Well, well, well. Can’t get enough of your MILF fanservice, huh? You know what is even better? Beach episode MILF fanservice! YAY! A real proper beach episode that we didn’t get in the TV series. And so that is the basic excuse premise for Tsuujou Kougeki Ga Zentai Kougeki De Nikai Kougeki No Okaasan Wa Suki Desu Ka OVA AKA Okaa-san Online OVA. Is there any other reason to watch this than the obvious?! So what are you waiting for?! More Mamako please!

Do You Love Your Mom On The Shore?
Shirase has our gang have fun at the beach simply because she wants to grant our wishes for a beach fanservice episode. Yeah. Thanks a bunch! After we see the ladies in their swimsuits, Porta tries to blow her inflatable but runs out of breath. Masato tries to continue buy Wise stops him. Then everyone teases her for being worried about this indirect kiss. Her magic causes Masato’s trunks to rip. So Mamako hugs him to hide his privates! She is even willing to let him wear hers since she is not embarrassed! I bet Masato will die of embarrassment a thousand times! Thank goodness for spares… As they go dip in the sea, it seems Masato doesn’t like Mamako being too close to him. He sits out as Mamako feels sad. But so as not let this be all gloomy, the other ladies have fun with her. Then the watermelon splitting event, Porta turns an ordinary stick into a sword?! Masato is of course going to split it as Mamako guides him. Then he hits something soft. Turns out to be Mamako’s boobs! Cheeky mom even makes a cheeky remark he split her melons in 2! Somehow the sword becomes a boomerang and hits back on Masato’s head. He passes out but when he comes to, he is amnesiac. He doesn’t remember anything. Not even himself. So who is Mamako? You know, she could have just avoided all this confusion had she just said she is his mom. Instead, some long winded talk that he is her most precious in the world. Yeah… Masato feels comfortable being with Mamako and her words put his heart as ease. Since helping her cook is one of her many dreams, Masato is willing to make all her dreams come true.

So yeah, we’re playing this Twister game that for obvious reasons Masato won’t play with mommy anymore. You can tell how this is going to end. Best view for Masato, her ass before his face. Next is catching crabs. For obviously stupid reasons, the crab escapes and hides under Mamako’s bikini. Then it gets naughty enough to cut her bikini! Masato quickly hugs her to hide her modesty. So he doesn’t want anybody else to see her naked body. He is the only guy around, you know… With Masato and Mamako having such a swell time together, the other girls need to put an end to this or this will get troublesome. Hence Wise and Medhi try to seduce him to get his guard down so they could whack him on the head. Of course they also have plans to actually seduce him. But Masato can tell their intentions and tells them off. The girls get roasted about their boobs… They’re so dead. Masato and Mamako watch the sunset. More loving words from Mamako. This makes Masato realize as he confesses he loves her. Before he kisses her, a squid tentacle grabs Mamako. Oh right. This is supposed to be a fanservice episode, right? Masato saves her but realizes he called out to her as mom. Then the squid grabs Masato. Don’t tell me this squid is gay… Nobody touches her son. So Mamako uses her swords to defeat that squid. Masato is drowning but remembers flashback of some small beach mishap. Mom was there to console him. OMFG. Mamako becomes Moses as she splits the ocean apart to go get her son! OMFG! Masato has gotten his memories back and realizes mom has always been saving him. Back on the beach, free squid BBQ. Masato doesn’t remember his time while being amnesiac but Mamako isn’t sad because she knows Masato will always need his mom. Yeah, mom knows best, right? And then for some stupid reason, the heat causes the tentacle to jump and hit all the ladies. Now it’s their turn to have amnesia.

Is It Wrong To Pick Up Mama On A Beach?
Oh well. It was pretty much as expected as it would be. But it is still mind boggling to know that Masato actually lost his memories. IN A VIRTUAL GAME! I mean, how the heck could this happen? Is the game so powerful that it could also affect your real life memories? Whatever and however this works, it is just your cheesy reason so as to get some MILF fanservice. Because obviously Masato who is at his usual rebellious phase would never cooperate and do all this cheesy sexy stuff with his mom. So the only way he could do it all as if he is dating is if he lost his memories. Now you see why the perks of Mamako having such a hot sexy onee-sama body and looks? And my guess is that Mamako really wants to do this too because you do not even see her the slightest of being embarrassed that she is being literally seduced by her own son! I fear that when he grows up further, she would want to marry him! Assuming Papasuke is dead or divorced. But you get the point. You see Mamako enjoying herself to the last bit. This is why she didn’t tell an amnesiac Masato that she is her son. That is why she never resisted when Masato was slowly preparing to kiss her! I mean, he is your son! Do you not feel the slight disgust! YOUR SON! Thus she really wants to live this moment when her son who is now a hot hunk to give her that kind of romance. After all, it will be over soon, right? Such a great fleeting dream…

So yeah, Mamako is a real creepy mom if you think about it. And she might be right to know that Masato will always come back to rely on her. Heh… The rest of the other girls didn’t quite make an impact and even if they do, Mamako still steals the spotlight. Too bad Wise and Medhi, looks like we now know that even in Masato’s unconscious state, he’ll most probably choose mommy over you. Better try EVEN harder than that. And Porta still carrying her bag on her head everywhere she goes. Even to the sea. Now that they leave us with this cliff-hanger that it is the ladies’ turn to have memory loss, I am certain that Masato will not go so far as to brainwash mom that they are not close. Or at least keep her distance. I’m sure he is not that kind of son. But sometimes, a kid his age maybe needs his little distancing from mommy. Because at this rate, how can a guy like him spread his wings and fly if mommy keeps sheltering him? Uh huh. It’s like Mamako doesn’t want him to leave the nest at all… Wow. Too deep and dark thoughts for what should have just been an enjoyable mindless MILF fanservice. So thank you Mamako, for all the lovely fanservice for us viewers. I know the only guy in the world who will not enjoy this a single bit is your son but whatever. Millions of guys out there are made happy. And so it is true indeed that mothers really know best! ;p.

Remember before you faced off with the ultimate final boss of a game, you would stock up as much healing potions as you can? Or at least level up like mad before the final fight? And then when you fought the big bad boss, you realize that it wasn’t so bad in the first place and all that potion stocking and levelling up felt like a big waste of time? Yeah. But you can’t always be too sure, right? Because like they say, the best offence is a best defence. Itai No Wa Iya Nano De Bougyoryoku Ni Kyokufuri Shitai To Omoimasu (or Bofuri if that name is too freaking long for you to pronounce and remember) is like the ultimate defence version of Shinchou Yuusha. The main character hates pain so she puts all her points into defence, making her character the most impenetrable and rock solid defence ever. Don’t laugh. Better be safe than sorry.

Episode 1
Kaede Honjou has been pestered by her friend, Risa Shiromine to play this VRMMO game, New World Online (NWO). After putting on this discount NerveGear, she enters NWO and is tasked to enter a name. After inputting Maple, she needs to select a weapon. Not wanting to feel pain, she decides this shield is the best. As for distribution of her stats, she puts it all to defence. Don’t want to feel pain now, do we? Diving into the game, she asks a girl (Frederica) where to level up. In the forest, a cue bunny attacks her. But she feels no pain and gets no damage. After an hour, she seems to have built resistance and hence levelled up. So the next time to bunny continues to attack, it dies!!! WTF?! She levels up and earns more points in which she puts it all to defence. Next, a cute bee attacks. Though, she is not immune from its poison, she notices she can build immunity this way. So she purposely gets poisoned to build up resistance?! WTF?! Then using a simple attack to kill it. More level up, more stats and a special rare item ring. Wow. This game is too easy. Then she just sleeps there in the middle of the road while all the critters attack her. Once done, WTF she has built more resistance and skills???!!! SOMETHING WRONG WITH THIS GAME?! Enough for today. Log out. Oh, it’s after midnight! Homework not done! Next day she logs in. Needing for better gear, she talks to this guy, Kuromu who seems to be the same shield wielder with her. He brings her to Iz who is a blacksmith. But since she has not enough money (a million gold is needed!), she is told the dragon’s labyrinth could earn her some treasures. First monsters are cute slimes. Her knife attacks don’t work, so how? She slams them with her shield! OMG! This does more damage?! Of course, new skills and level up achieved. Then she faces off with this poisonous hydra. She is not totally immune from its poison as her HP is decreasing. But each time, she drinks her health potion. So rinse and repeat this cycle. Guess what? She builds immunity to poison!!! WTF???!!! I swear this game is something wrong… But she can’t attack so how? She bites and eats the hydra until it dies!!! OMFG!!! I DON’T BELIEVE THIS!!! And yes, you know the drill. More levelling up in stats (you know where she’ll put it all), receives a really rare armour in which if it is broken, the next one gets stronger. I rest my case… No wonder she so happy and hooked in this game. So technically if I go by this game’s logic, if I die many times, will I build resistance to death and become an immortal???!!!

Episode 2
Wow. Maple is eating more bugs and levelling up… She then participates in NWO’s very first event. It’s not specifically stated what it is but from what I can see it’s like a battle royale. Hence, I’m thinking why is Maple participating in this if she has no intention to fight others? I mean, she’s just idling around and drawing nice pictures. When a guy comes to challenge her, he dies just after hitting her shield!!! OMFG! Soon everybody starts to gang up on her but you know, she’s so untouchable at this point. She’s even got some paralyzing skill to paralyze them all and take them all out in one fell swoop with her poison breath. Amazing. All without even really hitting others! In the end, Maple got third place (first is Payne while Dread in second). It’s no wonder everyone is in shock. Is her shield actually legal or broken? Next time, Risa now manages to log in to play with Kaede. She goes by the name Sally and she doesn’t think of increasing her defence points. Because if she doesn’t get hit, it doesn’t matter, right? Also, there are some weapons that will automatically increase her hit points so she won’t increase that either. Because she wants to be a fast swashbuckler, she puts her stats in agility. As Maple wants to change the colour of her shield, Iz told her that in some underground lake of the southern city has white fish scales. Riding on Sally’s back, they make haste there. They do some fishing but with Maple’s low agility, she cannot swim. Hence Sally does the exploration around the lake. You know you’re near the treasure when some monster fish boss is around. Sally gets into serious mode to fight it until she beats it. And the treasure she got? Hmm… Some cool looking cape? Then the announcement of another event. Because it is in another world, its criteria is for them to clear exclusive dungeons.

Episode 3
Looks like the developers have applied some fixes and updates to the game. This means Maple can now receive some damage and she will have limited times to use he godly moves. Yeah, it’ll be a pain if everyone ends up like her character. But as consolation, all the damage effects coming out will make her feel more invincible. With Maple now a household name, she is met with Dread and Drag. They talk about the next event and next world but since the girls want to explore this world further, they recommend a quest in the north forest to increase speed. But it might be tough for Sally since this is a haunted forest and she is afraid of ghosts! Can she complete this quest? Apparently luck is on their side because they discover a secret underground room. Some tortured guy sitting there. Sally applies her healing until he moves on to the next world. And voila! Here’s the scroll for the super fast skill. Then they enter some pathway that leads them to some nice beach. Picked up some nice red stone that they’ll keep as souvenir. At the entrance to the next world, Maple uses up some of her limited moves already. Sally help tests out some of her skills to fight the monsters. Then they face off with this deer monster boss and of course defeat it. They are now in the new world. Iz is already here and has opened her shop. Just in time for Maple to handover the ingredients and create her new white shield that she names Snow White. Before the next event, Maple and Sally have this romantic dinner under the starry sky. Eating weird tasty food and drink that has their eyes and hair glow in different colours. Sure this game isn’t laced with drugs too? The next event is here. There is some girl, Mii rallying her Flame Emperor group to bring victory. Before the event starts, it is announced it will be a treasure hunt and they are to find silver medals in which collecting 10 of them can be exchanged for a gold medal. As stealing from others is also okay, the top 10 players from the last event will receive a gold medal each at the start. So stay on guard always.

Episode 4
Walking through the endless plains, suddenly Maple falls into a secret cave. A hidden dungeon? Of course a joker monster attacks them. Nothing like a few combo moves to take it out and receive a couple of silver medals. Next day, as they are about to try this snowy dungeon, Kuromu and his team are here. They don’t want to fight or steal medals but it seems others don’t have the same idea. Since they are hard on their luck in finding medals and this dungeon can only allow a single party, kind Maple decides to let them take this one. After they enter and Maple and Sally about to leave, the entrance opens again. They fear they might have been taken out by a powerful monster. What to do but to check it out? Indeed. There is this very powerful ice phoenix. To add to some drama, we see them fight real hard and even Maple is being flung around. Wow. Their attacks did no damage? And then Maple’s shield breaks. Gasp! Oh, but it resurrects. Hope this one is stronger. Finally some mirage move from Sally to trick the bird and then Maple finishing it off with her poisonous hydra. Phew. They’ve earned this victory. They would’ve been goner had not Maple acquired a new skill that saved their asses. After collecting some goodies, they also collect cute monster eggs that will hatch if warmed up enough. Meanwhile, the developers are starting to panic. That bird boss is packed with all the lethal skills impossible for any players to beat. Basically, an evil prank. And it’s that damn Maple who defeated it! Worse, they got off with monster eggs! Oh dear. Time to work harder to fix more bugs… Maple and Sally continue their adventure. Get more medals. Then their eggs hatch. Wow! Cute turtle and fox! Maple names her turtle, Syrup. She really wants to make a pun with Maple Syrup, huh? Sally names her fox, Oboro. Weird, Syrup has faster agility than Maple… So with monster pets at their side, they can help aid in their fights. The duo arrive at the oasis. Waiting there is a samurai girl, Kasumi. She wants Maple’s gold medal.

Episode 5
Sally and Kasumi engage in some super fast fight. But when Maple comes crashing into them, they all fall into some sandpit. Inside this dark underground dungeon, the trio are chained together. It seems if one dies, everyone dies. Convenient plot for them to work together and get out of here, right? They explore the dungeon and then cooperate to escape from unkillable giant slugs. Finally they enter the treasure room. They share the loot of weapons and medals. After getting out, they part ways. Maple and Sally continue their adventure and obtain more medals. They also meet another player, Kanade who isn’t so interested in collecting medals as she is satisfied with this Akashic Records puzzle cube that she got. As a token of their friendship, Kanade gives them a hint book for the event. Of course it is filled with riddles and it is no fun if she tells them the answer. Go discover it yourself. So here they are in some ruins. It teleports them to some underwater ruins whereby they have to fight off (and successfully defeat) a squid monster. And yeah, more medals! Meanwhile, the game developers are tired of hearing of Maple’s achievements. Yeah, they don’t want to face reality anymore! She has gotten more powerful, defeat enemy bosses easily, so much so she has become more of a last boss than the real last boss! With the duo short of 2 medals, Sally decides to go hunt other players as time is running out. She doesn’t want Maple to come as many would recognize her. And so Sally becomes a demon and massacres other players. Wow. She mowed down the whole bunch and that bunch just got 2 medals? I guess they’re all amateurs. But it’s enough. Returning to the cave where Maple is hiding, it seems Kasumi is also here. She too is trying to hide from other players who are now desperate to hunt others with medals now that time is running out. So the trio hide in the cave until the event is over. With the medals exchanged for gold, a gold medal allows a player to choose a skill. And so Maple has Syrup get some mega morphing skill while she herself picks psychokinesis. Now she can shower acid rain while riding on a giant floating turtle! HAHAHA!!! SHE’S SO UNSTOPPABLE!!!

Episode 6
Kaede has been playing the game so much that she is letting her bad habits creep into her school life. Reality doesn’t work like the game. How embarrassing. Time to lay off NWO for a while. And after 3 days, she’s back! Damn. That was fast. And while she was gone, NWO has added a few new features. Damn. That was fast. One of them including purchasing a home. Time to go house hunting. Eventually they settle for this cosy tree house base. Because it looks too big for just the 2 of them, they decide to invite others and at the same time form a guild. Hence you’ve guessed the usual suspects that include Kasumi and Kanade. Since Kuromu and Iz were passing by, they too get invited. Damn. That was fast, the recruiting. They all agree to have Maple as the guild master and in turn she names the guild, Maple Tree. Hey, it’s her guild, right? Of course they got to show us how superb this group is as we see them slash some monsters as training. Maple Tree then conducts its first guild meeting. Talking about the upcoming events and new world, because there are going to be lots of monsters and drop items, there will be competitions among the guilds. Kuromu suggests to invite more people to join their guild to bolster their chances. Maple and Sally go to the bulletin for recruitment. Since many want high level players, Maple is okay in taking in beginners so long as they all have fun. Wow. She really is taking this game thingy as a game seriously, huh? Going back down to the first world, they quickly stumble into a pair of sisters, May and Yui. Maple invites them but they don’t think so and consider themselves as weak. It seems they maxed out their offensive skills but other skills are basically zero. So after talking and ironing things out, I guess they agree to join. So as to have them join them in the next world, they fight that deer monster boss. Uhm, only Maple and Sally do all the action and the sisters just watch? Is this another broken feature of NWO? May and Yui are introduced to the rest of the members. They bow their heads so hard that the table cracked! Sally ‘worries’ if they would end up just like Maple. Oh I bet they will…

Episode 7
Maple now takes May and Yui to do some time trial run. Yup, it’s more challenging to take on monsters in an allocated time. Plus, the faster they do it, the faster they level up. And man, they’re breaking their own time record each time. At this rate, they’ll be faster than Sonic! As expected, the sisters have done well enough to get some devastating offensive abilities of their own. The next scenes show the other members of Maple Tree levelling up like mad. This game is too easy. While Maple is out in town, she stumbles upon an NPC quest. Mother needs to do something for her ailing daughter. What else? You guessed it. Maple is going to take on this side quest. But it seems there is a chain of quests here. Until Maple realizes that it might be some loop. She goes to do some fetch item quest, daughter gets better, but something bad happens that would reset her health back to initially. I don’t know if the developers want other players to take on such quest. I suppose Maple has taken on this quest a few times so there is an extra option which might lead to a different path. Indeed. In addition to saving the child’s life, Maple also gets, wait for it, another ability! And so what’s this ability all about? Well, not only she transforms into an angel, but as long as her comrades are standing within her range, enemies cannot harm them at all! Basically they’re immortal!!! F*ck! Why does this scene of the enemies perpetually trying to beat down Maple Tree but to no effect feels like that Spongebob episode… This overpowering has gone way too far. Meanwhile Payne is quite concerned with the rise of Maple Tree. Along with his other Order of the Holy Sword guild members, Dread, Drag and Frederica, they are going to scout out the enemy for more information.

Episode 8
So we have an event that kills cows to get bells and the more bells you get, the better the reward? Whatever. Iz has made fitting outfits for her comrades for this event. So as Maple Tree get into the groove of murdering bovines, Maple wanders off herself and stumbles into an abandoned church she once visited before. Then she triggers some demonic dark night who attacks her. Before you could say that she’s going to overpower her way out of this again, they make us worry a bit since she is struggling to contain this violent mother*cker. Her defence not working? Heck, she even gets eaten! But of course, she eats her way out! I didn’t know it was this easy to kill a demon. And as expected, she gets a new ability. So besides being an angel, she is now a demon?! Is she even human anymore?! And yeah, the developers aren’t even bothered with Maple anymore. They think she can’t defy anymore logic. THEY HOPE! Why do I feel they’re going to regret everything soon? Maple shows off her new skills. Uhm, she transforms into an armoured alien Godzilla and easily kills off this oversized broccoli monster! Everyone is so in shock and baffled. Just another usual day of Maple getting buffed up. And Maple so happy she can protect everyone better now. She’s basically more perfect than perfect! Maple Tree then heads to the next level which is some machine world. Exploring about, as you can tell, Maple saves an NPC who then triggers a quest for her. This old fart tells some old story about some feud between the first and second generation, blah, blah, blah. Maple makes her way and finds herself in some machine graveyard. Scrapyard? Before her is the supposedly previous king of machines. Because he attacks her and wants to turn everything into junk, cue for Maple to fight back. Another easy win. The machine than gives him her powers so as to defeat somebody. The machine then turns into an even more badass machine boss so to prevent her ass being blown to bits, Maple uses the new power to turn herself into a mecha! Woah! WTF?! Since when did this become a power mecha battle anime???!!! As expected, Maple wins since her blast is more powerful and flashier. Heh. Who’s the scrap now?

Episode 9
Maple shows her team her awesome mecha firepower. At this point, they’re not surprised but still can’t help feel dumbfounded at her latest arsenal entry. While some train, others relax. Sally calls Frederica out as she knows she has been spying on them for a while. She can tell she is scouting other guilds to gauge their capacity. Sally challenges Frederica to a duel in which the loser will reveal info about their own guild. Frederica agrees but will only tell info on the Flame Emperor. So the duo teleport to another arena and duke it out. After putting Sally on the edge and having her reveal some of her secret skills, Frederica surprisingly surrenders. She talks about some of the powerful members in Flame Emperor to be wary off like Markus the trapper, Misery the cleric and Shin the split sword. After Frederica leaves, we see her monologue this was all part of her plan. It was to see Sally’s secret skills. Had Frederica fought longer, she would’ve given away herself too. Also, telling about Flame Emperor is so that Maple Tree could fight and both sides will crush each other. Sally reveals to her comrades about her fake skill. Yeah, she isn’t that stupid either since it was her part to deceive the enemy too. Maple Tree receives news about the upcoming guild war. Basically it is some capture the flag version. Not only you defend your own orb in your own base but you can steal enemy’s orbs to earn more points. Maple Tree divide their roles with Maple, Yui and May at the defence, Sally, Kuromu and Kasumi as the offensive power while Iz stays back at the base. Kanade is the joker card and can be anywhere she wants. After more training, the guild war begins. The event begins and we of course see other dumb guilds becoming Sally’s victims. So dumb that she eggs them to fight and blame each other for stealing their orbs while she secretly steal theirs. Are they even cut out for this game?! Then there’s that short bout between Sally and Dread that didn’t amount to anything much. We see Flame Emperor owning the game. But what’s this? Sally manages to steal one of their orbs?! When she gets away, we see Mii’s true colours. She’s actually a meek player pretending to be strong. She can’t take it anymore and wants to quit being a leader while crying alone! Enemies have discovered Maple Tree’s hideout. No problem, right? Yup. Double grievance for them as they all got owned by Maple the angel. Flawless victory.

Episode 10
Payne is slaying his opponents like nobody’s business. Despite singlehandedly getting like about 20 orbs, this guy is still sceptical about wanting to steal and fight Maple Tree. Good instincts. I can see why this guy is the top. Meanwhile Maple Tree has got like 10 orbs. But they’re still like in 17th place overall. No rest for Sally as she continues to hunt down smaller guilds and take their orbs. The logic is that smaller guilds tend to be wiped out faster so if bigger guilds get them first, it will be hard for Maple Tree to take on those larger guilds. Yeah. Great strategy. So we see the rest of Maple Tree heading out to do the same or put a stop to ambushing guilds trying to steal their orb (it is only right they attract attention since the orbs are gathered at their base). While we see Kasumi taking Shin who was an old comrade (of course in which she would eventually defeat), Sally meets her match when she is outnumbered by skilled players of Holy Sword. Frederica thought she knew all the tricks in Sally’s ability. Until it didn’t work and Sally continues to stand her ground, did Frederica realize that those aren’t Sally’s abilities but her own reflex!!! Hey wait a minute. Can you do that in an online game???!!! Anyway, before Sally gets taken down, here comes Maple just in time. Because Sally messaged her she might die. Nothing like that taboo word to send a friend come flying in. Now the tables are turned. Holy Sword is owned left and right!!! Those guys are f*cked!!! But this is a distraction because with May and Yui left at the base, Dread comes in to steal the orbs. They give him a run for his money before getting killed. Of course Maple and Sally return just in time to kill him before any orbs are stolen. When Maple Tree reunites, they’ve taken their orb tally up to 22. Sally moves on to their next plan. You see, the reason she has been ambushing guilds hard is so that she could map out their base. Now that she’s got the entire map of everybody’s whereabouts, Maple can now go on a robbing spree. So to speak. And hence, it’s like Maple with May and Yui go on a field trip picking souvenirs on a flying turtle. Ah, such easy pickings. Eventually the next target is Flame Emperor. Yeah, Maple isn’t afraid of anybody. You know you’re screwed when all the traps that Markus set, SHE JUST WALKED THROUGH THEM LIKE NOTHING!!! LIKE A BOSS!!! WTF IS SHE ON CHEAT CODE MODE???????!!!!!!!! Before Markus is marked and more misery for Misery, here comes Mii to face off with those cheaters easy goers. Somebody needs to stop them dead in their tracks and make them think twice that they could REALLY DO ANYTHING so easily.

Episode 11
The epic boss fight begins. However with Maple being the strongest defence and Mii being the strongest offence, the fight isn’t going anywhere. Hence Mii wants Misery and Markus to buy her time while she activates her ultimate skill. So eventually Mii unleashes some flaming prison to engulf Maple. It’s looking bad for her since it is depleting Maple’s life bar the more she stays trap. If you think Maple will find a way out of this, you guessed right. Because she transforms into her mecha mode!!! Holy sh*t! Flame Emperor is totally f*cked now. No time to be flabbergasted by her new form. DO SOMETHING!!! Unfortunately, Maple’s awesome firepower means there is nothing they can do! See the crater she leaves in the beam’s wake???!!! Hasta la vista baby!!! Misery suggests escaping and Mii accepts this. However Maple won’t let them go and fully blasts them!!! Wow. Maple is so greedy. Mii is the only one left from the blast so she isn’t going down easily. Thus she tries to take Maple out with her own self-destruct. Boom! Guess what? Mii’s dead but Maple somehow survives!!! WTF???!!! But ‘good news’. Flame Emperor took their orb away so Maple Tree can’t steal them. You mad, Maple? Yui and May suggest raiding other nearby guild bases. Okay. Greedy girls… Meanwhile Mii is crying like a baby, knowing she has been soundly beaten by Maple. To add salt to her wounds, she hear reports that Maple escaped unscathed after the self-destruct. Time to cry harder… Maple Tree has been gathering lots of orbs enough to break into the top 10 but still nowhere near Holy Sword who is sitting comfortably at the top spot. Hence Sally predicts they will come to attack them soon. This turns out true but she only miscalculated one thing: She didn’t expect the top players of Holy Sword to come instead of the whole army. Because with such a big guild, they will move slower and their movements will be noticeable. Holy Sword top players are now at Maple Tree’s base and it is showdown time. Both sides clash heavily and with Maple having used up a lot of her limited skills already, she has to revert to her usual. No angel mode this time. This allows Payne to move in and slash her! OMG! Maple done in for good???!!! I wouldn’t count on it…

Episode 12
Yeah… Maple still lives. Maple Tree gets a taste of what it feels like when they’re cornered when Iz, Kanade and Oboro gets killed! OMG! The beginning of the end?! Maple then fires her awesome big gun and Payne survives. You mean to look this shocked that he did? He is NWO’s top player! I guess fun time is over. So before Payne kills Maple, Maple throws away her shield and turns into her Godzilla mode! So she is invincible now in this mode?! Because she devours Payne! OMG! Payne is killed! And slowly Godzilla Maple smashes the rest of Holy Sword! Wow. F*ck, man. That’s how they won. But strategy time. At this point, Maple Tree has ranked up to 6th place and because the top 10 guilds all get the same reward, there is no point in stealing orbs. Hence the strategy now is to eliminate other smaller guilds and their orbs. Yup, with Maple in Godzilla form, you bet the other smaller guilds are f*cked big time. Why do they look like villains now? Flame Emperors are also having this same idea as the smaller guilds are teaming up to fight them. Mii already has her hands full when she receives report that Maple Tree is coming. Okay. Bring it on! And then she sees Godzilla Maple. WTFFFFFFFF???!!! However Maple doesn’t kill her but helps out in destroying the smaller guilds. As part of the strategy, Flame Emperor’s large guild size can help them in trimming those puny guilds. So it’s the same for Holy Sword too. You thought you’ve seen everything. Until Maple clones her Godzilla mode 7 times!!! OH F*CK!!!! EVERYONE IS SO SCREWED!!! Can the game just end already? So the admins are glad the event is over and only 6 guilds are left. Their goal is to put a highlight video together but most of them are from Maple Tree… As for the question of wanting to downgrade Maple’s abilities, they think it is not the best interest of the game to do so. Because Maple has become the poster girl of NWO and attracting new players to play and fight her! Woah… Everybody such a masochist… The admins are so broken that they are now Maple fans? Yeah, they take a peek on what she’s doing right now… Soon, Maple Tree celebrate their 3rd place finishing. They also invited Holy Sword and Flame Emperor to join the fun. I guess if they’re not competing, there’s no point being enemies, right? Everybody thought they have seen all that Maple has to offer but Sally cautions them she might pick up weirder skills. And when Maple she is just playing normally, everyone scoffs at her. Having fun, aren’t we? See you next season then. Wait. WHAT?!

Bore-freak: The Rising Overpowered Shield Heroine
Wow. They should just give up in balancing the game and rename NWO into Maple Tree World Order. MTWO. A tribute literally in her name. The game is literally all about them now. They’re so unbeatable. Not even bosses from other games can beat her and her small team even if they joined forces. Not even Kirito who broke into Underworld and defeated Administrator/Pontifex by himself. You think you’ve seen everything there is for such a game to offer but you haven’t seen anything yet if you have not encountered Maple. And best of all, she is just playing everything normally without any effort. Genius or extremely lucky? Let’s hope her offline life is keeping up with her online triumphs. She’d better. Before the next season comes about. OMFG!!! Really?! This is getting another season?! For real?!

With the ire and hatred over badly adapted isekai animes spamming the airwaves recently, I have this suspicion that this season they turn it into some virtual MMORPG. Yes, in the same season, we also had Infinite Dendrogram of the virtual MMORPG genre. So this series isn’t actually an isekai category and therefore you can’t technically hate it because it is not an isekai genre! Get it! Too bad being a virtual MMORPG genre, it still is nowhere near the godly tier of Sword Art Online. It is sad to say that whether or not it is isekai or virtual MMORPG, as long as your story is sh*t and the characters are also sh*t, eventually the anime will still turn out sh*t. Period. This is the unfortunate thing that I feel for this series.

One of the craziest things that this series focuses on is levelling up and maxing out Maple’s defence points. Now, this is where my dilemma comes in. Because you see, had this been an isekai genre, Maple levelling up and maxing out her defence would be more plausible, though not necessarily likeable. Because you know, it’s the other alternate fantasy world, there are things that work beyond the comprehension of humans from this world. But now considering that NWO is actually a virtual game created by game developers, this is where it doesn’t make freaking sense. To say the game is broken at its initial stages feels like an understatement. Because it feels like there was a need to turn Maple into one of the most solid defence characters in the game as fast as they can, hence all the mind boggling stuffs that she ‘coincidentally’ and ‘accidentally’ did to just level up her defence points. I am very sure that this is not how things work whether it is in reality or in a game. I mean, come on. Get bitten by poisonous creatures so much and instead of dying, you become immune to poison????!!!! WTF IS THIS LOGIC???!!! YOU CAN’T LITERALLY MAKE UP THIS SH*T!!! While this might be true down the line of millions of years and hundreds or thousands of generations of evolution, it is definitely not so for such a game. Definitely a game breaking bug, if I should say.

Making it all worse are the game developers themselves who turned a blind eye as Maple makes her ascension to becoming God. Sure, they did implement some limits at first. But each time Maple manages to somehow find a loophole and further power up herself. To a point the developers don’t even care and try to find excuses not to even talk about her! I mean, WTF???!!! Did they just give up?! Did Maple drive them crazy to not care anymore?! Maple isn’t really a bad player and it is not her fault that she isn’t breaking any rules. But at this rate she’ll really break the game and will it be fun for others? That’s why I think the developers cannot entirely ban her or even downgrade her character. Because it’s their own fault to begin with to have such faulty features in the first place! And sure, they made it that there won’t be future Maples in the making but one is already bad enough and it is going to get worse if they don’t do something about it. It’s amazing that all those who got their ass handed to them didn’t really complain or feel enraged over her overpowered character. Unless they’re all NPCs… And now that she is the unwitting face of NWO, drawing new players to the game, wow, this world sure doesn’t have toxic gamers to begin with. No wonder they got another season…

Like as though it wasn’t enough that Maple easily gaining abilities in the freakiest of ways possible, they add more salt to the injury to insult our intelligence when they also make Maple have one of the strongest offensive weapons. Like, having the best shield wasn’t suffice. Having the title of the strongest defence wasn’t good enough. So they had to make her have some attacking options too so as to spice things up and shock everybody. Yeah, either you’re a good offence of defence. Not both. Unless you’re Maple. F*ck you, lazy developers!!! Yeah, I just remembered I did mention something about having the best offence means also having a best defence. Right… Now Maple doesn’t have to just defend her comrades, she can also attack and win battles herself. Damn, I want to join her guild! If that isn’t all, the cherry on top the icing is how they gave Maple her own mecha mode. And then the invincible Godzilla mode x 7. That does it. That is the straw that broke the camel’s back. I was like, whatever. Maple is God now. She cannot lose. Seeing her struggle is just part of the drama to make it look like there is still a fighting chance for the opponent when there is actually none. So I’m rooting for Maple because she has become so untouchable. So if she loses, I’m going to lose my sh*t as well.

And now that she has gotten like almost everything, it is ironic that she doesn’t play the defensive role anymore. It’s like she’s now getting cocky and going all out as a very offensive and attacking player. If this was part of the Shinchou Yuusha universe, Seiya would have turned in his grave! I guess Maple being the main character and leader of her small guild, they need to make her do something and not just be the role of defending. That’s why she has to be ‘upgraded’ and taking on such frontal assaulting tasks. Heh. The other irony is that with her defence being so impregnable, it allows her to switch from being defensive to offensive just like that. Well, good for her. Not so for other players, though. So basically Maple has become Jack of all trades, master of all! That is why in the last episode when she seemingly threw away her shield, it is like as though to tell us that the shield was actually a hindrance and if she was to make greater strides, she must toss it away, not rely on it and attack! When you can’t increase your defence points anymore, now it’s the time to put it all into offence points!

Having said all that, you bet that the characters are just so weak that you wouldn’t even care. With the big focus on Maple, the only reason why she is having fun is because of all the perks that she has discovered and gained while playing NWO. Yes, she claims that she is playing because it is fun. Not because for power or fame or supremacy or whatever. Because it’s fun. But of course. How is it NOT FUN when the bugs in the game literally made you a God???!!! I would be having a whale of a time if I was in her shoes too. If there were proper mechanisms, checks and balances in place, I don’t think Maple would have really find this game as much fun as she did. Maybe half of it. There would be some struggles but not as much fun like right now as she bulldozes her way through everything. EVERYTHING! She might get in a pinch once in a while but you bet she’ll find some way to get weirder and buff up more powerful to overturn the tables and also overkill. Yeah. So, f*ck you again, lazy developers!!!

The other characters in Maple Tree are like, I don’t know, they feel irrelevant. Just to show that Maple isn’t a solo player, hence she forms a guild with reasonably skilled players so as to make her look like she’s a team player. Hardly feels so when she steamrolls her way through any sort of competition. And when she finds herself in a bind, you can bet your virtual ass that she’ll somehow find a way to get out of her predicament. So easy. That’s why for the rest of the Maple Tree characters, they’re pretty meh and not really relevant. Just a few players to add some variety to the small guild, that’s all. You don’t know much about their background or even real life persona to even care about them. At least Naofumi from Tate No Yuusha No Nariagari had comrades to help him in the attack area. But not for Maple. She’s all in one. So really, why does she really need friends in her party? All just fun and games, huh? Heck, from time to time we see short clips of Kaede back in reality just to remind us that all we’ve seen is just the game. She still has her real life to live… From the way I see her at this rate, she might turn into a game addict. She’s so happy because she’s having fun (and winning all the way) and it might be inaccurate to gauge how she is doing in real life. After all, we’ve already seen how it affected her reality.

Sally being Maple’s friend is a fast ninja and great strategist. Then we have samurai girl Kasumi and puzzle player Kanade in the mix. Don’t forget blacksmith Iz who can conveniently make weapon upgrades when necessary as well as Kuromu as the only guy in the guild so as not to make it look like an all-female clan and pander to stupid feminist extremism ideology whatsoever. Too bad he isn’t the main character so can’t say this is his harem. Finally there is the loli pair sisters, Yui and May who for some reason choose to wield hammers rather than some ranged weapons seeing they put all their points to max out their strength and offensive stats. I don’t think they’re the melee combat but I thought it would be better if they are weak in other stats, might as well keep their distance and go for ranged weapons like bows and arrows or something. Just saying… Oh, before I forget, every guild like this needs an animal mascot! Even better, 2 of them! Maple really having a field day naming her turtle, Syrup so she could make some team combo pun. At least she didn’t name them after Italian Renaissance artists… Big convenient because Syrup can turn big and provide some floating transport. This guild has got everything so convenient! Can I really join your guild, please?!

And the rest of the other players… I can’t believe they’re still playing this game. After seeing Maple Tree owning other small guilds, it looks like there are a hell lot of players and noobs in this game. Aren’t there other virtual MMORPGs out there? Maybe not. After getting owned by Maple Tree in the latest event, they might want to consider quitting after that small guild continues to dominate. Hey, can’t call them cheaters. Everything they do is in the criteria of the game. Blame those lazy developers! With Maple Tree growing bigger in fame and reputation, you bet there are more small fries out there who want to try their luck and bring them down. I won’t bet on it, though… Holy Sword and Flame Emperor being the best guilds ever also don’t fare any better. It’s only a matter of time before they meet their match in the name of Maple Tree. Like they say, the bigger they are, the harder they fall. They have some strong players but even so, not so after facing off with Maple. At least they gave Maple Tree a run for their money that they aren’t as dominant as they think but that eventually came to an end once Maple somehow finds a way round to it. Oh well, if everybody say it is a fair fight, then by all means it is.

It’s amazing that despite everything that Maple has levelled up, she is still nowhere near the level of Payne who is NWO’s greatest player. Maybe they need somebody as comparison, huh? If those are the top 2 guilds, I wonder how would it be like for other top guilds below them like Wizard Hideout, Rainbow Wings, Shambala and Thunder Storm to name a few. Sounds pretty ferocious. Until they fight Maple Tree, that is… One thing irks me, though. I noticed that the big guilds, how come all the followers are wearing the same uniform and have almost the same looks? So those players in real life swore their fealty to Mii or Payne and agreed that because they are low level players in a big guild, they don’t really matter and hence dress up the same. Yeah, these guys got no personality then. Don’t tell me they’re NPCs… And at the end of each episode, there is a forum that just spams their opinions about Maple and the likes in NWO. Who are these people anyway? Not that it has any bearing in the story anyway.

The action sequences are mediocre at best and like I’ve said, they’re just there to showcase how awesome and overpowered Maple has become. You’re only stunned and astonished with your mouth wide open not because of the awesome firepower that Maple has obtained, but the absurdity of how she actually obtained it. So once we’re done seeing Maple taking in all the enemy’s attack, time to see her counter back with more lethal firepower. But the one that confused me was during Sally and Frederica’s fake bout. It is believed that Sally’s skills aren’t derived from certain abilities but rather through her own reflex. Please bear in mind that this is an online digital game and not in the real world. Even if you have lightning speed reflex, you are still bound by the whatever cooling period or limitations of that skill you are using. So even if Sally did train herself to become better, so isn’t that still the same levelling up style? Not her reflex? By saying that it is her own natural reflex means that she somehow circumvented the game’s programme or something. It’s like she is living through her avatar! Does not make sense! Oi! Lazy developers, buck up!

Art and animation are rather okay. Everything in this world is so lively and colourful that sometimes you forget it is a virtual MMORPG and more of an isekai. Also, the character designs especially the ladies, they lean more towards the cute department and hence making it sometimes look like cute girls doing cute things virtual MMORPG version. I have a feeling I have seen the character designs from somewhere but at this point I’m too lazy to point out so let me know if a certain character looks like another character from another anime, okay? (Like how Syrup reminds me of a certain turtle from Love Hina). This anime is done by Silver Link so you can see some of their art style trademark in here in their other works like Masamune-kun No Revenge, Baka To Test To Shoukanjuu, Non Non Biyori. Midara Na Ao-chan Wa Benkyou Ga Dekinai and the Fate/Kaleid Liner Pisma Ilya series to name just a few.

In the voice acting department, a few recognizable seiyuus lent their talents like Saori Hayami as Kasumi, Satomi Arai as Kanade, Satomi Satou as Iz, Ayana Taketatsu as Frederica, Rina Satou as Mii, Akira Ishida as Markus, Kappei Yamaguchi as Shin and Noriaki Sugiyama as Kuromu. Unfortunately they can’t save this anime and their limited roles mean they are only limited to what they can do. The rest of the casts that I don’t recognize are Kaede Hondo as Maple (Natsuki in Val x Love), Ruriko Noguchi as Sally (Ailane in Show By Rock S2), Nanaka Suwa as Yui (Kanan in Love Live! Sunshine), Ai Kakuma as May (Julis in Gakusen Toshi Asterisk), Kensho Ono as Payne (Slaine in Aldnoah.Zero), Takumi Yamazaki as Dread (Bansai in Gintama), Nobutoshi Canna as Drag (Lancer in Fate/Stay Night) and Yuko Minaguchi as Misery (Yaone in Saiyuki series).

The opening theme is Kyuukyoku Unbalance by Junjou No Afilia. Sounds like your typical generic lively anime idol song. Sounds okay and fitting if you consider and accept the fact that Maple and her comrades are having a blast playing the game. Play The World by Rico Sasaki as the ending theme also feels like a generic anime pop that is also okay and fitting if you consider and accept the fact that Maple and her comrades are having a blast playing the game. Yeah, nothing special to me. However the one that I really like is the insert song, Good Night by Rico Sasaki. In fact this is the best thing and the only thing that I actually like and look forward to hear in this entire series. This is a very cool song with cool acoustic guitar pickings and has this tropical samba feel to it. Makes me feel like I’m relaxing on a sunshiny tropical sandy beach! Quite catchy and makes me want to get up and dance a little. Screw whatever achievements Maple Tree is doing in the montage of clips because playing this insert song during that flushes away all the disappointment. Until the song ends… Aww, can we have another go at it, please?

Overall, this series is quite a let-down and to think they can cover it all by showing us cute girls doing cute things in an overpowered way, well, they’re wrong. Being an overpowered dark horse is not a good factor to have viewers root and support the character. Even more so, other supporting characters that are just lacking and boring. This is an opposite to everything in Tate No Yuusha No Nariagari. That is why we love and support the main character of that series because of all the hardships and tribulations he went through despite the dark themes of that series. Maple had everything here so easy. Despite being lazy bugs that made her literally overpowered, it doesn’t feel that she actually earned them. But don’t hate the main character just because of the flaws in the game that made her so. Yup, don’t hate the sinner, hate the sin. Don’t hate the anime or the genre. Hate the ones who continue to make this sh*t! No matter how high your defence points are, it will never protect you from badly written animes! You’ll be likely to get hurt and disappointed, dissatisfied and disillusioned in some ways. So instead of putting all your eggs in one basket, try to spread them out more. I think that would be a safer defence tactic. Just saying… So maybe for the time being, I’ll go back to watching the dreaded isekai genre before the next season comes about… *Shrugs and roll eyes*.

Darwin’s Game

May 3, 2020

Finally! A survival game that has actually some people die!!!!! Heh. Forgive me if that sounded very cruel but that’s only because I was tricked, trolled and frustrated by the previous survival game anime, Nakanohito Genome [Jikkyouchuu]. Yup. Nobody died in that one and everybody was like happy-happy helping each other to solve puzzles to go onto the next stage. Yeah, that was a bummer. Enough to make me forget that there were so many survival animes in the past that actually had characters dying. Ousama Game, Mahou Shoujo Ikusei Keikaku, Juuni Taisen, Btooom and Gantz to name a few. So with a name like Darwin’s Game, I wasn’t putting my hopes up to it until a few episodes in, I realized that death really do happen here. Yay! My bloodthirsty darkness has been satiated! And just like the name suggests, it is a mobile app game in which people kill each other for whatever (and no, it doesn’t take place in a capital city of an Australian state!). Uh huh. The handphones that we are so dependent on nowadays are taking a step further. Instead of just watching ultimate big army fails and future Darwin award recipients on YouTube, let those dumb enough to play, fight and kill each other to the death! That’s the real value of entertainment, my friend!

Episode 1
In this hour-long special, Hamada is out of options. He is running for his life. His only hope left is to call for his friend, Kaname Sudou and hopes he will come in time. Unfortunately time runs out for him as he gets killed. In school, Kaname is looking at the recent news of pixelated body outlines littered throughout the street. Is this some sort of new graffiti? Hiroyuki Kyouda then comes in and is worried about Hamada absent. Kaname didn’t think much about it but shows him an app called Darwin’s Game that Hamada sent to him last night. Before Kyouda could warn him not to launch the app, Kaname’s finger is faster. A snake pops out and bites his neck. Kaname passes out but when he wakes up, he is in the infirmary and feels fine. Though, he wants to go home. Kyouda will talk to him later about this game at home. On his way home, Kaname launches the app again and is puzzled of his avatar and other details. Then the game starts. Kaname vs Banda. This local baseball panda mascot? Well, he is sitting right in front of you now. Banda approaches him and tries to kill him. Kaname runs for his life. He tries to get help from the police but Banda kills the officer! Lucky for Kaname, Kyouda is here to shoot his crossbows into Banda. But Banda uses his Sigil which is invisibility. Which is easily detected by Kyouda’s Sigil, infrared visions. Both wound each other as Kaname takes Kyouda to run and hide. But due to a search app, Banda is able to look for them (although not pinpointing their exact location). Kaname wants to call for help but nothing connects and a girl named Shuka Karino that she might help. Kyouda tells Kaname to run and leave him behind since he is targeted and hence Kyouda can’t be detected. Also, he needs to survive until the time limit is over to win. Kaname does so and will come back for him when this game ends. Kaname taunts Banda and fights him. The surprise attack worked at first but how can you kill someone who is invisible? Thankfully a car bangs into him. Oh sh*t! With time is up, Banda loses since he receives more damage. It is then his body starts disappearing in chunks of blocks, leaving behind a pixelated body outline. When Kaname returns to Kyouda, he is saddened he is already dead. Yup, that pixelated body outline. Kyouda left him a final message to survive. Thanks to his first win, he ranks up and receives a mysterious box delivered to his home. A gun. Wow… Is this game great or what?

Kaname needs to find out more about this game so he agrees to meet up with Shuka at the factory area. He asks how to quit but she already told him then you can’t. The only way is death. She will cooperate with him if he tells her his Sigil. Unfortunately he doesn’t know what that means. It should be something natural but he still doesn’t get it. Even his profile status listed it as error. She wants him to show his bag because if it contains weapons, the deal is off. While Kaname is glad he left the gun back home, inside the bag contains other survival weapons. His hesitant has Shuka irked. She calls off the deal and will kill him. Battle start. Kaname blinds her temporarily with his flashlight to run. But apparently she has control of the lights in the factory and has locked all exits. He runs for his life from her snake-like chain as he laments about this Sigil thingy. As he won’t give up and wishes for a weapon, now a gun materializes in his hand. This allows him to give him some breathing space. He then thinks of how this could be his Sigil and recalls the process of doing this. Shuka returns to hunt him but this time she gets fooled by his decoy. The gun shoots out the electric box and takes out all the lights. Because Kaname’s eyes have been adjusted to the darkness, he barges towards her until he pins her down and materializing another gun to checkmate her. She warns him to kill when he has the chance but he is adamant he has his own way in dealing things. She is now convinced he doesn’t know anything about this game. She cancels the game by admitting surrender. This means surrendering her points to her as well as her obedience. Kaname is so relieved they both get to live that he collapses on her. Just like that? Maybe she took it the wrong way because when he wakes up, he is sleeping in her bed. Naked. She is also naked and all over him. What’s this request? She wants to make a family with him???!!! Is this part of the game?! Since when Darwin’s Game is some dating sim too?!

Episode 2
Shuka has a reason why she sleeps without clothes. Whatever. Thanks for the fanservice. Oh, that family thing? It’s like making a clan. A guild. A team. Hey, don’t blame us for thinking otherwise if she had better chosen her words! Shuka further explains some of the rules that one can avoid being challenge by taking their name off the list by paying points. However this does not exclude a direct confrontation when a challenger does so before the player. Kaname agrees to take up her offer to form a clan. However because of his low rank, he can’t. So why doesn’t Shuka just invite him straight? She wants a man to do the invitation. Sheesh. Work hard and rank up… Since there is going to be a treasure hunting game soon, Shuka has Kaname take her out shopping. Women need to buy clothes and more clothes, you know. Also she explains further players of Darwin’s Game cannot disclose this publically to outsiders. Violation of such rules means ‘ejection’ from the game. You know what that means, right? Meanwhile, Inukai buys info from Rein Kashiwagi about Kaname. He wants to get to him before others. So while Kaname waits for Shuka to finish her shopping spree, Inukai steals his handphone so that they could go talk. Inukai is interested in him because he ‘defeated’ Shuka who is known as the Undefeated Queen. She got to the top A Class without a single loss. So when she lost to him, he wants to ascertain this himself. Inukai instantly challenges him. Promising he won’t use his Sigil, his close quarter combat skills are still enough to take Kaname down. Over already? Meanwhile Shuka gets a call from Rein regarding some player she is searching for. Not much but at least Danjo’s Boxing Club has nothing to do with it. As for Eighth, their leader Wang seems to kill everybody he challenged. Oh, there’s something on Kaname too… Inukai is starting to get disappointed but Kaname fights back and uses his distraction to steal his handphone. The tables are turned. With Shuka coming to aid him, Inukai is forced to surrender. At this point, the treasure hunting game is about to begin. Everyone is teleported randomly throughout Shibuya. The goal is to collect 3 rings. Of course there isn’t enough rings. Those who failed within the allotted time will be game over. Yup, a scramble for survival. Wang likes this and thinks this is up his alley. A girl thinks she can take him out but unfortunately Wang uses his Sigil and before she knows it, she’s dead. One player out. 299 more to go.

Episode 3
More rules are explained that one cannot go out of bounds or it’s game over. One can also use the alternative camera to find the rings although it doesn’t pinpoint its exact location. Kaname is in a hotel room. He finds a ring nearby and the moment he steps out, damn, lots of body art everywhere! Must be his worst day since he encounters this death Nazi guy. This guy got a machine gun! He tries to run but the stairs exits are all covered with plants. I don’t think slamming on the elevator button will make the lift come faster. Confronted by that death Nazi guy, Kaname will give his ring in exchange for his life. However, Kaname is holding a gun and death Nazi guy is still wary. Luckily, his machine gun jams. Kaname points his gun but he is too shaky to pull the trigger. Death Nazi guy finds this match boring and lets him live as he enters the elevator. As Kaname rues this pathetic loss, he is about to take the elevator down when Rein advises him not to. Death Nazi guy is dead with plants all over him. Rein deduces that somebody’s Sigil of producing plants has locked all the players in this hotel. She suggests teaming up to survive. Meanwhile this game is being watched by wealthy influential people. We see Shuka in the lead with 6 rings and Wang right behind her with 5 although his clan has amassed 18 of them. Kaname is cautious about Rein but after she lets him know all the info she knows about him and his winning streak, Kaname feels his last one was pathetic. Rein explains in a battle royale, individual matches don’t count and points of dead players are distributed to survivors. Kaname agrees to team up since both of them have the same strategy of running away. Besides, Rein doesn’t find running away anything shameful. In fact, in this game it is considered artistic and creative. That’s why when a challenged player survives by doing so, he/she is ruled the winner. This is how Rein has been surviving. While Kaname notes his luck has got him this far, Rein points out that it is rather because he never gave up. Their plan is to make their way to the top. As they see more dead bodies, they realize the ones in the elevator didn’t turn into pixelated body outlines. Could it be that the perpetrator only known as the Florist has drugged them under his control? Better run because here they come. Even if they don’t have rings, how does he know where they are? The surveillance cameras. They realize he is in the control room. Are they going to shoot out all the surveillance cameras?

Episode 4
Florist uses some tactic to search door to door on each floor to find them. But some rooms are auto lock and the duo are hiding in one of them. Of course they can’t rely on this trick as Florist will soon realize this. True enough, Florist senses something amiss. He then narrows down where they are hiding from the surveillance cameras they shot out. His zombies barge into the room but nobody is there. A loud explosion is heard. Rein trying to bomb to plants blocking the path but it didn’t work. The next step is a gamble as she runs to the top of the hotel with the zombies chasing her. Man, she can outrun the zombies? Anyway, at the top floor, they start shooting but how can they all miss? We hear her narrate her Sigil. Like that Laplace demon, she has the ability to infinitely process all data from every movements of every miniscule atoms. Florist then realizes something else amiss. Where is Kaname? A loud explosion is heard outside the control room. Kaname using Rein as a diversion has climbed down outside the window to the ground floor where Florist is. Florist comes out of his hiding. He claims he is playing this game for money. He needs the money. Because when someone dies, it helps someone else. Kaname doesn’t like this BS and fights him but his plant armour is hard to penetrate. Also, Florist has seen through Kaname’s Sigil. Although he can replicate any weapons he has seen, it is not unlimited as the more he replicates, the more it takes a toll on his health. Kaname gives all he has got but to no avail. Almost passing out, he hears the soothing sound of a blacksmith forging a sword. Don’t really understand the advice gave Kaname but it made him realize he needs to make adjustments to his machine gun weapon. So in order to make harder bullets, he shortens the lifespan of the machine gun. This time the bullets penetrate Florist’s armour. Florist admits his defeat and wants to die but Kaname won’t allow that. With Rein joining them, he asks Florist AKA Ichiro Hiiragi how many rings there are in this hotel. As she can tell, this treasure hunt is about to end and the strong players will be facing each other off. As Eighth is currently the most powerful clan, they need to form a ragtag clan to fight them. People like them are already exhausted so they have no chance of fighting them on their own. So either they survive by cooperating together or die separately.

Episode 4.5
Seriously?! Really?! REALLY???!!! REEEAAAAAALLLLYYYYYYY??????!!!!!! A RECAP EPISODE????!!!!! This show is going to be the first of the season to get a Darwin award…

Episode 5
Shuka is bored at killing camping snipers so she heads down to the subway. Isn’t that more dangerous? Kaname makes a deal with that death Nazi guy to set him free if he promises not to attack them. He even invites him to join their team but he disagrees because he doesn’t want to team up with Hiiragi who brainwashed him. As he leaves, he heard them formulating a plan to counter Eighth. That is when he changes his mind and wants to join. He’s got a bone to pick with them. Unmasking himself, he introduces himself as Ryuuji Maesaka. They discuss about the oddly valued gems (because some valuable ones seem to rank lower than those that aren’t) and the very vague rules. Meanwhile Shuka faces off with a psychotic kid, Souta. She thought his Sigil is only water but he can also freeze it into ice and this traps her weapons. She thought of running away but he sealed up the place and flooded it. Shuka going to drown? So when Kaname who is waiting for Shuka to rendezvous with them, receives a help message from her, he thought it was a joke. But he soon realizes it can’t be so he decides to go save her. Can’t leave a comrade behind. Ryuuji will also follow him while the rest stay back to hold the hotel as a fort in anticipation of Eighth’s attack. Ryuuji learns Kaname’s Sigil to create things but only simple and small ones. Ryuuji would love to trade his Sigil with his because he finds his own Sigil to detect truth or lie to be useless. The duo then encounter a young girl, Sui. Ryuuji’s Sigil comes in handy as he could tell she isn’t lying that she doesn’t want to fight. She tries to warn them about the subway but Kaname still wants to dive in and swim? Plus, so heroic this guy that he wants Ryuuji to return to the hotel if he isn’t back in 5 minutes and give his rings to Sui. Wow. After he dives in, Ryuuji notes Sui lied on one part and wants her to tell the truth. But she uses her Sigil to distract him and run. Ryuuji can’t kill her since killing kids are bad. Besides, he needs to extract info and so he goes after her.

Episode 6
Souta is hiding from Ryuuji as he is communicating with his twin sister, Sui about killing this dude or else they won’t survive this game. Sui is against any killing but with desperate times, they need to take action. Luring him to a convenience store, Sui then uses her Sigil to turn all the water in the bottles to capture him. Souta still wants to kill him but Sui fights hard to prevent any bloodshed. Kaname has found Shuka lying at the bottom of the underground pool. So CPR is enough to bring her back to life?! Great reward for him because she gives him a proper kiss. I don’t know. I felt like she was just waiting for this moment to happen. Shuka also tells him her reason of playing this game. It is to find her parents’ murderer (a Chinese Freddy Krueger?) and avenge their deaths. Then another game announcement. A new ring pops up and the survivors are to look for it. Shuka hears out Sui and would have killed her had not all this event led to her being close to Kaname. Lucky kid. Sui explains Souta is her twin brother who died in an accident. However when she entered this game, she got her wish and his soul came back although it is inhabiting her body. Okay, we believe you he isn’t an imaginary friend. Rein has replied regarding the numbers on the rings. Hence Kaname tells everyone to toss away all the rings they have now and go for the real big treasure that will end this event. Eighth is starting to assault the hotel. Knowing they are outnumbered, Hiiragi tells Rein to get away while he sacrifices himself to hold them down. Hiiragi can’t throw away the rings as he needs the money for his daughter’s surgery. Rein advises him that if she was his daughter, she will be sad to know her father died in some weird game. Something that is worse than having any sort of disease. Eighth makes their way into the hotel. Led by Sig, he heads in first because he knows very well his fiery Sigil can burn on any plants. After riding up to the top level, the rest are waiting below. That is where Hiiragi comes to slaughter them all. Then he returns back up to fight Sig. Rein has gotten away from the hotel as she narrates about those numbers corresponding to the hardness of the precious stones. Arranging them together, it displays the coordinates which is the centre of Shibuya station.

Episode 7
Rein told Hiiragi of the men he needs to be careful in Eighth other than Wang. Keiichi Katsura whose Sigil allows him to crush others without using his fist and Sig who has fire properties. Thanks to this info, Hiiragi is able to escape death at Sig’s hands. However with Keiichi joining in and helping out, Hiiragi is dealt a fatal blow. But he isn’t going down without a fight so he uses his plants to crumble the entire hotel and take out everyone with him. Rein has reached the station but realizes there are more Eighth members here. She tries to get away but is spotted. As long as she doesn’t get in Wang’s way, she’ll be safe. But surprise! The big bad wolf pops up before her despite she is using her Laplace abilities. He breaks her arm and forces her to reveal info. Luckily she stalls for enough time for Kaname and co to arrive. Kaname wants to negotiate but Wang laughs at this proposal of theirs. You think they are equals? Eighth’s policy is to take and take! Negotiations break down so it’s a mad slaughterhouse. Rein thinks hard and deep and needs to go deep into her Laplace just to find the meaning and answer. So from what she found, the numbers correspond to the date when Charles Darwin published his The Origin of Species. This is where the real treasure is. Ryuuji observes Wang’s Sigil of being able to teleport and slice within 5 metres. As long as he stay out of that range, he is safe. But distractions from other Eighth members allow Wang to close in and rip off Ryuuji’s arm. Wang is going to show off to his men in killing Ryuuji when Kaname pops up and surrenders! WTF?! He claims he has the key to the real treasure and in exchange for this, he wants their lives to be spared. So consider give and take policy now?

Episode 8
Ryuuji can tell Kaname is lying. But will Wang fall for it? He is not like other members who are out for the money. Flashback shows Ryuuji wants revenge on Wang because he killed his brother. Ryuuji continues to hear Kaname lying from one BS to another about the key and the real treasure. Although Wang plays tough, Ryuuji can tell he is also worried. Wang finally agrees but will still kill Ryuuji since he is already halfway through his execution. Kaname doesn’t care. They just formed an alliance out of convenience. Kaname throws him the key and after Wang catches it and realizes something is wrong with it, before he could order his men to kill him, Kaname keys in the code to the locker he is standing next with and it opens. The game is over and Kaname is declared the winner. All the gamblers watching this are thrilled with this unknown Kaname as the winner. But there is one who bet on him and won… Inside this locker is a handphone. Answering it, it is the voice of the host and game master of this game. Naturally Kaname is angry for being dragged into this but the host just explains the points and rewards he will get. But here’s the best part: As the winner of this treasure hunt, he will be granted a special privilege. Of course a privilege must be something the host can grant. So too bad Kaname, can’t quit the game yet. The host then reveals 2 ways to exit this game: Either you complete the game or you kill the host and destroy the game system. Kaname thinks hard for his privilege… The host also gives him a new Sigil called Fire God of Iron. 2 months down the road, the hotel is sealed off and the reports say it was the work of terrorism. Shuka discussing with Sui of buying a house to serve as a base for their clan. Hey, she’s a rich girl. But can’t they just use her own house? Maybe she wants some privacy? Hideaki Kanehira from the insurance company sees Suzune at the hospital to pass her a cheque over her father’s death. She doesn’t take this ‘joke’ likely and kicks him out. Rein is waiting outside and is the one responsible to see Suzune got the money. Hideaki wants to meet Kaname but Rein isn’t his manager or anything. Later Suzune bumps into Rein and they become some sort of friends. But Rein gives her contacts in case she wants to find out the truth about her father. Ryuuji is finally healed by Kaede who is a member of Danjo. Of course he is also friends with the big man, Danjo himself. Inukai has been training Kaname and it seems he is all buffed up and ready! Kaname wants to form an alliance with Danjo but Danjo wants to see if he is worthy of that alliance. So an all-out fight using their Sigil on the cards, right? Meanwhile, Kaname’s friend, Shinozuka tries to look for him at his place but he is not around. But a member of Eighth is… Oh sh*t…

Episode 9
In this no holds barred match, Kaname goes all out against Danjo and despite all the weapons he conjure, he has to keep Danjo at bay or else getting to close means game over. That is all Kaname has done using his Sigil but Danjo has used none of his. Just when Danjo gets close enough, Kaname drops his grenade in an apparent suicide move. But the bomb is a dud and it was enough for Danjo to turn his body into steel as anticipation. Though Danjo acknowledges him, he wants to fight Kaname longer. Unfortunately the match is interrupted when Liu Xuelan (the top Darwin’s Game player) interrupts to kidnap Kaname. Shuka is of course angry to hear this. But it’s not like everyone else just stood there and do nothing. They couldn’t do anything at all. They felt they were killed but once they come to, their bodies are still intact and Kaname gone. It is believed that is not Xuelan’s Sigil but her ancient Chinese energy art. As Kaname is their leader, they’re going to get him back. Xuelan tells Kaname that she comes from a line of assassins. She wants him to work for him. She has observed him and found that his style is very suitable for war. Also, she wants to ensure an heir and doesn’t mind bearing his child. Geez, this is getting weirder! Soon their car is being chased by Shuka’s group. Xuelan wants Kaname to tell his group to back off but instead he tells them to do whatever it takes to stop this car. Then he throws down a challenge to her that if she can beat his clan, Sunset Ravens (?!) without killing anybody, he’ll join her and even be her husband! That’s a promise. Xuelan puts up a formidable fight and even Shuka’s sweating. In the end, it is Kaname who helps out in the distraction for the rest to put the car to a stop. Xuelan doesn’t admit defeat but her driver, Ximing does so. Considering their situation, Sunset Ravens has got the capacity to get away clean unlike them. He advises to make allies than enemies. Xuelan admits defeat but refuses Kaname’s offer to be their ally. However she will join his clan to see for herself if he is worthy to be her man. Everyone objects. Especially Shuka! Kaname accepts and has seen for himself Xuelan keeps her word. No doubt she can betray them anytime but makes a condition for her to join Sunset Ravens: If she is going to betray them, betray him first. Betraying other members is unforgiveable. With that, Xuelan is now part of the clan. Meanwhile Wang and Eighth have tortured Shinozuka and cutting all his fingers! They send a video message to Kaname and wants him to come here or else more misery for his friend.

Episode 10
Rein sees a friend, Kotori to get more info on Eighth. In exchange, she wants to join Sunset Ravens (despite she herself is in a clan of her own). Rein can’t guarantee anything but will pass that message to her boss. Meanwhile Kaname is mad. Please don’t take it out on the wall… Ryuuji calms him down that they can ask Kaede to heal him and at the same time they can kill this Wang piece of sh*t. After he calms down, they devise a strategy to rescue Shinozuka. Based from the video frame, Rein could tell they are in some port warehouse (seagulls!). First they call the police to surround the place. They will be the distraction they need to sneak in to rescue Shinozuka. But only Inukai is available to help them as the rest of his clan members are busy fighting off another clan, Uroboros who is believed to have ties with Eighth. Wang didn’t like the police showing up before his playtime with Kaname so he has Keiichi (yes, this guy survived) blow off one of their heads! Then the rest proceed to slaughter the rest of those useless cops. Meanwhile, Shuka manages to sneak in a handphone to Shinozuka (is her chains not strong enough to carry him away?). Kaname talks to him and wants him to become a participant in Darwin’s Game. Just click the link. It’s going to be hard without fingers… Shinozuka wants to survive so he uses his tongue to become a participant. With that, his Sigil seems to be some sort of telekinesis, shoving things away with great force. Like this new skill, huh? Until he faces off with Wang… Meanwhile Inukai fights off Keiichi so the rest could sneak into the warehouse. Inukai knows all about Keiichi who was a karate sportsman and could have been a great one had he not accidentally killed his opponent during a match. Keiichi elaborates he regretted it since everyone since then viewed him as the enemy. So while he was depressed, Wang came to save him. So to get over his depression, just kill more people!!! OMG. That’s the extreme version of fighting fire with fire. Well, sad to say it worked for Keiichi. Kaname and Ryuuji come face to face with Wang. Kaname will fight him so as to release his friend. But Wang corrects him that he doesn’t to fight him. Just to see his despair face. Because he cut up Shinozuka and put him in the box!!! OH SH*T!!! Kaname now in despair!!! Wang then blames it is all Kaname’s fault that because he tricked him and made a fool out of him, some innocent guy had to die. Wang orders his men to kill them. But you can see Kaname is John Wick dead serious mad. An accurate shot right in the forehead of one of Wang’s men. No more nice guy.

Episode 11
Kaname invokes his special privilege and starts a clan battle. Damn, a perfect headshot into all the Eighth’s goons! When Wang targets him, Kaname lets Shuka fight him while he and Ryuuji dispose the rest of the trash. In a different warehouse, Shuka taunts Wang like hell. But when Wang attacks, he realizes his foot got cut off! He tries again, this time from behind but now his hand is chopped off! With Shuka continuing to taunt him, Wang then realizes the entire place is covered with thin wires. But is that enough to cut off limbs? As Shuka controls them, she can make them vibrate and turn into some mean saw. Wang is now scared and tries his final trump card of switching pace with Shuka (since he is tied up by the wires). However this failed and he loses another feet. Now he is begging for his life and tries teleporting away to escape. Too bad he landed outside before Kaname and Ryuuji. Not wanting to die, Wang surrenders. Sunset Ravens wins but Kaname views the rewards obtained from Eighth not enough. Considering how much Eighth took from them, it’s never going to be enough. Apparently this is Kaname’s privilege. Some winner takes all strategy by betting all his chips and his opponents must bet the same. So if the opponent has less chips, they lose. Hence Kaname can bet as many points he wants at the start of the game to increase his points. Wang realizes his reign as king is over. He accepts his loss and impending death but warns Kaname that he has become just like him and many others will die at his feet. Kaname pumps a few bullets into him before he disappears. Yeah. STFU and just die. Kaname now sets his sights on the game master and will put an end to this game. This is the goal of Sunset Ravens. Meanwhile we see the game master contacting another bloodthirsty killer, Oboro. As the game will move on to the next phase, he warns Oboro not to engage with Kaname yet as he is putting him on special observation. Just like Wang whom he thought would become the eye of the storm, this led to the creation of a more powerful player AKA Kaname. Until the next phase, Oboro must steer clear of Kaname as they will have a big role to play then. We see Sunset Ravens owning anybody trying to be funny. It seems they have invoked a special rule: A ban of Darwin’s Game on their turf. Anybody defying this rule will pay the price. It’s effective quite effective and they’re expanding their territory…

Natural Selection: May The Odds Be In Your Favour
I don’t think it will turn dark but there could be a possibility. What I mean is that Sunset Ravens becoming the new group of villains! You see, some of their members really will stop at nothing to teach non obedient players a lesson (although short of killing them but that itself is still a last resort), they now have a ‘uniform’, all dark and grey garb that makes it look like as though they are attending a funeral, they have a badass clan logo to boot, and they are muscling and expanding their territory like some new yakuza clan on the rise. Don’t they just look like bad guys now? While the possibility is miniscule, the chances are not zero. After all, Kaname might lose sight in his bid to find the game master but I’m confident with his members by his side, they’ll bring him back to the right path.

The overall premise may look like some simple survival game. Kill your opponent to survive or at best make them surrender. As we can see, it goes beyond that and it is a shame that for the time being it doesn’t have further episodes to flesh out the development and other potentials. I’m sure that many of us would be asking who the organizers and host of this game, their intentions of having such a bloodthirsty game. It could be for just entertainment purposes but my guts tell me it is more than that. A hidden agenda. But then again, sometimes my guts could be wrong. But I don’t think so. Maybe. Heh. Even this season’s story of introducing our main character into this death game, showcasing the main event and finally ending with a somewhat clan war outside the game itself, the plot itself is still engaging from start to finish and you can’t help feel wanting more of it or can’t wait for the next episode to roll out. At least, that’s how I felt. This season again like I’ve said may not be much but it does enough to help establish Kaname and his Sunset Ravens as formidable players-cum-survivors, which I feel is the main element of focus. Considering Kaname’s no-kill policy, he might end up recruiting a hell lot of people. Just saying…

Action wise might not be a masterpiece but it is still engaging. After all, this is the main draw of the anime, right? As long as people die, blood spilled and at least limbs are coming off left and right, what is there more to complain? Having the participants possessing a unique Sigil makes the action sequence a bit more exciting and adrenaline pumping. But there are limits using them so they can’t spam us Sigil moves all the way. That’ll be no fun. Otherwise, Kaname could have just materialized tanks and outrageous guns from video games to just blow away the competition. Can’t have our main character to do something so easy if we want to at least support this guy, no? Since this show isn’t some mystery puzzle, I thought the treasure hunt riddle was a let-down. I was expecting something more out of it but the solution turned out pretty meh. Like as though plot convenience was the main key here.

One of the ‘scariest’ things about this series is when a participant dies for good in the game, his/her body would disappear and leave behind a pixelated body outline. For me, the caved in contour of blocks looks pretty scary. I don’t play Minecraft but those blocky leftover blocks also look like they came from that video game.

Though character wise, I feel it is somewhat lacking in this department. I’m not saying it is the worst but it leaves more room for improvement. As I mentioned, this season feels like introducing Kaname’s clan. However we hardly know anything more about the characters in Sunset Ravens than what has been minimally revealed in the anime. Everyone has their own reasons and circumstances to play this game but aside Shuka and Ryuuji wanting revenge and Kaname wanting a total way out as well as burying this game for good, there is nothing deeper about these characters. Maybe in the future they will be fleshed out better but for now, it just seems that they’re part of Kaname’s group because he spared them and also they aren’t the worst sh*t characters in the game and hence share a somewhat common goal to work together and survive this mess.

Kaname is your typical underdog main character. A wuss who gets dragged into something he doesn’t want to get involved but thanks to luck (which I feel it is a big factor) that has him stand out and survive this long. We see his character grow from a puny high school student to become a respectable no-nonsense leader of a small clan. With all his high school friends dead, you bet he isn’t going to take their deaths lightly. His no-kill policy might be a no brainer in a game that commands death from its participants but so far it is working out for him. And for the better. Hey, if something works, it cannot be entirely stupid, can it? Though, his 100% clean record is now shattered because he made his first kill on an Eighth member. So don’t f*ck with this guy now. And especially don’t you dare f*ck with his comrades. Hey, even Batman has killed people despite his no-kill policy. Though of course, this is only applicable to real scumbags but it still sends a message not to mess with them because they really mean business. Sometimes you have got to be cruel to be kind. So if you find Kaname’s serious face now scary, until this crap game is destroyed, no time to take it easy.

The rest of the other members in Sunset Ravens, well, I thought Shuka felt lacking ever since she fought Kaname the first time. Ever since she voluntarily became subservient to him, it’s like she tamed down a lot. Remember how she was almost killed once during the treasure hunt? Yeah, why do my guts tell me it is the feelings of love that got in the way? For now, she is painted as some waifu material for Kaname. If that didn’t convince you, now we have Xuelan joining in to ramp up the rivalry for Kaname’s chastity. Maybe all she wants is to play family and this dysfunctional family in the name of Sunset Ravens is just fine for her as long as Kaname comes home. Food for thought: If Xuelan is the top player in Darwin’s Game, does this mean she is the stupidest player???!!! Oh sh*t! Please don’t cut me!!! Okay, okay, I get it. Xuelan is the top player means she is the best survivalist. Period.

The other survival game we might or might not want to see… This one I feel is going to get bloodier… Then we have a pair of loli girls, Rein the info master and Sui for who knows what. Whatever the latter, I guess her split personality with Kouta comes in handy sometimes for battle purposes. So as not to make this look like a harem, that’s why we have the other guy, Ryuuji. I thought Hiiragi would have been a great edition to the team but I guess if they want to satiate my bloodlust of body count, somebody has to die… Ah well, it wasn’t a big surprise. After all, his character wasn’t part of Kaname’s gang in the opening and ending credits… Big hint… No wonder his character gets the most fleshing out especially something about his hospitalized daughter. Characters who are going to die get the sort of privilege and make peace with whatever before they go permanently.

You got to agree with me in some ways that Wang is one of the most despicable characters ever in all of series villains. I believe they really want to make his character that way and they did a pretty good job in that. This guy could be the devil himself reincarnated as he is merciless, ruthless, cruel and just pure evil. If you are afraid of Eighth, that’s because you are really afraid of only this guy. Because the rest of the punks in Eighth are just pretty meh. Even Keiichi and Sig couldn’t match up to Wang’s cold blooded lust. It’s the reason why Eighth has got a fearsome reputation and I believe it is only thanks to Wang. So when Wang was being tortured and killed in the finale, we didn’t feel any pity for him and just glad he bite the dust. Good riddance. No love lost from us. Live by the sword, die by the sword. He got what he deserved. Eighth could just be a drop in the ocean as it is hinted there are other fearsome clans out there. Uroboros could be the umbrella group for Eighth and other ‘evil’ clans. Well, both clans have a snake eating its own tail as its logo, right? So Eighth is just the tip of the iceberg for Sunset Ravens as there will be other even more psychotic groups out there.

Art and animation are okay but sometimes I feel the overall tone of the visuals is somewhat a little bland. I don’t know, I just feel like the colours are a little dull and blunt. Especially some of the dark scenes. I only want to comment on Wang’s character design, the more I look at him, the more he starts looking like some snakey devil. Honest. Like I’ve said, they want to really paint this guy to be the embodiment of evil so he has got to look the part as well. Don’t stare too long or he might steal your soul! Yikes! And also Danjo… Is his character taken after X-men’s Colossus?! See the obvious similarities: He is Russian and a strong guy who turns into steel! OMG… This anime is produced by Nexus. They don’t produce much anime (average an anime a year) and the other shows they did lean more towards cute girls such as Comic Girls, Granbelm and Wakaba Girl (Shuka, Rein and Sui are cute but not as anime moe cute as these girls). So doing Darwin’s Game as their first serious title may be the reason they want to do something different.

For the voice acting, you got to agree with me that the best one goes to Yoshitsugu Matsuoka as Wang. If you think voicing the gruffy scruffy uncouth Inosuke of Kimetsu No Yaiba was his best non-Kirito-like characters, you haven’t seen anything yet. As Wang, he takes the cake trying to really make his character sound very despicable that you would love to hate. Kudos and hats off to a voice acting job well done. The other recognizable seiyuus are Takhito Koyasu as Hiiragi, Ai Kayano as Xuelan and Akira Ishida as Oboro. The rest of the other casts include Yuusuke Kobayashi as Kaname (Shin in Kenja No Mago), Reina Ueda as Shuka (Akane in SSSS.Gridman), Taku Yashiro as Ryuuji (Ebitani in Chuukan Kanriroku Tonegawa), Nichika Oomori as Rein (Yurine in Jashin-chan Dropkick), Yumiri Hanamori as Sui and Souta (Seth in Radiant), Junya Enoki as Inukai (Hiro in Kuutei Dragons) Shunsuke Takeuchi as Danjo (Seba in W’z), Konomi Kohara as Suzune (Chika in Kaguya-sama Wa Kokurasetai) and Masaya Matsukaze as the game master (Suiryu in One Punch Man S2). The opening and ending themes are rock based, Chain by Asca and Alive by Ayano Mashiro respectively. They suit the pace of the series well but they’re not my cup of tea.

