Come back tomorrow. That night, Mitsurugi returns. He is investigating Elise’s staff and what do you know? There is a hidden sword in it! It’s covered with blood! You mean he never tampered with the staff like he did now with Naruhodo? Off to the forensics. He has also researched about Ayame. However he tells Naruhodo the heart breaking news that Chinami cannot be implicated in this case. Because she was executed last month! Is Naruhodo confused or sad?

Naruhodo then returns to talk to Ayame. Because he knew he talked to her before the bell rang and that she was also seen at the inner temple, this could mean there were 2 Ayames! WTF?! He explains actually somebody channelled the spirit of Chinami by a medium. Impressed with his deduction, she knew about this but never said a thing because as a traitor who was supposed to be part of that fake kidnapping, she was afraid to be implicated and hence don’t want to get in Chinami’s way. This kidnapping was supposed to be Chinami’s revenge against her father who abandoned mom because she couldn’t be the head. Naruhodo asks one last question. Did Chinami say anything about a guy she dated after that poison case? Yes. She hates him. Oh well. The truth hurts. Let’s hope he can get over it for good. Naruhodo then sees Harumi hanging out with Yahari. He thinks she channelled Chinami. The note was written by Kimiko for her. Because her vocabulary isn’t that good, she misinterpreted a line and hence threw curry on the hanging scroll. Harumi reveals she visited Kimiko the last time and was told about this to help Mayoi. Damn, Kimiko planned all this even before being put in prison? However she claims the seal on the note was already broken. Meaning, somebody else read it first. More revelations as Harumi says after dinner, she didn’t go to Elise’s room but went to the inner temple. She was supposed to help channel Chinami’s spirit but couldn’t summon her no matter how much she tried. The only explanation is that somebody else channelled Chinami’s spirit already. Meanwhile Kimiko in prison is relishing that Harumi has done her bidding well without knowing the truth (how does she know? Did Chinami’s spirit report to her?). Once this is over, Harumi will become the next head.

Episode 21
If Ayame will be testifying today, who will be trying to unlock the locks? Mei?! Can she do it?! The trial begins with Godot pointing out Ayame would like to confess to the crime. She admits to being an accomplice of covering the crime up to cover for Mayoi. She lied about not heading to the inner temple that night. When Mayoi was getting ready for her training, Elise showed up and attacked her. She took out a small knife to stab Mayoi but Mayoi stabbed her back in self-defence. Naruhodo objects to her testimony as lies. He shows the staff that has a hidden sword. Also, Elise is Mayoi’s mother. What intention does she have to kill her daughter whom she has not seen for 17 years? Naruhodo is puzzled why Ayame is trying to frame Mayoi. However Godot also shows the small knife with blood on its tip as the murder weapon. The blood is currently being analysed. However Godot panics when he cannot see that blood writing on the stone lantern. Ayame claims she moved the body to the main temple via snowmobile. However Naruhodo points out another contradiction. The bridge was on fire. He has proof that the corpse was ‘flown’ over. Remember Yahari’s drawing? It’s a complete contradiction. Huh? Describing Yahari’s drawing of the bridge is slightly different, it is because Yahari was drawing it upside down as he was sleeping when he saw the incident. This means the ‘flying’ body was actually being swung under like a pendulum. Where to get a string that long? The wires of the suspension bridge is long enough. Furthermore, bruises on Elise’s body as well as her crystal being knocked off from the landing impact proves this. However, who is to receive the body? Ayame. Wait a minute, if she was sending the body, somebody has to be there to move it? That’s right. It’s Ayame. Remember, she was seen by Bikini at the main temple. Are you confused? Naruhodo points out there were 2 Ayames. Hence he claims the Ayame here is not Ayame but Chinami! She might be dead but this is not impossible for those in the spirit channelling trade. Also, Ayame gave her hood to him that night. But at the same night at the inner temple, she was seen wearing it. Showing the burnt note that was written by Kimiko, Naruhodo points out Ayame switched place with Chinami during that short period of earthquake before the addition of multiple locks. That is when Ayame drops the act and reveals herself to be Chinami. Remember me, boys? I’m back.

Episode 22
Chinami doesn’t even try to hide her identity. She’s dead after all. What can they do? When Chinami was in prison, it was easy to see Kimiko as she told her the plan. This entire plan was to kill Mayoi and install Harumi as the next master of Kurain. Chinami agreed to help as she too had a personal agenda against Chihiro. However she died and the only way to get her revenge was on Mayoi. Chinami tells the whole truth. She was materialized about 9.30pm, put on the hood and switched places with Bikini. Taking the dagger from the store, she cornered Mayoi at the stone lantern and tried to kill her. Strangely, she had no memories after that but knew Mayoi stabbed her because she was the one who wrote Mayoi’s name on the stone lantern to cast suspicions on her. The next time she wakes up, she is inside the inner temple’s cave. She couldn’t get out because of the lock and it took her hours. When she finally did, Ayame came by. Chinami forced everything out of her, tied her up and put multiple locks after that. At that point Chinami realized she was under the assumption that Harumi was the one who summoned her. However it then dawned to her it was Elise. How else to explain Elise’s body lying at the stone temple? Mayoi must have felt so guilty of killing her mom that she killed herself by jumping into the river. Naruhodo objects that Mayoi isn’t the person to do all this. Godot receives a call that the locks have finally been removed. They only find Ayame inside. No Mayoi. With Chinami screaming victory, Naruhodo realizes there is 1 possibility where Mayoi is. Who is channelling Chinami now? Definitely not Harumi because she is here in court watching. Therefore Chinami is possessing Mayoi’s body. Chinami is distraught because who could have told her such a plan? Nice timing for Chihiro to return! Via Harumi of course.

Although Chinami claimed she was stabbed by Mayoi, Chihiro says that Mayoi passed out before her. Hence the real killer was the one who stabbed her. Chihiro left a note for Mayoi what to do and the best way to protect herself from Chinami is of course to channel her. She had to do it fast because otherwise it would be Harumi who would have channelled Chinami and it would be very tragic if the loli killed Mayoi. Naruhodo calls Chinami a failure since all her plans ended up that way. Yeah, it happened so many times that it is not funny anymore. They used her own quote against her. Even though it is impossible to punish the dead, Chinami will forever be a weak loser and she lost that chance to redeem herself when she was executed. Chinami is mad but Naruhodo and Chihiro shoo her out of Mayoi. That was easy. The judge is about to hand his verdict to Ayame but Godot objects. Elise’s killer is still unknown. This means putting Mayoi on trial but since she is unwell, the court will take a short recess until she is ready. Naruhodo tries to get Ayame to tell her the truth. She admits she did receive orders to take the snowmobile to move Elise’s body but refuses to say the killer’s name. Naruhodo talks to Chihiro one last time before the trial resumes. They know the killer knew the plans all along and was on the side of the inner temple as the bridge was not crossable then. The rest is up to Naruhodo to think. The judge discloses the blood on the weapons. It is the staff. As for the knife, at least it is not the blood of Elise. The trial resumes and Mayoi is back on the stands. Again.

Episode 23
From what Mayoi says, Naruhodo believes she knows who the real killer is but is trying to protect him. But how can she identify him clearly when there is no light? There are some things you can identify clearly in the dark. Naruhodo has the courtroom off the lights. What do you see? Godot’s visor’s lights! He also deduces that Godot cannot see red colours on white backgrounds, that is why he cleared the snow around the stone lantern. As for his motive to kill Elise, it is rather he protected Mayoi. She is after all the younger sister of his love. Time for Godot to tell his side. He was smitten by Chihiro because of always putting in the effort. It all began going downhill when he got poisoned by Chinami. When he came out of coma, Chihiro was already dead. Hence he only had 2 reason to live. It was to see what kind of man Naruhodo is and to protect Mayoi. After Kimiko got arrested, Godot knew it wasn’t over by a long shot. He went to Kurain and eavesdrop and found that note. He could have destroyed it right away and end it there but he wanted to play along with Kimiko’s plans. That is when he contacted Ayame and Elise to cooperate. The plan would have worked well had Harumi be with Elise that night but instead she went to the inner temple. Hence Elise had no choice but to summon Chinami first. Godot hid himself there just to make sure Mayoi was safe. The rest he leaves up to Naruhodo to finish. Even with Mayoi pleading not to, is she trying to obstruct justice?! Anyway, Naruhodo points out the knife has Godot’s blood. Mayoi objects since he was trapped on the other side, how could he have changed his clothes or hide his wounds? It won’t be impossible if that would is behind that visor! Because Godot saw Chihiro in Naruhodo’s vigour, so he is admitting defeat?! Godot now admits that he doesn’t really hate Naruhodo but himself as he was the one who failed to protect Chihiro. Instead of facing the truth, he ran away and hid behind a mask. Him becoming a prosecutor perhaps wasn’t just to save Mayoi but his own broken soul. He isn’t sure of it now if it was the motivation to protect Mayoi when he stabbed Chinami with the sword and in return Chinami slashed him with her knife. Godot praises Naruhodo for never running away from Chihiro’s death. Is Godot crying blood?! Oh, must be his wounds opening up.

Before the judge hands down the verdict on Ayame, he gives her a chance to say a few last words. She apologizes to Naruhodo about her twins’ despicable act. After all, they only met twice. The first time she gave him the bottle and the second was when she killed Kikuzou. So the 6 months they’ve been dating was actually Ayame taking her place! She didn’t want Chinami’s soul to be further tainted and hence offered to do the job to get the pendant back. However she became impatient when Ayame couldn’t accomplished it. Ayame feels guilty for deceiving and hurting him but Naruhodo has always believed in her. Even now. Damn this episode trying to make us feel the feels with people crying? Mayoi, Godot and now Ayame. So the case ends with both lawyers drinking to a cup of coffee? Cheers! The judge declares Ayame not guilty. Good for Naruhodo, even Mitsurugi congratulates him. Mayoi is reunited with Harumi and Naruhodo’s confidence boosts even further with the voice of Chihiro praising how he saved everyone. Something that she couldn’t. Damn, I hope this doesn’t mean he is the next Jesus Christ! Because if so, igi ari!!!!!!!!!! And Chihiro hoping they would meet again? I hope she didn’t mean when he dies! But don’t you worry. With more court cases coming up, you bet Chihiro will materialize from time to time to deceive the judge help Naruhodo out.

Hung Jury: Verdict Not Returned
May those dead souls rest in peace. I suppose justice is served. Even if God doesn’t bring divine retribution to you, Naruhodo and the Japanese justice legal system will! Even if you’re dead! Haha! Damn, I sure love it if reality really operated in such a way. I suppose Godot won’t be facing his trial in killing Elise because you know, he killed her in self-defence. And because he cried tears of blood that suddenly turn into normal tears (is something spiritual messing with our vision?), I think this gives him a free pass to say that he isn’t guilty of whatsoever and absolve him of his crimes. Yeah, he convinced us enough not for him to think that he would be convicted. Godot sure played everyone. Damn, I sure love if the courts use emotions and feelings to decide!

I wonder why this season had such an odd number of only 23 episodes but I figure that if they split up that one hour special, they would still end up has 24 episodes just like last season. This season feels more like, uhm, how should I put it, like as though everything is related. Especially with many of the characters in many of these cases. We also get a few flashbacks on the past of our main characters and to our surprise, Naruhodo had a girlfriend? Last time I said how this world is so small that some witnesses were recalled twice in separate cases. It also feels the same here with Mako being accused of murder twice! Same detective to work on the case. Same judge. Same defence lawyer. Same verdict. Wow. Is this what you call a precedent?

Hence just like last season, it follows the familiar pattern of how the trial proceeds. You wonder why they can’t bring out the damning evidence and explain it all and instead they present whatever evidence they have now and then one thing leads to another. I know it is for entertainment purposes because everything that has been said or shown will have some sort of consequences that is evident as the next lead in the case. No red herrings. Or at least every dead end clue has a reason to it. Otherwise it’s like wasting your time with unrelated facts. Everything presented is somewhat related, I suppose. I guess it is only logical if you want to get from A to C, you have to get through B first. So once all the evidence and the circumstances are presented in a way that the guilty party has no way out, then comes the verdict. Wow. If only real life cases were this simple and easy.

And I’m starting to see the power of igi ari. Because when you nail the person giving testimony, you can see such superb special effects that blow the person away! Yeah, everyone has their own special unique reactions but I guess the more damning your counter evidence to the lies, the greater the effects will be so much so that a hurricane can blow and destroy the courtroom! And then be fixed back to normal in the next scene like as though everything never happened. Must be all imagination, huh? No wonder the lawyers are waiting for this chance to point out igi ari. Yeah, but it gets unbelievable with spirit mediums now trying to cheat the law. Are there law provisions for the dead?

Chinami feels like the biggest link and factor linking to almost everything that had happened this season and what probably led to her ultimate defeat. She feels like the ghost of the past that keeps haunting you forever. Hence she is this season’s biggest antagonist and thorn in the side of justice since the final arc is the longest trial in the series, spanning 7 episodes (most trial arcs only last the most at 4 episodes). How convenient. She had a twin to fool us and pull a fast one. But I saw it coming from a mile away when Mayoi went ‘missing’ in the last trial arc and it wasn’t really Ayame on the stands. Uh huh. If I was the lawyer, that trial would have only lasted 1 episode as I would have pointed out Mayoi was being possessed by Chinami who isn’t Ayame on trial. But then again, I would have been chided for lack of evidence for that conclusion. I suppose my guts aren’t conclusive evidence enough. I wonder if Kimiko the great mastermind has another plan up her sleeve seeing this one failed. Like as though she saw her first plan failed and quickly made this backup plan just in case. And what if Plan B also failed? Maybe she too thought of having Plan C… Yeah… Please don’t let her be executed and come back as another vengeful spirit as the ultimate move. We’ve had enough of that this season already.

But you know, it really gets a bit silly with the final trial that they bring in spiritual factors as evidence but then again, logic isn’t supposed to be the strongest evidence here. Get what I mean? Remember, in the court of law, evidence is all that counts and most important. Therefore whoever has the evidence and the better logical argument of it has a better chance in winning the case. So with such spiritual factors being hauled into the trial, not to say it is all BS, crap and illogical. At least in this world’s setting, the existence of spirit mediums and channelling are valid. All that is left is to connect the dots. Yup. Going by this logic, you can still charge a ghost with murder so long you can present your evidence and convey your points. After all, this isn’t the weirdest thing that has happened in the courts for this series.

Having said that, I still feel the courts here are somewhat of a joke. So much so that people don’t really take this seriously and the courts feel more like a place where people come in to discuss what happened. Uh huh. We see almost everybody acting so disrespectful while the court is in session that you wonder if the circus is in town. Uh huh. Witnesses (AKA clowns) who can even tell off the judge or barge into the middle of a testimony, Mei still whipping everything, Godot even drinking coffee and getting his cuppa like as though some hidden bartender slide it into his hands. All this would never fly in reality and you would be charged with contempt of court! And everything in the end looks like a spectacle, an entertainment. For us viewers, of course. But if you put yourself in the shoes of these characters, you would soon understand why the courts all look like a big farce. I guess now the judge has seen spirits possessing and leaving a body, why is he not surprised about Chihiro? Oh yeah. Spirits are eternal. Can come back temporarily via medium. Okay. Cool with that. WTF?! As long as you are assertive enough, you can really control the court. Not the judge. Yeah, you be the judge of that. You can fool him all the time if you’re convincing enough.

The biggest slap in the face was my understanding that when you are accused of both crimes and if you are found guilty with a lesser one, you cannot be charged with the other. WTF???!!! Haven’t they heard of the rule of being charged with multiple accounts and crimes?! So they’re saying that if I kill somebody but have no proof to charge me for it and instead charge me with damning evidence that I stole a little boy’s wallet, I cannot be charged for murder? Are they saying I can get away with murder?! Oh my! No wonder we see perpetrators being so confident in courts because they think they can get away with it! And they would if it’s not for that meddling Naruhodo…

Lady luck must be smiling on Naruhodo so many times because he has been freaking lucky to have won all his cases so far. And that lady luck takes the form of Chihiro. Case in point when he lost his memories in the first episode! Damn, he fumbled his way successfully! I dare say he has not lost any cases at all. At least not the very important ones. With his impeccable record, this guy’s reputation would have soared and many would have sought his services. I don’t know about his wealth status but he still looks pretty same. I mean, I don’t really see him riding his bicycle and wearing his mini backpack. But thank goodness his sense of justice is still so great so I suppose he isn’t blinded by money and greed. But overall, Naruhodo mainly remains the same. In the sense that he still panics and looking around thinking hard for clues when the prosecutor corners him. Sometimes Chihiro helps him but more than often, he manages to figure out the contradiction. Yeah, the courts also feel like a big game of objection. This season feels personal since Naruhodo has to deal with his former lover who turns out to be one scheming b*tch whether dead or alive. Thank goodness his sense of justice is strong, eh?

The last time I said Mayoi felt like a useless character. She still is. Still the happy go lucky girl who is always at her own pace and sometimes the way she nonchalantly does things, you can say it might put Naruhodo in jeopardy. If he ever loses a case, there is a good portion that Mayoi is to be blamed. And so Mayoi in this season once more feels like a damsel in distress. Last season she was accused of murder and even kidnapped in that season’s final arc. Now, she went missing and is still accused of murder! Do you not agree with me that trouble should be her middle name? WTF Harumi trying to set up Naruhodo and Mayoi as a couple? I think that would be the greatest disaster ever! Their romance better not happen! Igi ari! I’d rather see the cheesy romance between Itonokogiri and Mako. Hopefully the latter is slowly opening up to this clumsy guy. By the way, since it was the real sweet Ayame that dated Naruhodo, are there chances of them getting back together again? I suppose everyone has moved on. It would have been a different battle and a more complicated one that the law doesn’t cover… ;p.

With Mitsurugi and Mei missing sorely this season, it felt that their temporary return was only so to satisfy fans that they are still around. I mean, these are important characters too, right? Last season saw the rivalry between Naruhodo and Mitsurugi going head to head on opposing sides. This time, Mitsurugi has to abruptly return from his trip to America to side with Naruhodo in a few cases. Yeah, they should already join forces already. At least Mitsurugi had a reason to make his cameo but Mei feels just forced. She was really unnecessary and only for some slight variety. Because if Godot was the prosecutor Naruhodo faced every time, that would be so suspicious. Like as though there are no other prosecutors in the land. Sure, there are but they aren’t as famous or even noteworthy.

Godot as the other new main character, yup another weirdo. Like what I said about almost everything about this season feels related. So Godot is on a grudge mission to defeat Naruhodo because he couldn’t save his junior. That’s very grand of him blaming Naruhodo for something that he could have a slight chance of preventing but how is Godot himself any different? Because for him to let his guard down and got poisoned by Chinami, that says it all. He is no different. Now he looks like some sort of robo knight with those strange visors that supposedly gives him sight. Sure, he finally admitted his mistakes and made his peace with Naruhodo. Was he just playing the villain? Because while I thought of mostly seeing him as one who just wants to get in Naruhodo’s way, but what if all those objections are just a way for him to ‘teach’ Naruhodo to think harder? As I’ve said, Naruhodo still feels like a rookie lawyer and probably that is what pisses Godot off so he has to tell him off he hates his guts for him to improve. I mean, it’s not like Godot is a bad person. Just bitter. Like his coffee. Haha! Oops… Damn, can he still drink coffee in court? Just act a bit tough and scary and the judge will be too afraid to question you. Besides, that other judge we have for ‘variety’, is his brother???!!! Damn, I thought he looks like some bearded troll! Not kidding! Santa guy and troll guy as judges… This is really some f*cked up justice system. Trivial note: I have a theory why Kaminogi chose Godot as his new moniker. As I know kami is Japanese for god. And ki is the general word for tree. Hence, god of tree. God of t. God-of-t. God-o-t. Godot. Geddit?!

This season with Rina Satou helming as the voice of Chinami and Ayame, she really sounds sweet and devilish both at the same time and even depending on which mood she is playing. Next time when I remember her other gentle anime characters like Minami-ke’s Haruka and Sunohara-sou No Kanrinin-san’s Ayaka or her tsundere type character like a certain biribiri character in a certain scientific railgun series, I’d be sure to remember this very devilish and sly character that may send shivers down my spine. And Hiroaki Hirata as Godot, I figured he needs a break once in a while as that Straw Hat Pirates’ cook. As for the art and animation, still weird as usual with some character designs really weird. Like Aiga being some sort of nightmare Pinocchio. And the worst offender of it all: The horrible CGI of the observers.

This season’s first opening theme, Never Lose by Tomohisa Yamashita feels more like some mild techno dance music. Not to say that it is appealing but I guess it is much better than the second opener, Reason also by Tomohisa Yamashita. Because this techno dubstep song sounds so gay! I know the singer’s voice is soft and the first opener also sounds a bit gay but it isn’t as bad as this one. It has gotten bad enough that some of the English words and tune are now stuck in my head!!!! GET IT OUT!!! Even odder, we see all the main characters doing that trademark objection finger pointing pose. IGI ARI!!! MAKE IT STOP!!! Halca sings Starting Blue, the first ending theme. A lively tune with some synthesizer effects. Come to think of it, much better than the gay openings. But I suppose the best one and the biggest shocker is the second ending theme, Beautiful Days by Coala Mode. This is quite a beautiful slow ballad and even though it doesn’t match the frenzy and illogical pace of the series but after all that court madness, I think this is a great song to listen to and wind down.

My overall sentiments for this season mainly still remains the same as last season. Lots of cheesy but fun moments especially how the court systems and the lawyers arguing and duking out feel more like a big showpiece to show how cool you can object. At least they know how to entertain and amuse us with their legal rhetoric and style. Sadly, it wasn’t the contradictions and the truth that awed us ;-). I would want to object to another sequel should the producers decide that another season should be in the works for being an insult to the legal system (heck, like I know anything about it) but I figured my objections would be overruled anyway. Besides, it could be fun to see more igi ari moments from Naruhodo and the bunch of clowns lawyers taking their stand and day in court in the name of justice. Are they making a mockery out of the justice system? Goes to show how complicated the legal system has become. Igi ari!

Domestic Na Kanojo

May 26, 2019

This season’s NTR or incest anime… Domestic Na Kanojo. Sort of. More than often, siblings provide the essential and great ingredient for an incest themed series. Because it is the social norm that siblings do not sleep with each other. But then, plot twist! Not blood related at all! Ah, I see. This ‘confusion’ then sets in to cloud our moral compass of whether or not f*cking your brother or sister is constituted as the forbidden love or typical romance between 2 adults. So are you f*cking your brother/sister or a man/woman? It doesn’t matter and everything will be alright as long as nobody finds out… Right?

Episode 1
Natsuo Fujii just lost his virginity to Rui Tachibana. Oh well. No one can now accuse him of being a virgin. It all started when his friends organized a mixer. Rui was one of those very moody girls despite she claims this is how she is. After learning Natsuo was once a dork and had a makeover during his middle school years, she hints of sneaking out from this place. She leads him back to her home (nobody in of course) and suggests having sex. Just to feel what it’s like. Any sane guy would face the greatest dilemma in their life. Which head is Natsuo going to use to think?! And one thing led to the other. Once it’s over, Rui hopes never to speak of this again. Judging by their reactions, I guess sex wasn’t great, huh? Natsuo consults his dorky friend, Fumiya Kurimoto about this and knows this is going to be only harder since Natsuo has a crush on his young teacher, Hina. You can say Hina is also ‘interested’ in Natsuo since she loves the novels he writes. One day he sees Hina crying but she brushes it off as some TV drama and won’t talk to him about her adult problem. Back home, his father tells him he wants to remarry. So when they meet Tsukiko, Natsuo is shocked to see Hina and Rui as her daughters! You bet it is going to get very awkward for Natsuo. The girl he has a crush on and the girl he f*cked all living under the same roof. Tsukiko fell in love with his dad because of his sincerity. Her former husband ran away with a mistress and left her bitter. Thanks to him, she is able to find love again. As a new family, they move into another house. Because Natsuo still feels awkward each time he sees Rui, she had to tell him off that moment didn’t happen. This is the first time they’ve met. Period. Hina must be forgetting she is living with men so a few sexy encounters like coming out of the bath almost naked and so many times she playfully teases Natsuo, you wonder if he is going to hold it all in. Then that tempting moment as she sleeps so sexily and so inviting on the couch… Must have clouded Natsuo’s judgment because he thinks of stealing a kiss to end it all. How the f*ck is this going to end it all when it’s just the start? Because Rui caught him red handed. Oh sh*t…

Episode 2
Pretend not to see… Rui kicks Hina off the sofa and drags her back to bed. Man, Hina’s a pretty heavy sleeper. In school, Natsuo gets another shock since Rui is a new transfer student. I guess she doesn’t want to commute long trips to school every day. Natsuo is worried people will find out about their relationship as siblings living together but she assures him she isn’t going to blab about her private life. Natsuo almost got a scare when he thought Hina knew he tried to kiss him. Apparently she got this habit of kissing others when she’s drunk. Thankfully all her victims were her female friends. Natsuo notices Rui alone during recess. Wasn’t she quite ‘popular’ when she first came in? Apparently despite not intentional, she sounded like she wasn’t interested to join in conversations. Hence Natsuo tries to help her practice in a very weird skit that has everyone laughing at them but it sort of broke the ice and now others would like to be Rui’s friend. Back home, Natsuo stumbles into Rui in the bath. Don’t worry, they seen each other once already. Is she trying to tempt him to do it again? This time in the bath? Well, it’s just to talk about his kiss with Hina. He learns that Hina has a boyfriend and she might be having some sort of issues with that. Later Natsuo asks Hina about her boyfriend but she doesn’t want to talk about that and would rather talk about things that are bugging him. She teases him here and there, almost slipped but he catches her. Great timing because looks like her boyfriend, Shuu Hagiwara is calling. She goes outside to settle it while Natsuo waits. 20 minutes passed and when Natsuo decides to check it out, looks like an upset Hina just came back in. He tries to comfort her but looks like the doorbell keeps ringing. Rui is puzzled with this weird scene as she opens the door. It’s dad and mom drunk. They’re back from officially registering their marriage. Awkwardness put on hold.

Episode 3
Natsuo sees Fumiya for advice and he too relates how he has a crush on a girl who comes in to the café he works and it is heart breaking to see her in some sort of affair with another man. WTF Fumiya’s fantasy of becoming her hero and stealing her away from him?! Anyway, Natsuo’s nightmare comes true when Fumiya points out to that girl. Doesn’t she look like Hina?! So that night Natsuo goes to talk to Hina about her affair. It seems Shuu is a married man and has told her to give him time to divorce his wife. With Hina admitting it is true, she tries to push him out and warn him not to meddle in the adult world but he kisses her. After she slaps him, the kiss continues before she throws him onto her bed. Is she going to rape him? Just a test to see his reaction. He still has that fear in his eyes so it proves he is still a kid. Next morning, Natsuo’s dad is panicking. Natsuo left a note saying he has run away from home! He fears he was against their remarriage. And so Natsuo bums around in Fumiya’s house. Coincidentally Natsuo notices Rui nearby the vicinity looking for him. Their eyes met. Looks like Rui too wants to stay at Fumiya’s place? It’s her way of ‘boycotting’. Apparently Rui knows about Hina’s affair as she often overheard her conversation on the phone. Before all this, Hina was also cheerful and devoted to her family. Rui tried to talk to her to break up with this guy but was told off since she has never fallen in love before, there is nothing more to say. With Rui wanting her sister back and Natsuo wanting his sensei to break up with the jerk, Fumiya prepares planning a strategy. That night the duo return home and their parents are so relieved. To Natsuo’s shock, he sees them contemplating divorce so he clears the air this isn’t why he ran away. Father hopes he could properly talk to him if he is facing any problem. Relieved Hina also starts crying upon their return. Next morning, Natsuo ignores Hina. And tonight is when they initiate their plan.

Episode 4
Natsuo and Rui believe today is the day Hina meets up with Shuu. So they tail her only to see her drink alone for 4 hours before attending a live event. A few days, all misses. And when Hina is seen waiting to meet up, it is her own student. Don’t even think she’s having an affair with her?! The duo got desperate enough to steal Hina’s handphone, call Shuu to break up! But with Rui being nervous trying to imitate her voice, mission failed. So as they lament all this at the café, here comes Hina and Shuu! Natsuo becomes hostile and confronts Shuu to break up with Hina. He even gets rough! My, my. Please, no violence in this establishment. So trying a bit of diplomacy and talk things out, Shuu introduces himself and has known Hina for a while (longer than Natsuo). Despite all that, Natsuo is still mad since Shuu has a wife and is cheating on her. Shuu maintains he really does love Hina and his anger is due to him being married. Will he give his blessing if he is divorced? Natsuo probably can’t take any more of this cheesy affection Shuu is showing Hina but before he could do anything, it is Rui who splashes water on Shuu before running away. Natsuo goes after her and even jokes about beating that guy up. I suppose Rui is too sad to even do that. The only comfort would be in Natsuo’s arms. Shuu wonders if Hina likes Natsuo because it looks like she doesn’t think of him as a kid brother. Although Hina doesn’t want to put her loved ones at risk, Shuu asks her about her true feelings and not those around her. It would be soon Hina’s mom’s birthday. But Natsuo can’t go shopping for a present with Hina. Looks like it is the anniversary of his mom’s death. 10 years must be a long time. He remembers always being a cry-baby and he tried to be strong not to cry at mom’s funeral. He wonders how different life would be had she been alive today. Natsuo is surprised the sisters are here to pay their respects. Hina says she has already broken up with Shuu. She is sceptical if he would divorce his wife because he has been talking about it for 6 months. With that, she realizes her family is more important. The sisters formally introduces themselves before Natsuo’s mom’s grave.

