Yumekui Merry

February 25, 2012

Everybody has dreams. Everybody wants to live out their dreams. But when you usually say that, it is in a metamorphic way. What if that really happens literally? Will you be overjoyed? Will you be disappointed? Will you feel that you have got more than you have bargained for? There is somewhat a fine line between dreams and reality. At least that is what I thought when I watched Yumekui Merry. And no, I wasn’t dreaming watching this anime. I know I was up conscious for real seeing this series. Phew. Need to make that clear to myself.

Well, it’s hard for me to summarize what this entire anime is about. I was a little confused in watching the series because it deals with dreams and reality. I’m not saying that there are deep psychological stuffs that only people like Freud can analyze and comprehend, but people like me who don’t even harbour big dreams find it a little baffling and mystifying. All I can say the show is something like this: There are inhabitants of the dream world called Muma. Mumas want to come to our real world. Mumas need real body or vessel to do so. More and more people become victims to these Mumas. It’s up to a kid with special powers and a lost Muma to decipher what is going on, save the day, have the latter get back to her own world. Something more sinister beneath surfaces and it’s more than meets the eye. Get it?

Episode 1
We see a Muma, the protagonist of the story, Merry Nightmare (with a name like that, what do you think of her?) bumming around and awakened from her comfortable sleep. On the other hand, human protagonist, Yumeji Fujiwara is yet in another messy dream. The one whereby cute cats are after his skin. This is no laughing matter. No matter how hard he runs, he gets caught. But he is saved in the sense that time is up. The cat warns him that the next time, their boss will be seeing him. Beware. How could you not take this dream/nightmare seriously if you have been dreaming the same dream every night? Hope he doesn’t get out from the wrong side of the bed. So like any other normal kid in reality, he goes to school, has friends of his own. The ‘wife’ and childhood friend whom he is living with, Isana Tachibana, haiku lover Takateru Akiyanagi, tomboyish Saki Kirishima, writing club president, Mei Hoshino and the onigiri loving guidance counsellor, Ryouta Ijima. Yumeji also has this mysterious ability. By making a hole with his fingers and peeping through it, he can see the different bubble-like colours on people. This is what he perceives as are auras of people’s dreams. Bright happy colours mean you’ll have a good dream and dark black ones mean you’re screwed. And as usual he peeps on himself and knows he’s going to face those darn cats again. Yumeji walks home alone after his writing club meeting (also consist of members like Saki, Akiyanagi and Ijima), a girl drops on him from the sky. No, this is nothing like Sora No Otoshimono. She is Merry and she starts panicking upon knowing her hat is missing, leaving in a huff. Later Yumeji thinks he spots Merry’s hat and when he approaches it, he finds himself in his dream world. How can this happen when he is still awake? The cats’ boss, Chaser John Doe needs a vessel to cross over to Yumeji’s world just like how he can cross over to theirs. Unless you want to become his vessel, better start running. And he isn’t called Chaser for nothing. You can run but you can’t hide. Before Yumeji is done for, Merry appears (she got her hat back by the way). John Doe though she had obtained a vessel but it seems she has no idea how it happened. Before she realized, she was thrown into this world and is trying to find a way to get back. Since John Doe is going the other way, Merry is going to force him to take her home. They fight but Merry is faster and her tiny hand really packs a punch. In the end, Merry wins after managing to crack his mask. He thinks that she may be the one and leaves. Merry is left confused and oddly, he didn’t bring her back with her. So she’s stuck again. Yumeji returns to his real world and it’s like as though time has never passed while he went through that nightmare. Merry is also there and she is rather upset and emotional till she collapses in his arms.

Episode 2
Merry is taken back to Isana’s home and Isana quickly warms up to her. Merry tries to get herself use to living with them since Isana’s dad (who also runs a cafe in the house) approves of her. Late that night, Merry tells Yumeji about Mumas and how some of them want to cross over to this side via a human vessel. And there are many types of Mumas. Like for instance a short distance away, Yumi and her Muma, Serio are somewhat best friends. Merry continues that her body, clothes and hat are authentically hers and she didn’t know how it happened when she got stuck in this world. With some memories missing, all she yearned for was to return home. Then one day she bumped into a Muma when the landscape turned into a dream world (this is what they call Daydream). She fought the Muma who was in the midst of possessing a vessel but each time she was asked the same question of who she was and left without any answer. So she tried searching for more Mumas and John Doe was the fourth. She got desperate enough to want Yumeji to summon him but he doesn’t know how. But it’s snack time as Isana returns with a box of doughnuts. Merry instantly takes a liking and this becomes her favourite food like how Shana is to her melon bread and C.C. is to pizza. Dead in the night, Merry thinks of leaving. Isana’s dad didn’t stop her and asks her if this is something she can or must do by herself. She replies both. Next day, Yumeji’s class gets a new transfer student, Chizuru Kawanami. To summarize her, she’s unfriendly. Elsewhere, Yumi and Serio find themselves in an unknown Daydream and a violent turn of events has got Serio killed, causing Yumi to lose all hope and sink into depression. While Yumeji is confused of Merry’s sudden departure, Merry feels she can handle everything by herself and doesn’t need help. Really?

Episode 3
As Yumeji helps Isana with her chores, he decides he wants to help Merry. Sure, you’ve got to find her first, right? Merry wanders into a park and meets a little girl, Minato Kisaragi who is finding hard to make friends. What caused Merry to be friends with her? Her doughnut. I guess when two lonely people in the world get together, they aren’t lonely anymore, right? Just like fate, Yumeji chances upon Minato playing Kick The Can at the park and this leads to Merry. Oh, she fell on him again. He makes friends with Minato and they play Kick The Can. Yumeji thought he is the master but to his dismay (and Yumeji’s), he lost 10 times in a row! He sucks. Yumeji proceeds to do a little fortune telling on Minato but to his horror, sees her dark aura. Suddenly then enter a Daydream. Minato has her own Muma, Ichima. However Ichima isn’t happy that she made friends with other people because they had a promise that Minato wouldn’t play with anyone but her. Ichima’s true colour is revealed when she wants to use Minato’s body as a vessel. She attacks and won’t forgive the traitor. Of course she is no match for quick Merry. Ichima tries to persuade Minato that her only friend is trouble but she finally realized she already had friends and felt sorry for Ichima who is the one without friends. Merry slaps her to send her back but I guess it was too late for Merry to come along. Missed the bus again, eh? Back in reality, Yumeji gives Merry the title of Yumekui (Dream Devourer) because she eats dreams. Does she? Then she realizes Yumeji’s uncanny ability to tell a Daydream is coming. He offers to help her achieve her goal with this power of his but she refuses. And he was so confident she would say yes. Uh huh. Two things are now occupying Merry’s mind: Going home and doughnuts.

Episode 4
Yumeji still wants to help but Merry feels the more he gets involved, he might really be turned into a vessel and at that point, Mumas don’t need a door that connects dream and reality. Eventually, she reluctantly accepts his help. After the writing club’s meeting, they decide to go for some karaoke but see Merry at the school gates almost courting trouble with a teacher. They invite her to the karaoke too (note: Yumeji isn’t idol material. Keep your hands over your ears at all times). Meanwhile Isana tries to make friends with Kawanami and even brings her back to her place for coffee. Does she really want to open her up that bad? It’s going to take some time and patience. Feels like something is bugging Kawanami. Her body language is odd. Saki notices Mei texting all the while so she teases if she’s texting to her boyfriend. More like an acquaintance who shares the same passion for books. Though she has never met him before, he text her to met tomorrow. Back home while Yumeji and Merry are in some baseball video game challenge, Mei makes an unexpected visit. She is heartbroken that the person she waited, Chris Evergreen for never showed up. Then he notices her strange behaviour. Mei suddenly gets up, starts sending text to her own handphone via another mobile. He fears the worst. Mei returns to her normal self and sees the message from Chris and rushes out to meet him. Yumeji chases after her and realizes that Chris as taken over Mei’s body. Chris notes that no matter how many times they do this, they won’t be able to meet. Yumeji forces Chris to open a Daydream and in a dilapidated cathedral, he sees Mei lying motionless in a coffin. He wants this monster to leave her body but Chris gets an idea that if he can use Yumeji’s body as a vessel, he can meet Mei. Not so fast playboy. Merry makes her grand entrance and after hearing Yumeji’s words, she is resolved to help him and has decided all Mumas like him are her enemy. Merry evades all attacks from Chris and lets him know that she is a Baku that sends all of the bad dreams back to the other side. She lands a punch on his face as he slowly disintegrates. Chris wonders if she could really send him back. Mei wakes up and briefly catches a glimpse of Chris and notes the wonderful person he is like she imagined before he completely disappears. With Merry agreeing to work with Yumeji, looks like she has to live with him and she can start by working part time as a maid in Isana’s dad cafe.

Episode 5
Popular singer YOKATO suddenly quits music and this sends obsessed fans alike (including Isana) into utter shock and depression. Yeah, feeling so empty, eh? Too disheartened to do anything? More like an excuse to send Yumeji and Merry to go shopping for errands. Yumeji learns that Merry has been stuck in this world for 10 years! That seems pretty long. She is grateful for meeting him because he gave her something to do and turned her into someone else. They accidentally bump into a girl, Yui Kounagi (I thought she look like a cross between K-ON!’s Mio and Ritsu). Yumeji tries to save her doll from falling and though he is successful, he got the lowdown view beneath her skirt. And a slap across his face. Seems Yui has her own Muma, Engi Threepiece and the duo are teaming up to find Mumas who are possessing humans. Yui agreed to help her because she wants to fulfil Engi’s dream. Suddenly Yumeji and Merry find themselves in a Daydream, a wheat field. Sword wielding Engi thought Merry is possessing Yumeji and attacks her. She also wants Merry to reveal the whereabouts of her boss, Pharos Heracles. Who? Maybe we’ll have another time for that since Engi is engrossed in cutting Merry down. However Engi notices her sabre isn’t affecting Merry and the latter could even disintegrate it. Engi remembers how her sister, Patti was attracted to some light and left for the other world. Then she tried to go after her and that’s when she met Yui and begged for her to become her vessel in which she wholeheartedly agreed. So when Merry says about sending her back, Engi doesn’t believe there is a way because it is impossible to return. Otherwise, Patti wouldn’t have died in their hands. All those Mumas who were defeated, they perished. This shocks Merry and Yumeji. Have they been doing it all wrong this time? Engi won’t rest until she exterminates every Muma like her and uses the moonlight’s power to regenerate her sword and power up. Merry is cornered so Yumeji needs to do something fast. He becomes a shield to protect Merry from Engi’s slash.