Overall, not the best survival themed anime out there but it is still a lot entertaining and interesting. It just needs another season to develop the story and characters more. And more blood and deaths altogether! HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!! Oops, sorry. I hope people wise up and learn at least something after watching this anime. Don’t simply click on suspicious app links! But then again, have humans ever learnt throughout the course of evolution? Probably not. That’s why we’ll get more Darwin award recipients in the futures to come. Evolution or devolution, Charles Darwin would certainly turn in his grave. And to think that they would name a death game after him… On second thought, it couldn’t be more of an aptly honour in his name. It’s not how evolution really works, but whatever. Okay people, let’s go for Da-WIN!

I thought this would be it. Nakanohito Genome [Jikkyouchuu] OVA would get serious. They’ll be playing a game that would put their lives on the line. A risky game in which a false misstep or calculation could mean life or death! This is how you rake up the subscriber views, right?! Well… Unfortunately it was just my wishful thinking seeing that this OVA did not even come close to that. Instead, it is an episode made up of a few short skits. Sighs… I guess the fun and games haven’t really end yet.

Mushroom or fish
Kaikoku and Zakuro are fighting… Over fish or mushroom to be added to their dinner. Yes. This fight is about that. So they decide to go search their own fish or mushroom and whoever cooks the better meal and gets the approval of the rest, wins. Also, the loser must to what the winner says for a day. Ultimately both fail to get what they want and slip off a waterfall or cliff. In the end, the dinner gets on find without both ingredients and the irony is that Kaikoku got the mushroom Zakuro wanted while Zakuro got the fish Kaikoku wanted. Yeah, you’ll find things where you search the least.

Paka suggests items for the sports day so Akatsuki suggests a bread eating contest using a panda face with chocolate cream. Paka notes it is hard on the budget but if they put his alpaca face, they’ll get discounts. Agreed!

Karin is upset that she switched bodies with Akatsuki. While Akatsuki is cool, this poses a lot of problems for Karin. So is she the only one with problems? Though, the next day, Karin now switches with Kaikoku. It seems for the next few days, she switches bodies with everyone else. Zakuro is the only one left and he fears he will be left. We all know his fear for women, right? So to avoid this, he won’t sleep. Easier said than done. Next day, Zakuro has switched bodies… Not with Karin. Karin is still Karin. It’s with Punitsuki… Is this much worse?

Cheer danshi
Continuing the sports festival discussion, they discuss who to be on the cheerleading team. While the guys vote for the girls, they also imagine the guys doing the cheering job, especially Anya being a mean one. And then they imagine Makino doing the cheering… Can’t happen…

Panty thief
Pool episode! Oh yeah. Girls in swimsuits. And yeah, the guys too. Whatever. After done, Akatsuki realizes his underwear is gone. Time to decipher this mystery. Karin accuses Yuzu since she is obsessed with Akatsuki. She dismisses it because she already got all of Akatsuki’s underwear in her collection! Zakuro accuses Kaikoku because of his habit of stealing. But it can’t be because his usual underwear is a fundoshi. Then they all accuse Paka but he denies and gives them food for thought that what if Akatsuki’s underwear was not there in the first place? Hence everybody thinks Akatsuki tried to trick them and stole his own underwear. Here’s the real culprit: Punitsuki!

No show
Sports day is here and only Akatsuki turned up?! Zakuro came down with a flu so Himiko is nursing him. Kaikoku escaped. Makino and Anya slept in. Yuzu and Karin arguing over the cheerleading skirts. But Akatsuki is soon out since his whole body is aching from the practice and now needs to see a chiropractor. Sports day is cancelled?

Drunken spring
Everyone goes for hanami. Of course with everyone drinking sake, they soon start acting rowdy because that is what drunk people do, right? Even when Himiko uses her flash grenades to maintain order, it all amounts to nothing when she herself gets drunk. WTF she is now the God of White Rice Inaba?! When everyone passes out, Karin who has not drink and sat there quietly, finally takes a sip. It’s like everybody knew she did so and woke up just to get drunk and party altogether again. Oh yeah. Great times. Next day, everybody has a hangover and doesn’t remember what happened. Accept something about God of White Rice Inaba!

Sleeping beauty
Imagine, 3 short clips of watching Makino’s sleeping face… 3 FREAKING SHORT CLIPS…

And the award goes too…
Paka reviews all the skits and is going to award his Akapalsy Prize. Looks like he is going to award it to the underwear skit when he sees the unsatisfied players standing behind him. They beat him up. So I guess the award is cancelled? Personally, I think all are worthy of being the dumbest award!

Bro You Just Posted Cringe, You’re Going To Lose Subscribers!
Ah well, the short skits aren’t that bad and are fun in its own way. It reminds me of the final episode of the TV series whereby they’re all just playing games and having fun. Heck, that is what the entire series was about. There was no danger to them in anyway and you bet they’ll be as fine as they are as before. Also, they’ll just somehow win the game anyway. So yeah, this OVA doesn’t put much on the plate and it feels like to give some of the fans a slightly more good time as we see more antics from the usual suspects. Really nothing much at all. Since they didn’t show the view counts at the end, I’m thinking that these shenanigans might be costing Nakanohito to lose viewership! So if you’re like me hoping to see a death game starting, might as well hop on to Darwin’s Game that was currently running while this OVA was released. They may be a bunch of genius in their respective game genres so don’t expect them to jump in and get involved with the real game of death that is Darwin’s Game. They’re much smarter than that. After all, some just want to play games just to have fun, right? Me, anymore of this cringe and I’m gonna hit that dislike and unsubscribe button soon.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mamma Mia! Mothers to the fore! I guess it is time for mothers to take the lead instead of having hot teenage chicks, be it your sister or childhood friend. Hey. Moms can be equally cool too, you know?! If Tsuujou Kougeki Ga Zentai Kougeki De Nikai Kougeki No Okaasan Wa Suki Desu Ka is too freaking long and a mouthful for you to pronounce, Okaa-san Online should be good enough. So what is ‘worse’ than having your mom tell you to stop playing video games and go outside? Why, mom following you around and playing a video game with you! Yes, people. Who is this unlucky kid who has got his mom following him in his party to slay monsters and raid dungeons in this VR RPG game? I’m sure he’ll never want to remember this ‘dark’ period in his childhood. Imagine trying to be the cool hero and then mom shows up to say or do something. Sighs… But mom!!!!! “Sonny, do you like mummy’s normal full powered double multiple attacks?”. MOOOOM!!!!!

Episode 1
Masato Oosuki is answering a questionnaire about his relationship about his mom. Nothing special, really. WTF kind of questionnaire is that? Despite Mamako treating him nicely, he is that typical so who is embarrassed by her. Next day, Masumi Shirase comes by to inform him of some big news. Due to the government’s survey of online players, they would love to enter the video game world. Since Masato agrees, immediately Shirase keys in some secret passcode and has him enter the video game world! Awesome technology?! Masato is happy to start his adventuring days. Only, Mamako is also here to adventure with him! WTF?! Before they king, they are given their roles. Masato as a normal hero and Mamako, uhm, is hero’s mother a real role? A little briefing how this is just a beta testing game but since Mamako is very alien to all the terms, she is given a manual to read up. Don’t embarrass your son… The king lets them choose some weapons. Usually reserved for those clearing hard quests but young punks these days have no patience and won’t play your game if you don’t give them cool items… After Masato chooses one, Mamako chooses the remaining 2! It would be sad just to leave one alone, right? During the battle tutorial, Mamako owns the monsters! Masato hardly brings down a little bird. Can’t believe mom is doing better than him! Don’t worry, mom still loves you a lot. Masato starts complaining and even pinpointing it is all because she tagged along. Don’t make mom mad. Why, he even runs his mouth to spill the secret deal with Shirase or else he will disown her! OMFG! Ungrateful son you just made your mom cry!!! WTF???!!! She feels so hurt and sad with that statement and doesn’t really know what is going on. At least he has a conscious to apologize for saying too much. Masato agrees to let mom tag along and in the kingdom of Mommalia (really?), they need to join a guild first. Mamako makes a flashy destructive move so as others won’t look down upon them? Hey, it’s written here in the manual. Masato is worried about PK (player killing) but luckily the only damage done is to an NPC desk woman (Shirase?). She helps selects the best players for Masato. Why, aren’t they all hot chicks? Are these his type? And of course, the question that every mom will ask her son: Which one he likes best. Long story short, she sees this girl as his potential life partner whom he will share his life with. See where this is going? Yup, she is going to interview the girls!

Episode 2
As expected, Mamako rejects them all! Next is a timid girl, Porta. She is a merchant and non-combatant. Because Mamako thinks she is good in making deals and getting freebies, looks like she promotes her right away from party member to Masato’s wife! Woah! One step at a time, mom! Next is a poster of a sage named Wise. Her stats aren’t that good and she smells like trouble. Masato gets rid of the poster but it always returns. Until he steps on it that the poster screams in pain. Turns out she is disguising as one and as punishment, teleports him away so as to step back on his face. I suppose the reason he isn’t complaining is because he gets to see he pantsu… Wise is also a beta tester. She reveals the true intention of this game is for the parents to make up with their child. This is why his mom tagged along. The only way to clear the game is for them to improve their relationship. Apparently Wise and her mom were also in this game but they had a fight and split. She has been adventuring alone since and trapped. She hopes to become Mamako’s child and get out. Soon, Mamako finds them but not after Wise is put into prison because her dangerous teleporting could be seen as PK. Although Mamako cannot accept Wise as her child, she will allow her to travel with them in hopes she could find her mom. But Wise remains stubborn and would rather have the world destroyed than reconcile with mom. But with Masato claiming he needs her magic, that’s the deal that got her to join them. Their first travel has them fall into some pit that leads to an underground dungeon. Attack of the slimes! When Wise tries to use her magic, she freezes. Looks like her magic is sealed. Mamako destroys it and levels up but the slimes return and combine into a larger monster. When it attacks, Masato saves mom and despite both ended up getting slimed, only Mamako’s clothes disintegrate! So slippery that Masato can’t get up and has his face planted in mama’s boobs! Rejoice, viewers! Your MILF fanservice is here!!! Porta helps Wise disables some bad stats of her to able her to use magic. This allows Mamako to get her vengeance back on the slime. More fanservice with Mamako in naked apron. Is this our reward? After the slime defeat, a nun (Shirase?) rises from a coffin. In recognition of defeating the monster, she has them go on a special quest at a small farming village, Maman.

Episode 3
As they go buy equipment, Masato dreads this bikini armour. The last person he wants to see them on, yup, Mamako puts it on. But for the rest of us, itadakimasu! I guess the shop is having cheap sale so she bought a few more. This has Masato reprimanding her for being carefree. Damn, you trying to make mama cry again?! With the girls calming him down, he realizes he was only taking out his frustrations on her. This time they manage to make up with Mamako letting her son lie on her lap while she digs his ears while talking things out. Nothing beats this mom and son bonding. In Maman, they meet the mayor who tells them of their grave situation. A powerful with named Night Empress is forcing the town to hand over their most handsome and macho men or else. Hearing him describe her other qualities, Wise knows who this b*tch is. We take a detour as we see Masato’s party soak in a hotspring. No gender segregation? I guess with (naked) mom around, no funny business. Almost the cliché scene whereby Masato sees Wise’s naked body and is expecting a Team Rocket blast off into the sky treatment but reverse psychology! She won’t do it thinking he is a pervert who is expecting one! Meanwhile we see Shirase confronting Night Empress using her macho men as furniture. As she is an irregular, Shirase tries to purge her but Night Empress has a more powerful programming and purges Shirase instead. Before she is ejected, Shirase warns her daughter is nearby and if she has any plans to reconcile with her. None. She doesn’t need that girl. Masato can tell something is wrong when Wise is talking strangely and knows a lot about Night Empress. The only way to end this stubborn scene is a highly suggestive and ambiguous position of Masato slipping and falling onto her, making it look like he is taking her from the back! Serious business, Wise admits Night Empress is her mom. In the real world, mom loves to spend money on host clubs. Wise’s real name is Genya and is named after one of her favourite hosts. This habit led to her parents being divorced. Though Wise lives with her father, one day mom marches back in with a pretence to get back together with this game. Everything happened so fast and they ended up here. But since mom discovered she was so powerful, she decided to stay here and do things her way. This caused them to argue and split up. Wise envies Masato’s family so Mamako has her hug her. Feels like the warm mama’s hug she needs but not quite her mom’s. With that, they vow to make Night Empress remember her motherly bond with her child.

Episode 4
Wise revives Shirase who in turn tells them about Night Empress. Her real name is Kazuno and she is a sage like Wise. Like them who receive bonuses before they start their mission, Kazuno receives all the magic spells. But her greed led her to pursue her own disgusting hobbies and for some reason she has some invincibility that isn’t part of the game. Hence she might have brought in some cheat code. Cheaters like her will be heavily penalized. A huge fine, that is. The conclusion of the quest is when they can bring Wise and Kazuno closer. Shirase uses her admin privileges to summon Kazuno. Not in the mood to talk, she quickly attacks with her range of spells. She has also used her cheat code to move objects in the game to trap Mamako and Porta. Then in this room where she claims she can make any of her wish come true, she claims she can rule both the online and offline world. When Wise tells her to stop this nonsense, Kazuno reminds her this is all her fault. Initially when Kazuno got this game, she earnestly wanted to reconcile with her but Wise rejected her. Kazuno says the worst thing a child could hear: She regrets giving birth to her. Masato is somewhat the same too because he too isn’t all that fond of his mom. He too has his selfishness as a child. He hopes she can forgive Wise and not abandon her. His advice falls on deaf ears. Mamako breaks out from her entrapment. Illuminating like a goddess, Mamako remembers all the joy Masato brings including all his firsts. If Kazuno will not remember those feelings as a mother, she’ll make her. Masato’s party do a combo to take Kazuno down as Mamako lectures her about children despite being burdensome, they are irreplaceable treasures. Kazuno is losing and she hates it. Now she is throwing a tantrum like a kid until she finally loses. Wise admits despite saying hurtful things, she still loves her because she is her mom. After that it descends into a full blown mother-daughter argument. Uhm, I guess this is normal and how the family talks? In the aftermath, despite Kazuno already logged out, why is still Wise following Masato’s party? Oh, she wants to stay with them thinking the party needs her? You mean to say she needs somebody? I think Mamako can pick up what she means… We’ll see. Shirase informs them of another quest to do. Heck, she wants them to complete all the quests. So you mean to say they’re like cleaning up whatever mess the government makes?

Episode 5
With Mamako again taking the spotlight, this demoralizes Masato and Wise that they should be stronger. But don’t fear. Pamphlets about a school in Maternia where they can get stronger. With Mamako’s blessings, off they go. Masato is happy to meet this pretty chick, Medhi. Unfortunately she has an overbearing mom who keeps praising her daughter and everybody else as second class. Is this the obstacle in Masato’s love life? In class, Masato fears the other new transfer student is his mom but it turns out to be Medhi. Hence everyone teases him he sees mom in every other girl! Embarrassing! Worse, Medhi introduces herself that she is NOT Masato’s mom! Don’t you just want to die? But it won’t get worse than this since Medhi’s mom is also sitting in as an observer. Can they do that? As the teacher asks questions, the first to answer will be awarded points. It seems Medhi’s mom is using a trick to make everyone except her daughter answer. To the point in putting them to sleep. Yeah, she’s bragging about how she wants the best for her daughter, blah, blah, blah. Later Masato receives a note that a heroine is waiting for him. No surprise. Not even him. It’s Mamako. Saw this coming. So why is she here? Shirase will explain. As this school was quickly constructed to ward off overbearing parents, it has lots of bugs. Since Shirase lured them here, it is their mission to handle problems between parents and children that the game master can’t. Next class starts and Mamako is a student?! Masato manages to intervene to make mom an observer. Medhi’s mom tries to throw her weight and authority around but Mamako isn’t fazed and this throws Medhi’s mom off. During Q&A, Medhi’s mom is up to her usual tricks but thanks to Mamako’s equipment, it nullifies all negative effects. Mamako then answers the questions with equally ridiculous motherly love answers and gets extra points! This goes on for a few times and Masato is so embarrassed because his name is somewhat dragged into those questions. Please stop. At the end of the day, Mamako scores the most points. Medhi’s mom is not pleased and wants to have a strict talk with Medhi. Everybody else got zero and Masato dreads his mom stealing the spotlight again.

Episode 6
Masato’s lovely walk to school with Medhi is ruined when Mamako joins in. Even more so when Medhi’s mom has now get herself the school uniform. During cooking class, once more she puts a spell to make everybody’s food taste bad while her daughter’s to appear and look good. But with Mamako blowing her special mom’s breath of love, you bet this nullifies the effects. With Masato’s party getting top points, Medhi is refrained by her mom to even praise them. If you’re wondering why Shirase is sexily molesting Mamako, it’s to take her measurements. Because Masato saw this worst nightmare come true. It’s swimming class! Masato literally wants to die… Which son would love to see his mom in a swimsuit? But what’s worse than a mother in a swimsuit? Why, 2 mothers! Too bad all the NPC guys are all over Mamako’s traditional school swimsuit over Medhi’s mom’s sexy one. You lost, bad mama. In this class, students earn points by killing monsters in the pool. Until the ultimate fish turns up that Masato and Medhi are in competition to take it down. While Mamako doesn’t care about standings and is only worried if her boy will get injured, Medhi’s mom is pressuring her daughter to be number one. The last straw as Medhi snaps when mom tells her she must become number one or else she is worthless. Medhi just stops. Suddenly a giant sea anemone pops up. Only Mamako gets tentacle raped?! Damn anemone has MILF fetish… Porta throws Mamako her sword to cut herself loose before Masato finishing it off. This earns Masato big points. The happy celebration is cut short when Medhi’s mom slaps her daughter for being worthless. Back to more training for you girl. This is for your sake. Tearful Medhi runs away. Time for the hero to go after the girl. Make that, the hero and his mom. Both have noted Medhi sometimes acting strangely and saying strange stuffs behind her mom’s back. It couldn’t be truer when they see a frustrated Medhi kicking the wall and cursing mama to death.

Episode 7
Group meeting. Masato wants to help Medhi and her mom since he knows how it feels to have problems with a mother and not know what to do. It is the school’s cultural festival so they are free to do what they want. When Masato’s side wants to do a café, Medhi’s mom also wants to do the same and challenges who could do better. Obviously we see a long queue outside Mamako’s café. Everyone is waiting for Mamako’s cooking! None for Medhi’s mom. Hence she forces Medhi to switch from a maid to a swimsuit (WTF???!!! WHY???!!!) to attract more customers. Masato happened to pass by so Medhi’s mom ‘kills’ him. He turns into a ghost and he is able to hear her evil scheme to force Medhi to seduce him so that she could control and then ruin Mamako’s café. After Masato revives, Medhi is in seductive mode but Masato knows what’s going on and isn’t taking the bait. Medhi drops the act but before she could badmouth her mom, yeah mom pops up. Masato pleads for her to stop this but she thinks she can still win. Yeah, this beauty contest! Medhi ranks first since all the guys love this cute clumsy girl. Wise tries to be clumsy but nobody likes it. Then Mamako comes up on stage to promote her café and since all the guys love girls who cook, her ratings shoot through the roof! Literally, it’s over 999!!! As Mamako is being crowned, Masato takes Medhi to talk. With the other girls, they ask her what she really wants to do. She wants to enjoy her school life but is afraid she has no friends. On the contrary, Masato and co confirm they are her friends. Enough to break Medhi down in tears while she screams out her heart’s desire to have fun with her friends. You can bet on her mom to cut short that as she strangles her daughter! Before she could beat her, Mamako gets in the way. She understands mothers want the best for their child. But is it right to push Medhi so hard that it makes her suffer? According to Medhi’s mom, yes. She has to be number one so that she can say she is the best mom. So it’s basically all for herself. This is the last straw that broke the camel’s back. Medhi has truly had it. She thought of putting up with all the tormenting thinking mom as doing it for her. Now it’s all about herself, well screw it all! This betrayal has Medhi unleash all her magic that it turns her into a monster.

Episode 8
Even when Medhi is mad, mama calls her disgusting and ugly. She blames Masato and co for ruining everything. The kids head off to handle Medhi while the mothers settle things. Their ideals clash on how to raise a child. But of course you know Mamako will have the edge when she starts illuminating like a goddess and saying how parents should raise their kids to become wonderful adults! This causes Medhi’s mom to feel guilty over what she has done. She realizes she has always loved Medhi and now she is in danger. She tries to talk some sense into Medhi but obviously her girl doesn’t believe her lies anymore. Too late to play nice. Mom praises her for doing all she has asked despite never liking it. Masato feels Medhi’s mom’s sincerity so he too steps in to protect her from Medhi’s attack. Wise has finally finished drinking bottles after bottles of MPs as she blasts Medhi into the air. When the sceptre tries to protect Medhi, Mamako unleashes her powerful attack to break it. This frees Medhi as both mother and daughter emotionally reunite and reconcile. It is believed the sceptre has been causing Medhi’s mom to act strangely. Because she wanted to become a good mom, the sceptre enhanced that wish to the extreme. When she signed up for this game, all she wanted was to get back on good terms with Medhi because she knew she was putting a lot of stress on her. She just wanted her daughter to grow up to be a good person but she ended up being the worst mother. As the class graduates, Masato offers the pair to join their party but Medhi’s mom decides to log out and erase her dark legacy, a blog she wrote on how to raise children. After today’s lesson, she’s going to take it down. As for Medhi, she gives her a choice to stay and she definitely wants to continue adventuring with Masato. But can a parent and child log out separately? Well, Shirase says Wise already set a precedent. I guess it’s not yet for Masato, huh? Shirase rewards them with many bonuses in which they can spin to get special items. Unfortunately Masato got lots of HPs and Wise lots of MPs. Medhi will be keeping hers to boost her stats later and Porta might be the only winner getting what she wanted (a teddy bear). Masato gets an extra spin for solving this mother-daughter issue. Will he get a super rare item? Nope. Just a mother’s apron! Hey, at least not naked apron Mamako! Hey, has Masato succumbed to liking seeing mom in this?!

Episode 9
Mamako answering survey questions about her relationship with Masato. All is well! I’m sure Masato never felt that way… He tries to take out his frustrations by destroying a wave of monsters but Mamako takes it out as usual. Then there is a poster about a dungeon tower whereby anyone who clears it will get whatever wish they want. Sounds like a scam but whatever, let’s check it out. But outside the tower, there are lots of disgruntled moms complaining about their lost kids. They try to ask Shirase but she too has no clue what is going on. They head into the tower to investigate. Looks like an easy tower with Mamako being friends with the monsters and stepping on plates give you certain power ups. Oddly, there seems to be a weird rivalry going on between Wise and Medhi because Medhi wants to take out Wise so she can be the party’s only caster. Reaching a certain level, they stumble into Amante. She claims she is one of the leaders of the group called Ribele. They are made up of kids who have rebelled against their mothers. Noticing Mamako is in this group, Amante feels scared and retreats to form a plan. Though, she believes a small party like them can’t clear this tower. Mamako’s group returns outside and with Amante’s info, Shirase has a gist of what is happening. As there is no in-game event like this, she believes somebody is trying to cause a rift between parents and children. Ribele could be behind this and Shirase recognized some of the kids in the group from the database who joined Ribele. The plan now is the increase their party size and it is suggested they form a guild and recruit members. So this rundown building will be their guild’s base? Yeah, Mamako took the liberty to name it Mommy Guild! And now she’s the guild master? Yes, Momaster! What a mouthful to pronounce! Shirase also left them with presents while she goes to investigate. Maid outfits!!! I APPROVE!!! While Mamako and Wise clean up their guild, Medhi and Porta go shopping and Masato is left why he is forced to carry the bags when they have Porta’s infinite bag. They stumble into Amante shopping too. But Medhi mocks her slip ups so badly that Amante starts crying!!! Enough for her to reveal she sent an assassin to their guild. The rest doesn’t think this would be any trouble since Mamako is there. Yeah, it’s the Mamako we’re talking about. Suddenly Wise teleports in to request for help because Mamako is losing. Say what?! No way?! Mamako losing?! Oh sh*t! This must be real serious trouble!

Episode 10
It seems Mamako is losing to… A salesman?! She can’t help with all the good offers and gives in whenever Masato’s name is mentioned. Although she is stopped, the salesman quickly flees and the crystal ball he left behind is a bomb. It’s going to explode! But wait! Mamako calms it down like a baby! Can it work? You bet! Come to think of it, crying babies and bombs are like the same! Later Amante shows up just to complain how they foiled her assassination plans. Yup, she even admits she was the one behind it and even sent another one. Oh, the guild just exploded. Returning, Amante’s men are the one behind this, they claim they have also placed bombs all over town and they must do their bidding to avoid casualties. So they want maid service, huh? Mamako in maid outfit? I APPROVE!!!! Damn she looks hot! And when she serves them fried rice, it makes them nostalgic about their mom’s cooking. Eat up, boys. Next they want ‘bed service’. Mamako pulls a blanket over them and sings a lullaby till they sleep! What were you expecting? More nostalgic mama moments for them. In the end, the guys feel bad for everything they did and will go disarm the bombs around town. Power of mother’s love! And even later, Amante drops by to complain about yet another failed attempt. Care to reveal more stuffs? Not only they get to tease her but she bloopers and embarrassed herself on the exit. Next day, it seems the other mothers are grateful for what they did for their kids. They intend to join their guild to help clear the tower. Though, their kids won’t be joining as they will be doing something else. You could say this is the mother of all guilds! As they arrive outside the tower, the mothers realize they left their windows open and worry about the recent robberies in the area. They want to be sent home otherwise will Masato take responsibility? And so he leaves Wise to teleport them all back. Meanwhile Amante has been waiting inside the tower for them to show up. Yeah, she’s ready to bomb the hell out of them but as expected, she bloopers and accidentally presses the detonator. Boom! And Masato is still waiting for all the moms to finish their stuff outside… This is going to take a while before the mission can even start…

Episode 11
Finally. Can we get this tower climbing started? Amante has set a trap for the entourage but because they never came, she clumsily sets off the trap herself. Then she goes down to see what’s taking them so long and they’re having a picnic?! Just done. Time to wash the dishes. Chotto matte! Amante challenges Mamako to see who can wash the dishes faster. While Amante is good, Mamako uses her magic! Instant cleaning! Hey, nobody say how you’re supposed to get them cleaned, right? Next challenge? Wash clothes. Masato’s clothes. Again, Mamako wins because of her magic. Maybe next time, huh? As the gang make their way up, they step on plates that make their body feel lighter. That’s because their clothes are gone and only left in their underwear! Oh dear… Masato has to see his mom in her undies! Ironically, Masato is the only one who is embarrassed for being semi-naked while all the other girls and moms are cool. But this also means they have no defence against the enemies. And before them now is… Oh, just stupid Amante. However she unleashes monsters to fight them. However they recognize the monsters are Amante’s ex-men. She reveals while Mamako and the rest were fooling around, they were climbing the tower to fight her so she changed them into monsters. Oh no. Can mothers raise their hands against their sons? Good thing is that the monsters drop their weapons and won’t fight. But Amante unleashes another spell to turn them into vicious savages while she goes up to make her wish. While Medhi and Wise put some temporary confusing spell on them, Mamako tells the other moms how to tackle this issue. Yup. Just go do what mothers do best. And Saint Mamako shines so greatly that all the moms now don full armour. Full Mom-our?! With this, they are able to withstand the strongest attacks and also give the biggest hug that turn their sons back to normal. Behold the power of moms! Yeah, the most embarrassing moment that all kids don’t want their mom do. Even Masato gets this ‘hell’ himself. Can’t leave him out of the fun, can we? Once that embarrassing moment is done, the adventurers warn them about Amante’s wish: To erase all mothers from this world.

Episode 12
As they enter the next level, Masato realizes that he is separated from the rest. But he soon hears Mamako beckoning him. Knowing something is strange, he soon realizes it is a trap. There are other Mamako clones too but he ignores them. I can see why if 1 Mamako is already bad enough, how about hundreds of them! Of course being the true son he is, he can tell when his real mom comes to the rescue. That’s right. Mamako is going to scold them for scaring her precious. What if Masato comes to hate her?! Yeah, every mom’s worst nightmare. And with her beam of light, the clones are blasted away and they are reunited with the rest who also faced similar trials. In the final floor, they see Amante trying to break through the door. Amante starts fighting them. Because of her magic spell, she is able to repel any attack back at them. Amante then explains her reason of hating Mamako. As Masato is supposed to be on his own exciting adventure including gaining friends and even fall in love. He would have gotten all of that had Mamako not joined him. Thus she blames Mamako for stealing all that possibility and future. Uhm, still doesn’t explain why she hates her. Of course Masato doesn’t accept that explanation. Despite all the crazy and embarrassing things that have happened, he thought maybe that is what an adventure is. There are times when he was lost but mom was there to help him overcome it. Considering it all, it isn’t all that bad. With Amante still refusing to admit, it’s time for Mamako to do her specialty scolding. Yup, with this beam of light is made up of her motherly love. So it’s not an explosion but scolding? Yeah, doesn’t matter to the one being hit, right? Amante takes a direct hit but survives. With the door open, she hurries to make her wish. Not if Masato can wish faster. I can’t believe despite thinking on what to wish and then Mamako hinting about what Wise said before climbing the tower, Masato is still fast enough to wish for fresh eggs for everybody than Amante’s mother existence erasure?! Amante is in despair and fumbles away in tears. And now everybody gets to have fresh eggs! Shirase informs she found a dark jewel Amante was using. As it is unbroken, she will investigate it. But for now, she will have Mamako’s team on a new quest to defeat Ribele. Remember, there are 3 other members, right? I guess Masato can’t be more impatient to leave this town because everyone built a giant statue of Mamako to honour her for saving them! Masato might be irritated that mommy continues to cling to him but I guess she’s shining so brightly and it’s not that all bad.

Always Forever Momma’s Boy!
Aren’t mothers the best?! Uh huh. Despite the mind boggling wish of Amante wanting to erase mothers, I wonder if this will only translate inside the video game. Forgot that we’re still inside one big MMORPG? So if Amante really had her wish come true, would Mamako and other moms be kicked out of the game? I’m glad we won’t have to find that out because it would suck if Masato’s party continues to adventure without Mamako. He might be happy at first but I’m guessing he’ll soon be lamenting he wishes mommy was here adventuring with him! Nah! Maybe. Therefore for all you kids out there, appreciate your mom better today!

The story itself isn’t all that interesting nor is it original. They’re just using this virtual world video game so that we can see lots of ‘fantastical nonsense’ when mothers do their unbelievable motherly power to overcome ‘evil’. This series is supposed to see how Masato get back on good terms with Mamako but instead we get side-tracked and do other side missions like helping other kids and their moms. Better to do all this stuff inside a video game than in reality, which is so much harder. From the looks of it, they’re going to be playing this game for quite a while. Momma is away from reality at the moment, come back some time later!

As we can see, because of Mamako’s hot stunning looks, at first glance she looks more like a big sister than mother to Masato. Any ordinary person would have come to this sort of conclusion. Hey Masato, this your big sister? No, it’s my mom. Say what???!!! Sure, Mamako does motherly stuffs and cares a lot for her son but because of her youthful looks, she still passes off a lot more like a big sister than anything else. Worse still, I wonder if her parents who named her Mamako must be damn confident that she’ll grow up to be a mother. I know it’s a pun and but it just feels weird the more you think about it. You know, like calling your dog, Dog. Hence, my mom’s name is Mama. Strange… On a side note, I wonder if their father is called Papasuke or Papatarou… That would be just so bizarre!

Therefore you think that Masato could be the star of this series and leader of his party? Nope. Mamako. Masato feels a lot more like a follower and oddly plays the ‘straight man’ whenever mom does something ‘embarrassing’. But don’t worry. Even if Masato doesn’t look like the main protagonist of this anime, Mamako will always consider you as her number one! Everything she does, she puts her tender loving care and heart into it, all for the sake of her boy. Sometimes Masato doesn’t appreciate it because of the overwhelming embarrassment. I understand it’s natural and at most times he just wants ‘to die’. Remember that time that forced cliché moment of the slime disintegrating Mamako’s clothes that leads to that mother-son naked body rubbing fanservice? Are you freaking out now?! It might be easy for that scene to be fapping material for anybody but imagine if that was you mom… Not so fanservice-y now, huh? I wonder if this beta version is live stream. If so, Masato’s death by embarrassment will be compounded hundreds of times over.

I feel like this virtual game gives mothers extra powers and abilities because you see Mamako swinging her weapon’s powers so easily. And you thought your moms aren’t the kind who are good in video games. Noobs in video games. And then we see Mamako just swinging with ease, legendary weapons that probably needs seasoned players to grind and level up like hell but she does it with ease. All because of the power of being a mom! And that’s not just all. Whenever Mamako gives off some of her motherly love, it’s like it has some sort of God-like powers and Mamako is elevated to a saint because she starts shining and once again the mother of all powers has defeated and overcome evil! Don’t laugh. Mothers know best. That’s why no child no matter how bad he/she is, if they are a reasonable child, a mother’s love will surely bring them back to the right path. For once, it isn’t the power of friendship that saved the day but the power of, wait for it, motherly love! Mothers are never wrong! This series might look absurd putting Mamako as some awesome accidental gamer. But it won’t be in a few decades time when many mothers would also make great gamers. Yup. Once a gamer girl, now a gamer mom! Don’t you wish your mom is like Mamako? Uhm… On second thought, maybe not.

Though, Mamako isn’t always perfect herself as she has some flaws. Sometimes she could be a bit imposing on Masato but that is only because she wants the best for him. I mean, which mother doesn’t want the best for her child? Thus there are still lots of work in progress to be done between them. Ironically they could solve the issues of other mothers and their child but they can’t solve their own. I mean, it is proceeding fairly well but it is not at the rate like Wise and Medhi’s mom’s case. Their relationship at a point where they can log out of the game together. I suppose this is an excuse for the government to keep them adventuring together. Masato still complaining about this and that about mom, I guess he hasn’t fully accepted her yet. But you can tell he is slowly appreciating his mama better than before. Of course there are other cases whereby mothers abandon their child (Wise) or being over protective (Medhi) but at the end of the day, Mamako’s greatest motherhood guidance will bring even the worst of mothers back to the right path.

If Mamako really wields the power of motherly love that heals all (yes people, not her twin swords are her offensive weapons but her motherly love that also acts as the best defensive weapon), I wonder if this could help heal the toxic behaviour in online games. You know, those other games especially first person shooters? Imagine Mamako tagging along with Masato to play Call Of Duty, Overwatch, Fortnite, PUBG, etc. Who this f*cking whore???!!! Watch it, that’s my mom. Your mom? HAHAHAHAHA!!! And then sprinkle a little dust of motherly love and suddenly everybody loses their aggression and starts becoming more compassionate! Holy cow! The government might be using this game as an experiment to heal the rift between parent and child but if it has the positive effect to heal toxic online behaviours too, I’m all for it!

Not much to be said for the other characters. Masato, the loving son whom is Mamako’s greatest motivation to keep going. Just try not to embarrass him too much, okay? Then there is Wise and Medhi whom I thought at first would become love rivals for Masato but I guess they don’t want to ruin this motherly themed series with some cheesy romcom harem antic so that’s the end of that. Yeah, with Masato’s mom tagging along, I guess Mamako is in some ways old fashioned. No forbidden relationships while she is around. Hence Wise from a tsundere becomes some sort of a joker character thanks to Medhi being some dark sarcastic character ever since she joins the party. It’s like Medhi gets her kicks by mocking and teasing Wise. But towards the end I noticed Wise has wised up and even talks back to Medhi on the same level of sarcasm. Even if Wise isn’t the butt of those mockery, recently I notice this running joke of her drinking bottles after bottles of MP just to power up her ability. Is there no other way to level up her MP permanently? I wonder if Porta is an NPC because she doesn’t seem to have any mama issues since joining the party (it is hinted that she couldn’t say about her own mama, like as though she never existed). I guess with the party having hot chicks and hot mama chicks, we need a loli character. Her bag is supposedly like Doraemon’s 4D pocket and can pack anything into it but I hardly see this being used. At least she’s the only character who isn’t really sexualized.

Wise could have been the series’ only comic relief character had Amante not pop up in the final arc. They really write up her character to be a silly bumbling b*tch. No siree, we can’t have another young cute teenage girl becoming a badass antagonist. Hence to counter her evil wish of eliminating all mothers, they turn her into a clumsy fool who has a penchant of revealing all her intentions without even asking. It’s like you want to ask her if she really knows how to be a villain. She could have been a lot formidable had she been half as serious as seen in the final episode but I suppose her character is programmed written that way. Let’s just hope that the other 3 Ribele members aren’t as bungling a fool as her. Last but not least, Shirase as the game’s guide feels like she wants to live up to her namesake to just inform. As also the game admin, there’s this running joke to be killed off and revived in a coffin. This game’s bug is just freaking buggy and weird.

Art and animation aren’t the best there is that J.C. Staff has to offer. I guess when you have multiple series to do in the same season (particularly To Aru Kagaku No Accelerator, DanMachi S2 and Machikado Mazoku), you try you best with all the resources you can get. J.C. Staff being a huge company and a veteran in producing so many animes over the years, I guess they have the resources. Sometimes I see a drop in quality in certain scenes but with everything in this fantasy MMORPG so bright and colourful, they definitely want mothers to have a swell time here. And of course, you could have guessed the design of Mamako, she looks so young and pretty enough to be even Masato’s girlfriend. She isn’t the first anime mom to be designed in such a ‘misleading’ way. Uh huh. You have loli mothers too. So I guess Mamako looking like a teen isn’t all that bad especially when compared to other typical looking moms in here. You know, fat and wrinkles? The kind of look that makes you go, “Oh, she is surely a mom” stereotypic look. Now we can glee as we see Mamako’s various reactions from cutely pouting to heart-breaking cry. Best of all, Mamako’s lovely motherly smile, no?! And of course with Mamako being so hot and stunning and having a body that is to die for moms her age, this gives rise to the typical fanservice department in which we get to see Mamako in her lingerie in some scenes. Hence, giving us the greatest dilemma if we are going to fap to MILF material. I guess it’s okay if it is other people’s mom. NOT!

In the voice acting department, Ai Kayano perfectly takes on the role of Mamako. Her sweet voice makes her a perfect fit for the character. However, I think there is one other seiyuu whom I think would have been even fitting to take on Mamako: Kikuko Inoue! I believe she would have been perfect too and there will be a lot of reference to her famous line of forever being 17 years old. Yeah, it would’ve been so epic. I guess Ai Kayano would do. The other seiyuus I recognize is Satomi Arai as Shirase and Mai Nakahara as Medhi’s mom. At first I was so damn cocksure that Ayana Taketatsu was behind Porta’s voice. I mean, she is capable of doing that squeaky high pitched voice mode. Never was I in doubt. And then it came as a big shock. WTF?! Who the heck is Sayaka Harada?! I was in disbelief. I had to go look at numerous sources just to make sure that I didn’t make the mistake. Yup. It was my mistake. This is the same girl who is the voice of Chiya in Urara Meirocho, Mimika in Uchi No Maid Ga Uzasugiru and Chitose in Yuuragi-sou No Yuuna-san. Come to think of it, yeah it’s really her voice… I’m so ashamed…

The rest of the other casts are Haruki Ishiya as Masato (Tamotsu in Akiba’s Trip: The Animation), Sayumi Suzushiro as Wise (Oono in High Score Girl), Lynn as Medhi (titular character in Fuuka), Natsumi Fujiwara as Amante (Eddie in Satsuriku No Tenshi) and Ryouko Yuzuki as Kazuno (Sastsuki in Kill La Kill). The opening theme is Iyayo Iyayo Suki no Uchi by Spira Spica, a lively and upbeat anime pop rock. Generic but I guess it’s okay. But I love the ending theme better, Tsuujou Kougeki Ga Zentai Kougeki De Ni-kai Kougeki Mama by Ai Kayano. It has this retro tune to it, making it quite catchy overall. It is one of those songs that I would love to sing along. And perhaps moms too.

Overall, this anime might not sit well with some who don’t appreciate the crappy mom jokes and puns that permeate throughout this series. Are they saying that mother’s love is everywhere and you can’t escape them?! With some having mixed reviews of this anime, honestly though, I just purely enjoyed them because it’s funny (I wish the characters could forever keep dressing up as the maid). It’s not the best parenting anime out there because if you’re looking for a parent-child bonding, I still believe that series like Usagi Drop does it way better. I also doubt that this series would make you love your mom even more. I’m not saying this series would make you love your mom less because one might find it mediocre (or in extreme cases turn you into a fanatic MILF obsessed lover), just be a good child and that’s the best gift that you can give mom. So don’t get mad when mom calls you to put down that video game controller and come right down now for dinner. What do you mean you can’t pause an online game?! I’m on a freaking kill streak right now! You get your ass right down here now, young man! Don’t make me come up there, young man! But… MOOOOM!!!!! Yeah, aren’t moms great?

Wait. What?! WHAT?! There’s still some more? Oh heck. I guess they really want to play into our nostalgia and introduce newbies to it. Because it has been more than 5 years since Hyperdimension Neptunia The Animation graced the airwaves and then all of a sudden… Boom! Hyperdimension Neptunia Summer Vacation OVA! Like I have said, this single OVA is to make old veterans like yours truly feel nostalgic and sentimental and perhaps go back and watch everything again, or expose this ‘old’ series to newcomers in hopes that they will be attracted and start buying some of the merchandise. Yeah, the bottom line. I don’t know how popular this series is but I suppose it does has its followers in Japan. Enough to make this single OVA that doesn’t has no relation or continuation with the TV plot whatsoever. So like even yours truly who has forgotten almost everything can just jump in and watch it without losing much.

Summer haze & dreams…
WTF is this dramatic start?! Neptune is dying?! Oh the horror! Nepgear tries to tell her to hold on because help is on the way. Yeah, as you would come to expect this dramatic exaggeration, IF and Compa finally bring out the shaved ice treats… Yeah, we’re all dying for that for summer! Histoire reminds Neptune that she has a lot of work to be done but apparently she doesn’t want to waste her summer so she continues playing more video games… We see our lovely sisters take a summer trip to the pristine mountains. Nothing like some outdoor activity to relax, huh? Later as Nepgear and Uni try to find Ram and Rom, they see them being attacked by a giant beetle. Bad news: They cannot transform. Good news: Neptune comes to save the day with her kickass kung fu kick. Hiya! As quickly noted, this is not the Neptune we know and she is from another dimension. When the young ones try to bring Neptune back to their villa, it is not there. This is when Neptune realizes they have crossed over to another dimension. They must have passed through a giant shrine. But don’t despair, as explained by her own mini Historia, Croire says that the gate opens briefly every half a day. So while they are being stuck here for the time being, Neptune offers to take care of them. Nepgear observes Neptune to be very reliable as she can’t help make comparisons to her other carefree sister. Speaking of the other sisters, they are seemingly locked in some video game battle! Is this more fun than nature? But it isn’t that they don’t care. You see, time flows differently in this other dimension and much faster. Hence in their original dimension, it is still noon compared to night time here. This Neptune also wishes she had a nice and cute sister like Nepgear. They know they can’t stay like this forever so they are glad they met each other and spend whatever time they have together.

In the original world, it evening and the sisters are worried their young ones haven’t returned. They start looking for them. Meanwhile in the other dimension, it is morning and it is about time the young ones depart back. Apparently there are monsters on both sides of the dimension so it’s some excuse for the girls to transform and kick some butt. To show the focus on Neptune and Nepgear, they hear each other’s voice resonating from the other side of the gate. Uhm, their hands touch and voila! Your sexy transformation scene to blow away all those negligible monsters. The sisters are reunited and when Nepgear wants to introduce Neptune to her other counterpart, luck has it that the portal is closing so the other mature Neptune has enough time to say her goodbye. Yeah. We’ll always remember you. From that confident and charming voice, our Neptune can tell she is a cool person. It’s good she thinks highly of herself… And the sisters return to the villa and continue to have their usual (Japanese) summer fun of baths and fireworks till IF and Compa arrive to pick them up. Definitely the best and weirdest summer vacation ever.

The Sister You Have Always Dreamt Of…
Oh well, I guess that’s it. But it is hinted there might be more because you know how ambiguous ‘mata ne’ (see you again) sounds, right? I’ll probably watch it when that happens because, no harm, right? Gotta have more dopamine of nostalgia! Anyway, as far as this OVA is concerned, it’s relatively simple and straightforward. The focus is on Nepgear who has experienced the mature and reliable big sister should her actual Neptune be this cool and steadfast. Thankfully because of all the cuteness and adorability of this series’ pace, nothing twisted or dark is going to happen like Nepgear suddenly wanting to be this alternate Neptune’s sister and ditching her real one. Or telling her Neptune to buck up. No siree. Can’t have that here because we can see all the sisters love each other so much that they might as well be married to each other. Oops. Gone too far there. Alas, this experience only has Nepgear appreciating her own Neptune even more because you know, Neptune is Neptune. There are some things you can’t change. Even all the more so, this Neptune is her Neptune. You just accept it as it is.

The other motivation for me to watch this series as well as the other factor that increases my nostalgia points is that I get to hear the voices of veteran seiyuus. Rie Tanaka, Yui Horie, Eri Kitamura and Kana Asumi are great to hear again since the more seasons of new animes pass, the lesser I get to hear them as they are already in semi-retirement and with the competition of the voice acting industry heating up with new ones coming out, I guess old ones like them have to take a back seat and let the newer generation take the spotlight. Hey, don’t want to do this for your entire life, right? Well, maybe. Some like Rina Satou and Yui Ogura are still in the industry but it is sad to note and come to realization that there will be a time that the seiyuus I recognized will completely stop and retire. Will there be another dimension where they will always do voice acting forever? Only in your dreams. So yeah, probably this OVA has invoked a lot of these kind of thoughts and the lesson learnt is to appreciate what you’re doing now. Because it won’t last forever. Even one day the annual summers will stop coming… :’(. Better go get some shaved ice while I still can.

Overlord III

January 5, 2019

It sure really felt like an eternity. Although it only took a cour break. Alas, like so many other anticipated and interesting animes that I have seen, Overlord III came and go just like that. There must be some sort of devious scheme trying to split a double cour series like that. Because recently I noticed that a few of the other interesting anime sequels that I have watched are also using this trick. From the third season of Shokugeki No Souma and to the third season of Shingeki No Kyojin. Does absence really make the heart grow fonder even if it is only a single cour? Maybe it is that gap that makes us want to worship Ains even more and see how far he can achieve his exploits.

Episode 1
Ains summons all the floor guardians as he rewards them for their work well done. Like allowing Sebas to go on a date with Tuare. Cixous as a maid in charge of taking care of Ains today. Ains has prepared some leisure activities for his male and female guardians. On the females’ side, they summon some demonic horse, Bicorn. They agree to let it be Albedo’s pet. As she rides it, it kicks her off. Her weight isn’t the issue and further discovery shows pure maidens are not allowed to ride on its back. Does this give Albedo an excuse to f*ck Ains?! Ains is practising trying to pose coolly when Mare comes to see him. He is even admiring the way Ains sits?! Ains praises him so much that it makes Mare cry?! This awakens Albedo’s horniness as she tries to rape Ains. Not even some spider assassins could defeat a succubus who is in heat. Later as Ains and the male guardians take a bath, the unruly side comes from the females’ side as Albedo is turning into a pervert and trying to peep. And with some golem activated on their side and attacking, I guess Ains has to order the guys to enter the women’s side to fight it.

Episode 2
Ains actually has no clue on what is happening so he uses Demiurge to explain and update the rest what is happening. I suppose Ains himself is so shocked that he never knew his guardians take all his actions as part of world domination! Demiurge also further suggests that as part of their world conquest, they must turn Nazarick into an independent country instead of being part of another country. We know go back to Carne as we see the humans coexisting peacefully with the goblins. Although all the goblins have a crush on Enri and shamelessly declare their love for her, they all know Nphirea is the guy for her. But he is too obsessed in making potions so Jugem offers to teach him how to be manly. The goblins also teach the villagers how to fight and be archers. A goblin returns with report that something strange is happening in the forest. Enri is worried as she plans to go to the forest to collect rare herbs that only appears at this time of the year. Jugem picks his goblins to guard Enri and Nphirea as they go harvest the herbs. They stumble into an injured goblin kid, Agu running away from a barghest. They manage to kill the wolf beast and then tend to Agu’s injuries. He explains he was attacked by minions of the Giant of the East who has allied with the Demon Snake of the West.

Episode 3
As Agu is brought back to the village, looks like Lupusregina decides to pay a visit. Agu further explains after the Great Beast of the South went missing (that’s Hamusuke), the forest went out of balance and a terrifying guy appeared. He controls the undead and is known as the King of Ruin. That is why the Giant of the East and Demon Snake of the West are cooperating to fight him and they want to use goblins as foot soldiers. Some refused and ran. The ones chasing him may come to Carne. Lupusregina offers to tell Ains about this but they would rather fight themselves. Nphirea gives her a potion to be handed to Ains. That night, a few ogres defected so the goblins use Enri and prop her up as the strongest in the village to instil some fear in them. She agrees to take them in but in exchange they will work for them. Nphirea is supposed to accompany Enri to E-Rantel to seek help from the adventurers’ guild but he has to stay back and heal Agu so it’s all up to Enri. Too bad she got stopped at the gates as the mage suspects her of possessing a high magic item (the horn given by Ains). She is to be arrested when luckily Momon drops in. He sees the situation and whispers something and the mage drops her case and allow the guards to let her in. Enri finds it hard to request for help because of the lack of money. Yup, this case requires very highly skilled adventurers and the cost is just unbelievable. Later as she waits and laments her fate, suddenly the receptionist is very interested to know all the details about the help she requested. When they return, more woes for Enri. She wants time to think alone so Lupusregina hears her out. When she was away, everyone decided to make her the head village. Lupusregina doesn’t have an answer. Hey, she was only listening. But she advises that whoever is helming the post, they will make mistakes so it is foolish to worry about it. Enri gets her morale boosted when Nphirea talks to her how she fits the job because she cares about the villagers and the goblins. Enri is ready to accept her new job. When Lupusregina returns to Yuri, she explains how she is delighted with the new leader of Carne. She cannot wait to see their devastated face of despair once she violently crushes them like insects. How she can’t wait for the village to perish!

Episode 4
Ains summons Lupusregina and chastises her for not reporting about the ally between the Giant and Snake, thinking she is keeping it to herself (although it is to teach her about communication). Tremble with fear! But upon learning she thinks the village is just a toy and experiment to him, he somewhat forgives her. He explains Nphirea is creating potions for him that doesn’t spoil or dependent on ingredients from Yggdrasil. He lets him be at Carne so as to chain him down with this gratitude. The other important people in Carne are Enri and Lizzy (as they further chain him down to his dedication). Everyone else is disposable. She must protect the trio with her life and now that she knows of his plan, failure is not allowed. Ains and Aura go visit the Giant, Guu (who is actually more of a troll) and the Snake, Ryraryus Spenia Ai Inadarun (who is actually more of a naga). Guu looks down on Ains as weak because he thinks those with long names are so. Ains wants to negotiate and have them serve him. Guu of course refuses and further mocks him. Ains then suggests a duel between them. Guu strikes as many times but none of his attacks seem to connect. Ains is just effortless. Like swiping a brush to inflict heavy damage on Guu. Thanks to the troll’s ability to heal, he cannot die but the pain is real. Ains ends it by putting them all to sleep. Ryraryus immediately pledges his loyalty to him and his first order is to bring all his subordinates. Ains receives a report from Lupusregina and gives her permission to engage in battle as well as to protect the most valued trio.

Episode 5
Ogres and barghests attack Carne. Thanks to the training and some military tactic, they manage to kill a lot of the creatures. Then here comes the big boss, Guu. Meanwhile Nphirea and Enri are confirming the villagers have evacuated when a troll creeps in. To avoid their side being sandwiched at the battlefront and this troll from the back (you mean 1 stinking troll is enough to derail their plan?), they take turns buying time by confusing the troll and giving it the run around. The troll eventually picks up their human scent (they were camouflaging themselves with ogre scent) and Nphirea wants Enri to go request for backup while he holds off the troll. I guess it’s time for him to confess he wants to look cool before the eyes of the girl he loves. Nphirea takes a lethal blow from the troll while trying to buy time. Just when he is about to be finished, here comes Lupusregina to save him. It’s about time. Where the hell were you? Weren’t you supposed to protect him with your life? Enri is so relieved that she doesn’t hesitate to hug Nphirea. Lupusregina tells Nphirea that Ains has invited him to Nazarick as reward for creating the potion. With Carne winning the battle, now they can breathe easy with Nphirea and Enri get to ascertain their love for each other. Next morning, Jugem tells Nphirea the strange thing when they fought Guu. He did not heal and it was as though he was already dead. Like fighting a corpse. At Nazarick, Nemu is so thrilled at how superb this place is, she praises Ains and makes him happy, so much so he decides to give her a house tour. Ah, the age of innocence. And there is this extravagant menu that Ains will have them dine. Yeah, the menu sounds like chanting magic spells. With everything so great, Nphirea feels small that as a man he is no match for Ains. But don’t worry. Enri assures him that he is the one she loves. Is marriage on the cards next?

Episode 6
Jircniv Rune Farlord El Nix, the current ruler of Baharuth talks about the recent incident whereby Momon defeated Demiurge pretending to be a demon. And since that kingdom is using all its resources to look for that missing demon, he views there is no need to wage their annual war against them this year. He orders his imperial court wizard, Fluder Paradyne to continue his investigations on Momon and Ains. As Zanac speaks to his father of the information regarding that demon, his older brother, Barbro (as in, barbaric brother? Certainly suits his nature) barges in to demand attacking Baharuth since those blokes have led their guard down by not attacking them this time of the year so now it’s the time to strike. Foresight is a group of workers consisting of Roberdyck Goltron, Imina, Arche Eeb Rile Furt and is led by Hekkeran Termite. They talk about a request of Count Femel who wants them to explore a certain ancient tomb. They have been paid highly upfront and there will be more rewards depending on what they find so you bet they want to take this job no matter how dangerous it is. As he has hired other worker teams, the competition is tough. Foresight is also taking this job to help Arche who is struggling with her family debts. She goes home only to see her dumb father used up their meagre savings to buy something useless as he thinks this is what nobles should do. Yeah, they WERE nobles. Arche has had it and will take her sisters and leave this place. Foresight arrives and true enough, they see other hired worker teams. The servant gathers them and tells them what they need to know. He assures them that Femel has even hired adamantite class adventurers to guard their belongings. They are Momon and Narberal. First, Momon asks why they are doing this. It’s the money. More than enough to even risk their lives for. Momon apologizes asking a worthless question.

Episode 7
The worker teams raid the tomb. The first tomb looks easy with lots of treasures and an unknown crest. They prepare to raid the next tomb and unknown to them this is the tomb of Nazarick. One group decides to let the rest head in first as guinea pig and will return to raid tomorrow. As the rest enter, they laugh at the low level skeleton guards defending the place and easily destroy them. Meanwhile Ains will return to Nazarick and will have Pandora take his place. He is going to slaughter all who have intrude into Nazarick. A welcoming party for them is already prepared. Like the group who left early, they stumble into Pleiades. However they will not kill them directly and use the undead with magic weapons to massacre them all. The other worker teams inside are all running for their lives. One team has the bad luck of being eaten alive by the roaches of Kyouhukou and the other one has got it much worst, being sexually probed by this gay ugly monster, Neuronist!!! And there is one who fought Hamusuke and lost. Don’t look down on this hamster. Finally Foresight. They are transported to an arena where they will face off with Ains!

Episode 8
Hekkeran tries to talk his way out and even claims he had permission to raid Nazarick. But Ains will not believe his lies as he shows us his rage! No use talking. Time to fight. It might seem that Foresight is fighting on par with Ains but that is only because Ains is stooping low to their level. I guess he is done with their teamwork since this is going nowhere. The moment he takes off his ring, Arche starts vomiting from the immense power she sensed from him. Death is imminent. Hekkeran saves Imina from death but as a result he got some paralysis spell on him. The rest force Arche to flee since she has her sisters. Ains is impressed with their honour but will still show no mercy for them thieves. He orders Shalltear to show her despair before killing her painlessly. Imina and Roberdyck fall into the paralysis spell. Ains orders Hekkeran and Imina to some nesting room while he will use Roberdyck as experiment since he is a magic caster. He wants to see if there are other gods and to find new ways to make himself stronger. He believes he isn’t the only chosen one in this world. When Arche realizes she cannot escape this tomb, Shalltear kills her. A sad fate as Arche’s young sisters continue to wait hopefully for their sister’s return. Word reaches Jircniv that all the capable workers have died. He now has an idea of Ains’ strength and needs to make proper preparations. Suddenly a dragon lands in the courtyard. Aura and Mare alight from it and announce that since this kingdom have sent workers to raid Nazarick, Ains is displeased. If no one comes to apologize, they’ll massacre everyone in the kingdom. For starters, they kill everyone here.

Episode 9
Jircniv decides to head to Nazarick and make peace. Heading there with his entourage, Jircniv discusses about his future but seems reluctant about finding an official queen. Renner and the queen of the Dragon Kingdom might be the greatest prospects but he knows of their twisted behaviour. Upon arrival, they are greeted with great hospitality by Yuri and Lupusregina. As display of power, they change the weather from gloomy to clear! Legendary Death Knights are even used as mere servants as the Baharuth side is treated to some great juice while Ains readies himself. Fluder is so awed and fearful by it all that he suggests Jircniv to escape. Not that he can at this point. Meeting Ains face to face, Demiurge doesn’t deem them suitable to talk on the same level with Ains and puts a subservient spell on them. But Ains will not have his guests mistreated so the spell is retracted. Jircniv presents a corpse’s head as apology in which Ains easily turns it into a Death Knight. Considering Demiurge’s rudeness, Ains considers them on equal footing and they don’t have to apologize anymore. Ains hints that trouble will be coming for them so Jircniv suggests an alliance and even suggesting ruling this land as their king. Jircniv is further stunned that Ains does not demand subservience from them and just merely looks forward to working with them. Both sides exchange an aide for better contact. Jircniv leaves his secretary, Loune Vermillion while Ains gives Demiurge.

After they leave, Shalltear wonders why Ains is making an alliance with them. Ains reason it is easy to rule over others with fear and power but that will only lead to more enemies. Demiurge further elaborates on Ains’ true plan (something which Ains himself doesn’t know) in which is what Jircniv will have come to realize. It seems Jircniv has realized Fluder has betrayed them. As a magic caster, he would have stayed back and wanted to learn everything but he did nothing. This means he knew of Ains’ power from the start. After all, he was the one who discovered the tomb and suggested sending workers there. Jircniv proposes of killing him in some ways but his aides warn there are considerable consequences from the public and other nations. Jircniv comes to a conclusion they need to form an alliance with other nations while pretending to join forces with Nazarick. But they cannot be the one to suggest to other nations for an alliance otherwise if this gets out, they will be crushed first. They also need to find someone capable of defeating Ains and he is under impression that one of his subordinates will betray him. As suggested by Demiurge, all the floor guardians suggest a title for Ains to be used. Ains decides to go with Cocytus of Sorcerer King as he will be ruling over many via magic. Flashback shows Fluder was told that Momon wanted to see him. Fluder instantly became awed by his immense magic aura. He begged to become his student and will offer everything that he has.

Episode 10
A message is sent from Baharuth to Re-Estize to promptly return the land of E-Rantel to its rightful owner (Ains) or risk war. Many of the nobles laugh at this idea and even more so at Gazef who suggests doing so to avoid war at all costs. But the king disagrees with him. As a ruler, he cannot hand over his land without a fight. Hence it is decided they will go to war. Barbro wants to be in the frontlines and his father allows it. Back home, Raeven is having a headache over that meeting. He noticed the nobles were merely quarrelling over power and land, not realizing the kingdom is in real danger. Plus, he knows Marquis Blumrush is the one secretly providing info to Baharuth for money. This is why he wants Zanac to inherit the throne quickly to crush all power struggle. Now we see Raeven in his most unlikely fatherly act as he really dotes on his young son, Lee. A few days later in another strategy meeting, Raeven reveals the declaration of their battle place: the foggy Katze Plains. His scout has seen the enemy units all bearing different coats of arms and it is most likely Ains will be down there to fight. Marquis Boullope suggests gathering info from Carne and would like Barbro to do it. Barbro opposes it but his father allows it. The secret fact is that since he is the next in line to the throne, they don’t want to see him killed in battle. Boullope suggests himself to head all the different units into war but the king appoints Raeven instead. Later Gazef meets up with Brain and Climb. I guess these men need some sort of bonding before the battlefield. Gazef suggests Climb change his armour colour because he stands out but he has to decline as this was the colour Renner suggested he wear and if he is victorious, Renner’s reputation would increase. Gazef knows Brain can fight against the Imperial Knights of Baharuth but warns if he fights Ains first, he is finished. Meanwhile Ains meets General Carvain of Baharuth’s Imperial Army as well as Nimble Arc Dale Anoch who will be his guide. Ains summons his army that will fight alongside theirs. Is victory assured with these Death Knights?

Episode 11
Barbro thinks of recruiting the Carne villagers as his army. If Ains kills them as betrayal, it would only look bad on him. A thousand apologies for Jugem as he has to interrupt Nphirea and Enri’s flirting time because Barbro’s army is at the gates. Lupusregina reports to Ains that Enri is trying to buy time by not letting them in to hide the ogres and goblins. Barbro becomes impatient and orders his men to burn down the watch tower as declaration of war. As the villagers will not betray Ains, they decide to fight back but only the men. Jugem strategizes to concentrate fighting here so that the army will bring all their units to attack here while they let the women and children flee to the forest at the back. He requests Enri and Nphirea to guide them. Enri wanted to stay but everything is already decided. First, the ogres pummel the soldiers at the gates. This has Barbro summon all his units back to the front. But as the women and children escape, there are some units remaining. Desperate, Enri blows the horn. Suddenly appearing out of nowhere is a strong goblin army! Woah! It’s like they have everything! From foot soldiers to beast riders to magic casters to assassins and even a marching band! Even Ains is surprised at the capability of this horn. Barbro will not allow his men to retreat and continue to fight. Too bad they continue to lose so he is forced to give the retreat order. It is by only Enri’s grace that they are left off with their life because there won’t be much room for negotiation if they’re dead. However just when Barbro’s men are licking their wounds, Lupusregina pops up. She is here to massacre all of them since they are not important to Ains’ plans.

Episode 12
Part of Jircniv’s plan for this allied attack with Ains’ army is to show how fearsome they are to others. It is also their chance to see how others will fight Ains and find out his weakness. The Re-Estize army laughs at the paltry numbers of Baharuth. Victory is assured, right? Well, not if they take into account Ains who now enters the battlefield. Some like Raeven could sense his immense power and realize the need for them to run. Ains begins by instantly collapsing the 70,000 strong troops of Re-Estize! They just drop dead like that! If Nimble thinks that was just fearsome, he hasn’t even begun yet. The next phase has Ains cover the dead with some dark goo. This materializes a few mouth monsters that Ains calls, uhm, goats? These goats then start to trample the fleeing Re-Estize army. Damn, those poor souls don’t stand a chance! Can you even outrun such behemoths?! And the final touch to this spell is for Ains to have everyone applaud! What? APPLAUD! Applaud his supremacy! Yeah. You better praise and hail Ains if you know what is good for you! Part of the battle plan was for Baharuth’s army to enter the fray and attack after Ains initiates his magic. But they’re all too scared and run away. Ains doesn’t blame them and will do the cleaning up himself. Meanwhile the king of Re-Estize is told to run away. Yeah, why the long chatter with Climb and Brain if time is of essence? Is it so that they could struck a deal that Climb will marry Renner when they return? Ah, the excuse needed so that Climb won’t die. You think Gazef can even scratch those goats? Yeah, it’s amazing he didn’t get killed after being flung like that. With Climb and Brain joining him, they come face to face with Ains. They realize he is not human and the undead. Ains wants Gazef to be his subordinate. First he makes the goats pause their rampage. If Gazef refuses, the massacre will continue. Gazef refuses his offer. As he is the king’s sword, he cannot turn his back on the one who saved his life. Even if it means many other lives will be lost. Ains finds it ironic as he was the one who put his life on the line to save Carne and now he has no qualms to let many die. Gazef has but one request of Ains: Fight him in a duel.

Episode 13
Even if death is imminent, Gazef still wants to fight him. Brain wants to fight with him but Gazef refuses his warrior pride to be tainted. He wants both of them to witness this. Duel. First, Ains requests to look at Gazef’s sword. He finds it very weak in power but it can still physically harm and kill him. He wishes to have it should Gazef dies but he declines seeing this is the kingdom’s treasure. As soon as Climb gives the signal to start, Ains stops time and then chants a death spell on Gazef. Gazef instantly dies when time resumes and the duo have no clue what just happened. Ains leaves a message to hand over E-Rantel to him in a few days and he will stop his rampaging goats. He will also show mercy to those obedient to him. Jircniv is in shock when he learns Ains decimated the entire army of Re-Estize. Better come up with another plan. With Re-Estize’s king undergoing depression (it’s amazing he didn’t die from the depression), the panicky nobles and royals have unanimously voted to give E-Rantel to Ains. Small price to pay, right? Meanwhile, Brain is sad that Gazef died by himself. He wanted to fight alongside him and die with him but was denied that. Climb deduces Gazef chose death and wanted them to watch was so that they could witness Ains’ power and return with this info to plan their defence. It was for their future. Brain changes his mind on his promise to Gazef and will become stronger to surpass him. Ains’ undead troops march into E-Rantel as the people watch in fear behind closed doors. A ‘brave’ kid starts throwing rocks, howling at Ains to give back his father. Albedo would have killed him had not Momon dropping in. We think this is Ains in disguise but look! The real Ains pops up! Oh no! We can’t say it’s fake, can we?! As requested by Ains, Albedo proposes Momon to join them and watch the humans. Ains claims he doesn’t want to rule by fear and oppression but if Momon is like his head police, isn’t that the same? If Momon refuses, he will be killed right now. Momon accepts but warns them if they hurt the innocent people, he will come for their heads. Of course this is all part of the bigger act to keep the humans’ fear at bay. This will also have them unite under him and collect info for him. All the guardians bow before Ains as he declares today as the founding of the Sorcerer Kingdom Ains Ooal Gown!

Over?! Lord, No!!!
What do you mean the story continues?! Aren’t you contradicting yourself?! Because if the story is supposed to carry on, then why does it end here???!!!! It makes no sense!!! Give me more of my Overlord!!! ARGH!!!! Ahem. Just like last season, the final episode leaves us hanging and wanting more but the only difference is that the next season is announced yet so it isn’t certain yet if this series would really continue. It would be tad sad if this series just ends like that forever since one of the biggest characters, Gazef is dead. I suspect he might be revived in the future but notwithstanding all the other supporting characters, Gazef is one of the important characters and to have him die like that just feels sad. And that Momon-Ains appearance at the same time just to confuse and troll us? My guts tells me it was Pandora acting as Ains. Otherwise why would Albedo need to speak on Ains’ behalf since the Overlord himself is capable and would be much more comfortable dealing with the human himself.

While this season is still as interesting as its predecessors, once again it is that conflicted feeling that nothing has really been resolved yet that is stopping me from putting this season on a high pedestal. Yes, it is still great but with so much more developments going on and even more potential ones, it seems that by the time if we get our future sequels and have some sort of conclusion and closure, I fear that the high expectations and waiting would have diminished the excitement. I am sure that a series so great such as this one will manage to blow away those kind of blues that simpletons like yours truly often worry with no basis. But it’s that sceptical feeling inside me that fears the possibility that it could happen. After all, I have watched so many animes and some with such great potential only to fizzle out not only in the sequel (if they ever get one) but at the end of that very same season. It is great that this series has built up a lot of developments and potentials from the 3 seasons the anime has adapted but there is this danger that with so many on one’s plate, there is a potential to also fail big. Too big to fail? We better believe Ains is too big to even let failure happen!

One of the biggest highlights of this season that has many viewers divided is when Ains mercilessly slaughtered the workers. I guess this part was too hot for some to handle. I too was shocked but not to the point that I disliked it. After all, I always knew that Ains was the villain. The big bad guy. Just because we show him doing un-bad-guy-like things like saving this village or saving this certain group of people, we start thinking he is the good guy and throw out support behind him. Even if Ains isn’t aware of this entire plan for world domination and is just playing along with Demiurge’s plan, it still doesn’t hide the fact that he and his subordinates have this evil aura, don’t you think? You can tell me about not judging a book by its cover but remember, this is supposed to be a DMMORPG game and hence it is pretty cliché to have Ains and his floor guardians designed to look like baddies. Which of course they are. This isn’t the first series to have its main character as the villain and for majority of viewers to support him. From the highly acclaimed Death Note to the comical Sekai Seifuku: Bouryaku No Zvezda, I suppose people didn’t see this coming when Ains decided to finally do what true villains are supposed to do. After all, from time to time, Ains do remind us that despite being stuck in this world, he feels less and less affinity for humans and only cares for those who can further his goals. And for those who still continue to support Ains (like yours truly), is this what you really call Stockholm Syndrome?!

It is only a pity that I initially wondered why they gave that Foresight worker group some sort of personality if they are all going to be killed off in the first place. Okay, all of them being dead is inaccurate since Arche is the only one dead and the rest enslaved for experimental purposes. But still, why the need to give these soon-to-be-finished-off characters some background of their own? It might not be in very much detail but at least they aren’t some nameless extras. I suppose by giving these characters some sort of personality, it only serves to enhance Ains’ reputation and goal. You see, if we weren’t introduced to Foresight and instead some random nameless group of workers, the impact wouldn’t be there and we wouldn’t really care or give much thought to the workers he slaughtered. Case in point like the other workers who were slaughtered by the other creatures in Nazarick. We don’t really care about them, right? Now that you know Foresight, their names and even their goals, this serves to makes us feel conflicted of who is truly the bad guy here. That is why some flipped during this workers massacre episode. I mean, Ains couldn’t be really doing this in cold blooded fashion, right? It really paints Ains in a bad light but then again, remember that Ains’ character is supposed to be the villain all along.

My other beef with this season is similar to last season. Too many characters and with the limited number of episodes, many are forgotten. I still remember at the start of the second season where they introduced a flurry of new characters. Many of them never appeared again. Even more so, just a forgettable short cameo or not at all in this season. That is why it is so frustrating for this series to have so many seasons and while it is great trying to build up the plot, scenario, setting and characters, the only way all this will work out if this adaption gets seen through all the way to the end. Don’t leave us hanging for the next few years and decades or even never as we fans ponder in the back of our heads if we are going to see the end of this series. Heh. For those who have been watching One Piece since its inception, you know what I mean. I believe this series won’t turn into such long running drag like that pirate anime but as far as this third season is concerned, the unsatisfactory of being introduced to so many characters and then for many to be forgotten is just heinous.

For example, those lizardmen who were prominent in the first half of the second season are now reduced to just freaking minor roles. If they do not appear, that is also fine because they don’t make an impact to this season’s story anyway. Hence this season we are going back to the first season to Carne Village as they are now the prominent focus of this season. I am just wondering about Nphirea’s case because I clearly remember that due to the events at the end of the first season, this guy has been rendered blind. Clearly Ains could have saved him but he did not so as not to let his identity slip. Did I miss something or did somebody forgot about this? Sure, we can say Ains probably changed his mind behind the scenes and healed this dude but it feels a bit disjointed because it is as though Nphirea’s case was restarted more for plot convenience. I thought Jircniv would be this season’s antagonist but I guess it is better than suffering the fate of Eight Fingers last season. Yeah, that was a disappointment. But still, rather than being foolish and go up against Ains head on, for now Jircniv will have to bow his head and lay low until he gets that remote chance.

And those are just the characters outside Nazarick. What about those who serve underneath Ains? Well, I am glad that Pleiades maids still get some share of the screen time albeit a short one. Though, Lupusregina got the bulk for this season (Narberal for the first, Solution and Entoma for the second). Sebas and Tuare got their limelight last season so they are fully rested and side-lined here. I guess one of the most disappointing for the Nazarick floor guardians would be Victim. We were finally introduced to this little blob last season and I thought it will be a mainstay for this season like the rest of the other floor guardians but it is sorely missing like as though it never existed in the first place. I suppose this means there is no show for Gargantua either. Sorry, no room for the smallest and largest floor guardians to even hold an audience with Ains. And to think that there are even more weird creatures that is worthy to be their own floor guardians in Nazarick. Man, this place is getting creepier and scarier by the moment. I bet many would rethink again of raiding Nazarick if they knew what they are facing up with. With Demiurge behind this plan and Ains just playing along, it increases my suspicions that Demiurge could be the real bad guy and manipulating Ains after all. I won’t be shocked if this twist comes true! Did Jircniv foreshadow this?!

The action scenes are still entertaining and mostly we see Ains this time unleashing his magic and show everyone the true meaning of fear. It is both good and bad thing to have a protagonist this overpowered. While we are in awe of this invincibility spectacle, it also raises the question if there is anyone else out there who could beat him. Most likely there are but at this point nobody knows yet. After all, Ains has just begun to move. The danger of seeing Ains and his floor guardians being overpowered is nice partly because we support them and thankfully they are likeable enough in our books. But if this carries on, it will look like so effortless and too easy. Where is the fun in that? I know puny humans cannot stand up to those non-humans. That is why the final arc of having Ains unleashing his goats and trample thousands of hapless soldiers feel like we can only get our kicks if we see death in large numbers. Because seeing Ains use his super level tiered magic against one or two human warriors won’t be enough anymore. Yeah, we’ve come to expect even much greater things for Ains.

I want to comment on this season’s art and animation, more accurately the CGI used. Although the past few seasons have also employed this and even though obviously obvious but not as obvious as this season that I need to point it out (as they used more CGI this season). Because you see, somehow I feel that when they employ this style especially on the platoon or armies, they look lifeless. They feel more like marionettes and automata if you ask me. I’m not saying that the CGI is bad but it isn’t good either. Because like in those soldiers’ cases, it feels like since there are too many of them to draw in a single scene and they only appear for a while (although repeated and recycled in many other scenes because, who the hell cares if you can tell one foot soldier from another), it looks easier and faster just to copy and paste them. And what better way than to do it via CGI. The undead soldiers are already undead and that befits them. But still, having them with CGI sometimes makes them look weirdly animated. And for the past 2 seasons, I have been mentioning the He-man factor. I didn’t find any but since Arche reminds me of Clementine (just less crazy) and her hairstyle almost resembles Prince Adam, I guess there is my He-man reference for this season. And also, why is it that I can’t help think Boullope as Man-At-Arms despite both looking so different?

OxT and MYTH&ROID once again do the opening and ending theme this season but now they switch places. MYTH&ROID now sings the opener, Voracity and it maintains that devilishly naughty rock music that suits the series as well as Ains himself very well. Maybe this should be Ains’ personal theme song. OxT now does the ending theme, Silent Solitude. More of a slow rock but still edgy in its own right. Though, Clattanoia still tops my list as the best song in this series.

Overall, the Overlord series is still going strong and one of the very few anime series that continues to maintain its interesting allure despite the flaw of slow build-up of too many developments and too many characters introduced and underutilized. I hope this series really gets another season and many more seeing that one more wouldn’t be enough. It would be ironic and rare to see a villain finally achieving the happy ending (bad ending to the rest) of obtaining what he wants. Because you know, bad guys never achieve their goals because of plot conveniences of heroes taking them down and the cliché of good triumphs over evil. Can we finally have an evil protagonist whom we can bow down to and proclaim as our true Overlord? For the Sorcerer King, it’s not impossible. All he needs is just another season.