Episode 5
Classmate Momo Kashiwabara is interested to be Rui’s friend. She gives a weird rabbit charm she made as token of friendship. When Rui is with her other friends, upon finding out Momo tried to be her friend, they throw away the charm while citing all the flirty stuffs Momo did with other guys. Rui doesn’t care and she will decide herself if she is worthy to be her friend. Later when Rui talks to Momo about her ‘experience’, she doesn’t bat an eyelid in telling some of them. Some are the extreme and possessive kind to say the least. Later the duo stumble into Natsuo at the bookshop. I guess the vibe is good so Momo thinks if Rui doesn’t mind, she wants to make Natsuo her boyfriend! It’s not like Natsuo specifically stated they’re family, right? It’s not like Rui outright said no, right? So Momo hands him a confession piece of paper and hopes to hear his reply. Too bad for this guy, his ‘sister’ comes first. Because Rui is sick, Natsuo nurses her. Pretty much standard. Including wiping her back. But I wonder why Rui wants him to insert the suppository for her! Maybe her mom and sister aren’t back yet. So use our creative imaginations to see how Natsuo did that. Phew. So once Rui is okay, I guess it’s back to ‘dating’ Momo. It’s written all over Natsuo’s face that something is bugging him so Momo also bugs him. After a cheeky kiss, one thing led to another. Yup, he follows her back to her house. Parents not in as usual. If you’re wondering why Natsuo agrees to have sex with her (not just because he is a healthy teen), he thinks this is the best way to forget Hina. Yeah, having sex with a girl who is not of the family should solve things. Then damn he receives a message. His family will be working late. Isn’t that good news? Cue for Momo to wonder how nice it is to have a family because she always eats alone. Then sex is about to continue when he sees a bruise on her wrist. Like, damn. That ruined the mood. So he cooks for her and not because his cooking is so damn good but rather she has someone to eat with in a long time that brought her to tears. Sad to say, this might be better than sex…

Episode 6
When Natsuo is resting on the school rooftop, he also notices his teacher, Reiji Kiriya doing the same. They talk about literature works since Kiriya also writes his own works under the penname, You Hasukawa. When they part, the close up that Kiriya has next to Natsuo’s face may indicate this guy is gay! Rui wants Natsuo to show her around as she is interested to join a club. She also sounds jealous that he cooked for Momo and not her. WTF… Natsuo’s friends join in too but they’re here to see girls in action and once they had their fill, they just leave. WTF. They stumble into the literature club. Since nobody is around and Natsuo spots a book from Hasukawa he wants to read, he ‘borrows’ it. Later when he returns it, from his angle he sees Kiriya making out with the club’s president, Miu Ashihara. Of course damn sneakers gave him away and he even dared asked what they were doing?! Ashihara says he was just taking dust out from his eyes. Disappointed? Since Kiriya realizes he ‘stole’ a book, he forces him to join the club. Much to Ashihara’s delight since she is the only member. Natsuo is forced to do some flyer hand outs and later thought he got a love letter. Just a message from Kiriya to start club activities. Damn. Knowing Natsuo writes his own novels, he can tell his theme is unrequited love (it’s all written over his face!). As an experiment, he wants them to kiss. While Natsuo is shock, Ashihara is more than ready. Natsuo obliges but when he sees her tears, he backs out. Kiriya won’t force them to kiss but now understands Natsuo’s character. At home, Rui expresses interest to join the literature club. Sure it isn’t to see the other woman? Because of that, Momo too wants to join! Ashihara recognizes Momo as one of the top 10 students in school (you mean she’s not dumb or sex crazy???!!!) but sometimes her ranking drops because as admitted, she had a boyfriend then. She couldn’t focus unlike periods she had none so she just studied. OMG. You can see Rui’s uncomfortable face watching the friendly interactions between Natsuo and Ashihara. So much so the café is now the go to place for her to get advice on that burning thingy in her heart? Oh dear, the gay master is starting to talk about his yakuza days???!!! Uh huh. He fell in love at first sight of the young leader of the opposite group. But he gives good advice that she must follow it and figure it out herself otherwise she won’t find a meaning and give this feeling a name. To thank Natsuo for that Shuu incident, let’s say Hina wants to date him this Sunday.

Episode 7
During their outing, Natsuo asks why Hina flirted with a married man despite her own father did the same thing. She relates back in high school how she was friendly with boys and other girls started talking behind her back about it. Naturally that hurt her feelings and Shuu who was a teacher at her school was the only one who could make her forget it. Of course he transferred out and years later it was a coincidence she stumbled into him in college. She was shocked to see a ring on his finger but couldn’t fought her happiness when he wanted to meet up again. Natsuo also reflects upon his own ‘cheating’. He hands over his finished novel. He based his heroine around her. Chance to say he has always loved her. Romantically. She suggests they date. But she takes him into the sea?! They’re going to do double suicide?! Because this must never be known by anyone else. Otherwise, is he prepared to throw away his family, life and social status for this? I guess not. So let’s go back to being siblings. Natsuo’s last request is to give her a big hug. So that’s like goodbye? So back home and later that night, Rui must have sensed some sort of vibe from them. She enters Natsuo’s room and suggests doing it again. Of course he refuses since they are now siblings. She wants to know what made Hina more special than her since he tried to steal a kiss from her. I suppose Natsuo remembers Hina’s double suicide words. Then he’s like, “Ah, f*ck it. Let’s do it”. Yup, they started kissing. But that’s as far as they go since Rui just wants to feel what it’s like to secretly kiss. She may even start to like it. That’s all for tonight. With the exams coming, I suppose Kiriya has ‘warned’ them about doing their duty as students so Natsuo and Rui plead Hina to help teach them. The sisters are more interested to know if Natsuo is interested in Ashihara but he manages to change the topic. That night as Natsuo continues to study. He takes a break and what did he see? OMG! Is Hina masturbating in her room?! WHY THE F*CK DID SHE LEAVE HER DOOR SLIGHTLY OPEN! LIKE AS THOUGH SHE WANTED HIM TO PEEK! But the heartbreaker is when he hears her mention Shuu’s name. Made him drop his book. Quickly, hide! Hina checks. The coast is clear. Must be her imagination. That was close.

Episode 8
Rui asks if Natsuo stole her panties! WTF?! At school, Natsuo bumps into this American transfer student, Alex J. Matsukawa. Now they’re like friends? I guess American weeabos do want a Japanese friend. At the café, the master talks about a panty thief going around. Soon enough, Natsuo and Alex catch the panty thief red-handed. Rui meets up with them at the police station to ascertain if her stolen stuffs are hers. Alex is interested in dating Rui and hopes Natsuo can introduce them. So back home when Natsuo tells this to Rui, obviously she got mad. Oops. He goes to her room to apologize and you bet the only way for apology is to kiss. Twisted. But whatever. Worse scenario ever when Hina sees this. Doesn’t she knock?! Natsuo tries to explain himself but what Hina says that she is so confused that his words will not reach her is probably the best answer for now. With Natsuo regretting it, Rui talks to Hina. She admits she was the one who initiated it and confesses she likes Natsuo. Hina is worried this might ruin the family but the reason that we’ve all probably knew from the start: They’re not blood related. Ah, that loophole. Natsuo is in no mood so he just tells Alex that Rui rejected him. That night Natsuo tries to talk to Hina again. His feelings for her haven’t changed since the beach. Then why that? Can’t answer. Hina says she plans to move out of the house soon. When she announces it before the family, naturally Rui and Natsuo think it’s their fault although she has been planning this for a while so this is very much coincidental. Father suggests they should all go to the festival together. With the crowd separating them, good chance for Natsuo to talk to Hina. He wants to apologize if this is his fault and hopes she would reconsider living by herself. He promises to stop whatever he is doing with Rui but this rubs Hina the wrong way. She tries to end the topic and go away (even biting his hand!) but Natsuo remains stubborn. Not until the gay master stumbles into them and ‘force’ them to reconcile as adults. Hina relates how Rui has been always free spirited and this made her jealous. So when she saw them kissing, her jealousy took over rather than her worry of the family falling apart. She thought she needed to leave. As an adult she can’t do things Rui can. Natsuo is relieved she let her true feelings out before hugging her. He doesn’t need an answer now. The duo hold each other’s hand on their way home.

Episode 9
You mean Natsuo is still in shock that Hina isn’t changing her mind to move out? If she did, their parents would be suspicious, right? But she hints he can come over any time. See his face brighten up? As Rui is out, she sees Kiriya but to her horror, Shuu is with him. Kiriya was his senior in college. She still despises him but he really wants to apologize and treats her. Shuu assures he has never contacted Hina since but has since divorced his wife. Rui asks why not and Shuu feels it was not right on his part to chase another woman right after his divorce. Rui also tells them about Hina’s moving out and blames it on herself. Shuu assures her she isn’t the kind who would leave out of spite. Please believe in her. The night before Hina moves out, Rui goes talk to her and begs her not to go. Has she regressed to a baby? Hina says she doesn’t have to change or do anything. She is free to do what she wants. Natsuo is one happy man when he sees a letter from Hina. Inside is a key to her new place. Wow. Is this also the key to her heart? Haha! After Hina has moved out, her room is so empty. Rui can’t help but hug Natsuo. He assures to support her so she won’t be lonely. Too bad Natsuo lies that he won’t be back for dinner as he will be Fumiya’s. Actually it is to visit Hina. He rings the doorbell but no answer. Is she out? Time to use the key. Oh look. She’s sleeping. It’s like she could sense him nearby and wakes up. Natsuo tells her he is prepared to die for this. She’s so happy of his feelings and they start kissing. Natsuo wants to take the next step but Hina puts the brakes. Not so fast, lover boy. Let’s take things slowly. With the school term resuming, Rui doesn’t spite Alex as much as he thinks she does. So happy he decides to join their literature club even though he doesn’t write novels. I guess liking Three Little Pigs counts. At school, Natsuo confronts Hina about the other day because he thinks she might not be ready. You know, to die. It’s not like he is calling out on her but he is feeling insecure and probably a burden. Hina assures her feelings are the same as his. It’s like they’ve found this new thrill because they hide from the passing vice principal and start kissing.

Episode 10
While Natsuo and Hina make out, looks like their dinner is burning… With Kiriya on an absent streak, the literature club members go visit him at his place. Turns out he was just having sleepless nights trying to finish a novel and that woman earlier on was his editor. You mean Natsuo sounds this surprised and happy to learn he is secretly writing novels outside the school’s knowledge? Kiriya then suggests entering some amateur writing competition and you can see Natsuo’s face lighting up that he could soon be living his dream. At school, Natsuo teases Ashihara that she was relieved that the editor wasn’t Kiriya’s wife. In her embarrassment, she accidentally pushes him down the stairs. He just got off with a broken leg. Seriously. It’s a bit embarrassing that Ashihara is prostrating herself and willing to do anything to compensate this and the other cheeky guys are egging Natsuo to do some dirty stuff. With Natsuo grounded, this makes Rui happy since she gets to take care of him. Yeah, she’s been lonely since he has been spending too much time at Fumiya’s place. Gulp. Then there’s this steamy scene of Rui wanting to help bath Natsuo. See, when you don’t turn on the lights, instead of grabbing the body soap, she grabbed his dick!!! I don’t think it’s the size… While Rui is at the café, she talks to Fumiya and is puzzled to learn Natsuo didn’t come to his place lately. So she goes back and confronts him about this lie. Natsuo lies again that he actually went to Momo’s place and didn’t tell her in fear that she will be upset. Oh look. She’s pouting now. She hopes if he gets invited next time, invite her too. She doesn’t want to eat dinner alone. Later Natsuo calls Fumiya to fill him in if he needs his cover up next time. Natsuo is at it again as he is at Hina’s place making out. No broken bones is going to stop his boner. It’s really getting hot when the doorbell rings. Must be the delivery guy. Nope. Rui. Everybody in shock. Rui doesn’t need to say anything. Just that disappointed look and then tears. And then run away. Hina knows Natsuo has been lying. Later when Fumiya calls because Rui ran to his place but left, Natsuo finds her sitting at the park alone. They talk things out. Rui admits reading his novel about an unrequited love of a student and a teacher. She started connecting the big picture together and realized. She asks if he loves Hina. He admits he does.

Episode 11
Natsuo reveals he had feelings for Hina for a long time and she is reciprocating his love. Guess what? Rui kisses him?! Is this some sort of parting gift?! Yup. Because from now on she will try to hate him and move on. Call it self-defence. Don’t worry. She’ll still treat him as family. Rui even avoids talking to Hina. Is it that bad? Kiriya announces there is a winner among them for the competition although it is just an honourable mention. That winner is Rui! Wow. Look at Natsuo’s shock. Ashihara could tell he is depressed and talks to him about using this experience to grow stronger. Then he goes bug Kiriya to be his mentor. He is that desperate in wanting to do a living as a novelist. So Kiriya throws the question to him: Does he really want to write novels or just to status of being a novelist. That hit him real hard but he won’t give up and promises to write at least a short story every week and not slack on his studies. During the school’s field trip to Okinawa, Rui finally talks with Hina. Hina is willing to break up with Natsuo and doesn’t want her to hate him. Rui doesn’t want their relationship to be over and just hopes she just acts more like an adult. On the last night of the trip where everyone is out watching the fireworks, Natsuo is invited into Hina’s room. She wants to break up but he wants to get serious with her. The rejection force is strong in Natsuo as he objects to all her reasoning. Heck, he even gives her a cheap engagement ring (bought from the souvenir stand) as his initial serious commitment. A more expensive one will come by later when the money starts rolling in… With him being a smooth talker, no doubt Hina accepts him. The clincher is when he calls her by her first name. Oh yeah. Great prelude to sex! Now you see why calling the first name is so important?! Probably what happened was left to our imaginations. After that, Hina gets embarrassed when he mentions seeing her masturbating to Shuu’s name. I don’t think admitting doing that yourself in your own room will do Natsuo any good. But whatever. Game for another round? Once everyone is back in school, Hina is called by the head teacher. There is a photo of them kissing! But wait! How the f*ck can they know it is her?! It is Natsuo’s back and from that angle outside the window, definitely Hina’s full face was blocked by his head! Oh right. Like how I knew it was them when I first saw the picture, eh?

Episode 12
You know, Hina could just dismiss it as the faces were not obvious! But she prostrates herself and will accept any form of punishment and to spare Natsuo. So during the closing ceremony before the holidays, Hina makes this shocking announcement that she will transfer to another school. This leaves everyone shock especially Natsuo and Rui who heard nothing. Kiriya then talks to Hina and he somewhat knew about it ever since she started dating Shuu. Hina thinks if she had consulted him in the first place, this mess wouldn’t happened. Natsuo tries to contact Hina but she never replied. And when he goes to her apartment, it’s empty! Woah. So fast. But a letter left behind for him states the school found out about their relationship so she had to go in order to protect it from going public. She doesn’t want him to look for her. I love you. I hope Natsuo screaming would do him some good. Or not. Because now he turns into a zombie and lazes around. Fumiya goes talk to him and had to get rough to tell him off that if this is his answer, all that Hina has done would be for naught. Natsuo might have ‘improved’ a bit after that as he starts writing. But that is all he does and at this rate it might take a toll on his health. Even his parents are worried. They’re now thinking if their marriage was the cause to blame. Now it’s the gay master’s turn to talk to Natsuo. Inviting him to a public bath house, Natsuo is shocked to see his big yakuza tattoo on his back. He relates his story when he left the yakuza, his father as the boss was angry but sad. He was then free and could do whatever he wanted but soon found out his father died of cancer. He couldn’t attend his funeral after thinking what he must’ve felt. The lesson is when you’re alive, you can do a lot of things. You can’t turn back time to undo things. All you can do is shoulder it as part of yourself and go on living.

With Natsuo now getting some life back, he apologizes to his family for the worries and continues to put effort in his writing. Kiriya can tell he has changed from his writings. One day, Natsuo is called by Kiriya to his place. He is introduced to this lively guy, Souichirou Tsutaya. They then take him to some award ceremony in which Natsuo won first prize in the amateur division! Wow. They really kept this a secret just to see his reaction, huh? Natsuo makes his speech and vows to become a great novelist. With that, Tsutaya is now his editor in charge. When he goes home, Natsuo is shocked to see Hina and hugs her. Turns out to be Rui in disguise (wig courtesy from Momo). Awkward. So he breaks the ice by talking about the award he won. But then she changes the topic to ask if he had sex with Hina. Yeah, they were going to but interrupted somehow. Then she starts kissing him. She believes now it is different than their first time. She will not hold back for Hina anymore. I think we’ve seen Natsuo’s shock face a lot in this final episode. But too bad, no sex this time too… So is Rui going back on her words to hate him? Oh well. Love > Hate. We see Hina teaching in another school. Cutting her hair short is it her way to ‘disguise’ herself or her new self reborn? And she has a copy of Natsuo’s winning literature.

When Life Screws With You, Just F*ck It!
Life is stranger than fiction for Natsuo. Like as though he is living one of the weirdest love drama romance and playing it out in real life. It just feels sad and unsatisfying that Hina had to leave to protect everything but had she stayed on, chances are Natsuo would ruin it by being reckless because he had to throw away all that he has just to be with her. In other words, he would have thrown away words that would make him money in exchange for a pussy! Haha! That’s the crudest way to put it! But yeah, the ending feels somewhat rushed with Hina suddenly doing a disappearing act and it is more about Natsuo picking up himself. And with Hina ‘gone’, will Rui fill the void? Or will absence make the heart grow fonder? Tune in next time for the next volume of this weird romance!

Well, it doesn’t feel like this season’s Kuzu No Honkai as the sex in the first episode feels more like click bait to get you interested into watching the rest of the episodes. Yup, blame myself for putting some expectations that there would be some sort of sex scenes in at least a few episodes. Just a few suggestive scenes here and there but nothing that would really end up in procreation until the penultimate episode. Even the final episode click baited us to think it would end with another sex scene because what goes around, comes around. Other than that in between, it is going to be a long drama as the main characters get confused and sort out their feelings and some other outside factors that threaten to complicate this love triangle but never amounted to anything serious.

Because Natsuo has loved Hina for a long time but ironically the first person he ever had sex with is Rui who is her sister, I suppose this gives rise to a lot of contemplation for him about the direction of his life that would have otherwise been slightly more straightforward if Natsuo did not had sex with Rui in the first place. Now that it has come to this, I guess Natsuo is certainly a lucky bastard because he shagged Rui first and then eventually Hina. In between he almost did it with Momo and had the potential with Ashihara because she felt so guilty that she would do anything for him. Anything. So basically the whole plot of the story (and perhaps the goal of the story) is to wonder if Natsuo ends up sleeping with anybody.

If the story becomes too boring and making you wonder if you should carry on and see the next episode, then don’t worry. Because more sexy fanservice click bait at the end of every episode whereby it deliciously shows parts of a sexy woman in her lingerie or bikini. Her boobs. Her thighs. Her ass. Her crotch. Yeow! So sexy… Must… Fap… Immediately… Somehow it feels like to make up for the lack of sex in the series so have these risqué pictures for your fapping pleasure. You’re welcome. Except the final preview in the penultimate episode. WTF is this picturesque pier?! Where’s my sex porn star shot?! I see it means things are getting serious and sh*t going to hit the fan, huh? Oh well… Hmm… Doesn’t the pier look long enough to be a dick?! Get my mind out of the gutter, please!!!

Anyway, the characters just feel pretty average. There is nothing special that makes them and hence the storyline stand out. Just because both families are now legally married and their status upgraded from strangers to siblings, this give rise to the so called moral dilemma that the series hinges on. Sure we are family but we aren’t also blood related. It also puts Natsuo in an awkward situation since the person he loves is now technically his sister and just next door. Literally (until she moved out). I guess that is way better than finding the girl you like now becomes your stepmom after remarrying you father!!! Yikes! And yeah, Natsuo being pretty generic, tries to score with his sensei, tries to score being a novelist, oh well, life isn’t exactly a bed of roses. Keep trying. You’ll eventually get there. Hopefully.

Wanting to slut shame Hina is not right. Women at her age are stuck between a child (teen, actually) and a young adult. She tries to be a useful member of society or at least a responsible adult but I think she has no luck in love. Or rather she is the kind of woman who needs to be in love to be fulfilled (isn’t why she was dumb enough to leave her door unlock during her personal masturbation time? Like as though she hoped Natsuo would catch her in the act?). That is why she fell for Shuu in the first place despite knowing very well that he is already married. Because there were stronger objections from Natsuo and Rui, she caved in and now Natsuo is the one taking the lead to fulfil her empty love life. In both cases, it isn’t morally right from a society’s standpoint. Because it felt that despite both Hina and Shuu were wrong to be in such a relationship, Hina felt wrong-er than Shuu as the biasness of society now paints Hina as a weak slut while Shuu as a strong and ‘responsible and mature’ guy. Sad. So be careful, Natsuo. Unless a stronger man comes in to muscle his way into Hina’s love life, Natsuo better be strong and prepared when karma decides to pay him back double. Because now that scandalous photo…

Rui might not talk much but she sees things. Mostly. She also doesn’t express herself much and probably that is what contributed to her feelings being a ticking time bomb mess. Even when she got hurt realizing Hina and Natsuo had an illicit affair behind the family’s back, she just cried enough. Get what I mean? She knows she needs to move on somehow but unfortunately I don’t think it is going to be easy trying to hate someone you love unless you see their truly despicable side. So for Rui saying she wants to hate him to move on and a self-defence mechanism, I have a feeling it will backfire since she doesn’t express much, what more with this unpredictable crazy thing called love. But with Hina gone and Natsuo affected, she might go into overdrive to steal his heart. Maybe if sex was thrown in as part of the deal, she might have a chance… Just saying…

I feel that many of the other characters feel wasted and not really impact the overall story and main characters much. For instance, Momo. Suddenly she pops up as another rival who would complicate things further. We fell for that nearly sex scene that now looks more like another form of click bait in retrospect. We thought she would try something like this again in the future but ever since Natsuo ‘tamed’ her with his cooking and she became Rui’s best friend, she quickly became irrelevant. Like as though she is as good as not existing in the first place. Then there is Ashihara who is supposed to have a crush on Kiriya and her role to accidentally have Natsuo in a cast feels really unnecessary because it could be just Natsuo falling down by himself while fantasizing about Hina on his way downstairs. Really. Then they troll and click bait us with Kiriya making them to pretend kiss that never happened. Maybe her character is just red herring for those who expected Ashihara to get in the way of the siblings’ relationship. The gay master may not be the manliest in the eyes of society but he was being the manliest of everyone in bringing back Natsuo to life thanks to his life’s bitter experience. Great lesson to learn from this guy: Never judge a book by its cover.

More than halfway through the season, suddenly they had to introduce this new transfer student and more cliché, a half Japanese and half western guy. You know, almost every anime needs this one foreigner character who totally loves the Japanese culture. It’s not like Natsuo doesn’t have his own circle of friends but having Alex suddenly as part of his groupie and making him a possible love interest for Rui just doesn’t fit quite right. Like as though he is the backup for Rui’s love if she ever fails to win Natsuo’s heart. Last and not least, Kiriya at first hints that he is interested in Natsuo but just like the sex scenes and fanservice of this series, he might just be trolling us all. I guess not every hot male teacher is gay. Kiriya eventually comes off as a more mature and responsible teacher and that once more puts Hina to shame as a teacher and adult. Poor Hina…

Art and animation are okay. It feels clean and simple. Standard anime style. On a trivial note, when I first saw Natsuo, Rui and Hina, the first thing that came to my mind was, what the f*ck are the casts of Evangelion doing here???!!! Sure, blame Rui for looking very close Rei (name and personality even so similar) and because of that, Natsuo and Hina started looking a bit like Shinji and Asuka respectively. Like, WTF?! Even more so when Natsuo’s dad looks like a wuss version of Gendou. LIKE, WTF???!!! I wonder if Ritsuko has gotten old enough and masquerading as Hina and Rui’s mom. Holy sh*t!!!! This series is animated by Diomedea who did Shinryaku! Ika Musume, Aho Girl, Beatless, Fuuka, Nogizaka Haruka No Himitsu and Action Heroine Cheer Fruits.

In the voice acting department, I only recognized Youko Hikasa as Hina as well as Kenji Tsuda being the gayest of the gayest as the café master. The other casts are Taku Yashiro as Natsuo (Hayato in Shounen Maid), Maaya Uchida as Rui (Irina in High School DxD series), Haruka Yoshimura as Momo (Koharu in Sora No Method), Konomi Kohara as Ashihara (Chika in Kaguya-sama Wa Kokurasetai), Hikaru Idorikawa as Kiriya (Lancer in the Fate series), Tasuka Hatanaka as Alex (Flegel in Shingeki No Kyojin), Daisuke Hirakawa as Shuu (Makoto in School Days) and Takuya Eguchi as Fumiya (Julius in Re: Zero Kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu). The opening and ending themes have this very dramatic feel in them. Like Kawaki Wo Ameku by Minami as the opener is also infused with some hard rock elements. Somehow I prefer the ending theme, Wagamama by Alisa Takigawa. No doubt still dramatic, but it has a catchy beat to it that I can’t get out of my head. She also sings the special ending theme for episode 8, Always that is more of a slow ballad that fits the reconciliation of Natsuo and Hina.

Overall, this series shows one tiny aspect of the complicated human nature and the expectations of societal norm in regards to relationship. This series may not be unique as love stories about torn between 2 lovers are a dime a dozen (White Album, Koi To Uso) but with sex involved (School Days, Kuzu No Honkai). This is just a standard and cliché melodrama masked as a pseudo harem genre, if you know what I mean. If there is only one thing that I really learn from here, when you want to masturbate, make sure all the curtains are drawn and double triple check the doors are securely locked. Because you don’t know who could be watching at that very moment. Because you might be f*cking yourself but then life decides to join in and f*ck up the rest of your future. I think that basically sums up what happened to all the main characters here…

It was too early to judge things in 3D Kanojo Real Girl back then even though a lot of things felt quite annoying and incomplete. But like how we always need to give love a chance, I suppose we also need to give this otaku another chance since the second season came and go just like that. I have a hunch that this sequel will put an end to many of the things left hanging in the first season instead of leaving it suspended again for potential future seasons like many anime series often do. After all, what many of us want in life is closure. Even otaku guys who have turned over a new leaf after getting a taste of that real sweet 3D love, deserve as such.

Episode 13
Tsutsui and Itou’s dreaded event: The cultural festival. They want to run and hide somewhere. Only if fate didn’t feel like screwing up their lives because the class makes Tsutsui as part of the committee’s rep. Not even Itou can save him. But after hearing that Ayado is on the committee, Itou enthusiastically switches with the guy who wants out. Such convenience. Observing how Ayado is doing her best, it makes Itou want to move forward too. So he confesses to her. Wow. It’s only the first episode of the second season. You sure? This embarrasses the hell out of Ayado and I don’t understand what she said only until later when Itou ‘reported’ to Tsutsui that he was rejected. Tsutsui tries to be nice to him seeing Itou is putting up a brave front but Itou in fact is grateful to him for all the events that transpired. Then Ishino had to ruin this heartbreak party. Can’t blame her. She is the master of getting rejected. Anyway, please listen to her suggestion of doing a maid café for the festival!!!! I APPROVE!!! Later when Itou bumps into Ayado, the latter is still very embarrassed but hopes they could remain as friends. Because they want to be better people, I guess the first step is to be each other’s friends. Yeah, that’s a start. With that, Itou has a makeover. He cuts his hair and ditches his animal ears. Woah! Totally new person! When Itou seeks Ayado’s advice on the maid café, the intense training begins! He must be regretting the intense vocal training. Goshujinsama!!! Tsutsui sees Iroha running away. Damn, she’s fast. Later she relates how her class rep wants her to join the beauty contest since the winner gets money for a party. Tsutsui will definitely support her but she just doesn’t want the attention. Too bad the class rep later tells her he already entered her. If she wants to beat him up, that’s fine. The reason being, there is a girl he loves who put in so much effort. He wants to show that appreciation by throwing her a party (so I guess he himself didn’t have enough money to do it). He will take this chance to confess to her. With that, Iroha agrees to ‘donate her talents’. Tsutsui learns of this but is worried since Takanashi drops him a nasty rumour that she might dump him if she wins. He tries to stay positive and be a better man but screws up by accidentally dropping paint all over their signboard. Bummer. If that’s not bad enough, Tsutsui is now part of the judging committee of the beauty contest! Oh my, fate is sure getting the kicks out of this.

Episode 14
At least everybody isn’t heartless to leave it to Tsutsui and Itou to finish up last minute preparations. Is Itou the only one cross-dressing as a maid? Because everybody finds him beautiful! Thankfully he is holding it in thanks to the training. Then an accidental sexual harassment that has everyone blushing? WTF?! Tsutsui the manager even coolly tells this jerk customer to leave. WTF, man? Why is everyone acting so out of character?! I guess Tsutsui is also holding it in for the sake of the festival but thank goodness for Iroha for his much needed ‘recharge’. With the beauty contest in full swing, Ishino is dead last with only a vote (from herself). I guess she’s pretty sad about it and probably it scored some sympathy points with Takanashi. Here. A vote from him. With the top 4 advancing to the finals, it is clear that Iroha is the top but she faces stiff competition from her b*tch rival, Reiko Akiyama who has something to say about using looks to get ahead. I’m sure Iroha wanted to tell her the same but better be the nice girl for now. On stage, it is clear that Reiko uses her charms for the usual cliché of baiting everybody. Then it’s Iroha’s turn. OMG is this really her when she talks so cute and lovely???!!! Everybody just got shot in the heart! And then she realizes this is too much to keep up and drops the act. Here comes the best part as she lectures everyone she doesn’t want to be judged by her looks. Lots of people don’t know her so they can think want they want of her. Because there are some who can see past all that and see her for herself. She doesn’t need to win so please don’t vote for her. With the students’ votes mainly handing Iroha a slim lead over Reiko, it all boils down to the judges’ decision. This puts Tsutsui in a bind as he wants to vote for Iroha but also respect her wish not to win. In the end, Reiko wins and this hands Iroha a big relief. Tsutsui wants to tell her all the reasons why she is more than her looks but she’ll save that for another day. Fate rewards our protagonists as the maid café is the top sales earner. During the bonfire dance, the class rep thanks Iroha for the help. Iroha suggests he confess despite not winning. Meanwhile Ayado gets nervous when Itou accidentally touches her hand. She’s like slapping herself for feeling this while blaming herself she has no right to it because she rejected him, blah, blah, blah. You know Itou’s watching, right? His answer: Just hold her hand! If it helps her see him as a person she could love.