Episode 6
Merry becomes distraught though Yumeji is barely alive. Engi is stunned because it is her principle that she will never get humans involved. Merry is so upset that her awakening powers start tearing the land! Before she realizes it, they’re out of the Daydream. Because dreams and reality are separated matter, Yumeji seems pretty normal back in reality. Phew. What a scare. But when they go home, Yumeji collapses for real. Second round trauma for Merry. She stays by his side while being riddled with guilt. And Isana didn’t suspect anything wrong. Isana meets Saki and Akiyanagi as they talk about Dream Loss, people suddenly losing their interest in their hopes and dreams. The number of cases are rising recently. Like YOKATO. After living together for so many years, you thought at least she’d know something is wrong. Yumeji finds himself in his own dream world and John Doe before him. However he is not here to hunt him. As he has his nekomimi maids heal his wounds, Yumeji learns that Heracles is a Muma but like a lighthouse, his dazzling light is a beacon to other Muma, thus capturing them and expanding his territory. He is some sort of a leader as each Muma is an independent entity and do not act in a group unless they have the same objectives. The light Heracles projected to the world of reality was too alluring and John Doe himself admits that he was drawn to it (hunting Yumeji as his vessel). Heracles has descended upon the reality world and is acting as a guide for Mumas. The number of vessels for them are increasing in this world so if they don’t do anything about it, more Mumas will be coming. John Doe also found out something interesting. Around the time Heracles and his followers descended upon reality, a Muma got involved against his will and was dragged to reality (guess who). For instance the strange things like coming to reality without using a vessel. In short, if Yumeji finds Heracles, he may find something about Merry. John Doe advises him that his strength in the dream is the strength of his feelings. He says he is the ally of truth and the situation for both worlds is now abnormal. Yumeji realizes that John Doe is protecting him from other Mumas while he is being healed. But he signs off with another warning. There is another brutal Muma as Heracles. Perhaps much more dangerous than him. Dubbed Mistleteen, The Sea of Trees, the pleasure it seeks is not the lighthouse but the torment of others. Kawanami pays Isana a surprise visit. She asks her if she has any dreams. Nothing great. She likes to draw (nothing related to manga, mind you). Akiyanagi also comes by to leave a special DVD for him when Yumeji instantly wakes up. Merry in her relief hugs him like a lost kid reunited with her mom. I guess this means more doughnuts for her, eh?

Episode 7
Merry is having difficulties remembering the confusing names on the menu. Because she’s nervous, she trips but luckily Yumeji catches her. So this calls for a trip to the beach to relax? Yeah, I was wondering if this show is going to have any fanservice or not. So the jin-jang gang and surprise package Kawanami even tagging along. So while the others play, Merry confides what is bugging her to Yumeji. She thought she has been sending back Mumas with her own hands but with the recent events, she isn’t sure anymore. Later they go see a nearby filming of a tokusatsu series, Gretcho. They also see Ijima under orders from the teaching committee patrolling the area. Yumeji discusses with Yumeji about Gretcho’s justice concept and wonder if he could still go on fighting if he loses hope. Is it me or are Isana and Kawanami spending awfully lots of time together? And who would have thought Akiyanagi would pull off a seaweed prank to scare the girls. A boy, Masaru happily receives an autograph from the Gretcho actor. As he returns, he enters a Daydream. His Muma, Delga protects him from being attacked and gets wounded. Delga recognizes the attacker as The Sea of Trees. Masaru was in awe when Delga counter attacks to finish off Mistleteen. But that is only short-lived and kills the Muma. When Masaru returns to reality, he loses all hope and dream and doesn’t want the autographed mask anymore. A couple of guys try to hit on Saki but they back off when Akiyanagi comes into the picture. From Saki’s body language, it indicates she likes him. She doesn’t want him to mention this incident to the rest. At the end of the day as the gang prepare to leave, Yumeji realizes Merry isn’t with them. Realizing she’s trying to run away again, he sees her standing in the sea. He insists he will continue support her but needs her to believe in herself. They will prove that Engi is wrong because hopes and dreams are right here, in their hearts. Hey, you don’t have to get all emotional each time he says something like that.

Episode 8
Well, Yumeji somehow sprained his ankle so Merry accompanies him to see a doctor while Isana has been called by Ijima to talk about her future career. Along the way, Merry got distracted to doughnuts so I guess Yumeji is on his own. Engi wakes up from a dream that her sister is running away from Heracles but was killed. She laments if she have stopped her then but Yui is around to provide a pillar of support. Yumeji sees the odd old doctor who is also telling him about the recent event of Dream Loss. To Yumeji’s surprise, he learns that this doctor’s granddaughter is Yui! Grandpa thinks she has brought back a son-in-law!!! While grandpa and Yui’s dad argue among each other, Yui sneaks him out to talk. The medicine she gives him to drink… I thought it looked like some nasty witch potion… Yumeji gets defensive when he realizes Engi is her Muma. But Yui allows Engi to switch places so they can talk. Engi goes down on her knees to beg for forgiveness for the other day. They talk about Heracles and the possibility of sending Mumas home, which Engi still believes it isn’t possible. Yumeji brings Engi/Yui to see Merry at the doughnut shop. Suddenly a circus-like Daydream. Muma Maze Landsborough has finally succeeded in taking a vessel to come to this world and wants to thank his master Heracles for enabling him to do so. Engi reiterates what John Doe has told us. Heracles’ ability to expand his territory by taking in other Mumas. He lights the path and continues to guide ignorant Mumas to this world. Drawn by the pretty light, they will continue to gather. Maze wants the Muma ladies to join him with his master but they are not interested so he unleashes his clown dummies to dispose of them.

Episode 9
As Isana leaves school after Ijima’s counselling, she experiences a temporary Daydream but is snapped out of it when Ijima catches her. As for our heroes, you think a bunch of goons are going to hold them down? Nope. Looks like he underestimated them. Merry couldn’t finish him off when he cries Muma murderer. Her naivety has him to continue mocking her but Engi slashes him. Maze lets them know Mumas live inside a human’s dream. Why are they shock to hear this? I thought they knew they were dream inhabitants? Whose dream? Can’t be alien’s dream so what else, human’s dream lah. Maze further warns them that if he dies, this human he possessed will also die. Engi couldn’t care less and slashes him. She could have finished him if Yumeji and Merry didn’t come between her. They return to the real world. Maze leaving happily and satisfied in his vessel. Furious Engi wants to know why Yumeji stopped her. He says that his dreams were taken hostage and if she was going to kill the Muma, she’d be a hypocrite for not getting humans involved. Engi cools down while Yui pleads not to bully her anymore. Needing a plan for the future, they enter Yui’s Daydream as Engi talks to Merry alone. She wants Merry to punch her since she won’t forgive her for what she has done to Yumeji. Merry purposely misses so Engi insists there is no way of returning. Engi feels her purpose now is for nothing since Mumas taking their vessel’s dream as a hostage means she cannot touch them. She wonders why Merry can still look so confident. She mentions she has someone who pulls her hand. Then they ask about Mistleteen and learn about her unique power to force Mumas that come to this world into a human vessel, regardless of the will of the Muma and human. Letting her be means there’ll be more victims and Engi knows she’ll eventually cross her path. Their conversation is cut short when Isana comes looking for Yumeji. She isn’t amused that he is having a friendly conversation with another girl. As they part ways, Yumeji asserts that he believes there is still a way to return no matter how disadvantaged they become. I mean, making it into reality is what a dream is called, right? A girl, Yoshida collapses and enters a Daydream. A Muma thanks Mistleteen for the help but needs to go see Heracles. However she kills him while Kawanami watches from afar. In reality, Yoshida becomes unconscious and going up to her is Ijima. He starts kicking her like dirt! Looks like he is the vessel for Mistleteen. Mistleteen notices Kawanami spying and lets her know about the foolish dreams humans have. Since Kawanami doesn’t say or react, she hints that her next target is Isana. Back home, Isana tells Yumeji and Merry about her short and weird dream-like experience. To Yumeji’s fear, he sees a dark aura around her. Oh no. Has she become a vessel?

Episode 10
Kawanami is confused. Entering her Daydream, she meets her Muma, Lestion. He tells her they just need 1 more and the preparations will be complete. It doesn’t matter who the next sacrifice is. Kawanami says she doesn’t have any emotions as she has tossed them away a long time ago. Really? If not, it would be hard for Lestion to get his revenge he longed for. Yumeji is also in a dilemma. He never realized the one closest to him was being targeted. He always hoped she could draw without having to worry about dreams or reality. Maybe he was just turning a blind eye? Yumeji goes to see Isana drawing one of those things she sees in her dream. Merry is impressed by it. Kawanami remembers her past where she was loved by her parents. Their sudden demise left her alone, though she was spared by the debt problems her parents left behind. But no matter where she went to seek solace, her heart still easily broke. She felt the more she opened her heart, the more she lost things. Thus dreams are like an empty shell to her and that’s when she agreed to become Lestion’s vessel due to her lack of emotions. Yumeji talks his problems to Yui and Engi. He wants to save Isana but doesn’t know how. Engi suggests opening the gate to the boundary and drag her Muma out and discover its identity. He agrees but will only bring her tomorrow since he doesn’t want to ruin her drawing. Meanwhile Saki and Akiyanagi are studying at the library. Saki learns his haiku stems from a TV programme wanting to make his ill sister who was always in hospital laugh. Though she is fine now, he continued his haiku to share these little sparks of happiness with others. Maze is searching for Heracles when he suddenly finds himself and another Muma and its vessel in a Daydream. He burns down the area (probably killing the other Muma) while Maze runs for cover. In the aftermath, Maze is happy to see him and reports of the annoying bunch of Merry and Engi. However he tells them to leave them alone since there is nothing they can do. Plus, they’ll come in contact with Mistleteen soon. Yumeji returns home and is surprised to see Kawanami. She is acting strange by apologizing for being careless. Yumeji senses something wrong and through his peeping fingers, yeah, another vessel, eh? Surprise? Kawanami is here to warn him that Mistleteen is closing in on Isana. She leaves without saying hi to her ‘friend’ (I guess she was engrossed in her drawing). He chases after her for more details and on whose side she is on but she didn’t answer. As Isana finishes her drawing, Yumeji couldn’t care less who he is up against because he won’t let them touch Isana.