Shichisei No Subaru

November 23, 2018

Oh dear. It’s that time again. Time for another MMORPG themed anime. What else is new? Are we running out of ideas? Really, Japan running out of ideas? Or is it just me who keep watching such sh*tty shows despite knowing very well how it will turn out? Anyway, this season we have Shichisei No Subaru. Uhm… Let’s see… Legendary group as in the title… Yada, yada, yada… Group made out of elementary school kids. Wow. But hardly shocking because 5 year olds these days can operate the internet before even properly talking or walking. What else… Blah, blah, blah… Suddenly one of them dies in real life and caused the breakup of the friendship. Yawn… ZzzZzzzZZzzz… But then that supposed dead friend now pops up inside the game. Digital ghost or something? F*ck. Did they try to rip off from that Fate/Extra thingy?

Episode 1
In the immensely popular game of Union, there are rumours of a very tough quest and equally tough boss. However a group known as Subaru easily completed it. Yeah, it’s like they have all the power ups and everything. Guess what? They’re all supposed to be elementary school kids in real life! At Subaru’s base we see the team made out of Haruto Amou, Asahi Kuga, Takanori Mikado, Nozomi Kusaka, Satsuki Usui and Clive Beverly. They talk about their next big mission and other stuffs. Before their next quest, Asahi talks to Haruto personally as Satsuki eavesdropped. Something shocking she must have said and left to our imagination what it is. Subaru finally reaches the undefeatable boss, Purgatorio. They have a tough fight until Nozomi is almost killed. Haruto saves her but Asahi saves him. Too bad she got killed. What’s so bad about that? In this game, there is perma-death. You die, your account gets deleted right away. But this is the bizarre thing. Right after the game, Asahi dies in real life!!! HOLY SH*T!!!! The friends are in shock she died of heart failure and even the game company had to release a statement that the game didn’t cause the death albeit Union got suspended after that. Wow. So much coincidence. This incident left the friends badly scarred as Takanori blames Haruto for killing Asahi as it was his idea to rush in. 6 years have passed. Haruto sounds like a pessimistic grumpy teen. A friend tries to bug him to help in but Haruto is clearly in no mood to play another online game. Coincidentally today on TV a news is giving coverage to the sequel of Union, Re’Union. What’s so great about this game is that players who do well here will be rewarded by the developing company, Pleroma Industry. You get job offers and even scholarships! But it’s not open to anyone as those with this Sense trait are able to participate. So a chance comes knocking for Haruto as that friend bugs him again. Reluctantly he puts on his VR headset and goes into Re’Union using his old Union account. They meet up, go on a quest, his friends are total noobs and cowards so Haruto has to show them the way. Once he defeats the monsters, suddenly they are teleported to another room, something that has never happened in Union before. A game bug? Haruto opens a suspicious chest only to find Asahi inside! OMG! She still remembers him too?!

Episode 2
Haruto finds it hard to believe her and thinks she is an imposter. Apparently Asahi still thinks it was yesterday. When Haruto tells her today’s date and how she is already dead in real life, she doesn’t believe. When she tries to log out, she can’t. Mails can’t be sent to her email too as her account is not registered. Funny prank, no? News of Asahi soon spread. Hence this loser rival, Leonovitch who used to pick on Subaru once more tries to get his hands on Asahi for her abilities. Haruto isn’t as strong as before but with Asahi’s sixth sense awakening, she helps Haruto dodge his attacks. But thank heavens for Takanori. He is from the powerful guild, Illuminati (seriously?) and turns that loser into a retreating loser. Takanori has no qualms accepting Asahi as the real one. He hopes she would join his guild so he could protect her. Because he and Haruto are still not talking, he tells her he is weak but Asahi refuses to believe. Despite being told Subaru ended after their failed quest 6 years ago, Asahi maintains her positivism that everyone will come back. Haruto returns to reality and is visited by Satsuki in person. Yeow! Did her bust level up tremendously?! It seems she is also playing Re’Union but didn’t have the courage to talk to him then. She saw what happened with Asahi but Haruto insists he won’t go back to that world and let Takanori handle things. He is bent on deleting his account and stay away from the game forever. Satsuki lashes out about running away from his past and their memories. It won’t do him any good either. So I guess he has to log in again so as to have Satsuki meet with Asahi. Asahi also thinks Satsuki is joking when she talks about her death. They are interrupted by people who are after Asahi. Not pleased with this interruption, all of them face Satsuki’s wrath. At the same time, Takanori and his Illuminati round up people who plan to attack Asahi. He is worried that somebody is spreading the news quickly. Asahi and co return to their Subaru base. Still as it is. Only, Asahi’s stuffs are missing. As Haruto wanders by himself, he is met with this strange girl, Elicia. She can also read his mind and tells him of Asahi’s Sense that is not found in this world. She warns there are people planning to attack her and that he must awaken her Sense. And yeah, all of them must remember. Could she be more specific before going back to the shadows?

Episode 3
Satsuki thinks Asahi is some bug or data residual whatever in which Asahi denies. Satsuki tells her everything has changed years ago with Haruto being affected the most. He went into depression after her death. Haruto won’t stand the girls arguing over him and logs out. In reality when Satsuki shows him the Subaru ring that they all once bought to signify them as a group, Haruto then remembers. So he rushes all the way to Asahi’s grave to dig out the ring he gave to her? Man, he must have buried it shallow. One of their promises was to exchange the ring in real life but they never got to it. Haruto remembers another important thing: To help each other solve problems. Hence he is going back to Re’Union to help Asahi. So a little Haruto-Asahi time as they hunt for magic tree sap. Fanservice when Asahi strips naked to dry her clothes and isn’t shy being around Haruto because that’s what they usually do? Ah, lost innocence as kids… Eventually Asahi uses the sap to make a ring. Feeling like part of Subaru again, huh? She shows it to Satsuki who isn’t pleased that the way Haruto put the ring on Asahi’s left ring finger… I don’t know. Tell me what the heck is that supposed to mean?! Jealous Satsuki also goes to collect the same sap to make the same ring. Too bad she puts it on herself. They return to the site of their failed quest to look for clues on what happened to Asahi that day. You mean it wasn’t just death and gone for good? Asahi senses somebody around when the rest can’t. Haruto then sees Elicia who then activates a portal. Guess who’s back? Purgatorio! All escape routes have been cut off. No choice but to fight. With only 3 of them, of course it is tough but they don’t give up. With them in a pinch especially Asahi, their past trauma is sure threatening to start up. Desperate Haruto sees his own dropped ring and remembers the promise he made to Asahi then. It was to protect each other. That’s it? That was the shocking promise? Anyway, this allows Haruto to power up and cut down Purgatorio like a pro! He makes it look so easy now! Also, thanks to Asahi’s Sense that transmits her thoughts to their minds so they know what to do. With Haruto regaining his Sense and Satsuki now believing Asahi is not dead, they are going to find a way to help log her out. I don’t want to speculate, but won’t that kill her? Also, they renew their pledge for the revival of Subaru.

Episode 4
Asahi notices a broken crystal in her possession. When she looks through it, something strange happens. Blurry visions of, uhm, stuffs happening. She thinks it might be memories that happened in her 6 years of absence. Back at the inn, the trio discuss how rumours of them beating Purgatorio spread fast. It has only been 2 hours. They think of asking an informant but then they hear news of Southern Cross coming. This big guild led by Letos surround the trio but only to be usurp by Brill Society led by Angelus. The latter wants to talk to the trio so Letos is forced to withdraw. Angelus wants Asahi to come under their protection as they view her existence is causing distortions. So it’s to stave off greedy people who wants her powers? So does that make them the same? Asahi rejects since she doesn’t want to be confined to orders of another guild. Angelus will not force them since it will be a form of distortion. Huh? In reality, Satsuki accompanies Haruto to buy a new console. Looks like he is getting invested in Re’Union. But when they talk over matters about telling Asahi’s family about this, their disagreement has Satsuki storming off. Oops. Now their relationship is a bit strained. Back in Re’Union, the trio go on a dungeon raiding quest. At the end of it, Asahi notices a broken crystal in her inventory she didn’t put. It’s not the same as the earlier one as she left that back at the inn and this shape is different. Suddenly Takanori snatches it away. He believes that thing will kill her. Yeah, so he sneakily observed her once (stalker?!) and he came to that conclusion? Takanori feels Haruto has no right to protect Asahi. So both guys transport to another dimension to fight it over. Why does this feel like they’re fighting over a girl?

Episode 5
Their different approach to Asahi is what’s making them harder to listen to each other. Before we have a lion vs dragon fight, they are brought back by Satsuki. Takanori is disappointed because he thought they had a ‘common interest’. Oh, I see this love triangle is getting clearer. Later Takanori talks about the higher guilds of Gnosis and Hyades standing in their way for supremacy. Taking one of them alone would be suicidal. But if Illuminati, Southern Cross and Brill Society unite, there might be a chance. Haruto and Asahi try to find out if Nozomi and Clive are around. At least not in this continent’s server. After meeting up with Satsuki, soon the trio find themselves enveloped in a fog. They realize it is a trap but they have been separated. Worse, it seems Illuminati, Southern Cross and Brill Society have formed an alliance. Satsuki is faced with Angelus as he throws her a message from Takanori. He points out that Re’Union is meaningless to her since she reunited with Haruto in reality. It is the opposite for Takanori. Reality became useless to him since he reunited with Asahi. Hence he thinks a world without Asahi is better for Satsuki and a world without Haruto is better for him. Of course Satsuki isn’t buying that crap and fights her way out. Meanwhile Haruto fights Letos and declines his offer to join Southern Cross. Thanks to Elicia’s help in sealing their Senses, Haruto is able to escape. Takanori confronts Asahi who is not pleased he kept reminding her about that 6 year thingy. Yeah, it was just like yesterday for her. No choice, he puts Asahi to sleep. Suddenly some of his Illuminati members turn on him. Takanori realizes Angelus has betrayed him and brainwashed some of his members. Takanori sounds devastated when Asahi is taken from him. Yeah, he should be. Soon, Angelus and Letos make a public announcement that their guilds are now combined into one known as Divine. And they have Asahi’s power. So join us! Yup, Takanori definitely got betrayed. So Haruto is going to play the lone hero to go save her? He doesn’t want Satsuki to come because if he fails, she should get Takanori’s help to rescue Asahi. He thinks that guy would listen if he isn’t around. And so Haruto prepares to fight off the 3000 strong forces of Divine! Damn. Hope he has got his cheat codes ready.

Episode 6
Flashback shows when Subaru was fighting a tough enemy, Satsuki fell into a useless state. Asahi was the one who guide Subaru to victory with her power. Because of that mind reading power, she was able to read Satsuki’s heart on who she likes and vowed to work hard so they can tell him someday. Gee, you mean like a harem? Now Satsuki goes talk to Takanori who is still stubborn. Ultimately it is her friendship with Asahi that is her real dream instead of being with Haruto. Speaking of which, that guy eliminated half the enemies! Wow! I really think he had some cheat code despite taking a beating. But fear not. Just like when he is about to lose, here comes Takanori and Satsuki to his rescue. The guys somewhat reconcile so they could fight together and rescue Asahi. In the final arena, fighting Letos and Angelus is tough because they are using Asahi’s power to see the future. Hence, predicting their moves. It’s déjà vu for Satsuki again as she goes into that useless state. But wait. She remembers Asahi’s promise. Thus she is able to power up and summon some divine beings to aid her by sucking and purging those small fries. Desperate Angelus turns Letos into a rampaging berserker with a spell that has all the negative emotions and fear of the fallen. Don’t worry too. With Asahi awaken now, the broken crystals now activate as our Subaru members somewhat remember their ultimate Subaru move to pull off another great feat and defeat the big bosses. Hope Takanori has got a good punch at Angelus’ face before for touching his Asahi before purging him. When Asahi touches the crystal, all of them see that strange vision. Something about some failed experiment. Asahi invites Takanori to rejoin Subaru but he won’t. He has did some shameful things and feels he doesn’t deserve to be with her. So he still doesn’t want to befriend Haruto again? Talk about pride. In the aftermath, we see Clive and Elicia cooperating with each other to help Subaru out of sticky situations. Clive hints that he has got a new name, the reason why his pals weren’t able to find him.

Episode 7
Alvida takes Subaru and co to Lost Pentagon where an unbreakable sword lies at the bottom of the ocean. Yup, players who tried to get it all failed. So as they look around, finally they find it. The catch? They have face this huge sea monster king boss, Aegir. Yeah, it reeks high boss levelness like Purgatorio. They have a tough time facing it until Clive shows up to help them escape. But back on the ship, Clive has left and only left a message behind. Flashback shows when Subaru stole something from another guild’s boss, of course they came baying for their blood. That was when Clive told he wanted to quit Subaru as he felt it was better to surrender than lose forever. Also, he wanted to challenge Subaru one day. In reality, Takanori calls Haruto and Satsuki to meet up. He tells them that Gnosis was probably behind why the rumours of Asahi spread so fast. They could be also behind Southern Cross and Brill Society’s merging and betrayal. A group once tried to find out more about them but was completely erased. He thinks Gnosis also holds some influence in reality. After being told about bumping into Clive, Takanori has this weird theory that Asahi’s body might still exist in this world. This is assuming the weird vision they had is reality instead of the virtual world. Takanori’s butler comes to relay the good news that Nozomi has been found. So he’s been secretly trying to find her? Well, don’t have to look far. She has returned to this city. Subaru and co decide to try for the sword again. This time Clive drops in to say hi and join them. This time they make suppressing Aegir look so easy. When Haruto is about to pull the sword embedded on its back, suddenly Clive betrays and stabs him! OMFG!!!! Asahi goes into shock that she, uhm, powers up?!

Episode 8
Mind f*ck time. Suddenly Haruto wakes up in hospital. It has been 6 years! So what we have all seen has just been a dream?! With Asahi glad that he is back, she explains he saved Nozomi and got game over. However Haruto remembers it was Asahi who took the blow. Besides, there is no Re’Union here and only Union. That night Elicia visits Haruto. Damn, is she a ghost from the game? Long story short from her explanation, this is a future in which Asahi created to save him. Because her power isn’t just about predicting the future but to choose one. More revelations as Union isn’t an online game but an experiment to hone one’s Senses. So if you can use Sense in Union, you can definitely use it in the real world?! Hence, Union was made to awaken this said ability and the group behind this is Gnosis. Too bad time has run out for Elicia. You’re on your own. Next time Asahi visits, he tells her he isn’t part of this world. That’s why he is going back and reconnect Subaru’s bond. Asahi believes him and sends him back. Wow. Just like that? So we arrive moments before Haruto gets stabbed by Clive as he manages to dodge his attack. He realizes this is not the real Clive but an imposter. He is Simon from Gnosis as he merges with Aegir to defeat them. He takes Satsuki hostage and forces Asahi to awaken her ability since her friend is in danger. But thankfully somebody interrupts that. Alvida? Nope. It’s the real Clive who has been impersonating as this avatar. Haruto knows that’s the real Clive because of his signature pose. And they didn’t figure this out before if he often poses like that?! Long story short, the quartet combine their skills to defeat Simon and for Haruto to pull out the legendary sword. In the aftermath, Clive gives Asahi a crystal from Aegir. What does she see now? Hmmm… Lots of cult members. Attacked by Elicia. She trying to seal Asahi’s Sense. Failed. Crystal shatters and scatters. So are we going to do an Inu Yasha and find the Shikon Shards?

Episode 9
Takanori and Clive meet for the first time since. Clive explains how he and Elicia were watching and protecting them from the shadows. Wait. The girls are jealous that Haruto knows another girl without their knowledge? With Gnosis truly targeting Asahi, Elicia told him the only way is to awaken all the Senses in Subaru. So in reality, Haruto and Satsuki meet up with Nozomi. Did her kawaii level up tremendously? Apparently Nozomi is now an amateur model. Gee, none of her friends heard about this? Nozomi claims she hasn’t logged in the game and is trying to stay away and thinks Asahi is still alive is a joke. But she’ll do whatever she can. They hope Takanori can go meet the real Nozomi to convince her and with Asahi pleading to him, I guess he can’t say no. We take a detour because there is this upcoming dance party. Satsuki sums up her courage to ask Haruto to invite her. I hope he understands what she’s trying to say. Back in reality, Takanori wants Haruto to meet up at Asahi’s grave. Long story short, the guys start punching each other over Asahi. Yeah, really fighting over her dead body. Takanori confesses he loves Asahi (why is Haruto surprised?) and wants to protect her this time. Is he implying Haruto should’ve died in Asahi’s place 6 years ago? Haruto won’t tolerate this crap and punches him back while finally confessing he loves Asahi. And it seems this meeting was just for that. To get Haruto to finally say those words. Takanori then buries Asahi’s ring that he got from Haruto’s mom. He doesn’t need it anymore. At the dance party, Haruto apologizes to Satsuki. Better hurry along before she changes her mind. Or if you want to see her cry. Now the rejects get to be together because Takanori claims Asahi rejected to dance with him. And so Haruto invites Asahi to dance. Meanwhile Nozomi decides to drop in unannounced to surprise her friends but what does she see? Takanori dancing with Satsuki. Damn heartbreak. Oh dear. Like we need another unnecessary love drama. Can’t blame her as she is unaware of all that drama that was happening since. She runs away and I’m not sure if her sadness unlocked some other dimension because a couple of Gnosis clowns are here to get her.

Episode 10
Satsuki cried her heart out after that. Good thing in reality you can cry as much and loud as you want. So she has to cheek to later tell Haruto that if Asahi dumps him, he could run back into her arms. So funny that he isn’t laughing… They meet up with Takanori because they receive the news that Nozomi is missing. With Clive hacking through her whereabouts, it is confirmed she went to the party but left shortly. Curiously, she is still logged in Re’Union and her coordinates are above the clouds, the Dragons’ Fortress. They can’t determine if she has logged in from another IP address. On this Dragons’ Fortress, they see a replica of Nozomi’s castle. Inside, they are attacked by her familiars. Nozomi pops out like a dark evil enchantress as she mocks them all. Also appearing are the Gnosis counterparts, Cerinthus (who helped made this castle for her) and Marcion. Nozomi claims she has joined Gnosis. Nozomi obviously sounds jealous about that incident regarding Takanori and Satsuki but the guy is too dense to get it. She puts a curse on Asahi. The snake bites cause her to scream in pain, blame Haruto and then collapse. That’s all for today. Everybody escapes before the entire floating island is destroyed. Later Asahi wakes up and she seems normal. They talk about that not being the real Nozomi and need to get her back. In real life, Takanori tells Haruto and Satsuki he has hired 10 special detectives to search for Nozomi. Yeah, that really helps. Even in Re’Union he mobilized Illuminati for that. Since our guys are still too dumb to guess the reason for Nozomi’s strange acting, Satsuki tells them how she saw them dancing at the party and thus Nozomi actually likes Takanori. You mean to look this shocked? Just realized you’re the worst, Takanori? Suddenly they feel something strange. They realize something has happened to the time flow.

Episode 11
This strange dude supposedly from Gnosis hints about using their powers to shape their ideal world before returning time back to normal. The rest fear something may happen to Asahi. They log back in and find her alright. After explaining about this, their base is under attack but luckily they got out just in time. With their base destroyed, before them is a mighty tower that they once conquered. They know only Nozomi can create this. As they make their way into the tower, Asahi abilities start to act a little off. Finally they reach the room Nozomi is in. I guess trying to talk to her via the feelings of the heart isn’t going to work. Nozomi then transforms herself into a beast woman. She is not impressed Takanori wants to save her. I think she feels more cringe. The other Gnosis comrades join in the party. Nozomi gets further jealous thinking Takanori and Satsuki are still together. This time Takanori is going to solve this by himself. So he takes the fight with Nozomi to another area where they can be alone. More memories who the duo were exclusively lost together and they talked about change and how Takanori now blames himself for everything and even confessing his one-sided love for Asahi. Do we need to hear this? Does Nozomi need to hear this? So now this dude understands what it is like to feel the pain in the heart. The misunderstanding he caused that hurt everyone else around him. Nozomi will not be swayed as she attacks him but he takes in all her attacks without retaliating. Probably Takanori has earned some brownie points so he is glowing like a God! So is this a sign that he has reached Nozomi’s inner feelings? Or is she guilty for attacking him? So with Takanori hinting he will take responsibility and wants to be with her from now on, that is the clincher for Nozomi now ridden with selfish guilt to break out of her spell. Phew. Glad the drama is over between them. But Nozomi remembers the curse she put on Asahi. Too late. Asahi kills Haruto. NOOO!!!!!

Episode 12
While Subaru was fighting the Gnosis duo, suddenly Asahi fell into a trance and gave weird instructions. When Haruto tried to stop her, this invoked one of her negative memories about them. There was a mission they disagreed so much they started fighting each other. Haruto was going to kill her? So in response now, Asahi kills Haruto. With Asahi in shock, Cerinthus uses his barrier to capture her. Gnosis is about to own everyone too when Elicia drops in to save the day. Meanwhile Haruto and Asahi are in another dimension. Gee, already in VR and in another dimension? Calm heads rule the day as they remember their promise to be stronger. Oh, remember that flashback when Haruto tried to kill Asahi? Apparently there was an enemy behind her. There. Taken care of. Miraculously Haruto revives from the dead and Asahi breaks free from the barrier and returns to her normal self. With all Subaru members reunited, it is payback time. However Haruto will do this alone. His lion army decimated the Gnosis duo! I guess we can’t interrogate them. In the aftermath, Nozomi reconciles with everyone. Then they thank Elicia for saving them. Elicia notes they have not changed and the reason she is here is to hand Haruto his sword’s sheath she found at Lost Pentagon. Then some legendary folklore with many different versions why the Subaru and Pleiades star cluster has either 6 or 7 stars. In reality, Takanori finds Nozomi alive in an internet café. So that’s where she went? Yeah, it sounded like a big deal when she went missing and couldn’t trace her. Not even 10 detectives. And isn’t Satsuki a little too old to be falling asleep at her desktop? Must be one tiring day, huh? Subaru reunite together as one for the first time in 6 years as they prepare to head for another mission. All of them thank Asahi for bringing them back. It is hinted that Elicia was part of Subaru in an old photo?!

One Star Subaru, Non-Senses of Re’Union
The biggest question still remains: Is Asahi alive or really dead?! Is she really just existing in digital format?! I guess with the so called ‘happy ending’, it serves as a distraction because now that Subaru is back as a whole and on good terms again, we would overlook this greatest question of all time. Not. I guess we can forget about that shard thingy and those weird cult visions Asahi had too. Maybe next time. I’m sure with Cerinthus and Marcion gone (perhaps perma-death?), that doesn’t mean the end for Gnosis. They’ll strike back again. Whoever that guy stopped time was. And did they forget about the other big guild, Hyades? Damn, too many questions. But for now looks like we have to content that Subaru is back in business. That’s the reward we get for sticking by this crappy show. Thank a lot.

This series might have borrowed many elements from similar virtual online game series like Overlord, Log Horizon, Death March Kara Hajimeru Isekai Kyousoukyoku and Sword Art Online. But a big ‘refreshing’ difference is that the characters are not trapped and are able to log out of their own. Hence no need for them to explore the new world and start to adapt to it for the rest of their lives like as though they are never coming back in worst case scenario. Well, almost at one point for Takanori when he was so obsessed to be with digital Asahi.

A lot of people who have seen Ano Hana have started comparing how this series feels like a rip-off from that aforementioned anime. I watched that anime years ago too and although I can’t remember much from it, now that they have mentioned it, it does feel pretty similar. A group of young friends who were very close together suddenly started to drift apart for years when one of them unexpectedly dies young. Then that dead girl comes back ‘alive’ a few years later. They try to resolve the mystery but the biggest one to unravel their unrequited hidden crush during all this time. It is pretty much Ano Hana of the new age with online video gaming and swapping ghosts for, uhm, digital ghosts? But unlike Menma who found peace in the end to move on to the next world, Asahi continues to stick with her pals as they go on having great online adventures together. No tear-jerking for this series. Maybe only tears after laughing too much.

Having said that, the main story itself feels mediocre and now that we have made comparisons to the tearjerker Ano Hana, it is hard to move away from its shadow. The only intrigue we all are interested to know is if Asahi is real or not. If she is actually dead or alive in the real world. Otherwise the bland story of Subaru regrouping again to their former glory feels boring. It is part of the excuse to unravel the mystery of Asahi. I mean, what else could they possibly do? If they became the legendary group they were famous for, maybe the truth will reveal itself? You know, like as in a game. You have reached a certain level and thus your reward is a few answers to your questions other than levelling up your skills.

And now that they are teens, they should have the guts to be honest with their feelings, right? Yeah, all those teen hormones are starting to blur the line between friendship and romance. Ironically kids are supposed to be honest and yet when they were together, they didn’t let out their feelings. I thought kids weren’t that complicated. Because now it gets even more complicated as they grow into their teens. Oh, how we love the age of innocence. I guess back then when they were all such good friends, they don’t differentiate between friendship and romance. As long as you are my friend, that’s cool.

Oddly if Subaru has been such an awesome and legendary group, this means they have been playing Union at a very young age and became experts in no time. Such MMORPGs are games that you can’t master or level up in just days (assuming no cheating was done). So for the Subaru members to be this good and kicking everyone’s ass then, this just shows how much time they spent online honing their skills and having the best combos and techniques to back each other up. Don’t really know how well they do in their real life school grades but as long as they were in Union, they are basically unbeatable. So it is true that many online games are dominated by kids who aren’t even old enough to drink liquor or get a driving licence, let alone walk, talk, read or write properly.

And the other odd thing is how their avatar in Union resembles closely to their real life counterparts when they are in their teens. I’m not saying a child would grow up looking very differently (some will, thanks to puberty) but with the Subaru members having not changed their avatars much, does it show they know how they will look like when they grow older? Sure, it is so that not to confuse us fans but why the heck would people use their avatars that resemble closely to their real life face? It is amazing no jealous dude targeted them. Like that Leonovitch loser. Does the game not allow any other race to be registered as avatars? Because I don’t remember seeing any cat girls here or some hulking orcs. All just the human race…

It is interesting to note that in the context of this series, an online game is hinted to hone those with special abilities that are possible to do in the real world. While this sneaky and shady move is morally questioning, this had me wonder if this entire world is just a simulation! Yes, my conspiracy theory rearing its dumb head again. Because as we have seen at one point how Asahi tried to become God and give Haruto a safe future. And then that Gnosis guy stopping time or something as warning. This possible in reality? Not if you are in a simulation. How can Asahi ‘time warp’ from Union and Re’Union? Where was she during the 6 years of absence? Not if you’re in a simulation. And with the possibility of using your Senses in real life, isn’t this like a simulation too? Hence the mind f*ck of people who are actually dreaming living in a simulation and for those who play games like Re’Union to be in another simulation. That’s like being in a simulation in a simulation! It’s going to be the biggest surprise ever if this whole real world thing turned out into something like The Matrix. Then we can all blame this anime for ripping off another series.

Character wise… I believe everyone is motivated and revolved around Asahi. Otherwise why would our generic team leader Haruto return to online gaming when he has abandoned it so long ago and almost look like on his way to become a NEET only to suddenly find his fighting touch again. And then you need to have that very angry rich dude Takanori to fuel some drama between the guys because nothing says manly drama when you have 2 guys fighting over their girl. Oh Takanori, even all the money in the world couldn’t let you clone Asahi. Just saying… And since he is such an intelligent guy, I suppose love is left out on that matter because he is smart and sharp in everything else except when it comes to the topic of love. That’s what happens when you set your sights obsessively only on one certain girl and pay no heed to the rest.

Then you have Satsuki who is just ‘patiently’ watching from the side lines. What are friends for if you don’t give up your happiness just so your crush could be happy with someone else? That is what happened to Nozomi when she is unable to do that. More jealousy to notch up the drama. Just when shy girl Nozomi as the last member finally makes her appearance, she turned to the dark side (online). Imagine what jealousy can do to you. At least her shyness was blown away. What a way to return. Now we’ve got the pairs settled, Haruto x Asahi and Takanori x Nozomi, all that’s left for Satsuki is Clive. The foreigner guy who is conveniently a foreigner so as to provide necessary backup and assistance when the plot commands it. Yeah, basically Satsuki bust up all for nothing because Haruto’s heart is somewhere and being temporary lover losers with Takanori created a bigger mess. Maybe she should try Clive and then she can have the record of trying every man in Subaru. Haha! Oops.

I guess at this point it is valid for me to ask, who the f*ck is Elicia? Is she like the secret member of Subaru? Because otherwise why tell us that 6 or 7 star folklore thingy if it wasn’t going to be relevant? Does Elicia have this memory erasing ability? Because the rest sure do not remember about her but she knows all about them. So if Asahi is dead in real life but a ghost in Re’Union, Elicia is like the opposite. Alive in the real world but technically a ghost to the members of Subaru. Hence she is like one who watches over her comrades and the convenience needed if ever the plot demands it.

You know how Asahi is always smiling and happy and it is because she has never changed since the last time? Well, I thought that would make lolicons squeal in happiness because on a very unfortunate note, during the airing of this series, a director of this show was arrested for trying to kidnap a 10 year old girl! No joke! Damn, I thought this guy wanted his own Asahi. Like as though the 2D Asahi wasn’t already enough and then he had to pull this sh*t. Well folks, that is Japan being Japan for you. If it wasn’t bad enough, even inside the anime story itself with Asahi’s sudden appearance, there are so many parties who are interested in taking her. Yeah, not only anime characters want her but a real life director too. Damn Asahi is so popular and in demand. And I’m not talking about that beer brand!

Action sequences are just enough since Re’Union is an MMORPG and what is one without its fair share of fighting. Even though each member of Subaru possesses their own unique set of Sense, I just can’t seem to find them memorable. Haruto using his sword skills (I suppose there were some parts that were copied from Sword Art Online’s Kirito), Asahi using her psychic powers and gun, Satsuki the master of elements and Clive throwing his daggers around. To show how legendary Subaru is, not only they have the stats to make up for their power but also the unmeasurable power of determination. Because it was definitely BS when Haruto went up against the thousand forces of Divine! If you love beat’em ups, you would want to switch places with Haruto for that very ‘special event’. Oh, Haruto and Asahi busting out from their impossible predicament in the final episode? Power of friendship in your face! On a trivial note, I find the name of the level boss, Purgatorio to be funny. Because the image that kept popping in my mind: Purgatory + Mario! Damn! It would have been so bizarre had this boss looked like an evil version of an Italian plumber.

Art and animation feel bright and clean. The character designs make them look cute and kawaii. Even as teens, they look as young as ever. As I have said the Subaru members have their avatars looking closely to their real life counterparts so sometimes I get a bit confused if this is the online game or reality. CGI is also used but usually for monster bosses like Purgatorio and Aegir. Luckily the scenes are too dark to see clearly whether the CGI sucks or not. This anime is produced by Lerche who did Ansatsu Kyoushitsu, the Danganronpa series, Mahou Shoujo Ikusei Keikaku, the rebooted Kino No Tabi, Kuzu No Honkai and also in the same season, Asobi Asobase (which is the better series than this one).

Voice acting feels average with Nichika Omori (Yurine in Jashin-chan Dropkick) trying to make Asahi sound as cute as a loli as can be while Kaito Ishikawa (Iida in Boku No Hero Academia) tries to make Takanori sound as much as an angst stubborn dick. The other casts are Kengo Takanashi as Haruto (Hajime in Gin No Saji), Akari Kitou as Satsuki (Kaho in Blend S), Takuma Terashima as Clive (Shiroe in Log Horizon), Yumiri Hanamori as Nozomi (Nadeshiko in Yuru Camp) and Chika Anzai as Elicia (Reina in Hibike! Euphonium). The opening theme is 360 Degree Hoshi No Orchestra by Petit Milady. Your typical generic lively anime pop for such genres. I prefer the ending theme, Starlight by Erii Yamazaki which is more of a slow-moderate pop. If you can’t get enough of your Asahi fix, the ending credits animation is your ideal place to ‘stalk’ and ‘peep’ at Asahi bumming around and doing nothing as she waits. Wait for Haruto to come home. Is this some kind of metaphor of what she is doing when the rest are logged out? Man, it has got to be one long boring wait sitting in her room all day.

Overall, this isn’t actually such a bad series but it just lacks an overall interesting story and the main characters themselves lack any sort of character development (even their romance development feels a bit cheesy and forced just to make up some of the drama). But at least this series is still much better than the ones having overpowered characters using their Smartphones. This anime feels like many of other online games these days. Get some attention at the start but starts to wane as time passes. Eventually like when the servers go offline, this one will also be forgotten when better (and much more) crappy future anime series pop up. I mean, would you like to return and rewatch this series? Yeah… A very unfortunate case of perma-death forever.

Hmm… I guess with the recent popularity and success of online multiplayer battle royale games like PUBG and Fortnite that took the gaming world by storm, I began to wonder if this was Japan’s answer to that (seeing shooting games are not that popular in Japan). Hence it was a bit suspicious when they decided to use and go under the Sword Art Online’s name and franchise. Yeah, they had that gun shooting Gun Gale Online (GGO) variety too but now they totally made it into a shooting spinoff of its own, Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online. However don’t expect to see the usual Kirito-sama and Asuna-chan here. Totally a new bunch of characters and story in this spinoff but in the same universe of SAO, or more accurately GGO. So if PUBG is too dead serious while Fortnite is too cartoonish for you, perhaps watching kawaii little anime girls run and shoot around should be more ideal for you. I guess we’re getting tired of magical girls already…

Episode 1
LLENN and M get ready to enter the battle royale of Squad Jam (SJ). Both are randomly dropped in the forest area of the map. Though this might give them disadvantage, we hear M’s strategy in dealing with the situation. They hear gunshots near the city area and M can identify the kind of guns used. He lets LLENN be the bait to identify some of their current enemies before them. They start firing at her but thanks to her petite size, she is able to hide from the hail of bullets. M is waiting for the right moment for other teams to sniff out those enemies and take them out. True enough, it happened. M guesses that the way these pros fight, they could be veterans or part of the army. They could be using this game to train and test their skills. LLENN considers herself a lucky girl so M is going to bet on that luck. As that gunfire would have attracted other teams, he plans to hide in the central residential area than the edge of the forest. They will use 3 other teams to buy them some time as LLENN sprints across. During this period, all other 3 teams got eliminated by the pros. At this point, many teams are already eliminated and those remaining continue to stay put in a futile standoff that might never end. M has a strategy to take out the pros and this would rely heavily on LLENN’s agility. The pros are trying to smoke out the duo. Based on the tracker, they should be ahead of them but no target in visual sight. Could they be under the sewer? But no manhole either. As they slowly look around, they realize too late that LLENN is hiding in the suitcase. She jumps out in perfect timing to shoot most of them. Thanks to her quick speed, she is able to not give them enough time to aim. With most the team members out, the team leader is satisfied with the training exercise and resigns. This entire match and epic victory is watched by the awed friends of Karen Kohiruimaki.

Episode 2
Karen is a very tall girl and because of her height, she believes this is the reason she hasn’t made any new friends since moving to Tokyo. That’s why she loves things small and cute. She heard about that VR scandal involving NerveGear and despite that, that was when she became interested in trying out VR games. With the help of her nerdy friend, Miyu Shinohara she tries out ALO first. I don’t know why you aren’t allowed customization of your characters since it is a basic in games today. Anyway, Karen’s avatars are tall ones. The shock and increased heart rate has her being ejected from the game. She tries various games but all the same tall types. Finally after the 37th game, she has got a cute and small little girl avatar in GGO. Ecstatic with her desired looks, she takes an online tutorial to learn more about handling guns. Hey, if training isn’t this Spartan, it would have given you a false impression of how tough this game is going to be, right? LLENN starts small by hunting monsters and levels up slowly. She finds a hunting ground she likes since other players rarely converge here. But one day a human team decides to enter her playground. Fearing they would kill her, she decides to strike and kills them first! With that agility, they don’t even know what hit them! Soon, LLENN becomes a legend as rumour spreads about a little pink munchkin sneaking up and killing you suddenly. LLENN meets her match in Pitohui AKA Pito. She is only interested to know LLENN’s identity after hearing the rumours. They soon become friends as LLENN often hang out with her and hear her stories and advices. She even takes LLENN shopping to buy a mini submachine gun that suits her size and style. She names it P-chan and is told to rack up more kills with it because a gun will never betray you. They both team up for missions. Pito believes they will have to fight each other one day and suggests should she win, they will meet in real life. Soon SJ is introduced.

Episode 3
Pito once participated in BoB but lost in one of the early rounds. SJ came about when some Japanese guy watching BoB got inspired to make a team battle royale out of it. With Zaskar approving, he became SJ’s sponsor. LLENN has low self-confidence, thinking she wouldn’t fit in PvP games. Pito knows LLENN is here to escape reality. Pito is the same. That’s why they should go all out to the extreme here. With some basic explanations on SJ, it seems Pito cannot join LLENN in SJ since she has to attend her friend’s wedding. She’ll die in real life if her friend found out she went playing a game instead of attending her wedding! Don’t worry, Pito has the perfect guy to cover for her. It’s awkward at first when LLENN meets this criminal-looking M. To test her proficiency, he has her undergo several shooting tests. He notes the kind of guns suitable for her and himself and will be the one in charge of creating strategies. Karen writes a fan letter to a pop idol, Elsa Kanzaki. She talks about her tall complex and recent problems, even to her LLENN avatar. Uhm, is this what you’re supposed to write to your idol? Oh well, her songs are what she listens to when she fights in the virtual battlefield. Her hope is to change herself and also request holding her next concert in a larger venue. Before SJ begins, M teaches LLENN how to efficiently use knives and kill off her opponents. It seems the reason LLENN is here in SJ is because she couldn’t get a ticket to Elsa’s concert. With that kind of letter that sounded like a nerdy lunatic, maybe that’s the reason.

Episode 4
Continuing from LLENN and M’s victory over the pros, there are 3 teams left. But one team seems closing in fast on them as M realizes they have got a vehicle. A hovercraft. M uses his shield barrier and has LLENN be the bait. Drop and roll over whenever she is targeted. In the end, M snipes all of them except for the last one he bombs him out and lets LLENN overkill him by spraying bullets. LLENN wonders how M could shoot without any bullet line assistance. She remembers Pito’s guidance how in games, such assistances makes the game easier for players to go in and have fun. It won’t be fun if it’s all realistic. However with this, player’s skill will get rusty as they rely on the assistances too much. Hence M has some real skills in using a gun without relying on them. With one more team left for them to defeat to win SJ, the next scan suddenly reveals them to be very close. Before they can react, LLENN takes a hit (but not lethal) and M gets injured too while taking LLENN to run. They manage to escape in a hovercraft. As they heal and use medkits, they talk about their remaining opponent being pros at sniping and hiding. He claims LLENN to really be a lucky girl since she didn’t die from that shot. They head to shore and make the next hill as their sniping base. M is supposed to read a certain letter at a certain time. That time is now. As LLENN stays on guard, suddenly M points his gun at her! What gives?! He fires but thanks to her agility and his limited rounds, she has him at point blank. Now she demands answers. If he cannot say, she’ll go on by herself. Suddenly M stars crying like a baby and begging for his life! Shocking…

Episode 5
It seems M will be killed in real life by Pito if he loses! You don’t know how scary that woman is. Well, the letter did warn him about losing or he is dead meat. So she wasn’t speaking figuratively? LLENN tells him to hide and she’ll go on by herself. LLENN stumbles into one of the enemies and her agility once more plays a crucial hand in evading bullets and even eliminating her. The rest of the members go all out to avenge their comrade’s death. LLENN remembers Pito’s lessons about not firing randomly to give away your location. So she thought the enemy is doing so but realizes too late when she takes a great damage as it was just a decoy to lure her out. More running and hiding until she realizes what is she going to achieve by running away. All her kills have been up close and personal. Suddenly P-chan talks to motivate her! Is she going crazy?! Anyway, LLENN confronts the enemy but this time putting a little mischief in her play. Although she has a tough time, thankfully M has decided to come back to the game and help her via sniping. LLENN confronts the enemy leader, Eva AKA Boss. LLENN must be so lucky that several shots to her chest cannot kill her despite being pinned down! Oh, something in her pocket. LLENN’s head moves faster than her bullets?! Out of bullets. Her comrade throws her a chamber before being taken out by M. Unbelievable timing of reloading her gun while the chamber is still in the air… Boss fires away but LLENN STILL LIVES!!! Apparently P-chan became her shield. LLENN is so mad that P-chan is destroyed she is faster and deadlier in her angry state! She whips out her knife and slashes Boss’ vitals! M takes out the final sniper and lives. Yeah, LLENN and M win SJ!!! In the aftermath if you’re wondering why Karen is meeting up with petite Saki Nitobe and her group of equally petite rhythm gymnastic club members, it is because Saki is Boss! Damn, she was that bloodthirsty violent Amazon woman? Indeed still waters run deep…

Episode 6
LLENN finally buys her P-chan replacement. Karen entertains Saki and her friends who are here to celebrate her SJ victory. We see their avatars and damn they look so different than their real life counterpart. The girls hope they can train together but it seems Karen has other plans, disappointing the lolis. That plan is to go karaoke with Miyu? There is an announcement that there will be another Squad Jam, SJ2. There are some tweaks to the rules so those interested can register before the deadline. A strange suddenly creeps up to Karen. He is Goushi Asougi and knows she is LLENN. She is forced to listen to his story otherwise 2 people will die! This guy is of course M and he wants her help to participate in SJ2 or people will die. One of them is him and the other is Pito. Apparently Pito is obsessed with death and if she doesn’t win, she will commit suicide! Oh, Goushi will die first, then she’ll kill herself. She was one of the beta players for SAO. During that scandal where players got locked in and some died, Pito was away doing other things. She regretted she couldn’t join in that ‘fun’. She also heard of PK players and also lament that had she been in that game, she would have kicked their asses serving justice or be killed by them. Goushi doesn’t report this madness to the police because he respects her decision. Also, he is in love with her. Yes, this guy is also that twisted. So twisted that he is not afraid of dying after Pito but before her since he is afraid of leaving her alone. He hopes Karen can face her and kill her without mercy so she doesn’t have to commit suicide (and spare him too). Karen agrees to participate after remembering some of Pito’s words. But Goushi won’t help her since that would be like cheating? Hence Karen enlists the help of her friend, Miyu.

Episode 7
Miyu’s avatar is also a cute loli! She goes by the name Fukaziroh or Fuka for short. Because M previously agreed to lend some financial support, Fuka goes on a gun buying spree. She buys the most expensive and powerful grenade guns. Two of them! Wow, she really thinks she has a sugar daddy. She practises with it to get a feel of them. The duo register as a team, LF. It sounds like a big deal that they have registered because Saki and co cannot wait to get their revenge. We hear among the new rules include the scan will now display the team’s name, making it easier to know which team is where. Hence LF has got to look out for PM4, Pito and M’s team. LLENN’s strategy is to fight them first before focusing on SHINC (Saki’s team). On the day of SJ2, Miyu has a bad case of stomach ache and hence the nerve wrecking wait for LLENN as she waits for her to finish her business. It is amazing Miyu could update so fast. Can she wipe her ass with one hand and text about it at the same time? Yeah, that’s really an awesome skill. Meanwhile in the waiting lounge, SHINC and Memento Mori (MMTM) are the favourite teams. Both sides exchange ‘pleasantries’. Also the team to watch is PM4. The leader of MMTM once teamed up with Pito and although she is a strong woman, she doesn’t views her comrades as comrades. She uses them as shields and laughs at their deaths, even her own. He cannot deal with anyone with a death wish and left. He believes her name is taken from a poisonous bird found only in New Guinea. So lethal its poison that a mere touch from it could kill a human. Like all heroes making their late entrance, the crowd cheers when LF enters. Looks like Miyu did her business in time. Everyone prepares to be teleported to the battlefield. Don’t overthink. Just kill!

Episode 8
With the first scan, it looks like all the favourite teams are placed far apart from each other. I guess there’s an excuse to go do some killing in between. Fuka got careless and stepped on a wire trap and blew both her legs off! She survives, though. LLENN shows why she is a champion of the first SJ by singlehandedly massacring the entire team! Meanwhile PM4 continues to not engage and wait around. As M is the leader, this is part of his plan and not engage in meaningless skirmishes. For the next ambush, Fuka wants to try using her grenades via angle attacks. She has practised a hell lot and can do so with her eyes close. All she needs is LLENN to relay accurate info of the enemies’ whereabouts. Once more we see LF as the top favourite team as Fuka bombs the hell out of her hapless opponents who can’t even see where their enemies are. In the next scan, PM4 is still camping. However a group of teams have gathered near them. It is easily deduced that these teams have agreed a ceasefire and to band together to take out PM4. No surprises to guess how the massacre is going to turn out. But LLENN rushes her way there. I guess nobody gets to kill Pito except her.

Episode 9
M hides behind a waterfall as a distraction for the enemy to take pot shots at him. Because they’re so busy doing that, they didn’t realize Pito ambushing them from the back with the rest of PM4 backing her up. Yeah, she massacred the hell out of them! She even toyed around with the last couple of guys. When they ask if she enjoyed tormenting the defenceless like them, she throws it back to them if they enjoyed ganging up on a few. And yes, she enjoys it and would do it to if she was in their shoes. Then she bombs the hell out of them! As for the leaders of the group, Pito snipes them from afar. They have no time to react! Could have been perfect if not for the last dude quickly resigning. Now we shift to LF. They are in the savannah dome and notice 3 other teams are in. They thought they are fighting each other but LLENN from experience can tell something is strange from their gunshots. She knows it is a distraction and all those teams are cooperating to take them out. With Fuka shooting pink smokescreen, LLENN is able to run around and shoot everybody! How can she see? Everyone is using the bullet line. Then there’s a guy who stumbled into Fuka but Fuka unloads all her bullets on him. Guess what? SHE MISSED!!! HOW THE F*CK CAN SHE MISS AT THIS RANGE???!!! Because we see his rape face, Fuka bludgeons him to death with her rifle! ALO experience? The duo do a body count and realize a body short. They smoke out a guy, Clarence who is trying to play dead. He surrenders but the girls continue to be vigilant. He did try to pull a fast one by reaching his gun but LLENN is faster to shoot a hole in his hand. Because he is a sick lolicon, Fuka would have blown his brains out but LLENN is running low on ammo so she wants him to unload all his magazines. He agrees but in exchange wants a kiss from LLENN. A small price to pay for their survival and victory? LLENN sums up her courage and gives him a peck on the cheek. But hey, she’s got all his ammo. He goes on to reveal that he is actually a girl in real life and is a bi. Uhm, I don’t think we want to hear such stories. Suddenly they are ambushed. Too much time talking, huh? Clarence is shot dead and LLENN realizes it is team MMTM.

Episode 10
Thanks to SHINC interfering, MMTM withdraws. It’s not like Boss is helping LLENN but she viewed it as a good opportunity to take out MMTM. Boss wants to square off with LLENN but it looks like she needs to attend to business. Boss wants to hear the story. Meanwhile, a team tries to team up with PM4 but Pito rejects. As they part, Pito breaks the promise of not shooting each other till the next scan by shooting them in the back. The team is annihilated, leaving only the lone female to run for her life. She vows to exterminate that vermin. SHINC is inching closer to PM4 as M prepares to fire at them. When they enter their firing range, SHINC is able to dodge their bullets. Part of the strategy is for one of SHINC’s members to die on purpose so that she could become a pedestal for another member to fire her powerful anti-tank gun! OMG! M’s shield is destroyed in no time! Thanks to this method, M is more vulnerable although his sniping is still tops. As SHINC charges, looks like it’s time. Flashback shows Boss discussing with LLENN about their pincher attack. SHINC will be the bait to distract and take out M’s shields. Fuka then fires her smokescreen so that LLENN could rush in to pincher them. However LLENN spots somebody sniping at Pito. It’s that lone female survivor. She hit a direct shot in her head before LLENN sprayed bullets into her. Pito is on the verge of dying as M desperately tries to save her. The more damage she takes, the more insane Pito becomes. It’s like she loves the idea of dying but is too scared to die. Eventually she survives. Like 0.0001% of her health. She is so crazy that she passes out. However her avatar doesn’t log out and this has the rest suspect she is using NerveGear. As PM4 retreat into the cabin, LLENN is unsure what to do. But since she has to decide, she remembers her mission. Everybody go in for the kill! Except for Pito. That’s her kill. Too bad MMTM arrive into the cabin first. While the other PM4 members sacrifice their lives in vain to stop MMTM’s onslaught, does M have time to even kiss Sleeping Beauty Pito?! Finally MMTM is just a room away when they are all shot and killed. Yeah, Pito is back and she is wielding a lightsaber?!

Episode 11
Pito mercilessly slaughters what’s left of MMTM. So LLENN, are you glad now that MMTM became guinea pigs and died so you could so how crazy this woman is? Now that she is hesitating and thinking of a plan to kill her, SHINC won’t wait and charges straight. Fuka also has the same idea. LLENN would have stopped her had not Fuka tied her laces to her gun! I know this is silly but SHINC taking pot shots at the cabin seems futile because ultimately M snipes them all out. Pito doesn’t kill Fuka and just shoots off her limbs in order to lure out LLENN but the pipsqueak isn’t coming out. So when LLENN has untied herself and decides to not do anything but vow to somehow kill Pito, she comes out of her hiding. But wait. LLENN is running away! And so Pito and M drive a vehicle to chase after her. LLENN uses her petite size to her advantage like ducking under the vehicle and even jumping over to spray bullets from the top (although amazingly she missed them all). It makes those crazy duo look like imbeciles. When LLENN takes a near fatal shot, she seems like about to quit but here comes Fuka to the rescue. I guess that is what happens when you don’t take somebody out. Enough time to recover. And so begins a mad vehicle chase with both sides trying to outdo each other. Eventually when both vehicles run out of gas, it is showdown between LLENN and Pito. Run out of bullets? Time for close quarter combat.

Episode 12
When LLENN badmouths SAO, this riles up Pito. This allows LLENN to get up close and do some damage although Pito fights back. Pito picks up P-chan and readies to kill her with it. However LLENN hears P-chan’s voice to believe and guess what? The moment Pito pulls the trigger, P-chan explodes! WTF?! Does her gun have this feature? Pito still has enough energy to grab LLENN, though. M has captured Fuka. Why didn’t he just shoot her? So Pito tells him to hand over his gun. Gonna shoot Fuka? Nope. She shoots him! She calls him a traitor and knows he has been secretly helping these girls and eliminated SHINC to let them be the only ones left. Any last words? I love you. She knows but you can’t bring love into this game. Bang! Right between the eyes. As Pito starts singing, Fuka frees herself and charges straight. Pito thought of using LLENN as a shield but Fuka cuts off LLENN’s hands. In shock, LLENN then bites Pito’s neck! Wow. This feature is also available?! So they reconcile and remember their fulfilled promise. LLENN bites her to death. Yeah, it’s really possible. Before you can say LF wins SJ2, suddenly both of them are shot to death! Ah, I see that’s why previously they reminded us there was another team left. But who the heck are these cyborg guys?! Team T-S?! Total Savage? This Sucks? The Sh*t? Who the f*ck are they?! Oh well, I guess this takes the focus off our heroines so they could tie up some loose strings.

In reality, Saki and her friends give Karen a necklace as a birthday gift. Perhaps it’s also to celebrate what a great game they had. Next, Karen and Miyu meet up with Goushi as he brings them to a secret live concert of Elsa. On the way, he lets them know how he fell in love with Pito. He shows his old photo. Damn, he’s a fat guy! He saw the real Pito and fell in love with her at first sight. He followed her around. Basically, a stalker. One day she turned around and invited him to her apartment. Dream come true? Actually, she tied and beat him up! She knew about his stalking and she was also a violent sadist who loves destroying things. If he doesn’t want to be handed to the police, he became her servant. He did all her whims and fancies and loved it. Karen realizes M stands for masochist. Also, because he is her slave, he lost weight. Yeah, not because he wanted to be attractive to her. They live their own happily twisted life until the day SAO launched. Pito felt frustrated on missing out on that ‘death game’ and sought a variety of games to die. They finally arrive at a mini club to watch Elsa perform. They are allowed to meet her at the backstage. At first it seemed that the club owner, Rei Satou is Pito. But Karen goes up to Elsa and congratulates. Not for her performance on stage but in SJ2! Elsa is Pito! Elsa laughs like mad and wants to know how she knew. She explains about Goushi bringing them here right when her concert starts so as not to expose this ruse. Also, having Rei stand in as Pito would be amusing for Elsa to watch. Another reason is that when M first met LLENN, he knew her very well. The only person who knew about it is Elsa as she wrote it in her fan letters. Elsa might not have read them but Goushi did. With the revelation exposed, Karen hugs Elsa and is glad she didn’t die. Payback time because Elsa takes a look at Karen’s face and finds her cute. So? She kisses her on the lips!!! And then on the cheek! Now she wants to come visit her place. Better get out while you can. LLENN and Pito continue to play GGO as Pito assures she won’t pull such stunt again and will enjoy life.

Trigger Happy Havoc
So I guess we’re done having our side dish, huh? Because now we can go on to watch the third season of SAO!!!! But let’s not get ahead for ourselves yet. So uhm, I guess I’m glad that all the deaths that happened were only confined to the game. Nobody died in real life and thus stirring up another hornet’s nest of another tragedy like SAO. Therefore the moral of the story is that it is better to be alive because you can then log on to your online games like GGO and die as many times you want. Better to die in games than in real life. Because hey, it’s just a game. But dying too many times online, you might want to start contemplating if you really suck. But for our main girls who aren’t even hardcore online gamers especially in the battle royale shooting category, they’re really killing it. Good for them.

While the gun fights are rather okay (more on that later), thanks to that, I find that the plot is somewhat close to non-existent. I mean, what kind of plot do you need for an online game? You play a game just to have fun, right? Hence with LLENN being a newbie in this shooting game, the first half concentrates on her being a rising star while the second half’s plot of trying to save Pito from suicide feels ridiculous and bizarre. It felt like a strange way to serve as a motivation for LLENN to somewhat ‘rescue’ Pito. A strange way for Pito to be ‘saved’ and find ‘salvation’ if she gets ‘killed’ by LLENN. Sounds like nonsense to me. Sure, the thrill of life and death may be something that Pito is looking for but even if they didn’t incorporate this into the plot, the story will work out fine. Because I bet that viewers who watched the series will not think much about why LLENN or any other players in SJ would be fighting so hard to win. I mean, the whole goal of the game is to be the last one standing and win the damn thing, right?!

That is why we don’t really question LLENN why and what the heck she is doing all this for because essentially this is just a game and the ultimate goal of SJ or SJ2 or whatever other events in GGO or other online multiplayer battle royale is to be the last one left standing. That’s it. No complicated plot needed. That’s why in a way this spinoff feels a lot lacking in this department and that you are just watching an anime version of a shooting game instead of watching it on Twitch. To say it brings down the name and reputation of the SAO franchise isn’t accurate either since this spinoff can actually stand on its own without being compared to any of the original SAO elements. Then you might ask why not create a new world with new themes and terms instead of relying on GGO. Sure, some terms can be slightly tweaked to make it look different but then we’ll eventually see some sort of familiarity and blame it was trying to copy GGO. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

As for the gunfights, well, personally they are okay and just averagely satisfying. I’m not saying it is boring but it isn’t anything exciting that it gets your adrenaline pumping too. At least it did not for me. Watching real people play PUBG or Fortnite seems more ‘exciting’ because of the unknown and unpredictable factor. Because this is a series, you’ll have an idea how gunfights would turn out especially LLENN as the main character. And yeah, it’s like that movie logic cliché too when hundreds of bullets are fired but none really hit the intended target unless the plot commands it. Like LLENN’s P-chan who seems to be lacking firepower but is able to spray much more bullets, it feels like she can fire away trigger happy without having to worry about reloading. For her character to be amazingly this fast and skilled despite being a noob, in reality many would have called her a cheat. I mean, nobody else in this game could run as fast as her? Did nobody try to branch into this unique skillset? The odd thing about LLENN’s hallucination of P-chan, I wonder if this is some sort of reference to a cliché trope of a magical girl. You know, talking sidekick. Yeah, it seems only LLENN’s gun is able to talk to her. Not even gun crazy maniacs talk to their guns like that. Is LLENN on drugs?

Sniping action is also okay but with certain characters being such pros in sniping, it hardly feels exciting because again you get to expect and predict the outcome. Fuka’s grenade curve looks interesting although the more she does it, the more unbelievable you think it is because it’s like she has 100% accuracy on where she wants to hit. It’s like she has her homing device on them. While the series is mainly shooting action, they mix in a few others like close quarter combats, inclusion of vehicles and some incredulous dodging moments just to spice up the action. You won’t feel bored but it’s not anything that would even surpass the few action anime series like Shingeki No Kyojin, Dragonball or Naruto. Ultimately, this spinoff at least provided what it is supposed to do and that is lots of gun shooting action and no convoluted storyline.

There are some explanations about some of the guns if you are interested but I feel that if you are a gun enthusiasts, you would have known such guns and their traits. What is explained here are just probably the basics to get casual viewers like me to be awed. Because we know nothing about guns and to hear them spew such specifications is of course indeed sound amazing.

Having said all that, the characters themselves aren’t exciting and possibly one of the worst elements. They have their intrigue but nothing interesting. Avatars are avatars but their real life counterparts feel so different that it is as good as thinking that all this could happen in some fantasy world instead of a VR world. What I’m saying is that if you’re looking for good character development in this spinoff, don’t get your hopes up. After all, Karen who just moved to Tokyo somewhat found a game to blow off some steam to quell her loneliness. That’s it. But now that she has made friends with SHINC, will they be able to hang out more often in real life? Or maybe they’ll play more shooting games online and bond there.

As mentioned, Pito is a crazy woman but her suicidal thinking not only feels twisted but also incomprehensible. Unless you’re a sadist or a person who doesn’t care, it is of course only naturally that one would try and help the suicidal person out of suicide. But with Pito having so much crazy fun killing people in GGO and SJ2, it just doesn’t feel that she is going to end her life soon whether win or lose. If she really wanted to feel the thrill of life and death in a game, maybe she should have tried Russian roulette! Damn. But get what I mean? Also, if Pito really wanted to die, she would have done so by playing the first SJ and missed her friend’s wedding. Now that would have killed her! Oh right. Newly wedded bride don’t want to be a killer so maybe they will just end up breaking their friendship and not talking forever. However Goushi may have just exaggerated the story because of his twisted crush on Pito. Afraid of dying before her and not after her, huh? Well, we have seen her crazy skills. I think it’s safe to say that she would be fine on her own. At least in the online gaming world. It doesn’t make sense thinking about Pito would kill him in real life if he fails to live up to certain standards. Assuming he didn’t and she killed him. So what? She’s now a real life murderer. That’s all. And I seriously don’t think Pito would even if she sounds serious and threatening that she would. Because she knows Goushi’s crush on her so she’s just taking advantage of him. Like I said, if she did kill him, she’ll just be a murderer and she’ll be sent to prison. Just to check, prisoners aren’t entitled to play online games, right?

Some of the other minor characters also feel a bit disappointing but that could be just me over thinking that they might play some sort of role later. For example those very skilled military pros in SJ whom LLENN faced off and defeated never returned at all. From the way they said things, they are a force to be reckon with but eventually disappeared after that single ‘practice’. I believe they are not that T-S team. Too convenient had that happen. Clarence feels more like a distraction as well as that lone female survivor of a team that Pito betrayed and slaughtered. It looked like she had some potential but it ultimately fizzled out and was there just as a stepping stone for Pito to turn into psycho Pito in rage mode. I also wonder about Elsa. At first I was thinking if she was just a red herring. You know, somebody’s name being associated with the main character being brought up early. May or may not have some sort of relation. I didn’t read any spoilers while watching the show but in the penultimate episode my guts suddenly were telling me that Elsa could be Pito. I mean, who else is there, right? I guess it’s for the shock factor for those who didn’t read the light novels. True enough it turned out like that.

While the issue of avatars being vastly different from their real life counterparts is not anything shocking or new these days, the mind boggling thing is why Karen was unable to choose her own avatar when she first played her first online game. I mean, to customize your own avatar is the basic of the most basic of basic things, right? I know this gives a silly reason for her to jump games until she finds the right one and for some reason GGO was it because perhaps the online servers were probably tired of watching her switch so many games and just decided to give her what she wants. But still, to no to have that option to be able to customize your own avatar for a game is rather silly. Especially in today’s modern times. If that is the case, there will be so many unused avatars that are dumped and there will be so many unused accounts (assuming 1 avatar per account) lying dormant around. Just plain silly. So it must be real lucky for SHINC for many of them to get that Amazon avatar, huh?

Hence the one with the biggest difference has got to be Elsa as Pito. It makes you wonder if she has time to spend playing such online games, does she have enough time to even perform on stage? If she somehow manages to do both, she must be greatly talented. She has to be. Look at how successful she is in both vastly different fields. It is safe to say that fans of Elsa does not know this dark side of hers and I can only imagine if they do. Unless they are all masochists like Goushi but this guy was the one who got lucky. Oh well, perhaps some idols seem nice on the outside until you really get close to them. I mean, being an idol is still a job, right? Therefore it is also mind boggling to think that she could put up such a cute innocent face but behind the scenes especially online, she is a cold blooded sadistic killer. Like as though she has split personalities. So if Elsa really wanted to die, why be an idol? Need money to buy those VR games to play? But Elsa and Pito is a very good example of what most of us are offline and online thanks to online anonymity. But I still can’t imagine that an idol really has so much time on her hands to play online games. Like as though if her idol career fell through, this could be her backup career. It’s not far-fetched at all.

I sometimes wonder that if this anime is targeted for male audiences because the main characters are all females except for M. This had me wonder if GGO should have been called Gamer Girls Online. Haha. But it is not surprising in this era because even though men are still majority of video gamers, women’s gaming community is rising and is almost half of the male’s gaming population. But somehow in GGO the females fare much better than the males, many who are of course nameless and just there for the body count. And on the topic of avatars being vastly different from your real life counterpart, it goes to show you not to believe everything you see at face value on the internet. Tall busty girl Karen becomes a short cute LLENN, cutie Miyu also equally becomes a short cute Fuka. Lolicon harem and paradise. SHINC members who are tough Amazon women are cute lolicons from the rhythm gymnastics. How can such cute little girls turn into blood thirsty killers online?! True meaning of still waters run deep. I bet boys who don’t know about them would really have a way off perception of them doing very harmless girly things like knitting. Heh. Who knits these days? And Goushi looks like a wuss instead of his stout M. And look at cute little Elsa who is just a slender sexy Pito. Talk about really being opposites from your real self. And so the stereotype misconception that expert online shooters are 12 year olds…

Art and animation feel okay and a few CGI were employed too but nothing that jarring. Thankfully action scenes like shooting between players are still in 2D because if it was obviously in 3D, might as well go watch PUBG or Fortnite. I know it is done for differentiation but many other characters especially those expandable players look almost the same. Just put them in different outfits to signify they are from a different team. Yeah, the other ‘unimportant’ members of PM4 look the same, don’t you think? Just slap on those headgear and mask, don’t have to show us their faces. Problem solved. Lucky for LLENN and Fuka, they stand out so much because they are the smallest avatars while Pito is such smoking hot and curvaceous at the hips in that catsuit. This series wasn’t done by A-1 Pictures who did the Sword Art Online series. Instead it was Studio 3Hz who did Dimension W, Flip Flappers and Princess Principal.

For the voice acting, I want to point out about Youko Hikasa as Pito. She really sounds crazy in her part to perfectly portray her character. But sometimes I feel that she went to some crazy lengths to sound this crazy. Like say, she went out drinking and recorded her lines while she was almost drunk? Hope not. Although I could be wrong and that she is just a great voice actress who can act and sound to this extent. Because she really sounds different and crazy when Pito does her trademark crazy laugh. Truly different. Other casts are Tomori Kusunoki as LLENN/Karen (Hazuki in Marchen Madchen), Kazuyuki Akasaki as M/Goushi (Hisui in K), Chinatsu Akasaki as Fuka/Miyu (Alice in Shokugeki No Souma), Ayaka Asai as Boss/Saki (Hazuki in Hibike! Euphonium) and Mikako Komatsu as Clarence (Rose in Tales Of Zestiria The X).

I have a feeling that the opening theme, Ryuusei by Eir Aoi tries to sound similar to the openings in the other SAO series but it feels generic. The ending theme is To See The Future by Tomori Kusunoki. Sounds okay as a generic anime pop. There are also a few insert songs although they are sung by Elsa (her singing voice is credited to Reona) but they aren’t really my type. Maybe it’s just me since I find her voice to sound a little bit raw.

Overall, this spinoff itself is fairly decent and entertaining even though it is most likely not to cause any big stir in the online multiplayer battle royale category for now. Basically it is mainly lolis with guns (SHINC might be Amazon women avatars but their real life counterparts are still lolis so it still somewhat counts). The opinions are split if this series gave SAO a bad name but I feel that it is still much better than the second half arcs of both the SAO seasons. Maybe that is why this spinoff has only 1 cour and a dozen episodes. Because the curse of the SAO series is that the first starting story arc is interesting but then starts to falter and definitely not so good. I’m having the same fearful sentiments for the third season… But one having not watch the original SAO seasons can still watch this without fear of missing out on any details. Unless they decide to do a crossover sequel in the future, that would be another story. Otherwise it is your choice to join the online community and be slaughtered by 12 year olds or watch a pink munchkin mow down others like nobody’s business. Or we can just go back to watch more magical girls stuffs if you’re tired of bullets already.

Overlord II

June 15, 2018

Ah, finally. The much awaited sequel is here. So it is with glee that I am able to watch the great exploits and epic greatness of our main character who is supposedly trapped in a game world but became a master of his own force and a rising one in this world. After all, everything was just so great that I am expecting nothing less from Overlord II. I know there is this danger of putting hopes too high but when you’re a master of everything, do you settle for second best?

Episode 1
OMG. They’re spamming us with so many new characters that I’m not sure what the f*ck is going on! First off, Zesshi Zetsumei talking to her aide about the recent events regarding Ains and that vampire incident. She views herself as the strongest and wishes for a man strong enough to beat her so she could bore a very strong child. Next we have this very old woman, Rigrit Bers Caurau talking to a long time dragon lord friend about her successor taking over her position as an adventurer as well as some corrupted world that may be taking over the world again after 100 years. He has a request of her to gather information on items that rival guild weapons or rather, special items from Yggdrasil. Next up, Gazef and the king talking about possible attacks from other empires especially from Baharuth and hence the need to remain vigilante and united. We are also introduced to the king’s granddaughter, Princess Renner Theiere Chardelon Ryle Vaiself and her childhood friend-cum-bodyguard, Climb. Before we forget about Ains and his team, we take a detour back to them. Ains returns to Nazarick with Albedo welcoming him in her usual slutty fashion. They discuss the other nations around their area. The perpetrator who mind controlled Shalltear is still not caught. Speaking of her, she is drowning herself in alcohol for that unforgivable act last season. Vampire and alcohol? Whatever. Cocytus sees Ains before he sets off on a mission in the woods. Oh yeah, more characters introduced from their side. Like Bukubukuchagama, the dog faced maid of Aura and this penguin assistant butler, Éclair Ecleir Eicler (say what again?) and the Metroid-alien-head of Nazarick’s bar and restaurant, Sous-chef. Finally, we head to the bogs and swamps of a lizardmen tribe, the Green Claw led by chieftain Shasuryu Shasha and his exiled brother but great warrior, Zaryusu Shasha who possesses a great weapon known as Frost Pain. Suddenly the sky turns dark and an ominous blob of faces appear before the village. It declares death upon them.

Episode 2
It adds that they are given time to prepare to fight for their futile existence. Green Claw members gather to discuss their next move. Zaryusu is side-lined because of his status but Shasuryu allows him to speak because of his great experience. As of now, they stand no chance to win. A little history on the bloody war between the 7 tribes. Due to lack of food, an all-out war occurred. Green Claw aligned with Small Fang and Razor Tail to wipe out Yellow Speckle and Sharp Edge. Survivors of the losing group was absorbed into Dragon Tusk. Zaryusu suggests forming an alliance among all tribes to fight against the menace. It may be easy to get Small Fang and Razor Tail on their side but Dragon Tusk contains survivors of the last war and the animosity is still there. Zaryusu offers to go negotiate and if they are unwilling, he will deem them not worthy and eliminate them. Meanwhile we take a detour as we see Éclair possibly colluding with Demiurge to take over Nazarick?! Zaryusu sets off on his giant multi-headed beast, Rororo to the Red Eye tribe first. He is taken to the acting chief, Crusch Lulu. She hides herself because of her albino skin. However Zaryusu immediately falls in love with her and wants to marry her! Oh dear. Mission side-lined? So we have a bit of weird lizardmen romance-cum-flirting before they get down to business. Zaryusu adds that with the alliance and in the even they lose, their reduced numbers mean a low chance of inter-tribal war. He is curious how Red Eye survived as it was not involved in last war. Crusch ashamedly mentions they did cannibalism. They fed on their fallen comrades. Back then the tribe was split if into pro-cannibalisation or anti-cannibalisation. The chief then was the former. In the end, Crusch led the latter group and defeated them. Before she became the new chief, the former chief smiled the sweetest smile she had ever seen before passing on. With their reduced numbers of course the food shortage was solved. Crusch still feels guilty till this day but Zaryusu comforts her and would have done exactly the same in her shoes. She agrees to form an alliance with him as she prepares to follow him on his trip to Dragon Tusk’s village. Upon arriving, the chief, Zenberu Gugu knows what he is going to say but will only trust those who are strong. In short, prove your strength to him.

Episode 3
Both lizardmen fight as Zenberu is tempting Zaryusu to use his Frost Pain to have a chance in defeating him but he won’t. In the end, Zenberu admits his loss since he got tired from this drawn out fight. So the heads discuss their plan. Crusch has a different viewpoint as she prefers to hang on to life even if it is chains. But the guys are not. Will they be able to do this if they are imprisoned? The beings doing this would enjoy seeing their deaths and doubts they would have mercy. What Crusch meant was not for them to get killed. Zaryusu won’t. Not until he gets her answer. Argh. Slipping in a quite a few weird lizardmen romance feels weird… With Zenberu agreeing to the alliance, all the tribes now gather back at Green Claw to discuss their action. It is believed the enemy outnumbers them so Zaryusu suggests forming a small elite team to take out the enemy head. The army of the undead arrives. They are being controlled by Cocytus. The lizardmen grunts fight off the variety of undead skeletons and beasts. This has Cocytus contacting Demiurge for advice to overturn this defeat. Demiurge has Cocytus think if Ains did specifically mention for him to win because why raise such low level armies then? Was it just something to help Cocytus think and gather some intelligence? Cocytus then summons one of his undead commander, Iguva into the battlefield. His fireballs burn through everything! This is where Zaryusu initiates his small elite team plan. Rororo charges through the field and endures multiple burns before it could no longer go on. This allows Zaryusu, Zenberu and Crusch to get up close to Iguva. Zaryusu’s Frost Pain douses the flames while Zenberu’s armour absorbs the lightning attacks. And if they’re wounded, there is Crusch to heal them. But even at such close distance, Zaryusu is unable to best Iguva. With other comrades down, Zaryusu is forced to use a seemingly sacrificial move but it is a trap to stab Frost Pain into Iguva’s face and defeat him once and for all. The lizardmen rejoice over their victory. Oh Cocytus, there is a call from Ains waiting on line 1 for you…

Episode 4
The lizardmen are celebrating over their victory. We could have witness some weird lizardmen sex had not Zenberu drop in to see what is going on. Meanwhile Ains summons his guardians. We are first introduced to Victim. Uhm, this small little floating reindeer brain is cute or scary? Now he turns to Cocytus on his failure. He is made to think why he lost and what should have been done to achieve victory. Ains is impressed with his thinking and growth. However a loss is still a loss as he orders Cocytus to destroy the lizardmen by himself. However Cocytus has a request and wants to use the corpses of the lizardmen as his army. Ains rejects this idea because it doesn’t benefit Nazarick. Demiurge then suggests doing an experiment to govern the lizardmen. Ains is impressed with this suggestion and approves it. He changes Cocytus’ punishment to governing the lizardmen. Ains retires to his room and is impressed with the Cocytus’ growth as this is not possible in the game. However he realizes this gives the potential of betrayal. Ains returns with a grand army of darkness. The lizardmen are sure f*cked. This is an elaborate grand show of might to scare the lizardmen to show who is boss. A messenger from the lizardmen is required so Shasuryu and Zaryusu step forth. In another show of might, he forces them to bow before him if they want to speak. Ains wants to govern them but knowing they will not accept it. So he will return in 4 hours to attack them. If they can best Cocytus, he will leave them alone. Shasuryu wants to surrender but Ains shoots that idea down and doesn’t want them to do something so pathetic even before they try. After Ain and his team leave, the lizardmen discuss on their next move. They know Ains’ goal is to demonstrate their overwhelming power. They believe Ains will kill them all and hence they want to organize a group of survivors. The guys suggest Crusch be the central figure but she denies and want to fight with them. They leave it to Zaryusu to convince her. In short, he doesn’t want the woman he loves to die. Some lizard hug for some little romance before the most ‘shocking’ favour she asks of him: Please impregnate me! WTF?!

Episode 5
In the mission control room prepared by Aura, it seems they also prepared a throne for Ains to sit. Though they claim it is made of various animal bones, he knows there are human bones too. He can’t sit on that so he decides to exact Shalltear’s punishment and humiliation now. He sits on her! I’m sure she is enjoying it while Albedo is freaking jealous to the max! On to business, they peek at what the lizardmen are doing. Preparing for battle. Normal. Noticing Zaryusu and Crusch aren’t among them, they peek inside their tent. OMFG! THEY’RE F*CKING EACH OTHER!!! Oh my. So awkward. The battle is here. Cocytus is kind enough to give them some warnings. The tribe leaders and older lizardmen charge into battle. To cut this futile battle short, all their attacks did no damage to Cocytus as he kills them all. Ains congratulates Cocytus and assigns him to rule the lizardmen villages. Cocytus requests the resurrection of Zaryusu and Shasuryu because they are great warriors. Ains will consider it and summons Crusch who now represents the lizardmen. He gives her a role to secretly watch over the lizardmen so they won’t betray him (Crusch thought she would have to offer her body but this would just anger Albedo and Shalltear). In exchange for that, he will bring Zaryusu back to life. Fail and he will kill him immediately and bring her despair. Only Ains know there is no spell for that. With Crusch decided, Zaryusu is brought back to life. Immediately he pledges his allegiance to Ains as with the entire lizardmen tribe. Zaryusu wonders why he didn’t resurrect Shasuryu or Zenberu as they would be of more use to him. He doesn’t think that would benefit him but will reconsider it.

Episode 6
Sebas sees an employer throw out his abused female employee. Not sure why he doesn’t allow Sebas to take her if he was going to rid of her. Plus, was he dumb to just throw her out in the middle of the streets instead of somewhere less obvious? Sebas takes her as that guy worries he will be targeted. Again, if this woman is somebody’s property, why chuck her out like that? He tells him about Eight Fingers, the largest underworld organization who controls the kingdom behind the scenes. Sebas gives him some money to get a head start to flee. Back at his place, Sebas has Solution heal her and treat all her wounds and diseases. She can easily do all that but is puzzled why Sebas would do all this for a human and not even let Ains know about this. Once that is done, Sebas feeds her and she is overcome with emotion for being treated so nice. She says her name is Tuare. Solution remains sceptical but Sebas assures if there is any trouble, he will take proper measures to deal with it. Meanwhile Brain is reeling from his nightmare of his encounter with Shalltear. The one where he failed to scratch her and ran away like a coward. He is at Gazef’s place as he talks to him how weak they are. Well, if you compare humans with other races… They might be strong with their swords but their true strength is still weak and there are heights they will never reach. Brain hints he wants to die so Gazef tells him to sit down and eat first. Somewhere, a group of assailants destroy a field that grows the Black Dust drug. This is one of many fields owned by Eight Fingers. Of course Eight Fingers are in a meeting discussing about the destruction of their production facility and the measures to take. Not sure what’s going on. Slave trade, funding, a certain woman who was scheduled to be disposed and the need to use an excessive amount of force.