Episode 15
Ishino acting strange. Could it be she’s in love? Itou and Ayado even awkward when seeing each other. Then Tsutsui’s mom shows him a smoking hot picture of herself when she was younger! OMFG!!! IS THIS REALLY HER?! Anime can really either turn you beautiful or ugly!!! The world is going mad! Tsutsui and Iroha are at the café when they overheard the next table of a working couple having an affair and wanting to break up. The catch? The man is Tsutsui’s father!!! HOLY SH*T!!!! Tsutsui tries to believe in him that this is all an understanding but that night looks like dad and mom are already having talks of this affair. She already has proof of this and you can see her breaking down from it. It’s not like Tsutsui could do anything good so he hangs out with Iroha to update what happened. She promises to help if he needs her. When he returns, the drama just ramp up a notch. Mom is asking for divorce. Damn, this escalated quickly. And dad is just like apologizing and okay with this?! He knows better not to fight stubborn mom. With this divorce it means one of the sons will follow her back to mom’s place. That’s like in Hokkaido! With this on his hands, Tsutsui must be having a hard time listening to Itou who is sad that Ayado is giving him the cold shoulder. No time for this when family problems are at hand. Each time Tsutsui returns, looks like the drama gets worse. Yeah, dad is sleeping in the living room now. They talk and dad knows he is in the wrong and had no right to argue back given the fact mom stayed faithful to him for 20 years. He still loves her and the family, though. Tsutsui knows he needs to fix this and I suppose now the news hits Kaoru. The brothers argue who should be the one following mom. Kaoru sounds like has the advantage with his logic but it eventually boils down to the girl they love that they don’t want to move. Next day, mom left a letter and Tsutsui fears she ran away. He runs out looking for her. Does he even know where to look? Oh, there she is sitting dejectedly at the park. Tsutsui talks to her especially he is against breaking up of the family. But with this drama so deep in, there’s no turning back. It now turns into who she should bring to Hokkaido. Yeah, Tsutsui trying to vouch for Kaoru. However… Seeing he was always the otaku, she never realized he cared this much for the family. So now she has made up her mind. She’s bringing him back to Hokkaido! Damn! Backfired so hard that it looks like Tsutsui would be the one moving away first than Iroha.

Episode 16
I don’t think Iroha likes it that Tsutsui is moving away too. But there’s nothing she can do about this and she hates it. Damn, does it look like they’re breaking up?! Later Iroha stumbles into Tsutsui’s dad and they talk about easily broken bonds. The woman whom dad is having an affair is seen outside the house. Tsutsui knows mom will blow her top and takes her to the café to talk. Iroha goes into scary mode reprimanding her the damage she has done and will do. Yeah, like will crying change anything?! We take a break from this drama to detour to Ayado’s side. She is in a dilemma because now Itou is ignoring her. She talks to Ishino for advice and she slaps her to her senses! Whatever it was, it was enough motivation to get her going rather than give up. So back to Tsutsui’s family drama, they learn the woman only had dinner with him and he was kind enough to pay for them and listen to whatever troubles she had. They never slept or let alone hold hands. She tried to ask him out but was rejected from the very start. Tsutsui now confronts his dad. How could he omit such an important info? Dad believes even if it was dinner and if it made mom unhappy, it is still considered betrayal. But this woman made him realize how much he still loves mom. So flashback we see mom and dad awkwardly met. Her favourite high heels broke and he fixed it since he was working in the glue department. He was a nerd. She was sporting. She asked him out. He somewhat obliged. One night, he overheard her talking to her boss who claims she only got this far because of his special treatment. He’s the biggest jerk ever for whatever reason. After that, dad awkwardly came to talk to her and that’s when they realize they love each other and be with each other ever since. Despite this story, Tsutsui is not amused dad is still giving up. If he loves her, don’t let her go! It’s the same for him. Even if he has to follow mom to Hokkaido, he won’t give up on Iroha! Dad agrees to talk to mom again. So apparently she knows the whole story. So when he brings up the nostalgic past, oh yeah, you bet that’s the magic that will rekindle their love. I have love you always. My love has never changed. I want to stay in your life forever. Voila. Funny how adult works. Phew. With this drama over, we now move back to Ayado. Yeah, she’s this close to breaking down thinking Itou is ignoring and hating her. But when he comes back to talk to her, it’s like she gives him the biggest hug. Isn’t it a no brainer when she asks why he is the only thing she thinks about? You’re in love, baby!

Episode 17
Ayado narrates she was an otaku in her younger days. Her first love was a manga character and it was tough that nobody else shared the same passion. One day she was so absorbed reading that she didn’t notice a classmate called her and she was given a reality check after being scolded for it. In a way, she locked herself in a shell until Tsutsui and co came along. Back to reality, Itou hugs her and promises never to let her go. Emotionally charged Ayado rants about her insecurities and fears, like how she was afraid of him leaving her. Her tears are probably so infectious that it’s Itou’s turn to cry. Weirdly, Ayado breaks their official dating status to Tsutsui and Iroha. Even weirder, she apologizes to them for dating his best friend? WTF. Of course they don’t mind this piece of good news. Tsutsui better not be crying or it’ll be weirder… Wow, such good news that their circle of friends celebrate this! It’s like they’re married?! Now Ishino is bugging Takanashi for their turn. Jerk doesn’t give a damn. With Tsutsui’s peaceful life returning, I guess it’s time to remind us they kissed before. Another great kiss in his room and probably more had not mom come in (why don’t parents knock?!) to invite her for dinner. Is this a disappointment or relief? Over dinner, the parents really thank Iroha for being with their son as well as apologize for the divorce fuss. Kaoru still has trust issues. He still hasn’t gotten over his big brother trying to sell him out to Hokkaido and asks Iroha straight what she sees in this otaku. Iroha doesn’t see any other guys cooler than Tsutsui and is further glad the brothers don’t have to be separated. In view of this, I guess Kaoru starts calling her his onee-san since they’ll one day get married, right? You mean they’re not thinking that far ahead? Now we turn back to Ayado. She’s still having issues if this couple thingy is real. Yeah, she’s like still in disbelief and spacing out. It’s an emotional roller coaster ride for this girl. Eventually Itou also can tell she is pushing herself and hopes she could think this over before they get too far. Damn this props up those fears again. Probably out of desperation, she realizes he confessed to her many times but never once vice versa. So she quickly says I love you and that tearful apology that always caused him trouble. Do you feel better now, Itou? Since he doesn’t want her to hold back her feelings like he does, there is something that is bugging her on her mind all day long… Suddenly she kisses him! He returns the favour by kissing her back. Feels good, right? When he said not to hold back, he didn’t she would ask permission to hit him with full force of her desires. Yeah, maybe that one it’s wise to take it slow.

Episode 18
Ayado and Itou look like a happy couple in love with an idiotic smile! I guess this is cue for Ishino to continue bugging Takanashi and she’s desperate enough to ask what it would take to get him to like her. Yeah, he’s just making a fool out of you. When some of Ayado’s classmates see them as a couple, Ayado gets flustered and introduces her boyfriend. However they laugh and never thought this otaku would be interested in real life. Ishino steps in to give them a piece of her mind. It could have gotten physical had not Takanashi stepped in. Maybe that’s why he refuses to date Ishino. She likes meddling in the affairs of others. What’s a girl without a boyfriend and lots of time on her hands has got to do? To thank her for this, Takanashi has a mini date with her at the ramen shop and even trolls her to go on a real date. Meanwhile mom is treating Iroha like part of the family. Making her an apron and asking her favourite food. Tsutsui must be really freaked out. So the troll date becomes a real date as Takanashi reluctantly ‘dates’ Ishino at the aquarium. Suddenly Takanashi sees Anzu with Kaoru. He gets upset. Firstly, Anzu lied about being with another friend today. Kaoru introduces himself as Anzu’s boyfriend and this doesn’t sit well with Takanashi. Yeah, he has issues he is Tsutsui’s brother. He wants to take Anzu home and call off their dates. It hits a nerve this time when he tells Ishino not to meddle. Anzu takes Kaoru and run during the confusion. With the mood ruined, the teens walk home. Takanashi hugging Ishino thinking he can solve this? I don’t think it’s going to be that easy. More woes when mom calls because Anzu left a message that she is running away with Kaoru! No time to tell Ishino to stay out. Please help. They search everywhere and couldn’t find them. Could it be they never left the aquarium? Yeah, they’re still there. Were the heck’s security?! Anzu tells Kaoru her family structure. They have no dad so sometimes big brother is overprotective. Kaoru feels it’s not right to make them worry and promises to talk to them to gain their trust. Anzu’s confession somewhat ruined with Takanashi coming in and slapping Kaoru! Kaoru blames himself for keeping Anzu out this late although Anzu admits she was the one who had this elope idea. Takanashi apologizes and will hear Kaoru out one day. But it’s time to go home. Takanashi walks Ishino home and suggests they date again next time. But it will be him asking her out. If he insists.

Episode 19
Time we remember about Iroha’s jerk brother, Chika. He claims being with Tsutsui has turned her into a slob (her fashion sense, that is) but she ignores him. Tsutsui is shocked to see Itou seeking advice from Takanashi. Thinking something has happened, he asked Takanashi about it and it is hinted that Itou might be crossing over to adulthood. You jealous, virgin? Meanwhile Ishino is now complaining to God to make her happy. Then pops this dude who is Takanashi’s friend, Sakurada who has taken a liking at her after seeing her at the cultural festival. He wants to be friends. Heck, he even asks Takanashi for ‘permission’ to date her! Not that Takanashi cares but you can feel he doesn’t like this idea. Now Tsutsui is spying on Itou? And when Itou confronts him he gives excuses? So when they finally talk, Itou reveals he plans to go to Ayado’s house and sought Takanashi’s advice seeing he is worried one thing might lead to another. Though Itou thought he should have asked Tsutsui first, Tsutsui now believes why Takanashi said it is something he couldn’t solve. After all, Takanashi’s advice to Itou was pretty vague. Just go with your instincts! With Iroha insisting on going on an overnight trip during the long weekend, Takanashi’s mind is now screwing with him. Yeah, are they going to cross over to adulthood? Meanwhile Kaoru officially introduces himself and apologizes to Takanashi why explaining how much he loves Anzu. Not that big brother is impressed but Kaoru is the one being the mature adult and Takanashi close to flaring up. Since he can’t punch a kid, Takanashi calls Tsutsui and punches him instead! WTF?! More woes for Takanashi because he looks worried seeing Ishino accepting Sakurada’s invitation to a sweets shop. Ishino still doesn’t trust him but he continues to listen and be a smooth talker. It has been a long time since a guy treats her this nice. Should she go for it? But somehow Ishino still feels bored and seeks Tsutsui for ‘entertainment’. Learning he doesn’t want to go on an overnight trip with Iroha (because, sex), she lambasts him not to disgrace her. Just get laid! Just do it! Hence when the duo meet, Tsutsui is so worried that Iroha decides not to go. If he’s not okay with it, there’s no point in going. She leaves and Tsutsui feels bad and realizes she has put in a lot of effort in planning the trip. Time to man up. He catches up and hugs her. Let’s do it, baby. It’s like she’s waiting for this answer. So happy she hugs him. In the middle of the street? Yeah, don’t let anything get in between your love. Unfortunately… Iroha soon has remedial classes… Another time, I guess.

Episode 20
Takanashi receives word that his mom is hospitalized. A big relief that she only had a minor concussion after slipping at work. He worries about her but she assures the insurance money is enough to cover her kids through school. Damn. Gotta be ready at all times… So later Ishino finds out about this and wants to help. I mean, what choice does Takanashi has after she slaps him and then rants about that unfulfilled date promise. So he has her help him cook a favourite dish for Anzu. She really likes it and hopes she could come here more often. However this good vibe is killed with Takanashi being his usual sarcastic and cold even in metaphoric sense about his relationship with Ishino. It makes Anzu cry at first and with some Ishino’s motherly hug and assurance, everything returns to normal. With Ishino having plans with Sakurada for the weekend, Takanashi tells her not to go. This time his sarcasm really hits her nerve so she leaves for real. Takanashi goes after her and cleans up this mess by hugging her. It will take more than that for a girl in tears. Hence he tells her his true feelings. He believes she will be an important part of his life and letting her go now means he knows he will regret it. Will you be my girlfriend? Yes. YES! Damn it felt like he’s proposing to her or something. To prove his love for her, he kisses her. Not playing around for real. As Tsutsui heads home, that jerk Chika is waiting outside. He warns him not to go on the trip with Iroha. Tsutsui is prepared to be punched by him and assures he will not do anything strange to her. All he wants is to grant her wish. Besides, this trip is not happening due to her remedial class. Frustrated Chika just punches him in the gut. Meanwhile Itou is over at Ayado’s place. Her parents have to leave last minute so they’re home alone. So they play video games for hours?! No wonder Ayado is getting frustrated. Itou doesn’t want to betray the trust of her parents and needs to take care of her but this makes her sad. Because it means he won’t touch her and there’s so many things she wants to tell and teach him. So she’s being horny? I guess Itou is like screw it, kiss her, now let’s see where this takes us on the bed… Yeah… Do we still remember last season that hot doctor? Looks like something ominous when he tells Iroha she only has a month left… WTF?! Is there real sh*t going on?! That grave illness thingy?! Remember that?! WTF???!!!

Episode 21
Tsutsui and Itou learning Ishino and Takanashi are now a couple. Are they that in disbelief? Later Itou tells Tsutsui that he has done it with Ayado! OMG! You mean they really crossed the line to adulthood?! Looks like. And after sex Itou was crying? Weird. Thank goodness it’s because he is happy. So the whole lesson learnt from this is that it opened up a whole new world. Darn right it did. Also, Itou doesn’t hate himself as much as before. The friends gather to celebrate Ishino and Takanashi being a couple. I suppose it’s part of their tradition. Then they also talk about their future paths in life. I suppose Takanashi didn’t really think Ishino would consider being his wife as her future plan. And Tsutsui is the most ‘boring’. Go to college and be a civil servant. Tsutsui thinks hard on Itou and Takanashi’s words about not wanting to waste every second they have and leave no regrets. That is why he goes on his knees to seek mom’s help to borrow money. Not the kind of small change to buy a textbook. Talk about 5 digits! He promises to pay her back, etc. She agrees to put on his tab as long as he doesn’t lose sight on what’s important. So is he going to splurge all that cash on Iroha? Seems like he is taking her to the arcade to have loads of fun. Maybe a nerd needs to take a big break once in a while. However Itou heard that Tsutsui has not been showing up to special classes and his grades are slipping. Even the teacher called him out to talk about this. So when Tsutsui asks about the choice now to study or not have any regrets, instantly the teacher chooses the former. I don’t think it’s what Tsutsui wants to hear. Itou tries to help him but is told to mind his own business. Tsutsui continues to hang out with Iroha. At the beach, Iroha remembers Itou talking to her about his slipping grades. Iroha was shocked because Tsutsui told her he was studying every day. Iroha then sees Tsutsui’s elaborate plans, the things he wants to do with Iroha. It just breaks her heart. Then she hugs him and confesses that her transfer to another school was a lie. Sounds like good news but why do I have a bad feeling that there is more to this. I don’t think she’s crying tears of happiness either…

Episode 22
It’s too late to take a train back so luckily they manage to get a room at a nearby inn. Later as Tsutsui checks off the list, he sees at the bottom that Iroha has added one on her own: To sleep with him! Yikes! For real?! And then they just get to that because I think it’s top priority ;-). First you start by saying how pretty she is, how much you love her (100 times more than the first time you met), then you start kissing before the final stretch… Did they do it? Up to our imaginations but I’m positively sure about it because next morning they’re in bed naked and Tsutsui feeling like he has been reborn! Oh yeah! The power of sex! No more virgin boy mockery ever again. They buy a matching Buddha key strap before they part. But Tsutsui finds it hard to part with her. Back home, time for Chika jerk time. He tells her to stop dating Tsutsui. At this point? What he meant is that it will be hard on him once she is gone. Damn, this is going to be very deep… Tsutsui tells Itou that he only as a month left with Igarashi. Also, they had sex. Oh yeah. Now we’re really moving up together in life, aren’t we? But Tsutsui soon realizes that Iroha hasn’t come to school for 3 days. No replies from his mails either. Is she avoiding him?! Panic, he rushes to her home. Jerk Chika there to greet him. Go away. She doesn’t want to see you. Tsutsui is stubborn (as he wants to hear it from her mouth) and camps outside her house. Even bringing his own coffee pot?! Is this legal?! Is this stalking?! But it seems this is Iroha’s wish not to see him and it’s best that Chika shoos him away. But I guess persistence really pays off because annoyed Chika just lets him in. Tsutsui enters her room, sees all her belongings packed in boxes. Has she been sitting dejectedly like that for the last 3 days? He thinks she doesn’t want to say goodbye and technically that’s what she intended. As they go walk, she reveals the truth. She has some brain disease and is going away for surgery. However the chances are 50% and even if she makes it, there is no guarantee she will remember him or their friends. Wow. Tsutsui is so shocked at this ‘God’s test’ that even the art style is getting sketchy. Uh huh. I guess his world is starting to fall apart. He starts crying, feeling bad he couldn’t do anything. Could he? Iroha is glad to have met him. So thank you. And goodbye.

Episode 23
Tsutsui is like a living zombie. He gets bullied but doesn’t give a damn. Even when Takanashi tries to tell him off, he just doesn’t care. So Iroha has left for overseas. The friends are concerned mostly about Tsutsui but it can’t be help if he refuses the open up. Not even Kaoru supports him because since he got ‘dumped’ and now he is like giving on up on everything. A pathetic guy like that gets no sympathy. This kid’s got a point. And when mom finds out what really happened to Iroha from Kaoru, she goes to beat up Tsutsui to his senses! The one hurting most now is Iroha. She would be disappointed to see him moping like this and she would be thinking if she was dating a useless guy. Tsutsui moves on but overall the pain is still there. He is still that gloomy face. Fast forward to the university entrance results. He thought Iroha was there but just coincidence she had her same hairstyle. Bummer. The friends thought he failed to get in but to their surprise he passed! Yeah, the gloomy face was really deceiving. With them reminding him that they will always remember Iroha, cue for flashback to that last teary meeting. Tsutsui claims his future will be meaningless without her. But she is confident he will find new things to fill in his life and wants him to promise her this one thing: Please forget about her. Fast forward many years later where Tsutsui is now a working adult. He is a hard worker in a famous company and on track for a fast promotion. Heck, there are some girls even interested in him but he declines their invitation to go drink so that he could rush home and watch an anime that Itou had a hand in! Oh well… But Tsutsui still goes out drinking with his old friends. Ishino announces she is already 3 months pregnant. Congratulations? It’s been a while as we see Tsutsui having visions of Ezomichi giving a pep talk in moving on. Tsutsui doesn’t mind carrying the pain in his heart and claims he is much happier in life than he would have been had he not met her. It has been 7 years and now Iroha and Chika return to Japan. Chika brings her around the old place they used to live. Can’t remember them. Chika then takes this chance to confess he loves her (including the reminder that they aren’t biologically related) and will always be by her side even if her memories never return. This prompts Iroha to note that she traded her memories for her life. She has made lots of friends in Los Angeles and she is happy with those memories. With nothing here for her, she wants to return to LA.

Episode 24
Tsutsui’s mom must be lonely. Hinting and bugging her son that she wants a grandchild! Funny that Iroha has her packed stuffs in Japan. Did she plan to stay here when she came back? Going through some of them, she feels something strange in her heart when seeing that strap. She asks Chika about her previous life as she feels there is a giant hole inside her. Well, Chika has told everything about her and is somewhat tired. I suppose the time is right to let go. Chika says that there is one other guy who knows more about her than him. When Tsutsui leaves work, he is shocked to see Chika. Even shocker to see Iroha! Instantly he runs to hug her! I guess she prepared for this instead of screaming a pervert suddenly hugging her. She thanks him despite not remembering him. When she asks his name, he won’t give and just wishes her well. But then she stops him since she notices the same strap. Then explain why it hurts whenever she looks at this? Tsutsui claims he couldn’t do anything when she needed him most. Hence she doesn’t deserve to remember him. But in his entire life, she is the only girl he has ever loved. Probably Tsutsui crying has some sort of magical effect as some of Iroha’s memories return! No kidding! We now see Takanashi and Ishino having their own wedding. Better hold this before the baby pops out. Tsutsui and Itou manage to make it in time. They sent Ayado an invitation but she couldn’t make it. What? She’s married? Oh… With Ishino thanking Tsutsui for bringing them together, damn Tsutsui is the one who is crying before the bride! Outside, oddly Tsutsui is the one who catches the bouquet! Then everyone spots Iroha. OMG. Is this real? Not a ghost?! Everyone goes to hug her. Another round of free flowing tears. Iroha can’t remember fully but bits and pieces of them. Better than nothing. Welcome back. Tsutsui and Iroha on the way home, she drops the biggest news: She now fully remembers everything! The happiest 6 months of her life as his girlfriend! Tsutsui says he had always been thinking of her and hoped she would be alive. Even if she had lost her memories, he hoped she would fall in love with him again. Please don’t go back to LA. She assures, even if she remained amnesiac, she would still fall for him. Oh God. Big hug. Big tears. And so the inevitable day comes. Yup, Tsutsui and Iroha getting married. Mom must be so happy now. Ayado could finally make it this time. Why? She’s divorced. WTF???!!! At least Itou has got a shot with her again. But the star for tonight, the glorious Tsutsui and beautiful Iroha!

Love Will Keep Us Alive
Damn they turned the final episode into one big tearjerker. Maybe I’m getting old. Though, I still managed to hold back my tears and not join Tsutsui in his crying streak. It was a good and happy ending to say the least. Just the mind boggling fact how the power of love could make Iroha remember everything again. This means had Tsutsui accompanied her for the operation, in no time she would have remembered him because their love is so strong. And then no need to wait 7 years of time skip and anxiety. Damn it, right?!

Honestly, this season doesn’t seem as annoying as the first. Probably there is less screen time for Ayado in incessant apologizing mode. But I still find her irritating, though. When she goes into that sort of insecure frenzy, that is. The overall story doesn’t feel as boring as it did in the first season mainly because it was trying to tie up (predictably) the couples together. No spoiler alert because the opening credits animation already spoils us of who ends up with who. Even if it did not, common sense would have dictated it for those who at least pay the littlest of attention. So with the plot having to resolve the love matters between the characters, it eliminates the needless meandering that I somewhat remembered in the first season. But then again, if they didn’t all that to build up and develop the plot and characters, I would have accused the series of rushing things. Damned if they do, damned if they don’t.

Chika also doesn’t feel as annoying as before since he redeemed himself by letting go of Iroha. I understand that guy wanted to play the villain and protect both of them being ultimately hurt because of love, but I guess he was somewhat wrong because we see their love power so strong that even fate couldn’t pull them apart. I suppose this guy is also one happy guy to be attending Iroha’s wedding.

Ironically, the story in this season that I found was most interesting was Tsutsui’s parents’ affair. Have I gotten so old that old married people’s affair now sound more interesting than your typical teenage cheating-cum-affair type? Maybe it’s because the former isn’t as common as the latter. It is also interesting because this affair might also have a great impact on Tsutsui and Iroha’s relationship indirectly. As it is, their ‘mundane’ dating relationship is given a shocking wakeup call and thankfully only serves to further strengthen their relationship. So ‘strong’ that Tsutsui only needed 3D Iroha and doesn’t resort to his 2D imaginary magical girl, Ezomichi as before.

While I predicted that Tsutsui would end up with Iroha in the end (thank the ending credits spoilers and also common sense), however there is this chance that it could have gone the other way too. Seeing the dramatic revelation of Iroha ‘being killed off’ AKA dramatic term for losing her memories hence the old Iroha is no more. It could have been a bittersweet ending (or even a tragic one depending on how you view it) with Tsutsui and Iroha never ending up together and going their separate ways despite their fling only lasted for 6 months in high school. That’s life. You just have got to move on. But thankfully that alternate route didn’t happen.

As for the other pairings, they were as expected and necessary for the plot to move forward. The series focusing only on Tsutsui-Iroha would have been just a very short affair without the other characters. Like Takanashi would finally accept Ishino into his life despite still being mostly a jerk because the bugging won’t stop and I think it’s like choosing the lesser of 2 evils. Whoops… And because of his family circumstances, it is best that he has someone else who cares deeply instead of shouldering all the responsibilities on himself since he is the only man in the house. So good for them, right? Had Takanashi continued with his jerk pride, Ishino could have ended up with Sakurada. Since this didn’t happen, I guess we don’t care what happened to that guy, huh? It’s a good thing, though. Because when he said he was interested in Ishino, he didn’t sound serious about it.

It’s nice that Itou and Ayado finally paired up because in a way cuts off that insecurity annoyance that I always perceived Ayado is. Sure, as amateurs in love, there are still lots of insecurities at first but as you can see, they got used to it. Slowly, one step at a time. Itou is so changed that he discarded his cat ears to be a generic looking guy. Initially I wondered why Ayado wasn’t part of the friends during the adult time period as she was obviously missing during the friends’ meet up. Where was she, I wonder? And then they hinted she got married. You mean to someone else other than Itou? It feels strange because we have seen how she loved Itou so much during their schooling years that we are so cocksure that they will end up getting married. But man, 7 years is long enough to change things. Itou was probably too busy and obsessed in his anime job that always flirt dangerously with deadlines and perhaps Ayado then felt lonely and wanted someone who could fill her life. Now that she is single again, perhaps they could go back to the old times. I guess the next wedding is theirs. If the anime studio could give Itou a damn break, that is. I hope Ayado’s divorce was not due to the fact her ex-husband found out she wasn’t a virgin… Yeah… And not forgetting too, Kaoru and Anzu. Yup, their relationship is still going strong into their college years. Wow. This is going to be a busy season of weddings.

While the art and animation remain consistent with last season’s, generally simple and the colour hues are light, however I tend to notice that in some scenes, it gets lighter around the screen corners. Like as though all this were some sort of dream sequence. Is this whole series just one big flashback from Tsutsui in his working adult years? On a side note, Iroha with short hair looks as hot as when she had long hair. Not many female anime characters with sudden change in hairstyle sit well with me. It just proves that Iroha is naturally (2D) cute! Because Ayado now with long hair just looks passable. Maybe it’s the effect of the divorce, huh? Oops. Food for thought: Since Tsutsui looks like a splitting mirror image of his dad (still nerdy, though), it makes me wonder if Iroha as his wife she would end up looking like his mom! Yikes! Hope she doesn’t let herself loose too much.

Seeing that this season has hinted that the couples have crossed the line to adulthood, I wonder if the director’s cut on the BDs will show those scenes. Add a few minutes of steamy hot sex but strategically hide/cover/don’t show parts that would have easily classified this series as hentai. I bet real sex with a real girl beats jerking off to your favourite 2D anime waifu, eh?!

This season’s opening theme, Futari Nara by Bish is a rock outfit. Since last season’s opener had that very sleepy feel to it, this time it goes the opposite with this season being such a fast hard rock pace. Again, it doesn’t feel like it suits the pace of this series. As for the ending theme, Hagan by Fujifabric, it sounds weird not only just because I personally find the song mostly flat, but the incessant drum beat in the background like as though this song is some pseudo dubstep or something. In that sense, it sounds a bit ‘numbing and deafening’ (including the singer’s flat voice).

Overall, not really a unique romance drama to begin with. But at least we get a ‘happy’ ending that the female lead didn’t die in the end! I’m thinking of Shigatsu Wa Kimi No Uso. Basically both series had a cute girl falling for a useless guy and then helping him regain his footing in life. Just the difference of that musical one ended with the heroine’s death from a longstanding illness! The trope of love will save the day and love eventually changes people (for better or worse) have been tried and tested in so many shows. Therefore this series doesn’t really stand out from that crowded field. If there is one thing we can learn so far about real love, one of the merits for 3D love is that when you’re feeling horny and want to f*ck, you still need a 3D pussy for that! XD.

How long ago was it since I’ve watched a high school teen romance drama with some magic? Oh heck, I couldn’t remember. Hence so I thought Irozuku Sekai No Ashita Kara may be that timely reminder that I should have a look at this. After all, this series somewhat reminded me of Glasslip and it is no surprise since both these series were done by the same studio. Maybe that’s why I started getting this nostalgia about the genre. And perhaps some bad memories. Heh. Like I still remember the disaster that was in Glasslip. So by substituting visions of the future with colours, I hope this series could avoid the mistakes of that one.

Episode 1
Hitomi Tsukishiro doesn’t look forward to fireworks. The truth is, she cannot see colour. Yeah, her life is one dull and sad monochrome. Suddenly grandma Kohaku decides to whisk her back in time when she was in high school. Yeah, collecting 60 years of full moons’ light just for tonight. Too bad Hitomi has no say and now she is in some weird bus and lemon driver. Thanks to her Popocky sticks to make the payment or else she would never have alighted. Back in the past, she finds herself in a room. Yuito Aoi is coming back so she hides underneath his bed until he gets out. Damn future is so futuristic, she doesn’t even know how to open the window pane lock! Once she luckily does, Kurumi Kawai and Asagi Kazano spot and record a woman sneaking out of Yuito’s place! Share this to spread the scandal! Later when they meet up with Shou Yamabuki to show him this, they spot Hitomi again. Lost? They help her find an address she is looking for. Hitomi notes they are from her same school but the uniform has changed. Of course they don’t know what she’s talking about. Along the way, all of them explain they are from the same photography and painting club that Yuito is in. They try to satiate their curiosity of her sneaking out of Yuito’s room but Hitomi looks very troubled so they drop the subject. At the magic shop at the hilltop run by her family, Hitomi is looking for Kohaku but she is currently overseas studying. She explains her circumstances and they are kind enough to let her stay here until she returns. So feel free to make this little attic like home. Hitomi realizes she has dropped her azurite earring. Too dark to search for something grandma gave her. But they are confident if she is a mage, it will return to her. Next morning, they guide her to close her eyes and concentrate. Oh, she dropped it in Yuito’s room. Meanwhile Yuito’s mom is teasing her son of having a secret girlfriend. Rumours sure spread fast in this small town. She is somewhat thrilled because she is worried her gay son is only ever interested in painting. But he isn’t thrilled. That person might be a robber. Something catches Hitomi’s eyes when she sees Yuito painting in the park. She could see his painting in colours! It even comes to life! She is so enthralled dancing among the colours that she realized too late she was making a fool out of herself before Yuito.

Episode 2
Hitomi explains herself before Yuito is going to report her for trespassing his room. You won’t do that to a cute scared girl, would you?! He hands back her azurite. Case closed. Back home, Hitomi’s family tells her the news Kohaku is cutting her stay overseas and coming home. They also ask her about her magic but it seems Hitomi hates it and rarely practises it. Well, she must master a powerful spell if she wants to return home. Since she is stuck here for now, might as well enrol in this school. The vice principal hopes she isn’t as flashy in her magic as Kohaku as he makes her sign some collateral agreement! Kohaku’s magic often caused mischief and her mom often had to come to apologize. It’s a reason why she is overseas to study. Hitomi is lonely in class since many don’t have a favourable view of a mage. Discrimination? Blame Kohaku for all that. But our usual gang from the photography and painting quickly become her friends. Chigusa Fukazawa keeps insisting Yuito admit Hitomi is his girlfriend. But Yuito only has a request of her and that is to show magic to dispel the rumours. Here she goes. Everyone watching with baited breath… A small spluttering stardust. Bummer. It only reinforces her hate for magic. Her friends try to take her mind of that by showing their club. But she looks ‘interested’ in Yuito and he is the only one not around. Try the rooftop. She apologizes for that disappointing show because she wanted him to believe her. He apologizes for forcing her to do something against her will. He lets her see his drawing and he hopes she could show her magic again. He finds it impressive. More impressive than his drawing. Yeah, do you not know to her his drawing is magic! Hitomi feels better because she never thought somebody would say that to her. And so we see her practice. She’s conjuring up a lot more stardust than before.