Episode 11
Flashback reveals how Mistleteen and Ijima met. They both share the same passion of tormenting others. Next morning, Merry drags Isana to Yui’s place on a pretence to go to a doughnut shop. Isana finds herself in Engi’s Daydream as the latter swoops down and knocks her out. Drawing out Isana’s Muma, they find a shy and petite Palete (I thought she reminded me of He-Man’s Orko). Palete didn’t really want to make a human her vessel though she was interested and peeked. The next thing she knew, she is stuck and can’t go home. Engi knows this is the work of Mistleteen as she can force Mumas into humans without their will and then bury them both. Though they are still unsure why Isana is being targeted. Merry isn’t sure if her punch could send Palete back and since Yumeji admits he’s a coward, I guess that’s it for today. So Isana wakes up and thinks all that she has seen was just some weird dream. Ijima passes by Kawanami at the stairs. His taunting about her having no future didn’t work on this emotionless girl. However he is looking forward to their revenge. Kawanami feels like warning Yumeji but Lestion warns her that they are solely here for revenge. As Isana completes her drawing in the arts room, she is startled when Ijima comes to take a peek. She thanks him for making her realize her drawing dream so that’s when Ijima feels ready to ‘harvest’ her. Suddenly inside a Daydream, Mistleteen knocks out Isana by nearly drowning her while Palete hides in fear. She notes that Isana is just a mere appetizer and the main dish are Lestion and Kawanami, both whom are just observing from a distance. Yumeji and Merry drop in to Isana’s rescue. Merry is confident of her abilities but was quickly overwhelmed by Mistleteen. She is then going to kill Palete. Yumeji hurries to stop her but was pinned down by Ijima. He reveals his true colours and relishes the betrayed expression on their faces. Then he also reveals Lestion and Kawanami and notes even though they are Mistleteen’s enemies, that doesn’t make them Yumeji’s ally. Furthermore, they have always been watching from the sidelines while letting other Mumas get killed. He is confident they will do nothing here too. Mistleteen gets an idea to kill both Palete and Isana together. That is when Kawanami decides she’ll protect her. However she was told off that she can watch strangers die but can’t leave her friends in the lurch. Kawanami is left reflecting her actions and in a dilemma as Merry gets up and ready for another round. But Mistleteen decides to withdraw today since she has witnessed something interesting. She vows to kill them all the next time. Back in reality, that time will be as Ijima says, after the tests. He’ll be looking forward to the end of the closing ceremony.

Episode 12
Yumeji and Merry bring back Isana to Yui’s place. Engi wants to come up with a plan to beat them next time but Kawanami feels it is impossible without Lestion’s gun. Inside Lestion’s Daydream, he explains he and his comrades once chased after Mistleteen. However they were all killed and he was somehow the only survivor. Mistleteen isn’t an ordinary Muma. She is born from the crevice of nightmare. Humans discard their negative emotions during the day into their dreams and wake up living a happy day again. Those discarded emotions pile up in a place called nightmare rift and thus Mistleteen came into existence. The gun is a keepsake from his comrades and has modified it. He didn’t use it against Mistleteen because there were no bullets. The bullets are made from the deaths of Muma and the despair of humans who have lost their dreams. That’s why he only watched them die. However with a collection of them, only 1 shot can be fired. One more pair and the bullet will be completed. Yui is in a dilemma of not wanting more Mumas and humans to be sacrificed but needs to stop Mistleteen. Engi mentions Merry as another different Muma because she is able to walk in reality without a vessel. She too believes in human dreams but Lestion doesn’t have time for reasoning and will do it his way. Later back in reality, Kawanami tells Yumeji she treasures the moments with Isana. When Lestion fires that single shot of despair, he will die because the gunpowder is his life. That is why he chose her as his vessel since she has no emotions but now she seems to have developed some via her friendship with Isana. Next day, Isana is back to normal thinking that weird dream was just, well, a weird dream. Yumeji and his friends meet after the test. But Ijima is there to say he’ll drop by Isana’s cafe tonight. So the usual suspects wait for Ijima to show up, eager to protect Isana and he did. Just when Isana serves coffee, Engi draws them all into her Daydream. Mistleteen continues to fool around with Merry and Engi. She even shows them a tree that has unconscious Isana tied to. Merry and Engi’s combined effort and sneak attack still did not slow Mistleteen down. Instead, Mistleteen stabs her branch through Engi’s stomach. Merry is pissed off but is still no match for her strength. Yumeji picks up Engi’s sword and charges at her. Well if no one can do it, I guess it’s up to him, eh? Whether it’ll work or not is a different story. Better to die trying than to regret doing nothing, right?

Episode 13
So yeah. The sword breaks upon contact. Same thing. He gets beaten up. However Lestion mentions there is another way. They could fight and win. Now it’s his turn to fight Mistleteen without his gun. As expected, Mistleteen is too strong. But this is part of Lestion’s plan. Previously he talked to Kawanami that he plans to use his life to complete the bullet since he realized Kawanami doesn’t want Isana sacrificed. However she must fire it in his place and not only her dreams will be broken but her heart as well. Lestion dies in Mistleteen’s hands to complete the bullet. Kawanami shoots and soon turns into a vegetable. Did it work? Sadly, it didn’t. Mistleteen continues to mock everyone while Ijima beats up Yumeji for ‘scaring’ him a little. He is going to destroy everyone’s dreams. Merry is back up and fights her but is being swallowed in her Bud of Despair. Inside, Merry experiences despair not of Mistleteen’s illusions, but from within herself. She is sad that Yumeji doesn’t trust her. Yumeji realizes his dream is never to give up and vows to protect everyone. He won’t hesitate or doubt anymore. Quoting a line from John Doe, strength of dreams comes from the strength of hearts, Yumeji materializes John Doe’s saw as his weapon because this is a place where thoughts become power. Because he believes in the weapon (and his heart), it is indestructible and packs a massive punch as he fights Mistleteen. No matter how much blow he takes from Mistleteen, he gets back up, causing her to worry the kind of human he is. Yui tries to break open the bud but I guess it is her voice that reached Merry. For that moment there, you thought she was swallowed by thoughts of despair. And suddenly out of the bud, she had full confidence in Yumeji. Because of that, she manages to destroy part of Mistleteen’s forest and the moonlight heals Engi’s injury. As the revived Mumas fight, Mistleteen absorbs Palete. If they kill her, they will destroy Isana’s dream too. Can they do that? Merry believes in herself and grabs Palete out from Mistleteen’s body (the gaping cross hole that Kawanami fired from Lestion’s gun). She sends Palete back and then lands a blow in Mistleteen’s face before Engi delivers the final slash to destroy her. In that instant, everyone returns to the cafe and Isana is stumped that Ijima is suddenly gone. They give an excuse he went home in a hurry. In the aftermath, Ijima is said to have suddenly quit his job. Akiyanagi wonders what Saki’s dream is but she is too shy to say (she’s blushing. I can guess what it is). Yumeji and Merry talk and the former still have a contract to send the latter back. They also talk about Kawanami, who doesn’t remember them due to her shattered dreams and heart. Though she is living her normal life. Unfriendly and distant. But that didn’t stop Isana from continuing to be friends with her because they are sure she can start afresh. Since humans can dream as many times as they want.

Still dreaming?
That’s what I thought when the anime ended. What is this mediocre unsatisfied ending? Feels like nothing is pretty much solved except for the fact that Mistleteen has been destroyed for good. This in turn leads to lots of questions like how Merry got here in the first place. Does her punch really send Mumas back or annihilate them? What happened to John Doe? Where was he? I thought I would at least see him in the final episode and though it was true, I didn’t mean seeing him in a short flashback in Yumeji’s memory! The intriguing ‘side story’ was the relationship between Saki and Akiyanagi. My bet is that girl likes this haiku guy and we’ve seen enough hints to know that she does so. However what is the point when nothing of it is confirmed or anything of this relationship goes anywhere? Believe me, if this was left out from the series I am sure it wouldn’t have mattered anyway. And what about that Heracles guy? So he’s just in waiting so that if the producers make another sequel, I guess they can use him as the next antagonist. In the meantime, he’s just bidding his time, guiding other Mumas who want to cross over to reality like a lighthouse. That’s it? Well, I’m glad that this ‘nightmare’ series is over.

Then I found out that this anime wasn’t really following the manga. I’m not saying that the overall plot or characters deviate from the original but the TV anime has included some original anime-only characters such as Mistleteen, Kawanami, Lestion, Ijima and Palete. So you can guess that with them around, you bet that the anime will have a slight focus on them since they do not appear in the original manga. In that sense, that’s why I (and perhaps most fans) would consider the TV series to be deviating from the original works. No wonder the ending is so half-assed. No wonder it felt unsatisfactory. No wonder it felt lacking. No wonder many people didn’t like the way things ended and thus some bad reviews that I read here and there. Having a concept about dreams and reality and the thin fine line that becomes the boundary between both worlds is a really fine idea. I just felt that its introduction started out great but gradually the execution starts to falter and doesn’t quite live up to expectations. Instead of trying to find a way to get Merry back or at least understand how she came to be, our attention is diverted to save-Isana-and-get-rid-of-Mistleteen arc.

So yeah, what else can I say about the characters. Yumeji your typical protagonist who never gives up to help those in trouble. Especially when the ones closest to him are hit. His strong beliefs are what fuel him to carry on. Unfortunately the interaction between Yumeji and Merry didn’t have much impact as I would expect in animes that usually focus on a pair of male and female lead characters. It didn’t feel that they were close together as a team. Even though it is the trust and believe that they mention that they had, it still feels ’empty’. Know what I mean? I had hoped that they would provide amusing interactions but Merry was just at times a little grouchy, though her energetic tomboyish behaviour isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Her feelings at times fluctuate between guilt-ridden and low self-confidence so does this show that she possesses more human-like emotions than some other humans? At least I find her obsession for doughnuts funny. Don’t they serve doughnuts on the other side of the dream world? If not, can she just dream about it? And I thought that there would be some chemistry going on between Yumeji and Merry or at least Isana but nil. I know it wasn’t possible but still somehow I was dreaming to see it. Must be imagination. So the only chemistry potential was Saki and Akiyanagi but as I have said, there is nothing much on them and that’s all you’re going to get.

I guess Isana is the only one character who gets involved in the Daydream not to realize that everything she went through was real. Heck, she was out cold most of the time. But still, it’s good to see that she still hasn’t lost her sunny side. There are many other Muma and their vessel characters that got killed off in the series. My guess is just to show us how invincible Mistleteen is. Seriously they don’t make any impact as well but serve as a target victim for Mistleteen’s slaughter mania. Besides, she is really one tough nut to crack and her playful nature feels like a mockery to those trying hard to get her head so much so she can be called the untouchable. Had not Yumeji and co’s dreams were not strong enough, they would not have touched and subsequently defeated her. As for other earlier characters that didn’t die, they become redundant and you may have forgotten about them. Still remember Mei or Minato? So what happened to them? It’s not like they lost their dreams, right? Only their Mumas.