Episode 7
Ains having money woes? Oh right. Last season he used it all up. Now he’s got to pay enough for the iron ores he got from different sources as part of his experiment. Gazef practises sword fighting with Climb and dispenses some good pointers for the greenhorn. His vice reminds him that if word of this gets out, the nobles will have a field day calling him out. The nobles hate Climb for being a commoner although Renner personally picked him. They spot Prince Zanac Valleon Igana Ryle Vaiself and Marquis Elias Brandt Dale Raeven. They wonder if they are switching to the royal faction nit Gazef knows Raeven is an opportunist. Climb goes to join Renner in a discussion with Lakyus Alvein Dale Aindra and Tina of Blue Rose. They are the ones who burnt down the drug field. Tina found a note left behind. Renner cracks it in no time to reveal names of places and most of them within the capital. She believes this is a trap because why leave some sort of important note at the site? She adds that the places could be bases of the Eight Fingers’ organizations (like drugs, slave, smuggling, etc) and their goal is to draw attention away from themselves by using their own partners as their bait. Although the slave trade is abolished, there is still an underground brothel owned by them. Lakyus suggests raiding the place to swiftly bring them down. She hopes to borrow Climb to tell Gagaran that they are moving out. Meanwhile we take a little detour to see a weird ‘romance’ going on between Sebas and Tuare. More like she is very grateful for his kind treatment. They are visited by Staffan Havish and Succulent. They claim Sebas has committed a crime by taking away an employee of the establishment. This amounts to slave trafficking. They are willing to give clemency if he pays up. Yeah, it’s going to cost a lot. Sebas notes that girl would have died had he not taken her in for recuperation. In that case, they suggest he loan Solution until she gets better. They will return for his answer so Sebas goes out to take a walk to think about it. Solution finally contacts Ains and tells him that Sebas is going to betray them. Shocked at first, he wants proof. She has.

Episode 8
Climb meets Gagaran and Evileye. He wants to learn from them but Evileye deems him as no talent. They then talk about the demonic sword, Kilineiram wielded by Lakyus which has the power to swallow up the entire nation. It might be eating her life away. They also talk about an adamantite class adventurer, Momon (Ains) and all his unbelievable exploits. Sebas sees a group of men beating up a poor kid. He swiftly beats up one of them and the rest of the cowards are left running. Climb is impressed and wants to learn from him. After asking him a few questions and looking at his backup sword, he deems he is talentless although he is a trustworthy person. Since Climb insists, he will give his training now. Climb prepares himself but finds himself overwhelmed by his killing intent. Climb is prepared to die but thinking about Renner, he avoids his death punch by the skin of his teeth. Sebas congratulates him for overcoming fear. The talk is interrupted by Brain who has been watching them. He is curious to know how Climb could avoid that because for him he was scared sh*t in his pants! More talk of respect and inner strength but is cut short when assassins show up. Looks like they could need some training. While Sebas could handle 3 guys himself and with no effort, the rest handle 1 each. Heck, Sebas has time to even coach Climb on how to fight better. After defeating him, Sebas does some mind interrogation to find out more about the Eight Fingers. Knowing Succulent’s whereabouts, Climb and Brain want to help him to protect this town. Sebas agrees to let them assist.

Episode 9
The trio raid the nearby brothel. Sebas catches Staffan beating up a prostitute in this sick torture sex. Fatty tries to bribe and beg for his life but Sebas blows his guts out. After Brain enters to investigate a room, Climb keeps watch outside. Out comes Succulent and Cocco Doll. The latter wants him taken alive as he will be a crucial card against Renner. However, Climb starts calling for help! This has Succulent change his mind seeing he has comrades around and will have reinforcement. He will kill him. After taking a few slashes, Climb realizes his illusion and magic play. His attacking arm is fake and his real one is invisible. He can even clone himself. Just when Climb thought he dealt a lethal strike, Succulent stabs him from the back. He should have died but Climb gets back up. The power of boners is what I want to say because of his loyalty to Renner. So much so, Succulent is this shocked to a point he is panicking and losing his sh*t? Now Brain returns. Sure took a long time, pal. The duo are scared of him because of his past reputations. Succulent tries to coax him to join Eight Fingers but Brain isn’t motivated by that anymore. Succulent is going to finish him with his clones but Brain cuts them all even the real invisible one with a strike. His field of vision can detect everything including all those invisible. However he couldn’t detect Sebas knocking out Cocco Doll. With the brothel raided, the trio part ways. Sebas returns home with Solution telling him Ains is waiting for him. Climb returns to worried Renner and tells what happened. She informs they were supposed to raid Eight Fingers’ facilities in a few days but with this, it only serves to enhance their security. But she is proud of him and wants him to continue his effort to destroy Eight Fingers. Brain tells Gazef of Climb’s heroics. But Gazef is more interested in Shalltear. If her target is the king, he will lay down his life for it. Renner calls the maid who always bullies Climb. She puts on her usual cutesy princess face but deep inside she is a monster who can’t wait to kill this b*tch! With Succulent arrested, Zero the boss of Six Arms (the security department for Eight Fingers) are going to go after those who took down the brothel to make an example of them. Their reputation is at stake.

Episode 10
Sebas’ interrogation from Ains begins. Is he sweating? Sebas explains himself and although Ains forgives him, he must make amends. He will kill her. Sebas tries to object but is reminded of his place. His whatever answer is not needed and shall demonstrate his loyalty via his actions. Tuare accepts her death as Sebas prepares to punch her, only to be stopped by Cocytus. As instructed by Ains, Cocytus gauged Sebas’ punch and the blow was enough to kill her. This proves he was loyal to him. Ains announces they have enough information they need and to evacuate this place. Sebas takes Tuare back to her room. Sebas suggests they have their memories erased so she could live normally but she insists her happiness is with him. If she is to be killed, let it be him. She kisses him. When he returns, they discuss what to do with Tuare. As Ains would like to avoid killing, Demiurge and Sebas start arguing in which department she should work. Ains finds their bickering amusing so he summons Tuare again and asks if she would like to live at Nazarick. Since she wants to work with Sebas, he announces Tuare under his protection. At the same time he removes Sebas as Pleiades’ leader, installs Aureole Omega as the leader with Yuri as her deputy. Demiurge wants some feed for his monster so Ains instructs Sebas to get it. Demiurge asks about him knowing Tuare. He mentions about a diary of a girl that allows him to know about this world and in a way is indebted to her.

With Climb dealing a blow to Eight Fingers’ operations, Renner calls Raevan and Zanac for advice. She wants him to mobilize his soldiers to strike simultaneously at their facilities. She shocks them by knowing all the secret underhanded moves they make within the royal and noble factions. Not a dumb girl after all. Raevan would like to deal with the real Renner so she puts on her crazy yandere face! She mentions about her obsession with Climb that she wants to lock him away and make him stay forever. Zanac suggests marrying them once he ascends the throne. But Renner asks about Raevan’s son who is only 5 now. She wants him betrothed to her and instantly he rejects having his son marrying an insane woman. It seems on the outlook she will marry his son but bear Climb’s children. His son would bear children with any women he loves in which she could claim them as her successors. As for the operation to strike the different facilities, the problem is that all of them are in areas of different nobles. Zanac remembers their older brother, Barbro is taking bribes from Eight Fingers so they could use this evidence to depose him. Raevan adds they might now have enough manpower but they still have Six Arms to deal with. Don’t worry. Renner has called help in the form of Gazef. When Sebas returns, he realizes Tuare is missing. A note stating she is kidnapped with the exact location as well. As Solution suggests, seek Ains’ help. Ains interrupts Albedo’s perverted private time playing with his dolls to go form a team to rescue Tuare. Albedo is not amused he took in a lowly human but he snaps back that he promised to protect her under his name. Even if they did not know, this cannot be allowed to stand. Although Albedo will do as told, she is still dissatisfied.

Episode 11
Demiurge explains his plan to his selected task force. At the same time, Lakyus briefs her divisions in taking down the facilities. Brain and Climb’s group must be the ‘luckiest’. They stumble upon a facility where the remaining Six Arms are and their scout reports they are holding a woman hostage. The best solution is to escape but since Climb spots Sebas, they agree to work together. Sebas will go through the front and draw their attention while the rest sneak in to rescue Tuare. Sebas meets with only 4 of the Six Arms and notes Zero is missing. As usual, baddies talk big and before they could get on with the action, Sebas decapitates and punches off their heads!!! OMFG!!! So fast???!!! I don’t know whether to be disappointed or awed. Solution reports that Zero is not around. Meanwhile after Mare forcefully takes away a woman who is the master of the mansion, Entoma finishes things up. However Gagaran attacks her thinking she is one of the beasts of Six Arms. Of course she is no match for bug master and would have been done for had not Tia come to her aid. Even she is not enough to scratch her. Until Evileye comes to their rescue, they have a fighting chance. Evileye is more powerful than Entoma. Why? Because she has a magic which in layman terms is insecticide!!! Not kidding! If you want to see what is behind that face of hers, be prepared to see Entoma’s true bug form. With their combined attacks, Entoma finally falls. But they won’t get to finish her off since Demiurge is here to continue on her behalf. Evileye knows he is bad news and wants her comrades to run while she buys enough time to stall him. But Demiurge cuts off all escape routes and Evileye is forced to face him head on in a losing magic battle. So who is going to interrupt their fight now? It’s Ains (as Momon the adventurer).

Episode 12
Evileye immediately seeks Ains’ help although she didn’t think he would accept so quickly. Ains interrogates Demiurge of his intention before they begin their fight. So epic that Evileye is moved. Hey. Isn’t she falling for Ains?! After Climb and Brain secure Tuare, they are confronted with Zero. Brain will take on him and wants Climb to take care of the enemy behind. He knows this Tuare is fake due to the movements made and is Succulent in disguise. With the help of Brain’s friend, Climb defeats him by kicking his balls! Ouch! Zero gets serious with Brain but before that can happen, here comes Sebas. Don’t worry. The real Tuare is with him. Zero cannot believe he is unscathed after facing the other Six Arms. Yeah, he should have seen it. Zero might call all his animal power to punch him but nothing happens. You believe now? Just one high kick on his head is enough for Sebas to knock Zero out. Ains’ battle with Demiurge ends as the latter is here to get some item and warns he will burn half the capital down. He flees but Ains doesn’t pursue him as Evileye suggests seeing he might fight seriously. Ains and Narberal talk to Evileye and almost lose their cool when they hear her taking down Entoma. However they cool down after hearing Demiurge’s appearance prevented her death. Ains offers to carry Evileye’s dead comrades but she declines. She mentions Lakyus has this resurrection power but uses a lot of life force that lower ones will be reduced to ash. Ains would like to talk to Lakyus and this has Evileye on alert. A fire wall engulfs half of the capital. Lakyus has tested it to be just an illusion however behind it are demons from Demiurge. Renner formulates her plan to deal with this menace. Everyone is sceptical about their victory chances as Evileye explains Demiurge’s might that she herself cannot defeat and took the life of Gagaran and Tia in just a blow. But don’t worry. We have Ains on our side! Yeah, victory almost assured. In the aftermath, we see Zanac and Raevan going through Renner’s plan. It is a risky one that may cost Climb’s life. If this happens (which she is hoping for), she will have Lakyus cast her resurrection spell on him. Because he will be weak like a zombie, who else will be there to take responsibility and care? Especially one who ordered him to his death. Sneaky… And there’s that evil face she’s making! Creepy…

Episode 13
You know, they should just send Ains as a one-man army to kill all the demons but apparently he has to go fight the big bad boss and thus Lakyus and the soldiers will handle them. They get more boost when Gazef joins them and for some reason, Gagaran and Tia are resurrected to fight alongside. So while Ains goes off to fight Demiurge, he leaves Narberal and Evileye to fight the Pleiades maids. Meanwhile Brain senses Shalltear as he faces his fears to confront her (although she is wearing a mask). She doesn’t remember an insignificant human like him so he prepares to fight her. He only manages to scratch off a puny fingernail but this makes him happy! It’s like he achieved the most minimal of achievement and is so glad his sword life wasn’t a waste. Wow. Did he set his standards low? He might be a madman but that beats being a coward. In a secure spot, Ains talks to Demiurge about his plan. It seems he has 4 merits for this (none of which Ains knows). First, they are claiming materials in the storehouses so they don’t have to worry about funding for a while. Second, this covers up their part to strike Eight Fingers as per his instruction. Part of this has him needing to look for some item. It’s some statue that summons a great number of demons. Ains gives him a replica made by his friend and should work equally well. This charity delights Demiurge as he further pledges his loyalty. Third, humans behind the wall of fire have been transported to Nazarick in which he has plans to put them to good use. Fourth, he will pin all this evilness on his evil alter ego to enhance Ains’ reputation.

Narberal isn’t fighting with the other maids and is hiding and watching with them as Evileye takes on Yuri and CZ2128. So when it is cue for Ains to come back and defeat Demiurge, get back to your roles. More epic showdown to show how much the duo are powerhouse as Demiurge becomes a bundle of flames but Ains defrosts it all with Frost Pain (I guess we mustn’t forget where this came from). Demiurge calls this a draw and withdraws. Look at Evileye so happy that Ains won. He announces victory to rally the humans. Ains part ways with Blue Rose and returns to E-Rantel. Since Blue Rose has a few adamantite class warriors, he hopes to seek their help next time. Evileye unmasks herself for the first time. Doesn’t she look like Shalltear? Aura and Mare seem to have subjugated Eight Fingers under their command. Blue Rose drink together as they tease Evileye being rejected by Ains. They bring up the topic that she has teleportation ability and could have teleported herself to E-Rantel. Evileye regrets not having thought so. Tuare is officially a maid of Nazarick. Lastly, an evil young king and his old mage advisor are interested in getting more information about Ains and Momon.

Poser Lord
If the ‘ending’ feels somewhat unsatisfying and thus before jumping to conclusions that this season is disappointing, please note that there is a third season coming soon! Damn they should have just continued this and making it 2 cours instead of taking a season’s break. Maybe by the grace of our great overlord that he is giving us time to catch our breath while we wait for the next instalment? All hail Ains Ooal Gown then! It is with mixed feelings that I have after watching this sequel. Although it is still great, but it is not as great as the first season. Hence, could I consider this a disappointment since I had put my hopes and expectations so high up for the sequel? Perhaps in a way. Firstly, there were too many new characters spammed and introduced in the first episode itself. Heck, I think some of them are not heard from after that. Because it feels like they just want to plant the seeds for future plots and stories and hence such characters are introduced via their cameo. They have no screen time and role in this season whatsoever. Therefore it feels wasted for them to just appear and then conveniently forgotten as the season presses on. Those characters feel unnecessary now and more questions are raised than answered. But like I said, it is for future plots as I believe this series is rich in its characters as well as its story so this could be just a long-sighted plan of the overall story.

The other thing is the plot and mini arc of this season. When it first starts off with the subjugation of the lizardmen, it feels like I was watching a whole different series. I mean, I thought I was watching the wrong anime. At one point I thought it was worthy of having its own spin-off. Then those lizard guys are quickly forgotten and we move on to the next arc that is a tri-part of Sebastian-gets-a-maid + Brain-redeems-himself + Climb-making-a-name-for-himself. I suppose those becomes the main characters in focus because I felt that Ains was lacking in both these mini arcs. Except the action parts, I noticed that scenes that do not involve Ains are quite boring. Perhaps this is the reason why I figured this season wasn’t as good. It goes to show that Ains is the greatest factor that makes this series interesting!

Speaking of the characters, I guess one of the problems about having a short series with too many characters is that some of them lack the necessary screen time. Adding more new ones adds to this problem. So for the old ones especially the guardians of Nazarick like Albedo and Shalltear, they do make their little appearances but they have no roles of significance whatsoever in this season. So we have more of Cocytus and to an extent Demiurge in place of them. I don’t even know why Shalltear had to appear in the final episode. She doesn’t seem integral to the plan except to help redeem Brain’s pride. That is all. It is good that Victim is introduced but this little brain blob doesn’t do much too. Just to show us that here is another guardian, hope you’re satisfied. I believe Gargantua also appeared once (throwing that ice block for Ains’ grand audience with the lizardmen) but that is about it. Yeah, I almost forgot about that hamster pet… Doesn’t even matter this season. Last season, the Pleiades maids didn’t make much of an impact and it feels the same here too (last episode small action scenes don’t really make up for it). Narberal was missing for most of this season and we have got more on Solution (although she was more of assisting than doing anything else) as well as throwing in bug maid Entoma in the last arc of the season. It was really weird to see Sebas getting into a weird romance with a human maid and I thought he would be going for the betrayal kill. Maybe it is too early to call. Just like my suspicions on Demiurge and that comical penguin.

Unless Ains has his own inner thoughts monologue, it seems to be like a forgotten thing that everything that has happened so far is because of a game bug. It feels less and less like he is stuck in a game and that this virtual game was actually a real thing all along. It feels like as though that when there are parts like these, it is just a subtle hint to remind us that this could be a game. Or not. Ains is still a great overlord and all but I feel that he makes lesser of an appearance this sequel. Namely because as I have pointed out, too many characters. Not even the main character gets spared from reduced screen time. Also, he feels like a different person altogether whenever he dons his armour and plays that Momon adventure persona instead of his evil skeleton in an oversized robe that we are more accustomed with. In that sense, that is why it feels Ains doesn’t appear much. But for a great overlord like him, not having much screen time does not translate into not having great influence as you can see he still makes his marks around the land. His name is now ringing throughout the land far and wide. With that comes more allies and more enemies.

Outside the Nazarick tomb, we have Renner who is more than meets the eye because she might look like a fairly decent princess but is twisted and rotten to the core when it comes to Climb. She could be the true antagonist and main boss at the end. Brain restores the pride of his character by helping Climb out a lot. Climb feels so much like a greenhorn that he could have been killed in all situations had he not had some sort of assistance. Yeah, thank goodness for Sebas, Climb and to a certain degree, Gazef. One of the most disappointing characters are those in the Eight Fingers organization. Last season we have Slane Theocracy as the antagonists. After getting their asses kicked by awesome Ains, I guess they need to have time to recover. In place of this season’s baddies, we have the late introduction of Eight Fingers and their Six Finger security. For the latter, they are a bunch of disappointment seeing they all went out so fast and easily to Sebas. I know it is to show the superb might of that old guy and I don’t expect all the combined fights to last an episode. But having their brains splattered in just a second after being introduced over how fearsome they are, it’s like there will be no more antagonists to fear about in this series as long as Ains is around. Yeah, that guy is also a lady killer and might be accumulating his harem outside his Nazarick tomb. Crusch and Evileye anyone? More rivalries for Albedo and Shalltear is the last thing they need. And with Eight Fingers now under their thumb (bad pun intended), this must be one of the fastest introduction and fall of a group of main antagonists. Considering who they were up against with, I suppose it reflects just how awesome the Nazarick team is. So okay, your quick demise is acceptable.

The action parts are still entertaining like the lizardmen’s futile fight against Cocytus. It was exciting as well as it was tragic. Sebas’ single punch to kill the enemy now reminds me of One Punch Man. Yeah, he shall now be nicknamed as One Punch Old Man. Haha. Sometimes I am in a dilemma as to call this awesome trump card move as cheap because it is no doubt he isn’t what he seems to be, I thought that Ains is the only one who should wield such absolute power. I mean, his subordinates too should have some sort of awesome power that makes them stand above the rest but this single punch of his is too much. It is like he could rival Ains if ever the plot calls for him to betray. And lastly, all those magic spells, sounds like a load of bull but still fun to watch because of the special effects. Not a masterpiece but still enjoyable.

Art and drawing remains consistent as the first season. With new characters come with some pretty decent designs and some are pretty outrageous. For the latter one, let me just say that I don’t know if Victim was designed lazily or they wanted to make it look like some sort of horror thingy and send shiver down your spines. However this flying brain blob also has this kawaii looks and in a way it makes it creepy in its own way. Remember last season we had that crazy killer b*tch, Clementine? Yeah, her hairstyle reminded me of He-man. Heck, I thought Ains was supposed to be a rip-off of Skeletor. This season Clementine didn’t come back from the dead but looks like we are forced to remember more of He-man in the form of Gagaran. Yup, I thought she was a man but is one of those muscle bound ladies. It felt like He-man turned into a tranny… Is it me but doesn’t Zanac look like an evil version of 3-gatsu No Lion’s Harunobu? Must be just me because chubby characters look the same. And finally a decent maid outfit, Tuare! Sebas was right to keep her!

As last season’s casts are retained, a heap more join the line-up. The recognizable ones include Yukari Tamura as Zesshi, Nao Touyama as Victim, Ami Koshimizu as Lakyus, Nobuyuki Hiyama as Éclair and Yuko Goto making a surprise as Bukubukuchagama. Other new casts are Hirouki Touchi as Zaryusu (Pantherlily in Fairy Tail), Naomi Kusumi as Shasuryu (Tadakatsu Honda in Kyoukai Senjou No Horizon), Kouji Ishii as Zenberu (Garterbelt in Panty And Stocking With Garterbelt), Sora Amamiya as Crusch (titular character in Akame Ga Kill), Ryota Ohsaka as Climb (Marco in Shingeki No Kyojin), Kiyono Yasuno as Renner (Megumi in Saenai Heroine No Sodatekata), Yu Shimamura as Tuare (Annie in Shingeki No Kyojin), Yumiri Hanamori as Evileye (Zero in Zero Kara Hajimeru Mahou No Sho), Kimiko Saitou as Gagaran (Chieko in Kuragehime), Shizuka Ishigami as Tia (Mito in Shokugeki No Souma), Rintarou Nishi as Zero (Jason in Tokyo Ghoul), Atsushi Imaruoka as Succulent (Rudolf in Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure), Kouji Fujiyoshi as Zanac and Takuya Kirimoto as Raevan (Cracker in One Piece).

OxT who sang last season’s opener does the honours again this season. However, Go Cry Go isn’t as epic as Clattanoia although it tries to sound as close as it can for that hard rock crazy epic that suits the series as well to go with Ains’ greatness. This song isn’t bad in its own right but I can’t help compare it to the latter always and each time I do so, I end up preferring to hum to Clattanoia’s tune instead. MYTH&ROID is also retained to do the ending theme as they did for the first season. However Hydra is a far cry from L.L.L. It ditches that devilishly cheeky hard rock beat for some slow dramatic rock. Not to say it is much worse but personally it didn’t attract me that much. Because I keep thinking this song reflects Albedo’s one-sided feelings for Ains.

Overall, this season is still exciting enough and though like I said it did not live up to the expectations as in the first season, it did not dip in its quality or worth drastically. Just a little bit of dent and setback that doesn’t affect the overall greatness of the series. Too many characters, some getting the decent spotlight while others take a backseat for now and the action is nonetheless a great watch. It is still an epic and interesting series and I’m glad there will be another season to carry on this legacy. Yeah, otherwise my disappointment level would be higher. Like as though they read my mind and would appease my raging soul with the simple fact of announcing another season. I guess that is why simpletons like me ought to be under the rule of Ains and forever be in awe of his supreme legacy even though we hear his inner thoughts it might be just fluke sometimes. All hail the great Ains Ooal Gown! Perhaps third time’s the charm?

Net-juu No Susume

February 24, 2018

The internet these days have sure come a long way. It is both a blessing and curse since we are allowed to do so many wonderful and yet heinous things. With net neutrality and anonymity, it gives rise to even more social issues like online net addiction. Unfortunately Net-juu No Susume doesn’t actually examine that problem. It is just that the protagonist of this series recently got unemployed and decided to spend the rest of her idle time playing online game where she meets a nice character not knowing that character is closer and someone she knows in real life.

Episode 1
Moriko Morioka looks like she just quit her corporate job. Now that she is so free, what is she to do? Why, return to her online games! Too bad the one on her desktop has its service terminated as she hasn’t been touching it for half a year. So she goes online to search the next game. Well, first on the list, try it out. After downloading, installing and creating her male avatar character (whom she somewhat named Hayashi), she goes fight some monsters but gets owned. Every time. Till she meets this cute and kind healer, Lily who offers to help her out. A friendship blossoms between the duo as Hayashi levels up under her guidance and manages to defeat that monster whom he could not have defeated before. Hayashi joins the guild that Lily is in, @Home Party. He fits in very nicely. But one day, Lily talks her troubles to fellow guild member, Himeralda who in turn tells Kanbe the guild’s master about Hayashi avoiding Lily lately and it is making her depressed. So Kanbe talks to him to remind him their guild’s policy that prohibits romance. Just be like normal friends like he has always been with her. After all, Lily just like many plays online games to escape reality of work. Hayashi feels the need to thank Lily by giving her a token that no in-game currency can be and is a rare drop item, hence he was trying to get it by himself. Hayashi manages to talk to Lily to ask if she is free on Christmas Eve. Meanwhile in reality, Morioka’s fridge is empty. Time to hit the convenience store. All those lovely couples on Christmas Eve must be pissing her off. Can she be mad on a hungry stomach? Well, it wouldn’t be so embarrassing had it not growl the entire way while queuing. More embarrassing when she ordered the same food at the exact same moment as the guy in the next line, Yuuta Sakurai. After she makes her purchase, she dashes home. Back to her game, Hayashi meets up with Lily and they exchange gifts. Hayashi wanted to give her a Crystal Rose but a mini rose brooch is all he can muster up for now. But it made Lily very happy and appreciative.

Episode 2
Hayashi adventures with Lilac. She is suspicious that Hayashi is always online and especially at this time of the day. Could it be Hayashi is the same age as her, 21 years old and looking for a job? Morioka is actually in her thirties and can’t reveal it so she lies by agreeing to her. Later he gets depressed to learn that the guild members were actually betting among themselves to guess Hayashi’s age! Talking to Lily about this, accidentally Hayashi asks her age and fears the point of no return. Probably spamming the crying emoticon somewhat ‘saves’ Hayashi (and Morioka) in this case after Lily ‘warns’ her about certain things in life are better off not knowing. Though, Lily admits that she is curious to know more about Hayashi and they can talk and divulge more about each other once they are closer. She also lets him know how @Home Party almost got dissolved as the previous guild master got a new job assignment overseas. But Kanbe forced the transfer of the leadership to him. Because it would be a waste for a guild with max stats to be disbanded. The talk has Morioka realize it is 5 in the morning. She might not be working but what about Lily? Fearing she couldn’t get up, Hayashi would accompany her to stay online till it is time to go to work. Because of that, Morioka now gets a bit of a flu. Time to head to the pharmacy. Unfortunately along the way, Sakurai is rushing to work and bumps into her. More accurately, elbows her face! She has this strange dream of, uhm, robotic corporate suicide?! She wakes up in the hospital. On IV drops. Sakurai feels guilty of what happened. He takes care of her medical bills and leaves his contact in case she needs to contact him whatsoever. Back in her game, since she is worried about not replying Sakurai, her guild members give some encouragement for her to do so. But Morioka will soon regret it because she didn’t expect Sakurai to quickly reply. He is asking to meet and go out to eat sometimes, something she doesn’t want. While she views Sakurai as a handsome hunk, she views herself as an ugly b*tch. Too bad, no filters in real life. Then she just stops thinking and returns to her game. I guess the pressure got to her. Hayashi talks to Lily since she is also having a rough day. They find they have something in common and it’s like their very own secret. This gives Morioka the motivation to properly reply Sakurai. When she did, she realizes it is 2 in the morning. Well luckily he is already asleep.

Episode 3
Sakurai gets a shock when he reads the message when he wakes up. Is this considered a wakeup call? Sakurai talks to his friend, Homare Koiwai to ask more about Morioka because it seems she worked at a company he was at previously. He did liaise with her before in place of her superior whom he was supposed to be contacting. He considers her good at her job though it sounded like she was trying too hard and she cried?! He has a picture of her and she looks quite decent in a business attire. Sakurai later ponders about Morioka’s reply in which she rejected his invitation. Morioka is feeling pretty good about her reply to Sakurai. So much so her appearance in public tells a lot. No more that zombie look. This really boosts her confidence to play her online game. When Hayashi receives a gift from Lily, he talks to fellow guild member, Pokotarou. This vest seems expensive and it makes him feel the need to give something in return big time. Pokotarou also relates something similar that happened to him. Long ago, another guild member, Nico gave to him an amazing weapon and fretted about it. Since she told him it was prior investment, he ended up accepting it. It all boils down to Nico just wanting to cheer for him and he believes it is the same for Lily. But the mere mention of Lily’s ulterior motives makes Morioka worried. Now she can’t stop thinking about it. So Hayashi talks to Lily and again accidentally he asks her straight. Lily tells a bit of herself. When she first started playing, she used to get requests from all sorts of people and slowly this turned her into a famous healer whom everybody wants in their party. One day she was suspected of having a relationship with the guild’s leader and it broke her heart. It would have been easy to quit it all but she wanted to continue playing. Also, she met someone precious to her in a game she used to play. Morioka could also relate something really similar too. But still, being popular has made her cautious with others. Till she met Hayashi. It made her enjoy the game even more. Then she asks him if he would like to be her partner as she enjoys going on quests with him. Do you think he would decline? Of course not. This also excites Morioka as she’s acting like a teenager in love. The other spying guild members are happy with this development. Lastly as seen, we should have guessed by now that it is no surprise that Lily is Sakurai.

Episode 4
Morioka isn’t really into loot boxes but since things are looking up (in the game at least), she thought of splurging a little. So as she heads to her usual convenience store to make her purchase, the cashier, Kazuomi Fujimoto tells her it is currently down for maintenance but she can wait a little while more before it goes back up. As she does, Fujimoto shockingly strikes up a conversation with her. It seems he too plays the same online game and apparently they are the only ones who buy the electronic money in this store. Their vibe is getting good till a rude customer cuts her off so Morioka quietly takes her goods and leave. In the game, Lilac shows off her super cute and expensive prizes. It must really cost a lot. Because Hayashi also notes he wants top prizes like that, the rest throw caution to him about once that happens, the greed sensor sets in. It’s time to buy those loot boxes and sadly, Hayashi only got ordinary potions. A few more tries, he finally lands a few top prizes. It might be the world for Hayashi to get those but people like Lily who spend money until she gets what she wants won’t understand that feeling. In fact, she’s got her entire full collection of her top gear. Lilac gets disappointed when Kanbe didn’t like how her new outfit makes her barely unrecognizable. So she throws a fit and returns to wearing her old gear whenever they go on quests. Kanbe’s logic is that he is used to that old outfit and is what makes Lilac who she is. Koiwai can tell Sakurai has fallen for Morioka since he is acting particularly like a stalker. I mean, going to the convenience store at different times in hopes of trying to catch her? One night when Koiwai is at the convenience store, he so happens to bump into Morioka. Not that he recognizes her at first. But her boobs somehow made the connection. Morioka is freaked out when he tries to talk to her. After learning she quit her job and is currently unemployed, he wants to treat her. Morioka is disheartened there is no way for her to worm her way out of this one since all ‘exits’ have been blocked. Next day, Koiwai brags to Sakurai about Morioka’s contacts in his handphone. At first he thought he stole it from his but that turn into shock when Koiwai tells him he is going on a ‘date’ with Morioka. When Hayashi rants about all the recent real life events to Lily, Sakurai fears he has a hunch the player behind Hayashi.

Episode 5
Despite the hints pointing Hayashi is Morioka, Sakurai in the end believes it is just coincidence. Koiwai continues to tease Sakurai of his ‘date’ with Morioka and since she accepted him but rejected Sakurai, you know what this means, right? But with Sakurai visibly depressed, he brushes it off as a joke and says he is the reason why he set up all this to begin with. Meanwhile Morioka shops at the convenience store for some makeup. Looks like she has got a lot of levelling up to do. At the counter, Fujimoto continues their talk since the last time they were interrupted. When he finds out they play on the same server, Morioka is shocked to realize Fujimoto’s avatar. Lilac talks to depressed Hayashi about people often using a different gender online than their real life. Kanbe joins in the conversation and from the way his condescending tone towards Hayashi, it’s safe to say that Kanbe is Fujimoto. They talk about this issue and promise to keep this a secret among themselves. Kanbe also warns not to ask too much real life advice from Lily. Later when Hayashi asks Lily for advice on how to dress when one goes to drink, Kanbe also joins in on this. Ironically despite his earlier warning, Kanbe asks Lily directly for that advice. It seems that Kanbe and Lily know each other’s real identity too. Because of that, the duo enter into an argument of how a girl should look best. Long hair or short hair? Now Morioka as at the salon thinking if she should cut her hair. She should probably take some online lessons for applying makeup too. Sakurai discovers that the outing Koiwai is supposed to have with Morioka today isn’t actually today as he is scheduled for a business trip. So when Sakurai logs online and notices Hayashi not online, he still thinks it is coincidence. Meanwhile Morioka is all dressed up and waiting at the appointed location. As Koiwai didn’t turn up, she wonders if he had stood her up. On the other hand, Lily is too distressed thinking about the coincidence so she quickly logs off just when the party is about to start their crucial mission. Sakurai goes to look for Morioka and finds a stunning her in semi-long hair waiting. But she is just leaving alone when he calls out to her.

Episode 6
Morioka at this point gets a call from Koiwai. She is shocked to learn he is on a business trip and their meet-up was supposed to be tomorrow. Who on earth did she mess this up? Koiwai knows Sakurai is around and requests to speak to him. It’s just to tease him how cute Morioka looks. With Morioka embarrassed and being pessimistic about herself, Sakurai tells her to have more confidence in herself because he does find her cute. With nothing else for the night, so as not to waste it, the duo go out drinking. She wonders how he knew she would turn up today. Although he knows it was from a hint during the online game, he says he heard Koiwai telling him about it and coincidentally saw her when he got off work and decided to talk to her if she got it mixed up. She gets a bit tipsy from the drinking so he helps walk her home. She notes that if only her workplace had more employees like them, she would have enjoyed her job more. Next night, Morioka goes out with Koiwai. He is as lively and a teaser as ever. They talk about their age, the online game she is playing as well as Sakurai. She mentions about her new hairstyle was because of an argument between her online teammates so she went for something in between. Koiwai becomes the usual teaser again because he snaps a picture of Morioka sleeping (after having a little too much of a drink) and sending it to Sakurai. Because of that, he had to instantly log off his game and ran all the way to Koiwai’s house (he said he might bring her back to his place). I wonder if for that moment Sakurai became Japan’s fastest sprinter… Of course she isn’t here and has gone back home. Koiwai takes this chance to chide Sakurai because he lied about knowing how Morioka messed up the meeting date. Sakurai couldn’t answer but Koiwai lets bygones be bygones. Morioka feels great to be back home especially that feeling she used up her entire life’s luck on going out with men. It couldn’t be better for her to log back on to her game. Hayashi meets up with Lily and tells of the great outing she had. Lily couldn’t be happier since Sakurai now knows Hayashi is definitely Morioka.

Episode 7
Sakurai looks back at the coincidences of meeting Morioka as well as the fun times playing with Hayashi. The more he plays, the more he can’t help feel conscious that Morioka is Hayashi. Had he not find that out, he could have continued playing the game as they always have. The next time Lily logs in, she allows her party members to see the items in her inventory she has accumulated. Many of which are dresses. Later Hayashi talks to Lily about the coincidences in real life but Lily knows she has to realize this great coincidence before him. This makes Sakurai happy even though he feels bad Morioka doesn’t know about it. During the weekend, Koiwai calls Morioka to ask for guidance to download and setup this online game! Morioka creates another avatar, a female named Molly. She goes to meet the character that Koiwai is playing as: A large female with muscles named Harumi! Being a noob in the online gaming world, Harumi almost gave away Molly’s real identity since he is on public chat and Kanbe and Nico are watching them. Harumi becomes friends with them as Molly notes how friendly Kanbe has become. When she first met him, he was like a very cold and unfriendly person, treating newbies like strangers. They agree to go on a small adventure together. Koiwai then messages Sakurai that he has download and is playing an online game with Morioka. Sakurai gets worried as Koiwai sends him a picture of Molly. Sakurai finds it familiar like as though he has seen her somewhere before. He thinks back of the previous game he played whom he had a very close friend who looked like this. She wanted to quit her job since the company keeps getting new employees and she found it hard to put it in words to tell the HR manager. Harumi then announces his friend will also be joining them. Immediately Morioka wonders if that will be Sakurai.

Episode 8
Sakurai narrates the previous online game he played. Playing as a character named Harth, he met this girl Yuki. They quickly become friends and enjoy the limited time they have adventuring since Yuki was often busy with her job and can only play on weekends. She told him about her job and her intention to quit. She often sounded positive. But the last time he saw her (in the game) was after she quit her job. Now Sakurai creates a new character also under the name of Harth. Meeting up with the rest, it seems he gets disappointed when Molly didn’t show the reaction he wanted. Did he really think Molly was Yuki? Actually, Molly’s reaction was because she doesn’t know how to pronounce his name. So after finding out, we see that shock reaction on Morioka’s face. We see the story from her side and indeed Morioka is Yuki. This brings back old memories of that game. Later when she calls him, she confirms as he admits he is Harth from that old game. They talk about the good memories they shared then. Morioka starts to feel bad for deceiving him because she was so different in the game than in real life. This prompts Sakurai to say he is the one being dishonest. He reveals he is Lily. No reply. Is the shock too much for her to handle? Turns out his handphone battery is dead. It always ends up like this… Later she texts him to meet up and from the way she said things, she definitely didn’t hear that confession. Morioka talks about the 2 kind people to her: Sakurai and Lily. She thinks Sakurai reminds her a lot about the latter because when she talks to him, Lily comes to mind. She hopes the next time they log in, she can introduce him to her. He declines and she thinks it is because he is busy and this is way too sudden. She didn’t see this coming as he admits he is Lily.

Episode 9
Morioka’s first reaction to that is of course disbelief before exploding into confusion. Then she asks how long he has known her as Hayashi. He wasn’t sure at first but the more he talked to her online, the more certain he was. Sakurai says he will quit playing the game from now on as it will only further damage their relationship. Quickly Morioka apologizes too. He has helped her a lot and it was also her fault for hiding her gender online. Thankfully they didn’t take all night to apologize to each other… After he sends her home, she hopes they can still be good online friends. However this causes Morioka to not be able to focus in her game. Her party almost lost and it is obvious that Hayashi has been dragging the party down. Kanbe hints he can talk to him about anything and even if Hayashi declines, he can probably tell the problem has something to do with Lily. Sakurai too is depressed. Koiwai teases him like hell until Sakurai mentions he got rejected. Hence Koiwai has Sakurai meet up with him at the park at the certain time. To his shock he sees Morioka there! You know Koiwai has set them up together and the amateurs took the bait. It gets awkward as they just sit there. Like déjà vu and even more awkward because the ice breaker again is Morioka’s growling stomach. So they head to the convenience store to buy some food. Morioka is glad Fujimoto isn’t here yet. However the old lady store manager, Yashiro recognizes them as frequent patrons. When she wonders if they are dating, they quickly bolt out in embarrassment. Fujimoto shortly comes in for his shift as Yashiro tries to cheekily hint that Sakurai is with Morioka. It confuses him since in that case it couldn’t be Hayashi behaving strangely because of Lily. But we all know it is… Morioka feels ‘ugly’. She regrets she should have dressed up more. Oh dear. Now the tears are coming. Cue cliché for it to rain. Without thinking, Sakurai brings her to his apartment so she could take a shower. Too late to realize what the heck they’re doing.

Episode 10
I dub this the awkward-cum-apologizing episode. We start off with Sakurai wondering what to do but thinking can only get him so far. Morioka then requests to use the dryer herself because she doesn’t want him to see what kind of underwear she is wearing. Though she borrows his clothes to wear, it is a bit loose and hence Sakurai can’t help feel awkward staring at her and give his thanks for that loose size. Yeah… More awkwardness as she ponders if she should sit on the floor before noticing his PC. He has her take a look at it and for the first time she gets to see from Lily’s perspective. Of course more awkwardness because he has to be this close to her as he guides her around with his character. The awkwardness continues as they make dinner, eat it and cleaning up. When Sakurai is grateful how the online game allows them to meet, she starts crying. I am sure those are tears of joy. Just when the mood is good (after taking soooooo long) and we are expecting them to confess, the stupid dryer beeps! Too cliché! She goes home and he changes her mind he wants to walk her home. At least they both manage to eke out that they want to know each other more in real life. Here’s a beautiful rainbow as distraction. As they continue to play online, Hayashi and Lily have this very good vibe between them. Kanbe/Fujimoto is confused. They then get to see the great view of the moon. Online and in reality. Eventually one evening, Sakurai and Morioka meet up to date. Somehow Koiwai knows about it and teases them (though they obviously won’t admit their outing is looking very much like a date). Morioka hopes she would try to do stuffs that would not embarrass herself or him. She almost slipped on her high heels but luckily he catches her hand. It got super awkward and embarrassing at first but after getting used to it, see, they’re like a real couple now.

Episode 11 (Special)
Morioka’s motherboard crashed so she calls Sakurai to go shop for a new PC for her. Without skipping a beat he agrees and sets a time to meet. This makes her realize her place is in a mess. Time to go into overdrive and clean up. Will you stop overthinking about the bathroom and bed?! Once everything is done and they’ve done their shopping, Sakurai helps bring the PC to her place. While he is setting up, somehow she is spacing out and overspills the tea. This causes Sakurai to somehow trip over her. Something steamy going to happen but… Saved by the bell? Because weird ‘aliens’ at the door. After setting up the necessary, she logs in online to test. Sakurai has brought his laptop so he too could play the online game with her. It’s odd that they are still conversing online because they are so used to it despite being just inches away from each other. Because in the game they are in a hotspring, Sakurai accidentally invites her for one. This causes a lot of awkwardness and flustering. The day is ‘saved’ when he suggests that he will bring Koiwai along so it will not be so awkward. Oh, you don’t know how much worse and awkward it will be under this guy…

Morioka suddenly finds herself inside the online game. She receives a quest to save Princess Sakura (obviously Sakurai in drag – Princess Peach?!) from the evil demon king who is no other than Koiwai. Better save him quick because Koiwai has no qualms doing gay stuffs to him! Morioka is not levelled up and could have been defeated by a low level monster had not Hayashi and Lily come to her aid. They agree to join her quest but need to get some gear first. At a store owned by Kanbe, Fujimoto is oddly his staff. They have to play some lottery to win the gear in which the first prize is a bikini armour said to be able to defeat the demon king! Thankfully Morioka just won some ordinary armour. After defeating a few of the demon king’s lacklustre army, they face the demon king himself. Koiwai is disappointed Morioka isn’t in the bikini armour. He purposely rigged it so she could wear it and defeat him! Well, Fujimoto brought it just in case. Sakurai will not allow this so he breaks out from his chains and wears the bikini armour! Koiwai should have been more specific on who can wear it. With Koiwai defeated, there is now a new problem: Sakurai cannot take off the bikini armour! Then he wakes up from this nightmare. Phew. Lesson: It isn’t healthy to spend too much time playing online games!

Second Life, Second Chance
Even though it is all predictable and boring, you have got to agree with me that if you are looking for an anime series about love online and offline, this series is still way much better than Sword Art Online! Very true! At least this one in a way is more ‘believable’ with down to earth and modern day technology. Sword Art Online was just about the adventure and they try to boost the main characters by having some romance in between them (not even counting Kirito’s waiting harem, mind you) and that nearly virtual sex scene was the cringiest. I don’t think we could ever recover from that. Yeah, the chance of recovering as an MMO junkie seems more probable. Haha!

Honestly, the overall plot and pace of the story feels boring. This series is just one romance (waiting to happen) genre but using online games as its connection and theme. Right from the start when Morioka quit her job and decided to dedicate the rest of her idle life playing the online game, you would have this feeling that the friends she meets online would be someone we will be very familiar with. After all, it wouldn’t make sense if she had an online life that doesn’t connect to her real world life. At least not in the context of this anime’s story. True enough, the person she is close to playing with online is as close in the real world. Then it becomes the question of when they will know each other’s identity. Perhaps this was the only ‘exciting’ moment of the series because you will get to see their reactions and all. Otherwise, the story is pretty much bland.

If you have been following my blog for many years, you would probably guess what I am going to say because it is only a matter of time. And that time is now. Because despite this series being just normal and boring, the one and only factor that made me happy and look forward to watching it every week is, wait for it, THE ONE AND ONLY MAMIKO NOTO!!!!!!!!! YAHOO!!!!!! VIVA NOTO-SAMA!!!! How long has it been since I heard her in a leading role? Even the recent fourth season of Jigoku Shoujo as the titular character is pretty much taciturn. So with this series having Mamiko Noto in the lead and more lines than supporting roles in other anime series, it was like my ears were having orgasms listening to her voice. Don’t let the lines stop! It is fun to hear her in different moods and feelings of Morioka. From the monotonous internet junkie to when her character is flabbergasted and shocked (in a funny way). Though I won’t go so far as to say she is having a lot of fun in her character role (because that still goes to her character Liszt in ClassicaLoid), but nevertheless it is still very much fun to hear her breathing in some life to a ‘dead’ character.

As for the other voice casting members, I only recognize Takahiro Sakurai as Sakurai as well as Yuuichi Nakamura as Kanbe. For some reason, I thought it was Ami Koshimizu behind Lily’s voice but it turned out to be Reina Ueda instead (Mira in Dimension W). The other casts are Ryouta Suzuki as Hayashi (Teruaki in Ousama Game The Animation), Tomoaki Maeno as Homare (Junichi in Amagami SS), Takuma Terashima as Fujimoto (Stone River in Tantei Opera Milky Holmes), Yuka Aisaka as Lilac (Muse in Amagi Brilliant Park), Kazuhiro Sunseki is Pokotarou, Takanori Yagi as Himeralda and Taya Fujimori as Nico.

As for the characters, they aren’t anything impressive. They are just young adults playing online games. It might be a growing trend because teenagers of the last decade playing games would have grown up into adults and still playing them assuming they have not left the gaming scene. The one thing that bugs me about Morioka’s lifestyle is how she could continue playing the online game like normal like as though she does not run into any financial obstacles. Although she quit her job and in her 30’s, it is not like she was working in a job where you’ll be a millionaire by then. Does she have tons of savings? Does she inherit some wealth from her parents? Not too sure. But looking at how she lives her NEET life comfortably is pretty much mind boggling. Not sure about the internet subscription in Japan if it would really kill the wallets of those who spend a lot of time online especially playing games. Heck, Morioka even has the extra cash to buy online transactions. Maybe she doesn’t use much electricity other than her PC and she eats mostly cheap junk from the convenience store. So I can see why she isn’t facing so much financial trouble because she would have been trying to look for another job or maybe settle down as someone’s wife… Just saying…

The romance between Sakurai and Morioka was just waiting to happen and explode. But we all know it will happen anyway. Because why not? The online game could be a blessing in disguise for them since it allowed them to meet and of course fall in love with each other. Of course they like each other ever since the first time they bump into each other. Their sluggish depressed behaviour whenever not behind the keyboard while thinking about the other person is so obvious. It could have been more straightforward had not this online anonymity thingy come between them. Or maybe not. It allowed them to slowly build up their relationship albeit mostly online and through their characters. So in a way, it does make things less awkward when they meet in real life. But then again, it is still awkward for them nevertheless. Not too sure that if they will be spending more them in real life or online. Won’t be too surprised if it is the latter since that is where their relationship started and was built upon. Like they say, the couple that plays together, stays together. Hopefully their relationship will bloom and not break down later just because they spend too much time online together (ironically) and back to square one.

Their romance mainly happens thanks to busybody and interfering people like Koiwai. A big chance that it would never have happened had not this guy made the push. He is the kind of friend who is the annoying type and loves teasing you just because he is more hyperactive than you. Everything he does might seem irritating but he does it for the greater good of his friend-cum-colleague. After all, it isn’t that Koiwai can read minds or an expert in relationship, it just that Sakurai is such an easy person to read and from his body reactions to his words. A person like Koiwai can literally tell what is going just at one glance. Koiwai should be his best man at his wedding. If they ever go that far. I’m assuming they would.

I swore I guessed Fujimoto as Kanbe correctly because again in the context of this show, why bother introducing a character or at least make him have this ‘important’ impression when he isn’t going to be in the story in the first place? Unless it is for red herring but this series isn’t of that kind. Even though the internet is such a wide place, the irony is that many of the people you play with are closer to you than you think. And I’m not talking about inviting your friends to play as a group. When you randomly join a group and hook up with certain members, sometimes it is surprising that person could turn out to be someone you know and close to home. Therefore the irony of the endless internet but still a small world after all. But then again, the online game they are playing is on a local server. I thought they would reveal the real personas other characters in their party too like Lilac, Nico and Pokotarou but I guess they aren’t that important. Even if they do, it serves no purpose and a distraction to the main characters.

Animation and artwork looks decent. The characters look a bit simple but not surprising the avatar characters look better than their real life persona because to show their online adventure is much more colourful and exciting than their usual mundane life. Contrary to all the memes and the touch up of Photoshop pictures online of gamers, Morioka doesn’t typically look like one of those sexy female gamers you see all over the internet. Her appearance isn’t too shabby but anybody would have looked like her state if they did not intend to go out and meet others and spend the rest of their lives facing the internet. Proof that the power of makeup can actually do some good in making one more presentable and decent.

The pop rock opening theme is Saturday Night Question by Megumi Nakajima while the rock ending theme is Hikari, Hikari by Yuka Aisaka. Interestingly, the ending credits animation is mostly watching Morioka stare through her monitor. In other words, through the ‘eyes’ of the monitor. It is like telling us this is how we look like when we engage the PC. In the sense that we stare in wonder, amazement, surprise, astonishment, shock and everything else that probably our monitors might be one of those view objects who have ‘seen’ us making a variety of faces. Including the zombie face. Yeah, I can imagine it as I am typing this blog myself! Oh, why am I now so conscious about my monitor looking at me?! Sadly, it’s the only thing that you will often face if you’re an otaku loner. :’(.

Overall, I find this series slow and boring and my only reprieve is the one and only Mamiko Noto. Even though she too cannot save this series from its dull pace, at least I still enjoyed listening to her voice. Yeah, that heavenly angelic voice… The slow and budding romance feels pretty normal and only relevant to a few who have found love in this manner. I mean, it is better than going on Tinder only to find perverts and sexual predators, right? At least while playing online, the act of falling in love with each other in reality feels like an added bonus and reward. Hmm… Is this series saying that the recovery for an MMO junkie and the recommendation of the wonderful virtual life is to fall in love in real life? I guess kicking the online addiction and getting on with the real life would be the greatest achievement and victory ever. Level: Real, unlocked! Welcome back to the real world.

Nana Maru San Batsu

December 9, 2017

Question: What is the first anime ever created? They sure can make an anime out of anything. That is why I was curious that they could even make a series out from the quiz bowl itself. That is what Nana Maru San Batsu is all about. A group of students taking challenges from various meets, meet all kinds of quiz nerds, answers lots of questions, experience and learn the strategies on how to even answer and anticipate answers of questions that isn’t even read finished???!!! Woah. It’s too technical. It’s too deep. I have a feeling I might end up with a headache at the end of it but my curiosity is high enough to want to make me check this out. I hope I learn something from all of this.

Episode 1
The clubs are aggressively trying to recruit new members at Busou High School. Especially the quiz bowl association. Shiki Koshiyama is a plain guy who doesn’t stand out and is overwhelmed by all the aggressiveness. He takes a look at the quiz paper he was given. He tries to answer as it starts off fairly easy. In class when the teacher asks volunteers to be the library rep, because he is so meek and a tall guy blocking him in front, Daisuke Inoue takes to post followed by Mari Fukami. A few other girls note this and gossip about him being a loser. He seeks refuge in the library. Fukami accidentally trips over him. Nice shima pantsu… Oops. She leaves in a hurry and he notices she dropped her quiz paper. He sees strange markings on the questions. In the hall where the clubs introduce themselves, the quiz bowl association is introduced by Gakuto Sasajima. He has 3 volunteers to come up to stage and then randomly picks another 3. Koshiyama is that unlucky dude. Not only he has to be in front of the stage, he is next to Fukami and each time he sees her, he only thinks of shima pantsu! Sasajima starts off with a variety of questions from straightforward to trick questions. Fukami then struts her stuff when she buzzes before the question is read finished and answers them correctly. No, she isn’t cheating. This has Koshiyama realize about her advice where there are some questions you can predict its answers (hence the markings on her quiz paper) and literally you need to be fast enough to earn the right to answer. Since you have 5 seconds to answer, you can use that time to think of the answer. When Sasajima asks the last and toughest question, Koshiyama is able to beat everyone and answer correctly without the question being finished reading. Everyone is awed at him. Later when Koshiyama returns Fukami’s paper quiz, she concludes he is a smart person as he got a hang of it in a short time. As the last question was hard, even if she heard that question till the end, she could not have answered it. That’s why she will forgive him for seeing her shima pantsu (?!) if he joins the quiz bowl association with her. Is that a quiz question for him? She believes his abundant knowledge and quick thinking will be his weapons to become quiz king!

Episode 2
Fukami sounds ambiguous asking Koshiyama out tomorrow. Are they going on a date? Nah. It’s a quiz meet at Sekigaoka High School. Inoue is interested and wants to come too (he is probably interested in Fukami). At the train station, they meet up with Sasajima. Yes, the quartet are the only members of the newly formed quiz bowl association. At the hall, we see a few potential rivals like Takumi Niina and Yousuke Ashiya who know Sasajima well. On the girls’ side there is Chiaki Sonohara from Asagaoka Girls’ High. Also from this school is Yuki Kouzuki who is Fukami’s childhood friend. The quiz begins and is divided into 2 groups. The first 3 to have 5 correct answers advance to the next round. Fukami is in the first group and after testing the buzzers, Hajime Sasaki races to become the first one to qualify. There are many close instances of fast buzzers as Koshiyama realizes the 0.01 second of chance of victory needed in pushing the button and answering the question. Since he is so awed, Chisato Mikuriya chides him for that. You can tell they’ll be rivals. Fukami and Kouzuki pass to the next round. Before the next group begins, Sasajima evaluates Fukami’s performance. She might be good in the classics but it isn’t good enough since the next round will be harder. What are classics? Frequent questions. So to have better chances, usually one would memorise them and find a pattern. Koshiyama and Inoue are up in the next group. Mikuriya shows his stuff as he flawlessly becomes the first to qualify. While Koshiyama excels in literature, Inoue does well in the otaku category. It is a neck to neck race for the final spot between Koshiyama and Fumika Kenmochi. A literature question has Kenmochi beating Koshiyama to the buzzer but she is unable to answer. This is also a tactic to stop Koshiyama from answering. Koshiyama is so tense that he buzzes too fast to an otaku question. Thank goodness he learnt what zettai ryouiki was today or else he couldn’t have spit out that answer that earned him the next round.

Episode 3
During the break, Koshiyama seems down because the quiz bowl is a lot more competitive than he thinks. Sasajima motivates him that the classics are updated from time to time so it is impossible for everyone to memorize it all. This gives everyone a chance and it is fun because you’ll never know what can happen next. The next round is a format whereby all contestants have to write their answers. For the one who buzzed, a correct answer earns 3 points but a wrong one means deducting that amount. For those who didn’t buzz, a correct answer earns them a point but no penalty for a wrong one. As it begins, Mikuriya is buzzing at very crucial parts of the question where the rest can’t make head or tail what the question is. And he gets them all correct! So much so he eases off to give others a chance. Koshiyama then realizes it could be because of the accentuation of how the host emphasis the words in the question that might give clues on what the second half of the question is. Koshiyama gets a hang of it although he still misses the mark but Mikuriya notes how close his answers are. In the end, the top 3 to advance to the final round are Mikuriya, Sasaki and Kouzuki. The final round is harder since the questions are longer and the contestants have to wait to hear a big bulk of it before buzzing. Koshiyama also ‘plays’ by answering in his head while watching from the side lines. In a question whereby Mikuriya buzzed earlier but then realize his answer might be wrong, Koshiyama goes deep into thought and when he arrives at the correct answer, he blurts it out! This is clearly against the rules and the question won’t be counted as Sasajima takes him out of the hall. Koshiyama is embarrassed and apologetic but Sasajima doesn’t blame him since he didn’t teach him the proper etiquette. Only those with the right to answer can do so, hence pretending to do so without that right is just inappropriate. His advice is to improve his technique of answering and then store up his knowledge. Quiz bowls are more than showing off one’s knowledge as it includes rules and strategies. It is no surprise Mikuriya wins the meet so he tells Koshiyama to come the next regular meet in June to get his revenge.

Episode 4
Koshiyama tries to greet Fukami on his way to school. He picks her up on his bicycle but has no strength to peddle! No, she isn’t heavy! However Fukami switches places with him and the ride is easier! He’s so light! Yeah, awkward stares at them… With the trio joining the quiz bowl association, Fukami starts off asking Sasajima on how to win competitive quiz bowls. However he tells them they can’t win. He rephrases his words that they should get to know about the world of quiz bowls before thinking about winning and losing. This has Koshiyama re-evaluate his goal. He needs to defeat quiz bowl itself before defeating others. Now we get on to the technical aspect of explaining the category of straight or parallel questions in quiz bowls. I’m dumb. I don’t get it. As they don’t have their own buzzer (one costs a lot) so they use a calculator as substitute. Low class but it works. Fukami meets up with Kouzuki to ask if her school has extra buzzers to lend. They don’t. She suggests working part time to buy time and in the mean time she could broaden her horizons with different experiences. Koshiyama is at his usual spot at the library when a zombie girl crawls up to him! Actually Jinko is just hungry and eats half his lunch! She was so wrapped up in her hobby she spent all her money on it. Because they are so close, Fukami spots them. She gets jealous another girl is eating his lunch when she herself has not and runs away. WTF?! Inoue is crying out loud that Koshiyama is popular with the girls. Please be quiet. This is the library. Koshiyama looks like he has his hand full with these troublesome people but he is liking it? Youth, he calls it…

Episode 5
Koshiyama looks at the book Jinko dropped. It looks complicated but it is somewhat related to quiz bowls. In class when the teacher asks Koshiyama for an answer, he doesn’t find it specific enough and asks if he could word it like a quiz bowl! No wonder the teacher blows his top. Today Buzou will have a joint practice quiz bowl match with Miyaura High School. It is where Mikuriya and Ashiya come from. Miyaura has also new members to take part, Maruyama, Mukai and Kiyosumi. This joint practice means they are using a real buzzer instead of a calculator. Sasajima shows an old buzzer he has that somebody once gave him. It is broken so he hides it in his pocket and just presses it. The quiz bowl will be a team match. A correct answer adds a point while a wrong one subtracts one. Although a team buzzes, anyone can answer. But to test the cohesion of the team, if multiple players from the same team answer simultaneously despite the answer is correct, it will be treated as wrong. So it is better for the buzzer to answer. First to reach 10 points wins. Oh, Mikuriya is staying out and keeping the score. He’ll decimate these rookies if he plays. The game begins with Buzou side making a good head start before Miyaura catching up. A few instances the Buzou team saved each other. Like when Fukami buzzed too early and is unable to answer, the guys manage to answer on her behalf and score. Fukami’s specialty also lies in foreign languages while Inoue is good at maths. With Buzou having a good flow, Sasajima notes they are having fun and should remember this feeling. This is much needed when they play competitively later on. Miyaura has a short breakdown with their members answer wrongly or usurping and then answer wrongly, causing them to accuse each other. But the fight is close and in the end, Miyaura wins by a point. Fukami felt a bit disappointed since she forgot what was important and started panicking thinking about her own failures and abilities. But the most pissed off one is Mikuriya. He is not happy with Miyaura’s performance. He wants to fight the Buzou side 3 on 1 right now! However all the buzzers are being taken apart by Jinko! Oh no! She is Sasajima’s sister! Nobody could guess since they are so different even in their accent. Seems Jinko is an electronic craft nerd and is willing to make them a buzzer each. Cheaper and better. The box might be complicated but it is not an impossible feat for her. That book she dropped was about instructions to make a buzzer system.

Episode 6
Doing a cat maid job with Kouzuki is not what Fukami had in mind to earn some cash. It’s embarrassing and if somebody were to see them… Close by, Sasajima and Jinko are at the electronics store to get stuffs to make their own buzzer. Koshiyama and Inoue are at the arcade playing a quiz game. There are also other formats like multiple choices. Several answers are displayed and you pick the correct ones. You earn a point for each correct one but get entirely zero if a wrong one is picked. Soon they realize they are playing against Mikuriya! Ashiya is also here and decides to help the newbies as part of his service. Another format of quick buzzing is how answers (right or wrong) pop up one at a time and the fastest to buzz in wins the point. Mikuriya is faster in all of them until one whereby no hint pops out and Koshiyama buzzes in and gets correct. I don’t understand this technical stuff of how he did it but Ashiya noticed that Koshiyama isn’t a fountain of knowledge but has also theoretically analysed the rules in order to do better (like coming up with a set of answers to answer easier when a question pops up). A couple of ruffians try to ruin their game so they can play on their machine. Ashiya doesn’t want trouble and takes the guys to retreat. There is this strange devil cosplay girl who was watching them. She didn’t like how they jumped the queue so she challenged them to a fighting game. She instantly defeated them and those chickens run away. Now she wants to play Koshiyama too but Ashiya says they need to get going. This prompts her to mock them as quiz bowl nerds. Koshiyama blows his top about insulting this. So what being quiz freaks? He might have stepped over the line but it made Ashiya happy that somebody is quite passionate about the quiz bowl. When they leave, they are given hand-outs to a store’s quiz event. Oh, it’s Fukami and Kouzuki. She’s dying of embarrassment now. When Koshiyama wants to get Mikuriya’s contacts, he refuses and just reminds him about the meet. Ashiya thought that was mean but Mikuriya’s idea is that Koshiyama has the potential to become a lot better. In that case he doesn’t want to get friendly or show any mercy. Of course Koshiyama won’t be the only opponent and there will other much tougher ones.

Episode 7
As schools around the nation take turn to host a quiz tournament, this time it will be Asagaoka. You bet Koshiyama and co want to enter since the more experience the better. Sasajima has them take a paper quiz first. The last question is always a question of estimation in case of tie breakers. That question is Jinko’s weight! Though Inoue got it correct, he scored the lowest. Koshiyama of course has the highest score. However Sasajima sounds harsh in his advice that this won’t do. Veterans would ace in this and Koshiyama won’t even have a chance to make it to the buzzer round. A point can determine a winner or loser. Koshiyama knows he needs to get better and gain more knowledge outside literature or else he will disappoint Mikuriya. Later Koshiyama asks why Fukami joined the quiz bowl. It was due to Seiji, her brother’s influence as he used to be part of it. She was impressed by the way he owned the competition. He is now in Kaijou High School, a pretty elite school. However he won’t be participating in any more quiz bowls because he quit to focus on his exams. Speaking of the devil, here he is to pick her up. Quite the elite gentleman he is. Seiji notes she has joined a club and when he guesses it is a quiz bowl, she dare not answer. He reminds her competing in the quiz bowl is pointless. Sasajima has a heap of quiz questions he collected from other schools. Yeah, be prepared to read them all. Koshiyama finds a few book on local places of attraction and Sasajima believes such information could be useful. Confused Fukami asks Sasajima why he entered the quiz bowl. He rubbishes that question. Do you need a reason to fall in love? Because Fukami admires him, the guys think she has fallen for him. Is she going to say it out loud now her confession? Well, it’s her love for quiz bowl. Sorry to disappoint. Jinko has finished their buzzer. But it comes with weird animal sounds… What a distraction… Sonohara looks through the list of entries for the meet. Remember that devil cosplay girl at the arcade? Turns out to be Sonohara’s cross-dressing brother, Akira. Why am I not surprised? When he mentions about meeting an interesting person named Koshiyama, Sonohara feels she has heard the name before. Oh, it’s on the list of participants from Buzou. I suppose now a reason for him to join his quiz bowl club that he wasn’t interested in the first place?

Episode 8
The quiz bowl at Asagaoka will be taking place in their chapel. So the girls of this school are dressing up as nuns, praying to God are some sort of distraction? We get a glimpse of a few top contenders from other schools. Currently the top quiz player is Kunimitsu Ookura from Kaijou and although he looks intimidating, he gets emotionally happy that Sasajima is here to participate and now they can face off with each other. The first round is a paper quiz. Koshiyama feels he didn’t do well since it is laced with current events and pop culture. He lets the rest know why he prefers classics because of his late dad. The top 10 of the paper quiz will automatically go to round 3 while others will participate in round 2. Sasajima takes top spot and although Ookura has the same marks but is ranked second because of the estimation question. The rest are: 3) Ashiya; 4) Harumi Konoe (Kaijou); 5) Koutarou Tozuka (Leoneil High School); 6) Hiroki Shibuya (Kannami University); 7) Masaru Shibata (Kaijou); 8) Minoru Hanabusa (Kannami); 9) Atsuyoshi Hosokawa (Kaijou). And propping up the final spot is Mikuriya. For the second round, participants are paired with another. It will be a numerated question as up to 2 participants can buzz an answer. This unorthodox format means there will be 2 answers and the pressure is on the second person to answer as it will be dangerous if he/she only knows 1 of the answers. Only a pair from each group advances. For the first group, Fukami is paired with Yagi from Kannami. They manage to qualify for the next round thanks to Fukami understanding the rules and her partner very well (she was able to answer and cover harder questions for Yagi). Next group has Inoue and Maruyama as a team. They fall behind not because they lack knowledge but the speed to buzz. However they get disqualified after 2 wrongs since either one only knows 1 of the answers and in Inoue’s case, he buzzed in too early and the chances are 2/3 correct. He picked the wrong one. Koshiyama is up next and looks like Akira is also in this round.

Episode 9
Koshiyama and Akira are paired together. As it starts, Koshiyama finds himself slow to buzz in. Then, before the first word of the question can be read, Akira buzzes in! Huh?! It looks like there is a loophole. Because the host will continue to read the question until the second buzzer buzzes in. Of course this is a sneaky plan to catch everyone off their timing. So when the next round comes, some nervous pair did the same trick but couldn’t answer and they get disqualified. Sasaki pair is leading and Koshiyama knows he is too slow. Therefore Akira suggests buzzing both their buzzers together by putting one on top the other. This isn’t against the rules because it does not say how one can press the button. Plus, Akira technically has his hand over his buzzer so it still counts. Sonohara is forced to allow this because it’s not in the rules. She knows her brother views this as a game and his intention is to rile everyone up. So when the next question is asked, Koshiyama and Akira’s buzzers buzz first. They answer and qualify for the next round. The others stare at Akira with disgust so he mocks those losers and reminds them how his strategy was the one that made them win. When Akira returns, Niina who is his club president admonishes him for his bad behaviour. He can go home now. Everyone has never seen Niina this mad before but then Akira then starts crying crocodile tears. It softens Niina’s heart and makes him look like the bad guy. Akira just wants to have fun seeing he is new to the quiz bowl and promises he won’t do it the next round. I guess that’s that. When Akira hints himself at Mikuriya, they now recognize him as that cosplayer from the arcade. They note they have to be cautious of his tricky and sneaky tactics and that’s why they can’t lose to him.

Episode 10
The 18 finalists are divided into 2 groups. Sasajima and Fukami are in this first group. The first question has multiple answers to determine their starting scores. You get a point correct for each correct answer but a wrong answer automatically earns you zero. Sasajima aces this with full 12 points. The next round of questions begins with the system of those buzzing in and answering correctly will earn 3 points or have that deducted if answered wrongly. In this stage they can choose how to distribute the points like keeping it all for themselves or use it to subtract points of others. The first 3 to reach 20 points qualifies for the next round. Sasajima quickly buzzes and scores maximum points. It’s like he is blowing the competition away. The veteran players know who they are up against with so it is wise to let that higher skilled person win. When Sasajima qualifies for the next round, Hanabusa cheers for him about being an ex-Kaijou student. This shocks many. As Ookura explains, he was in Kaijou up until last year and he with Seiji were a formidable pair. However, something happened between that made Sasajima quit Kaijou and Seiji the quiz bowl. Because of that, Fukami can’t concentrate and kept wondering. She couldn’t hear what questions were asked and is lagging behind. Till her teammates cheer her on to concentrate did she really start to claw her way back up. It’s like she got her much needed boost and is starting to kick ass with this revival. She is able to use the points strategy to keep those from coming close to qualify to remain in the competition. But in the end, it is Hanabusa and Tozuka who made it through. Now for the second group in which Koshiyama, Mikuriya, Ashiya and Okura are in, it seems Akira went ‘missing’. Sonohara doesn’t care and will start anyway.

Episode 11
Before the next round starts, Akira returns but cross-dressed as a girl! This shocks everyone and some believe that his intention is to distract everyone from doing well in the quiz. The multiple answer kicks off and it looks like Ookura and Koshiyama end up having the highest points. Mikuriya gets zero since he has an answer wrong. However when the game proper starts, his fast fingers allow him to earn points fast and in no time he claws his way back up. Akira is really being annoying. Because whenever he wins points, he uses it to subtract points from others, causing one of the players to go out of the game. He also messes around by buzzing in before the question can be read, hence nobody gets it right. Sonohara must be up to here and embarrassed with her brother but what is there to do? It’s all within the stipulated rules. With Akira targeting and trying to reduce Ookura points, eventually Ookura is the first to qualify. Niina is next although he subtracts a point from Mikuriya as he sees him as the next threat. With one place remaining, the quiz gets really intense. It looks it might be either Koshiyama or Mikuriya depending who buzzes first and answer it correctly. However that tempo is once again ruined by Akira. And this time the question is some date probability. Well, dig deep into your thoughts and knowledge for the answer. I’m not holding my breath as we wait…

Episode 12
We have everyone presenting the reason why they arrive at that particular day as the answer. Like Mikuriya using maths. I don’t follow Koshiyama’s convoluted method of using some third party relating to history. I would have been like Akira using his guts! Anyway, despite different approaches, these trio answered the same correct answer. Akira mocks everyone again and since Mikuriya tells him to hurry up and not waste their time, Akira subtracts the most points from him. But since he isn’t fazed, Akira just loses interest and walks off! Sonohara wanted to give him an earful but has to finish her hosting duties. So we are left to Niina to admonish him outside. He believes Akira is doing this because he has no friends. He takes him back to the hall to watch the rest. By that time, it is the final question and it would either be Mikuriya or Koshiyama. The question has something to do with Christ’s pilgrimage and Koshiyama buzzed in too early as he was panicking trying to beat Mikuriya to it. Because of that, the question is very wide open and all participants have different answers. Again we hear Koshiyama’s convoluted thoughts on how he deduces what kind of question that befits this round to be the answer. Well, I guess he is still inexperienced since Mikuriya is the only one who got it correct and advances to the next round. Akira leaves again and his sister promises to punish him back home. Niina still throws him hope to come to the club and join them in the quiz bowl. Niina and Sonohara then apologize to the rest for his unruly behaviour. We skip the rest of the final rounds because main character isn’t in. Also, Sasajima won the entire thing by a large margin so I believe it is no fun. With his victory speech for everyone to look forward to the next meet, it motivates our young ones to take on more challenges. Later Koshiyama thanks Mikuriya but he caught him on his bad mood. Mikuriya tells him off if beating him is his only satisfaction. As there are many other better than him, he will not wait. He acknowledges people who are aiming higher. Koshiyama also sets his goal higher and the duo acknowledge each other and rivals. Fist bump.

Buzzer Beater
Oh. So there is the Nationals for quiz bowls now? Okay. I’m out of here. I can’t take it anymore. My brain has always been empty from the start. Plus, all the trivia bits from the questions in here just went in from one ear and out the other. I learnt nothing. My brain has been empty for a long time and somehow it hurts despite nothing sticking to it. Argh! I don’t want to relive my school days of studying, studying and studying! Anyway, before I start complaining about my old life and dumbness, let’s just say that even though this series feels incomplete because of how it ended, there is still a long way to go considering this final arc is just one of the major meets the characters have to go through. But that’s for another time if we all still care to stick around. I guess that is how quiz competitions should end. Less fanfare. Back to more studying.

I find it very strange that despite I know nothing and got all my answers wrong (that is, questions that I attempted to answer), I find this series is quite interesting. I know I’m confusing myself right now. It isn’t the questions asked or the knowledge/trivia/info that I should be deriving from it (heck, I have forgotten it all by the time the next question is popped), but rather the way and the method they make it look so interesting. They can actually drag a particular segment of the quiz with all the drama and thoughts of the characters and it is done in a good and interesting way that made me stick around despite I still don’t understand the finer points of the strategy or the answer. So you see, even when I’m such a blur head and my mind stopped thinking and trying to participate in answering the questions, my mind is still interested to stay till the end of the episode to find out what happened.

Sadly, watching this series at the end only makes me feel how dumb I am. Not that I have always thought that I am a smart person myself. Heck, I have even admitted I’m not such a smart person in my blogs from time to time. Seeing I know nothing and have come nowhere close to even eke out an answer, this proves that my head is just as empty. Can’t blame school. They never teach you all these facts there. Even if you give me twice or thrice or even unlimited time limit to answer them, I’ll never get it right. Not even if I’m just simply guessing and hoping my answer will hit the mark. So should I start reading now? Nah! Why do I need to know such useless trivia and facts if I’m never ever going to use or have some sort of relevancy in my life? That kind of loser mentality… No wonder ignorance is so bliss.

As shown here, having a wide area of knowledge doesn’t guarantee you a winning spot. Victory hinges mainly on the strategy and knowing how the particular set of rules and format of the quiz is being played out. Therefore if you are the smartest person in the world and know everything like as though you are God, you still won’t win because you do not have the right to answer or do not play your cards right. Thus the other interesting aspect of this anime is seeing how the characters use the particular quiz format and their strategies for the best outcome. It is quite enlightening to know that there are so many types and varieties of formats and how freaking technical this competition has become. Remember, you must be both the fastest and the most knowledgeable if you want to have a chance of winning. I mean, by hearing part of the question and knowing where the stress and intonation can actually determine and predict what the question is? Holy sh*t! I thought karuta was the only game where you need to have lightning quick hearing and reflexes. With karuta only being limited to the classic and traditional poems, could you say that the quiz bowl is an even more broader competition and challenge?

One thing I find strange about this series is how many of the characters do not look like they’re of the quiz bowl type. Stereotypes are one thing but when I first look at the whole cast for the quiz meet, of course I am not expecting everyone to be looking like a nerd. This is anime. You need to have different types of characters too for the sake of diversity. With a predominantly male participants, my first thought of seeing the bunch of guys from different schools and colleges were that, are these guys part of the tennis club?! Holy mother of Maria! Perhaps Prince Of Tennis was the only manly guys-only anime that I have watched. Because I sure didn’t watch that volleyball, basketball (the recent one and not the old school one) and diving gay anime. Hence I thought these guys look like they are more suited to play tennis or some sort of physical sports rather than a quiz bowl. I mean, look at Ookura. He is quite a build. It looks like a mismatch that he is participating in this ‘sissy’ game if you compare his size and stature. Of course don’t judge a cover by its book since he is smarter than me anytime. Is it me or is it the guys from Leoneil look like they are arrogant evil characters bent on taking over the world via quiz bowl?

If they expand the series beyond a dozen of episodes, I am sure they could flesh out the characters better. Because right now there are too many potential quiz bowl masters that Koshiyama has to ‘defeat’ (because he is main character, right?) but too little episodes to get to know them. Heck, even our own Busou characters don’t really get much of some background story. So guys like Koshiyama, we mostly know that he loves reading and excels in the literature genre. He gets more and more fascinated with the quiz world because that is where he gets to put his trivia and reading into good use. Otherwise it could have been the uneventful and most normal high school life he has ever had in his entire life. Since he is the main character, many times we hear his thoughts on how he derives the answer. Correct or not his deduction, it sounds so freaking confusing and random that I thought he just read it out from the script. I mean, in all that split second to just answer a question, it took like several minutes for all this dramatization effect to take place, analysing the question and deducing the answer.

So the interesting back story for the Busou counterparts is Sasajima’s past with Fukami’s brother and something that happened between them that caused the split and the end of the legacy. Too bad the quiz bowl won’t be asking that kind of question because nobody is going to give the right answer. Yeah, invasion of privacy. So this is the only thing going that is interesting for Busou’s history as I am sure the other schools too have their own history. Therefore it gives some sort of connection to characters like Fukami and a reason why she enters the quiz bowl world instead of just being one of the few female leads there just to look pretty. Sorry to disappoint but don’t expect any sort of Koshiyama x Fukami romance brewing. The few foreshadowing feels like trolling. Strangely, Fukami’s trademark of lifting her long hair over ear with her hand to hear better as she concentrates to listen looks like as though she is ready to give a blowjob… OMG what the f*ck did I just say?! Inoue feels like the weakest link but he too has his strong subjects, though not often quizzed. If he is here to get chicks, I believe there are other clubs that has better chances of him doing so. Oh well, girls do love a brainy guy, right? Hope he likes nerdy girls…

Jinko feels like an annex to the team. She isn’t part of the active team but as a supporting role. You know when you have a bunch of race car drivers and part of the crew and team member is the mechanic? Yup, that’s Jinko’s role. So far her biggest achievement is to make Busou’s own buzzer (why do I get the feeling the school is a pun named after the buzzer?). Otherwise she is a pretty forgettable character and even more had she not been such a cutie. Sasajima himself is a big mystery since he has his own ways and pace to teach the newbies. He tells you what is necessary since the best way for one to learn is to experience it first-hand. The world should have more senpais like him even if he is a bit eccentric.