Episode 3
Hitomi is shown how to do simple magic as a start. A Popocky stick is a good wand. You can eat it too! It is that year the school is recruiting newbies for their club. Of course Hitomi is interested in Yuito’s art. I suppose thanks to the labels on the paint, she can ‘tell’ what colours she is using and paint a decent picture. The other friends hope she would be interested to join their club as they drag her to join in on their recruitment spree. They are to hold a workshop for potential newbies to take pictures but with the vice calling Shou to take pictures of the drama club due to the rescheduling, looks like somebody needs to replace him as the model. Nobody wants Chigusa despite he is hinting! Yeah. Hitomi! Please! Onegai! Her job is to walk on water via using a blue stardust. Oops. Bottle has no label. Did she pick right because soon she becomes like Jesus Christ. But nobody expected snow as part of this show and as soon that happens, Hitomi sinks like a hammer. Hitomi dries herself as Yuito accompanies her (since club activities are still ongoing). Seeking an explanation of her ‘lost face’ during the walk, she reveals she cannot see colour and doesn’t want him to tell this to others for fear of the unknown. It’s easier to keep this as a secret. You think? Hitomi runs away as Yuito feels bad as he can’t imagine a world without colours. With Hitomi avoiding the rest, they thought she’s through with them. But she is gathering her thoughts on how to talk to them and eventually musters the courage to do so. Yeah, this pool cleaning event helped a lot. Because she decides to join their club. Success! Now they can’t say their recruitment drive ended in zero recruits.

Episode 4
Kohaku returns! Hitomi knows it’s her due to her trademark hug. It’s her alright. Boy, it’s going to be weird calling a girl your age as grandma. With Kohaku’s return, some are wary but others want to see her magic again. Kohaku being Kohaku transports the class to some medieval building but then a locomotive train passes by. Yeah, everything is covered in black soot now. Kohaku must have broken the record of the fastest written apology. Unlike Hitomi, Kohaku is quite friendly and easily mingles with the club members. Hitomi is still pessimistic about her own magic but Kohaku believes she has potential. Because that locomotive was actually her doing. Just that her magic somehow lost its way. Kohaku is curious to know about her future but takes back what she said. Don’t want spoilers, eh? The club members get permission to enter school at night to take some photographs of the night sky and the city lights. The usual nice moments going on between Yuito and Hitomi until the rest fear the school’s urban legend ghost is spotted. They even got it on camera? Don’t be surprised because it’s just Kohaku’s magic prank. Hitomi thinks it’s mean but all Kohaku wants is to see everyone’s smile. See? Nobody got offended. Hitomi still thinks she hates magic but Kohaku is confident she will like it. She is her grandchild anyway. The rest overheard this and are confused. Kohaku allows Hitomi to explain it because she is sure they will not change. And so Hitomi reveals she is from the future. Shocked at first but they continue to remain friends. No big deal, right? The pair end tonight’s event with a little magic performance. And a photo to commemorate it all. As they are editing the photos, Kohaku decides to join this club. Although she’ll be the only sole magic club member. So is this officially the magic, photography and painting club? If I’m the only anime otaku in school and want to join this club, can it now be called the anime, magic, photography and painting club?

Episode 5
With the club approved, Kohaku now does love fortune telling! Man, a long line of girls. Even Asagi has one read and is told the truth that she has to step up her game or a rival will snatch him away. Hitomi is manning the magic shop alone. Oh dear. How can she get by when a customer asks for some coloured stardust for a certain effect? Don’t worry. Hitomi remembers their number labelling. Phew. With Yuito coming in asking for some stardust to help with his drawing, Hitomi is unsure but will find out more. Who better to ask than Kohaku. She agrees to help out. We also see Shou teaching Hitomi about photography. Of course spicing it up with some magic. The club members converge at the magic shop for their own little party. Kohaku gives Hitomi a little push to be with Yuito alone when their drinks ran out. More of Hitomi’s praising of his drawings that gave her a lot of hope. That’s why they are important to her. Back at the party, with Shou praising Hitomi’s handy work, it is no surprise that Asagi gets upset. Too bad the guys don’t even understand what’s wrong. Kohaku talks to her about predictions merely being guides. It is ultimately herself who takes charge of her destiny. Don’t let one failure bog you down as Kohaku gives Hitomi’s perseverance in not giving up to make stardust. Yeah, lots of materials wasted but she finally got it. Too bad Kohaku’s mom found out about it and now Kohaku gets a serious lashing for using up hard to gather materials. She thinks Kohaku told Hitomi to use them so she could be done with teaching since she would succeed quickly. Kohaku and Hitomi are made to gather those stuffs. Asagi isn’t giving up on Shou. Talk a bit about their childhood times together and they’re back to normal. Yuito follows Hitomi’s instructions in using the stardust. Golden fish swimming!

Episode 6
Yuito explains to Hitomi about that golden fish experience. Funny thing is, that golden fish was the painting that won him first prize during an elementary school competition. Hitomi seeks Shou’s help to show him that painting in the yearbook and oddly she could see that painting in colour. Later as Hitomi spots Yuito drawing, once more the golden fish pops out but this time it engulfs her into another world. A crappy drawing world? Hey, at least she could see colour. The more she walks, the messier the colours be and there are dead fish everywhere. She sees a shadowy figure trying to catch a fish but the fish ends up dead. When Hitomi wakes up, she is lying on the bench and Yuito by her side. She explains that weird dream and believes she went into his drawing. She also thinks that weird shadow who failed to catch the fish might be the cause of his artist’s block. When she suggests asking Kohaku for help, Yuito snaps at her that he doesn’t need any help. Thanks to that, Hitomi gets depressed and her facial expression is so obvious. The others would like to help but they have to respect her decision that she doesn’t want to open up to them yet. Kohaku thinks the tension between them is good. At least he isn’t ignoring her and this might bring them closer. Yuito sees a senior, Sanami Asagawa for some advice (she is currently holding an art exhibition). He asks why she draws. No reason in particular. She thought she would arrive at something if she kept drawing but in the end, it’s the simple fact she just loves to draw. When he leaves, coincidentally Hitomi just pass by. It’s like seeing the worst thing in her life because she turn tail and runs away! Not sure why Kohaku did some magic gust of wind. I don’t think it’s to stop her but get Yuito’s attention. He goes after her and when he catches up, he says he has already started his drawing and wants her to see it. We see Hitomi entering the drawing again. When she returns, it looks like she can now see colours for real.

Episode 7
Ah well. It was good while it lasted. Because Hitomi somehow can’t see colours again. But the bulk of this episode seems to be hinting something with Chigusa x Kurumi. With Kurumi failing her mock exams, she hopes there’s a magic to make her smarter. Nope. Only clear her mind. With Chigusa teasing the magic might even clear everything she learnt, this makes Kurumi annoyed. The club has a meeting and Shou intends to hand over his presidency to Asagi when he graduates. Asagi is nervous but makes Hitomi her vice. The club have their annual camp. Chigusa learns Kurumi has an older sister who runs a famous patisserie. He thinks of asking her to be his model but Kurumi doesn’t think so as she is always busy. Is this a roundabout way so Chigusa could ask Kurumi to be the model instead? Of course she rejects. Chigusa then asks the other girls, they too reject so it is back to him bugging Kurumi. This annoys her as she tells him off, making the atmosphere around them a bit awkward. Later Hitomi talks to Kurumi. The latter admires her sister a lot but views herself as empty. In a way she feels envious and unlike her sister who has ambition, she doesn’t. This photography thingy is just a hobby. We take a little detour as Yuito shows Hitomi his latest drawing. As usual, she can see its colours and Yuito thanks her for her magic. That night, the friends are supposed to take pictures of some passing ship with beautiful lights. Not sure if they got the schedule wrong as it arrives too early. Chigusa’s idea is to drop all their stuffs and run. In the meantime, Chigusa advising Kurumi to not make a decision now in life? Take your time? Since when you care about her future? Too bad they still missed the boat. With Kurumi blaming him for messing him, Chigusa snaps a ‘lovely’ pic of her being mad. They start their petty argument and funny enough, Hitomi is the one who started laughing. So she laughs when she is tired? Aren’t we having fun? So as not to waste this trip, they can still take the beautiful night scenery. This has Hitomi sum up her courage to tell them the truth.

Episode 8
Kohaku theorizes that Hitomi may have unconsciously casted magic on herself and made herself unable to see colours. As she is occasionally able to see colours, it could mean that magic might be fading. Hence she suggests conducting several experiments to determine the trigger. Why do I think she just wants to know if there is anything intimate happened between her and Yuito? Yeah, because the experiments seem to be making her getting close to Yuito. Doesn’t it make your heart beat faster? Doesn’t the excitement make you see colour? Yeah, what’s the colour of love? At the library, she shows several drawings from other books similar to Yuito’s but it’s still black and white. Kohaku gets a little naughty by trying to cram them together under the table! No excitement for Hitomi. Just pending anger. The club has their usual outing snapping photos of the town. But Shou has some heavy thoughts because he overheard how Kohaku was trying out magic to send Hitomi back to the future. Why so concerned? Oh right, Hitomi just joined the club. Don’t want to have that unwanted record of losing a member because she was sent back to the future. When a camera is spoiled, unless the repairman can miraculously save it or else all their hard earned photos are gone. But a miracle did happen. Because Kohaku uses her magic to fix it! Back to normal! OMG! Kohaku can put all repair services out of business! However she is disheartened that a rose she used magic to bloom withered within a day. I’m not sure how this relates to sending Hitomi back but her grandma reasons if her future self didn’t leave a note on how to do it, it must mean Kohaku figured it out herself. So have faith in your future self! With Hitomi now a full fledge member of the club, she feels so happy that she wants to say here. I guess this puts Kohaku in a bind.

Episode 9
Shou talks to Yuito that he is going to spend time with Hitomi alone tomorrow. He’ll be having exams and graduating soon. He doesn’t want to leave any regrets. So this ‘date’ is actually Shou teaching Hitomi the finer points of photography. And of course it’s that time when you talk about how much things have changed and how much special time they spent in the club, cue for Shou to confess he likes her. The shock is too much for Hitomi to take as she runs away. Is the day ruined? Don’t run in the dark. See, now you tripped and it hurts. Your feet? Or your heart? Sorry, my bad. With that, Hitomi is so obviously depressed that you can basically tell what happened. Even more so when she blatantly runs away from Shou upon seeing him. Kohaku knows what happened and tries to talk to her. It’s nice of Hitomi to spell out about the confusing feelings of the heart. You respect the person but don’t want to date him nor hurt him. How? Maybe talk this privately because other girls are getting interested in listening to her love story. And some boys are having their heart broken… Even Asagi gets the hint when Shou is being oh so philosophical that no 2 pictures are the same. Like WTF?! One outing with Hitomi and he’s spouting such lines? So Asagi talks to Hitomi and hints there is someone she likes for a long time. Even if Hitomi feels she doesn’t deserve love or to be loved, she can’t just ignore it. This was enough of a push for Hitomi to confront Shou again and to reject him. She has put a lot of thought into what he said and although her feelings confused her a lot at first, now she is clear. There is someone else she is interested in. Shou thanks her and is relieved he can now move on. But not before he screams out in the open like a mad man. Boy, you think the brass band practising was bad? This tops it! But it felt good to get that load off his shoulders, right? As Hitomi finds Asagi to explain to her, suddenly Asagi reveals she loves Shou. You mean Hitomi looked this shocked? Oh yeah. She didn’t know. One problem to another. Because now Asagi runs away before Hitomi gets a chance to explain.

Episode 10
It’s really awkward between Hitomi and Asagi. The latter avoiding her at all cost. But you know it’s not going to last long so eventually they sit down and talk it out. See, it worked. Back to being friends again. Magic word is just to blame Shou for everything. Yeah… Kohaku suggests an activity of bringing people inside pictures so what better way than to test it on themselves first. First, Yuito needs to draw a huge picture. Taking in requests on what needs to be in the drawing… Kohaku and Hitomi then practice their magic by trying out paper airplanes into a small painting. Tough at first but Hitomi soon gets the hang of it. Then it’s magic time as the club members is whooshed inside the painting. Wow. Everything so magical. With each of them exploring their own ways, Yuito stumbles onto a big door. Upon opening, he sees a young Hitomi drawing with a monochrome crayon. What a sad drawing of people being separated. Yuito draws a few things as suggestion to bridge them together but she refuses. It’s like she really wants to tell him to mind his business. Before he could draw with her, it’s back to reality. While everyone is happy, Yuito spots Hitomi crying. I don’t think those are tears of joy from the experience. After Yuito tells her he met her young self, she reveals that her mom had no magic. But since Hitomi had some, she always believed it was the reason why mom ran away and never took her with her. That is why she hates magic. Hitomi is sad and frustrated all she wanted was to make mom happy. But she took the burden all upon herself and then disappeared. She thought of going after her but was too afraid to do so. Hitomi cries to let out all the pent up frustration as Yuito believes it is not her nor magic to be blamed. With Hitomi feeling a lot better, she now realizes she was sent back here for a reason. Well duh, we figured that out right from the start, no?

Episode 11
While preparing for the cultural festival, the gang thought Hitomi suddenly disappeared. They look a bit here and there and soon realize that she was in the clubroom all the while. However Kohaku knows something is up. She sees a magic bookstore friend, Ichiyanagi about a book she needs urgently. She needs to learn time magic fast because Hitomi who isn’t from this timeline, the forces of nature might be trying to correct history. Yeah, nature is sure taking its time. Anyway, when that happens, there is a risk of Hitomi being stuck between time and space forever. That’s why Kohaku needs to send her back fast. For once we see Kohaku being so worried that you wonder if it’s really her. She tells this to Hitomi and just great, now we get another worrywart. One rainy day as Yuito and Hitomi are talking and walking home together, suddenly Hitomi just vanished! He rushes to tell his friends about it and that’s when Kohaku tells them the scary truth. Oh dear. Where to look for her? She could be on the other side of the world. The thought she could return to where she disappeared, true enough, she’s there albeit unconscious. Back home, Hitomi didn’t even realize she went missing. Kohaku tells her friends that she is alright and talking to grandma about it, looks like it is time to send her back as the magic is waning. However Hitomi herself isn’t ready. While the friends don’t like this one bit, they decide to help out because they care for her. Kohaku needs to gather stardust on the night of the new moon then send her back. That will be in 2 days right after the festival. With the preparations going on, Asagi cannot believe they’re acting like everything is fine. They can’t have fun at the festival like this. Eventually she come to realize that it’s better than Hitomi getting stuck so the friends gather at the beach to collect stardust that has fortunately been washed ashore after the typhoon and bathed by the few nights of full moon. Hitomi uses her magic to send paper airplane to Yuito’s house. It’s a good thing they know where they leave because they can communicate via Morse code from their room lights. When another paper airplane flies astray, Hitomi goes after it. Somehow Yuito had a feeling it wouldn’t make it too and chased after it. And this brought them together in which Hitomi instantly dives into Yuito’s arms to give the most heart breaking hug.

Episode 12
Hitomi really doesn’t want to go home and blames herself for being a mage. However Yuito is glad she is one. So instead of sulking for the remainder of her time, she decides to make it the best festival ever. You could say that their magic theatre is a hit with everyone having the greatest experience and a few girls becoming a fan of Yuito’s art? That’s nice. Even Asagawa visits and is glad he is making some positive impact. That night, Ichiyanagi sees Kohaku and looks like he made it in time to finish this device. The second day of the festival continues with our friends even more motivated to give their best. The friends try to be considerate and give Yuito and Hitomi some time together. So the haunted house is the best place? Maybe. Yuito wants to go around the festival more with her but Hitomi is reluctant. She’s had her fun. Time to head back. That night as the festival comes to a close, Kohaku surprises everyone by putting on a massive fireworks display. With everybody being happy and thanking each other, Hitomi feels this warm fuzzy feeling in her heart. Kohaku points out it is called happiness and what do you know? Suddenly Hitomi can see colours! Albeit it is just the fireworks and everything else still monochrome. Of course once the show is over, it’s back to that colourless world. But Hitomi can’t help but thank everyone. The friends get ready to for the time magic ritual. In Hitomi’s heart, there is a reason why she wants to stay. If there was any regrets, it would be this one… Hitomi, we all know…

Episode 13
Yuito narrates he loved drawing alone until Hitomi mentioned his drawing was special. At first he thought she was gloomy and lonely girl. He realizes that she showed him a lot of colours. Now we begin the final goodbye for Hitomi. Everyone has their last say. Each time, they fuel the device. Theoretically this would be easy if she had 100 friends. The guys are okay. The girls just get awfully teary. I wouldn’t consider Kohaku’s goodbye to be really one. They’ll be seeing each other again 60 years from now, right? Finally it’s Yuito. Be happy. I won’t forget you. Uhm, that’s it? That’s hardly satisfying. Hitomi has a few last words too. The usual thank you this, thank you that. Suddenly she is interrupted when the device starts acting up. WTF is this storm interference? Yuito dives in to grab her. In this weird world, Yuito realizes he is no different than Hitomi since he was forcing his emotions into a corner of his heart. How can he tell her not to close her heart when he does just that? Then he spots Hitomi straight ahead. You can’t miss her with the golden fish leading the way. This time they really say what they want to say. About the change they bring to each other’s life. And now we get to hear what we want them to say. After a hug and the magic words of I love you, it’s like the monochrome curse is lifted from Hitomi and she can now see colours permanently. With them returning back in time, Kohaku concludes the ritual and Hitomi returns home. But Kohaku notes that it wasn’t her time magic that sent her back. Her magic isn’t that powerful yet and it was Hitomi’s subconscious spell that wore off, marking the end of her journey to the past. Then this BS: Kohaku gets a mail from her future self that she arrived safely! WTF???!!! You can send a message back in time?! I wonder if Kohaku can reply to the future… Hitomi is back in the future. Right next to grandma like as though she never left. Grandma asks about her experience. Happy, sad, fun. She experienced all those emotions. This gives her motivation to go find mom. Kohaku then shows her a time capsule kept by the club members. Several photo albums. There is also a book that Hitomi often read many times with mom as it was the only one she could see its colours. Guess what? That picture book was written by Yuito! Hitomi now leads a normal life. She has friends, expresses herself a lot and joined the very same club in her school. Now that she can see colour, she is so glad her future is going to be filled with them.

Miss Monochrome & The World Of Love Blues
I am sure that Hitomi’s future is bright and all colourful now. Returning to the future would be the right ending because remaining in the past would be like losing your granddaughter to the past like forever and Kohaku would have grown up together with her. Weird. Although Hitomi is living a happy life, one big question just bugs me: Where are her club friends in the future? If they became such good friends and vowed never to forget, why haven’t they been in Hitomi’s life in the future? Sure, they may be grandpas and grandmas but don’t you think they would have at least tried looking for her? Or Kohaku at least updating her about their whereabouts upon Hitomi’s return? Don’t tell me all of them are dead! Because there was that snippet in the ending montage that showed Hitomi praying at the graves. Well, Kohaku is still around so it can’t be hers. Her mom? A tombstone for a person who is missing or officially declared dead? Besides, wouldn’t it be weird for Hitomi if these people were to show up and claim they met her in the past, they would be scaring the sh*t out of Hitomi before her time trip. Because if Hitomi did get acquainted with them, she should have known them when she travelled back in time. The more I think about this, the weirder it gets… Yeah, grandma waited 60 years to send Hitomi back for rehabilitation while knowing the exact events that have transpired. Kohaku has got to be one patient grandma…

Unfortunately, this is just a normal high school teen romance drama if you take away the magic. Yeah, ironically. I was putting my hopes that the magic would give the series some sort of life and hence, magic to be interesting but sad to say I fail to see all that coming together. Even without this magic setting, it could have been an even more boring and draggy high school teen romance drama. Just a bunch of high school kids of the same club trying to sort out their feelings. It could still work out that way but like I have said, it lacks any magic to make it anything interesting.

It is also sad to say that the magic here doesn’t play a very prominent role and serves more like a plot convenience or timely reminder that magic does exist in this world. Perhaps they don’t want to draw the focus away from the characters and their interaction but the way I see this magic thingy as a setting in this world, it looks like it is no big deal. Uh huh. It’s not like magic is everywhere and permeating the daily lives of everybody in every way. Hence when our main characters do their little magic, people around get curious, a bit of wow, when it’s over, it’s over. They go back to do their own ordinary stuffs. It could be the case of the worst role of magic in the history of anime. I mean, if magic was such a big deal, wouldn’t the government and the world be trying to exploit it? Here, people go about their daily lives and it’s like they don’t really mind whether there is magic or not, mages or not. Whatever. Maybe nobody bothers in this small town. But like I’ve said, if they are going to make a big deal out of this magic setting, it would have shifted the focus away on what they wanted to essentially tell in this story. That would have been even worse. So I guess we’ll have to deal with and be satisfied with the boring and draggy story then.

And the characters, do they like even matter here? It sounds intriguing at first that Hitomi cannot see colours and our hopes rest on the series trying to find out a cause and if she can be cured. I understand that as a teen going through that phase and being different from everyone else (hence she can’t enjoy the same experience like any other normal kid just because she cannot see colours), but this gloominess and pessimism in her, I somewhat find this annoying. Sure, there are times when she lights up or gets a little happy. But that feels fleeting and it was all because of in the moment thingy. It’s hard for her to shake that belief of blaming herself for having this ‘curse’ and hence mother left her. So it’s like she’s going to go through the rest of her life like this? Yeah, thank goodness she met Yuito and his club members, right?

I do have to point out the efficiency of magic here once more. As I have said in my previous paragraphs that magic might not be the most important and vital aspect of everyone’s daily lives, it just makes me wonder if the future of magic is also stagnant. You see, we see and hear how much Hitomi has improved on her magic, blah, blah, blah. Heck, she can even send people into Yuito’s drawings and have them experience the most wonderful fantasy dreamland ever! Or even fix a camera to save all its contents! But there is no magic that would cure her own colour blind problem? Sure, magic isn’t an easy thing to master but is there no mage in the future who could help her out with this problem? It’s one of this weird loopholes that the writers seem to leave out. The same reason why Harry Potter living in a world with so much magic, nobody can cure his eyesight since he still wears glasses. Weird. No wonder grandma sent her back in time, TO THE PAST, in hopes she would find her answer. Yeah, the answer to magic advancement lies in the past. Doesn’t that mean that magic in the future have regressed in this sense? Boy, now I’m confused.

The drama is prolonged thanks to the other side distractions of the budding romance of the other characters. Like, do they even matter to the whole story? I see. Because if they don’t showcase these characters, they would look like some cardboard cut-out and NPC, lacking life and traits that would supposedly bring a character to life. Not that I see the draggy romance would. So as expected we have Asagi x Shou and Chigusa x Kurumi, not forgetting the ultimate couple of the series should be on Yuito x Hitomi. Kohaku doesn’t get anybody because we’re sure she’s going to meet her soulmate that would lead to the birth of Hitomi in the future. Don’t want to complicate her story, do we? Yeah, it would have been really interesting and shocking if Kohaku wedded Yuito! Holy sh*t! Yeah, don’t tell me Hitomi don’t know who her grandpa is. Does she?! Hint: It could be Ichiyanagi… That one short scene of grandpa and grandma Kohaku together could be it. Shou having crush on Hitomi but ultimately getting rejected for some much needed and obligatory but unnecessary love triangle drama. And were we hoping something coming out from Yuito and Asagawa too? Perhaps just to reinforce those feelings inside Hitomi. With Yuito and Hitomi ultimately not together in time, this leaves possible room that maybe Yuito ended up with Asagawa… Just saying… So that I love you moment was just fleeting, huh?

We have to give a reason why Hitomi started falling for Yuito and it is oddly his drawings that brings colour into her life. Something about his drawings that allows her to see colours when everything else fails. I suppose they want to keep our interest to find out why this is so but this is never really explored nor explained at all. It feels like a let-down after sitting through the season, we thought we could at least find some decent answers but looks like we’re going to have to believe that magic would be the reason. I guess if we can’t explain it with science, magic is your next best guess. Thus begins the long drama of Hitomi initially interested in Yuito’s art but as they draw closer together, they somewhat change each other and because plot predictability demands it, they started to fall for each other. After all, when you have 2 people who led somewhat colourless life, hence this fateful meeting is a convenient plot device to bring colour to that mundane life of theirs. I think I can understand why Hitomi is always so gloomy and smiling less. How can you be happy when your world looks awfully gloomy? And Yuito never had anyone praised his art and that’s why he became interested in Hitomi who became interested in his drawing? I’m sure people did praise him when he won that first place with his golden fish… Unless they were just empty compliments until Hitomi’s praises that had more sincerity.

I’m repeating myself by saying the other characters feel bland. Ironically, not very colourful. Because it would have been a total bore just to focus on Hitomi and Yuito. So let’s see, Shou the responsible club president, Asagi a little bit insecure and weak, Chigusa the comic relief character and clown and Kurumi, uhm, we need a glasses girl to complete the trope. Then there is the very lively Kohaku who somewhat keeps the group together even though she is the latest member to join this hodgepodge club. Not many series have this strange family relation whereby someone older is actually physically younger than you. Like that Usagi Drop or even Futurama comes to mind. It’s weird at first to hear Hitomi call Kohaku as her grandma but you’ll get used to it because Kohaku doesn’t turn it into a running joke like correcting her she shouldn’t be called a grandma at this age. In fact, Kohaku embraces the fact she is her grandma and with that, anything that feels weird about this association quickly dies down. Even eventually future grandma Kohaku is fine with her granddaughter calling her by her first name. Yeah, it’s so ‘nostalgic’… And Hitomi must be the only club member who joined the same club in 2 different eras spanning 60 years apart. Or she could be the longest serving member since she didn’t officially quit the job. Just went MIA… Don’t the club members leave a photo of her for future members?

As this series is one by P.A. Works, one would expect their trademark of really gorgeous art and animation. Well, personally I have mixed feelings about this. On the ‘bad’ side, I do find the character designs looking a bit weird. Because at certain angles, they don’t have noses! While many Japanese anime don’t really like to animate the nose and usually leave them out or at least to a minimum, not to say the characters here are completely devoid of their nose but at those certain angles, I thought they look like distant relatives to Voldemort! Yes, really! It just looks weird. Therefore this is one of the few series of this genre under their belt that I don’t find they have cute girls. You say Asagi is cute? Meh. Passable. Yeah, blame my very high standards that I expect a kawaii bishoujo as seen in True Tears, Hanasaku Iroha, Tari Tari, Sakura Quest, HaruChika and even Glasslip.

But I still give them points for the very nice and beautiful background and sceneries. So when the story is a bit slow and the characters aren’t cute enough to look at, looking at the sceneries and the nice lightning and hues would be a better eye candy. After all, since this series was going to tackle the theme of colours, at least they get this area satisfactory right. I also want to point out one of the strangest 3D visuals ever. The fireworks in the future! So futuristic that you have fireworks rotating in 3D fashion! Like as though some programmer uploaded his hologram of the fireworks in the night sky. It didn’t really amaze me because after watching traditional fireworks for so long (in anime of course), this one does look weird seeing fireworks being displayed so. And of course, the future of such fantastic visuals are holograms! Holograms everywhere!

Voice acting feels pretty normal. It’s mainly drama after all so nothing really spectacular. Didn’t recognize anyone except for Sayaka Ohara as Kohaku’s mom. The rest of the casts are Kaori Ishihara as Hitomi (Konoe in Kono Naka Ni Hitori Imouto Ga Iru), Shoya Chiba as Yuito (Sing in Banana Fish), Kaede Hondo as Kohaku (Sakura in Zombie Land Saga), Seiji Maeda as Shou (debut role), Kana Ichinose as Asagi (Ichigo in Darling In The Franxx), Nao Touyama as Kurumi (Lacia in Beatless) and Ayumu Murase as Chigusa (Luck in Black Clover). The opening and ending themes aren’t catchy nor to my liking either and honestly, they sound bland. They are 17 Sai by Haruka To Miyuki and Mimei No Kimi To Hakumei No Mahou by Nagi Yanagi respectively.

Overall, quite a boring and draggy series that wouldn’t work on ‘veteran’ anime viewers like yours truly. Uninteresting story and characters as well as the uninspiring magic that I felt was supposed to play an important role here, fizzle out into something generic and less than spectacular. The irony that it made the series so much less colourful. Now I understand why Hitomi is being a gloomy b*tch for being colour blind for so long. Colours really do brighten up our day and sadly this series wasn’t it. Or maybe we’ve taken colours for granted that we fail to see the beauty and simplicity that is the magic of this love story. Nah. I don’t think so. I wonder what the colour of disappointments is…

Manaria Friends

May 11, 2019

I never expected this series would see the day of light that it would get released. You see, a few years ago when Manaria Friends was scheduled to be released, it was then hit with some sort of unexplained problem that caused it to be postponed indefinitely. So instead, we got the very amazing and awesome sequel of Shingeki No Bahamut. So I suppose whatever technical issues they faced then were solved now since it finally got its airtime. Although it is set in the same world, it is entirely a different storyline and not related to that fantastic action adventure. The daily lives of 2 best friends from 2 different races studying and spending time together in this exclusive academy.