When I first watched the series, I noticed how odd the Mumas eyes are. Then I realized that each Muma had a different pattern in their eyes. So this dispels the thought of why Merry’s oblong shaped pupil was kinda weird at first. You can tell the Muma is possessing the human vessel when their eyes change into that particular unique shape. This had me to think that there must be something suspicious of Akiyanagi. Because from first glance you can tell that his eyes are looking weird. It’s totally black! And that ‘creepy’ smile really goes with it. At the end of the series, nothing indicates that he is a Muma’s vessel. I am making a very speculative assumption that he may be the vessel for Heracles. Hey, if Yumeji couldn’t see Isana being possessed, what are the chances are with his other friends? Sometimes it can be just right under your nose and you don’t know it. The action is fairly entertaining but I won’t go so far as to say that they are awesome or anything more. I mean take for instance Merry. She doesn’t really have any other special skills than to jump, punch and kick. Her brute actions are something that reminds me of those button mashing moves you play in video games. Yeah, all she needs to do is just hit, right? Who says you can’t solve problems with a punch? As far as I remember, Engi can only pull off 1 special move with her sword and that depends on the moonlight. Other than that, she’s just swinging the blade. The other Mumas’ abilities are limited based on their manifestation. I thought in dream worlds, their abilities will be limited by their own imagination. But I guess if everybody is able to think and pull off some fire breathing move, that will be boring, right?

In some of the art and drawing scenes, I noticed that they are drawn and painted in a way that conveys depression, misery, darkness and gloominess. It’s like as though were in the slums. Most of the Daydreams have this sort of feeling but I noticed that some parts in reality are also like that. Are they trying to say that reality is one big world of hopelessness? Another funny thing that I want to note is the background music. They are really odd. Especially the ones with the flute. Perhaps it’s to portray the bizarre and peculiarity of the dream world so that’s why when they are played, it sounded so out of place. The way the flute is played makes it sound mischievous yet enigmatic. Like in a dream world. Of course there are other types of background music ranging from slow strings to action techno music. The opening theme, Daydream Syndrome by Marina Fujiwara is a rock outfit while the ending theme, Yume To Kibou To Ashita No Atashi by Ayane Sakura (the voice of Merry) feels fitting for a techno dance beat (what is the deal with Merry being covered with red petals in this ending credits animation?). On a trivial note, the next episode preview narration sounds very depressing in nature. Feels like lot of negativity in the way they say things. Like as though there is no hope, no dreams, no future. Like as though they are done for in the next episode.

It is best not to get mixed up between reality and dreams. Because if you do, you may get confused and unable to tell the difference of what is real or fake. But sometimes it is really hard to tell them apart. Some dreams look and feel so real and some realities are so dream-like (like when you didn’t expect something good to happen or something really terrible just happened). Sure, there are lots of people living out their dreams, lots of people could only afford to dream and some only wanting to get out of their nightmare. My dream is to continue to watch animes happily ever after. What’s so bad about that? At least they give me motivation to carry on living this insignificant otaku life and something to look forward to every day. It’s a good thing I have never fallen off the wrong side of the bed either. Although I never believed about monsters under my bed, even if there are, all I need to do is to give a good punch and send them back, right?

Rocket Girls

January 29, 2012

Despite its name, Rocket Girls isn’t some sleazy anime title nor is it an idol-type anime aimed at young girls who aspire to be stars. Well though, it might have to do with stars but in a different context. Instead, this series if I could say is quite ‘intelligent’ with a pinch of comedy in its own way. We have high school girls living out their dreams by venturing into space. High school girls? Space? Mmm… Often those two words don’t come together in a single sentence but yes, this is what Rocket Girls is about. Sort of. So you think these girls have to be genius nerds to be astronauts because instead of doing what many girls their age are doing (shopping, gossiping, chatting about boyfriends and idols, etc) they’re into something astronomical, then you’re partly wrong because these girls too are ordinary girls. Just that they chose to do something against all odds and something extraordinary.

Initially before I started watching, I thought this was going to be something like Stratos 4, another anime whose theme is a bunch of girls riding up close to space and shoot down meteors. Rocket Girls isn’t close to this bit except maybe the skin tight space suit that shows their curves. Why make something that sexy? At first I thought it was for wind resistance but then it occurred to me, there is no wind in space! Fanservice? Probably. But this series is kept to the very minimal and not something you should look for. Oh, there are those darn aerospace terms too… There’ll be lots of them here so if you’re like me who have no slightest interest in science, physics, chemistry, biology and any other subjects that are associated with it, you’re going to go “Say that again, please?” most of the time. I know I did.

Episode 1
The summer vacation is here for Neris Girls’ Academy. So it’s no surprise Yukari Morita and her friends are noisily looking forward to it. But the strict principal has them remember the school’s regulations of being orderly and proper greeting. No fun. On Solomon Islands, the SSA (Solomon Space Association – staffs made up entirely of Japanese space agency workers) prepare for another trial run for LS-7 booster. This is going to be the 6th time and the previous 5 ended in failures. They have to make sure this one is successful because the public is getting fed up and viewing it as waste of funds. Isao Nasuda tells a colleague of the importance of this trial for future manned flights because of the need to perform maintenance for satellites in space in the long run. USA and Russia have refused to do it so they’ll be the ones who will undertake this mission and their ‘ignition’ to control space and the world. Inside the base, Satsuki Asahikawa, Haruyuki Yasukawa and Hiroyuki Mukai are making bets if the launch will be a failure. Satsuki bets a thousand times it will fail. Yasukawa doesn’t mind if it fails because he gets to go back to his Chitose Air Defence Force base. He remembers Satsuki’s harsh training of making him sit through a 20G simulation. He saw her happy face during his torment. The local Solomon Islands tribes people are celebrating that the Japanese are going to show them their ‘fireworks’. The odd part wasn’t how they love seeing the ‘fireworks’, but rather THEY’RE SPEAKING IN JAPANESE!!! LS-7 is launch but shortly it explodes into pieces. To the tribes people, the awesome ‘fireworks’ is a success as they rejoice. Obviously to SSA, another failure means another round of wasted time, effort and money. All down the drain. Back to the drawing board. Yukari returns home and is packing her stuff since tomorrow she will be leaving for the Solomon Islands.

Upon reaching Axia Island (note, this island is fictional), a Chinese guy, Chou ‘invites’ her into his Tenshin restaurant simply because Japanese people loves his food. She learns there is an airbase and wants to go over there. Nasuda is doing some recalculations. Man, look at his huge rocket ignition booster cigarette lighter!!! Calling a meeting with his staff, he mentions how their sponsor (some ministry) has decided to close their operations by the end of the fiscal year. But it’s too early to quit since there is 6 months left. He plans to use LS-5 to solve the weight problem instead of the thruster’s power. He has Satsuki analyze Yasukawa’s weight and how much she can strip him (he’s supposed to be the astronaut on the rocket if the trial is a success). Satsuki analyzes he will weigh around 55kg but Nasuda tells her to make it down to 40kg! Because of that, Yasukawa runs away from the base! It’s no joke! He rams through all the security in his humvee! Along the way, he sees Yukari and slams on the brakes. Yukari invites herself in for a ride to the base. However no time to argue because SSA’s helicopter is coming! They’re serious! How serious? They are preparing to fire missiles at him if he doesn’t stop! As Yasukawa puts the pedal to the metal, he tells Yukari to wave so they will not shoot. But they fire a warning shot! DAMN!!! Both sides aren’t giving in as Yasukawa is forced off the trek into the jungles. But Nasuda has an idea where he is heading. Yasukawa seeks a room to stay at Chou’s place till tomorrow morning. Chou gets the wrong idea after he sees Yukari with him and gladly lends him a room. Yukari wants an explanation so he says his job condition got worse, he resigned but it was rejected. Do you get it? As for he why she is here, she shows a picture of her father and is looking for him. He went missing 17 years ago while on a honeymoon, though he may look older now. Yasukawa doesn’t recognize this face. Yukari says she asked the police in Honiara but they replied there are many Japanese working there. Yasukawa agrees that there are around 600 Japanese people working there but that base was only built 18 years ago. Suddenly Chou brings guests to Yasukawa. It’s Nasuda and co. Did he betray him? Well, he values their patronage more than anything. Yeah, everybody can be happy this way. Really? Satsuki injects something into Yasukawa to knock him out as they take him away. Nasuda is interested in Yukari and has Satsuki analyze her proportions. 38kg, 153cm, 80-54-82. Wow! Just one look can tell. Nasuda gets even more excited and offers to help Yukari find her father in exchange for a little part time job. No, he’s not going to pimp her. What job then? Sit in front of a machine, answer when you get message, press a few buttons. A job so simple even monkeys can do it. Yeah, why not use a monkey then?

Episode 2
Yukari is taken back to SSA Base and underwent a full body examination. Yeah, every machine that ‘teases’ her body, she just gets so surprised. Ultimately Satsuki reports her as qualified so Nasuda is extremely happy that Yukari has passed to become their astronaut. Astronaut? Hey, this is what the part time job is? She won’t do it because for a high school girl, being an astronaut is way out of her league. How does Nasuda persuade her to stay on? He prays for her father… Oh, that sly dog. Next day Nasuda holds a meeting with his staffs and his calculations with a lighter Yukari that will propel them to success. So he wants them to train Yukari to the verge of death! Hey, who says it was an easy job. Okay, maybe the job was easy but they didn’t mention the super tough pre-requisites that come along. Yukari is made to undergo a 5G simulation by Satsuki, solve complicated equations by Kazuya Kinoshita (you thought algebra was bad, eh?), made to be a model for her spacesuit by chemist Motoko Mihara and basic survival training by Kurosu (see how far Yukari blown away after firing a shot!). When her skin tight suit is ready, she puts it on but feels exposed and the need to at least wear a bra. Motoko’s answer? Wear the bra outside. Yasukawa pays Nasuda a visit and it seems he’s a happy taxi driver. But when Satsuki comes in to report about Yukari’s solo hike, he gets upset that they’re putting a high school girl through hell and vows to bring her back. Yeah, Yukari is being dropped in the middle of the jungle and has to hike back to base within 3 days and with only 1 day worth of food. F*ck this part time job! Nasuda is going to do his part to look for Yukari’s dad and he recognizes the face in the picture. Flashback when he was shouting to the sky about his ignition dream, a local tribesman (which looks a lot like Yukari’s dad but very tanned), warned him that is the path to the spirits and he’ll have bad luck if he obstructs it. Nasuda gets a report that the wind have blown Yukari’s position over to the village of the Tariho tribe. Something isn’t good so he rushes his way there via humvee. Oh, Yasukawa’s taxi is stuck in the dirt.