Even if this is just a quiz bowl series, somehow I have this feeling it might go the shonen anime route because characters like Mikuriya who is Koshiyama’s current biggest rival, might become his ally in the future. It doesn’t look likely as the quiz format is usually every participant for themselves but I am looking at the perspective of Mikuriya and Koshiyama acknowledging each other as worthy rivals and then they go around facing other tougher challengers together and grow and learn more. Yeah, that kind of bromance feeling I get from them. Oh heck, some girls are already getting some yaoi thoughts over Niina x Akira.

Akira is interesting as an ‘antagonist’ because of how he surprises everyone with his devilishly unexpected ways. Thanks to him, the quiz meet isn’t as boring as it should be although purists would definitely want this troublemaker out. His approach of thinking is different than the rest since his ultimate goal isn’t to win but to have fun. And by that he messes around with others but tries not to make it illegal. Almost. And if he gets scolded, those crocodile tears and puppy dog eyes sure come in handy. I mean, who could be seriously mean to a sissy guy who cross-dresses, right? Perhaps Akira is to Sonohara what I would call a test from God. You can see her patience running thin but since she is from a missionary school, I guess she must learn to control her feelings and not give into rage. Wow. The house of God also has a little devil in it. In the end, perhaps all Akira want is some attention. Because, what better way than to get everyone’s attention on you by deliberately pissing them off.

Art and animation are rather okay. Standard Japanese anime style and nothing too complicated. I know people come in all shapes and sizes but like I’ve said before, it feels out of place to see people from of varying looks to take part in quiz bowls. A reason why I mentioned the Prince Of Tennis reference because I thought some of the characters here resemble them. Like Sasajima whom I thought reminded me of Sadaharu Inui, Ashiya prompted me to remember Kunimitsu Tezuka while Mikuriya closely resembles Akaya Kirihara. I think Niina and Renji Yanagi (or even Shuusuke Fuji) look almost alike since both have closed eyes. Akira? I thought he shares that same craziness as Jin Akutsu even though they don’t very much resemble each other. Do Ookura and Kaoru Kaidou look alike? No? Okay. Must be just me. Lucky for Koshiyama, I don’t see him anywhere close to Ryouma Echizen. I thought he is fitted more to be in shogi like 3-gatsu No Lion’s Rei. While not a must, is it me or do I notice that smart people wear glasses? Sure there are exceptions but it’s like half of the main characters wear them. Sasajima, Koshiyama, Niina, Seiji and that Leoneil guy. Hey, at least they make them look smart.

I didn’t really recognize anybody in the voice acting department. Well, there is only Ayane Sakura as Sonohara but I couldn’t identify with her. Recently she has been voicing characters that sound different than that bratty stereotype that I have known her for like Kaji in Tsurezure Children. Umika Kawashima, the seiyuu behind Fukami’s voice feels a bit raw. I won’t go so far as to paint her as anywhere near Saori Hayami but it feels like as though her voice isn’t refined. Not to say it is a bad thing whatsoever but her anime voicing roles I checked are so far only in Star Diver and Hunter x Hunter movie. She might sound like an amateur (there are hints of nervousness in it, not sure if it is on purpose or it’s part of the character) but I’ll try to look it from a refreshing perspective point of view since seiyuus who overdramatize their character is far worse than this.

The rest of the other casts are Shun Horie as Koshiyama (Hiyama in 12-sai: Chicchana Mune No Tokimeki), Takuto Satou as Sasajima (Tatsuya Yuuki in Gundam Build Fighters series), Satsumi Matsuda as Jinko (Hiroe in Saki: Zenkoku-hen), Tasuku Hatanaka as Inoue (Kaminari in Boku No Hero Academia), Kaito Ishikawa as Mikuriya (titulat character in Kyoukai No Rinne), Wataru Hatano as Ashiya (Gajeel in Fairy Tail), Tomoaki Maeno as Ookura (Junichi in Amagami SS), Tatsuhisa Suzuki as Niina (Ban in Nanatsu No Taizai), Takuma Nagatsuma as Akira (Lacus Welt in Owari No Seraph), Mao Ichimichi as Kouzuki (Papika in Flip Flappers) and Hikaru Midorikawa as Seiji (Lancer in Fate series). Nothing really special about the opening theme, On My Mind by Mrs Green Apple. I wonder if the lively rock music is suitable for a quiz themed series. The weirdly named ending theme, OOOOO by Babyraids Japan is another rock piece. By the way, those are not the 15th alphabet and are circles which means correct.

On a trivial note, I find it funny that the official English title of this series is called Fastest Finger First. Technically that is what mainly the quiz participants have to do and hence appropriate. But if you hear this title without knowing what this series is about, to some it may sound like a porn title or some video compilation of pranks. I mean when you notice its initials as FFF, doesn’t it just sounds funny? Even in Japanese the name of this series can be written as 7O3X, in reference to the quiz format of seven rights and three wrongs to determine you advance or go out. Looking at that title without knowing what the series is about also evokes thoughts that this might be some sort of futuristic sci-fi anime.

Overall, this anime isn’t for anybody or like it will be something that is mainstream. The lack of any physical action and the action being mainly confined inside the halls and the buzzer might turn off many. Even more so when you realize that they could dramatize how to answer the questions, the strategies they used and how their thoughts are dramatically narrated for this effect, then rinse and repeat the entire thing again would only appeal to nerds. But then again, if you’re more interested in accumulating knowledge and trivia, you won’t be sitting around and watching this anime in the first place. The questions asked are just the tip of the iceberg. Oh heck, just a speck of dust from the vast sea of knowledge. No, the stars in the universe! I mean, who the f*ck wants to know or should know what happened specifically on 5 April 1722, 22 January 1905 and 15 May 1932! OR WHAT FREAKING DAY OF THE WEEK THOSE ARE!!! Hell, I know I wasn’t born then. And out I go!

Question: Will this anime have a sequel? Answer: Only time will tell. Zero points for lack of originality!

N/B: Answer for the first anime created? Astro Boy? If you consider it as the first popular anime. Katsudou Shashin? Not officially recognized by the anime industry due to different method and unconfirmed origins. Dekobou Shingachou: Meian No Shippai? Seikai!

It happened so long ago that I almost forgot that Saenai Heroine No Sodatekata Flat had come out as the sequel. Oh heck, it was only 2 years ago. I must be really that busy watching as much anime as I can, huh? But now that the sequel has come and gone, I guess it is my obligation to see if Tomoya and his harem will get to not just finish the game but obtain positive results as well. Oh heck, who am I kidding. I’m just here to see the cat fight between the yandere and the tsundere. And perhaps the world’s most normal girl.

Episode 0
Just like in the previous season, your shameless fanservice episode with Tomoya and the girls in a private pool party! Babes in bikinis! Wohoo! It all started when Eriri wanted to sketch a picture of Megumi in a bikini as part of the game’s illustration. She would agree to that with a condition that everyone else also does the same. So even if Megumi did wear the swimsuit, she isn’t going to bend her bodies in erotic poses to suit Eriri’s perverted needs. Then we have Michiru and Eriri arguing who has better childhood memories with Tomoya. Eriri is shocked when Izumi turns up in a swimsuit. Looks like Megumi invited her. The more the merrier. Isn’t she their rival? Whatever. Izumi ‘knocks out’ Tomoya when she jumps to hug him. During the blame game confusion, Utaha looks like she is trying to take advantage by kissing him. I don’t think CPR starts like that. In the end, everyone retires to their room and Utaha has took the liberty to book Izumi a room. As the girls gather to decide either to have fun or finish their work, they realize Utaha isn’t around. Because they share rooms, they thought Utaha would be bunking with the other. Oh no… They should’ve known better… Sneaky Utaha in her sexy night dress is trying to flirt with Tomoya over a drink. I think Tomoya knows where this is going and tries to chicken out but Utaha hints she has spent lots for all this so he better play along. Tomoya is literally saved by the bell. His handphone ring, that is. The girls call Tomoya knowing Utaha has turned off her handphone. Game over, Utaha. Eventually they all join up at the karaoke box as Michiru demonstrates her new songs for the game’s scenes. Tomoya and Megumi sneak out and talk about hoping for the best for their game. Izumi is motivated seeing the other girls work so hard so she lets them know she is looking forward to their game at winter Comiket. She hands an autographed self-portrait to Eriri.

Episode 1
Eriri and Utaha continue to clash and argue like always. This prompts a flashback of how they met a year ago. It all started when Eriri confronted Utaha after realizing she has been spending a lot of time closely with Tomoya. So it all boils down to if the other likes him. Eriri believes Tomoya is only close to her because he likes the novel Metronome of Love so they’re just like friends who like the same book. Until Utaha reveals herself as the author of that book. More frustration for Eriri the more research she does on her. And yeah, Utaha continues to hang out with Tomoya. Similarly, Utaha also finds out more about Eriri but via Tomoya. Tomoya might have said something she didn’t like. This makes her barge her way through the private room of an art club Eriri is in to find some more clues about her. The next day, Utaha summons Eriri about what she found. She now knows Eriri is part of a doujin circle, Egoistic-Lily and most of her work are 18+. Eriri somehow sees this as a threat and starts predicting a hentai rape scene upon herself? Utaha isn’t hiding the fact she is a light novel author. Just that nobody asked. But Eriri is different. She tried to hide hers because of her experience of being discriminated as an otaku since young. She was also betrayed by her only comrade then. So guess who is the guy who understood her and is able to talk freely about the things she loves? Utaha views her motivation to draw is for revenge. That kind of work won’t make people happy. Likewise, Eriri comments Utaha’s writings look down on others and doesn’t move them because of empathy. What she does is just manipulate feelings. That means there is no motivation and she is a heartless author to begin with. Utaha replies whether their work is for revenge or calculation, the one who is moved first loses. In present time, looks like both have ‘settled’ whatever differences and ready to move on. It’s so tiring… Tomoya announces an illustration with their signatures to promote their game at winter Comiket. They are reluctant at first but when Megumi wants one too, they get motivated to make a few copies for themselves.

Episode 2
Utaha has finally finished her scenario and Tomoya must now date her this weekend as promised. And Eriri dragged Megumi along so they could spy on them. Eriri you looking so suspicious… Tomoya is forced to accompany Utaha reading at a bookstore, carries all the books she has to buy and wait patiently as she catches up on more reading. Not sure if Eriri’s tailing got distracted because she read the synopsis of a movie that continues from the TV series that had ended and became so moved about it. Tomoya is worried after hearing Utaha might not be around next year. Well, she is considering going to a faraway college. However she hints there is also one nearby. It’s not like she wants to live independently but doesn’t mind it either. She is in a dilemma picking which. Hint, hint. So you’re going to let Tomoya decide? I thought it is pretty clear cut… As Tomoya sees her off at the train station, he tells her he wants her to go to the nearer college. At least they can still make games together. But if she doesn’t want to make games with him anymore, that is a different story. Even so, he doesn’t want to be the one to rule out the possibility. Seeing his genuine reaction, she decides to give him a chance. She hands him the latest scenario she rewrote which is completely different than the one for the game. So he has to read it and decide which version is better. For their future possibility. Eriri is worried if Tomoya ever came home last night. Well, Megumi has a key to his place… They see him emotionally crying after reading Utaha’s new scenario. Instead of the hero ending up with his current day lover, suddenly a total switch to his sister from the past. I don’t play such games so I don’t see the emotional value it has… Eriri is not impressed. Not only this means new scenes to illustrate (like starting from scratch), this would also change the interpretation they have of everything they’ve been making. This makes the previous heroine nothing more but a window dressing heroine since their story and route will be totally different than the one they have been promoting. Tomoya wants to hold a meeting to discuss which scenario to be included but Eriri believes this is for him and the scenario writer to decide. And she’s not here. They join Megumi in playing a demo doujin game which is supposed to be released at this winter Comiket. They find the genre similar to theirs and more surprisingly it is from their rival circle, Rouge En Rouge.

Episode 3
There is some dramatic tense showdown between Tomoya, Eriri, Iori and Izumi. Till Megumi drops in to thank Izumi for joining this ‘meeting’. Tomoya isn’t happy that Rouge En Rouge is basically ripping off their game. Iori reminds him that they challenged each other and despite Rouge En Rouge is a bigger and more famous circle, there are still ways Blessing Software can win. What irks Tomoya the most is how he dragged Izumi into this. However Izumi says she is doing this so she can challenge Eriri directly as they are both illustrators. Indeed, Izumi has advanced a lot in just a few months. Then it descends into a girly fight… Tomoya is confident he has Utaha as their scenario writer but is surprised when Iori is even more confident that this is the part he will never lose out. Megumi is at Tomoya’s place to help make their game playable by the end of the week. However they hardly make any progress and she feels a bit down. As they take a rest, Tomoya gets a rude awakening when Michiru wrestles him. She has this misconception they were sleeping together! Sleepyhead Megumi explained in an ambiguous way that they were already doing it here since last night (the programming, that is). Tomoya is relieved that Michiru can help out. How? She can only play the guitar. He calls the rest of her Icy Tail band members. They realized they have been duped into helping Tomoya with his game. He ‘threatens’ to help out or as their manager he will quit! But why them? He knows that each of them has got some ‘experience’ in computing (except Michiru). In order words, he wants them to pull an all-nighter doing computing odd jobs. Well, I guess one of them is forced to forgo her date for this… Yeah, whatever boyfriend problems they have is not of his concern! Hidoi! But does he have enough computers? Megumi is on her way to borrow more laptops from Eriri. Don’t worry about sleeping over at Tomoya’s place. Lots of girls have been sleeping here too… So ambiguous… The game is done eventually and Tomoya realizes something. He confronts Utaha to tell her of his decision. Which scenario will he choose? Neither. It needs another take. This is a crappy game.

Episode 4
I think Megumi figured out something wrong and goes to see Tomoya. However he is in the midst of being beaten up by Utaha. Come back later. So Tomoya and Utaha are arguing loudly on what is wrong with the scenarios that they’re scaring the maids away. When he claims this is not the game he wanted to make, it broke her heart. Oh, she’s crying… When everything calms down, he talks to her about fixing it. If she won’t do it, he’ll do it. He is the director after all. With Tomoya pitching in to write, of course he isn’t going to get everything right at first go as Utaha checks his work and there are lots of mistakes including typos. Tomoya needs a game that doesn’t follow the conventional rules. Because Utaha is a novelist, her scenarios end up making the game look like a novel. In the end, Tomoya suggests a third route where everyone will be happy (the other routes seem to sacrifice happiness of others). Utaha disagrees as it is not her literally style. While it might be rude for a creator to say this to a director, it won’t be if a fellow creator says it to another creator. So I take it, Tomoya for the time being is as of the same position as her. Tomoya is so focused and working hard on his scenario that he doesn’t realize how sexy Utaha in her undies as she sleeps on his bed… Until he tries to cover her with a blanket. The scenario is done and Tomoya apologizes to her for breaking her characters and all. She believes they have lived instead of died. She is happy they had fun writing their own original scenario. Tomoya moved to tears? With this, Utaha has finished her part in the game and will no longer be involved. Megumi points out a character in the game is similar in one in Metronome of Love. Utaha admits in a way they are and the way she describes the source she based them on seems to sound a lot like herself. Yeah, who else? Something about her being lonely and she would like the main character to choose just this once. During the bonfire dance, Megumi’s acting of the main character is impressive enough that Tomoya sees her in that form.

Episode 5
Everyone is spying on Megumi being confessed. Tomoya must be relieved to see her rejecting him, right? The reason being, the deadline is near and there are lots of things left to do for the game. Aww, how considerate. However Utaha is hinting the blame on Eriri since she is behind schedule. It seems Eriri is obsessing about quality and hence not getting her anyway. It doesn’t add up she spent so much time improving but not producing the results. Though, Eriri deflects the blame back that they added a new route and hence additional work. Later Eriri tells Tomoya that she will be holing up in a villa to complete her work. This means skipping school. She’ll make it before the deadline. Just trust her. So when he tells the rest about this, Utaha is warning him about the signs that could signal she would be dropping her work and running away. Although it starts off on a promising note, it doesn’t take long before Eriri starts showing those signs. I’m sure Utaha is going to lecture him on I-told-you-so. With Tomoya continuing to believe Eriri and that she won’t run away, Utaha reminds him that is not faith. Has she nowhere to go further as creator? She can’t change her art style or make any progress. When faced with something to overcome it, she will back off without trying. It gives Tomoya the dilemma if he wants Eriri to finish her job by the deadline or improve as a creator. Then more of the signs start to show. She talks harsher, submits less and less works, blames herself, replying much later and the final straw came when she says she has found a new way to do her art. She is going to draw the backgrounds and characters separately. This means she is changing her art style at this point. Tomoya is in shock if she can do it. As long as he expects it, she can do it. In the end, she manages to finish it all but she sounds like she used up her entire life force for it and ‘dies’. So dramatic…

Episode 6
Eriri has fallen sick. Tomoya is in a hurry to head there so he calls Iori for help. He is so kind to give him a personal car ride. Iori gives his opinion about Tomoya’s position of leaving his home since he is on a tight deadline. Tomoya will not allow that burden to fall on other members. Iori sees it as him wanting to keep Eriri all to himself. When they arrive, awesome illustrations on the floor. Eriri on the floor. She is put to bed and Iori gives him the necessary contacts should he need further help. Next morning, Eriri is better. She is glad he likes her illustrations. They were her best. She thinks the game is completed since he is here. When she finds out it isn’t, she becomes mad and starts crying like it is the end of the world. It meant her efforts were in vain. At this point he could only choose either Eriri or the deadline but she thought he would have chosen both. She feels better when he says her artwork is better than Izumi’s. She is glad he has become her number one. But not in terms of his harem, that is. Tomoya apologizes for not being able to meet the deadline but Eriri also does the same for obsessing over quality. That fault of hers is because of her pride. At Comiket, the gang is busier than ever. Because they had so much free time, Tomoya added more content which in turn made them busy. Eriri did apologize to all the other girls but Utaha thought she acted arrogant and bragged after that. However Megumi refuses to blame anybody as everyone did their best. Later Eriri apologizes to Izumi for all the mean things she said because she was scared of her, especially how much she grew as an artist. She has to admit her loss here or else she cannot move on. Izumi looks forward to their next challenge. Blessing Software has become a hot topic ever since they released their trial game and it took only 30 minutes for it all to be sold out! There is an after party after that but Megumi goes home straight. Tomoya thinks she is mad because they didn’t have a complete version at Comiket. However that is not the reason. He never told her about Eriri’s case and the deadline. She told him she was free and would be able to help. Yet he never said anything. She thought she chose the same thing as him but yet he took all the burden on himself. Although he did the right thing, she can’t forgive him. Tomoya notes Megumi wasn’t sad. It was a new emotion he has never seen that hurt so much.

Episode 7
The game is popular enough that they see a rise in orders for it. Tomoya thinks of having a thank you illustration art. Eriri is already working on it. A rare sight of Utaha walking with Tomoya to school that it dumbfounds everyone else. This is her last chance to walk with him since she is graduation. Cue to get very close to him. Also expected, Eriri coming in to cut in and blame Tomoya for going ahead and wasted her effort of coming to his house and walk together. Also cue for the ladies to start b*tch insulting each other causing everybody to witness this shameful drama. However Megumi still ignores Tomoya despite he tries his best to talk about the circle’s next meeting. The cut is deep. Easily misinterpreted, Iori is giving Tomoya Valentine chocolates?! Fujoshi fans rejoice?! Actually it is from Izumi and she couldn’t give it to him since she is busy taking exams. Iori and his circle has played his game and noticed the vast improvements. However Iori can tell he went to write on the last scenario since he recognized his style which never changed from some infamous copy he wrote 3 years ago. He still has that copy… Tomoya wants it back! Iori advises him not to lose his circle and not let go of Utaha and Eriri. Tomoya calls Megumi but she blatantly doesn’t answer. After Eriri gives her chocolates, she learns Tomoya and Megumi still haven’t made up. She wants to blame herself but Tomoya won’t let her. He talks about getting started for their next project but she wants to hold it off a little since she worked hard. Tomoya congratulates Utaha in releasing her new novel. Then she teases him as usual with sexually ambiguous words like signing on his body and gives him her chocolates since they are at a relationship point where they spent many nights together. Writing scenarios, right? Utaha mentions she won’t be coming to school anymore since she has to write the second volume and prepare for university. So will she participate in his next project? She asks who is going to do the art then. Because Eriri hasn’t drawn a single picture the entire year. She doesn’t consider that art she completed after the deadline as it. If possible, he wants Eriri to work with him again and create a game that surpasses Cherry Blessing. Tomoya finally texts Megumi about his plans for the next meeting. She’s still pondering about it. Tomoya replays his game and notes how well it is done. He realizes Megumi has been putting a lot of effort into it. Not just the game but other minor productions as well. I don’t want to jump the gun but does it mean that she was interested in more than just the game? He starts crying and can only apologize.

Episode 8
Tomoya finally catches Megumi to talk. She can’t run now. It looks like a rape scene since he locks the door and his hands approaching her. Turns out he just wanted to print some stuffs. Megumi was pretty scared at that point. He shows her his proposal for their next game project. So he is assuming she will join? She didn’t feel like she was really participating in the last one. He rants about how he will make it so but all she sees is just him making a game based on his delusions. Plus, he plans to make this game with this minimal staff. Is he going to do everything? That’s why he roped her in as the assistant. Again. Oh, she doesn’t want to do something this troublesome again. He pleads to help take care of this circle so she asks has she told Eriri about making her the heroine again. Not yet. The way he explains makes Megumi give out that killer eyes because it’s like saying he is doing this thinking she is in love with him. He blames this on playing too much galge. Maybe that’s why all galge are twisted in this sense since otakus don’t have real 3D relationship. When Tomoya thanks her for all the hard work and apologizes for it, Megumi cannot contain her emotions and starts crying. The more he says sorry, the more she sheds? There has got to be a limit because it’s making her mad now how cheap his sorrys are. She just wished as friends there would be no secrets or decisions without discussion among them. They talk about Eriri who is still in a slump. Megumi wonders why he doesn’t find another illustrator as good as her to join. Back at his home, he explains the kind of game he wants to make. No more all that sci-fi, supernatural and cliché stuffs. Just a normal high school game. As he rants about heroine being humans, once again Megumi has to show her mad side and lecture him. As she is a heroine herself, she too is human. She is mad because they have been close enough and yet he doesn’t understand how she feels. I mean, with his next game title as How To Raise A Boring Heroine, it is trying to say her character is dead. Megumi still has issues with his insensitivity but they have other issues to deal with. Like Utaha who has graduated and the possibility she won’t work for him again. Not to mention Eriri’s slump. No use talking too much deep into the night. Just sleep on it for now.

Episode 9
Tomoya goes to congratulate Utaha on her graduation. Then he lets her read his proposal of his next game which everyone wants to participate. After reading, she gives it high marks despite how cliché it is and lacking originality. When Tomoya says he hasn’t asked Eriri yet, this makes Utaha worry. She wonders how to tell it to her. Hence she cannot continue with her. Tomoya is shocked and desperate as she explains his work isn’t something to die for. Then there’s this reasoning of how he failed as a producer because he doesn’t crack the whip and push his employees to the brink to bring out their best abilities. Wouldn’t that be like workplace abuse? Then she shows him a proposal she got for an epic RPG game, Fields Chronicle. It is by the legendary Akane. At this point Utaha is already shaking as Tomoya goes through the proposal. Apparently it is not Akane who is scouting her but Eriri. Utaha could only apologize. Flashback a month ago, Utaha and Eriri talked and various issues. The latter is still in a slump and hasn’t been able to produce such quality art since then. Utaha is told by her editor that their company will have staffs working under Fields Chronicle for the story. Her editor believes Utaha still has unlimited talent and believes she shouldn’t be hand over to Akane yet. Later Utaha and Eriri are invited to meet with Akane herself. She lets them read her proposal and wants them to decide if they will be on board or not. When they ask what they’re supposed to die, she tells them straight they are to die for this game. Devote themselves to nothing but it for a year. Akane has played their recent game and noticed Eriri’s out. Because she noted Utaha was the only one who could keep up with her deadline, hence Utaha’s role is to draw out Eriri’s mental and technical skills. She does think highly of Utaha’s skill but if Eriri isn’t joining, there is no point having Utaha. When Eriri complains she is in a slump, Akane blows her top. She tells her to stop insulting artists. She made an amazing piece of work once and is now in a slump? She is nowhere near her peak! She isn’t in a slump. She is just a crappy artist! Her skills aren’t there yet. Akane then gives her look at the art she drew. Eriri is in shock seeing Akane could copy her unique art style.

Episode 10
Eriri is annoyed that Utaha is supportive of Akane’s plan. However Utaha points out that Eriri has not decided on anything and merely complained why she can’t. She has not decided on what to do in the future, what to become. So when Eriri starts praising the positive side of all this, now it is Utaha’s turn to let loose some steam as she rants how annoyed it is for a doujin artist to get this job compared to a professional novelist. She hopes Eriri could accept this project so she can fight her head on. Iori goes to talk to Akane about what happened. Seems he is seeking her permission to quit her circle. Utaha’s editor must be trying to joke around about Tomoya trying to cling on to Utaha after she graduates. Utaha asserts she won’t get feelings in the way as she is a professional. Oh really? Next afternoon, Eriri breaks Utaha’s slumber by calling to meet her. It seems she has her groove back after she kept drawing all night. As her sketches are back home, there is a faster way to show it to her. She’ll sketch it for her right now. Beautiful enough for Utaha to be in awed. Eriri then starts laughing since she has recognized her. But it’s just hysteria since now she starts crying her heart out. She is sad this is the art Tomoya wanted. He supported her but she couldn’t produce the results. But Akane mocked and laughed at her, she managed to pull through because she didn’t want to lose. She can’t draw with Tomoya and Tomoya can’t make her draw. She won’t progress if she stays in his circle. She can’t become his amazing illustrator. After calming down, Eriri notes Tomoya will hate her for this second betrayal. Utaha believes so but at least this time she has an accomplice. They vow they will both defeat Akane. Iori speaks to Tomoya and he feels bad he lost 2 of his circle members. Tomoya looks on the positive side that they could develop further. But he doesn’t look happy? Iori also announces that because of Akane’s new recruits, he and Izumi quit Rouge En Rouge. But his main reason is because there is something new he would like to try. Izumi has found a place where she could put her skills to the best use. He advises Tomoya not to stop pursuing his dream. So a forlorn Tomoya walks home. Before him is Megumi. She wants them to go out on a date. If this isn’t trolling, I guess this day isn’t that bad after all.

Episode 11
Tomoya doesn’t want Megumi to blame Utaha and Eriri. He dragged them into this and they have no reason to stay in a small circle in the first place. They should be aiming for bigger opportunities. So they’re back at the mall where they first dated. Could it be Megumi still kept a grudge how he stood her up the last time? Well, he has to accompany her this time. He buys her a hat as present for the glasses she gave the last time. On the way back, she asks if his heroine story is like what he wanted. That suffocating and exciting feeling when he had fallen in love with a real girl. Tomoya realizes this is her way of telling him she won’t give up. Even if Utaha and Eriri aren’t here, Blessing Software will still be around as long he is here. Tomoya agrees and wants her to become her main heroine again. She adds a heroine that everyone would envy. Tomoya becomes hysteric. He laughs at first before crying his heart out. Tomoya makes a surprise appearance when he sees off Utaha and Eriri at the train station. He wishes them all the best and is excited to see Fields Chronicle to become a god tier under them. Megumi might not be here but she can talk via handphone. With both sides giving each other motivation, Eriri steps up and hopes to take Tomoya’s glasses as a token. Then she really wants to kiss him but Utaha usurps her and kisses Tomoya instead!!! So while nobody cares about Eriri screaming in the background, Utaha boldly flirts with him until her twintail smacking breaks them up. They realize they have missed the train. At the start of the new school term, Tomoya is wearing Eriri’s glasses. Megumi is trying real hard to not laugh. Maybe not. So he decides to not wear them. They are surprised to see Izumi enrolling in this school. Tomoya realizes this is what Iori had meant. Eriri and Utaha are ‘stalking’ from afar as Michiru points out the outsiders cannot go back now that they left. Michiru wants to nonchalantly go to Tomoya but the duo restrain her like she’s some criminal. Being so noisy, I guess Tomoya already spotted them.

How To Treat Your Harem Well
Just like my sentiments from the first season, I can’t seem to determine if this sequel is boring, just like in its title. That is why I was wondering if I should make a pun with the sequel’s title of Flat. You know, as in boring and dreary. Or maybe it refers to Tomoya’s subsequent plan falling flat. But they used the musical note flat… Lower pitch? Sounds like… Lover b*tch? Wait. What did I just say?! Or maybe the symbol looks like a side boob and some of the girls are busty and some are flat… Oops! Don’t stray too far thinking irrelevant things.

There is a lot of high stakes drama in this sequel with things going up a notch. Fans may be able to appreciate all the drama and deep character development in the sequel but for a simpleton like me, it is hard for me to grasp in detail the deeper aspects of what is going on. I do have the basic gist of what is going on but not something on a profound level.

With time running out, Tomoya has to play relationship manager as well as trying to complete his ideal game in his maiden attempt. This sets up a few episodes to be given focus to his girls and the problems they have to currently deal with. Like Utaha who has her graduation looming and the possibility of going to a faraway college. Then there is Eriri who suddenly gets into a slump and it gets a bit more complicated since she is trying to be a perfectionist for herself and ultimately Tomoya. Lastly there is Megumi who also have her own drama because she felt disappointed Tomoya didn’t trust her completely despite they have done so many things together. Though these problems are somewhat solved, they aren’t the optimum solutions that Tomoya would hope. However they aren’t so much so to be considered bad endings. Utaha and Eriri might not be around for Tomoya’s next project but it’s not like they’re gone forever. At least you can count that they will be somewhat around and close in proximity.

The banter between Utaha and Eriri is still amusing to watch due to their contrasting characters. They really are frenemies and the strangest of bedfellows united and conflicting at the same time because of their connection to a certain guy. Utaha being the novelist certainly has a way with words while Eriri being the typical cliché of a blonde twintail tsundere always fails to keep her emotion in check and falls for Utaha’s bait. Not to mention Utaha still has got her touch in making her flirting with Tomoya sounding so scandalous that it worries the guy so much. Then there is the deadpan and brutally straight-in-your-face comebacks by Megumi. Sometimes it’s like as though she is born lacking emotions. Even when she was mad at Tomoya, she wasn’t looking like your typical angry girl. It’s just weird. Also it’s good because imagine if Megumi becomes full blown emotional, that will be just too shocking. Yeah, like the time she actually cried. Emotion holder full. Time to unload some. Or maybe she is just a master of suppressing her feelings to catch everyone off guard one day… She might not show any emotions but that does not mean she is completely emotionless.

Sometimes I feel that this sequel has forgotten about Michiru since she lacks screen time. Not to say that she has a lot of it in the last season but I feel she has even lesser appearances in this season. It’s like the first prologue episode was her most prominent episode. No joke but I feel that the breaking of the fourth wall in the final scene that she was ‘missing’ for the latter half of the series makes fun of this. And then the one with her Icy Tail members helping out with computing odd jobs, they went ‘missing’ after that as the series starts focusing on the deeper issues of Tomoya’s other girls. Like as though there were no issues in the music department in the first place. Maybe not assuming Michiru is a very talented songwriter. Shouldn’t she be scouted already by some famous talent agency instead of continue to be managed by Tomoya? This means no sexy time with Michiru as I remember her as the girl who loves to wrestle Tomoya so as to give us viewers sexy fanservice shots of her submission moves. I guess you can’t date and marry your cousin anyway.

Hence it isn’t a perfect or ideal path or perhaps route to an ending that Tomoya wants. Both of his greatest allies of the most important elements of a game have gone over to a better rival. He tried his best the first time round to keep his team together and at least from the sales of their first game, it was encouraging. However it wasn’t enough to keep them around for the second game after the trouble they went through for the first one. Things change. Maybe he could get others for replacement but at this point it is best you have people you are familiar with to work with. So with Utaha and Eriri jumping ship, maybe it is all part of a bigger scheme to surprise their lover boy that they will destroy the enemy within before coming back to him. Assuming he hasn’t gone steady with Megumi at that point… Or Izumi, considering she is now enrolled in his school.

He might almost look like a cliché male protagonist otaku with beautiful girls around him but at least we see him grow as a game creator and director and facing his problems head on instead of running away. The choices he had to make have its pros and cons and I believe he chose the best outcome in the long run. Like when Eriri was depressed and in a slump, it was either her or the game’s deadline. He can’t have both. He chose. Like I said, not the most ideal of results but at least it isn’t totally a bad ending. After all, he keeps his relationship with his female team members professionally and doesn’t see them one bit as his love interests-cum-harem. At least, not that I can see he has any from his perspective.

Love it or hate it, this sequel as well as the overall series has both its ups and downs. Very deep and heavy character development between the main characters but some feel a bit of a let-down (Michiru is one thing but Megumi to a point too feels underutilized this season). The art and animation are still good and the lack of fanservice may be a good or bad thing depending on your stance on it. It might not be as much as the first season since Utaha didn’t try as much to be funny with her ambiguous seductions on Tomoya. To top it off, the bittersweet climax and ending may not be the kind of conclusion that viewers might be hoping for. But you know, it is somewhat like reality and real life itself. Better to try and fail than never starting or do anything. It might be a painful road with suffering and distress but for sure it will make you stronger and push ahead even further. When you have experienced all the best and worst in life, returning to normal doesn’t look like a bad thing. A boring heroine maybe, but she is still a heroine nonetheless.


April 29, 2017

Normally I don’t have a thing for anime series that has you solve puzzles. Long story short, I’m too dumb and don’t want to think so much. Even mystery series like Detective Conan I have given the skip but some like Hyouka are mind blowing. So it was natural that I was going to skip Nazotokine seeing I wasn’t interested in those puzzle-type animes even if the duration per episode for this show is about 8 minutes. So what prompted me to check this out? There is a pretty and busty lady on the promotional poster of the series! WTF???!!! Damn you advertising tactics! Even if I don’t understand what’s going on, at least I have a nice cutie to gawk at. Haha… Yeah, I don’t even understand the mysteries of my own horniness.

Episode 1
Tokine Amino works as the CEO’s secretary for a PR agency. She meets up with her colleagues who works at the front desk, Yoshie Yamazumi and Kyouka Minakami as they discuss some director of some anime company coming for a meeting. As Tokine readies the meeting room, she can’t wait to meet those big anime bigwigs. Suddenly she is transported to another dimension. Before her is a weird creature in a flying hat, Hacchin. Tokine isn’t impressed of what is happening and starts insulting this inter-dimensional pig. But Hacchin isn’t shocked at her displeasure. He tells her to listen or else risk getting stuck here. This world is called Quizun and she needs to solve riddles to get out of here. Or be stuck here forever. Tokine thought she could get right away in solving this puzzle of floating paintings but apparently there are more procedures to follow. Giving her some dick insignia (just kidding. Okay, in a very general and vague sense in might look like it) and making her wear some tight fitting futuristic outfit that showcases her boobs.

Episode 2
There’s a reason why she has to dress like this. This suit supposedly releases her latent potential that his world suppresses. Oh really? I thought it was for fanservice. Hacchin adds this suit reflects her mental state to adapt to this world and thus is from her own mind rather than his personal taste. Praising her own taste now, huh? Oh, did Hacchin mention there is a time limit? 5 minutes. Oh, since their talking was also included, she has 3 minutes left! As she gets cracking, it may seem the obvious words from the paintings’ space spell out as PEON. Wrong. Then she notices the title of the paintings do not match. When she matches them in the correct order, they spell OPEN. Correct! That moment of eureka has Tokine go into some sort of orgasmic face as some green gem appears from her chest. Hacchin grabs it and explains this Q-Stone is supposedly the stimulus found in the human brain when they experience intellectual pleasure of a eureka. He is pleased she is the chosen one and has never seen such a big Q-Stone before. As promised, he returns her to her world. The meeting goes on well. After work, her friends wonder about Tokine’s spacing out. Is it boyfriend problems or somebody asking her out? She forgot to check out the new anime that aired last night.

Episode 3
Tokine’s friends wonder if she is boyfriend problems again. Actually she is worried she is going to be real busy this afternoon. Her friends believe this means the CEO is counting on her and this gives her motivation. She manages to finish her work before midnight and catch the last train in time. As she browses through her Smartphone, suddenly she is transported to Quizun. Not again. However she isn’t alone and all the other passengers are also there. But since they aren’t the chosen ones, they are like lifeless zombies murmuring some word. So people who can’t use their talents in Quizun become part of the puzzle? With Hacchin appearing, looks like Tokine knows the drill. Luckily this time he gives her a proper signal to start for the time limit. Tokine looks at the diagram with lines and numbers she is supposed to connect in order.

Episode 4
Tokine notices the people are murmuring names of the train stations. She thought of connecting their physical attributes to make a human centipede but thankfully that’s not right. Her first step in guessing right is that the colours of the stations are linked to the panels. Taking the letters from the train stations, it spells out Tamagama. Wrong answer. With time running out, Tokine realizes she needs to connect them in the order of the stations and this time she spells it out correctly, Magatama. Another big Q-Stone from her. Gochisousama. She is returned to the train and is embarrassed when she realizes everybody is staring at her. Back home, she gets a message from Yoshie that she is moving next Saturday. Tokine is happy since she is moving closer to her and they can go drinking together more often.

Episode 5
Tokine and Kyouka meet up with Yoshie at her new place. It is still empty as they’re waiting for the delivery company to send the furniture and stuffs. Yoshie tells her boyfriend bought her this place because she wanted to be closer where she works. But because he is always busy, he is only home half the week. Her friends feel lonely on her behalf. When the delivery company is here, the girls are awed with the handsome and muscular Shinoharada. He has a couple of cute helpers too. While everyone is downstairs doing things, Tokine is alone in the room. When the helpers come in and she opens the window, she’s back in Quizun. She has always wanted to ask Hacchin this as he confirms that emotions from people with potential would trigger her to enter this world. So cut off all emotions if she doesn’t want to experience this anymore? She’d rather die than be a zombie. Tokine puts on her thinking cap to solve this quick as she got those helpers dragged into this world.

Episode 6
Noticing blocks of animals, she thought of spelling out their names but it doesn’t fit. If she’s spelling them in Japanese. They do in English. With the first step done, she now notices a cardinal direction with each direction representing a different colour. The blocks also have different colours in them. Since the helpers are murmuring north and south, she figures leaving behind blocks that represent the north and south colour and blocks in between them. At first the word didn’t make sense but then she realizes the answer is ‘cube’. There’s an explanation about how she arrives at this but I didn’t get it because I’m dumb. Because the final answer to derive that felt like random. Tokine is returned to the room and the moving went smoothly. Yoshie treats her friends to Korean BBQ. The girls talk about the upcoming company trip to Minakami Hotsprings. Kyouka freaked out at first because that’s the name of the hotspring her family runs.

Episode 7
The company trip is proceeding well. Everybody has fun. But the draw of this company trip is off course the hotsprings. The girls talk about the various and different hotsprings in the area (18 areas of them and they are all named after dragons). When they retire to their inn, they meet Kyouka’s little sister, Kyouko who isn’t too happy that big sister hasn’t come home for quite a while. After Kyouka introduces her to her colleagues, Kyouko introduces them to her friends, Hinata Takaragawa and Mamori Sonazawa. Because Tokine gets a call from the boss, she will join them later. Once done, Tokine can’t contain her excitement to dip in. But as she switches off the lights in the changing room, oh dear it’s back to Quizun. This time Hacchin is riding a dragon that attacks her! WTF?! I guess the pig must be tired of her past insults?

Episode 8
Hacchin is ignoring her more than usual and tells her to get solving! Tokine notices a pentagram with coloured lines as well as English alphabets. She also notices the 3 balls behind the dragon changing colour as it changes its speech pattern. First, she finds a pattern in its speech to having something in common. Translate into English words, they have ‘~ight’ in common. The correct word corresponds to the coloured balls with the coloured lines on the pentagram. At first she thought the answer was “Right” but it’s wrong! Oh, the irony. Then she notices the colours on the towel of the other girls’ which is supposed to correspond with the colours in the hexagram. Only one of them has the right combination so the correct answer is “Light”. With the puzzle solved, Hacchin quickly takes her Q-Stone and leaves. Not even a word to explain why he needs the stones. Yeah, it’s like he’s stealing it, huh? So Tokine screws all that and returns to enjoy the hotspring. One of her colleague has extra tickets to a pro-wrestling event nearby and since Tokine is a fan, I guess they’re going.

Episode 9
The girls enjoy the wrestling match as Kyouko mentions she will be visiting her sister next week. After visiting her new apartment, they head out to go watch a monster movie, Vajra Resurgence. As they enter the hall, the girls noticed a familiar face in the front seats, Natsuko Yanagisawa. They remember seeing her on the company trip and recalls she is a former cabaret girl who used her connections to get a job in the company. Because the man next to her seems familiar too (probably a board member of the company), the girls aren’t too please ‘witnessing’ a scandal. But they’re not going to let this distract and ruin their movie. Before the movie starts, a reminder to tell them to switch off their handphones. The moment Tokine does so, damn it’s back to Quizun. This time the entire audience are transported. Too many people so her guilt amplifies? However one of the audiences is able to move on her own: Natsuko. She even says hi!

Episode 10
Why is Tokine agitated that Natsuko knows her name? Don’t they work in the same company? When Hacchin appears, he recognizes Natsuko as she too is another chosen one who solved riddles. However Hacchin reveals her true name as Tokuyo Nazo and this makes Tokine laugh her ass off because it sounds like ‘solving a mystery’. This time Tokuyo is the one who is most agitated each time Tokine calls her that. They say 2 heads are better than one so the duo cooperate to solve this. They notice a time schedule for movies as well as the screen containing weird numbers, pictures and other information. First they draw the clues from the clapperboard. Its lines connect the numbers on the screen. They match it with the time on the movie schedule. Then they take the key words in those movie names which lead them to solve a word hidden on the screen (spoilers: “Cross”). Hacchin is pleased to get 2 Q-Stones for the price of one. When they return to the cinema, the girls witness the board guy freaking out that some fish got in his clothes?! Huh?! Is that some sexual innuendo there?

Episode 11
So the movie has this monster who is going to fight a vegetable family transforming into a mecha?! And they love this great move?! So great that this is Tokine’s fifth time?! Next day at work, the girls plan to visit the annual lighting display at Showa Memorial Park. Tokine jokes she used to come here with her family and boyfriend. Did she already break up with her boyfriend? Yeah, she is already over him… The show is hosted by Ein Hinosaku whom the girls recognize as the heroine of some tokusatsu movie. She is also a model and singer. Yoshie gets upset realizing this is the woman her boyfriend admires. Well, work hard to be like her then. The show begins and as Tokine gets excited to take photos with her handphone, f*ck this Quizun world again! This time a record number of people sucked in. The entire park! The puzzle comes in 2 panels, a big and small one with words, alphabets and numbers. Notice how the people are murmuring key words of events in past episodes?

Episode 12
Tokine realizes the words in a panel relates to answers in her previous quizzes. Once she is able to decipher that, she moves on to the next panel. Separating it via coded colours and turning it into a cube, following its outline reveals to be alphanumeric code. So by placing those codes as location on the panel, it spells out “Illumination”. But she is short of an answer as Hacchin reminds her it can be found at the bottom of the hotspring. A series of complex connections, Tokine is able to answer “Have a nice day”. As reward, Hacchin tells her about Q-Stone. As it consists of humans’ intellectual ecstasy, it builds up and has nowhere to go on Earth. Hence Quizun is somewhat manmade, another dimension for this energy to go. Then Quizun circulates that power and turns into different types of energy and sends it back to Earth and has different effects on people like good luck, purification and healing. Before Hacchin leaves, he tells her there will be a change in her soon. Next morning when she wakes up, she finds the sky like Quizun and Hacchin is beside her! Has the world merged or has Tokine become a quiz master like Hacchin?! Is this his present to her after all her effort in puzzle solving?!

Jeopardy! Spot Quiz!
Damn it was bad. The puzzles are hard to follow and the non-existing storyline just makes it worse. This makes puzzle anime series like Ryuugajou Nanana No Maizoukin and that Phi Brain series (which I didn’t watch) to be even better or even animes about people being sucked into another game world and stuck there such as Sword Art Online and Log Horizon to be way better than this crap. It was already as confusing as hell (the puzzles) and with that kind of ending, I don’t really even get it. Is it some sort of open ending up to viewers’ interpretation? Is that our puzzle for us? Oh heck. I don’t feel like solving it ever.

Although the puzzle seems simple enough, it was so simple that I couldn’t even solve a single one! Yeah… Most probably I am going to blame the short time duration for the puzzle solving because you know when a puzzle is time based, chances are there is going to be lots of pressure for you to come up with an answer. I don’t know. Maybe the Japanese’s minds and thinking are much different than their different counterparts. That is why they are able to come up with the most creative puzzles like the world renowned Sudoku. Not to say that the puzzles presented here are very Japanese cultural oriented either. So it may look simple to puzzle veterans but to non-Japanese, they are still a big mystery and when the answer is explained, you just feel dumb that you didn’t guess or look at it that way. Of course with Tokine as smart as her pretty looks and could make the right answer after a couple of guesses. Yeah, so accurate and right like as though she is reading out from the script. Uh huh. Time over. Time to solve this answer. Here, read this answer out.

If you really love simple puzzles that I suppose stimulate your mind albeit a little, be glad to know that there are more of such puzzles in the ending credits. I believe the answers are posted on the company’s website but I’m too lazy to check it out because I am already too lazy myself to try and answer them. Yeah, this time I am blaming that I couldn’t understand what the question is asking despite I can read the very simple hiragana and kanji on screen. An excuse not to crack my brains and start thinking to redeem myself that I would at least be able to solve 1 stinking puzzle in this anime. I decided to take the easy way out by not even trying so that I can have more negative points to write on this anime. Holy sh*t! I’m just a pure evil scumbag! At least my personality is easy to guess.

So while the puzzles are supposed to be the main draw, it feels really weird that Tokine has to be the unlucky one to be in the area to be sucked in to Quizun and solve it. It sounds as though she is the only smart person around. Yeah… Also, with Hacchin always being her host in Quizun, it feels like he is constantly bugging and harassing her to solve them. Fail and you strip naked and be my sex slave wife! HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!! Oops… Really. It feels more like a poor excuse for them to enter another dimension to solve puzzles for another lame excuse to get this Q-Stone. Although the Q-Stone’s purpose is explained, but Hacchin doesn’t tell us why the heck he needs to take it? I mean, he did say that energy from the human world flows here and then flows back there again. Is it all natural or does Hacchin help in the processing? All too vague. That is why sometimes I feel that the only reason for making Tokine solve a puzzle and materialize her Q-Stone is to add another layer of fanservice in addition to her humongous boobs and see her orgasmic face. Yeah…

To show that Tokine has some sort of personality instead of some fanservice personification to solve puzzles, they give her traits like being concerned when other people get sucked into Quizun. Yeah, if she fails, everyone gets stuck and it’s her fault! Something to really worry about. Sometimes she doesn’t solve a puzzle at first go. This is to show us she is not perfect but usually gets it on the second try. All this sure gives Tokine some character but it doesn’t impact on anything important.

Instead of racking my heads to think of the answer to the puzzles, I am far more interested in forming my own conspiracy theories. Like how Hacchin may just be a poker face avatar for some perverted stalker in another dimension, taking her Q-Stones for his wanking material! Same case for Natsuko because she too has the same potential and probably vital statistics as Tokine. What better way to get more wanking material with 2 beautiful babes for the price of one. I mean, why the heck introduce another character who isn’t related nor we shall care? Is it because watching Tokine solving the puzzle alone has become boring and we need another beautiful babe to help her out? And thus the only reasons why such busty babes have high intelligence is because those brains are store in the boobs! That’s right. So for all you jealous flat chests out there who keep arguing that those are just fats, not in this anime because I’m thinking that is where the additional brain cells are stored! Oh yeah! Viva boobs!

Other characters like Tokine’s friends don’t really matter because I thought if Natsuko can show that another person other than Tokine can enter Quizun, maybe her friends would join her and they solve one big puzzle together to end it with a bang? Didn’t happen. Looks like everybody in this world except Tokine and Natsuko are just dumb asses. Yeah, when they become part of the puzzle in Quizun, they look and sound like zombie retards or a broken tape recorder. Seriously.

As mentioned earlier, the beautiful busty babes are the one that drew me into watching this crap. Well, if there was something that looks good, the girls here do. At least they provide eye candy and my brain to go numb instead of trying to rack them. Get the pun? Rack my brains and those busty racks? Hahaha! Sorry. Other than that, everything else in the artwork looks pretty mediocre and Hacchin feels like a lazily thought up design concept or one that has been rejected. Uh huh. This pig/rabbit doesn’t even have a decent mouth or any facial expressions and if this saves animation work, yeah well, I’m sure it did. And Quizun as an alternate dimension filled with nothing but empty space and the most some coloured squares or cubes so that not much effort can be put in the background. After all, we’ll be too focused on the puzzles, right? Or Tokine’s twin peaks… This series is animated by Tengu Kobo and this is their debut and so far only anime.

At least in addition to nice looking girls, the opening and ending themes aren’t too bad either. Dimension Sky by Yuzu Fujisaki as the opener feels more like some sort of techno dance song with the heavy bass beat throughout the song. Destiny by Aki as the ending song sounds more like a generic pop music. I noticed something about the opening animation credits. I believe it is to fit the length of the episode proper so sometimes that opener can have different lengths from the usual 1.5 minutes to only a single minute or just 30 seconds.

Overall, if you want to really boost your mind power or do some mind training, this anime is not the answer. In fact it should be categorize into the ecchi category for obvious reasons. This is the only reason why you watch this anime and then be disappointed in the end. The puzzles feel second rate and something that non-Japanese or people who are not used to puzzles will quite understand. It is better off for you to do traditional puzzles like Sudoku instead. And yeah, there are better ecchi series out there. So it goes to show that puzzle genres do not mix well with ecchi because it just complicates things and your senses as well. You wanna fap to a good time but your brain starts to hurt… How difficult it is to understand that we just want to see some boobs and pantsu???!!! It’s not that hard, right???!!!

Have I seen this somewhere before? A group of high school students trying to make a Japanese simulation game together. Not too long ago, we had an otaku wanting to make his dreams of creating the world’s best dating simulation game and recruited the best group of people in their respective field to achieve their dreams. However, Shoujo-tachi Wa Kouya Wo Mezasu isn’t exactly Saenai Heroine No Sodatekata in many ways. Despite sharing the uncanny premise of a group of high school students trying to make a game together, that is where the similarity ends. Obviously the big difference is that this isn’t going to be a harem romance. Yeah. No pervy jokes, no b*tch cat fights. Since when making a bishoujo game is like survival in the wastelands?

Episode 1
Buntarou “Bunta” Hojou looks like the kind of guy who helps out in anything. From his school clubs to a ramen store, he must be leading one busy life. His friends, Yuuka Kobayakawa and Atomu Kai hang out at his place, talk about things. Not that I’m interested anyway. Next day in class, there seems to be an argument between the class president and Teruha Andou AKA Akkina. Something about documents not being properly sorted. Bunta ever the helpful guy goes to diffuse the tension and even volunteers to help out the sorting. Heck, he even invites other volunteers to make the work lighter. After it is done, Bunta is confronted by fellow classmate, Sayuki Kuroda in the toilet. The male’s toilet! She is asking if he is free this weekend. A date? She needs to talk to him. But why not in school. What the f*ck is this proper route she is talking about?! He agrees to meet her at Hyakkejima Sea Paradise. Bunta confides in his friends about this ‘date’ and of course they have their opinions where this may lead to. Bunta and Kuroda meet up with Yuuka and Atomu spying from afar. But nothing eventful happens and it just seems like a pretty normal outing so they leave. At the end of the day, Kuroda has observed his communications skills and passes him that she is good for the job. What job? A job to help Kuroda achieve her lifelong dream? That dream is to create the best bishoujo game. She brings him to a store in Akihabara to show him different priced games determine its quality. That cheap bargain bin contains failed bishoujo games whereas the expensive ones are the more popular games. Kuroda wants Bunta to work with her to create a bishoujo game because she heard he helped wrote a script for a drama club. Although the script was based off another original work, it was only interesting because of his talents as a writer. Kuroda continues to explain the many different paths opening up for a successful bishoujo game. Bunta asks why she wants to make a bishoujo game so badly. Because the world is a wasteland where the innocent will be devoured. Where one cannot survive if they only do it for enjoyment. Only those with burning ambition will be able to contend for their dreams in the harsh wasteland. Erm, so how does that got to do with making a bishoujo game? How is that even a setting for any bishoujo game?

Episode 2
A love letter in Bunta’s locker and a package containing many bishoujo games? They’re from Kuroda alright. It is her intention to let him learn what a bishoujo game is. Since Kuroda is using lots of gaming terms, she reveals it is only natural for her as her brother was a game creator. Her first task for him is to help find other staffs for her project. He brings back typical nerds… And they don’t even do what they claim they can do. When Bunta friends come to visit the clubroom, Yuuka mentions her aspiration to become a seiyuu so Kuroda accepts her for the role. Atomu doesn’t want to be left out so he wants to join to although he doesn’t have any special skills in particular. As Kuroda warns about the length it takes to make a bishoujo game, this makes Atomu go into a rage of fury just thinking about his past failed relationships! Love can go die! Kuroda is most impressed and welcomes him aboard as the assistant director. The coming weekend, Kuroda has them accompany to a doujin game shop to have a feel of what it is like. At the end of the day, Bunta is interested to patron a maid café and to his surprise finds Akkina working there. She hopes he can keep this a secret since the school disallows students to work part time. Bunta pulls an all-nighter in playing some of the recommended games and found some to be quite interesting. His next task is to find a graphic designer for their team because art is very essential in a bishoujo game. Browsing through a bookstore, he notices an artist’s striking drawing. He spent all night looking up the identity of this artist and he found out she is a student in their school! Uguisu Yuuki is ecstatic when she finds a seemingly love letter in her locker. But when she goes to meet the potential admirer, it is actually Kuroda and co. They surround her and look so intimidating asking her questions that Yuuki is reduced to a cowering self! Naturally she becomes scared of them and avoids all sorts of contacts. When Akkina learns about this especially that Yuuki is that famous artist, she goes talk to her and she agrees to check out the club. Akkina has some programming knowledge and offers her part too. But be warned, she is a BL maniac! With the team completed, Kuroda shows them her game proposal.

Episode 3
To further discuss the game in-depth, the gang (minus Akkina) will be having a training camp at some shrine. But they seem to be doing more cleaning than discussing the game. Then there is this boring lecture from Kuroda that has everybody dozing off. They take a break for curry and that is when tardy Akkina arrives. She acts like normal (unrepentant of her lateness) and earns Kuroda’s wrath. This causes a huge tension between them. Fireworks can erupt anytime. That is not all, Bunta notices Yuuka and Atomu depressed since. Bunta then asks about their opinions to get inspiration for his scenario writing. More Kuroda and Akkina arguments because the latter believes it is impossible to have all this workload to be rushed out by November by a bunch of amateurs. Kuroda explains the misconception that they are not doing a full priced game but a low priced one. They are going to base 60% of their success on the art and the remainder by teaming up with a popular game production company to fund and release their game. Sharing the profits will be part of the condition and she has calculated that after deducting all the costs, their net income will be 10 million yen if the sell 8000 copies. They can use this profit to work on their next full priced game. Akkina is still not impressed because from the meeting notes yesterday, they didn’t talk on anything about the project. Kuroda has everyone bring up their opinions. Done? All rejected! Kuroda explains they are not doing this for fun because by doing so, it only means more risks. Akkina disagrees because people should have fun in making games. As they cannot see eye to eye, Akkina leaves. Bunta goes out his way to plead for her to come back and give this project a second chance. So she goes over the script of the bishoujo game about 2 heroines hating each other and trying to kill each other. And then it hit her. It sounds very much like a BL scenario! Although the protagonists are all girls, she can pretend they are all men in her head. She’s in. Later, Kuroda talks to Bunta that she already had Yuuki in mind as their artist. She let Bunta find his own path and is glad he had the ability to find her on his own. She adds she is doing this for her brother. It was a difficult job and he didn’t want the joy of making games to be taken away. That is why she thought fun should always come in second. Yuuka spots them talking and feels even depressed. On the way home, they decide to come up with a name of their team: Rokuhara.

Episode 4
Bunta is having a writer’s block. When Kuroda realizes she forgot to other materials for the backgrounds and music, she needs to base it on Bunta’s scenarios. Guess what? He only wrote 5 lines… She advises him instead of writing a grand story, write a short and contained one. Thanks to that, Bunta is letting his creativity flow! He can’t stop writing! When everyone reads his proud work, they find it normally good. Bunta seems disappointed. Yeah, he expected a lot more. So Kuroda takes him to see another fellow plot writer, Blooter to get some tips. Besides his super lively character, I don’t think you can call any of those as tips. But only one seems to hold true: Even if you are stuck, keep writing. So Bunta puts his head into it and rewrites the plot. This time his team finds it to be really good. That’s more like it. But right after that, another problem crops up. After Yuuki sketches several great arts, it is her turn to be in a slump. She is stubborn and determined to draw more until she collapses. She has been drawing nonstop and forsaking her health. Thus it is decided that the amount of graphics will be reduced and Bunta too will reduce his script to make it simpler and more interesting. Although Yuuki was against it at first, realizing how everyone appreciates her art makes her happy. She recovers and returns to the clubroom. A headshot of a character sketch she drew on the whiteboard now becomes Rokuhara’s symbol. When everyone goes out to get stuffs to celebrate Yuuki’s recovery, they return only to find Kuroda humming a nice tune. Yuuka recorded it and they want to know that cool melody and should use it as their game’s theme song.

Episode 5
Kuroda shows her team the theme song and some beautifully illustrated backgrounds. As the works is progressing, Akkina has completed the first batch and has everyone test play. But Bunta finds something odd. Somebody changed his script. It is no surprise that Akkina did that so Kuroda warns her to stick to her own work because some grammar mistakes or whatever might have been left there intentionally by the scriptwriter. But that is not all Akkina did. If Yuuki had not voiced out to Bunta, nobody would have known that Akkina too had tampered with her artwork. Again Kuroda chides her for this and reminds her if her own work is on schedule. What about their webpage she is supposed to do? Didn’t even start. 0% completed! This sets the duo on a warpath again and before it could blow up, Akkina leaves the club. Again. Of course Bunta can’t let this slide as he still wants Akkina on the team to finish the game. Akkina gets a call from her mom to help out her fisherman family. Initially she refuses but after hearing how her friends are coming to her house, she accepts the job. The friends did come but Akkina is already out to sea. They have to talk to her fast instead of leaving her alone or they will be behind schedule. Bunta looks through Akkina’s family’s webpage and finds a job opening. Yup, he takes up the job to go fishing with them. He has a scary firsthand experience seeing how fishing in the rough sea is done. That stormy weather, the darkness and that wall of waves! FREAKING SCARY! Eventually they get their haul. At the end of it, Bunta talks to Akkina about how everybody wants her back and to finish the game with her. She doesn’t think she can get along with Kuroda but Bunta mentions this is a wasteland so some fighting is alright. Bunta is so tired he falls asleep on her shoulders. She takes a selfie. Next day, Akkina is back and her first task is to fix up the really hideous webpage that Yuuka tried to do. Yeah, she better stick to voice acting.

Episode 6
Beach episode! Fanservice episode! Even the title says it. So we have Bunta making perhaps a wise decision of not saying whose the sexiest swimsuit is. A volleyball game that Kuroda got owned in the face. Kuroda chases Yuuki in hopes of emulating a scene you see in such bishoujo games but nothing comes out of it. She even has the girls splash water but after that violent splashing she is covered with seaweed. Kuroda panics for really when she thinks Yuuka swallowed a watermelon seed because doing so will grow one in your stomach! Yeah, she really believes it. Back in the room as Bunta begins his work, Kuroda comes in to thank him for bringing Akkina back. Also a chance for her to ask his opinion which swimsuit was the best. Is she for real wanting him to put all his lewd fantasy ideas into the game? More fanservice because it is the obligated bath scene. Kuroda’s question asking about big or small boobs backfire since Akkina and Yuuka team up to violate her. While playing fireworks, Akkina apologizes to Kuroda for all the trouble she has caused. But as long as the game gets results, all sins can be forgiven. The guys find themselves sleeping among the girls! How did this happen? Yuuka’s powerful pillow fight did pack a punch. Luckily they slip out without waking up anybody. Next morning, Yuuka and Bunta talk about stuff. But when Kuroda comes over to talk about his script progress, Yuuka becomes jealous. She hits him and runs away. Wait. What? You know it is all back to normal and reality when Kuroda and Akkina start their intense bickering on just about anything. There goes all the fun. Are they going to do this for the entire train trip home?

Episode 7
Just great. Bunta having another writer’s block? And at the crucial scene where the confession takes place? Kuroda is not amused because this would delay the pacing again. I’m sure everybody would be glad to pitch in some ideas but too bad they have got no dating experience before. And no, he is not going to ask Atomu because that guy will only be in rage. So Bunta starts asking others, his old friends and even his teacher (who is actually gay!) and even Blooter himself. Nothing amazing. So if he has no experience, will acting out help? You don’t know if you don’t try. So we see the club members doing outrageous scenes like water gun fights just to end up having a confession scene. Bunta notices Yuuka has been mad recently so as change of pace he suggests to go out on a date. To help with the game, that is. Well, at least it makes her happy. Inside her heart, that is. So we see them on an outing. Nothing too special. Yuuka is having a blast. At the end of the day, she confesses she likes him. As a human. But of course. She adds that he is a boring guy but… Oh, don’t leave us hanging, tell us more. But she promises to tell more once he finishes writing. Bummer… Bunta may be feeling good and motivated but it will be all for nought if there are no results to show for. And I guess he is already too late because Kuroda has already had it. She calls him and is going to initiate a lockdown for him. She’s serious. You’re screwed.

Episode 8
Bunta tries to escape but Kuroda is already at his door! It’s the beginning of the end! Don’t worry. She has also brought the other club members to come stay with him. They’ll be keeping a close supervision on him. Bunta’s mind is of course not on his work. He tries to escape via window but his pals quickly bolt it shut. He tries to call Blooter for help but it seems his friends already anticipated the people he will be calling and make up fake scenarios so they can’t help him. Bunta’s mind is still stuck. Perhaps a little nap will help. A short nap turns into a long nap! OMG! Wasted time! Guess what? All his supervisors fell asleep too! Even Yuuka had fallen asleep under his desk waiting to jump scare them. Yeah, wasted escape chance. They thought they could help revive him by dressing up as maids. Even Atomu! Oh, I’m definitely invigorated! But Kuroda’s ‘words of love’ are only to remind him about the deadline… The more time passes, the more desperate Bunta becomes. No toilet break escape. Because the window is also bolted down. Bunta’s suffering is more apparent. This is when Yuuka stands up to chide everyone about their ‘bullying’. Kuroda dismisses it although she points out that there is no point in doing all this if they don’t produce results. Battling deadlines is what pros do. Bunta revels when he gets his much needed bath break. A few words with Yuuka get him motivated although the bath knocked him out. They fear they may need to change their tactic but Bunta assures he will get it done this time. He works hard on his script till he finishes it. Kuroda takes a peek when he falls asleep on his laptop. Satisfied with his work, she gives him a kiss. Next day as everyone celebrates his completion, Kuroda then drops another bomb. She needs him to write scripts for drama and short novels. And 5 different kinds. To pay for the maid outfits? Oh sh*t… The beginning of the end is far from over… You’re screwed. Again.

Episode 9
With steady progress made, it is time for Yuuka to debut in voice acting. They are at the recording studio and meet all the professionals, including a pro seiyuu, Sayaka Tabe. Everyone is nervous, everyone is impressed, especially Tabe making good her lines. When it is Yuuka’s turn, it is understandable this is her first time and it takes a little longer. However there are many lines she read which are passable but she wants to redo them from the top. Many times. Thus Kuroda has to talk to her to remind that the studio has other appointments and if they overstay, extra sessions will cost more money. Despite Yuuka’s work is good, she thinks it is not good enough and wonders if Kuroda doesn’t care about quality. Kuroda just tells her to finish it in the allotted time. Thankfully she finishes in time. But a few days later, Yuuka has been absent and Kuroda receives a call from the studio that some of the lines are bad. In worst case scenario, they might have to replace Yuuka. Obviously she is undergoing depression. She runs away when Bunta tries to talk to her. So when he finally catches up with that sad girl (almost killed herself trying to cross the tracks when the train is coming!), Yuuka explains why she wanted to do her very best as good enough won’t cut it. Because Bunta and Atomu only believed in her when she wanted to become an actress when her parents didn’t. Yuuka sound even more depress thinking other seiyuus can do a better job to replace her but Bunta asserts he can only see her in that role. They head back to the clubroom and hear Kuroda negotiating with the producers to delay their launch a little. Yuuka feels bad as the cause of the delay. Since Kuroda accepts Yuuka as the only one who can do that character, Yuuka gets motivated to redo her part again. Her recording goes well and before you know it, they will be releasing their demo next week. Bunta is thanking Kai for managing the schedule of the team well. They spot the other girls hiding and spying on them. Yeah, they were hoping for the boys to kiss!!! So sorry to disappoint!

Episode 10
Our Rokuhara members are smiling from ear to ear since they receive positive comments over the internet from their demo release. They notice another game released at the same time from the company, Typhoon. They download and play it only to be blown away at how awesome everything is. But Kuroda believes Rokuhara has done a good job in their own right because Typhoon creates games for fussy and hardcore fans so their target audience is different. Bunta gets a surprised message from the script writer of Typhoon to meet. Mitsuteru Ougi seems like a nice guy. They talk about things and even invite Blooter to come. That guy doesn’t stop talking! Thank God we fast forward till he leaves. At the end of the day, both guys agree to setup and let members from both sides meet. Rokuhara meets Mitsuteru as well as the CEO of typhoon, Taiko Ooiso. Seems like a nice lady but they notice she is trying to recruit some of them into her team. Scouting is uncommon in this ‘wasteland’ but Taiko seems pushy about it. Although Rokuhara don’t really want to join her, she tries to persuade them that she will pay them or even have them join as a sub-brand. She goes too far and annoying that Kuroda is about to splash water onto her. But Bunta beat her to it. This is where she bares her fangs. After all those threats, Taiko suggests a competition between both sides. Kuroda doesn’t want to participate in both sides but Taiko threatens to spread lies and crush them for good. So the winner will be decided on the number of units sold on the first day. If Typhoon wins, Taiko will take Bunta and make him work to the bone as her slave. Later, though Bunta apologizes for getting everyone involved, this only bonds them closer and motivates them to work harder and beat that b*tch. One day, Kuroda is away and surprisingly calls Bunta to ask what kind of souvenirs he wants. The club members get a surprise visit by Iwao, Kuroda’s brother. They chat and he is a pretty nice guy. Everything seems to be looking fine till at the end he bows his head and thanks them all for taking care of his sister. And also he thanks them for going out their way to make a game to clear his debt. Oh dear. The shock of silence is so deafening…

Episode 11
Iwao further explains his company is not producing anything right now because of lack of funds. Distributors and banks refused to lend money. That is why when Kuroda told him they agreed to help out, he was very happy. When Kuroda returns, sh*t just hit the fan. The first to fire the salvo is Akkina. What are they? Slaves to clear her brother’s debt? She is leaving for real this time and not coming back. She can keep all her programming work and not pay her if she doesn’t want to. Slowly the rest too leave because they aren’t very happy with Kuroda keeping this a secret. Even Bunta. Money is not the problem here. If this guy even leaves her, you know Kuroda is really in big sh*t. So we have all our shocked Rokuhara members feeling depressed and deceived. It couldn’t be worse timing when Mitsuteru calls Bunta to tell him Typhoon has completed their game and he is excited to see what they’ve come up in 2 weeks. Bunta, Atomu and Yuuka talk and discuss about things. Then Bunta goes to see Kuroda in the clubroom and she is trying to complete everything herself. In short, Bunta is coming back to help her not because he wants to beat Typhoon or it is fun making a game. He wants to see how far their games can go. And shortly all the other members come back to help and give her a second chance. So you mean Akkina once again lied to us because she came back too? So how does she even things out? She slaps Kuroda! Now they’re even. Everybody gets motivated and work their ass off to meet the deadline. Everything is so tense that the slightest blooper can cause them to have a little heart attack. When they finally finish in time and burn the disc, Yuuki realizes only low resolution quality is included. So they have to fix it and burn it all over again. But not enough time! Kuroda will personally head to the factory. They suggest Kuroda head and wait at the train station first since she has been up all night and won’t have enough energy to make a sprint. So once the discs are burnt, Bunta rushes all the way and makes it right in the nick of time before the train door closes!!! What a close call. They hand over the finished product to the factory. What a hectic day. The tired duo return home and see their friends waiting outside the train station. Everything is going to be alright.

Episode 12
Everyone is nervous as they head into the clubroom. Then they hear Kuroda just off the phone. Their game instantly sold out at 3000 copies and there is repeat order to reprint double that amount! That’s good, right? Wait till you learn that Typhoon sold 4000 copies out too and had repeat orders as well. However their repeat order is only 2000! Do your maths and declare Rokuhara the winner! It is natural that they celebrate at a yakiniku restaurant and to their surprise, Iwao is working there part time as he is their waiter. He apologizes and thanks them that the sales proceeds are enough not only for Rokuhara to start their next game but give Iwao a chance to start moving again. As thanks, he gives them vegetables. Hey, can’t expect much from a part timer’s salary, right? We want meat! Poor Bunta has to eat it all. Later Kuroda discusses about their win and had the period being dragged out longer, they would have lost. Their game was easier to understand unlike Typhoon’s which needed time to digest but it will surely leave a long lasting impression. She drops the bombshell that she wants to dissolve Rokuhara. Her reason is that she wants to put this ‘tragic’ episode behind her and start anew again with them by making a game purely for themselves and not worry about how many units to sell. Bunta and the rest disagree and prefer to do it the current way. Bunta gets a call from Mitsuteru because Taiko is throwing a tantrum and complaining about bowing down to kids as part of the bet. Sore loser. He hopes it could be just him to bow down or another representative so Kuroda negotiates that they owe them a favour instead. Next day, they search on the internet there is a new game, weirdly named and equally with a weird plot taking the top spot. It is done by Blooter and soon that guy becomes a worldwide hit. From anime adaptations to idol groups based on him! Wow! Blooter Fever?! One night, lots of editors keep calling Bunta in search of Blooter. Seems that guy took on too many projects and couldn’t keep up. And thus as fast as it came, the fever quickly dissipated. But for Rokuhara, they continue to do what they do at their own pace.

Consisting of a few skits, we start off with the much needed fanservice! The girls are in their undies taking measurements for their cosplay costumes for an upcoming promotion event. Eventually they force Kuroda to get one too. Then the guys who have done separating spoiled samples accidentally walk in to see this rare moment. Lucky pervert. We see Yuuki being recorded and interviewed as part of the promotion. She talks about her specialty in drawing cute girls over the years. When she returns to the store where she works, the owner finds unknown drawings and wants to post them on the internet. Yuuki freaks out and snatches them to burn them. Those pictures of boys and men are her drawings from her earlier years. We see the girls molesting each other’s skin, posing in sexy sitting positions and then posing clad in only an oversized shirt as Akkina narrates her delusional fantasies. When the gay teacher walks in and sees this atrocity, he blames Bunta and Atomu for this perversion and will have them see him at the counselling room. They were just minding their own business analyzing some music and they get blamed? Worse, the girls now blame them for turning around and looking at them. Time to focus a little more on Yuuka. 2 years ago, she leads a very active and eventful life. From quitting her sports club to running around town and doing her solo acting at the playground, life is never dull for her and she wished she had 200 years to go with. She returns to Bunta’s place to hang out with him. Time to end with more fanservice as the girls take a well deserved reward as they relax in the public bath. No bare tits here. They discuss the success of their event like Kuroda’s negotiations in having free cosplay outfits in exchange for giving their selling rights to the store and minimizing their royalties. But she attributes everyone’s hard work for this success. Kuroda has got her hands on some doujin of Akkina’s taste and the latter is now ‘in love’ with her. They meet up with the guys waiting outside. Kuroda’s stomach growls but she won’t admit it. But nevertheless she has booked a spot at the grill house. The celebration continues. Lesson for the day? Nutrition is important for those who go through the wasteland. WTF?!

Wasted In The Wastelands…
Uh… Well… Okay… I guess… I thought I could sample and see a bit of their game at least in its final form but apparently I forgot this isn’t what this anime is about. The wastelands aren’t so kind just to show off their finished product as free samples unless you pay a premium for it or buy the entire game. Hey, that is like DLC and gaming these days, right? I’m so glad at least I’m not seeing this kind of sh*t in this anime that is happening and becoming a trend all over the world. But let’s not get too far off tracked from this anime. So how should I put this anime? Not impressed. Basically a group of high school students getting it together to make a game and then as underdogs beating a bigger and more famous company at it (because the CEO is a b*tch and she deserved to lose). In short, hardly anything memorable for me to remember by the time the next season comes around.

It is hard for me not to draw comparisons of this series with Saenai Heroine No Sodatekata. Even so, I cannot determine if either series is better than the other. Because this series lacks any romance and the fanservice, therefore there are no such cheesy romance-harem elements that would distract you from what the entire plot is. However even so, this is where this show also fails to live up to expectations. The story is nothing unique and if you look at it in its entirety, it could be one big bore fest as it is just about the little obstacles the little game programming club of a high school face. A big majority of the series (or you could say almost the entire series) is about each of the characters having their own problems pertaining to making the game and how the club members help to deal and overcome it while completing their game. Whether it is Yuuki working nonstop and affecting her health, Bunta having writer’s block and Yuuka having the jitters as her first time in a real voice acting job, each of these issues aren’t really that serious enough that would make you want to care or vouch for the characters because you will know at the end, things will always work out. Like how Akkina always comes back despite leaving, right?

Personally, the only thing that came to a surprise to me wasn’t the showdown with Typhoon but rather the dark secret revelation of why Kuroda roped in members to create a game instead. I knew there was a catch as to why Kuroda engaged her fellow high school students that have no real experience in the game industry to create something so good. With all the issues that were happening, it slowly made me forget this little conspiracy of mine. Or maybe I was bored that I didn’t even care at that point. I mean, if you think about it, why would Kuroda hire a bunch of students in her school for a game? I don’t remember what kind of excuse she gave but certainly the members never questioned it because they had always been thinking it might just be a club activity and the benefits of what if their games were to sell successfully.

Bunta was just being a guy who loves to help so he doesn’t ask deeper since Kuroda just told him it was her dream. And when recruited others too, they in turn never ask further and I suppose they too had too many free time on their hands to help her out. So when the truth came out of the bag, I know they have the right to feel angry for being deceived. But wasn’t it their fault in the first place to not find out more instead of jumping into something because it looks good on the outside? Welcome to real life and society. Yup. This is how I think we can connect this wasteland thingy here.

The characters too feel generic and don’t amount to anything memorable. If they had something that is quality to be remembered, it was perhaps the dynamism of how they interacted and worked together as a group. Because as individuals I don’t think they really make an impact. So is this what synergy means? Cooperation of the combined efforts of individuals to produce and end product that is much greater compared to when produced individually? We don’t know how many times Kuroda and Akkina bicker, quarrel, disagree, dispute, argue, squabble and have fall outs so often that it has become the staple of the group. But they still manage to put all that aside and work for the greater good and complete the game.

As said, individually the characters do not make much impact and sometimes I feel they are stereotypes but that can’t be helped because every game has some sort of stereotype character, right? So you have Bunta as your hardworking and friendly guy. One of the few typical main character traits. Kuroda oddly as the other main character is the least favourite in Rokuhara because of her monotonous poker face looks. She feels like a robot lacking any emotions. Because if you compare the rest of Rokuhara members, they have a ‘livelier’ personality like Akkina being the liveliest thanks to her BL fetish, Yuuka being the tomboyish retard and Yuuki the shy girl trope who will make your heart go ~kyun even if you aren’t into this type of girls. And yes, even Atomu in a way is more interesting than Kuroda because of his tendencies to fly into his passionate rage thinking about his failed relationships, even if this happens infrequently. Because he is the secondary guy of the show, it could have been more interesting if we see him express his love for 2D girls after jumping ship from 3D. Kuroda would have been a bit better had she smiled a little more often instead of waiting till the final episode where it feels like the entire pressure is off her shoulders and thus putting aside that gloomy face. Oh well. Who am I to say since I am not in her shoes especially when you’re trying desperately to pull a loved one out from his debts while not telling your friends. Yeah, a poker face needed indeed.