Episode 1
Princesses of their respective races, Anne and Grea are having breakfast together. Anne asks why Grea studies here at Manaria Academy and it is because Grea’s mom was an alma mater. Suddenly Lou comes crashing in. It seems there is an emergency at the library. The phoenix guardian is mad after Lou accidentally stepped on it. With the librarians having a hard time dousing the fire, Anne steps in and unleashes her frozen magic. In the aftermath, Hanna beats herself up over her uselessness to contain the emergency and believes she isn’t fit to be the class rep. Anne then returns to Grea and is shocked to find her still waiting at the same place just for her. I guess it’s too long the wait that it’s time to go get something to eat. Owen narrates he is one of the greatest paladins of the kingdom. But one day he is tasked to be in the service of the princess. He notes Anne is blessed with great magic and has long studied how to be an effective ruler while striving to improve herself, thus making her popular at school. However he noticed a hint loneliness in her smile. Owen keeps watch over her but he looks like a suspicious stalker…

Episode 2
Grea is in great pain that no magic or medicine can help. When Lou brings in forbidden books thinking it might help, Anne gets an idea and darts off. So she’s like rushing to every place and completing some sort of tasks to get the whatever? Man, why does this arduous journey feel like a method to get the ultimate video game cheat code or equipment?! Even when Anne makes it back, she still needs to analyse it?! You mean it’s not ready?! Can she make it?! Because now something is happening to Grea… Uhm… Just shedding her scales? But since she is fine, this brings a great relief to everyone. Yeah, Grea didn’t remember all that and didn’t realize how big that incident was. Grea gets embarrassed when Anne keeps some of her shed scales. Later Grea thinks her tail has grown bigger is a sign of getting fat. She tries to diet and hide it from Anne. But Anne eventually sees a tail and finds it splendid. Unfortunately Grea didn’t take that as a compliment as she walks away depressed. Was it something Anne said?

Episode 3
Anne and Grea head out to town. Anne thinks her incognito will work but everybody soon recognizes her. In town, they discover a secret alley that leads them to a shop filled with various (cosplay) clothes. Turns out this shop is owned by their teacher, Miranda and this is her big hobby. But since school prohibits a side job, Miranda agrees to let them take whatever they want just to keep quiet. And so Anne tries her hands trying different outfits, much to Miranda’s glee. Grea wants to stay out but the cosplay maniacs force it upon her. She looks beautiful in that dress to say the least. Later when the duo go boating, Grea can tell Anne is afraid since she is holding onto her tail. Anne lets out a secret that she cannot naturally swim although she can use magic to float, etc. Grea thanks her for letting her come along today. Anne so happy that she rocks the boat. Thankfully it did not capsize but has them in an ambiguous yuri position. The mood is right for Anne to ask if she can stay in her room for a sleepover. Sorry, Grea rejects. Anne sounds so surprised… The reason being Grea’s bad habit to sleep cuddling her tail. So embarrassing she doesn’t want Anne to see. After Miranda finishes class, instantly she pops up her atelier and let her passion run wild. Once done, all she needs is somebody to try them. Anne and Grea return to retrieve something they forgot. Welcome, my guinea pigs…

Episode 4
The test is coming so you can see everyone studying and putting their focus into that. But why does Anne feel so sad? Why does she look forlorn? Does she feel left out because she is smarter than the rest? So we see some flashback of her waltzing into some place whereby she saw and heard Grea playing piano underneath some giant beanstalk tree for the first time. The test come and go. I know Anne is so smart that she handed in her paper first and probably got full marks. But does she have to walk away like as though she’s still so sad about something? I mean, what’s eating her? Thankfully, Grea notices this. So she finds her sitting at the piano. So it turns out that she was lonely all the while. Yeah, I guess that happens when you’re a genius. So with the test over, this means she can continue to do friendship thinks with Grea. On a side note, why do I have a feeling this episode feels like promoting this particularly calming piano piece that is permeating throughout the episode?

Episode 5
Finally we get to see some action? The academy is under attack by waves of monsters. Hanna as the student council president is in charge however with buildings collapsing, the monsters advancing their invasion and those getting injured increasing, she is under immense pressure. Will she flip? She wonders what Anne would do in such situation. Anne and some of the other students and teaching staffs are located safely in the other half of the school. Anne wants to help but is reminded of her duty and stay put. With the situation worsening, Hanna makes the decision to abandon their base and evacuate. When they are at a final stretch, a golem pops out from the ground. Grea tackles it but is no match. But thankfully here comes Anne to help out. With Owen guarding her back, she summons a giant knight to stab through the golem. It crashes into a building before crumble. That is when the teacher calls this drill off! Looks like they’re going to take a while to fix this building. Anne is an observer and shouldn’t have intervened. Now look at the damage done. As a teacher tells Hanna the flaws in her leadership, another building goes down. School is going to be closed for a while. Flashback sees the student council planning this drill. Anne was really excited to participate but is told to only be an observer since this drill will help student think for themselves instead on relying on Anne’s powerful magic. Complain this, complain that. Promise this, promise that. What to do? The answer is still the same. Life is so unfair when Anne learns Grea will be part of the intercepting group.

Episode 6
Beach episode! Sexy girls in swimsuit! Oh yeah. While we see a furious beach volleyball game (Hanna using her super flaming spikes while Liz defends by bending her voodoo doll and use Lou to block them all!), we see Grea take Anne through some dark cave. Anne is reluctant to go but Grea insists it was her idea. After all, she wanted to practice without anyone looking and Grea promised to see it through with her. At the end of the cave, a beautiful scenery of ruins by the sea. Anne is still reluctant but after constant pestering by Grea to get into her swimsuit and to not even use any magic, we see Anne being very afraid of the deep waters as she clings on tightly to Grea. Cool Grea guides her on how to float. Anne struggles at first but once she gets the hang of it, it is the best and most beautiful experience ever. Yeah, she’s doing it naturally now. Thank goodness she learns quickly. Thanks Grea. Not sure what happened to the volleyball match but I guess everything got destroyed. You thought Hanna and Liz’s handshake meant something sportsmanship but their grip is so tight… At night, all play sparklers and fireworks. It’s Anne’s turn to pester Grea for a sleepover. Look who’s turning all nervous now.

Episode 7
It must be a slow day as Grea helps Anne with her library job. So bored that Anne reads a book on how to snag a man. It even comes with a love potion. She wonders if it will work on a girl. I guess they’re really bored and no one is visiting the library on a rainy day so Anne suggests playing hide and seek. Anne counts to 100 as Grea hides. Anne is confident to know where Grea is hiding but she’s not there. Slowly as she looks around, the enthusiasm turn into worries. Where are you Grea? Has she really vanished? I guess Anne regrets this game and calls out to her this instant. Then she floats down. Miss me? Instantly teary Anne hugs her. Found you anyway. Later as Grea is invited to drink tea with Anne, she is suspicious if she laced it with the love potion. It doesn’t help with Anne sounding pushy and suspicious. Uh huh. She made it extra special today… As they talk about the books they read, Anne says she reads the kind that would bring them closer. Much closer. Grea freaks out and spills her tea. Is Anne trolling or Grea just overthinking?

Episode 8
Today is a big day. It’s the school play. Miranda just finished putting on Grea’s costume and she looks stunning. Gorgeously stunning. However she is nervous and naturally her stomach feels pain. But Anne interprets that to an extreme point. She thinks it is really big trouble and will use her magic to cure her! Luckily Grea convinces her it isn’t such a big deal. To help calm her down, Anne starts reciting her lines from the play and Grea also follows suit. The play begins with Hanna belting out a spectacular opera-like hymn. With Anne realizing it would be their turn next, now it’s her turn for her stomach to feel pain. Nervous, aren’t we? Flashback to earlier in the morning, we see Hanna up early practising her lines, Grea also up early but still feels nervous and Anne… She just went back to sleep. Pretty confident, eh?

Episode 9
Tension between Anne and Grea?! Really?! It all started because Anne saw Hanna coming out from Grea’s room. Anne was upset that she wanted and begged to go to her room but was always refused. They’re not on talking terms and this awkward silence is causing those around them to fear! It gets worse when Hanna calls Grea for some help. Anne then avoids Grea like a plague. As Grea spends time alone, she remembers all the moments spent together with Anne. I guess that’s when the power of friendship says it is enough. Grea rushes to find Anne and finds her sitting at that piano. The power of friendship weaves its magic. Grea sits next to her, touches her hand and invites her to tea. Okay. There. Back to friends again. We see Hanna giving a brave speech to her fellow student council members. What’s this? Something about some chaos will destroy the world and that this crisis will threaten the peace? Grief and despair? War between nations? She’s going to protect everything? Is she talking about Grea and Anne? Wow. So touching and moving that her friends want to support and help her! As she and her team make their way to Anne and Grea, looks like they’ve already made up and are back to being best friends. Hanna looks like a fool now. Deep in shock, she screams to return all the time and effort she spent to solve this!

Episode 10
With the seniors graduating, Grea ponders how much time they have left together. So Anne gives her a letter and they’ll talk about this when she returns from her trip back home to do some official duties. Now it’s Grea’s turn to be melancholy. She wanders around the campus and not even the library is her best friend. She goes to Anne’s room but it’s empty! Except for the bed. Probably it’s too big to move. Grea feels sad and starts crying. However Owen is here to get her as Anne was looking for her but couldn’t find her. Grea asks about her empty room. You mean she hasn’t read the letter yet? It states her application to share a room with Grea. Remember what she said earlier about how much time they have left together? Perhaps the best excuse to get yuri with her every morning. Oops! With that, Grea signs and acknowledges the slip and makes it official. We see Anne returning to her homeland to do her duties. Once she is done, she wants to leave immediately but her father the king wants to chat. She is not thrilled about it because yesterday’s quick chat lasted till sundown! Hence she makes her sneaky escape through all the secret corridors in her castle until she meets Owen outside for her getaway carriage. She says studying and experience at the school are her important priorities right now. But I can think of the other greater importance… Yeah Grea, Anne’s coming home soon…

Serenade Of The Bahamut: Madonna Friends
After all that mind blowing fantastical action in the first two Shingeki No Bahamut series, is this considered a let-down? Not quite. Even if the pacing here is slow and there is nothing much that basically happens, it is still able to weave a decently beautiful tale between 2 friends. But that is basically so much about it and if you really want a lot more than this, you’re definitely going to be disappointed. This slice of life series is meant to go at a slow and relaxing pace without any sort of convoluted plot and twists that would have ironically undermined the beauty of this series. Sure, there might have been some trolling moments (like the ‘attack’ on the academy) and ‘suspenseful’ moments (Grea being sick as well as Anne and Grea having a fight that turned Hanna into a worrywart, overthinking it to be the end of the world), but eventually it all boils down to the wonderful nature of their friendship. So those who are into fast moving plots, you’ll have to look somewhere else.

Some of the stories are really exaggerated and trolling like that attack on the campus. Even when Grea was sick and Anne and Owen went to great lengths and journeyed across the universe just to get some sort of solution that eventually didn’t amount to anything. Is this their brand of humour? It feels weird but, okay. Whatever. Some just feel like a long draggy drama like that hide and seek episode. You expected some sort of punch line or twist (or maybe jump scare in this instance) but in the end, perhaps we did a Hanna and overthink, thus nothing really happened.

At times I was contemplating with myself if because of the slow and relaxing pacing of the series, with nothing much that happens, are the characters a bore too? Well, there are always 2 sides to a coin. The problem when you are trying to expect something from characters and then they don’t turn out to those expectations, it is surely disappointing. Therefore this series just showcasing their friendship might simply be nothing much. Some might go, “So what?”. But if you stop being impatient to want to see their character development go somewhere, you would realize that being slow and steady is what builds this development. Like they say, it is the journey and not the destination that matters. Therefore watching Anne and Grea’s friendship unravel at a snail pace over the 10 episodes might not seem to amount to anything much but that is where the beauty of this series lies. You don’t come into this anime with any sort of expectations. You just go with the flow and accept all that has to offer. If you do basically just much that, the characters and series are very much enjoyable in this aspect. So sorry folks, don’t expect this to turn into some hentai flick with a hot dragon chick banging a cute human girl.

It would have been a lot better if the series fleshed out more of Anne and Grea’s back story but in some ways, perhaps it is a good thing that we just know them as best friends forever. Anne being seemingly the perfect princess who could do almost everything but she also harbours a few insecurities of her own (like swimming and fear of losing Grea as her friend) that makes her less than perfect as others may seem to think of her. She as after all a princess. At least for the human side. Grea is on the polar end with her character being meek and reserved despite being from the dragon race whom we all have stereotypic views that dragons are fierce and majestic. It makes you wonder if she is of the same dragon tribe that Nina of the original series is from. But I suppose the series do not want to delve too deeply on their character background and instead continued to focus on their friendship. Hence that’s why the English title of this series, Mysteria Friends. Maybe there is a certain charm when you don’t know much about the characters. Because if you do, you’ll look more like some sort of obsessed fan-cum-stalker!

Not much to comment on the other characters with Lou looking a lot like a comic relief character. Due to lack of screen time, she is almost as forgettable as the rest. Including Owen whose role is just hiding from the shadows and guard his princess. Probably the most wasted role ever since there is hardly anything threatening and even if there was, Anne probably could have handled it herself.

If the story and characters do not interest you, perhaps you would be a little more impressed with the animation and artwork. To say the least, the sceneries and backgrounds around the academy are picturesque and quite breath-taking. They are quite nice to look at if you are feeling a bit bored from the slow pace and this eye candy makes it worthwhile to sit through the 15 minutes. Though, the character designs are just normal and average, nothing really that spectacular. Just want to comment how Anne suspiciously looks like Princess Principal’s Princess. And Anne’s a princess too. Hmm… Suspicious… This series is done by CygamesPictures, a subsidiary of Cygames who developed the Shingeki No Bahamut series.

Voice acting is also okay with me recognizing Nana Mizuki as Hanna and Kikuko Inoue as Miranda. But I was stumped to learn Anne is played by Youko Hikasa and going back to listen to her lines again, I still couldn’t really imagine it was her. Maybe I have come to stereotyped her to sound something like Rias from High School DxD so making this slightly squeaky voice made her unrecognizable. The other casts are Ayaka Fukuhara as Grea (Kasumi in Dies Irae), Wataru Hatano as Owen (Gajeel in Fairy Tail) and Kimiko Koyama as Lou (Komoe in To Aru Majutsu No Index). The other spectacular thing about this series is the background music and I believe the piano themes are the one that take the cake. It is slow and easy, definitely relaxing. So once again, if the story and characters are too slow for you, the visuals and the music balance it out to make it enjoyable.

Overall, this series might not be for everyone and personally I was initially on the fence to call it boring or interesting. Seeing the hectic pace that I am watching animes these days, it soon dawned to me that perhaps sometimes this kind of slow and relaxing anime is what I need to relax my mind. So yeah, I personally rate this series to be a little bit more than average towards the interesting side. Perhaps the reason why our main characters’ friendship could blossom so peacefully because the other casts of the original Shingeki No Bahamut were on the other side trying to deal with all the chaos. And then one day, maybe, just maybe when things are so boring and slow, that we’ll get to see some hentai flick of a hot dragon chick banging a cute human girl.

Banana Fish

May 5, 2019

Oh no. With a name like that, Banana Fish really sounds very fishy and the kind of anime that I think I would clearly stay away from. Because the promotional poster and its synopsis seem to hint of some possible gay yaoi BL thingy. Banana Fish. BF. Boyfriend. Uh huh. Handsome American boy meets handsome Japanese boy in America. Uh oh. I can see where this is going. And even more so when I read that the main character is a sex toy to some old powerful guy. Yikes. However my guts were ringing like hell and telling me it wasn’t going to fall into that bias stereotypic of mine. It was going to be different. A lot different. Homosexuality, child trafficking, child pornography, paedophilia, drugs, street gangs. Wow. Welcome to America, people.

Episode 1
Nearing the end of the Iraq war, a group of Americans are resting and hoping they will go home when one of them, Griffin Callenreese fires and kills many of his own men. He is taken down but still alive. The only thing that comes out of his mouth is “Banana Fish”. In current time, Ash Lynx meets a dying man who hands him some pill and address. Noticing a few punks chasing this dead guy, Ash learns they were sent by Dino Golzine. He goes to see him and is upset about not keeping his promise not to kill anyone. Dino says he was a rat and it was necessary to take him out. Ash returns to his home as Skip informs him that a couple of Japanese guys are coming to interview him for their article on street gangs. Meanwhile the scientist informs the worst to Dino that something precious has gone missing. Want to bet it’s that pill? We see Griffin in Ash’s care. Although he is a vegetable and can say nothing but Banana Fish. This intrigues Ash because that dead guy also said the same thing. Ash sees Dr Meredith to analyse the contents of the powder in this pill. Dino of course suspects Ash has gotten something that belongs to him and summons him for questioning. Ash plays dumb but Dino isn’t convinced. So when Ash returns home, he knew Dino has sent his men to search his place. With the men finding nothing, Dino believes Ash is being careful and assigns Marvin to take care of it all. Hence Marvin makes a deal with Ash’s rival, Frederick Arthur. The Japanese photographers, Shunichi Ibe and Eiji Okumura meet the NYPD guys, Antonio Jenkins and Charlie Dickenson. Meredith can’t make head or tail of this drug. As for Banana Fish, it is from a short story of JD Salinger. In the story, if you see a Banana Fish at sea, you feel like dying. Ibe and Eiji set foot in Ash’s turf. I guess young Japanese guy isn’t sure of the American custom and still trying to be the polite Japanese, he asks Ash for permission to look at his gun! Surprisingly Ash does so. Skip believes Ash takes a liking for him since he never lets anyone touch his gun. Ash receives a distress call from Shorter Wong to get out of here now because Arthur has rounded up some guys to get him. Yeah, he should have called earlier because they’re now busting the place. However Ash soon realizes he isn’t the target and that they’re after Skip. They also kidnap Eiji too since he is with the boy. Ash borrows Shorter’s bike to give chase.

Episode 2
Ash confronts Arthur and Marvin. He is forced to throw down his gun to save the duo but Arthur now punches him as payback (for damaging his fingers). They are then imprisoned but because Marvin is such a gay pig, he wants to f*ck Ash in exchange of putting a good word to Dino. Ash pretends to allow him but once the fatty lets his guard down, Ash beats him up and they all escape. Too bad they hit a dead end. Eiji isn’t breaking the steel pipe to fight back. In fact, he is going to use it to jump over the barbwire brick wall! Yeah, he was once a pole vaulter. Eiji is successful and Ash is amazed of this beautiful ‘flight’. Of course Eiji lands hard. Wooden crates break his fall? Thank goodness it didn’t pierce him. Bleeding Eiji manages to call NYPD before losing conscious. Eiji might feel bad he left Ash and Skip behind but with the details, Charlie can move in and act now. Before Marvin could take Ash away, Shorter and his gang arrive for some gang fight. Marvin points his gun at Ash but then shoots Skip. Charlie arrives too late. Ash is mad as he chases Marvin. By the time he arrives at his place, he sees Marvin’s dead body. A gun on the floor. Oh no. Too late. The police are here. You’ve been setup. Evanstine interrogates Ash and this bad cop tries to provoke Ash into talking by taking out all the child porn material that they found in Marvin’s room. You see, Ash was one of his porn child actors. Evanstine plays a cruel video of that porn scene of Marvin doing in a young Ash. Hence there is motive for Ash to kill this bastard. Luckily Ash holds in his rage but is taken away. Evanstine is on Dino’s payroll as he reports to the big boss who in turn makes a call to a judge under his payroll too. Charlie tries to talk to Ash but Ash already knows what kind of fate is in store for him. Especially Dino owning a team of big shot lawyers. Charlie hopes Eiji could talk to Ash seeing he trusts him but Eiji being a lousy liar, Ash somewhat envies Eiji for being able to ‘fly’. Eiji is so touched that he comes out crying?! Yeah, he can’t force this guy to talk. More bad news as the judge has sentenced Ash to state prison. Their only hope is Max Lobo who is imprisoned there. Ash is ushered in and all the prisoners are making wolf calls at this pretty boy. Ash the target? More like his ass would be the first target!

Episode 3
Charlie makes a plea to Max to protect Ash. Luckily they are cellmates as Max tries to be friendly with him but Ash knows the pitiful columns he writes for a certain newspaper. As Max shows him around, Garvey tries to make a move on him. Ash loses his temper and beats the sh*t out of this guy. He is thrown into solitary confinement but that didn’t rough him up or make him repent the slightest. Ash remembers ever since Dino took him in when he was young, he has been waiting for a chance to be free. But to do that he must go up against him. Knowing the drug is the cause and key to it all, he needs to get word to Meredith and Griffin to stay away from it. But how? He is being closely watched. The phones tapped and the letters will be scrutinized. It looks odd that Ash allows Garvey to f*ck him up in the library. In the infirmary, he requests for a pill for his headache. Ash learns that Max also knows about Banana Fish. Somewhat. He believes Banana Fish is a person. There was some guy who wrote an article on the Iraq war. It is unclear if Banana Fish is an individual or an organization but it is connected to drug trafficking. Oddly, the rumours died out after 2007. Max supposedly knows this guy but Ash points out he is already dead. Max is also after Banana Fish as he had a friend who was seriously messed up by a bad drug. When Ash learns his friend is Griffin, he knows Max is the one who shot Griffin, his brother and put him in this vegetative state. Ash isn’t his real name but Aslan Callenreese. Ash blames him for leaving Griffin there to die although Max has done everything in his power to help him. Griffin can’t even recognize his own brother, will he even recognize Max? When Ash gets out, he will kill him. When Eiji comes to visit Ash, it seems Ash flirts with him and before they go, kisses him!!! This gay moment is only because Ash slipped a pill into Eiji’s mouth. Eiji knows something is up as he takes a look at the message inside the pill. He wants him to go to a shop in Chinatown and meet Shorter. Just say Ash sent him and tell him what he gave to Meredith to hide it somewhere. Max is affected so much that he sees Griffin in Ash and almost tries to kill him! Eiji enters the shop but is told that person is not around. Eiji isn’t careful as he isn’t aware Dino has sent spies to tail him. And since he said the doctor’s name… Before he knows it, he is confronted by Arthur.

Episode 4
Arthur threatens to kill the doctor if Eiji doesn’t talk. He spills everything and yet Arthur is going to kill. He is going to make Ash pay by taking away everything precious to him. Luckily Shorter is here before anyone dies. After getting the drug, Griffin miraculously got up. But Abraham Dawson panics to see him alive and shoots him. In the commotion, Arthur and his men escape. Meredith treats Griffin personally and can’t bring him to the hospital or the mafia will track him. Max changes cell? Yeah, some bull guy is now Ash’s cellmate and he wants to get gay with this guy. Ash isn’t a pushover and beats him up and would have killed him had not worried Max returned to stop the fight. When Eiji is finally reunited with worried Ibe, he mentions about Griffin saying Banana Fish when he saw Abraham. Meredith kept some of the substance and believes it is something like LSD but it symptoms last longer. Even way past 24 hours. The lab rats went aggressive and killed each other. It might have something to do with the recent strange suicide cases. Ibe wants Eiji to return to Japan now as it is getting dangerous. Eiji will not do it despite Ibe is only concern for his safety. What will Ibe say to his parents if he really gets killed? Worst scenario happens as Griffin dies. It is suggested they don’t tell Ash for now so he won’t do anything stupid like breaking out of prison. Charlie then calls Max to tell him this. Meanwhile Ash is being beaten up by Garvey as per Dino’s orders. Of course he fights back and when Max comes to break them up, accidentally mentions about Griffin. I’m sure Garvey won’t bother Ash for a while after sticking a fork in his crotch! Ouch! Ash pesters Max about Griffin and uses that betrayal psychology to talk. Max says Griffin is dead. Ash is in shock and beats up Max if he tries to get near him. Max has had it playing Mr Nice Guy and fights back. I guess this got nowhere so the duo go back to their cell to talk (Max transferred back?). Max tells how Griffin was his buddy. But the Iraq war totally did him in. Friend or foe were alike and he couldn’t take it and relied on drugs to get through. Ash in turn tells him all he knows when he was first handed the pill and address. Ash was fortunate to be brought up by Griffin and without him, would have starved to death. After the war, he was so weak he couldn’t even take a piss himself. But that is all over now. Griffin isn’t around anymore.

Episode 5
With Jenkins pulling strings, Ash is able to get out on bail. So as Charlie picks him up, Ash puts up an act of wanting to see Griffin so Charlie tells him the truth. More crocodile tears to let Charlie’s guard down. Then Ash steals his gun and kicks him out of the car. Charlie and Ibe struggle to contain him but Eiji decides to side with Ash and drives the car away. Meanwhile Arthur bugs Dino about this Banana Fish. Dino says that it is not a human but a drug. A drug that will change the world. Ash reunites with Shorter who wants to help Eiji with his fight against Dino. Ash was reluctant at first but since Shorter has a reason to go up against Dino and Ash can’t do it alone, Ash allows it. Even Eiji too. He was forced to retire from pole vaulting due to injury. Ibe saw him depressed and decided to bring him to America. Because he feels responsible for all this, he wants to see this one till the end. Ash gives Eiji a gun and teaches him how to sue it because when the fight starts, he won’t be able to protect him. Then Ash goes to see some Chinese corporate guy, Lee Wang Lung who seems to be on bad terms with Dino. He will help those who goes up against Dino and is more than willing to lend Ash a truck as per his request. Ash then explains about Club Cod. It’s not a seafood restaurant. It serves humans. In this secret club, Dino is the head and runs the operations of selling young boys to other prominent figures. That way, he makes a profit and has control over them. The club catches young runaway boys and sell them. They are drugged so they can’t run and only have a few years to live. Dino is always here in the middle of every month. Max just got out of prison and he goes to see Ibe and knows Ash will be at Club Cod. When Dino arrives at Club Cod, Ash begins his move. Shorter drives the truck to ram into the area. WTF Ash standing atop the truck and shooting?! Yeah, he got Dino’s shoulder. If not for Arthur’s men sniping Ash (on his shoulder), it could’ve been bad. A gunfight ensues in the chaos. Max and Ibe arrive and tell their friends to escape via jumping into the sea. Even after escaping, Ash still wants to continue picking a fight so Max punches him out and they all take refuge at his place. Dino orders his men to capture Ash alive. He doesn’t care what they do as long as they bring him back to him because Ash is his.

Episode 6
Ash and co return to his father’s home in Boston. Although stepmom Jennifer is happy to see him, Jim isn’t. Ash only wants the keys to the house Griffin used to stay and they’ll leave once the truck is fixed. Jim continues to dislike his son and considers his friends as manwhores. Ash relates that he and Griffin were born to different mothers. In the house, they find an old album. There is a photo that has Abraham’s picture in it. It must have been Griffin’s old platoon. Locating this dude, they find out his address similar to the one Ash was given. He lives in LA. As Jim continues to have bad blood with Ash, Eiji gets mad. I guess it’s time for dad to reveal how things turned out. When Ash was young, there was a military veteran who lived up the hills. The kids loved him and he coached a baseball team that Ash was in. One day, Ash came home messed up and he knew what happened. He was taken to the police but since everyone loved that army dude, they blamed Ash for seducing him. Hence Jim had no choice but to tell Ash that if anybody tried to same thing on him, just allow it but make him pay for it. A year later, Ash shot that guy with Jim’s gun. When cops searched his house, they found bones of children in his basement. Although Ash wasn’t found guilty of anything, Jim sent him to his sister’s place but subsequently he ran away. That night, a couple of guys enter the store just when Jim and Jennifer are about to close. Turns out they are Dino’s men and they take them hostage to lure Ash out. Ash has no choice but to give in. Lucky the fast thinking of his friends distract them for a while. Ash is able to fight back but unfortunately Jennifer was shot and killed. Jim was shot too but only in his shoulder. After killing Dino’s men, Jim tells his son to leave now as he has a friend to call the ambulance and cops over. Jim puts his fingerprints over the murder weapons so as to clear their name. After learning Ash is up against a big mafiaso who killed Griffin, Jim gives his blessings. No time for father-son reconciliation as they have to get running. Meanwhile Dino sees Wang Lung and informs how his Banana Fish will have no impact on his business. In fact, he is willing to relinquish some European territories to him next year. All he needs is his cooperation to catch Ash. He wants that kid because he has 2 journalists with him and will stop at nothing to stop to leak. Since they are heading to LA which is under Wang Lung’s territory, Wang Lung will send his men Yut Lung for the job. A week later, Ash and co arrive at the city of angels.

Episode 7
The gang stops by at Max’s home. Max is happy to greet his son, Michael but his ex-wife, Jessica is still mad at him. Because she is acquaintance with Ibe, she lets all of them in. So apparently this short detour is because Max wanted to leave a birthday present for Michael. After doing so, they head to the address but see Yau Si assaulted by some thugs. They manage to chase them off as they learn Yau Si is Abraham’s nephew. Of course, Yau Si himself is adopted. You didn’t think Caucasian parents could suddenly give birth to an Asian kid, do you? Currently, his father is missing. They check his room and find it messy. Ash hacks the computer to find more info about Banana Fish and they all realized it is a drug. Meanwhile Shorter who was sent to find out more on Yau Si because Ash finds him suspicious is now in a conflict. He was told by Lee Hua Lung (Lee’s younger brother) to be the traitor and report Ash and his buddies or his sister, Nadia dies. When he returns, he gets rough with Yau Si and demands to know the truth. Then he sees his dragon tattoo, a seal of the Lee clan and realizes that he is Yut Lung. Yut Lung drops his soft spoken demeanour and reminds Shorter that he will now take orders from him. Ibe remembers their visa has expired so Ash plays the bad guy to go tell Eiji he needs to go home because from now on it’ll get dangerous and he’ll just be in the way. Eiji accepts his fate but can’t help feel sad about it. Max knows Ash is going back to New York, the reason why he also wanted Eiji to leave. It might be Dino’s turf but it is also his home. Yut Lung orders Shorter to kidnap Eiji as bait to lure Ash. Shorter is so mad he wants to kill him. But he can’t. He still feels grateful for the Lee clan for helping his family survive in a foreign land. But not anymore. They are the same like Dino. Meanwhile thugs barge into Jessica’s home.