Yukari is surrounded by the curious tribes people when she meets a local girl, Matsuri. Yes, she speaks fluent Japanese and even has a Japanese name. There’s a reason to it. When Yukari mentions her name, Matsuri realizes it’s the same as her father who is also the chieftain of the village: Hiroshi Morita. Bringing Yukari to see him, he looks like a hippy happy childish chief elder. Hiroshi acknowledges Yukari’s question that he came here 17 years ago. Yukari wants him to name her mother, his wife. He starts naming all his Tariho wives! Man, even going as far as to say all his 10 children with them! (Matsuri is one of the children of his many wives). Haha! This guy is really a joker. But he can still remember his Japanese wife’s name: Hiroko. Most guys in his position would’ve forgotten about it. Yukari gets upset and starts lashing at him that he abandoned his wife during their honeymoon. Her life was tough being raised by an average mom. She also mentions about the embarrassment when people asked her about her father. You know what is his reaction? He started crying at her touching story of a girl trying to find her father! Really a joker this guy! But play time is over. Yukari pulls out her gun and threatens him to come back to Japan with her. Oh, now he’s starting to panic. What about her responsibility to go to space? Screw it. Now that she has found him, she couldn’t care less about that life threatening job. However Hiroshi makes a deal saying that he’ll go back to Japan when she finishes her space mission. This way they’ll both fulfil their responsibilities and he’ll get to settle things in the village before he leaves. She agrees. Matsuri starts calling her onee-san (much to her dismay) and since Yukari is lost, Matsuri guides her back to the base. Desperate Nasuda than comes by. His worries were all for nothing when Hiroshi mentions about his daughter being here and that she’ll continue the space mission. Yeah, he’s asking for tobacco and medicine too. Yukari reaches back to base in record time: Half a day! Wow! She even beats Nasuda in a humvee who arrives shortly after. Mind boggling indeed. Nasuda takes a keen interest upon seeing Matsuri and Satsuki gives her the analysis of her physiques which is pretty much similar to Yukari’s. He offers her to become an astronaut and she happily accepts it. She loves the ‘fireworks’, eh? So Yukari, say hello to you back up crew. Oh, Yasukawa is still stuck trying to push his taxi out.

Episode 3
SSA is running LS-5 combustion test but it overheats and explodes. So much so you thought an oil processing refinery had been bombed by terrorists! Nasuda wants everyone to keep this a secret from Yukari and Matsuri. During meal time, Yukari isn’t thrilled with her healthy scarce meal that consists of everything low in calories. Possibly none. But why is Matsuri having fun making a mess with her food with ketchup and mayonnaise? Matsuri is being playful, Yukari is being noisy. Shhh!!! Yukari gets a call from her mom who is thrilled about her astronaut job. She won’t forgive her if she gives up halfway. As for daddy, she gave up on him a long time ago and it was her who went off searching for him herself. Yeah, she has irresponsible parents. In Kinoshita’s class, Yukari tops all his questions while Matsuri is the blur kid. But during a simulation, Yukari didn’t have the strength like Matsuri. They deduce while Yukari has total ability, Matsuri prevails in physical ability. On another simulation (Matsuri seems to be having fun), Satsuki notes how Yukari is slacking and at this rate, they can’t tell who is the real and backup pilot. Yukari says she isn’t aiming for space and came looking for her dad. Kinoshita knows her ‘convenient logic’ off not wanting to lose to Matsuri but want to be the main pilot. They report this to Nasuda about her clash of sense of responsibility and frustration of not wanting to lose to her half sister. Well, he’ll be counting on them to take care of the girls. Yukari gets this resolve that she doesn’t have to go to space and will have Matsuri go in her stead. Thus she treats everyone at Tenshin. Everybody eat your heart out! Hey, Matsuri going heavy on the ketchup and mayonnaise again. But in the toilet, Yukari makes a deal with Chou’s daughter, Han Rei. Every night, she wants her to deliver tasty dim sum worth around $30. But why $39? Delivery charges. But it doesn’t matter since she’s tasting a piece of Heaven and part of her plan to fatten up herself. The midnight snack rendezvous goes on till one day Satsuki notices Yukari’s slacking and increase in weight of 0.6kg. Yukari doesn’t seem too concern. But what is mind boggling is that Matsuri also gained weight. 0.7kg! WHAT THE?! See how shock Yukari is? Must be the mayonnaise! Yeah, she has the cheek to tell her to stop eating it!  Can’t be as Satsuki has taken this into consideration but it did not have any effect. One night after another midnight rendezvous, Yukari sees Matsuri singing to catch fish?! I don’t know if her sing is that effective but she caught 2! Oh, Yukari confronts her and tells her that in-between snacks are forbidden! She’s the one to say. But Matsuri knows that she has been sneaking out for snacks too because she could smell Tenshin’s all over her. She knows she doesn’t want to go to space and tried to be fat. If she doesn’t want to, all she needs is to say so and Matsuri will go in her place because daddy says it’s bad to lie. Yukari doesn’t appreciate her advice and tries to grab her fish away. They hear Kinoshita a few steps away asking them to be quiet. Yukari thought she is going to get scolded but he tells them to look at the Moon. Narrating back how he once watched enthusiastically the first man landed on the Moon in 1969. Ever since then, it has been his dream to go to space. Though he ended up as a salaryman, he still holds his dream close to his heart. With SSA, he thought he could continue his dream but failed an aptitude test. It was heartbreaking but the look on Satsuki’s face then was even more heartbreaking. Everyone in this base has a dream of going to space. When it seems she’s going to be crushed by the responsibility, just catch a ride on everyone’s dream. Kinoshita’s words have given enough motivation for Yukari to change her mind because she’ll start losing weight tomorrow. LS-5 combustion test continues to fail and explode. Did Motoko add some additional substance into it? I know, I know. Keep this a secret from the pair, right?

Episode 4
The engineers dread fixing the centrifuge and blame it on Satsuki. Yukari thinks it broke because she overused it. Satsuki seems to have that knack of reading people’s mind if they talk bad about her… While it’s being fixed, Yukari and Matsuri can do what they want as they head to the beach for some fun. They also meet Yasukawa there and he makes a few uncalled remarks on Kurosu. Be careful what you say, because that tough guy is really there. Now Yasukawa is going to get it. Oh, did I mention Kurose has a gun? Run faster! Yukari decide to visit the VAB (Vehicle Assembly Building) to see the orbiter she’s going up in. I don’t know why Yukari is being so violent as she tries to break down the locked door! Slamming and kicking it! Kurosu has to give up his chase to bring Yukari away. Man, she’s even kicking up a fuss. Violent girl. She thinks they have something to hide from her but the truth is, they can’t let a single speck of dust get into its construction. Nasuda finds out about her proactive behaviour but gives her the freedom to tag along till she is convinced. This includes their staff meeting. Yukari is being shown the orbiter by Mukai as he explains its makings, operations and the pros of conservative proven technological that withstands the test of time compared to new technology (my brain just turned off here. F*CK SCIENCE!!!). Mukai mentions about the recent failed combustion test due to some new solid fuel added by Motoko. Speaking of which, a loud explosion is heard at the nearby fuel plant. Yukari storms off to the fuel plant. As much as Mukai wants to stop her, she’s already gone in Yasukawa’s taxi. Yukari is feeling uneasy because she feels they have been holding things from her. She is worried that if the fuel explodes, the rocket will also explode too, right? And she’s going to ride it. Yasukawa explains Motoko is the source of it and her love for oxidation (what was this burning process again? F*CK SCIENCE!!!). She used to be a lab medicine maker till Nasuda ‘lured’ her away of making a liquid oxygen fuel for a hybrid rocket. He needed something cheap and with high propulsive force and if she can do that, she can do as she pleases. Of course that explosive nut straightaway accepts! Inside the plant, Yukari witnesses Motoko throwing her wedding ring for another KABOOM explosion. Motoko’s laughing like a mad scientist! Yukari barges into the meeting. Yeah, definitely not happy. She chides Mukai for being a hypocrite about his conservative technology and allowing Motoko to experiment on new solid fuels. Hey, she has a right to voice out. Who was the smart alec who gave her that freedom? Mukai responds that they are short of time and changing specifications will be risky. She wants to stop the production of the new solid fuel but an engineer wants to hear Motoko’s explanation. From what I understand, Motoko’s new fuel will be lighter than liquid fuel, which everyone thinks is impossible. Plus, the new fuel doesn’t actually need a container and burns from inside to outside, thus making the rocket lighter. Everyone gets excited of the new possibilities and recalculates. With the efficiency far exceeding liquid fuel, everyone approves the new specifications for a new and cheap hybrid rocket. Yukari is still not satisfied that everyone is changing specifications at this point and brings up Motoko’s wedding ring. But this makes them realize that the ring’s platinum as the catalyst to make the fuel as strong as that burn. As everyone congratulates Motoko, Yukari couldn’t understand a thing everyone has been saying and felt so left out. That’s why it was never a good idea to let her into meetings, right? Soon Yukari goes on a hunger strike and locks herself in her room. And she’s pretty serious about it. I thought they were happy in her losing weight but it seems if she loses more, they’ll need to redo the calculations again. Apparently Yukari isn’t being sore about the meeting but rather she doesn’t want to ride a giant bomb. Mukai tries to explain the new fuel is safer since it puts less burden on the rocket but she isn’t convinced with the ‘traitor’. Yukari’s stomach starts growling when Yukari’s mom comes by.

Episode 5
Hiroko works her convincing magic with her positivism. If using a fuel that’s never produced actual result is bugging her, then all they need to do is just get the results, right? Upon finding out they have 2 rockets, she suggests to a test on the unmanned one and then later launch Yukari. About losing their backup, she also suggests to build 10 rockets. Hey, the more you build, the cheaper the cost, right? (F*CK ECONOMICS!!!). Kinoshita notes it isn’t impossible but the most they can build is 3 rockets. Nasuda is excited with Hiroko’s ideas and accepts it whole heartedly. So I guess it’s the end of the hunger strike? Hiroko soon leaves since she’s a busy woman. She was just happened to be in the area so it wasn’t really her original intention to see Yukari. She learns of Matsuri and invites her to visit Japan once this is over. Yukari mentions if she takes the base’s helicopter, she’ll have time to see Hiroshi but she says she’ll do it another time. Kinoshita notes that they would love to have Hiroko as their pilot but because of her size, I guess not. So the engineers have to start working overtime in making another rocket. Soon news of Japan’s first astronaut which is a teenager catches the attention of the world! They couldn’t believe a high school girl would take on this role. This causes an influx of reporters onto the island. Now it’s bustling more than before. During the media briefing, Nasuda introduces the LS-5, Tanpopo (Dandelion) that will be making its journey into space. The media are a little frenzy over the skin tight outfit and are in a dilemma if they can broadcast this. Not naked but somewhat too sexy… They bombard Yukari with lots of weird questions (like if she has a boyfriend. What has that got to do with it all?). As for Matsuri’s relationship with her, Nasuda makes up a lie that she’s a daughter of a former Japanese soldier and thus a coincidence sharing the same surname. Yukari doesn’t like this but as Nasuda explains, they can’t say anything naive or will cause a scandal. Besides, something this sensational is to get a ridiculous amount of money. I can’t help think that the only reason why this received lots of media attention is the sexy skin tight suit… Yeah, sex sells. The girls are like SSA’s mascots.