While this series did try at first to give some little insights on the bishoujo game industry, that was just in the initial episodes. Subsequently the rest of the episodes don’t really tell us what it is like to make a game or the process of making it although we can see how hellish it is in keeping up with the deadline but we don’t really feel the tension and adrenaline rush. It felt like it was just luring us in to stay and watch. At first it seemed like Kuroda is like a pro when she explains this wasteland thingy, everything she could possibly know about the dog-eat-dog world in this industry. I felt like she would be interesting in this sense to occasionally give us insights and knowledge about this industry but sadly with the other members having issues cropping up, Kuroda just felt like the ‘autocratic boss of a mini company’ except she doesn’t yell at the top of her voice and fire you.

If you are expecting any sort of romance, please don’t. It just feels like a minor distraction and it fails. Many like myself would love to guess that Bunta as the main character would be the centre of attention but you can hardly call this club a harem either. Because Kuroda is so like a robot and doesn’t show any signs of falling in love with him (that first episode fake date was just so fake it didn’t feel like one), I guess we can strike her name off the list of Bunta’s potential love interest. A kiss for him while he is asleep doesn’t count! Besides, that feels like a gratitude kiss rather than a romantic kiss. Yuuki is so shy that you’d feel bad for approaching her because I’m afraid it might scare her. Like how her first love letter experience traumatized her… Poor girl… Akkina is more interested in BL and with her crude personality, I don’t think this kind of girls would have a high chance. The closest would be Yuuka because of the cliché childhood friend trope too but eventually that fizzles out and you wonder if everything would be better if she just kept it one-sided. Yeah, maybe it was for the better. And what about Atomu? He exists so that he could the possibility of a real BL! Although, Atomu is no gay but you can feel the tendency this series gives off when the guys are together. Yeah, everything is so crazy that it might just happen.

If the show has anything redeeming, well, I would say it would be the artwork. Although it looks like your conventional standard Japanese anime, at least it still looks good enough to put this as a visual novel game. Oh wait. Isn’t the anime series developed from the visual novel game of the same name? Oh well, at least they have nice looking bishoujo girls and guys so it is not all that in the visuals department even if the story stinks. Right? Produced by the studio Project No. 9, a relatively new animation production company who also produced Ro-Kyu-Bu, Momo Kyun Sword, Gunslinger Stratos and Netoge No Yome Wa Onnanoko Ja Nai To Omotta.

Hearing Kana Hanazawa as Yuuka reminded me that I once used to pigeonhole her as a retard character. Yup, that sums up the initial episodes of Yuuka’s character. Yeah, she still has that knack… The other voice I instantly recognized is Satomi Satou as Yuuki. This time her dreamy voice is quite suitable for her character because there is this fragility and feebleness that gave her Yuuki character that persona. For the rest of those that I recognized, they are Akira Ishida as Iwao, Rina Satou as Taiko (b*tch mode?) and Takehito Koyasu as Blooter. The rest of the casts are Haruka Chisuga as Kuroda (Tsugumi in Soul Eater Not!), Seiichirou Yamashita as Bunta (Takahiro in Walkure Romanze), Satomi Akesaka as Akkina (Esdeath in Akame Ga Kill), Toshiyuki Toyonaga as Atomu (Shun in Kimi To Boku) and Souma Saitou as Mitsuteru (Tatsumi in Akame Ga Kill). The opening theme is Wastelanders by Sayaka Sasaki. Perhaps of the genre of this series, it makes me feel that this dramatic and synthesizer effects heavy opener feels like a song for a simulation video game. The ending theme, Sekai Wa Kyou Mo Atarashii by the female quartet of Rokuhara sounds like a generic anime song but nothing really that spectacular.

Overall, this series isn’t exactly a masterpiece although it doesn’t suck that bad. I can consider myself more forgiving because I read a few comments over the internet how this show was a big waste of time. A waste of time in the wasteland? There were missed opportunities that made the series boring. Therefore sometimes I feel the irony that when a game has a bad aspect, be it the story, the controls, the game play, the graphics, the characters or any other department, it affects everything else and when bad reviews go around, it is the end of it. Hence I have this feeling that this series will not likely see the day of another sequel. I know we should all give others a second chance but in this wasteland (which reminds me, Fallout game, anybody?) where only the strong survives and continues to make sequels, prequels, remakes and reboots, the chances of this one are pretty slim. Because this series is already buried under tons of garbage known as animes and devoured by the hideous creatures that roam the wastelands known as hate inciting trolls and narrow minded fan boys as well as the unforgiving environmental hazards in the form of overwhelming moe, fanservice, shonen, shoujo, seinen, slapstick comedy and other types of exposure. Yeah, a pure drama show can’t survive the wasteland by itself throwing away all those tropes.

Time for another adaptation of a super popular MMORPG into an anime series. Do we need more of this? Apparently, either the series is made to please fans of the popular Phantasy Star Online 2 (PSO2) so they have something extra to wow over or the game itself is not getting enough subscribers and players like how WoW, LOL and Dota are getting. Therefore Phantasy Star Online 2: The Animation may be another step for its creators, Sega to attract more fan base to the game and increase its number of subscribers. Honestly, that is just my theory. Otherwise, why bother to adapt a game into a TV series. From history even in Hollywood standards, games to the silver screen never made a good transition. I guess you’ll never know if you don’t try. Although this anime will be adapting the settings from the game, the series is however a totally new story. A new narrative on its own unlike the one in the game. I suppose it is to keep things fresh so that veterans won’t be bored in expecting the same stuffs and it will attract newbies to the game. I can’t tell since I didn’t play the game. At all.

Episode 1
Itsuki Tachibana is on his way to Seiga Academy. Get it? Seiga as in Sega… Despite his typical main character look, he is stopped by the security for looking like somebody suspicious since he misplaced his tag. Hey, at least he is doing his job. The popular student council president, Rina Izumi assures the security he is a student of Seiga. Then magic. He found his misplaced tag. He meets up with his friend, Kouta Kayano who asks him if has played PSO2. I suppose such games are the trend now so if you’re like Itsuki who doesn’t play it, you’ll be left behind. Rina gives her speech during the opening ceremony. You know how popular she is when boys and girls just swoon whenever she passes by. She is perfect in her academics, sports and other club activities that she could win top model student for 10 years running. Serious. Itsuki is called to see Rina and since he forgot, he turned up late. Rina has decided to make Itsuki the student council vice president since the previous one moved overseas. And her first task for him? Play PSO2! Wow. Now I understand why people like her. But why choose him? Seems his grades and lifestyle make him a suitable candidate. Note, he is not in any club so this also means he has nothing better to do. Wait a minute. Why didn’t they hold elections? Or why doesn’t she listen to some of her student council members as they are against his? So much for democracy, Little Miss Dictatorship…

On the reason why he needs to play PSO2, based on his report and after understanding Seiga’s social network, the student council will see fit a style of management appropriate for Seiga. Yeah, you know how everybody is busy looking at their iPhones these days… But Itsuki doesn’t play online games, can he do it? Well, he helps out in other clubs so this is like nothing, right? Itsuki seeks Kouta’s help to play the game. He left him some instructions since he is currently taking a break from PSO2. After Itsuki creates his avatar, he starts playing and finds himself inside the organization of ARKS. He meets a fellow veteran player, Soro who just changed class. This guy is eager to teach a beginner and blabbing about fate. Just ignore him… The emergency is sounded when ARKS is under attack by Darkers. Itsuki signs up for the mission. As a beginner, does he know what to do? Just this simple rule: See enemy, kill enemy! Luckily he gets help from Soro or else it would be embarrassing if he dies on his first outing. Itsuki earns Soro’s praise when he did a headshot kill without any form of aiming assistance. Sure that is not beginner’s luck? Next day after he submits his report to Rina, she reminds him not to let his current grade slip as it is his responsibility too. Because whether this sight of students obsessed in playing their handheld PSO2 depends solely on him! Wow. That is a big responsibility.

Episode 2
Another typical cliché. A girl who has been living abroad for a long time returns to school as a transfer student. Aika Suzuki is now in Itsuki’s class. She talks and acts like a military personnel but is famous enough that classmates bombard her with questions that she answers like a robot. Like other typical clichés, Aika seems interested in Itsuki as he tails him everywhere he goes. Including the toilet. There is one point Kouta tapped on the back of her shoulder, her reflex is to punch him but she holds back right before it connects. Kouta is no useless guy too because he is already in block position. Aika even freaks Itsuki out as she tails him back to the dorm. Itsuki has a horny dream whereby Rina wants to flirt with him. He must be really disappointed to find it is a dream because he was preparing to kiss her. But not as shocking as he finds Aika on top of him! Another girly scream. So Itsuki has got a bad reputation among some of the girls who become Aika’s groupie b*tches. Not that she cares anyway. Itsuki thought he could let out some steam by playing PSO2 but after a mission, he gets scolded by Soro. He doesn’t understand why so he asks Kouta. Kouta is surprised Soro is his partner because that veteran player is a very famous solo player (Soro = solo?) known as The Aloof Warrior. Kouta explains what Itsuki did to earn Soro’s wrath. Something about his reckless playing despite he was levelling up well. Not that I care anyway. Itsuki didn’t realize that and falls into depression so he hasn’t been sending his periodical reports. He gives excuse that he has been logging in but Rina knows better. From her wild inner ranting, we learn she wants to really chew him out because he has been playing constantly. Oh, she is Soro.

I suppose Soro needs to let out some steam and kill some Darkers but falls into a cage trap. Luckily Itsuki is here to save the day. He is sorry for the other day but since he fought brilliantly, all is forgiven. Apparently you can also enjoy your time in PSO2 by watching a virtual idol concert other than taking side quests. Itsuki resumes in handing in his report. Just then, Aika barges in like it is her own office to question Rina’s rational to choose Itsuki as part of ARKS. Rina has something important to prove. There is something about Ethernet and the boom of online games which is a symbol of communication revolution in this era. Really? Now, the academy is considering banning it but Rina views it is restricting the freedom of students who enjoy the game and thus this is like interfering with their private lives. Really? Or is it because Rina is an avid addict player too? Thus Rina wants to prove that with this, students can still do well in exams and not neglect their studies while enjoying playing this game. So it is like real life ARKS (students) versus Darkers (school authorities)? After hearing Aika’s great records in the game, she assigns Aika to help Itsuki to write his report. She is now appointed as the special adviser to the vice president. You bet everyone is damn shock in yet another dictatorship move without democratic consultation. Aika accepts the job with glee.

Episode 3
Itsuki is being made to do lot of ground work as well as fellow grunt, Yutaka Sasaki. So it is no surprise that Itsuki wants to click with him and be gay with that shy guy but the latter is obviously keeping his distance. Kouta joins Itsuki playing PSO2. Like the noob he is, he is being explained a few terms like role playing (Kouta’s avatar is Koa), how an alias is used for avatar so as not to mix up your real life with the game and yes, trolls. Itsuki plays a quest with Kouta and his regular group. He finds it so fun that he can’t stop ranting before Rina. While Itsuki is out on an errand, he heard a couple of macho construction guys talking. To his shock, they play PSO2 and their avatars are sexy female cat characters in Kouta’s group! OMG! That’s real life and fantasy for you! Soro happened to be passing by so Itsuki invites him to join in a group quest. Since they have a spot open, this cowboy dude, Musashi joins them. However during the battle, he sits there and does nothing while leaving the rest to sweat it out. He even spews a couple of insults. They realize he is the troll everyone is talking about. More high and mighty attitude from him even back at base. What’s more, he is got the cheek to send them a friend request! Naturally Kouta would block him but Itsuki wants to talk and find out more about him since behind every avatar there is real person behind. So this guy goes to talk to him but Musashi threatens to reveal his real identity. Itsuki doesn’t mind and then he did the unthinkable. Noticing how similar Musashi talks like a certain someone, he wonders if Musashi is Yutaka. Everybody heard that and Musashi is so embarrassed that he instantly logs out.

Because of that, Yutaka doesn’t go to school anymore and Rina wants Itsuki to fix this as this will hurt PSO2’s image with the school. He is your responsibility. If he won’t face Itsuki in person, I guess online he will. Yutaka reveals in PSO2 he gets to be his real self. In real life, things never worked out for him. That is why he is so envious of Itsuki. But Itsuki believes that is not the real him. He knows the real Yutaka is a nice person. I guess that seals it. Musashi apologizes to everyone for trolling and they forgive him out of respect for Itsuki. Now when they go on quests, Musashi doesn’t want anybody to help and will destroy all those mother f*ckers himself! Yeehaw!!! He didn’t exactly change but at least is better than before. Rina calls Itsuki to meet her. She is surprised about his method of trying to get to know a person in real life and in the game to become better friends. The purpose of this meeting is so that Rina can reveal she is Soro? Want to scream that louder for the entire world to hear? But this hardly surprises Itsuki because he knew it for a long time. Because he seems to notice both characters somewhat use the same phrases. Heh. At least he isn’t as dumb as he looks. As proof, he tries to imitate all those dramatic lines she says. Wait. He remembers every one of them?! This is so embarrassing. You regret it now, Rina?

Episode 4
Rina seems to be stammering as she tries to ask Itsuki to accompany her this weekend. You mean it’s a date?! Because of that, Itsuki now has this silly grin on his face and even turns down Kouta’s invitation to an annual event. So long, pal. He is going to step into the adult world. Turns out this ‘date’ is an annual offline PSO2 fan event. Disappointed? The reason why Rina was flustering was because it is her first time here. Totally disappointed. Kouta spots Itsuki and when he sees Rina with him, he falls into shock. Betrayed? He is so down that a cute cosplay chick gives him a drink to freshen up. He is energized and goes to find and thank her. However something happened to him… Itsuki is freaking surprised to see the real faces of his online team. That sexy siren, Silver? Just a little girl! He never knew Yumiko and Last Samurai are married with a baby. And that robot Kid is actually a butler-like grandpa! Second childhood? They hang out and after learning Rina is Soro, they can’t help invite her to join in more quests but she prefers to play alone. They even want to ask if Rina and Itsuki are dating but before they could finish their sentence, Rina vehemently protests they are not. They only think that kind of reaction means it is true. Itsuki gets a call from Kouta on PSO2. He needs his help but cannot name the details. Then he goes offline.

The group ponder the predicament he is in and fears that there may be something dangerous going to happen here. They go on this side quest to find him instead of telling security so as not to cause major panic. Because they cannot find him, petty tensions among the group start to arise. Seriously, this group who worked so well online can get into this kind of argument? With Rina’s motivation words to bring them back together, they continue to look for Kouta. Retracing what Kouta has said, they believe he is at the storage room. They find his dropped handphone. Contacting him again on PSO2, after they vow to never abandon him, Kouta reveals the truth… He is in the toilet! Apparently that drink made his stomach upset and he needed to urgently answer the call of nature. Too bad there weren’t any tissue papers, thus the emergency. Everybody is so disappointed that they walked off. Yeah, this is one sh*t quest that stinks. Kouta also learns about Rina’s real identity and connects the dots about this ‘date’. At the end of the day, Rina is flustering trying to thank Itsuki for accompanying her. Kouta interrupted them to brag he took pictures with beautiful cosplay girls but still couldn’t find that prettier one. The thought of her makes his stomach upset again… Speaking of her, looks like she has disposed of something dangerous in the background that would otherwise bring chaos to the convention.

Episode 5
If you don’t understand what the heck Tia and Patty are ranting as information brokers, don’t worry. It’s not important. Because they’re NPCs. Because Aika has been quite close to Itsuki, everyone thinks they are dating. Even Aika’s b*tch girls think he is taking advantage of her. Then there is this part Aika doesn’t know why and how bus routes work so Itsuki clearly explains it to her. It makes Rina jealous and thinking they are really dating. WTF. After Itsuki and Rina finish a student council task to borrow equipment from another school (to save cost), they hang out at a mall and see Aika nearby. Her cute smile somewhat awakens some material instinct inside Rina. WTF. Because of that, she would like to become her best friend-cum-mother and takes her out shopping for clothes, games, etc. WTF. A little girl is crying and it seems her balloon is stuck high up. Don’t worry. Aika can grab it just by jumping! Woah! Did she have a cheat code on?! Another problem: The little girl is lost. Under the pretence of playing hide and seek, they go look for her mom till they find her. This hide and seek incident reminds Rina of her past where she used to be a ‘forgotten child’. Kids always forget finding her when playing hide and seek. And this familiar boy that found her… Itsuki also remembers his childhood days but it is his dream to become a hero and save the world. Doesn’t he find that embarrassing now? As Itsuki is on PSO2, he is surprised to see Rina logged on using a new character that looks like herself and even uses her real name. But with bigger boobs? Does she feel left out that Itsuki and Aika are similar in this context and that she doesn’t want to lose out? The duo are on a quest when they are aided by that cute cosplay chick. Her skills are super awesome and the mission is done in no time. Itsuki finds her moves familiar and believes she is Aika. He wants to add her to his friend list but she declines because she has no time for his games.

Episode 6
Itsuki you lucky bastard!!! Actually the student council are heading to the hotspring for an errand but Kouta can’t help think Itsuki x Rina. The inn is run by Last Samurai and Yumiko. Wife tells husband not to touch PSO2 because he has been slacking on his job. Itsuki feels bad for him because he is addicted to PSO2. You don’t say because Rina forbids him to play PSO2 too! When she was presenting her report to the board, they noticed Itsuki’s grades drastically dropped. Like a slap to her face. That is why this trip is for him to study to get his grades back up. Until then, no PSO2. While he is diligently doing the bundle of homework, a student council member, Mika Konoe drops by just to spite him as she wonders why Rina is so interested in him. Upon finding out the questions are set by Rina and she is already so busy with her other work, Itsuki felt bad so he shapes up to complete them all. He finishes them all up in the dead of the night and heads to the hotspring for a much needed relaxation. He logs on PSO2 just to tell Koa he can’t play. Of course Koa gets the wrong idea that something steamy is happening in the hotspring right now. Even more so when Itsuki needs to immediately log out as Aika is coming in. Her mission of hers ended early so she is here. She doesn’t mind sitting naked with him? Rina sees all of Itsuki’s finished homework. Impressive? Since she cannot find him, she logs on to ask Koa. He is freaking excited to be joined by Rina because what do you know? PSO2 has its own hotspring too. Can’t wait to see sexy Rina, eh? But she logs in as Soro… Where did all the enthusiasm go? So dead… Once she learns Itsuki’s whereabouts, she leaves. Mission failed. Rina soaks on the other side of the hotspring and they communicate via PSO2. Funny, right? She is shocked to learn Aika is with him. But then Aika senses something amiss and she leaps out! Basically, she flew into the sky! The rest heard Last Samurai scream. He claims a Darker popped out from his screen and was chased by a girl. Yumiko thinks he is drunk because of the beer. But more importantly, didn’t he break his promise? Oh sh*t… Itsuki’s grades are back up so he immediately logs in. Feels good to be back, huh? Rina warns him about even playing this game right in the middle of class! He claims he is multi-tasking. Isn’t Rina is doing the same? She is doing it flawlessly without getting caught. That’s how a pro does it.

Episode 7
Mika tries to ask Rina if she is free this weekend. Apparently she has something to do with Itsuki. That guy again… What better way for her to take out her frustrations by beating up Darkers with her cute furball avatar. But she is in a pinch and logs out. Unfortunately her problem doesn’t end there because the Darker pops out from her screen! Aika’s Darker sense is tingling and rushes to the spot but before she gets there, the sense disappears. So is Mika. She has been absent from school since but because the student council is busy with their discussion with other clubs for the festival, they put this at the back on their mind. It only gets worrying when Mika continues to be missing and they cannot contact her or her parents anyhow. Itsuki and Rina see Aika asking other people if Mika plays PSO2. Rina catches Mika in the act of rummaging through Mika’s room for clues. Rina sees a book that Mika has about a place to try out some monkfish dish. It just makes her feel guilty all the times she passed her up. Aika leaves once she found Mika’s handheld on the floor. You may think Itsuki is inconsiderate asking Rina to play PSO2 but his intention is that maybe Mika is online and they can ask around. No headway. Till Last Samurai and Yumiko say they think they might see a girl in their school uniform. It is strange because can avatars in PSO2 be customized to that? They head to that spot and are shock to see Mika enclosed inside a cocoon. Darkers besiege them as they turn on the power to rescue Mika and kick Darkers’ ass. But they are having a tough time and Mika is rescued by Aika and her friend. Although she is in safe hands, Rina is about to be killed by a Darker. This is when Itsuki powers up like a main character to do some kickass killing. Yeah, and he had no idea what happened. Next day, everyone is glad Mika is back although she had no memories of what happened and claims she has been in hospital all the while. Itsuki tries to squeeze answers out from her but I guess the most important thing is that she is safe. So bug off with those questions. Itsuki notes that Aika was there to save Mika but she claims she didn’t play PSO2 yesterday.

Episode 8
Itsuki is suspicious of Aika and tries to tail her but fails miserably. She wonders if he is interested in her. I think he is trying to be funny buy saying yes but a few students heard it and think he is confessing. Aika doesn’t reply and now they think he got rejected. When he remembers about some student council work, they think he is avoiding the issue. Cut this guy some slack! Rina and Itsuki go around asking club presidents to agree on some proposal for the festival. With her begging so cutely, it is hard to say now. Any guy who does is gay! Maybe Kouta is a little jealous so when Itsuki does his cute impression on her behalf, it is just freaking gay! I guess rumours that Itsuki confessed to Aika has spread that Rina seconded the idea that they should be the emcees at the festival’s after party. Even online, he is looking for Aika and Rina is not impressed. And she’s not mad! Doesn’t this sound familiar in real life? Silver is worried because like in Mika’s case, a college student in her neighbourhood also went missing. Itsuki’s purpose in finding Aika’s whereabouts is because she might be in the field where the missing person is. He tries tailing her in real life again. Failed miserably once more. This time he runs into Silver who thinks they are dating. There is a nearby shop that is closed and supposedly where that college student went missing. This is where Aika is going. Silver takes it as Aika dumping him and will be his date. Lolicon? Actually, a ploy to leech him off his money to buy ice cream!

If that is not bad enough, wait till he gets back and Rina is waiting for him furiously! Adding insult to injury, she is scolding him so loud that everyone in the hall could hear about how she doesn’t care who he dates (really?) but he missed out an important student council meeting. This is embarrassing yet pitiful… Itsuki finally finds a field where Aika is. He tries to help her kill a Darker but takes a big damage. He is to be done for but some barrier activated. Then he changes into some super form and unleashes a super Over End blast to cut it into half! Woah! Aika logs out as soon as it ends. Itsuki is not happy and tries to find her in her room. Not so fast! The security is at least doing his job stopping him. In an interrogation, I guess he was too deep ranting about his high school escapades of something similar that Itsuki manages to sneak out! WTF?! Itsuki realizes his hip is pain. How can a damage he sustained in the game be real in reality? It gets worse when a Darker pops out from his handheld. Aika is here to save the day but another Darker pops out. Since she is busy handling one, Itsuki is left running from the other. As he tries to block his attack, he then transforms into his ultimate form. Let’s understand this later because right now he is going to kick some serious Darker’s ass.

Episode 9
They defeat the Darkers and subsequently Aika brings him to her base. He introduced to her commander, Kasura. Kasura gives Itsuki a drink to heal his wounds. Just who are they? For starters, they are like NPCs but aren’t. Huh? That is because PSO2 isn’t a game. It is real. And so are Darkers. Time for a little more explanation. Darkers led by their big boss, Dark Falz are planning to invade Earth. However in order to do so, they need a vessel for Dark Falz. When Itsuki powered up and used it to defeat the Darker, that power is called Photon Arts. That power is what Darkers are seeking. Thus the kidnappings to see who have the highest compatible Photon Arts for Dark Falz. Thankfully Mika was not chosen but because Itsuki’s Photon Arts is very powerful, he is going to be a very regular target. Kasura wants his help to help defeat Dark Falz whom he is sure is already in PSO2. Welcome to Oracle. Itsuki is in high spirits taking out Darkers after Darkers. However with the increase in attacks, Aika tells him to stay away from the fight and this makes this boy mad that he is being left behind. There is one time he didn’t heed her advice and jumped into the game. He almost got defeated by this strong Darker but was saved by Aika’s comrades, Xeno and Echo. He starts feeling afraid when his power couldn’t cut down this Darker. As explained, this is a Boosted Enemy, a Darker that has evolved. Aika continues to tell Itsuki to stay out or he’ll get in their way. Because of that, he is able to focus on his student council job and everyone is amazed and praising his outstanding work. But behind the scenes, no PSO2 means he is a sad cat.

Aika has been away for so long that even her b*tch groupies are worried. They even talk to Itsuki to find out more since they are always together. Since when they are friends? I thought a few scenes ago they were dissing him? Meanwhile Aika is against Kasura’s plan about using Itsuki as bait because she feels he is an ordinary Earthling with a life and has not undergone any official ARKS training despite his high Photon Arts. Since when she is concerned over his boring normal life? Kasura reminds her priorities are wrong. If Dark Falz invades Earth, nobody can have a normal life. Besides if this is the path Itsuki chose, they have to respect it. Another Darker pops up before Itsuki. I guess he remembers his promise so he runs away like a coward. Luckily Aika is here to save his ass. But during that, she gets injured. Now see the mad look on his face. The kind that says ‘you f*ck with my girl, I’m going to f*ck you up so hard’. Yeah… He powers up and destroys the Darker. Literally the monster didn’t even see his moves coming… That furious, huh? Aika wonders why he is fighting Darkers. He can’t sit back and let her protect him. Male ego, I guess. He wants her to let him fight with her and promises he won’t get in the way. She wants him to call her by her first name as this is what her teammates call her for coordinating purposes.

Episode 10
The festival is around the corner but Itsuki seems to be tired. Aika doesn’t want the student council members to blame him as it is her fault in keeping him up all night. Oh dear. That is pretty ambiguous… Rina is worried that Itsuki is working so hard that it may be affecting his health. So she privately talks to Aika about this and you know how she ambiguously puts her words. But Aika says Itsuki tends to handle things on his own so she will try her best to protect him. This talk continues to bother Rina… I think I know why as much as you do. Aika and Itsuki continue to hunt and defeat Darkers and even get backup from the legendary ARKS girl who was once consumed as the dark vessel but miraculously returned alive, Matoi. The festival proceeds as normal. Masaya Kudou of the student council is bugging every pretty girl thinking they are those sexy female cat characters from PSO2. Doesn’t he know he looks like a creep? Then he realizes they are those macho construction guys. You should see the regret on his face… Aika senses a Darker during her maid cafe shift. She makes haste as Kouta tails her. While Itsuki helps Rina at the garbage site, a Darker pops out and attacks him. Wow. See him being thrown like a ragdoll! He is about to be killed and shocked Rina suddenly and instinctively summons her guns to fire that Darker away. Now she is targeted. Although the Darker is destroyed, reinforcements arrive. Aika is surprised to see Rina too has the Photon Arts. Rina is still reeling from the shock of what is happening so she gets captured by the Darker leader. Cue for Itsuki to get mad and slash his way like a berserk hero. Yeah, nobody touches his girl! Unfortunately this time, the Darker escapes. He lost his girl. Shocking, no? Not as shocking as Kouta witnessing the entire action battle. What in blazes just happened?

Episode 11
Kouta needs some explaining but even telling the truth needs time for him to digest. They don’t have that so our heroes rush off to rescue Rina. They find her in a cocoon on some desolated planet. However it seems she is corrupted as she attacks them. Itsuki is weakened by her attack so Aika has no choice but to take him away while Xeno stays back and stalls for time. Itsuki wakes up in Oracle and is told that Dark Falz has merged with Rina. In no time they will become one. Itsuki wants to help but is told to return to Seiga and think about when Rina returns. The student council members are worried that Rina is missing and was last seen with Itsuki. He can’t say much about her circumstances but he promises to get her back and for the time being run the festival. Now Itsuki goes to explain the truth to Kouta. Kouta then goes to tell Yutaka this and because Mika was eavesdropping, she too wants the whole truth. Yeah, soon everybody will know everything… Itsuki is not pleased there is nothing much they can do to save Rina. But as Kasura puts it, is he going to save a girl at the expense of the entire human race? I think a young teenage boy in love might just do it… The situation is already out of his hands so please let them handle this. Of course Itsuki isn’t going to be a good boy and listen to such orders. He is going to save Rina himself. He thought Aika is here to stop him but she assures him her job is to protect him. So focus on saving Rina and get their asses back safely in one piece. Fortunately (or not) Itsuki doesn’t have to play the only hero as Koa and the rest of the known PSO2 avatars/characters are going to join him in this rescue mission. That is what friends are for, right? So no Darkers are going to get in the way of Itsuki. Big or small. Powerful or super powerful. Unless it is super duper big powerful Darker. Then that is why we have an excuse to see the party cooperate to take this menace down. Itsuki and Aika go ahead after a chasm separates them from the group. This giant hideous bug before them is Dark Falz’s final form.

Episode 12
A bunch of mechas are heading this way. They are AIS (ARKS Intelligence Silhouette) and are the most powerful bunch of military unit in ARKS. Want proof? They fire their lasers challenging Dark Falz and beat the latter. Although Dark Falz is damaged, he is regenerating. I suppose AIS is also recharging, the reason they can’t finish Dark Falz now. That is why Itsuki better hurry to save Rina or AIS is going to wipe her out along with Dark Falz. Aika uses her weapon to open a portal to let Itsuki enter Dark Falz. As for how to find Rina, he must sense her. Gee, it’s like finding a needle in a haystack, right? It is proof of how much he feels for her, right? I guess he is taken aback to see smiling Rina and forgot about Suzuki’s words of not letting the darkness get the better of him. Doesn’t he notice her evil eyes? When they shake hands, the darkness immediately engulfs him. Tentacle rape?! However, thinking about Rina gave him the strength to break free! WTF?! He is now at a scene in Rina’s past whereby she was the forgotten child. And you might have already guessed it, Itsuki was the one who found her. And now that he has found her again, yup, there she is right in the core of Dark Falz. After calling out to her passionately, cue for them to reunite by reaching out to each other and join hands. Yeah, so freaking cliché. They power up enough to blast their way out of Dark Falz and rendezvous with Aika. Then the trio combine their power to use a towering sword beam, Star Gazer to cut Dark Falz in half! Woah! With the threat over, Aika now gives her excuse not to return with Itsuki and Rina to the festival because, well, her mission is over. WTF?! Is she trying to be the tough guy? After the duo are sent back, remnants of Dark Falz begin acting up so Aika uses her weapon to absorb it. Rina comes back just in time to host the after party of the festival. It is no surprise she even wins the beauty pageant. Of course she apologizes to all those she made worried. I don’t know what reasons she gave but I believe they must be just glad to have her back. Itsuki narrates the aftermath. He returns to his seemingly ordinary (AKA boring) life. He lost his ability to enter Oracle after that and he attends more offline meetings with his PSO2 group. Rina graduates and Itsuki takes her places student council president. All the while, Aika never returned. There is this cheesy moment Itsuki wants to put his hand on her shoulder but was interrupted with Aika’s return! Great timing, girl. Where the heck were you?! Oh, you are back just to tell them you are leaving for another mission?! WTF?! Sure, they will always be connected no matter how far away with PSO2, right?

When Fantasy Is Reality…
Oh well, at least it is slightly better than some animes of this genre, say, Gunslinger Stratos. You have to agree with me on this one, right? I know the characters feel mediocre and the plot as well because the whole series about studying the effects of playing PSO2 just to convince the authorities that video games do not have a direct correlation with your grades feels like a big BS excuse just to play this game. And hence a story. Besides, whatever happened to that? I assume that it must have worked out well because you see the students of Seiga still playing with their handheld on school grounds. This means the authorities are convinced, right? Uh huh. Rina’s parting gift for you future Seiga generations. So be grateful! After all, what is a Seiga school when you can’t even play a decent Sega game, right?

I know the ending was a bit rushed too. Especially when Aika went a little missing after that. It didn’t explain what the heck she was doing during that period. Then she returns just to tell us she is going away. WTF?! At least she has the decency to show her face. But still, popping up for a short while just to say goodbye is still WTF material. It might not be hinted at the end but I am suspecting that Dark Falz like many of the strongest antagonists in video games around, he isn’t totally destroyed yet. That is why I suspect that when Aika absorbed and contained him in her weapon, it may be some sort of foreshadowing of something. I don’t know. It wasn’t really explained but perhaps it is just to f*ck with our minds like people like me who tend to think too much about this kind of petty stuffs.

At first this series was slightly ‘refreshing’ as compared to the rest of its counterparts in this genre. That is because the setting is about high school kids playing the game. The game world itself is not a setting. So it was different to know that the unlike other animes whereby the fantasy world is real and the characters live or at least play in it for survival, this series features our kids just whipping out their handheld and log into the game if they want to hunt down monsters or take on side quests. Of course that changes in the final third of the series. It wouldn’t be any surprise because whenever anybody logs into PSO2, you can see them interacting like in reality. As though they put on their sci-fi cosplay outfits, change the backdrop and voila! It’s like they are in the game, right? I mean, come on. Do you think the characters can really move that freely with their body actions, facial expression and gesture instead of the standard movements set in the game? So eventually the game had to become the reality, right?

The characters feel pretty generic too. Like Itsuki being the main character despite being a wuss and sometimes sounding like a gay. Because of the power of main character BS, he gets to power up and kick Darker ass with his incredible latent talent. You know it bugs me how he can transform into his Photon Arks power up version during all that but after Dark Falz is defeated, he can’t even do that anymore. It is like they don’t need him anymore and thus blocked him from doing that ever again. Rina, yes she is the beautiful, strong and independent woman till the producers decide to make her the damsel in distress. And Aika as the mysterious transfer student who turns out to be more than meets the eye, ushers our main character into something that affects the destiny and fate of mankind. You know that crap. But at least she doesn’t stay a cold person all the way as she learns to open up and make friends. But prior to that I can’t help think Aika is a little liar because if you noticed whenever Itsuki asks her if she was there in the game, she would deny it. Although, it is pretty much clear that avatar is Aika herself. So why need to hide and cover up, girl?

I think they were trying to force in a little romance because you could see how obvious and cheesy it is and it fails. So cliché that the most popular girl who is also the prettiest in school, has the best grades, good in sports and perhaps the greatest role model for all humanity, starts taking a liking for a pathetic main character. Did you not notice that she is using her position and dictatorship to make him part of the student council and play PSO2 with the flimsy excuse of trying to convince the higher ups about the balance of studies and games? Perhaps her pretty face is the only reason why the listen to her. And with Aika coming in between them, you can see her getting irritated just about anything she hears or sees that concerns the duo. And with Aika who isn’t really good in picking her words, the ambiguity factor just goes up by another notch. Then you notice how Aika has been spamming about her mission to protect Itsuki as of late as though it is some sort of hint he has something for him. She would also defy her orders just to stay true to this single mission of hers. I mean, it does look like that, right?

Other characters feel generic too and just to add some spice and variation in addition to your main character. Like the other members in Kouta’s groupie, you would only remember Last Samurai as a henpecked husband whenever he steps out of line in real life. Oh, and his amazing manly chest hair too. Yumiko the nice wife until her husband does something silly and she’ll not hesitate to give him an uppercut. Does she play fighting games too? Then you need to have the generic lively little girl in Silver and the polite old man, Kid (I think he has another real name but I couldn’t be bothered. Yeah, they should just call him Jeeves or Alfred…). And not forgetting Kouta, the other guy who is also idiotic whenever he gets passionate. Aika’s groupies are to make it look like she isn’t a lone wolf. Other than that, I can’t see any point to have such b*tches as her friends. Okay, they aren’t as bad once you know them but not that it matters anyway. It is just sad that they never see her again. Really. They waited for her to return to their class’ maid cafe but she never did. Because all they got was the short end of the stick of Kouta dressing as one to substitute her! No way! So from what we see in the final scenes, did the producers forget about this little part of at least making her groupie happy of seeing her one last time?

Other characters in ARKS do not make much impact. Like Kasura who might be the commander of ARKS but he sounds like as though he has an ulterior motive and could be a turncoat. Thankfully he just sounds like that. Because Itsuki is the main character, Xeno and Echo are relegated to be lackeys that only make their screen time appearance whenever necessary. And I think poor Xeno got owned big time by Dark Falz (while possessing Rina) when he was letting Itsuki and Aika escape. Be grateful! I don’t even know why Matoi is in this anime for besides that she is a real character from the actual game itself and I suppose is to make fan boys squeal over her cameo. Same case for Kuna as she is like the Hatsune Miku of the series. She is also a character from the real game. So they really have a singing idol in this game, huh? Yeah, what a better rewarding way after a tough quest than to watch your virtual idol sing and dance on stage. I suppose it does motivate some players.

The other members in the student council are also one kind. Like Masaya, another passionate idiotic guy whom you will only remember the time he gets screwed after learning the female avatars online are actually macho men. Gay time? I think he got along pretty well with those guys in the end… Split personality Yutaka is a bigger wuss so that it makes Itsuki look less a wuss. Mika the tough chick and so called best friend to Rina in the student council till a certain main character comes along and then she turns into a slightly spiteful b*tch. Oh, there is also a pair of members looking as emotionless as they sound because they either complete each other’s sentences or in perfect sync with each other. Twins? The Tweedledee and Tweedledum of the series?

Art and drawing are pretty standard although they mix in CGI during battle scenes. Many of such scenes, even the characters are rendered in CGI. I guess this makes sense because when you have the game in CGI, to add to the realism, such animation style is necessary so that traditional hand drawn 2D and computer animation will not clash. Sometimes I think maybe they took out some scenes from the game and place it in here but I could be very wrong since this is an original anime. While the character designs are pretty standard, I can’t help notice that when Itsuki and Rina power up into their Photon Arts outfit, they kinda look like the main protagonist and his girlfriend in Gunslinger Stratos! Yup. Looking very familiar…

I suppose the action sequences are okay but if you are hoping to see some spectacular power moves, my best bet is for you to play the game. Yeah, level up your character and equip him/her with rare power weapons for all those flashy hard hitting critical attacks. As far as this anime is concerned, such fights are hardly anything to shout about. It just gives us reasonable entertainment. If it is the producer’s hope of luring us into the game with such scenes, then I believe it is not effective. At least I can say that on my part. I’m saying this partly because I do not play the game and in fact the first time I got to know that PSO2 even exists is during my stint in another Sega created anime, Hi-sCoool! SeHa Girls. Therefore seeing Darkers like mindless drones and when they attack, it doesn’t really feel threatening. It does only because Itsuki is a noob. Eventually I predicted somebody will come save the day or destroy the Darkers. After all, like in many other similar games of the same genre, they exist in large numbers for us players to wipe out and level up, right? There are even comprehensive explanations of the several terms used in the game during the mid-intermission screen. It is really cool if you are interested more about the PSO2 world. But then again, to me it feels like baiting you to go and play the game.

There have been a few misidentifications in identifying a handful of seiyuus. Probably I have seen so many animes that they are all starting to sound alike. Like Kouta, I thought it was Mamoru Miyano because when he goes into his passionate idiotic mode, he really sounded like him. Instead Kouta is voiced by Nobunaga Shimazaki (Shido in Date A Live). Same case for Aika as I had a feeling she sounded like Sayaka Ohara but really wasn’t. It was actually Mao (Madoka in Denpa Kyoushi). Thankfully there are some unmistakable veteran ones I got it right like Hiroshi Kamiya as Kasura, Kana Asumi as Patty, Yuka Iguchi as Tia and Satomi Satou as Matoi. Oh, Kikuko Inoue is Yumiko? I would never have guessed. The other casts include Shouta Aoi as Itsuki (Ai in Uta No Prince-sama series), Ayaka Suwa as Rina (Ikumi in Jinsei), Rie Murakawa as Mika (Hotaru in Non Non Biyori), Emi Nitta as Silver (Honoka in Love Live), Katsuyuki Konishi as Last Samurai (Oga in Beelzebub), Aki Kanada as Yutaka (Chibitalia in Hetalia Axis series), Tesshou Genda as Soro (Metal Knight in One Punch Man) and Hiroyuki Yoshino as Musashi (Bossun in Sket Dance).

The opening theme, Zessei Stargate by Aoi Shouta feels like generic anime rock but I guess for a genre like this, there isn’t anything more suitable than this type of song. Now, the more amusing, if not weird one is the ending theme, Rare Drop! Koi! Koi! One More!, a duet by Rina and Aika. It isn’t so much about this pop idol music but rather the ending credits animation whereby a bunch of Rappy birds (PSO2’s mascot) dance all the way. Then it is like the producers think the birds’ dancing are so cute that viewers might want to dance a long so they put on the bottom right hand corner of the screen an animation of Soro doing the exact same dance movements! I guess it is hard for humans to imitate closely to birds but easier if it is a robot with humanoid features (hands and limbs, so to speak). Because of that, Soro’s dancing feels a bit ‘girly’. Uh huh. Despite the masculinity physical appearance, this ‘girly’ dance makes Soro look gay! I’m not kidding! You will either fawn over the cuteness or cringe hard enough.

Overall, I believe fans of the game can only truly appreciate this series. Or hate it. Casual fans would just categorize it as another MMORPG adapted series with nothing extraordinary standing out. But if this anime series is enough to get you motivated to go try out the game itself and then you get hooked over playing it, looks like Sega is in the right direction. Another mindless sucker walking into our palms, hahaha!!!! Whoops! Sometimes when you are too addicted in playing such MMORPG games, you really become immerse and it distorts your vision of reality that you begin seeing the fantasy stuffs in the game as real. An omen which I am thinking is what this series is foreshadowing. Otherwise why do you have people interacting like real inside the game? And could Darkers popping out of the screens be an indication they have been playing too much? Could it all be just a figment of their imagination? And why is nobody reporting it if it is such a big issue? Either everybody is also hallucinating or Japan’s government do not want to be laughed by the world as their citizens cannot tell the difference between reality and fantasy so they are keeping it under tight wraps. Who knows, the entire Seiga and the town might be just one big asylum and sanatorium for extremely addicted people with no hope! OMG! I can’t believe I am saying all this conspiracy theory. Only way to debunk all this by playing the game :-).


April 3, 2016

Oh no. Do we really need another sort of anime whereby gamers find themselves stuck in the gaming world and can’t get out? After the great first seasons of Sword Art Online and Log Horizon but the very disappointing second season, it is that hesitant feeling inside me that put a lot of caution on Overlord. But this anime despite having this similar setting is different on a major level. Another online DMMORPG game is set to shut down and a certain nostalgic player decides to stay behind till its last moments. That is, till he finds himself still in the game world even after the shut down time has passed. Noticing that other NPCs taking a life of his own, his new goal is to take over this world while finding out what the hell happened to other players and his friends. I guess when you are some sort of powerful almighty wizard of your own game, what better way than to expand your world via domination?

Episode 1
Yggdrassil has been a popular DMMORPG for 12 years. Therefore it is with a heavy heart that Momonga, the big boss of his Tomb of Nazarick base and one of the creators of the game is sad that its servers will be shut down. He reminisces the days he has fought with his comrades and the time they took to build things up. Of course real life soon came knocking on their door and one by one they had to quit. He takes a last tour around Nazarick, meets the head butler, Sebas Tian and the team of combat maids, Pleiades. Albedo is one of the floors’ bosses and created by one of his friends. Seeing this is his last time around, he fools around with the command to make her from a b*tch personality to his lover. Momonga sits back on his throne, counting down the last few seconds of the servers shutting down. But something feels strange. He is still in the game and not logged out. Did they delay the shutting down? Even stranger, all the NPCs are coming alive and interacting with him. Momonga cannot contact the administrators of the game or his other guild members and the game continues to function as it is. To test things out, he gives orders to his subordinates in which they faithfully obey. He also finds his senses are real in this world. He tests it out by groping Albedo’s boobs! Yup, they’re real. Albedo would love to get down and dirty with him but Momonga has other concerns to attend to. He wants her to gather the other floor guardians to meet him. The first to arrive are the cross-dressing twins of Aura and Mare. He has them help him test out their magic abilities and fighting abilities. Momonga praises the twins and they feel happy over it. Their perception of him changes since they always thought he was a scary master. Sebas who has been ordered to monitor the situation outside Nazarick seems to have stumbled upon something unusual. Momonga orders him to return for his report. The rest of the floor guardians arrive. They are Shalltear Bloodfallen, Cocytus and Demiurge. Only Gargantua and Victim are absent as they were instructed to remain at their respective floors. All bow before the mighty Momonga and await his further orders.

Episode 2
Shalltear and Aura have bad blood between them, Momonga puts his foot down. Sebas reports that Nazarick’s surroundings are just plains. There are no familiar buildings within one kilometre radius. Momonga suggests concealing Nazarick via making dummy hills to blend with the surrounding and cover other open areas with illusion. Then he asks everyone’s opinion of what they think of him. Of course, only great words and admiration. Momonga praises them to continue working for him and then retires to his room. Albedo and Shalltear are going to kill each other over Momonga’s love. Demiurge suggests the ladies settle the issues themselves while the men discuss about Momonga’s heir whom they shall continue to pledge their loyalty. Albedo and Shalltear agree to set aside their difference for now and carry out Momonga’s orders. Momonga notices some of the senses he is lacking and doesn’t need like hunger or sleep. He dresses up in his armour to go out for a walk. But since Demiurge can’t allow him to be alone, Momonga agrees for just him to accompany him. Momonga flies up to the skies to take a good look at the world below. Feels like a real world. Although he has come to this world to obtain treasures, it is something he cannot hoard for himself. He might want to share it with his guild friends, Ains Ooal Gown. At this point they might not know what exists out there so he thinks conquering the world may be something interesting for now. Momonga watches Mare create barriers for Nazarick. To show his satisfaction, he gives him a ring of Ains Ooal Gown that allows him to move freely between floors. Momonga also gives a similar ring to Albedo since she is the administrator of all the guardians.

Episode 3
A group of knights are investigating a village decimated by knights of another nation. Momonga tests out his mirror for remote viewing. He sees a village under attack by knights and thinks of taking no action since it doesn’t profit them. However he remembers something similar to him. When he was about to be killed by some party, some guy named Touch saved him because it is common sense to help those in need. To repay those debts, Momonga changes his mind and will take action on that village. After all, sooner or later he will need to test his strength. He wants Albedo to join in fully armed. Momonga easily kills a couple of knights with his low tier magic before they kill the poor sisters. He turns one of the knights into an undead and orders it to kill the enemies. As the sisters are suspicious about Momonga, he gives them a potion to heal their wounds and sets up a barrier to protect them as well as horns that can call forth goblins. The knights one by one fall to the undead monster. Nothing they do could even scratch it. Even the knight chief got killed. Think he can offer that monster money? Momonga decides to let some live so that they can warn their superiors never to do this again or he shall bring death upon them. Momonga wears a funny mask and identifies himself as Ains Ooal Gown, a mage who secluded himself for research to quell suspicions. To make it sound that he isn’t doing this for free will also help reduce that. In actual fact, he doesn’t need money and wants information so he sees the village chief about the kingdoms in the area. This village, Carne and Nazarick are part of the Re-Estize Kingdom. Neighbouring it is Baharuth Empire and looks like both countries are on bad terms and often fight each other at the border near the capital city of E-Rantel. Another country to the south, Slane Theocracy, based on their crest, those rogue knights seem to come from there but the villagers believed it to be an attack from Baharuth. Could this all be staged by Slane? Momonga has the magic to revive the dead but that would only make the survivors wary so he will have to be satisfied of saving the village. This way, his legacy would spread. Although Albedo hates humans, Momonga wants her to continue putting up their kindness act. Strangely, Momonga had no remorse when he killed those knights. When the village chief informs of several knights coming, Momonga goes to see him. Gazef Stronoff is the head of the Re-Estize royal knights here to stop those rogue knights. He is grateful Momonga’s actions. Reports come in that unknown figures have surrounded the village.

Episode 4
Nigun Grid Lewin, one of the 6 scriptures has been given the task to eliminate Gazef. Gazef and Momonga notice the magic casters surrounding the village are from Slane and those earlier knights too. The only reason why they attack this village is because they are after Gazef. He would like Momonga’s help but he refuses. Nevertheless he is happy Momonga will continue to protect the village. The plan is for Gazef to distract the enemy and buy enough time for the villagers to escape. Gazef deals with the mechanical angels alone but his loyal men return to fight and die for him. Nigun and his magic casters continue to beat up Gazef but the strong man will fight till his very last strength. Just when Gazef is about to be killed, Momonga switches places with him via a magic item he gave to him earlier. Momonga tells them to quietly surrender their lives to him or face a painful death full of despair. Obviously Nigun doesn’t believe this crap and sends his angels to attack. But each attack Momonga easily defeats them all. You surprise, bro? He then decides to use his ultimate trump card and summon some super high level angel. Momonga can’t help feel disappointed that he got defensive over something this weak. The angel’s blast feels like ant bite. What a waste. Effortlessly, he uses some black hole to swallow it. That’s it. Holy sh*t! They must be wondering who this guy is. He mustn’t be human. Momonga also destroys some magic that Nigun’s higher ups were watching from afar. The only things that baffle Momonga are the items and spells they are using as they are from Yggdrassil. Now that Nigun is scared sh*t and begging for his life. Remember what Momonga said about that painful death with despair? Coming right up! Albedo wonders why he saved Gazef and that she could have gone in his place to dispose the weaklings. Although he trusts her, as long as they are unfamiliar of this world, they must move forward believing the enemy is stronger. When he returns, he announces that he has changed his name and will be known from now on as Ains Ooal Gown. Everyone hails their ruler and will spread his name throughout the land. His goal is so that his friends will recognize him if they ever come to this world.

Episode 5
Albedo reports there are still no contact of other players around Yggdrassil. There is also discussion about Slane whose ideal is that humans are to unite against other races. It is too dangerous to contact them now. Ains goes on an adventure with one of Pleiades, Narberal Gamma. Posing as low ranked adventures, their mission is to seek more information about this world while they move up the ranks and gain experience from quests. As the new kid in town, others try to bully them but Ains shows his might. Accidentally the fight causes the hard earned potion of Brita to be destroyed. As compensation, he gives her one of his potion. Brita then takes the potion to the best pharmacists in town to be appraised, Nphirea Balear and his grandma Lizzy. Because all potions turn blue after the manufacturing process, as this one is red means it holds very high healing properties. An item this rare could fetch a very high price and this means there are others who will kill her for it. How about selling it to them? Better, Lizzy has another plan. As Ains cannot read the local language, he simply picks a quest. Because this one can only be done by a high ranking adventurer, the clerk refuses him according to the rules. It is Ains’ ploy to get the best suited quest for his copper level. That is when a group of adventurers decides to let him join in their quest. Swords of Darkness (SoD) consists of leader Peter Mauk, ranger Lukrut Volve, druid Dyne Woodwonder and spell caster Ninya Beiron. Ninya is the few who is a talent holder. The more famous one around is Nphirea as his talent allows him to use all magic items. The group’s quest is to hunt monsters, which isn’t particularly a quest but it is a way of living to earn money. But somebody calls Ains for a personal mission. Speaking of the devil, it is Nphirea. Ains turns him down as he already has joined up with Peter but since a personal request is hard to turn down, Ains will decide after listening to him. Nphirea wants to head to Carne to collect herbs and needs bodyguards. Ains deduces the journey needs to help of the other group members so they agree to join in. Ains asks why he is requested since he only arrived here yesterday. Nphirea’s usual bodyguard has moved to another city. He heard his name from a bar brawl and besides, it’s cheaper to hire a cooper level. Meanwhile Clementine brings a Crown of Wisdom she stole from some Slane priestess to Khajit “Khaj” Dale Badantel. She wants him to make her compatible with it. She needs to kidnap a talent holder for this and wants Khaj to create chaos while she escapes. She will help him out with his ritual in exchange. Agreed.

Episode 6
The group now ventures into the territory of the Wise King of the Forest. It is believed a magical creature has been dwelling here for hundreds of years. Lukrut can’t stop flirting and teasing Narberal so she accidentally reveals that Ains already has Albedo. Goblins and ogres are in sight so the party get ready to engage them. While SoD has great team cooperation, Ains notes his team is still much better. Then Ains shows how powerful he is that he easily slays the monsters without exerting much strength. So much so, the remaining ones get scared and flee! As they camp for the night, Ains ask SoD how they came up with their name. It is based from the sword on one of the 13 heroes. That sword is one of the 4 swords owned by one called Black Knight. Their goal is to find that sword and till they get them, it will be their symbol. They ask a bit of Ains’ past so he tells them about being saved by friends who eventually became his best comrades. Ninya makes a careless statement that he will surely meet with them one day. Ains scoffs him off saying that day will never come. He goes to eat dinner elsewhere. The group feels guilty for saying something they shouldn’t and deduces he must have lost all of them. Nphirea changes the subject by talking about Ains’ awesome strength. He is interested to find out more details about who Ains is so when the rest wonder why, Nphirea indicates there is a person in this village whom he doesn’t want her falling in love with Ains! (Because they note he is such a strong guy, the women will easily flock to his side). So they all start bugging him for details on his love. Meanwhile Clementine starts killing people to get more information. And also she simply loves to kill. And torture. Khaj is turning the dead into zombie. It is his goal to turn E-Rantel into an undead city so he can become immortal. That is why he doesn’t want Clementine to cause him more problems or he will kill her. She assures him she won’t kidnap people anymore.

Episode 7
As they approach Carne, several goblins surround them but they don’t want to fight if they can avoid it. Seems the goblins are under the rule of Enri, the elder sister whom Ains saved on his debut on this village. Seems she has used to horn to summon them this way. And what do you know, Enri is Nphirea’s crush. The duo catch up on stuffs. He is nervous trying to ask her to marry him. When she explains about Ains’ heroic deeds that saved Carne, Nphirea then connect the dots Ains is the same person. So he confronts Ains to tell him he knows about his identity. But he also admits he has been hiding something from him. The potion he gave is made of very rare materials and he is very interested to make it. That is why he requested him and wants to know more about this person who has this potion. Either way, he is grateful Ains saved Carne. Narberal wishes to take her own life for the mistake that led Nphirea to connect Ains as the same person but he forgives her blunders as everyone makes mistakes. Before they enter the forest, Nphirea hopes Ains would just scare away the Wise King if he stumbles into it because he feels the Wise King has been protecting Carne from other monsters. On pretence to survey the area, Ains meets up with Aura. Part of the plan to spread his great name, Aura is to find and lure the Wise King out so Ains can defeat it. So once Aura provokes the Wise King out of its hiding, Ains tells SoD to leave while he takes care of it. With no witness, how is his legend going to spread? Maybe cutting off a leg will do. Ains is able to block the Wise King’s sneak attack. And when the Wise King shows itself… OMG… It’s a giant hamster!!! Yeah, can’t blame you if you were expecting some great dragon. Big hamster is even quite the friendly chap. I can’t believe this. Not even Ains. He is so disappointed that he lost his will to fight and puts a very low level despair spell on it to make it surrender. Ains shows SoD this hamster and even more surprise for him as they praise Ains for his strength and wisdom. Against this hamster? As the hamster will now follow Ains around, Nphirea fears Carne would be vulnerable and wants to join Ains to become a great magic caster. However he rejects him but will lend his help to protect Carne. Isn’t riding a hamster around feel embarrassing? As Nphirea has SoD store their stuffs in his home, Clementine is seen waiting.

Episode 8
Clementine is here to kidnap Nphirea so she can summon an army of undead. SoD comes to his aid but Clementine prepares to have fun. Wise King is now officially known as Hamusuke and after Ains registers him, he is met with Lizzy. They return to her store but find nobody around. Ains feels something strange and heads to the basement only to see all SoD guys dead. They even turn into zombies and attack but Ains slices off their head. Nphirea is missing and Ains believes he must be the enemy’s target. He also feels the enemies must be very confident in getting away since they didn’t even bother hiding the corpses. He wants Lizzy to make a request to save her grandson. The price to pay is everything she has. Very well. She’ll give him everything. Discussing with Narberal, because SoD’s valuables were not taken and only their plates, this means the enemy is a trophy hunter. He has her use some magic to detect their location via their plates. It seems to be at the cemetery and an undead army is already taking shape. Before they head there, Ains tells Lizzy to warn to town about the undead army. The guards are having a hard time trying to fend them off at the gates. As they retreat, Ains comes in. Don’t believe he can do it? Well, you are about to witness the greatest legend ever. He fights off all the hordes while Narberal is reduced to flying and keeping Hamusuke off the ground since the undead are sensitive to life. Ains finally reach Khaj and his priests in the middle of a ritual. Clementine then shows herself because Ains already deduced Khaj has an accomplice the way SoD guys were killed. Clementine shows off her armour filled with plates of those she killed. Ains wants to fight a death duel with her and has Narberal take care of Khaj. Clementine is mocking SoD but finds it boring when Ains didn’t have the reaction she wanted. He says he would probably do the same in such situation and chiding her would make him a hypocrite. But those people were tools to raise his name and for interrupting his plan, he cannot forgive her. Clementine boasts she is an undefeatable hero and names the few that could probably fight on par with her (include Gazef). That is why he is going to give her a handicap and won’t fight her seriously.

Episode 9
Khaj summons a skeletal dragon that is immune to magic attacks. No problem. Narberal will just beat it to death! Khaj will always be surprised what Narberal can pull off. He even uses all his energy to summon a second skeletal dragon but this isn’t going to put her off. Clementine continues to toy around with Ains. Then she uses her fast speed to pierce him but thanks to his very hard armour, he takes little damage. But Ains is observing Clementine’s move as he learns much of it. Seeing it is time to end this, Ains tells Narberal to show them her true power of Nazarick. Back in her maid outfit (that’s more like it), she uses her teleportation and flying skills and even stabs Khaj in the back of his shoulder just to tell him he can be easily killed. Remember about the skeletal dragons being immune to magic? Well, that is for sixth tier magic and below. No humans have wielded seventh tier magic and higher, you say? Whoever said Narberal is human? Her mighty chain lightning roasts the dragons and turns Khaj into ashes. Back to Ains’ battle, Clementine uses her speed again to stab her piercings into his face. She even uses her special flame attack. But nothing happens to Ains. She is shocked when he reveals his identity as an undead. Time to end this game. Had she been weaker, he would have killed her off with this sword. Instead, he will crush her bones. Clementine frantically tries to free herself but all that banging didn’t do any good. Just like how she kills her victims slowly, he will crush her bones slowly till she dies. After it is over, Ains has Narberal take all the equipment before the other adventurers and soldiers arrive. Ains goes inside the tomb to retrieve Nphirea. He is under some mind control and blinded. He could heal that and even wants to take him back to Nazarick but doing so would mean failing the job and sullying his team’s name. Although Ains’ rank is only raised to mythril, he is more than satisfied the soldiers are talking about his name and valour. As for Lizzy, he wants her to take Nphirea back to Carne where he will have her make potions for Nazarick. When he contacts Albedo, there is a message that Shalltear has revolted.

Episode 10
Sebas and Solution Epsilon of Pleiades are disguising themselves as butler and mistress in E-Rantel to gather more information. They report back to Shalltear and part of the plan was to have a human sucker as bait to bring a group of mercenaries to attack their carriage. Shalltear slaughters them all in hopes in finding at least one with martial arts capability. Information has it that the head of the mercenaries is Brain Unglaus who is on par with Gazef. After Sebas and Solution return to the capital to continue their information gathering, Shalltear heads to the cave hideout to face Brain. He is confident he can take her down with his skills but apparently Shalltear is able to stop his attack with just her fingers. She’s getting bored. He’s getting scared and tired. Because Shalltear mocks his skill, that guy starts crying and runs away!!! WTF?! So when his comrades see him in tears and running past them, something is definitely wrong. Yes. Something is f*cking wrong! Shalltear in her true hideous form kills all of them! Although Brain escapes, outside is a group of adventurers hunting down rogue mercenaries. Shalltear also kills them all. Brita is part of the party and the last one left standing. In her desperate attempt to flee, she throws the red potion at Shalltear. She becomes curious how she got this potion and captures her alive to interrogate her. When Shalltear learns that her party split into 2, Shalltear fears she will fail her mission if she lets those humans live. She sends her underlings to kill everyone in the forest but they were defeated. Shalltear rushes to kill them all herself but gets owned. So when Albedo told Ains about Shalltear’s revolt, it is actually her being mind controlled by others. Ains is baffled because Shalltear has a skill to nullify mind control. Albedo suggests sending a hunting party to get her but Ains wants to know the reason she revolted. He fears if this can happen to other NPCs, Nazarick will be finished. He must find a way to counter this first. Anyhow, they need to retrieve Shalltear.

Episode 11
Ains gets a message from Narberal that the head of E-Rantel’s adventurers’ guild, Ainzach has called upon him to discuss a vampire that has appeared near E-Rantel. Based on Ainzach and the other adventurers’ deduction, Ains can tell the vampire is Shalltear but they think she must be a product of Zuranon, a secret society using undead and this must be the aftermath of that cemetery battle. However Ains disagrees and says that vampire’s name is Honyopnyoko. Honyo what? He just made that up, didn’t he? Claiming he has been hunting her for a while, he has the necessary stuffs to defeat her. He wants to take this job alone with his team and the reward is to be at least orichalum rank. Some adventurers think he is bluffing but Ains doesn’t want anybody to drag him down. They can come but they’ll definitely die. So one stubborn adventurer did come and he is tied to a tree and Mare ordered by Ains to kill him! Don’t say he didn’t warn you. He then has Narberal take those corpses back to experiment and see if they can become a high level undead. Ains and Albedo then head to where Shalltear is. She is just standing there unresponsive. He will use a super tier magic ring that will nullify her mind control. Although it doesn’t exert any magic points, there are very high limitations like cooling periods. But upon using the ring, nothing happens. Quickly he calls Albedo for a retreat. Then he takes out his frustrating by stomping the ground! For a super tier magic item to not have affect could only mean one thing: A world item is the only class of items that it cannot defeat. He orders Nazarick to be under maximum security and recall all guardians back to it. Ains with Albedo and Yuri Alpha of Pleiades venture into the treasury room to get some world items. This room is guarded by Pandora’s Actor. At first the ladies couldn’t identify this strange creature but it turns out to be Pandora shape shifting. Because of his very embarrassing dramatise acting, it even makes Ains embarrassed! Say, wasn’t Ains the one who created him? Not looking cool now, eh? Because he continues to be super lame with the ladies, Ains has to personally warn him to drop the act! Yeah, this is more embarrassing then riding the hamster.

Ains then brings Albedo to the mausoleum where he created golem statues in honour of his old comrades. He is unsure of their fate and they could have perished. He remembers some of them retired and hand over their special items to him for him to sell but of course he couldn’t do that. When Ains plans to put a statue of himself here, Albedo gets emotional disagreeing to this. It is as though he is going to leave them. She wants him to stay here and rule over them forever. However he cannot promise her that. Albedo thinks if it is her incompetency, she will kill herself. Ains has to explain about the world items that are needed to defend themselves in this world. There is also a way to save Shalltear. As there are 20 world items, its destructive is so large that you will lose it after using once. Now that the enemy is in possession of one, he is hesitant to use it. To put it in short, he will fight Shalltear himself. Because of that, he doesn’t know if he will come back alive. Albedo offers their numbers to crush her but he gives her 3 reasons: 1) After not realizing world items exist in this world after assuming a chance of other Yggdrassil players here, he is doubting himself as an adequate ruler; 2) This might be a trap to lure him out and if the enemy sees him coming alone, they might be a little wary to attack all out; 3) He will kill Shalltear himself. Why not others? Do they have a winning chance? Based on skill alone, only Ains can beat her one on one. Ains understands Albedo’s thinking for the guardians act as far as the programming they were inputted. Therefore he will show them why he is their overlord and not lose to someone who just depends on ability alone. He promises her he will defeat Shalltear and come back to Nazarick.

Episode 12
After Mare and Aura teleport Ains to the battlefield, he wants them to scout the area for enemies and if they are too great, retreat back to Nazarick. He reminds them that some of the world items he has is worth far greater than their lives and to take extra care not to lose it. Demiurge is summoned by Albedo. He is not happy she let Ains go alone despite she was the one who vehemently protested when Ains wanted to go to E-Rantel alone. He is not satisfied with her answer that she saw his true determination and promise to come back because Ains is the only supreme being left and if he dies, who shall rule over them? He will have her take responsibility by stepping down her position if Ains dies. Ains reaches Shalltear. He detects her master not anywhere in the area. As she is still stationary, he realizes she will only move when attacked. He boosts himself by reciting all the magic stuffs. Man, I thought he recited the entire encyclopaedia of magic! Once he rains down all that powerful stuff on her, Shalltear activates and ‘thanks’ him for that ‘painful’ present. When he asks the master she is serving now, this confuses her. She doesn’t understand why she is fighting him but according to her instincts, she must fight back after being attacked. So we have both sides throw magic spells at each other, attacking and counterattacking. Shalltear knows Ains’ base as a magic caster and will try to reduce his MP as much as possible. Because Ains bolstered his defence against Shalltear’s fire magic, this leaves him vulnerable against her holy element attacks. More magic attacks until Shalltear unleashes her trump card, Einherjar. Looks like a white clone of her. Shalltear also summons her familiar subjects but kills them off to heal herself (her lance has the ability to heal herself equal to the damage she inflicts on her enemy, the reason why Ains cannot summon familiars to help out). Ains then uses some ultimate magic to end it all. Although the battlefield turns into a desert, Shalltear revives because of a resurrection item given by her supreme creator. She still has full HP while Ains has close to no MP left. But Ains is thankful she fought him seriously because had she hold back, he wouldn’t have been able to execute everything this well.

Episode 13
Ains explains about deception of info when battling with others. Therefore when Shalltear attacked him with various full force and Ains took it all in, he pretended it didn’t hurt him one bit. As a supreme being, he has memorized all the characteristics of his guardians so there is no way there is a skill that they have that is unknown to him. Ains then uses various weapons and shields from his comrades in his final fight with Shalltear. She is pushed back so much that she is forced to go on the offensive and abandon all defensive strategies. It finally ends when Ains has reduced Shalltear’s HP to a level enough to use a super tier magic on her and finish her once and for all. Back at Nazarick, Ains begins his ritual to resurrect Shalltear, though it will cost him a big chunk of his gold. He wants Albedo to keep an eye if the resurrected Shalltear will still be under mind control. Albedo and the guardians want Ains to step back and let them fight Shalltear if she remains under enemy control. For they fear if he pulls off anything reckless again, there will be no one to rule over them. Ains understands about their loneliness and agrees so. After Shalltear is resurrected, it seems she has no recollection of memories of what happened. The last she remembered was leaving Nazarick on her mission. The perpetrator who used mind control on her still remains a mystery. Shalltear realizes something is wrong with her: Her breasts are smaller! Ah, she’s back alright. Then all the guardians start to lecture her over the trouble she has brought. Ains is also told to admonish her but instead he tells her she is not guilty of what has happened. Demiurge believes Sebas has not returned from his mission yet so Ains reveals he is the bait because the enemy would most likely target him after Shalltear. Of course he has no plans to let that happen and will assemble a group to scout the area near Sebas. Ains now wants to strengthen Nazarick since it is definite an unknown enemy can harm the tomb. Albedo suggests using a village of lizardmen for his undead army. It is revealed the one who controlled Shalltear is from Slane. He is reporting the casualties from his side that caused the failure in the mission. With the lack of forces, they can only do basic surveillance for now. Ains and Narberal continue their adventure mission. Ains is so big now that he doesn’t have a mission big enough for him! He receives an important mission and will have all his guardians assemble soon.

Pure Pure Pleiades

Short specials lasting about 3 minutes of the characters in chibi form. Time for the maids to shine!

Special 1
Ains worries it could be a certain item he dropped that only works on the undead that he may have accidentally used it on himself, the reason why he is still ‘alive’ and have feelings. He is worrying so much but can’t show it to his servants. So when Albedo is worried something is happening to him, Ains has to bluff his way by changing the topic. Now that he has taken a good look at her, he finds her quite beautiful. Oops. He said that out loud and now she is squealing about it. He needs to do something to make her forget but he can’t come up with anything. Albedo continues her delusions about their wedding…

Special 2
Ains seeks an audience with Pleiades but he feels nervous about it. As the vice captain of Pleiades, Yuri greets him, Ains has a suggestion. Thinking that it is impossible for all of them to be by his side all of the time, his plan might be ruined if they continue to speak to him like their master. He wants them all to try speaking to him freely as they are. Speak in a way that they are comfortable with. So we have all the Pleiades members greeting him in their very own personality and style. Some strict, some cheeky, some shy and one is even too sleepy to put in the effort! Albedo feels she can’t lose out but Ains tells her to be quiet! That shut her up.

Special 3
Ains praises Narberal for her magic. Since he is being modest of his own, she wants him to recognize their vast difference in strength. But she continues to believe the things he does, it must be in line with whatever his plans are. I think he’ll just go with that and wants her to share this with the rest of Pleiades. Happy of this thought of convincing Pleiades, Narberal wonders what kind of gesture he is doing. He lies about being a recently developed secret magical pose to decrease magic casting time. She becomes interested and wants to try. Uhm… Okay. Then the rest of Pleiades are also interested in this and start practising this weird gesture. Since it has come to this, Ains is afraid he has no choice but to continue lying.

Special 4
Ains is praising this game’s unique and pretty maids (I agree!) and Yuri misinterprets if there is somebody stronger. He clarifies it is himself. He continues thinking the greatness of such games that you can customize your character as the girl of your dreams. Like Solution. Erm… Why is she fat?! Seems she is eating a human to hear screams. It’s her hobby. The thought of dissolving human scares Ains so he tells Solution to go back to her pretty self. After spitting out that half dissolved human, she’s back to her bishoujo form. Yeah, that’s more like it. Now, what to do with this human? Entoma eats it! That’s even scarier!

Special 5
Ains is narrating his maids’ type and function. But for Entoma Vasilissa Zeta who is an arachnid insect-mancer, due to the recent events, he needs to be extra careful around her as he would be weak against her mental type magic. He thinks he is the one most susceptible falling into panic. He notes Pleiades do not show much expression so Yuri explains they want to be calm like him. Then the rest start teasing and making her angry. Ains notes Entoma’s poker face but is explained she is just mimicking. This means she has a different real face. Ains might regret asking her to show her other faces. Yeah, she just took off her face! That’s not all, she shows him her other real body parts! Will he have nightmares?

Special 6
Lupusregina Beta has been sent on a mission to spy on Carne and maintain friendly terms with the villagers. Yuri feels she doesn’t understand the importance of this mission, Lupusregina disagrees and mentions all what she needs to do. Erm… Spying on night time activities? Ains hears Albedo’s opinion on Lupusregina. An honest child. But the other maids start giving sarcastic remarks about her being honest. Ains will trust Albedo’s judgment and hopes she will work hard. She then says something funny which makes him smile. This makes Albedo jealous and the duo end up in some useless petty argument-cum-competition. The topic went so far off tracked that Ains has no choice but to not bother or interrupt and deal with it calmly.

Special 7
Ains narrates about CZ2128 Delta who specializes in all the traps in Nazarick. However he can’t read her mind since she has this emotionless look. Thinking of knowing her more and going to talk to her, he is shocked to see she has partly turned into a robot thanks to Solution and Entoma. And CZ did not object to this. So this modification is to strengthen Nazarick? But why do the modifications feel like jokes? He thought the other maids could put them in their place but they are also awed and Yuri despite telling them it is an insult to desecrate their original form, please put everything back after playing. They look at the plan of the next modification that separates her body parts (supposedly the dream of all young girls?). Yuri objects to this because head removal is her special feature. Speechless…

Special 8
Ains feels the effect wearing off. He needs to ascertain it and just in luck, Albedo wants him to grope her boobs but he tells her off. Since he didn’t panic, I guess the effect is already worn off. Then he tells everyone to return acting like they used to on excuse that they are not used to the order he had given them. Ains then checks out the item again and since there are quite a few of them, he is going to read the instructions carefully. He is interrupted when Pleiades wants an audience with him. Unfortunately for him, the items activate thanks to the special circumstances fulfilled. That is, when different types of monsters that Ains and Pleiades happen to be are altogether in one place, the items cause everyone to go crazy. It’s getting quite chaotic with Narberal doing a silly dance, Entoma flying, Lupusregina being very nice and Yuri using her head as bowling! Total disaster! Oh, the effects wear off in an hour.

Master Of The Universe
As much as I hate how a great season ends with a cliff-hanger and leaving all that possibility for another season, I guess like as always I have to accept that it is indeed the end of the series for now. Even if I knew halfway through the series that there was going to be lots of unanswered stuffs and lots of other great developments to be unfold, a single cour seems impossible to cover most of it. Despite the theme of gamers stuck in the game world, this series still manages to be interesting in its own right and does not overlap much with the aforementioned anime series. Like me when you’re quite absorbed in watching the series, you’ll stop thinking about comparing this series with the rest and instead be more concerned on what is going on inside the series’ plot and story.

I guess one of the reasons why this series is interesting in terms of the plot and setting is because we don’t hear the main character b*tching about trying to return to his world. There is also no mention about Ains’ real life persona or anything that is related to reality. So there is no relation and we are not preoccupied about thinking if this is a glitch in the game or he has been transported to a parallel world that is similar to Yggdrassil. Even if he is talking about his ex-comrades, they are solely in reference to their avatars in the game. Yeah, I noticed their very long and ‘silly’ avatar names. So instead of trying to find a way home, Ains has already established himself to stay as the ruler of Nazarick for a long time to come. And this means establishing himself as the new ruler over this new world. It makes you forget that this was a game in the first place and everything fantasy you see here is treated and taken in as real.

As interesting this series may be and as much as I want another season for it to be made, but with the fear of the trend of the sequel failing to live up to its predecessor like some of those in the similar genre, I am quite cautious in wishing for one to happen. With lots of potential and mysteries to unlock and discover, it is natural that I would want another season to be made but like I have said, the dread that it might not be as good due to the much higher expectations and falling into disappointment has become a thorn in my side. For too long and too much animes I have seen that has fallen into this trap pattern and naturally the less I experience such letdown, the better off I am. Therefore I am in a little dilemma as to whether take a gamble to pray hard for another season while hoping the sequel doesn’t suck or leave my impressed impressions of this series as it is despite the feeling of being incomplete. That is, if they actually ever make another season of it. My little hope that the sequel might not suck is because unlike Sword Art Online and Log Horizon, this series started out only with 1 cour instead of 2 cours. Yeah, that might be the difference… Just saying…

The only downside to this series is the lack of character development for some of Ains’ Nazarick guardians and other supporting characters. The most disappointing ones that suffered from this are the Pleiades maids. I was really hoping to see them in action but alas it was not meant to be. Narberal had the most screen time while the rest just made short cameos. And I thought the short animated specials would help do them some justice but unfortunately despite each maid having their pretty decent time in the specials (to serve as introduction, I guess), it is still a far cry from what I expected. Unless you are like Ains himself, you can’t have everything.

I mean, when you have a bunch of cool and powerful guardians under your command, it is also great to see them in some sort of action or even a slight background story just to get to know more about them. At least by doing so, personally I feel it would have increased the awesomeness of these guardians. Unfortunately even if some like Albedo and Narberal did tag along with Ains for certain missions, it feels like they are being reduced to just mere accompaniment. Because Ains is such a superb magic caster himself and the problem is if he doesn’t show us his super magic casting, it won’t make us feel how great he is if he sends his guardians to do the job. Now that he is seen casting awesome magic power, his guardians are ‘sacrificed’ to just mere watching. Although Narberal did have her fair share of fighting, but that pales in comparison in what Ains have done and it was so short that it felt like you’ll miss it if you blink. I mean, come on. Narberal up against an old fart is such a mismatch. There was no fight in the first place even if she did show us what she could do.