Episode 8
The thugs call Max to bring Ash over if he knows what’s good for his wife and son. Ash has Shorter stay behind to guard the Japanese as he feels something is off because if they wanted to lure them out, they would move the hostages and set a trap. When Ash and Max arrive, the police are already here. Jessica and Michael are fine. The cops came because earlier on Jessica was on the phone with a friend and he alerted the police. Yut Lung begins his move as he poisons Ibe and uses his acupuncture needles to knock out Eiji. While Eiji is out cold, Ibe can still see and hear. Yut Lung wants Ibe to witness all this so he could tell Ash what happened. By the time Ash realizes Yut Lung is the traitor and rushes back, they’re already gone. Another stranger pops in. But he is Alexis and this is supposed to be his home. Meanwhile Shorter regrets his actions but vows to protect Eiji. While waiting for the transit to New York, Arthur shows up to bring them back. Shorter threatens to take Eiji’s life and then himself if he does funny stuffs. Dino sees Senator William Kippard and Colonel Thomas Holstock to assure them about the perfection of the drug for their next experiment. After Alexis injects a serum to cure Ibe’s poison, he shows them a secret science room. The PC was dummy and he was staying in some condo after noticing strange men were tailing him. He came back because the sensor went off after being hacked. When the brothers were still in college, they thought of making drugs to make money. They accidentally created this drug. It wasn’t just some hallucination drug but induced all your emotions and nightmares to a maximum point. Russians once made a hypnosis drug but it was unreliable. Banana Fish makes it 100% reliable. So if you tell a person to kill immigrants, he’ll start doing it. Alexis got scared of its potential as a friend they tested on died but Abraham continued testing it out on soldiers serving in Iraq. So now that he has joined up with Dino and make a deal with the US government, Dino will become to top dog in the underworld. Alexis as a scientist couldn’t bring himself to destroy the drug. I guess the price to pay for that is everybody punching him. As Yut Lung reports to Wang Lung but failed to obtain the drug’s data, Wang Lung is displeased he didn’t do so as he thinks this makes him inferior to Ash. Yut Lung is all dolled up to become Dino’s plaything but Yut Lung as an ulterior agenda. He will never forgive his brothers for killing his mom and now it’s time to destroy them. Thugs enter Alexis’ home and apprehend the guys before burning down the entire place.

Episode 9
Yut Lung is dressed up as a woman and given to Dino as a token of friendship from Chinatown. He wakes up Eiji and the latter couldn’t believe Shorter had betrayed them. Shorter is then turned into a lab rat and injected Banana Fish. He is brainwashed by Abraham to fear Eiji and the only way out from this nightmare is to kill him. But Dino will save this show for Ash. Not sure if Dino had his fun with Yut Lung and Eiji because Ash has arrived. First they have a wonderful dinner as Dino praises the wonderful merchandise Ash was when he was under him. Meanwhile, Sing Soo Ling is now the leader of Chinatown after the elders banished Shorter. He and his gang are trying to make a deal with Ash’s gang led by Alex to fight against Dino. Once dinner is over, all the guests are taken to the execution room where the show is about to begin. Dino watches it from above with Kippard and Holstock. Shorter and Eiji are brought in. With Arthur’s command, Shorter soon picks up a knife to kill Eiji. No amount of yelling could snap him out. He must kill Eiji to get out from this nightmare. After that he will kill himself or live forever being haunted. Eiji is reduced to running and just when you think Ash’s screaming got through to Shorter for once, could it be coincidence? In this short lapse of Shorter getting his conscious back, he pleads to Ash to end it all because he can’t bear the suffering anymore. Shorter returns to his killing machine mode. But just before he is going to kill Eiji, Arthur releases Ash’s chains to hand him a gun. To save Eiji, Ash quickly shoots Shorter in the heart. Abraham is glad the brain is still intact as he could analyse the effects on the brain cells. Ash and co feel awful and only Arthur is laughing like a madman seeing Ash suffering.

Episode 10
Dino and Arthur leave that night for an important event. Yut Lung then relays an important info to Hua Lung. After that he goes to talk to Ash who isn’t in any mood. He leaves a key as a chance for him to escape. He accepts his fate if the next time they meet, Ash will kill him. Sing and Alex attack Dino’s residence. With that racket, Ash makes his move to escape. At the armoury, he tells Max and Ibe to escape while he goes to rescue Eiji. Yeah, Ash is going to gun down those henchmen mercilessly. It seems the next presidential candidate got killed by his secretary before taking her own life. So this is the event that Dino and the rest of the American bigwigs are waiting for? But when Dino hears Ash has escaped, looks like this has become the bigger issue. Sing interrogates a guy about Shorter and can’t believe Ash killed Shorter. In that case he will pay. Yut Lung confronts Abraham and paralyzes him, telling him that Ash is going to come for him like the devil. Ash finds Eiji and busts him out. He promises to protect him. After gunning more men, Ash stumbles into his gang. He gives the orders to destroy all the cars and take Eiji with him. Ash is going to retrieve Shorter’s body. For once Eiji listens and wants him to come back safely. Ash enters the lab and sees Shorter’s body being experimented. Horrified, he becomes mad and pumps all the lead into Abraham until there are no more. Ash then burns the lab and the body. Sing comes in and has the wrong idea. Ash is still in a bad mood and tells him to get out. Stubborn Sing fights him and loses but is let off by Ash. Sing returns to his men. Yut Lung picks them up and will let him off the hook by telling his brothers that he saved him. Sing hates to admit that Ash is much better than him but when they fought, he didn’t even see him as the enemy. He is still trying to know why Ash killed Shorter but Yut Lung will tell the reason one day.

Episode 11
Dino’s mansion is razed to the ground and he now has reporters tailing him. You bet he isn’t in the mood and even more so his favourite pet has escaped. Ash returns to his gang’s base. He orders them to find more info about the gangs who have aligned with Arthur. Eiji observes how Ash’s words are their law and they obey without question. But this isn’t the side of Ash he knows. Making it weirder as he spends more time with him, he learns Ash is afraid pumpkins due to a Halloween prank gone wrong. Is there some sort of bromance brewing between them? They laugh, chat and tease each other like nobody’s business. Oh right. We should expect this. More bromance drama when Ash wakes up at night after a nightmare. He relates he killed for the first time when he was 8 when a man tried to rape him. It still haunts him. With so many blood on his hands, he is still scared especially with Shorter’s death. Eiji comforts him and promises he will always stay by your side. Ash breaks down and cries on his lap. Next day, Ash meets Max. His first plan is to buy an expensive condo. He needs Max help to sign the contract as he is a minor. Where does Ash get all that money? It seems he has used Dino’s accounts to sell stocks and plummet its value. He also knows his secret fake accounts overseas and has wired it to somewhere else. Dino just got all this news and is looking real shocked how someone could hack all his details and use it in his name. Well, when he was f*cking Ash, Ash had a different idea. He planted a spyware in his computer and got all the access and passwords. Now that this has caused a huge damage to the foundation, Dino will have to answer to the dons and won’t be on Ash’s tail for a while. Ash wants Max to find out more about the secretary who used Banana Fish to kill the presidential candidate. Ash buys a condo right next to a building that is owned by Dino. Although Eiji will be cooped up inside this condo for his own good, Max believes Eiji will be his Achilles heel. Dino prepares to leave the country as he gives Arthur his last chance to capture Ash alive. When he comes back, he will strangle him with his own hands.

Episode 12
Arthur is mad. Looks like Ash’s men has been going around killing his. Ash then dares confront Dino at the airport just before his flight to declare war. He thought getting rid of him was the answer but now he will stop whatever he intends to do. Later Ash goes to see another gang head, Bloody Cain. He wants him to stay out of the war between him and Arthur. Cain isn’t obligated to do as he says but as long as he doesn’t hurt his men, they’re cool. Ash and co continue to mercilessly kill rival street gangs even if they surrender. So much so the news’ headlines are hogged with the increased number of gang killings. This has Eiji worried about him because it is not the Ash he knew. Ash insists that power is everything. This tension causes a rift between them but it won’t last long because you know, Japanese are quick to apologize, right? Besides, their bromance is blooming so it can’t break just because of this minor tiff. Cain sees Ash and tells him Arthur met with him to make a deal to become an observer between them. Ash accepts it even though it is a trap because eventually he has to settle things with Arthur. Ash lets Max see a few photos of the bigshots coming in and out of Dino’s building. In addition to Kippard, there is Arthur Smiles who is the White House’s chief of staff. With Holstock, Ash deduces America’s plan to turn Arab into their puppet state. Because America’s official stance is against terrorism there, they will use local terrorists to plot a coup detat. The new government will then ask America for military support. This sounds ridiculous but with Banana Fish, it will be easy. The mafia comes in with the money by investing in heroine distribution in Kafghanistan (WTF type error on purpose?!) that is responsible for 90% of the world’s distribution. Dino will control the underworld with this. When Ash returns to Eiji, he has set up a Halloween party! Pumpkin theme! After the party, you wonder why the guys are asking each other if they have a girlfriend. Does it really matter? Eiji doesn’t but Ash admits there was a girl he liked when he was 14. Too bad she died as someone got jealous thinking she was Ash’s boyfriend. Boy, that escalated quickly. The world won’t let him mingle with normal people anymore.

Episode 13
Flashback shows Ash and Arthur clashed over territorial disputes. Although Ash won, Arthur played dirty and tried to shoot him. Luckily he was such a bad shot that Ash could quickly severed his fingers. Ash and Arthur meet at an abandoned railway line to settle. Cain is joined by Sing as observers. As the fight start, Ash hears the sound of a train coming. He realizes this is a trap as Arthur’s men have hijacked the train and try to gun everyone down mafia style! With Sing throwing Ash’s gun to him, he makes every headshot count. Arthur has his men retreat but Ash manages to sneak on board. Does Arthur have unlimited goons at his disposal? Seems Ash is killing a train load of them. Does Ash have unlimited bullets? He doesn’t seem to need to reload. Meanwhile Eiji wakes up and realizes Ash is gone. Ash’s men are here to take him to the airport and Eiji knows Ash is up to something but decides to obey. Too bad the men can’t keep this a secret and tell him what’s going on. Yeah, now Eiji wants to go to Ash’s side. What’s this about thinking back when Ash told him about death? The times Eiji heard Ash cried numerous times in his sleep calling for his mama? Was it something to do with his tormented childhood and the killing of Shorter? Was his tough leadership a way to cover up his fragile soul? Wow. So many questions. Don’t think they’ll be answered by the time he reaches there. Anyway, Ash just gunned everyone down! Only Arthur is left. He didn’t kill him because he wants to give him a chance to fight? Okay. So on the railway lines, it is a free show of 2 men trying to kill each other with a knife. When Eiji arrives, he calls out to Ash. That distraction gave Arthur a chance to slash across his guts. See what you do, Eiji boy???!!! But Ash is strong and fights back enough to slit his throat. And to finish and make his death permanent, Arthur falls down to the asphalt below. Ash rules! I guess everyone so engrossed with the fight that they didn’t even hear the police coming. Looks like everyone’s getting arrested.

Episode 14
Ibe has doubts if he should separate Eiji from Ash. He brought him here to escape the stiffness of Japan. He thought separating them would protect Eiji but now he feels it would do them more harm. Looks like Ibe will miss his flight too when he sees the gang fight on the news. Ash undergoes surgery and miraculously survives despite the doctor only put the rate of success at 50%. Sing and Eiji are bailed out thanks to Yut Lung. He updates Eiji about Ash’s surgery but the bad news is that Dino is coming back soon. Must have heard the news. Yut Lung tries to tell Eiji off that Ash needs no friends and people like him are just in his way. Eiji admits it and this surprises Yut Lung feel like he wants to crush him. But for now Eiji will be his prisoner. Man, Ash has got 4 hot nurses wanting to look after him and he hates it?! WTF?! Oh, right… Anyway, Ash is soon tasked to take some psychiatric test but he shows us why his IQ is 180 by stumping the psychiatrist with some advanced maths formula. Kippard views Ash a threat and wants him taken out. That night a nurse comes into his room and Ash can tell she is not one of the usual nurses. He can ‘smell’ she is not a real nurse due to the lack of antiseptic smell from her. True enough, she tries to kill him but he fights back. He threatens for answers but she kills herself. Kippard won’t give up but will leave Ash in the hands of Dr Mannerheim who runs a mental health institution. This means having the CIA taking over this case from Jenkins and Charlie. Max visits Ash to tell him he plans to expose the story of Ash stealing from Dino’s accounts upon his return. He has the connections to do so. Ash is soon taken by the CIA and blindfolded. But he can tell where they are headed from the direction the vehicle turns as well as the surrounding noises. Next day, the shocking report all over the news that Ash has died after being transported to the mental health institute.

Episode 15
Yut Lung goes to see Eiji if he is okay but Eiji is smart enough to hide and then hold him as hostage to gain his freedom. Outside, they believe that Ash isn’t dead and if so, Yut Lung will continue to be Ash’s enemy. This means coming after Eiji. With Dino returning and hounded by the media, Max masquerades as one of them and tells him he was the one who leaked the story. Dino hides his surprise when hears news of Ash’s death and orders his men to check. Max and Ibe see the live autopsy of Ash. Looks like the real deal but Max knows better. It is just a kid that looks very much like Ash. True enough, he is being tested by Mannerheim. He is then introduced to a docile patient named Adam. Friendly, right? He actually raped and killed 3 nuns! Thanks to Banana Fish, he is now docile. Mannerheim brings Ash to his lab where there are lots of brain and spine samples for testing. But Ash gets riled up upon learning one of them belongs to Shorter! I thought he burnt it clean? Did he not? Mannerheim concludes by showing him a retarded Alexis. The goal is to control scientist but maintain their intelligence. That is why Ash is heaven sent for this experiment. Ash is then drugged out. Meanwhile Eiji almost gets attacked by a couple of guys (do these people like kawaii Japanese boys?!) but is luckily saved by Sing. He is taken to his place as Eiji explains the truth of Shorter’s death. Before Mannerheim could begin his operation, Dino barges in and wants this to stop. However the CIA guys tell him his place that Kippard is in charge now. Dino has fallen from power as the Corsican Foundation that funds this institute has taken him off the list and put Baron Zakharev as the new person in charge. Though, Zakharev as a newbie still has Dino assist him. Dino then waits for Ash to wake up. He is disappointed he has become this weak so it’s no point killing him. He wants Ash to get back to his usual strength. That is when he will hunt him down and corner and kill him. Max finds out about Kippard as a big investor in Corsican Foundation. Good timing for him, the institute gives a monthly tour and that is like tomorrow. Meanwhile Ash acts like a horny flirty gay boy in front of the camera. Are the guards gay because they are watching in shock. Until Ash throws the sheets over the camera. Obviously the guard who went down to check is gay. He came alone and left the door open to check on him! No surprise Ash gets the better of this dumb guard and steals his stuffs.

Episode 16
Dino lets Zakharev take charge to see how he handles this. And so Ash manages to evade the dumb guards and even knocking out those who come close enough. This is even when the ward is being locked down. He manages to make his way to even take Alexis with him. With the tour cancelled, Max and Ibe take this chance to snoop around. Even they too can bested a few guards before being captured and they play dumb about getting lost. It’s amazing Ash could carry a heavy luggage (Alexis) especially this unbelievable scene whereby they were hanging on the edge of the elevator’s exterior. Ash manages to pull Alexis and himself up! Super genius, super handsome, super strong! So much for this hi-tech security facility because they escaped via garbage chute. The only non-secured place. Heh. Ash is about to make his escape when he sees Max and Ibe being escorted. Now he has to go back and save those old geezers! Why do old geezers have to slow him down?! Anyway, Ash manages to knock out the dumb guard to save them. And they have the cheek to say they came here to rescue him. The trio disguise themselves as a doctor (Max), nurse (Ash) and corpse (Ibe). A horny doctor tries to flirt with Ash and gets punched! Damn Ash looks so hot even as a woman! They steal an ambulance and make their final escape. Zakharev is frustrated Ash has escaped. He is not amused when Dino admonishes him for never being ready to handle this. When Zakharev threatens to make him pay, Dino shoots him. Dino built this project and nobody is going to take Ash but him. Ash learns that Eiji is missing. Looks like now he has to go find and save him even though he is worn out. Otherwise he cannot stop worrying.

Episode 17
Ash returns to his gang. Glad to see him alive. But once Ash finds out what Eiji told Sing, he gets mean with this Chinese dude to keep Shorter’s murder a secret. Eiji had to make him stop. A little bit of tension before the guys made up. Bromance hug? Sorry girls. No kissing. Dino is called by Yut Lung. He sees Hua Lung drugged like a zombie. Yut Lung has done his research on Dino’s Banana Fish project. It seems Yut Lung has carefully planned and killed one of the board members of the foundation. He can kill the rest of them so Dino gets back control of it. In return, he wants Dino to kill the rest of the Lee clan including their wives and children to stop their bloodline. Yut Lung further shows him a garden. He can tell Banana Fish is made out of some mutation of a plant’s alkaloid rather than being 100% pure chemical. Ash won’t even tell Eiji to go home because he knows he won’t listen. Plus, even if he does, he gets worried. So there’s your reason to begin a bromance? They hang out together and Ash does research on drugs and stuffs at the library to even come up with the deduction that Banana Fish isn’t purely all chemical synthesis. All the while, Ash could sense someone is watching him but cannot tell. Is his guts playing a prank on him? True enough, there is someone stealthier than a ninja observing him. He is Blanca, Dino’s retired (now coming out of retirement?) subordinate. Apparently he is here to decline Dino’s request but when he tested and saw how Ash’s Spider-senses was tingling, he is now curious to see how formidable he is. Blanca accepts the job. Ash shows his findings to Max and his colleague, Robert. They report Abraham’s condition. His brain’s neural pathways have been damaged but the doctors cannot determine if drugs did it. If only they could find a causal relationship. Hence Ash goes to prostitute himself by becoming Kippard’s f*ck boy. Damn this fatso is also into young kids! Was he so aroused that he couldn’t even recognize Ash? Too late when Ash reveals himself. The cops aren’t looking for him since he is officially dead. Ash wants Banana Fish but Kippard is willing to die than sell out his country. So much for patriotism when Ash shows him a scandalous photo of Kippard having sex. Probably it’s from Dino. Before Kippard could say anything, Kippard gets sniped between the eyes! Nice handy work from Blanca. Ash immediately hides and knows the sniper is a very professional one to take this shot from afar.

Episode 18
Ash is puzzled that Kippard’s death is not reported in the newspapers. His suspicions confirmed when he sees the news that Holstock just died in a car accident. This is no more than just a coincidence. Then he realizes the only person who could pull this off is Blanca (a book he left behind as clue). In fact, Blanca is staking out opposite the apartment and even showing Dino and Yut Lung Ash’s ‘hideout’. Ash tries to test waters as he stands in front of the window. When Eiji comes in, Blanca snipes at him but only gives flesh wound. Then a personal call from Blanca to confirm it is him as well as Yut Lung to confirm he hired Blanca for this job. Ash is to come for a negotiation. Otherwise Eiji dies. Hence we get one last bromance of Ash and Eiji as the latter invites him to Japan once this is over. And yeah, Ash’s protection of Eiji grows even more solid. When Ash arrives at the negotiation point, Yut Lung gives him a gun to shoot himself. Immediately Ash takes and does so! Everyone is shocked but of course the gun is empty. Even more shocking as Ash asks for a loaded gun! On to serious matters, Ash is to hand over all their data on Banana Fish as well as Abraham. Then he is to go back to Dino’s side. Do all this and Eiji will be safe. Damn, Ash agrees! Yut Lung is in shock he is willing to throw everything away for a boy. Hey, you say it, he do it. What’s the problem? But Ash has only a request and that is to fight Blanca. Can this guy go up against the man who trained him how to fight? Nah. We see Blanca moving like a butterfly and Ash like a baby! Blanca privately talks to Ash and thought he had gotten over his past. He wants Ash to give up Eiji and return to Dino where he will have everything (I thought Dino said he will make him suffer like a prostitute?!). When Dino had Blanca taught Ash how to fight, he was reluctant to do so but realized it gave him a place in the world. He doesn’t want to lose him and ruin himself. Ash will not go back to everything that is fake. Better to be alone than with fakes. At least he is happy with 1 guy who cares about him. Ash’s plea is for Blanca not to hurt Eiji. No can do. He will do the job he is entrusted. So Ash returns to take Abraham, leaves some cryptic message to Ibe like it’s his last goodbye. Then he holds up Max and Meredith to get the data before giving it all to Yut Lung. Yeah, Ash looks so dead now…

Episode 19
Yut Lung wants Blanca to work for him now that his contract with Dino is over. Blanca refuses citing he is retired. Yut Lung won’t give up yet because he is obsessed in killing Eiji. Eiji sees Sing so he could take him to Yut Lung whom he believes knows where Ash is. Yut Lung tells everything and blames him for all this. So please kill yourself. But Eiji is done blaming himself and if he is going to kill to protect Ash, he’ll do it. We see Ash in some ruthless high level talks to use Banana Fish in Kafghanistan and the Maliban (?!) just to show the world America’s might even if it means abandoning their troops. Ash might sound deadly but behind the scenes he dreads doing this. This isn’t the prostitution thingy he signed up for. Well, he isn’t selling his body but his soul. So in some sort of protest, he refuses to eat and this takes a toll on his body. Sing tells his gang that Dino is going to hold a party to celebrate the recent victory of the courts dropping his tax evasion charges. They are going to use this opportunity to sneak in and save Ash. Yut Lung interrupts Blanca’s flirting with the maid. He mentions Blanca’s real name and his shady past as some elite force in Kazakhstan as well as his dead wife. Dino tells Ash about the big announcement at the party that he will make Ash his successor and son. However Ash cannot stop laughing and mocks people like him only sees him as some sex toy and dirty toilet. Is this what the American dream is? Dino beats him up only to be stopped by the doctors. He is going to teach Ash everything and make him his chaste wife. When Blanca and Sing visit Yut Lung, they apprehended an assassin who failed to kill Yut Lung. He poisoned himself. Luckily Yut Lung got a flesh wound. It seems Blanca is here to agree to his deal to be his bodyguard although the only condition is to protect him. Blanca then reports to Dino that he has made a contract with Yut Lung because he knows his past. Eiji and Sing begin planning their party ambush. The more the better because Cain’s side joins in.

Episode 20
At the party, Ash is temporarily blinded so he can’t see well. Sing’s side crashes in to cause panic. Eiji then points his gun at Dino. Ash recognizes his voice and is stunned he is doing something this reckless. Dino takes Ash hostage to see if he dares shoot. Well, Eiji shoots but only gets Dino’s shoulder. He missed at this range?! At least enough for them to take Ash and run. I can’t believe Ash can still be a sharpshooter at this point. It’s fine if he can even shoot with his eyes close but with all those noises? While the men keep looking for them above ground, they are actually hiding in an abandoned underground station. But when Ash realizes that everyone has gathered here, he orders all to get out because the sewers are like a maze. True enough, their pursuers come chasing them and trying to corner them like a rat. Eiji tries to be the bait to get Ash out. Cain knocks Ash out to bring him back to his base but Ash won’t be grounded. Hence Ash is spotted trying to take refuge in the museum. Yeah, museum has bad security. Heck, none at all. Yut Lung decides to catch him without Dino’s help. He gets to see how formidable Ash is when he snipes at his men. Unheeding Blanca’s advice to stay put and play the waiting game (because Yut Lung wants to catch him first), he sends some of his men inside and they got panicked by the darkness as Ash slaughters them all. Blanca knows this is Ash’s plan to draw himself attention as this means Eiji is still underground. Too bad he has just been caught. With Cain and his men driving by to do some chaos, Ash takes this chance to take Yut Lung hostage. Bad timing as Eiji and co are also brought here. Ash wants him to bring the hostages in if he is ready for negotiations. Eiji and all his men for Yut Lung. Blanca agrees to his terms and when both sides are exchanged, Ash and Blanca take pot shots at each other. In the aftermath, Yut Lung is shaken and Dino heard about what happened. It’s his turn to take charge of hunting down Ash.

Episode 21
Sing limps back in and he is very worried about his men being taken hostage by Yut Lung. He wants to go rescue them or they’ll be killed. It’s time for Ash to work his magic again. Once they find where they are being held, they bust in. Everything ended so easily that Ash feels something is off. Why were they held in an obvious place? If they were important hostages, why were there so few guards? This is all part of Dino’s plan as he shows Edward L. Fox the fruits of his labour of raising his ‘son’. Ash and Max reunite for the first time since the former’s ‘death’. Max needs his help to infiltrate a gay club run by Frank Zareb AKA Frog. He used to round up boys for Dino. While Dino doesn’t use pictures to blackmail his clients and only serves as insurance, Frog does otherwise. Ash is forced to rekindled unwanted memories of Frog and his men taking dirty pictures of him as a kid. Ash is tempted to kill him but with Max stopping him, they only get the pictures of victims. Ash wants Max to use his photos only since he is dead but Max just burns everything. Frog is later killed by Fox. When Cain’s men start getting killed, they thought it was Dino’s men. But Ash felt something strange about the way they attack and weapons they used. Some research and info digging reveal they are former elite soldiers who served in many missions and are officially dead. Their regiment leader is Fox. People like them love war because it allows you to legally kill. With Max and Robert targeted, Ash advises to put some guard for their family. Better still, Jessica joins in! So it’s safer to leave their son with some other relative? When Eiji asks Ash of putting himself in the enemy’s shoes, Ash starts to realize their viewpoint. The killings are to stir up the chain of command and see how the leaders act. True enough, they spot the soldiers taking formation outside their hideout. Ash has everyone divided into several groups and plan their several diversions and exits. They are to meet at the pier in 48 hours. The battle begins. Ash does what he does best at surviving. However that may be cut short because Fox has got Max and his side captured. They use them to lure Ash out in which Ash shows himself.

Episode 22
While Max and the captured are taken elsewhere, Fox interrogates Ash. It seems Fox wants Ash to join him and they can rule the world via the foundation. Of course Ash laughs at this and vows never to submit. So Fox’s idea is to rape him?! Why are all the old men so gay here???!!! Saved by the call from Dino. Because as Fox goes to answer it, his men continue to abuse Ash. Fox’s carelessly threw his unextinguished cigarette butt means Ash used it to burn the ropes and kill those men! With Eiji and co charging in, Fox and his men escape. Ash is shaken from all this but a hug from Eiji calms him down. Lao Yen Tai, Sing’s right hand man argues with him about being submissive to Ash. He will not accept this. Also, he is secretly working with Yut Lung and although he wants out, he is forced to continue because this is the only way he could protect Sing who is also his half-brother. Max and his men interrogate Max for the important data but he remains stubborn knowing he will at least be kept alive as bait to lure Ash. Ash and Jessica manage to get that data Max stored safely in the vault. Jessica goes through it and sees the incredible data that would turn the White House upside down. Some of Lao’s men want to kill Ash and Yut Lung gives them the green light although he knows they can’t but at least they may kill Eiji. Blanca against Yut Lung’s orders goes out to find Eiji because that Japanese boy must not be allowed to die. Another moment of bromance between Ash and Eiji. Yeah, they’re talking how they would love to experience the other’s lives. I guess we got some free time that Eiji teaches him some basic Japanese. Was the bromance too good that they didn’t notice Lao’s men entering to shoot?! If not for Eiji’s quick reflex, Ash would have been gone. But Eiji gets some lead in his guts. This turns Ash into a monster as he guns them down mercilessly and continues to do so even when they’re dead! Eiji is glad Ash is safe before losing consciousness. There, you wanted to trade places. Now you got it. Having fun?

Episode 23
Eiji is taken to hospital and a frantic Ash wants to go with him, only to be stopped by Blanca. Ash is still stubborn but is told that by doing so, they will only link Eiji’s relationship to him and make him a criminal. Frustrated Ash calms down but he has no time to rest. He summons everyone for a rescue mission. Before that, Sing apologizes for his men’s betrayal and will take responsibility. This means a one on one fight with Ash after this is settled. Lao cannot accept this and runs his mouth. Sing punches him and that’s it for Lao. He calls it quits. Ash agrees to Sing’s demands seeing he had that determined death in his eyes. But inside Ash is breaking as he keeps worrying about Eiji. Since when is he religious and praying to God to take him instead of Eiji? Blanca returns to Yut Lung and is forced to listen to his tragic story. His father was the most powerful man for overseas Chinese. His mom, a poor street vendor became his mistress when she was just 10. He was 65 then. When Yut Lung was 6, father suddenly died. Yut Lung is forced to watch his brothers rape and kill his mother. Thus Yut Lung believes he has the right to hate. And so like Ash, they are just demons underneath a beautiful face. He wants to tell him that he cannot be saved. Not by something so fragile.

Blanca resigns from Yut Lung’s employment. Now it’s his turn to tell his story. During his time in his elite force, he lacked emotions until he met his wife, Natasha. The government opposed their marriage but it was the first time he defied them. When he was away on a Crimean mission, she was killed. A terrorist group claimed their doing but who knows it could be the government. That is why Blanca opposes Yut Lung from taking Eiji from Ash. He learnt to hate but not to love. One cannot be loved unless you love. At least Ash knows this. I guess resignation accepted. Just go to your freaking Ash. And so Blanca did and have him hire him as his ‘driver’. But before they head to the mental institution, Blanca takes him to the hospital to see Eiji one last time. Because cops come to check on him every midnight, he must make it quick. Ash sneaks in and is sad to see Eiji sleeping. He says goodbye but Eiji could recognize that voice and musters enough strength to wake and tell Eiji to go. What a teary goodbye. Outside the mental institution, Ash tells Blanca his plan. He collaborated with Jessica to leak data on Banana Fish to the media (because either way, he knows the hostages will be killed). Because of that, Dino is now forced to suspend activities as he goes into damage control mode. Dino orders Fox to guard the place and kill all the hostages and send it back to Ash. As Dino and his entourage leave, they are ambushed by Ash’s men. Dino is taken hostage by Ash. Fox sees this and tells Mannerheim to give all the research data and drug samples to him. Ash takes Dino back to the institute as a bargaining chip for the hostages’ release. But Fox confronts him and gives his answer: He shoots Dino!

Episode 24
Fox orders his men to plant bombs all over the facility before they make their getaway. However Ash manages to escape despite being anaesthetized. Fox orders the lockdown of the facility but looks like somebody overwrite it. Dino?! Oh Fox, you failed in your mercenary teaching to always make sure somebody is dead. Jenkins and Charlie see Eiji in hospital. They say that thanks to Max’s evidence, an official investigation on Club Cod will begin. Ash will not be charged as he is the victim and they’re here to hear his side of his story. Too bad Eiji doesn’t know where he is. Cain’s men are in a gunfight with the elites to rescue their comrades. But it is Jessica who is badass, diving in and making her shots count. Like wow WTF?! Only in American where divorced couples can find romance in danger and want to remarry again. Good for you, Max. Sing neutralizes a few guards escorting Mannerheim. The doctor runs off by himself and is unfortunate to become Ash’s hostage. However he is shot and killed by Fox. I thought this guy wanted to tame Ash because he sends a helicopter unit to fire like hell! Is he that confident Ash won’t die from this?! Thanks to Blanca being a great sniper, Ash can have his one on one fight with Fox. Fox stabs his shoulder but Ash conveniently grabs a power tool and drills into him. Because one of the dying elites set of the bombs early, this blows Sing off. Ash has to rush to save him and tells him to just drop the Banana Fish samples. Hollywood cliché but Ash making this mistake of not making sure his enemy is dead? Yeah, Fox tells him to drop the kid or else. It’s Ash’s lucky day as Dino shoots Fox in the head. I guess Dino knows everything is over for him. So he just falls into the sea of fire. Sing doesn’t understand why Ash saved him. Had they kill each other, somebody else would have profited from it. Let’s just end everything right here.