Later Matsuri goes to see Hiroshi and tells him straight that Yukari’s flight is on 13th September and wants him not to place a curse and turn it into fireworks! So all the past failures were because of the tribesmen curse?! He agrees and wants Matsuri to protect Yukari. SSA runs a test flight and is a huge success. So the moment of Yukari’s much awaited debut has arrived. September 13th. Yukari enters Tanpopo with everyone making the final preparations and the media eagerly watching and awaiting its countdown. As Matsuri is giving support from the ground and going through pre-launch checks, suddenly an engineer spots an error. The flight is delayed tomorrow. The media hounds Yukari for answers but she tells them not to sweat it. I can’t believe they still can ask her weird questions like what’s for tonight’s dinner! Have they no better questions to ask? September 14th. Everything seems going fine. Till another error crops up. Delay again. September 15th. The media is wondering if this Tanpopo will ever get to fly. As usual, the team spots another error but Yukari can’t take it anymore and wants to take off, whether they like it or not. She won’t listen to reasons and gives them a minute to restart the launch or else she’ll launch the capsule herself. Nasuda confides with his staff and since they say that everything is alright, he gives the green light. Now it’s all systems go! Tanpopo soon blasts off into orbit. A nerve wrecking moment with each passing second as Tanpopo inches closer into space. Yukari tolerates all the G-force and pressure and vibration while reporting back to mission control. Finally she reaches space and everyone rejoices. However there is no report from Christmas Island as she should be passing over it at this point. Yukari looks out and sees an island but wonders if Christmas Island was this big. Well, it’s not. She’s over New Zealand!!! Oh sh*t!!! She drastically went off course big time!!! And the cause of how this screw up happened? Hiroshi and the Tariho tribe putting a curse because since it’s not the 13th, he guess it’s okay. Oh my. Hey, he didn’t break any promises, right?

Episode 6
Staying come and analyzing the situation, Yukari now regrets that she really should have quit this part time job! Action lah. The plan for her orbit re-entry will have her crash near Cocos Islands. As Yukari makes the necessary adjustments, suddenly Matsuri realizes she forget to tell daddy about the delay and thinks the failure is the works of the curse. Well, Yukari doesn’t really seem to believe in the work of evil spirits since it’s not as bad as being exploded. Till her capsule starts spinning violently. After taking control and analyzing the instruments, we learn the second oxygen tank is leaking. Fast. Though she’ll be safe if the first one remains intact, she sees sparks outside followed by splinters. She recognizes one of them as parts of the capsule. She starts to panic a little so Satsuki tells her to calm down since she can see her body readings. Yukari didn’t like that and got mad. Satsuki says she’s in her best shape when she’s mad. Referring to Mukai for a solution, he suspects some debris may have pierced through the capsule. As for fixing it, Motoko suggests using the fastener of the skin tight suit’s repair kit for Yukari to do extra-vehicular activity. With the media hounding for details, Nasuda agrees to let them know what is happening and any other relevant facts they have at hand. Yukari for the first time goes outside her capsule to access the damage. Seems there is a big hole at the bottom and radical cracks around it. While everyone is cracking their heads, Matsuri comes up with a suggestion. With 12 hours in Yukari’s life support, she wants to get Russia to launch Soyuz to save Yukari since due to the off course, she’ll be passing Russia’s Baikonur. Matsuri will go up in a third rocket to bring as much oxygen to Yukari. This will at least stretch her life support to 24 hours so in this period, Russia has to launch Soyuz. Everyone gets working while the engineers rush to finish the third rocket, Coconut. Yukari is starting to feel uncomfortable and breathing very hard. She thought she is at the end of her life when she sees a spirit before her but it turns out to be Matsuri. She puts a new pack of oxygen and Yukari can now breathe easy. Yukari is happy to see her as both girls watch the sunrise and wait for Soyuz’s rescue. However there is a problem: Soyuz can’t launch due to a breakdown. And the Russians aren’t giving a damn about it. When the girls find out about it, Yukari wants Matsuri to go home alone. But she’s not going to allow that. She starts ripping all her computer and electronics so that there’s enough room to fit both of them! Man, she’s strong enough to rip all those machines?! Those are expensive equipment, you know! Because of that, the screens down at mission control go blank as the base panics trying to find out the situation. It’s like they’re ‘blind’ now. Though the capsule may be little tight, they have to rely manually to press the buttons and levers. This is where Yukari comes in. She tops in this area. With teamwork and cooperation, they set the right coordinates for re-entry. Withstanding all the G-force, finally the capsule crashes into the water as the girls climb out to their relief. But wait. Why are there lots of people around them? Seems they did not crash into the ocean, but the swimming pool of Neris Girls Academy!!! Of all places! WOAH!!! Such precision landing?! Pure luck!!! I’m just amazed the school wasn’t destroyed from the impact it crashed. Oh, Yukari may get an earful from the strict principal for this.

Episode 7
Yukari is sure the big star now as all the girls watch in glee and excitement. The principal panics and is in a dilemma to call the fire department or police or whoever. She orders her pet honour student, Akane Miura to tell Yukari to see her. Akane is thrilled that Yukari finally made it as an astronaut. Yukari takes out the experimental goldfish from the capsule and notices that it’s not looking so well. Akane manages to get her attention to go see the principal but she screws that because the goldfish are more important. In a panic on what to do, Akane takes a look at the goldfish and realizes its decreasing level of dissolved oxygen. She quickly takes the tank and does a makeshift oxygen neutralizer thingy to have the goldfish back to normal. Is she a rocket scientist? Well, she’s from the biology club so she’s pretty well knowledgeable in this area. Then the Self Defence Force comes to pick up the capsule and the girls. Yukari offers Akane to come along since she’s the goldfish’s saviour. The principal is in total panic upon seeing the helicopters. First a spaceship, now the army. Yeah, all unwanted distractions. They return the goldfish to the professor and he is grateful that his 15 years of experiment bore fruit. Something about hitching a partnership with Nasuda to do research on some adaptation mechanisnm organ balancing thingy to solve the problem of vertigo (did anybody get what the professor said?). Later Akane asks Yukari about her experience as an astronaut and she explains the different and unique beauty of seeing the blueness of Earth. Noting how amazed she is, Yukari invites her to come see the base. Then the taxi comes as she has Akane go back to her school. Yukari and Matsuri are eating their heart out back at Yukari’s home. Well, mom didn’t cook it and bought it at some mall. Anyway they need to regain all the lost calories, right? Yukari mentions she’s going back to Solomon Islands to bring dad back and quit being an astronaut. But Matsuri mentions Akane may be sad not to see Yukari there since she’s the one who invited her. Hiroko gets this idea that she might move to Solomon Islands and live happily ever after. Yukari didn’t like the fact she faced death several times but mom says that comes with the job. Yukari goes to sleep as she can’t take anymore of this talk. In the middle of the night, she wakes up and looks up at the sky and notices how different it is. She can’t see any stars.

Next day in school, Yukari and Akane get an earful from the principal. By right she should’ve been expelled for doing a part time job which the school prohibits but decides to let this slide since the media has picked her story up (why is principal’s face so happy in the interview picture?). As for Akane, she’ll be suspended for a week for sneaking out of class. Yukari springs to her defence that it’s not Akane’s fault. Though the principal agrees it’s Yukari’s fault be she too must be responsible for tagging along. Akane is okay with the punishment but Yukari continues to beg on her behalf. The principal puts her foot down and reminds them about Neris’ proud, distinguished, elegant (and all that other crap) etiquette and that they should be more conscious of their position as high school students (b*tch!). Later both girls apologize but Yukari is adamant that Akane is the one who saved the goldfish. While Akane is astonished of Yukari being an astronaut, Yukari asserts she’s a regular high school student and didn’t want to become an astronaut. However the way she says it doesn’t seem to match her words. It’s like she’s still longing for the beauty of space when she was first enthralled by it. Despite of being suspended, Akane doesn’t regret being suspended. Matsuri picks up Yukari after school and they go jungle survival in Yokohama. Concrete jungle, that is. It’s no harm letting loose some steam once in a while. Shopping, eating, playing video games and the amusement park (people, don’t ever attempt a dangerous stunt like Matsuri standing on the roller coaster while moving!). As Yukari flips through the channels, she sees an interview whereby a fellow astronaut (she is a real life astronaut making a cameo as I later found out) acknowledges Yukari as her equal. Yukari refutes loudly and asserts she’s just a normal high school student. Back on Solomon Islands, Yukari packs up and is ready to leave. I’m sure the crew doesn’t want her to go (even if they have next year’s budget approved and could easily get work from around the world) but I guess it was a promise for her to do a one-time only job. Yeah, it’s like in order to aim for short term success, he just put the problem off later. Yukari isn’t happy Yasukawa’s taxi arrived late but she is surprised to see Akane stepping out of the car. But she doesn’t look good.