What about the whereabouts of other characters? Gazef? Brain? Brita? Well, a short snippet at the end shows Gazef bumping into a very freaking depressed Brain in the alley. I understand how that guy feels after almost losing his life to a vampire and the only way to survive was to run away like a baby while screaming like a little girl. I know it kills his ego but at least he still has his life. Besides, everyone else is dead so nobody else knows about him being a wuss, right? There is also some potential in Gazef but the way the mini story arcs are being played out, such characters aren’t getting the deserved attention they need. At least for this season. Although Slane is building themselves to be Ains’ greatest enemy, somehow I felt that Clementine and Khaj’s characters were outplayed and killed off fast enough. I mean, here I was thinking they were going to be the antagonist at least for this season, and then here comes Ains easily killing them off like that. I know, it’s to show how great this guy is.  I believe a couple of Nazarick guardians didn’t even pop up, namely Gargantua and Victim. I wonder why Ains left them out. Are they that important being stuck guarding their floors in Nazarick? They were only mentioned in the very final scene of the last episode as what I feel is a ploy to remind us there were actually a couple of more guardians in Nazarick.

So all the glory and awesomeness is focused on Ains. Although he is not perfect and still learning and discovering new stuffs every day as he treks through the long journey to find his ex-comrades, unlike many series where the protagonists start out as weak and works his way up to become powerful, Ains is already a powerful being to begin with. Therefore it feels like a little fresh air to see a main character instead of going through all that tough sh*t training to become powerful, it was awesome as it was fun to see Ains easily defeats his enemy without breaking any sweat. You can’t help feel but cheer for him to rain down his magic spells on the enemy and then laugh on his behalf when ultimate victory is achieved. Perhaps the fact is that he has not truly explored the entire world yet and his great power is only because nobody else is near as powerful as him in this region. I guess that is why you have that Shalltear revolting as the final arc to shake things up and to make us and Ains himself rethink if he is indeed the supreme creator that he is supposed to be. But I think he is doing a good job trying to balance out his mission to find his ex-comrades, getting more information and managing his guardians. Especially when lustful Albedo can be sometimes pretty annoying.

The fight and action scenes are rather okay and it depends if you are the kind who like your action sequences in the form of casting magic. So if you are the kind who prefers sword fights, guns or even martial arts, then don’t expect to find any of them here. Because like I said, Ains as the main character is the one who is doing most of the fighting and with his wizard background, the various spells are the only way to go. As I am not very familiar with magic spells in games especially of the RPG genre, sometimes when I hear Ains start spouting the magic spells (which are all said in English), it feels like as though he pulls it out from thin air. Especially that penultimate episode when he starts spamming all the spells as he recites them. I guess he is not called an overlord for nothing. What is a great overlord if he only knows a handful of spells? Therefore it is great to see him know a wide variety of spells although many will be only used once this season but at the same time it is like he came up with those spell names on the spot. Though, sometimes it can get a bit confusing for me to understand some of the basic RPG elements since I don’t really favour playing such genres.

As a fantasy-cum-medieval setting, I guess many of the character designs are rather okay. Nothing too shabby but nothing that makes it a masterpiece. Of course, with my bias towards maids, I really love their outfit designs from those leaning towards the more traditional design like Yuri and Narberal and those that are a bit unique like Entoma and CZ. Though, it is a pity they didn’t really get more screen time. Oddly with Ains whose undead body is just made up of skeletal bones, his usual garb in robes makes him look big and grand like a big overlord. It just makes me wonder if there are many layers of clothing underneath it to make up for the hollowness of the bones. Speaking of skeletons, I don’t think I am the first to notice but I think a couple of characters remind me of that old western cartoon, He-man. Remember Skeletor? Was Ains designed with this baddie in mind despite their significant physical appearance? But ultimately what made me think of He-man was the very uncanny resemblance of Clementine! If not for that twisted crazy face she has, I think I would have easily recognized her as a rip-off as He-man! Gosh! Don’t you think the hairstyle is so freaking similar? Hello, Clementine. He-man called. He wants his hair back! Haha! Oh sh*t! I don’t know if He-man’s hair fashion is gaining back popularity in cartoons because Shingeki No Kyojin’s Armin also had this spookily similar design. Yikes. And with Ains riding Hamasuke, could it be something similar to He-man riding his Battle Cat? Only more embarrassing riding a cute hamster :-).

The most surprising and delightful of all the voice acting goes to Aoi Yuuki as Clementine. At first I thought it was Miyuki Sawashiro behind the character but soon realized it wasn’t her. Now, I have heard Aoi Yuuki in many roles especially her trademark cutie voice that is featured in many animes that I have seen. Nothing would prepare me to hear her as this crazy killer. She was just really crazy and devilishly delightful and she really brings the crazy life to her character. One minute she can sound wild and fanatical and the next she can drop to sound like a person with a croaky voice. She is particularly very impressive and kudos for a very good job well done.

With a series boasting a big number of casts, some of them are recognizable like Satoshi Hino as Ains (whose monologue narration sounded quite like his Takagi from Bakuman), Takehito Koyasu as Nigun, Koji Yusa as Brain and Mamoru Miyano as Pandora (still having that playful boyish voice like Ouran High School Host Club’s Tamaki). Some were unrecognizable like Shigeru Chiba as Sebas (no typical old fart screaming, no recognize) and Satsuki Yukino as Brita (I guess I wasn’t paying attention to her). Some I guess I was mixed up like I thought it was Ayane Sakura as Lupusregina and Mikako Komatsu as Solution but it was the other way round instead. The rest of the casts include Yumi Hara as Albedo (Marielle in Log Horizon), Sumire Uesaka as Shalltear (Sanae in Chuunibyou Demo Koi Ga Shitai), Yumi Uchida as Mare (Momiji in Binbougami Ga), Emiri Katou as Aura (Kagami in Lucky Star), Manami Numakura as Narberal (Riko in Love Lab), Hiromi Igarashi as Yuri (Orion in Amnesia), Masayuki Katou as Demiurge (Crow in Deadman Wonderland), Kenta Miyake as Cocytus (Sydonay in Shakugan No Shana), Akeno Watanabe as Hamusuke (Rito in To Love-Ru), Hiroshi Shirokuma as Gazef (Woodstock in Log Horizon), Ayumu Murase as Nphirea (Haruka in Joukamachi No Dandelion), Mao as Enri (Suseri in Isuca) and Minoru Inaba as Khaj (Philionel in Slayers Revolution).

Calattanoia by OxT as the opening theme is quite a delight to hear although being a heavy rock based. There is quite a catchy tune to the grandiose of the piece especially the chorus that makes you want to sing along with it although technically I was just humming along as I don’t know the lyrics. And sometimes I caught myself shaking my head like a rock star on stage playing my air guitar too. Really. The ending theme is another pleasant surprise to hear. L.L.L. by MYTH&ROID has the sexy hip hop feel to it despite also mainly of the rock beat. Another piece that would make me get up and do a little jiggle. No hard hitting moves from me since I can’t really dance and I don’t want to injure myself.

Overall, this is quite a good anime with good and powerful main characters that you will want to route for. Although the plot is far from complete, it is still interesting enough at least for one season where it is concerned. Nice magic battles are also a plus point if you really love to see magic in your shows. It is no surprise despite this is the latest series of the stuck-in-the-gaming-world genre I have seen, it feels a lot better than Sword Art Online and Log Horizon because you already start out as great and powerful (and yes, the horrendous second season of those series that need not be mentioned any further). So if I am ever going to be stuck in a game for who knows when, I want to be stuck in this one and be the supreme overlord that rules over all my maid servants, maid guardians and maid fighters. Oh heck. Why didn’t I wish for to be stuck in an ecchi maid harem game in the first place?

Everybody has big dreams in life. Sometimes it might be too big that you might not be able to achieve it all by yourself. How are you going to make this happen then? Recruit a few people who share the same dream? That is one way. So as in the case of Saenai Heroine No Sodatekata. Our main character is a complete otaku. His dream is to create the world’s best dating simulation game ever. But he can’t do it himself. He needs to gather a group of people who can do the story, scenes and character designs. More importantly, he needs a heroine that would leave an impression in the hearts of everyone. An iconic heroine that will be remembered for generations to come. Well, the easy part is finding one (or accidentally stumbling into one in his case), but the hard part as he found out that for the rest of her character and behaviour, she is completely different than what even a basic heroine should be. And is that why he needs to guide and raise her up from a boring heroine to a respectable heroine? Well, there are no guide books for that as far I can see. Oh, did I mention the rest of his circle members are girls…

Episode 0
This serves as a prologue of the series and what to expect from it. Sort of. The opener already sees our usual girls giving us hotspring fanservice as they ‘debate’ about their perceptions of anime. And our lucky guy, Tomoya Aki is eavesdropping partly because he is a pervert but more disheartening to him is that the girls are discussing anime stuffs without him around. Yup, that’s his biggest concern. As narrated by him, Tomoya is a big otaku and his dream is to create the perfect dating simulation ever. Therefore he and his harem circle are taking this trip to scout locations for the game. We are also ‘introduced’ to his harem circle that includes Utaha Kasumigaoka the scenario writer, Eriri Spencer Sawamura the illustrator, Michiru Hyoudou in charge of music and finally Megumi Katou who is the face and role of the heroine in Tomoya’s game. While taking scenic pictures, Eriri relates her ‘trauma’ as Tomoya’s childhood friend only to see him being ‘snatched away by another woman’. That sums up this tsundere’s position. Then there is this steamy seduction scene by Utaha on Tomoya with an excuse to let him have an idea of the scenario. Is she acting? Is she for real? We won’t know since Eriri comes rushing in to stop their indecency but only to tumble down. And while the girls are arguing, they didn’t realize Tomoya has been snatched by Michiru. She brings him to the lake, a spot she wanted so much to show him. Playful and cheeky as she is, she flirts around with him, splashing water, pushing him into it, on top of him… Only to be interrupted when Megumi makes a sound. She was watching all along but perhaps enjoying it too much to say anything.

After that ping pong game, they retire to their rooms. Before Tomoya could work on his materials, he is kidnapped! The next thing he knows, he is tied up in the girls’ room as they start seducing him. Tomoya could guess they have gotten drunk from the whiskey chocolates. Something points to Megumi because she is the only one still in her usual calm demeanour and as though she didn’t put in ‘enough effort’ to prevent it. Maybe she gets her kicks by watching this folly despite her facial expression doesn’t show it a single bit. I don’t know how it leads to this but Utaha gets the right to ‘rape’ Tomoya. In the end, we won’t know what happened but it sounded like Megumi ‘rescued’ him. I suppose it is time for Megumi to have some decent screen time alone with Tomoya. He is talking about her negative attitude which consigns her to a background character. However he still feels she is more than just plain as she is their game’s heroine. Since she has no clue on how to act like a heroine, he explains what is typically expected of one. Yeah, whatever. She’ll try her best. Tomoya notices her hair has grown longer. It has been 6 months since they’ve met (or rather as she puts it, noticed her existence) and this is what happens when you spend most of your time with an otaku. But they can’t give up now since their game is almost finished. They hope to release it at Winter Comiket. She also hopes their circle won’t crash and burn… Is she trying to jinx it?

Episode 1
On a spring day morning, Tomoya describes it as the beginning of his destiny when he spots a girl in white dress and her white hat blown away by the breeze. Such epic life changing scene he will never forget. It is the start of a new school term and Tomoya who is trying to be the super otaku is ‘busy’ with his otaku stuffs rather than being interested in who is in whose class. You know he is one when he prefers 2D girls instead of listening to his friend rant about the beauty and elegance of Eriri. But Tomoya skips the opening entrance ceremony just to go speak to Eriri and catches her in the act taking out a limited edition anime from her locker. Anyway, Tomoya wants her to join his circle as an illustrator because she is a very good one. Unknown to many, she is the author of a hit erotic manga under the pen name Eri Kashiwagi. She takes a look at his project proposal and doesn’t hesitate to criticize this piece of trash! To the max! Because he cannot express what he imagines, the big reason why he needs her. She continues to shoot him down about his dreams but he remains passionate about it. He tries to remind her of their childhood promise that he would come hire her when he becomes the president of the game company but she’s not very amused remembering that (twintail lashing abuse?). She doesn’t want any more to do with this so he pleads for another chance to hear him out after school at the AV room. But she notes it is too late for him to be saying that.

When Tomoya finally joins the opening ceremony, Utaha has been called up to stage to receive her award as top of her grade. Again he hears his friend waxing lyrical about Utaha’s beauty that could only be rivalled by Eriri. Why bother telling this to Tomoya when he isn’t interested in 3D? But you know, after the ceremony, Tomoya goes to see Utaha at the rooftop. Silent treatment? After treating her to lunch, he gives her review his project proposal. Without holding back, she fires all the harsh criticisms on this piece of trash. She doesn’t want to be involved with him as she is busy but Tomoya knows about Utaha’s other identity. Aside from being the smartest student in school, she is also the writer of a bestselling series under the pen name of Utako Kasumi. He pleads for another chance to listen to him and to wait for him at the AV room after school. But she can’t understand of all times, why now. So this guy works hard to complete his proposal and as he is about to go to the AV room, Megumi passes by him and thanks him for picking up her hat during spring break. Tomoya didn’t really care too much about it since he is in a hurry. But then it hit him. Oh sh*t! Isn’t that his destiny girl?! Wait! Come back! Meanwhile, Eriri thought she could make her dramatic entrance as a tsundere but to her dismay Utaha is the one waiting in the room. We can tell both hates each other’s guts the way they insult each other with Utaha being more subtle in her sarcasm but Eriri and her emotions blowing up like fireworks. Anyhow, it looks like Utaha is the better one in this ‘conversation’. The standoff continues… When Tomoya finally catches up to Megumi, he didn’t even realize she was in the same class with him. Since last year! Meanwhile, the waiting ladies realize they have been stood up when a certain otaku didn’t show up…

Episode 2
Tomoya is talking to Megumi at the diner. He never noticed her but now that he does, he really finds her cute and all the physical qualities that a heroine needs to have. However she notes that she has a lack of presence, that is why people do not notice her unlike Tomoya who is considered a celebrity in school because of the otaku activities her organized. He doesn’t even know that? Tomoya becomes passionate in arguing that Megumi is not as plain as she think she is. He wants her to bring all that heroine qualities out. Since when is she already in his circle? Ah well, he sounds so determined, might as well consider her in. Because Eriri and Utaha are spotted outside the window with those cold stabbing stares, the tension is further tense with them joining at the table. I mean, this guy got the guts to stand them up and date another girl? Tomoya wastes no time in introducing everyone in his circle. Since when did they join? Eriri and Utaha are still at odds with each other, having that feet battle underneath the table. The girls try to convince Tomoya to give up his dream but he has decided. He will rewrite it as many times to get their approval. And for that moment the duo thought he has decided no which of them he would choose? See their disappointed reaction. Little do they realize that Megumi is gone. She is queuing at the drinks counter. Wow. She definitely lacks presence, eh?

So to train her to be the perfect heroine, Tomoya calls Megumi to meet. She doesn’t remember the street where she lost her hat as the first place they met simply because it wasn’t. It was last year’s opening ceremony. Oh, he can’t remember that, can’t he? Megumi is in Tomoya’s otaku room but she doesn’t display the kind of reaction he expected her as a heroine. Why so mad, bro? The best way to learn about a heroine is to play a dating game. As usual, Megumi is pretty clueless about everything and I don’t know how frustrated Tomoya feels. Hey, cut her some slack. She is an amateur, isn’t she? So they play the best dating game from start to finish. Megumi does have good comments on it as Tomoya departs more cliché advices. But does she understand it all? You guessed it. It took him to remember Eriri’s words to realize that he was the one who didn’t understand everything. What? I don’t understand what’s going on. Megumi thought she could leave for the night but wait! There’s more. The game has a sequel and true ending. Don’t tell me they’re going to play it through? Well, his parents are out of town for an overnight trip and tomorrow has no school. Oh sh*t… For the sake of his, uhm, their dream, stay for the night! You don’t know how ambiguous that sounds. I’m sure that he assuring he only likes 2D girls doesn’t sound that assuring. But when she agrees to stay, he panics that she should be suspicious and not to be so carefree. So what does he wants?! This guy is worse than a woman! The game finally ends in the morning. Megumi is so deprived of sleep that she would do anything just to get some. Even if it means joining his circle. So can she sleep now?

Episode 3
Seems Tomoya hasn’t even started on his proposal. Trouble getting ideas? I’m sure he is calling Megumi for another sleepover session but she can’t. She’s away for a family trip at Hokkaido. By the time she gets back, that’ll be his deadline. So Tomoya tries to make a resolution not to get distracted by his otaku stuffs to start his work. Well, maybe just one manga before he begins… And he wasted half a day on it… Before he knows it, Eriri is already at his place working on her porn manga. Her dad is holding a garden party and she doesn’t want to be around to show her face to the guests. So his place is the ideal place to work on her erotic manga? Anyway she wants him to give up seeing he sounded like giving excuses not to complete his game. To their surprise, Utaha is at his doorstep so I guess Eriri has to go into hiding and hide all her stuffs. Utaha enters his very clean room and starts teasing him with a little flirt. She also thinks he should give up at this rate but goes on ranting and getting worked up about deadlines and bad comments that put down her work. Tomoya’s conviction manages to convince her that he will come up with a satisfying proposal that will guarantee to make her agree to join his circle. She advises him that if he is serious in that, he should involve all members otherwise he won’t put out a quality product no matter how hard he tries or keep himself motivated. Oh, one more thing. He should have also tried hiding the bicycle. I guess she already knows… So how long is Eriri going to hide in the closet? That night, Tomoya calls Megumi to not worry about him. He’ll do something about himself. She asks what was it about her that appealed to him. Well, everything with her was fun. Was there any room for improvement? If she could be a little more overbearing. And so the next day he starts getting serious on his project. Each time he hits a dead end (which is very soon always), he takes a break doing something else. Before he knows it, he wasted another day! Nothing started! Blank sheet! The thought of giving up seems tempting than ever.

He returns to that hill he first saw Megumi and thought would get inspiration. Nothing. He is about to cry when he sees a white cap floating down. It’s Megumi! I guess he was so pitiful that she threw it for him. Her acting is a little different as she wonders if this is the ideal heroine he wanted. Is this the way he wanted her to act, speak and fall in love? Seems Megumi came back a few days ago after telling her parents she needed to help meet a deadline. She didn’t meet up with him because she didn’t think she would be useful contributing anything. But she wasn’t doing nothing during that time. She got the help of Eriri and Utaha. Eriri designed her dress while Utaha became the strict director teaching her how to act. She might not know what kind of game he is doing but she understands he is very serious about it so hang in there and make her into a heroine that everyone will envy of. Now that he is motivated, he brings her back to his place where they’ll begin their work till tomorrow 7am!!! Hope there would be enough time to get to school. Utaha and Eriri are watching them from afar. They note Tomoya has not started yet. Because Eriri is being contradicting herself by not caring about him and yet helping him, Utaha warns her to fix that attitude of hers or she’ll regret it later. Though Eriri can’t believe she’ll be in the same circle with her, on the contrary Utaha looks forward to working with her. And so when Tomoya hands over his proposal for the girls to read, it is as bad as ever! And he poured his heart and soul into it… Megumi isn’t saying anything because she is sleeping… Lack of sleep or boring?

Episode 4
Megumi read the entire manga volume Tomoya lent her. She is impressed she didn’t think it would be this good. Yeah, he lets her keep it. Utaha is not impressed that her editor hired Tomoya to interview her for her new upcoming series. Well, no ordinary interviewer is going to get anything out from a shy, uncooperative and foul tempered lady. So she thought somehow whom she is familiar with would do the trick. 30 seconds into the interview, she’s already dozing off… I’m not sure if Tomoya is asking boring questions. Anyway the interview didn’t go anywhere even with all those energy drinks. It doesn’t help when the editor even reveals shady details of how they do things behind the scenes. Finally he asks the last question of what she hopes to accomplish with her next series. In addition to the pretty good answer, a very good news for Tomoya because she agrees to join his circle and his project! He couldn’t be much happier. Eriri is preparing herself and comes into the meeting in her typical tsundere fashion but déjà vu strikes as Utaha tells her to cut that tsundere crap and join them already. So they’re here to discuss the development schedule. But the girls dismiss it being unrealistic as they will have to devote 100% of their time to it. So they try to outdo each other by rewriting the schedule and they end up drawing on each other’s face.

With their task determined, what shall Tomoya be? He could be the errand boy who buys them snacks or he can take over character designs, plot development or something else. Buying snacks has never been the easiest job for the director, eh? But Utaha brings up the next problem: Fundraising. You know how expensive it can get when it comes to printing and publishing, right? Yeah, Tomoya didn’t know. Feeling defeated already? Before Utaha can fully seduce him, Eriri separates them (and whips him with her twintail combo). And before another war can start, he just tells them to concentrate on what they do best. Agreed. So what will Megumi do then? Nobody noticed her the entire time, eh? And so Tomoya works hard and wears many hats to raise that million yen target! But to his shock he sees Megumi bringing a hot guy to the restaurant he works at! Keiichi is actually her cousin. This really bothers Tomoya. A lot. Since when did Tomoya become her father and after that long lecture about what it takes to be a standout heroine that moves the hearts of others, he wants her never to see him again???!!! At least until after the game is completed. Is he unreasonable? Is he obnoxious? Is he stupid? Yes to all! And it’s all over when she says she is meeting him this weekend at the mall. It’s like the end of the world for him. That’s like a date, right? At least to him. If that is how it’s going to be, he wants to be the one who accompanies her to the mall then. Hmm… Okay. She’ll just tell Keiichi it is off. Now… Tomoya suddenly has doubts. Doesn’t this look like a date? Shouldn’t she think more about it? I tell you, this guy is worse than a woman!

Episode 5
Eriri is having a hard time trying to sketch a decent heroine out of Megumi. She’s just not into that 2D thingy. On the other hand, it may look like Utaha is having writer’s block when she’s typing nonsense. But could it be a ploy to get Tomoya to feed her? But Eriri ‘broke’ her pencil so errand boy has to get new ones. Eriri is already tired trying to cast Megumi and she doesn’t need a shock to hear Tomoya asking her if she has gone out on a date before! No, he is not asking her out. So he is hypothetically getting her advice on what to do till she realizes he is going on a date with Megumi. So shock that Utaha suddenly starts writing a yandere route! Tomoya sounds like the victim… Utaha is done with her scenario as Tomoya narrates it. It goes something like this. A chance meeting of a guy and a girl at the hill slope. Pretty familiar, right? Coincidentally they are classmates. Slowly they pursue a relationship with each other. Then she starts acting strange. She remembers something about their past lives. They were not only siblings but were lovers too. Now they go off to fight… Monsters?! Despite Tomoya liking this awesome development, he feels something is missing. So for 3 days he has been cracking his head on it so Eriri tells him off his uselessness is hindering the progress of everything. If he has something better, then write it himself. Utaha warns her there are things she should not say and what she said did not help a bit. Since Tomoya isn’t giving any answer, Utaha notes that it is happening again. Megumi thinks to call off tomorrows date at the mall and postpone it to another time but Tomoya won’t run away and try it out. But he is at the brink of defeat after seeing so many people lining up to get in. Just tiring, eh? He can’t take it anymore but when Megumi misinterprets about the otaku and Comiket, this gives Tomoya an idea to consider the crowd as his fellow otakus. Then he has Megumi lay out all the stores she wants to visit. He devises his plan on how to visit them all like as though this is a Comiket convention. Such a pro. Thanks to that, she manages to get everything she wants for the day. Although she is grateful, Tomoya can’t accompany her home because there is somewhere he needs to go now. Utaha is seen waiting.

Episode 6
It’s time for Utaha to get her own episode. Utaha fans scream with joy! Utaha’s manager is teasing her that she is thinking about Tomoya although she denies this. Oh, just stop being stubborn and go after him already! We see some flashbacks of Utaha recognizing Tomoya at a book signing ceremony because he was ranting away and waxing lyrical about her characters. She used to call him out for opinions of her characters. I think she just enjoyed him talking instead of listening to what his passionate ranting is all about. I don’t think she fell asleep because it was boring. Then there was one time she wanted him to read her manuscript for her final volume so that she could make the necessary changes but he refuses because he will not take responsibility for her work. He wants her to decide on the ending and doesn’t want it to become an ending that reflects his opinions. She was desperate but he still would not because he is her fan. It shocked her. It has been 6 months then. Tomoya wonders if she would forgive him. After countless near misses, Tomoya finally meets up with Utaha while taking shelter from the rain. Since it is late and the last train has already departed, her manager sets them up to stay in the same room at a nearby hotel! After shower… She getting flirty… Then Tomoya’s passion blows up. He wants her to make him a man. No, a creator! She feels disappointed for this false lead up. For the rest of the night, he discusses about his ‘date’ with Megumi which is to gather materials but I’m sure any girl wouldn’t like to hear about a guy talking a lot about another girl. Then they talk about the plot which he thinks needs to focus more on the heroine’s current life and happiness instead of her past life. She thinks of cutting off the past life plot but he wants it included since it has its charm. Utaha turns into a yandere as she starts typing the revised plot. Like as though she’s hinting that he chose a plain character other than her to be his main heroine. Is it not right for an author to feel love and not go all out for a fan? Tomoya won’t fall for this since she is speaking as herself and not in character. Next morning, Utaha leaves early to continue her work with her manager. She is saying very ambiguous lines about their very passionate time last night (albeit it was just rewriting the plot). She leaves satisfied and thanking him for drawing out her determination, etc. And then we hear him scream because Utaha took a selfie of them in bed on the morning after!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Meanwhile Eriri happened to bump Megumi at the mall and is sketching her. Seems there is a subtle implication that she is not happy with that date. Eriri sketches a sulking expression of Megumi in which she denies ever putting on that face. Hey, didn’t she just do that?

Episode 7
Time for Eriri’s turn to have the spotlight? She calls Tomoya to her home, blaming him for pushing back the schedule, blah, blah, blah. So take responsibility! Is there a meaning behind this? Long story short, she wants him to help act out as a main character for her ero work. So they flip flop between acting and real stuff so you wonder if it’s just a ploy from Eriri to flirt with him. I don’t think so. Tsunderes aren’t like that… Don’t worry. They won’t be having sex unlike the character in her story. On the last day at school, Tomoya is fuming at Megumi. Why? She has changed her hairstyle! Imagine the shock she will bring to viewers! Well, only he noticed, right? So as he is lecturing her about overall characters (a certain tsundere and sharp tongue girl is out), he speaks greatly of having a little sister/junior character that always looks up to you in admiration. Well, it is about to turn true now because Izumi Hashima claims she has found him and hugs him! OMG! Shamelessly in front of his harem? OMFG. Seems she is his old childhood friend and 2 years his junior who moved away (Utaha seems to love teasing Eriri about her having a more middle school girl body than Izumi). Izumi praises Tomoya for everything he has done for her. Especially about teaching her about the pleasures of being girl! Alarm bells ringing! Wait a minute. If this happened when they were younger… Hold your horses! It’s not like that. Then Izumi hands him a letter. Big red alert! Actually it is an invitation ticket to her doujin circle at summer Comiket. This is her way of repaying him. If he had never shown her that game, Little Rhapsody he gave her as a gift, she wouldn’t be here today living a happy otaku life. Oh, I see there was another fine girl he corrupted. As she leaves, she tells Tomoya that her brother, Iori would be glad to see him again.

Well, that happens soon after. However Tomoya and Eriri ignore this handsome dude (he waited here for more than half an hour!) and continue arguing about the game gift Tomoya gave to Izumi. So when they cannot ignore him no more, the guys start their petty argument (WTF is this Nagoya food they’re talking about?). Tomoya remembers severing ties with him. Long ago they once agreed to rise up to the otaku world together. Their dynamic friendship back then sent all those fujoshi girls crazy. However Tomoya soon discovered his goals were completely different than his. Iori didn’t become an otaku to spread its joys. What he did was trying to get close to popular works and creators to make himself look important. Tomoya believes he should rise up from the bottom instead of just feeding on creators. Uhm, shouldn’t Tomoya do that himself too? Iori then hands him his name card. To their surprise, he is under Akane Kousaka’s Rouge En Rouge circle. This is a very famous superstar circle. Thanks to Iori’s ways, he has now risen this high and the circle cannot turn him down for he has helped them out with many things. Eriri won’t accept him but he informs his circle is interested in her. As he knows Tomoya is making a game with these famous girls, is he trying to stir something in the otaku world? So happen they too are making a game and are looking for an illustrator. Looks like it is a contest now. Does Eriri deserve to be on Tomoya’s side or will she shine further with them?

Episode 8
Megumi is here to discuss character designs, etc. But it seems Tomoya and Eriri are busy in completing the latter’s work before summer Comiket which starts tomorrow. Eriri thinks they’re fine since she will only be there on the third and final day. So Megumi passes time by playing Little Rhapsody. Tomoya is happy she has grown this much as an otaku. Shouldn’t he get back to helping Eriri? However since Eriri also likes this game, she can’t help get distracted in watching Megumi play. She manages to complete it without a drop in quality so Tomoya asks her about Iori’s offer. It is tempting and success is guaranteed. But what about her future? Is she going to keep drawing as a hobby? As Eriri plays Little Rhapsody, she assures him that she is part of his circle for now and won’t be taking on any guest artist jobs till winter Comiket. Tomoya and Megumi visit and help Izumi set up her booth on the first day of Comiket. Izumi is so happy to see he came that she hugs him. With tears! And she got the guts to call Megumi his girlfriend. Does she know the implication? When Tomoya looks at her work and finds out she has only been drawing for a year, he is impressed and takes a sample to go do something about it. He returns after copying an enlarged page and sticking it on a sign to attract people as a massive poster. But Izumi is embarrassed he chose that page because it wasn’t finished in time so it is a rushed job. Megumi agrees with Tomoya because she has read her work and she found it interesting all the way that it made her hard to catch her breath. A guy shows up and surprisingly buys it although her work isn’t aimed for guys. Then a long line of girls queue up to buy them till it is sold out. Izumi becomes emotional thanking everyone for supporting her. At the end of the day, Tomoya catches up with Eriri whom he realizes disguised herself to come buy Izumi’s works. She doesn’t seem happy. She asks him for his opinion on Izumi’s work. It’s totally awesome. Yeah. He was so hyped to help sell them too. That’s when she snapped back that he never reacted like that to her works. He never felt anything at all. He never went all out to help sell her works. Tomoya argues that they are both different and in different leagues. So does this mean Eriri’s works are better than Izumi’s? If so, why won’t he help to sell them? Her works sell fine without his help. That’s not even an answer. Eriri runs away crying, leaving Tomoya at the intersection. Cliché scene?

Episode 9
Suddenly Tomoya wakes up with Utaha lying next to him in bed! Is this some sort of revenge for not getting any screen time last episode? Eventually Tomoya reveals what happened with Eriri so Utaha thinks it is his fault for waxing lyrical the works of another girl in front of her. Tomoya believes he could not stay quiet when someone’s works stands out. Though it might not dent her reputation overall, but it sure dent her heart. This might jeopardize their circle as she might be too traumatized to even work. So Eriri doesn’t even get out of bed to go for the Comiket. She’s just lazing around in her bed. On the other hand, Utaha is lying around on Tomoya’s bed, smelling his blanket… Don’t worry. He is away at Comiket. He sees Iori and needs his help to drag Eriri back into his circle. That night as Eriri’s parents are holding a house party, it is part of Utaha’s plan to have Tomoya dress up as a prince to whisk Eriri away from her balcony. This scene resembles very closely to one in Little Rhapsody and will evoke that nostalgia factor. Away, the reconciliation isn’t going to be easy because it is Tomoya who is the one getting upset and wanting her to apologize for betraying him first. There is a short flashback of their days in elementary school 8 years ago. Eriri introduced Little Rhapsody to him and he got hooked to the otaku world. However she had to ‘abandon’ him to make new friends. That might look petty to Eriri but to him this was a big deal. It meant a lot to him. He had to make enemies out of every guy just to protect what they had. He won’t forgive her for the bad treatment. Eriri won’t apologize, instead she brings up that recent incident of praising another author’s work in front of her. She worked so hard and yet he praised Izumi. He admits Izumi’s work is much better than her. Eriri starts crying that she put in so much effort and that this is the limit of her talent. She put on a mask outside and worked hard at home to get back at those who broke them up. She wants to go back to how it was. He tells her to do it. He doesn’t know how but just do it. It’s her work. And so she finally decides to do it and make her be his number one. Next day, Eriri has completed the illustration of the circle’s banner. Looks very close to Megumi and she’s not pretty happy about it (because the illustration has her wear nothing!). Tomoya puts the finishing touches by calling their circle Blessing Software. Utaha points out that roughly translates to Megumi’s Software. Oh dear. Tempers are going to flare again… Lastly, Iori hands Izumi a drawing from Eriri for her. She is very happy about it although she didn’t know Eriri was at her stand. Iori starts laughing since the drawing also contains a note that Eriri won’t lose to her.

Episode 10
Tomoya and the girls are making progress with the game. It is getting late so he is going to take a bath and sleep. To his surprise, Michiru is using the place like her own home. Finally! After 3/4 of the series of no-show, finally she pops up! Tomoya screams not because she came out of the bath, but rather she didn’t have the typical girly screaming reaction she should have when she sees a semi-naked guy. Seems she had an argument with her family and ran away from home. She tells him about the new band she formed but he isn’t convinced since she never stayed for more than 6 months. Michiru is pretty bold and physical in flirting with him. You wonder if his neck is going to be okay with that kind of submission move. Next day as he tries to work on the scripting, Utaha and Eriri are more interested in flirting and getting his attention. Then they discover the other girl… Oh dear. Tomoya is tied up and interrogated. Who the heck is this Michiru girl? Tomoya explains she is his cousin who happened to be born on the same day and same hospital as him. Utaha becomes a smooth operation in creating a scenario the closeness of their relationship. The kind of childhood friend relationship that trumps all over others and make it look like cheap knock offs. Eriri can’t handle the heat and already passes out. Tomoya returns home only to see Michiru making herself at home. Yeah, she’s really turning his room into his. Throwing away all his otaku stuffs and replacing it with her music. She tries to convince him to leave the otaku life and will introduce real girls to him to hang out. Thankfully (or not), his otaku passion is strong and he won’t be so easily converted. Imagine, a girl who have family problems telling a guy in his own home to be concerned about his future. Despite warning Michiru not to plug her electric guitar to the amp, she does so after he has gone to take a bath. At first he is going to chew her out but after a while, the music isn’t that bad. In fact, it perfectly fits the scenes of his story. He wants her to join his circle. His towel then came off. Is that some sort of threat or intimidation? She isn’t, by the way.

Episode 11
Michiru is introduced to the rest. I wonder how Eriri is going to handle this. I don’t think she can’t. Especially seeing Michiru getting physical with Tomoya like as though it’s that norm. Of course Michiru has never agreed to write music for his game. She claims she has her hands full writing songs for her band. Utaha reminds Tomoya not to force her to join or she’ll be unhappy. Funny, wasn’t Utaha the same at first? Because Michiru looks down on otaku, Utaha retorts all that about the otaku world and how their works of entertainment make them nobles. When Michiru starts bringing up the past that she was always better than him in everything, there were times he was a reliable guy. Eriri seems to be interested in hearing ancient history. I don’t know how Tomoya can get out of this one with both girls suffocating him. Later when all the girls have gone home, Tomoya expresses he really needs Michiru but she is still not convinced. Somehow her band is on the verge of breaking up thanks to her so she has no time to help him out. Tomoya takes it that she has not received her father’s blessings yet. She reveals he will approve of it if they get a manager. Tomoya will help find one for her but Michiru says it is him. Well, they’re not going to have a complete stranger as their manager, right? So now it is his turn to claim being busy with his circle. What experience has he got as a band manager? Michiru tells him that his circle is broken and that he is the only one who is genuinely interested in making the game. The other girls seem to hang around for other reasons… However it is different in her case. Everyone in her band is seriously trying to make their dream come true.

Tomoya’s friend thinks he is spending more time with Megumi recently and Tomoya is happy to note that she has grown as a heroine since other guys are starting to take notice of her. Megumi is at Eriri’s home helping to work on the game’s scripting. She has her own ideas and views for certain scenes that make it work better. Early next morning, Tomoya calls her. Seems he is in a dilemma. He asks her if the circle is not working so she invites him out for breakfast. She shows him the scripting she has been working to help him out. Surprised? Megumi views herself as no talent like the rest but she wants to help out whenever she can because she really wants to finish this game. Just as Tomoya’s faith in completing the game and making her the heroine that everyone can envy renewed, he sees on the scripting demo something about Megumi hinting about his cousin when he was opposed to her own cousin. Remember that incident? Yeah… Immediately he prostrates himself to apologize. Tomoya then lets her hear Michiru’s music that he secretly recorded. Sounds good. This has Megumi ask if Michiru has really nothing to do with the otaku culture. Michiru gets a pleasant surprise when Tomoya agrees to become her band manager. There is a live gig for her band to perform. Apparently a band pulled out last minute and he managed to slot theirs in. He already contacted her band members to commit. All that is left is for her to say okay. Instantly she hugs him and starts apologizing for being selfish, sorry his dream might collapse, blah, blah, blah. Typical female character when the guy gets you what you want?

Episode 12
Tomoya is talking to Michiru’s Icy Tail band. They will be going out first since they have no past credentials. Time to do this thing. Meanwhile, Tomoya’s circle girls are supposed to attend to but Eriri has run away to a maid café. Megumi and Utaha are forced to drag her out. Utaha can’t believe Megumi and Eriri got close together while at the same time poking fun insulting Eriri’s trauma about losing her position as Tomoya’s oldest childhood friend. I wonder if Megumi is tired in rebuking the infighting. Finally when they arrive at the backstage, they see this very ‘horror’ scene. Michiru despite angry at Tomoya for the cat maid outfit that the band is supposed to go out and perform in, she is in a cowgirl position and that ambiguous humping just makes your imagination go wild. Tomoya reveals the biggest secret. Michiru thought she was singing pop songs but in actual fact all of them are anime songs. That is why the songs she writes are so anime-like. Apparently her bandmates are somewhat otaku themselves and have made a deal with Tomoya that with him managing them as an anime cover band, they will allow her to work for his Blessing Software. It is a win-win situation for everyone. She can quit if she wants but is she going to betray her friends? Even if she is not an otaku, he believes she will become a fine one someday. Icy Tail head off to stage and the crowd goes wild when they begin their gig. It ends with Michiru playing an original song she wrote. When Michiru says I love you to Tomoya, Utaha and Eriri beat him up. He had to explain she was saying Icy Tail (as in “Aishiteru yo!”). At the backstage, Tomoya continues his smooth operator talk with Michiru. Her dream has come true. Now it’s her turn to make his. Those otaku out there cheering for her today, they will soon be moved to tears when she writes music for his game. Michiru agrees to join him and decides to make it formal with a pact. It looks like she’s going to kiss him but in fact she gets back at him by doing a submission move. We see the circle working hard to complete the game as well as a glimpse of part of the game’s ending. Everyone is glad that they have completed it. Well, at least one route. Now to start again for the other routes. Eriri starts right away, Utaha takes a quick nap and Michiru going to cheer them up with her song. Everything is working so fine. Well, 2 months to go to Winter Comiket. Tomoya is going to make some narrative that their fight has just begun but Eriri smacks him so as not to jinx it.

How To Satisfy A Perverted Otaku
If I have to be honest, I am having a hard time determining if this series is interesting or, erm, boring. Maybe it is somewhat both. The interesting parts see how a nobody and high school kid Tomoya trying to create an ideal game with all the obstacles he is facing as well as managing the fickle relationship between his female members. But other than that, the drama of it all can be a bit draggy as I sometimes find it hard myself to keep focus for the duration of the episode. Personally, I have no idea about the direction or what they are planning about when discussing in making the game because it seems I only sit up whenever there is some sort of cat fight happening between Utaha and Eriri since with the former’s acid tongue and sarcasm, it is always fun to hear what comes out of her mouth and the reaction the tsundere puts on. I’m not saying that this is a bad anime overall but maybe I just got my priorities wrong. I thought I would see them making the game (like what you see in Bakuman or even Shirobako) and even though this is what their circle goal is all about, they do it behind the scenes and it is more of Tomoya trying to make his circle work despite everything looks like it is going to fall apart any moment. Good thing it didn’t, right? Could it be the power of (one-sided secret crush) love?

The clashing and contrasting characters in the circle make them interesting despite you can see certain clichés in them like a certain tsundere (why must they always be twintail blondes?) and sharp tongue yandere. The biggest irony is that the 2 of the biggest names in the otaku world are working for a complete nobody. It becomes obvious that they are willing to bring themselves down to his level thanks to the shared past and feelings for him. The show does have its pace to bring out Utaha and Eriri’s past with Tomoya and how they are somewhat connected to him, the reason they are going this far to help him make his ideal game. At the same time, Megumi is not going to be the running joke of the series whereby nobody notices her so it is not going to be the case for her character development to be ignored. Instead, we see her taking an interest and learning more about the otaku culture. Although that ‘boring’ nature of hers depends very much on the views and perception of others. Boring at first in the eyes of Tomoya because of his set stereotypes of what a heroine should be. But I think Megumi could be the ‘coolest’ character of them all in the entire series since she rarely burst into any fits of emotion. Even so, they look so emotionless. Even when she makes come back lines. Quite funny when she rebukes. Quite the irony. I know her sleepy voice makes her like a dreamy girl but I think it gives her character. Overall, the character development is satisfactory but not quite enough since you can’t do justice to them all with just a dozen or so episodes.

Tomoya looks like another typical and ordinary otaku character with big dreams. Yeah, what another irony considering Megumi is supposed to be the most ‘normal’ one. His passion in the otaku life is genuine. Sometimes I feel he just needs to have better communication skills to tell the girls what he want especially to Megumi who is a noob in the otaku world. With the girls having different sets of personalities, Tomoya feels like the punching bag for the big two and to a point plays the role of retorting them when they put words in his mouth or twisting the meaning of the entire thing. And sometimes I feel he is worse than a woman because based on my observations especially with Megumi, he expects something like this or that and when she agrees to it, he starts having second thoughts whether it is a good thing or not for her to agree so easily with it. So what does he really want anyway?

So I suppose with the characters interacting with each other in such a way, this is where mainly the funny parts of the series are. Yeah well, at least they aren’t that boring despite the cliché personalities. And I suppose they try to make it a little interesting because sometimes the characters do speak in a way that breaks the fourth wall. Like as though they are addressing to us viewers who are watching them. Some of them are cleverly played out.

Another one of the biggest ironies for this series is the romance part. I said irony because Tomoya who has proclaimed he only loves 2D girls (although he did say he does not hate 3D girls) to be working with real girls in the flesh. If that is the case, could it be that he only sees his colleagues as nothing as that? Perhaps. But I don’t think it is the same case for the girls. We all know very well that he is the reason why they are staying in his circle that may or may not be successful. So there’s the irony of beautiful and successful girls in their own right having feelings for a 2D lover guy. Unrequited love? Utaha and Eriri look like the front runners in this game but Michiru is threatening to usurp all that thanks to her bold physical moves. And she like only made her appearance so late in the series proper.

You thought Utaha was pretty bold in her up close flirting with Tomoya? Well, it was till Michiru smashed all that and took it to a whole new level. Don’t forget about Megumi. She might look like the one with the least potential but you know what they say about still waters running deep. I may be reading too much but I take it as a sign that she wants to help him and finish this game as an indication that she harbours some feelings for him. She might be the one who usurp it all because you know, Tomoya views her as his heroine. I don’t know what happened to Izumi but I thought the more the merrier with a cliché character playing the little sister trope (since she does appear along with the other girls in the ending credits animation). Well it seems childhood friend seems to be an important ‘ingredient’ in whatever romance factor the girls are pinning on. In that case, everybody would have lost out to Michiru flat, right?

There are also a few fanservice scenes but they are considered light and the ‘heaviest’ one would be in episode 0 itself (and possibly almost every scene that involve Michiru on Tomoya). With Utaha’s sexy seduction and after-bath scene, a scene with Eriri only in her lingerie and Michiru whose skimpy dressing like as though she is getting ready for a porn shoot and her extreme physical skinship on Tomoya might make it too tantalizing for us to handle. Even all that is pales in comparison to even call this an ecchi themed anime. Okay, maybe you can call it ecchi as long as we get more than 2 scenes of boobs and pantsu shots. Also, there are some anime trivia to spot but mostly they are the posters, mangas and figurines in Tomoya’s room like OreImo, Date A Live and Sword Art Online respectively among the many others. For the rest that are seen elsewhere like during the Comiket, I am not sure if they are real, made up or actual doujin work.

Although the art and drawing are rather okay being your standard Japanese anime style like you see these days, I can’t help notice if it is going to be a trend. Like in Grisaia No Kajitsu, I noticed that there is a red strip of line on the top outline of the girls’ eyes. I am not sure about the guys but I noticed that in some scenes, Tomoya also have this feature albeit it is very faint compared to the girls. Then there are certain scenes in which the colouring and the hue just become, how should I put it, single hue. For example, sometimes the scene will be in just tones and shades or red. Sometimes purple. Sometimes blue. Like as though they ran out of other colours for that scene and just dumped all that single colour just for the sake to get that scene coloured. This does not happen very often but enough to make you notice and wonder if there is some sort of implication or anything. Or it could be just to mess with your head and amount to nothing much. Oddly, there are also a few scenes using CG. But those scenes are also rare although it tries to blend in with the 2D hand drawing, it still stands out.

Voice acting is pretty okay. Yoshitsugu Matsuoka as Tomoya somehow I feel is going to be stereotyped in playing such characters. Whether it is Aito from Mangaka-san To Assistant-san To or Sora from No Game No Life. Kiyono Yasuno (Koneko in Hamatora) playing Megumi might sound like she has the easiest job since her character sounds like she is devoid of emotions and just put on that single monotonous voice. But to speak like that for the entire duration of the series is not easy and can be tiring. Believe me, I tried doing that for a few minutes and it was already hard on me despite I myself am a boring person ;p. The rest of the other casts include Ai Kayano as Utaha (Inori in Guilty Crown), Saori Oonishi as Eriri (La Folia in Strike The Blood), Sayuri Yahagi as Michiru (Haruna in To Love-Ru), Chinatsu Akasaki as Izumi (Yasuna in Kill Me Baby) and Tatsuya Kakihara as Iori (Natsu in Fairy Tail). The opening and ending themes sound generic anime pop. Sounds okay but doesn’t appeal to me. Kimiiro Signal by Luna Haruna is the opener while Colorful by Miku Sawai serves as the ending theme. There are also a handful of insert songs that are sung by the heroines in the series but I didn’t find them appealing either.

Till the second season arrives (oh yes, there is definitely going to be a second season to satisfy us otaku perverts who love to see the eternal rivalry and cat fight between the tsundere and yandere as well as the deadpan rebuke from the most normal girl ever in the history of anime, not forgetting an extremely physical budding musician), I guess we’ll have to be satisfied this season to see how a guy manages his girls. Oh wait. Did it even come close to that? How do I describe this anime in a nutshell? It’s like a management sim but it doesn’t feel like it. It’s like your harem anime but it’s not. It’s like your romantic comedy anime but it really isn’t. It’s almost like your fanservice shots but not enough to classify so. Mainly everything feels mild and not serious enough to warrant to anything substantial but sufficient to keep your attention till the end. At least there are lots of positive comments about this show (I bet they are mostly either Utaha or Megumi camp).

So you think running a country or even a big multi-national conglomerate is a big tough headache job? Try managing a small group of only girls all of which whom have some sort of secret crush or admiration for you. It is like a dream come true for us otaku guys to have so many beauty and brains clamouring for us but at the same time a big hell of a mess when all hell breaks loose. Besides, don’t they have such management classes anywhere? Yeah, they don’t. You don’t try and manage girls as a guy! Never! Oh, how do you satisfy a perverted otaku anyway? Simple. Just give him lots of ero stuffs. What? You expecting something more complicated than that? I assure you, it is not that complicated to please a pervert even if he has the strangest fetish in the world. Really.

Death Parade

September 19, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hi-sCoool! SeHa Girls

July 18, 2015

Remember those good ol’ days when video game consoles were the thing that kids love and had when it comes to electronic entertainment? Not to say they are dead by now but if you are old enough (like yours truly), I am very sure you would have very fond memories of early game consoles way back in the 90’s. Yup. Does it bring the nostalgia back? And for those who still remember, Sega was a company that also had their own video game console till they decided to stop that and just concentrate on games. Boo hoo for Sega fans. Therefore, what better way than to bring back the glorious days of Sega during its console days via an anime, Hi-sCoool! SeHa Girls. Three old Sega consoles anthropomorphized as cute girls enrol in a Sega academy and need to graduate by completing assignments that include entering the worlds of old Sega games. Sounds like fun? Oh yeah. Time to relieve the nostalgia… Bring it on!

Episode 1
Sega Saturn makes her way into SeHaGaGa Academy. She enrolled here only because it is close to her home. She is joined by Dreamcast who can’t stop talking about her naruto and Mega Drive who believes it won’t be easy graduating from this place. And you thought Sega games are going to be easy, eh? They try to find out more information about this school but Dreamcast’s modem isn’t WiFi or wireless LAN. Remember those old noisy types? Yeah… Can’t connect… Mega Drive then shows a radio cassette player containing the school’s theme song. So short… Only 2 seconds. Yeah… Remember that “Segaaaaaaa” jingle? Yeah… Mega Drive goes on to explain the other various (ridiculous) versions of this theme. The conversation changes to what kind of guy Saturn likes. Strong guys, eh? They try to find suitable macho guys for her and they turn out to be that old dwarf from Golden Axe game. Then there is that guy from Outrun game whom you can never see his face till his car crashes. When it is time for class, they are greeted by some pixelated bunny on screen who only identifies himself as Centre sensei. They are told they need to get 100 credit medals to graduate. Their first task is to jump into the fighting game of Virtua Fighter. Oh, that Akira guy… So manly, so strong, so angular… Well, it was released way back in 1994. Once the trio dive in, they transform into their bishoujo form (if I should call it that).

Episode 2
To earn medals, they need to win 100 matches in a row. Isn’t that going to be tough? I thought it was pretty stingy for them to only be given 1 signature move each. Akira doesn’t hold back his punches in beating up Saturn. No mercy even if you’re a lady. They discover that if they combine their special attacks and do a combo, they can beat him. So for the rest of the opponents, you can see a similar winning pattern. Mega Drive does her knee kick, followed by Saturn’s multiple punches before Dreamcast’s head dive that totally knocks out the opponent. The trio are on a roll as they fight the rest of the fighters. If they run out of fighters, just change their name to some silly name. If it is getting too easy, extend the opponent’s life bar, make the space smaller or higher! However it is Dreamcast’s head dive that always knocks out her opponent in a single hit! She can even do KO before the match starts! More weird fighters they have to face so much so you think if they are even from fighting games. Heck, no! Flicky bird?! Those fat guys from Golden Axe? Green palette swap of those fatties?! Yeah. Nothing like a head dive to just kill the game. They meet their ultimate match when they have to fight a beetle from Mushiking. Because it is so small, their attacks cannot connect and miss. The beetle flies away and summons a giant one (his father, I suppose). Dreamcast’s head dive is all it takes to defeat it. Not so tough as it looks, huh? But the final opponent is tough. Isn’t that Sakura from Sakura Taisen???!!! They can’t beat her in her mecha! Mega Drive is defeated. Dreamcast’s sword skill is only on par. If all else fails… Head dive! Oh sh*t! That did the trick?! When they return, Centre only credits Saturn with 5 medals. Mega Drive lost her winning streak so it is understandable but why didn’t Dreamcast get her medals? Because she cheated by breaking the rules of attacking before the fight starts!

Episode 3
The girls are talking about their future. It doesn’t hurt to just discuss what they’ll do when they graduate. I’m not sure about the rest trying to guess a suitable job for Saturn like being a newscaster and then score with some famous baseball player. Sometimes it felt like they’re teasing her with all the ridiculous propositions like the baseball player is a foreigner who is on a decline and she’ll go back to doing poor part time jobs to support herself. If it is not a newscaster, then she might be a sleazy bar hostess or a weather forecaster. They let Saturn act like one but why does she need to forecast the weather of Sarajevo?! Oops. Wrong map. Saturn sounds fine but Dreamcast thinks something is missing. This has Saturn challenge Mega Drive to try out being a weather girl. However she is stiff and over-thinking things. Trying to get her to act cuter, Mega Drive freezes and breaks down. I guess she’s not cut out for this. For their next class, they are to dive into the game of Space Channel 5. Dreamcast is happy she gets to dance along with the legendary space reporter, Ulala. Also, 2 of Centre’s friends have been captured by the Morolian aliens and they are to rescue them. Oh, don’t forget to dance and earn ratings for their footwork. Inside the game, Dreamcast and Saturn are natural in their dance but Mega Drive is so stiff that they think it’s some new robot dance. Mega Drive isn’t confident in dancing. It’s not her thing as she is the brains type. Then she breaks down… They put a box over her to make her look like a robot. Now do the robot! However she starts hiding in it and her self confidence all-time low that she can’t do it. Dreamcast is excited that Ulala is here.

Episode 4
The girls join Ulala in dancing save a couple from the aliens and also to improve their ratings but it all goes down when it is Mega Drive’s turn. Still doing the robot? In the end, Ulala saves them and the couple joins them on their journey. The first friend to rescue is Jeffry from Virtua Fighter. Soon he joins the gang and ironically, their ratings increase because of his appearance. Thinking how popular he is with others, Dreamcast thinks the same and proceeds to strip Saturn down to her bikini to appeal to viewers. Yup, ratings going up. Another of Centre’s friend is spotted. Isn’t that Gilius from Golden Axe? I don’t know that dwarf guy takes a liking for Saturn… But he starts swinging his axe around till Jeffry holds him down. Hey, he is from some action game, right? Mega Drive speaks to him in his language and he agrees to dance with them. Because she also told him Saturn will marry him! Now he is showing off his cool dancing moves to appeal to her! Now they arrive in a space where there are 10,000 aliens and human hostages among them. More are coming in and there is the huge big boss. Jeffry enlarges himself so big that you could only see his feet! Don’t worry. Gilius will also grow big. However it is only his axe! Saturn is fed up and will do it herself. I’m not sure what wind move she did but Ulala’s skirt was blown up and Gilius couldn’t stop staring. He faints from this ‘shock’. Saturn is made to go wake him up (their ratings are already 100%) but Gilius doesn’t want her and loves Ulala! He’s dancing before her! Dreamcast and Mega Drive are prepared to console Saturn but she isn’t pleased that they’re making it sound that she got rejected. Once they return, only Dreamcast and Mega Drive are awarded 5 medals. Because there have been complaints from PTA about Saturn trying to use her sex appeal to increase ratings, she doesn’t get any!

Episode 5
Saturn is sighing not because she can’t get over that dumping incident! She wants to forget that nightmare. What she wants is a pet so the rest take the chance to suggest some mammoth from Space Harrier and a shiba dog from Shadow Dancer. For the latter, since it is from America, they even go as far as to suggest-cum-tease Saturn that she needs to go there, though she asserts she is not going anywhere. The girls are summoned by Centre for their next class. The game of Puyo Puyo is about clearing 4-in-a-row lines of those little blobs of the same colour. This time they need to think of a new game that uses the Puyo Puyo character. Be warned, a good idea earns you 1 medal while a bad idea takes away 1 medal. Think carefully. Despite Dreamcast and Mega Drive coming up with absurd genres, Centre approves it! But when Saturn gives her suggestion, her medal is taken away! I mean, fighting game utilizing Puyo Puyo? How can you end that? More seemingly absurd suggestions by Mega Drive and Saturn earn them extra medals but before jealous Saturn can even say hers, Centre takes away a medal! She hasn’t even spoken yet! Well, they claim he is kind enough to stop her before she reveals her fail idea. WTF. Finally Saturn nails a medal by suggesting some waterslide theme. Centre stops it here for today and has the girls have fun inside the waterslide. They clean up before they leave but Dreamcast may have stacked the blobs in some wrong combination and thus it is raining grey Puyo Puyo all over.

Episode 6
The girls will be taking an exam by playing an online mecha shooting game called Border Break. Winning this earns them 25 medals but doing so without a robot will be 50 medals! Game on! Dreamcast and Mega Drive create their robots but Saturn somehow didn’t. They think she is desperate to get 50 medals. So as they explore the place, an enemy turns up. Dreamcast is a noob with the controls and talks with the enemy? What kind of function is that? Leave it to Mega Drive to finish it. Saturn then suggests using a bait to lure the enemies and when they are in the correct spot, the rest will take them out in an ambush. Great idea. Now who will be the bait? Saturn is upset that she is chosen since she is the most vulnerable! They think her protest is just her being tsundere. The enemies show up as Mega Drive kicks ass but Dreamcast is still a noob with the controls. Heck, is she trying to kill Saturn or something? As they are destroying the enemy’s core to complete the game, suddenly Centre announces an emergency that somebody is hacking into the system. They must get out now or be trapped here. All communications is cut off and the hacker reveals himself: Dr Ivo “Eggman” Robotnik! He takes away their mecha and turns the girls into their chibi form. Just when they think doom is them, then appears our blue hero, Sonic!

Episode 7
Sonic is too fast for Eggman’s robots to deal with. Now that Eggman is left, he won’t give up and runs away. How will our girls ever get back? Sonic allows them to ride on his back as he chases the doctor. Eggman fires missiles back but Sonic is quick to avoid. Then they jump through some portal and we revisit some of the Sonic games and levels before the face off with Eggman. Because Dreamcast fell off during the fight, Sonic goes to rescue her and Eggman uses this advantage to whack Sonic. They return back to the Border Break world. Dreamcast fell on Mega Drive’s book. She gets an idea to look for Sonic’s invincibility power up. With this Sonic is able to defeat Eggman once and for all. The hacking is gone and good news is that during the attack, the core is destroyed so they accomplished their mission and return home. As communications is not fully restored, the girls think they might have seen Centre’s true identity (some old guy?). Then everything returns back to normal as he awards them 25 medals for passing the test. But Saturn wonders about her 50 medals because she beat the game without the mecha. Really? He doesn’t remember because of the hacking. WTF?!

Episode 8
The girls will have to participate in a cultural festival. Saturn suggests doing a haunted house so Dreamcast suggests looking at House of the Dead for reference. Mega Drive even suggests some bunny that suspiciously looks like Centre who is actually some sort of game advisor but dishes out general comments instead of real advice. That’s scary, right? Not! In that case, Saturn thinks of doing a band but the rest can only play suspicious instruments (if you can call it that). How about becoming idols and dancing on stage? Did you forget Mega Drive’s trauma during Space Channel 5? Dreamcast then has an idea. Why not do a haunted house with Mega Drive dancing? That’s scary, right? Yeah. Funnily scary. Centre then announces there is a beauty contest in which the winner gets 10 medals. But if you get some spillage, you get 100 medals, enough to graduate. The girls look through the profile of other participants whom I believe are personification of other Sega systems or game characters that I am not familiar with. But how come that Golden Axe dwarf is participating?! As rumoured, he didn’t hit it off with a certain space reporter and joined because he heard his ex was in it. He even traded his axe for a microphone to sing! It sounds horrible by the way. Saturn is unhappy because what the heck is this age hurdle thing in this gender contest?! And so on the day of the cultural festival, the winner is… Drum rolls please… That pixel bit female gorilla from Congo Bongo?! WTF?! Of all the kawaii and cute girls and this ‘ugly’ monkey is the winner?! Technically she is naked and this spillage means she earned 100 medals. WTF?!

Episode 9
The girls will be playing the RPG game of Chain Chronicle. For every Spirit Stone they win, they get 15 medals. However they won’t be jumping into the monitor this time. A Smartphone. This game is made for your iPhones. However the girls have this feeling that they don’t like the existence of Smartphones. Yeah, it drives their system to extinction, eh? At first, logging in is slow and they thought Saturn is making some pun of the game’s name, chien (lag) and kurou (trouble). They are given their classes (why is it Saturn always gets the low class?) and head into their first battle whereby earning their first Spirit Stone. Knowing they can’t fight more hordes with just the 3 of them, they head to the tavern to recruit allies but all they see are other weird Sega characters like a pair of not-so-great thieves, some action guy who keeps failing his cram school, a rich guy trying to hit on them with drinks and a young kid who likes old man’s food. And soon it turns into some izakaya party with other Sega characters. Frustrated, the 3 of them will just do. They fight the next wave of enemies who seem to be lining up in a single file. Dreamcast says this is not some ramen line and they obediently go away! Next, they face the dragon boss. Dreamcast and Saturn have a hard time and although Mega Drive as the priestess heals them, it is just by a single point! The duo are taken out and Mega Drive is left facing the beast alone. Scared, she throws her book and defeats it! They obtain a Spirit Stone but that is when the Smartphone’s battery gone out flat. They are frustrated it isn’t charged properly and couldn’t get their Spirit Stone. Their hate for Smartphones just gone up.

Episode 10
It is the inline skating game, Jet Set Radio this time. 5 medals for an awesome trick and 15 extra medals to the one who writes her dreams on the post first. Mega Drive isn’t good and wants to sit this out but is forced to play. Arriving at Shibuya, Dreamcast suggests going to take sticker photos. She has everyone pose in funny faces (Mega Drive is a real natural even if it wasn’t intentional) but she herself pose in a cute look. She then uploads them on her blog. She might have gone for karaoke too had not Saturn remind her of their task. As they get started, Saturn and Dreamcast easily pull off a cool stunt but the former got a medal deducted for that fanservice pose at the end. As for Mega Drive, she falls flat on her face but when she tries again, it turns out more like figure skating. Since this is somewhat hard to pull off, she is also awarded medals! Now it’s a race to the post but Mega Drive knows she is severely at a disadvantage. Don’t worry. Centre gives her training wheels. This is more embarrassing than anything. The race begins and it seems those training wheels are equipped with turbo booster! She is confident of winning this but cannot control it. She crashes into the wall… Flies into the sky… Ends up in some river… Dreamcast distracts Saturn with some hot guy (which isn’t by the way) to make her bump into the cone. Dreamcast reaches there first and writes her dream for all of them to be friends. Awww… How sweet. But does she have to put up that embarrassing sticker photo?! As bonus, Mega Drive and Saturn are also awarded 15 medals.

Episode 11
The girls will handle 2 big RPG series: Phantasy Star series and Shining Star series. They are going to wear costumes from the former series in the latter series’ world. Defeating the boss in this suit will earn them 15 medals. Once in the world, Dreamcast has Saturn pose like a model while she takes pictures like a perverted photographer. After changing into their costume in a ridiculously small changing room (who are they afraid will see their naked pixel bodies?), there are surprised the costume is some monster chick, Rappy. Though, the can move quite flexible in it. Saturn thought she was talking to Dreamcast but it is actually a real Rappy! There are many of them too! They discuss what weapons should be best and it goes out of hand to being a topic of family members. Drunk husband can’t beat wife can’t beat mother in law can’t beat grandson? Now they face off with the big monster boss. Is it sleeping? They thought of sneaking on it but it wakes up and attacks them. At this rate, they’ll be chicken kebab! Dreamcast thought she could sing her way to victory but was blown away. Saturn and Mega Drive attack but are ineffective. Then Dreamcast returns and do some super combo to defeat it. The duo are praising her but realize something amiss when she can’t take her suit off. It’s a real Rappy! So where is Dreamcast now? She’s fighting some badass space monster at this moment. In space, nobody can save you… Anyway all of them get 15 medals.

Episode 12
Centre is about to talk to them about their means to graduate when he is hacked and taken over by a tanned version called Black Asobin. First, he won’t let the girls graduate and steal their medals and leaves only 1 medal to Saturn. Then he tells them to fight the floors and reach him in his castle. So the girls go through all the retro Sega games and it was funny reading the summary of this because it says how assassins were hired to fight the girls in exchange of a popular seiyuu’s autograph, Saturn’s boobs popped out, Dreamcast feeling homesick and nothing interesting happened to Mega Drive. When they reach the final floor, there is an arcade game of Space Harrier that requires medals to play. Since Saturn only has 1 left, I guess it is up to her. The rest control her and they must be careful with the limited lives. The final face off with Asobin begins and he is a tough boss to fight. But Mega Drive notices a mixing pixel in his ear and thinks it is his weakness. Saturn fires into it and defeats him. Asobin then turns back into Centre. He reveals he was Asobin all along and this was a test to see if they have what it takes to graduate and to always put on their best performance. They earn 20 medals each. Dreamcast and Mega Drive have more than enough to graduate but Saturn is short of 3. Is she doomed to repeat class? Mega Drive suggests giving their spares enough to cover for the shortfall. But Dreamcast will not because it means they will graduate and their fun school life will be over. Thinking about it makes her sad. Mega Drive proposes to be friends even after they graduate. Emotional Dreamcast agrees. Everybody now has exactly 100 medals.

Episode 13
The girls are in their graduation ceremony. First they have to sing Sega’s theme. So short… But how many versions do they need to sing?! Then they have farewell speeches that feel like pointing out the obvious from the games they have played. Saturn finds it odd the rest mention being in games that they have not played. Go with the flow? Are they lying?! Centre now tells them the true meaning of their graduation. They will disappear from this world and be reborn in the real world. This world is just a place for ideas of Sega’s creators to play. So to say that they are just existing in the minds of their creators? But now is the time for those ideas to bear fruit and become Sega’s new hardware system. He believes they will bring joy and smiles to the gamers of the world. The medals they collected will allow them to step into the real world. Mega Drive is first to go (because she is the first in the series to be released) and they say their goodbye, blah, blah, blah. Next is Saturn. Bye-bye. Finally when it comes to Dreamcast’s turn, she feels unconfident she can bring happiness. To her surprise, Sonic and the other Sega characters provide her the much needed support to become a good hardware. And off she goes. And there you go people. The story and journey of how 3 girls became popular gaming hardware around the world that is love by many. Yeah. How long was that ago? Feels like history now… Come on, be honest. Do you really still think about them? Not when you have your Smartphones keeping you company these days. Damn you, Smartphones!

Game Over. Thank You For Playing!
Sniff, sniff. I guess all games eventually had to come to an end. Once you’ve started your journey and make your way to achieve your goal or defeat the final boss, you watch the ending and end credits then it is all over. And if you can’t get enough of it, you play again. Play numerous times until you get bored, get another new game or let it slowly fade and die when something new replaces it. Just like how Smartphones are replacing handphones and literally killing off fixed line telephones. Oops. Got a little distracted there. Ah but yes. This short series did really bring back the nostalgic memories of my childhood years playing such games. Well, it seems Sega isn’t coming back into the console market and joined the ranks like Atari, cease to exist and extinct into history. Oh gosh. Still remember that really old game console?

It was fun seeing some of the retro games featured here and due to this, it was even funnier how the girls played it to comedic effect. Thus the antics in games like Virtua Fighter had me laughing so hard that I could burst my belly and die of loss of blood. The punch lines and witty remarks the girls said may not be much but at least they’re funny enough to keep you entertained, whether or not it is related to games or something else. But unfortunately for many of the games featured and that I am not familiar of, it somewhat takes away the enjoyment. But nevertheless it was great to see the girls getting into that world albeit it is not much. So if you have fond memories of playing these games, you can have fun spotting lots of trivia in it. Or just go down nostalgia lane indulging in that world with the girls.

I am not sure if the characters of these girls reflect the kind of consoles they are in real life. Because the only Sega console that I actually owned during my childhood was the Game Gear. Oh yeah. Forgive me for feeling nostalgic again because it does bring back lots of memories of me playing that handheld. Uh huh. I can still remember bouncing around with Sonic in various zones, helping Michael Jackson save kidnapped children in Moonwalker, slashing things with Ninja Gaiden and beating up the baddies with Axel Stone in bare Knuckle. I can’t take it out and play them again even if I want to because it was broken and thrown away a long time ago :'(. Thus I am unsure if people who own Saturn, Dreamcast or Mega Drive are the kind of character that these girls are. For example, as we know Mega Drive is not keen on games requiring lots of physical movements, does it indicate that Mega Drive was a system that didn’t do well with action or fast moving games? And since she too is prone to freeze when things get crazy, does this mean the system was prone to errors and bugs when it heats up? A probably big no but I just can’t help ponder about it.

Because the girls personality are the same as start till finish and it stays that way till the end. Like Dreamcast who is the liveliest of the pack may something be an airhead and carefree person, making some playful jokes and teasing here and there. Saturn on the other hand is confident and relaxed but at the same time feels like the one who always draws the short end of the stick and easily pushed around because she often gets teased. Mainly it is because she can’t help get caught up in their antics and usually play the rebutting part. It seems like a mini running joke teasing Saturn about that older black foreigner guy making cameos here and there. He is supposedly to be her ‘love interest’. Not that dwarf. But this guy. Finally there is Mega Drive who is cool, smart and analytical. Just that she doesn’t show lots of emotions and aren’t good with activities that require lots of moving about. More of the brains kind of person. I’m sure with the trio’s ‘perfect’ combination, they can become great stand-up comedians and jokers if they fail to make the cut in the game industry. Just saying…

Another interesting aspect of the series is the mid-intermission whereby a short paragraph of the game or even characters featured for that episode is narrated with some little interesting details. It is good insight and trivia while watching the episode and those who are more interested could take the initiative to find out. However there are a few and particularly one that actually bugs me. How come there is one about Bosnia and Herzegovina???!!! It was just a random topic on that weather of Sarajevo but putting it here had me thinking, did Sega own or create Bosnia and Herzegovina???!!! I mean, you would think about it, right?! If it is true (which of course it is not), then it would like, oh sh*t, don’t you think?

Graphic wise, it is all animated using CGI so I think for someone who has been watching too many 2D anime or CGI effects, having watched one being animated entirely this way feels refreshing. Of course it is only right to have games being animated using computer graphics as it shows us the original way they are instead of being converted into typical 2D anime style. When not in games, the overall feel of the 3D art and drawing of this anime feels simple and bland. What I mean is that the graphics aren’t that polished or superb but you don’t need such great graphics to watch this anime, right? After all, the Sega girls are cute enough in their chibi form as well as their gaming adult version. Their designs are okay although you can see some of the trademarks of the consoles on them like the familiar 3 button” A-B-C” as Mega Drive’s hair accessory. Animation is also feels a bit not so smooth but like I said, you don’t need awesome effects for this simple show. It is all about retro and your nostalgia will magically turn it into awesome.

This has got to be a series with the least voice actors because the entire show is confined within the academy. Although I saw there are lots of other seiyuus lending their voice to other Sega game systems, I don’t remember when they made their cameo. Did they ever appear? Don’t remember hearing them although some of them did appear in that beauty contest episode but I believe they do not have lines. So we’ve got Mao Ichimichi as Dreamcast (Renge in Seikai Seifuku: Bouryaku No Zvezda), Minami Takahashi as Saturn (Masako in Majimoji Rurumo – I thought it was Eri Kitamura behind Saturn’s voice) and Shiori Izawa as Mega Drive (Tanpopo in Witch Craft Works) providing decent voices for their character. As I found out, the computerized voice of Centre is played by Yuji Naka who is actually a game designer and programmer of Sega.

The opening theme is SeHa Gagaganbacchau by the Sega girls trio and its lively techno beat is great in befitting the pace of this series. The ending theme sounds more like generic pop. Wakai Chikara Sega Hard Girls Mix is sung by Naomi Oozora, Yuu Serizawa, Mai Aizawa, Minami Tanaka and Haruna Momono who are the supposed voices of the other Sega game consoles. In the ending credits animation, we see Dreamcast and Saturn doing simple dances but Mega Drive is just standing there like a rock.

The last time I saw video game consoles personified as cute girls was Hyperdimension Neptunia The Animation and the more serious Aoi Sekai No Chuushin De. The former had a Sega representative in a world where other game consoles are also present and the latter is about Sega fighting against the oppressive Nintendo. This series might feel like a blatant advertising for Sega and perhaps to promote their games in other platforms. But if you are a Sega fan, this is definitely a show that you need to watch. Older generation of course for the nostalgia and the younger ones should see this and experience how we old people play our video games before it got too sophisticated and complicated.

Therefore old gamers who used to play a lot on this system should appreciate and get nostalgia watching this show while it could prove educational for younger gamers. Well, it is sad that Sega isn’t coming back into the console business. At least not in the foreseeable future. This for an ‘old’ guy like me to be watching this, the idea of how the girls become console hardware feels like the setting was made a very long time ago. I supposed we should have got the hint when many of the Sega titles featured in this anime are those playable only on those consoles. And I am guessing from this theory, this means no other girls actually graduated from the academy since Sega dropped out from the console race! Oh, Dreamcast, Saturn and Mega Drive, you’ll definitely live in our gamer hearts forever. Until the next Smartphone game apps take over and become the next fad and crazed sensation. And you’ll all be forgotten, relegated into distant memories. Damn you, Smartphones!

Akuma No Riddle OVA

March 27, 2015

Hmm… I wonder. I wonder what could be in store for us, Akuma No Riddle OVA. After the way the TV series ended, it could be something that shows the continuation and aftermath of it or it could be just some random nonsense that has nothing to do with the TV series’ plot. But then again, after watching this thirteenth episode, it has me wonder the timeline of this episode. Because we have the girls of Black Class taking a trip on a cruiser for their maritime class. Wait. What kind of subject is that? Anyway, since all of the girls are here, I suppose it took place somewhere very early in the series or it could be some spin-off because when I watched the TV series, as far as I remember there is no break in between for them to go on a cruise like that. Everybody was taking turns trying to kill their target, right? So how on Earth could this happen? Oh, what the heck. As long as they put the girls in swimsuits and fanservice, that’s all we care about, right?

Beach Battle Royale
Like I said. Girls. Swimsuits. Fanservice. Oh yeah. Who cares about Mizorogi’s passionate reminder speech when they are having a nice time on this luxury liner? Having fun, aren’t we? Well, not anymore. Because Nio initiates the first phase of the programme as she blows it up and sink it faster than the Titanic. So we have everybody separated and alive on deserted island. Through a loud speaker, Nio announces the game. Their target is Haru of course and everyone has a badge on their swimsuit. The winner will be the one who takes the badge from Haru and will get whatever wish she wants. They have till sundown to do it and scattered across the island are boxes that contain random weapons that are only allowed to be used in this game. You will be disqualified and out of the game if your badge is off. Haru wants to give Tokaku her badge but Nio doesn’t want the game to end before it begins. First up is Hanabusa as she creeps out of the water and ready to get them. However her wires start to stiffen up and Tokaku easily takes her badge. First casualty! How ironic. She was the last girl to go out in the TV series (aside Nio) but the first one to go here. Since Chitaru and Kirigaya don’t need anything but each other and give each other’s badge, they are disqualified. Three down. Losers are taken to a loser area. But it might be the best place on the island because Hanabusa’s butler and chefs are serving up the best luxurious food ever! Holy cow! If that’s the case I would rather lose fast and enjoy the feast! Of course Haru wants to taste it but Tokaku won’t allow her to lose and will continue to protect her till time is up. Bummer.

Shiena teams up with Mahiru as they enter a dark cave to look for the duo. Unfortunately, Mahiru’s other personality, Shinya appears and is going to take out Shiena. In the struggle, Shiena loses her glasses and starts firing her catapult randomly and runs out. Shinya comes chasing but the moment she enters back into the sunlight, she reverts back to Mahiru. Takechi sees her and rips her swimsuit to steal her badge. Another one bites the dust. Takechi Then goes face off with the duo but she gets caught in a rope trap. Tokaku takes her badge. Out she goes. Nothing to satisfy your frustration by eating her heart out, eh? Kouko runs into Isuke and they both draw their guns. One is a lighter, the other a water gun. I guess Kouko feels confident to even take her on. Well, she is brought back to earth (literally) when Isuke pins her down. If taking her badge is not enough, she strips her naked! Oh, the humiliation. The fanservice. Thanks girls. And how do you keep this humiliation at bay? You eat your heart out! Mmm… Good food. Haru is hungry so Tokaku goes to pluck some fruits on the tree. This is where Isuke is going to get Haru. However Tokaku drops a coconut as distraction. The struggle begins and it seems Isuke has the upper hand. Just when she is going to take Tokaku’s badge, here comes Shiena blindly shooting. The distraction has Tokaku steal Isuke’s badge and they make a run for it. So what is a frustrated girl like her going to do? Eat her heart out! Oh yeah. With tension rising between Kouko and Isuke, it might just turn into a luxury food fight.