Next day, the White House issues an official apology in light of government officials buying young boys as sex toys. Sing confronts Yut Lung and pulls a gun on him. Yut Lung accepts his fate but Sing won’t kill him despite ranting how he trusted him not to betray their Chinese brothers by teaming up with Dino. He was just jealous of Ash being able to open up to Eiji. It’s time to move on. Things in Chinatown have gone so out of control that it isn’t safe anymore. He hopes they can bring order back. Ash sees Blanca who will leave for the Caribbean tomorrow. Ash is okay in not seeing Eiji off. He always knew he was always trouble to him but couldn’t accept it. He describes Eiji as a warm person, a kind and honest person who completes him. He considers him his friend and if they never meet again, at least he could think about him. When Sing visits Eiji, he realizes Ash hasn’t visited him. Eiji gives him a letter for Ash. But where to find him? He is sure he is at the library. Sing is mad that Ash didn’t see Eiji one last time. Ash doesn’t want to get him involved again. Sing is willing to be his messenger but no words from Ash. The usual gang see off Ibe and Eiji. The latter finds it sad that Ash didn’t come but at least his gang members are here. Sing lies to put Eiji at ease by telling Ash wishes him well. Ash reads the letter. It writes of the different worlds they live in. But he is glad to have come to America because he met him. He never felt scared of him the first time but rather he felt he was hurt. He has always thought of wanting to protect Ash from that loneliness he is drifting towards to. At this point I guess it made Ash want to rush to the airport but Lao stabs him! Instant karma as Ash shoots him dead. Ash returns to the library and ‘sleeps’. Finally he can ‘sleep’ with a smile. The last lines of the letter reads Eiji’s will always be with him and although he says goodbye to America, he won’t say goodbye to him yet. He believes they will meet again. The greatest friend he ever has. :’(.

Gangstas Of New York
Damn, that ending sure hit hard and it was a very bitter pill to swallow. Despite so, it was really a bittersweet ending. Ash and Eiji didn’t get their final bromance together and although I was really sad that Ash died in the end, it was the only way left for him. After all, he has already achieved what needed to be done and unless he wanted to go back to his thug life, I think in a way that would make Eiji sad. Therefore Ash’s fate has finally come full circle. You live by the sword, you die by the sword. The irony of Ash surviving so many near fatal wounds and this is how he goes out? It is sometimes the most least expected thing that kills you. And for Ash, that is when he let his guard down thinking about Eiji. It’s also sad to think that Eiji left with a wrong impression of Ash’s fate but it’s better for him to return to Japan with a positive thinking. Not much good will be done if Eiji goes back home crying and broken hearted. Maybe he’ll learn about that much later when the news reaches him. Hopefully he will be ready. And even if the tragic fate that the greatest bromance brothers friends can never see each other again, it is good to know that they will always be each other’s best friends, heart and soul.

The plot and pacing of the story are surprisingly interesting. Overall, I could say that there was never a dull moment while watching this. Sure, there are moments when it is slow and the showcasing of the bromance between Ash and Eiji that serves more for building the bond between them rather than some cheap yaoi stuff everyone else thought it was going to happen. From the discovery to the hallucinatory drug of Banana Fish to Ash fighting against Dino and his organization, the ultimate path of this story is Ash trying to find salvation and freedom in his tragic and fragile life. Seeing him going through that journey was an amazing ride thanks to good execution of the story.

At first it keeps us intrigues as to what Banana Fish is in the first place. But once it is revealed what it truly is, the story didn’t lose its momentum as it shifts to the struggles of Ash and Eiji and what they must do next. Hence the title of this series may ironically be prominent in the first half of the series and become some sort of an extra thrown into the back burner of our minds in the second half, but with other developments and potentials keeping our minds preoccupied, this super drug would be the least of our problems when so many other factors come into play.

Ash as the central character is one whom viewers will mainly root for. His character is given ample and a lot of screen time to develop and flesh out properly. At first Ash might look like an overpowered character (but without any super powers) because of his sharpshooting and very keen observation. Besides his good looks, he is also very intelligent and knowledgeable in just about everything. Not forgetting his personality that can range from being suave and charming to tough and determined gang leader. Everything about him is almost oh so perfect save for his tainted past. When you discover the atrocities that Ash had to go through since young and the need to survive, it makes all his ‘overpowered moves’ to seem more justifiable. That is why in a way Ash is a lot relatable to us than other fictional characters with superhuman powers. The struggles of an exploited young soul and the decisions he is forced to take to survive in this dog eat dog world all rings too familiar in this sad reality of ours. Too bad a lot of us aren’t as hot as him :)… :’(.

Ash always looks strong on the outside but inside he is fragile and breaking down and this shows the human side of him because those who don’t know him would have automatically labelled him as a monster. Many of us could relate this kind of character to somebody we know. Like our mothers. Always being the scary drill sergeant but deep down just a caring delicate soul. This double face is perhaps the best way for Ash to survive. The only way he could be a leader to his men, a post he never wanted to have and stuck with forever.

Eiji is not as prominent as Ash but he is both the glue and hammer that holds him together while at the same time that frees him from his shackles. Ironically he is also Ash’s strength and weakness. Hence many of the situations that they are caught in danger with can be attributed to Eiji. It is that dilemma situation of because of Eiji was there, it happened. And also because Eiji was there, things got to work out the way it should. Hence Eiji is truly a catch-22 situation for Ash. But I believe that Eiji’s presence has brought a lot more good to Ash than bad. Ash wouldn’t have been able to fight against the oppressed had not Eiji come into his life. Yes, they faced many dangers along the way but that is only expected when one is defying the norm and fighting for your own freedom.

On the same tragic side with Ash but on the opposite end of the polar is Yut Lung. Unlike Ash who seeks salvation, Yut Lung takes the path of destruction. It might be his way to fight from the shadows because his specialty is poisons, he doesn’t go head to head with Ash. Hence it might seem cowardly that he tries to target Eiji to get to Ash. Unfortunately for Yut Lung, Ash always manages to step a few steps ahead of him. That is why Ash is more successful than him in terms of survival. Not to say that Yut Lung isn’t a survivalist but since he inherited his wealth from the Lee clan, he thinks money gives him the power to control. It is true that Yut Lung too has a tragic tale of his own but he isn’t the only one. Hence he has this shallow thinking of what demons like them should act and do. That is why many of Ash’s actions take him by surprise like the time Ash didn’t hesitate to shoot himself when Yut Lung told him to despite the gun is not loaded. Ash was prepared to do what it takes in what he believes in. Can Yut Lung match that determination? That’s why Ash could ‘progress’.

Dino as the main antagonist is also a formidable one instead of some old fart who has power, money and influence and a taste for young boys. Sometimes I thought it was silly when both Ash and Dino were so close to finish each other off, they decide to put it on hold because it is not their ideal way of killing the other. Back to waiting for that other perfect chance. It might sound silly but I looked at it from another perspective. Dino had poured in so much effort to raise his ‘best son’ and he surely had doubts of just killing him like that. Even if Ash is already hell bent on going against him, Dino had all the power and resources to just end Ash’s life like that. But he couldn’t. Because of all the effort put in, he needs to get that ‘satisfaction’ and squeezing him to the last drop before Ash kicks the bucket. And I believe it’s the same for Ash. Not that he has hopes for Dino turning over a new leaf.

Even if Ash ends this quickly by killing Dino, he would not have the chance to expose his secret heinous experiments and thus the vicious cycle goes on. Bringing Dino himself down might be just short term and wouldn’t do anything good. That is why Ash went to great lengths to bring down his organization so that a repeat of creating future monsters will not happen. Otherwise with Dino just gone, another monster would just step in to replace him. Thus the vicious cycle repeating once more. That might happen seeing Dino too met his fate. Glad it wasn’t the aptly named scheming Fox too. Imagine trained elite forces getting owned by street gangs. All that greed for money and power must have really brought their downfall, huh?

I have not much to comment on the other characters but they do play their minor role albeit not much. Like Sing who feels pretty much underused and looks the part because he was thrusted as the Chinese’s leader in a short notice after Shorter’s death. It is to an extent true what Lao said about him becoming Ash’s dog but remember, he was the only one who saw how fearsome Ash could be. You really don’t want to make enemies out of this guy. Literally, Ash could have been America’s representation for shooting at the Olympics. He never misses. Never. Ever. Then there is Blanca who also looks like another overpowered character. Because if Ash who already looks overpowered and cannot best his mentor, what does this say? But instead of being the ruthless mercenary he once was, Blanca plays the voice of reasoning especially to Ash when his head gets clouded each time Eiji is unwittingly involved. Hence somebody like Blanca prevents Ash from making an irreversible mistake that would have ended their bromance a little too sooner.

Max and Ibe feel almost irrelevant in the second half. Though Max did do a few things to help out Ash, Ibe overall feels more like an excess baggage. He is just a setting for a reason why Eiji came to America. Call him a poor guardian because he reluctantly lets Eiji run all over the place but if Eiji is being this stubborn determined to save Ash, what else can he do? It must be one of those longest trips to America for a Japanese. Until Eiji resolves this matter with Ash, looks like they’re looking for an extended stay in America. Remember to extend the visas again. I never had hope for Jenkins and Charlie to be useful cops. Being on Ash’s side doesn’t make their character any good because they look more like useless cops and totally absent in the second half of the series.

There are many social issues tackled by this series that rings so much closer to home and reality because it is still prevalent today. Especially child trafficking, child pornography and drugs. It feels like as long humans exist, these will never end and will carry on forever. Because as long as there are corrupt politicians and the widening gap between the rich and poor, you bet that the latter will definitely be exploited. Money makes the world go round. Everyone has their dark secrets. Too bad a lot of old ugly men here are portrayed as paedophiles. And politics of course. What a dirty word that is today. In the case of street gangs, I guess it is for the sake of this series’ plot that white boys, black guys and the Chinese all come together to fight against the common oppressor. Where are the Latinos, dude?! Internal gang struggles don’t seem to play a big issue with Ash being such a badass that he should’ve been a politician and change the whole political system upside down. Not that I think Ash cares about America as a whole either.

You can’t have gangs and organized crimes without some sort of action. So to say the least, they are entertaining and also satisfying to see Ash gunning down his enemies although sometimes it can get a bit unrealistic because he goes on and on, wave after wave like as though his invincibility AKA God mode and unlimited ammo cheat code have been activated. Although there are lots of blood and deaths here, it is not as gory compared to say, Shingeki No Kyojin. It’s pretty mild to say the least. But this series isn’t shy in killing a lot of characters off. As shockingly early and young as Skip to the typical cliché of villains like Dino and Fox eventually meeting their demise at the end. Some I never expected such as Shorter (not at least on a short notice) and some receiving their just desserts (somehow I just really wanted Abraham and Kippard to just f*cking die). Sorry, no double lovers’ suicide for you fujoshi fans out there.

The art and animation don’t feel like your typical conventional Japanese anime. It is more realistic compared to those sparkling wide eyed anime characters. Sometimes it feels like an American production doing a joint venture with the Japanese to produce this ‘cartoon’. I would also like to give points for the detail of the background since there are details being given attention to that makes you feel that the setting is really in America rather than a Japanese version of what they think of America is like. Of course it is not exactly a masterpiece since there are some scenes that are considered low quality. At least during scenes when they focus on the drama in front and not wanting our eyes to wander to the backdrop behind. To say the least, at least the animation is fluid during scenes that matter. This anime is done by MAPPA who did Shingeki No Bahamut series, Kakegurui, Zombie Land Saga and Yuri On Ice.

Voice acting I only recognized Jun Fukuyama as Yut Lung and a very meek Rie Kugimiya making her short-lived cameo as Jennifer. I thought Max sounded so familiar and it took me a while that this is the voice of Sanji of One Piece (Hiroaki Hirata). Initially I was mistaken to think that Tomokazu Sugita was behind Arthur’s voice but it turned out to be Yoshimasa Hosoya (Reiner in Shingeki No Kyojin). Same case of mistaken identity to think that Sho Hayami was behind Blanca’s voice although it did sound a little off. It was Toshiyuki Morikawa instead (Julius in Black Clover). My condolences to Unshou Ishizuka as Dino because he passed away in August 2018 from esophageal cancer. Since Banana Fish ran its cour in the second half of 2018, I wonder if he recorded all his lines before succumbing. I thought they would be replacing him with a new voice (like how it was done in Tada-kun Wa Koi Wo Shinai). I may be mistaken because I have this perception that seiyuus lend their talents a week before the episode airs or at least do a few episodes worth of lines to save time. Otherwise how do you think long running shows like One Piece can go on forever? But I suppose it is easier for shows with 1 or 2 cours seeing that the script has been laid out and fixed assuming there are no unforeseen surprises.

Kudos to Yuuma Uchida (Edogai in Golden Kamuy) in bringing out the life and various moods in Ash that it makes his character really sound convincing. I want to say the same for Kenji Nojima as Eiji (Yuuto in High School DxD) but he sounds very gay and weak most of the time. Really. The other casts are Shouyo Chiba as Sing (Koutarou in Tsuki Ga Kirei), Kenyu Horiuchi as Fox (Kinemon in Once Piece), Kenta Miyake as Blood (All Might in Boku No Hero Academia), Rica Fukami as Jessica (Sailor Venus in Sailormoon), Yasumichi Kushida as Kippard, Takashi Nagasako as Meredith (Gale in Soul Link), Makoto Furukawa as Shorter (Banri in Golden Time), Shinji Kawada as Ibe (Shino in Naruto), Souma Saitou as Lao (Utsumi in SSSS.Gridman), Yuu Hayashi as Abraham (Michizou Tachihara in Bungo Stray Dogs), Hidenari Ugaki as Alexis, Shuuhei Sakaguchi as Hua Lung (Kawachi in Yakitate! Japan) and Hisao Egawa as Wang Lung (Saigou in Gintama).

The opening and ending themes have this feel like they are songs from America bands. I know the world has integrated so much into a melting pot that it’s hard to tell but my first impression in hearing these songs is that they aren’t your typical Japanese anime pop or rock. The first opening theme, Found & Lost by Survive Said The Prophet is a total hard punk rock piece with all that typical insane screaming vocals. Hearing this song somewhat reminds me of Linkin Park. Or at least this is the kind of song that the American rock band would sing. The second opening theme, Freedom by Blue Encount is also a rock outfit but it feels a lot more toned down than the first one. The first ending theme, Prayer X by King Gnu has some hip hop elements in it although it is more of a slow one. It sounds fitting when you think about the state of Ash’s mind. Honestly, I prefer this one compared to the second ending theme, Red by Survive Said The Prophet. Though this slow rock is also fitting in terms of Ash’s state of mind, but hearing this piece sometimes make me feel I’m listening to some cult song because of that weird chorus vocals. And some of the lines sound weird too.

Overall, this is one of those animes that shouldn’t be judged by its promotional poster and synopsis. AKA the age old adage of don’t judge a book by its cover. It is surprisingly interesting and entertaining despite many of its unsavoury themes like drugs and child pornography. The bromance between the 2 main characters might look like clickbait for some yaoi moments but it is a good thing that those remain as delusions in our heads (except for that prison kiss that would most likely be the most yaoi you’ll ever see). It’s not a gay story (thank goodness) but a story of 2 guys rather. A story of revenge and redemption amidst the corruption and politics. If you like animes with an interesting story, tragedy and badass stuffs, don’t brush this one aside. After all, bananas and fish are good for you because they are filled with potassium and omega-3 acid respectively. Better this than drugs. And remember people, don’t do drugs.

It sounded so much like a porn title or at least one that is fit for an eroge. Seishun Buta Yarou Wa Bunny Girl Senpai Wo Yume Wo Minai is also a mouthful to pronounce but despite its suspicious title, it has nothing to do with porn or sexual fantasies. Sort of. Despite the very alluring promotional poster of a girl in a Playboy bunny suit (probably that’s what got me to watch this). Instead it deals with Puberty Syndrome. Isn’t that the phase where teenagers go through by being rebellious against their parents, get a tattoo, listen to punk metal music and getting all emo? Sorry. Anime wouldn’t be anime if it based on all that. Maybe. But here, we have dealings with being invisible, Groundhog day, doppelganger, body swapping and personality disorder stemming from amnesia. Yikes. Am I watching the Twilight Zone?

Episode 1
Sakuta Azusagawa is at the library when he sees Mai Sakurajima dressed up as a bunny girl. Is she a ghost because others don’t seem to notice her. Then she notices him watching and tells him to forget what he saw. Can he? Sakuta has his own fair share of ‘problems’ back home because his sister, Kaede is quite clingy to him due to a trauma. But she still can make a witty quip. Sakuta: Damn you’re heavy. Kaede: Because half of it is filled with my love for you! OMG! Buranko! On his way to school, Sakuta asks his friend, Yuuma Kunimi about Mai. She was a famous child celebrity but is currently on hiatus. Ironically, she’s so famous and Sakuta haven’t heard of her? Does he not watch TV? But Sakuta finds it odd that he notices she has no friends at school if that’s the case. Apparently this school has a very strong unwritten law of ostracising people. Once you’re an outcast, you are forever considered one. That is why, Yuuma’s jealous girlfriend, Saki Kamisato telling Sakuta to stay away from him. Not that she is worried if they developed some gay relationship whatsoever. You see, Sakuta has a past reputation of fighting others and landing them in hospital. Saki has to leave in fear that she may be associated with him and become an outcast. At the train station, Sakuta somewhat ‘saves’ Mai from an unauthorized photo that a so called fan wants to take. As they talk, Mai seems to know about his reputation too although he scoffs it off as wild rumours. He never denies them because he thinks it is all part of the flow so it’s pointless to fight it. Now it’s her turn to explain her bunny girl act. She started acting as young as 6 and soon became famous. With everybody looking at her at a celebrity, at some point she wished there was a world where nobody knew her. When she started noticing people ignoring her, she thought it was just a prank. But soon more and more people are starting to ignore her. Hence she is going around places to see if the same thing is happening. I mean, the bunny girl suit is sure to turn heads, right?

Sakuta starts explaining this Puberty Syndrome thingy that has become some sort of an urban legend. To help make her believe what he said, he brings her back to his place and undresses! Rape scene?! Just kidding. It is to show him the hideous scars across his body. He isn’t sure how he got them. Long ago, Kaede got bruises all over her body but it was caused by cyberbullying. Not even physical bullying. It started when she posted on some site and got on the bad side of a popular girl. Everybody started targeting her. Then one day when she came home, Sakuta saw with his own eyes the bruises just popped up on her. That’s why he believes this Puberty Syndrome is real. The truth behind his own rumours is that he was the one hospitalized because one day he woke up bleeding. Sakuta thinks Mai should go back to showbiz and if she is all over TV, people won’t ignore her. But this hit a nerve and she stopped interacting with him since. Sakuta then sees a journalist, Fumika Nanjou who has some info not known to the public on why Mai is on hiatus. Sakuta then sees his senior, Rio Futaba to ask the possibility of suddenly becoming invisible. If it’s not Puberty Syndrome, it could be the case of Schrodinger’s Cat. After a while, Sakuta realizes why Mai didn’t come to school. Could it be nobody could see her now? He rushes home to find her sitting outside his doorstep. Looks like she can’t even buy food now.

Episode 2
Sakuta and Mai shop at the mart. If she is invisible, would others see floating things when she picks up stuffs? Apparently anything she touches becomes invisible too. Sakuta has done some research on Mai and believes there was a rift between her manager who was also her mom. She explains that despite it was written in the contract, Mai didn’t want to do a swimsuit shoot. This made her realize her mom never cared anything for her except making money off her. Even so, Sakuta believes that is all the more reason she should go back to work to clear things up. When she learns he made a deal with Nanjou, Mai warns him about taking the media lightly. He and his family will be hounded. Mai calls Nanjou and wants her to stop publishing pictures of his scar (that was part of the deal). So Mai instead is willing to give her a big scoop that she will return to showbiz soon. As she will be going back to work and have no more time to have fun, their logic is that they will go on a date? On that date morning, Sakuta is on his way when he sees a little girl crying. She lost her mom. He is about to help but Tomoe Koga kicks him thinking this lolicon is going to kidnap her! Realizing her mistake, she wants him to kick her ass back? Too bad the policeman catches them thinking they’re doing something kinky in public. They are released after having their statements taken but Sakuta is already late for his date. Luckily for him, Mai is still waiting but not thrilled.

The date is on but Mai wonders why he is going this far for her. When Kaede had Puberty Syndrome, nobody believed her. Now that Mai is supposedly experiencing one, he wants to be there for her. Mai can tell it is because of a girl. He admits there is a girl he likes. He met Shouko Makinohara and fell in love with her. It is the reason he transferred to this school as he saw her uniform. However there were no such records of her. He still likes her because she got her back on his feet when he was down. Mai shocks Sakuta as she calls her mom here to sign a contract, signalling she would go back to showbiz. However mom cannot see her! She thinks it is Sakuta who called him and is less than amuse of this prank. Heck, mom doesn’t even remember she has a daughter! This is too much for Mai to take so she doesn’t want him to pursue this further. Later when he calls Nanjou, she can’t even remember who Mai is! Sakuta thinks if they go to somewhere faraway, some might still remember her. So technically the date still continues. As they take a train to another town, Sakuta asks random strangers if they remember Mai. Nope. Never heard of her. In the small room they rent, Sakuta calls Yuuma and surprisingly he still remembers Mai. So he calls Futaba in hopes she can help solve this Puberty Syndrome. The room is so small that it isn’t surprising they share the same bed. So they exchange naughty teases if they want to kiss or have sex. It’s not happening. I know. He vows never to forget her and she thanks him for not giving up on her.

Episode 3
Even animals like this cute doggie ignores Mai. So sad. By the time they return to school, Futaba tells him the bad news that everyone including Yuuma has forgotten about Mai. Futaba believes only they haven’t forgotten because they didn’t really sleep (Sakuta couldn’t sleep a wink. He was after all lying next to a girl). Futaba continues her explanation how she is not being observed and hence the entire school is her Schrodinger’s box. There’s more but I don’t really understand. With Sakuta fearing of forgetting Mai if he sleeps, hence he is forcing himself to stay awake. Those energy drinks better do their job. Because Futaba has slept, she has become part of the statistic. Worse, he is in the midst of having midterm exams. I guess everyone is thinking he is burning the midnight oil. Man, he is looking like a zombie. Mai even thinks so and helps him tutor. Eventually he is too tired and falls asleep. When morning comes, he sees a notebook that he has written for himself. A strange bunny girl? It is safe to say that Sakuta has forgotten all about Mai and thinks this diary who wrote is all a bunch of crap. Mai’s name is mysteriously blanked out. Even Futaba gives some not to him. They’re not even sure what this observation thingy is. As Sakuta takes his final midterm exam, suddenly he starts to remember Mai. Some of the buzzwords used during tutoring start bringing those memories back. Ashamed, he runs out from the exam hall and into the field. Then he screams at the top of his voice that he loves Mai! Repeatedly! Boy, this is so embarrassing. Yeah, the entire school must be thinking how desperate this loser is. And then here is Mai. Telling him off how much of a nuisance he is. They talk (cheesy dialogue included to ‘assure’ their love) before Mai screaming at the top of her voice to dispel the fake rumours on Sakuta. Now that Mai is back to the centre of attention, it’s safe to say that now people remember her. In the end, Futaba doesn’t think that scientific methods aren’t really effective when the Puberty Syndrome is caused by teenage instability and warped worldview. As he has proven, a mere confession was enough to turn it on its head.

Episode 4
Sakuta asking Mai to go out with him. Hardly exciting since he has been saying it every day. So she’s like rejecting him every day? She says her upcoming play has a kiss scene. He doesn’t want her to do it. Is he her father now? It seems this isn’t her first kiss as she hints it was with him. Really? Can’t remember. Hints? Not telling. She trolls him if he wants to redo it. Of course. Close your eyes. He just kissed her tamagoyaki. With Sakuta also trolling he is getting less interested because she is showing no interest, she agrees to go out with him. Next day, Sakuta feels weird. Is the day repeating? Everything looks and sounds the same. So with the same conversation with Mai, he manages to do his best trolling. Since she isn’t interested, he’ll find another love. Instantly she agrees to go out with him. Later Sakuta spots Tomoe hesitating to go out with a guy named Yousuke Maezawa. Next day… Same thing! Groundhog day? He sees Futaba for a solution but apparently according to the internet, many others are also feeling they are repeating the day. She explains about Laplace demon. As everything is bound equally under universal laws, by observing every atom and using some formula, you can predict its precise location of anything. However that would require an immense time for observation and it would be useless if you cannot do it within a second. Hence Laplace demon is one who has that knowledge. So for Sakuta to break out from this loop, he must find that Laplace demon who is acting differently than the rest. So could it be Tomoe because she is now hiding underneath the table. However she too is experiencing the loop. But they have to hide since Maezawa is coming in to look for her. It seems her friend, Rena Kashiba likes him but Maezawa likes Tomoe instead. She doesn’t want to be an outcast because of this love triangle. A little struggle from the cramp space occurs as Tomoe falls on top of Sakuta. Maezawa returns and sees this. Not good. And then Mai comes in and sees this. Really bad. Don’t talk to her again. It’s over.

You think Sakuta would not worry as tomorrow will reset itself. Behold! It is 2 days later! So he goes to talk to Futaba and she ends up ranting about being jealous watching Yuuma and his girlfriend since she has a crush on him. What?! But the issue he needs to settle right now is to clear things up with Mai. It was just last month he publicly confessed his love to her. At the café where Sakuta and Yuuma work part time, it seems Tomoe will also be joining them. As Sakuta takes orders from Rena and co, they seriously asking if he is going out with her. They’re worried because this happened so soon right after Mai broke up with him. They warn him if he is fooling around. Later Tomoe wants a favour but Sakuta knows what’s going to happen. He knows she wants him to pretend to be his girlfriend at least until the first term ends. Ironically his reputation didn’t deteriorate after that public confession and is now ‘popular’ among the juniors for his guts! Since Tomoe is afraid of losing her only group of friends, they have to make this pretend date real. So go on a real date? Well, it’s not like Sakuta is bound to anything and is in fact looking forward to have fun. Late that night, Mai rings on his doorstep. Why didn’t he come to explain himself? Damn, you just never know what a woman thinks!

Episode 5
Mai hears his explanations but won’t get mad because he’ll get turned on if she does so. So she really thinks he is a perverted masochist? She still feels something odd for him to do all this. He says Tomoe’s case reminds him very much like Kaede. Since Mai will be away for a while for a commercial shoot, this is not her dress she is giving him to sniff in her absence. Rather it is for Kaede to wear. Kaede lights up and looks like they’re friends now. Sakuta asks Yuuma about Maezawa and it seems he has a girlfriend in another high school and likes to badmouth his exes. Sakuta meet up with Tomoe for their date at the aquarium. She tells him of her past as a plain Jane so he tells her it doesn’t matter what she used to be because all that matters is what she is now. Tomoe wonders why he is doing this for someone he rarely knows. I don’t think kicking each other’s butt is the answer she’s looking for. Even if he is an outcast, why still do so? He likes to be the pillar of support even if the entire world is against him. For Tomoe, she wants to be liked by everyone, at least not hated. Later Sakuta visits Futaba to ask her conclusion about this Laplace thingy. It is believed the looping was caused by her ‘rolling the dice’ until she is satisfied with the outcome. Of course she isn’t aware of this because if she was, she would have been the demon herself. Once again, Saki confronts Sakuta of talking to Yuuma. She’s also complaining about Yuuma hanging out with Futaba. Why don’t you ask them yourself? Time to cut the conversation when Sakuta sarcastically claims she is butt hurt because of constipation! Yuuma then tells Sakuta the bad news that there are rumours that he and Tomoe are f*cking like rabbits. While at the train station, they can hear people snigger this. With Maezawa mocking them, Sakuta sneers back and the jerk punches him. Sakuta fights back but plays dirty that makes him look like a fool. Not so funny now, eh? If you don’t like to be embarrassed, stop doing stupid things. And he makes the boldest declaration that would clear those funny rumours: HE IS A VIRGIN!!! He takes Tomoe and run. For a while there, she really felt like his girlfriend. She also somewhat admits she is a virgin and never had a boyfriend before. Because all her friends said they had one, she too wanted to be in and went with the flow. With Rena giving up on Maezawa, this case is closed. Tomoe wants to repay him. Simple. Just be his friend. It’s not like she could find anybody else, right?

Episode 6
Sakuta wants Mai to tutor him in a bunny suit. She does so! His grade better improve now. Sakuta then goes to date Tomoe before the start of the summer vacation. Yeah, they’re making plans on how to end their relationship. No biggies. Let’s just say he still loves Mai and they had to break up. Day is over, go home and sleep. Next morning when Sakuta wakes up, guess what? He thought it was a joke but it’s not because yesterday is repeating itself again! Groundhog day once more?! It seems Tomoe is unaware of the day repeating itself. Seeing Futaba for an answer, if Sakuta isn’t Laplace then it could only mean 1 thing: Tomoe is lying. So after a couple of more loops and dates with Tomoe, Sakuta decides to do something different. This time their date is at a shrine and after writing their wishes to make their love come true, Sakuta assures he is the only one lying. Then Sakuta wants Tomoe to drop the act. From what I understand, Tomoe might be repeating the day in hopes that he could change his feelings for her. He assures that will never happen if it is a billion times. Tomoe tries to come to terms with her feelings and end this once and for all, hoping they can still remain friends. Then she blames him for being so nice to him and hence these feelings. After all that I hate you, eventually she screams the loudest I love you. Now she can cry her heart out. Now, this doesn’t really make time flow back to normal. Heck, Sakuta realizes time has reset back to when he experienced the first Groundhog day! So everything was just a simulation of the future? Sakuta trolls Mai to be his girlfriend. He trolls and distracts him to give him a peck on his cheek! Don’t push it for one on the lips. Sakuta then sees Mai rejecting Maezawa because she hints she likes Sakuta. He assures he is still her friend but she says it is she giving him the privilege to be her friend. For the rest of the days, everything played out exactly like it happened before. And there’s some scientific explanation from Futaba about quantum entanglement on how Sakuta was the only one in the world to get dragged into this sh*t. Not really understanding this sci-fi crap theory! When Sakuta and Mai are walking home on a rainy day, they see a little girl trying to shelter an abandoned kitten with her umbrella. Sakuta offers to take it in when the girl gives her name: Shouko Makinohara.