Episode 8
Seems Akane has motion sickness. What do you expect after 11 hours on the plane, 20 hours on the boat and 50 minutes by taxi! During her time being suspended, she thought of Yukari’s words that anyone can be an astronaut (which she herself can’t remember – yeah, it’s coming back to haunt you) and decided to go to space too. Nasuda has Satsuki analyze Akane’s physique and Yukari recognizes that phrase. Well, if Yukari is going to quit, they need a replacement, right? Well, she didn’t officially say she’s going back to Japan yet (when did she learn to twist her words?). Nasuda wants Mukai to make a double-seater orbiter since if there is only 1 pilot, she may not be able to do any other jobs. However Satsuki is against hiring the new girl since how can you put a person in a rocket when she can’t even handle motion sickness? Yukari brings Akane back to her room as the latter mentions how she didn’t like her life of living up to her honour student status that she’s struggling to do so. She admires Yukari for being able to live without limits. That’s why she wants to go up to space too. She doesn’t want her to quit so for the time being, Yukari brings her to the beach. While the engineers dread of making another rocket, when they see the girls pass, they get all the motivation to do their best. I guess the girls in a way provide a great morale booster to the overworked guys, eh? After their outing at the beach, they are picked up by Yasukawa who tells Akane the truth about the harsh path of being an astronaut. Should he scare her like that? He treats them at Tenshin and to eat their heart out since they won’t get the luxury of doing this. The girls take up his offer and order just about everything on the menu. He then starts worrying the impact it will have on his wallet. Man, the girls can really eat! And they’re ordering more! In the end, Akane feels queasy. I really thought she overate but I guess it’s her anaemia. Look, how can a petite girl like her eat so much? Akane undergoes the aptitude test but it seems she doesn’t have any endurance as she’s struggling to catch her breath. Then for the adaptability in change in pressure test, Akane continues to struggle but being an honour student, she can still answer questions that Satsuki poses. Though she has been warned by Yukari that Satsuki is a sadist, she still continues with the tests. But it feels like Satsuki has no heart to bully her. In the centrifuge machine, again Akane is struggling even if it’s just at 2G. Yukari is worried that Satsuki is trying to kill her by increasing another G but she tells her off that it’s not for her to decide since Akane hasn’t given up yet. In space, nobody can save you and you can only rely on yourself. Akane mentions how she threw everything to come here. Her parents totally opposed to this and she spent every last penny for a one-way ticket here. If she doesn’t get hired, she can’t go home. Eventually she passes out at 4G. Though the staffs lament her lack of endurance, Satsuki mentions her intellect and knowledge. So it’s ‘that’ for her. When Akane wakes up, she apologizes in tears about her failure. Now it’s Yukari’s turn to do some lecture. What about her dream to see the blue Earth? Didn’t she throw everything away to come here? Yukari vows to show her space and will take her there. Eh? Wasn’t she planning to quit? Well, she will. At one point. She’s really good at this now, isn’t she? Matsuri can tell she wants to go to space and realized that when she saw Akane. So Yukari promises the trio will go to space. But the next morning, Akane isn’t in her room.

Episode 9
As Yukari searches for her, she learns from Satsuki she has gone home. But she senses something amiss seeing her bags are still here and that they made a promise to go to space. Maybe it’s because of that she can’t face you? Upset Yukari goes to see Nasuda (eating potato chips with chopsticks?). He tells her she will have better chance of contacting her when she calms down. Going back to her room, she feels guilty that she may have made Akane that way. Hey, Matsuri eating potato chips with chopsticks too?! So it won’t get her hands dirty? But she eats everything else with her hands! However there is something fishy going on as Satsuki confides in Nasuda that they’re planning to keep a secret from the girls for 6 days. Training resumes as usual for Yukari and Matsuri but the former seems a little down. On the 6th day, Matsuri leaves for the southern jungles to collect rare nuts, Nasuda suggests of giving Yukari a special bonus. A security guard stops Matsuri from entering the jungle since a live firing exercise is being carried out. However she hypnotizes him to allow her! I thought it was her cuteness but the guard really seemed hypnotized via her eyes! What black magic did she use? Yukari is having a meal at Tenshin and she is obviously gloomy. Yasukawa comes in and is oblivious about her mood so much so you can say he didn’t care about his life. Yeah, he thinks the girls have a petty argument and even has his own opinions about it. Soon after, we see Tenshin like a battleground. The guys are cowering in fear behind the table as Yukari throws everything that she can get her hands on. I don’t think that wok is enough to protect you. Hey, Han Rei is on Yukari’s side. I guess as girls, she understands her feelings. Matsuri meets Akane in the jungle and even offers to eat the nuts together. Seems she is in some solo expedition. Today is the day she must make it back to base or else she’ll fail. Akane refuses help from Matsuri because she feels if she gets any help, she’ll fail. The reason she never told them was because if she did, they may sneak out to help her. As Akane treks along, she is about to give up when she spots a flock of swallows feeding on insects. Remembering Matsuri’s hint, she uses her biology knowledge to find food nearby. When Matsuri comes home, she sees Yukari in bed. Still gloomy. Still guilty. She has been thinking the reason she stayed was because she felt responsible for Akane coming here. Now that she’s not, she can go home. However Matsuri said that she met Akane in the forest, shocking Yukari. Whatever she knows, she tells. You can’t keep secrets with this girl! She’s too honest! And cool about it! Because you ask, you get. Yukari realized she has been fooled by that old geezer and sadistic vixen. Yukari goes wait at the gates and sees Satsuki there. Soon everyone from the team arrives. She realizes Kinoshita and Mukai are also in on this. As the day gets darker, they see a flashlight and a big probability is her. However Yukari can’t shout for help as this is a test. Matsuri knows the jungle well so she can guess where Akane is and the possibilities of where she’ll be if she goes in a certain direction. As Akane inches closer to the base, Yukari can’t help yell out to her. Well, it’s in a reasonable range so the guys let it pass. Finally, Akane reaches the finish line and into Yukari’s arms. Nasuda passes her. She mentions about getting a hint from Matsuri but they don’t know what she’s talking about (are they pretending?). Kinoshita considers that ‘hint’ as something that falls within her range of her intelligence and ability. I guess with the third astronaut on board, that means Satsuki can increase the training to 8Gs… Can’t wait, eh?

Episode 10
NASA needs to have their astronauts on Atlantis fix a damaged probe called Orpheus since they spent lots of research money on it and it needs to go all the way to Pluto. SSA is holding another press conference to introduce their third astronaut Akane who is also the mission specialist and 2-seater orbiter, Mangosteen. Nasuda receives some news during the conference so he leaves at lets the reporters have some Q&A time. Guess what they asked? Is knowing if they got boyfriends the only thing they’re interested in? Yeah, and the whole world is once again dumbfounded and abuzz that Japan has 3 teenager girls as astronauts. Way to go, Nippon! Atlantis’ Norman is fixing the probe when a little blunder causes him to slip the valve. It gets stuck deep into the probe’s crevice. Off all places it had to float to. Norman’s too big to get it. Houston, we have a problem. Seems when Nasuda learn of this, he already made a proposition to NASA and this will be a big chance for SSA to open up business opportunities all over the world. While the girls are embarrassed of the embarrassing photographs of them in the skin tight suits on the front page of the newspaper (on ALL the world’s newspaper, that is), they get an emergency call. During the meeting, they learn of NASA’s situation and Nasuda assigns Akane to be the one who will retrieve the valve. Hey, she’s the smallest size, right? That’s why sometimes being small is good. But Akane panics and doesn’t want to do it since it’s too soon (it’s only been a month since she’s in training as opposed to 6 months). She fears she might get in everyone’s way and wants them to call it off. Yukari calms her down and reminds her about her successful solo expedition. With that she gains her confidence and will do her mission. Yukari the captain and Akane will ride Mangosteen and rendezvous with Atlantis tomorrow morning since they need to exchange a spare part that’ll be coming from Texas. Back at NASA, mission director George Grant meets Professor O’Leary, the one who developed Orpheus for 22 years. He is told of the situation and contacts the Atlantis guys that the important thing is not a country’s interest but to cooperate since space research and development is like a gamble, he believes cooperation can guide that gamble to success (yeah, lots of money poured into it). There are no Americans or Japanese or any other nationality in space (hopefully it’ll stay that way). Looks like for now they those Americans have to swallow their pride and wait for help from those tiny Asian girls. With data from NASA, Akane practises via simulation in finding the best route to get the valve. That night she can’t sleep and calls her family but her brother Hideto picks up. She wants to apologize to her parents but was told they rushed to the shrine to pray for her safety since it’s her maiden flight. Even if they’re still mad at her, they’re still her parents and love her very much. Better make this one a success. Or else Hideto may get scolding on her behalf again. Later Akane along with Yukari and Matsuri take a stroll at the beach (because Matsuri is eating the stinky durian in her room!). Akane releases the fish they caught earlier on since she realizes they want to swim in the wide ocean. Then they admire the beautiful earthshine of the Moon (I felt turned off listening to Akane’s simple explanation…). Akane is confident she can be a mission specialist.

Episode 11
Mangosteen successfully blasts off into the sky and though Akane was knocked out, she’s okay when she’s awakened by Yukari. The Atlantis guys are amazed at the girls because they arrive in only 2.5 hours when rendezvous supposedly takes a day. That’s what you get for something small, light fast and cheap! Yeah, they are amazed at the gracefulness of the ‘angels’ as they dock with Atlantis. They get acquainted with the Atlantis’ crew, their captain, Wayne along with Louis and Gordon. As they start heading to the crevice, Wayne seems cocky that they shouldn’t start without him. But he calms himself down when Yukari points out he was the cause of the problem and when Akane helped him to get over (maybe his big size is making him move slower?). Akane spots the valve and tries to reach for it but her backpack is in the way. Norman thinks they should figure out another way but Akane will get it without her backpack. Is she crazy? Even with some saturation thingy, oxygen in her helmet will only last 3 minutes. Well, have some faith. They don’t plan to do suicide. Besides Yukari will pull her out once the time limit is up. The girls get started to pull this crazy retrieval. Even if you know she’s going to make it, we are put at the edge of our seat since she almost crosses her limit. Phew. The girls are invited inside Atlantis and the guys welcome them with lots of praises. They get to speak with O’Leary who is very grateful that their research on Pluto and Kuiper Belt will have some progress. Now it’s Norman’s turn to fix the valve but again he seems cold to the girls. Yukari notes his cockiness but Akane points out that these guys have to do 2 hours of pre-breathing before they can go outside unlike them. Norman could’ve done it via radio but he wanted to say it to them face to face. Once Norman fixes the valve, Orpheus suddenly ejects into orbit. What’s happening? From what I understand, due to a human error, its safety tag that allows Orpheus to receive remote control instructions from the ground is still attached. They need to remove it before it goes to Pluto. Sounds easy but neither Atlantis nor Mangosteen have the fuel to transfer to 3000km altitude. Wayne says there is no other way to do it but Akane insists there is. Okay, now my mind is so blur here. What I remember was, they’re going to use a two-stage acceleration of both ships to reach 3000km. However there is the problem of stabilizing Mangosteen’s payload bay, the timing of the second acceleration and Mangosteen’s re-entry at 3000km is very risky. Even if Akane had the confidence, Wayne can’t approve of this very dangerous mission and thanks them for doing more than enough. Yukari stands up for her that Orpheus is worth risking their lives for. They’re going to do it and come back alive. With both ground mission controls giving the green light, everybody gets busy.