Haru and Tokaku stumble upon Shutou who has been soaking in the hotspring ever since. She invites them to come in. Tokaku warns Haru too late because Shutou is still in the game. The moment Haru dips in, Shutou steals her badge. If you’re wondering why Nio hasn’t made the call it is because everybody is busy enjoying the food at the loser’s area. Such glutton… Another struggle ensues to get it back. That is when Haruki fishes it. So it becomes a tug of war. Something tells me there is a reason why Tokaku is holding on and pulling onto Shutou’s swimsuit that is dangerously on the verge of being pulled off… With Shiena coming into the fray and firing randomly (it is amazing she got this far albeit being as blind as a bat) and once Shutou lets go of the badge, the force is so great that it is fling to the other side of the island. Really. That is where Mizorogi is. Poor chap is missing out on all the fun and thinks he is going to be stuck here forever. Yeah. He even tried to make friends with a crab. Crabby didn’t like him. Got his finger bitten. The badge falls into his hand and with sundown, Nio announces him as the winner. So with everybody converging at the loser area, they can’t believe Mizorogi is the winner. But is he a participant in the first place? Nio shows the badge behind his collar. It’s legal. As for his wish, he wants everyone in Black Class to graduate. Some call it boring, some call it unambitious but if you think about how the TV series went, that wish is not going to come true, right? Only Haru is touched. But with another round of food supplies arriving, time to fill up those bellies. Haru had fun and hopes the entire class can go on another field trip. You wish…

Short-lived Paradise…
Seeing that this is a single OVA and assuming that is a standalone from the TV series, I guess it is fun and enjoyable by itself. Because if you try to connect this OVA with the events of the TV series, it just doesn’t feel that it would connect. Because even if it would, you know the tragedy that turned out in the end, right? Mizorogi’s wish will definitely not come true. The only thing good of this OVA (no, not the fanservice) in terms of the series’ genre and plot is that you get to see all the girls trying to take out Haru. Therefore the action (if you can call it here) is fast paced in that sense. Unlike the TV series in which on average a girl per episode tries to take out Haru. However the downside to this beach episode is that it feels like everyone is just playing a game and not serious. Considering that they are preparing to take Haru’s life and what we see here they are engaging in battles that seem more playful and not serious than anything even though it is mentioned that this is just a game and their aim is not Haru’s life. Quite the irony to have fun before the real assassination starts, eh?

And I suppose that they give Shiena a little bit of justice here since she got a little bit more of action screen time and didn’t even go out at the end of regulation time. With things going at a fast pace, the limited screen time is shared across all characters so don’t expect to see any deep characterization for anyone. Except maybe for Chitaru and Kirigaya. Those 2 I figure are the ones enjoying the trip the most as they are in a world of their own, enjoying each other’s company (and the food) without giving a damn about what else is going on around them. And yeah, I can’t help mention about the food too. Quite mouth watering if you are hungry while watching this (won’t the girls get fat from eating so much?). Uh huh. You want to eat them much more than ‘eating’ the girls. Glorious meat! No, not that kind of ‘meat’, mind you! Yeah. Having a great feast with a group of sexy deadly assassins? It feels like having your last meal before your death sentence, no?

D-Frag! OVA

January 9, 2015

It is good to play games but playing them indoors all the time isn’t really good and there is a need to have outdoor games to exercise the body so that the body and mind continue to stay sharp. Oh heck. Who the heck am I kidding? Certainly the gang in Game Development Club (Provisional) wouldn’t care much about it. And so D-Frag! OVA is mainly about Kenji getting dragged (as usual) by his crazy club girls to participate in some outdoor race over some ‘normal’ prize. That’s crazy, right?

Sakura challenges Kenji to a fighting game and if she loses, she’ll tell the secret of other girls. He thinks it’s a great idea to learn their weaknesses and use it against them one day. Guess what? Sakura is so weak that Kenji wins perfect! Secret #1: Chitose has a great body. When Noe comes in to remind big brother about doing errands for mom, she is dragged in to play a match with Sakura. I guess Sakura is that weak… Secret #2: Roka’s body is also great. Absolute lie! When Kenji is back home, Sakura surprisingly pops up and requests for his help. There is this spring race competition that offers some special limited spring water Sakura would love to get her hands on. Hey, water is her element, right? But why need Kenji’s help? She’s smart and strong enough to win it on her own, right? Because the rest of the competitors are weak old men. Well, there is this beautiful and busty lady whom she considers her biggest rival. Does she seem familiar? She was a host for that superhero show at the shopping mall rooftop that got on fire. The one where Sean saved Kenji while this lady immediately bailed! Yeah. That’s her. Noe is not happy that Sakura is getting too friendly with her brother. She starts getting upset. Sakura fuels the fire by proclaiming she’ll win the race and become Kenji’s sister! Noe doesn’t want to do this and go home but Kenji says that since they are here, might as well take part. Oh, guess who are also here? Chitose and Roka! Somebody needs water for her earth and the other for her barley tea.

As the race starts, Noe accidentally loses a sandal. Now they are at the back of the pack. Old men beating them in this race? Along the way, they see several ‘defeated’ old men because Chitose and busty lady are engaged in some fearsome rock-scissors-paper duel and I supposed their aura knocked them out. Kenji, Sakura and Noe try to tiptoe pass them but they finish their duel and continue racing. To stop busty lady, Chitose and Roka throw their souvenir hats at them. Two against one, sure to win, right? Till busty lady mentions her hat is no ordinary hat and one that she won last year. The duo lost… I don’t know. Don’t ask. Noe continues to be annoyed at the crazy girls because Kenji is acting weird with them and all. Sakura believes she should join their club and make it more fun but Noe refuses. There is a big ‘traffic jam’ ahead. Because the old men are trying to cross a flimsy wooden suspension bridge! Roka tries to use her secret love jump technique (couples can really ‘fly’ when they are in love, right?) but falls like a rock! Luckily Kenji got her hand but she accuses him of trying to kill her! Noe has had enough and wants to quit. They don’t have to follow through with their antics. But Kenji wants to carry on with this race seeing his stubborn side not to lose. Noe can go home if she wants to. If that’s the case, Noe isn’t going to lose too. She crawls underneath the legs of those old guys to cross over to the other side. The rest? Make one big leap of faith! Kenji falls short and is about to fall into the abyss but Sakura pulls him back but in turn will fall. If not for a rope, she could have fallen to her doom. Kenji scolds her for that reckless move but she wasn’t worried. There is river below and water is her element, remember? But where did the rope come from? It’s Sean! Seems he has something of importance to do.

Sakura has sprained her ankle and Noe shows her concern that she can’t have a fair race if she is injured. Roka threatens for her to go on first or else she will get mad. Little sister takes the bait but it doesn’t work on Kenji since he won’t leave her behind. He carries her with the help of the other girls. But where did busty lady go? She fled the scene and abandoned the race after seeing Sean. The way Chitose talks as though they know who that lady is. They once saw her at a PTA meeting. I suppose it’s a small world after all because that busty lady turns out to be Takao’s mom. Those huge racks… See the resemblance? Eventually the ‘cavalry’ carrying Sakura catches up with Noe. Little sister won’t give in and starts running like hell. Roka and Chitose use their ultimate pushing strength for more speed and it makes it as though Kenji is a slow poke. The sibling won’t give in to each other as they start taunting each other. Since when did the race descended into a sibling showdown? As they make a final push for the finish line, Chitose and Roka usurp them and cross it first. Sakura isn’t sad because she had fun. Let’s try again next year. No way! Keep Kenji out of it next time!

To their surprise, Sean is also there and has tied up the race’s organizer. Seems the spring water is fake and is just ordinary tap water. Sakura goes into extreme shock and collapses. I guess it was that bad for her. In the aftermath, Noe tries to reconcile with Sakura but the latter still can find ways to annoy her. In fact I think everything she says and even her existence annoys the hell out of her. Sakura comments the siblings are close and are both airheads. Noe on the other hand comments the fake water doesn’t taste too bad either. As promised, Sakura must buy her ice cream for not winning the race. She agrees to it but also suggests drinking water to flush out all that sweet sensation. Noe disagrees and would prefer drinking milk after eating ice cream. Sakura would beg to differ… Noe won’t change her mind… Kenji sees them arguing and is somewhat happy that they get along fine. Really? Do they?

Bridge Over Troubled Waters
Despite only a single episode, this OVA is still amusing as ever and brings back memorable memories of the chaotic hilarity that the TV series brought. Kenji is still the loudmouth rebuffing character thanks to the quirkiness of the girls and he looks like he is doing a fine job carrying on this traditional role of his. Another interesting point of this OVA is that the featuring of Noe. I won’t say that it is a very prominent focus but at least it’s better than her single episode appearance back in the TV series. She is still very irritated that her big brother has joined a club filled with weird girls and despite her constant anger (which looks like a permanent feature on her face), at least she is more tolerable. Because if she really hated those girls, she wouldn’t have continued joining the race and wouldn’t have tried to make up with Sakura in the end. So could you say it is like trying to bridge their bond? All because over some water thingy. And I think Sakura has a liking for Noe too because of the way she teases her and that everlasting smile on her face. It’s like she could never get mad. Oh wait. Do you want to see Sakura mad? Well, seeing Kenji mad is already hilarious enough. Care to do it again, girls?

No Game, No Life

December 20, 2014

Life is like a game. A very big game. Eventually a big majority of us will end up in the rat race of climbing corporate positions and making more money. The usual goal. Tired of this kind of life? How about whisking to another world where you could play games all day and that games dictate the outflow and outcome of life? Sounds like lots of fun, isn’t it? The title itself, No Game, No Life certainly sounds intriguing enough to indicate the ‘seriousness’ and ‘importance’ of games in one’s life but if the setting sounds all too familiar to another anime series, Mondaijitachi Ga Isekai Kara Kuru Sou Desu Yo, please bear in mind that this is as far as similar they go. If I should describe and compare No Game, No Life to that Problem Children series, let’s say this one has got lots of brain power.

Episode 1
There is an urban myth that there are 4 players who beat everybody in every game, including one whereby they defeated 1200 players! Because they leave their account name blank, they have been nicknamed Blank. It is thought they are super hackers who cheat but some players who cheat themselves by casting massive spells still couldn’t win. Are they really that great? Turns out Blank consists only a pair of NEET siblings, Sora and his little sister Shiro, each controlling 2 characters. You should see how Shiro controls the controller with her feet! They soon get a message from an anonymous sender who knows their identity. It asks if they are born in the wrong world. Finding it intriguing, they take up the challenge and are surprised to see a chess game. They think a human is playing it since the other player is using weak moves to bait them. After lots of hard work, they finally win. The anonymous sender congratulates them and asks what they think about their world. They feel it’s like a game too. Only crappier. One big sh*tty game. When they agree they are born in the wrong world, suddenly all their screens go out. A voice reaches out to them and will let them be reborn in a world they should have been. The next thing they know, they’re free falling! This voice, Tet introduces them to the world of games, Disboard. Everything here is dictated and decided by games. He explains all the 10 commandments which are essential rules in this world and its games. I think by the time he finishes 9 of them, they already crash down. Thankfully they survive. Tet leaves them once he finishes explaining the last one. At first looks, the siblings think they have made a wrong choice and ended up in some sh*tty game. But they manage to defeat a group of robbers and take all their belongings (based on the commandment, wars, robbing and killing are forbidden and whatever wagered must be upheld). They also narrate some legend how this world was created by some eternal war by the gods. After a long terrible battle, Tet became the One True God as he is the only one who didn’t participate and won by default. So he banished wars, robbery and murder and have them show him how wise they are. And thus this is how the world of games was born.

Entering the Kingdom of Elkia, they witness a gambling tournament to see who becomes the next king. This was the rule laid by the previous king’s dying wish. One of them is Stephanie Dola, the king’s granddaughter trying to inherit the throne this way. Let’s say she doesn’t have good poker face against her opponent, Kurami Zell. Sora provokes and challenges a lady to a single poker game. She thought she won with her full house but he has got a royal straight flush. What are the chances of getting that? Believe it! Of course he actually cheated and there is a loophole in the rule that as long as you don’t get caught, it is okay. Sora must be a veteran gamer because he knows the innkeeper is trying to cheat him when he only offers him a night’s stay at his inn for this piece of gold. After making a cool threatening face and tone, he gets the best deal out of it. They return to see Stephanie still contemplating on her move. Shiro notices Kurami is cheating but cannot analyze how she is doing it. Sora whispers to Stephanie that Kurami is cheating and then leaves. Resting in their room, Sora notes how in fairytales, outsiders will always try to find their way home. He hints he doesn’t want to go back to his. Yeah. Who wants to go back to that crappy world? Later, Stephanie knocks on their door. She lost everything. Only a blanket covering her modesty.

Episode 2
Stephanie blames them for not telling how Kurami cheated. But the siblings realize she has taken the bait. Sora starts mocking her naivety and conservativeness that had her no chance. When he mocks her grandpa as foolish, she becomes mad. Don’t get mad. Let’s resolve this via playing a game. Rock-scissors-paper. He lays down the rules he will only use paper and anything else he will lose. Also, she loses if he beats her with rock or scissors but this means it will be a draw. Everything else is free game. After making their wager, Stephanie analyzes the probabilities and is going for rock all but when she sees his scary faces, she reanalyzes and goes for scissors. He puts up rock. So it’s a draw. Sora explains why he knows she will do so and was confident he will win from the start. Because Stephanie didn’t check her facts, she taught the wager of the draw was to find him a place to live. Apparently he didn’t say he agreed to it. She convinced herself it was so. What he wants is a small favour. Oh no… He wants Stephanie to fall in love with him! Huh? He starts bragging how cool he is to Shiro because this way she will give her all her money and place to stay. But Shiro notes he should have just ordered her to be his and he’ll still have both. Did he miscalculate?! He is sure reeling of his misjudgement due to his desire just to get a girlfriend. Because Shiro is jealous, he had to apologize and explain he had sexual needs (he said it 4 times!) and couldn’t go after his sister who is a minor. Stephanie felt annoyed she has been ignored and I’m not sure if it’s the power of the commandment that she starts seeing Sora in a better light. She tries not to fall for it. Shiro congratulates Sora to lose his virginity and pushes him to Stephanie. She couldn’t take anymore of this and kicks him out. She observes when the siblings are not together, they go into panic state. Even if they’re just a door away. Stephanie tries to resist seeing Sora in her beautiful visions.

Sora notices this country is quite empty and void of people. Stephanie explains their human race is called Imanity and was once Elkia’s largest Imanity nations. But their decline came during her grandpa’s reign and had to wage their territory for chance of expansion but lost. There are 16 sentient races in this world that the commandments apply (all other races are termed as Exceed collectively). They are ranked by their affinity to use magic and Imanity occupies rock bottom because they cannot use or sense magic. Sora thinks if that is what she thinks as Imanity’s reason for losing, it is no wonder they keep losing. He wants to take a look at their library but it is all in Imanity language. Shiro the genius could understand it all in no time as it is written exactly like it’s spoken. Stephanie realizes with Shiro’s genius and Sora’s negotiation, they make a good team with their great trust in each other and could be the ones to save Elkia. Sora stayed up all night to read in the library and asks Stephanie’s reason to become queen. She wanted to save Elkia. Her grandfather kept gambling the country’s territory and kept losing. Despite being called a foolish king for so, he continued believing in Imanity’s potential. So if she becomes queen, she could prove her grandpa right. Sora hates to break it to her but that chance is impossible especially when the next king is crowned. Kurami has won the tournament and is to be crowned. They pass by in the hallway as she throws back Stephanie’s lost wagered dress. She whispers to Stephanie not to make the same mistake as that foolish king. Sora gives the dress back to Kurami since the wager must be upheld. It is hers. For now. Because Shiro has no qualms to go wherever Sora goes, Sora is going to prove Stephanie’s grandpa is right, giving her a lot of renewed hope. His goal now is to become king.

Episode 3
Kurami is about to be crowned when Sora barges in and challenges her to a game. Sora then hints Kurami is conspiring with foreigners to steal the throne as Shiro reveals a hooded Elf girl supposedly to be Kurami’s conspirer, Fiel Nilvalen. Kurami is quick to deflect it that Sora hired somebody to accuse her but she accepts his challenge and as per the rules she gets to decide what and where. Later Sora explains to Stephanie about how she cheated during the tournament. Actually he doesn’t know what kind of magic she has her conspirer do but the tournament itself is full of loopholes. Because Imanity cannot sense magic, Kurami got help from a nation that uses one. Surely Imanity cannot win by this way. After that race got their puppet king and do what they please, what would the other races think? Stephanie thought taking out this magic factor can lead Imanity to victory but Sora isn’t counting his chickens yet. What proof do they have that Kurami will try to use another undetectable magic? They’ll try to make it look at least fair on the surface like altering their memories, etc. Although their chance of winning isn’t high, as long there is a chance, they can. Because they are Blank. Kurami heard them and reveals she joined forces with Elves so Imanity can have a territory to live. Once they have got the minimum territory, she will cut ties with them. This way, they can get protection of another race while giving up on all games and cutting ties with the rest of the world. She requests Sora to withdraw but he won’t. The siblings don’t like to say no to people who think they are superior. And they’re saying that in style! So the challenge is on. Stephanie doesn’t understand why Sora won’t accept such a deal. Then again, do they have proof that what Kurami said was true? Plus, if she was so certain of winning, why ask them to withdraw? She mustn’t be too trusting.

The game will be chess and each piece has their own will. This means a piece can move more than the standard move we know in ordinary chess. Kurami makes good advance but Shiro’s pieces do not take the enemy piece as ordered. Because so, she cannot sacrifice her pieces and is only reduced to moving them. Shiro breaks down when she begins to lose. Sora hugs her and takes over. He yells out to his troops that those who fight bravely will get to f*ck any woman they want!!! If they win, they’ll be excused from further military duties and granted tax exemption for the rest of their lives! This revs them up and they’re ready to go all out battle. Sora realizes they’re not playing chess but a strategy game and thus some crazy morale booster is necessary. Since this is war, you don’t take turns as Sora gives orders after orders to launch an offensive. Kurami gets defensive as Sora continues to mock her cowardly actions of having her men protect her king. The ultimate icing of the cake is that they will have cute Shiro as their queen. Doesn’t that motivate you? Kurami is now backed into a corner and uses some brainwashing magic. Each time Sora’s pieces touch hers, they defect to Kurami’s side. Now it is Sora’s turn to panic as he has not thought that far of Kurami’s other hidden aces. And to think he lectured Stephanie on this. Before Kurami’s queen can slay Sora’s king, Sora jumps in between the pieces and uses his smooth operator skills to convince the queen to defect to his side! Thanks to all the dating simulation he played. But even so, will that be enough to turn the tide? Sora is still panicking inside and now it’s Shiro’s turn to calm him down. When Kurami orders her knight to slay the traitorous queen, it won’t and instead defected. Sora realizes there is another way to win this game without fighting.

Episode 4
Sora argues that Kurami ordered her servants to slay his queen and this makes her a mad queen because no sane men will ever do that. Soon, some of the enemy pieces defect. Stephanie remembers how grandpa told her about a way to win without fighting. Because Imanity is ranked the lowest and without magic, that is why they have wisdom. There must be someone out there with that wisdom. Someone who knows the strength of being weaker than everyone. Back to the game, Sora tells Kurami to surrender but she becomes crazy and orders her men to kill all the traitors. However her king starts to die via poisoning (some reasoning that kings and rules who rule by oppression are usually assassinated by someone who isn’t part of the combat unit). With this, Blank wins. Kurami cannot believe her magic was defeated and wants to know what magic they use. Although Sora doesn’t oppose her idea of getting help from Elves, he didn’t like how it was an insult to Imanity. He makes it sound threatening for underestimating them so Kurami starts crying like a little girl. Oh my. What have you done? You made a girl cry… Before Blank can be crowned king, there seems to be objection coming from themselves. They can’t let the other be king since they fear the other will take advantage. They both can’t be king as commandments say to specify a designated representative. So they challenge each other to a game. For 3 straight days… Neither could get 2 wins in a row in this old maid game!!! How long has it been… Then upon further checking the rules, they realize it didn’t specify any number. Goodness gracious… And so both of them become kings as they get crowned. Stephanie is amazed that they could easily solve and suggest domestic issues like agriculture and financial. All thanks to the quiz game they downloaded, huh?

Blank then addresses their people. Sora begins with why Imanity is weak. Not because of the last king. Not because they don’t have magic. Because they too fought with other races and they all survived. It is because they are weak. He doesn’t want them to feel bad that they are weak and to accept it. They are weak and will always be. Because the strong can never master their special weapon called cowardice. This gave them the wisdom to escape from magic, learn from past experience to predict the future. So be proud of being weak. By being weak, we can do anything. Blank swears to the oath and is given a chess piece to represent Imanity. This revs up the crowd. A very big motivational drive. Sora then declares they’ll go to war with other races to take back their borders. Stephanie is not amused. Are they trying to destroy this country? Well, how do you think other countries will react knowing that they took out the Elves? Till they figure which race is helping them, none can make any rash moves, thus the risky declaration of war. Blank reads up on the race called Flugel. Long living and high capacity magic creatures trying to obtain knowledge. They think of getting them on their side. They get a surprise visit from Tet who congratulates them on their victory. Sora guesses that even his God position can be determined by a game. That’s why there are 16 pieces per side in chess. If you conquer all races, it allows you to challenge God. Tet feels right to have brought them to this world and Sora couldn’t agree more. This is where they truly belong. He reminds Tet he lost to them once in chess (the reason he brought them here as he was upset about his first lost) but Tet is confident he won’t next time. The next time they meet will be on the chess board. Blank’s next goal is world conquest and to become God.

Episode 5
Stephanie is mad that Blank has been delegating their duties to their servants and done nothing but reading. Today is the day she’ll really tell them off. Guess what? Still being indifferent. Pissed off, she challenges them to a game and if she wins, he must become a decent person. Then it hit Sora that she should wish him to be more popular as he can get the girls! Too bad Shiro won’t allow it. Sora agrees to play the game of Blackjack. A game of pure chance, right? Well, Stephanie has rigged it somehow and is on a winning streak. On the final game where they bet everything, Sora wins everything with his natural Blackjack. How can this be? Sora was counting the face value of the cards and eliminating which one are already used. Yup. He used maths to win. He also hints Stephanie cheated and she is appalled her plan backfired on her. I guess it’s back to work. Blank defeats former nobles in a game and takes everything. Everything. Butt naked… Stephanie can’t believe they were dealt harshly because it ruined her hard work to keep them under control peacefully. Something about distributing commercial rights to nobles to keep them in check. Blank starts going dumbfounded because they never knew she was this smart! Wasn’t that sarcasm and insult? They also can’t believe she graduated top of her class of a prestigious school! Come to think of it, they haven’t decided their reward from the Blackjack game… Yeah… She becomes their dog for today. So it’s no wonder people are staring at them. But hey, why is Blank so afraid of walking in the crowd? I know they are NEET but previously they don’t seem this nervous. Anyway, the uneasy stare of people as Stephanie explains because she looks like a Werebeast, the 14th strongest Exceed and form the third largest nation called Eastern Federation. It is an animal kingdom that can read minds and has enhanced senses and physical abilities. Sora wants to go conquer it and get his harem of animal ear girls! Too bad Shiro won’t allow it.

As Blank continues to seemingly fool around, Stephanie has had it and challenges them to a game. She lost. And Shiro takes her panties and wears it on her head. WTF. Not content, Stephanie challenges them to more games but she always loses. It feels like strip poker because she loses a piece of clothing. Now she’s barely close to naked… She gets frustrated she can never win. Not even by chance. Sora explains about all the invisible factors and its combination that produces unpredictable but inevitable results. There is no such thing as luck. Just like how Sora got the ace of spade in the Blackjack game was because he knew that new decks are generally arranged in preset order and thus at the bottom. A chance to get it from 1/52 becomes 100%. Knowledge changes that probability. That is why Imanity keeps losing. That’s why Blank is unsure what to do. They lack information. Before they can invade Werebeast’s kingdom, they need to know their weakness and all the books they have read doesn’t contain a clue (so they’re not fooling around as thought). Sora warns that this might be Imanity’s last leg and one screw and everything will be over. Stephanie felt bad for thinking lowly of them but they also praise her for helping them out. A floating island passes by. It is Avant Heim, the home of Phantasma, the second ranked Exceed. Sora really thinks of getting a Flugel on their side so Stephanie mentions there is one nearby. Her grandpa waged their library and lost. Sora is freaking upset because it is just too dumb to wage humanity’s only weapon! So they take a step into the library. World conquest is back on track. At the first sight of this Flugel, they are awe struck at this angel of death, Jibril. Until she opens her mouth and sounds like an idiot. That just ruined everything, huh?

Episode 6
Sora gets straight down to business. He wants this library. Because knowledge is the life of Flugel, it is as though they’re offering their lives so she wants Sora to wage something equivalent. How does 40,000 books from his world sound? All in his Tablet. She is very interested (she starts drooling at the sight of unknown knowledge!) but finds it hard to believe they are from another world because it takes tremendous amount of magic to keep them here. Even the first ranked Exceed, Old Deus would find it very hard. She wants to do a body check and Sora quickly approves since it is the erogenous zone. It must be his lucky day since she allows him to do the same to her. But he feels short-changed as her erogenous zone is her wings. That is where her spirit circuits are. Touching them makes her climax. And since Sora is good at touch screen hentai games… Jibril confirms they are Imanity and since this library isn’t enough to match his 40,000 books, she will offer everything about herself. Full rights to her personally. Deal. The game they play will be shiritori. But this is no ordinary word chain as the word they say can materialize or disappear. So be careful what you say… Of course everything returns to normal when the game ends. They lay down some ground rules before the game starts. Sora goes first and picks up hydrogen bomb! If not for whatever sealing spell from Jibril, everything would have turned to dust! So the game goes on for who knows how long but it seems that poor Stephanie bears the brunt of it all. Too bad as their dog for the day, she had to be dragged into this life and death game. Even to a point where the girls become naked and without nipples! So does it count as full frontal nudity???!!!

As the game rages on, Jibril continues to mock and look down on Imanity in between their turns. Sora believes it is time to show her what an empty headed academic she is and that she is the dumb one. So the big finale begins. They already apologize in advance to Stephanie that she has to die for a while. Say wha~… Here it goes! Sora starts saying words that take away the planet’s surface and air have them fall into the planet’s burning core. Jibril realizes Sora has been removing stuffs (like her spirit circuits) to try and kill her and make her lose. Because Jibril doesn’t know her atomic structure, she thought she summon back the lost oxygen via air but pure air is toxic and is taking a toll on her body. Blank is fine breathing through each other’s mouth when they take away the rest of the atmosphere (Stephanie is already dead). Now without air, they can’t speak and if you can’t speak on your turn, you lose the game. Jibril won’t be defeated yet and writes. She thought their own plan backfired but it seems Sora was a step ahead. Prior to this, he had written a word that would cause a huge nova explosion. Jibril realizes she had lost. Ever since the first hydrogen bomb explosion, it was a test to see if he could use words that his opponents didn’t know. That subsequent sealing explosion was all the info he need and the rest were mere distraction. The game was over after the first move. Now that the game is over, they’re back in the library in one piece. Stephanie is furious that she got killed! Oh, welcome back. And they thank her for her part. Yeah, being the sacrificial lamb and all. Jibril admits her defeat and learns Blank was summoned by Tet. Because they want to challenge God, they can’t do it if they’re sane. Now that everything Jibril belongs to them, although the library is theirs, Sora still allows her to come and read. Also, she can read his 40,000 books too as it was just bait. Jibril pledges her loyalty to Blank who will now be her master.

Episode 7
Sora wants to be like Shiro because she has total dominance over Jibril! Sora will have Jibril tell all she knows about Werebeast but all he could think of are the cute animal ear girls who will be his. However Jibril doesn’t think her knowledge will assure them victory. She challenged them once and lost. Fiel reports that Imanity has defeated Flugel and is targeting Werebeast next. Kurami is convinced Werebeast is the one aiding them. Because the Elf nation challenged them 4 times and lost and since Imanity is at the bottom, they must be using some tricks to even defeat the Elf and Flugel. Jibril explains that one of the conditions of the games was the loser would retain no memories of the game. So in addition to Werebeasts reading their minds, they don’t even know how they lost the game. Sora finds it odd they could expand their country so much in just 50 years so Jibril takes them on a flight to see one of the conquered lands. The recent challenge to Werebeast was by Imanity and they lost this piece of land. Sora is so disappointed that Imanity challenged 8 times and lost half of their territory. He might have gone too far by commenting Stephanie’s grandpa to be a crazy old man for gambling away his territory. Stephanie doesn’t like what he said. He can insult her but not grandpa or what he believes in. Stephanie remembers grandpa giving her a key. It is the key of hope that leads to a place where he keeps important things. When she meets someone whom she can entrusts Elkia’s fate, give it to that person. Stephanie is in a dilemma to give it to Sora because part of her doesn’t believe he is the one. She is called by Jibril to head to the library. And this is what she hears Sora discussing with Jibril.

Sora is trying to find the reason why the previous king did so because something doesn’t add up. Plus, most of the lands lost were useless lands. Then he might have stumbled upon something. Could he have achieved something and stopped after 8 tries? What if he didn’t lose his memories? Jibril believes not all humans think like him so Sora guesses she might comment how he can believe in a lesser life form like humanity. Because he doesn’t believe in humanity. They are lowly stupid creatures. There are no differences with this world and his old one. They fight among themselves instead of trying to save. However he believes in humanity’s potential. Shiro is proof. His name can mean as both sky and empty. Shiro commented on that because he was smiling emptily since everyone else was. It made his heart skipped and that such people exist. He wanted to be like her. Therefore as normal people, it’s their job to ensure the potential of often misunderstood people is realized. After riding a roller coaster of emotions, Stephanie approaches Sora to give him the key. She might regret it since he thinks it is where the porn is! They know where the key to the secret room is since they’ve been living in the king’s room and prodding everything. In this small room lies the previous king’s journal. He hopes the next king of Imanity won’t be the last but the one who restores them. He doesn’t mind being remembered as a foolish king as he hopes the next king will use his research to restore their glory. Sora deduces Imanity were nothing but easy prey for Werebeasts. They didn’t erase his memories as they want him to keep trying as bait to defeat him. He knew of this and went ahead. He didn’t tell anyone probably because he swore to the commandments as long as he lived. But this doesn’t apply now that he is dead. After 8 tries, he must have found a loophole and entrusted what he knew to a king that would restore humanity – the greatest gambler. That’s why a gambling tournament was held to determine the next king. He made a bet and the probability is very close to zero but since it’s not, there is always a chance. Sora believes the previous king was a great man who pretended to be a fool, challenged and lost and devoted himself to finding his enemy’s secrets. This journal is his trust in humanity. Stephanie breaks down after taking the journal. Blank believes they can do it. And the ironic part is, Sora is wearing a shirt that claims he loves humanity.

Episode 8
Sora and co arrive at Eastern Federation’s Elkia Embassy. They meet this old doggy guy, Ino Hatsuse, the assistant ambassador. He was the person Sora waved back this morning when he saw him from his library. Stephanie wonders how Sora can see from so far. Could it be the game has just begun? Later Sora shows that he was just guessing and pretended to see. Ino hopes Sora could make a better appointment next time because of some construction incident where both sides try to outdo each other by building a bigger building, the Werebeasts are harbouring animosity towards Imanity. Jibril trades sarcasm with Ino. They are introduced to Eastern Federation’s ambassador to Elkia, Izuna, Ino’s granddaughter. Instantly Blank goes to rub her ears and tail. She scolds them but tells them to continue. Of course grandpa didn’t like it and shows the middle finger. What do those 2 care? The negotiation begins. Sora starts off by wagering Stephanie’s panties as wager! Before Ino can say anything, Sora tells him to drop the mind reading and if he could actually read thoughts, go for the panty game. Because it’s not the panty he wants but the chance to wipe their memories of how their games work. Sora is so cool and confident that Ino can sense he is not bluffing. Blank then tells their goal about world domination and wants to challenge a game between nations. Sora says their wager of Stephanie’s panties has not changed and they should have wagered Izuna’s while they had the chance. Thanks to Eastern Federation’s advance technology, it is rather difficult to be advanced seeing their federation is on islands. They need lots of resources from the continent. Werebeasts could have lured the Elves to play a game. Of course nobody would play a game where they couldn’t win. It would mean they never got the continent. They should have just lost and paid the price.

Let’s solve a few questions with Sora. Why were their memories wiped out from the game? Otherwise they wouldn’t be able to win every time. Even if their memories were wiped out, it still doesn’t change the fact that they have lost. Why did the Elves challenged them 4 times? Because they want to find out why they lost. In those few tries, they must have figured out the ‘magic’ they were using but still lost. But why stopped trying after the 4th try? Either they realize the game is impossible to win (and could have exposed this cheat in the next challenge) or they figured out the game but not why they lost so they stopped trying. What kind of games work against other races that only Eastern Federation has the technology for? Video games. This is the only country with video games and technically you can ‘cheat’ as much as you want if you’re a game master. There’s no way your enemy is going to find out. Sora busts the myth about their mind reading ability. They can’t. All they can do is tell someone is lying or not by their heart beat. Sora lets Ino answer the next question how they know all of this. Sure, the previous king did it and although he made an oath never to tell it while he was alive, it didn’t apply when he was dead. Sora threatens what happens if the Elves get hold of this information? Then they’ll have to play a game and wipe their memories too. It would mean what Sora said had been true all the time. His only option is to deny and run away but Blank will not allow that. Sora wagers the entire Imanity! If a race piece is wagered and lost, that race is no longer bound by the commandments and this means death. Sora points out another thing Ino didn’t see. When they waved at each other, had it not occur to him how an Imanity could do that? It means they are not from this world and you know about their reputation of having never lost a video game match. He doesn’t have to play it now since it is of this magnitude so come see them once they are ready. Back home, Stephanie chides Blank for their reckless move. The Imanity people are already angry that they have been wagered but Blank doesn’t care. Then it’s time for the game. Sora talks to Shiro about always being together and winning every game before they start. When he goes off himself, Shiro finds herself alone. When she wakes up, she is frantically looking for her brother but Stephanie doesn’t know of that name.

Episode 9
Shiro remembers she was put in an orphanage due to her intelligence. That is where she learnt to play games. When she first met Sora and commented him as empty, that is when they clicked. Shiro runs off to find Sora but he is nowhere. She asks Jibril who her master is and everything from her earliest memory she only credits Shiro as her master and great mastermind. Later Jibril and Stephanie discuss the possibility of somebody else besides Shiro. They ask around town and nobody knows anything more. It could mean that Shiro might have challenged somebody and lost. The price to pay was her memories. More precisely, false memories were implanted. Jibril challenges Shiro to a game in hopes she will lose. Shiro is about to just do that when she hears Sora’s voice. This convinces her Sora is real and she wins her game. She is damn sure about it and has the girls remember what they did 2 days ago. They couldn’t. Then they try to figure out if some sort of large scale magic is affecting them. Shiro could hear faint voices of Sora calling to her so she thinks harder on the words he said to her before this mystery. Then she figured it out. What if the game was to steal each other’s existence? She collapses. This is what happened. Sora is in a game of reverse with Kurami and Fiel. The stones constitute their existence and they won’t know which stone constitutes which part till your opponent takes it. In the end if all your existence is taken, you disappear. The winner gets to make 2 demands. In short, they’re betting their existence and complete rights over their partners.

Shiro wakes up and asks Jibril about the possibility of players stealing each other’s existence and the possibility of collaborating with an Elf. Theoretically, yes. So could this mean Sora’s erased existence means he has lost? Shiro believes the game is still underway. She has Jibril sense any magic and though she could, she couldn’t detect its exact location. They search around and see 3 unused reverse stones on the floor. Shiro remembers she is also participating because as part of the rules, if one of them passes out, their partner takes over. Sora purposely makes Kurami win at first so she could see his memories and prove he isn’t collaborating with any other races. After Sora ‘disappears’, it is Shiro’s turn. She now understands why he deceived his opponent in this manner and knows how to win with these 3 stones. The moment that happens, Sora comes back and everything reverts to normal. Sora expects to be punished but Shiro starts crying in his arms and apologizes. Since Kurami lost, she is like a vegetable. Sora might seem like a tyrant trying to make his demands as agreed. First, they get a copy of each other’s memories while retaining their original one. Kurami comes back to live. Sora’s second demand is to take the rights to alter Fiel’s memories and be his spy. Kurami allows it since she has seen the things in his head and understands. So once all that is settled, Sora-Shiro and Kurami-Fiel turn into cry-babies hugging each other crying out loud they were so scared, etc. That was fun, wasn’t it?

Episode 10
While the riot is taking shape outside the castle, Sora reveals why he bet the Imanity race, he knew the Elf spy would form contact with them. And by beating them in that game, he could bring them to his side without having to use the commandments. So the important reason he has gathered them all here now is for… Introductions! Kurami is forced to make hers or else Sora will start spouting embarrassing secrets. He has her memories, remember? When Fiel goes next, seems she hates Jibril. Something about during the Great War, she destroyed part of her people. Sora judges Jibril to be guilty and since they are essential in the next game, Kurami wants them to get along. So how will they make up and move forward? Fiel wants Jibril to lick her feet and apologize! Must she do it?! Well, she’s guilty, right? And if Shiro the master says so… And with a very reluctant heart, Fiel enjoys every moment of it and forgives her. Kurami adds Fiel is her childhood friend and more accurately her master. Although Elves have a democratic system, they still have this slave system. Kurami’s family has been slaves to Fiel’s family for generations. Fiel always treated her nice and as a friend. Recently the head of Fiel’s family died and she is now the de facto head, which puts their relationship in a complicated spot. Actually she doesn’t care about her race as long as Kurami is fine. Yeah, everyone can go die for all she cares! But seriously, it’s time to move on discussing their strategy against Werebeasts. Not so fast. Sora wants to enhance their bonds by taking a bath together?! I’m sure after 30 minutes of the explanation of its importance and Fiel’s sarcastic mocking of Kurami’s non-existent boobs, I guess it’s settled. Sora even wants to be transformed into a girl to join them but Fiel warns he won’t be able to transform back. That sucks…

Later Kurami talks to Sora about his close call victories and doesn’t feel confident he can pull this one off. What if he makes a mistake? Sora says that he might but as Blank they won’t. If he ever missteps, Shiro will be there. They embarrass each other quoting lines from the other’s memories. The day has come for the game with Werebeasts. Although the crowd is rowdy, they still let them pass. Sora notes the riot is part of his plan. As they are waiting in the game area, Sora has Jibril cast a special spell on Stephanie. This doesn’t sound good. Too her. Sora, Shiro, Jibril, Stephanie and Izuna will play the game as they sit in their game chair. Ino goes over the wager where by Eastern Federation will wage everything it owns on the continent as well as the rules like the usual memory erasing thingy if they win. Sora also adds a couple to it like if they are caught cheating blatantly, it will result in immediate loss. As the game begins, Sora notices Izuna nervous. He asks her when was the last time she had fun. Ino could sense magic and that Kurami and Fiel watching them. This is so that Eastern Federation cannot use any obvious cheats. Stephanie is still being a pessimist that they can’t win so Sora tells her the reason why he allows audiences to watch this game and why the riot is all part of his plan. Because he doesn’t need the trust of those who believe they can win. With Imanity watching them closely, they will make sure they won’t lose deliberately as they are at stake and this means harder for Eastern Federation to use obvious cheats. There is no more trusted observer than someone who suspects you. What determines their victory is how quickly they react to what they expect. When the game setting is Akihabara in Tokyo, Blank suddenly shrivels in fear! Sora even says Imanity is doomed and can’t go on! Big sh*t dude!!!

Episode 11
After all that confident build-up and now they’re in this pathetic state? Well, that is until Ino tells them this isn’t real and just made up. Sora blows his top for scaring the sh*t out of him. So with Shiro back to normal, here are the game rules. In this twisted FPS-cum-dating-simulation with a freaking long title, all the girls in the world love you. However, you only have sights on one true love (Izuna). As all the girls are out to get your ass, you must fire your love gun filled with your love power at them. Not only this ‘vanishes’ them but this also recharges your love gun. Getting touched or swamped by those girls means you love your love ammo and you can’t fire your love gun. However if your teammates fire at you, you can recharge although you become madly in love with the shooter for a minute. But if you get shoot by Izuna’s gun, you become her slave. They take turns shooting at each other to see the love effects and of course Stephanie gets experimented on and they discover certain things like the bullet bounces at certain angles. Also, Sora tells Shiro to conserve her energy since their stamina is like in the real world and not to run around too much. While Izuna is feeling hot under the collar about Sora’s question, here Sora is trying to shoot naked the girls for some fanservice. Yeah, the Imanity guys are just loving it. Imanity is doomed… Izuna hears Shiro coming and fires at her but to her surprise Shiro can dodge all her bullets and fights back. Sora explains Shiro holds the best record in FPS so much so she can understand everything from your movement patterns and how fast you fire. This causes Izuna to sweat and take retreating measures. She escapes the building but only faces Jibril. Izuna survives the mid-air fight when she could see Sora’s shot coming from far away. But this only ascertains that Izuna can actually see into the future aside the fact she can also use her clothes to block. Thus the reason why this ‘cheat’ cannot be proved. Not only that, Ino can telepathically communicate with Izuna where her enemies are and tells her to go on the offensive. Izuna could feel her heart pounding very loud and she refuses to believe in Sora’s words that she is having fun.

Sora and co are forced to take defensive measures now. Shiro is writing a long list of theory in the sand. I guess things are not working out, huh? When Shiro seemingly stops, did she reach an answer? Actually she asks if Sora trusts her. Of course. And then she quickly jumps to take a shot from Izuna meant for Sora. Oh no. She’s under Izuna now. Jibril wonders if it is over for them but Sora believes it’s not that Shiro couldn’t find the answer. The answer was left blank. They are Blank. Therefore everything including Shiro joining the enemy’s side is part of her calculation and Blank’s power. Now it is up to him to complete that magic formula and lead to the promised victory. Sora orders Jibril to stall Izuna. She relishes going all out with her. Meanwhile Sora escapes from Shiro’s firing. He is baffled that she could have got him if she ran but instead walked. Was his earlier warning still in effect? Then at the rooftop, Sora charges straight at her. However Shiro misses because she never expected him not to dodge. Once he tackles her and they free fall down the building, this is Izuna’s cue to finish them. To her surprise, Shiro fires back at her. Izuna takes a closer look and realizes only Shiro’s panties are gone. This means Shiro pretended to be shot (using Sora’s button as a deflection to hit her panties) and be her underling. Izuna is cornered now that Jibril is coming from above. Recalling Sora’s word about having fun in games, sure she is now. So much so she transforms into her true beast form.

Episode 12
Izuna activates Blood Destruction that allows her to surpass her physical limits. She’s faster and stronger. Each time Blank fires, she dodges. Is this like cheating? Blank is reduced to running and defending. They have no time to think. Just when Sora tries to pull a last ditch attempt, Izuna fires double shots that hit both of them precisely in the head. Their heartbeats go still. Game over. As Izuna relishes in her victory, suddenly she is shot in the back by Stephanie! For once she becomes the heroine? Sora explains when they Izuna activated Blood Destruction, they weren’t firing randomly but at one of the NPCs carrying unconscious Stephanie below. Because so, it is impossible to sense her. Before the match, Sora had her pledge to wait till her energy is about to run out and then shoot straight. All that is left is to calculate the NPC’s predetermined movements and lead Izuna there. Blank knew Ino was monitoring their heartbeats and relaying their location to Izuna. They took advantage of this and make it seem like Ino was in control but in actual fact, Blank had everything under their palm the entire time. Ino is forced to declare Elkia as the winner. Izuna feels guilty that her race lost because she had fun. Blank denies it. Because she was smiling then. No matter what she thought, she could never have won anyway. How does it feel to go up against an unbeatable enemy? It’s awesome, right? And because it’s her first loss, that is why it is fun. Once she understands that, she’ll become their friend and fellow gamer. So while our heroes have some skinship bath with the Werebeasts, here comes Stephanie announcing the horror that Werebeasts have moved all their technology off their continent land and back to the islands prior before the game. Sora expected this since he would have done the same. All part of the plan? Because here is the designated representative of Eastern Federation, Miko. She invites them to Eastern Federation’s capital. She is impressed that they had been had by them. She notices that with Imanity’s victory, their tricks are now known to the Elves and even Flugel. Though she feels they can still beat Imanity with their tricks exposed, but not with Elves or Flugel. That’s why she wants to take revenge on Imanity now!

Sora agrees and throws her a coin. What’s this? He is tired with all the complicated schemes so a simple coin toss will do. So they make their wager if Blank wins, they get to control everything under Eastern Federation. Miko wagers Werebeasts’ right to rule, their own rights as well guarantee of resources. She thinks of her people’s priority because if the Elves invade, it will be over. She also wants her people to be taken care of in the event she loses. All Miko need to do is name heads or tails and Sora will choose the other. Once he flips the coin, Miko activates Blood Destruction and calculates with precision how many flips and bounces before it lands. Tails it is. But the coin gets stuck standing up! Sora says since it’s a draw, it’s either they both win (and get both their demands fulfilled) or both lose. Ino fears Sora wants to take over Eastern Federation and destroy Werebeast but Sora denies it. Why would he destroy his ultimate paradise of animal ear harem girls???!!! Miko realized she got played into his hands again because after he tossed the coin, he used his feet to move the loose tile to make it stuck. Miko is worried that even if their countries are united, they stand no chance against the Elves. Sora assures them that he has altered Fiel’s memories (the reason he made that deal during Kurami’s rematch). She should be giving wrong information to her elders. Sora is confident of getting the Elves when the time comes. Because checkmate isn’t just cornering your enemy’s king but a declaration that the enemy king is yours. Miko chooses for the win-win situation and with that, Elkia Federation is born. Blank further explains that they don’t want to start another Great War. If they had wanted to, they would have taken their race piece. Sora has a few questions about the race pieces, the races and what lies beyond the horizon so perhaps he wants to get those answers by challenging Tet. Besides, the final rule in the commandment seems to be contradicting and why put it there when it doesn’t have to be followed? That rule states to have fun with everyone. Basically if they aren’t having fun together, they can’t beat the game. As they don’t steal each other’s pieces, all 16 races must use their wisdom, talent and resources and build a tower on Disboard. Tet cannot wait for that day to happen and is glad he brought Blank here. Blank finally have a wish that Miko could process. Because she is a shrine priestess, she can summon the Gods. She calls forth Old Deus! It’s game on for Blank.


Specials that last 3 minutes and that something extra (read: fanservice) for your 2 cents worth when you buy the DVDs.

Special 1
Stephanie gets a big shock to see Sora and Shiro naked. Although their clothes are in the dryers, she claims to have left them spare ones. However this scene has her start fantasizing that they bath and dress together. Oh yeah. Sexy fanservice of the duo putting on clothes on each other. Sexy talk. Sexy moaning. Just too sexy. Lastly, Sora is going to help put on her striped panties. It’s like a game, huh? When it is Shiro’s turn to put on his briefs, he feels embarrassed and won’t allow it and goes into serious meltdown that he can’t ever get married. In reality, the duo observe Stephanie’s insanity. In a (sick) world of her own. Shiro thinks it is Sora’s fault somehow.

Special 2
What’s this?! A steamy erotic novel-like scene with Stephanie going to give something precious to Sora?! For real?! Sora tries to stay cool but his mind can’t help scream like crazy. Suddenly Shiro stops the entire thing. CUT! Wait a minute. Were they filming a movie?! What kind of movie was that?! Seems Shiro liked a certain erotic scene from an erotic game and wanted to remake it. She even hints doing that indecent up-and-down hand gesture to show that minors like her these days aren’t as naive as you think! She is going to redo this scene and turn it into a classic story. So take it from the top again. Because Shiro is now your goddamn producer!

Special 3
Stephanie wants a rematch with Sora again to avenge her humiliating loss. Oh dear. Will she ever learn? I don’t know what game they’re playing because for the first round, Stephanie got tentacle raped. Didn’t last 30 seconds. Sora wins. Second round. Slimy slime that dissolves her clothes. Didn’t last 30 seconds. Another win for Sora. Third round. I don’t know what the heck this liquid is but you’ll notice Stephanie is getting more violated than ever. You know how it ends… Sora is impressed with Flugel’s technology and wants to try something out without playing a game. Okay. Sora is going to materialize his dream game girls! The perfect harem ever! In the end, he is left disappointed and sad because… This kind of things doesn’t exist! Ever!!! NOOOOOO!!! YOU JUST CRUSHED THE HOPES OF ALL SINGLE OTAKU GUYS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! He wanted to believe… We wanted to believe…

Special 4
Thanks to the humidity, Kurami’s clothes aren’t drying fast. Fiel returns with lots of clothes she bought from town for Kurami to try out. And so for the next few scenes, we see Kurami in various ‘cosplay’ outfits. From sexy maid to school swimsuit to bunny Playboy and sailor school uniform. But it seems Fiel’s comments only serve to piss her off. Like as though she is being made fun of. I think she is. Just when Kurami’s heart goes soft after Fiel explains she did this because she loves her and wants her fully clothed, Fiel then uses her magic to quickly dry her clothes. She really played her on.

Special 5
Sora rues that too much steam is blocking him from peeping the girls taking a bath. We have a still group picture of the girls lining up by the size of their breasts. From smallest to biggest: Kurami, Jibril, Fiel, Stephanie and Sora! Oh sh*t! The flattest one is the biggest one? Because she is still growing. So to say Kurami’s won’t grow anymore? So they talk and compare about breasts. So the bigger the better and higher chances of winning the war? If it only was this logical. Sora proceeds to tell them the secret and powerful technique of breast massaging that will enhance it. Kurami thinks Stephanie did that to grow that big but she rebukes it and says hers are naturally natural. Fiel then decides to take responsibility and massage Kurami’s non-existent boobs to ‘repair the injustice’. Yuri moment! Jibril cannot take it anymore and decides to join the fondling session. So while Kurami gets sexually violated and harassed, Stephanie closes Sora’s eyes since minors aren’t allowed to watch this. Yeah. Yuri stuffs aren’t for minors either. And the biggest loser is Shiro who is outside the bath, cursing his predicament. He’d do anything to transform and join in the lewdness…

Game Of Thrones
Hey wait. That’s it? Oh come on! I was just getting started with the fun and the interesting parts. What do you mean there isn’t any second season yet! Ah well, no continuation, no fun. Overall, this series has been quite exciting because the games that they play are interesting. Although the game itself looks simple, it is the tactics and strategies employed by our leading duo that makes it a good watch. If I may so consider this series to be of a puzzle genre, I think this one is very good indeed. Because every game has its own rules and quirks and all you need to do to beat is learn them, which is basically like solving a puzzle.

I hope this series gets another season since it was interesting enough for me to do a little research (read: random browsing of the series over Google). As the light novel that this series is based on is still ongoing, it looks like Blank is making steady progress in forming alliances with other races (defeating them in games of course) in their bid to challenge Tet and be the next One True God. While there is a range of different races of Exceeds (from dragons to giants to vampires to mermaids to dwarves to fairies and even machines), I am intrigued at the different types of Exceed in this world and so much so I had the liberty to guess what they are despite officially not much is known about them. Like for the 2nd rank Phantasma, I think they are spirits. You know, phantoms. And those Lumaluna people who only live on the moon. Moon people… Aliens… Bunnies? Hah… 3rd rank Elemental… Beings with super elemental powers? Like Superman? I am sure Sora would love to add all the other tropes to his ‘collection’. Why should he stop at animal ear girls when he can have mermaids, vampires and even half machine beings to his harem. Yeah, he is on a roll and you can’t stop him.

The games played are very interesting and I have to admit that each one played made me glued to the screen. Thanks to the in-depth analysis and explanations throughout the game, it keeps things fresh and exciting. With Blank being able to see and think every step all the way, it feels like they are just living a scripted life since everything eventually falls into their hands. Like a cheat code, huh? Well, only thing is that they aren’t using any and sore losers have only got themselves to blame for not thinking so far ahead. The only down part is that sometimes the explaining of the details need more brain power and time to digest. I know I’m not a smart guy so I had to frequently rewind and replay those explanatory parts just to try and understand. Because if it was me playing all those games, I would have completely lost without a fight at all. In record time! Shame on me. Hate to admit it… I must be that dumb :’(.

Blank has got to be the best combo and partner in the history of anime. It is their mutual and 1000% trust and believe in each other that make them excel in every game. It is like they have one mind but 2 bodies. Think of their brains being connected by some sort of invisible link 24/7. Although they may not be perfect individually, thus the reason why they have each other to cover for each other’s short comings. In that way, they are always invincible and many steps ahead of their opponents to take them by surprise. It seems like they possess some sort of super powers if you think about Shiro’s God-like calculations and analysis as well as Sora’s confident and very assertive negotiations. They analyse the enemy and think ahead. In a sense they make the game they play exciting to us watching spectators. They’re the Gods of the gaming world and even if you cheat or hack your way, you’ll never beat them. In the end they’ll always take you by surprise because you’ll never expect the unexpected. So if you are playing Blank, always bear in mind that you are fighting a losing battle. When they say with confidence that they will always win and tell you point blank in your face that you will lose, it is not arrogance or cockiness. It is a fact! So accept it!

Their wisdom and foresight are their greatest asset and wisdom and I truly respect them for seeing so many steps ahead and making plans along. Everything else just needs to fall in place. Despite being super unbeatable game players, Blank fail as human beings (by standard norms, that is) since they have their quirky and odd weaknesses. Like Sora being a pervert whenever he can and sometimes tries to show off to his sister (which makes him look like a fool after all that grand build-up and confidence) but Shiro would prefer him to stay a siscon forever. They’re not good in crowds and panic to the point of silliness when they are a few metres apart. Well, at least this shows they are not perfect and just humans. At least they play their games well and with pride. However you look at it, the interaction between them is amusing as hell as with their interaction with others. You’ll never be bored with them, guaranteed. In fact, some of the best quips in the show are from them.

Stephanie not only feels like the joker but a punching bag for Blank. Thanks to her gullibility and naïve nature, I guess it is no wonder why they love to take advantage of her. Well, saying taking advantage may be too misleading. Because in a way Stephanie is honest with her feelings, she is the best person to ‘test out’ certain things. You’d see an interesting response. Sometimes it is fun to see her being ‘bullied’ but sometimes I sympathize and feel for her. Because I am not a smart person myself and the way Stephanie thinks and decides is no different than what I would do if I were to be put in her shoes. After Blank’s revelation and explanation, it feels a little embarrassing if you reflect and compare their thinking or analysis to hers. I know… It somehow makes me feel small. Don’t worry Stephanie, I understand how you feel at times. And at times when she displays her intelligence, this just dumbfounds Blank! It’s like an insult! More shocking than the meaning of what she said. Yeah, they never knew she also had intelligence, do they? So truly, is Stephanie doomed to be the dumb joker of the series?

Jibril compliments the main quartet as being both smart and funny. Oddly despite having a large database of knowledge, she still cannot best Blank. This goes to show that knowledge is infinite and you don’t stop learning. I wonder if Flugel is part of the Elkia Federation since Jibril has sworn her loyalty to Blank (according to the ongoing story, they are already part of the federation). I don’t think she is the designated representative for Flugel and it might just be herself personally who have sworn her loyalty and not binding her race entirely. The same case with Kurami and Fiel. They might have lost to Blank and share his belief and vision but that doesn’t mean the Elf race has submitted to them. They are just conspiring with him as partners individually instead as a collective race.

Subtly this series tries to paint both the best and worst of human beings. Just like how Imanity have been designated the king piece and just like that piece, it is the weakest among all the pieces in chess but by foremost a very and the most important piece. Every race has their own weaknesses and bad traits but none other would match those of a human/Imanity. Because Sora and Shiro come from such a sh*tty world, you can say they have experienced the worst and do not place much hope in humanity. But it is that same reason why they have hope in bringing out humanity from the doldrums. Confused? After all, Blank is still humans no matter how you put it. You’d still support for humans anyway because you’re one and that is basic human nature. When it comes down to games, humans are no different than other races. As long as you have that gamer heart and never give up, fight till the very end, there is still a chance of victory no matter how miniscule the chance is.

The art and drawing seems a little odd. They aren’t your usual standard anime bishoujo or bishonen type and a bit cartoonish. But the biggest eyebrow raising thing you’ll notice is the colouring hue. In many scenes, there is this excess of reddish-purplish colouring. Like as though the producers somewhat ran out of other colours or they had too much of this colour tone and forced to apply them throughout the anime. This reminds me of another anime in which they ‘screw up’ the colour hues. Remember K? It is quite ‘glaring’ at first but once you are into the groove of this series, it becomes natural. There are a few fanservice scenes too but I’m so engrossed and more interested in the games that I don’t really pay attention to this side distraction. Really! Especially with Stephanie doubling as a joker and punching bag, I feel she also triples as the fanservice poster girl. Unless you’re the kind that favours Shiro’s shima pantsu. That naked scene during the shiritori game, it makes me wonder of the loophole as long as you don’t show nipples or private parts, it won’t constitute to full frontal nudity. Now I guess I know why during transformation scenes in certain animes they show such dangerous borderline naked scenes. No nipples, no private parts, no breaking rules.

There are also tons of trivia for you to spot. Not that the series parodies the games but you’ll find certain parody moments to be a gem and a true delight once you spot them. Like that “OBJECTION!” retort which is of course from that Ace Attorney series. Fancy to spot Yugioh cards or even that classic Laputa reference in the anime? Spot that Gendou pose too? Did a certain character from Steins;Gate make her short cameo appearance? I’m sure seeing such references would bring lots of smiles. This is of course you are quite familiar and knowledgeable with the anime and pop culture.

There are a handful of seiyuus that I seriously wasn’t able to identify at first and checking the list after I watched the anime, I was really dumbfounded I couldn’t recognize them. For example, Rie Kugimiya as Tet. Now, I haven’t heard this ‘tsundere loli’ specialist’s voice in a long time but I would certainly recognize her trademark squeaky voice anywhere. It doesn’t help that her character Tet doesn’t appear often so there wasn’t enough ‘time’ to recognize her. But this is not the first time Rie Kugimiya has voiced a character outside her recognizable voice. Miharu from Nabari No Ou and Al from Fullmetal Alchemist come to mind. Then there is Youko Hikasa as Stephanie. I don’t remember but was her voice a little this shrieky? I know she has the potential to make such voices but trying to imagine this was the one behind K-ON!’s Mio and High School DxD’s Rias didn’t quite do the trick. Also, it was Miyuki Sawashiro behind Izuna? I didn’t know she could sound so loli. Probably I wasn’t thinking about Rozen Maiden’s Shinku. Same case with Jun Fukuyama. Code Geass’ Lelouch is the voice of the former king? Is my voice recognition for popular (in my books) seiyuus starting to fail me? Yuka Iguchi wasn’t that bad although I didn’t initially recognize her as Kurami since she had that deadpan emotionless voice like Girl Und Panzer’s Mako and Mayo Chiki’s Subaru till she put up her trademark bratty voice subsequently.

Thankfully all is not lost because Yukari Tamura’s trademark shrieky voice as Jibril is recognizable from the start and she does indeed breathe interesting life to her character. More importantly and the big saviour of them all… Mamiko Noto as Fiel! Thank goodness I didn’t lose touch with this one. That is all that matters :). For the rest of the casts that I am not familiar with :’(, they are Ai Kayano as Shiro (Inori in Guilty Crown), Yoshitsugu Matsuoka as Sora (Kirito in Sword Art Online, Sorata in Kanojo No Pet Na Kanojo), Naomi Shindou as Miko (Shizuru in Mai-HiME) and Mugihito as Ino (Keel in Neon Genesis Evangelion). The opening theme This Game by Konomi Suzuki and the ending theme is Oracion by Ai Kayano. They’re both upbeat and lively. However they aren’t to my taste and personally just feels okay.

Overall, I recommend this anime for everyone to watch. Whether or not you are smart or dumb, there is some entertainment and enlightening value in watching this series. I am sure that your views on games would differ or at least the way you think in playing games. Unfortunately for me I still can’t find true pleasure in playing games without using a cheat code. Maybe that is why I never got better. Maybe that is why I keep making the same mistakes all over and over again till I finally learn and improve after the umpteenth time. Maybe that is why I wasn’t summoned to Disboard. There is one thing similar about how games dictating Disboard and how the way our real world works: Winners write history! Only difference is that everyone in the end has fun. Unless you’re the sore loser type. Well, nobody likes to lose… Like they say, winning is not the only thing. It is everything! No seriously, no kidding!

Akuma No Riddle

December 14, 2014

“What is the secret to success in life?” (Your answer here) –> I guess mine would be hard work and perseverance?

Imagine going to school with a class filled only with assassins. No, I am not talking about a school that trains assassins and your classmates are skilled killers. You are the target of the assassins! Holy cow! That’s like putting a rabbit in den of lions, right? How will you survive? This interesting premise is the reason it got me to notice Akuma no Riddle. A school has this special class with only 13 students. One of them is the target that the rest have to assassinate in this game. The winner will get whatever they want. Yes, anything. A big motivation for our assassins whom of each have their own desires. But in a twist of fate, one of the assassins develops sympathy for the said target and decides to become her protector. Life is more interesting that way. Let the game begin!

Episode 1
A harsh military training for girls. Only Tokaku Azuma passes. Her employer, Kaiba tells her she will be transferring to a new school whereby everyone other than the target are assassins. She is going to win this game and kill the target the fastest because the person who controls Black Class will be rewarded with anything she wishes. Anything. Later Tokaku is given a riddle. What is the world fulfilled with? She answers wrongly. Curse isn’t it. He calls her life a failure and throws her a choice. Kill others and live or let them live but be killed. Or will she try to have both sides live? Tokaku arrives first at Black Class and sees Haru Ichinose reciting the list of all the 13 students that are enrolled here. She is sure to graduate this time. Ataru Mizorogi is their homeroom and biology teacher and he looks like the cheery kind of guy. Ah, youth. He takes attendance (those who turned up anyway) and we get to see some of their b*tchy or creepy personality. Haru tries to be positive and has made straps for everyone to commemorate their friendship. Tokaku reports back the information she has gathered. Nio Hashiri wonders if she wants to team up seeing everybody could guess Haru is the target. Nio wanted to throw her strap away but Tokaku picks it up and keeps it. Ironically she threw away hers. Well, Isuke Inukai also throws away hers to Tokaku. Later Haru and Tokaku hang out. Haru seems to be having fun while emotionless Tokaku just observes her. They are also roommates and Tokaku destroys all the hidden cameras plaguing the room. Tokaku notices a scar on her thigh and wants to see. Haru wouldn’t so Tokaku flips up her skirt! I see white panties! Meanwhile Isuke is roommates with Haruki Sagae. Isuke tries to be dominant but Haruki plays it cool and requests for nail polisher. Because Tokaku was selected to be the dorm leader, she has to go around checking the other students as Haru joins her. They meet the tomboyish Chitaru Namatame and the loli Hitsugi Kirigaya. The pair is always together. Next is Isuke and Haruki but the latter gets a little rough throwing her Pocky sticks at Tokaku in which she dodges. Then there is Shinya Banba whose day time personality is Mahiru. It just gets weirder and weirder, huh? Later that night as they can’t sleep, Tokaku asks her about that riddle. Her answer would be forgiveness. Tokaku doesn’t think that answer would be right and thinks she isn’t the one.

Episode 2
Tokaku is surprised when Kaiba replies the riddle’s answer is correct. Of course he knows this is somebody’s answer and couldn’t possibly come from her. Shiena Kenmochi, Otoya Takechi, Suzu Shutou and Kouko Kaminaga join the class. Kouko takes over as class rep. A big relief for Tokaku? Later Nio informs everyone present that there will be an orientation tonight. It means the target is confirmed. Tokaku is in a dilemma about doing this as she doesn’t care about the reward. Haru continues to be nice to her and since Tokaku is still that robot look, Haru feels the need to smile more or everyone will be angry with her. Isuke comes over to Haru’s room for tea. Tokaku couldn’t care less and leaves. I don’t know if Isuke is lying about her parents both being guys and that she doesn’t even share a single drop of blood with them (duh!) but it is a ploy to distract her since the tea contains some drug. Tokaku learns from Haruki that Isuke is trying to get a head start by killing Haru. Suddenly she cares and rushes back. Nio notes Haru killed everyone in her family and then hints to Haruki that she has a bunch of siblings. Haruki slaps her and warns never to talk about her family. I don’t know how Isuke is planning to kill Haru but she strips her clothes to see the scars all over her body. I don’t know why she didn’t kill faster because Tokaku is back and the fight begins. Tokaku is about to kill Isuke but she hesitates, allowing her counter attack. Isuke mocks her she has not killed before and leaves. Tokaku remembers being told if she ever felt like killing someone, recall this small shrine and she won’t because somebody there is watching her. She felt it was a curse.

Tokaku wakes up to find Haru by her side. How is she still awake after the drug? As explained, her body is resistant to drugs and was half awake the entire time. She wonders why Tokaku saved her as she knows everyone in Black Class is trying to kill her. Is this some sort of strategy? She will prove she will graduate from here. She narrates about her past that her existence was considered troublesome. Her entire family died just to keep her alive therefore her life doesn’t belong to just herself but everyone who protected it. Especially her mom who is always in her heart. This is her last trial and will do whatever it takes not to lose and survive. She was not born to die but to live. Nio initiates the secret meeting. She is the judge-cum-referee of Black Class. She goes over some of the rules. Haru is the target and the fastest one who kills her wins and will grant her whatever wish. People who aren’t part of Black Class must not be involved such as Mizorogi. Those who fail to assassinate or violate the rules will immediately drop out. Everyone is given some card vote in which they can’t cancel. To assassinate Haru, they must give her an advanced warning and failure to kill her within 48 hours after that is considered a failure. Teaming up with someone is also okay. Tokaku is last to arrive. Nio hands her the card but she shreds it. She will become Haru’s protector and won’t let anyone lay a hand on her. She finally answers Haru’s question why she saved her. Because she is siding with her.

Episode 3
Nio calls the big boss to confirm and she allows this exception. Takechi accidentally smashes Shiena’s glasses instead of the ringing alarm clock. Shiena had spares but they’re all missing. Looks like she’ll need to go get new ones. Takechi is going to make her first move. Finally the last student Sumireko Hanabusa attends Black Class but why bring her classy big desk? Rich girls… Haru sees the advanced warning and becomes uneasy although she acts like nothing when Tokaku asks. Nobody pays attention to Mizorogi’s class in the greenhouse. Takechi seems prefer chatting with Haru and they’re getting closer by the minute. Because coincidentally Takechi shares the same likes with her and their birthday is just a day apart. Or could this be just some psychological trick to get her guard down because you tend to feel closer with people who have a lot in common. Tokaku warns Haru of this but she believes all Takechi wants is to be her friend. Naïve? She remains positive that everyone becomes her friend, they all can graduate together and nobody has to die. Nio asks Takechi about the reward she wants. Serial killing insurance. Huh? She wants to kill without having to worry about the consequences. It is like having immunity when she kills and the police can’t do anything about it. Kill in peace? I guess Tokaku hasn’t got a clue. She thinks Haru hasn’t got an advanced warning and should be fine. Feeling something amiss, she goes to search Haru’s bag and then sees the notice. Oh sh*t.

So when Takechi talks to Haru alone in the park, she lies about Shiena being the killer and that she broke her glasses so she couldn’t see. That should keep her safe. She also wants to protect her. How does stuffing the bouquet of flowers into her face constitute to protecting her? It doesn’t. Then Tokaku fell for the oldest trick in the book when Takechi tells her where Haru’s whereabouts is but gets locked in the room. There’s the air vent to climb through. Meanwhile the other girls taking a bath discuss about Takechi. It seems everyone but Shutou doesn’t know about Takechi’s true identity. She is a serial killer who kills others to get her sexual pleasure. Shiena is starting to quiver because her roommate is a serial killer. Tokaku drops down from the air vent looking for Shiena but she mentions it was Takechi who sent the notice. There is plenty of time, the reason Takechi is taking her time to kill Haru. She is going to enjoy torturing her and cuts her scar lines. Let’s start with the thigh. Tokaku calls to interrupt so Takechi lets her hear Haru’s screams. Haru realizes they are in the greenhouse thanks to the bird’s chip in the background. But Haru is no pushover. She kicks Takechi away and frees herself. Tokaku and crazy Takechi battle it out. The former is going to win but Haru knocks her out. Tokaku bandages her thigh as Haru thanks her. When Takechi wakes up, Nio is by her side and announces she has lost since 48 hours have passed. Takechi pleads for another chance. She doesn’t care about the reward but just wants to kill the b*tch. No can’t do. Rules are rules. In that case, Takechi is going to kill her. However she saw something that scares the sh*t out of her. Next day, Mizorogi sadly announces Takechi’s sudden transfer out of this class on short notice.

Episode 4
Haru runs into trouble studying for the midterm exams. Kouko helps her out and Haru is happy to see her having the strap. Haru sees Chitaru and Hitsugi and wonders why they are always holding hands. So that Hitsugi won’t get lost. Chitaru adds she is not aiming for Haru and is here for a different reason. Nio tells Haru and Tokaku about the seven mysteries of this school. One of them includes a secret room in the library that contains a forbidden book that if you write your name on its card, your happiness is guaranteed. Interested? When they return to their room, Haru sees the advanced notice. Tokaku diffuses a bomb set in the fridge and a hidden one in a bottle. Looks like Kouko’s plan isn’t going too well. As she takes a shower, she remembers hailing from an orphanage that is actually an international assassin training organization. Because Kouko was clumsy, the rest don’t think she is fit for this job. Even her instructor, Irena doesn’t think so. One day while she is in a mission fixing a bomb underneath her car, Irena talks to her about death not being the end of life but the completion of life. Minutes later, the bomb went off earlier then it should and Irena was killed. Kouko was reprimanded for her failure for it almost exposed their organization. She pleaded for another chance but there won’t be another next time. Maybe she is not cut out to be an assassin after all. That is why this time she must not fail. As Haru still wants to look for the forbidden book, they sneak into the library to find the hidden room. Thanks to Tokaku having smelling a different scent, they find the secret room and search for the book. Haru sees that strap and in her curiosity tries to pull it. Tokaku was fast enough to shield her from the bomb. She sees Kouko trying to shoot them but missed. Tokaku goes after her and Kouko is clumsy dropping her guns or loading her gun. She doesn’t look like she could handle the knife well too. Kouko mentions her wish is to quit being an assassin. Tokaku finds it ironic because she is going to kill someone and wash her hands off it. Kouko breaks down after she is defeated and laments she is no good after all. Next day when Mizorogi hands back all their test papers, seems Haru is the class’ top scorer! Actually Kouko is the top scorer with near perfect marks. It is just too bad as she has transferred out. Haru writes Kouko’s name on the card hoping she would be happy.

Episode 5
Mizorogi is fired up for his class to do Romeo and Juliet for the cultural festival. Chitaru and Hitsugi are casted as the main characters and Shiena is on fire being the director. Or is she? When Haru and Tokaku are in the bath, Haruki comes in and sees Haru’s body scars. She mocks her how does it feel to have people die for her and how could she carry on living with a smile. Haru plays it cool and she will continue to smile. In that case if Tokaku dies, she’ll continue to smile, right? Later Tokaku gets mad for Haru for not being mad. What…? Nio reveals to Haru that there were 2 killer clans that ruled this country in darkness. The Azuma of the East and Kuzunoha of the West were always at each other’s throats. Tokaku interrupts and reminds Haru if she wants to know something, ask her directly. So this is briefly her family structure. Her mom died shortly after her birth and was looked after by grandma. She never knew her dad and has no other encumbrances. Haruki talks to Tokaku that Haru could have been in the other class. In fact none of them wanted to be here. Such is fate. She wants to free Haru tonight so if she is interested, come meet her here. Isuke sees a picture of Haruki’s orphanage family and realizes this is her reason. She gives her ‘advice’ that all those unnecessary stuffs should be rid off and everyone should be killed. That’s how she lived her life. Haruki ignores her. Haru goes to the hall as Tokaku wanted to talk to her. Unfortunately this is a setup by Haruki. She gives Haru her advance notice and then strangles her with her wire! So much about the warning being in advance. Luckily Tokaku didn’t trust Haruki and jumps into the scene to save Haru. Yeah. After all that has happened, you think she should be by her side 24/7. Tokaku and Haruki slug it out but the former is superior. Now that it boils down to this, there is only one choice left for Haruki for freedom. She pulls a string that collapses the entire truss on the ceiling. Seems prior to this, she has made a deal with Nio that if she dies, her family will get the reward. Thanks to the gaps, Tokaku and Haru lives. Though the truss crushed Haruki, she is still alive and no fatal injuries. She admits her loss and Haru even gives her advice that being alive means she has been forgiven that she is here. Either way, Haruki believes she needs to try her best. And so this means Haruki is transferred out but Mizorogi is one stressed guy. The hall is in a mess… Tokaku wonders if Haru could still continue to forgive even if the entire world wishes death on her. She will. As long as they reflect on their actions, she will forgive them every time.

Episode 6
Chitaru tells Hitsugi that her goal is to look for some poison killer called Angel Trumpet. Hitsugi wants to help her. The night before the play, Haru is frantically looking for her script. With Tokaku they go to the stage to search for it. Little do they know it is in the hands of Shiena as she slips her advanced warning. However Hitsugi won’t allow that and shoots her with her poison needles. Haru and Tokaku see this. Although they are saved from Shiena’s warning, Hitsugi hands over hers. Although Shiena is alive, she is hospitalized and is very sick as she got infected by the poison. Safe to say, she is out of the running. Chitaru thinks Tokaku did her in. Tokaku warns Haru that she shouldn’t eat anything today since Hitsugi is a poison master. Hitsugi asks Chitaru why she wants to find Angel Trumpet. Seems her teacher’s daughter was killed by her and it is ironic that she is chasing a killer whom she has never seen her face. As the play starts, Tokaku realizes all the sword props are laced with poison. Chitaru thinks Haru is Angel Trumpet and Hitsugi dealt with Shiena for her sake. Then she goes to confront Tokaku and seeing the poisoned swords, she is now convinced Haru is Angel Trumpet. I don’t know why the heck they need to go on stage to begin their confrontation but everyone thinks this is part of the play. Tokaku puts Haru in Mizorogi’s care before the girls settle their sword fight outside. Chitaru doesn’t believe Tokaku’s words that Hitsugi is the culprit. But when the perpetrator herself comes to admit it, so now do you believe? Therefore she has no reason to fight Tokaku. Her plan is to have Haru die on stage just like how her character dies in the play. So they’re going back to the play? Yeah. Chitaru is now in a dilemma. The closest person to her is the real enemy. Can she fulfil her mission? In the final scene, Chitaru still hesitates to stab Hitsugi with the dagger. Hitsugi is okay for her being killed and helps push her hand into her heart. Nio informs that Hitsugi’s wish is to leave this place with her after everything was over. She was her most desired one. Chitaru felt bad that she never understood Hitsugi at all. She drinks the poison and dies by her side. And the crowd thinks this touching scene was so damn emotional and good.

Episode 7
Shutou brings the girls to an indoor pool within the school grounds. As they choose their swimsuits, Tokaku sees the advanced warning and Shutou immediately puts a choker on Haru’s neck. It contains a bomb that will blow her head off if tampered. Since Shutou isn’t physically strong, she is going to play a game. They need to find 4 cards with numbers on it as the password to unlock the bomb. They have until midnight or else Haru’s head will explode. Oh, they have only 3 tries too. The clues are written in the notice. So as the duo go around finding the cards, the other girls play watermelon smashing. This has Tokaku noting it similar to the clue and smashing it reveals a 7 of diamonds (how the heck did she put in the watermelon so perfectly?). Because the rest note that they could figure out the other numbers, Tokaku also figured it out and takes Shutou’s deck of cards. The missing numbers correspond to the numbers, right? All 7s are missing. But when she keys in, it is wrong. Shutou says that is just a dummy. Back to square one. Mizorogi who is bent on not letting more girls transfer out stumbles upon something on Shutou. Tokaku finds a joker (worth as zero) in the flood lights. Then with the next clue, she finds the ace of spade in the same deck of cards. Cleverly hidden.

The last one is in the water but then Mizorogi comes by to give Shutou a surprise birthday call! Nio notes if Shutou is successful, she can get her reward as a birthday present. What is her wish? To age normally and die. Wait a minute. Okay, so she wants to grow old but isn’t it okay to die young? The way she puts it sounds like she is an immortal. Maybe she is… Because here is her story. Her body suffers from an illness that doesn’t age. Long ago she had someone precious to her. She was a year younger and their birthday is only a day apart. She would age a year be