Episode 7
Kaede must be conflicted that Sakuta might want an even younger sister than her! Yeah, Shouko is much more polite too. She does come by to visit the kitten. Sakuta sees Futaba (new hairstyle?) about Shouko’s case and she believes it must be that myth of everyone has a doppelganger. While Sakuta is hanging out with Mai, suddenly they see Futaba walking into an internet café. Does she frequent a place like this? They try to find her and since they can’t, Sakuta calls her. She picks up and this is where ‘trouble’ starts. Because Futaba just walked before them and she is not on the phone! Sakuta manages to grab her as she explains how true the doppelganger thingy is. Yup, that Futaba he met earlier was her doppelganger. And it seems the clone is taking over her life and now Futaba can’t go home and hence hanging out here. Sakuta is so kind to let her stay at his place. Will Mai approve? Nope. That’s why she is staying too. Huzzah! Kaede worried his harem is growing… But she will accept his flaws and love him! So if Mai and Futaba will sleep in his room, sorry Kaede, onii-chan isn’t going to sleep with you but in the living room all by himself. So now we get to Futaba’s sci-fi explanation of this quantum teleportation thingy. Don’t get it. Naturally. It seems she thinks she is observing herself and what happens when both are conscious in observing the other? Doppelganger situation. In case of that 2 people cannot exist at the same time theory, after all, Futaba didn’t actually see herself. That night, it isn’t Kaede sneaking in but Mai. Some moments that hint she wants him to kiss her but he blunders and the mood is off. Damn. So fragile? He tries to play psychology that he might fear women if he gets rejected. Don’t worry. She will let him practice as many times until he gets it right. But I guess it’s not tonight. Next day Shouko visits and Futaba sees for herself this little girl. Sakuta goes to school to see the doppelganger Futaba watching Yuuma playing a basketball game. Sakuta learns Futaba fell in love with him when he offered his bun when it was like a warzone for her to get one at the stall. Is that how cheap her love is? Stop with the corny cornet jokes, Sakuta. This Futaba wonders if he thinks she is a fake. He thought so but realizes both of them are the real deal. Later it’s that b*tch Saki confronting Sakuta again. But this time she shows him uploaded pictures of Futaba taking sexy selfies of herself. Is she into some shady business?

Episode 8
Talking to Futaba about this, she says she created an account last summer just to get some attention but realized there was nothing to post about. She started hating herself when her body matured too fast and got the attention of guys. Meanwhile Mai’s agency wants to ban her from dating but she puts that decision on hold so she could consult Sakuta. He agrees with it since she just got back into showbiz so it is better to be the good girl for now. I don’t think that’s the answer she’s looking for but whatever. Now Sakuta talks to the other Futaba and she also says something similar about hating herself. The problem could have been solved if they just go back to being one but they have diverged too far and this isn’t exactly Sakuta’s problem per se. You should solve your own problem. When Futaba receives a very creepy stalker message, she gets scared. She wants Sakuta to stay at her place for a while. She talks about her fear of being alone and was worried when Sakuta got a girlfriend, she would be alone again. The same case when Yuuma got a girlfriend. Sakuta gets this idea of calling Yuuma to meet up with him now by feigning Futaba is in trouble. He really rushes to meet up and this brings Futaba to tears as she is relieved to hear she isn’t alone. Then they play sparklers till morning and Futaba tells Sakuta to save her other self as she is in a much worse position than her. He returns home to sleep but the next morning, he learns from Kaede that Futaba went out shopping but never came back. Since she didn’t take her handphone, I guess Sakuta has to cycle all the way in the typhoon to Futaba’s house to ask about her whereabouts. Yeah, try the school. There she is. It seems she is jealous in seeing that group photo of them playing sparklers. She thinks the world isn’t big enough for the both of them and will disappear since her counterpart is doing a much better job of living. Sakuta doesn’t give a damn and tells her to just come for the fireworks. Just then, Sakuta collapses. He wakes up in hospital and no serious condition. Sakuta then talks to Futaba outside that it is okay to hate herself. It isn’t that his own life is tolerable either. Futaba is interested to go see the fireworks now but Sakuta points out it is not him he should be telling. She sums up her courage to make the call and the moment she says her intentions, she disappears. It seems she called her other self on line and now they are one again. The trio meet up at the fireworks. Futaba whispers something in Yuuma’s ear and the cliché convenient of fireworks make it inaudible to us. But she doesn’t want him to give an answer as she knows what it’ll be.

Episode 9
It’s the start of the new school term but Sakuta has not seen Mai anywhere. When he finally finds her on the streets, she doesn’t recognize him and finds him creepy. That is actually Nodoka Toyohama (from the idol group, Sweet Bullet) and she swapped bodies with Mai. Sakuta can tell this is Mai the way she steps on his feet! You see, Nodoka is Mai’s younger half-sister. Same father but different mothers. Last night she popped up at Mai’s place and didn’t want to go home. Next morning, they realized their bodies were swapped. Until they get back to normal, they must live each other’s life. This means attending each other’s school. I guess they have nothing to worry about since they have no friends so everything will be okay if they don’t talk to others. Sakuta talks to Nodoka about her beef with Mai. Although she looks up to her, she still hates her in some ways. I guess the best way to get it off her chest is to talk to Mai directly. She admits of living in her shadow since young. She is jealous that Mai can do things effortlessly when it takes years for her to achieve the same. Because of that, mom always yells at her she should be able to do the same. So she hates her more? The feeling is mutual for Mai but without the thoughtlessness of their dad, they would never have met. Of course Mai can’t allow Nodoka to stay at Sakuta’s place. This means poor Kaede thinking her brother is really a gigolo bringing another new girl home. As Sakuta watches Nodoka in an acting shoot, suddenly she starts hyperventilating and collapsed. Talking this out with Mai, it could be she realized the insane expectations and burden Mai had to carry and panicked. Sakuta asks Yuuma if he knows what it’s like to have a perfect older sister. So he calls Saki who reluctantly explain about hers. She was the school’s previous student council president (not that Sakuta could remember) and got into a top university. Saki doesn’t like or hate her but finds it annoying that mom always compared her to her sister. Mai gives Sakuta a spare key to Nodoka’s place. He goes there to talk to Nodoka and inform Mai doesn’t care wasn’t worried at all. He thinks she should naturally smile like she did instead of trying to put on a fake smile that imitates Mai. When Nodoka is in the bath, Sakuta is tempted to peek into the tatami closet that Mai earlier warned him not to.

Episode 10
With all the new women Sakuta brings home, Kaede thinks she must do her part of moving forward. So I guess it’s a big step for her to get out of her pyjamas and don her school uniform. Nodoka’s reshoot went well. After 12 takes. With Mai leaving Sakuta a message that father wants to have dinner with him, this prompts Nodoka to ask about his family. After Kaede was diagnosed with Puberty Syndrome, mom couldn’t take it and was hospitalized. Dad went with her and basically dumped Kaede to him. They’re living separately now and because they’re his parents, it’s not like he hates or loves them. When Sakuta meets his dad and ask for parenting advice, dad thinks he knocked up a girl! NOT YET! Dad relates they were at a lost when Sakuta was born as every day was filled with worries and uncertainties. Sakuta and Nodoka are invited to Sweet Bullet’s concert. Nodoka watches in awe as Mai performs flawlessly and even covers a member who slips up. Sweet Bullet announces Nodoka will be the lead vocals of their next single. Nodoka’s heart breaks seeing her mom congratulating Mai and so happy about it. It was a smile she had never seen before. She thinks mom always wanted Mai instead of her. So sad that Nodoka tries to drown herself in the sea! Sakuta had to convince her that Mai doesn’t hate her and can show proof. Inside the tatami closet is a box filled with letters sent by Nodoka to Mai. This is proof she still loves you. Still not convinced? Here’s Mai to explain the rest. Mai was also so busy that she didn’t even have time for herself. When Nodoka was introduced as her sister the first time, she saw the joy of her looking up to her. That motivation kept her going. It all boils down mom’s love is probably due to the hard work she put in. Still complaining? Mai slaps… Sakuta! Can’t damage her face for tomorrow’s photo shoot. When her mom congratulated her after the concert, she could felt she was shaking and was worried the whole time. Nodoka always wanted mom to praise her and make her happy since Mai was only always what she talked about. So be yourself and do what you want instead of what she tells you. Cue for full crying to be allowed now. With Nodoka accepting she doesn’t have to be like Mai, suddenly the duo revert. It’s not body or mind swapping. It felt like the weirdest CGI of shape shifting! WTF! So I guess Futaba’s explanation for the body shape shifting was the sisters envying each other’s position. Sakuta thought his lovey-dovey days with Mai are back. Too bad Nodoka is moving in! Yeah, argument with mom as usual. But more problems at hand. A photo of Mai and Sakuta is circulating. Scandal on the cards…

Episode 11
A press conference is held for Mai to explain. Japanese adults sure love the drama and romance of the young ones, eh? Thanks to Mai being open and cool in handling them, soon this case dies down. Sakuta receives a letter from Shouko to meet at the beach. I’m sure he wants to go but how can he get Mai to trust him he is not cheating on her? How does he show his loyalty? By screaming out I love you in public! Please don’t. Any other ways? How about a deep kiss? Please don’t. Okay, she’ll let him. As they leave, Kotomi Kano who was Kaede’s old friend and classmate needs to talk to Sakuta. Nice guy needs to see this so he has Mai wait for Shouko on his behalf since she recognizes her. Kotomi talks about hoe bullying was a hot issue in their old school. After Kaede transferred out, the bullies received death threats. They too stopped coming to school and this bullying issue died down. Kotomi feels guilty because as Kaede’s friend, she did nothing. She tried to forget about this whole incident and would have until that scandal dating picture of Mai and Sakuta popped up. Sakuta rejoins Mai but since it’s getting late and Shouko not showing up, Sakuta leaves a message in the sand (that he already got a girlfriend!). Hope the waves don’t wash it away. Back home, Kaede has made a list of things to do. It’s admirable considering her case even if most of them are things to do with onii-chan. When Shouko calls, she explains she was sick and also the reason she didn’t visit recently. When asked about the letter, she wasn’t aware of sending any. Kaede braves herself to try and answer the phone from Mai. It literally took all her strength to do so. Congrats! Apparently she wants to be independent because at this rate Sakuta cannot marry! Because girls who marry him must take Kaede as part of the package! Can’t argue with that. But I’m sure Mai would gladly welcome her. Sakuta dreams of Shouko telling him life is a series of trials trying to make you a kinder person. She hopes to become that with each passing day. Kaede makes an even more elaborate plan to walk outside with Sakura. Frequent breaks are the key. Once ready, she clings on tightly to him. Let’s do this. But halfway she wants to give up and before she knows it, she’s already outside. Tears of happiness. One small step for Kaede, one big step for Kaede’s future. Slowly, Kaede is able to ‘exist’ outside in longer intervals. One day frolicking at the beach, that is where Kotomi sees her. Kaede gets scared and doesn’t know who she is. That is when Sakuta reveals a secret to Mai about Kaede: She has no memories of her old self.

Episode 12
2 years ago, Kaede woke up with no memories of everything before. The doctor diagnosed that due to the mental stress, she lost her memories to escape her painful situation. Sakuta knew he was dealing with a different person because everything she did was obviously different to how the old Kaede did things. When he noticed strange bruises randomly on her, at the same time mom was starting to show signs of breaking down. Also, he got that scar on his chest. He was hospitalized but doctor couldn’t find a definitive answer and thought it was self-harm. Depressed, he snuck out of hospital and met Shouko. Her positive words moved him and gave him hope to live. So when their parents moved out, dad hopes Kaede will recover and to take her time because they will always be waiting for her. The problem is, if the old Kaede reappears, what will happen to the current one? When Sakuta hands Kaede a book from Kotomi, there is a note inside saying she wants to be friends with her again. It seemed like some part of her memories may have returned before she collapsed. Kaede is hospitalized but no biggie. Sakuta calls Mai to update her on this and he also believes that the old Kaede may be reawakening and if that’s the case, the new one might disappear. Since Kaede overheard that, she tries to expedite her wish list, especially going to school. It’s hard for her to even walk in public as she is flip flopping between wanting to give up and carrying on. Even if she is so afraid, she still wants to make it to school. Sakuta promises to make that happen but first a little break. He takes her to the zoo. This lightens up her mood. He also gives her a yearly pass for her to come here as many she times she wants. Then they sneak into school at night so she could have a ‘preview’ of what to expect. This gives Kaede motivation that she really wants to go to school tomorrow. Next morning, Sakuta is in shock because he can tell that the way Kaede acts and talks, the old version is back.

Episode 13
Sakuta calls his dad to inform him about Kaede. Currently she is in hospital to be monitored. Though no physical damage but doesn’t remember the other Kaede, the doctor deduces that the gap in memories may destabilize her so it’s best to monitor her for now. Unfortunately it is Sakuta who cannot bear this. He becomes destabilized as he screams and cries his way home. Thank goodness Shouko shows up. The grown up one. She takes him home and takes care of him. Sakuta is so depressed that he isn’t really happy to see this girl again. Hence Shouko reads Kaede’s diary from the day of her ‘inception’. From her observations of her new family to her brother bringing home new girls and the recent list of goals. She knows Sakuta has been regretting the whole time and if she doesn’t do something, he might end up thinking he couldn’t do a thing. She doesn’t want him to have regrets when she disappears. She wants him to be happy and leave lots of memories before she goes. Sakuta still isn’t convinced because Kaede tried so hard and it’s like betraying her hopes. Shouko believes Sakuta is feeling sad proves how important Kaede is to him and how much a big place she holds him in her heart. Sakuta, you can continue crying louder now. Next morning, Sakuta is still like a zombie. Shouko left a note that she has gone. Then a voice recorder from Mai has him calling her to tell what really happened to Kaede. With life slowly seeping back to him, Sakuta realizes that Shouko, both the teen and loli never appeared again. Asking Futaba’s advice on this, she can only deduce that Shouko is his imaginary friend.

Mai takes a short break from filming to visit Sakuta. Though he is happy, she sees that note from Shouko. Oh dear. Mood just sour. No matter how long he explains himself and that nothing actually happened between them, it’s safe to say Mai is still not impressed. She’s going back to work. He’s fine, right? That’s all she needs to know. Man, he sure shot himself in the foot. Looks like Sakuta is going back to depression by being clumsy at work. And a talk with Nodoka, she knows Mai isn’t that petty to be bothered with that. She trusts him. So why? Because didn’t he know it was Mai’s birthday?! If Sakuta rushes now and takes the shinkasen, maybe he can catch up with her… And rush he did. But Mai is waiting to pick him up. With all that spamming from Nodoka, of course. So they go to some place to talk things out. He apologizes. She explains she knew he needed someone to be there for him and that it hurts that it wasn’t her. Sorry for not being there when you needed me the most. Mai trolls him with a kiss but it is just to pinch his cheeks. He likes that, doesn’t he? Kaede is discharged from hospital. She must be embarrassed after reading her diary. But she still wishes to go to school and is not afraid because she is not alone.

Do You Like Horny Bunny Girl Senpai?
Well… That was a pretty normal and anti-climactic ending. Is this considered a good ending? Kaede returns to her normal original self. Hence the final episode is somewhat a 24 minute goodbye from Kaede and Sakuta coming to terms with it. Yeah well, it’s strange he only got to know the real Kaede for like 2 years and he found it hard to part ways. Was this Kaede more fun? Maybe. But super cute! Not too sure about the original Kaede but she sounds a bit mundane. Sure, for us viewers we just got to know her but it remains to be seen if the other one will return. Hence future Kaede will have split personalities and switching forth in between. Heh. I won’t count that out. But I’m gonna seek Futaba for an explanation if I ever get confused on that one.

Overall, the plot and story of this series is really nothing special. It is more of the strange predicaments that the characters are facing that is somewhat the more intriguing part. In a sense, I guess that could be considered the general story but generally it just goes something like this. Sakuta’s normal high school life is interrupted when he notices some sort of irregularity especially with one of the girls he knows or related. They try to figure out what is happening and doing something about it (which isn’t much) and the problem is solved. There. That’s just basically it. Not with a lot of fanfare so some may go, “Huh? That’s it?”.

Hence the strange phenomenon are not actually sci-fi moments if I should say. What do I mean? Although the strange phenomenon the girls experienced in this series may look like some sort of mild sci-fi situations, they are more like inner demons that the girls need to conquer and overcome in order for the problem is solved. That is why I said in my previous paragraph that they don’t really need to do anything much or anything that is too drastic. With Sakuta’s help, a lot of drama, talking and self-realization is all it takes for the problem to literally go away and things reverting back to normal. At least, that is how I see it.

Indeed, the issues at hand that the girls faced may still sound and look sci-fi worthy. However you know me, I am really dumb when it comes to sci-fi moments and stuffs. Although I still continue to watch such series in hopes of ‘getting smarter’. Ultimate fail, of course. They aren’t really that bad but with Futaba using some sci-fi mumbo jumbo, even if it is in the simplest form that dumb viewers like me are supposed to comprehend, I just can’t. My brain just automatically shut off to prevent a meltdown. Really. I believe that such theories aren’t really far-fetched and there are lots of such notions and ideas floating around the internet (too lazy to Google, of course) so I’m taking Futaba’s word that in some sense, the theories are somewhat interesting. Just not interesting to a level that I can understand them. Also, watching these girls experiencing sci-fi phenomenon isn’t anything new. Since it reminded me of Kokoro Connect, another series that deals with strange sci-fi-like situations among a group of high school friends. Also not forgetting the Monogatari series but with way less supernatural elements.

Thus the characters play a vital role in retaining the intrigue of the overall story. As I have said, many have their own issues to deal with and overall if you look at them, they’re just normal and ordinary people with nothing really interesting to their background per se. Even with Mai and Nodoka having some sort of proxy rivalry because of their mothers, this background setting isn’t exactly all that exciting if you think about it. It is just enough as a setting for the sci-fi phenomenon to take place and drive the pace of the arc to last for a few episodes. Because the series likes to plant small cameo hints in current episodes for the next arc (like mini Shouko’s appearance), so I thought Mai would be getting another arc of her own considering the media sounding like they’re going to have a field day with the scandal of her having a boyfriend. Too bad that turned out to be a red herring as it was surprisingly ended as fast as it started. Otherwise we wouldn’t have time for the final Kaede’s arc, I think.

I do find that some of the character interactions to be interesting and hence funny and amusing. Especially Sakuta who is the main character has his own brand of witty sarcasm. He isn’t exactly the most sarcastic guy in anime but saying those lines in his deadpan voice can still be funny. Doubling this ‘comedy act’ is his ‘partner in crime’ Mai especially when they started dating. Can they be one of the best couples in anime? Because they hardly use their emotions and with them being sarcastic to each other, it’s probably the glue that sticks them together (maybe the sex jokes did the trick). Then there’s Kaede who is just as cute as she is tragic. Before her arc, she feels more like a side comic relief character especially with her one liners. I can never forget her comeback of how she commented on her own weight gain as Sakuta thought. Yeah, that was pretty classic. Maybe I’m heavy too because half of it is filled for my love for some 2D waifu… And who could forget how she is always shocked with Sakuta bringing home a new girl in every new arc… Sakuta sometimes being frank or playful with his personality, I guess that is why many girls think he is such a perverted pig. Hence every episode’s next episode preview’s trademark line of calling him one. That’s my Sakuta. A total pig alright. Don’t take it from the girls. Even Sakuta himself said it to himself finally.

Sometimes I feel this series might be a sleeper harem series. Instead of having all the harem girls at once, each is given their own focus when they become the ‘star’ of their own arc. In a way, Sakuta’s harem is spread out throughout the series. But calling it a harem may be a little stretch because it isn’t like all of the girls have romantic interest in Sakuta. Not that I can see. After all, Sakuta helped them out so maybe there is. Or not. Even being Mai’s boyfriend feels pretty bland since Mai is often away ever since she got back into show business. Futaba is more interested in Yuuma, Kaede overly relies on her onii-chan more than anything and Nodoka looks up to her half-sister. There may be some feelings from Tomoe but for now they’re just remaining their status as friends (or at least butt kicking buddies). All in all, these girls are mainly featured prominently only in their arc and in others when they are not, they feel more like background characters. For example, Futaba is just some lonely mad scientist explaining what she interprets the problem Sakuta tells her. Kaede is a stunted little sister with a few traumas (can’t even let phones ring) who relies heavily on Sakuta. Tomoe is just Sakuta’s co-worker at the café and Nodoka the idol. That’s all there is to them.

Probably the TV series was too short to feature all the girls because the only one missing her own arc is Shouko. So far her presence in the series can be considered as baffling and a red herring because we are not really sure if this little girl is the Shouko that Sakuta knows or an entirely different person who coincidentally shares the same name. Or maybe she too is having her own Puberty Syndrome but is put on the back burner as Sakuta solves the others who are more pressing at hand. Or like Futaba puts it, just an imaginary friend. But we see others interact with her. What if all those are just in Sakuta’s mind and point of view? Everything is perception. So she may be some guardian angel of his since she swooped down to him in the final episode just to get him back on his feet when others couldn’t. I guess when Sakuta is there for other girls, who is going to be there for him? Therefore as far as the TV series is concerned, Shouko is still a big mystery. Maybe that is why perhaps the sequel that is coming out in mid-2019 in the form of a movie may focus on this. I thought Saki should have her own arc too seeing she is the only girl who sort of hates Sakuta. It would be interesting to see some sort of sci-fi phenomenon befalling on her because the irony of needing to rely on Sakuta to eventually get out of her predicament. Then she can fall for him. Ah, the tsundere role that every harem needs.

Art and animation feel pretty okay but sometimes I can’t help feel that it is also sometimes a bit bland. I know, characters here do not have strange body part shapes (One Piece comes to mind) nor do they have a variety of colourful hair or hairstyles to really tell them apart. For example, I sometimes get confused when I see Sakuta and Yuuma because these generic guys look so generic that I could be mistaken the other for the other. As for some of the girls, I thought I have seen them somewhere before. Like Saki whom I thought was inspired from To Aru Kagaku No Railgun’s Misaki. Seriously. Maybe that’s why her character is also like that. Then there is Nodoka whom I thought was Eri from Love Live but with less smiles. Coincidentally, looking at Mai brings back memories of Mai from Izumo: Takeki Tsurugi No Senki. Futaba could be To Aru Kagaku No Railgun’s Shinobu in disguise. Just add glasses. I’m starting to think this series may be taking its design inspiration from To Aru Kagaku No Railgun because doesn’t Shouko look like Ruiko? Take away the flowers, Uiharu would actually be Tomoe? Heck, even their school uniform resembles very closely… This series is made by Cloverworks who did Persona 5, Slow Start and the second season of Gyakuten Saiban.

Voice acting, I didn’t recognize anyone except Nao Touyama as Tomoe. I haven’t heard Satomi Satou in a long time so it was a surprise that I just found out she was behind the voice of Nanjou. She didn’t have many lines either too. Maybe I did identify her but did I forget? Huh? Oh dear. Do I have Puberty Syndrome too? Nope. Just a forgetful person :(. The rest of the casts are Kaitou Ishikawa as Sakuta (Iida in Boku No Hero Academia), Asami Seto as Mai (Asagi in Strike The Blood), Asumi Tanezaki as Futaba (Mizore in Hibike! Euphonium), Maaya Uchida as Nodoka (Eruza in Killing Bites), Yurika Kubo as Kaede (Hanayo in Love Live), Inori Minase as Shouko (Hestia in DanMachi), Yuuma Uchida as Yuuma (Yaichi in Ryuuou No Oshigoto) and Himika Akaneya as Saki (Yatsumura in Mahou Shoujo Site).

The opening theme is Kimi No Sei by The Peggies. While this rock outfit isn’t that all bad, I wonder if it is suitable for a dramatic series like this. Considering the pacing of the show, the lively pace of the rock music sometimes feels out of place since the song is a bit frantic itself. Maybe it is supposed to reflect the storm that Sakuta is facing. But the ending theme sounds more intriguing. Fukashigi No Karte has this enigmatic feel infused with some jazzy tone. A song that you would best fit as lounge music. There are a few versions of this song depending on the heroine of the arc (there is a version with all the heroines singing as a group too). Not only the way they sing reflects their character (Futaba sounds very soft and mellowed compared to Kaede’s cute style), the unique thing about the ending animation isn’t just the featured girl walking on the beach but all of them at different time of the day. Did you notice that? Like Tomoe at the break of dawn, Futaba in the dark pitch of the night and Nodoka in the golden evening sunset. Neat.

Overall, I guess this series isn’t your standard harem and romance one. It has lots of heavy dialogue and isn’t a sci-fi masterpiece too but some of the issues we see here is a good topic for discussion because let’s face it, such problems only arise because of how society treats itself (the heavy expectations of society on Mai has her wanting some private time, suppressing feelings made Tomoe unable to express them properly just so she can stay within her circle of friends, unrealistic expectations of a mother pushed Nodoka to be someone else instead of herself, cyber bullying has turned Kaede into a recluse and a totally different person). I have to admit it is mostly boring if not for the strange humour I find in their sarcasm (apparently many commenters online too didn’t find it funny). I know the Monogatari series sounds way better if you want to watch a series with harem girls having some sort of supernatural issue but that is only because it had a long run and so many stories. Otherwise, Sakuta’s normal and quiet high school life didn’t turn out the way he wants and hence, Yahari Ore No Seishun Buta Yarou Wa Love Comedy Wa Machigatteiru. My Teen Romantic Sci-fi SNAFU. Rascal Doesn’t Dream Of Ecchi Romance Comedy. And still, sasuga Sakuta, buta yarou desu ne.

Sono Toki Kanojo Wa

April 27, 2019

Having problems with love? However you have no time to watch a freaking double cour anime of the drama romance genre because your time is so precious looking at all the social media clogging up your Smartphone? Boy, do I have a very short drama romance genre that is quick and easy to watch. Because long seasonal romance animes might get confusing with all the plot and drama that you’ll be left confused more than ever. Hence here we have Sono Toki Kanojo Wa. It tells the lives of 4 different girls at different stages in their lives in just 3 minutes per episode. There. Saved you a lot of time from watching those other soapy romance dramas.

Episode 1
Aiko isn’t concentrating in class. Instead, she is looking at the boy she likes and only snaps out of it when the teacher calls her name. Oops. Embarrassing. After class, Aiko is being stood up by her friend. So as she remains in class, she sits on her crush’s desk just to see his view. Then he comes in and wonders what she is doing. Another embarrassing moment? Then he picks up a sakura petal on her shoulder. He asks if she wants to walk home together.

Episode 2
Moe is out with her boyfriend and it seems she is dreading if he would say his usual foolish things. Then they spot a couple opposite and it seems that girl was his ex. She asks and he actually coolly confirms it! Like, WTF?! “Hey, that your ex?”. “Yup. My ex, alright”. Because of that, Moe gets moody and ends the date. I know she asked but can’t this guy take a hint?! I guess he is new in this dating business. When a girl says she isn’t mad, SHE IS MAD! But this guy is also a smooth operator. He doesn’t think she is a bother at all and hugs her. In public?! Even whispering the magical I love you words. How sweet. See? Now she’s all smiles.

Episode 3
Yukari thinks she can nail her guy because of her good looks. After all, this is already their third date. So when she returns to drink with him, he has the words that she is dying to hear him say… NOT! Sorry, babe. The company called. Need to return. But he texts her that he will make up to her the next time. He also noticed the swollen feet and will give her a present next time. Wait. Is she thinking he’ll get her lingerie because she’s hoping he would check her pantsu colour?! I hope she’s not drunk. Frustrated, yes. Yeah, she orders another martini…

Episode 4
Miwako and her boyfriend are shopping for groceries. She sees a kid bugging her mom to buy some stuffs but she only makes him choose one. The kid is still happy she got to buy it for her. But now Miwako’s boyfriend seems to be doing to same thing. Okay. Pick one then. Yay! Déjà vu? After paying for their stuffs, Miwako offers to carry half of the bag together as they walk home. She also bought ice cream but forbids him to eat in advance for he will be full then.

Episode 5
Yuuta shares his earphone to let Aiko listen to his music. Aiko notes how they’ve always been meeting here after school. The truth is she wants this moment to last forever. But soon they have to part ways. But there is always tomorrow. See you tomorrow.

Episode 6
Moe is mad again. Her boyfriend had to go out with his friends at the last minute. He has been texting to her nonstop and even apologizing but she is not replying and giving him the silent treatment. Yeah, this guy really sounds genuinely apologetic and wants to make up to her but she doesn’t give a damn and let the messages keep streaming in. Until he finally finds her as he explains how his friends insisted and did not allow him to leave. I don’t think she’s interested in hearing all that because she’s going to be his queen for today and her slave will get whatever she wants. Yeah, this guy loves her so much that he’ll do anything.

Episode 7
Rainy days make you want to sleep in. Yeah, it probably ruined Yukari’s day for a date. It’s been a long time since their last date and looks like that streak is going to continue. Bugging her lazier boyfriend won’t make it change so at least she gets a hug. Still bugging about that date? How about a kiss then? Is the rain making him lazy to do that? She realizes he did the laundry and had clothes hung out to dry. Oh well. Doesn’t matter. Can wash and dry again. Yeah, this couple still in dreamland.

Episode 8
Miwako is nervous as she sits alone at the park. In this snow? Okay, it’s not that heavy but it’s piling up. She wishes she could cry before her boyfriend. Don’t fear. It’s like he heard her problem and comes to sit by her. After giving her a can drink, he tells her to rely on him even though he is unreliable. I guess better than nothing. So the first ‘reliable’ thing is to swap their drinks. It made her feel better as they walk home.

Episode 9
Aiko and her boyfriend are watching the fireworks. When the final fireworks light up, she will ask him a very important question. But she’s nervous as hell. As she makes her countdown, she is distracted by his question of what she’ll be doing during summer vacation. Nothing. Then she asks him back the same. Nothing too. Except maybe spend more time with her. I guess she need not ask him now. Because the answer was definitely a resounding yes.

Episode 10
Moe is supposed to be on a lunch date with her boyfriend. However she ends up waiting for him as he shops for the perfect suit for his interview. Now do you know how it feels when a man has to wait for a woman to finish her shopping? When she sees him in his suit, she is so super smashing. Not sure if she is trolling him or too shy to say it as she says she likes his necktie. She hopes once he gets the job, they can go for grilled