Episode 12
NASA’s safety council terms the mission as very risky but approves it on 1 condition: The girls will do it. Satsuki is against the girls doing all the dangerous work and wants the girls to pull out. But Yukari thanks her for caring for them as well as everyone as SSA and loves them all. While Mukai and his team do test scenarios on the stress level on Mangosteen, Norman and Yukari are arguing who should do the rope work. Norman thinks they should just memorize the instructions. Then Matsuri’s necklace breaks. Oh no. I hope this is not a bad omen. Once the guys are done with the rope work, they want the girls to get into Mangosteen and will hold on to the rope.  Though the girls are supposed to do it, it’ll be alright if Atlantis keeps this a secret from Houston. Atlantis makes the necessary and final adjustments for Mango’s acceleration to rendezvous with Orpheus. Suddenly Mukai rushes in and in a panic. His face is visibly full of anxiety so much so he has a hard time saying it out from his mouth. Based on his calculations, Mangosteen will burn up upon re-entry. Oh no! What can we do?! Kinoshita doesn’t want Matsuri to tell the girls yet and have them continue the mission. Houston learns of this and O’Leary wonders if they have done a made mistake. Mangosteen is docked at Orpheus as Yukari reads the instructions needed for Akane to cut the jumper cable and release the safety tag. She successfully does so and Orpheus is on its way to Pluto. The girls are amazed by the beautiful sight of the sun rising over the Earth like as though it’s a scenery of twilight on Sahara. When they head back inside the capsule, they report they are ready for re-entry. However they can tell something is wrong when Matsuri doesn’t sound too happy. She can’t say it. None of the SSA crew can say it. Finally Kinoshita has them listen clearly to what he has to say. They are taken aback. Is there no other way? Any other way?

How come nobody thought of this but Gordon? Just like what Apollo did to land on the Moon, he wants to skip re-entry and do repeated ups and downs at the edge of the atmosphere to eliminate speed. Everyone scrambles to find the data and instructions needed for the girls to return safely. They will do 3 ups and downs but the problem will be timing and angle. Slightly off and you’ll bounce back into space forever. There are 24 checkpoint angles for re-entry. Since there will be no communication during re-entry, they need to carve the numbers onto the board. Akane remembers she gave her pen as souvenir to Atlantis but don’t fear, as an honour student, she can remember all the numbers. All accurate! Man, I already forgot the first one… Re-entry begins as they try not to waste any precious fuel. However halfway, Akane passes out! Oh sh*t! NO amount of yelling can wake her up so it’s Yukari all by herself. How then? Do some guesswork! But even so, the G’s are taking a toll on her body and she too passes out. But… these girls must be one heck of a lucky pair (or freaking lucky Yukari must’ve guessed it right) because they didn’t get fried and are floating over Yokohama over Tokyo with lots of military helicopters escorting to their safe landing. As the end credits role, a reporter is seen taking short interview of the supporting characters of the series. Some of them have the best closing lines: Hiroko: “Rather than getting in a car accident or slipping in a bathtub, don’t you think dying in space is better?”, The principal: “She said it was impossible to control because it was a space ship but to land it in a place like this (the school’s pool)…”, Yukari’s friends: “She sends us mail every day though I think it’s great to think of it as mail from space”, Motoko: “I think it would be better to do it while unconscious than awake”. Everyone continues their normal life. SSA still working hard, Hiroshi still Tariho’s tribe leader, Chou and Han Rei still running Tenshin. Well, maybe except for one. Yasukawa went back to being a pilot a Chitose. Gave up the taxi life already, eh? In no time, the Rocket Girls are back up in space for another mission as Nasuda narrates the unshakably brave Yukari’s unmatched pilot skills, Akane’s above-average intelligence and comprehension (though she may still have trouble with her physical composition) and back-up Matsuri’s sharp intuition, he is tremendously confident in SSA’s irreplaceable astronauts.

Space Girls Rock!
Surprisingly, this series is quite entertaining. With some of the dialogues witty enough to tickle your rib bones, it is funny in its own way. Yes, it’s the conversation and interaction that makes the comic relief parts funny. Otherwise, other than the drama, the talks involve complicated (to me at least) scientific explanation that no matter how many times I replay that scene, I will never get it. I know it shouldn’t take a rocket scientist to enjoy or understand what they say but let’s just say I’m not that smart. Maybe average people who do not have any knowledge about aerospace may find it difficult to comprehend a scenario but then again, not just anybody can venture into this field and work out the magic numbers and calculations. Because of all these, there is a sense of realism in the entire series, even if the terms sound like gibberish to me. Though there are some parts which boggles my mind like how Yukari’s Tanpopo crashed into Neris’ pool without at least cracking the building from that height and velocity. I know it’s water but even so, shouldn’t all the water be splashed out too? Or the fact about using high school girls because of their light weight? If this was possible, don’t you think the space agencies would’ve used them? Yeah, maybe girls at their age would rather go shopping, gossip and talk about boyfriends and idols. The realism is so because the show has got help and guidance from JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency). When you engage this kind of organization, you’re going to expect something authentic, bona fide or at least close to reality and not something which is totally made up. Their reputation is on the line, you know. The drama at points can get a little tense because since it’s space, any slight mistake will send you to your doom. So for me, the space mission dramas kept me on the edge of my seat but deep down, you’d feel you want to root and support for them all the way and pray that they come back alive.

The characters are the main reason why this series is successful in its own right. Here we have hot-headed and stubborn Yukari whose self imposed mission to find her father quickly turned out into a personal responsibility to accomplish her tasks that sees a development into this area. I guess with her agreeing to go onto further missions, it proves that she is sticking around, eh? Yeah, she can go see her dad anytime at the village. He’ll always be around. That guy is the total joker of the series. Wished he had more screen time saying funny stuff especially during his ‘first confrontation’ with Yukari. That was indeed hilarious. It’s still a mystery why he left Hiroko in the midst of their honeymoon and how he ended up being Tariho’s chieftain. Hopefully he won’t make any more black magic to destroy all the rockets. Whether true or not, believe it or not, sometimes the path to the stars are sacred and when native people make a claim about evil spirits even without scientific proof as backing, you can’t say they’re entirely wrong or ignore them. So maybe Hiroshi became an indigenous person because it was some sort of a ‘warning’ to the SSA people about trying to play God or at least trying to reach Him? I feel Yukari could’ve been a much better person if not for her grumpiness and moodiness but I guess that’s where her other teammates make up for it. The ever positive and truth-telling Matsuri is a great girl and because of her Tariho tribe background, some say she gets her ‘baseless confidence’ just because of that. But hey, it’s better being positive than negative, right? And yes, if you have dark secrets, never ever tell it to her. A good upbringing by her dad, she will never lie. That’s good, right? So you can count on her never joining agencies like CIA, FBI, KGB that involves double-crossing and espionage. Akane is also a positive and very polite girl that makes up for her shy demeanour and weak physical endurance. I suppose each time they head into space, she’ll be in knock-out mode and Yukari will be her ‘alarm clock’. With these trio on board, how can you not say the aerospace industry is not getting anywhere interesting?

The other supporting characters at SSA too are amusing with each their own characteristics. Nasuda is like a business-minded boss who always wants to seek business opportunities and the need of having light and cheap crafts. What better way to do so by using high school girls, right? If he was running a business in other areas, say properties or selling insurance, I guess he can be really a successful one. Hey, he ‘persuaded’ Akane to become a part time astronaut to a full time irreplaceable asset. And he didn’t even do much to change her mentality. All his cards were perhaps laid out right. Satsuki’s sadism makes her someone you’ll dread to be with at every physical test but at times she shows she cares because it’s not like she really wants to kill you. Remember, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. I think this is her motto. Or maybe she’s just being plain sadistic. Motoko has got that sleepy look on her face but when it comes to explosive, she turns into a mad scientist. If she was hired back in World War II, I think she could’ve been the one who created the atomic bomb. Kinoshita is the calmest of the lot and though he has his own dream crushed, he is happy to see others living it out. Mukai, maybe he needs more sleep so he won’t mix up crucial data that could’ve fried Yukari and Akane during re-entry. With these few people and other SSA staffs working together closely, this little base can be considered as a one big family, eh? As for Yasukawa, the reason why he stayed back for a little while as a taxi driver was most probably he felt that his previous job was given to somebody else better (a high school girl in this case) so he lingered on a while to see how she would fare. I don’t know, this was what I felt though he too is genuine that he didn’t want to see Yukari hurt when she was first given the job. The Atlantis’ American guys are a nice bunch too. But Norman’s cocky attitude is like a mirror reflection of Yukari’s impetuous. I guess every crew has got to have a rebellious one, right? Even if he is so, deep down he’s a nice guy and still wishes the best for the girls. Thankfully there aren’t any space-race politics in here to rear its ugly head. True that there is no nationality when it comes to space, the cooperation of nations is much needed to make it a success. If we can’t rely on ourselves, who can we rely on? Remember, to take a phrase from a horror alien movie: In space nobody can hear you scream.

The opening theme is Rise by ICHIKO. This rock piece wasn’t very appealing to me because it felt like the singer was shouting and some her lines were out of tune (though this is actually how the song is supposed to sound). It reminded me of her style in the Zero No Tsukaima series’ opening themes. But surprisingly the ending theme, Ashite Ike No Bus Ni Notte by Misae is a sunshiny catchy song. Can’t help do a little dance each time the lively ending song comes about. The special ending theme for the final episode, Waratte by ICHIKO is a fitting anime pop piece as the happy tune suits the happy ending and pace of the series. Well, at least she’s not ‘shouting’ here. On a trivial note, the mid-intermission shows the several vehicles that appear in the series like the rockets and oddly, Yasukawa’s taxi! We are informed of the few specs but nothing much in detail. Though I wished that they would have varied a little more vehicles like Soyuz (perhaps it did not appear in the show) and Atlantis instead of showing the same 3D rotating vehicle for a couple of episodes before changing to another one.

I still do not harbour any dreams of going to space or become an astronaut after watching this series. Heck, not even any interest gained in the topic of space at all. But watching space themed animes do make me feel how small and insignificant we are in this endless mysterious universe. I don’t think as an otaku, I’ll pass any of the aptitude tests. A complete failure! I may not even withstand 1G! But watching others do it and living out their dream is also in a way fulfilling and exciting. The amount of time, energy and money spent and dedicated for something that seems so easy yet demanding and gruelling. So who says a monkey can do this ‘easy’ job? On a side note, a monkey was indeed one of the very first animals that went up to space back in the late 1940s. I’ll be waiting for the day when man takes his first step on the red planet Mars. Or then again, it may be a high school girl who will be the first one that will do that job. To go to where no (wo)man has ever gone before. If that ever happens, you could say that a truly Heavenly Angel has arrived.